Monthly Archives: May 2020

Government Officials Blame Organized Groups of ‘Outsiders’ for Intentionally Inciting Violence to Further Division in America — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

A Chicago Police Department SUV is set on fire near State and Lake streets in the Loop on Saturday. Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times

As protests over the death of George Floyd turned violent this weekend in Chicago and other U.S. cities, government officials have begun to blame organized groups they say are intentionally triggering the violence to create division in America.

In Chicago, officials had yet to cite specific groups for helping turn what had started as peaceful protests into full-blown riots on Saturday night. But on Sunday Mayor Lori Lightfoot said the violence “absolutely” was pre-planned.

She pointed to “the number of U-Haul trucks that magically showed up in front of stores” and caravans of cars helping to whisk looted merchandise away.

Asked specifically whether extremist groups were behind the violence, Lightfoot said the city is “working in partnership with the FBI, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the ATF, particularly their bomb and arson units” to determine that.

“It’s too soon in the course of this investigation for us to be able to say definitively,” the mayor said Sunday. “What I can say, there’s no question that some of the destruction that happened last night, particularly the arson, was absolutely organized and coordinated.”

Chicago Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) blamed outsiders for sparking the riots and looting that ensued.

“Despite hundreds of arrests, hundreds more violent criminals remain at large in Chicago, and unverified reports suggest more may be traveling here from other locations, with intent to continue the mayhem,” Hopkins said in a statement. “Of greatest concern is the arsonists who remain at large, as their acts are the most immediate threat to life, as well as property.

“While their plans and intentions for today [Sunday] — and especially tonight after sunset — are difficult to predict with specificity, we must assume they will attempt to engage in more destruction and violence …”

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Chicago Sun-Times

via Government Officials Blame Organized Groups of ‘Outsiders’ for Intentionally Inciting Violence to Further Division in America — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Bongino on violent riots: ‘This isn’t a protest anymore, this is a coup’ – WND

(FOX NEWS) — Former NYPD officer and Secret Service agent Dan Bongino reacted on Sunday to the violent riots that have erupted across the country in protest of the death of a black Minneapolis man in police custody, saying, “This isn’t a protest anymore, this is a coup.”

“This is an organized internal coup by a small group of agitators acting as a domestic terror group. That’s a fact,” Bongino, a Fox News contributor, said on “Fox & Friends Weekend” on Sunday.

The violent protests across the country left at least three dead, dozens injured, hundreds arrested and buildings and businesses in charred ruins.

Read the full story ›

— Read on

Racial Tension, Riots, and a River of Living Water — The Fight of Faith

The past several days have been heart-wrenching. Not only are we dealing with COVID-19 and the restrictions and fallout related to it, but we have also witnessed what is clearly the wrongful death of a man at the hands of police officers. To compound that, we have had six days of violent protest across the United States as many have turned to riots, vandalism, and theft. If we were not awake to the fact that we are living in a fallen world before this, we should be awake now.

If we spend too much time focused on the news or following social media feeds, we will soon be defeated and worn. If we spend too much time focused on this world without turning our eyes heavenward, we will quickly be hopeless because this world is unable to satisfy. The emptiness of this world is why scripture is continually calling us to turn our eyes away from the waves and turn them towards Jesus.

We see a perfect example of this when Jesus offers living water to the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter four. What is especially relevant about this passage is we see racial tension at work in these verses as well.

Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem when he stopped to rest at the well in Samaria. The significance of this is that Jews and Samaritans, in general, did not like each other. Each group claimed the other group looked down on and mistreated them. The Samaritans were people who had married during Israel’s captivity, so the Jews did not believe they were genuinely Jewish. They were two or more ethnicities.

Adding to their racial differences, though the Samaritans believed in the God of Jacob, they merged their worship of him with pagan ideas. Some Bible scholars believe they worshiped him as a local deity who was only one among many. Due to these issues, the animosity between Jews and Samaritans went deep and cut both ways.

In walks Jesus, a Jew, and he engages the Samaritan woman in conversation by asking her for a drink of water from the well. Her response was to question why he was talking to her because Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Her question could have been honest, but most likely, her own prejudiced was starting to show. To put it in today’s vernacular, she could have been saying, “You Jews are usually too arrogant to talk to Samaritans. Take the hint; I am not interested in helping you.”

Jesus responds by saying, “If you knew who was speaking to you, you would have asked, and he would have given you living water.” What Jesus is doing, despite her disregard of him, is preparing to bless her. The first thing we need to notice about Jesus is that he does not play our culture’s race, gender, and class games. He simply treats this woman as a person made in the image of God regardless of society’s sins. The biggest problem is not this woman’s gender or race or even the mistreatment she has experienced at the hands of others; those are symptoms of a deeper issue. The real problem is her spiritual blindness, which becomes evident in her response to Jesus.

She says, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep.” Her exaggerated focus on the physical exposes her inability to see spiritually. All she can think about is physical water. This is the state of many people today. You talk to them about God, and all they want to do is require evidence and the only evidence they will allow must use the scientific method. Their blindness, often willful, has so reduced their world to the physical that they cannot see past it, and they try to find all their satisfaction in it because, for them, it is all that exists.

This blindness, however, is not merely a problem for some people. We are all born with this blindness. Every believer alive today was once just as blind, but Jesus did for us what he is doing for the Samaritan woman in the passage. He restored our spiritual sight and offered us living water.

When all you can see is the physical world around you, you will do everything you can to find your hope in it, because you know of nothing else. As Jesus continues to speak to this woman gently, he brings to light the fact that she has had five husbands, and the man she is living with now is not her husband. Whether it was by death, divorce, or adultery, this woman had tried to find fulfillment in men, and she was left empty, and Jesus had exposed her sinfulness. He did not need to condemn her. He simply opened her eyes, and she saw it. When we focus only on the things of this world, ultimately, all we will find is disappointment that will leave us weary and worn. In our attempts to address our weary souls without looking to Jesus, we will walk deeper and deeper into sin.

Despite the woman’s sin, because of the sacrifice Jesus knew he was going to make on the cross, he knew her sins could be washed clean, and she, a sinner, could be in a right relationship with the holy God. In light of the atonement he would make, He offers her living water and says, “Whoever drinks of this water will never be thirsty again, and the water he gives will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The water he is speaking of is ultimately the Holy Spirit who opens our blind eyes, points us to Jesus and the cross, makes our spiritually dead hearts beat again, and causes us to rejoice in our God of mercy. He took our sinful hearts and made us whole, he calls us his children, and his banner over us is love. Instead of the wrath we deserve, we find forgiveness and peace in his presence, and this river of living water is eternal. It will never run dry.

I am not sure where you are right now spiritually, but if you have spent too much time focused on the things of this world, I am sure 2020 has left you discouraged and broken. Even we as believers can experience this when we take our eyes off Jesus and focus on our surroundings. This is what we see happening to Peter when he was walking on water, and he began to sink. The more we focus on the waves, the further we will descend until we find this world overwhelming us. Our society at large is undoubtedly sinking right now. This spiritual blindness so permeates our culture that it is attacking itself trying to find its happiness and hope in a world that cannot deliver.

What the world needs now more than anything is the living water that Christ offers, but we will only find it by being spiritually-minded and spending time with Jesus in his word and in prayer. As Christians, Christ is with us no matter what we face in this life. Sickness, racial injustice, and even riots cannot separate us from his love: even when injustice is directed toward us and at our front door.

The living water is a spring overflowing with joy, joy in the Lord. Joy in knowing he has forgiven us of our sins and healed us of our spiritual blindness. Joy in knowing no matter how bad this world may get, he will will not lose us and eventually return to set it all right. My question for you is, do you have this joy, or is your heart overwhelmed by the troubles of 2020? It is proper for us to have hearts filled with lament at times like these, but that lament can coexist in the full confidence in our great Savior.

How do we navigate these turbulent waters? How do we express our lament and reveal our hope? We cannot do it in our own strength, it is only through the Living Water himself, the Holy Spirit. If you are weak and unable to shine forth the light of your Savior, then turn to your eyes to him, he will restore your joy, and the joy of the Lord will be your strength. Did you catch that? The joy of the Lord will be your strength.

If there is anything Christians need now more than ever, it is strength. We need strength to be who Christ has called us to be, strength to be a city on a hill, strength to have hope during a pandemic and the resulting economic collapse, and power to model Christ’s example of the way past racial prejudice, violence, and anger. He broke down the racial wall when he broke down the wall between Jew and Gentile. In Christ, He destroys the artificial categories of class. All are one in Christ Jesus.

It is only in Christ that we will be able to love our enemies and return good for evil. It will only be in knowing our sinfulness and the grace we have received that we will be able to show mercy to those who mistreat us. As the world works to build higher and stronger walls of separation, Jesus has called us to break them down with the love of God, and there will be nothing easy about it. Others will mistreat us in the process, and as our scars begin to show, may the Spirit use them to draw people to the nail-scared hands, the only hands that can heal our world. We will only be able to live a life like that if we make sure our eyes are on Jesus, and we are drinking deeply of the living water.


via Racial Tension, Riots, and a River of Living Water — The Fight of Faith

Anger Games Night 5 – Sunday Night Riots – Open Discussion Thread… — The Last Refuge

The riots, arson, looting and related violence has spread from Minneapolis Minnesota to many urban areas around the nation. From ground reports it appears Antifa groups (aka White ISIS) have organized for chaos in Minneapolis and beyond.

Sunday night the mayhem has spread to more Democrat strongholds in Santa Monica (CA), Philadelphia (PA), Nashville (TN), Atlanta (GA), Chicago (IL), Washington DC, Houston (TX), New York City (NY), Los Angeles (CA), and other deep blue metropolitan areas. There are organized riots, anti-police violence and chaos organized by Antifa and elements within the Black Lives Matter groups.

Many people are calling for federal intervention; however, that type of confrontation is the intended goal of the social anarchy crowd. The leftist chaos is purposeful bait; let them exhaust themselves first and highlight inept democrat Mayors and Governors.

Politically speaking, the merging of Antifa (revolution communists) & Black Lives Matter (sub-text political Islam), has a purposeful agenda unknown to the standard brick thrower. Suburban white liberals, essentially modern affiliates of the former Bill Ayers Weather Underground, are the organizing entities. Most of the people on the street are oblivious.

Local authorities in/around the urban danger zones have the primary responsibility to maintain domestic tranquility. Federal intervention to replace local political ineptitude, and lack of desire to confront a crisis of their own creation, is short-sighted.

If local officials and/or state governors are not going to take action; factually they do not want to take action because they are fearful of backlash from their own tribe; then federal assistance doesn’t work. It is better for President Trump to watch from a distance and keep reminding the U.S. electorate how he supports, but will not replace, local officials.

The 2020 Anger Games were predictable.

“Gotta do it Joe”…

via Anger Games Night 5 – Sunday Night Riots – Open Discussion Thread… — The Last Refuge

Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner? — CultureWatch

Thoughts on ‘love the sinner, hate the sin’:

There plenty of maxims, sayings, and clichés that routinely flow from the lips of believers. Some are more or less faithful to biblical truth while some are much less so. The oft heard remark that we are to hate the sin while loving the sinner may fall somewhere in between these two extremes.

How should we assess this saying? We can start by taking any portions of truth from this that we can. And one obvious truth to be gleaned would be that most of us believers are not very good at loving sinners, or showing them the love of Christ. We tend to be more eager to condemn and rebuke them than seek to win them to Christ. That needs to change.

A related truism is that while we are often quick to point out and hate sin in others, we tend to be less hateful and concerned about our own sin. This also needs to change. So if this saying simply meant that we need to correct these two shortcomings, we could all agree.

But Scripture takes things further when it comes to sin and sinners and how they can be viewed. The truth is, we have various passages that speak of hate in a positive light. That is, sometimes we read about the reality or need of hating certain things or people, and such hate is not condemned.

Four years ago I penned a two-part article on this. In it I said that the Bible informs us of these four things:

-God hates certain things
-God hates certain people
-We are to hate certain things
-We are to hate certain people?

I offered numerous passages for each one of these headings:

I went on in part 2 of the article to look at how this plays itself out in our theology and our Christian lives:

The information presented there shows us that the saying is at best partly accurate and biblical. So please have a read of those two pieces for more detail on this. And we can look at other terms than just ‘hate.’ For example, we can examine a term like ‘enemies” as a biblical description of sinners. Consider just a few of them:

-Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.
-Colossians 1:21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.

And it is not just unredeemed sinners that can be seen as enemies. God’s people in the Old Testament were sometimes also called God’s enemies. Consider these three texts:

-Lamentations 2:4-5 Like an enemy he has strung his bow;
his right hand is ready.
Like a foe he has slain
all who were pleasing to the eye;
he has poured out his wrath like fire
on the tent of Daughter Zion.
The Lord is like an enemy;
he has swallowed up Israel.
He has swallowed up all her palaces
and destroyed her strongholds.
He has multiplied mourning and lamentation
for Daughter Judah.

-Isaiah 1:24 Therefore the Lord declares,
the Lord of hosts,
the Mighty One of Israel:
“Ah, I will get relief from my enemies
and avenge myself on my foes.” (speaking of Jerusalem)

-Isaiah 63:10 Yet they rebelled
and grieved his Holy Spirit.
So he turned and became their enemy
and he himself fought against them.

Alec Motyer says this about that final passage: “Those who refuse his way become his enemies (1:24) and, in the present passage, he theirs. The truth that he hates the sin but loves the sinner needs balance and corrective of ‘enmity’ passages such as these. In the ultimate, sinner and sin cannot be facilely held apart.”

Let me offer another quote about the phrase under question. D. A. Carson says this in his excellent volume, How Long, O Lord?:

Why is it that we are comfortable with evangelical clichés about God “loving the sinner but hating the sin,” when within the first fifty psalms alone there are fourteen passages where God is explicitly said to hate the sinner, or to be angry with the sinner, or the like? I am not for a moment suggesting there is no truth at all in the cliché….

Even so, after all caveats have been entered, the distance between our perception of where the problem lies and the perceptions of the biblical writers is one of the most sobering considerations for those who take the Bible seriously. It is one more indication that we have given ourselves to thinking great thoughts about human beings and small thoughts about God.

Indeed, one wonders how far we can go in making an airtight separation between the sinner and his sin. I have written about this before. For example, a person who habitually lies we call a liar. A person who steals a lot is a thief. A person who rapes people is a rapist. A person who regular hates others is a hater. A person who murders others we call a murderer.

A person who likes sexual relations with children we call a paedophile. A person who is addicted to illicit drugs we call a drug addict. A person who is addicted to porn we call a porn addict. So there certainly is some sort of connection between what a person does on a regular basis and who they are.

That is why we read in a passage like 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 that “neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,  nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

Biblical Christians of course recognise that sin is much more than mere outward actions alone. Sin also has to do with inward attitudes and desires. Thus Jesus could call someone who hates, a murderer, and someone who lusts after others, an adulterer. Sin involves the entire person. Indeed, we can go further and say that it is not so much the case that we are sinners because we sin, but we sin because we are sinners.

Sin goes deep into our very person. That is why we need outside help to get right with God. We cannot save ourselves. Sin is too deeply ingrained in who we are. All this is not to say that that sinners cannot be wonderfully transformed in Christ and set free from sinful and addictive behaviours. They can indeed – praise God.

Image of Nothing Greater, Nothing Better: Theological Essays on the Love of God
Nothing Greater, Nothing Better: Theological Essays on the Love of Godby Array

But even here we must exercise caution. That is, a forgiven, born-again Christian still needs to keep working on inner sinful desires and attitudes. Let me give two obvious examples of this. If a person who was jailed for numerous cases of fiddling with the books and stealing money from his white collar job gets saved, it would not be very wise to make that new Christian the church treasurer – at least not immediately.

If a person has had a long criminal record of the sexual abuse of children, and then becomes a Christian, it would be sensible not to put him in charge of the children’s Sunday School ministry – at least not right away. One would want to make sure he is growing in real sanctification in that area.

Let me offer a helpful quote about all this. In a collection of essays edited by Kevin Vanhoozer – Nothing Greater, Nothing Better: Theological Essays on the Love of God – Tony Lane has a chapter called “The Wrath of God as an Aspect of the Love of God.” He writes:

Where does this leave the modern cliché that “God hates the sin but loves the sinner”? Like most clichés it is a half-truth. There are two ways in which it could be taken. The first, which is undoubtedly the way that most people take it in the modern liberal West, is as a comment about the wrath of God. God’s displeasure is against sin but not against the sinner. Apart from the fact that this reverses the emphasis of the New Testament, there are problems with it. As William Temple observes, “that is a shallow psychology which regards the sin as something merely separate from the sinner, which he can lay aside like a suit of clothes. My sin is the wrong direction of my will; and my will is just myself as far as I am active. If God hates the sin, what He hates is not an accretion attached to my real self; it is myself, as that self now exists.” It is incoherent to say that God is displeased with child molestation but feels no displeasure toward child molesters. In what sense, then, is the cliché true? It is to be understood not as limiting the objects of God’s displeasure to sinful actions but as affirming God’s grace. God loves sinners, not in the sense that he does not hate them along with their sin, but in the sense that he seeks their salvation in Christ. While his attitude to sinners as sinners is antagonism and wrath, his good will toward them actively seeks their conversion and forgiveness.

But does the Bible ever talk of God actually hating people? Mostly it speaks of God hating evil deeds (e.g., Deut. 12:31; Prov. 6:16-19; Isa. 61:8; Amos 6:8; Rev. 2:6), but there are seven passages that speak of his hatred for people. First, there is the repeated statement that God loved Jacob but hated Esau (Mal. 1:2-3; Rom. 9:13). We should beware of reading too much into this given the question of the extent to which it is individuals or nations that are in mind, and the question of whether “hate” here is to be understood as in the injunction to hate one’s own relatives and one’s own life (Luke 14:26; cf. Matt. 10:37). Second, it is thrice stated that God hates evildoers (Psalm 5:5; 11:5; Prov. 6:16-19). Finally, God twice states that he hates Israel (Jer. 12:8; Hos. 9:15). Clearly these last affirmations do not preclude God’s love for Israel, as is proclaimed especially by Hosea. Perhaps we would remain closest to the emphasis of the Bible if we spoke of God’s hatred of sin and his wrath against sinners, though we cannot exclude talk of God’s wrath against sin or his hatred of sinners. A new slogan might be “God hates the sin and is angry with the sinner”.

I close on a positive note: it is terrific that God by his grace can transform lost sinners. Praise him for redeeming and transforming the lives of murderers and rapists and thieves and haters and liars. God is certainly in the change business.

via Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner? — CultureWatch

May 31 Do It While You Can


Thou shalt be missed, because thy seat will be empty.
(1 Samuel 20:18)

Since my father died, I’ve wept many times over the questions I wish I could have asked him and for the grandchildren he’s never met. He left us so quickly; he left without saying good-bye. I sometimes envy those whose parents are still alive. My own children are now married and gone, but I still feel the need to call them at times and just say, “I love you and I’m proud of you!” I think that’s important!

The ultimate absentee parent is one who is dead. There are no arguments to be had and no issues to be resolved. If you can fill the empty seat in your life, do it while there’s still time. If your parents are gone, reach out to your children; overcome every obstacle and love them. When the prodigal son finally came home, he wasn’t greeted with scorn or, “I told you so.” He may have been a failure to everyone else, but not to his dad! His father’s arms reached out to hold him, because he knew that when he touched his son, he was touching himself. So long as we’re still alive, we’ll disappoint each other. It’s part of being human. But if God’s love can’t overcome our disappointments, then we’re sure to die lonely.


Don’t let that happen to you![1]


[1] Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 151). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

May 31 Life-Changing Moments With God


Your name shall … be called … Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed.

My Lord God, in his strength Jacob struggled with You. Yes he struggled with Your Angel and prevailed; he wept, and sought favor from You. Abraham did not waver at Your promise through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving You glory.

I will have faith in You. For assuredly, Jesus taught, whoever says to this mountain, “Be removed and be cast into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore Jesus says to me, whatever things I ask when I pray, if I believe that I will receive them, I will have them. If I can believe, all things are possible to me who believes. I am blessed for I believe; there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told me from You, Lord.

Lord, increase my faith.

Yes, Lord, increase my faith so that I may see You more clearly, love You more dearly, and follow You more nearly.

Genesis 32:28; Hosea 12:3–4; Romans 4:20; Mark 11:22–24; Mark 9:23; Luke 1:45; Luke 17:5[1]


[1] Jeremiah, D. (2007). Life-Changing Moments With God (p. 166). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

May—31 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion


So Moses the servant of the Lord died.—Deut. 34:5.

My soul! close the month in contemplating the death of this highly-favoured servant of the Lord; and mark in him the sure event of all flesh—“Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” What a blessed account hath the Holy Ghost given of this man! “There arose not a prophet (we are told) like unto Moses, whom Jehovah knew face to face.” But, as if to draw an everlasting line of distinction between him and his Master, between the highest prophet and the Lord God of the prophets, the Holy Ghost was pleased, by the ministry of his servant the apostle, to state the vast distinction: “Moses verily was faithful (saith he) in all his house, as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after; but Christ as a Son over his own house, whose house are we.” (Heb. 3:5, 6.) Indeed, all the great and distinguishing events in the life of Moses became more or less brilliant, as they set forth in their typical representations, the person, work, or offices of the Lord Jesus Christ. Was Moses the Lord’s minister to bring the people out of Egypt; and what was this but a representation of the Lord Jesus, bringing his people out of the Egypt of sin, death, and hell? If Moses led the people through the Red Sea, and opened a path through the mighty waters; what was this but a type of the ever-blessed Jesus, bringing his redeemed through the red sea of his blood, and opening a new and living way into the presence of God? If Moses kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood through faith, what was the great object his faith looked at, but Christ our passover, and the blood of his sacrifice? Did he bring the people through the wilderness; and is not Jesus bringing all his people through? Did he feed them with manna, and give them water from the rock; and what did the manna prefigure but Jesus, the bread of life; and what was the rock but Christ, the water of life, in all ages of the Church, to his people? In short, every thing momentous in the Church’s history, wherein Moses ministered to the people, pointed, both in law and in sacrifice, to Jesus the Lamb of God, and his one all-sufficient sacrifice for the salvation of his redeemed. And even the death of Moses, the servant of the Lord, over and above the event of death, common to all, had this peculiar signification annexed to it, that, as the great lawgiver to the people, it set forth the inefficacy of the law to bring into Canaan; this could only be accomplished by Christ, who “is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.” Farewell, Moses! thou servant of the Lord! Thou, when thou hadst served thy generation, wast gathered to thy fathers, and like all the patriarchs, didst see corruption; but Jesus saw no corruption—he ever liveth, and is “the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever,” Hail, thou glorious Mediator of “a better covenant established upon better promises!” Be thou the Alpha and Omega of thy word, thine ordinances, thy sanctuary, thy servants! To thee all ministered; from thee all come; in thee all centered; and to thine everlasting praise all terminate, in bringing glory to Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, through Jesus Christ. Amen.[1]


[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 167–168). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

10 Key Bible Verses on Salvation | Crossway

This article is part of the Key Bible Verses series.

New Life in Christ

Because of Christ, believers are granted salvation from sin and the promise of eternal life. What hope we have in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus! Be encouraged by reading the following Scriptures with commentary from the ESV Study Bible.

Romans 6:23

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Those who give themselves to sin will die both physically and eternally, whereas Christians are assured of eternal life. Wages implies that the punishment for sin is what one has earned and what one deserves. Free gift is the opposite of something one deserves, which fits Paul’s earlier emphasis on justification by grace alone, through faith alone (trusting in Christ for justification; see Rom. 1:17; Rom. 3:21–4:25).

Philippians 2:12–13

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

The Philippians have obeyed (cf. Christ’s obedience, Phil. 2:8) in the past and should continue to do so as they work out their salvation with fear and trembling. They cannot be content with past glories but need to demonstrate their faith day by day as they nurture their relationship with God. But while God’s justice is a cause for sober living (“fear and trembling”), it is not as though Paul wants the Philippians to be anxious that they can never be good enough to merit God’s favor. Rather, it is God’s love and enabling grace that will see them through: it is God who works in you. They can rejoice in God’s empowering presence even as they work hard at living responsible Christian lives. While Philippians 2:12 may seem to suggest salvation by works, it is clear that Paul rejects any such teaching (cf. Phil 3:2–11). In Philippians 2:12 Paul means “salvation” in terms of progressively coming to experience all of the aspects and blessings of salvation. The Philippians’ continued obedience is an inherent part of “working out” their salvation in this sense. But as Philippians 2:13 demonstrates, these works are the result of God’s work within his people. both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Even the desire (“to will”) to do what is good comes from God; but he also works in the believer to generate actual choices of the good, so that the desires result in actions.

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus as the one way to the Father fulfills the Old Testament symbols and teachings that show the exclusiveness of God’s claim, such as the curtain (Ex. 26:33) barring access to God’s presence from all except the Levitical high priest (Lev. 16), the rejection of human inventions as means to approach God (Lev. 10:2), and the choice of Aaron alone to represent Israel before God in his sanctuary (Num. 17:5). Jesus is the only “way” to God (Acts 4:12), and he alone can provide access to God. Jesus as the truth fulfills the teaching of the Old Testament (John 1:17) and reveals the true God (cf. John 1:14, 17; John 5:33; John 18:37; also John 8:40, 45–46; John 14:9). Jesus alone is the life who fulfills the Old Testament promises of “life” given by God (John 11:25–26), having life in himself (John 1:4; John 5:26), and he is thus able to confer eternal life to all those who believe in him (e.g., John 3:16). This is another “I am” saying that makes a claim to deity.

Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

Paul explains why he is so eager to preach the gospel everywhere: the gospel is the saving power of God, in which the righteousness of God is revealed.

Because of their lack of size, fame, or honor in the Roman corridors of power and influence, Christians might be tempted to be ashamed of the Christian message. But Paul says it is nothing to be ashamed of, for it is in fact a message coming with the power of God that brings people to salvation. “Jew” first indicates the priority of the Jews in salvation history and their election as God’s people. The role of the Jews is a major issue in Romans, as seen especially in the discussion in Romans chs. 9–11. Greek is not limited here to people from Greece but refers to all Gentiles.

John 1:12–13

But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

“Receive him” implies not merely intellectual agreement with some facts about Jesus but also welcoming and submitting to him in a personal relationship. “Believed in” (Gk. pisteuō eis) implies personal trust. “His name” refers to all that is true about him, and therefore the totality of his person. “Born, not of blood . . . , but of God” makes clear that neither physical birth nor ethnic descent nor human effort can make people children of God, but only God’s supernatural work (John 8:41–47; cf. John 3:16). This extends the possibility of becoming God’s children to Gentiles and not just Jews (John 11:51–52; cf. John 10:16). See also John 3:3–8. “To all . . . who believed . . . he gave the right” indicates that saving faith precedes becoming members of God’s family through adoption as his children.

Ephesians 1:13–14

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

“Sealed” can mean either that the Holy Spirit protects and preserves Christians until they reach their inheritance (see Eph. 4:30; 2 Cor. 1:22; 1 Pet. 1:5; Rev. 7:2–3) or that he “certifies” the authenticity of their acceptance by God as being genuine—they bear the “royal seal” (see John 3:33; Acts 10:44, 47). The first interpretation seems best here, though both ideas are biblically true.

God pours out his Holy Spirit on all of his children to guarantee (or to provide a “down payment” on) their share in his eternal kingdom because he applies to them all God’s powerful working in redemption. “until we acquire possession of it.” This phrase can also be rendered “until God redeems his possession.” In that case it means that, like the Levites in the Old Testament, believers are the Lord’s specially treasured possession (see Num. 3:12, 45; Num. 8:14; Josh. 14:3–4; 18:7).

John 3:3–6

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

This discussion of the need for spiritual rebirth further develops the earlier reference to the “children of God” who are “born of God” (John 1:12–13; cf. John 8:39–58; John 11:51–52). The phrase “born of water and the Spirit” in John 3:5 refers to spiritual birth, which cleanses from sin and brings spiritual transformation and renewal. Water here does not refer to the water of physical birth, nor is it likely that it refers to baptism. The background is probably Ezekiel 36:25–27, where God promises, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean. . . . And I will give you a new heart. . . . And I will put my Spirit within you.” For further discussion of being born again, see 1 John 2:29; 3:9; 4:7; 5:1, 4, 18. The kingdom of God, a major topic in the other Gospels, is mentioned in John only in 3:3, 5 (see the reference to Jesus’ kingdom in John 18:36).

John 3:16–18

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

Here is the most famous summary of the gospel in the entire Bible. “For” connects to v. 15 and explains what happened to make it possible that someone can “have eternal life” (John 3:15), that is, through believing in Christ. God so loved the world was an astounding statement in that context because the Old Testament and other Jewish writings had spoken only of God’s love for his people Israel. God’s love for “the world” made it possible for “whoever” (John 3:15) believes in Christ, not Jews alone, to have eternal life. God’s love for the world was not mere sentiment but led to a specific action: he gave his only Son, which John elsewhere explains as sending him to earth as a man (John 3:17) to suffer and die and thereby to bear the penalty for sins. The purpose of giving his Son was to make God’s great gift of eternal life available to anyone—to whoever believes in him, that is, whoever personally trusts in him. “Not perish” means not perish in eternal judgment, in contrast to having eternal life, the life of abundant joy and immeasurable blessing in the presence of God forever. Those who “believe in” Christ have that “eternal life” and already experience its blessings in this present time, not yet fully, but in some significant measure.

Those who do not believe and trust in Christ have neither a positive nor a neutral standing before God. They stand condemned already before God for their sins because they have not trusted God’s solution for guilt, the only Son of God. This verse also refutes the assertion that a sincere person following any religion can have eternal life with God (cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12; Rom. 10:13–17; 1 Tim. 2:5–6; regarding Old Testament believers who looked forward to Christ, see John 8:56; Rom. 4:1–24; Heb. 11:13, 26).

Titus 2:11–14

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Christians should live this way because (“for”) the grace of God that saves also instructs its recipients to live in a new way. One cannot truly claim to be a recipient of saving grace without also being a pupil of “training grace.” This change in lifestyle is rooted in the atonement (Titus 2:14) and the expectation of Christ’s return (Titus 2:13).

“Bringing salvation” for all people is sometimes misunderstood as meaning that all people will be saved. However, such a reading is not necessary here and flatly contradicts other Scripture. It means, rather, that salvation has been offered to all people (including all ethnic groups), not just to some.

Saving grace teaches its recipients to say no to sin and yes to godliness. In the present age stresses that this godliness is to be lived out in the here and now. It also sets up the reference to the future return of Christ (Titus 2:13). Certainty about the future enables constancy in the present.

The Greek for waiting (prosdechomai) often carries a connotation of eagerness. Eagerly expecting the return of Christ is the way grace trains Christians to renounce sin and live in a godly way (see Titus 2:11–12). Setting one’s mind on the truth of Christ’s return impels a person to holiness (see 1 John 3:2–3). Our blessed hope means Christ’s second coming, which Paul calls the appearing of . . . our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. It may seem unclear whether Paul refers here to two persons of the Godhead (God the Father and Jesus Christ) or whether he describes Jesus as God and Savior. The Greek grammar, however, is well reflected in this translation and indicates that Jesus is being identified as “our great God and Savior” (cf. John 1:1; 20:28; etc.).

Paul anchors his call for godliness in the fact that one purpose of Jesus’ death was to make his people holy. To forsake godliness is to despise the sacrifice of Christ. Paul roots this in the Old Testament with the phrase to redeem us from all lawlessness, which in Greek closely resembles the Septuagint of Ps. 130:8. A people for his own possession translates an unusual phrase (Gk. laon periousion) with intentional echoes from the Old Testament (see esp. Ex. 19:5; Mal. 3:17). It has the sense of “prized, treasured possession.” These people are to be zealous for good works, so again redemption is tied specifically to living in a godly manner. There is no room for claiming to be redeemed while providing no evidence of practical transformation (see James 2:14–26).

1 Thessalonians 5:9–10

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

“For” connects this verse with either 1 Thess. 5:6–8 in general or the specific exhortation in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 to put on the helmet of hope. Paul restates what he said in 1 Thessalonians 5:4: the Thessalonians have nothing to worry about, because they are destined not for wrath but for salvation at the second coming.

“Awake” alludes to the concern of the living Christians regarding their destiny on the day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:1–11), while “asleep” alludes to the destiny of deceased Christians (1 Thess. 4:13–18). live. At the second coming, Christians will experience a new quality of life in the company of Christ.

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Source: 10 Key Bible Verses on Salvation