Daily Archives: June 26, 2020

The Danger of Loveless Discernment — The Master’s Seminary Blog

Turbulent times call for bold Christians. In days like these the church of God needs people who, like the men of Issachar, understand the times and are willing to confidently speak the truth (1 Chron. 12:32). Unfortunately, it’s easy to go wrong with the call to discernment.

The Christian corners of the internet are filled with discernment warriors, searching (often with detectible traces of giddiness) for the next false teacher or “Big Eva” sell-out. In the name of routing out falsehood, these self-appointed lions of truth turn their fangs on struggling and confused brothers and sisters in the faith, dragging them before the social media pack as outsiders to be devoured. Somewhere in this fight, the healthy practice of discernment has morphed into something more like malevolence.
But there is a ditch on the other side of the road as well. Many in the modern church disregard discernment altogether. For them, Jude’s appeal to “earnestly contend for the faith” falls on deaf ears (Jude 1:3). Worse even than ignoring this command, some professing Christians write off the practice of discernment as inherently uncharitable and judgmental.

But when it comes to discernment, we must take care not to fall into either of these errors. True discernment from the church, now more than ever, is sorely needed—the kind of truth-speaking that is done with boldness and with tears and pleading.

Truth Matters

Truth is to be the message of all believers (Eph. 4:15). Should we be surprised then that the enemy’s main tactic is deception (Rev. 12:9)? Believers are in a war over truth, that much is clear. Consequently, believers must exercise discernment, but in a way that “adorn[s] the doctrine of God our savior in every respect” (Titus 2:10).

We must wield discernment like a surgeon’s scalpel. We are called to speak the truth, yes. But we are called to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). That does not mean speaking less truth. But it should be a heart check for us in how we speak the truth. How sad it would be if, in our attempts to be discerning, that ever-clever Devil twisted our love for truth into a love of gossip and contempt for others. What if he succeeded in tempting us to err in our walk even as we were seeking to reject error in our doctrine?

If we are to practice discernment in love, we must discern with precision, humility, and sorrow—not to temper the truth, but rather that we might bolster the truth with our love that we might more honor Christ and persuade the erring.

Discern with Precision

Discerning in love means discerning with precision. Charles Spurgeon said, “Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between right and wrong; rather it is telling the difference between right and almost right.” And John Murray said, “The difference between truth and error is not a chasm but a razor’s edge.” They are right. As you read through the New Testament epistles, you often find the writers addressing what appear to be incredibly fine points of doctrinal disagreement.
So, when it comes to doctrinal issues, we must wield discernment like a surgeon’s scalpel, carefully incising into a teaching to separate the bad tissue of error from the healthy tissue of truth. But we must be precise in how we go about exercising discernment. We are not only dissecting the false teaching, we are also trying to persuade our brothers and sisters to turn away from it. Yet many self-described watchmen treat discernment less like a scalpel and more like a broadsword, wildly mowing down believers by the herd with every careless tweet.

Precision in how we apply discernment means marking that distinction between deceived and deceiver, and treating them accordingly. There’s a difference between a false teacher, and someone who has been deceived by false teaching. Your mother-in-law shouldn’t be burned at the stake for listening to a health and wealth preacher. She needs someone to take the time to make a loving, patient, prayerful exposition of Scripture to show her why it is unbiblical. Precision recognizes that your buddy with bad theology is blessedly inconsistent. He’s not necessarily a heretic, he’s just an immature believer in need of doctrinal correction. Just observe the difference in how our Lord dealt with the Pharisees versus the others He came across.


Jesus had a whip for false teachers, but he wept for the deceived


When we discern with precision, we don’t give credence to those who would dismiss us as wide-eyed zealots who have a bone to pick with everyone. Instead, we are to be above reproach in our conduct that we might behave more like genuinely concerned Christians who have a love for truth and desire to see others know and obey God. But this is not as easy at it sounds, because it takes humility.

Discern with Humility

Among those who display an unhealthy relationship with discernment, there seems to be a proclivity towards a very specific sin—pride.

Some romanticize the image of being watchmen on the wall, gate-keepers of truth, or the lone voice in the wilderness. They love to regale us with tales of how they confronted so-and-so on the internet. They seem more interested in being perceived as having won the argument than seeing others come to a saving knowledge of the truth. To them, the deceived are morons who just need to read their Bibles. This is an unmistakable arrogance.


When we encounter a deceived person,
we must ever remember “there but for the grace of God go I”


A humble discerner does not gloat. He is not quarrelsome (1 Tim. 3:3). He doesn’t have an unhealthy craving for controversy (1 Tim. 6:4). The humble discerner recognizes that it is the Holy Spirit who opens the eyes of the heart to the truth and his job, therefore, is to patiently and lovingly correct error. Sometimes those rebukes are sharp (Titus 1:13), but they are never prideful or unloving.

Practicing precision and humility in our discernment is the natural outflow of our love for others. But there is one more attitude that we should attend to as we practice discernment with love. Instead of beating our chests in triumph when we win an argument, we should be beating our breasts in sorrow that eternal souls are being deceived.

Discern with Sorrow

I hope by now the point is clear—practicing discernment is not unloving, as some would claim, but you can be unloving in how you practice discernment. There should be a profound sorrow when we see error in the church. It is natural for us to feel a sense of righteous anger, even personal indignation at the dissemination of error about our Lord (Ps. 69:9).


But false teaching is a tragedy as much as it is a travesty


It’s a grievous thing to see the name of our Lord maligned and to see His people tricked by wolves in sheep’s clothing.

This is another good heart check as we practice discernment. Do you only feel anger or are you moved to sorrow as well? Do you care about the people being misled enough that it causes you to weep and pray? That sorrow and care, if real, will be evident to those whom you try to persuade away from error. Genuine concern for the truth and for the deceived will result in discernment practiced with sorrow.

Don’t Retreat

By God’s help may we not retreat from the fight for truth. May we be all the more invigorated by a love for our Lord, His truth, and His people. And may this commitment be evident to all as we discern with precision, humility, and sorrow.

[Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated.]

via The Danger of Loveless Discernment — The Master’s Seminary Blog

Big Name Conservatives Flock to New Social Media App After Twitter Censorship — Faithwire

Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via APJonathan Newton/The Washington Post via AP

Top conservative lawmakers and activists are moving to a new social media app — Parler — as Twitter continues to suppress speech.

This week alone, Parler, which brands itself as a “free speech social network,” has seen a 50% surge in new users, according to Mediaite. The exodus comes as Twitter, a progressive-owned site, continues to flag tweets by President Donald Trump, whose account is the first result if one searches “racist” on the website.
Twitter also permanently suspended the accounts of a popular conservative meme maker as well as a widely known right-leaning pundit.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) posted a video Thursday announcing he would be joining Parler. In the clip, the former presidential candidate said the nascent platform “gets what free speech is all about.”

“Let’s speak; let’s speak freely, and let’s end the Silicon Valley censorship,” said the senator, noting sites like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter have “an unparalleled ability to shape what Americans see, and hear, and ultimately think.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has joined Parler, too. Many leading conservative thought leaders have also added the new app to their social media channels, according to The Washington Examiner.

Conservative writer Sean Davis wrote that Twitter founder and CEO Jack Dorsey “has no tolerance” for Trump “announcing that he will defend the rule of law,” referring to a presidential post Twitter suppressed.

In just a few days, Parler went from around one million users to 1.5 million, according to data given to Mediaite. It should be noted, of course, that number is incredibly small in comparison to the 330 million users currently on Twitter.

Rather than leaving Twitter altogether, it appears many conservatives are simply adding Parler to their Rolodex of go-to social media outlets.

via Big Name Conservatives Flock to New Social Media App After Twitter Censorship — Faithwire

You Can Please God | Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

Often in counseling, when asked specifically about how a counselee pleased God in a given week, he or she will say something like, “Well, I read my Bible every day, but I’m sure I just did it to be smart and impress my friends.” Or, “I shared the gospel with my neighbor, but after reflecting on it, I think I just did it out of duty, not out of a delight in God.” As a pastor and biblical counselor I appreciate the emphasis on the heart, and certainly don’t want to encourage outward obedience from a heart not directed towards God’s glory. My concern, however, with these types of responses is that they are often coming from an overemphasis on depravity and a corresponding underemphasis on our union with Christ.

As believers, we want to hold biblical truths together and not allow one to trump the other. If we overemphasize depravity to the neglect of what Christ has accomplished for us, it results in a false humility that presents Christ as a weak savior. In our carelessness, we can begin to think of Christ only as the one who justified us legally (Romans 3:21-26) but not as the one who has overthrown the ruling power of indwelling sin (Romans 6:1-14).

In Christ, It Is Possible to Please God

It is far better to hold to the totality of Scripture and affirm that, sinful though we are, we can please God in Christ. This is exactly what we’ve been commanded to do. Paul affirms in 2 Corinthians 5:9, “So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please [Christ].” In context, the mention of “home or away” by Paul is a reference to his being in heaven with Christ or remaining on this earth. Paul asserts then that whether he is on earth or dies and enters the presence of the Lord, he exists for the good pleasure of God. Like the Apostle Paul, even as we await our future glorification, we can please Christ.

We do readily admit, however, that we cannot do this in our strength, but only in the power which God supplies. The author of Hebrews takes up this theme in his benediction: “Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-21 emphasis mine). It is not hard to spot the active work of “the God of peace” in our works pleasing unto him. It is God who “equip(s) you with everything good” to do his will. It is God “working in us that which is pleasing in his sight.” Further, our doing of God’s will is “through Jesus Christ” to his glory. In Christ, we can live, think, and act in ways that accord with God’s will and therefore please him. So what about the sinful desires of the flesh?

Beware the Flesh

We don’t want to get out of balance in the other direction and disregard the maze of desires that is a sinful heart. We are warned in Scripture about the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13) as well as our inability to decipher the intentions of our hearts (Jeremiah 17:9). Even the Apostle Paul laments in Romans 7 that he does the very sinful acts he doesn’t want to do and doesn’t do the righteous acts he wants to do. We should certainly heed these warnings and be suspicious of our motives. However, the Bible does not assume that we can never please God even if we can usually point to a hidden motive lurking in our hearts.

What Do We Make of Mixed Motives?

How then are we to reconcile the truth that we are empowered to please God and that our motives are often amiss when we do the very things God is calling us to do? Not surprisingly, the answer is found in the work of Christ as our perfect representative and substitute. Our good works are acceptable and pleasing to God not because they are without mixed motive, but because Christ obeyed as our representative with nothing less than perfect motives. The Apostle Peter makes this point: “you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). The spiritual sacrifices that Peter mentions are good works offered up to God. Notice that these spiritual sacrifices, or good works, are a delight to God because they come through Christ. It is Christ that makes our God-pleasing efforts acceptable, not the fact they are without any admixture of weakness, frailty, or impure motive. The English Puritan John Owen states it well:

“Believers obey Christ as the one whom our obedience is accepted by God. Believers know all their duties are weak, imperfect, and unable to abide in God’s presence. Therefore they look to Christ as the one who bears the iniquity of their holy things, who adds incense to their prayers, gathers out all the weeds from their duties and makes them acceptable to God.”

Ultimately, we can please God because Christ takes our imperfect efforts and makes them acceptable to God. Holding these truths in tension we are free to exercise real humility. We will neither denigrate the Savior by being so introspective that we deny his sanctifying work in us, nor will we take credit for our good works or be afraid to admit that our striving after godliness is often mixed with weakness and imperfection. Instead, we make it our aim to please Christ and insofar as we do that, we recognize that it is only due to God’s grace, the work of Christ, and the sanctification of the Spirit (Philippians 2:12-13).


This blog was originally posted at Gospel Mercies, view the original post here.

Source: You Can Please God

In a viral video, Joe Biden said that there were “120 million dead” in the United States from Coronavirus. There are 360 million people in the United States. Ironically, he was talking about mental health at the time.

Below is a video of Biden claiming that guns have killed 150 million in the United States.

But it’s not just Joe Biden that seems to be going senile. Here’s a clip of Nancy Pelosi who just referred to George Floyd as…George Kirby? Pelosi was probably remembering a popular comedian from her childhood in the 1930s.


These people are clearly not okay.

via It’s Time to Admit that Biden and Pelosi are Clearly NOT Okay Mentally — Pulpit & Pen News

Roger Stone Discusses Current Dilemma with Lou Dobbs – Corrupt Judge Amy Berman Jackson Will Decide Whether He Goes to Prison Now or Not — The Gateway Pundit

Roger Stone was on Lou Dobbs this evening discussing the outrageous situation the Obama Deep State put him in.  Stone has been directed to report to prison despite being elderly and the COVID virus being reported in the prison he is to report to.

We’ve reported on the abusive actions that the corrupt Mueller gang took in their arrest and indictment of Roger Stone.

This all started when Stone was ambushed at 6 AM at his house in Florida by twenty-something FBI agents and CNN reporters based on total garbage charges related to Russia collusion which didn’t exist (and the investigators and prosecutors knew it).

Last week Roger Stone provided us an historic response to the Muller gang’s recent corrupt actions and the kangaroo court he then had to endure.

by Roger Stone

[emphasis ours]

Late yesterday the Department of Justice released previously redacted sections of the discredited Report regarding me. The Russian Collusion and Wikileaks collaboration so adamantly insisted would be proved by propaganda fronts like Mother Jones, Vox and CNN is nowhere to be found.

One of the redacted sections the Mueller report released yesterday re-cycles the false claim by Michael Cohen that he overheard a conversation on the telephone between me and candidate Donald Trump in 2016 regarding the WikiLeaks disclosures. The President has denied this in his written answers to Mueller and I have denied it under oath before the House Intelligence Committee. This was not among even the contrived charges against me for lying to Congress. No such conversation ever took place.

This is not new. Michael Cohen made this same claim under oath to the House Oversight Committee on February 27, 2019 in a public hearing which was widely covered. It is also false and Mueller’s dirty cops could find no corroboration whatsoever for this fantasy. First Cohen told the Dirty Cops that this alleged call happened in July during the Democratic National Convention. Then he changed his story and said it was in August just before the Republican National Convention.

I denied Cohen’s lie in February 2019 and was chastised by Judge Amy Berman Jackson for commenting on it and thus violating her unconstitutional gag order even though my simple public comment had been approved by my lawyer

My only comment at the time was “Mr. Cohen’s claim is not true” however DOJ prosecutor Adam Jed said in a filing with the DC Court of Appeals in response to a Writ of Mandamus that I filed regarding the gag order that I called Cohen who he said was “a prospective witness” at my trial a “liar” which I never said. Jed used a newspaper link that does NOT quote me as saying this as documentation. In other words Adam Jed perpetrated a fraud upon the Court, among the many acts of misconduct by the prosecutors in my case that will be the subject of a formal complaint to the Office of Professional Responsibility at the DOJ as well as the DC Bar next week. Cohen was not called at my Soviet style show trial.

As to the alleged conversations with Manafort and Gates referred to in yesterday’s released material, which frankly I have no memory whatsoever of and the government could find no corroboration of – they are completely consistent with what I was saying on Twitter at the time and are based on Assange’s own many public comments and by the tip by leftist gadfly Randy Credico that the WikiLeaks disclosures would be harmful to Hillary’s campaign and would come in October. I supplied 30 pages of text messages between Credico and myself to the Office of Special Counsel that confirm Credico saying exactly that. I also released this material publicly because the Mueller Investigation was a politically motivated witch hunt, this exculpatory information was ignored.

Even as you read this the Federal Bureau of prisons has informed my attorneys the Attorney General William Barr’s COVID – 19 directive that federal inmates convicted of non-violent crimes be moved from prison incarceration to home confinement apply to Michael Avenatti, Michael Cohen and Rick Gates but not Roger Stone. On June 30, I must report to a federal penitentiary far from my home where there’s a documented presence of COVID-19. At 65 years old and with a history of asthma this is a death sentence. This is the Federal Bureau of Prisons, under control of Attorney General William Barr. So much for the claim by the Democrats that Barr has shown me preferential treatment in my sentencing.

I will continue to fight for my freedom and will exhaust every legal remedy possible after which I pray that President Donald Trump will issue clemency as an act of both justice and mercy.

In the meantime I need your help. Please go to StoneDefenseFund.Com

Tonight Stone was on with Lou Dobbs and he reiterated his position. His case is currently in the hands of the most corrupt judge in the US – Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

Even the President knows Judge Jackson is corrupt:

via Roger Stone Discusses Current Dilemma with Lou Dobbs – Corrupt Judge Amy Berman Jackson Will Decide Whether He Goes to Prison Now or Not — The Gateway Pundit

Christianity – The Next Target of the ‘Cancel Wars’ — CBN News feeds

St. John's Episcopal Church across from the White House was attacked and damaged by protesters (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
St. John’s Episcopal Church across from the White House was attacked and damaged by protesters (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

As protests have escalated in the push for racial justice, the latest polls show a majority of Americans agree with efforts to tear down Confederate statues.  But now radicals are pushing way beyond that mark in a fight to completely cancel anything they find offensive, from George Washington to Jesus Christ. Next stop: your churches.

In Washington, they already burned part of the historic St. John’s Church a couple of weeks ago.  But all you heard in the media was that the “evil” Trump cleared out protesters so he could walk over to the church and hold up the Bible for all to see.  The prelude aside, what I noted was our President taking a stand against an evil attack on churches being perpetrated by violent rioters – drawing a spiritual line in the sand to say that the evil would not stand against the true Word of God.  To the “liberal” churchmen and ladies, and to some others whom Trump has reaching for the smelling salts, it was just another bad act from “Orangeman.”  From where I sit, it looks to me like he’s one of the few trying to defend our beliefs.

Related



Now The Washington Examiner points out, “Christian figures and symbols have increasingly become the subject of debate as protesters across the country demand a reckoning on racial justice…”

Did you catch what Shaun King, one of the far-left activists pushing for radical change, said about statues that show Jesus with a fair complexion?

In a series of tweets Monday reported by CBN News, King said all images depicting Jesus as a “white European” should be torn down because they are a form of “white supremacy” and “racist propaganda.”  He went on to tweet that all imagery, including “murals and stained glass windows of white Jesus, and his European mother, and their white friends,” should be taken down.

I’m the first to say that Jesus of Nazareth was a Middle Eastern Jew; it is most unlikely that his skin was lily white.  But over the centuries since His resurrection, those who have had their lives transformed by Him have usually thought of Him as being like themselves in looks. Our dear Ethiopian brothers and sisters have for 1,500 years created art depicting our Savior as a black man.  As a white girl, I’m not offended by that.

As the Bible makes clear, Jesus Christ came to save ALL people, no matter their race or color.  We are of ONE blood, ONE race, created by a God who loves us ALL.  But that tenet which was taught by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Billy Graham, and millions of other Christians, is not what the Black Lives Matter organization believes.  The mere fact that my skin is white makes me irredeemable to some, and my Christian faith not worthy to even be spoken of, much less proclaimed as the answer for the world.

I know that’s not what all of you brothers and sisters who marched with them were saying.  For many of you, it was a protest against what happened to George Floyd, or for the times you got pulled over just because you were black, or to call attention to miscarriages of justice on many levels.  All very good reasons to march.  But the radicals don’t care about that…really.  It’s a revolution to them, and that makes this a most opportune time to push their agenda to overthrow America and put themselves in charge.  That agenda says Christianity has to go because true Biblical Christianity has always been about freedom and equality. Because all men and women are created equal before God and because of that we ALL have certain “unalienable rights.”  That very Biblical belief is actually in our founding document, the Declaration of Independence.  But the far-left elements of the movement don’t believe in freedom of religion.  They believe in censorship and canceling.  See why Christianity has to go, right along with the founders who dreamed of a free nation?

So where will you stand when your church’s stained-glass windows are blown out, or your Bibles burned?  Someone has to draw a line right?

There’s a clear difference between folks who are pushing for reform and those who are pushing to overthrow America. Who will fix this country’s problems? It’s not going to be the compromisers or appeasers, or the ones who want to tell you that a man who was never in his life considered a racist until he ran for office is your enemy.  Nor is your ally the one that tells you America is an evil country.  This is a time for soul searching for the entire nation, churchgoers and protesters alike.  If you think in your heart that your black neighbor or your white neighbor or your brown neighbor is not as good as you because of the color of his or her skin, you need to repent before God.

If we are to remain a free people, we as Americans need to stand up for our country and the rights of us all, and resist the evil that would divide us.  Resist in prayer.  At the ballot box.  And if necessary, in a huge group marching PEACEFULLY in the streets and calling our nation to repentance.  Not to become a Communist “utopia” that’s never existed in all the earth, but a “more perfect union” where we still know what makes us that “shining city on a hill.”

via Christianity – The Next Target of the ‘Cancel Wars’ — CBN News feeds

June 26 Your Way or God’s?

 

He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.
(Psalms 25:9, NIV)

God had a plan, but Abraham had a good idea; as a result, Ishmael was born. Abraham and Sarah couldn’t understand why God was taking so long, so they took the matter into their own hands. Sound familiar? Note that God blessed Ishmael and made him a great nation, and, in His mercy today, God is blessing a lot of things that we’ve given birth to “in the flesh.” But, even though He blesses our Ishmaels, He won’t inhabit them, and He can’t fulfill His ultimate purposes through them. The only thing God will use in these last days is that which is born of His will, in His timing, and by His Spirit. God may bless your Ishmael, but you’ll have to feed him, and, before you’re through, you’ll wish you’d done it God’s way.

Some of you reading these words right now know from painful experience what I’m speaking about. But that’s a price you don’t have to pay if you’ll just listen to God and follow His direction. David said, “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way.” (Psalms 25:9, NIV) God will show you what’s right for you, if you’ll seek Him. There are only two ways—His way and yours! If you’re tired of trying things your way, get down on your knees today and humbly ask Him to show you His way.

 

Why would you even consider anything else?[1]

 

[1] Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 177). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

06/26/2020 — Wretched

WR2020-0626

•Your questions, comments, and snarks
•Are you a German Fish?
•Dealing with doubts after 50 years of salvation
•Does the call for repentance deny faith alone?
•What training should pastors have? Are seminaries necessary?
•Can a true believer lose their salvation?
•Is your pastor ignoring Bible study?
•How do I teach my children about substitutionary atonement?
•Are church covenants unbiblical?
•Why will we need bodies in Heaven?
•What do you think of Chick Fil A today?
•Should Christians run for political office?
•Should Mississippi change their flag?
•I don’t like that my husband gets massages

Download Now (right click and save)

via 06/26/2020 — Wretched

Pro-Trump Documentary Featuring Commentary from Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, Tony Perkins, Jack Graham, and Other Evangelical Leaders Aims to Motivate ConservativeVoters — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Resurrection Pictures

Over $80,600 has been raised as part of an effort to get an upcoming pro-Trump documentary featuring remarks from conservative evangelical leaders into as many as 1,500 theatres this fall. 

Organizers for the new Resurrection Pictures film “Trump 2024” have launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to distribute the documentary, which has been in the works for over two years. The film aims to encourage Americans to imagine what path the world could be headed down if Trump is not reelected in November.

The documentary features commentary from evangelical leaders such as evangelist Franklin Graham, Samuel Rodriguez, Mike Huckabee, Robert Jeffress, Tony Perkins, Paula White, Jack Graham and Jack Hibbs, along with conservative voices like Star Parker, Dennis Prager, Brigitte Gabriel and Eric Metaxas.

“He offended just about everybody when he was running in 2016, but his offensiveness was just brutal honesty,” Graham, president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and son of the late Billy Graham, was quoted as saying on the Kickstarter campaign. “If he doesn’t like you, he’ll tell you he doesn’t like you. He’s a unique person, but the media hates him because he speaks the truth — and they don’t know how to handle the truth.”

The movie is produced by physician and filmmaker William Harrity, who says he founded Resurrection Films as the world’s first Christian nonprofit film distribution company.

“He called me about a year-and-a-half ago and said he raised some money to do a documentary on Donald Trump to not only show a side of Donald Trump that the secular media wouldn’t show, but he said there are some interesting prophetic elements about Trump,” co-producer Paul Crouch Jr. told The Christian Post in an interview this week.

“So we wanted to look into that and create something that was interesting and entertaining, and to reconnect Christians and evangelicals with Trump based on biblical values.”

The film features testimony from Trump supporter Mike Lindell, the founder of MyPillow, and Alveda King, a pro-life advocate and niece of Martin Luther King Jr.

The documentary’s fundraising effort comes just weeks after a group of 30 evangelical figures released a book calling on white evangelicals to rethink their support for Trump in 2020 and question whether the entirety of Trump’s policies and his actions line up with biblical values. In 2016, exits polls showed that eight out of 10 white evangelicals voted for Trump.

Crouch told CP that part of the film focuses on the leftward push toward “socialism” and how Trump has vowed to stand against that push. He said the biblical prophecies tied to socialism and the “one-world government” will be only a “minor” theme of the film.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith

via Pro-Trump Documentary Featuring Commentary from Franklin Graham, Robert Jeffress, Tony Perkins, Jack Graham, and Other Evangelical Leaders Aims to Motivate ConservativeVoters — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Craving Control in the Wilderness — Unlocking the Bible

After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships with family and friends, and I prayed for the Lord to prepare me for these opportune times. And while he did answer that prayer, the opportunities he provided were not the ones for which I had hoped. Instead, the Lord thrust me into a very painful and difficult “wilderness” season during which I sometimes wondered how I would survive.

Though not a physical place, this wilderness was a period of time that felt wild, dark, and scary due to the uncomfortable trials that God allowed in my life. It was not the peaceful “promised land” of retirement that I had imagined. I identified with the Israelites, who entered unfamiliar territory after being miraculously delivered by God from the Egyptians. They were not immediately brought to the Promised Land but spent forty years in the wilderness.

When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.” But God led the people around by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle (Ex. 13:17-18).

God used a wilderness detour to teach his people, and the same was true for me. In my wandering through the wilderness, God taught me four truths about control.

The Role of Control

1. God is in control of our circumstances, even when we don’t understand what he is doing.

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law (Deut. 29:29).

Before God took me on a wilderness detour, I didn’t realize the depth of my desire to control my life. This desire was like tangled weeds, choking the growth of my faith. When things were going well, I found it easy to deceive myself into thinking my faith was strong. But when trials continued to multiply, I was not able to fully “trust in the Lord with all [my] heart and lean not on [my] own understanding” (Prov. 3:5). My faith needed to develop deeper roots. God used his Word to help me understand that he is often working in secret ways that I cannot see or understand (Deut. 29:29). And God is not obligated to explain his ways to me! As I believed his Word, my illusion of control weakened and my trust in God’s sovereignty deepened.

2. We can control our responses to the circumstances that God allows.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Rom. 8:28).

I couldn’t choose the circumstances of this wilderness season, but I could choose my response. Charles Spurgeon said, “The same sun which melts wax hardens clay.”1 I faced a choice: would I be like wax, softened by the heat of trial, or would I harden like clay under the fire? Choosing a godly response to suffering was challenging. I was tempted to harden my heart, focusing on the perceived prominence of others’ sin instead of asking the Lord to reveal mine. By God’s grace, he “melted” my resistance, teaching me to forgive instead. The Holy Spirit enabled me to entrust my painful situations to the Lord’s care, knowing that God was working for my good. I used to think that this meant everything would work out the way I wanted, as in “happily ever after.” But the “good” referred to in Romans 8:28 is that of becoming more like Christ—which is truly the best “happily ever after” of all.

3. The Gospel acts as a compass to control our navigation through trials.

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Pet. 1:3).

The truths of the gospel had directed me to saving faith in Christ in the past. But the gospel was also necessary for enduring the present suffering to which God had called me in this wilderness experience. As I wrestled with putting one foot in front of the other, the Lord graciously revealed that I was pointing my gaze in the wrong direction. Instead of looking to Christ and relying on his power, I was focused on myself and my seemingly insurmountable circumstances. But clinging to 2 Peter 1:3 helped me get my bearings and remember an important gospel promise: Christ’s divine power had already provided everything I needed to navigate this path. And Christ’s presence ensured that I would never walk alone.

4. God calls us to surrender to his control by holding our plans loosely.

The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps (Prov. 16:9).

After a year of struggle, I thought I was finally leaving the wilderness behind. And then a tiny nodule appeared on my thyroid. My uneasiness grew as I left the doctor’s office, considering what the biopsy might reveal. I picked up a book I had ordered, He Will Hold Me Fast 2, surprised to see the subtitle – A Journey with Grace Through Cancer – and to learn that this book detailed a woman’s experience with thyroid cancer. Two days later, fear gave way to panic with the official diagnosis of my own thyroid cancer. I wrestled with the Lord, asking why he would allow this now. This was not my plan following the difficult wilderness I had just endured!

In God’s mercy, I began to realize that I had never surrendered my retirement desires to the Lord. I had merely prayed that he would provide for what I had planned. The Lord helped me discover a different way to pray: “Lord, cancer is not what I wanted or planned for my retirement years. But if this is what you are now calling me to experience, I submit to your plan. I don’t know how to do this, so please help me.” Interestingly, the title of that book later came to hold a different meaning; rather than striking fear, it became a wonderful reminder of the Lord’s ability to “hold me fast.” Just as the Israelites entered the wilderness “equipped for battle” (Ex. 13:18), God equipped me to handle treatments and surgery, and he encouraged me through the prayer and support of friends and family.

Now three years later, I am mercifully cancer-free and able to enjoy many of the relationship and ministry opportunities I had longed for in retirement. But there is something sweeter than these blessings. Although the wilderness season was a detour I never would have chosen, the Lord knew it was what I needed. Learning to trust his control and surrender my own has transformed my relationship with the Lord, which is now richer and more deeply-rooted than I ever thought possible. I don’t know what difficulties and opportunities every future day will hold, but I know who holds control of my future.

1. Charles Spurgeon. “The Lesson of the Almond Tree.” Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Volume XLVI. (Passmore and Alabaster, 1900).
2. Connie Dever. He Will Hold Me Fast: A Journey with Grace Through Cancer. (Ross-shire: Christian Focus Publications, Ltd., 2017).

Flynn.via Craving Control in the Wilderness — Unlocking the Bible

June 26 Frozen in Sin

 

Proverbs 5:23

[The wicked man] shall die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray.

The story is told of an eagle perched on a block of ice just above Niagra Falls. The swift current carried the ice and its majestic passenger close to the edge of the great precipice. Other birds warned the eagle of the danger ahead. But their words were unheeded. “I have great and powerful wings,” he boasted. “I can fly from my perch at any time.”

Suddenly the edge of the falls was only a few feet away. The eagle spread his powerful wings to mount up over his impending doom only to discover that his claws had become frozen to the block of ice.

Scripture warns those who think they are immune to sin to be careful! They are on the verge of falling (1 Corinthians 10:12; 1 Timothy 3:6). “I never thought it would happen to me” are words which have hounded many a person until their dying day (Proverbs 5:11–14). Every Christian needs to know that yielding to temptation can happen—and will, unless the instruction of wisdom is embraced.

Wisdom says, “Hear me clearly: The road to immorality is the road to destruction.”[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 185). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

Son of Encouragement (Part 2 of 2) – Programs – Truth For Life

Despite the connection provided by mobile phones and social media, studies show that we continue to struggle with loneliness. Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg explains why it’s important to have—and to be—a godly friend. 
Listen…

June 26, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

20 In v. 19 prayer was expressed as a direct transaction between the two on earth and God in heaven. But now a third party is introduced into the scene. The wording makes sense only as a forward look to the presence of the risen Christ among his earthly followers. Its thrust is thus similar to that of 28:20, but whereas there the presence of Jesus “with you” is expressed in relation to the new post-Easter situation, here it is, remarkably, already in the present. The perspective is thus that of Matthew’s church rather than of the disciple group during Jesus’ ministry. The saying is linked to v. 19 with a “for,” which indicates that this is the basis for expecting united prayer to be answered: it is not just the prayer of the two who agree, but also that of Jesus who is “among them” because they have come together “in his name,” that is as his disciples representing him (cf. on v. 5, and cf. 10:40–42). While Jesus is on earth his disciples are his brothers and sisters (12:49–50) but even when he is no longer on earth he remains spiritually present as the focus of their unity.

This verse and 28:20 give fuller expression to the idea which we have seen to be probably implicit in Matthew’s adoption (and translation) of the title Immanuel, “God with us”, in 1:23. See above, p. 49, for this theme of being “with you” as a significant element in Matthew’s christology and ecclesiology. It echoes the OT theme of God dwelling among his people (cf. Ezek 43:7; Joel 2:27; Zech 2:10–11). When Jesus is the subject, it depends on the expectation, already firmly set before us in 16:21; 17:9, 23, that his mission will not finish with his earthly death but will be continued through his resurrection. The disciple community will continue even after that to be not merely the followers but also the companions of Jesus. His spiritual presence among them is the source of their authority to declare the will of God and to expect God to hear their prayers. And that presence is promised not to a formally convened ecclesiastical council, but to any two or three of his people who meet as his disciples.13

This saying is regularly compared to a rabbinic motif found especially in a saying from the early second century ad in m. ʾAbot 3:2 (cf. 3:6): “If two sit together and words of the Law are between them, the Shekinah rests between them” (i.e. God is present with them). W. D. Davies, Setting 225, therefore calls Matt 18:20 “a Christified bit of rabbinism.” The idea of spiritual presence is similar, and may represent a tradition of thought already present at the time of Jesus, but what makes the present saying remarkable by comparison is that the one present is not the more abstract concepts of the Law or the Shekinah, but the human figure of Jesus.15[1]


The Mediator (18:20)

‘For [gar] where two or three come together in my name, there am I in their midst.’ These ‘two or three’ are the witnesses of 18:16b. The reason they gather is to pray to the Father (the gar links verse 20 to 19) concerning the sinful brother. Moreover, they assemble in Jesus’ name (eis to emon onoma). This means that they acknowledge his presence: they believe 1:23 (‘Immanuel … God with us’) and 28:20 (‘I am with you all the days’). Jesus assures such people that he is indeed ‘there’ (ekei), ‘in their midst’ (en mesō autōn). Gathered as they are in his ‘name’, and knowing that the Father has enthroned him at his own right hand and granted him universal authority (22:44; 26:64; 28:18), they ask him to voice their requests to the Father (John 16:23–24; Heb. 4:14–16). That Jesus meets with them for this very purpose is clear from the flow of Matthew 18:19b–20: ‘it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together … there am I in their midst.’ The disciples ask that Jesus, having heard their prayers ‘on earth’ (18:18–19a), speak on their behalf to his ‘Father in heaven’; and that Father and Son, having concurred in their judgment (how could it be otherwise?), will cause their will to be done on earth as in heaven.

The promises of 18:19–20 are related more directly to the issues of sin, repentance and forgiveness addressed in 18:15–18 and again in 18:21–35. But Jesus’ assuring words have a broader application, as is clear from verse 19a: ‘concerning any matter about which they ask.’ They may pray, for example, that persons be healed through Jesus’ name (Acts 4:30), or that demons be expelled in his name (Acts 16:18), or that non-believers be saved by that same name (Acts 4:12). And if the Father grants a request on which two or three disciples agree, how might he respond to a whole congregation that has prayed ‘with one accord’ (homothymadon) for the sinful brother or about another matter embraced by the promises of Matthew 18:19–20?[2]


18:20 where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them. The “two or three” draws from the language of Deuteronomy 19:15 but also reflects the nature of Matthew 18 as providing community regulation and teaching. As such, it is not simply a cap to the “church discipline” section (18:15–20) but provides a culminating word for the first half of the Community Discourse. “At the thematic center of the Community Discourse, Matthew emphasizes Jesus’ presence with his people as the hope for their common life” (1:23; 28:20).[3]


20. To the little infirmities, which from the remains of indwelling corruption, may, and will, occasionally break out, how precious is the direction of Jesus. Oh! that it were more generally adopted in the Church of Christ! And what an unanswerable argument doth the Lord here leave upon record, for the constant meeting together of his whole body, both in private and public ordinances. Zech. 2:5, 10, 11. Matt. 20:28.[4]


Ver. 20.—The promise is applied to the public prayer of the congregation, as we see in what is called “the prayer of St. Chrysostom” in the English Prayer-book. Are gathered together. For the purpose of worship. It is a simpler form of the word used in Heb. 10:25, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together.” In my Name (εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα); literally, into my Name; i.e. with love to me, yearning for union with me, and acting for my glory. This would imply decent and orderly meeting for the highest ends. There am I in the midst of them. Christ promises a real, actual presence, though invisible, as true as when he appeared to his disciples after his resurrection, as true as when the Shechinah shone in tabernacle or temple. The rabbis had a saying that if two sat at table and conversed about the Law of God, the Shechinah rested upon them. The promise in the text, of course, implies Christ’s omnipresence and omniscience. This is his blessing on united, congregational prayer.[5]


20. For where two or three are assembled in my name. This promise is more extensive than the former; for the Lord declares that he will be present, wherever two or three are met together in his name, to guide them by his counsel, (Ps. 73:24,) and to conduct to a prosperous result whatever they shall undertake. There is therefore no reason to doubt that those who give themselves up to his direction will derive most desirable advantage from his presence. And since it is an invaluable blessing to have Christ for our director in all our affairs, to bless our deliberations and their results; and since, on the other hand, nothing can be more miserable than to be deprived of his grace, this promise ought to add no small excitement to us to unite with each other in piety and holiness. For whoever either disregards the holy assemblies, or separates himself from brethren, and takes little interest in the cultivation of unity, by this alone makes it evident that he sets no value on the presence of Christ.

But we must take care, first of all, that those who are desirous to have Christ present with them shall assemble in his name; and we must likewise understand what is the meaning of this expression; for we perceive how ungodly men falsely and impudently, as well as wickedly, cover their conspiracies with his sacred name. If therefore we do not wish to expose Christ to their ridicule, and at the same time to overturn what he has here promised, we must know first of all what is meant by this phrase. It means that those who are assembled together, laying aside every thing that hinders them from approaching to Christ, shall sincerely raise their desires to him, shall yield obedience to his word, and allow themselves to be governed by the Spirit. Where this simplicity prevails, there is no reason to fear that Christ will not make it manifest that it was not in vain for the assembly to meet in his name.

In this is displayed the gross ignorance of the Papists, who exclaim that Councils could not err, and that all ought to abide by their decisions, because, as often as two or three are assembled in the name of Christ, he is in the midst of them. But we ought first of all to inquire whether those persons, as to whose faith, and doctrine, and dispositions, we are in doubt, were assembled in the name of Christ. When the Papists leave out or perplex this matter, who does not see that they dexterously confound the distinction between holy and profane assemblies, so that the power of doing any thing is taken from the Church and conveyed to the sworn enemies of Christ? Let us therefore know that none but the pious worshippers of God, who sincerely seek Christ, are encouraged to entertain the confident hope that he will never leave them. Disregarding the bastard and abortive Councils, which out of their own head have woven a web, let Christ alone, with the doctrine of his Gospel, be always exalted amongst us.[6]


20. For where two or three are gathered together in [or ‘unto’—εἰς] my name, there am I in the midst of them. On this passage—so full of sublime encouragement to Christian union in action and in prayer—observe, first, the connection in which it stands. Our Lord had been speaking of church-meetings, before which the obstinate perversity of a brother was, in the last resort, to be brought, and whose decision was to be final—such honour does the Lord of the Church put upon its lawful assemblies. But not these assemblies only does He deign to countenance and honour. For even two uniting to bring any matter before Him shall find that they are not alone, for My Father is with them, says Jesus. Next, observe the premium here put upon union in prayer. As this cannot exist with fewer than two, so by letting it down so low as that number, He gives the utmost conceivable encouragement to union in this exercise. But what kind of union? Not an agreement merely to pray in concert, but to pray for some definite thing. “As touching anything which they shall ask,” says our Lord—anything they shall agree to ask in concert. At the same time, it is plain He had certain things at that moment in His eye, as most fitting and needful subjects for such concerted prayer. The Twelve had been “falling out by the way” about the miserable question of precedence in their Master’s kingdom, and this, as it stirred their corruptions, had given rise—or at least was in danger of giving rise—to “offences” perilous to their souls. The Lord Himself had been directing them how to deal with one another about such matters. “But now shows He unto them a more excellent way.” Let them bring all such matters—yea, and everything whatsoever by which either their own loving relationship to each other, or the good of His kingdom at large, might be affected—to their Father in heaven; and if they be but agreed in petitioning Him about that thing, it shall be done for them of His Father which is in heaven. But further, it is not merely union in prayer for the same thing—for that might be with very jarring ideas of the thing to be desired—but it is to symphonious prayer [as the word signifies—συμφωνήσωσιν], to prayer by kindred spirits, members of one family, servants of one Lord, constrained by the same love, fighting under one banner, cheered by assurances of the same victory; a living and loving union, whose voice in the Divine ear is as the sound of many waters. Accordingly, what they ask “on earth” is done for them, says Jesus, “of my Father which is in heaven.” Not for nothing does He say, “of my Father”—not “your Father;” as is evident from what follows: “For where two or three are gathered together unto my name”—the “My” is emphatic [εἰς τὸ ἐμὸν ὄνομα] “there am I in the midst of them.” As His name would prove a spell to draw together many clusters of His dear disciples, so if there should be but two or three, that will attract Himself down into the midst of them; and related as He is to both the parties, the petitioners and the Petitioned—to the one on earth by the tie of His assumed flesh, and to the other in heaven by the tie of His eternal Spirit—their symphonious prayers on earth would thrill upwards through Him to heaven, be carried by Him into the holiest of all, and so reach the Throne. Thus will He be the living Conductor of the prayer upward and the answer downward.[7]


20. For where two or three are gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them. The expression “two or three” is a development of “two” in the preceding verse. The Lord again assures his disciples that the gathering of believers for prayer and worship need not be one of “crowding worshipers.” Even two or three will receive a blessing as long as they gather in his name, that is, in close fellowship with him; hence, with his atoning work as the basis of their approach to God, at his direction, and in harmony with that which he has revealed concerning himself. For the concept “name” see also on 6:9; 7:22; 10:22, 41, 42; 12:21; 18:5.

The promise is, “There am I in the midst of them.” The expression “Jehovah (“God” or “I”) in the midst of you (“her,” “us”)” is in Scripture generally associated with the impartation of strength, direction, protection, and consolation: “to help, to comfort, and to bless.” See such passages as Ps. 46:5; Isa. 12:6; Jer. 14:9; Hos. 11:9; Zeph. 3:5, 15, 17; Zech. 2:10. Similar is “I am (“will be”) with you” (Gen. 28:15; Deut. 31:6; Josh. 1:5; Judg. 6:16, etc.). We can safely conclude therefore that in the present passage the meaning is the same. It is in that favorable sense that Jesus is spiritually in the midst of his people gathered for prayer and worship.

Most comforting is also the fact that Jehovah—and this holds also for Jesus Christ—though great and infinite, in his tender love condescends to that which is small, weak, humble, and by the world generally despised (Judg. 6:15, 16; 7:7; Ps. 20:7; Isa. 1:8, 9; 57:15; Zeph. 3:12; Matt. 18:10; Luke 12:32; 1 Cor. 4:11–13). This explains “where two or three are gathered, etc.” See also on Matt. 1:23, p. 141.[8]


[1] France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 697–699). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.

[2] Chamblin, J. K. (2010). Matthew: A Mentor Commentary (pp. 897–899). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[3] Brown, J. K. (2015). Matthew. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 211). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Hawker, R. (2013). Poor Man’s New Testament Commentary: Matthew–John (Vol. 1, p. 126). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[5] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St. Matthew (Vol. 2, p. 213). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[6] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 2, pp. 361–362). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[7] Brown, D., Fausset, A. R., & Jamieson, R. (n.d.). A Commentary, Critical, Experimental, and Practical, on the Old and New Testaments: Matthew–John (Vol. V, p. 95). London; Glasgow: William Collins, Sons, & Company, Limited.

[8] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 702–703). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

God’s Sovereignty and Our Responsibility — Ligonier Ministries Blog

God is sovereign in creation, providence, redemption, and judgment. That is a central assertion of Christian belief and especially in Reformed theology. God is King and Lord of all. To put this another way: nothing happens without God’s willing it to happen, willing it to happen before it happens, and willing it to happen in the way that it happens. Put this way, it seems to say something that is expressly Reformed in doctrine. But at its heart, it is saying nothing different from the assertion of the Nicene Creed: “I believe in God, the Father Almighty.” To say that God is sovereign is to express His almightiness in every area.

God is sovereign in creation. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Apart from God, there was nothing. And then there was something: matter, space, time, energy. And these came into being ex nihilo—out of nothing. The will to create was entirely God’s. The execution was entirely His. There was no metaphysical “necessity” to create; it was a free action of God.

God is sovereign in providence. Traditional theism insists that God is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent—all powerful, all knowing, and everywhere present. Each assertion is a variant of divine sovereignty. His power, knowledge, and presence ensure that His goals are met, that His designs are fulfilled, and that His superintendence of all events is (to God, at least) essentially “risk free.”

God’s power is not absolute in the sense that God can do anything (potestas absoluta); rather, God’s power ensures that He can do all that is logically possible for Him to will to do. “He cannot deny himself,” for example (2 Tim. 2:13).

Some people object to the idea that God knows all events in advance of their happening. Such a view, some insist, deprives mankind of its essential freedom. Open theists or free-will theists, for example, insist that the future (at least in its specific details) is in some fashion “open.” Even God does not know all that is to come. He may make predictions like some cosmic poker player, but He cannot know absolutely. This explains, open theists suggest, why God appears to change His mind: God is adjusting His plan based on the new information of unforeseeable events (see Gen. 6:6–71 Sam. 15:11). Reformed theology, on the other hand, insists that no event happens that is a surprise to God. To us it is luck or chance, but to God it is part of His decree. “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord” (Prov. 16:33). Language of God changing His mind in Scripture is an accommodation to us and our way of speaking, not a description of a true change in God’s mind.

God is sovereign in redemption, a fact that explains why we thank God for our salvation and pray to Him for the salvation of our spiritually lost friends. If the power to save lies in man’s free will, if it truly lies in their unaided ability to save themselves, why would we implore God to “quicken,” “save,” or “regenerate” them? The fact that we consistently thank God for the salvation of individuals means (whether we admit it or not) that belief in absolute free will is inconsistent.

God is sovereign in judgment. Few passages of Scripture reflect the sovereignty of God in election and reprobation with greater force than Romans 9:21: “Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?” On the face of it, this might appear unfair and arbitrary—as though God were playing some vindictive child’s game with the petals of a flower: “He loves me; He loves me not. He loves me; He loves me not.” In response, some people have insisted that God has the right to do whatever He pleases and it is none of our business to find fault with Him—a point that Paul himself anticipates (Rom. 9:20). Others have taken the view that if God were to grant us what we deserve, we would all be damned. Election is therefore a gracious (and not just a sovereign) act. Both are true. But in any case, our salvation displays God’s glory: “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom. 11:36)

HUMAN RESPONSIBILITY

The assertion of divine sovereignty is not without further questions that should be addressed.

First, there is the question of evangelism. If God is sovereign in all matters of providence, what is the point of exerting human effort in evangelism and missions? God’s will is sure to be fulfilled whether we evangelize or not. But we dare not reason this way. Apart from the fact that God commands us to evange-lize—“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19)—such reasoning ignores the fact that God fulfills His sovereign plan through human means and instrumentality. Nowhere in the Bible are we encouraged to be passive and inert. Paul commands his Philippian readers to “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” (Phil. 2:12–13).

Second, there is the question of ethics. We are held responsible for our actions and behavior. We are culpable in transgression and praiseworthy in obedience.

Third, in relation to civic power and authority, there is the question of God’s sovereignty in the determination of rulers and government. God has raised up civil governments to be systems of equity and good and peace, for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of them who do well (Rom. 13:31 Peter 2:14). But this is also true of evil powers and corrupt regimes that violate the very principles of government itself; these are also under the sovereign government of Almighty God.

Fourth, in the question of both the origin and continued existence of evil, the sovereignty of God meets its most acute problem. That God does not prevent evil from existing seems to call into question His omnipotence or His benevolence. Some non-Christian religions try to solve this problem by positing that evil is imaginary (Christian Science) or an illusion (Hinduism). Augustine and many medieval thinkers believed part of the mystery could be solved by identifying evil as a privation of the good, suggesting that evil is something without existence in and of itself. Evil is a matter of ontology (being). Reformed thought on this issue is summarized by the Westminster Confession of Faith:

God, from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain what-soever comes to pass: yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the crea-tures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (3:1)

God is the “first cause” of all things, but evil is a product of “second causes.” In the words of John Calvin, “First, it must be observed that the will of God is the cause of all things that happen in the world: and yet God is not the author of evil,” adding, “for the proximate cause is one thing, and the remote cause another.” In other words, God Himself cannot do evil and cannot be blamed for evil even though it is part of His sovereign decree.

God is sovereign, and in His sovereignty He displays His majestic glory. With out it, we would have no being, no salvation, and no hope. Soli Deo gloria.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.

via God’s Sovereignty and Our Responsibility — Ligonier Ministries Blog

June—26 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

 

The Urim and the Thummim.—Exodus 28:30.

There is somewhat very interesting in this account of the Urim and the Thummim; though, in the present distance of time, we can at the best form nothing more than conjectures as to what it was. But, through grace, and the teaching of the Holy Ghost, we can have clear views of what it meant. The general acceptations of the Hebrew words are, lights and perfections. And as Aaron, as high-priest, became a lively type of Christ, so, by bearing on his breast-plate the Urim and the Thummim, there can be no difficulty in beholding Jesus represented as the light and perfection of his people. And as Aaron bore all the names of the people upon his breast, where the Urim and Thummim were worn, how delightful is it to see Jesus thus represented, as bearing all the persons of his redeemed, in his own light and perfection, when he goes in before the presence of God for us! Sweet and precious thought to the believer! And now the Church cries out: “Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm.” (Song 8:6.) And so important did this appear to Moses, when dying, that he expressly prayed that “the Thummim and the Urim might be with Jehovah’s Holy One.” (Deut. 33:8.) Now here we have at once the application of the whole. For who is Jehovah’s Holy One, but the Lord Jesus Christ? With him it eminently remained, and with him only. For during the captivity, it was lost with the temple, and was never again restored. But with Jesus, the continuance of it was everlasting, for he hath “an unchangeable priesthood, and is the same yesterday, and to-day and for ever.” Precious Lord Jesus! be thou the Urim and the Thummim to my soul; for thou art both the light and perfection of thy people, in grace here, and glory for ever.[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 195–196). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

June 26th The D. L. Moody Year Book

 

I rejoiced greatly when the brethren testified of the truth that is in thee.—3 John 1:3.

THERE is more than one kind of joy; there is the joy of one’s own salvation. I thought, when I first tasted that, it was the most delicious joy I had ever known, and that I could never get beyond it. But I found, afterward, there was something more joyful than that, the joy of the salvation of others. Oh, the privilege, the blessed privilege, to be used of God to win a soul to Christ, and to see a man or woman being led out of bondage by some act of ours. To think that God should condescend to allow us to be co-workers with Him! It is the highest honor we can have. It surpasses the joy of our own salvation, this joy of seeing others saved, and walking in the truth.[1]

 

[1] Moody, D. L. (1900). The D. L. Moody Year Book: A Living Daily Message from the Words of D. L. Moody. (E. M. Fitt, Ed.) (pp. 107–108). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

Federal Judge Rules Cuomo, De Blasio Exceeded Authority by Restricting Religious Services While Condoning Protests — National Review

U.S. District Judge Gary Sharpe granted a preliminary injunction blocking New York from enforcing its coronavirus restrictions on religious services.

via Federal Judge Rules Cuomo, De Blasio Exceeded Authority by Restricting Religious Services While Condoning Protests — National Review

Bill Gates says ‘final hurdle’ to distributing a Covid-19 vaccine will be convincing people to TAKE IT | RT USA News

Bill Gates says ‘final hurdle’ to distributing a Covid-19 vaccine will be convincing people to TAKE IT

Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates lamented the US is ‘not even close’ to doing enough to fight the pandemic, before warning that the vaccine he wants to inject into every human on the planet does require their consent first.

Speaking to Anderson Cooper at a CNN town hall on Thursday, Gates insisted the US was “experiencing a rebound” in Covid-19 infections even accounting for the increase in testing. That increase, the software tycoon reminded his interviewers, was accomplished by local governments in spite of – not because of – the White House.

Gates seemed miffed that Washington wasn’t following his instructions more closely, complaining that “it’s possible to ramp up testing for a new pathogen very, very fast” if they’d just do as they were told. He blamed the higher infection numbers in the US, which continues to lead the world with upwards of 2.5 million confirmed cases and over 125,000 deaths, on the nation’s failure to adopt the same measures as everyone else.

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Other countries” are “restraining their behavior,” imposing restrictive lockdowns and quarantines, and adopting comprehensive contact tracing, Gates hinted, sounding impatient with the US’ “very large case spread,” which he called “embarrassing.”

Some people almost feel like [Covid-19 is] a political thing, which is unfortunate.

Even to inconvenience themselves with masks requires maybe someone they know to not only test positive but maybe get very sick as well,” he added.

Gates, who has repeatedly expressed a desire to inoculate the world’s population with whatever vaccine emerges from the research laboratories he is funding, admitted the shot might be rolled out before it’s working perfectly. “It’s possible the vaccine will be better at protecting you individually and not stop you from transmitting…it’s not guaranteed that the vaccine will be a perfect transmission blocker.”

Boasting that “the logistics in the US are not an issue at all,” Gates bragged that “we can get this thing out there” before acknowledging that “you’ll have a ‘choice’ whether you take the vaccine or not, so there’s that final hurdle.”

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The billionaire seemed unconcerned by the “vaccine hesitancy” factor, however, even though over a third of Americans have professed some concern over the safety of a coronavirus vaccine, citing the politicization of the issue, the rushed timetable, the less-than-stellar reputation of some of the individuals involved, and other issues.

Some 70 to 80 percent of the world’s population will have to take the vaccine before anyone can hope to live a normal life again “with people taking vacations,” travel, and sporting events, Gates explained, implying they had no choice.

Source: Bill Gates says ‘final hurdle’ to distributing a Covid-19 vaccine will be convincing people to TAKE IT