Daily Archives: August 4, 2020

BREAKING: President Trump on DOJ Investigations into Obamagate: “I Do Hear It’s Breathtaking What They Found” (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

President Trump joined Lou Dobbs on Tuesday night.

During their conversation President Trump told Dobbs “it’s a horrible thing that took place”

President Trump: We caught them spying. Now it’s up to our Attorney General. As you know I wanted them to do it. I didn’t want to get overly involved… I do hear it’s breathtaking what they found that’s all I can say.

President Trump again makes the statement about what he is hearing about the investigation into Obamagate:

“We caught them spying now it’s up to our Attorney General. As you know I wanted them (Barr’s DOJ) to do it. I didn’t want to get overly involved. Maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t but I do hear it’s breathtaking what they found. That’s all I can say – breathtaking.”

via BREAKING: President Trump on DOJ Investigations into Obamagate: “I Do Hear It’s Breathtaking What They Found” (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

On Christian Compromise – and Treason — CultureWatch

What happens when Christians renounce their faith in order to please the state?

My title may sound a bit ominous, but this piece is actually an exercise in theology and church history – with some contemporary application. The main issue I wish to address is how the church should look at the matter of compromise – even apostasy – especially as found among church leaders. And the church has had to deal with this before.

Let me mention just one such famous case of this from long ago. Although it is a rather more complex situation than this brief description lets on, let me discuss the Donatists of the fourth century – a schismatic and heretical sect. This cult-like group decried the established church of the day, proclaiming that they were the one true church.

Donatus (313-355) was an early bishop of Carthage. He and his followers (the Donatists) were willing to see a schism in the church to keep it pure and weed out immoral leaders. Others, such as Augustine, rejected this, arguing that the church would always have a mixture of true and false believers, and that church unity should be preserved.

The background is this. The “Great Persecution” had taken place under Diocletian from 303-305. During this time of heavy persecution, Christian leaders were ordered to hand over their Bibles and Christians writings to be burned. Some of these folks did so.

Those who did were called traditores (from the Latin word tradere, which means ‘to hand over’) by other Christians. We get our English word ‘traitor’ from this Latin term. But a major dispute arose once the persecution ended: What was to be done to those who compromised? Should these priests be allowed to keep ministering?

The Donatists regarded these believers as apostates, and said they were not part of the true church. But the church allowed them to remain and administer the sacraments. The Donatists rejected this and pulled out, demanding a pure and uncorrupted church. Thus there was a major split in the North African church.

Donatus insisted on the priority of the purity of the church, and the need to break away. Others like Augustine and the earlier Cyprian stressed the need for Christian unity. Augustine recognised the sin of compromise but felt that the disruption of the church was an even more serious sin.

He appealed to Matthew 13:24-30 where Jesus spoke of the wheat and the tares growing up together, and how their separation would only occur at the final harvest. Augustine spoke of the church as a corpus permixtum (a mixed body) – it contains both saints and sinners.

Much more needs to be said about this, and there is some biblical truth to be found in the positions on both sides of the debate. Christian unity is vital, but so too is faithfulness and dedication to Christ – even in times of persecution. But this and other cases like it do offer food for thought for contemporary Christians.

Relevance for today

As I was on my morning prayer walk, I was seriously wondering how long this would be allowed. Victoria is going berserk on lockdown madness, and things will likely get much worse in the days ahead, with all of us perhaps being fully locked in our own homes indefinitely. Victoria is quickly becoming one massive internment camp under this dysfunctional Labor government.

It did occur to me that we certainly are nowhere near as bad off as places like North Korea and many Muslim-majority nations. But who knows where these police state sort of measures will end? And while Christians are being tempted to compromise and even renounce their faith in those other countries, in limited ways at least we are finding similar situations in the West now because of the corona crisis.

The closure of churches is one obvious issue. In many places in the West church attendance is banned, while it seems all sorts of other “essential services” are being allowed, be they liquor stores, abortion mills, strip clubs or brothels. Indeed, in some places such as Portland in the US, people are being allowed to riot and burn Bibles on the streets, but Christians are not allowed to worship and read their Bibles together in churches.

Quite early on during this crisis I wrote about this matter. I said Christians need to think carefully about how we respond to the state closure of churches. You can see my thoughts here: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/04/01/closing-churches-during-the-corona-crises/

And I also wrote about how the state is not absolute. While Christians generally are to submit to governments, that is not always the case, and there can be occasions when civil disobedience is required.  See here: billmuehlenberg.com/2020/05/15/the-state-is-not-absolute/

When the state orders Christians to do things that they cannot do in good conscience, and when the state forbids Christians from doing what they ought to do, then there can be a place for Christians to say yes to God and no to the state. So the question is, when Scripture commands us not to ‘forsake the assembling of ourselves together’ (Hebrews 10:25), and the state says the churches must remain closed, is this one of those situations where Christian must disobey?

You will get Christians on various sides of this issue. In California right now we have some famous Christian pastors taking different views on this. John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, says he will defy Governor Newsom’s recent orders on this.

Although he could face fines and even arrest for keeping his church open, he said yesterday in a Fox News interview that the draconian lockdown is “just not warranted.” He said Jesus is Lord, and the government ‘is usurping a role that they don’t have over the church” in this regard. He said “we are not spreading anything but the gospel.” http://www.foxnews.com/media/california-pastor-coronavirus-church-newsom-order

Franklin Graham concurred and said this: “I agree with Pastor MacArthur and appreciate his call for ‘the church to be the church in this world.’ If I were in Southern California this weekend, I would love to attend their service tomorrow—and if you live anywhere in southern California, I urge you to get up tomorrow morning and go!”

Other Christian leaders have sided against MacArthur on this. For example, Pastor Gavin Ortlund of First Baptist Church in Ojal responded to him and said that he is concerned he is putting he “importance of worship” ahead of “love for neighbor,” “obedience to government,” and “maintaining a good witness.”

Then some other church leaders took a somewhat compromised approach. For example, Greg Laurie, pastor at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside has been using a large white tent of late to hold his services in. http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/august/california-church-worship-covid-john-macarthur-greg-laurie.html

Debate continues as to what is the proper and most biblical Christian response to these state orders on keeping churches closed – or greatly restricted. And this issue may not be a severe as being forced to turn your Bibles over to be burned. But what we can see is that these are all areas in which the state is coming into conflict with the church.

And for those who do compromise or give in or just do whatever the state demands, is this a problem? Are they being – at least in somewhat lesser ways – traditores? How far should Christians and Christian leaders go along with various state edicts, while still remaining true to Christ? Which laws can we all obey and which laws must we break?

Is there a place for civil disobedience? If so, when? I look at this issue more fully here: billmuehlenberg.com/2008/11/02/christians-and-civil-disobedience/

But the matters of faithfulness to Christ, the nature of compromise, and even apostasy, and how we should deal with those who do compromise – will always be matters for Christian to think carefully and prayerfully about. And we can learn some lessons from church history in this regard.

via On Christian Compromise – and Treason — CultureWatch

MSNBC Producer Quits, Says Network ‘Stokes National Division,’ Amplifies ‘Fringe Voices’ To Pump Up Ratings — The Gateway Pundit

An MSNBC producer penned an explosive resignation letter on Monday, calling the liberal cable network a “cancer” that is “stoking national division” by amplifying “fringe voices.”

Ariana Pekary, who worked as a producer on “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” said July 24 was her last day on the job after seven years with the network.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do next exactly but I simply couldn’t stay there anymore,” Ariana Pekary wrote on her personal website. “My colleagues are very smart people with good intentions. The problem is the job itself. It forces skilled journalists to make bad decisions on a daily basis.”

“It’s possible that I’m more sensitive to the editorial process due to my background in public radio, where no decision I ever witnessed was predicated on how a topic or guest would ‘rate,’” she continued. “The longer I was at MSNBC, the more I saw such choices — it’s practically baked in to the editorial process – and those decisions affect news content every day. Likewise, it’s taboo to discuss how the ratings scheme distorts content, or it’s simply taken for granted, because everyone in the commercial broadcast news industry is doing the exact same thing.

“But behind closed doors, industry leaders will admit the damage that’s being done. ‘We are a cancer and there is no cure,’ a successful and insightful TV veteran said to me. ‘But if you could find a cure, it would change the world,’” she wrote.

“As it is, this cancer stokes national division, even in the middle of a civil rights crisis,” Pekary said. “The model blocks diversity of thought and content because the networks have incentive to amplify fringe voices and events, at the expense of others… all because it pumps up the ratings.”

“Context and factual data are often considered too cumbersome for the audience,” Pekary later added. “There may be some truth to that (our education system really should improve the critical thinking skills of Americans) – but another hard truth is that it is the job of journalists to teach and inform, which means they might need to figure out a better way to do that. They could contemplate more creative methods for captivating an audience. Just about anything would improve the current process, which can be pretty rudimentary (think basing today’s content on whatever rated well yesterday, or look to see what’s trending online today).”

Brutal.

Pekary’s letter follows another from former New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss, who resigned with an open letter addressed to Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger in July. She said the paper was condoning of “constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views” and an environment where she said, “self-censorship has become the norm.”

Weiss said she had taken endless abuse for her views, writing, “ … some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly ‘inclusive’ one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still, other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.”

To the publisher, she said: “I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.”

via MSNBC Producer Quits, Says Network ‘Stokes National Division,’ Amplifies ‘Fringe Voices’ To Pump Up Ratings — The Gateway Pundit

Doctors Silenced on COVID Treatment — VCY America

Date:  August 04, 2020
Host:  Jim Schneider
​Guest:  Dr. Jane Orient
MP3  ​​​| Order

Dr. Jane Orient is a medical doctor and executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, a non-partisan professional association of physicians in all types of practices and specialties across the country and dedicated to the highest ethical standards of the Oath of Hippocrates and to preserving the sanctity of the patient-physician relationship and the practice of private medicine.  She obtained her undergraduate degrees in chemistry and mathematics from the University of Arizona in Tucson and her M.D. from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons.  She completed an internal medicine residency at Parkland Memorial Hospital and University of Arizona Affiliated Hospitals and then became an instructor at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and a staff physician at the Tucson Veterans Administration Hospital.  She’s been in solo private practice since 1981.  In addition to AAPS, she’s currently president of Doctors for Disaster Preparedness.

Last week a group of physicians went to Washington D.C. to hold a press conference to address COVID-19 concerns including prevention, treatment and the risks associated with the virus.  Despite their credentials and medical backgrounds, ‘big tech’ decided to step in and shut them down.

What was so egregious about what the doctors presented that ‘big tech’ shut them down, especially when all they were doing is noting their success and giving people hope?  Dr. Orient noted that these were real doctors, seeing real patients and having success using hydroxychloroquine.  On the other hand, she also indicated that, ‘Apparently there are very powerful forces that want patients to be panic stricken and fearful and don’t care if they die needlessly.  Otherwise, why would you want to shut these doctors down?’

She sees this as, ‘…unprecedented for some person in authority in the central government with all kinds of ties to commercial interests, to non-governmental  tax-exempt organizations, to international organizations, to vaccine manufacturers, to have this stranglehold on the flow of medical information.’  She believes this is particularly disturbing because here we have a drug that is inexpensive, with an established track record, but instead some want to make people totally dependent on what the ‘powers that be’ think the public should be allowed to have.

Are those heading up social media getting pressure from someone who doesn’t want information concerning drugs like hydroxychloroquine from getting out?  Is Dr. Orient implying that there are individuals who don’t want successful treatment to take place?  What course of action does she suggest?  Can we trust the coronavirus infection statistics?  Is it safe to wear a mask?  Get the answers to these and other COVID-19 concerns you may have by reviewing this edition of Crosstalk.

More Information

aapsonline.org

via Doctors Silenced on COVID Treatment — VCY America

Kayleigh McEnany Holds a Press Conference – Video and Transcript…. — The Last Refuge

[Home for laundry, errands and catching up before quick turnaround]… Earlier today White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany holds a press conference. [Video and Transcript Below]

[Transcript]

via Kayleigh McEnany Holds a Press Conference – Video and Transcript…. — The Last Refuge

46 Minutes Of Joe Biden Talking — The Most Important News

The GOP has released a compilation of Joe Biden’s “greatest hits”, and I must admit that it is quite a powerful video.

Even many on the left believe that it was a huge mistake for Democrats to nominate Biden, because his cognitive skills are definitely not what they once were.

via 46 Minutes Of Joe Biden Talking — The Most Important News

Mohler And MacArthur Have Conflicting Views On Governor Mandated Church Shut Downs — Christian Research Network

“While Mohler may consider what Grace and other churches are doing as malpractice, he diagnoses all problems while offering no solutions. He says that we ought to respect temporary guidelines, but we are entering our 6th month of lockdown. How long must a church sit on their hands? Half a year is a long type of temporary. When precisely does the temporarily turn into the intolerable? One year in? Two?”

(PNP) Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Dr. Albert Mohler kicked off a new season of the Briefing by accusing his friend, Dr. John MacArthur of Grace Community Church of “malpractice” by choosing to open up five months into the pandemic and not staying shut down for an indeterminable time.

Mohler opened the program discussing issues surrounding churches being constrained during the pandemic, and in particular, a bad supreme court ruling in Calvary Chapel vs. Sisolak, with Steve Sisolak, being the governor of Nevada. View article →

via Mohler And MacArthur Have Conflicting Views On Governor Mandated Church Shut Downs — Christian Research Network

August 4 Knowing God

 

Knowing God results in every other kind of understanding.
(Proverbs 9:10, TLB)

The great Bible teacher Dr. Alexander Maclaren attributed everything he knew to one habit: spending an hour each day alone with God. Sometimes he allowed others into his prayer closet, but they were never allowed to speak. Maclaren would sit in a well-worn armchair with his big Bible lying across his knees. Sometimes he’d read its pages, but mostly he’d just sit with his hand over his face. During that hour he wouldn’t read the Bible as a student or study it for sermons. One of his assistants noted, “He read it as a child would read a letter from an absent father, or a loving heart would drink in words of a loved one from far away.” To know God, you must spend time with Him.

One night, a famous orator recited the 23rd Psalm to a packed house and great applause. Afterwards, he spotted his vicar in the crowd and called him to say a word. To their surprise, he too recited the 23rd Psalm. But when he was through, there was silence. People dried their tears all over the audience. At this point, the orator stood beside his pastor and simply said, “The difference is, I know the 23rd Psalm—but he knows the Shepherd!”

 

How well do you know the Lord? How close do you really want to be to Him? Nobody but you can answer that question.[1]

 

[1] Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 216). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

Jim Denison on What Does the Bible Say About Abortion? — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Every year, approximately forty thousand people die on American highways.

Every ten days, that many abortions are performed in America.

via Jim Denison on What Does the Bible Say About Abortion? — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

For most of my life, I have been unabashedly and unflinchingly pro-choice. For many years, I saw abortion as little more than another form of birth control. Today, I am pro-life. What changed my mind? It wasn’t my conversion to Christianity. My position changed when I started to think carefully about the nature of fetal humans. Once I established the humanity of the unborn (from nothing more than the science), I realized their lives warranted the same protection we offer others in our society. I am, after all, a homicide detective. I investigate killings to determine whether or not they were properly justified. Over the years, I’ve listened to many murder suspects attempt to defend their actions. Here in California, there are only two forms of justified homicide (self-defense and the protection of innocents). Any other form of killing is a murder.

So I was particularly interested to read a blog (posted on a parenting site) from a pro-choice advocate who cleverly attempted to use photographs of cats to illustrate “10 Reasons to Have An Abortion”.  In some ways, the post is so outlandish I suspect it must be a mockery, but it does represent common justifications offered for abortion (although, for some reason, the author can only muster 9 defenses). Here is her list, each illustrated with a photograph of a cat or kitten:

1. Having A Baby Would Endanger Your Life
Or cause you medical hardship.

2. Your Birth Control Failed
For whatever reason, your birth control failed. It happens.

3. You Don’t Want To Have A Child Because Of Your Career
You feel like having a baby, taking maternity leave, and caring for a child would harm your career opportunities.

4. You Feel You Are Too Young
Maybe you’re a teen with an unplanned pregnancy, or maybe you are any age with an unplanned pregnancy, and you feel you are too young.

5. You Feel You Are Too Old
Maybe your kids have all grown up and left home and you feel you are too old to have a baby. Maybe you feel like your diaper changing days are done.

6. You Feel Strongly About Overpopulation
And you don’t want to add another human to the world.

7. You Are Worried About The Health Of The Baby
Either because of impending miscarriage, Trisomy 13 or Potter’s Syndrome, birth defects or diseases passed down in a family.

8. You Want No Relationship With The Person Who Got You Pregnant
This can be anything from cases of rape and incest, to having a partner with drug or alcohol issues, to domestic violence in a relationship to getting pregnant with someone during a one-night stand.

9. You Don’t Want To Have A Child
For whatever reason.

You’ve probably heard these kinds of reasons offered to justify abortion in the past. In fact, they mirror the defenses given nationally by women who have had abortions. Take a second look at the list, this time substituting a two year old toddler for the fetal human. Ask yourself, would this be a proper justification for killing the toddler? The first defense is the only legitimate justification for a killing in this list. Sadly, there are times when a life must be taken in self-defense. But this is seldom the case in abortions performed across the nation today. Surveys repeatedly reveal less than 5% of abortions have anything to do with saving the life of the mother (although this is often listed first by pro-choice advocates). Instead, over 95% of abortions are entirely elective for the other 8 reasons listed by this blog author. A Guttmacher Institute publication summarizes it well:

“The reasons women give for having an abortion underscore their understanding of the responsibilities of parenthood and family life. Three-fourths of women cite concern for or responsibility to other individuals; three-fourths say they cannot afford a child; three-fourths say that having a baby would interfere with work, school or the ability to care for dependents; and half say they do not want to be a single parent or are having problems with their husband or partner.”

Imagine using these reasons to justify the killing of a two year old. Can I kill my toddler if she resulted from a failure with my birth control, if she’s interfering with my career, if I feel too young (or old) to have her, if I’m concerned about overpopulation, if I’m worried about her health, if I don’t want the relationship with her other parent or simply because I don’t want her any more (for whatever reason)? I don’t think so. Killing a human being is murder, unless it is properly justified. As my friend Scott Klusendorf says, there is only one important question we must ask related to abortion: “Is the unborn a member of the human family?” Once I recognized the humanity of fetal humans, I realized my prior justifications (like the ones offered by the blogger) were insufficient.

It’s odd that the blog author chose cats and kittens to illustrate her justifications for killing fetal humans. I doubt she would accept these excuses as proper justification for killing the kittens she used to illustrate her points. Sadly, we’ve come to see fetal humans as less valuable and worthy of our protection than our pets. It’s time to identify and protect the distinct humanity of the unborn and protect the rights of this neglected segment of our society.


Sadly, we’ve come to see fetal humans as less valuable and worthy of our protection than our pets.
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via If These Reasons Wouldn’t Justify Killing a Kitten, Why Would They Justify Abortion? — Cold Case Christianity

August 4 Need a Friend?

 

Proverbs 17:17

A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.

I believe God intends relationships and friendships to be the context in which He does some of His most important work in our lives. Life is difficult from any perspective, and everyone needs friends to help them through the difficult times.

Those who have close friends know they couldn’t live without them. Friends love you enough to confront you when you are wrong and to stand by you through thick and thin. These are friends who act toward you like a marriage partner is supposed to—for better or for worse. If you have a friend like that, you are rich. If you have more than one you are wealthy beyond measure. In today’s world, many people do not take time to cultivate committed friendships; and they are the poorer for it.

But the need for committed friends doesn’t mean we should rush out and try to accumulate them on a wholesale basis. Many things in life are not left to our choosing, but friendships are. The choice of friends is more than a right, however—it is a responsibility.[1]

 

[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 227). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

August 4, 2020 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Authority for Discipline

Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst. (18:18–20)

To emphasize the absolute trustworthiness of what He was about to say, Jesus declared, “Truly I say to you.” That phrase, which the Lord often used, should always be noted with special care, because it introduces a teaching of unusual importance.

The work of discipline should be undertaken with the greatest care. Done in the wrong way or in the wrong spirit it can do great damage by fostering self-righteousness and legalism, just as discipline not done at all causes great damage by allowing sin’s influence to spread like leaven.

Jesus’ promises in verses 18 and 19 have suffered serious misinterpretation throughout the history of the church, the most extreme being the Roman Catholic doctrine that the church has the divine authority to forgive sin. Many charismatics use these promises—along with others, such as those of Matthew 7:7 and 21:22—to claim from God every imaginable blessing and privilege just for the asking.

But in light of the context of what Jesus had just said, in the light of common rabbinical expressions of that day, and in light of the grammatical construction of the text, it is clear that He was not teaching that God’s power can be bent to men’s will. He was not saying that men can force heaven to do things. Quite to the contrary, His promise was that when His people bend their wills to His, He will endorse and empower their act of obedience. (See comments on Matthew 16:19, in chapter 4 of this volume.)

Jesus was here continuing His instruction about church discipline. He was not speaking about petitioning God for special blessings or privileges, and even less was He teaching that the church or any of its leaders has power to absolve the sins of its members. He was declaring that the church has a divine mandate to discipline its members when they refuse to repent.

The rabbis sometimes spoke of a principle or action as being bound in heaven or loosed in heaven to indicate, respectively, that it was forbidden or permitted in light of God’s revealed Word. A Jew of that day would have understood that Jesus did not mean that men could bend heaven’s will to their own but that God (here called heaven, a common Jewish substitute for God’s covenant name, Yahweh, or Jehovah) had an expressed principle with which the church must conform.

The grammatical construction in the passage also clarifies its meaning. As in Matthew 16:19, shall be bound and shall be loosed translate future perfect passives and are more accurately rendered “will have been bound” and “will have been loosed.” The idea is not that God is compelled to conform to the church’s decisions but that, when the church follows Christ’s pattern for discipline, it conforms its decisions to what God has already done and thereby receives heaven’s approval and authority.

Perfect passives are also used in John 20:23 in regard to forgiving or retaining sins. Believers have authority to declare that sins are either forgiven or not forgiven when that declaration is based on the teaching of God’s Word. If a person has received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the church can tell him with perfect confidence that his sins are loosed, that is, forgiven, because he has met God’s condition for forgiveness, namely, trust in His Son. If, on the other hand, a person refuses to receive Christ as Savior and acknowledge Him as Lord, the church can tell him with equal confidence that his sins are bound, that is, not forgiven, because he has not met God’s condition for forgiveness.

Some years ago a man told me he believed he was going to heaven because he was following the religious system prescribed by a popular cult. Because the bizarre beliefs of that group were utterly contrary to the gospel, I told him that he was lost, was still in his sins, and could not possibly be destined for heaven. On the basis of his own confession matched against God’s Word, the man could not have been saved. To tell him that he was still bound in his sins was not to judge his heart supernaturally nor sovereignly condemn him but simply to affirm what God’s own Word clearly says about him and about every person who hopes to come to God by any other path than trust in His Son.

Obviously, this is a serious ministry in the church and one that may be approached with great reluctance. “Who are we to do such work?” we ask. “What authority do we have for such strong dealings with fellow believers? We’re sinful, too.” But when the church administers discipline according to the pattern of Matthew 18:15–17, it can have perfect confidence that it acts in the authority and power of heaven, as promised in verses 18–20.

The Lord gives no command without giving the necessary power and authority to obey it. In these three climaxing verses in Jesus’ instruction about church discipline we learn that, when the Lord’s people sincerely seek to purify His church in His way, they have the energy, approval, and authority both of the Father and of the Son.

Jesus first assures His people that the Father acts with them when they work to purify the church: Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth (referring back to the two witnesses of v. 16) about anything that they may ask (in seeking the purity of the church) it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. When the church acts in God’s behalf and in accordance with His Word in matters dealing with sin, He acts in their behalf by confirming and empowering their faithful decisions and actions.

Agree is from sumphōneō, which literally means to sound together and is the term from which we get symphony. If even two of Jesus’ followers are in agreement with each other that a sinning believer has either repented or refused to repent, they can be sure they are also in agreement with the Father who is in heaven.

As already mentioned, to interpret this verse as promising believers a blank check for anything they might agree to ask God for not only does not fit the context of church discipline but does violence to the rest of Scripture. Such an interpretation is tantamount to magic, in which God is automatically bound to grant the most foolish or sinful request, simply because two of His children conspire to ask Him for it. The idea flies in the face of God’s sovereignty and completely undercuts the countless scriptural commands for believers’ obedient submission to His will.

Jesus also assures His people that He Himself acts with them when they work to purify the church: For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst. Not only does the Father confirm discipline when it is administered according to His Word, but the Son adds His own divine confirmation.

This verse is also frequently misinterpreted, though not with such serious error as in the misinterpretations of the two previous verses. To use this statement to claim the Lord’s presence at a small worship service or prayer meeting does not fit the context of church discipline and is superfluous. Christ is always present with His people, even with a lone believer totally separated from fellow Christians by prison walls or by hundreds of miles.

The context demands that the two or three are witnesses in the process of discipline. To ask or to do anything in God’s name is not to utter His name but to ask and to work according to His divine will and character. For the witnesses to have gathered in His name is therefore for them to have faithfully performed their work of verifying the repentance or impenitence of a sinning brother or sister on the Lord’s behalf. When the church gathers in the Lord’s name and for His cause and glory, it must be engaged in self-purifying ministry under His power and authority, and with His heavenly confirmation and partnership.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian of rather liberal persuasion who was caught in the terrors of Nazi Germany, wrote a book entitled Life Together. In it he gives some profound insights into the need for restoring a sinning brother to the fellowship of the church.

Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession, the light of the gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart. The sin must be brought into the light. The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged. All that is secret and hidden is made manifest. It is a hard struggle until the sin is openly admitted, but God breaks gates of brass and bars of iron (Ps. 107:16).

Since the confession of sin is made in the presence of a Christian brother, the last stronghold of self-justification is abandoned. The sinner surrenders; he gives up all his evil. He gives his heart to God, and he finds the forgiveness of all his sin in the fellowship of Jesus Christ and his brother. The expressed, acknowledged sin has lost all its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder. Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother. He is no longer alone with his evil for he has cast off his sin from him. Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God and the cross of Jesus Christ.… The sin concealed separated him from the fellowship, made all his apparent fellowship a sham; the sin confessed has helped him define true fellowship with the brethren in Jesus Christ. ([New York: Harper & Row, 1954], 112–13)[1]


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[2]


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?[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]


Vers. 19–20. For when two or three are gathered together in My name.

The presence of Christ in the sanctuary:

  1. What is implied in this promise or the divine presence. God comes not here as to a court of assize, but to a Bethesda, to dispense mercy.
  2. The conditions under which the promise will be fulfilled. 1. To meet in the Saviour’s name is to seek its exaltation. 2. His name must be pleaded as the ground of approach to God. 3. The sole authority of Christ must be recognized if we would meet in His name.

III. The Jewish Church as well as the Christian had God’s gracious presence. 1. The incarnation was substituted for the Shekinah—a symbol. 2. The bodily exercises, carnal ordinances are at an end in the Christian worship. 3. We have the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. 4. Let us expect the Divine blessing. 5. If the presence of God be promised, how is it that professors are content with an occasional visit to the sanctuary? (J. S. Pearsall.)

The presence of Christ in the meetings of His people:

  1. The Promise. 1. There is a sense in which it is true that Jesus is present with all men at all times. 2. But in the text He meant something different from that to which we have referred. Jacob at Bethel. 3. It implies a readiness on the part of Christ to do for His people what they ask. 4. It implies a gift of those graces which are fitted to sweeten the spiritual intercourse of the soul with Himself, and to enrich it with those Divine ornaments which shall best display the lustre of His own glory.
  2. That in order to realize the riches of the promise the disciples must be gathered together. Also to meet in the name of Christ. Acknowledge on our part all fulness and power in Christ. (W. Willson.)
  3. When the people of God meet together for religious worship it should be in the name of Christ. 1. With His authority. 2. Agreeably to His directions. 3. That our expectations of success are founded on the influence which may connect itself with His name.
  4. When Christians are thus gathered together they may expect their Master’s presence. 1. A large number not necessary. 2. A particular class not necessary. 3. A particular place not necessary. Christ once present.

III. The Redeemer has important ends to accomplish in connection with the vouchsafement of His presence when His disciples are assembled. (T. Bradshaw.)

Christ’s presence consecrating His Church:

  1. The Speaker. 1. The beaming of His essential glory. 2. How our Lord claims to Himself omnipresence. 3. That our Lord here claims to Himself self-existence, independent existence. 4. Our Lord does not contemplate His own existence as a contingency.
  2. The acknowledged relation in which Christ stands to His Church. 1. Our Lord declares His headship. 2. The declaration which He here makes of His mind towards the Church (1) condescension; (2) faithfulness.

III. The view here given by Christ Himself of the Church. 1. The amount, “two or three.” The Church small in the world. 2. The unobstrusibe, humble character of the Church. 3. The special bond of the Church.

  1. The gracious promise which Christ here makes to the Church as thus exercised. (J. Macdonald, M.A.)

United prayer:

  1. United prayer is to those who exercise it a means of grace. 1. In recognizing this, you will get a clue to the advantages to be derived from united prayer as an agency for personal and relative spiritual advancement. 2. United prayer strongly tends to draw out the souls of those engaged therein in sympathy and care, and love for one another, and for Christians generally.
  2. United prayer is an instrument of service for Christ. Some phases of service to which Christians are called. The cultivation of personal spiritual life. The development and maintenance of the true nature, status, and influence of the Church of Christ. Effort to save souls.

III. How shall we, as Christians, avail ourselves to this means of grace and instrument of service for Christ? Exercise united prayer for the outpouring of God’s Holy spirit upon the Church, &c. For the conversion of men, women, and children. For the agencies employed, that they may accomplish the devout ends they have in view. (John Thomas.)

  1. The religion of jesus Christ is social. “Two or three.” Man is a social being. The gospel raises men to considerations of the highest nature, and to a uniting order of things. The servants of God have similarity of views; a common ground of dependence, a common relation to Christ; the same object of endeavour; oneness as to cause and interest, look for the same blessed end. We are not surprised that they “meet together.”
  2. Wherever they meet Christ is in the midst of them. 1. It is His word, grace, and spirit that forms the Church. 2. It is the love of Christ that prompts and influences them. 3. This subject constitutes a criterion of discipleship. 4. It may serve to encourage us when few in number. 5. It animates our thought in view of the eternal world. In heaven there will be a great gathering. (J. Birt.)

An august visitor:

  1. The place. “Where,” &c. A meeting place is intended; simple; it may be lonely.
  2. The presence. A spiritual presence. The world sees Him not. Time was when He granted sensible tokens of His presence to man; burning bush, Jacob; Christ incarnate; now the Comforter is come.

III. The purpose. He is in the midst for (1) inspection, “His eyes are as a flame of fire;” (2) for protection; (3) direction; (4) probation. He is in the midst to try with means and mercies—(5) salvation. (J. Basley.)

Jesus present in worship:—More than the numbers stated here have thus met. Christ is here. If we had met this evening to discuss questions concerning geography, we should probably have felt ourselves honoured with the presence of such a man as Sir Roderick Murchison or Dr. Livingstone. Had the discussion related to history, to antiquity, to chemistry, with what elatedness and bated breath should we have listened to that prince of historians, the late Lord Macaulay, to the world-renowned Layard, and to the wonder-working Faraday. Had this been a congress of nations—a meeting of crowned heads—planning the course of politics, disposing of the destinies of nations, and marking the limits of empires, how important should we have deemed the occasion! Notable visitors from other climes, men of mark and might from other lands, would have attracted our observation—have riveted our attention; our interest would have risen with the occasion. But we meet with other ends in view. We come together about our souls’ affairs; our present peace, and our everlasting salvation, are the matters which concern us. Compared with these other things are temporary and trivial. (Ibid.)

Jesus present in a simple sanctuary:—“Where two or three are gathered together.” There is evidently a meeting-place intended. Proud mortals love display. When Henry of England and his neighbour monarch of France met with friendly greetings, it was amid the most gorgeous glitter on the Field of Cloth of Gold. Christ makes no demand for parade or ostentatious display. It forms no condition in the terms upon which He will visit us. We have not a tesselated pavement; we can worship God without it. We have no encaustic tiles; Christ does not want them. (Ibid.)

Jesus present to inspect:—He is Light. He is the Searcher of hearts, the great Revealer. He visits thus all His Churches. He knows them all—their constitution, their practice, their state. He visits them as the florist visits his garden, to watch the progress of choice plants and flowers. He visits them as the shepherd does his flock, to inspect the condition of his sheep. He visits them as the officer does his soldiers, to see if they are at their post, if their discipline is as it should be, and their arms in good condition. What a sight for Christ do some churches professedly Christian present! How must His holiness loathe the worldliness, selfishness, pride, and the many foul abominations that are covered with a Christian name! Christ is here for inspection. No member, no character, no practice, no thought, word, wish, or feeling, escapes the notice of His eye. Christian professor! Christ sees thee. Thou art fully and thoroughly known to Him. (Ibid.)

Four present, but only one visible:—When it was decided to close the prayer-meeting in a certain village, a good woman declared that she would be there if no one else was. She was true to her word, and when the next morning some one said to her rather jestingly, “Did you have a prayer-meeting last night?” “Ah! that we did,” she replied. “How many were present?” “Four,” she said. “Why,” said he, “I heard that you were there all alone.” “No,” she said; “I was the only one visible, but the Father was there, and the Son was there, and the Holy Spirit was there, and we were all agreed in prayer.” Before long there was a revival prayer-meeting and a prospering church. (Ibid.)

In My name:—I. The place which the name of Jesus occupies in Christianity. The subject of knowledge. The object of faith and love. Doctrines, duties, precepts permeated with His name. Does not imply nominality, as the name of a book; but He is the substance of the thing. He is the life of Christianity.

  1. On what ground does the name of Jesus occupy this place in Christianity. 1. The Father’s appointment. 2. On His own authority as Messiah. 3. His Divine nature. 4. His perfect manhood. 5. His mediatorship.

Jesus:—1. The central force of Christianity. 2. The radiating glory of Christianity. 3. The attractive power of Christianity. 4. The ultimate victory of Christianity. 5. Who then will be ashamed of the name of Jesus? (J. Bate.)

Public worship acceptable to God:—No doubt the prayers which the faithful put up to heaven from under their private roofs were very acceptable unto Him. But if a saint’s single voice in prayer be so sweet to God’s ear, much more the church choir. His saints’ prayers in consort together. A father is glad to see any one of his children, and makes him welcome when he visits him, but much more when they come together; the greatest feast is when they all meet at his house. The public praises of the Church are the emblem of heaven itself, where all the angels and saints make but one consort. There is a wonderful prevalency in the joint prayers of His people. When Peter was in prison, the Church meets and prays him out of his enemies’ hands. A prince will grant a petition subscribed by the hands of a whole city, which may be he would not at the request of a private subject, and yet love him well, too. There is an especial promise to public prayer “Where two or three,” &c. (Gurnall.)[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]


18:19–20. These two verses are among the most misunderstood in the Bible. They are traditionally taken to mean that God pays special attention to the prayers of believers when two or more gather or agree together. But such an interpretation is wrong for two reasons: (1) it takes the statements out of the context of church discipline and the pursuit of the straying brother; and (2) the conclusions that it leads to regarding prayer is contrary to Scripture.

Nowhere in the Bible does God imply that he listens any differently to one person praying than he does to two, ten, or five hundred. If he does hear two or more people better than he hears one, then we must assume that Jesus’ prayers lacked effectiveness when he went off alone to pray (14:23; 26:36–44). James made the point that the prayer of a single righteous person is powerful enough to heal a sick person by drawing on the power of the God who listens to each of his children, together or individually (Jas. 5:14–18).

This promise guarantees guidance for the two or three (actually a figure of speech recognizing the part for the whole) who confront a straying believer. This is also a promise to the church to claim wisdom and act with authority in the restoration process toward the sinning person. In other words, when this process is pursued as Christ outlined it, his presence and power are assured.

Agree is from sumphoneo (literally, “sound out together”), meaning “harmonize.” Anything you ask for in this context means an appeal to God for support of the witnesses’ actions to restore the sinning brother or to excommunicate him.

By his reference back to a few details from 18:15–17, Jesus was implying a reference to all of the details. So, in this “if” clause, Jesus was saying, “The condition upon which God will base his endorsement of your disciplinary activity is your pursuit of your brother, with the zealous love of the Father in your hearts, and with careful attention to the guidelines I have given.” If we follow these guidelines, the fulfillment of God’s will concerning the sinning brother will be done for you by my Father in heaven.

By his promise to be present with them, Jesus claimed a role belonging only to the Almighty (cf. Joel 2:27; Zech. 2:10–11). His promise was another claim to deity.[9]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 3, pp. 136–139). Chicago: Moody Press.

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

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

[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] Exell, J. S. (1952). The Biblical Illustrator: Matthew (pp. 407–409). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[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.

[9] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 294–295). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

August—4 The Poor Man’s Evening Portion

 

But there is forgiveness with thee; that thou mayest be feared.—Psalm 130:4.

My soul! this is a golden psalm, and every portion of it more ponderous in value than the choicest gold of Ophir; and this verse is as the tried gold, to ascertain the purity and value of all the rest. The cries of a truly broken heart, from the depth of sin to the depth of divine mercy, with which the psalm opens, prove the work of the Holy Ghost, imparting the words with which the humbled soul comes before the Lord. And the blessed consolations which this verse contains, in the view of the mercy-seat, and the mercy there (which is all-precious Jesus, the first-born in the womb of mercy; yea, mercy itself) as plainly prove the leadings of the Holy Ghost to him, who alone can say, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself, but in me is thy help!” Ponder, my soul, these precious words. “But there is forgiveness with thee.” Is it not as if thou wert to say to thy God and Father, when under deep searchings of heart by reason of conscious sin, “There is Jesus with thee; he is my propitiation; he is my propitiatory; the mercy-seat, between the cherubim of glory in whom, and from whom, thou hast promised to speak to thy people! And shall I doubt thy pardoning love and favour, as long as I behold Jesus with thee? Shall I for a moment question my acceptance in the beloved, while I behold “the man at thy right hand, even the Son of man, whom thou madest strong for thyself?” Shall I fear coming to a God in Christ for pardon, so long as I am interested in the forgiveness that is with thee, in God the Son’s righteousness and atoning blood; and God the Father’s covenant engagements in him, for the display of the glory of his grace? Oh! how unanswerably strong, conclusive, and satisfactory to a poor burdened conscience is this view of Jesus, the propitiatory; Jesus the propitiation! But what is the meaning of the expression in the latter part of the verse; there is forgiveness with thee; that “thou mayst be feared?” Would not the verse read better, if it were said, “that thou mayst be loved?” Oh, no! “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” And although “perfect love casteth out fear,” that is, the fear of hell, the bondage fear of unpardoned sin; yet the child-like fear, which a sense of pardoning love begets in the soul, is among the sweetest exercises of the renewed nature. Devils fear and tremble, and feel despair and horror: but the affectionate fear of a dutiful child is the reverse of this, and only manifests itself in the most earnest desire never to offend. And the sense of God’s forgiving love, and of Jesus always on the propitiatory, becomes the great preservative from sin. Hence the Lord himself saith, “I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.” (Jer. 32:43.) My soul! fold up this sweet portion, and take it with thee to thy pillow, that it may lie down with thee, and rest in thine heart; that Jesus, thy Jesus, thy propitiation, is with Jehovah, that thou mayst fear him; and he may be thy exceeding joy and confidence, both now and for ever. Amen.[1]

 

[1] Hawker, R. (1845). The Poor Man’s Evening Portion (A New Edition, pp. 232–233). Philadelphia: Thomas Wardle.

08/04/2020 — Wretched

WR2020-0804

•Pastor Mike Fabarez joins us
•10 mistakes people make about Heaven, Hell, and the Afterlife
•Is Hell a big party? Just separation from God?
•Annihilationism and Conditionalism
•What will be the best part of Heaven?
•Will Heaven be boring?
•Why we still need the Puritans

Download Now (right click and save)

via 08/04/2020 — Wretched

August 4th The D. L. Moody Year Book

 

Vanity of vanities, saith the preacher; all is vanity. Ecclesiastes 12:8.

THE worship of pleasure is slavery. (Solomon tried pleasure, and found bitter disappointment, and down the ages has come the bitter cry, “All is vanity.”)

There is no rest in sin. The wicked know nothing about rest. The Scriptures tell us the wicked “are like the troubled sea that cannot rest.” Man, like the sea, has no rest. He has had no rest since Adam fell, and there is none for him until he returns to God again, and the light of Christ shines into his heart.

Rest cannot be found in the world, but thank God the world cannot take it from the believing heart! Sin is the cause of all this unrest. It brought toil and labor and misery into the world.[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. 132–133). East Northfield, MA: The Bookstore.

MSNBC Producer Quits, Says Network ‘Stokes National Division,’ Amplifies ‘Fringe Voices’ To Pump Up Ratings — The Gateway Pundit

An MSNBC producer penned an explosive resignation letter on Monday, calling the liberal cable network a “cancer” that is “stoking national division” by amplifying “fringe voices.”

Ariana Pekary, who worked as a producer on “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell,” said July 24 was her last day on the job after seven years with the network.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do next exactly but I simply couldn’t stay there anymore,” Ariana Pekary wrote on her personal website. “My colleagues are very smart people with good intentions. The problem is the job itself. It forces skilled journalists to make bad decisions on a daily basis.”

“It’s possible that I’m more sensitive to the editorial process due to my background in public radio, where no decision I ever witnessed was predicated on how a topic or guest would ‘rate,’” she continued. “The longer I was at MSNBC, the more I saw such choices — it’s practically baked in to the editorial process – and those decisions affect news content every day. Likewise, it’s taboo to discuss how the ratings scheme distorts content, or it’s simply taken for granted, because everyone in the commercial broadcast news industry is doing the exact same thing.

“But behind closed doors, industry leaders will admit the damage that’s being done. ‘We are a cancer and there is no cure,’ a successful and insightful TV veteran said to me. ‘But if you could find a cure, it would change the world,’” she wrote.

“As it is, this cancer stokes national division, even in the middle of a civil rights crisis,” Pekary said. “The model blocks diversity of thought and content because the networks have incentive to amplify fringe voices and events, at the expense of others… all because it pumps up the ratings.”

“Context and factual data are often considered too cumbersome for the audience,” Pekary later added. “There may be some truth to that (our education system really should improve the critical thinking skills of Americans) – but another hard truth is that it is the job of journalists to teach and inform, which means they might need to figure out a better way to do that. They could contemplate more creative methods for captivating an audience. Just about anything would improve the current process, which can be pretty rudimentary (think basing today’s content on whatever rated well yesterday, or look to see what’s trending online today).”

Brutal.

Pekary’s letter follows another from former New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss, who resigned with an open letter addressed to Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger in July. She said the paper was condoning of “constant bullying by colleagues who disagree with my views” and an environment where she said, “self-censorship has become the norm.”

Weiss said she had taken endless abuse for her views, writing, “ … some coworkers insist I need to be rooted out if this company is to be a truly ‘inclusive’ one, while others post ax emojis next to my name. Still, other New York Times employees publicly smear me as a liar and a bigot on Twitter with no fear that harassing me will be met with appropriate action. They never are.”

To the publisher, she said: “I do not understand how you have allowed this kind of behavior to go on inside your company in full view of the paper’s entire staff and the public. And I certainly can’t square how you and other Times leaders have stood by while simultaneously praising me in private for my courage. Showing up for work as a centrist at an American newspaper should not require bravery.”

via MSNBC Producer Quits, Says Network ‘Stokes National Division,’ Amplifies ‘Fringe Voices’ To Pump Up Ratings — The Gateway Pundit

Are Face Masks Effective? The Evidence | Global Research

An overview of the current evidence regarding the effectiveness of face masks.

1. Studies on the effectiveness of face masks

So far, most studies found little to no evidence for the effectiveness of cloth face masks in the general population, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control.

  1. A May 2020 meta-study on pandemic influenza published by the US CDC found that face masks had no effect, neither as personal protective equipment nor as a source control.
  2. July 2020 review by the Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Medince found that there is no evidence for the effectiveness of cloth masks against virus infection or transmission.
  3. A Covid-19 cross-country study by the University of East Anglia came to the conclusion that a mask requirement was of no benefit and could even increase the risk of infection.
  4. An April 2020 review by two US professors in respiratory and infectious disease from the University of Illinois concluded that face masks have no effect in everyday life, neither as self-protection nor to protect third parties (so-called source control).
  5. An article in the New England Journal of Medicine from May 2020 came to the conclusion that cloth face masks offer little to no protection in everyday life.
  6. July 2020 study by Japanese researchers found that cloth masks “offer zero protection against coronavirus” due to their large pore size and generally poor fit.
  7. A 2015 study in the British Medical Journal BMJ Open found that cloth masks were penetrated by 97% of particles and may increase infection risk by retaining moisture or repeated use.

Additional aspects:

Japan, despite its widespread use of face masks, experienced its most recent influenza epidemic with more than 5 million people falling ill just one year ago, in January and February 2019. However, unlike SARS-2, the influenza virus is transmitted by children, too.

Several countries and states that introduced mandatory face masks on public transport and in shops in early summer, such as California and Argentinia, nevertheless saw a strong increase in infections from July onwards, indicating a low effectiveness of mask policies.

There is increasing evidence that SARS-2 is transmitted, at least indoors, not only by droplets but also by smaller aerosols. However, due to their large pore size, cloth masks cannot filter out aerosols.

The WHO admitted to the BBC that its June 2020 mask policy update was due not to new evidence but “political lobbying”:

“We had been told by various sources WHO committee reviewing the evidence had not backed masks but they recommended them due to political lobbying. This point was put to WHO who did not deny.” (Deborah Cohen, BBC Medical Corresponent).

2. Studies claiming face masks are effective

Some recent studies argued that cloth face masks are indeed effective against the new coronavirus and could at least prevent the infection of other people. However, most of these studies suffer from poor methodology and sometimes show the opposite of what they claim.

Typically, these studies ignore the effect of other measures, the natural development of infection numbers, changes in test activity, or they compare countries with very different conditions.

An overview:

  1. A German study claimed that the introduction of compulsory masks in German cities had led to a decrease in infections. But the data does not support this: in some cities there was no change, in others a decrease, in others an increase in infections (see graph below). The city of Jena was an ‘exception’ only because it simultaneously introduced the strictest quarantine rules in Germany, but the study did not mention this.
  2. A study in the journal PNAS claimed that masks had led to a decrease in infections in three hotspots (including New York City). This did not take into account the natural decrease in infections and other measures. The study was so flawed that over 40 scientists recommended that the study be withdrawn.
  3. A US study claimed that mandatory masks had led to a decrease in infections in 15 states. The study did not take into account that the incidence of infection was already declining in most states at that time. A comparison with other states was not made.
  4. A Canadian study claimed that countries with mandatory masks had fewer deaths than countries without mandatory masks. But the study compared African, Latin American, Asian and Eastern European countries with very different infection rates and population structures.
  5. A much-cited meta-study in the journal Lancet claimed that masks “could” lead to a reduction in the risk of infection, but the studies considered mainly hospitals (Sars-1), medical (not cloth) masks, and the strength of the evidence was reported as “low”.

Mandatory masks in German cities: no relevant impact. (IZA 2020)

3. Risks associated with face masksWearing masks for a prolonged period of time is not harmless, as the following evidence shows:

  1. The WHO warns of various “side effects” such as difficulty breathing and skin rashes.
  2. Tests conducted by the University Hospital of Leipzig in Germany have shown that face masks significantly reduce the resilience and performance of healthy persons.
  3. A German psychological study with about 1000 participants found “severe psychosocial consequences” due to the introduction of mandatory face masks in Germany.
  4. The Hamburg Environmental Institute warned against the inhalation of chlorine compounds in polyester masks as well as problems in connection with disposal.
  5. The European rapid alert system RAPEX has already recalled 70 mask models because they did not meet EU quality standards and could lead to “serious risks”.
  6. In China, two boys who had to wear a mask during sports classes fainted and died.
  7. In the US, a car driver wearing an N95 (FFP2) mask fainted and crashed into a pole.

Conclusion

Cloth face masks in the general population might be effective, at least in some circumstances, but there is currently little to no evidence supporting this proposition. If the SARS-2 virus is indeed transmitted via aerosols, at least indoors, cloth masks are unlikely to be protective.

Source: Are Face Masks Effective? The Evidence

Poll: 82% of U.S. parents are considering homeschooling their kids this fall

As the school year begins around the country, a recent study has found a shocking 82% of parents are at least considering keeping their children home through 2021.

Source: Poll: 82% of U.S. parents are considering homeschooling their kids this fall