“He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God’s providence to lead him aright.” – Blaise Pascal. "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. We live in a “post-truth” world. According to the dictionary, “post-truth” means, “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.” Simply put, we now live in a culture that seems to value experience and emotion more than truth. Truth will never go away no matter how hard one might wish. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and activist reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.” ― Soren Kierkegaard
NASHVILLE (RNS) — The nation’s largest Protestant denomination continues to get smaller.
There were 14 million Southern Baptists in 2020, according to a new report released Thursday (May 20) by Lifeway Christian Resources, which compiles official denominational statistics. That number is down 435,632 members since 2019 and 2.3 million from 2006, when the Southern Baptist Convention reached 16.3 million members.
Worship attendance was also down about 15%, with 4.4 million people attending in-person services on a weekly basis. That figure was likely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, where churches around the country shut down in-person services to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
“COVID-19 clearly impacted in-person attendance,” Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research, said in a statement announcing the report. “Throughout much of the year, churches tried to find the right balance of both in-person and online events.”
Southern Baptists, long known for denominational infighting, have seen several high-profile departures of leaders in the past year, including Bible teacher Beth Moore, ethicist Russell Moore, and a number of Black pastors. The SBC has also faced controversy over revelations of abuse, disputes over support for Donald Trump and a debate over critical race theory.
The biggest decline in the report was seen in baptisms, a key measure for the evangelical denomination. In 2020, baptisms were down by about half, to 123,160, the lowest number since 1919.
“The last year Southern Baptists saw this few people follow Christ for the first time was 1918 and 1919, when the influenza pandemic was sweeping the world,” said McConnell.
Ronnie Floyd, president of the SBC’s Executive Committee, said the report showed a need for a renewed focus on evangelism, missions and church planting.
“It may take years for us to know the full effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our churches,” Floyd told Baptist Press. “There are lessons to be learned from 2020 as we put it behind us — such as the vital need for corporate worship, the value of being creative in developing ways to share the Gospel, and how much local communities need our churches to minister in difficult circumstances.”
Total giving to Southern Baptist churches, according to the report, was $11.5 billion dollars, with a reported $1 billion being given to missions.
The report was based on data from 69% of Southern Baptist churches, down from reports in previous years, which drew on data from three-quarters of churches.
“In some countries, the churches took over the place of the castles. In my opinion, these same churches represent the castles. For they have the same wealth like that of the kings.” ― Mwanandeke Kindembo
Kate Shellnut, writing for Christianity Today posted: Southern Baptist Church Planting Up in 2020, But Baptisms Plunge by Half I think you will find the following numbers quite interesting. Before I begin, let me remind you that since I began this blog, I have been reporting that the current numbers of membership are problematic. It is widely whispered that even the current declining membership numbers are way too high.
This post is going to be short because I want you to concentrate on just a few numbers found in this article. iI 2005, I remember reading about the young Calvinists in 2005 in the article written by Collin Hansen. Christianity Today wrote about it here. They were going to change the church. And they did. Today, the SBC has significantly tilted toward a Reformed view of being a Baptist. This brings me to the above CT article.
The number of SBC members in the US
In the past, when the numbers were up around 16 million, there were some leaders who agreed that it could be half that number, @8,000. This is due to people moving from Baptist church to Baptist church and never being removed from their church roles. When I taught adult Sunday School in an SBC church, we tried to clean up the roles in our class. We were told to leave the names on there so people would feel like they had a home…
The country’s largest Protestant denomination has been getting smaller for 14 years in a row, down to 14 million after losing 436,000 members
The number of new churches in the SBC: Could it be that the SBC won’t tell us the number of failures because it would be embarrassing?
Folks, this is saying that 588 churches started in the US last year. But the number of members in the SBC took a nosedive.
The year 2020 showed promising signs of progress on the mission field, adding 588 new church plants in the US and over 18,000 abroad, both figures up from the year prior.
I have been asking and asking for the numbers of church starts that have failed. Folks, there are a bunch of those out there. There is one in my home state that was started by a well-known church. I was contacted by someone who was part of this disaster. They did the typical thing, sending the pastor out with a bunch of people from the sending church. From what I was told, the first pastor got fired and they sent in pastor #2 who wasn’t much better. I was told that the church was a typical Reformed Baptist church-heavily authoritarian with a distinctly Calvinista flavor.
I heard that a church and two church plants started by an expert on church planting within the SBC failed. Yes, all three of them. But no one will give the names and numbers of the failures and the money spent on keeping the churches propped up/
I have been told that some of the pastors who start a church are actually given a home for their families. If this is true, then church planting is an expensive proposition. Are the returns worth it? The numbers are declining with the more church plants that are established.
Younger adults are just not *into the church.* It’s the older folks who attend and COVID attacked that age group.
Therefore they claim the decline is just related to COVID. I don’t buy it. But, after this generation dies off, can we depend on the young to carry the church? It doesn’t look like it.
Researcher Ryan Burge wrote last year that the generational shift will be the biggest factor accelerating losses in the SBC, as the denomination ages and members die off.
…Losing more of its older members due to COVID-19 is likely one factor in the 2020 drop, according to Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. Membership declined by 2 percent in 2019, the SBC’s biggest drop in a century. Last year—as congregations winnowed inactive members from their rolls and saw fewer people join during shutdowns—the decline was 3 percent.
8,200 churches were planted in the past decade, many of them led by Reformed Baptist young pastors. Yet membership declined despite such effort. It appears they are losing their young people
Southern Baptists have planted 8,200 churches in North America since 2010, a rate that researcher Ed Stetzer says amounts to “replanting the denomination every few decades.”
“Well, the SBC continues its downward trend, for sure, but the church-planting numbers are a reminder that the North American Mission Board plants more than anyone else and that they kept doing it in a remarkably difficult year,” said Stetzer, executive director of the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center. “If Southern Baptists find a path to a better future, the road goes through church-planting territory.”
The numbers prove that the SBC is in decline. It is also proof that the hardcore, Calvinist, authoritarian behavior on the part of pastors may have also contributed to this decline. They did promise to change the church after all and they did. Things have not gone so well.
Ezell, the head of the NAMB claims that 80% of church plants exist after 4 years which means that the attendance at those 8,200 churches must not be stellar.
Kevin Ezell, president of the North American Mission Board, the entity overseeing domestic evangelism and mission, told CT he’s encouraged by their work in 2020 but also looking forward.
“The number I care about most is how many survive after four years. Right now that survival rate hovers around 80 percent, which is incredibly strong,” he said. “But to plant 588 churches during lockdowns and social distancing demonstrates that Southern Baptists have a strong church-planting network and a strong financial commitment that holds up to even the toughest challenges.”
How much money did the SBC spend on each church plant? Is it worth it? Isn’t the idea behind church plants to reach out and get new members?
They give broad numbers which don’t mean much and I suspect that know that.
SBC churches spent $1 billion on missions in 2020.
So what did the addition of 8,200 churches mean for the SBC? Fewer converts are joining the church. So who is going to all of these new church plants? Are people leaving the older churches and going to the new churches. I thought church-hopping was not held in high esteem by the Reformed Baptists.
Frankly, this makes little sense. But the SBC faithful keep giving their money when they should be asking hard questions.
Baptisms have decreased as fewer converts join SBC churches and were put on hold in many churches as a result of the pandemic.
My opinion: The SBC has done a poor job in educating their young and should concentrate spending money on that as opposed to church planting for fewer people. That’s just plain stupid.
Go to the chart in the CT article and see the decline in baptisms. Is it just COVID? Or has the church done an exceedingly poor job in educating their young? Huge climbing walls look cool but the young can get those anywhere. There is only one place they can be taught about the faith. Maybe it’s time to stop spending money to plant churches for a declining population and, instead, reevaluate what they are doing wrong. Why are younger people ditching churches? They better figure it out quickly. The generation of baby boomers is becoming elderly and will soon begin to die. The young people are not taking their places. It’s time to figure out why.
In the next week or so iI will be discussing how seminary students in the SBC are being trained to take over churches.
Signs of impending economic doom continue to grow all around us. For years, highly respected experts have been warning about the steady destruction of our standard of living and the death of the U.S. dollar. Perhaps you didn’t listen to those voices at first, and that is understandable. Most Americans have their hands full making a living and taking care of their families. But then housing prices started to go absolutely nuts, health costs continued to spiral out of control and a trip to the grocery store just kept getting more painful. At this point, nobody can honestly deny that inflation has become a major problem.
But even though the chorus of voices that is warning of a dramatic inflationary collapse is growing by the day, the Federal Reserve just keeps pumping more giant piles of money into the financial system, and the federal government continues to engage in the most reckless spending binge in the entirety of U.S. history.
Despite the utterly insane policies of our “leaders”, the U.S. economy continues to languish in economic purgatory. Trillions upon trillions of dollars have been poured into the economy, and yet the U.S. still has 8.2 million fewer jobs than it did last February.
So, is the choice inflation or implosion? Williams says, “That’s the choice, and I think we are going to have a combination of both of them. I think we are eventually headed into a hyperinflationary economic collapse. It’s not that we haven’t been in an economic collapse already, we are coming back some now. . . . The Fed has been creating money at a pace that has never been seen before. You are basically up 75% (in money creation) year over year. This is unprecedented. Normally, it might be up 1% or 2% year over year. The exploding money supply will lead to inflation. I am not saying we are going to get to 75% inflation—yet, but you are getting up to the 4% or 5% range, and you are soon going to be seeing 10% range year over year. . . . The Fed has lost control of inflation.”
And remember, when the Fed has to admit the official inflation rate is 10%, John Williams says, “When they have to admit the inflation rate is 10%, my number is going to be up to around 15% or higher. My number rides on top of their number.”
You don’t want to believe Williams?
That is fine.
He has just been right time after time over the years.
As technological developments and markets go parabolic, we observe many market “experts,” even intelligent ones, forecasting that we are now in an exponential economic era. Thus many believe that this will go on forever. This is the typical attitude at market and economic tops and guarantees that THIS WILL NOT END WELL!
It is clearly absolute nonsense to believe that exponential expansion based on deficits, debts and fake money is the beginning of a new era. Anyone studying the economy and history of markets knows that exponential moves indicate the end of an era and not the beginning. As I have repeatedly said, history is our best teacher and it both rhymes and repeats itself. And history now gives us dire warnings.
If you wish to reject what these experts are telling us, can you point to another time in history when officials have wildly created new money and everything has turned out just great?
“New money” is always such a tempting solution, because every time it always seems to work at the beginning. It is kind of like a tonic that instantly makes you feel better for a few hours but that ultimately kills you in the end as you keep taking it.
“We are seeing substantial inflation,” Warren Buffett told attendees at last week’s annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting. “We are raising prices. People are raising prices to us, and it’s being accepted.”
Ordinary Americans are searching for “inflation” online more frequently now than they have in more than a decade, data from Deutsche Bank strategist Jim Reid shows.
But CNN insists that everything is going to be just fine.
So that means that we don’t have anything to be concerned about, right?
Personally, I am deeply concerned about the second half of this calendar year, and it appears that I am not the only one. Billionaires and corporate insiders have been offloading stocks at a very brisk pace in recent weeks…
When the country’s CEOs and billionaires start to head to the exits a little bit quicker than usual at the tail end of a 13 year bull market, it may be time to start paying attention.
That’s what we found noteworthy about a recent Bloomberg piece, which noted that stock sales by some of the world’s richest shareholders are “reaping a windfall”, thanks to our current inflated equity markets, “to the tune of trillions”.
Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos and Google co-founder Sergey Brin are just two of the well known names that have been offloading stock. They are joined by names like Mark Zuckerberg and Larry Ellison.
If you have been snoozing for the last few years, now is the time to wake up.
Because we are steamrolling toward an economic implosion that will make the history books, and our economic problems are just one element of the “perfect storm” that our society is facing.
But a lot of people out there are going to be absolutely blindsided by what is coming, because they have no interest in listening to the warnings.
Instead, they have placed their trust in the talking heads that the corporate media puts on television, and those talking heads keep assuring us that everything is going to be just fine.
The Bible offers many cases of resistance to authority:
I recently created a new sub-category of articles on this website called “Resistance Theory.” As it sounds, it is a theory about resistance – specifically resistance to government, the state, and/or the ruling authorities. The questions it seeks to answer include: Is it ever right to mount such resistance? Is it ever proper to engage in civil disobedience? Can one flat-out rebel against a ruler or a governing body?
Secular thinkers (eg., political philosophers, etc) have long been interested in these sorts of questions, but so too have Christians. While much of this discussion especially arose during the time of the Reformation, there was much thought about this before then, and Catholics have also thought and written about such matters.
In my various articles on this I sought to argue that yes, there is such a thing as a proper sort of resistance. This might entail individuals or groups who resist or rebel against governments, rulers, etc. And all this becomes quite relevant today as we see all the alarming power grabs made by the State, primarily with the excuse of dealing with the Rona.
Here I want to offer further Scriptural examples where rulers – be they kings, princes, military leaders, etc. – were challenged, resisted or disobeyed. Indeed, sometimes they were even violently resisted –put to death in fact. So here I want to add to my already growing list of examples of this, based on my recent reading of the books of Kings and Chronicles. There we find plenty of cases of this. Here are some of the more notable ones:
1 Kings 21 Here we read about how Elijah the prophet strongly condemned the evil king Ahab of Samaria over his unjust appropriation of Naboth’s Vineyard.
2 Kings 1 The prophet Elijah again denounces a king – this time King Ahaziah. Because of his sin, he is told in verse 6, “you shall surely die.” And in verse 17 we read: “So he died according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken.”
2 Kings 3:13-14 Here we find the prophet Elisha showing no regard for Jehoram King of Israel. As we see in verse 14; “Elisha said, ‘As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I have regard for Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would neither look at you nor see you’.”
2 Kings 6:32-33 This time we find Elisha resisting the murderous plans of the King of Israel.
2 Kings 8:7-15 Pagan kings also get prophetic rebuke. Here Elisha comes to Damascus and speaks against Ben-hadad, the king of Syria.
2 Kings 9:14-29 Sometimes it is even king against king. Here King Jehu assassinates King Joram and King Ahaziah.
2 Kings 9:30-37 Here we read about how Jehu executes the evil Queen Jezebel.
2 Kings 10:17 Sometimes the prophets instruct rulers to do some major house-cleaning: “And when he [Jehu] came to Samaria, he struck down all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had wiped them out, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke to Elijah.”
2 Kings 10:37 We read here about how Queen Jezebel is killed by her own servants, as Elijah had predicted (eg., 2 Kings 9:9-10).
2 Kings 11:15-16, 20 Priests also get involved in politic intrigue: “Then Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains who were set over the army, ‘Bring her [Queen Athaliah] out between the ranks, and put to death with the sword anyone who follows her.’For the priest said, ‘Let her not be put to death in the house of the Lord.’ So they laid hands on her; and she went through the horses’ entrance to the king’s house, and there she was put to death. … So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been put to death with the sword at the king’s house.”
2 Kings 12:19-21 Sometimes servants of a king get involved: “Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah? His servants arose and made a conspiracy and struck down Joash in the house of Millo, on the way that goes down to Silla. It was Jozacar the son of Shimeath and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, who struck him down, so that he died. And they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Amaziah his son reigned in his place.”
1 Chronicles 21:1-17 Here we read about how Joab resists King David, even when David seemingly did something that God had ordained, or at least allowed. The first eight verses read:
Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel. So David said to Joab and the commanders of the army, “Go, number Israel, from Beersheba to Dan, and bring me a report, that I may know their number.” But Joab said, “May the Lord add to his people a hundred times as many as they are! Are they not, my lord the king, all of them my lord’s servants? Why then should my lord require this? Why should it be a cause of guilt for Israel?” But the king’s word prevailed against Joab. So Joab departed and went throughout all Israel and came back to Jerusalem. And Joab gave the sum of the numbering of the people to David. In all Israel there were 1,100,000 men who drew the sword, and in Judah 470,000 who drew the sword. But he did not include Levi and Benjamin in the numbering, for the king’s command was abhorrent to Joab. But God was displeased with this thing, and he struck Israel. And David said to God, “I have sinned greatly in that I have done this thing. But now, please take away the iniquity of your servant, for I have acted very foolishly.”
2 Chronicles 21 Elijah the prophet rebukes King Jehoram.
2 Chronicles 23:12-15 Jehoiada the priest has Queen Athaliah of Judah put to death.
2 Chronicles 23:21 Real rejoicing will take place when evil rulers are gotten rid of: “All the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was calm, because Athaliah had been slain with the sword.”
2 Chronicles 23:16-17 People and priests together can get pretty rowdy when it comes to resistance; “Jehoiada [the priest] then made a covenant that he, the people and the king would be the Lord’s people. All the people went to the temple of Baal and tore it down. They smashed the altars and idols and killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars.”
2 Chronicles 25 Here we read of a man of God who rebukes King Amaziah.
2 Chronicles 26:16-23 Here Azariah the chief priest and all the priests strongly rebuke King Uzziah.
2 Chronicles 28 Obed the prophet and certain chiefs rebuke Israel’s army.
Let me add one more biblical example here. I offer it because just yesterday when I was speaking in a church this episode was mentioned in the Scripture reading/devotional as part of the morning service. When I heard what it was I thought: “Wow, this gal is a brave soul! There is likely only one in a hundred churches today in the West that would dare go anywhere near a story like this with a ten-foot pole.
It is so non-politically correct, that most churches would avoid it like the plague. All of our woke churchians would have a mild heart-attack if they heard it mentioned in their services. I refer to the rather graphic story found in Judges 4. It is not for the faint of heart.
It is about one of God’s judges, Deborah the prophetess. The commander of the Canaan army Sisera is killed (assassinated) in an interesting and rather hardcore fashion, all under the oversight of Deborah. Indeed, it is another woman, Jael the wife of Heber the Kenite, who did the actual deed.
So this was a major figure who was bumped off, but under the approval of Deborah and God himself. As we read at the end of this chapter in verses 23-24: “So on that day God subdued Jabin the king of Canaan before the people of Israel. And the hand of the people of Israel pressed harder and harder against Jabin the king of Canaan, until they destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.”
Sure, this is a descriptive account, not a prescriptive one. I am not urging any believer today to go and find a tent peg and drive it through the skull of some evil ruler. But it is yet another example of how resistance to tyrants and the like is found all throughout Scripture.
And just in case you are still not convinced, please go on and read judges 5. There we have a 31-verse song by Deborah and Barak praising God for everything that we just read about in chapter 4! In fact, consider verses 24-26:
“Most blessed of women be Jael, the wife of Heber the Kenite, most blessed of tent-dwelling women. He asked for water, and she gave him milk; in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk. Her hand reached for the tent peg, her right hand for the workman’s hammer. She struck Sisera, she crushed his head, she shattered and pierced his temple.
Oh dear: “most blessed of women”! So many milquetoast and trendy lefty Christians today would utterly recoil at both chapters, and claim they are ungodly, and something we should avoid like the plague. And of course they will throw up this old chestnut: ‘What about Romans 13?’!
As I say, Scripture is full of examples of folks defying rulers, resisting authority, and disobeying various laws. Sure, Christians today who head down this path must do so wisely, prayerfully, and carefully. But there is plenty of biblical warrant for the need to at times resist the state and disobey leaders.
Today’s Bible Verse:Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight. – Proverbs 3:5-6
What a crazy time we’re living in. We collectively struggle with trust.
You hear one thing on the news and change the channel and hear something completely different. So, what are we to do? Where can we turn?
Our verses in Proverbs clearly tell us that we can trust the Lord. And we can trust him with our whole heart. God tells us not to lean on our own understanding, but rather to acknowledge God in all our ways. But, I have to confess, I lean heavily at times on my own understanding. And when I do, I’m soon frustrated, wondering why things don’t seem to work out.
We are all works in progress. I have not arrived. I will still make mistakes and I’ll even blow it royally at times. But I’m so thankful that when I mess up, God invites me to come to him. And I can put my mistakes in his large, capable hands.
Growing up, I struggled with perfectionism. There are times I still wrestle with it. In my family of origin, only perfection was seen. So, I learned pretty early in life whatever I did needed to be perfect. Our dad reinforced this by only seeing what was perfect. Sadly, after a while I watched my brother get so discouraged he stopped trying altogether.
Little did I know that when I went out on my own, that I’d be bringing my baggage with me. Perfectionism was neatly packed in one of my suitcases.
And years later, when I found myself in a counselor’s office, I could finally fess up to this struggle. Do you want to know what helped me the most? It was learning I no longer needed to strive for acceptance. God has already accepted me. He did it when I accepted his Son, Jesus. The only truly perfect one. And Jesus shed his perfect blood for me on the cross when he died. And that blood satisfied the heart of God.
I still blow it sometimes, but God sees me through the blood Jesus shed, and I am forgiven. There is nothing I can do which will lessen God’s love for me and there’s nothing I can do that will make God love me more. Those words bring freedom.
God looks at those who accept Jesus as their Savior and God is pleased. Trusting in the finished work of Calvary takes faith and, we are told without in scripture without faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).
As new believers we knew God would answer our prayers. God could do anything. But somewhere along the way, we began believing lies from the enemy. Lies like:
God is tired of answering your prayers.
God doesn’t care about you.
God is disappointed in you.
I’m so glad we can drench ourselves in the Word of God and the lies become obvious.
– God encourages us to cast our cares on him because he cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
– God does not get disappointed in us because when we do blow it, he removes our transgressions from us (Psalm 102:12).
I’m so glad God gave us his Word so we can meditate on what’s true and denounce the lies. When we are immersed in God’s Word we can love God wholeheartedly. Is there something stopping you from trusting God with your whole heart?
God loves you totally. And you can trust him with your whole heart. Listen to this song, Half of my Heart, by Nathan Peterson. May it bless you as it blesses me.
Let God Carry You
When you can’t take another step, then let God carry you. Not only can he lift you up, He carries burdens, too.
God Breaks the Things We Idolize Exodus 20:5; 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9; 6:15; Joshua 24:19; Isaiah 31:1–3; Jeremiah 7:1–7
Whatsoever we have over-loved, idolized, and leaned upon, God has from time to time broken it and made us to see the vanity of it, so that we find the readiest course to be rid of our comforts is to set our hearts inordinately or immoderately upon them. For our God is a jealous God, and will not part with his glory to another.
Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Great Minds Are Open to Great Aberrations Proverbs 21:8; Ezekiel 28:6–7; Matthew 7:13–14; 1 Corinthians 8:1
The greatest minds, as they are capable of the highest excellencies, are open likewise to the greatest aberrations; and those who travel very slowly may yet make far greater progress, provided they keep always to the straight road, than those who, while they run, forsake it.
Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Writing about the courage of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego when they stood before Nebuchadnezzar, Calvin wrote, “We must bear [our accusers’] defamatory statements about us, for the time patiently, until the LORD shall shine upon us as the asserter of our innocence.” We don’t always know if we will be vindicated when we are confronted for the truth we proclaim concerning the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the exclusive call to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. The three men did not know if they would emerge from the fires or if they would succumb to their injuries. Nonetheless, they knew that the LORD would assert their innocence.
In this instance, the LORD displayed their righteousness in a dramatic fashion and Nebuchadnezzar was astounded by the scene before his eyes. Despite the ferocity of his furnace, they weren’t harmed in any way! When Nebuchadnezzar addressed the gathered crowd, he came close to confessing the name of God, but the tragedy in this scene is that his proclamation was still an external acknowledgment and not an internal surrender to the LORD, the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Under his banner, a proclamation went out that proclaimed the greatness of Yahweh, but it did not result in personal faith.
Which brings us to this sobering reminder: it is not enough to know true things about God. We must trust in the LORD with all our hearts and not lean on our own understanding or our strength or our own pride.
Suggestions for prayer
Pray for the LORD’s name to be hallowed on earth as it is in heaven. Pray for assurance that His power is so great that we need not be anxious about anything!
Rev. Norman Van Eeden Petersman is the pastor of the Vancouver Associated Presbyterian Church and he is the husband of Rosanna and father of Elliott. Prior to being ordained in the Associated Presbyterian Church, he was the pastor of Adoration United Reformed Church in Ontario. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.
The people of God gathered in Jerusalem for the dedication of the temple, and Solomon prayed a marvelous prayer of commitment and blessing. What most captures me today is not only the glory of God that falls on that place (so much so the priests could not enter the temple), but also the recurrent reminders that God’s people would need at times to repent of their failures—and that God would hear and forgive them. These phrases within Solomon’s prayer make that point clear:
“May you hear in your dwelling place in heaven. May you hear and forgive” (1 Kgs 8:30)
“. . . may you hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel” (1 Kgs 8:34)
“. . . may you hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants and your people Israel” (1 Kgs 8:36)
“. . . may you hear in heaven, your dwelling place, and may you forgive, act, and give to everyoneaccording to all their ways, since you know each heart” (1 Kgs 8:39)
“May you forgive your people who sinned against you and all their rebellionsagainst you” (1 Kgs 8:50)
How gracious God is to dwell among us and invite us into His presence, knowing just how unworthy we are!
PRAYER: “God, I am not worthy even to speak to You today. Thank You for Your incredible mercy.”
DAILY ACTION STEP: Throughout the day, seek God’s forgiveness immediately when needed.
5:23 The prayer for spirit, soul, and body to be kept sound and blameless teaches that God sees the whole person as important in living a life pleasing to God.
5:23 sanctify. The complete mending of all human imperfection is not only possible but certain. God is faithful and will accomplish it (v. 24). The time element must be remembered. Ultimate perfection, to include a glorified body as well, will be accomplished at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (Phil. 1:6). See “Sanctification: The Spirit and the Flesh” at 1 Cor. 6:11.
your whole spirit and soul and body. Three words are used to emphasize the wholeness of the perfection. “Spirit” and “soul” are used as virtual synonyms in the Bible for the spiritual component of a person. When the terms occur together (as here and in Heb. 4:12) it is difficult to find any significant difference in meaning. Compare the fourfold representation of “heart,” “soul,” “mind,” and “strength” in Mark 12:30.
5:23God of peace While the Roman emperor brought “peace” to the city of Thessalonica, the Thessalonians must ultimately look to God for peace. Compare Rom 15:33; 16:20.
sanctify See note on 1 Thess 4:3.
spirit and soul and body The nt understands people as a unity of material (body) and immaterial (spirit and soul).
5:23 God … sanctify you. Having concluded all the exhortations beginning in 4:1, and especially from vv. 16–22, Paul’s ending benediction acknowledged the source for obeying and fulfilling them all. It is not within human power to be sanctified in all these ways (cf. Zec 4:6; 1Co 2:4, 5; Eph 3:20, 21; Col 1:29). Only God (cf. Ro 15:33; 16:20; Php 4:9; Heb 13:20 for references to God as “peace”) “Himself” can separate us from sin to holiness “entirely.” spirit and soul and body. This comprehensive reference makes the term “complete” more emphatic. By using spirit and soul, Paul was not indicating that the immaterial part of man could be divided into two substances (cf. Heb 4:12). The two words are used interchangeably throughout Scripture (cf. Heb 6:19; 10:39; 1Pe 2:11; 2Pe 2:8). There can be no division of these realities, but rather they are used as other texts use multiple terms for emphasis (cf. Dt 6:5; Mt 22:37; Mk 12:30; Lk 10:27). Nor was Paul a believer in a 3-part human composition (cf. Ro 8:10; 1Co 2:11; 5:3–5; 7:34; 2Co 7:1; Gal 6:18; Col 2:5; 2Ti 4:22), but rather two parts: material and immaterial. at the coming. This fourth mention of Christ’s parousia refers to the rapture of the church as it has previously at 2:19; 3:13; 4:15.
5:23 Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians is that they may be sanctified in all aspects of their life, spirit, soul, and body. Every part of a Christian’s life should bear evidence that he or she is set apart as holy to God. This will result in being blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christians are already saints in the sense that they have been set apart to God. Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to express holiness in this life so that the Lord would approve of their conduct upon His return. Blameless does not mean sinless, but free from causes for reproach and regret.
5:23. Paul ends the final exhortations with a look at the parousia and a closing challenge to be found blameless at that time. His main challenge is that believers will allow the God of peace [to] sanctify you completely. This is a work God must do in the believer. This is emphasized by the fact that Himself is the first word in the Greek sentence. Paul is requesting that God Himself would sanctify them.
To sanctify, which means “to set apart,” is related to the word holy. God wants believers to be totally set apart from the evil world in which they live. This complete sanctification is not sin-lessness (1 John 1:8, 10). Rather, it is a consecration of all aspects of one’s life to God: marriage, work, parenting, neighborliness, hobbies, driving, eating, sexuality, and so forth. No amount of effort can accomplish this sanctification apart from God’s enablement.
Another way of saying this is that one’s whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless [amemptōs] at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul is thinking of the total person. One cannot be blameless in his spirit if his body is not blameless. Each person is a unit and whatever one’s body does, his spirit and soul participate in. The passive voice shows that God must do this for the believer. He cannot do this by mere force of will.
Blameless does not mean sinless. Each believer’s aim should be to be blameless at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The same word is used in Luke 1:6 to refer to the parents of John the Baptist: “And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.” That is, they were godly people. They pleased God. While still sinners, they were nonetheless obedient to God. A blameless Christian is one who is above reproach. This is like the elder who is to be blameless (1 Tim 1:6–7) in the church and community. The same word is also used in 3:13 in a context referring to the Bēma (see the discussion there.)
5:23 Now Paul prays for the sanctification of the Christians. The source is the God of peace. The scope is found in the word completely, meaning “every part of your being.”
This verse has been pressed into service by some to prove the “Holiness” doctrine of entire sanctification—that a believer can become sinlessly perfect in this life. However, that is not what Paul means when he prays, the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely. He is not praying for the eradication of the sin nature but rather that sanctification would extend to every part of their being—spirit, soul, and body.
There are four phases of sanctification in the NT—pre-conversion, positional, practical or progressive, and perfect.
1. Even before a person is saved, he is set apart in a position of external privilege. Thus we read in 1 Corinthians 7:14 that an unbelieving husband is sanctified by his believing wife. This is pre-conversion sanctification.
2. Whenever a person is born again, he is positionally sanctified by virtue of his union with Christ. This means that he is set apart to God from the world. It is referred to in such passages as Acts 26:18; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 10:10, 14.
3. But then there is progressive sanctification. This is a present setting apart of the believer to God from the world, sin, and self. It is the process by which he becomes more Christlike. This is the sanctification which Paul prays for the Thessalonians here. It is also found in 1 Thessalonians 4:3, 4; 2 Timothy 2:21. It is brought about by the Holy Spirit when we are obedient to the word of God (John 17:17; 2 Cor. 3:18). Such practical sanctification is a process that should continue as long as the believer is on earth. He will never achieve perfection or sinlessness on earth, but he should ever be pressing toward that goal.
4. Perfect sanctification refers to the believer’s final condition in heaven. When he goes to be with the Lord, he will be morally like the Lord, completely and finally set apart from sin (1 Jn. 3:1–3).‡
The apostle also prays for the preservation of the Thessalonians. This preservation should include the complete person—spirit, soul, and body. Notice the order. Man always says body, soul, and spirit. God always says spirit, soul, and body. In the original creation, the spirit was of first importance, the body last. Sin reversed the order; man lives for the body and neglects the spirit. When we pray for one another, we should follow the biblical order, putting spiritual welfare before physical needs.
From this verse and others, it is clear that we are tripartite beings. Our spirit is that part which enables us to have communion with God. Our soul has to do with our emotions, desires, affections, and propensities (John 12:27). Our body is the house in which our person dwells (2 Cor. 5:1).
All of our parts need to be preserved entire, that is, complete and sound. One commentator has suggested the needs for preservation as follows:
1. The spirit from (a) everything that would defile it (2 Cor. 7:1); (b) everything that would hinder the testimony of the Holy Spirit to the saints’ relationship with God (Rom. 8:16); or (c) everything that would prevent the worship which He seeks (John 4:23; Phil 3:3).
2. The soul from (a) evil thoughts (Matt. 15:18, 19; Eph. 2:3); (b) fleshly appetites that war against it (1 Pet. 2:11); and (c) contention and strife (Heb. 12:15).
3. The body from (a) defilement (1 Thess. 4:3–8); and (b) evil uses (Rom. 6:19).
Some deny that the unsaved have a spirit. Perhaps they base this on the fact that they are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1). However, the fact that the unsaved are spiritually dead does not mean that they have no spirit. It means that they are dead as far as fellowship with God is concerned. Their spirits may be very much alive, for example, as far as contact with the world of the occult is concerned, but they are dead Godward.
Many are satisfied with a partial Christianity, some parts of their life are still worldly. The apostolic admonitions constantly prod into all the corners of our nature so that none may escape purification.
The prayer goes on to desire that God’s sanctification and preservation will so extend to every part of their personalities that the believers will be blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. This seems to point to the Judgment Seat of Christ, which follows the Rapture. At that time, the Christian’s life, service, and testimony will be reviewed, and he will be rewarded or suffer loss.
5:23. To encourage his readers, Paul highlighted God’s ability to produce peace. The church at Thessalonica had come to experience peace through the preaching of the gospel. And when Paul wrote this letter, the Thessalonians were enjoying peace with each other. The God who had given them peace would be their adequate resource for the future as He had been in the past. Paul prayed that God would sanctify (set apart) them to Himself in every area of their lives. Paul did not mean they could attain complete sanctification this side of heaven; that is impossible. He also prayed that his readers would be preserved blameless (amemptōs, i.e., with no legitimate ground for accusation; cf. 2:10) in view of and until the appearing (parousia) of the Lord Jesus Christ for His saints.
Though Paul spoke of the Christian as spirit, soul, and body, man is described elsewhere as having two parts—body and spirit (James 2:26; 2 Cor. 7:1), or body and soul (Matt. 10:28). And man is also said to have a heart, mind, conscience, and other parts. Rather than teaching man as having only three parts, Paul was probably using the three terms here to identify the different aspects of personhood he wished to emphasize. The spirit is the highest and most unique part of man that enables him to communicate with God. The soul is the part of man that makes him conscious of himself; it is the seat of his personality. The body, of course, is the physical part through which the inner person expresses himself and by which he is immediately recognized. Paul was saying then that he desired that the Thessalonians would be kept blameless by God in their relationships with Him in their inner personal lives, and in their social contacts with other people.
5:23. After all these commands and instructions, Paul offered the hope and possibility of living this extraordinary life: May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. Christianity is not a teeth-gritting effort, an ascetic call. Though personal effort and responsibility are required, we are offered the very hand of God. He pulls us up to a higher and more glorious way of living.
We are not left on our own. The God of peace sets us apart for his use. Only those who live in peace with God—who have entered through the way of Christ’s reconciliation—can be sanctified. To be sanctified is to be “set apart” or “consecrated” for holy use.
God works to make us sacred, or holy, through and through, in every part of our lives. Paul emphasized this as he prayed that their whole spirit, soul, and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He prayed that our entire being—our personal, spiritual inner life, the true person; our body, the vehicle for our earthly journey—would be totally under the holy claims of Christ.
To be found blameless does not mean earthly perfection. Paul was expressing his desire that no one would be able to make an indictment against the Christian’s life. It is the same idea as expressed in Philippians 2:14–15: “Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation.”
5:23 “may the God of peace Himself” This is a common phrase in the closings of Paul’s letters (cf. Rom. 15:33; 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:6; 2 Thess. 3:16). What a wonderful, descriptive title for deity!
without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ
may it be kept.
In this passage the author points to the source of power for the believer. It is as if he wished to say, “In your own strength you cannot fulfil the precepts which I have just issued. You need God, the God of peace (cf. Rom. 15:33; 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; 2 Thess. 3:16; Heb. 13:20), a peace established through the cross, a peace which implies spiritual prosperity in the fullest sense (see on 1:1). May this God sanctify you, that is, may he separate you from the life of sin and cause you to be dedicated to him (cf. Rom. 15:16; 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11; 7:14; Rev. 22:11; and see above on 3:13; 4:3, 7; also N.T.C. on John 17:17, 19) through and through. This “through and through” (ὁλοτελεῖς, from ὅλος whole, and τέλος end) is a rare word, occurring only here in the New Testament. It is a plural adjective, so that the literal meaning of the word in connection with the noun which it modifies is you whole, that is, “the whole of each of you, every part of each of you” (A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures, Vol. IV, p. 38). (M.M., p. 447, points out that both here in 1 Thess. 5:23 and in a decree of Epaminondas the adjective has adverbial force.)
Now this process of sanctification occurs during the present life, the life here on earth. Paul expresses a closely related wish which pertains to the judgment day. The two thoughts constitute a unit. He expresses the wish—which has the solemnity of a prayer—that also “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (see on 2:19), when others will be sentenced to everlasting damnation for both soul and body (the entire person), the spirit of the believers at Thessalonica (together with all other believers, of course) may be without flaw; indeed that their soul-and-body may be preserved from this terrible condemnation, that is, may be kept blamelessly (2:10; cf. 3:13).
So far there is no great difficulty. The main idea is clear. The problem arises in interpreting the details. See grammatical footnote which because of its length has been placed at the end of this chapter (on pp. 146–150). If one wishes an answer to the question, “Was Paul a trichotomist?” “Does 1 Thess. 5:23 teach that man consists of three parts, spirit, soul, and body?” he should read that note.
The entirety-idea is stressed throughout the passage. This is shown by the forward position of the word “entire” or “without flaw,” and also by such expressions as “through and through” and “your soul and body.” Though certain people in Greece and Macedonia might hold the body in low esteem and might consider it to be merely a prison from which the soul must be liberated, and though the Thessalonian believers, mourning the loss of dear ones, might be wondering whether the buried bodies would in any way come to share in the glory of Christ’s return (see on 4:13–18), Paul assures the readers that God in Christ is a perfect Savior.
Ver. 23. The very God of peace sanctify you wholly.—
A short but comprehensive prayer:—The apostle had told the Thessalonians in the beginning of his Epistle, that he always made mention of them in his prayers; and, now he is Writing to them, and closing his Epistle, he lifteth up his whole heart for them.
I. The God to whom the apostle prays, namely, “the very God of Peace.” He is sometimes denominated “the God of all grace,” “the God of love,” but here—“the very God of peace,” not only because He is “the Author of peace,” but also “the Lover of concord.” There was a special reason for this: Paul felt that by the peaceableness and unity of the Thessalonians themselves they would best obtain those things for which he prays. God does not bestow His choice blessings on the members of a Church who are given to strife and disorder, but on those who are bound together in one by the golden cord of love. Such peace and fellowship are pleasant to behold both to men and angels; how much more to God Himself! (Psa. 133).
II. The burden of the apostle’s prayer. 1. Sanctification. Not partial but entire—the whole man. Or, he prays that they may be more perfectly sanctified, for the best are sanctified but in part while in this world; and therefore we should pray for and press toward complete sanctification. 2. Preservation. Where the good work of grace is begun, it will be carried on, be protected and preserved; and all those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus shall be preserved to the coming of Christ Jesus. If God did not carry on His good work in the soul, it would miscarry; and therefore we should pray God to perfect it, and preserve us blameless, that is, free from sin and impurity, till at length we are presented faultless before the throne of His glory with exceeding great joy.
III. The apostle’s assurance anent his, prayer. “Faithful is He that calleth you,” he writes to his converts, “who also will do it.” The sovereign kindness and infinite love of God had already graciously appeared to them in calling them to the saving knowledge of His truth, and the sure faithfulness of God was their security that they would be Divinely helped to persevere to the end. Accordingly, the apostle assures them that God would do what he desired: He would effect what He had Himself promised: He would accomplish all the good pleasure of His goodness toward them. Verily, our fidelity to God depends upon God’s faithfulness to us. (R. Fergusson.)
I. The agent in our sanctification is the Spirit of God (2 Thess. 2:13; 1 Pet. 1:2; 1 Cor. 6:14; see also Rom. 8). By the Father we are sanctified, as we are chosen by Him unto sanctification; as by His good pleasure and free grace the atonement of Christ and the sanctifying agency of the Spirit exist. By the Son we are sanctified, as His death is the only means by which we ever become holy, and by which the Spirit came into the world for the benevolent purpose of making us holy. By the Spirit we are sanctified as the immediate Agent in applying to us the blessings of Christ’s redemption, particularly in renewing and purifying our hearts and lives. Thus, although this work is immediately performed by the Spirit as the proper Agent, yet we are truly, though more remotely, said to be sanctified by the Father, by the Son, and by the Godhead universally considered.
II. The instruments of our sanctification are generally the Word and Providence of God. 1. The Word of God is the means of our sanctification in all cases in which it contributes to render us better, whether it be read, heard, or remembered; whether it be pondered with love, reverence, wonder, or delight; or whether, with similar affections, it be faithfully obeyed; whether its instructions and impressions be communicated to us directly, or through the medium of Divine ordinances, or the conversation, or the communion, or the example of our fellow-Christians. The Providence of God becomes the means of our sanctification in all the ways in which it makes solemn and religious impressions on the mind.
III. The process of sanctification may be summarily exhibited in the following manner. 1. It is progressive through life. The first sanctifying act of the Spirit of God is employed in regenerating the soul. Succeeding acts of the same nature are employed in purifying it through all the successive periods of life. 2. This process is not uniform. By this I intend that it is not the same in manner or degree every day, month, or year. From whatever cause it arises, our views are at times brighter, our vigilance more active, our resolution stronger, our temper more serene, and our energy more vigorous than at other times. This is visible in all that we speak, or think, or do, whatever may be the objects of our attention. That a state of things in us, which so materially affects ourselves in our very nature, should have an important influence on our religious interests is to be expected of course. The changes are here wrought in ourselves; and we, the persons thus changed, are those whose religion is concerned. As we are changed, therefore the state of our religion must in a greater or less degree be changed also. 3. The process of sanctification is universal. By this I intend that it affects the whole man: his views, affections, purposes, and conduct, and those of every kind. It extends alike to his duties of every kind; toward himself, his fellow-creatures, and his Maker. It affects and improves indiscriminately all the virtues of the Christian character: love to God and to mankind, faith, repentance, justice, truth, kindness, humility, forgiveness, charity, generosity, public spirit, meekness, patience, fortitude, temperance, moderation, candour, and charitableness of judgment. It influences ruling passions and appetites, habits of thought and affection, of language and practice. It prompts to all the acts of piety: to prayer, praise, attendance upon the sanctuary and its ordinances, our sanctification of the Sabbath, Christian communion, and Christian discipline. 4. The progress of sanctification is conspicuous in the life. From the commencement of Christianity in the soul the Christian course is that of a general reformation. Remarks: 1. The considerations suggested concerning this important religious subject furnish every professing Christian with an interesting rule for the examination of his own character. 2. The same considerations furnish abundant encouragement to the Christian. Think how much God has done to accomplish this work, and you can find no room for despondency. (Timothy Dwight, D.D.)
Entire sanctification:—Short of being wholly surrendered to God, we are maimed and incomplete. Holiness is the science of making men whole and keeping them whole. Christ is not come to save bits of humanity, like spars of a floating wreck, men’s souls only, but to restore the finished man which God fashioned at the first, entire and without blemish. And because this is our completed life, it is our only true life. Our true life can only be that in which all our faculties find room for their harmonious development. This differs greatly from some of the notions that have gathered about the doctrine which regard the body as an enemy and persecute it accordingly; or a weak effeminacy whose conscience is troubled as to the colour of a ribbon, the size of a feather, the metal of one’s watch-chain; a life in which everything is suspected a ghostly mystery, a thing alike loveless and useless. Let us gladly welcome the word—entire sanctification; not the privilege of a few adventurous and favoured souls, but the every-day life of ordinary men and women in the every-day work. The word “sanctification” means everywhere that which is claimed by God, given to God, used for God. Take its first use, “God rested on the seventh day … and sanctified it.” What the Sabbath was amongst days, that man is to be amongst creatures.
I. That this is our true life is manifest in the very nature of man which is here referred to, body, soul, and spirit. 1. Man is a mystery, rent by two, we might say three, worlds. (1) In common with the animals he has a body taken from the same earth, dependent on the same conditions, returning to the earth in the same way. And yet the beasts in following their instincts fulfil the purpose of their being, whilst man is a true man only as these instincts are checked. The reason must come in to control the appetites, but what if the passion be stronger than reason? Reason may bid the man to do right, but it does not bring the power. And, worse still, what if the reason itself drag down the man, lower the animal, and he who was sensual becomes devilish, the subject of envy, malice, pride, covetousness, revenge? What then? (2) We turn to the other faculty—the spirit. That which looks out where reason cannot see, and listens where reason hears nothing, that which has the dread consciousness of a Presence at which reason may laugh, looking out into the dark to declare that there is nothing. But this faculty may contribute to the degradation of the man. To his other miseries this may add a thousand superstitions. Of all creatures man alone wants more than he needs, and in that one fact lies the source of man’s misery. Of all animals man alone is the victim of excess. It is the infinite capacity of the spirit degraded and seeking its satisfaction through indulgence. 2. Such is this creature. In a world where all else fulfil their purpose and lie down in peace, he alone is distracted. He is too big for the world, with a mind that cannot fulfil its own ideal. Where can he find his true life, in which all that is within him can be made harmonious and balanced? Some have said, “Mutilate the body to save his nobler being.” Others have said, “Blind the mind and mock the spirit, that the animal may be happy. Eat, drink, for to-morrow we die.” But surely there is a power somewhere that can keep the creature whole. Think of a steamship, steam at full pressure, engines going, sails set, yet with no hand on the helm, no look-out, no eye on the compass, hurrying on in the darkness, none knows whither. Or think of such a ship manned, yet where the forces of steam are set to one end and the sails to another, where one part of the crew will make for the Southern Cross and another steer for the North Pole. What is the remedy? 3. Let the commander come on board with due authority, then shall all these antagonistic forces be brought into harmonious working. We, seeking for deliverance, turn instinctively to our Creator. He who made us at the first must understand these faculties and can restore them to their true ends and uses. In all gradations of life we find the need of the creature met with its supply. The higher capacities of man for friendship, service, brotherhood find room and satisfaction. And is it only in the highest that we are to be left deceived? Made conscious of the infinite, yet are we to be met with the finite? If that be so, then has all nature mocked us. Every instinct within us, everything about us, cries aloud that somewhere there is that which can set the man at rest. Instinctively we lift our hands upward, assured that help must come from God. The God of Peace, who made us for Himself, can adjust the wishes and aims to His will, and the man takes his true place in the world as one having dominion over it. Here is our only true life, a life of entire consecration.
II. Our knowledge of God makes this entire sanctification our only true life. In common with other creatures, we live and move and have our being in God. 1. But this wards us from all other creatures in the world, we can give to God. This it is which makes us capable of religion. According to our gift do we find our place in one of the three great classes which divide humanity. Only to give something that we have is the mark of the heathen. Only to give something that we do is the distinction of the Jew. To give that which we are is the privilege and glory of the Christian. “Take my goods and be no more angry with me,” is the cry of the heathen. “Behold my righteousness and remember Thy promise,” speaks the Jew. “I am not mine own, but Thine, live in me or I die,” is the distinctive glory of the Christian. 2. But what we give to God is altogether the result of our knowledge of Him. If we know God only as Creator and Controller, who touches us only from without, we give that which is only from without. But if we know God as our Father, as Love—then is there but one offering which can satisfy Him or satisfy us, body, soul, and spirit wholly given up to Him. Before this demand of our complete surrender, there comes the revelation of God. The Epistle begins with, “Grace and peace from God our Father,” &c. It is in this revelation of God’s love to us that this claim finds its force. If He have given Himself to us there can be no other return than our whole being to Him. Amongst us the claims of love are such that true love is hurt and injured with less than love. If love be lacking, gifts, obedience, service do but affront and insult love. If the measure of God’s love to us be nothing less than the shame and agony and death of the Son of God, then to give Him less than our body, soul, and spirit is to make religion itself only another bewilderment.
III. Consider this life as the subject of our prayer. “May the God of Peace Himself sanctify you wholly.” This great work is to be done for us by God. What years of weary and wasted endeavour it would save us if we were willing to accept so obvious a truth! We linger about theories of sanctification. In seeking to make this life our own it will help us to dwell upon the three stages of sanctification as set forth in the Old Testament, the picture-book of the New. 1. Sanctification is the surrender of that which is claimed. “Sanctify unto me,” or as it is in the original, “Cause to pass over unto us.” That is where sanctification begins. The demand and command of God. We have thought so much about God’s provision for our forgiveness that we have almost lost sight of the fact that forgiveness has this purpose, our perfect obedience to His will. Jesus Christ is come not to be Saviour only, but Lord. Holiness is obedience, and the beauty of Holiness is the beauty of a completed obedience. Religion may borrow the loftiest titles, and swell with the sublimest aspiration, and yet be a thing of flabby sentimentalism, without the strong pillars and girders of God’s authority. Let this surrender to God be a definite act. Our fathers often made this surrender in writing, and it is a distinct gain to make the act visible and tangible. And the process of writing gives one leisure to see into the greatness of God’s claim, and into the sincerity of our response. This is the first step we must bring into our life, the great, strong authority of God. There was an age in which the authority of God was so set forth that it concealed His love, and it produced men stern, perhaps, but grandly true, men all backbones and ribs. Let us beware lest by concealing the authority of God in His love we grow creatures without any backbones or ribs at all. 2. The second step in our sanctification is the cleansing blood. Nothing else could give such solemnity to the offering, nothing else so completely set it apart for God. This was the crimson seal upon the deed of gift. The Church of to-day has gone away from the Church of the first ages. The death of Christ is the ground of our salvation, that and nothing more. With them it was the resistless claim. Our answer is, “Go on your happy way to heaven”; theirs was, “Glorify God in your body and your spirit, which are His.” The blood meant ransom, redemption, but the deliverance found its purpose only in the service of God. That is the measure of the Cross of Christ—not safety only from the destroying angel, but deliverance from the bondage of sin, our victory over the world and the flesh. And that not simply as the natural effect upon us of Christ’s love. It is more than a passionate hatred of sin kindled by the sight of our crucified Lord; more than an enthusiastic devotion fired and sustained by the memory of Him who loved us and gave Himself for us. As surely as the Cross of Christ has put me into a new relationship to God, and made it possible for Him to be just and the Justifier of him that believeth, so has that Cross put me into a new relation to the world. This is the great salvation which is provided for us. Now, in the name of Jesus Christ are we to rise to find the chains fall off, the bondage ended, the doors of the prison open, the jealous foes powerless to hold us. Redeemed with the precious blood of Christ, now are we free indeed, that in everything we may be His faithful soldiers and servants until our lives’ end. 3. The last stage in sanctification is the Divine indwelling. Everything led up to that. Everything that was claimed was cleansed. When Moses had done all that God commanded him, then God came down and filled the place with His glorious Presence. Earth had no more to ask, and heaven no more to bestow. Up to that point God is ever seeking to lead us. Just as earth led up to man, and found its use and completeness in his coming, so was it that man led up to God. And when man came God rested from His labours, here was his resting-place and home. His work was at an end, and with that indwelling all things found their finish and completion. And up to this all the great provisions of grace lead. We stand and look down through the ages and see God coming nearer to earth, until at last there cometh One who standeth and knocketh, saying, “Open unto Me.” Then, when He cometh in to dwell with us, paradise is restored. Once more God hath found His rest, and we have found ours, and there comes again the Sabbath calm, for that all is very good.
(M. G. Pearse.)
Entire sanctification:—By regeneration the heart is renewed, by justification sins are pardoned, in sanctification the life is made holy. Romanists confound justification and sanctification; but while connected they must be distinguished. The former is what is done for us, changes our state, is perfect at once, and is through the merits of Christ; the latter is what is done in us, changes our nature, is gradual, and is by the Spirit. The one gives the title, the other the fitness for glory.
I. The nature of sanctification. Separation from that which is common to that which is holy. So the furniture of the tabernacle (Exod. 30:29), and priests and people were sanctified (Exod. 28:43). It consists—1. In mortifying the evils of our nature. (Rom. 8:12, 13). If sin is not mortified, it will prevent—(1) Our communion with God (Ezek. 14:7). (2) Growth in grace. (3) Peace here and happiness hereafter. That which makes clean the outside merely will never satisfy a holy God, make a holy character and fit for a holy place. 2. The consecration of the Christian to that which is holy. (1) To the glory of God of all that he is, has, and does. (2) To the cause of Christ which is the good of man.
II. The way of sanctification. 1. It is attributed to the redeeming, cleansing blood of Christ. 2. To the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:13: Rom. 15:16). His design is not simply to better our nature, but to cure it entirely. 3. To the Word of God as the Spirit’s instrument (John 17:17), explaining the nature, applying the promises, and imparting the hope of holiness. 4. To faith and prayer (2 Thess. 2:13; Acts 15:9; Matt. 7:11). Truth sanctifies only as it is received by faith, and by prayer obtains the influence of the Spirit.
III. The characteristics of sanctification. 1. Progressiveness. We should aim at sinless perfection, and unless we increase in holiness we are increasing in sin. 2. Visibility, not of course in its essence but in its effects. We see that the tree grows, that its branches extend, that it bears fruit, although we do not see it grow. 3. Entireness. It must influence the whole man.
IV. The importance of sanctification. 1. Without it the design of God’s love to us is in vain, “This is the will of God even your sanctification.” 2. Without it we are strangers to the Saviour’s grace “who died for us that He might purify unto Himself,” &c. 3. Without it we are a forsaken and desecrated temple of the Holy Ghost. 4. Without it we are unfit for heaven. None but “the pure in heart shall see God.” Application: 1. Use the means of sanctification, prayer, Bible study. 2. Keep before you the perfect model of sanctification in the example of Christ. 3. Never be satisfied with your attainment in sanctification. (Dr. Jarbo.)
Entire sanctification:—1. Note the position of this prayer. It forms a conclusion, and this gives it a specific character. (1) It is the natural close of the Epistle—an impressive course of precept and exhortation. Sanctification from all sins and also in its positive sense had been inculcated and prayed for, and now all previous petitions are gathered up into one. (2) It is the close of the strain immediately preceding. As far back as ver. 15, we perceive the signs of strong emotion. Paul’s exhortations become very bold, and each bears the burden of perfection. The grandeur of this introduction prepares us for the grandeur of the prayer. Precisely at the point when man’s ambition to be perfect has been stimulated to the utmost, the transition is made from what we can do for ourselves to what God can do for us. 2. The peculiarities of the prayer. It is marked off from the rest of Paul’s prayers in that it has more of the temple spirit and phraseology. This suggests at once a comparison with our Lord’s High Priestly consecration prayer (John 17.). The Divine consecration separating believers from the world while keeping them blameless in it; having its end, on the one hand, in the unity of the mystical body in holiness, and on the other, the vision of Christ’s glory at His coming; and brought to its perfection by the righteous or faithful God of the Christian vocation; these form a series of ideas common to Christ and Paul. 3. The expressions by which God is invoked in Paul’s prayers are always great expository helps. (1) “The God of peace” is the author of reconciliation accomplished through the atoning mediation of Christ Those only can be sanctified who have entered into the enjoyment of the Divine favour. Peace begins the state of grace, pervades it, and is its perfection (Rom. 5:1). (2) “He that calleth” (ver. 24). Sometimes the calling refers to the past—at conversion: sometimes to the final issue; here, however, it is the continuous call between the two extremes—always to holiness. This name is a remembrancer, every time we hear it, of an abiding obligation on our part, and a constant will on the part of God. (3) The third name is not mentioned but implied. God is the only sanctifier—the Father (John 17:17), the Son (Heb. 2:11), the Holy Ghost (2 Thess. 2:13). Only a lax religious phraseology speaks of a man’s consecrating himself. We have words for duty and virtue in every form, but this must be sanctified or set apart from our common use. Only One could say “I sanctify myself.” 4. Entering the prayer itself we mark its great central idea, the entireness of personal sanctification: but to clear the way we must consider what is not meant, that in which all accepted believers are entirely sanctified. (1) They are absolutely washed from the guilt of sin (Heb. 10:22). In this sense sanctification and justification are one. The soul that is justified in the forum or court mediatorial is in the temple and before the altar sanctified, and completely (Heb. 10:14). (2) They are presented to God upon an altar which makes everything holy, and they are thus set apart to the Divine service. Now that must be absolute or nothing. The offering must be either on the altar or not on it. But the oblation has yet to go up to heaven in the consuming fire as a whole burnt offering. (3) They are complete in Christ according to the foreknowledge of God (Rom. 8:30; Heb. 10:14; 1 Cor. 1:30). (4) These several views unite in the element of imputation. But the apostle’s prayer uses a word which takes us into an altogether different region, “Faithful,” &c. (ver. 24). He does not ask that God may count, but that God may make them holy. The entireness of sanctification is here expressed in two ways. It is—
I. A complete consecration of the whole person or being of the Christian. 1. Consider some objections arising out of the form and construction of the sentence. It has been said that the words are too rare and uncertain to admit of a doctrine so important being based upon them. But granted that they are unusual, they are chosen with extreme precision, and bear their sense in their very form. Passing by this, two other objections, based upon it, must be noticed. (1) One takes the form of an honourable but unsound explanation which assumes that “wholly” refers to the Thessalonian Church, and “blameless” to individual members. But there is no instance of any particular community being regarded as capable of entire sanctification. That blessedness is the prerogative of the Christian or the whole mystical body of Christ. (2) The other less-worthy subterfuge asserts that the plain meaning of the terms must not be unduly pressed; that Paul’s theology ought not to be made responsible for his exuberant phrases. This loose theory of inspiration as here applied is condemned by the fact that the text begins and ends with the power of God. And with regard to “Faithful is He,” it is remarkable that it is always used when the strength of the apostle’s language might seem to demand the confirmation of a special Divine guarantee. 2. Entire sanctification as an end attained consists of—(1) A consecrating act of God put forth to the utmost necessary point. The work is one of Divine power which God begins, continues, and brings to perfection. “He will do it.” This separates our sanctification from everything which man by his own effort may attain. It is not the result of a new direction or impetus given to our faculties; through no energy of the self-consecrated will; through no mighty outgoings of the regenerate feeling; through no contemplation of the regenerate reason. There is a power above and behind using them, but not leaving the recovery of holiness to them. It is not the moral agent retrieving himself by Divine aid, but a new and more abundant life infused, sustained and carried to perfection by God Himself. (2) This sanctifying power extends to all the elements of man’s nature. (a) His spirit is that element of his nature which is his distinction. In it he is only a little lower than the angels for a season, and has no fellowship whatever with the lower creation. Here is the seat of the Divine image, marred but never lost, and whose perfect restoration must wait until sanctification is lost in glory. Meanwhile the reason is entirely dedicated to its original function of being the depository of the supreme first principles of goodness, rectitude, and truth; the conscience is sanctified unto perfect fidelity as an internal legislator true to the truth, as an incorruptible witness pacified, and as a fearless interpreter of the Divine judgment; the will is sanctified as the servant of its own supreme choice and intention, and as the master of its own acts, by release from every impediment of unholy motives and by the constant influence of the truth applied by the spirit; the impulse behind and the end before, and all its means between consecrated in the unity of one supreme principle—the glory of God. But we are apt to lose the noblest meaning of the term “spirit,” by the use of these synonyms. It is the element in man’s nature that is capable of God. Dead or asleep in the unregenerate, it is quickened into life by the Holy Spirit; and when it is entirely possessed by Him who quickens it—the spiritual man being “filled with the Spirit,” and wholly spiritual—it is wholly sanctified to the vision of God. (b) The soul is consecrated as distinct from the spirit. This faculty, when mentioned apart from the spirit, comes between the higher and lower elements of our being. It is the sphere of the desires and passions, which are innocent in themselves, but transformed by the sinful will into worldly affections and lusts, which are restored, however, by being brought under the control of the Holy Spirit through the will, refusing them their unholy stimulants and nourishment in the world. (c) The body is also sanctified as the instrument of spirit and soul. As such it has abundant honour put upon it as the temple of the Holy Ghost. But like spirit and soul, its sanctification is limited till sanctification and glorification shall be one. (3) The entireness of the consecration. “Wholly” has reference to the person made up of these constituents. The three parts are not introduced to show that holiness becomes perfect by proceeding through these inwardly towards the centre. The sanctification is of the man in whom these unite. It begins with the self of the “new man,” and the Holy Ghost dwelling therein, becomes a will within the will that rules the whole; and when He has confirmed that will in supreme devotion to God, sanctification is entire.
II. The preservation of the same integral person in a state of blamelessness till the coming of Christ. 1. The same power that sanctifies as an act preserves that sanctification as a state. Entire sanctification as distinguished from sanctification is the confirmed, habitual, no longer interrupted devotion of the whole being to God. As the power which created the world sustains it by an indwelling energy, so the power which can fix upon God the strength of the whole soul can keep it fixed upon Him. A strong influence of grace descending in answer to prayer may carry the whole soul to God for a season. When the prayer of faith which brings this blessing becomes unceasing this act becomes the tranquil state of the soul. “By faith we stand,” and He who is faithful is “able to keep us from falling.” 2. This consecration is the preservation of all that belongs to Spirit, &c., in the fellowship and service of God. The whole man becomes entirely the Lord’s property and worshipper, His instrument and servant. Hence entire sanctification is the habitual communion with God as the supreme good of the soul; and the habitual reference of every act to the will and glory of God as the Lord of life. Love makes the whole being a whole burnt offering. 3. This state of entire consecration is preserved in blamelessness. (1) No blame is imputed to it; by virtue of the atoning blood it is in a constant state of acceptance. (2) It is a faultless sacrifice. The High Priest so entirely consecrates the offering to God that sin is no longer found in it. 4. The fidelity of God is pledged to the accomplishment of this.
(W. B. Pope, D.D.)
The sanctification of the complete man:—
I. Its meaning. 1. What does Paul mean by being sanctified wholly? (1) In man there is a trinity of powers linking him with three different worlds. (a) By the body, with its sensations, &c., we are connected with the earth. (b) By the soul, powers merely natural, faculties, passions, and affections, we are connected with the sorrowing, rejoicing, toiling world. (c) But there are deeper things linking us with a sublimer region, an emotion that pants for the eternal, prayers that cry out for the infinite—these are voices of the spirit. (2) These, Paul says are to be sanctified, i.e., consecrated. (a) The body, not by crushing and despising it, but using it as a gift of God for His glory. (b) The soul, not by despising its gifts as carnal, or shutting our ears to the appeals of affection, but by dedicating it to God; thus making hopes, ambitions, loves, holy. (c) The spirit must be sanctified, for when men have used the powers of their spirit as their own they have fallen into spiritual sins, intolerance, bigotry, pride. 2. Why does Paul lay such emphasis on the consecration of all our powers? Because they are gateways of temptation from three different worlds, and unless they are consecrated we are never safe. (1) Men have tried to purify their outward life alone, leaving soul and spirit unguarded, and then secret sins of pride and imagination break out. (2) Men have left the spirit unconsecrated. Guarding body and soul, subduing bodily fear, and ready to meet scorn and shame. Peter, relying on his own strength, fell at the first temptation. (3) Men have tried to hallow the spirit only, to keep their higher life apart, hence the dishonesties which have so often blemished men professing peculiar saintliness. We must be consecrated through the whole range of our powers or we shall not be consecrated at all.
II. Its attainment. 1. We cannot consecrate ourselves. We try it. (1) We subdue the body, but the soul, with its temptations, is too strong for us. (2) We strain all our energies to subdue sins of the intellect and affections; and then we are tempted with spiritual pride. Weary of the struggle, we say, “It is all vain.” It is not. Admit your weakness, and cry to God the sanctifier. 2. God preserves the entire sanctification by imparting peace. The calmness He gives when we cease our own efforts is our truest might to maintain this complete consecration.
III. Its motive. “Until the coming,” &c. This coming is—1. A day of manifestation. Because that day is coming sanctify—(1) The body, that it may shine out a glorified body in that day; (2) The soul, that it may be able to receive the truth and light of that day; (3) The spirit, that it may be able to commune with the Eternal Love. 2. A day of everlasting gatherings. Sanctify, therefore, body, &c., “that you may be meetened for the Church of the firstborn.” (E. L. Hull, B.A.)
The prayer for entire consecration:—The momentous warning of ver. 19. perhaps led to this prayer that the temple in which that holy flame was burning might be preserved in its integrity and blamelessness. “Whole” does not mean the three associated together, but that each may be preserved in its completeness. The prayer is threefold.
I. That they may be sanctified by the God of peace. 1. Sanctification is the condition of outward and inward peace. 2. This sanctification is to be complete “wholly” in their collective powers and constituents.
II. That each constituent may be preserved to our Lord’s coming. Each part of the man and the whole man is immortal.
III. That each so preserved may be entire and complete, not mutilated or disintegrated by sin. 1. That the body may retain its yet uneffaced image of God, and its unimpaired aptitude to be a living sacrifice to its Maker. 2. The appetitive soul, its purer hopes and nobler aspirations. 3. The spirit, its everblessed associate the Holy Spirit of God. (Bp. Ellicott.) I pray God that your whole spirit, and soul, and body—The word rendered “whole,” signifies literally, “whole inheritance or portion.” It is applied metaphorically to a city, all whose buildings are standing, undamaged by fire or sword; to an empire, the provinces of which are entire; to an army, whose troops are yet undiminished by any casualty. St. Paul, therefore, may be considered to pray that the believer’s whole inheritance may be kept inviolate. And what is this inheritance? It is threefold, a Body—a Soul—a Spirit. Man, that is, is delineated not as a simple, but as a compound being. He has three constituent parts, and the apostolic prayer is to the effect that every one of these parts may be kept without loss until the day of Christ’s appearing. (Bp. WoodforD.)
The tripartite nature of man:—
II. Soul—self-consciousness. III. Spirit—God-consciousness. (J. B. Heard, M.A.) There are three things of which man in his entirety consists—flesh, soul, and spirit: the one, the spirit, giving form; the other, the flesh, receiving form. The soul is intermediate between these two: sometimes it follows the spirit and is elevated by it, and sometimes it consents to the flesh and falls into earthly concupiscences. (Irenæus.)
Body, soul, and spirit:—An ancient philosopher once called the human frame “a harmony of bones,” and a beautiful cathedral may be well called a harmony of stones. Following the same train of thought in a wider application, I might point out to you how man in his entire composite structure of body and soul and spirit was designed by his Creator to be, as it were, a living instrument of diverse chords attuned to one perfect harmony. How should I describe the relations to each other of these factors of our human fabric? Should I call the body the sheath of the soul, and the soul the sheath of the spirit? Or the body the organ of the soul, and the soul the organ of the spirit? Or the first the utterance of the second, and the second the expression of the third? What is the body for? Not for intemperance, incontinence, greed; “the body is for the Lord.” He is its Builder and Redeemer: doubly Owner of it and twice Proprietor, first by creation and then by redemption. If, then, we would live to the Lord, let us keep our bodies in temperance, soberness, and chastity. But what did I say—let us keep the body in order? Why, the body is the organ of the soul; the soul rules it with a will, uses it with a will, bids it walk with feet, touch with hand, taste with tongue, speak with mouth, see with eyes. To keep the body in order, then, we must keep the soul in order—filling it with good desires, pure motives, wise counsels, noble aims and aspirations. Yes, but what is to keep the soul in order? Why, the soul itself is controlled by that of which it is the organ and the expression, even by the spirit. So, then, let each of us fill our highest nature, even the spirit, with good desires, pure motives, noble aspirations, lofty thoughts of God and heaven. But can we? Is a man’s ego or self outside a man that he should pour into his own spirit good desires, as he would pour water into a cistern? A man’s ego is inside the man, whether it be seated in the soul, or in the spirit, or in both. For behind the body is its ruler and director, the soul, behind the soul is its ruler the spirit: but behind the spirit of man is what? Is there no superior? Why, yes; some unseen power there is, that plays the part of King David to the harp, and makes the music of the instrument; that suggests, inspires, persuades, drawing to virtue or tempting to vice—an evil power drawing to evil, a good power to good. If God’s Spirit penetrate, intensify, illuminate man’s spirit and through that reach the soul, and bend the will submissive to good, until the man subdue his own flesh to his own spirit, that man, by faith in Christ, shall save his soul alive. But if, alas! the reverse of this—if the love of the world, the lust of the eye, the pride of life should smother, stifle, quench the nobler aspiration after holiness and happiness—such a man, if he resist to the end the strivings of the Holy Ghost in the domain of his own spirit, shall, in the words of our Lord, “lose his own soul—his own self.” We are fearfully and wonderfully made: our triple organism is a mystery, but our double destiny is a certainty. There is to life eternal a dread alternative. There is the one way to heaven before us, and Jesus Christ is this one Way; and there is another way leading to hell. Powers of evil and powers of good surround us: the angels of God attend upon us for our well-being, the angels of Satan hover about us, tempting us to our ruin. Environed by this conflict in the air between good and evil, we must be loyal to our Master, true to our only Saviour, stedfast in prayer and watching, doing our duty in our several stations, keeping our garments unspotted of the flesh: ever using the sacramental means of grace in the Holy Supper; and so, and only so, the Spirit of Christ, which flows through the mystical veins of His Divine humanity, shall fill with its goodness and gentleness, its purity and charity, our own spirits, through them controlling our souls and bodies. For in God’s propriety of order, the body is the tabernacle of the soul, the soul is the temple of the human spirit, and the human spirit is the sanctuary of the Holy Ghost. (Canon T. S. Evans, D.D.)
Body, soul, and spirit:—I. Every department of the universe of matter finds itself represented in the Body of man. 1. Whenever he receives, digests, and is nourished by food, and experiences bodily pain, man lives the life of the animal. 2. The hair, which grows and is nourished, and yet which is endowed with no sensation, belongs to, and connects us with, the vegetable kingdom. 3. Mineral matter enters largely into the composition of the circulating lifeblood, whose current throbs in every extremity of our frame—and thus a link of sympathy, and community of nature, is established between man and a third great department of matter. II. The Soul is that, which when held in combination with the body, connects us with the beasts of the field. For by the soul is probably to be understood the passions or affections—such as have no element of reason or the higher nature in them—perhaps natural instincts would be a more generally intelligible term. It will not be denied that brutes manifest fear, when they are threatened or punished; that there is a strong spirit of emulation and competition among horses; that anger and jealousy will lead stags to encounter one another; that all animals care for their young, and that in some the maternal instinct is developed with a power which almost surpasses that feeling as it exists in man. Now fear and emulation and anger and parental affection, and other such instincts—in their crude state, unmodified by reason, and the sense of right and wrong—constitute, I suppose, the ψυχὴ, or soul, of which the apostle is here speaking. III. The spirit comprises all that higher part of human nature, by which man holds of God and blessed angels. The spirit gives him a sympathy with the world above, even as the soul gives him a sympathy with the animals, and as the body gives him a sympathy with the material universe. Angels are said to be “ministering spirits.” And it is remarkable that when man is spoken of in the Scriptures as holding communion with God, the spirit and not the body is mentioned as the organ through which that communion is held (Rom. 1:9; John 4:24). The beasts that perish cannot apprehend God, cannot understand the Divine Word and Will, or hold communion in any form with the Eternal. Why not? They have no natural capacity for doing so. Some link in their nature is wanting, which, if it were present, might make them competent to an exercise so sweet and yet so awful. That link is πνεῦμα—spirit.
Body, soul and spirit sanctified:—
I. The three-fold nature of man. In ordinary language, which the Scripture itself does not hesitate commonly to adopt, a two-fold division of our nature is recognized—man is said to be made up of body and soul. By the word “soul” are understood both his moral and intellectual faculties—those points in his being which distinguish him from other animals, and to cultivate which is the proper business of his life. It is thus used to signify the highest part of his nature; and therefore in the language of those who know the true objects of his highest faculties, and the exalted state to which they might be raised hereafter, it expresses his immortal part in contradistinction to that which is to perish with this present life (Matt. 10:28). But as the notions generally entertained respecting the highest part of our nature were in many respects highly erroneous—as our relation to God as our Maker and Father was lost sight of, and further, as ceasing to regard Him as the great object and centre of our being, men naturally lost all clear and lively hopes of immortality, the word “soul” in its common acceptation among the Greeks was inadequate to express the loftier and more enlightened conceptions of a Christian, with respect to his best faculties and their most perfect state. We find, therefore, in several passages of the New Testament that a third term is employed in addition to those of body and soul, and intended to express something superior to the soul in its common sense, as the soul is superior to the body. The third term is “spirit,” which, in the signification now alluded to, seems applicable to Christians only, and to denote that perfection of human nature which it was the object of the gospel to accomplish—an understanding that should know God, and affections that should love Him; or, in other words, a spiritual creature capable of enjoying communion with the Father of Spirits, and from that relation being naturally immortal. Thus, then, when this three-fold division of our nature is mentioned, the term “body” expresses those appetites we have in common with the brutes; the term “soul” denotes our moral and intellectual faculties, directed only toward objects of this world, and not exalted by the hope of immortality; and the term “spirit” takes these same faculties when directed toward God and heavenly things, and from the purity, the greatness, and the perfect goodness of Him who is their object, “transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”
II. The perfection or blamelessness of this triple nature. With the government of the body all are engaged at some periods of their lives, and some through the whole of their lives. All more or less can understand the temptations to indolence and comfort, and to the indulgence of intemperance and sensuality, How many thousands there are who live like Esau! Their appetites are keen, and their enjoyments lively; the body is alive, while the soul and spirit are almost dead; and therefore the man lives what may be called an animal life; but as a man with a soul, and much more as a Christian with a spirit, he is in the lowest state of degradation, neither fit for the life that is to come, nor yet for the life of a reasonable being even in this present world. To keep down the body, therefore, and bring it into subjection, was the object of fasting and mortification; but what is specially wanted is to raise and strengthen the soul and spirit, that the body may be able and ready to aid them in their work, which it cannot do unless it be itself sound and vigorous. The soul is commonly strengthened by the growth and cultivation of the powers of the understanding, and by the various objects which attract the mind as we come forth into actual life. But the perfection of the soul must not be preferred to that of the spirit, any more than that of the body to that of the soul. The excellence of our spirit is to feel and hope as spiritual and deathless creatures. When this takes place, how beautiful is the sight to behold the spirit, and soul, and body, each healthy and strong, and each working in its proper order to perfect its own happiness, and thereby to advance the glory of the Triune-One!
(T. Arnold, D.D.)
The spiritual nature:—What Paul prayed for his friends we may well pray for both ourselves and our friends—a blameless spirit, a blameless soul, a blameless body. This is the whole man. 1. What we mean by the body we very well understand. Mystery even in the body there is, it is true; but still, on the whole, what is meant by a blameless body requires no great exposition. The man with a perfect physique, the man who is a picture of perfect health, verifies himself to our senses, with his broad shoulders, his brawny, muscular limbs, the glow of health upon the cheek, his unwearied vigour by day, his sweet, undisturbed sleep at night. 2. We look in the Greek, to find the same word indiscriminately rendered “life” and “soul.” We look in the Latin, and find the word that stands for soul to be “anima,” that which animates the body. The soul, then, is that which gives life to this physical organization, The brain is but ashes, without intellect behind it. The heart is a mere muscular valve, if there be no affection and love which make it beat quicker in the presence of the loved one. That which gives physical organism its use, that which makes it an instrument, that which links man to his fellow-man, that which deals with the transient and the visible, with that which is round about us, what philosopher’s classify as “the intellect, the sensibilities, and the will”—we call this the soul. 3. But what is the spirit? It is by the spirit that we discern the truth. It is the spirit which is ever against the flesh, antagonizing, striving for full mastery of it. It is the spirit which links us to God. It is the spirit which is the Divine and immortal principle in man, undying. So that if there be no spirit, or if it be left to die, there is no immortal life. Let us look for a few moments, and see what are some of the characteristics of this spiritual nature, what some of the indications of the possession of this spiritual in man. But how shall you know what is the value, worth, character, of your spiritual nature? He that has a spiritual nature—
I. Will have at least a hungering after the spiritual. 1. This may be, indeed, the only evidence of spiritual nature in him. It certainly is the first. Before as yet the artist knows how to paint or draw, he has in him the desire for painting; and the little boy takes up his pencil and scrawls away, trying to make forms, so bearing witness to a seed-art within him that needs development. The bird has a wish for the air before its wings are fledged and it can soar out from the nest. Our hungers indicate what we are. 2. And as the Bible expresses and interprets the desire of spirituality, so it gives its promise to those desires. You may wish for wealth, and stay poor. But the soul that longs for a stronger conscience, a clearer faith, a more eager and joyous hope, a diviner reverence, shall not go unsatisfied.
II. Has in him something that perceives the spiritual.
III. Will find expression for the spiritual. We are not all teachers, but we all live; and, after all, the true measure and final test of spiritual life is not what we think, nor what we say, but the way in which we live. I pray God that you present yourselves, spirit, soul, body, blameless before the throne of His grace. 1. Blameless in body with no wart upon it of intemperance or sensual self-indulgence. 2. Blameless in soul, with no ignorant superstition degrading it, with no social coldness, no disfellowship of humanity, no idleness shackling the hands that should have been busy in service. 3. Blameless in spirit—what do I mean by that? I pray God that you may have—(1) A reverence that shall always show something higher and grander and nobler and diviner than the eye has ever shown you, and shall always make you bow before it and follow after it. (2) A hope that shall summon you to a nobler and diviner life than can be interpreted by anything the eye has ever seen or the ear has ever heard. (3) A conscience that shall hold you rigorously and undeviatingly in the path of rectitude, not turning to the right hand nor the left under beckoning enticement or under threatening pressure and menace. (4) A love so large, so catholic, and so inspired by Him that no wrong shall weary its patience, no iniquity shall blur or hinder its sympathy, no sorrow shall fail to touch its pity: for this makes manhood and womanhood. Not what we know: ignorance does not defile us. Not what we have done: doing does not make us. But what in the higher developments of our soul, what in our reverence, in our hope, in our faith, in our love, we are—that really makes us. (Lyman Abbott.)
The king’s lodging:—Manton says: “If an earthly king lie but a night in a house, what care is there taken that nothing be offensive to him, but that all things be neat, clean, and sweet? How much more ought you to be careful to get and keep your hearts clean, to perform service acceptably to Him; to be in the exercise of faith, love and other graces, that you may entertain, as you ought, your heavenly King, who comes to take up His continual abode and residence in your hearts!” We know a house in which an empress rested for a very short time, and the owner henceforth refused to admit other inmates. Such is his devotion to his royal guest that no one may now sit in her chair or dine at the table which she honoured. Our verdict is that he makes loyalty into absurdity by this conduct; but if we imitate him in this procedure in reference to the Lord Jesus we shall be wise. Let our whole being be set apart for Jesus, and for Jesus only. We shall not have to shut up the house; for our beloved Lord will inhabit every chamber of it, and make it a permanent palace. Let us see to it that all be holy, all pure, all devout. Help us, O Purifier of the temple, to drive out all intruders, and reserve our soul in all the beauty of holiness for the Blessed and Only Potentate. (C. H. Spurgeon.)
Paul prays for their sanctification (5:23)
He refers to God himself, whom he describes as the God of peace, either because he is the author of harmony, or because he is himself the only perfectly integrated personality who exists. He then frames a double petition. He prays first that God will sanctify them through and through, and secondly that their whole spirit, soul and body may be kept blameless at the Parousia. Although on the surface one prayer is for their ‘sanctification’ and the other for their ‘preservation’, there is no substantial difference between them if, as seems probable, the second should be paraphrased ‘be kept so as to be blameless at the Parousia’. Certainly the emphasis in both prayers is on the thoroughness of God’s sanctifying work, ‘through and through’ translating holotelēs and ‘whole’ translating holoklēros. If these words can be distinguished, then probably the former implies ‘a totality from which no part is excluded’ and the latter ‘an integrity in which each part has its due place and proportion’.
This ‘wholeness’ is further emphasized in the expression spirit, soul and body. ‘Over this passage’, Findlay writes, ‘the Trichotomists and Dichotomists wage war’, that is, those who think that human beings have three parts (spirit, soul and body) and those who think we have only two (whether ‘soul and body’ as in Mt. 10:28 or ‘spirit and flesh’ as in 2 Cor. 7:1). It must certainly be agreed that usually the New Testament describes us as having two parts, the one material and the other immaterial. Moreover, ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ are often synonymous in Scripture as when Mary said ‘My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour’. In fact, only twice, apart from this verse in 1 Thessalonians, are ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ clearly distinguished in the New Testament.58
If, on the other hand, Paul is here affirming a tripartite view of our humanness, as the early fathers mostly believed, then Lightfoot’s explanation seems best. The spirit is ‘the ruling faculty in man … through which he holds communication with the unseen world’; the soul is ‘the seat of all his impulses and affections, the centre of his personality’; while the body ‘links him to the material world and is the instrument of all his outward deeds’. But we should not press Paul’s formulation into a precise scientific or theological statement of human beings; it surely has a rhetorical element, as when we are to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength.60
23. De (omitted in niv) has adversative force‚ ‘but’. The conduct Paul has been advocating is impossible in human strength, but Paul’s prayer directs the readers to the source of the power that would alone enable them to live in this way. He speaks of God as the God of peace‚ as he often does towards the end of his letters (cf. Rom. 15:33; 16:20; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; 2 Thess. 3:16). Peace (see on 1:1) is spiritual prosperity in the widest sense; it is so characteristic of God to bestow this gift that he is called the God of peace.
The prayer is that this God will sanctify you through and through. There is a manward aspect of sanctification‚ in that we are called on to consecrate ourselves to the doing of God’s will. But the power manifest in the sanctified life is not human but divine, and Paul’s prayer reflects this truth. In the deepest sense our sanctification is the work of God in us; it may be ascribed to the Son (Eph. 5:26)‚ or to the Spirit (Rom. 15:16)‚ but in any case it is divine. Through and through (holoteleis‚ here only in the New Testament) combines the ideas of wholeness and completeness; Lightfoot sees the meaning, ‘may He sanctify you so that ye be entire’.
The second part of the prayer runs‚ May your whole spirit‚ soul and body be kept blameless … This is sometimes used as an argument for a trichotomous view of man (e.g. Thomas), as against a dichotomous view, but this is probably unjustified (cf. Mark 12:30 for a fourfold division and 1 Cor. 7:34 for a twofold one). Paul is not analysing the nature of man, but uttering a fervent prayer that the entire man be preserved. Cf. Milligan‚ the threefold petition is ‘for man’s whole being‚ whether on its immortal‚ its personal‚ or its bodily side’.
That the unity of man is being emphasized is indicated by the fact that both the verb and the adjective whole are singular‚ though they apply to all three. Whole (holoklēron) is in the predicate and not the attributive position‚ and strictly means ‘may your spirit etc. be preserved whole’ (cf. rsv ‘be kept sound’). The word means ‘complete in all its parts’. It is used in lxx of stone for the altar (Deut. 27:6)‚ and Philo and Josephus use it of sacrificial victims. It is thus possible that Paul is thinking of the presentation of the whole man as a living sacrifice (as in Rom. 12:1). The prayer is that the whole person be kept blameless‚ the latter word being found in this epistle only in the New Testament. It is found also in the inscriptions on some tombs at Thessalonica (Milligan).
These epistles have a deep interest in the second coming and fittingly the prayer concludes with a reference to it. The prayer is not only that they may be kept until the coming, but that at (en) the coming they may be preserved, i.e. in all that will then happen, including the judgment with all that that implies.
Ver. 23.—And the very God of peace; the God who communicates peace; an expression frequently employed by Paul at the close of his Epistles (Rom. 15:33; 16:20; Phil. 4:9; 2 Cor. 13:11; 2 Thess. 3:16). Sanctify you wholly; that is, perfectly, without anything wanting, referring to the entireness of the sanctification, which is presently expressed in detail. And I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body; the adjective “whole” applies to all the three substantives. The apostle here divides human nature into three parts—spirit, soul, and body; and this threefold division is not a mere rhetorical statement: “The apostle pouring forth from the fulness of his heart a prayer for his converts” (Jowett); but a distinct statement of the three component parts of human nature. The “spirit” is the highest part of man, that which assimilates him to God; renders him capable of religion, and susceptible of being acted upon by the Spirit of God. The “soul” is the inferior part of his mental nature, the seat of the passions and desires, of the natural propensities. The “body” is the corporeal frame. Such a threefold distinction of human nature was not unknown among the Stoics and Platonists. There are also traces of it in the Old Testament, the spirit, or breath of God, being distinguished from the soul. Be preserved blameless. “The spirit is preserved blameless at the advent when the voice of truth rules it, the soul when it strives against all the charms of the senses, and the body when it is not abused as the instrument of shameful actions” (Lünemann). Unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
23 In directing his prayer to “the God of peace,” Paul seems to have taken over one of the more characteristic moments of his Jewish heritage (where shalom was the commonplace greeting by all) and transformed it into the language of prayer. That is, rather than concluding with a standard “peace be with you,” he prays that the God who alone establishes true peace may be at work among them to bring about their “wholeness.” Most likely Paul had such a concern in mind as he began the dictation of the prayer. So whereas the prayer assumes the reality of the individual believers in Thessalonica, that concern will not be explicitly picked up until the second petition. The first concern, as throughout, is with the church as a body of believers. After all, “peace” in Paul rarely refers to the “well-arranged heart,” as it were, but to the life of the community, that believers live together without conflict. This understanding appears to be behind the TNIV’s shift from “wholly”75 in the first clause, to “each of you in entirety” in the second.
It therefore seems especially fitting as a way of “signing off” on this letter. Although Paul does not put any of the issues raised in this letter in the context of internal conflict, they are in fact issues that are full of potential conflict, especially the matters of “working with one’s own hands” and of “sexual immorality.”
But even though Paul’s concern throughout the letter has been with the community as a whole, the concern in his second, elaborating clause seems pointedly directed toward the individual, since at issue is that each of them be “blameless” at the Parousia. Thus, with a play on the sound of the two Greek words holoteleis and holoklēron, Paul shifts from a prayer for the community as a whole to a unique moment of individualizing his concern for each of them. To make this clear he expresses that “wholeness” by referring to some ways of understanding the individual “parts” that make up the human person: “spirit, soul, and body.” Unfortunately, what Paul most likely intended simply as a way of throwing the net wide in terms of being human has generated an enormous amount of energy and literature, not to mention theological groupings.77 But this was most likely a somewhat off-handed moment in Paul. Indeed, it is highly doubtful whether he was trying to be precise, or even whether he himself could easily distinguish between “spirit” and “soul.” His concern is with the adjective-turned-adverb “in entirety”; and to make that point he includes the terms that he uses elsewhere to speak of the human person.79
It has sometimes been suggested that Paul’s reference to “spirit” in this case is an oblique, or in some cases a rather direct, reference to the Holy Spirit, picking up the language regarding “the Spirit” from verse 19. But this suggestion will simply not hold up. Indeed, the way the three terms are used together here makes it especially difficult to imagine that the Thessalonians could possibly have perceived the first term in this way. The emphasis, after all, lies on their being sanctified (not on the presence of the Spirit in their lives) and on the entirety of the human person that needs this sanctifying work of God (although “through his Spirit” would be implied).
If so, secondly, the two adjectives, although grammatically predicate, function in a kind of adverbial sense, and respectively also emphasize the thoroughgoing nature of their sanctification. Seen in this way, the distinctions between them would mean something like “totally” (with emphasis on wholeness) and “in every possible expression of your humanity.” The final adverb, “blamelessly,” then adds the ethical/moral dimension to this thoroughgoing work of the Spirit. Just as in 3:13, Paul desires the final form of this activity to be expressed in their standing “blameless” before God at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, before giving more attention to Paul’s three anthropological terms, one needs only to note further that this is now the eighth reference to the Coming in this letter.83
Most of the discussion on the three anthropological terms has centered either in determining whether or not Paul intended some kind of distinction between the first two terms—and if so, what?—or in the related question whether Paul was a dichotomist or trichotomist. That discussion, however, while not insignificant, has missed Paul’s point altogether. His use of the term “spirit” may indeed have been occasioned by its proximity to verse 19; nonetheless, Paul’s concern is singular: that they be sanctified completely. In the context of this letter, and especially in light of the sentence’s ties to 4:3–8, the present emphasis lies with his inclusion of the body. Very much as in 1 Corinthians 6:12–20, although without the express language of the body as the Spirit’s temple, Paul is concerned that this early, almost totally Gentile (cf. 1:9–10), congregation understand that salvation in Christ includes the sanctification of the body: it is now to be holy, and wholly for God’s own purposes. Thus he wants them to stand blameless in holiness before God at the coming of Christ, and he insists (now in prayer) that such holiness be thoroughgoing in their lives, including the purity of the body.
What, then, shall we say of the first two terms? First, it is very likely, given the way Paul here expresses himself, that he might think of the human spirit and soul as distinct entities in some way. But how he might think of them in this way is not at all clear from the rest of his letters. Since he tends to use such terms both broadly and somewhat interchangeably, one is hard pressed to come to final conclusions. Moreover, the emphasis on entirety suggests that he could easily have included “mind” without for a moment deviating from his concern. That is, whatever distinctions he may have understood are quite secondary to the greater concern of completeness.
Nonetheless, Paul probably did understand some distinction between “spirit” and “soul”; but it is not easy for us from this distance to discern what that might have been. In fact he does not often refer to the human spirit. Whatever else, it refers to the interior, nonmaterial component of the human personality (see esp. 1 Cor 2:11). Moreover, those who see this usage as denoting that part of human existence that serves as the place of intersection between the human and the divine by means of the Holy Spirit are most likely moving in the right direction. In any case, the stress here is that the body as well as the human spirit be kept blameless until the coming of Christ.88
Finally, one should not allow the foregoing discussion to minimize Paul’s own concern that this sanctification be something that is going on now, and especially that it shall be so at the Coming itself.
23 Now that the exhortations are concluded Paul passes over to prayer for his readers. The way in which he effects the transition (with the use of an adversative conjunction, left untranslated in NIV) indicates that it is only in the power of the God on whom he calls that his exhortation can be brought to fruition. “I have been urging you to do certain things, but it is only in God’s strength that you will be able to do them” (cf. Moore, who says that the words “suggest a contrast between what is now asked of God and what was before exhorted of the converts”).
The prayer is directed to “God himself, the God of peace.” “Himself” reinforces what we have said above. It is only in God that the Thessalonians will be able to do what they have been asked. To describe him as “the God of peace” is peculiarly fitting in the light of the exhortations of verses 12–13, but we cannot feel that it was elicited solely by the situation presupposed there. Paul often uses the designation, especially toward the end of his letters. Peace brings before us the prosperity of the whole person, prosperity in the widest sense, especially including spiritual prosperity (see on 1:1). That it should be associated with God in this way is a reminder that true peace can come only from him, and that he is such a God that peace may be said to be characteristic of him.
This epistle has had important things to say about sanctification (3:13; 4:3–8), and it is not surprising that in the concluding prayer Paul returns to the thought. The essential idea in sanctification is that of being set apart for God, but there is also the thought of the character involved in such separation. In this place Paul has both aspects in mind. Moreover, while there is a human element, in that one must yield oneself up to God (cf. 4:4), yet the primary thing is the power of God that enables this to be done. Thus Paul’s prayer is that God will bring about this sanctification. Some translations render the next word “wholly” (e.g., RSV; Milligan, Frame, and others accept some such meaning). The word is an adjective and a compound76 of which the first part has the meaning “wholly.” If the second part is to have its proper significance, we need something to bring out the thought of reaching one’s proper end, the end for which one was made. The meaning is qualitative and not quantitative only. We need something like “so that you may be complete” (NIV has “sanctify you through and through”).
So important is this sanctification that Paul repeats the prayer in another form, this time praying that the whole person may be preserved entire and without blame. Some interpreters see in the reference to spirit, soul, and body an indication that humans are threefold, and not twofold as a division into body and soul would imply (e.g., Marshall, Thomas). But this is probably to press the language beyond what is warranted. Paul is not at this point giving a theoretical description of the nature of the human constitution, but engaging in prayer. We can no more take his words here to mean that our nature is threefold than we can take some of his words elsewhere to indicate that we are twofold (body and spirit, 1 Cor. 7:34), or those of Jesus in Mark 12:30 to show that we are fourfold (heart, soul, mind, and strength). Paul simply uses this graphic form by way of insisting that the whole person, and not some part only, is involved. All our powers of whatever sort are to be sanctified, entirely set apart for God. This totality is brought out in another fashion in that the verb “kept” and the adjective “entire” are both singular, though they clearly are intended to apply to all three.79 In different ways Paul emphasizes that sanctification applies to the whole of our person, and is not to be restricted to any segment. The word “entire” does not differ very greatly from the earlier word rendered “through and through,” though there is probably some difference of emphasis. Whereas the former word brought us the thought of “that which has attained its end,” this one signifies “that which is complete in all its parts.” It has interesting associations with sacrifice in the Greek Old Testament and elsewhere. It describes the “whole” stones that were used in making the altar, and it is used also of the victims that were offered. If Paul has this sacrificial usage in mind, it would fit in very well with the entire surrender of the person to God that is involved in sanctification. If the completeness of the surrender is in view in this word, it is rather the result that is in mind in the adverb rendered “blameless” (found in this epistle only in the New Testament82). The character involved in being a Christian is one that admits of only the very highest standards. Paul prays, not simply that they may live good lives, but that they may be blameless.
It is characteristic of this epistle that these words should be followed by “at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” It is clear from earlier passages that the thought of the Parousia loomed large in the thinking both of the preachers and their converts. They were looking for the coming of the day of the Lord, and it is entirely natural accordingly that Paul should refer to it. But his reference has added point, for it makes the sanctification spoken of very far-reaching. Paul is not thinking of a sanctification that may last but a little time here on earth, but of one that will continue at the Parousia. Primarily his thought is not “which will last until the Parousia” (although that is implied), but “which will exist at the Parousia.” As we have seen, the thought of judgment is associated with the second coming. It is a fitting climax to his thought on the sanctification of believers that he looks for them to be preserved blameless not only through the changes and trials of this earthly life, but also on that dread day when they stand before the eternal Judge.
23 Having concluded his suggestions for practical improvement, Paul looks to God to grant these petitions in the light of the Lord’s return (cf. 3:12–13). Sexual purity (4:3–8), brotherly love (vv. 9–10), personal independence (vv. 11–12), understanding of the parousia (4:13–5:11), respect for leaders, love for other people, rejoicing, prayer, thankfulness, and concern for public worship (vv. 12–22) are possible only through God. “I have simply told you all these things to do,” Paul is saying, “but only God has power to make your efforts a success.”
Paul addresses God as the giver “of peace” (cf. 1 Co 14:33), who has provided for a harmonious relationship between himself and humanity through Christ’s death. At this point, after exhortations that imply at least a trace of disharmony (4:6, 10–12; 5:12–22), he invokes God’s intervention as peacemaker.
Throughout the epistle, Paul has emphasized sanctification (3:13; 4:3–4, 7–8). Now he prays that God will “sanctify” (i.e., “separate to himself”; hagiazō, GK 39) the readers of the epistle holoteleis (“through and through,” GK 3911), which speaks of ultimate maturity in Christian character. It presents the qualitative side of spiritual advance in its final perfection. This is the goal of sanctification.
The quantitative objective of the prayer is in holoklēron (“whole,” GK 3908; cf. Jas 1:4, where similar adjectives describe qualitative and quantitative spiritual development). Completion pertains to three parts of the human makeup: “spirit, soul and body.” Paul petitions that this wholeness may be preserved and that it may be “blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The question arises as to how Paul conceives of the human being in the words “spirit, soul and body.” The evidence points to Paul’s adopting a “threefold substance” view. For a discussion of other explanations, see Reflections, p. 436.
That Paul saw human beings as a threefold substance in this verse has been generally recognized since the early church fathers. The symmetrical arrangement of three nouns with their separate articles and their connection by means of two “ands” (kai) renders this the most natural explanation. This becomes a “distinct enunciation of three component parts of the nature of man” (Ellicott, 84). That Paul elsewhere does not make such a distinction (cf. Best, 242–44; Hendriksen, 146–47) is no argument against trichotomy. It is always possible that Paul has been misunderstood elsewhere. It is also conceivable that he did not endeavor to make specific distinctions in other letters as he does here. That Paul possibly depends on liturgical formulation and attaches no special meaning to these separate terms (Martin Dibelius, cited by Best, 244) is also inconclusive speculation.
This analysis of humanity had been Paul’s training in the OT, and no impressive evidence has surfaced to eradicate such a picture here (cf. Milligan, 78; Olshausen, 457). Yet, it must be confessed, much unresolved mystery remains regarding the interrelationships between human beings’ different parts, including the body. How one affects the other is fully understood only by the Creator. For such a composite creature Paul offers a prayer, seeking a blameless wholeness in the presence “of our Lord Jesus Christ” at his coming (cf. 2:19; 3:13).
Sanctification’s Nature, Source, and Extent
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; (5:23a)
Sanctify (hagiazō) means, “to set apart,” “to separate” from sin to holiness. The optative mood here expresses a wish or desire. The noun form occurs several other times in this letter (4:3–4, 7) and the verb a number of times elsewhere in the New Testament (John 10:36; 17:17, 19; Acts 20:32; 26:18; Rom. 15:16; 1 Cor. 1:2; 6:11; 7:14; Eph. 5:26; 1 Tim. 4:5; 2 Tim. 2:21; Heb. 2:11; 9:13; 10:10, 14, 29; 13:12; 1 Peter 3:15). Sanctification is the ongoing spiritual process by which God increasingly sets believers apart from sin and moves them toward holiness. The apostle’s entreaty for the Thessalonians parallels and reiterates the theme and form of his earlier prayer for their spiritual growth in 3:11–13:
Now may our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to you; and may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you; so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.
The concept of sanctification, setting things apart to God, is one of the oldest in Scripture. In Genesis 2:3 God Himself sanctified the seventh day and rested from His creative work. Job regularly made burnt offerings to God and consecrated his sons to Him (Job 1:5). At the Exodus, God set apart the firstborn of His people and their animals for His use (Ex. 13:1–2). Just prior to God’s giving Moses the Ten Commandments, He set apart Israel as a holy nation (Ex. 19:5–6; cf. Ezek. 37:28) and a few days later sanctified Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:23), having already forbidden the Israelites from coming too near it (v. 12). Later in the wilderness, the Lord sanctified Aaron and his sons for the priestly office (Ex. 28:41 ff.) and set apart the tabernacle and its vessels for sacred purposes (chaps. 30–31; 35–40). Samuel sanctified Jesse and his son David (1 Sam. 16:5, 12–13). Many years later God sanctified the temple in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 7:16). Before the prophet Jeremiah was even born, God set him apart for prophetic ministry (Jer. 1:5).
New Testament narratives also contain examples of God’s special sanctifying work. He set apart John the Baptist to be the forerunner of Jesus Christ (Luke 1:13–17). God the Father also set apart His Son the Messiah for the work of redemption (Matt. 1:20–23; Luke 1:31–33; cf. 2:29–35; Matt. 3:13–17; Acts 2:22–24). Jesus set apart the twelve apostles from the larger number of disciples who followed Him (Mark 3:13–19; Luke 6:12–16). The early church set apart for divine service the first deacons (Acts 6:1–6) and some for missionary service (13:1–3).
Three basic elements define believers’ sanctification. First is the past, fixed aspect—positional sanctification—which God effected at the time He saved each believer. God secured positional sanctification through the death of His Son: “We have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.… For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:10, 14). By that atoning work, God rescued all believers from the dominion of sin and spiritual darkness and placed them into the dominion of His righteousness and spiritual light. Believers also receive a new nature at salvation: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17; cf. 2 Peter 1:4). The indwelling Holy Spirit signifies the believer’s new nature (Rom. 8:9). God imputes Christ’s righteousness to believers so that He sees them not as sinners, but as those sanctified, covered with the righteousness of Christ (cf. Rom. 3:21–25; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 John 4:10). As a result, God declares them holy and calls them “holy ones” or “saints” (cf. Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1).
Sanctification has a second, future aspect—ultimate sanctification—when God actually makes believers sinless in body and spirit forever. Paul assured the Philippians, “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:20–21; cf. Rom. 8:30; 1 Cor. 15:52–54; 1 John 3:2–3). In ultimate sanctification, God joins the new nature, then relieved of the debilitating flesh, to transformed and glorified bodies for all eternity. It is the promised realization of the church being presented as a bride without spot or blemish to her Bridegroom, Jesus Christ (Rev. 19:7–8; 21:2, 9; cf. Eph. 5:26–27; Col. 1:21–23).
The third element defining biblical sanctification is the experiential aspect, which concerns present Christian living and thus lies between the past/positional and future/ultimate aspects of sanctification. It is the process in which believers strive, by the Spirit’s power, to be more and more conformed to the image of Christ. Paul summed it up in 2 Corinthians 3:18: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (cf. Rom. 12:9–21; 15:4–7; 2 Cor. 9:6–12; Gal. 5:16–6:10; Eph. 4:1–6:18; Phil. 2:1–4, 14–15; 3:15–17; 4:4–9; Col. 3:1–4:6; 1 Thess. 3:11–13; 4:3–12; 2 Thess. 2:13–15; 3:7, 13; 1 Tim. 4:12–16; 6:11–14; 2 Tim. 1:6–10; Titus 3:1–8; Heb. 12:12–15; 13:1–9; James 1:2–27; 3:13–18; 1 Peter 3:1–12; 2 Peter 1:5–11; 1 John 1:5–9). Experiential sanctification is the pursuit of holiness (cf. Matt. 5:48; 1 Peter 1:14–16). The Puritan Thomas Watson stated it this way, “[Sanctification] is a principle of grace savingly wrought, whereby the heart becomes holy, and is made after God’s own heart. A sanctified person bears not only God’s name, but His image” (Body of Divinity [reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979], 167). In all of Paul’s epistles, whenever he moves from doctrinal exposition to practical exhortation, he has this aspect of sanctification in mind. His passionate prayer for the Thessalonians and for all believers was that through experiential sanctification God would progressively conform them to holiness.
God is the source of sanctification. After giving the Thessalonians a series of commands and exhortations that called for them to put forth disciplined, devoted effort (5:12–22; see also 4:1–8, 11–12, 18; 5:6, 8, 11), Paul wanted them to recognize that ultimately it is God who enables believers to obey those admonitions and progress in sanctification (cf. Phil. 2:13). Centuries earlier the prophet Zechariah made that principle clear: “ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). Regarding his own ministry, Paul understood the principle well: “We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Col. 1:28–29; cf. 1 Cor. 2:1–5; Eph. 3:20). However, Paul’s assertion to the Colossians also reveals the inseparable link between human effort and divine power in living the Christian life. Believers must yield themselves to God (Rom. 6:19; 12:1–2) and diligently pursue holiness (1 Cor. 9:24–27; 2 Tim. 4:7; 2 Peter 1:5–11), yet always proceed in humble dependence on Him (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10; Gal. 2:20).
From a human standpoint, it is impossible to fully understand how this symbiosis works (cf. Deut. 29:29; Isa. 55:9). Paul summarized this unfathomable process best when he told the Philippians, “So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12–13; cf. Gal. 2:20). Christians are to live out in their daily lives the salvation God has wrought in them.
Paul chose to identify the Lord with the familiar scriptural expression the God of peace (cf. Rom. 15:33; 16:20; 1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9; Heb. 13:20). Peace (eirēnē) is the best word to summarize God’s saving work, which is why the New Testament often uses it to describe Him (cf. Luke 19:38; John 14:27; Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:2; Eph. 2:14; 2 Thess. 3:16). It denotes not just some existence, situation, or state of mind free from conflict, but the composite of gospel blessing. Paul is not speaking of God’s own tranquility, but the peace of salvation He provides through the cross of Christ for all who repent and believe (Isa. 53:5; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 2:14–15; Col. 1:20; cf. Luke 1:79; 2:14; John 14:27; Acts 10:36; Rom. 10:17).
To underscore that it is God who sanctifies, the apostle used Himself (autos) in the emphatic position. God does not delegate the sanctifying process to an angel or an apostle; neither does He accomplish it by some distant decree. Rather He accomplishes it by His own actions as He works directly in believers’ lives.
Entirely is used only here in the New Testament and is a compound of two Greek words, holos, “whole,” “complete,” and telēs, “end,” “finish.” Paul asked that God would sanctify the Thessalonians “all the way through,” or “through and through”—that sanctification would leave no part of their inner beings unaffected.
Sanctification’s Human Components
and may your spirit and soul and body (5:23b)
The sanctifying work of God includes not only the immaterial part of the believer (spirit and soul), but also the body. (Paul is not here referring to glorification, because he desired that the element of sanctification now mentioned be true of the Thessalonians when Christ comes, not after.) In view of the prevailing Greek culture, it is significant that Paul included the body in his benediction. That culture—influenced by a philosophical dualism which taught that man’s spirit is inherently good and his body inherently evil—held the body in low esteem. That philosophy provided a convenient rationale for dismissing as inconsequential whatever immoral physical behavior people might have engaged in.
But such thinking was abhorrent to the apostle Paul; he later exhorted the Corinthians, “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19–20; cf. Luke 11:36; Rom. 6:12–13; 8:13; 12:1; 1 Cor. 6:13, 15; 9:27; Col. 2:23; 3:5; James 3:2–3, 6). If sanctification is to be complete, it will extend to every part of the believer, especially the body, which thinks, feels, and acts in response to the holiness of the inner person.
There has been a significant debate over the years about the definition and usage of the terms spirit and soul. Some (historically called trichotomists) believe Paul was identifying two different, distinct categories of the nonmaterial essence of man. Those parts, along with the body, make man a three-part being. Others (historically called dichotomists) believe spirit and soul are interchangeable words denoting man’s indivisible inner nature. Those interpreters therefore view man as a two-part being, composed simply of a nonmaterial nature (spirit and soul) and a material nature (body).
No Scripture text ascribes different, distinct substance and functions to the spirit and soul. Trichotomists nevertheless usually propose that spirit is man’s Godward consciousness and soul is his earthward consciousness; however, neither the Greek usage of spirit (pneuma) nor of soul (psuchē) sustains that proposition. The nonmaterial part of man does have myriad capacities to respond to God, Satan, and the world’s many stimuli, but it is untenable to arbitrarily separate the spirit from the soul. The two terms are used interchangeably in Scripture (cf. Heb. 6:19; 10:39; 1 Peter 2:11; 2 Peter 2:8). Spirit and soul are familiar and common synonyms that Paul used to emphasize the depth and scope of sanctification. Some suggest that an acceptable translation of this portion of Paul’s prayer could be, “May your spirit, even soul and body,” in which case “spirit” would refer to the whole person, and “soul and body” to the person’s nonmaterial and material parts. References from Paul’s other epistles provide clear evidence that he was a dichotomist (Rom. 8:10; 1 Cor. 2:11; 5:3, 5; 7:34; 2 Cor. 7:1; Gal. 6:18; Col. 2:5; 2 Tim. 4:22).
Some claim Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart,” supports a trichotomist view of man’s essence because it suggests splitting soul and spirit. But a careful look at the verse’s language refutes that contention. The writer did not say the sword of the Word penetrates a person’s inner being and separates his soul from his spirit. He said only that the sword cuts open the soul and the spirit of the person. He used a second metaphorical expression “piercing … both joints and marrow” to further depict the deep penetration God’s Word makes into the inner person. This verse poses no special difficulty for the dichotomist position.
Sanctification’s Goal and Culmination
be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (5:23c)
Complete (holoklēros) means “with integrity,” “total,” “intact,” “undamaged,” and perfectly conforms with Paul’s and his Lord’s desire for the church to be holy, without blemish or defect (Eph. 5:25–27; cf. 2 Cor. 6:16; 11:2; 1 Tim. 3:15; 1 Peter 2:5; Rev. 19:7–8; 21:2).
This portion of Paul’s prayer is also consistent with the personal goal he later expressed to the Philippians: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14). The prize of being called up to heaven is eternal holiness and Christlikeness. And meanwhile the apostle had, as much as possible, the same earthly goal, which meant pursuing Christlikeness. He said it was the one thing he did (3:13). In the wondrous balance of diligent effort and divine power that is in every aspect of salvation, Paul prayed that the saints would be preserved (“kept”), that God would keep them in the path of holiness until they received their ultimate sanctification (cf. Matt. 24:13; Acts 13:43; 14:22; Eph. 6:18; Col. 1:21–23; Heb. 12:2–3). His desire was that God would bring them to that point without blame. Without blame (amemptōs) is the same word archeologists have found on Christian tombs from ancient Thessalonica. When people wanted to identify a deceased friend or loved one as a Christian, they inscribed “blameless” on his or her grave—and behavioral blamelessness (not just the imputed and forensic) is the Lord’s desire for His church (cf. Eph. 5:26–27).
At the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, God will make all believers sinless forever. First Corinthians 15:50–54 affirms that reality:
Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
This is the letter’s fourth mention of His coming (parousia) and, as with the other occurrences (2:19; 3:13; 4:15), it is again a reference to the Rapture of the church. Paul prayed that when the Lord Jesus Christ comes for believers He will find them faithfully pursuing the goal of being as holy as their Lord and longing to receive the promised heavenly perfection.
 Davis, J. F. (2017). 1 Thessalonians. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1908). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
 Thomas, R. L. (2006). 1 Thessalonians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 434–435). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
God’s love is a great comfort. But perhaps it’s not supposed to be as comforting as some people make it. God’s love is not a theological blanket that smothers everything else the Bible says about how He relates to us. That myopic, feel-good approach to God’s love often ignores its wider implications. Specifically, it overlooks the fact that God’s love carries an inherent condemnation.
“The tongue has the power of life and death…” Proverbs 18:21
Do you have an encourager? Someone who makes a point of encouraging you?
A person like that brings life to your spirit. Besides my husband, my sister-in-law, June, is my encourager. She inspires me to be the best I can be. I feel energized when I am with her. I’ve never had too much encouragement – have you?
But we all have our share of discouragers as well. A hateful tongue-lashing will do it every time. Someone who hurt you and made you feel like a loser?
For several years I worked with someone organizing outreach events to help reach leadership women in Vancouver. She was sophisticated, influential and a hard worker. Most of the time she was sweet and fun and very effective; however, when things didn’t go her way, she would launch into a deadly tongue-lashing and I would be at the receiving end. I would leave our meeting feeling completely defeated.
Soon I realized I was not the only one who was on the receiving end of these tirades – it was a pattern she had developed. Most of her friends and family began avoiding her. Her deadly tongue brought about the death of many friendships.
Someone said you have to receive at least five compliments to make up for every criticism.
We can build up or we can tear down with our words. Every time we speak we have that power. It is our choice how we are going to use it – for life or for death. We are all guilty of saying hurtful things in a moment of anger or retaliation. (Maybe now would be good time to make a list of the people we have hurt and plan to apologize). On the other hand, we feel good about ourselves when we encourage people and so do they.
This is what James wrote about our tongue:
“Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark” James 3:5.
Consider the words of Proverbs 12:18:
“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”
“Through patience a ruler can be persuaded, and a gentle tongue can break a bone.”
Let’s not make excuses for losing our temper and saying hurtful things. Take the time to confess your sin to God and the person you hurt. Decide today to be an encourager.
Father, you give life to us all. Jesus gave His life for all. Enable us to allow Your life to flow through us to those we meet each day. Amen.
It is the mark of a hypocrite to be a Christian everywhere except at home.
ROBERT MURRAY MCCHEYNE
Ritzema, E. (Ed.). (2012). 300 Quotations for Preachers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Some Rebuke Motivated by Hatred Matthew 7:1–5; James 5:9
There may be found some who rebuke the failings of their neighbors rather in the bitterness of hatred than out of charity, and not so much with a view to correct them as to give vent to the bad feeling they have in their hearts. This is certainly not according to God’s will, as it is prompted by revenge rather than by a love of discipline.
HUGH OF ST. VICTOR
Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Chicago Cops Issue No-Confidence Vote In Mayor After Anti-White Racism Chicago’s largest police union on Wednesday issued a vote of no confidence against Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Department Superintendent David Brown. The vote came during a Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) meeting where police officers vented their frustrations, new and old, with the mayor and and the police department, Chicago FOP president John Catanzara told The Epoch Times. Emotions were running high, Catanzara said, and one member grabbed the microphone to suggest a vote of no confidence. All members present at the meeting, about 150 active and retired police officers, voted for it.
Fauci Finally Admits COVID-19 May Have Come From Wuhan Lab, ‘Not Convinced’ Of Natural Origin When asked by Katie Sanders of Politifact if he was still confident that COVID-19 developed naturally, Fauci responded: “No actually. “I am not convinced about that, I think we should continue to investigate what went on in China until we continue to find out to the best of our ability what happened.” “Certainly, the people who investigated it say it likely was the emergence from an animal reservoir that then infected individuals, but it could have been something else, and we need to find that out. So, you know, that’s the reason why I said I’m perfectly in favor of any investigation that looks into the origin of the virus,” he added, nervously.
NASA has led 7 asteroid-impact simulations. Only once did experts figure out how to stop the space rock from hitting Earth. An international group of space experts have been bested by a hypothetical asteroid. Again. In a planetary-defense simulation that NASA led last month, more than 200 participants from about two dozen countries learned that a fictitious space rock was set to strike Earth in six months. They put their heads together to investigate every possible way to avoid the impact. But in the end, the group determined that no existing technologies could stop the asteroid, given the limited warning time in the scenario. The rock ended up razing eastern Europe.
Son of Hamas: Israel should eliminate Hamas leadership Not for the first time, the son of Hamas founder Hassan Yousef has criticized the way in which Israel conducts its military operations against the terrorist organization in Gaza, and has urged Israeli leaders to continue to strike Hamas even after agreeing to a ceasefire.
‘Israel destroyed 62 miles of Hamas tunnels and killed 25 top operatives’ In the 11 days of the Israeli Defense Forces’ “Operation Guardian of the Walls,” Israeli forces destroyed some 62 miles of Hamas’s tunnel network in the Gaza Strip, according to IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Hidai Zilberman. Speaking hours after an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect on Friday, Zilberman reported that some 200 Hamas operatives, including 25 high-ranking members, had been targeted and killed in IDF strikes during the fighting in Gaza.
‘Weakness arouses evil’: Pence blames Biden for latest bout of Palestinian violence Former United States Vice President Mike Pence blamed President Joe Biden for the latest outbreak of hostilities between Israel and Palestinian terrorists in the Gaza Strip, saying that Biden was guilty of “shattering” the diplomatic milestones achieved by the administration of his Republican predecessor Donald Trump. ‘Instead of seeking peace through strength, he has invited violence through weakness,’ former VP charges.
Iran: Nine hurt in blast at chemical factory in Isfahan province Nine people were wounded in an explosion at the Sepahan Nargostar Chemical Industries plant producing explosive materials in the city of Shahin Shahr in Iran’s central province of Isfahan, the IRNA news agency reported. The factory is a producer of industrial and commercial explosive materials and is under the supervision of the National Security Council, reported The Jerusalem Post.
Landmark asthma vaccine looks to human trials A new article in the journal Nature Communications is reporting successful results from preclinical tests for a unique asthma vaccine. The results indicate the vaccine generates antibodies against the inflammatory molecules known to cause severe asthma and the researchers are now looking to first-phase human clinical trials. The new research describes the development of a vaccine designed to induce the body to make its own antibodies against IL-4 and IL-13 molecules. The researchers designed what is called a conjugate vaccine, which binds a weak antigen with a strong antigen in order to induce antibodies against the weak antigen. In this instance the experimental asthma vaccine couples the two IL molecules with a non-pathogenic toxin.
Gantz orders seizure of Hamas terror items as Gaza borders remain closed Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued five military seizure orders against items Hamas had attempted to smuggle in and out of Gaza for its military wing, as the two Israeli crossings into Gaza — Kerem Shalom and Erez – remained closed. The IDF had confiscated the items in the days leading up to the 11-day IDF-Hamas war, known as Operation Guardian of the Walls…
With clock running down, Iran doubles down in nuke talks Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Abbas Aragchi on Monday appeared to double-down on a tough negotiating position with the US as time ran out on IAEA-Tehran cooperation and with June 18 presidential elections creeping closer. The US, Iran and the world powers have had five rounds of negotiations in Vienna in recent months to try to resolve the nuclear standoff.
Rare protests in Oman over jobs draw massive police response Scattered protests in Oman over layoffs and poor economic conditions have drawn a massive police presence in at least one city in the sultanate, with protesters throwing stones at one point and police firing tear gas. Videos posted to social media showed several dozen Omanis in the city of Sohar trailed by a long line of riot police vehicles on Monday.
Extreme heat forms across Arabian Peninsula after record Russian heatwave Extreme heat has now developed across the Arabian Peninsula following a record heatwave across the Russian Arctic earlier this week. Temperatures are reaching nearly 50 °C (122 °F) and are expected to spread further east towards Pakistan and northwest India this week. Days after a record heatwave spread across the Arctic region, more extreme heat has developed further south across the Middle East and the Arabian Peninsula.
The role of vaccinations in India’s SURGING death rate can no longer be denied …Villages along the Ganges, including Kanpur, Kannauj, Unnao and Prayagraj, contain makeshift graveyards along the riverside, where loved ones are discarded in shallow graves. The death rate is spiraling out of control in India, but only after the spike protein-spreading, inflammation-causing covid-19 vaccines were unleashed by the millions.
The Government Plan Is For Lockdowns To Last Forever Bleak News for all world citizens now living in every day government-imposed Lockdowns: the plan is to keep you there FOREVER. Whether you live in one of the states in America currently held in Lockdown; are one of the 15 million in Ontario Lockdown, or suffering through Lockdown anywhere else in the world, no relief is on the way.
Congressman ‘Forgot’ to Cast Proxy Vote That May Have Killed Democrat-Backed Spending Package: Spokesperson A member of the House didn’t cast a proxy vote for a fellow congressman on the Democrat-backed $1.9 billion Capitol security spending bill because it slipped his mind, according to a spokesperson. A spokesperson for Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) told Just the News that “Calvert had been voting by proxy” for Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) “throughout the week” before the vote was held. It came just days after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) extended the COVID-19 vote-by-proxy mandate for several more weeks, which was criticized by Republicans
Majority of British public does not support woke ideology – poll The ideas of woke activists are out of step with what many Brits actually believe, a new poll suggests. The Campaign for Common Sense (CCS) polled over 2,000 people on a range of issues, from public bathrooms to puberty blockers and climate protests, and found that conservative approaches continue to hold sway with a majority.
Why he declined to give the commencement address at the famous Catholic university.
Despite being just the second Catholic president, Joe Biden didn’t give the commencement address at the University of Notre Dame on Sunday. Biden’s decline of the invitation breaks a recent tradition that saw the past three presidents or vice presidents deliver commencement addresses at the Catholic school during their first year in office. It doesn’t appear that Kamala Harris received an invitation, as the university tabbed trustee and finance executive Jimmy Dunne to give the commencement speech instead. Given how Biden’s supposed deep Catholic faith has received fawning accolades from the secular media, what gives?
A university spokesman dismissed any significance to it, observing, “While Notre Dame has had more presidents serve as commencement speakers than any university other than the military academies, we have not always hosted a president in his first year in office — or at all.” He’s got a point. In the modern era, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton, and Donald Trump all did not address the school’s students. Of course, Kennedy was the nation’s first Catholic president, and he may have addressed the school if his presidency had not been tragically cut short. Yet that makes Biden’s break with recent tradition all the more significant. So, why did he reject the invitation?
The answer appears to have everything to do with Biden’s very uncatholic policy positions.
Indeed, a petition was launched by Notre Dame alumni and students, garnering over 4,300 signatures, calling on university President Fr. John Jenkins to not invite Biden as commencement speaker or grant him an honorary degree. The petition pointedly reasoned, “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is likewise pondering how to handle politicians like Biden, who at once claim the mantle and benefits of the Catholic Church while blatantly defying its teachings.
As for Notre Dame, the petition signees state they are “dismayed by the pro-abortion and anti-religious liberty agenda of President Joe Biden.” For example, “He rejects Church teachings on abortion, marriage, sex and gender and is hostile to religious liberty. He embraces the most pro-abortion and anti-religious liberty public policy program in history. The case against honoring him is immeasurably stronger than it was against honoring President Obama.” The petition also observes that the Biden administration is “providing direct federal funding to abortions.”
The great irony of Biden is, again, his distinction as being America’s second-ever Catholic president while holding and promoting one of the most anti-Catholic agendas in the history of the U.S. presidency. Is it any wonder people question his faith commitment?
The Left is more interested in wokeness than in winning wars.
Ted Cruz has been eating his Wheaties. Or maybe he’s taking counterpunching lessons from former President Donald Trump. Either way, NBC’s Brian Williams is all the worse for it.
Williams, the disgraced former NBC News anchor and fabulist who was finally demoted in 2015 after having repeatedly lied about his helicopter having been forced down by enemy fire in Iraq in 2003, apparently thought it was a good idea to attack the Texas senator on matters of patriotism, geopolitics, and military readiness.
As the Washington Examiner reports, “On MSNBC’s The 11th Hour with Brian Williams, Williams dubbed Cruz ‘Kremlin Cruz’ for his ‘remarkably stupid lapse in judgment’ when posting ‘Russian propaganda, a recruitment video for their military, followed by a video meant to diminish the U.S. military.’”
To back up just a bit, Cruz had taken to Twitter on Wednesday to respond to the jarring difference between two military recruiting advertisements: one for our Army, and one for the Russians.
Our ad is animated. Theirs isn’t. Our ad includes the memorable intro, “It begins in California, with a little girl raised by two moms,” and it goes downhill from there. Theirs begins with a mean-looking dude getting his head shaved and training for war. The comparison leaves one wondering why they’re recruiting warriors and we’re recruiting wokesters.
“The ad has been ratioed hard, with more than 76k dislikes to just 4k likes,” mocks PJ Media’s Bryan Preston. “The Army’s response to criticism of the ad merits examination. Commenters on the YouTube video criticized the ad’s politics. The Army responded by shutting down comments.”
As for Cruz? “Holy crap,” he mused. “Perhaps a woke, emasculated military is not the best idea…”
You’re telling us. By Thursday, Cruz was taking heat from indignant Democrats. So he doubled down: “We have the greatest military on earth, but Dem politicians & woke media are trying to turn them into pansies. The new Dem videos are terrible.”
We wonder, and we admire: When was the last time a U.S. senator publicly used the word “pansies”?
To which Baghdad Brian responded Friday, “So many things to say here, starting with, ‘Don’t we want committed and motivated members of our all-volunteer armed forces?’ Imagine how happy it makes [the Kremlin] to have yet another advocate among Republican members of the Senate.”
Is there a more pitiful example of corrupt corporate media than Brian Williams? He was fired as the anchor of NBC Nightly News for ‘misrepresenting events which occurred while he was covering the Iraq War in 2003.’ Now, he’s a left-wing hack at MSNBC.
Now, he’s throwing a hissy fit that I criticized the ridiculously woke video that the Biden admin put out. Williams accidentally told the truth, when he describes it as “a video meant to diminish the U.S. military.” TRUE. That’s the problem. (The Pentagon put it out.)
Now, with his trademark ignorant snark, he’s dubbed me “Kremlin Cruz.”
Cruz went on to note that he hates communists while Williams apologizes for them; that he was arguing for a stronger, tougher U.S. military message; and that President Joe Biden is the real Putin puppet, having removed our nation’s sanctions and rolled over for the building of a massive Russian pipeline.
Power Line’s John Hinderaker summed things up nicely, noting the absurdity of the Democrats’ see-through efforts to appear pro-military: “Everyone who pays attention knows that they are indifferent, at best, to American military power, and most of the time they don’t try to hide it. … Is anyone dumb enough to fall for the Democrats’ nonsense? I doubt it.”
While Arizona and Georgia still audit the 2020 election, Democrats hypocritically cry foul.
Before 9/11 happened, the big story of 2001 was going to be the recounts conducted by a consortium of media outlets in Florida. In the wake of a failed effort to challenge the electoral votes of Florida on January 6, 2001, many on the Left were eager to see what the media recount would find.
We previously discussed the double standard applied to the plan of Senator Josh Hawley and others to challenge the electoral votes on January 6, 2021. Democrats issued the four previous challenges, and on two occasions — in 1969 and 2005 — even forced votes on whether or not disputed electoral votes should be counted. But when it came time to question a Democrat win, well…
The ballot audit in Maricopa County, Arizona, and the forthcoming audit in Fulton County, Georgia, are facing a continuation of that double standard. Joe Biden beat Donald Trump by a little over 10,000 votes in Arizona, and just under 12,000 in Georgia.
Audits should be a relatively routine part of ensuring the integrity of each election. Yet the usual suspects at CNN and MSNBC, both outlets that specialize in infomercials for the Democrat Party, are attacking these audits, while officials are trying to obstruct them as much as possible. Imagine if, in 2001, then-Florida Governor Jeb Bush and Secretary of State Katherine Harris had tried similar tactics against the media recount of the razor-thin margin in the Sunshine State, or if Rush Limbaugh had called the Florida recount “fundamentally wicked.”
We never would have heard the end about the “assault on democracy.” Yet when grassroots Patriots rightly raise concerns about whether Biden’s 81 million votes were on the up and up, or even whether censorship by Silicon Valley tech giants rendered the 2020 election unfair, they get censored for it. Those concerns are dismissed or suppressed — all while the unfounded claims of voter suppression made by Stacey Abrams over the 2018 gubernatorial election in Georgia made her a saint of “democracy” to the left-wing hacks who purport to be journalists. The same goes for Hillary Clinton’s four-year refrain decrying how the 2016 election was “stolen” from her.
Of course, Silicon Valley censorship was part of what Time magazine celebrated as the “fortification” of the 2020 election — you know, the “control the flow of information” part of the “shadow campaign” exercised by the “well-funded cabal,” to use Time’s own words. Similarly, valid questions about whether bulk-mail ballot schemes or other failures to follow election law compromised election integrity and fairness (especially when there were successful efforts to thwart transparency) are treated as conspiracy theories. That’s true even though an experienced international election observer outlined how countries like Yemen handled election counts with more fairness than major urban areas in the United States.
These doubts come because many grassroots Patriots have reasonable suspicions based on the Left’s past conduct. That includes hyperbolic political rhetoric, like the lies and frivolous comparisons to Nazis from the likes of the late John Lewis, to name just one offender. But Lewis was only part of a larger pattern of lies and abuses that the Republican and conservative establishments failed to stand against.
Dennis Prager has noted the consequences of the Left’s decades-long track record of making these false allegations multiple times. Ask yourself, “How far would I go to remove from the White House an illegitimately elected Russian puppet who thought white supremacists were ‘very fine people’?”
We have noted that even though leftists got Donald Trump, they will likely lose in the future, as the issues that led to his rise to the White House remain. Already, the political chemotherapy he administered to the Republican Party is taking effect. Consequences for banks that redline the Second Amendment are pending in Texas, and the replacement of Liz Cheney by Elise Stefanik may help Republicans capitalize on a chance to win big in the 2022 midterms.
We also want to mention the commendable first steps toward election integrity. That said, we have a suggestion: The provisions on absentee ballots could be strengthened by requiring the use of certified mail with return receipt for applications and ballots both ways, with the postage for the applications and ballots to be returned via certified mail being prepaid by state and local election authorities to strengthen the chain of custody and eliminate the need for unsecure drop boxes.
Strategically, leftists’ current conduct will remind not just Republican voters but Republican candidates at all levels just why Trump rose in the first place. Those memories are going to be bad news for the establishment and the Left for a long time to come.
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life…
Last week, I wrote about the unexpected death of our friend, Medal of Honor recipient Chuck Hagemeister. His death reduced the ranks of living recipients to 65. I noted that the word “hero” is grossly overused today, but as it relates to Medal of Honor recipients, it is understated.
When a 1st Lt. in November of 1950, leading his 8th Army Ranger Company on Hill 205 a mere 60 miles from the Chinese border, Ralph Puckett willfully subjected himself to endless enemy machine gun fields of fire. He used himself as a target so his Army Rangers could spot the enemy machine-gunner locations in order to direct artillery fire. Many of those artillery attacks were “danger close,” meaning he was calling fire coordinates that were very close to his own position. He was wounded several times and finally unable to move, but he ordered his men to fall back and not risk retrieving him. Privates Billy G. Walls and David L. Pollock ignored his order, much to Puckett’s objection, and carried him to safety.
Puckett originally received the Distinguished Service Cross for his actions, and while upgrading an award is rare, in recent years that Distinguished Service Cross was reconsidered based on his heroic actions.
Responding in typical humility, Col. Puckett said: “The people who earned that medal are the Rangers who did more than I asked. I think it’s important for them. They’re the ones who did the job; they did the fighting and suffered.”
Black players are not getting equal compensation for injuries sustained over their careers.
“When somebody says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.” ―H.L. Mencken
The NFL is arguably the wokest professional sports organization on the planet. Taking its cues from cop-hating ex-quarterback Colin Kaepernick, the NFL set out to make “social justice” and its commitment to Black Lives Matter an integral part of its corporate zeitgeist. “We the National Football League condemn racism and the systematic oppression of black people,” opined NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a video statement released last June. “We the National Football League admit we were wrong for not listening to NFL players earlier and encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest. We the National Football League believe Black Lives Matter.”
Really? Then perhaps Goodell might explain why his league employs a concept known as “race norming” to determine which NFL players who suffer from dementia or other brain injuries incurred during their playing days may be entitled to what level of payouts they receive from a $1 billion healthcare settlement for such injuries.
What is race norming? A practice originally embraced by the federal government during the Carter administration whereby adjusting test scores to account for the race or ethnicity of a test-taker was seen as a means of counteracting alleged racial bias in aptitude tests administered to job applicants. It was instituted to meet equal employment opportunity and affirmative action goals. With the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1991, race norming, along with all other methods of changing or modifying employment-related tests on the basis of race or ethnicity, became illegal.
Nonetheless, the NFL uses an algorithm for dementia testing to determine the level of compensation awarded to injured athletes — one that assumes black men start their football careers with lower cognitive skills. As a result, injured black athletes must score much lower than whites on cognitive skills testing to win an award.
The $1 billion settlement fund is overseen by Judge Anita Brody of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Last March, she tossed a civil rights lawsuit filed by the law firm of Zuckerman Spaeder on behalf of NFL players Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport alleging the practice is discriminatory, calling it “an improper attack on the Settlement Agreement.” Brody subsequently stated in a filing that she felt the lawsuit had raised “a very important issue” and asked a magistrate judge to compile a report on the problem.
“We are pleased with the Court’s decision,” an NFL spokesperson said at the time, “and look forward to working with Class Counsel and Magistrate Judge Strawbridge to address the Court’s concerns.”
Attorney Christopher Seeger, who served as class counsel for the former NFL players and negotiated the landmark settlement with the league, seemingly concurred. In a statement issued through a spokesperson on his behalf, he insisted that “the use of these norms has always been left to the clinical judgment of the neuropsychologist and was never mandated by the settlement,” and that he had “not seen any evidence of racial bias in the settlement program.” He added, “That being said, we are continuing to investigate and review claims to determine if any claim was inappropriately denied as a result of application of these adjustments.”
Regardless, some players decided to push forward. On May 14, Judge Brody was handed 50,000 petitions delivered by former Washington running back Ken Jenkins, 61, and his wife Amy Lewis, demanding equal treatment for black players by bringing issue of race norming, which went unnoticed until 2018, front and center. Jenkins bemoaned the reality that black retirees “have to deal with some insidious, convoluted deals that are being made.”
Jenkins is spot on. Though the majority of the league’s 20,000 retirees are black, only a quarter of the more than 2,000 former players seeking awards for early to moderate dementia have qualified under the current testing program.
Katherine Possin, a neurology professor at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center, reveals the rank hypocrisy of a league whose commissioner also asserts that “systematic oppression of black people” is a given. “Because every black retired NFL player has to perform lower on the test to qualify for an award than every white player,” she declared, “that’s essentially systematic racism in determining these payouts.”
The first lawsuits alleging the NFL knew of links between concussions and brain damage were initially filed in 2011. As the number of lawsuits began to skyrocket, the league decided to avoid litigation by agreeing in 2013 to pay $765 million over 65 years to compensate players for Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, and other diagnoses. Yet when the claims kept pouring in, Brody worried that the fund would be depleted much earlier than anticipated. She ordered the removal of the cap.
At that point, the NFL began challenging hundreds of claims.
Yet reality intrudes. In examples shared with the Associated Press, race-based differences in scoring were undeniable. The raw score of 15 for naming animals in the language section was “adjusted” to 35 for whites and 41 for blacks, and the raw score of 51 for “block design” in the visual perception category was similarly adjusted to 53 for whites and 60 for blacks.
And like the phony he truly is, Goodell has punted in terms of his league directly addressing the problem. “The federal court is overseeing the operation and implementation of that settlement, and we are not part of selecting the clinicians, the medical experts, who are making decisions on a day-to-day basis,” he stated. “And so obviously we’ll work with the court, we’ll continue to see if there are changes that need to be made, but those will be determined by the court.”
Why does a court need to determine anything? Why can’t the league simply issue a statement that going forward, everyone, regardless of race, will be treated equally in terms of assessing cognitive decline?
Ken Jenkins knows the answer. “Race-norming may have had a benign origin,” he said, “but it quickly morphed into a tool that can be used to help the folks in power save money.”
That would be the “folks in power” who just signed an 11-year deal with TV partners to exclusively broadcast NFL games throughout the regular season and playoffs. The league amassed $5.9 billion a year during its current contracts, and this new agreement, which begins in 2023, represents an increase of 80% over the previous such period, ultimately amounting to a whopping $113 billion over 11 years.
Here’s hoping black NFL retirees, injured by the game they played — but denied equal compensation for those injuries due to race norming — get a sizable chunk of it.
Now we know why CNN was silent about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal.
CNN’s Chris Cuomo normally pontificates on the news, but now he’s finding himself as a news story. It has come to light that the Leftmedia host had privately advised his brother, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, on how best to respond to sexual harassment allegations. As the Washington Post reported, “Cuomo, one of the network’s top stars, joined a series of conference calls that included the Democratic governor, his top aide, his communications team, lawyers and a number of outside advisers, according to the people familiar with the conversations, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the private sessions.”
You know it’s bad when even a fellow Leftmedia outlet like WaPo is bold enough to quote anonymous sources in order to call foul. Yet CNN stood by its anchor after Cuomo issued an apology of sorts in which he indicated that he’s only sorry for how his behavior put his colleagues at CNN “in a bad spot.” He further insisted, “I’ve never tried to influence this network’s coverage of my brother,” dubiously claiming, “In fact, I’ve been walled off from it.”
Let’s just say that Cuomo’s denial of history is unconvincing. Not only did Chris conduct ridiculous slap-stick “interviews” of brother Andrew while thousands of New Yorkers were dying of COVID, but CNN remained curiously quiet on sexual harassment allegations raised against the governor. Does anyone really believe that one of CNN’s top anchors had no input in the outlet’s decision to essentially ignore the scandal?
Well, now it’s known that Chris advised his brother to deny any wrongdoing and refuse to resign, similar to the actions he himself supposedly took when dealing with his own sexual harassment allegations. The Daily Wire notes, “Four sources familiar with the calls told the newspaper that Chris Cuomo advised his brother on how to handle the political fallout produced by the allegations. Chris reportedly told his brother to refuse to resign and strike a defiant pose, claiming he was standing up against ‘cancel culture.’” Was Chris also pressuring CNN to remain silent?
This serves as yet another blow to any shred of journalistic credibility that may have yet existed at the fast-fading Leftmedia outlet, which has seen its viewership numbers tank following Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The purveyors of today’s racist reeducation programs are pushing whites and blacks further apart.
“I rob banks because that’s where the money is,” said bank robber Willie Sutton. Or maybe he didn’t say it. But if not, he should have, for there are precious few quotes as rich and pithy.
Ibram X. Kendi might not rob banks, but he certainly knows where the money is. It’s in elite schools and on college campuses, and in woke corporate boardrooms, and across government at all levels — which is why his writings and teachings on the racist dogma known as antiracism are so popular in those places. “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination,” says Kendi. “The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
One wonders whether all these enlightened folks know what they’re getting for their investment, because it isn’t racial harmony. Indeed, it’s the opposite. By telling one group of people that they’re privileged and another group that they’re disadvantaged as a result, antiracism attempts to instill both guilt and resentment, and it stokes a desire for each to avoid the other.
As Christopher Caldwell writes in National Review:
The most troubling innovation of equity is its tendency to move in a direction that will, in time, reintroduce segregationist thinking. Illinois senator Tammy Duckworth announced in March that she would vote to block the confirmation of all white nominees (except for gays) until the president nominated more Asians. Boston mayor Kim Janey is experimenting with an approach that combines the zip-code hierarchies of Muriel Bowser’s Washington and the race-based benefits of London Breed’s San Francisco, offering free public-transport and bike-share passes to 1,000 residents of minority neighborhoods, including Nubian (formerly Dudley) Square and Jamaica Plain. The Uber Eats app allows diners to order from “black-owned businesses.”
Even last week, Chicago’s racist mayor, Lori Lightfoot, decreed that she’d only give one-on-one interviews to journalists of color.
By insisting on equity — by demanding equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity — Kendi and his acolytes are breeding bitterness. And they’re stoking this bitterness, at least among the “guilty” group, by forcing them to undergo training in the workplace and by indoctrinating their young children in the classroom.
The heavy-handedness of this approach reminds us of a famous quote — and not a pleasant one: “I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”
That was Alabama Governor George Wallace, and the year was 1963. And if those who wish to tear our country apart are seeking a means by which to do it, they’ve found a powerful tool in the doctrine of antiracism.
State Department learned that several Wuhan lab researchers were sickened before COVID-19 outbreak (Fox News) | Flip-flopper Anthony Fauci suddenly “not convinced” COVID-19 developed naturally (Fox News)
Feds seize $90,000 from far-left rioter who sold January 6 footage to CNN and NBC (PM) | National Guardsmen who were exploited for security theater finally returning home from Capitol (NY Post)
Microsoft says it was hit by Chinese hackers, but Biden administration won’t point finger (Washington Examiner)
Naturally, pro-Palestinian House Democrats reject measure to boost Israeli security aid (Free Beacon)
Insight: “Government price-fixing once started, has alike no justice and no end. It is an economic folly from which this country has every right to be spared.” —Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933)
Political futures: “The progressive left’s foremost pagan sacrament … is on the chopping block — that is, the ‘right’ to murder one’s own child in utero. And the left will leave no stone unturned in its quest to preserve modern constitutional law’s peculiar codification of that ‘right.’ … If the impending left-wing/media/Hollywood-driven intimidation and disinformation campaign succeeds in peeling off Kavanaugh or another ‘gettable,’ thus securing a court majority alongside Roberts and the three liberal justices to overturn Mississippi’s law, then it is unclear at best what kind of ‘legal conservative movement’ can possibly emerge from that rubble. The legal conservative movement was primarily founded on this issue. If, after all these decades and finally securing this right-leaning court majority, it cannot overturn Roe or even make a severe dent in the hopeless muddle that is Casey, the verdict will be in. It will not be pretty. The movement will have failed.” —Josh Hammer
Re: The Left: “Many of the NBA’s players have spent the last few years taking a knee during the National Anthem to protest what they perceive to be America’s systemic racism and the mistreatment of blacks and other minorities by police. Fine. That’s their right. Peaceful protest is part of what America is all about. But while they’ve taken a knee for George Floyd and against America, the players just take the money from China. … The NBA and the players talk big about justice, but they’re all about the money.” —Michael Reagan
Observations: “It is not a coincidence that as Americans move beyond the soft bigotry of the baby boomer to that of those born after Jim Crow and the Civil Rights marches, the claims of bigotry, racism and division are getting louder. Those who have made comfortable livings spreading division have to push new grievances and hucksterism. A mostly white secular elite who are into idol worship, mostly of themselves, still feel a need to repent. So, they buy the books, attend the seminars, put Black Lives Matter signs in their yard and impose their idol worship on everyone else as virtuous.” —Erick Erickson
For the record: “Just five weeks after the Biden administration reopened negotiations with Iran — the patron of Hamas — and announced it would be restoring U.S. aid to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas attacked. What has happened as a result of the administration’s weak posture stands in stark contrast to the results of the previous administration’s foreign policy, which united Arabs and Jews behind greater pressure on Iran, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, moved the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem and drastically increased the number of Arab states maintaining normalized relations with Israel. In the Middle East, weakness begets conflict and strength begets stability. The Biden administration’s resistance to this simple reality is now playing out in Gaza.” —Christians United for Israel founder John Hagee
Friendly fire: “Mayor Lightfoot’s blatant anti-white racism is abhorrent. I call upon President Biden, Kamala Harris, and other leaders of our county — of all races — to join me in calling for Mayor Lightfoot’s resignation. Our leaders must condemn all racism, including anti-white.” —Tulsi Gabbard
Grand delusions: “Pence was taken out of the Senate chamber something like 60 seconds before these terrorists, insurrectionists got into the Senate chamber. … Sixty seconds could have meant potentially the difference between what we have right now and a martial state.” —Congresswoman AOC
Non compos mentis: “The only party now that is operating in reality is the Democratic Party. The Republican Party is obsolete.” —CNN’s Don Lemon
And last… “Lori Lightfoot is the racist Democrats claim all conservatives are. Joe Biden is the Russian Puppet Democrats claim Trump is. Andrew Cuomo is the sexual predator Democrats tried to claim Kavanaugh was. Time to stop believing these people when they try to signal their virtue to us.” —Charlie Kirk
THE NATION IS SEEING A SPIKE IN ANTI-SEMITISM DURING THE FIGHTING BETWEEN ISRAEL AND HAMAS. FIVE JEWISH GROUPS PENNED A LETTE SECRETARY OF STATE ANTONY BLINKEN SAYS GAZA IS IN A “GRAVE” HUMANITARIAN SITUATION FOLLWING THE INTENSE FIGHTING …
CBS News has released online Leslie Stahl’s 60 Minutes report on the state of the transgender debate. You should not let the clickbait headline deter you from watching the story. It is illuminating about where the West is culturally and spiritually. As Carl Trueman properly and provocatively asks, how is that Bruce Jenner can say that he is a woman trapped in a man’s body? How did it come to be that it is now controversial to say out loud what we all know, that the Emperor is in the wrong clothes? How did we become so disconnected from nature and from objective reality? How is it that simply asking and seeking to answer these questions can get one banned from social media, “cancelled,” and, in some cases fired from one’s job?
These are important questions and the answers are even more important because they point to a deep sickness in the Western soul yes, but also to a relatively widespread delusion and psychosis. It is not too much to say that we are witnessing a mass hysteria. The first subject Stahl interviews is a transgender physician. Not long ago, that person would have been the sole subject of an entire segment and the very reasonable question would have been: should this person be allowed to practice medicine? As the report notes, today, there are dozens of clinics staffed by such people ostensibly counseling (recruiting) young people to do as they have done: to resolve their identity crisis by denying their biology. In some cases, as Stahl discovered, these transitions happen within months. In some cases, vulnerable young people are subjected to radical surgery (e.g., mastectomy or castration) after as little as a year. 13-year old children are being placed on hormone therapy. In any other time, in virtually any other culture, this would have been considered lunacy but here we are. According to the CDC, about 1,000,000 people in the USA identify as transgender but the percentage of teens who are deciding that their gender does not match their sex is said to be rising rapidly. In 2018, one study found that as many as 3% of teens surveyed identified as transgender. These kids are the victims of the sexual revolution. Sometimes they are being counseled by well-meaning but confused people. Sometimes, however, they are being counseled by those who need affirmation of their own destructive choices. This is a spiritual contest with emotional, psychological, physical, and social consequences.
Credit to Stahl’s report: she did interview several people who have realized that “transitioning” from one sex to another was a serious mistake. Stahl treats those who have de-transitioned with respect and gives a fair hearing to what has hitherto been a very marginal voice in this discussion.
Christians ought to pray. We need to be aware that a surprisingly large percentage of teens are in crisis over their sexuality and identity. Of course teens have always struggled with their sense of self, their identity, and in figuring out where they fit in the world. All of that is relatively normal but what is not normal and what is new is that there are well-funded agencies and campaigns, led by public figures, that seek to present the transgender ideology as a viable alternative. The Word and Spirit of God are more than a match for this spiritual crisis and challenge.
Christians need to teach the doctrine of creation—not necessarily the length of the days of creation but the very existence of the category of creation. The same God who redeemed his people at Calvary also created all humans in his image. There is a creational, natural, pattern and norm. For most American evangelicals grace has overwhelmed nature so that they no longer have a place for creational patterns. They have no idea of “givenness.” Humans come in two sexes, male and female. Gender is a grammatical category which, in most cases, has been thoughtlessly substituted for the biological category of sex. Because, for most American evangelicals, grace has overwhelmed nature, categories like sex, marriage, and sabbath, each of which were instituted in creation, are largely unknown. They are all too easily convinced that gender is an arbitrary category. Christian teens need to know that they are part of God’s good creation, that their bodies are not inherently evil, material shells in which their souls are trapped. They need to know that their bodies are part of the image of God and good as a matter of creation.
They also need to know that there is grace for sinners. One reason why teens reach a crisis in their sexuality is that they come to think (perhaps because they have been taught) that their sexual sins place them beyond the pale of God’s grace and forgiveness. How many kids decide that they are beyond grace and forgiveness and give up on their biological sex in favor of a trans (or some other of the LGBTQ) identity in their search for belonging and acceptance.
One of the facets that stands out in the piece is the comment by one of the young people that they wished that someone has put up some resistance to their plan to transition. Do we love our children enough to stand up to them or are we adults so needy for affirmation that we will roll over and affirm their every choice, no matter how bizarre?
Sexual abuse plays another significant role. How many young people in this country are the victims of sexual abuse and thus grow up hurt, angry, and confused and who they are? Such children are like homeless waifs just waiting to be collected by some transgender Fagin and given a new identity.
Social media plays a significant role in this crisis as it helps to create an alternate reality, an echo chamber where teens struggling with their identity can readily find support for whatever disastrous choice they might be contemplating. Remember, a fair number of teens think it is a good idea to sneak out of the house to meet up with a stranger whom they met online. There is a case to be made for strictly restricting access to social media until young people are fully grown. I am thankful that I did not have to negotiate social media while I was going through what all teens experience. I am also grateful that I had, through most of my teen years, a relatively stable, two-parent home, something that a lot of teens lack.