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. "…truth is true even if nobody believes it, and falsehood is false even if everybody believes it. That is why truth does not yield to opinion, fashion, numbers, office, or sincerity–it is simply true and that is the end of it" – Os Guinness, Time for Truth, pg.39. “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
Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. (Jeremiah 1:8)
Whenever fear comes in and makes us falter, we are in danger of falling into sin. Conceit is to be dreaded, but so is cowardice. “Dare to be a Daniel.” Our great Captain should be served by brave soldiers.
What a reason for bravery is here! God is with those who are with Him. God will never be away when the hour of struggle comes. Do they threaten you? Who are you that you should be afraid of a man that shall die? Will you lose your situation? Your God whom you serve will find bread and water for His servants. Can you not trust Him? Do they pour ridicule upon you? Will this break your bones or your heart? Bear it for Christ’s sake, and even rejoice because of it.
God is with the true, the just, the holy, to deliver them; and He will deliver you. Remember how Daniel came out of the lions’ den and the three holy children out of the furnace. Yours is not so desperate a case as theirs; but if it were, the Lord would bear you through and make you more than a conqueror. Fear to fear. Be afraid to be afraid. Your worst enemy is within your own bosom. Get to your knees and cry for help, and then rise up saying, “I will trust, and not be afraid.”
“Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”” –Malachi 4:4-6
We now come to the end of this book. There will be about 400 years of silence between Malachi and the coming of John the Baptist and Jesus Himself. The book of Malachi shows us a covenant-keeping God Who still loves and pursues His people even though they have not remained faithful to Him. It’s not surprising that the final command in the book is to remember the covenant law of Moses. The word “remember” has the idea of bringing something to mind and acting accordingly. So when God commands His people to remember, He is calling them to be covenant-keeping people who put into practice His revealed will.
The LORD says He will send Elijah, the prophet, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. This is another reference to John the Baptist. In this case, the great and awesome day refers to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. He finally comes to save His people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). Although the text mentions the turning of the hearts of the father to the children, the main idea here is that John’s role is to turn all hearts, fathers and children, to the LORD their God. John had a ministry of repentance and the same word (turn) is used here. The last words of the Old Testament speak of the judgment of God upon those who do not turn to the LORD in repentance and faith. These are sober final words. Make sure Christ is your Saviour today.
Suggestions for prayer
Praise the LORD that everything He promises to us in His Word has real substance and will come to pass. Thank the LORD that Christ comes to save His people from their sins so that we will not face the judgment to come.
Rev. Michael Jaatinen is the minister of Mount Zion Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Moncton, NB.
Unhappy Tamar, her beauty and her goodness brought her to misery; for Amnon, despairing of winning her, laid a plot against her. He pretended to be ill; and when King David expressed great anxiety over this illness of his eldest son, Amnon entreated his father to bid Tamar act as nurse for him. The gentle maid obeyed her father’s behest, thinking no evil; but Amnon having her alone by his pretended sick-couch, attacked her, and did her irreparable injury. Then, his former admiration turning all to hatred, he drove her forth from his house.
Tamar fled through the streets in despair and terror, weeping, tearing at her clothes, and heaping dust upon her head. She sought shelter with her true brother Absalom. When King David learned of Amnon’s crime he was “very wroth,” but did nothing. The sin was too like his own had been. Absalom, furious at heart yet not daring openly to oppose both his father and his elder brother, consoled and protected Tamar as best he might in his own house. In secret he vowed to inflict an awful vengeance upon Amnon.
Just like the false prophets of Jeremiah’s day, contemporary teachers paint God to be whatever they want and people as supposedly good. They diminish God’s holiness, exaggerate their goodness, and hide their real motives. In this message, we learn how to recognize these false teachers and discern their heretical teaching.
This five-program series with Dr. DeYoung provides an inspiring and easy-to-understand overview of the future events described in the Bible’s final book. He establishes three main pillars of Revelation, representing the Rapture of the Church, the second coming of Christ to earth and the final judgment. This teaching is not only important for the future but offers much insight for how we live today.
3:12 Not that I have already obtained. The prize of salvation in its fullness has not yet been won, a point Paul emphasizes against ideas of perfectionism (cf. 1 Cor. 4:8; 2 Tim. 2:18; 1 John 1:8). Yet the saving process that will be consummated on the day of Christ (1:6, 10) and the resurrection from the dead (3:11) has already begun.
3:12been made perfect Paul has not yet arrived at his goal. The Greek verb used here, teleioō, can refer to being perfected, being completed, or reaching a goal.
3:12 Paul stresses that he is not already perfect—he is still involved in the struggles of life in a fallen world and hence he still sins; the full glory of the resurrection remains in the future. I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. There is a balance of faith and works, of God’s call and the believer’s response.
3:12 Not that I have already obtained. The race toward Christlikeness begins with a sense of honesty and dissatisfaction. press on. The Gr. word was used of a sprinter, and refers to aggressive, energetic action. Paul pursued sanctification with all his might, straining every spiritual muscle to win the prize (1Co 9:24–27; 1Ti 6:12; Heb 12:1). lay hold … laid hold. “Lay hold” means “to make one’s own possession.” Christ chose Paul for the ultimate purpose of conforming Paul to His glorious image (Ro 8:29), and that is the very goal Paul pursued to attain.
3:12not … attained: Paul chooses a different Greek word from that translated in v. 11 as attain. Here he indicates he has not yet “gained possession of” or “laid hold of” all that he seeks to be. perfected: The Greek term means mature or complete, finished. It does not specifically mean a moral or sinless perfection. Paul is not speaking of moral perfection or righteousness but of reaching the state of completion as a Christian. press on: Paul “pursues with all deliberate speed” the goal that is before him. The verb form indicates that he is doing this continually. lay hold of: This phrase adds the idea of overtaking by surprise to the sense of seizing some object. Paul urgently wants to “grab hold of” God as God had laid hold of him (Acts 9:1–22). Christ had dramatically and suddenly seized Paul on the road to Damascus, and his life was never the same after that.
3:12. Paul now moves into his final section about selflessness. This quality may be realized through making Christ the priority in one’s life (1:12–2:30). This right priority is founded on the right position of righteousness in Christ through faith (3:1–11). This last section in the body of the epistle (3:12–4:9) is focused on having the right purpose, namely, living for Christ with the right perspective and practice that leads to selflessness.
A realist, Paul understands that he has not grown in his relationship with Christ to the point that he can claim to be completely mature in Him. So he presses on in this life so that he can reach the level of maturity in his walk with Christ that his Lord wants for him. Since Christ laid hold of Paul “for good works” (cf. Eph 2:10), for which he will be rewarded (cf. 2 Cor 5:9–10), Paul continually works for Christ.
3:12 The apostle did not consider that he was already perfected. Perfected refers not to the resurrection in the previous verse, but to the whole subject of conformity to Christ. He had no idea that it was possible to achieve a state of sinlessness or to arrive at a condition in life where no further progress could be achieved. He realized that “satisfaction is the grave of progress.”
Thus he pressed on in order that the purpose for which the Lord Jesus had saved him might be fulfilled in him. The apostle had been apprehended by Christ Jesus on the road to Damascus. What was the purpose of this momentous meeting? It was that Paul might from then on be a pattern-saint, that God might show through him what Christ can do in a human life. He was not yet perfectly conformed to Christ. The process was still going on, and Paul was deeply exercised that this work of God’s grace might continue and deepen.
3:12. Paul’s description of his desires pointed forward to a goal. He had not “arrived.” Not yet mature, he was still very much in the race of the Christian life. The perfection he would have at the future resurrection was not yet attained. He still had to deal with what in Romans 7 he calls “the flesh,” an innate pull to sin. He had to deal with his sinful body and was only too aware of the need for further spiritual growth. He purposes to press on as he had not attained the intense personal knowledge of Christ that he desired and had not become all that Christ wanted him to be. He did not press on out of personal power or will. He did so because Jesus had chosen him and on the Damascus road grabbed hold of his life. Paul always held God up as the source of every part of the salvation experience. A fact of the Christian life is that the more you mature the more you realize how much further you have to go to become like Christ.
3:12“Not that I have already obtained it” Paul lived in the tension of the present but not yet consummated Kingdom of God. He knew Christ, he knew who he was in Christ, he knew he was accepted by Christ but he struggled with Christlike living (cf. Rom. 7). Paul had arrived but had not fully arrived; he was complete but not fully complete.
Some ancient Greek manuscripts, P46, D*, and G, add “or have been righteous.” This addition is also found in the Greek texts used by Irenaeus and Ambrosiaster. However, the shorter text is supported by MSS P61, א, A, B, D c, K, and P as well as the ancient translations, the Vulgate, the Syrian and the Coptic.
This is a PERFECT PASSIVE INDICATIVE with the implication that something happened in the past which has become a settled state and this was accomplished by God. The term itself meant (1) fully developed; (2) fully equipped; (3) complete; (4) mature; or (5) adequate. It did not have the English connotation of perfection or sinlessness.
“in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus”
“that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me”
“to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own”
“to win the prize for which Christ Jesus has already won me to himself”
“in the attempt to take hold of the prize for which Christ Jesus took hold of me”
This starts with a THIRD CLASS CONDITIONAL SENTENCE which means probable future action (cf. v. 11). This can refer to (1) salvation (v. 9); (2) Christlikeness (v. 10); or (3) resurrection (v. 11).
This is a strong Greek word. Paul was “snatched” by Christ on the road to Damascus (cf. Acts 9:1–22; 22:3–16; 26:9–18). The One whose followers he persecuted now confronted him as the resurrected Lord. Theology and personal experience merged! Paul now sought to be like those and Him whom he once attacked.
12. Paul’s intense yearning and striving for spiritual perfection is expressed now under the symbolism of the familiar foot-race. In order to grasp the apostle’s meaning the underlying figure must be borne in mind at every point. Picture then the ancient Greek stadium with its course for foot-races and tiers of seats for the spectators. At Athens the length of the course was one-eighth of an old Roman mile; hence, about 607 feet in our measurement. The one at Ephesus was somewhat longer. The purpose of the race was to reach the goal opposite the entrance, or to run up and back, and this once or even twice. Near the entrance the contestants, stripped for the race, have been assigned their places on a stone threshold. In fact, several of the old stadia show what is left of rows of stone blocks at either end of the track. These blocks contain grooves to give the sprinter’s feet a firm hold for a quick take-off. Here the contestants stand, body bent forward, one hand lightly touching the threshold, awaiting the signal: the letting down of a cord that has been stretched in front of them. At the signal they leap forward.
When the question is asked, “Will this contestant succeed?” the answer is, “Much will depend on his frame of mind.” If he tells himself, “I’m a sure winner, no matter what I do,” he will probably undergo the experience of the hare, in the fable, The Hare and the Tortoise. While the tortoise was plodding steadily on, the hare took a nap, and on awakening discovered, too late, that his opponent had already reached the goal!
The same holds in the spiritual race. Here, too, much depends on the frame of mind. Paul completely rejects the idea that even now the race is as good as won. Says he, Not that I have already gotten hold or have already been made perfect. Paul was a firm believer in the doctrine of election “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4), and accordingly also, as has been pointed out, in the possibility of assurance of salvation. But not in election apart from human responsibility, in salvation apart from human effort, or in assurance without constant recourse to the promises. Even though he had already sacrificed everything in his service for the Lord, he is certain of one thing, namely, that he has not yet completely gotten hold of the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts one out from among those who are dead in sin; in other words, he is sure that he has not yet been made perfect. In principle, yes! But in full measure, no! Far from it! The struggle against sin, fear, and doubt is not yet over. The fact, moreover, that believers do not attain this perfection in the present life is the teaching of Scripture throughout (Ps. 51:1–5; Matt. 6:12; 26:75; Luke 18:13; Rom. 7:14–24; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8). Paul continues, placing the positive over against the negative, as he often does, but I am pressing on (to see) if I can also lay hold on that for which I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Paul is pursuing with the purpose of overtaking and laying hold on. Has he not been laid hold on by Christ Jesus? When Paul was on his way to Damascus had not the exalted Lord and Savior commissioned him to a definite task? See Acts 9:1–19, especially verse 15; also 22:15, 21; 26:15–18. Encouraged and enabled by this very fact, namely, that it was Christ Jesus who has laid a firm hold on him, so as to possess him completely, the apostle is now pressing on in hot pursuit of the objective assigned to him. Cf. Phil. 2:12, 13; 4:13; 2 Thess. 2:13.
Ver. 12. Not as though I had attained, either were already perfect.—In these words we have—
I. A disclaiming of present perfection in two expressions. 1. “Not as though I had already attained.” This is an agonistical word for receiving the reward due to the conqueror. In the races there was a crown of leaves generally set over the goal, that the foremost might catch it, and carry it away with him (1 Cor. 9:24; 1 Tim. 6:12). 2. “Or were already perfect”—another agonistical word. Though the runner was to seize the crown as his right, yet the judges interposed before he could put it on his head, and when he received it from them he was adjudged a perfect racer or wrestler as the case might be. The word “perfect” was used—(1) Of their strength and agility, having passed the agonistical exercises (2 Cor. 13:9). (2) Of their reward. When the crown was adjudged them, or when they had done worthily, the more excellent had the more excellent rewards, which were called perfect crowns.
II. An earnest endeavour for the future.
III. The reason of his diligence. Christ’s apprehending is—1. In effectual calling, as He puts us upon this race, or inclineth us to it. 2. By constant support, for having apprehended us He still upholds us. (T. Manton, D.D.)
I. None of God’s children, however assured, can look upon themselves as out of danger till their race be ended. 1. God’s children may have assurance, as Paul had. This is the case—(1) When grace discovers itself in eminent self-denying acts, and is not a sleepy habit or a buried seed (1 Thess. 1:3). (2) When evidence is not blotted by frequent interruptions of the spiritual life by sin (2 Cor. 1:12). (3) Because they have the Spirit of adoption (Gal. 4:6; Eph. 1:13–14). (4) They have a sense of the love of God and His rich mercies in Christ. (a) By acquaintance with Him (John 21:21). (b) By intercourse with Him (1 Peter 2:3; Eph. 3:12). (c) By the experiences of their afflictions (Rom. 5:3–5). (d) By present rewards of obedience (John 14:21, 23). (5) The change wrought is a sensible one and may be plainly discovered (Eph. 5:8). 2. God’s children cannot look upon themselves as past all care and holy solicitude. Reasons. (1) Because there is no period put to our duty but life. It is not enough to begin with God; we must go on in His way till we come home to Him (Heb. 3:6, 14; 6:11; Phil. 2:12). (2) During our lives there is something more to suffer, some lust to conquer, some grace to strengthen. (3) Some have left their first love (Rev. 2:4); have fainted in the race (Gal. 5:7). (4) The nature of his assurance is to exclude fear, which hath torment; but not the fear of caution and diligence (Prov. 28:14; 1 Peter 1:17). 3. Uses. (1) To show us the difference between carnal security and solid assurance. (a) There is a difference in the grounds; the one is a slight presumption of the end without the means, and the other goeth on solid evidences (1 John 3:19). The one is sand, the other is rock. (b) They differ in effects; the one benumbeth the conscience into stupid peace; the other revives the conscience and fills it with joy and peace through believing (Rom. 15:13; 2 Cor. 1:12; 1 Peter 1:8). (c) They differ in the way they are procured or maintained. Foolish presumption costs a man nothing, but true assurance is gotten with diligence (2 Peter 1:10; 2 Peter 3:14), and is kept with watchfulness (Heb. 4:1; Heb. 12:28, 29; 1 Cor. 10:1, 2). (2) To teach us the necessity of (a) diligence; (b) watchfulness; (c) self-denial.
II. Whatsoever degrees we have attained we must press forward to perfection. 1. Reasons. (1) By this our title is assured. (2) By this our hearts are more prepared in this life for our happiness (Col. 1:12; 1 John 3:3). (3) By this our glory and blessedness are increased. 2. Use: to persuade us to get ground in our race, which we do as our title is more assured by self-denying obedience. (1) Our end will bear it, to see God and enjoy Him (1 Thess. 2:12). How much better than all those worldly things upon which we lay out so much. (2) The glory of God requires it. Less grace may serve for our safety and comfort (John 15:8; Matt. 5:16). (3) The notion of grace implies it, which is continuous (Prov. 4:18; 2 Cor. 4:16). There is requisite to this—(a) A strong faith in the world to come (Heb. 10:39). (b) A fervent love, levelling and directing all our actions to God’s glory (2 Cor. 5:14–15). (c) A lively hope quickening and strengthening our resolutions for God and heaven 1 Peter 1:13).
III. It is a great encouragement in the spiritual race that Christ apprehended us for this end that we may apprehend the crown of life. Christ’s apprehension implies—1. That any motion towards that which is spiritually good proceeds first and wholly from Christ. He is author and finisher (Acts 16:14; 26:18; 1 Cor. 2:14). 2. A motion and subordinate operation on our part. He infuses a new life, which we receive from Christ to use it and live by it (Cant. 1:4; Rom. 12:2). 3. The tendency of this life is to God and heaven (2 Peter 1:4; Col. 3:1–3). 4. Christ having apprehended us still keeps us in His own hands. 5. Use: to press us to answer Christ’s apprehension by our exact, resolved, diligent pursuit of eternal life, that will declare that we are apprehended and will be guided by Christ to the land of promise. Two motives. (1) Our obligation to Christ. (2) Christ’s interest in us. (Ibid.)
Conversion illustrated in the case of Paul:—
I. How is the work of conversion effected. Paul says, “I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.” How this was done may be seen from Acts 9:16. 1. Christ got possession of Paul’s understanding by appearing to Him in glory. Having once seen the Saviour’s glory Paul could not resist His claims. 2. Christ got possession of Paul’s heart by assuring him of His grace. 3. Christ got possession of Paul’s life. Having surrendered mind and affections he would not be likely to make any reserve. Nor did he; and ever after he said, “To me to live is Christ.”
II. To what is the work of conversion expected to lead? To perfection. Paul expected to be perfect—1. In character. 2. In his whole nature—physically (ver. 21); morally, by being sanctified wholly; intellectually, by having all the powers of the mind so fitly harmonized that there should be no undue preponderance, but that each should lend its own proper aid in working out for the renewed man that eternal progression in knowledge to which he is destined. 3. In all his external circumstances. The society, employments, joys of heaven, will make us fully and for ever blest.
III. Who are the subjects of this change? How are we to know them? What proof did Paul give of it? The text shows us—1. That he highly appreciated his future destiny (vers. 20–21; 2 Cor. 4:18; 5:1–9). 2. That he cherished a lively sense of his present deficiencies—“Not as though,” &c. 3. That he made it the one great business of his life to realize the blessings of the gospel, both in this life and the next (vers. 12–14 and 7–9). Compare yourselves with Paul. (J. Jordan.)
A call to perseverance:—
I. Our attainments vary, but none is actually secure or absolutely perfect.
II. Our duty, to continue in the exercise of faith, self-denial effort.
III. Our hope. To gain the full reward, to which Christ has designed us. (J. Lyth, D.D.)
I. The sense in which Christians are not perfect. They are not so perfect as to be free—1. From ignorance: they may know many things material and spiritual, but they do not know the Almighty unto perfection nor many of His ways. 2. From mistake. They do not mistake things essential to salvation; but in non-essentials they err and frequently: in regard, e.g., to facts and their circumstances, and the character of men, and the interpretation of Scripture. 3. From infirmities. They are free indeed from what the worldly calls his infirmity—drunkenness, &c.—but not from weakness or slowness of understanding, and the infirmities of speech and behaviour which spring therefrom. 4. From temptation, since Christ was tempted. 5. Now are they absolutely perfect. How much soever a man has attained he must yet “grow in grace.”
II. The sense in which Christians are perfect. 1. They are free from outward sin. (1 John 3:8–9, 18; Rom. 6:1–2, 5–7, 11, 14–18; 1 Peter 4:1–2). It is not said, “He sinneth not wilfully, habitually, as other men, or as he did before.” Objection (1) But did not Abraham, Moses, and David commit sin. Yes, but it does not follow that Christians must. Those who argue so seem never to have considered Matt. 11:11. We cannot measure the privileges of Christians by those formerly given to the Jews. Objection (2) But are there not assertions which prove the same thing? (1 Kings 8:46; 2 Chron. 6:36; Eccles. 7:20). Answer: From the day that sin entered the world there was not a just man that sinned not until the Son of God was manifested to take away our sins. “The heir as long as he is a child differeth nothing from a servant.” Holy men of old were, during the infant state of the Church, in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fulness of the times was come, &c. Now therefore we are no more servants but sons. So that whatsoever was the case of those under the law, since the gospel was given “he that is born of God sinneth not.” It is of great importance to observe the difference between the two dispensations (John 7:28). That this great salvation from sin was not given till Jesus was glorified, St. Peter plainly testifies (1 Peter 1:9–10). Objection (3) But did not the apostles sin—St. Paul by his contention, St. Peter by his dissimulation? Yes, but how does that prove that Christians must commit sin. No necessity of sinning was laid upon them. The grace of God was suificient for them, and it is surely sufficient for us. No man is tempted above that he is able to bear, and with the temptation there is a way of escape. Objection (4) But does not James contradict this (ver. 2). No; he does not refer to himself or Christians (see vers. 9 and 10), where “we” is general or exclusive of Christians. Objection (5) How shall we reconcile St. John with himself? (1 John 1:8, 10). Observe (a) verse 10 fixes the sense of verse 8. (b) The point under consideration is not whether we have or have not sinned heretofore; and neither of these verses asserts that we do sin, or commit it now. (c) Verse 9 explains both verses. 10 and 18. We are cleansed from all unrighteousness that we may go and sin no more. St. John is well consistent with himself as well as with the other holy writers. He declares—(a) “The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin.” (b) No man can say I have not sinned, have no sin to be cleansed from. (c) But God is ready to save us from past and future sins. (d) “These things write,” &c. (1 John 2:1–2). (e) But lest there should be any doubt on a subject of such vast importance the apostle resumes the subject in Chap. 3, where he carefully explains his own meaning (vers. 7–10). 2. They are free from evil thoughts. But thoughts concerning evil are not always evil thoughts. Our Lord doubtless thought of the things spoken by the devil yet He had no sinful thought. And even thence it follows, neither have Christians (Luke 6:40). And indeed whence should evil thoughts proceed in the servant who is as His Master (Mark 7:21, cf. Matt. 12:33, 17–18). The same happy privilege St. Paul asserts from his own experience (2 Cor. 10:4, &c). 3. From evil tempers. This is evident again from the declaration, “Every one that is perfect shall be as His Master.” Christ had just been delivering some of the sublimest doctrines of Christianity, and some most grievous to flesh and blood—“Love your enemies,” &c. What other than this can St. Paul mean by “I am crucified with Christ,” &c. If 1 John 3:3 be true, then the Christian—(1) Is purified from pride, for Christ was lowly of heart; (2) from self-will or desire, for Christ desired to do only the will of the Father; (3) from anger in the common sense of the word, for Christ was gentle and long-suffering. Conclusion: Thus doth Christ save His people from their sins. “We shall be saved” say some, “but not till death.” How is this to be reconciled with 1 John 1:5; 4:17? See 2 Cor. 7:1. (John Wesley, M.A.)
Apprehended that I may apprehend:—
I. Paul was apprehended by Christ or laid hold of. The reference is to the circumstances of His conversion. 1. What was it that arrested Paul? The perception of a perfection of moral character actualized before him in Christ and made possible for him through faith. Up to this time he had been seeking external things, but now with the vision of Christ there came upon him the conviction that even if he gained all these things he would still be fatally defective in the highest elements of his being. Thus, therefore, he was confronted with the great question: “Shall I go on and be content with the hollowness of Phariseeism and its inevitable issue? or shall I go back and build my life anew after the matchless pattern which has been set before me?” He could not get away till he had given it an answer. 2. There is not one who has ever come in contact with the gospel of Christ, who has not been laid hold of thus. (1) Young man, as you have been devoting yourself to the idolatry of wealth, or to the pursuit of pleasure or ambition, you have been laid hold of. Christ has come to you through the faithful preacher, and brought you to a standstill by the death of some companion, or laid His hand upon you in sickness, and held you to your couch face to face with the question: “Have I been living a life such as an immortal man should live? (2) My middled-aged friend, you know about this too. Christ apprehended you and asked you to revise all your theories of life when you buried your darling out of your sight; when your business went all wrong, &c.
II. Paul did not refuse to lay hold of that which Jesus set before him. 1. There is here, therefore, a human agency as well as a Divine. The stopping of St. Paul in his career, the setting of the truth before him—all that was done for him. He had to choose for himself whether or no he would transfer himself from the service of the world to the service of Christ. 2. But not every one who has been laid hold of has thus responded to the Lord’s appeal—the young ruler who went away sorrowful; Herod, Felix, Agrippa. 3. So with some here. They have seen the wrongness of their present career, but they have not chosen to give it up for the way of Christ; because to do so would have involved the sacrifice of all that hitherto they have cherished. But what can the world do for you, that for its sake you should put away from you the glorious heritage which Jesus promises?
III. Paul was not content with a mere partial attainment of that which Christ had set before him. 1. If any man might have been excused for cherishing feelings of complacency it was Paul. Yet he did not go to sleep over the singularity of his conversion; nor rock himself in the cradle of his apostolic success, nor soothe himself with the opiate of his official position. No, ever his eye was fixed on Christ. The more elevated he became in character, the more elevated Christ became to him. 2. Let the distance between you and Christ shake you out of your complacency. Tell us less of what is behind. Don’t be always recounting the story of your conversion. Forget even your joining the Church. Look forward.
IV. Paul was not discouraged because he had not yet fully apprehended. There is no note of despondency. His words are full of joyful exhilaration. There are three elements in this aspiration which should encourage those who grieve because they cannot realize perfection. 1. The joy of the soul is inseparably connected with the effort to reach that which is above it. 2. In this aspiration there was the evidence that he had made some progress. 3. The consciousness that he was not striving in his own might. He who helped Paul will help us. Even if we fail occasionally let us not be discouraged, for he who slips on the steep mountain is still higher up than he who is sleeping in the valley. (W. M. Taylor, D.D.)
Apprehended but not apprehending:—Who that has read that melancholy autobiography left behind him by John Stuart Mill can help recalling here the description which he has given of that which might have been the religious crisis of his life? These are his words: “I was in a dull state of nerves, such as everybody is occasionally liable to, unsusceptible to enjoyment or pleasurable excitement—one of those moods when what is pleasure at other times becomes insipid or indifferent—the state, I should think, in which converts to Methodism usually are when smitten by their first ‘conviction of sin.’ In this frame of mind it occurred to me to put the question directly to myself: ‘Suppose that all your objects in life were realized; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to could be completely effected at this very instant; would this be a great joy and happiness to you?’ And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered, ‘No.’ At this my heart sank within me; the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down. All my happiness was to have been found in the continual pursuit of this end. The end had ceased to charm, and how could there ever again be any interest in the means? I seemed to have nothing left to live for.” Thus even to him, nurtured though he had been in atheism, and educated without a religion, the Saviour came, laying on him His arresting hand, and beseeching him to adopt a more stable foundation for his life. But alas! he, too, made “the great refusal,” and deliberately put away from him that which would have furnished him with a model that can never lose its relative superiority, no matter how we ourselves may grow, and with a motive that can never lose its power. (Ibid.)
The misfortune of a realized ideal:—I recall the story of the artist, who, standing before the latest production of his hands, burst into tears, and on being asked for the reason of his emotion, replied, “Because I am satisfied with my work.” He felt he had done all that was in him; that, in a word, he had overtaken his ideal, and so henceforward the joy of his art for him was gone. Perhaps, too, it was something of the same sort that made Alexander weep when he had conquered India. He had filled in the outline of his life which he had made for himself, and thought not that there was yet another world left him where conquest would be far more honourable, even the world within himself. But the Christian is delivered from this danger. He has always the joy of advancement, while yet there is ever something more in Christ beckoning him forward. (Ibid.)
12. This verse marks the opening of a section in which Paul states the tension between his present attainment and his aspiration for the future. The key words are obtained, and take hold (especially the latter). In the passive voice, katelēmphthēn is rendered by an active in niv: Christ Jesus took hold of me; it looks back to the time of his conversion. The aim of the apostle is set out in his desire to take hold of (katalabō), i.e. to make his own possession, the purpose for which the risen Christ appeared to him, and he frankly confesses that the goal of his endeavour has not yet been taken hold of. Hence his whole life is a pressing on to a future goal.
The perfection he has in view needs careful definition. A backward glance at the preceding verse with its reference to the resurrection of the dead suggests that what he has in mind is that perfection which will be his only at the resurrection; and this state he obviously has not yet attained. The apostle denies, then, any sense of final perfection as a present experience, with his eye probably on a teaching which some Philippians were following. This doctrine claimed the fullness of perfection here and now, possibly on the mistaken belief that believers were ‘already risen’ to the fullness of their life in Christ in baptism.
By his allusion to the future resurrection he makes it clear that the work of sanctifying grace is progressive, that the believer lives within the tension of salvation begun now but not yet final, and that the summum bonum of Christian experience will be reached only at the parousia or coming of Christ. Final perfection cannot be expected in this life and there will always be room for progress while the church is God’s pilgrim people.
Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a heaven for? (Browning)
But there is a relative perfection, appropriate to our state as redeemed and sanctified believers, which Paul himself knew and expected of his converts (cf. Eph. 4:13; Col. 1:28). See further the note on verse 15.
Meanwhile he continues his course. The verb diōkō, translated here and in verse 14 press on, is a hunting word meaning ‘I pursue’; it is also used of foot-racing. It is a strong expression for active and earnest endeavour. It is correlative with take hold in a number of passages (Rom. 9:30; cf. Exod. 15:9; 2 Clement 18:2) in the sense of ‘pursue and overtake’, ‘chase and capture’. This gives an excellent sense. The apostle presses forward in his Christian course in the full recognition that he is not yet perfect, but lives in confidence of ultimate salvation. If the attainment of perfection is denied, there is equally no quietism or indifferent acquiescence in his present experience. He is concerned to strain every nerve to pursue the ideal before him, and at last to capture the coveted prize (v. 14). See on the next verse.
Ver. 12.—Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect; the R.V. renders this clause more accurately, not that (I do not say that) I have already obtained. The verb is not the same with that translated “attain” in ver. 11; it means to get, to win a prize, as in 1 Cor. 9:24. The tense is aorist: “I say not that I did at once win the prize;” that is, at the time of his conversion. Compare the tenses used in ver. 8, “I suffered the loss of all things;” and ver. 12, “I was apprehended;” which both refer to the same time. The prize was not gained in a moment; it needs the continued effort of a lifetime. St. Paul proceeds, using now the perfect tense, “Nor have I been already made perfect.” He has not even now reached perfection; he is still working out his own salvation. There may be here a delicate allusion to the spiritual pride which seems to have disturbed the unity of the Philippians (see ch. 2:2–4). But I follow after; rather, I pursue, I press on. If that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. The words rendered “for which” (ἐφ᾽ ᾧ) will admit three different interpretations: (1) that of A.V., which implies the ellipse of the antecedent “that;” (2) that given in the margin of R.V., “seeing that;” and (3) that of the R.V., “for which,” for which purpose (that is, that I may press on and persevere) I was also apprehended by Christ Jesus. All these translations are possible, and all give a good sense. Perhaps (2) best suits the context, “I press on to lay hold of the prize, because Christ first laid hold of me.” The grace of the Lord Jesus furnishes the highest motive; it is the Christian’s bounden duty to press on always in the Christian race, because Christ first called him.
3:12 / Paul now passes from the language of accountancy to that of athletic endeavor (cf. 2:16). He is running a race; he has not yet breasted the tape or won the prize, and he must keep on running until he does so. Some of his converts elsewhere imagined that they had attained perfection and entered into their kingly glory already: Paul tells them ironically that he wishes their claim were true, because then it would be true for him as well, but he knows that he is still exerting himself amid the dust and heat (1 Cor. 4:8–13). If some of his Philippian friends are tempted to make similarly premature claims of spiritual achievement, what he now says may be helpful to them. He illustrates the true nature of Christian existence on earth by reference to himself. His growing knowledge of Christ, his sharing here and now both in his sufferings and in the power of his risen life, are bringing him nearer the goal, but so long as he is in the body, that goal still lies ahead. He will never in this life attain perfection in the sense that no further spiritual progress is possible and nothing is left to aim at beyond the point he has reached. The purpose for which Christ Jesus took hold of him on the Damascus road remains for Paul to grasp.
Paul recalls his conversion as the occasion on which a powerful hand was laid on his shoulder, turning him right round in his tracks, and a voice that brooked no refusal spoke in his ear: “You must come along with me.” Paul was conscripted into the service of Christ, but never was there a more willing conscript. The passion of his life from that hour on was to serve this new Master and fulfill the purpose for which he had conscripted him—to “lay hold on that,” as he put it, “for which also I was laid hold on by Jesus Christ” (asv). Every phase of Paul’s subsequent life and action, every element in his understanding and preaching of the gospel, can be traced back to the revelation of Jesus Christ that was granted to him there and then.
12 The “not that” which begins this sentence is a Greek idiom that qualifies something previously said, so that the readers will not draw the wrong inference from it.18 Along with the repeated adverb “[not] already” Paul thus offers a twofold disclaimer—what not to infer about the already present future—plus a contrast presenting the “not yet” dimension of that same future. The elaboration in vv. 13–14 indicates that the disclaimer has to do with realities that will be realized only at the eschatological consummation. The context, therefore, suggests that what is being disclaimed as “already brought to full completion” is the knowing of Christ which can only be Paul’s when the eschatological goal, referred to in terms of the resurrection from the dead in v. 11, is realized at the coming of Christ (cf. vv. 20–21).
To this point Paul has asserted that he has left his religious past behind him so that he might “gain Christ and be found in him”—already but not yet—having now the new righteousness effected by Christ. The goal of everything is to know Christ, which in the present means to experience the power of Christ’s resurrection as Paul participates in Christ’s sufferings, thereby being conformed to Christ’s death—marked by the cross—so that he might also thereby attain the resurrection from the dead. Now he qualifies, “not that I already obtained.” Since this verb seems to cry out for an object, the question is, “obtained what?” The NIV suggests “all this,” but that probably reaches too far back into the preceding sentence. Despite an early scribe who thought otherwise and added, “or am already fully justified,” it is unlikely that Paul considers his present “righteousness” as something yet to be realized.22 Righteousness is the given, which has made possible his “knowing Christ” in the present at all. What he has not yet “obtained,” therefore, is the eschatological realization of the goal expressed in vv. 10–11, the kind of knowing of Christ that will be his only when he has “attained unto the resurrection from the dead”—or its equivalent, as vv. 20–21 clarify.
In that case, and both the preceding and ensuing contexts clamor for such a meaning, then the next verb probably carries a nuance other than “have already been made perfect,” as though it dealt with “righteousness” or some form of “perfectionism.” Although this verb and its cognates can sometimes mean “perfect,” its origins lie with the noun telos, whose primary sense has to do with the “goal” or “aim” toward which something is pointing, often in the sense of “completing” or “fulfilling” it. Since there is nothing elsewhere in this letter, nor anywhere else in the Pauline churches for that matter, that smacks of “perfectionism,” it is doubtful whether Paul is here intentionally countering such a point of view. More likely, since this verb seems intended to further clarify the first one,26 it carries the sense of having “been brought to completion,” by having arrived at the final goal with regard to his knowing Christ. Together, therefore, these two disclaimers emphasize that the future, even though Paul considers it certain, has not yet been fully realized. But what future, and how are the two clauses related? Most likely Paul is affirming two things: that he has not yet come to know Christ in the way that only the eschaton will bring, and therefore that even though he knows Christ now, including the power of his resurrection, such knowledge does not mean either that his is now “completed” or that he has arrived at the final goal.
The future, however, belongs only to those who persevere (to use the language of theology). Paul thus immediately sets them right regarding the future that is “not yet”: “but I press on,” he says. In this first case the object of his present “pursuit” is expressed with a set of clauses that play on a compound of the verb “take” in the first disclaimer: “whether I also may take hold of29 that for which I was also taken hold of by Christ Jesus.” If that comes out a bit awkwardly, both in Greek and English, it is because Paul is simultaneously playing on the word “take hold of” while “putting it straight” theologically. His meaning is plain enough, since it is clarified by the elaboration in vv. 13–14. Precisely because he has not yet arrived at the goal specified in vv. 10–11, he is “pursuing” it with all his might, which in this first instance is expressed in terms of “taking hold of” the very thing for which Christ first “took hold of” him. While Paul is indeed pursuing the eschatological goal with all his might, that is only because Christ was there first, pursuing him as it were, and “apprehending” him so as to make Paul one of his own.32 Paul’s point, as always, is that Christ’s work is the prior one, and that all his own effort is simply in response to, and for the sake of, that prior “apprehension” of him by “Christ Jesus my Lord.”
It is hard to imagine that this could refer to anything other than his final apprehension of Christ. Granted the mention of the resurrection in v. 11; but vv. 20–21 indicate that for Paul it is not resurrection per se that interests him but the final glory. The one whose motto is “to live is Christ, to die is [to] gain [Christ]” is not focusing now on the means to that end, but on the eschatological culmination itself—the ultimate apprehension of Christ.
Following the Living Christ
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
I am not sure what humorist it was who first defined an ideal as “something that everyone is expected to honor but nobody is expected to attain,” but many people think of Christian discipleship in this way. That is unfortunate. The goals of discipleship are not unattainable ideals, and the Bible does not allow us to escape the demands of Christian discipleship by the excuse that the standards of that calling are too high.
Our study of Philippians has already brought us to two verses that were an expression of Paul’s great and lifelong desire to know Jesus Christ. He wrote of his desire to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (3:10). Paul lived this desire. But as he wrote these words the great apostle must have realized that there would be some among his readers at Philippi, as there are today also, who would dismiss them as something that no Christian could possibly be expected to accomplish. They would admit that the ideal was a good one, but they would call it totally unpractical.
Paul does not allow this kind of thinking to continue. He immediately adds that although even he has not realized the goal in its entirety, he is still trying; and we must understand him to imply that his readers should be trying also. He writes, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12).
Paul’s confession is not only a statement of the demands of Christian discipleship; it is also an announcement of the principles by which this calling should be realized. First, Paul acknowledges that he was called by Christ Jesus. Second, he notes that God had a purpose in calling him. Third, he acknowledges that this puts an obligation on himself—the obligation to follow after Jesus. If you and I are to be disciples, these principles must also be a part of our goals and Christian understanding.
The God of Beginnings
It is very important to recognize that all discipleship begins with God’s call or, as Paul says, with being taken hold of by Christ Jesus. God’s call must be foremost, for nothing can take place spiritually in a person’s life until this happens. Actually, it involves the creation of spiritual life. It would be foolish for a person to enter a funeral home to encourage the corpses to lead an upright life. If the words were to have any purpose, the corpses would first have to be made alive. In the same way, the call to discipleship must begin with the power of God to make a spiritually dead person alive, for only then are the standards of that calling significant.
This is what the new birth means. Before conversion God says that a person is dead in his trespasses and sins. The person is alive physically and intellectually, but he is not alive spiritually. Thus, he cannot respond to spiritual stimuli. While he is in this state the Word of God is a hidden book to him, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is nonsense. Then God touches his life. God’s touch brings life out of death, the life of the spirit, and the person then believes in Jesus Christ and begins to understand the Bible. This is what it means to be taken hold of by God. This must happen first before there can be any true discipleship. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16).
We find examples of this throughout the Bible. Abraham was taken hold of by God. Did Abraham choose God? Oh, no! He was perfectly satisfied where he was in the Mesopotamian river valley in a pagan culture, but God called him and sent him on his way to Palestine.
Moses was taken hold of by God when he was still a baby floating in the Nile in a basket. God said, “I am going to deliver my people from Egypt, and I am going to do it by means of this baby. I am going to protect him from Pharaoh. I am going to give him the best of this world’s training and education, and I am going to do many miracles through him.” God did these things through Moses.
There is also the story of David. God put his stamp on the future King David when David was still out protecting the sheep. God sent the prophet Samuel to David’s home to anoint one of the sons in the family of the future king. The father brought out all his sons in order, except David. Samuel looked at the boys and thought how good a king the oldest son, Eliab, would make. But before Samuel could anoint him God indicated that he was not the one. Next came Abinadab, who was not the future king either. Then there was Shammah, and so on until seven of Jesse’s sons were presented. “But Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ So he asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ ‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse answered, ‘but he is tending the sheep.’ Samuel said, ‘Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.’ So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; he is the one.’ So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power” (1 Sam. 16:10–13). Once again, it was God who took hold of David.
We come to the New Testament, and we find that God chose John the Baptist before he was born. Jesus called his disciples while they were still fishermen. God called Paul when he was in the process of persecuting Christians. In every case the call of God was primary. This has always been the foundation stone of true discipleship.
Are you also one of God’s children? Has he picked you up and made you his? Has he given you spiritual life so you can now understand his love, grace, and other biblical doctrines? Or are you just pretending Christianity? If you are only pretending, then you must begin where the others have begun. You must begin by acknowledging God’s call to you in Christ Jesus and your need for him, and you must commit yourself to him.
The second step in becoming an effective disciple of Jesus Christ is to be aware of the purpose for which he has called you. Paul says, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). What is that thing for which the apostle Paul and we as Christians have been taken hold of?
The answer is spelled out in Romans 8:28–29. Most Christians know the first of these verses, as we noted earlier in chapter 5. It says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It says that God has a purpose in saving us. But not many Christians know the verse that follows this, in spite of the fact that it goes on to tell what the purpose is. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” What was God’s purpose in saving you? His purpose was that you might be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, God saved you to make you as holy, pure, gracious, and loving as Jesus.
At this point I can almost hear someone saying, “Well, if that is the case, I’ll just wait for God to do it. I’ll enjoy that holiness in heaven.” But this is not the way Paul means it. Paul had a great sense of the present demands of discipleship. Everything he mentions in this chapter has to do with the Christian’s present conduct.
When Paul speaks of knowing Jesus Christ, in verse 10, he is speaking of knowing him now. He wants to experience Christ even in the midst of life’s sufferings. When he speaks of attaining to the resurrection from the dead, in verse 11, he is speaking of a spiritual resurrection now. It is the attainment of a kind of life so filled with Christ that those who do not know him will regard it as the life of eternity. In verses 13 and 14 Paul speaks of a present striving for the best that God has for him now. Our present text is similar. Paul is saying that he wishes to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ now.
This should be your desire also. It should be. If it is not, it will become your desire more and more as you begin to realize that this was God’s greatest purpose in calling you to faith in the Lord Jesus.
The first two of these points now lead to a very practical conclusion, for Paul writes that because God has called him and because he has done so for a purpose, he himself must determine to follow after Jesus. This means that God’s calling always puts an obligation on his children.
This is personal. Discipleship is always personal. Remember how it was with Peter. Peter frequently avoided personal contact with Jesus by speaking impetuously and often on behalf of the Twelve. But when Jesus came to recommission him after Peter’s denial there was no escaping a personal response. Jesus asked a very simple question, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” Peter had to answer for himself, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” It happened three times, and each time Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” At this point Peter’s mind turned to someone else. He noticed John, the beloved disciple, standing nearby and asked Jesus about him: “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:15–22). Discipleship can never be conditioned upon God’s plans for some other Christian. Christ’s call is always the personal one to “Follow me.”
It is also true that discipleship is costly. In fact, it costs a person his all. There are always Christians who think that they can be Christ’s disciples piecemeal. They think that they can follow him an inch at a time after first assuring themselves that there is no danger and that following him also conforms to their own plans for themselves and their future. But this is not discipleship at all. Discipleship means abandoning your sin, your past, your own conception of yourself, your plans for your own future, even at times your friends or your family, if that is God’s will for you, and following Jesus.
You may be saying, “But isn’t that hard? To give up the things I treasure?” Well, it is true that it is hard sometimes. But it is also true that there is a far greater sense in which we really never give anything up in the service of our Lord. We give things up, but Christ gives us more. And even the things we surrender are so arranged by God that they work for our spiritual well-being.
Peter learned this once in his life in a conversation that he had with Jesus. Mark tells us that just before Christ’s final journey to Jerusalem there was a point when Peter was bragging as usual, in this case reminding the Lord of his sacrifices in order to serve him. He said, “We have left everything to follow you!” (Mark 10:28). In other words, Peter was reminding the Lord that he was an ideal disciple and that his discipleship had proved costly. What nonsense this was! Peter had left hardly anything. He had certainly not left behind his own idea of what Christ’s ministry was to be, for he was constantly trying to tell Jesus how to go about it. His claim was presumptuous and egotistical. Jesus had this answer for Peter. He said, “I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29–30). Jesus was teaching that the disciple suffers no loss for which God will not abundantly compensate.
In one of his most popular works the American novelist and writer Mark Twain told the story of a prince and a pauper. The two boys came from entirely different circumstances, but they looked alike. One day, when chance had accidentally thrown them together, they decided to put on each other’s clothes. The prince donned the pauper’s rags. The poor boy put on the rich one’s finery. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it eventually turned out), the boys were then separated. The pauper was mistaken for the prince and taken to live in the palace, while the prince was turned back to the poor streets of London where he suffered great indignities before he eventually regained his rightful place and the throne.
In the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ took on our poverty, while we have been clothed in his finery. The Bible says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). He became poor as we were so that we might be clothed in his righteousness. He endured suffering and death that we might become like him—sons of God and coheirs with him of God’s glory.
It is true that the paupers must give up their rags, but there is no comparison between our rags and God’s glory. Jesus has told us that there is nothing given up in this life that is not replaced a hundredfold by spiritual treasure, not only in this world but in eternity also.
Years ago the son of a wealthy American family graduated from Yale University and decided to go out to China as a missionary for Jesus Christ. His name was William Borden. Many of his friends thought him foolish to give up so much of this world’s goods and his future to go there. But Borden loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and he wished to serve him. After only a short time on the field, and before he even reached China, Borden contracted a fatal disease and died. He had given up everything to follow Jesus. But at his bedside his friends found a note that he had written as he lay dying: “No reserve, no retreat, and no regrets.” Borden had given up everything, but he had found a treasure that was beyond words.
Perhaps there is something that God has been asking you to lay aside in order that you might be a more effective witness for him. I do not know what it is. The thing that is a hindrance for one disciple is often entirely different for another. But whatever it is, you know it. At this point in your life, for you it is the touchstone of your discipleship. Will you cast it aside to follow Jesus? If you do, you will grow in your Christian discipleship, and God will bring great blessing into your life and through you also into the lives of others.
Pursuing the Prize Requires a Proper Awareness
Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, (3:12a)
All that believers are now in Christ and will enjoy forever in heaven is eternally fixed by God’s gracious purpose (cf. 1 Peter 1:4). That spiritual reality and promise cannot be improved upon, but believers’ virtue in this present life can and must be. Knowing that we are not now what we should be, and what we someday will be in glory, must not produce apathy and indolence, but a zeal for moving in the direction of the prize. That is the Spirit’s work in us (2 Cor. 3:18) and the longing of the regenerated soul. The awareness of the need to improve one’s spiritual condition is a necessary prerequisite to pursuing the prize of spiritual perfection.
Paul had that awareness, and expressed it in the two words that begin verse 12, not that. He had not yet obtained (from lambanō; “to receive,” “acquire,” or “attain”) the prize he pursued; he had not yet become perfect (from teleioō; “to attain perfection,” “reach a goal,” or “accomplish”). The twice-repeated word already indicates that Paul was still imperfect when he wrote this epistle.
Despite the rich blessings that were his in Christ, the apostle knew that he was not perfect. His knowledge of Christ was still incomplete (1 Cor. 13:12). Christ’s righteousness had been imputed to him (2 Cor. 5:21), yet he still needed to “cleanse [himself] from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). Paul had Christ’s power at work in him (1 Cor. 15:10; Col. 1:29), but that power still worked through his weakness (2 Cor. 12:9). The rich fellowship with Christ that he experienced was also imperfect; he still did not know how to pray as he should, and depended on the Holy Spirit to intercede for him (Rom. 8:26–27). While his body was a temple of the glorious Holy Spirit who indwelt him (1 Cor. 6:19), Paul longed for the day when Christ “will transform the body of [his] humble state into conformity with the body of His glory” (Phil. 3:21).
Obviously, pursuing the prize of spiritual perfection begins with dissatisfaction with one’s present spiritual condition. Those who think they have reached spiritual perfection will not see the need to pursue a better condition; why should they chase something they believe they already have? Such complacent, contented people are in grave danger of becoming insensitive to their sin and blind to their weaknesses. It is only those who are aware of their desperate spiritual need who come to Christ for salvation (Matt. 5:6). And it is only those who continue to recognize the need to eliminate sin and cultivate holiness who will make progress in the Christian life. This pursuit by the power of the sanctifying Spirit produces a decreasing frequency of sin and increasing love for holiness, which makes less sin feel like more. The truly mature and godly have the most sensitive awareness of their sins, and are the humblest before God because of it.
Pursuing the Prize Requires a Maximum Effort
but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (3:12b)
True believers will not pursue the prize of spiritual perfection until they recognize the need to improve their condition, but awareness of the need is not enough; there must also be a diligent pursuit. I press on means “to run” or “follow after.” It speaks of an aggressive, energetic endeavor. Paul pursued the spiritual prize with all his might, straining every spiritual muscle as he ran to win (1 Cor. 9:24).
The “let go and let God” mentality was foreign to Paul. He was totally dependent on God’s power working in his life (2 Cor. 12:9; Col. 1:29). Yet he also described the Christian life as “labor and striving” (Col. 1:29), and “the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12; cf. 2 Tim. 4:7). He taught that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22), and repeatedly stressed the inevitability of suffering in the Christian life (e.g., Rom. 8:17; 1 Thess. 3:4; 2 Tim. 1:8; 3:12).
The somewhat enigmatic phrase so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus states the goal of Paul’s strenuous efforts. The verb translated I may lay hold of; I was laid hold of could be translated “to overtake,” “seize,” or “catch.” Paul was running spiritually to catch the very thing for which Christ Jesus had come after him. In other words, Paul’s goal in life was consistent with Christ’s goal in saving him.
What was Christ’s goal in saving Paul? The apostle stated it in Romans 8:29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” God chose Paul, as He did all believers, to make him like Jesus Christ. That purpose for which God saved us is also the purpose for which we live. “It was for this He called you through our gospel,” wrote Paul to the Thessalonians, “that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14). The Christian life is a lifelong pursuit of Christlikeness. That was the Lord’s goal in saving Paul and was his goal in response.
“May they sing of the ways of the LORD, for the glory of the LORD is great.” Psalm 138:5
The time when Christians begin to sing songs of praise to God is when they first lose their burdens at the foot of the cross. Not even the songs of the angels seem so sweet as the first song which gushes from the inmost soul of the forgiven child of God. John Bunyan describes such songs in his classic book “The Pilgrim’s Progress.“Bunyan says when poor Pilgrim lost his burden at the cross, he leapt into the air, and went on his way singing “Blest Cross! Blest Sepulcher! Blest rather be The Man that there was put to shame for me!”
Do you remember the day when your shackles fell off? Do you remember the place when Jesus met you, and said, “I have loved you with everlasting love. I have absorbed your transgressions; they will never be held against you again.” What a sweet season it is when Jesus takes away the pain of sin and replaces it with the joy of serving Him in spirit and truth!
When the Lord first pardoned my sin, I was so full of joy that I could scarcely refrain from dancing! I thought on my road home from where I’d been saved that I must tell the stones in the street the story of my salvation. My soul was so full of joy that I wanted to tell every snow-flake that was falling from heaven of the wonderful love of Jesus, who blotted out the sins of one of the chief of rebels against him … me.
But it is not only at the beginning of the Christian life that believers have reason sing. As long as we live we will discover new reasons to sing songs of praise to the Lord. Our experience of His constant loving kindness leads us to say, “I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” (Psalm 34:1) See to it, friend, that you magnify the Lord this day, in songs of praise on your lips and through your life.
Questions: What is your favorite (or one of your favorite) Christian worship songs, and why? What does it say to you about God?
We know the names of many of David’s sons but of only one of his daughters, the fair Tamar. Women were reckoned of less account than men in those stern days of warfare. Tamar’s name is only preserved for us because of the grim tragedy among men which her beauty caused. The domestic sorrows of David did not end with the death of Bathsheba’s child. It was through his children that he was made to suffer during all his remaining years. He displayed toward them a fond and feeble tenderness which marks the one strain of weakness in his otherwise sturdy character. Under a firmer father, his sons might have been better men.
Apparently these youths were allowed to grow up in idleness about the court at Jerusalem; and thus Amnon, the eldest, having no other occupation, decided that he was in love with his half-sister, Tamar. Such a passion was accounted a grievous crime under the laws of Israel, even as it is to-day; and Amnon dared say nothing to the maiden. Also he had fear of her brother Absalom; for Absalom and Tamar were in away of higher rank than he. Amnon’s mother had been a woman of the southern wilderness wedded by David in his days of outlawry, but Absalom and Tamar were born of a Syrian princess, whom David had espoused in later years. Thus Tamar was not only fair and pure and gentle, as we learn from her sad story, but was also the most honored of the daughters of the king.
The Heidelberg Catechism is one of the most beloved and well used catechisms to emerge from the sixteenth and seventeenth century Reformation. Published in its final form in 1563, the catechism has been used by millions of Christians to teach the faith to children and adults alike. Arranged in 52 Lord’s Days (Sundays) the catechism takes the Christian through the basics of the Christian faith (our creation, fall, redemption, and new life in Christ). It explains the Apostles’ Creed, the Ten Commandments, and the Lord’s Prayer. It is a treasure. To encourage listeners and readers, we expect to post one question and answer a day on the HB. If you are subscribed to the Heidelcast or the Heidelblog (see below) you will receive these episodes automatically.
Greenwald: War Propaganda About Ukraine Becoming More Militaristic, Authoritarian, & Reckless One of the media’s most beloved members of Congress, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), on Friday explicitly and emphatically urged that the U.S. military be deployed to Ukraine to establish a “no-fly zone” — i.e., American soldiers would order Russia not to enter Ukrainian airspace and would directly attack any Russian jets or other military units which disobeyed. That would, by definition and design, immediately ensure that the two countries with by far the planet’s largest nuclear stockpiles would be fighting one another, all over Ukraine. Having the U.S. risk global nuclear annihilation over Ukraine is an indescribably insane view,
Minneapolis resident speaks out on constant gunfire: ‘I can’t see this turning around’ A north Minneapolis night was punctuated by gunfire last week as more than 50 shots rang out during a possible gun battle. A resident who recorded the sound of these shots said the violence has escalated in the city and he “can’t see this turning around.” “This is not ‘North being North.’ This is new and it’s worse than it’s been before,” the resident told Alpha News after sharing a shocking home security video that recorded the eruption of gunfire. “The party of ‘gun control’ is more than happy to drop gun charges and revolve these pirates back on the street with no bail and stayed sentences,”
Israel successfully tests naval version of Iron Dome Directorate of Defense Research & Development (Mafat), the IDF, and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd., announced this morning that they had successfully completed complex trials of the Protective Dome system in a naval configuration based on an advanced version of the Iron Dome rocket defense system. The naval version was operated for the first time on the Israel Navy’s Sa’ar 6 corvette INS Magen.
West arms Ukraine to fend off Russian invasion Denmark, Sweden and Germany among countries to have pledged to donate military supplies to Kyiv in a bid to deter an attack from its neighbor; Berlin hikes defense expenditure amid conflict.
Fuel and logistics problems frustrate Russian advance – analysis Though Russian President Vladimir Putin likely envisioned a quick capture of the capital of Ukraine and quick capitulation by its President Volodymyr Zelensky, Russian forces are instead unable to reach Kyiv, not only due to fierce fighting, but also a lack of fuel.
Another key inflation indicator surges to highest level since 1983 The Commerce Department’s personal consumption expenditure (PCE) index grew 5.2% in January, exceeding the 5.1% Dow Jones estimate, the Commerce Department reported. The PCE is the Federal Reserve’s preferred measure of inflation, and January’s figure marks monthly the largest year-over-year increase since April 1983.
Putin orders Russia’s nuclear weapons on high alert Putin on Sunday activated Russia’s special deterrence forces, which includes nuclear weapons. “Top officials in NATO’s leading countries have been making aggressive statements against our country. For this reason, I give orders to the defense minister and chief of the General Staff to introduce a special combat service regime in the Russian army’s deference forces,”
Some Random Thoughts On Russia, World War 3, Armageddon And The Pretribulation Rapture Of The Church The headlines today are screaming out “WORLD WAR 3???” in a way that I cannot easily remember before in my lifetime, as Vladimir Putin and his invasion of Ukraine is dominating the news cycle. But World War 3, something that is fairly likely coming before the time of Jacob’s trouble, is not mentioned in the Bible, just as neither was World Wars 1&2. So what are we to make of all this end times excitement, fear and fascination? Let’s open up the Book and found out!
Why Nuremberg 2.0 Trials Are Needed Now More Than Ever …And while Hillary would surely call ‘the Clinton body count‘ a ‘conspiracy theory‘ despite the ever-growing ‘pile of bodies‘ piling up over many, many years, just as the globalists who unleashed the COVID bioweapons upon America and the world are calling those crimes upon humanity a ‘conspiracy theory,’ as we’d reported on ANP just days ago in this story titled “The Ticking Time Bomb About To Explode And The ‘Summoner Of Death’ Vax Theory – CDC And ‘Big Pharma’ Drop Alarming Warnings Hinting ‘Conspiracy Theorists’ Were Right All Along,” attorney Dr. Reiner Fuellmich is going after the globalists for ‘intentional, premeditated murder’ in court, what is nothing less than genocide.
22 Observations About The New World War Which Just Started In Ukraine Like many of you, I have been spending a great deal of time keeping up with coverage of Russia’s horrifying invasion of Ukraine. I am very upset with the Russians for choosing to invade the whole country, because now a line has been crossed that will never, ever be able to be uncrossed. From here on out, there will be endless wars and rumors of wars, and countless numbers of people are going to die.
Record-High Global Food Prices Imminent As Edible Oil Soars Edible oil prices soared this week, prompting fears that record-high food prices could be imminent. On Wednesday, soybean oil futures in Chicago hit their highest levels since 2008, and palm oil, the commodity used in thousands of food products, jumped to new highs.
Frugality Is Suddenly Back In Style! When times are a little difficult, it just makes good sense to be more careful about how we allot our limited resources. These days there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about our resources, what with inflation a serious concern, international conflict that affects energy prices, covid restrictions, political upheavals, etc.
Does Vlad Putin Believe He is the Orthodox Messiah? Kiev is Putin’s Jerusalem: Putin’s Ukraine Move Meant to Reestablish Eastern Christianity Apocalypse Kiev: In biblical religions there are essential elements of prophetic and messianic symbolism involving past and future events.
The outmanned and outgunned Ukrainian David has thus far outdone the Russian Goliath.
What a difference a day makes. Just a week ago, with 150,000 Russian troops arrayed along his country’s border, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a former actor and stand-up comic, was seen by world leaders as a neophyte and a lightweight. Today? Not so much.
When war broke out on Wednesday, and when Russia made clear its designs on the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, the U.S. offered the 44-year-old husband and father of two safe passage out of the city. He declined. “The fight is here,” he said. “I need ammunition, not a ride.”
As it turns out, Zelensky is no joke.
With those words, and with his subsequent smart-phone exhortations to his fellow Ukrainians, Zelensky etched his name into Ukrainian lore. It’s rare indeed when man and moment come together as they have for Zelensky, rare indeed when the words of a foreign leader make everyday Americans say, “Hell yeah,” but that’s what we have here. And if Vladimir Putin thought his superior forces would roll right into Kyiv and snatch up the young president, he was badly mistaken. Putin’s special forces may yet get Zelensky, but every minute until then is an inspirational one for millions of his fellow freedom fighters.
Take Anastasia Lenna, for example. She’s a beauty queen and a former Miss Grand Ukraine, and she’s apparently grabbed a gun and joined the fight. “Everyone who crosses the Ukrainian border with the intent to invade will be killed!” said one Instagram post. “Our army is fighting in such a way that NATO should apply for entry into Ukraine,” quipped another.
We’re not sure whether she can shoot, but her verbal game is weapons-grade.
Or take a young Ukrainian mother, Olena Gnes, whose moving plea for help came from a makeshift bomb shelter — with two young children by her side and a five-month-old baby in her arms. “They will not control us,” she said. “Ukrainians will not surrender. … Right now, again, we are ready to die for the sake of our freedom and our independence and just to be Ukrainian.”
As the Wall Street Journal editorial board writes: “Vladimir Putin’s Ukraine invasion isn’t going according to his script, and for that the world owes a great debt to the heroic people of that besieged country of 41 million. Their resistance against fearsome odds is an inspiration and has awakened the world to the menace of the Kremlin autocrat. Ukraine deserves more support to raise the costs of war for Mr. Putin with arms, the toughest sanctions, and global ostracism.”
As for Zelensky, the Journal’s editors came to his defense against a New York Times op-ed that questioned his leadership under a headline that read, “The Comedian-Turned-President Is Seriously in Over His Head.” It seems to us that the Times is, as usual, over its head where journalism is concerned. And, as the editors continue, “[Zelensky’s] pleas on behalf of Europe’s principles have helped to persuade European leaders that Ukraine’s fight is also theirs.”
That fight is certainly in doubt, but if the claims of the Ukrainian military can be taken at face value, Russian forces have already paid a heavy price. Four days into the conflict, the Ukrainians claim to have killed some 4,500 Russian personnel — which is nearly as many as our nation lost in nearly 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.
If that’s the case, and if talks in Belarus are indeed taking place, Vladimir Putin would be well advised to look for an off-ramp.
As he promised, Joe Biden picks a left-wing partisan black female for his SCOTUS nominee.
With his nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson to replace the soon-to-be retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court, Joe Biden demonstrated that he has fully embraced the extreme Left. Brown Jackson has a long history of being not only a partisan Democrat but one who clearly sits on the far left side of the party. It is her leftist disregard for the Constitution that troubles us, but Biden would rather make all that subordinate to race and sex. “For too long our government and our courts haven’t looked like America,” he said, as if skin color and anatomy is what matters most. He did get the nomination in before the end of Black History Month, and while all eyes were on (Biden’s failure on) Ukraine.
The 51-year-old Harvard Law graduate was first nominated to serve on a federal district court by Barack Obama in 2013 and was confirmed shortly thereafter. Prior to serving as a district judge, a position she held until Biden nominated her to replace Merrick Garland on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, Brown was a federal public defender from 2007 to 2010. During that time she represented several terrorists interned at Guantanamo Bay. Her advocacy for her terrorist clients was described as “zealous,” and she continued to represent some of the Gitmo terrorists after leaving public defense for private practice.
As a judge, Brown Jackson demonstrated a regular antagonism toward conservatism, as well as a favoritism toward leftist and Democrat interests. As district judge, she had what has been described as “a striking record of reversals by the D.C. Circuit — including by liberal judges — in her high profile rulings.” Her service on Harvard’s board of overseers will bring calls for her recusal when the High Court hears a challenge this fall to that university’s racist and discriminatory admissions practices. And that’s beyond the irony of her own circumstances as a nominee.
Carrie Severino, president of the Judicial Crisis Network, warned, “With the intended nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson, Joe Biden has made it clear that his top priority is paying back the left-wing dark money network that spent over one billion dollars to help elect him and Senate Democrats.” She added: “Before he was elected, Biden campaigned on the promise of unity and moderation. But since taking office, he has continued to deliver radical extremism. With the nomination of Jackson today, Biden continues to placate his liberal dark money friends.”
With all that said, from a politically practical point of view, all Biden’s nomination does is replace one liberal justice with another. SCOTUS will remain the current 6-3 (or 5-4 depending on Chief Justice John Roberts’s mood) conservative majority. So, how should Senate Republicans respond? With Kamala Harris serving as a tiebreaker even if all 50 Republicans vote against Brown Jackson, her confirmation appears inevitable. Republicans should keep their powder dry and save a more vociferous opposition for Biden’s potential next nominee. If that comes, here’s hoping it’s with the Senate in Republican hands.
Rather than countering the ChiComs, the Social Justice Department is counting by race.
The Chinese communists who run the world’s most populous and increasingly powerful country don’t have inhibitions or scruples when it comes to spying or theft of intellectual property. They propagandize all over the world, gladly using every opportunity from hosting the Olympics to Confucius Institutes on American college campuses. Oh, and they are responsible for the coronavirus and the world’s nearly six million dead. It is a huge problem that the 2020 election left America with a president who kowtows rather than stands up to the ChiComs.
It all started with, of all things, the etymology of the word “kowtow.” According to Merriam-Webster, it “derives from Chinese koutou, formed by combining the verb kou (‘to knock’) with the noun tou (‘head’).” It described “the act of kneeling and touching one’s head to the ground as a salute or act of worship to a revered authority” — in China, the emperor.
Joe Biden isn’t literally kowtowing to Xi Jinping, but we’ve called him ChiCom Joe thanks to his deferential treatment of Xi’s regime. The latest episode of this comes in the form of Biden’s Justice Department shuttering a program aimed at countering ChiCom espionage. And a successful one to boot, with more than 50 examples of prosecuting espionage, conspiracy, and grant fraud.
“The Justice Department successfully prosecuted a number of academics who failed to register grants from China,” writes journalist Tom Rogan. “Beijing has used grants and undeclared intelligence officers and agents to gain influence over and access to proprietary U.S. research.”
The Social Justice Department, however, is more concerned with racism than national security.
“By grouping cases under the China Initiative rubric,” explained Assistant Attorney General for National Security Matthew Olsen, “we helped give rise to a harmful perception that the department applies a lower standard to investigate and prosecute criminal conduct related to that country or that we in some way view people with racial, ethnic, or familial ties to China differently.”
“We have heard concerns from the civil rights community that the ‘China Initiative’ fueled a narrative of intolerance and bias,” Olsen added, pointing to “the rise in anti-Asian hate crime and hate incidents.”
As for basic demographics, China is a nation of 1.4 billion people, and 91% of them are Han Chinese. That racial homogeneity doesn’t make other nations “racist” for investigating or countering Chinese activities, but this administration does nothing so well as counting by race.
“DOJ will no longer use the framework of the China Initiative to organize or to describe our efforts to counter threats by the PRC government,” Olsen said. “We are ending the China Initiative,” though he insisted it will be replaced with a more “comprehensive” and “broader approach.”
According to Politico: “Olsen said he met with a variety of Asian American groups who have complained about the program. He said he agreed with them that the effort was in some ways harming U.S. national security by discouraging skilled experts of Chinese origin from pursuing their work in the U.S.”
It’s certainly possible that America is missing out on valuable talent from Chinese immigrants who would otherwise pose no risk. But the whole problem with Chinese involvement in American technology firms and industry is that intellectual property theft is a major driver of Chinese economic expansion. Just because it’s difficult or inconvenient to build a DOJ case against some activity doesn’t make that activity acceptable or somehow innocuous when it comes to American interests.
John Durham’s probe of Hillary Clinton’s Russia hoax may not yield any big arrests for violations of the law. That doesn’t mean it’s not the biggest political scandal in U.S. history.
Countering Chinese espionage is a matter of American national security. Biden’s color-obsessed social justice warriors need to quit with all the “unity” and remember that.
The loss of in-person learning, prolonged screen time, and the addition of masking have handicapped early readers.
Since the lockdowns in 2020, reading readiness in the early grades (kindergarten-2nd grade) have taken a huge hit. According to stats obtained by The Wall Street Journal: “Before the pandemic, 55% of kindergartners were on track in reading skills. That fell to 37% in 2020–2021 and 47% this school year. The year before the pandemic, only 29% of kindergartners were deemed ‘far behind’ in early literacy skills. That rose to 47% and 37% the first and second year of the pandemic.”
I have taught this age group for most of my teaching career. Teaching literacy is a challenge even at the best of times. But throw in the chaos of virtual school and masking and you have a recipe for disaster.
What sort of literacy learning goes on in kindergarten?
Children of kindergarten age are just starting to learn to read and write. It’s more rare than not to have a kindergartener already reading when he or she starts the school year. Kindergarteners are learning letter-sound correlation (i.e. the symbol “A” or “a” says “ahh” and so on and so forth). By the end of the year, most kindergarteners are reading short consonant-vowel-consonant words (cat, dog, mop). They also will be able to recognize and read at least 50+ sight words (words that are common but don’t necessarily follow the rules; they are also known as high frequency words). All these reading lessons hopefully culminate in the kindergartener being able to read simple short books by the end of the year (think Bob Books).
On the writing end, they will be able to write all the letters of the alphabet, both upper and lower case. They are starting to use their knowledge of letters and their sounds to begin writing words (usually the spelling is creative and phonetic; i.e. the word “think” might be spelled “fink”). By the end of the school year, the goal is generally to have kindergarteners be able to write short sentences.
This is just the beginning of learning literacy. First and second grade build on these foundational skills. By third grade, a child should be reading independently at or above their grade level.
This cannot be achieved effectively when students are virtual learning.
Virtual learning for children at this age is akin to herding cats. They require a lot of help simply to log on to school. Then you add in all the other difficulties inherent to online school: mute/unmute, potty breaks or play breaks when they feel like it, and technical issues. Some students with learning difficulties like dyslexia and dysgraphia already have a hard time learning with black words on white paper. Add in the incessant blue light from their iPad or computer screen and you get a child that is very quickly tired, headachy, and unhappy. Worst of all is the the social disconnect that virtual learning provides. Virtual class pales in comparison to seeing your teacher read in person as well as interacting with and being challenged by your peers. As a result, it can be difficult for students to find any enjoyment in school.
Literacy also cannot be achieved effectively when students are in-person learning but have to mask and social distance.
Masks and social distancing are the most harmful culprits of all. Imagine trying to learn letters and the sounds that go with them through a mask. Imagine trying to sound out words to write them down when you can’t properly hear them. Imagine trying to play and/or read with your peers but from six feet apart. Do you think this would make for successful literacy acquisition in students?
It’s not only the early grades that have suffered. Children ages 1-3 who are learning to speak are also struggling due to masking. Speech therapists have seen an uptick in the normal amount of children with speaking difficulties. The CDC even sneakily tried to hide the evidence of the language learning delays by changing the standards for speaking in young children. The CDC knows that masks are harmful to children who are learning to speak, read, and write. But they were politically expedient.
With the official lifting of the masks by the CDC ahead of President Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address, it’s obvious that all the extreme measures such as lockdowns, social distancing, and masking were more about power grabbing than about keeping us safe. At the end of the day, children have been the biggest victims of these bad policies.
Despite the collusion of social media giants with Democrats, there are things that can be done.
On most social media platforms these days, free speech is tightly regulated to words with which certain authorities within government and Big Tech agree. Every reader engaging in political discourse has most likely experienced the throttling of their social media accounts, a warning about a post on their timeline, or a cancellation by the loudest voices who marginalize them as dangerous, reckless, or stupid. Can’t violate “community standards,” after all.
Because it is federally regulated, the issues surrounding Big Tech’s overreach through censorship are almost exclusively at the federal level. Bias within the media and the death of impartial journalism have eroded the First Amendment rights of worship, speech, and peaceful assembly, but Big Tech is right behind. This “woke” bias is chiefly imposed on Americans through institutions like the U.S. government, education, healthcare, entertainment, media, and commerce because of the desire of those in power to re-engineer society to abandon individual freedom.
In 2016, the simplicity of the conservative message won over the Democratic Party’s anti-God, anti-family, anti-American, big-government platform, proving that a political amateur with mean tweets could lift a nation’s economy and empower its citizens with higher wages, better jobs, global respect, and economic freedoms. Last fall, veteran journalist Mollie Hemingway released a book, Rigged: How the Media, Big Tech, and the Democrats Seized Our Elections. The details she recounts of Big Tech’s response to the stunning upset of the 2016 presidential election provide more proof that Americans are seeing their government allow corporations to destroy this nation and their freedoms from within.
In response to the interruption of the coronation of Hillary Clinton, the folks at Google began forming working groups and hiring technological tools developed to fight Islamic propaganda. “Jigsaw,” a Google project, was repurposed and employed to control the narrative, shape opinion, and undermine the policies and actions of the Trump administration until the next presidential campaign.
Jigsaw, from its own website, states that it “explores threats to open societies, and builds technology that inspires scalable solutions.” It also “makes the internet and society stronger and safer” and addresses disinformation campaigns as well as emerging threats. With thickly dripping irony, its website speaks of the “tactics of totalitarian governments” that Google works to counter to “secure a free and open internet.”
Hogwash! This self-appointed group, operating with Section 230 federal protections that even a Republican majority in the House and Senate failed to address during the Trump years, has a very fluid and ever-changing definition of disinformation and emerging threats.
When a powerful entity changes the rules to fit its own purposes and power, it is the definition of totalitarian. Big Tech is the most effective and all-encompassing tool used by ideologues to control Americans.
What can be done? At the federal level, antitrust laws must be enforced despite claims from the players, like Facebook/Meta and Alphabet/Google, that “free” access to social media platforms hides these giants from customer welfare protections. Though they claim an open platform, these companies steer the public toward favorable and preferred products and information, to the exclusion of anything with which the leftists in charge don’t agree.
Consumer protections around private data are needed, especially protections on biometric data and health information. Establishing the ability to opt in on data sharing coupled with a private right of action should keep these billion-dollar companies from profiting from violating privacy protections.
Public reports must assess transparency related to the algorithms for rejecting “inappropriate content,” establishing either parity of application or censorship. These companies must let the public see and compare whether a rating of “inappropriate” is authentic or just a tool to silence. Another option is to federally require that access to a media platform be reported as an in-kind campaign contribution when the opposing candidate is denied the same access. Economic incentives and tax breaks could be denied should a tech giant engage in deplatforming, censorship, or other antitrust behavior.
More and more, Americans have their very own tax dollars used against them, their families, and the great way of life that America affords. Big Tech in the hands of Big Government guarantees eroding freedom for the American public.
The straw poll of attendees at the annual gathering of grassroots conservatives was unequivocal.
For anyone who was listening closely, Donald Trump all but announced his intention to run for president again in 2024. Speaking Saturday night at CPAC, the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, he ripped into Joe Biden and vowed to return the Republican Party to power.
“The socialists, globalists, Marxists, and communists who are attacking our civilization have no idea of the sleeping giant they have awoken,” he said. “But they’re going to find out the hard way, starting on Nov. 8, and then again, even more so in November 2024, they will find out like never before. We did it twice and we’ll do it again. We’re going to be doing it again a third time.”
Nearly everybody who’s anyone in the conservative movement spoke at CPAC this weekend — with one exception: Mike Pence. For the second straight year, Donald Trump’s vice president declined an invitation to attend. Trump was there, though, as was Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, and journalist Mollie Hemingway. If you’ve got some downtime, here’s a seven-hour reel of highlights from the conference.
The theme of CPAC 2022 was “Awake, Not Woke,” which CPAC Chairman Matt Schlapp said is simply a sign of the times. “It is the theme of what’s going on in the country,” he said, “between what happened in the commonwealth of Virginia and in San Francisco and happened all across the country on Election Day last year … even in liberal communities, they were like, hey, parents aren’t domestic terrorists, cops aren’t evil, schools should educate kids and not just turn them into communists. The country is starting to wake up from this stupor of somehow if you’re white or you’re Christian, if you’re straight, if you’re a person of faith, if you love the country, you don’t have to be quiet — they’ve quieted us down because they feel like, well, you’re privileged, and that has caused people to kind of lay back, and I think that’s over.”
Accordingly, some of the panel sessions had titles such as “Domestic Terrorists Unite: Lessons from Virginia Parents,” “The First Amendment Fund: Defending the Canceled,” “Fire Fauci,” and “Woke, Inc.”
DeSantis, the governor of the host state, noted in his speech that the Free State of Florida has become an attractive home for so many not just because of its lower taxes but because folks are fleeing leftist governments elsewhere within this country. “Wokeism is a form of cultural Marxism,” he said. “It is not just about raising taxes and bad economic policy. It’s about tearing up the fabric of society and trying to replace it with something that will be much, much more sinister.”
The cultural and societal wars were center stage, then, but so were Joe Biden and the war in Ukraine, which Trump used to emphasize the importance of strong, competent American leadership.
The Daily Signal offers a brief snapshot of 14 takeaways from CPAC, but the highlight is invariably its annual straw poll, which, among other questions, asks attendees about their preference for the Republican presidential nomination in the next election. Here, Trump won easily, and those who expected a diminishment in support for him — at least from this crowd — were sorely disappointed.
Trump grabbed 59% of ballots cast in the anonymous online poll of 2,574 attendees, according to results announced by CPAC on Sunday afternoon. At last year’s event, also in Orlando, Trump won 55% of ballots. DeSantis, who attracted 28% of the ballots, was the only other candidate in double-digits.
DeSantis, who at this early stage is unquestionably the leading alternative to Trump, has repeatedly dismissed questions about a presidential run in 2024. Instead, he says he’s focused only on his job as governor and on winning a second term this November. This makes good sense. Winning reelection is Job One, and it’s the building block for whatever might come next.
Not surprisingly, he easily won a second CPAC straw poll question — the one that removed Trump from the ballot. DeSantis grabbed 61% of supporters on that question, with two-thirds of Trump supporters from the first question backing the Florida governor. Mike Pompeo finished third at 6.3%, with Donald Trump Jr. at 5.9%, Senators Cruz and Rand Paul at 3.3%, and Kristi Noem at 3.1%.
Trump’s margin of victory over DeSantis on the marquee question is even more remarkable when one considers the demographics of the voters. Buried within the breakdown of the straw poll’s voters is the fact that 37.2% of them were from Florida — meaning the results were overwhelmingly influenced by voters from the state that DeSantis currently governs. So those inclined to dismiss the straw poll results as indicative of DeSantis simply not having sufficient name recognition had better go back to the drawing board. These disproportionately young and ardent grassroots conservatives certainly know Governor DeSantis, and they certainly like him. But they love Trump.
Those who took the poll were also asked which three issues were most important to them. Here, the cultural issues took precedence over the economic ones. Election integrity was the most popular at 49.1%; immigration and the border wall at 47.6%; constitutional rights at 42.7%; inflation and cost of living at 26.6%; and taxes, budget, and spending came in at 16.2%.
Of course, Republicans are on the outside looking in, so they’re unable to enact any kind of an agenda — unless and until. “Our mission in 2022 and in 2024,” said Trump, “is to take on this radical and power-hungry ruling class and to deliver them an electoral defeat so resounding that they are exiled into political oblivion, never ever to return again.”
Facebook and Twitter give aid and comfort to Russia: Big Tech social media companies Facebook and Twitter have a history of censoring conservatives, including banning Donald Trump in January 2021. But they evidently have little problem with Russian government officials using their platforms to spread anti-Ukraine propaganda. The Kremlin’s official Twitter account, which boasts 1.2 million followers, continues to post frequent updates on Vladimir Putin’s activities. Likewise, the Kremlin’s Facebook page with three million followers celebrated Putin with a “Defender of the Fatherland Day” post. Other Russian officials such as the heads of the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Foreign Affairs are posting messages with no limitations. If it weren’t for double standards…
The masking “science” has changed! Congress’s doctor on Sunday advised congressional staff that the wearing of masks is no longer needed. Dr. Brian Monahan noted new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in declaring that “the Washington DC region is now in a ‘green level’ or low level in this new CDC schema” regarding the rate of COVID infections and therefore indoor mask wearing is no longer a requirement. Politics rather than science was the deciding factor for this sudden policy change, as it comes just two days before Joe Biden’s State of the Union Address. Biden wants a visual representation of victory over COVID, and a room full of unmasked lawmakers will help to sell it.
Is University of Maryland’s anti-Semitic task force chief an anti-Semite? Jazmin Pichardo, the University of Maryland’s recently appointed head of the school’s Jewish Identity Programming Advisory Committee (a division of its Office of Diversity and Inclusion), has been called out by two Jewish alumni for promoting anti-Semitic views. Last May, Hamas launched a days-long unprovoked and indiscriminate rocket attack against Israel. Pichardo took to her social media page to blame Israel for the attack, saying the Jewish nation was guilty of “settler colonialism” and that the mainstream media have “continuously worked to conceal Israel’s ongoing genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine.” The two Jewish alumni reached out to Pichardo to correct her, noting that “anti-Zionism … is undoubtedly anti-Semitism, because you are denying the Jewish people a right to self determination.” Naturally, Pichardo dismissed the charge. Ironically, the University of Maryland has seen several anti-Semitic incidents since it first convened its Jewish Identity Programming Advisory Committee back in 2020.
Texas ranchers reject Biden’s aid for illegal alien damages: Ranchers and land owners in Texas have responded with skepticism toward Joe Biden’s Department of Agriculture over its plan to pay them for damages suffered from masses of illegal aliens trespassing on their land. Last week, the USDA initiated a reimbursement plan for farmers and ranchers in 33 Texas counties to help them with damaged fences, crops, and livestock fatalities due to the administration’s open-borders policy. However, many of the landowners are wary of being on the hook to the federal government for those funds, and they’ve expressed frustration for the amount of paperwork associated with seeking these reimbursements. Furthermore, as one landowner put it, “I almost want to say it’s a political stunt by the government to say, ‘Look, we are helping the ranchers.’” But what has bothered these landowners more than loss of property has been the loss of comfort and safety with illegal aliens streaming across the border and across their property. As landowner John Schuster relayed: “DPS called me and said foot chase headed towards your house. So we turned off all the TV and one light wife had on in bedroom. She went to bed — I am sitting still in recliner with dog and pistol by my side.”
William Barr says Trump unfit to lead as he urges GOP to move on in ‘24 (NY Post)
New York governor boosts Chinese companies under U.S. sanctions (Free Beacon)
Hawaii keeps mask mandate despite new CDC guidelines (HawaiiNewsNow)
Florida GOP advances bill regulating classroom discussion of sexual orientation (Washington Examiner)
Glenn Youngkin rescinds CRT-inspired programs from Virginia Department of Education (Post Millennial)
“The constitutional right of free speech has been declared to be the same in peace and war. In peace, too, men may differ widely as to what loyalty to our country demands, and an intolerant majority, swayed by passion or by fear, may be prone in the future, as it has been in the past, to stamp as disloyal opinions with which it disagrees.” —Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941)
“It is difficult, perhaps impossible, to overstate the utterly pathetic nature of the Biden presidency thus far. To merely call him feckless or incompetent would be insufficient. … His presidency is a disgraceful exercise in how to do everything wrong: the highest inflation in decades, out-of-control spending, supply chain crises and mass product shortages, a humiliating and botched Afghanistan withdrawal and the terrorist Iranian regime racing toward a nuclear weapon. Biden’s is the ‘Murphy’s law’ presidency — anything that can go wrong has indeed gone wrong.” —Josh Hammer
“Call me crazy but as I lament the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine and its implications for the world, I can’t quit obsessing over our INSANE, voluntary choice to weaken and impoverish ourselves through Biden’s war on domestic energy, the military, law enforcement and the rest.” —David Limbaugh
“It seems increasingly plausible that Russia and China put their efforts — directly or indirectly — behind a Biden victory, knowing he would exhibit the weakness necessary for them to accomplish their imperialistic goals. Clearly, their plans weren’t possible under Trump.” —Allie Beth Stuckey
“When Joe Biden says that things in Ukraine are unfolding as he predicted, that merely underscores his idiocy. If you know something bad is going to happen months from now and you’re right and you didn’t prepare, this makes you an idiot.” —Ben Shapiro
“If you want to send a message to Vladimr Putin, here’s a message to send him: We are going to be the ones who supply the oil and gas to the world. We are going to shut down your energy sector and we are going to open ours up like you’ve never seen it before.” —Senator Josh Hawley
“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride.” —Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky
A Trip Down Memory Lane
“It’s going to take a hell of a lot of work to make up for all the damage [Trump’s] done internationally and nationally. … Imagine what he can do in another year. Imagine what can happen in Ukraine.” —Joe Biden, October 2019
Non Compos Mentis Award
“One small thing to be thankful for is that [Trump] is not in the White House as the Ukraine crisis unfolds. He’d side with Russia.” —Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies senior fellow Francis Fukuyama
“U.S. economy appeared ready to surge, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could send shockwaves.” —The Washington Post
For the Record
“The ‘defund’ [police] conversation … I personally think went too far and got convoluted.” —Oakland, California, Mayor Libby Schaaf
Russia seeks to save lives in the Donbass and punish those responsible for eight years of genocide and atrocities, Moscow’s envoy to the UN Vasily Nebenzia told the General Assembly during a session called to denounce the invasion of Ukraine.
“Occupation of Ukraine is not part of our plans. The purpose of this special operation is to protect people, who have been subjected to abuse and genocide by the Kiev regime for the past eight years. This is why it’s necessary to demilitarize and de-nazify Ukraine,” Nebenzia said.
As one example of “ghastly crimes” committed by the government in Kiev, the Russian envoy cited the murder of people protesting the US-backed coup in Kiev, when 40 people were burned alive in a building in Odessa. Moscow is seeking to bring to justice anyone who committed such atrocities, “including Russian citizens,” Nebenzia said.
Russia is defending itself from a “regime” which “aspires to gain access to nuclear weapons,” the UN envoy added, noting the statement of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to that effect at the Munich Security Conference on February 18.
Rather than violating the underlying principles of the UN, as critics have accused Russia of doing, Nebenzia argued the military operation is actually ensuring the key principle is upheld – to prevent another world war.
NATO’s placement of military assets in Ukraine would have forced Russia to take measures that would have put Moscow and the alliance “on the brink of conflict,” he said.
Ukraine and its Western backers have accused Russia of unprovoked aggression and dismissed accusations of genocide and atrocities in the two breakaway regions of Donetsk and Lugansk.
“Everyone knows that Russia and Russia alone started this invasion,” said Kiev’s ambassador to the UN Sergiy Kyslytsya.
The UN General Assembly is meeting at the request of the US, which last week submitted a joint resolution with Albania to condemn Russia at the UN Security Council, where it was vetoed by Moscow.
The largest truck convoy in the United States has grown in size since departing California and is attracting thousands of supporters as it makes its way to the East Coast.
The People’s Convoy started with around 150 vehicles and has grown to over 250 as it made its way through Texas and Oklahoma over the weekend.
More vehicles have joined for stretches of time. That, along with the length of the convoy, makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly how many participants it has.
“It varies. Let’s just say there are like 50 truckers that know the convoy is coming through and might have been going through this area. They’ll stop at an exit and they’ll wait for the convoy to come by, and then they’ll join it. They might join it for 200 miles or 100 miles, and then they keep going wherever they were going because they were heading in the same direction as us,” Maureen Steele, one of the convoy’s organizers, told The Epoch Times.
“And then there are cars that join … and some of them go for 30 miles, some go for 100, some for 200, and then they drop off.”
Collin Walters joined the convoy for about 25 miles.
“This is a movement that everybody should be supporting. This is a national event; this is making history,” Walters told The Epoch Times.
“It’s pretty exciting,” he added.
Kathy Walters, his aunt, said she opposes COVID-19 vaccine mandates like the ones the federal government imposed. She sees them as violating Americans’ “free will.”
Convoy organizers say they are against vaccine mandates, the federal government’s continuation of a national emergency declaration over COVID-19, and other actions from President Joe Biden’s administration.
Convoy supporters in Texas on Feb. 26, 2022. (Enrico Trigoso/The Epoch Times)
Truckers part of The People’s Convoy drive past an overpass with supporters in Oklahoma on Feb. 27, 2022. (Enrico Trigoso/The Epoch Times)
Convoy supporters wave American flags by the side of the road in Oklahoma on Feb. 27, 2022. (Enrico Trigoso/The Epoch Times)
Convoy supporters in Oklahoma on Feb. 27, 2022. (Enrico Trigoso/The Epoch Times)
Convoy supporters in Oklahoma on Feb. 27, 2022. (Enrico Trigoso/The Epoch Times)
Organizers have been sending drones up periodically to capture estimates of vehicles traveling with the group, which has drawn thousands of people to roadsides as the convoy passes by.
Chuck Frantz showed up to display his support for the convoy in Weatherford, Oklahoma.
“This is getting people’s attention,” Frantz told The Epoch Times on a highway overpass. He described the mandates, some of which have been struck down by courts, as unconstitutional.
A spokesman for the Amarillo, Texas Police Department, which worked to make sure the convoy’s passage was smooth, told The Epoch Times that there were no issues.
KTUL-TV reported that several vehicles in the convoy were involved in a crash about 15 miles west of Big Cabin, Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Highway Patrol, which didn’t respond to requests for comment, told the broadcaster that the cause of the crash is under investigation.
The convoy stopped in Big Bend, Oklahoma on Sunday night and was prepared to travel to Missouri on Feb. 28. It is on track to arrive in Washington, where authorities are reinstalling fencing around the Capitol, on March 5.
We are told Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine is to ‘demilitarize’ and ‘denazify’ the country. Negotiations are likely to start soon. What kind of Ukraine can we expect after the special military operation has come to an end?
Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton’s statement on the nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court: “President Biden has bowed to pressure from his radical base and has selected a judicial activist to fill Justice Stephen Breyer’s seat on the Supreme Court.
The Fox News contributor joined ‘Fox & Friends First’ to discuss President Biden’s approval rating amid the crisis in Ukraine, and FEMA reminding Americans to ‘wear a mask’ in the event of a nuclear attack. #FoxNews