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June 25, 2017: Verse of the day

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Second Day, Second Group, Second Emphasis

The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ I did not recognize Him, but so that He might be manifested to Israel, I came baptizing in water.” John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him. I did not recognize Him, but He who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.’ I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” (1:29–34)

The phrase the next day introduces a sequence of days, which continues in verses 35, 43, and 2:1. Apparently, the events from John’s interview with the delegation from Jerusalem (vv. 19–28) to the miracle at Cana (2:1–11) spanned one week. On the day after he spoke to the delegation, John saw Jesus coming to him. Faithful to his duty as a herald, and defining a momentous redemptive moment, John immediately called the crowd’s attention to Him, exclaiming “Behold, the Lamb of God.” That title, used only in John’s writings (cf. v. 36; Rev. 5:6; 6:9; 7:10, 17; 14:4, 10; 15:3; 17:14; 19:9; 21:22–23; 22:1, 3), is the first in a string of titles given to Jesus in the remaining verses of this chapter; the rest include Rabbi (vv. 38, 49), Messiah (v. 41), Son of God (vv. 34, 49), King of Israel (v. 49), Son of Man (v. 51), and “Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (v. 45). That was not a guess on John’s part, but was revelation from God that was absolutely true, as the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus proved.

The concept of a sacrificial Lamb was a familiar one to the Jewish people. All through Israel’s history God had revealed clearly that sin and separation from Him could be removed only by blood sacrifices (cf. Lev. 17:11). No forgiveness of sin could be granted by God apart from an acceptable substitute dying as a sacrifice. They knew of Abraham’s confidence that God would provide a lamb to offer in place of Isaac (Gen. 22:7–8). A lamb was sacrificed at Passover (Ex. 12:1–36; Mark 14:12), in the daily sacrifices in the tabernacle and later in the temple (Ex. 29:38–42), and as a sin offering by individuals (Lev. 5:5–7). God also made it clear that none of those sacrifices were sufficient to take away sin (cf. Isa. 1:11). They were also aware that Isaiah’s prophecy likened Messiah to “a lamb that is led to slaughter” (Isa. 53:7; cf. Acts 8:32; 1 Peter 1:19). Though Israel sought a Messiah who would be a prophet, king, and conqueror, God had to send them a Lamb. And He did.

The title Lamb of God foreshadows Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the cross for the sin of the world. With this brief statement, the prophet John made it clear that the Messiah had come to deal with sin. The Old Testament is filled with the reality that the problem is sin and it is at the very heart of every person (Jer. 17:9). All men, even those who received the revelation of God in Scripture (the Jews), were sinful and incapable of changing the future or the present, or of repaying God for the sins of the past. Paul’s familiar indictment of human sinfulness in Romans 3:11–12 is based on Old Testament revelation. As noted in the discussion of 1:9–11 in chapter 2 of this volume, kosmos (world) has a variety of meanings in the New Testament. Here it refers to humanity in general, to all people without distinction, transcending all national, racial, and ethnic boundaries. The use of the singular term sin with the collective noun world reveals that as sin is worldwide, so Jesus’ sacrifice is sufficient for all people without distinction (cf. 1 John 2:2). But though His sacrificial death is sufficient for the sins of everyone (cf. 3:16; 4:42; 6:51; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9; 1 John 4:14), it is efficacious only for those who savingly believe in Him (3:15–16, 18, 36; 5:24; 6:40; 11:25–26; 20:31; Luke 8:12; Acts 10:43; 13:39; 16:31; Rom. 1:16; 3:21–24; 4:3–5; 10:9–10; 1 Cor. 1:21; Gal. 3:6–9, 22; Eph. 1:13; 1 John 5:1; 10–13). This verse does not teach universalism, the false doctrine that everyone will be saved. That such is not the case is obvious, since the Bible teaches that most people will suffer eternal punishment in hell (Matt. 25:41, 46; 2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 14:9–11; 20:11–15; cf. Ezek. 18:4, 20; Matt. 7:13–14; Luke 13:23–24; John 8:24), and only a few will be saved (Matt. 7:13–14).

John for the third time (cf. vv. 15, 27) stressed his subordinate role to Jesus, the eternal Word who had become a Man, acknowledging, “This is He on behalf of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ” John was created. Jesus’ higher rank was infinite. He was the One who created everything (1:1–3), including John. Though John was actually born before Jesus, Jesus existed before him. And though John was a relative of Jesus’ (probably His cousin), since their mothers were related (Luke 1:36), he still did not recognize Him as the Messiah until he baptized Him, so that He might be manifested to Israel. For that most significant of all John’s baptisms, he declared, “I came baptizing in water,” though he was reluctant to baptize Jesus (Matt. 3:14). It was at Jesus’ baptism that God, who sent John to baptize in water, fully revealed Jesus as the Messiah through a prearranged sign. John testified saying, “I have seen the Spirit descending as a dove out of heaven, and He remained upon Him” (cf. Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22). That sign was supernatural proof of Jesus’ messiahship, because God had told John, “He upon whom you see the Spirit descending and remaining upon Him, this is the One who baptizes in the Holy Spirit.” Like Peter (Matt. 16:17), John understood who Jesus truly was only through divine revelation. That Jesus is far greater than John is reinforced in that He baptizes in the Holy Spirit.

For the sixth time in his gospel (cf. 1:7, 8, 15, 19, 32), John the apostle refers to the Baptist’s witness to Christ, recording his affirmation, “I myself have seen, and have testified that this is the Son of God.” As noted in chapter 1 of this volume, witness, or testifying, is thematic in this gospel. John’s testimony in verse 34 is a fitting conclusion to this section, as the narrative makes the transition from him to Jesus. Although believers are in a limited sense children of God (Matt. 5:9; Rom. 8:14, 19; Gal. 3:26; cf. John 1:12; 11:52; Rom. 8:16, 21; 9:8; Phil. 2:15; 1 John 3:1–2, 10), Jesus is uniquely the Son of God in that He alone shares the same nature as the Father (1:1; 5:16–30; 10:30–33; 14:9; 17:11; 1 John 5:20).

To his first emphasis—Messiah is here—John added an equally compelling exhortation: Recognize Him for who He is—the Son of God, the Messiah, the ultimate sacrificial Lamb for the sin of the world.[1]


Witnessing to Jesus Christ

John 1:29–34

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.”

How can a believer witness to Jesus Christ? It is an important question, not only because each of us is called upon to witness (as we have already seen) but also because the expansion of the gospel in our time (as in all ages of the Christian church) depends in no small measure upon whether or not we will do it and, if we do, how well.

We have already looked at the first great principle for being a witness: the witness must recognize that he has no independent importance in himself. The evangelist expresses this in the case of John the Baptist, whose witness has been the basis of our story, by reminding us that he was not the Light. This teaches us, among other things, that a Christian will never be an effective witness if he is placing either himself or his own needs first in his thinking. Our own needs possess a certain degree of importance, of course. But we will never be able to focus on the needs of others if our own needs dominate us. For one thing, there is a sense in which our own needs are already met, whether we recognize it or not, for Paul wrote to the Philippians, saying, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). Our needs are met in Christ, and we have little to testify of if we do not see that clearly. Besides, we cannot really show love to the other person, which is the essence of witnessing, if we are not placing his needs before our own.

All that is true. Yet, we must go on from this point to see that our recognizing that we are not the Light is not in itself witnessing. That is only the first and preliminary principle.

A Verbal Witness

The second great principle for witnessing is that we must bear witness to the Light, and this means that we must witness verbally. Our witness must move out of the area of life and into the area of words. If it does not, we will be like the young man who went from a Christian home to a secular college. His parents were concerned how he would make out. So when he arrived home at Christmas they asked him anxiously, “How did you get along?” He answered, “Oh, I got along great. No one even knows that I’m a Christian.” I am not denying the importance of the Christian life, of course. There must be the kind of upright character and true commitment to Christ that will back up the witness by words. We will see more about this in our next study. But, important as it is, the living of the Christian life by itself is not enough for a complete witness; there must also be a verbal witness.

We can easily see why this must be so. For one thing, a nonverbal witness is at best merely puzzling to the non-Christian, and it can be totally misunderstood. Some time ago, after I had mentioned witnessing in the context of a message I was giving in a church other than my own, a woman came up to me to tell how she was bearing a witness in her place of employment. She apparently worked in a large office. Just that morning, so she said, as she was going out to lunch, one of the other workers handed her fifty cents and asked her to pick up a packet of cigarettes for him. What did she do? She returned the money, saying that she did not believe in smoking. She said to me that she believed God had helped her to bear a witness for Christ in that situation.

I do not want to be too hard on this woman. She had a right, if she wished, to disapprove of smoking. In view of the warnings being given in our day about smoking, probably more non-Christians than ever before are taking this position. Still, the point that I want to make here is that in this case the “witness” to Christ that the woman thought she was giving was really no witness at all. For had I been the man who had asked the favor and been refused, I would probably have considered her rude and never even have thought of her views in terms of Christianity.

The second reason why a nonverbal witness is inadequate is that, if it is effective at all, it should lead to a verbal witness. That is, if you are attempting to honor Christ by the way you are living, the things you are doing should lead to conversation about Jesus Christ and what he has meant in your experience.

Someone will say, “Oh, but isn’t it true that many persons have been led to Jesus Christ by means of the conduct of some Christian?” That is quite true; many have! The conduct of Christians has been an important step, even an essential step, in the salvation of many thousands of persons. But I am convinced that the matter has never stopped on that level and that these thousands would never have come to Christ unless the witness through the lives of Christians had not moved beyond actions at some point to a consideration of the person and claims of Jesus Christ as these truths were presented to them verbally.

People who have greatly moved the world for Christ have been ready to speak at any opportunity. In his book Henceforth, Hugh E. Hopkins tells of Douglas Thornton, an English believer who was being seen off at a railway station in Egypt. With some difficulty his friend found him an empty compartment on the train: “An empty compartment!” Thornton exclaimed. “Why, man, I want to fish.” He moved into a crowded compartment. It is also recorded that, when exploring the Great Pyramid on the outskirts of Cairo, Thornton redeemed the time by evangelizing the guide who was then crawling up a narrow passage on his hands and knees behind him.

We find another example in the conversion experience of John Wesley, the father of the Methodist church. Wesley had been a preacher for years before he was genuinely born again, and during this time (as might be expected) his ministry was a failure. After a particularly discouraging experience in the United States, as he was returning from Georgia to England by ship, he came into contact with a body of Moravian Christians. He was very much impressed with the calm they maintained in the midst of a storm at sea. It was not on the ship, however, but later at a meeting in the little chapel at Aldersgate in London, while someone was reading from Luther’s exposition of the letter to the Galatians, that Wesley “felt his heart strangely warmed” and was converted. After that he became one of the greatest evangelists in church history.

A verbal witness is a true witness. Thus, throughout the Gospel of John, the stories of those who are reached by Jesus Christ almost without exception end with a spoken profession of their belief. The man born blind is last seen in an attitude of worship, voicing the confession: “Lord, I believe” (John 9:38). The woman of Samaria grows in her understanding of Jesus. At the beginning of the narrative she regards him merely as a Jew (John 4:9). In verse 12 she raises the possibility that he may be greater than the patriarch Jacob. In verse 19 she calls him a prophet. The conclusion comes in her testimony to her neighbors when she argues that he is the Messiah (v. 29). In the same way John the Baptist testifies to the One who takes away the sin of the world.

The Message

Now, if we are to bear a witness to Jesus Christ, clearly we must know something about him. And this means that we must have a message. What is our message? The major parts of the answer to this question are suggested in our story. They are: 1) a witness to who Jesus Christ is; 2) a witness to what he has done; and 3) a witness to how a man or woman can come to know him personally.

First, we witness to who Jesus Christ is. John did this when he testified, “This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me’ ” (v. 30). Again, “I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (v. 34). This is where we begin in our witness, because most of the points of Christian doctrine gain their significance from the fact that Jesus Christ is God. If Christ were only a man, then his death on the cross might have been inspiring as an example or a means by which we are excited to good works. We might say, “I never want such a tragedy to happen again” and become a great social worker. But if this is all that Christ is, then his death was in no sense an atonement; he did not die for our sin, and we are still under the condemnation of God and are still the children of wrath. In the same way, if he is not God, then we have no living God to worship, for we cannot know God apart from Jesus Christ.

As you begin to witness, let me suggest that you begin here. Begin with Christ’s claims about himself. You might refer to John 5:18, which tells us that Jesus “was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” He said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). He told the disciples: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Most non-Christians have never actually faced these claims, and many have never even heard them.

Second, we witness to what Jesus Christ has done. In one sense, of course, this is an overwhelming topic. For if Jesus is God, then all that God has done, and does, Christ does. He has been active in the creation of the world, in guiding the history of redemption, in giving us the Old and New Testaments, in helping us today in temptation, and in other things. Yet there is a sense in which the work of Christ focuses on something much more limited and therefore much easier to share. The focus of Christ’s work is to be found in his death on the cross. Hence, we want to share the meaning of his death when we try to tell others about him.

In his day, John the Baptist did this by reference to the Jewish sacrifices. He said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (v. 29). Have you ever given thought to what must have been involved in that statement—for John and for his hearers? For centuries Israel had known all about the sacrificial lamb. They had learned about it first from the story of Abraham, who was the father of their nation. At God’s command Abraham had been going up the mountain to sacrifice his son Isaac when Isaac had turned to him and asked, “Father, … Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb?” Abraham had answered, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” And God did! Israel had also known about the lamb as a result of the institution of the Passover. On that occasion the blood of the lamb on the doorposts of the house was the sign for the angel of death to pass by. Moreover, they knew that daily in the services of the temple lambs and goats were sacrificed. They knew that in every instance the sacrifices meant the death of an innocent substitute in place of the one who had sinned.

On this basis John the Baptist came along and exclaimed, “Look, the Lamb of God.” He recognized that the sacrifices were to be fulfilled in Jesus and that he would bear our sin as Isaiah had said. “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows. … he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed” (Isa. 53:4–5).

I like to think, as many other commentators have suggested, that as John identified Jesus as the sin-bearing Lamb, there may have been passing by the flocks of lambs that were driven up to the walls of Jerusalem each year to serve as sacrificial lambs for the Passover. The Passover feast was not far off (John 2:12–13). Perhaps John was led to refer to Jesus in this fashion because it showed vividly that he was able to deliver from death those who believed on him.

Do you believe that? Jesus is able to deliver us from death today. There is that final death, the second death, which is the separation of the soul of the individual from God. He delivers from that. But there are also the little deaths that we experience daily because of our natural alienation from God. Jesus is the answer to those deaths also. If you are a Christian, it is your privilege to tell others of the means by which sin is removed—through faith in the person and death of Jesus Christ—and that the one who believes in him is given new life, peace, joy, and freedom of access to God.

Finally, we also witness to the way in which a person can come to know and trust Jesus for himself. John did it by pointing to the fact that Jesus is the giver of the Spirit. He said, “I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit’ ” (v. 33). What does that mean? It means that Jesus Christ was the One who would give of his Spirit to those who should follow him. Or, to put it another way, it means that Jesus would come to live within the lives of his followers. Thus, when we bear witness to Jesus today, we talk not only of who Jesus is and of what he has done but also of how a person can come to have him enter his life and fill it.

Opening the Door

Someone will ask, “You say that Christ must enter our lives, but you have not told us how that can happen. How does that happen?” The answer is that it happens by faith as we “receive” him or “open” the doors of our lives to his knocking. One statement of that principle occurs in this same chapter in the verse that says: “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (v. 12). Another verse is Revelation 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” According to these verses there are two steps to the process. There is the step in which we first “hear” his voice or “believe” in him. Then there is the step in which we “receive him” or “open” to his call.

We do this by praying. We say, “Lord Jesus Christ, I admit that I am a sinner and in need of the salvation that you bring to men. I believe that you died for me, so that my sin is atoned for and borne away forever. I now open the door and invite you into my life and ask that you will cleanse me and rule my life forever. Amen.” It is as simple as that, but it must be a definite commitment. The act itself is indispensable.

Have you done that? If you have not, you are not a real Christian. It is not enough merely to know about Christ; you must belong to him. On the other hand, if you have done that, then let me ask whether you have ever invited another person to make the same commitment. I can tell you on the basis of my own experience—and that of many others—that there are few joys equal to that which is ours when the invitation is given to believe in Jesus and the person to whom we are witnessing responds and comes to him.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 55–57). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 109–114). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

June 24, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Friends of Jesus Love Each Other

This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. (15:12–13)

For the second time that evening in the upper room, Jesus gave the commandment that His followers are to love one another (cf. 13:34). Love is the fulfillment of the commandments Jesus had referred to in 15:10. Paul expressed that same principle to the Christians at Rome:

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, “You shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,” and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Rom. 13:8–10)

Only those who abide in Him have the capacity to love divinely as Jesus loved. At the new birth, the “love of God [was] poured out within [their] hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to [them]” (Rom. 5:5; cf. Gal. 5:22). What Paul wrote concerning the Thessalonians, “Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9), is true of all Christians. Love for fellow believers characterizes the redeemed, as John repeatedly emphasized in his first epistle:

The one who says he is in the Light and yet hates his brother is in the darkness until now. The one who loves his brother abides in the Light and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But the one who hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (2:9–11)

By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother. (3:10)

We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer; and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. (3:14–15)

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love. (4:7–8)

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. (4:20)

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. (5:1)

The daunting standard for believers’ love for each other is set forth in Jesus’ words just as I have loved you. They are to love each other as the Lord Jesus Christ loves them. That does not mean, of course, that believers can love to the limitless extent or in the perfect manner that He does. But just as Jesus loved sacrificially, so also must they. “Walk in love,” Paul wrote in Ephesians 5:2, “just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” The love believers have for each other is marked by a selfless devotion to meeting one another’s needs; it is not mere sentiment, or superficial attachment. In fact, Christians’ love for each other is the church’s most powerful apologetic to the unbelieving world (John 13:35).

The Lord’s death, at that point only a matter of hours away, was the supreme evidence of His love, as His statement Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends indicates. Jesus did not die for Himself, but so that others might live. In Romans 5:6–8 Paul wrote,

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

In a marvelously concise statement—only fifteen words in the Greek text—Paul summarized Christ’s substitutionary atonement for believers: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Peter reminded his readers that “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Echoing the Lord’s words in this passage, John wrote, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16). Then the apostle expressed the practical implications of that truth: “But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth” (vv. 17–18). The friends of Jesus Christ show their love for one another by humbly meeting each other’s needs.[1]


No Greater Love

John 15:12–14

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.”

There is something charming about the word “friend” or “friendship.” It is due partly to our desire for a close friend or friends and partly, too, to our remembrance of them. We look to our past and can almost mark the major periods of our lives by friends we have had. We think of the friends who went to grade school with us and of the things we did with them. Perhaps at the point of going into high school we made different friends, and we think sometimes, not only of the friends, but of the adventures we had—sometimes adventures that the teachers or other authorities did not entirely appreciate. We have had college friends and those we have acquired later in life. We value friendship and know that we would be much impoverished if we had no friends at all.

It is this awareness that probably gives the verses to which we now come their special appeal, for in them the Lord Jesus Christ, the great incarnate God of the universe, speaks of friendship in terms of our relationships to him. He calls us friends, saying, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.”

Human Friendship

When Jesus says, “You are my friends,” it is evident that he is speaking to us on the human level in terms we can clearly understand. And he is doing so—we cannot fail to see it—so that we might contrast his friendship, which is great and perfect, to even the best of the other friendships we have known.

The best known of the biblical examples is the friendship between Jonathan, the son of King Saul, and David, the young hero of Israel. Jonathan was in line for the throne. But David was so evidently blessed of God that the people were saying that he should be the next king. Here was cause for great antagonism, antagonism between the apparent rights of the one and the supposed aspirations of the other. But there was no antagonism. Instead there was a great and beautiful friendship. It was a case in which each sacrificed in order to put the other’s interests ahead of his own.

Sometimes the love that exists between one friend and another leads to the ultimate sacrifice, to death. A friend of mine tells that as he was growing up he knew a man who in a sublime moment of self-sacrifice gave his life to try to save his grandson. The two were out in a boat on the Monongahela River in West Virgina, and neither of them could swim. The child, for one reason or another, fell overboard and was drowning. So the man jumped in after the child. Both drowned. But afterward when they found the bodies, the grandfather still had the young child clutched in his arms. He had been so anxious to save his grandson that he had not even opened up his arms to attempt to swim to save himself.

When we hear a story like that we tend to become silent, for we know that we stand before something sublime. It is the ultimate sacrifice, the sacrifice of one’s life. Because of such sacrifices we understand what the Lord is saying when he declares in clear reference to his own self-sacrifice: “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”

Friend of Sinners

On the other hand, it is not really fair to talk about Jesus’ sacrifice in merely human terms, for his death surpasses anything we can imagine. It may not happen often, but sometimes one human being will voluntarily die for another; still, this gift never equals or even parallels Jesus’ sacrifice. We see this when we reflect on Jesus’ death.

First, when we begin to reflect on Jesus’ death we recognize that his death was exceptional if only because Jesus did not have to die. That is not true of us. We are mortal. We must die. But Jesus was immortal and therefore did not have to die. Indeed, he was life itself; for he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). He could have come into this world, performed a full and varied ministry, and then have returned to heaven without ever having experienced death. On the other hand, of us it is said, “Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Heb. 9:27). What does this mean in terms of self-sacrifice? Merely this. If you or I were to give our lives for someone else, while that would undoubtedly be a great and heroic sacrifice, it would nevertheless at best be merely an anticipation of what must eventually come anyway. We would simply be dying a bit sooner than normally. The Lord did not need to die under any circumstances.

Second, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ is exceptional in that he knew he would die. Again, this is not usually the case when a mere man or woman gives his or her life for another. Few who die in this way do so knowing in advance that they will die. Rather, it is usually the case that although the act is a risk and death is possible, they nevertheless think they may escape death while yet saving their friend. People take calculated risks and sometimes die, but they do not often die deliberately. Jesus by his own testimony deliberately went to the cross to die for our salvation.

There is another area in which the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for his friends shines brighter than any love of which we are capable. The text says that we are Christ’s friends and that he was going to give his life for his friends. But if we think of this closely and honestly, we must recognize that, when the Lord Jesus gave his life for us, strictly speaking we were not exactly his friends. True, he calls us friends. It is also true that we become his friends. But we become friends because of his act, because of his electing grace toward us manifesting itself in the atonement and in the ministry of his Spirit by which our natural rebellion against God is overcome and our hearts are drawn to love and serve Jesus. When he died for us, or (if we may push that even farther back) when in eternity past he determined to die for us, he did so while we were yet enemies or were forseen to be enemies. It was “while we were still sinners, [that] Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8).

Here especially do we see the wonderful love of the Lord Jesus Christ. So long as we think of ourselves as being somewhat good in God’s sight we do not see it. But when we see ourselves as God sees us, then the surpassing worth of the love of Christ becomes evident.

It is this that leads up to the verse I have just quoted from Paul’s treatment of the human condition in Romans. The opening chapter of that book deals with man’s sin, showing how all men and women have possessed a certain knowledge of God but have turned from that knowledge in order to worship a god of their own devising. Paul says that a certain knowledge of the existence and power of God is disclosed in nature and in the consciences of all men and women. But we have rejected that knowledge. Paul says, “For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles ” (Rom. 1:21–23).

There are certain consequences of this, as the chapter goes on to show. We have given up God. So, says Paul, in a certain sense God has given us up. He has given us up to certain consequences. Three times in this chapter we read that “God gave them over.” In every case, however, we are told what God gave them over to. This is important, for it is not as if God were holding the human race in his hand and then let go with the result that the human race simply drifted off into nowhere. If I let go of an object, the object falls. I have not given it up to nothing. I have given it up to the law of gravity, and the law of gravity draws it downward. In the same way, God gives us over to the sad consequences of our rebellion.

First of all, God has given us over to “sexual impurity” (v. 24). That is, when we turn our backs upon God, who is perfect in his purity, we inevitably become dirty spiritually.

Second, God has given us over to “shameful lusts” (v. 26). That is, the good affections we have and that we rightly cherish become warped because they are severed from their source. Love becomes lust. A proper sense of responsibility becomes the driving pride of personal ambition. Self-sacrifice becomes selfishness, and so on.

Third, God says that he has given us over to a “depraved mind” (v. 28). This means that we have developed a way of thinking that is antagonistic toward God so that we are constantly devising philosophies and actions that try to eliminate his presence from our lives.

These important verses from Romans give God’s assessment of the human race. He made us. More than this, he made us in his own image. But we have rebelled against him and defaced that image. Instead of God’s glory, we have advanced man’s depravity. Instead of his sovereignty, we have sought human autonomy. Instead of holiness, we have sin. Instead of love, hate. Yet, in spite of our depravity, Christ came to be our friend and prove his friendship by dying for us. As Paul states, “At just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6–8).

Spiritual Death

There is one more reason why the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for his friends, seen in his death for us, is superior to all human loves. The death of the Lord was a spiritual death, whereas ours, if we are Christians, is only physical.

If we were to give our life for someone else, the death we would endure would be only physical. We cannot die spiritually in the place of another person. But that is precisely what Jesus Christ did. Death is separation. Physical death is the separation of the soul and spirit from the body. Spiritual death is the separation of the soul and spirit from God. This is what makes hell such a terrible place; those in hell are separated from God. And because God is the source of all good—all joy, peace, love, and other blessings—hell is the opposite. It is misery, unrest, hate, and so on. This is the separation that Jesus endured for us. He died physically also; that is true. His death was particularly painful and degrading. But the truly horrible aspect of his death was his separation from the Father when he was made sin for us and bore sin’s punishment.

This is the meaning of the cry wrung from his lips in that moment: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” I do not know how to explain that. I do not know how it is possible for the second person of the Godhead to be separated from the first person of the Godhead, even for a brief time, as this was. But this is what happened as Jesus experienced ultimate spiritual death in order that we might never have to experience it. Love like that goes beyond our best understanding.

These truths and more are involved in Christ’s statement: “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” We read that and acknowledge its truth. But then we go on to say, “Yes, and greater love has no one at all—either man, devil, or angel—than that the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, should die a spiritual death for us sinners.”

Do you know him as the One who demonstrated his love and friendship for you by thus dying? Is he your friend in that sense? If not, you are not yet truly a Christian. But you can be. You can find him to be your friend, indeed, a superlative friend. As the hymn says:

There’s not a friend like the lowly Jesus,

No not one! No not one!

You need only come to him, confessing your sin and acknowledging your need of him to be your Savior.

Friends of Jesus

There is one other question that arises from our text. I have asked, “Is Jesus your friend?” This is the question that emerges from verse 13 in which Jesus speaks of his love and, therefore, of his friendship for us. But in the next verse we have what might be called the other side of that question. It is, “Are you Christ’s friend?” Jesus suggests this when he declares, “you are my friends if you do what I command you” (v. 14).

I am glad the Lord put it as he did, for I suppose that if we had come to him and had asked, “Lord, you have shown yourself to be a friend to us; what must we do to be your friends?” Jesus could have answered, “You have my example of what a true friend is; do that.” But if he had said that, we would have been discouraged. How could you or I do that—love as he loves, give ourselves as he gave himself? It is impossible for us to die spiritually for someone else. If Jesus had required us to do all he did, it would be impossible to become his friend. But he did not say that. Instead, he put the requirements in our terms and on our level, saying, “You can be my friends if you will only do what I command you.” This means that we are to show our friendship to him by simple obedience.

Did I say “simple”? Yes, it is simple; but it is simple obedience, and this means that it must be active, continuous, and in all things. We see that our obedience must be active, for Jesus said, “You are my friends if ye do. …” Unfortunately some Christians talk about the Christian life as though it consisted largely in refusing to do certain things. If we fall into that way of thinking, we imagine after we have refused to drink alcohol, refused to play cards, refused to have extramarital sex, refused to cheat in business, and so on, that we have done a great deal. But we have not. We have obeyed negatively but not positively. Christ calls upon us to love one another, and that cannot be done except in very practical ways. We are also to pray. We are to worship with other Christians. Our lives are to be marked by good deeds. It would make a great difference in the lives of many Christians if, as they read their Bibles and pray each day, they would pause as part of their devotions to ask what practical things the Lord would have them do.

Second, our obedience should also be continuous. Jesus did not say, “If you do what I command and then quit” or “If you do it on Sundays” or “If you do it when you feel like it.” The verb is a present subjunctive meaning “If you are doing.” The idea is of continuous action, day after day, year after year. There is no vacation from being a disciple of the Lord.

Finally, our obedience is to be in all things, for he says, “If you do whatever I command you.” It means coming to him in love to do whatever he asks of us, not picking and choosing as some do, not exalting those aspects of the Christian faith we like and neglecting those we dislike. Rather it means coming with that yielded humility of mind and body that places us prostrate at his feet and asks from that position, “Lord, what will you have me do?” It is only when we ask that question and mean it that we find ourselves being lifted up to do the great errands of our king, and not as slave either, but rather as a friend of Jesus.

I asked earlier, “Is Jesus your friend?” Now I must ask, “Are you Christ’s friend by this definition?” God grant that you might be, to your own great joy and to the praise of his glory.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 156–158). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 1177–1182). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

June 23, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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The Briefing 06-23-17

The history of “Born this way” and why the LGBT movement is phasing it out as a slogan

What does it say about the LGBT revolution that “Pride” events are now more corporate & less radical?

Childhood redefined: Antidepressants for 6-year-olds, Botox for 8-year-olds, & no playing in the sand?

The post The Briefing 06-23-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 6/23/2017

Arab States Issue 13-Point Ultimatum To Qatar: Cut Ties With Iran, Close Al-Jazeera, Shutter Turkish Base
Two days after a confused US State Department formally inquired about what is going on between Arab States and Qatar, the countries of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Baahrain, and the UAE sent a list of 13 demands to the tiny Gulf nation to be met within 10 days in order to lift their total blockade of the country.

NASA’s new assignments: Find aliens, prove evolution
in this year’s bill, Congress added a momentous phrase to the agency’s mission: ‘the search for life’s origins, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe.’ It’s a short phrase, but a visionary one, setting the stage for a far-reaching effort, that could have as profound an impact on the 21st century as the Apollo program had on the 20th.”

Japanese warship takes Asian guests on cruise in defiance of China
Japan’s largest warship steamed into the South China Sea this week in defiance of Chinese assertiveness, with Asian military guests on board to witness helicopters looping over the tropical waters and gunners blasting target buoys.

Tech firms bow to Russian demands on cyber secrets
Western technology companies, including Cisco, IBM and SAP, are acceding to demands by Moscow for access to closely guarded product security secrets, at a time when Russia has been accused of a growing number of cyber attacks on the West, a Reuters investigation has found.

Al-Qaeda leader killed in Yemen
A U.S. air strike has killed a regional Al-Qaeda leader and two associates in Yemen’s Shabwa province, a jihadist stronghold in the south, the Pentagon said Thursday, according to AFP.Abu Khattab al-Awlaqi was emir for Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Shabwa, and was responsible for planning and conducting attacks against civilians, the U.S. military’s Central Command said in a statement.

Iranians chant ‘Death to Israel’, display military force at Al-Quds rally
Hundreds of thousands of Iranians chanted “Death to Israel” in nationwide rallies on Friday at which they also burned flag of the Islamic State militant group which claimed responsibility for attacks in Tehran this month…Iranian state media said millions of people turned out for the rallies to mark Al-Quds Day…which is held on the last Friday of the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan.

Massive Iranian funding for anti-Israel terror groups revealed
Iran’s massive funding of terrorist groups that endanger Israel was exposed in shocking detail by IDF Military Intelligence chief Maj.- Gen. Hertzi Halevi on Wednesday. Speaking at the IDC Herzliya Conference, Halevi revealed that Iran is funding Hezbollah to the tune of $75 million a year, while paying $50m. of Hamas’s budget and approximately $70m. to Islamic Jihad.

United States suspends all Brazilian meat imports
The United States has suspended Brazilian meat imports over “recurring concerns about the safety of products intended for the American market”. Several countries banned Brazilian meat in March, when prosecutors said health inspectors there had been taking bribes to approve sub-standard meat. The US didn’t impose a ban then; instead, it introduced checks on all of Brazil’s meat shipments.

Qatar row: Arab states send list of steep demands
Four Arab states have sent Qatar a list of 13 demands it must meet if it wants them to lift their sanctions. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are asking the Gulf state to shut down its broadcaster, Al Jazeera. They are also asking Qatar to reduce ties with Iran and close a Turkish military base – all within 10 days.

Gaza’s only power plant resumes after Egypt fuel delivery
The Gaza Strip’s only power plant has resumed work, temporarily preventing a worsening of the energy crisis in the Palestinian coastal territory. Officials said it was operating, but at a reduced capacity, after diesel fuel was sent from Egypt. Engineers hope to restore it to full working order within days.

Republican senators’ revolt puts health bill in jeopardy
Four Republican senators have expressed reservations about their party’s plan to repeal Obamacare, throwing the health bill’s fate into uncertainty. Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson, Mike Lee and Rand Paul said they were “not ready to vote for this bill”, but were “open to negotiation”. The Senate’s Republican leader unveiled his plan to overhaul the US healthcare system after drafting it in secret.

Under pressure, Western tech firms bow to Russian demands to share cyber secrets
Western technology companies, including Cisco, IBM and SAP, are acceding to demands by Moscow for access to closely guarded product security secrets… Russian authorities are asking Western tech companies to allow them to review source code for security products such as firewalls, anti-virus applications and software containing encryption before permitting the products to be imported and sold in the country.

Japanese warship takes Asian guests on cruise in defiance of China
Japan’s largest warship steamed into the South China Sea this week in defiance of Chinese assertiveness, with Asian military guests on board to witness helicopters looping over the tropical waters and gunners blasting target buoys. China claims most of the energy-rich sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year, much of it to and from Japanese ports. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

North Korea Presents US With List Of Demands
North Korean Ambassador to India Kye Chun Yong, in an interview Wednesday, said his country is willing to halt nuclear and missile tests if the United States agrees to meet a list of demands.

Democratic congressman: Our ‘toxic’ brand under Pelosi makes it hard to win
Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, says the Democratic Party’s “toxic” brand under House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is making it difficult for their party to connect with voters.

Is The American Empire’s War Machine Running Out Of Steam?
“Years of complex operations and the ongoing demands of units in the field have left the armed forces struggling to maintain both operational capacity and high levels of readiness, according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office.” 

High-rise building with 27 floors goes up in flames, yet doesn’t uniformly collapse like WTC 7.. ever wonder why? 
…Bombshell truth: It is physically impossible for common fires to melt concrete or steel If you are not even familiar with Building 7, it is probably because the news media was quick to cover it up because it didn’t fit the official narrative that airplanes brought down the World Trade Center towers. Building 7 was not even hit by an airplane, and yet it collapsed just like the other two in perfect downward formation, almost like it was detonated.

Scary, infectious SUPERBUG just spread to five more U.S. states, including some in the Midwest
A deadly, hard-to-spot “superbug” yeast is rapidly infiltrating American hospitals. In June 2016, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned clinics about the emergence of a new multidrug-resistant yeast strain called Candida auris. Two months later the first seven cases of C. auris. infection were recorded in the United States. The yeast causes severe illness and has a high mortality rate, especially among high-risk, hospitalized newborns and elderly.

Hillary Not “Out Of The Woods”: Arkansas Bar Considers Disciplinary Action Over Email Scandal
It seems that Hillary Clinton may not be “out of the woods” just yet as a New York attorney has filed a “misconduct complaint” against Clinton with the Arkansas bar accusing her of “dishonest behavior” and “lying under oath”…allegations that could result in disciplinary actions by the middle


Obamacare Unraveling as GOP Set to Unveil Fix

According to LifeZette:

The Affordable Care Act continued its inevitable collapse Wednesday when Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield announced it would be pulling out of most of the Wisconsin and Indiana marketplaces.

The bad news for Obamacare followed on the heels of Anthem’s announcement in early June that it would be withdrawing from Ohio’s marketplaces. Roughly 46,000 Hoosiers purchased health care coverage from Anthem on the exchange, while approximately 14,000 Wisconsinites purchased Anthem’s coverage.

View article →


The Seven Fatal Flaws of Moral Relativism

Is there a right way and a wrong way for people to behave? The moral relativists would say, “whatever floats your boat.”  “Wintery Knight” tackles moral relativism.

Moral relativism is the view that moral values and moral duties do not exist in reality, but only exist as opinions in people’s minds. When you ask a moral relativist where the belief that stealing is wrong comes from, he may tell you that it is his opinion, or that it is the opinion of most people in his society. But he cannot tell you that stealing is wrong independent of what people think, because morality (on moral relativism) is just personal preference.

So what’s wrong with it?

I found this list of the seven flaws of moral relativism at the Salvo magazine web site.

Here’s the summary:

View article →


Dr. Tim Ball Crushes Climate Change: The Biggest Deception In History

“With a 50-year academic career focusing on Historical Climatology, Dr. Tim Ball is uniquely qualified to address man-made climate change, and he demonstrates that it is a flat-out hoax. Thinking people everywhere should get multiple copies of this book and hand them out to everyone they know.” 

In a piece over at Technocracy News, Dr. Tim Ballx informs us that:

President Trump was correct to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. He could have explained that the science was premeditated and deliberately orchestrated to demonize CO2 for a political agenda. Wisely, he simply explained that it was a bad deal for the United States because it gave a competitive economic edge to other nations, especially China. A majority of Americans think he was wrong, but more would disagree if he got lost in the complexities of the science. I speak from experience having taught a Science credit course for 25 years for the student population that mirrors society with 80 percent of them being Arts students. Promoters of what is called anthropogenic global warming (AGW) knew most people do not understand the science and exploited it.

View article →


No, We Don’t Want Barbie to Date a Ken with a Man Bun

Mattel has introduced a new “dolled-up toy collection with feminized figurines.” Just imagine what the toy maker has planned for kids next.  LifeZette has the story:

After introducing a new batch of Barbie dolls last year, Mattel is rebooting the Ken doll. And the most surprising version of the new male counterparts to Barbie is the one with a man bun.

Other new versions of Ken dolls include the “slim” and the “broad” variety. New hairstyles include the previously mentioned man bun — as well as cornrows. There are also six skin tones available for these dolls.

View article →


Are The ‘Toxic’ Democrats Destined To Become A Permanent Minority Party?

It has become exceedingly clear that the Democratic Party is in deep trouble.  Close to 55 million dollars was spent on the race in Georgia’s sixth congressional district, and that shattered all kinds of records.  Democrat Jon Ossoff was able to raise and spend six times as much money as Karen Handel and yet he still lost.  This was supposed to be the race that would show the American people that the Democrats could take back control of Congress in 2018, and so for the Democrats this was a bitter failure.  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee actually injected almost 5 million dollars into the race themselves, and Planned Parenthood threw in another $700,000.  But after all of the time, effort and energy that was expended, Handel still won fairly comfortably. (Read More…)


The Way Congress Is Handling Health Care Shows Why They Only Have A 17 Percent Approval Rating

The Senate health care bill was unveiled on Thursday, and it appears to be dead on arrival.  At least four conservative senators say that they can’t vote for the current version because it doesn’t go far enough, while several moderate Republicans are expressing concerns that it goes too far in repealing popular Obamacare provisions.  You can read the full text of the bill here.  Since Democrats are going to be united in voting against any bill that the Republicans put forward, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose two Republican votes if he wants something to pass.  I don’t know how that is going to be possible, and so in the end we may be stuck with Obamacare for the foreseeable future and that would be a total disaster. (Read More…)


If The U.S. Continues To Creep Toward World War 3, Eventually It Is Going To Happen

After a bit of a lull for the past couple of months, the march toward war appears to be accelerating once again. On Monday the U.S. military shot down yet another Syrian aircraft, and it appears that President Trump’s patience with North Korea’s nuclear program may have run out. Unlike our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the situations in Syria and North Korea both have the potential of sparking a much wider conflict. If we end up in a war with Syria, it is very likely that we will ultimately be fighting the Russians and the Iranians as well. On the other side of the globe, a war with North Korea could also potentially draw in China. This happened in the first Korean War, and it could easily happen again. It is understandable that the Trump administration wants to be tough with both Syria and North Korea, but we need to be extremely careful about the use of military force because one wrong move could potentially spark World War 3. (Read More…)


Restaurant Die-Off Is First Casualty Of California’s $15 Minimum Wage

The good news is more people are cooking at home. I guess.

Look, reality is reality. Restaurants, many anyway, operate on thin margins. A forced higher wage means margins disappear as does the incentive to stay open.

If the work isn’t WORTH $15 an hour and the minimum wage is $15 an hour, that work will go away. It’s not complicated.

Read More

With Shadow Government Firmly In Place, Obama Returns To The Campaign Trail In Bid To Save Democrat Party

Former president Barack Obama is making his first campaign foray of 2017, agreeing to stump for Democrat Ralph Northam in his bid to be Virginia’s next governor.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Obama has returned and is planning on being very vocal as he starts the process of rallying the troops to resist the Trump administration. The Democrats have lost race after race since Trump era took over, and are desperate for a win. Any win, anywhere. Obama is set up in his new DC mansion mere blocks from Trump, and has pockets overflowing with money from George Soros. Let the games begin.

David Turner, a spokesman for Northam, said the former president agreed this week to hit the campaign trail for Northam, but said he wouldn’t “go into any further detail about the private conversations that Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam had with President Barack Obama.”

An aide to Obama confirmed that the former president agreed to campaign for Northam during a congratulatory call, although no events have been planned. The HuffPost first reported Obama’s plans to campaign for Northam.

The Virginia governor’s race, one of just two gubernatorial contests this year, is shaping up as the next high-profile electoral contest in the era of President Trump. It follows a couple of Democratic losses in high-profile special elections to fill congressional vacancies, including the House race in Georgia earlier this week that became the most expensive in U.S. history.

Obama has no intention of ‘going quietly’ as he comes back to resist Trump:

Obama, who carried Virginia in 2008 and 2012, could help Northam improve his support among younger voters and solidify his strong backing from African American voters. Northam’s strongholds in the Democratic primary were in the “Urban Crescent,” the heavily populated areas of northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads.

Northam faces Ed Gillespie, a longtime Republican operative and party leader, in November. Gillespie spokesman David Abrams dismissed the potential appeal of the former president.

“How many Democratic surrogates is it going to take to try to drag the lieutenant governor across the finish line?,” he said. “Virginians deserve to hear from candidates directly, in their own voices, about their own ideas and proposals.”

The swamp fights back:

Eric Holder, of ‘Fast and Furious‘ fame in the Mexican gun running episode that resulted in the death of an American border patrol agent, has been chosen to head up the ominous sounding “Democrat redistricting” effort. 

Obama stayed out of the hard-fought Democratic primary between Northam and former congressman Tom Perriello. Northam, who beat Perriello in last Tuesday’s election, called former attorney general Eric H. Holder Jr. with an appeal to prevent Obama from endorsing in the race, according to a Democrat familiar with the call.

But Perriello, who lost his seat in Congress over his vote for Obamacare and then went on to work for the Obama administration, invoked the former president anyway, airing footage of him with Obama in campaign ads.

Since leaving office, Obama has stayed in the political fray, condemning Trump’s travel ban and decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accords, as well as Republican attempts to gut his signature health-care law.

This is the mess that Obama has been brought back to fix:

But he did not campaign for Democrats in congressional elections this year, though he did cut a video endorsing Emmanuel Macron in the French presidential election.

Obama has said redistricting will be his primary cause. He has said he wants to help rebuild Democratic strength by preventing Republicans from drawing legislative maps that are favorable to them and will define the political landscape for the next decade. The National Democratic Redistricting Committee, chaired by Holder, has made Virginia’s gubernatorial and House of Delegate races its first campaign targets. At a Democratic fundraiser in Richmond last weekend, Holder said Virginia is at the “epicenter of the political universe in 2017” and promised that his group will bring Democratic all-stars to the campaign trail. source

Mid-Day Snapshot

June 23, 2017

The GOP Senate Takes a Swing at ObamaCare

The House had its turn, and now the upper chamber takes a crack. It’s both disappointing and a first step.

The Foundation

“Amplification is the vice of modern oratory.” —Thomas Jefferson (1824)


This ‘n’ That

  • Good news, this is not Rosemary’s baby.
  • Here’s an interesting snapshot of occupations in the Bible (HT: Elizabeth Prata).
  • It’s hard to ignore Augustine when you’re talking about grace.
  • The discussion surrounding the idea of the eternal subordination of the Son (ESS) is still ongoing.
  • Um, this is weird, right?
  • Waiting on God? Be mindful not to be impatient.
  • Lysa Terkeust is a dangerous teacher, and ladies would do well to steer clear of her in this regard. Terkeust also recently announced that she is pursuing a divorce from her husband. Her stated reasons are biblical and, even as we avoid her as a “Bible” teacher, we should still nevertheless pray for her and not take joy in her sorrow.
  • So what you’re saying is, “Ken” will now never be fictionally married to “Barbie” because, let’s face it, who is going to marry a guy sporting a man-bun?
  • There have been some recent updates to the James Macdonald/Harvest Bible Chapel saga.
  • I had never heard of verse mapping before. Thanks for warning us, Michelle!
  • Sigh. Does this really exist?
  • This is a helpful overview of multiple sclerosis.
  • I don’t actually know what a fidget spinner is, but I’m pretty sure it’s not something we need to aid us in teaching biblical doctrine.
  • Rather than giving them [internet polemicists] the attention they crave, I urge you to step out of their audience and to pray for them to humble themselves and allow godly leaders to come alongside them and disciple them not just in doctrine, but in Christian love as well.” Amen.
  • I’m still in the process of listening to this sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones on the glory of the cross:

Featured Blogs


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: June 23

  • One year after Brexit: Forget euro zone breakup, sterling now deemed riskier (Read More)
  • Senate Holdouts Seek Upper Hand in Perilous Health Bill Talks (Read More)
  • Senate Bill Poses Risks to Health-Care Companies (Read More)
  • Trump’s Tape Ruse Risks Fresh Legal Jeopardy in Russia Probe (Read More)
  • Arab states demand Qatar closes Jazeera, cuts back ties to Iran (Read More)
  • Qatar Seen Rejecting List of Severe Demands to End Gulf Crisis (Read More)
  • Turkey rejects call to shut military base in Qatar (Read More)
  • From Music to Maps, How Apple’s iPhone Changed Business (Read More)
  • How Killing Obamacare Might Save Obamacare, For a While (Read More)
  • Baghdadi death near 100 percent certain: Interfax quotes Russian senator (Read More)
  • Japanese warship takes Asian guests on cruise in defiance of China (Read More)
  • FBI Director Nominee’s Client List Could Hinder Oversight of Investigations (Read More)
  • Buffett’s Home Capital Bet Backs Turbulent Canada Housing Market (Read More)
  • China’s authorities tighten noose around online video content (Read More)
  • Deadly London apartment blaze began in Hotpoint fridge freezer, police say (Read More)
  • Trump’s Steel Tariff Threat Faces Resistance From Lawmakers (Read More)
  • ‘Fair’ or ‘vague’? EU sizes up May’s Brexit rights offer (Read More)
  • Canada Ponders an Unusual Drug Problem: a Shortage of Marijuana (Read More)
  • North Korea tests rocket engine, possibly for ICBM: U.S. officials (Read More)
  • Venezuelan soldier shoots protester dead in airbase attack, minister says (Read More)

Top Headlines – 6/23/2017

Top PA official accuses Israel of inciting, glorifying terror

After attacks, officials seek ‘unprecedented’ Damascus Gate security boost

Abbas said enraged by Kushner meet, refuses to cut any prisoner salaries

Abbas accuses Netanyahu of using ‘racist rhetoric’

Liberman: Abbas is dragging Israel into war with Hamas

Greenblatt outraged at Hamas’ inhumanity

In First, Germany to Send Fighter Jets to Train in Israel

Posing as environmentalists, Hezbollah digging in at border, Israel tells UN

Iranians parade missiles, shout ‘death to Israel’ in annual rally

Iranian regime-linked media claims Israeli F16s are in Saudi Arabia

Massive Iranian funding for anti-Israel terror groups revealed

US anti-ISIS envoy vows not to let Iran threaten Israel from Syrian Golan

Fears Grow That U.S. Is Inching Toward Bigger Role in Syria War

Will Syria Be the Next Libya – or Worse?

Canadian sniper sets world record with 2.2-mile pickoff of ISIS fighter

Russia fires missiles from Mediterranean at IS in Syria

Russian Foreign Minister: High degree of certainty ISIS leader is dead

Report: US, Russia, Jordan agree on safe zone in Syria’s Daraa

Iraqis: IS blew up mosque in ‘formal declaration of defeat’

Video Refutes ISIS Claim That U.S. Blew Up Mosque

Islamic group salutes a Jewish agency for fighting Trump’s refugee ban

New Zealand farmer arrested for selling sheep as sex slaves to ISIS

US judge halts deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians

‘I feel betrayed’: the Somali refugees sent from safety into a war zone

Saudi crown prince’s ascendancy gives hope of reform – but it may be premature

Qatar Airways seeks 10% stake in American Airlines amid Middle East dispute

Qatar’s neighbors issue long list of demands to end crisis

Saudi Arabia, other Arab nations demand that Qatar close Al-Jazeera, cut diplomatic ties to Iran, shutter Turkish base

Iran nuclear chief warns US over support for Saudi Arabia

New Iran Deals for Airbus Jets Increase Pressure on Trump

US tells Turkey it will take back weapons from Kurdish militia

Germany files espionage charges against alleged Turkish spy

US-led coalition building global jihadist database, envoy reveals

Israeli forces brace for last Friday of Ramadan prayers

Ramadan earns prime spot on Gulf fashion calendar

Christians, Muslims, Jews break bread in interfaith Morocco initiative

S. Korean leader observes missile test amid North’s threats

North Korea tests rocket engine, possibly for ICBM: U.S. officials

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un uses terrifyingly creative methods to kill enemies

North Korea denies torturing US student Warmbier

North Korea: Tillerson, Mattis still playing China card with Pyongyang

Virginia man charged with espionage for giving top-secret documents to China

US House Speaker says House wants to move on Iran, Russia sanctions bill

Russia’s Lavrov says new US sanctions harm ties with Washington

Grassley blames Comey for false Trump narrative: ‘Played right into Russia’s hands’

Trump publicly doubting that Russia meddled in election

Trump calls Russian collusion claims a ‘HOAX!’

No tapes: Trump says he didn’t record meetings with Comey

Sealing and transfer of Susan Rice records angers House committee investigating ‘unmasking’

Hillary Not “Out Of The Woods”: Arkansas Bar Considers Disciplinary Action Over Email Scandal

Johnny Depp jokes about killing Donald Trump in Glastonbury appearance

Johnny Depp on Donald Trump: Crime or free speech?

Elise Jordan Says Defending Trump ‘Like Hugging a Suicide Bomber’

30 GOP Congressmen Have Been Attacked or Threatened Since May

Democratic congressman: Our ‘toxic’ brand under Pelosi makes it hard to win

Pelosi says she’s staying: ‘I think I’m worth the trouble’

‘Klu Klux Klan still active in 33 states’

One year on, Brexit vote casts specter of anti-Semitism over UK Jews

Brexit’s true meaning remains elusive a year on

UK seeks to reassure EU citizens they can stay after Brexit

Venezuela’s Shortages Spur Perilous Sea Journeys

Xi Jinping Is Set for a Big Gamble With China’s Carbon Trading Market

Beijing wages war on ‘Chinglish’ to prevent translation gaffes

George Orwell’s son says his father’s ‘1984’ was ‘prescient’

CEO Sleepout criticised as ‘dystopian’ for homeless simulation with VR headsets

Mexican president denies spying on journalists with Israeli tech

Washington State University warns 1 million about stolen hard drive containing personal data

Stolen American malware used to take over traffic cameras in Australia

Radio powered by your own sweat hints at future of wearables

Facebook changes mission statement to ‘bring the world closer together’

6.8 magnitude earthquake hits near Puerto San Jose, Guatemala

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Kuripan, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Kuril Islands

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Pucon, Chile

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Klyuchevskoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 18,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 17,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 11,000ft

Ulawun volcano in Papua New Guinea erupts to 10,000ft

Guatemala landslide death toll rises to 12

Tropical Depression Cindy is Moving Inland over the Lower Mississippi Valley; Life-Threatening Flash Flooding Possible as Storm Reaches Ohio Valley

Men kayak through flooded Louisiana streets after Cindy makes landfall

Life-threatening heat wave to retain its grip on southwestern US into the weekend

Phoenix sets heat record for third day in a row

Heat wave causes increase in burns in Phoenix

Selfies could be causing more cases of lice in teenagers

CDC Warns About Growing Threat of C. Auris Superbug Infections

Flu vaccine ineffective for people 65 and older last winter

War-Torn Yemen to Get Cholera Vaccines as Death Toll Mounts

United States rejects UN call for access to safe abortions

Charges Dropped Against Undercover Activists Who Exposed Planned Parenthood in California

In US, 10.2% of LGBT Adults Now Married to Same-Sex Spouse

Trump Admin. Transgender Student Pronoun Policy Is ‘Compelled Speech Violation,’ Liberty Counsel Says

LGBT Groups: Conservative Christians ‘Have No Place in Government’

California is restricting publicly funded travel to states that leaders view as discriminatory against gay and transgender people

Mississippi can enforce LGBT religious objections law: court

NYPD Issues New Rules to Accommodate Cops Who Want to Identify as Different Gender

Venice’s first female gondolier announces he’s transgender

Russian priest says men should grow beards to ‘protect themselves from homosexuality’

Germany votes to void thousands of post-Nazi convictions of gay men

A Transgender Man’s Changing Relationship to Judaism

3,500 at first Beersheba gay pride parade; man arrested with knife

As women go to jail in record numbers, who’s watching out for their kids? No one.

Legal pot and car crashes: Yes, there’s a link

Balfour – A Call To Repent

Victoria Osteen – Choose to Serve Positive Thinking per Joshua 24:15

Hitler’s Plan to Replace Christianity With a “New” Christianity

Calif. Episcopal Bishop Sanctioned for Trying to Sell Church for $15M Against Wishes of Congregation

Former United Pentecostal Church Pastor, Wife Arrested for Being Drunk at Bar With Baby

New York State to ‘do what it takes’ to end church’s prolife ministry

Texas Daycare Operators Found “Actually Innocent” of Satanic Child Abuse After 25 Years

Minneapolis Encourages Snitching on Citizens for “Hate Speech” with ‘Shariah Hotline’

Germany Raids Homes of 36 People Accused of Hateful Postings Over Social Media

Violent thunderstorms hit Germany, two people killed, one seriously injured

Posted: 23 Jun 2017 07:01 AM PDT

Violent thunderstorms hit Germany on Thursday, June 22, 2017, producing gale-force winds, heavy rain and large hail. The storms caused widespread damage and traffic chaos,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Virginia man charged with espionage for giving top-secret documents to China

Posted: 23 Jun 2017 06:37 AM PDT

A Virginia man has been charged with espionage for transmitting top-secret documents to Chinese officials. Kevin Patrick Mallory, 60, was arrested Thursday at his home…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Tom Cruise Was Once a Bible-Reading, “Born-Again Christian” that Converted To Scientology

Posted: 23 Jun 2017 06:33 AM PDT

Actor Curtis Armstrong claims in his upcoming book that megastar Tom Cruise read the Bible and identified as a born-again Christian in his early career…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian Pro-Lifers Sued by New York Atty. Gen. for ‘Harassment’ Outside Abortion Clinic

Posted: 23 Jun 2017 06:26 AM PDT

New York Attorney Gen. Eric Schneiderman has filed a federal lawsuit against a coalition of Christian pro-life protesters who’ve been accused of threatening patients, staff and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Christian Woman Ordered by Police to Stop Praying in Her Home Loses in Court

Posted: 23 Jun 2017 06:20 AM PDT

The United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against a Kansas Catholic woman who claims that she was ordered by police to stop…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

California AG bans state-funded travel to Texas, 3 other states in response to Anti-LGBT Rights

Posted: 23 Jun 2017 06:15 AM PDT

California’s attorney general blocked state-funded travel to Texas and three other states on Thursday in response to what he considers anti-LGBT rights laws enacted this…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea tests suspected ICBM rocket engine

Posted: 22 Jun 2017 07:34 PM PDT

North Korea has reportedly carried out another test of a space rocket engine, which could be used for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Colorado to arm teachers in classrooms

Posted: 22 Jun 2017 07:28 PM PDT

Teachers are being trained to carry guns in classrooms in Colorado in order to protect children as part of a scheme motivated by a school…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT: Venice’s first female gondolier announces he’s transgender

Posted: 22 Jun 2017 07:22 PM PDT

A gondolier who made headlines a decade ago for being the first woman to enter the male-dominated cadre of Venice’s canal rowers has announced he…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT: NYC Lays Out Welcome Mat for Cops to Come Out as Transgender

Posted: 22 Jun 2017 11:54 AM PDT

The New York City Police Department has laid out guidelines for how police officers with gender dysphoria can come out to their superiors as transgender…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Young Christian Girl Forced to Pray Muslim Prayer, Told to Forget Jesus to Pass Class in Philippines

Posted: 22 Jun 2017 11:44 AM PDT

A young Christian schoolgirl in the Philippines recalled how teachers forced her to pray a Muslim prayer in order to pass a class, and ignored…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christians and Jews Combat Witches’ Summer Solstice Satanic Spells on Trump

Posted: 22 Jun 2017 11:31 AM PDT

Witches around the world cast spells against President Trump once again last night, attempting to #BindTrump on the summer solstice.  The witches have been waging spiritual…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT: Are You Ready for the LGBT Bible App?

Posted: 22 Jun 2017 11:23 AM PDT

An LGBT activist is creating a new Bible app targeting “progressive” Christians who often feel marginalized by church and biblical traditions. “At its core, the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Face-Detecting Systems Will Soon Authorize Payments

Posted: 22 Jun 2017 11:19 AM PDT

Face-detecting systems in China now authorize payments, provide access to facilities and track down criminals. According to the current MIT Technology Review, this technology may soon…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn’t decide or didn’t care. But Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today don’t understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They’re content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That’s why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).

C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!

JESUS IS HOLY

God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13).

As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy (Hebrews 4:15). Even His enemies couldn’t prove any accusation against Him (John 8:46)

God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

Our failure to obey God—to be holy—places us in danger of eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ … died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

Some people think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless

If you take poison—thinking it’s medicine—all the faith in the world won’t restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you’re trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God—then and forever.

JESUS IS LORD

Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority (Philippians 2:10-11). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection—the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son (Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31).

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That doesn’t mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge.

Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you—free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose. Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to YouYou may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/connect/copyright).


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Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Marks of a Faithful Church”

Code: B170623

Without a doubt, the question we receive most frequently at Grace to You is, “How do I find a good church in my area?”

Locating a faithful, biblically sound church is a struggle most believers face at one time or another in their lives. Sometimes it’s difficult to even know what to look for in the first place.

Compounding the problem significantly, too many Christians put their own tastes, interests, and preferences first in the search for a church. They draw all sorts of unnecessary and unbiblical lines regarding issues of secondary importance, if that. But the measure of the church has nothing to do with style—it’s a question of substance.

In his sermon, “Marks of a Faithful Church,” John MacArthur highlights several attributes and qualities that signify a faithful church. Reflecting on his shared history with the congregation, John considers the foundational convictions that have guided his ministry and grounded the life of the church. In that regard, these ecclesiastical attributes make up the criteria for gauging the health and faithfulness of a church.

Without spoiling his full list, here are some excerpts. With regard to the value of doctrinal clarity, John says:

I remember years ago doing a series on Ephesians 6 on the sword of the Spirit. . . . “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” [Ephesians 6:17]. And you say, “Well boy I’ve got the sword. I own a Bible.” You can own a million Bibles and not have the sword. It’s not having a Bible that equips you to fight the spiritual war. You can’t fight it with the Bible. You have to fight it with the theology that’s in it. Do you understand that? Having the sword is not a matter of owning a Bible. It’s a matter of knowing the content of it so that whatever comes your way, whatever temptation, whatever attack, whatever issue comes your way you can go directly to the Word of God and you can say, “This is the mind of Christ, this is the truth,” and with that you are armed.

Another criterion John highlights is the importance of personal holiness within the congregation. On the need for discipline in the church, he says:

Judgment begins with the household of God. Listen, the Lord is disciplining His church. Revelation 1 says He’s moving in His church, and the image there—His eyes are like lasers penetrating to see the reality of what’s going on in His church. And His feet are like blazing, burnished bronzed or brass as He goes through His church inflicting whatever chastening He needs on those that sin. Personal holiness is critical.

I’m not talking about false piety. Nothing is more noxious to God than false spirituality, superficiality. I’m not talking about legalism. I’m not talking about external kind of things. I’m talking about the heart. Isaiah 66, to whom does the Lord look and whom does He seek? He who has a contrite spirit and “trembles at My Word.” He wants humility; He wants virtue in His church.

If you’re looking for a new church, or if you simply want to biblically evaluate the one you’re currently attending, “Marks of a Faithful Church” is an excellent place to start.

To listen to “Marks of a Faithful Church,” click here.

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170623
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

15 Marks of a Disciple of Jesus

Christianity is not a club.

Jesus does not want cheerleaders or groupies. Following Christ is not about T-shirts, slogans, or hashtags. Jesus calls us to be children of his Father. He calls us to be his disciples.

Because Jesus has a unique role in God’s plan of salvation, he is more than an example. The best mirror we find in the Gospel accounts is not Jesus, but his disciples.

15 Marks of a Disciple of Jesus

Here are fifteen things we learn about being a disciple of Jesus from the Gospel of Luke.

1. A disciple is called (Luke 5:1–11).

Jesus didn’t need a recruiter. He called and his disciples “left everything and followed him.” Likewise, God calls us as disciples, not because we are worthy, but because of his grace (2 Timothy 1:9).

2. A disciple is taught (Luke 6:20–49).

Jesus spent a lot of time teaching his disciples about reality. Who did the Messiah come for? Who is worthy of salvation? What is the kingdom of God? We are just as ignorant and resistant to the truth; we need instruction.

3. A disciple is a follower (Luke 7:11).

Inherent in the definition of a disciple is one who does not choose his own direction, causes, or values. Disciples follow Jesus.

4. A disciple is aware of the kingdom of God (Luke 8:9–10).

Jesus reveals truth to his disciples that is obscured to others. Because God’s kingdom is not worldly or political, we must be taught the values and requirements of the King.

5. A disciple is a servant (Luke 9:14–17).

Jesus’ disciples got their hands dirty, distributing multiplied food to the hungry people. Sometimes walking with Jesus means picking up bread crusts and fish bones.

6. A disciple is sent to proclaim the kingdom of God (Luke 9:1–6; 10:1–12).

Jesus sent his twelve apostles and then seventy-two others as laborers in a plentiful harvest (Luke 10:2). As those sent with a message to proclaim, his disciples were in danger as lambs among wolves (Luke 10:3) because they were announcing a different king. The heavenly kingdom they announced valued peace (Luke 10:5) and healing (Luke 10:9), not riches and power. Challenging existing authority structures is often unpopular.

7. A disciple confesses Jesus as the Christ (Luke 9:18–20).

Peter famously confessed Jesus as “the Christ of God.” This is the most important question we face as well: Who do you say Jesus is? We must answer this daily, reorienting our priorities, passions, and purpose around the Messiah.

8. A disciple is a witness (Luke 10:23–24).

The apostles walked with Jesus. Many longed to see what they saw. This is part of God’s “gracious will” (Luke 10:21). We also witness the love and power of Jesus through his Word and his work in the world. The arena is much bigger now, but his disciples still sit court-side.

9. A disciple denies himself and takes up his cross (Luke 9:23–27).

A disciple’s life was not glamorous or lucrative. It was full of hardship and danger. Make no mistake—if your highest values are comfort, peace, and safety, you will lose your life. But if you lose your life for Jesus’ sake, you will save it.

10. A disciple is committed (Luke 9:57–62).

Jesus teaches that following him is not easy; it requires everything. “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

11. A disciple is a cross-bearer and a cost-counter (Luke 14:26–33).

Following Jesus is serious and costly. It may cost family and friends; it may cost time and comfort; it may even cost your life. Jesus says, “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.”

12. A disciple is rebuked by Jesus (Luke 18:15–17).

When we submit to Jesus as Lord, we acknowledge his perfection, wisdom, and authority to correct us—and we need a lot of correction! The disciples were rebuked by Jesus, and if we do not know the same, we’re probably not encountering the Lord. This ongoing process happens as we read his Word and interact with his people. God’s rebuke is evidence of his love for his children.

13. A disciple praises God (Luke 19:33–40).

When disciples see Jesus clearly, the “King who comes in the name of the Lord,” they rejoice and praise the Father who sent his Son. Following Jesus is not primarily about doing, but worshiping.

14. A disciple spends time with his Master (Luke 22:11, 39, 45).

In the hours before his arrest, Jesus yearned for time with his disciples. They ate with him, talked with him, and sang with him. As God changes our hearts and gives us new desires, chief among them will be love for him. We seek and spend time with those we love.

15. A disciple is redeemed, comforted, and dispatched to the world (Luke 24:36–53).

Jesus seeks out his disciples after his resurrection, though they were absent at his crucifixion and burial. He speaks peace and comfort to them. He died for their sins and rose from the grave so they also could have new life. As he sent his disciples into the world with the promise of the Spirit (v. 49), so he also sends us.

Disciple, Will You Take Up Your Cross?

There is no place for pride among those who follow Jesus (Luke 22:24–27). We are called, taught, directed, equipped, and corrected by our Master. We cannot meet our greatest need—reconciliation with God—and we often bristle at this reality.

But Jesus is a loving Savior. When we confess our pride, he graciously restores us. Our sin-debt has already been paid, so he doesn’t hold it against us. He is also the Risen King, who replaces our pride with humility, through the work of his Spirit within us.

Jesus continues to call us today. Will you take up your cross as a disciple and follow the One who was taken up on the cross for you?

The post 15 Marks of a Disciple of Jesus appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

Narcissus Revises Christianity, Makes It Liberal

In Book III of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Narcissus pines away, looking at his own reflection, until he dies and turns into a flower.  Many misread Ovid’s character as someone conceited and self-absorbed.  In the Latin tale, he does not know that the beautiful boy he sees is himself until he has already descended into madness.

Narcissus cannot love anyone, but he suddenly falls in love with an unreachable beauty – a face in a pool – who causes him to experience the rejection and inconsolable yearning his own coldness has inflicted on others.  His unattainable object of desire is actually, as he gradually realizes, himself: “Oh, I am he!  Oh, now I know for sure the image is my own; it’s for myself I burn with love; I fan the flames I feel…my riches beggar me.”

Narcissism is a self-deceiving act producing affection only for things that unwittingly reflect one’s self.  The narcissist fails to know Christ, for example, because he can love Christ only when Christ resembles a man just like him.  The narcissist does not realize he worships himself, but he does.

Christian Narcissus

I have noted an “uptick” in the number of articles about Christianity in liberal circles.  Most have focused on supposedly new spiritualities that flatter a progressive, pro-choice, and pro-gay worldview.  The New Republic, New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Washington Post, and other left-leaning papers ran stories about religion in close succession.  Consider this subtle title from the New York Times: “Religious Liberals Sat Out of Politics for 40 Years; Now They Want in the Game.”

Pro-gay groups decided to “surround” the Southern Baptist Convention’s yearly meeting in Phoenix, demanding that the staunchly conservative congregation reverse its biblical view on homosexuality, supposedly for the sake of youths who might kill themselves.

Since “winsome” and “charitable” are the orders of the day, I will behave generously and not assume that such liberals are heretics, Satanic, or agents of evil.  I will assume they are simply narcissists, falling into the same trap that ensnared Ovid’s youth.  They are projecting onto Christ their own minds and then imagining that what they see is not really, in the end, a vain reflection of themselves.

Below are eight of the most common narcissistic lines we hear again and again:

  1. “Jesus cared about the poor a lot more than he did about sin.”

Democrats have created a paradox for themselves by splicing greed from lust, reading financial selfishness as cruel but sexual selfishness as benign.  Few eras have imagined that “concupiscence” or “earthly desire” could be transformed from an evil into an objective good, if only transferred from money to carnality.

Jesus emphasized that people who care about earthly pleasures will lose eternal life.  In John 17, Jesus says He is not of this world, and neither are those who believe in Him.  Democrats understand this in part, correctly seeing that people who care most about getting rich tend to trample holiness.  But sin includes more than money.  In John 8:34, Jesus states, “[E]veryone who commits sin is a slave of sin,” and the only way to be free of slavery is to follow His truth.

Eternal damnation is the punishment for failing to help those in need (Matthew 25), but nowhere does Jesus say people must eradicate poverty entirely or focus on poverty relief to the exclusion of other forms of holiness.  In Mark 12:43, Jesus praises the widow who gave all she owned to the temple, leaving herself destitute.  He did not state that the temple should give her money back to her so she would not be poor.  Most importantly, in Matthew 26:11, Jesus says, “You always have the poor with you.”  The text presents Judas Iscariot, the great traitor, as the one disciple who griped so much about Jesus’s refusal to make charity for the poor the sole focus of ministry.

  1. “You have no right to tell people who’s a real Christian.”

Jesus repeatedly warns against false prophets (Mark 13:22), blind fools leading other blind people into pits (Matthew 15:14), and hypocrites who say long prayers only for show (Mark 12:40).  Those who have authority and mislead others “will receive harsher punishment.”  In John 8:31, He states, “if you continue in My word, you really are My disciples,” followed by the harsh point, “[b]ecause you cannot listen to my Word, you are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires.”  The gospels demand corrective responses to falsehood.  Jesus is firm when he rebukes Peter for being so misdirected, saying “Get behind me, Satan, because you think not of God’s concerns, but man’s!” (Mark 8:33).

  1. “Out of love and kindness, you should respect my view of Christianity.”

Jesus said it was crucial to love others as we expect to be loved.  But He also reminded people of the highest Mosaic law: “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength” (Mark 12:30).  Turning the other cheek is not the same thing as sitting quietly while someone defiles God’s Name with false teachings.  While Jesus was gentle – as we should be, too­ – toward people who sin for lack of self-command, Jesus was not gentle with the scribes, Pharisees, and false teachers.  Those who lead and teach others are not given the clemency shown to the woman caught in adultery (John 8:7) or the promiscuous Samaritan at the well (John 4:17).

The entire chapter of Matthew 23 involves a screed by Jesus Christ against the “brood of vipers,” the hypocrites like “whitewashed tombs” who have rotten hearts and spread their rot while claiming to be holy.  In Mark 9:42, Jesus says those who lead the young to stumble would be better off with millstones around their necks, cast into the sea.  And Jesus states that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the one sin that can never be pardoned (Matthew 12:32).  Christians can be tender and amicable toward a man who has engaged in lustful contact with men due to his insuppressible urges, but not to Rachel Held Evans when she tells her myriad Twitter followers that it’s okay to “be LGBT-affirming.”

  1. “Christ was a rebel.”

As the L.A. Times reports, LGBTs rallied against Trump.  Churches sent pro-gay contingents, including one lesbian who proclaimed, “Jesus resisted.”  Citing Jesus, she takes to the streets and shouts for violent confrontation with the people who supported Trump.

It is important to note that Barabbas was a rebel who fits the description of angry street forces – and it was Barabbas who was chosen by the doomed crowd that demanded that Jesus Christ be sacrificed in Barabbas’s stead.  Christ was a powerful presence, certainly, daring to overturn the money tables in the temple, but He conspicuously avoided behaving like the leader of a rebel movement.  He gathered a small number of disciples and sent them out to win souls with the Truth, then submitted to His execution willingly.  He was not Barabbas, and the crowd’s inability to differentiate between them was no small crime.

  1. “Christ said nothing about homosexuality, so we must endorse it as good.”

Jesus Christ gave us more than enough material so that we do not even need to consult Paul or the Old Testament to understand the problem with homosexuality.  Jesus states in John 8:31 that His disciples are those who “continue in” His “word.”  The Christian cannot skate by, when feeling urges, by scanning Jesus’s words to see if anything He said forbade such action (though there is much reason to discern that Jesus did forbid all unchaste behavior).  Rather, we can’t do anything that Jesus and scripture did not explicitly command us to do.  In Mark 8:34, Jesus says, “to be My follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Nowhere in the entire Bible is there any positive reference to same-sex activity, yet there are numerous vilifications of same-sex activity.  Jesus does tell us to engage in sex – with the opposite sex.  Jesus laid down a specific model for marriage in Matthew 19:4-12, referring back to Genesis and the fact that male and female were created for permanent unity as one flesh.  To those raising caveats, Jesus makes clear that if people cannot respect that model, they must live as a “eunuch” (Matthew 19:12) and have no marriage or sexual relations at all.  In addition, Jesus describes two sexual sins (adultery and sexual impurity) as “defilement” even if only spoken (Matthew 15:19).  The other defilements are evil thoughts, murder, theft, slander, and blasphemy.  Given the myriad references outside the four gospels labeling homosexuality defilement, abomination, unnatural, etc. – would you, if you felt same-sex desires, be willing to gamble your salvation on the pro-gay interpretation of Jesus?

  1. I speak “prophetically” to the world.

The idea of prophetic witness has surfaced in a number of places recently.  I saw, for instance, that some from the Princeton Theological Seminary justified their barring of Tim Keller from receiving an award by saying the seminary chooses to speak “prophetically” against homophobia.  Keller’s adherence to a scriptural view on homosexuality was a deal-breaker.

There were quite a few prophets in the Old Testament.  None of them sought to use the prestige of an established institution to chastise another child of God for championing chastity.  In the eyes of some liberal Christians, to speak “prophetically” seems to mean trumpeting fashionable ideas that go against what is actually written in the Bible.  The prophet is the voice in the wilderness, not the tenured professor in Princeton.

  1. We should “engage the culture.”

Often liberal Christians accuse conservatives of losing the culture by refusing to engage it.  This charge contradicts itself, since liberals invariably level this accusation at the conservative Christians attacked for sounding mean, sexist, or homophobic.  In truth, Christians who hang out at gay film festivals or enjoy pleasant lunches with Planned Parenthood executives are not engaging the culture.  They are kissing up to the ungodly powers of this world – quite the opposite of Jesus, who went to the outcasts and downtrodden, all the while telling them to repent, turn away from their sins, and live for God.

  1. Jesus listened to women, so Christians today should listen to women and respect their pro-choice position.

Jesus gathered twelve disciples and did not include a single female.  Nowhere does Jesus sit quietly and declare that a woman’s experience has inspired Him to reverse a godly principle so that women can be spared difficulty.  Of the many miracles of healing and demon-busting performed by Jesus, no abortion occurs.  The notion that women must abort so that they can avoid difficulty, ostracism, or a slowing of their career goes utterly against Jesus’s instructions to accept hardship and find strength in God and His Word.  Jesus tells us not to worry about tomorrow, to avoid stressing about clothing or money or a place to live, and to hedge against the error of gaining the world while losing our souls.  That He would suspend such philosophies upon hearing a pregnant woman say she can’t deal with the trials of giving birth and raising a child makes no sense, given His ministry and many statements about humility and putting others before ourselves.

There are so many more statements to debunk, but these eight are quite a lot to digest in one sitting.  The common thread in all these fallacies is the narcissistic trap of cooing over a Jesus who isn’t really Jesus, but rather a person just like the liberal looking for a God to mirror his own political agenda.  It is a timeless error with a timely urgency.

Source:  Narcissus Revises Christianity, Makes It Liberal

WSJ: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

The odds of life existing on another planet grow ever longer. Intelligent design, anyone?

In 1966 Time magazine ran a cover story asking: Is God Dead? Many have accepted the cultural narrative that he’s obsolete—that as science progresses, there is less need for a “God” to explain the universe. Yet it turns out that the rumors of God’s death were premature. More amazing is that the relatively recent case for his existence comes from a surprising place—science itself.

Here’s the story: The same year Time featured the now-famous headline, the astronomer Carl Sagan announced that there were two important criteria for a planet to support life: The right kind of star, and a planet the right distance from that star. Given the roughly octillion—1 followed by 27 zeros—planets in the universe, there should have been about septillion—1 followed by 24 zeros—planets capable of supporting life.

With such spectacular odds, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a large, expensive collection of private and publicly funded projects launched in the 1960s, was sure to turn up something soon. Scientists listened with a vast radio telescopic network for signals that resembled coded intelligence and were not merely random. But as years passed, the silence from the rest of the universe was deafening. Congress defunded SETI in 1993, but the search continues with private funds. As of 2014, researchers have discovered precisely bubkis—0 followed by nothing.

What happened? As our knowledge of the universe increased, it became clear that there were far more factors necessary for life than Sagan supposed. His two parameters grew to 10 and then 20 and then 50, and so the number of potentially life-supporting planets decreased accordingly. The number dropped to a few thousand planets and kept on plummeting.

Even SETI proponents acknowledged the problem. Peter Schenkel wrote in a 2006 piece for Skeptical Inquirer magazine: “In light of new findings and insights, it seems appropriate to put excessive euphoria to rest . . . . We should quietly admit that the early estimates . . . may no longer be tenable.”

As factors continued to be discovered, the number of possible planets hit zero, and kept going. In other words, the odds turned against any planet in the universe supporting life, including this one. Probability said that even we shouldn’t be here.

Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart. Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface. The odds against life in the universe are simply astonishing.

Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?

There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the “strong” and “weak” nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.

Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all “just happened” defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?

Fred Hoyle, the astronomer who coined the term “big bang,” said that his atheism was “greatly shaken” at these developments. He later wrote that “a common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with the physics, as well as with chemistry and biology . . . . The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies has said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming” and Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself.

Mr. Metaxas is the author, most recently, of “Miracles: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life” ( Dutton Adult, 2014).

Correction

An earlier version understated the number of zeroes in an octillion and a septillion.

Source: Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God

The Official Beginning Of the One World Religion (Short Video)

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

As a Christian, the reader will notice immediately which “religion” is missing.   Well, it’s not a religion at all. We are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.  But you will not see a presentative from the Evangelical Church – not in this line up of the new One World Religion.

Brethren – do NOT be alarmed! As our Lord has told us in His Holy Word “Let not your hearts be troubled.”

The events we have been witnessing in the last months are unprecedented in world history.  We are SO close to our Blessed Hope!!

Share the Gospel with the lost! If there is someone in your life for whom you have a burden on your heart – pray for them and then share the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

These are exciting times for the Body of Christ!

 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth…

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Barna Update | 2017 Bible-Minded Cities

We live in an age when the Bible is read and understood very differently in cities across the country. So how exactly do Americans from each region interact with the Bible? In the annual Bible-Minded Cities report, in partnership with American Bible Society, Barna explores how Bible engagement plays out regionally in the United States. Where does your city rank?

Read more

June 23, 2017: Verse of the day

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The True Audience: God

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (6:6)

The basic definition of prayer is “communion with God,” and if He is not involved there is only the pretense of prayer. Not only must He be involved, but centrally involved. Prayer is God’s provision; it is God’s idea, not man’s. There could be no prayer if God did not condescend to speak with us, and we could not know how to pray had He not chosen to instruct us.

Jesus’ teaching here is simple, in contrast to the complicated and difficult traditions. The phrase when you pray implies great latitude. No prescribed time or occasion is given by the Lord. The tameion (inner room) could be any sort of small room or chamber, even a storage closet. Such rooms were often secret and used to store valued possessions for protection. The idea is that of going to the most private place available.

As already mentioned, Jesus does not forbid or condemn public prayer as such (cf. 1 Tim. 2:1–4). His purpose here seems to have been to make as great a contrast as possible to the practices of the scribes, Pharisees, and other hypocritical religionists. The primary point Jesus makes does not have to do with location but with attitude. If necessary, Jesus says, go to the most secluded, private place you can find so you will not be tempted to show off. Go there and shut the door. Shut out everything else so that you can concentrate on God and pray to your Father. Do whatever you have to do to get your attention away from yourself and others and on Him and Him alone.

Much of our prayer life should be literally in secret. Jesus regularly went away from His disciples to pray entirely alone. Our family members or friends may know that we are praying, but what we say is not meant for them to hear. Chrysostom commented that in his day (the fourth century a.d.) many Christians prayed so loud in their rooms that everyone down the hall heard what they said. If people sometimes happen to overhear our private prayers, it should not be by our intention. (Cf. John A. Broadus, Matthew [Valley Forge, Pa.: Judson, 1886], p. 140.)

But the Father being in secret does not mean He is not present when we pray in public, or with our families or other small groups of believers. He is very much present whenever and wherever His children call on Him. Jesus’ point has to do with the singleness of intention. True prayer is always intimate. Even prayer in public, if the heart is right and concentrated on God, will in a real and profound way shut one up alone in the presence of God.

In the pattern of prayer Jesus taught His disciples, He begins with “Our Father” (Matt. 6:9), indicating that other believers may be present and that the prayer is corporate. But even when prayer represents the feelings and needs of others who are present, the supreme attention is to be on God. In that sense, even the most public prayer is in secret. Even if the whole world hears what we say, there is an intimacy and focus on God in that communion that is unaffected.

God also sees in secret in the sense that He never betrays a confidence. Many things we share with God in our private prayers are for Him alone to know. Confidences we share even with our dearest loved ones or closest friends may sometimes be betrayed. But we can be sure our secrets with God will forever be just that, and that one believer praying in secret with a pure heart has the full attention of the Father.

Furthermore, when our prayer is as it should be, our Father who sees in secret will repayus. The most important secret He sees is not the words we say in the privacy of our room, but the thoughts we have in the privacy of our heart. Those are the secrets about which He is supremely concerned, and about which only He can know with certainty (cf. 1 Cor. 4:3–5). Those secrets sometimes are hidden even from ourselves, because it is so easy to be deceived about our own motives.

When God is genuinely the audience of our prayer, we will have the reward only He can give. Jesus gives no idea in this passage as to what God’s reward, or repayment, will be. The important truth is that God will faithfully and unfailingly bless those who come to Him in sincerity. Without question, the Lord will repay. Those who pray insincerely and hypocritically will receive the world’s reward, and those who pray sincerely and humbly will receive God’s.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

June 22, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Preaching of the Mystery

of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; (3:7–9)

The gospel is spread by men whom God calls to proclaim it, and it is the gospel of which Paul was made a minister. “How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed?” Paul asks in Romans. “And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14). Although they had heard God’s truth, many Israelites did not “heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our report?’ ” (v. 16)—just as many who hear the gospel do not heed it. But it must be heard before it can be heeded, and Paul’s calling, like the calling of every preacher, was to proclaim God’s good news as a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace. In a similar line of thought in 1 Corinthians, Paul emphasizes this calling of grace: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with Me” (1 Cor. 15:10).

Minister is from diakonos, the basic meaning of which is servant, in particular a servant who waits on tables. It later came to refer to servants in general. By definition, a servant is one who acts on the commands of others, who recognizes and submits to a higher power. His primary responsibility is to do what he is told to do. Paul’s single responsibility was to faithfully be a servant, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to [him] according to the working of His power. “What then is Apollos?” Paul asked the factious Corinthians. “And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one” (1 Cor. 3:5). The Lord is the power behind the servant. To the Colossians the apostle said, “I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Col. 1:29).

Paul emphasizes the fact that he did not make himself a minister but that he was made a minister (cf. Col. 1:23, 25). The calling, the message, the work, and the empowering were all God’s. When he was first saved on the Damascus Road, and while he was still blinded from the great light, Paul was given his commission by Jesus. “Arise, and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness” (Acts 26:16). It was not Paul’s education, natural abilities, experience, power, personality, influence, or any other such thing that qualified him to be a minister of Jesus Christ. He was made an apostle, a preacher, and a servant by the will and power of His Lord He felt unworthy of any reward, as if he had sought sacrificially to serve in this way. The choice was not his at all, so he deserved no commendation (1 Cor. 9:16–18). He did not want accolades but prayers, because he was in serious trouble if he failed to fulfill a calling he had not even chosen!

Any person in the ministry of the church whom God has not appointed is a usurper. No matter how seemingly good his intentions, he can do nothing but harm to the work of the Lord and to the Lord’s people. Jeremiah speaks to this matter when he writes the Lord’s word: “I did not send these prophets, but they ran. I did not speak to them, but they prophesied. … I did not send them or command them” (Jer. 23:21, 32). No man should enter the ministry unless he is absolutely certain of the Lord’s calling.

The key for present knowledge of a divine call is given in 1 Timothy 3, where Paul speaks of the pastor or spiritual overseer as a man who “aspires to the office” and who is verified and approved by those who know him as one who is “above reproach” (vv. 3–7). The present call, then, is bound up in a man’s strong desire and affirmation as to a godly life. God calls through desire and church verification.

Then or now, the man who is genuinely called by God is in constant danger of losing his effectiveness by coming to think of himself as more than a servant. When he loses his sense of servanthood, at that same time he loses his spiritual power and usefulness. When he exalts himself and begins to work in his own human power and according to his own plans, he competes with God and forfeits his spiritual power. To lose dependence is to lose everything, because everything that is of any value in our lives, including power for effective service, comes only from the Lord. Among the greatest dangers to the ministry, and to all faithful Christian living, are things that in the world’s eyes are of supreme value—personal ambition, prestige, recognition, honor, reputation, and success. God not only chooses weak and foolish people to save (1 Cor. 1:26–29), but weak and foolish preachers through whom to save them (2 Cor. 11:30; 12:7–10). For those not willing to pay that price, their seeking the position is illegitimate.

Unholiness is also a disqualification, prompting Paul to say, “I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27).

Paul’s calling to the ministry of the gospel, like everything else he received from the Lord, was the gift of God’s grace. To me, the very least of all the saints, he goes on to say, this grace was given. Though an apostle and a specially chosen minister of the mysteries of the gospel, Paul considered himself the very least of all the saints. The term very least is a comparative, indicating less than the least. That was not mock humility but his honest assessment of himself. Because he had such an unusually clear comprehension of God’s righteousness, he also had an unusually clear understanding of how far short he himself fell of that righteousness. Paul claimed no second work of grace by which he was perfected in holiness, love, or anything else. To the end of his life he considered himself the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) and was overwhelmed by his sense of unworthiness. That attitude does not limit a man’s service but rather is the key to his usefulness (cf. Gideon in Judges 6:15–16 and Isaiah in Isa. 6:1–9).

The unfathomable riches of Christ include all His truths and all His blessings, all that He is and has. The purpose of every preacher is to declare those riches, to tell believers how rich they are in Christ. That is why it is so important for Christians to understand the greatness of their position in the Lord. The obedient, productive, and happy Christian life cannot be lived apart from understanding that glorious position. Before we can do what the Lord wants us to do for Him, we must understand what He already has done for us. We have riches beyond measure in the One of whom it was said, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3) and in the One in whom we have “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3).

Among the unfathomable riches with which Christ has blessed us are “His kindness and forbearance and patience” (Rom. 2:4), His “wisdom and knowledge” (11:33), His mercy and great love (Eph. 2:4), “His glory” (3:16), His supplying us with “all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17), His assurance (Col. 2:2), His word (3:16), and even our being reproached for His sake (Heb. 11:26). Little wonder that Paul triumphantly reminds us that “in Him you have been made complete” (Col. 2:10).

Simply knowing about the riches of Christ is not enough, however. When we fall into sin and disobedience we forfeit the present blessing of those riches, just as did the fleshly, disobedient Corinthian believers. “You are already filled,” Paul told them sarcastically. “You have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and I would indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you” (1 Cor. 4:8). Like the Laodiceans, they thought they were rich and in need of nothing, not realizing that they were really “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17).

Paul’s ministry was also to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things. Administration is from the same Greek word (oikonomia) as “stewardship” in verse 2. Paul is saying, in effect, “I am not only called in the vertical area to preach the unfathomable riches of Christ, but in the horizontal area to teach about the administration, the stewardship or dispensation, of the mystery of the church age.” The first area deals with our relationship to God and the second with our daily living and our ministry to each other as fellow believers.

Paul’s mission was to bring to light, or reveal, the full expression of the operation of this great truth of Gentile and Jews being one, a truth hidden for so long in the mind of God the Creator.[1]


The Meaning and End of History

Ephesians 3:7–13

I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

Not many people are as forthright in their evaluation of history as Henry Ford, the inventor and industrialist, but there is a feeling in many secular minds that Ford may have been right. In 1919 during his libel suit against the Chicago Tribune, Ford said, “History is bunk.” On another occasion, when he was asked about history’s meaning, Ford said, “History is the succession of one damned thing after another.”2

Secular Views of History

Many resist Henry Ford’s view, of course, because to live in a world without meaning is to live a life without meaning. One who resisted it strongly was Karl Marx. He had no room for God; he was an atheist. But he took Hegel’s historical dialectic, coupled it to Feuerbach’s materialism, and produced his own vision of a history that had purpose and was going somewhere. Feuerbach had taught, with a German pun, that “der Mench ist was er isst” (“man is what he eats”), that material factors are everything. Marx accepted this, but added that material forces would produce a class struggle, revolution, and eventually a classless society.

Until relatively recent times most people living in Western societies held a similar, though not necessarily atheistic, view. It was known as a belief in progress. I have always associated that belief with those popular cinematic newsreels produced by the Time/Life company before, during, and for a time after World War II. They were called The March of Time. There was stirring “martial” music, the voice of an assured announcer, and a sequence of scenes from around the world that sometimes left the viewer dazzled with all that seemed to be happening in this fast-paced, modern age.

What a vision! How inevitable the perfection of all things seemed! Yet it is increasingly difficult to maintain this optimism in the face of two world wars, numerous lesser wars, and epidemics of senseless death and violence that sweep over our planet with increasing frequency.

The two most distinguished modern historians, Germany’s Oswald Spengler and England’s Arnold Toynbee, both concluded that the overall pattern of history was a recurring cycle of birth, growth, decay, and death—the same pattern the Greeks discerned thousands of years earlier. Spengler and Toynbee do not analyze national and historical movements in the same way. They are not equally pessimistic. But fundamental to their approaches is the shared conviction that nothing is permanent, that all is relative, and that even the best civilizations are destined to pass away. Spengler wrote this conviction into the title of his work, calling it The Decline of the West.

The Turning Point

What is history about? Historians study kings, queens, presidents, generals, inventors, nations, wars, battles, peace treaties, and geography—as they struggle to bring meaning to a chaos of events. But in writing to the Ephesians the apostle Paul, who was himself no mean historian, turns to the church as the focal point of world history. This is the point upon which God’s purpose is focused, he says. “His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:10–11).

Paul’s view of the historical significance of the church could not be more in conflict with prevailing secular opinions. John Stott expresses it like this: “Secular history concentrates its attention on kings, queens, and presidents, on politicians and generals, in fact on ‘VIPs.’ The Bible concentrates rather on a group it calls ‘the saints,’ often little people, insignificant people, unimportant people, who are however at the same time God’s people—and for that reason are both ‘unknown (to the world) and yet well-known to God.’

“Secular history concentrates on wars, battles and peace-treaties, followed by yet more wars, battles and peace-treaties. The Bible concentrates rather on the war between good and evil, on the decisive victory won by Jesus Christ over the powers of darkness, on the peace-treaty ratified by his blood, and on the sovereign proclamation of an amnesty for all rebels who will repent and believe.

“Again, secular history concentrates on the changing map of the world, as one nation defeats another and annexes its territory, and on the rise and fall of empires. The Bible concentrates rather on a multi-national community called ‘the church,’ which has no territorial frontiers, which claims nothing less than the whole world for Christ, and whose empire will never come to an end.”

This is the great reality Paul holds before our gaze as he makes known “the administration of [the] mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God” but is now revealed (v. 9).

What is God Doing?

It is not only we, the members of the church, who are directed to look at this mystery. “The rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms” are also said to be looking at the church as the place where God’s manifold wisdom is made known (v. 10). What is that “manifold wisdom” these heavenly authorities are to see? What is the purpose of God made known in the worldwide community of God’s people? The passage suggests three things.

  1. The bringing together of otherwise divided individuals in Christ. This point has already been made in the verses that concluded the second chapter of Ephesians and began the third, and it is undoubtedly the chief thing Paul is thinking about. He is writing to Gentiles, who before the coming of Christ and the founding of his church were cut off from Israel’s spiritual blessings and were despised by the covenant people, and he is telling them that the period of alienation is now over and that the dividing wall of hostility has been broken down. Gentiles are now one with Jews within the fellowship of Christ’s church.

But there is more in this uniting of people described in the middle portion of the chapter. Earlier Paul had focused on the historical change that took place as the result of Christ’s death, in which Jews and Gentiles were brought together. Here he is looking to the distant past and forward to the distant future and is suggesting, I believe, a far greater harmonization.

I say this because of Paul’s reference to God as the creator of all things (v. 9). The mere mention of creation makes us think back to those pristine days of earth’s history in which the originally perfect world was marred by man’s sin. Before the Fall, the harmony between the first man and first woman was analogous to the harmony within the Godhead. It was a unity of mind, purpose, goals, and will. After sin entered, that unity was broken. The man and woman hid, thereby attempting to escape God’s presence. It was a dramatization of their rupture with God. But immediately after this, when God called them forth to meet him and answer questions concerning their conduct, they began to excuse themselves and blame others, thereby disclosing their corresponding alienation on the human level. God asked Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (Gen. 3:11).

Adam replied, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it” (v. 12). In these words Adam blamed both the woman (“she gave me some fruit”) and God (“the woman you gave me”), and thus displayed that wretched self-righteousness which is a persistent and devastating fact of human history.

In the church God is bringing these otherwise alienated and mutually accusing entities together on a basis that excludes any real cause for alienation. The church is a community of sinners redeemed by Christ and forgiven by God. If salvation were of works, as we might like and even the watching angels might have supposed it would be, the alienation would not have been removed. One person would still feel superior to another, and boasting of moral or spiritual merit would fracture the church and eventually sully heaven. But salvation is not achieved by works. God has achieved it and made it available to us by grace alone. Thus boasting is excluded, and men and women of all races and nations meet as forgiven sinners within the church’s fellowship.

This is something the angels might well look upon and marvel at. It is an achievement in which even we may see the goal of human history.

  1. The displaying of Christ by Christian people in the world. Up to now I have been talking about the church as the focus of world history, the point where its meaning can be found. But it is equally right to speak of Jesus Christ as the focal point which, of course, is precisely what Paul does. Ephesians 3:9–10 uses the word “mystery” of the church. But an earlier reference is to “the mystery of Christ” (v. 4), and the remaining references are to the “gospel” which is centered in him and has for its object the salvation of the church which is his body.

It is this idea, the idea of the church as Christ’s body, which holds the two foci of Paul’s thought together. For in Paul’s view, the church is the focal point of history only because it is the focal point of Christ’s work.

At the beginning of his influential and much discussed book Christ and Time, Oscar Cullmann of the University of Basel called attention to the fact that in the Western world we do not reckon time in a continuous forward-moving series that begins at a fixed initial point, but from a center from which time is reckoned both forward and backward. The Jewish calendar begins from what it regards as the date of the creation of the world and moves on from that point. But we begin with the birth of Jesus of Nazareth—fixed within the space of a few years—and then number in two directions: forward, in an increasing succession of years which we identify as a.d. (anno Domini “in the year of [our] Lord”), and backward, in a regression of years which we identify as b.c. (“before Christ”).

A secular historian might judge that the coming of Jesus was pivotal because of Jesus’ obvious influence on later history. But the Christian conviction, symbolized by the division of time, goes beyond this. As Cullmann says, “The modern historian may when pressed find a historically confirmed meaning in the fact that the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth is regarded as a decisive turning point of history. But the theological affirmation which lies at the basis of the Christian chronology goes far beyond the confirmation that Christianity brought with it weighty historical changes. It asserts rather that from this mid-point all history is to be understood and judged.”

Christianity affirms that apart from Christ there is no way of determining what history as a whole is all about, nor can we legitimately weigh historical events so that one may be pronounced better or more significant than another. With Christ both these essentials for a true historical outlook are provided.

Moreover, it is in the church alone that this can be seen. When we are talking about Christ we are not talking about some vague historical idea or some abstract principle for measuring the meaning of life. We are talking about a person who lives in us and can be known to others as we model him before a watching world. It is not a dead Jesus whom Christians serve, but a living one. Where can people see him except in the church, which gives, as it were, hands and feet, nerves and sinews to his life?

  1. Proof of the principle that suffering for truth and righteousness is the way to glory and the secret of true happiness. I add this point because the way of Jesus is the way of suffering—he said, “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. … If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:19–20)—and because Paul quite naturally alludes to his own sufferings at the close of this section.

Is the meaning of history some promise of Jesus to make you blissfully happy and solve all your problems, to make you materially prosperous, successful, esteemed, and healthy? Hardly! Here in a nutshell is what I think the purpose of history is, as demonstrated in the lives of those who have been saved from sin by Jesus.

When Satan rebelled against God and carried the host of fallen angels, now demons, with him into eternal ruin, God could have crushed the rebellion and annihilated Satan and his hosts forever. That would have been just and reasonable. It might even have been merciful; for if God had gone on to create Adam and Eve, as he had no doubt determined to do beforehand, Satan would not have been there to tempt them, the pair would not have fallen, and sin and death would not have passed upon the race.

But this would not have shown God’s “manifold wisdom.” It would have shown his power and perhaps even his mercy. But it would not have shown that God’s way, the way of truth and righteousness, is the only really good way and the only sure path to happiness.

So instead of annihilating Satan, God took an entirely different path: “I have already determined to create a race called man, and I know in advance, because I know all things, that Satan will seduce him from my righteousness and plunge him into misery. Satan will think he has won. But while Satan is doing that—turning the human race against me and setting individual human beings against one another and even against themselves—I will begin to create a new people who will glory in doing what is right, even when it is not popular, and who will delight in pleasing me, even when they suffer for it. Satan will say, ‘Your people serve you only because you protect them, only because you provide for them materially.’ But here and there in a great variety of ways I will allow them to be greatly abused and persecuted, and I will show by their reactions that not only will they continue to praise me in their suffering, and thus bring glory to my name, but that they will even be happier in their sufferings than Satan’s people will be with their maximum share of human prestige and possessions.”

So God let history unfold like a great drama upon a cosmic stage. The angels are the audience. We are the actors. Satan is there to do everything he can to resist and thwart God’s purposes. This drama unfolds across the centuries as Adam and Eve, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Isaiah, John the Baptist, Jesus, Peter, Paul, and all the other dramatis personae of Christian history, both the great persons and the minor persons, are brought on stage to play the part God has assigned them and speak words that come from hearts that love him. Adam proved that God’s way is the best way, and he repented of his sin and trusted in the coming of Jesus. So did Eve and Noah and all the others. All these endured as seeing by faith him who is invisible, and they looked beyond the distresses of this life for their reward.

Now you and I are the players in this drama. Satan is attacking, and the angels are straining forward to look on. Are they seeing the “manifold wisdom” of God in you as you go through your part and speak your lines? They must see it, for it can be seen in you alone. It is there—where you work and play and think and speak—that the meaning and end of history is found.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 93–95). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 101–106). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

June 21, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Jun. 21, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

Donald Trump’s office properties aren’t bringing in as much cash as banks that loaned him money had expected. That’s the biggest finding in an updated assessment of the president’s net worth, which has slipped to $2.9 billion.

The abrupt shake-up that made Saudi Prince Mohammed bin Salman heir to his father’s throne gives the 31-year-old extraordinary powers to push through his vision to wean the economy off oil and exert his influence in regional conflicts.

Republican Karen Handel defeated a well-funded opponent in a special election for a U.S. House seat in Georgia, a setback for Democrats who hoped President Donald Trump’s low approval ratings would help them win congressional races.

At this time of year, demand for gasoline in the U.S. is normally rising as people head out for summer vacations in a country that has millions more vehicles than any other. But that’s not happening in 2017, and one contributing factor could be that undocumented immigrants are driving less.

Romania’s governing coalition toppled its own prime minister after he clashed with the leader of the ruling party, paving the way for a new cabinet just six months after elections.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s veteran finance minister, urged the U.S. to limit Russian and Chinese influence or risk bringing about “the end of our liberal world order.”

France has lived under emergency law for 20 months now, and human-rights groups are warning that President Emmanuel Macron is using the threat of terrorism as an excuse to make the special powers permanent. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has confirmed he wants to give police enhanced powers to order searches and house arrests, arguing the terror threat isn’t about to fade any time soon.

America leads the world when it comes to access to higher education. But when it comes to health, environmental protection, and fighting discrimination, it trails many other developed countries, according to the Social Progress Imperative, a U.S.-based nonprofit.

AP Top Stories

Philippine Airlines will buy seven planes from Canada’s Bombardier as part of an effort to regain its dominance of the growing air travel market, the carrier said Tuesday.

In a late night protest, Senate Democrats decried efforts by top Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act behind closed doors, pledging to disrupt proceedings in the chamber over the matter.

Sen. John McCain said Tuesday that Americans who are “stupid” enough to still want to travel to North Korea should be required to sign a waiver absolving the U.S. government of any blame should they be harmed while there.

Venezuelans are bracing for a further escalation of violence after a 17-year-old protester was shot dead by the National Guard, and the supreme court announced charges against the country’s attorney general – one of the most senior officials to speak out against the government of Nicolás Maduro.

A notorious Chinese dog meat festival opened on Wednesday with sellers torching the hair off carcasses, butchers chopping slabs of canines and cooks frying up dishes, dispelling rumours that authorities would ban sales this year.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte apologised Tuesday for a military offensive that has left the nation’s main Muslim city in ruins, but said it was needed to crush militants linked to the Islamic State group.

In a blistering reproach on Tuesday, Arizona Sen. John McCain threatened to block the approval of Pat Shanahan as deputy defense secretary. McCain was unhappy with the Boeing executive’s written answer on providing the Ukrainians with lethal defense weaponry.

US forces in southern Syria have shot down an Iranian-made armed drone in the second such incident in 12 days, in a further sign that Washington and Tehran’s agendas are colliding along the Syrian-Iraqi desert frontier.

Four conservative cardinals who publicly questioned Pope Francis’ opening to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics are pressing their case and arguing that the issue is dividing the Catholic Church.

BBC

A Russian jet flew within 5ft (1.5m) of a US reconnaissance plane’s wing tip over the Baltic Sea on Monday, US officials say.

Teachers are being trained to carry guns in classrooms in Colorado in order to protect children as part of a scheme motivated by a school massacre in 2012. The three-day course, which consists of firearms and medical training, was launched on Tuesday in Weld County. Seventeen members of staff who “would like to be considered armed first responders” have so far taken part. The pilot program will allow volunteers to enter schools with guns under US “concealed carry” laws.

Authorities in Argentina have released images of a major trove of Nazi artefacts seized during a raid on a home in Buenos Aires. The crafted objects, which include a bust of Adolf Hitler and an eagle of the Third Reich, were found in two shops and a home in the north of the country’s capital.

If you’ve been chatting about politics on social media recently, there’s a good chance you’ve been part of a conversation that was manipulated by bots, researchers say. The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) has studied such discussions related to nine places – US, Russia, Ukraine, Germany, Canada, China, Taiwan, Brazil and Poland – on platforms including Twitter and Facebook. It claims that in all the elections, political crises and national security-related discussions it looked at, there was not one instance where social media opinion had not been manipulated.

WND

Anxiety levels of Americans over matters such as war, terrorism, hacking and identity theft have spiked in recent years, leaving the nation near average in a global barometer of perceptions of security, a survey released Tuesday said.


The Briefing 06-21-17

London terror attack targeting Muslim community center exposes challenges Islam faces in the West

What is the role of government? The aftermath of the Grenfell Tower fire in London that killed 79

The question of legacy after Bill Cosby’s sexual assault accusations and mistrial

The post The Briefing 06-21-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 6/21/2017

Europe okays project to seek alien life
Europe has approved the launch of a deep-space observatory to sniff out habitable planets in other star systems, along with any life forms they may host. The multi-million-euro undertaking “could eventually even lead to the detection of extra-terrestrial life,” it added.

Thousands of Witches Will Gather Tonight to Curse Trump. Is Satanism Behind It?
At the stroke of midnight on Wednesday, some 13,000 people will connect via internet in yet another attempt to cast a curse on President Donald Trump, this time on the summer solstice. Though spell-casting may seem too absurd to be taken seriously, a rabbinic authority maintains that the ‘witches’ are tapping into Satanism, a disturbing theology making a strong comeback today in the guise of atheism.

Knesset takes one more step toward de facto annexation of West Bank
The Knesset on Wednesday took one more step toward the de facto annexation of the West Bank by approving the preliminary reading of a bill that would apply a 17-year old law to Israelis living in Judea and Samaria. This is “one more step toward the normalization of the settlements in Judea and Samaria that we set as our goal at the start of this government’s term,” said the bill’s author, MK Bezalel Smotrich, in advance of the 48-39 vote.

UN envoy: Israel is defying UNSC by accelerating settler construction
Israel has failed to comply with UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which calls for a halt to settlement building and has instead accelerated such activity, UN…Nickolay Mladenov reported…“Since the 24th of March there has been a substantial increase in settlement-related announcements as compared with the previous reporting period, with plans for nearly 4,000 housing units moving forward and 2,000 tenders issued,” Mladenov told the UNSC in New York…

Syria conflict: US jet ‘downs Iranian-made drone’
A US jet has shot down an Iranian-made drone operated by forces backing the Syrian government in the south of the country, American officials say. The drone was thought to be armed and threatening US-led coalition troops on the ground, officials said. But Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said the action amounted to “complicity with terrorism”.

US spy satellites detect activity at North Korean nuclear test site
US spy satellites have detected new activity at North Korea’s underground nuclear test site for the first time in several weeks, two US officials told CNN. The activity appears to involve some modifications around one of the tunnel entrances to an underground test area. The officials said it is not yet clear if the activity indicates a sixth nuclear test is imminent…

Illinois careens into financial meltdown – and not even the lottery is safe
Illinois is grappling with a full-fledged financial crisis and not even the lottery is safe – with Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner warning the state is entering “banana republic” territory. Facing billions in unpaid bills and pension obligations, the state is hitting a cash crunch that is rare even by Illinois standards.

Armed Russian jet comes within 5 feet of US recon jet
An armed Russian fighter jet buzzed a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance aircraft in the Baltic Sea on Monday, two U.S. officials told Fox News. The Russian Su-27 jet had air-to-air missiles under its wings and approached the U.S. Air Force RC-135 recon jet “rapidly,” coming within 5 feet of the American aircraft, the officials said. Once alongside, the Russian jet was “provocative” in its flight maneuvers and flying “erratically,” according to another official.

After weeks of secrecy, U.S. Senate to unveil healthcare bill
U.S. Senate Republicans plan to unveil the text of their draft healthcare bill on Thursday as senators struggle over issues such as the future of the Medicaid program for the poor and bringing down insurance costs. Republicans in the chamber have been working for weeks behind closed doors on legislation aimed at repealing and replacing major portions of the Affordable Care Act, former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, popularly known as Obamacare.

Israel would go ‘all-out’ if war breaks out again with Lebanon: air force chief
Israel would use all its strength from the start in any new war with the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, the chief of the Israeli air force said on Wednesday, sending a firm warning a decade after their last conflict…Major-General Amir Eshel said qualitative and quantitative improvements in the air force since the 2006 Lebanon war meant it could carry out in just two or three days the same number of bombings it mounted in those 34 days of fighting.

Senators want Congress to OK military action in Syria
U.S. senators called on Congress on Tuesday to take back its authority to determine whether the country goes to war, saying recent U.S. strikes in Syria were not covered by existing authorizations for the use of military force. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has begun considering legislation that would cover military action in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya and Yemen against the Islamic State, al Qaeda and other Islamist militant groups.

Russia, Iran sanctions bill hits roadblock in U.S. House
Legislation to impose new sanctions on Russia and Iran that passed the U.S. Senate nearly unanimously last week has run into a procedural problem that could prevent a quick vote in the House of Representatives, lawmakers said on Tuesday. The Countering Iran’s Destabilizing Activities Act, which also includes new sanctions against Russia, passed the Senate 98-2 last week, an overwhelming vote that looked like it might complicate President Donald Trump’s desire for warmer relations with Moscow.

Ground-Breaking Held for First New Judea and Samaria Settlement in 25 Years
In the community of Amichai, 100 new homes will be built for the evicted residents of Amona, a settlement outpost housing 42 families that Israel razed in February due to Palestinian land ownership claims.

Saudi king upends royal succession, names son as 1st heir
The Saudi monarch, who holds near absolute powers, quickly awarded his son expansive powers to the surprise of many within the royal family who are more senior and more experienced than Mohammed bin Salman, also known by his initials MBS.

FBI To Announce Findings In GOP Baseball Shooting Investigation
The FBI is holding a press conference Wednesday morning to announce the results of its investigation into last week’s attempted mass assassination of Republican lawmakers and staffers, the agency announced on Tuesday. FBI officials discovered a list of Republican lawmakers in James T. Hodgkinson’s possession when he opened fire at a congressional baseball practice, wounding four people including Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise. All six lawmakers on the list were members of the House Freedom Caucus — the most conservative members in the lower chamber.

There Are ‘Literally’ No Real Men in the White House Who Can Stop Trump
Ever since the election season began, the left has been going ‘literally’ apeshit over Trump’s usage of Twitter. In recent month’s they’ve been autistically screeching over it — demanding that Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, ban him. They’ve trotted out GOP deep state shills, neocons, professors, think tankfags — all trying to dissuade the President from using a platform that communicates directly to the people.

Earthquake swarm rumbles Yellowstone
An ongoing series of earthquakes measurably moving the ground east of Hebgen Lake are likely aftershocks from a devastating quake that struck the region 58 years ago. As of Monday the current swarm had shaken the west edge of Yellowstone for a week, over which time it had delivered 464 temblors ranging up to magnitude 4.4.

Conway Thanks Those Who ‘Snarkily’ Called Georgia Race a ‘Referendum’ on Trump
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway spiked the football Tuesday over the Republican victory in the Georgia sixth district special election, saying those who “snarkily” called it a “referendum” on President Donald Trump were right.

ISIS Setting Up Support Networks to Move Terrorists to Europe, Asia
“ISIS has several facilitators in place that assist the flow of fighters to Europe,” said one official who noted the group is exploiting travel networks used for large-scale human trafficking in the region. The networks include an organizational structure that has been discovered by U.S. and allied intelligence agencies to be using specific groups to help terrorists reach European soil. ISIS has assigned support personnel to the networks to facilitate the process.

North Korea threat: EU seeking role in ending regime’s nuclear program
The European Union is in discussions with South Korea and China about taking a potential role as a broker for negotiations with North Korea on ending its nuclear program, according to EU officials involved in the effort. The discussions reflect concern in Brussels, Seoul and Beijing that sanctions alone won’t persuade Pyongyang to halt its nuclear program and that negotiations are needed to avoid military conflict.

The United Nations should ditch its anti-Israel bias
This week marks six months since the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which classifies Israeli settlements beyond the 1967 line, including in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, as illegal. Visiting Jerusalem last month, the distance between the pronouncements of Turtle Bay and the realities of the Old City appeared as stark as ever. For starters, everyone knows that Israel will absorb the major settlement blocs near the ’67 line as part of any peace agreement. And no Israel government will ever surrender its access to Jerusalem.

The Russians Do It Again: Democrats Get Crushed In Georgia Election Despite 7x Spending Advantage
Despite a 7-to-1 spending advantage, Democrats just got crushed in the Georgia special election.

Christian School Told They Can’t Teach ‘Offensive’ Scripture
Evangelical Christians are under fire as an Alberta school board is demanding a Christian school stop teaching “offensive” scripture that indicts homosexuality as a sin, the National Post reports.

The “Extremism Experts” Who Used To Fear The Right, Are Now Worried About The Left
“As leftist rhetoric and actions become more violent, and as the police in urban areas fail to rein in leftist counter-protesters time and time again, it won’t be long before right-wing protesters begin to retaliate…”

Israeli Researchers Invent World’s First Anti Date Rape Straw
Two Israeli inventors want to take on a phenomena that is growing in prevalence every year. To protect women in the place they are most likely to be sexually assaulted, the Israelis have invented the Date Rape Straw, a device which allows a woman to test her drink to see if someone put some of the most common date rape drugs inside.

Texas the Latest State to Ban Sharia, Foreign Laws from Domestic Courts
With passage of a law protecting American families from imposition of foreign-law doctrines in state courts, Texas this week became the 11th state to ensure that only American laws will apply in American domestic courts.


69 Percent Of Americans Do Not Have An Adequate Emergency Fund

Do you have an emergency fund?  If you even have one penny in emergency savings, you are already ahead of about one-fourth of the country.  I write about this stuff all the time, but it always astounds me how many Americans are literally living on the edge financially.  Back in 2008 when the economy tanked and millions of people lost their jobs, large numbers of Americans suddenly couldn’t pay their bills because they were living paycheck to paycheck.  Now the stage is set for it to happen again.  Another major recession is going to happen at some point, and when it does millions of people are going to get blindsided by it. (Read More…)


No, We Don’t Want Barbie to Date a Ken with a Man Bun

Mattel has introduced a new “dolled-up toy collection with feminized figurines.” Just imagine what the toy maker has planned for kids next.  LifeZette has the story:

After introducing a new batch of Barbie dolls last year, Mattel is rebooting the Ken doll. And the most surprising version of the new male counterparts to Barbie is the one with a man bun.

Other new versions of Ken dolls include the “slim” and the “broad” variety. New hairstyles include the previously mentioned man bun — as well as cornrows. There are also six skin tones available for these dolls.

View article →


Oregon Becomes First State to Allow Residents to Be Neither Male or Female on Driver’s License

Christian News reports:

Oregon has become the first state to allow residents to identify as neither male or female on their driver’s license and identification card.

Beginning on July 1, residents can select an “X” for their gender instead of “M” or “F.” The new policy was unanimously agreed upon by the Oregon Transportation Commission.

According to Reuters, the concept was considered after Multnomah County Judge Amy Holmes Hehn last June granted a man’s request to identify on his driver’s license as “non-binary.”

As previously reported, Jamie Shupe (pictured) was born male, served in the military and married a woman. But in 2013, as he found himself struggling with his gender identity, Shupe decided to seek treatments that would make him look and feel feminine.

View article →


Mattis under pressure to reverse Obama administration’s approval of transgender troops

1d ago

Should the U.S. Department of Defense [taxpayers] undertake the cost of hormone treatments, surgery, and post-operative care to facilitate “gender transitioning.”?  No, say social conservatives.  According to Rowan Scarborough of The Washington Times, conservatives have mounted a campaign to persuade General Mattis to suspend the Obama administration’s “transgender directive with the ultimate goal of recalling it and all of the associated manuals.” Scarborough writes:

Photo courtesy US Defense Watch (usdefensewatch.com)

Defense Secretary James Mattis is facing his first significant decision in the military’s sexual revolution legacy left by the last commander in chief, Barack Obama.

Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton Carter, issued a directive last year permitting transgender troops to remain in the military and undergo sex reassignment procedures instead of facing automatic discharge.

The next step in the transgender agenda is due July 1, according to Mr. Carter’s timeline. Mr. Mattis is to decide whether the armed forces will allow transgender people to join the military.

View article →


Dr. Tim Ball Crushes Climate Change: The Biggest Deception In History

“With a 50-year academic career focusing on Historical Climatology, Dr. Tim Ball is uniquely qualified to address man-made climate change, and he demonstrates that it is a flat-out hoax. Thinking people everywhere should get multiple copies of this book and hand them out to everyone they know.” 

In a piece over at Technocracy News, Dr. Tim Ballx informs us that:

President Trump was correct to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement. He could have explained that the science was premeditated and deliberately orchestrated to demonize CO2 for a political agenda. Wisely, he simply explained that it was a bad deal for the United States because it gave a competitive economic edge to other nations, especially China. A majority of Americans think he was wrong, but more would disagree if he got lost in the complexities of the science. I speak from experience having taught a Science credit course for 25 years for the student population that mirrors society with 80 percent of them being Arts students. Promoters of what is called anthropogenic global warming (AGW) knew most people do not understand the science and exploited it.

View article →


June 19, 2017

WES VERNON — If you’re a conservative, a Republican, a Trump supporter, a dissenter from the edicts enunciated by the Marxist-tolerating establishment, you may be targeted sooner or later by the haters in the left…. (more)


June 19, 2017
ALAN KEYES — As its original Latin root literally suggests, a congressional subpoena demands compliance “subject to the penalties of law.” Nonetheless, the Constitution says plainly that the president “shall have the power to grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States,” even including high treason…. (more)

June 19, 2017
INDEPENDENT — Russia has said it will treat US warplanes operating in parts of Syria where its air forces are also present as “targets” amid a diplomatic row caused by the downing of a Syrian jet…. (more)

June 19, 2017
PALM BEACH POST — President Donald Trump on Friday issued a proclamation declaring Sunday to be Father’s Day. Presidents historically issue proclamations for holidays, noting the importance of the day and making remarks on the holiday’s significance…. (more)

June 19, 2017
PJ MEDIA — It’s hard to determine whether some liberals are tone deaf or just downright mean. MSNBC hostess Joy-Ann Reid almost certainly falls into the latter category. Reid was on with NAACP board member Rev. William J. Barber II when the conversation turned to Rep. Steve Scalise, who was lying in a hospital bed in critical condition at the time…. (more)

June 19, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Defense Secretary James Mattis is facing his first significant decision in the military’s sexual revolution legacy left by the last commander in chief, Barack Obama. Mr. Obama’s defense secretary, Ashton Carter, issued a directive last year permitting transgender troops to remain in the military and undergo sex reassignment procedures instead of facing automatic discharge…. (more)

June 19, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — In the name of fighting terrorism financing, a new U.S. Senate bill threatens to force private corporations to monitor your financial activity and empowers government to seize all your assets if you fail to comply with the new law…. (more)

June 19, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — President Trump has a higher approval rating than virtually every other leader in Washington, a little reported fact that emerged in a new survey of the nation’s political officials…. (more)

June 19, 2017
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — President Donald Trump’s missteps have intensified the scandal that is consuming his administration. One is tempted to put scandal in scare quotes. Trump is somehow enmeshed in a scandal based on actions that a president is fully entitled to take – – such as dismissing the FBI director and weighing in on the merits of continuing an investigation of his former national-security adviser…. (more)

June 19, 2017

NEWSMAX — House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is in serious condition after undergoing another surgery Saturday following last week’s shooting at the Congressional baseball practice where a man who was reportedly distraught over President Trump’s election shot Scalise and three others…. (more)


June 18, 2017
BOB UNRUH — A Jesuit scholar with expertise in Islam is explaining why Muslims are terroristic and is warning members of his faith not to be taken in by the “liberal-left ideology” that advocates “tolerance” and “concessions.”… (more)

June 18, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — A refugee from the Muslim Middle East thinks he has discovered Islam’s 20-point plan for conquering the United States by 2020 – – a plan revealed in the latest issue of Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin…. (more)

June 17, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — I am amazed by the conspiracy of silence, on the right and the left, about former FBI Director Robert Mueller’s bungling of the anthrax case. “In his years as FBI director and as a Justice Department official, Mueller gained a reputation for honesty, integrity, and being a ‘straight-shooter,'” writes Fred Barnes at The Weekly Standard…. (more)

June 17, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — Special counsel Robert Mueller could have a tough time making an obstruction of justice case stick against President Trump, according to legal analysts, who said he will have to overcome a number of “unique hurdles” – – not the least of which is a decades-old Justice Department ruling that a sitting president can’t be charged…. (more)


June 17, 2017

ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — On March 30, 2017, by his own account, then-FBI director James Comey told President Donald Trump that Trump himself was not under investigation – – the third time he had given him that assurance. In fact, Comey told Trump that he had just assured members of Congress that Trump was not a suspect under investigation…. (more)


June 17, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — An op-ed posted June 11 by Huffington Post contributor Jason Fuller was pulled by the website after Wednesday’s attack on congressional Republicans…. (more)


June 17, 2017

ALICIA POWE — CNN, the network famously dubbed “fake news” by President Trump, misreported an emotional moment before the Congressional Baseball Game Thursday, tweeting that it was only Democrats who knelt for prayer on the field…. (more)


June 17, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — This is a time in the history of our nation when an honest group or congressional panel with integrity could name and ostracize extremists on both the right and left. Unfortunately, the media have crowned the misnamed Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) as the arbiter of what’s good and right in America today. Ironically, it was the SPLC that inspired an act of terrorism on American soil, when a gay militant opened fire on the Washington office of the Family Research Council. He saw the group listed on an SPLC “hate map.”… (more)

June 17, 2017
DAILY CALLER — James T. Hodgkinson, the shooter who opened fire on dozens of Republican congressmen and staffers at a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia, on Wednesday, had a list of Republican names in his pocket that was recovered by the FBI, The Daily Caller has learned…. (more)

June 17, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump announced a dramatic reversal Friday of the Obama administration’s Cuba policy, restoring restrictions on U.S. travel to the island and new prohibitions on financial transactions that benefit the communist regime’s military…. (more)


June 17, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly officially revoked President Obama’s 2014 attempt to broaden his previous deportation amnesty for Dreamers, which had been held up by federal courts for more than two years. The decision leaves in place the 2012 temporary amnesty for more than 780,000 Dreamers but officially ends immigrant rights groups’ hopes of expanding that policy to as many as 4 million more illegal immigrants…. (more)

June 15, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — Former FBI Director James Comey has finally admitted publicly that President Donald Trump has not been under investigation, after months of deliberately leaving the impression that he was. Now the issue becomes whether Trump somehow obstructed justice in trying to save one of his subordinates, a decorated military veteran who ran the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), from a frivolous prosecution…. (more)

June 15, 2017
LINDA GOUDSMIT — Only a left-wing liberal living in subjective reality could promote the hijab, the quintessential symbol of feminine oppression, as fashion. The idea is so spectacularly stupid that it defies description. This is yet another salvo in the attempt to Islamicize the West by making the unacceptable dictates of sharia law acceptable…. (more)

June 15, 2017
SUSAN FERRECHIO — Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday were left pondering whether and how to increase their own security in the wake of a gunman’s shocking attack against GOP lawmakers at a baseball practice, and it is already prompting some to start pushing for police protection at their homes and group events outside the Capitol…. (more)

June 15, 2017

WASHINGTON EXAMINER — One Republican lawmaker believes that concealed carry reciprocity for members of Congress should be considered as part of possible security upgrades after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-La., was shot at practice for the congressional charity baseball game early Wednesday morning…. (more)

Mid-Day Snapshot

June 21, 2017

Georgia ‘Deplorables’ Tossoff Ossoff

Republican Handel won the most expensive House race in history. Democrats still can’t figure out why they’re losing.

The Foundation

“It behooves you, therefore, to think and act for yourself and your people. The great principles of right and wrong are legible to every reader; to pursue them requires not the aid of many counselors.” —Thomas Jefferson (1775)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: June 21

  • Republican Handel Wins Georgia House Seat, Dashing Democrats’ Hopes (Read More)
  • Uber CEO Kalanick Quits as Investors Revolt (Read More)
  • Saudi King’s Surprise Shakeup Clears Son’s Path to the Throne (Read More)
  • After weeks of secrecy, U.S. Senate to unveil healthcare bill (Read More)
  • Latest Election-Hacking Hearings to Focus on State-Level Events (Read More)
  • Trump’s Net Worth Slips to $2.9 Billion as Towers Underperform (Read More)
  • Oil Returns to Bear Market (Read More)
  • Brexit Dominates May’s Program as Some Manifesto Pledges Ditched (Read More)
  • Wal-Mart to Vendors: Get Off Amazon’s Cloud (Read More)
  • China shares get MSCI nod in landmark moment for Beijing (Read More)
  • China Firms Might Need to Shape Up After Index Lays Out Red Carpet (Read More)
  • America Is Now a ‘Second Tier’ Country (Read More)
  • Insurance Startup Oscar Raises Its Bet on Affordable Care Act (Read More)
  • Death of U.S. student held by North Korea shocks fellow ex-detainees (Read More)
  • The Future of Drone Delivery Hinges on Predicting the Weather Block by Block (Read More)
  • Tokyo Takes Lead in Toshiba Chip-Unit Sale Over China Fears (Read More)
  • A daily conundrum in convulsed Venezuela: will my kids make it to school? (Read More)
  • Germany Warns U.S. Against Ceding Lead Role to China, Russia (Read More)
  • Take a Look at the States Sending the Most Carbon Into the Air (Read More)
  • Theranos, Walgreens Reach Deal to Settle Lawsuit (Read More)

Top Headlines – 6/21/2017

Trump Administration Pressuring Israel to Move Ahead With Peace Deal, Senior Israeli Minister Says

Trump Envoy Greenblatt Meets With Netanyahu in Jerusalem, as US Seeks Renewal of Israeli-Palestinian Peace Process

Jared Kushner is heading to Israel for peace negotiations

Ahead of Jared Kushner’s visit to help broker peace, Israel touts new settlement

PA slams new settlement as effort to thwart Trump’s peace drive

UN: Israel did not comply with UN call to stop settlements

Haley seeks UN resolution to punish states backing Hamas

Haley: Time to say ‘enough is enough’ to Hamas

Turning Gaza’s lights back on, Abbas’s rival Dahlan makes dramatic return to center stage

At Security Council, diplomat cites Gazan who likened Strip to ‘concentration camp’

Hamas calls for ‘day of rage’ Friday over ‘holy sites,’ Gaza siege

Plan for mixed-gender prayer at Western Wall sparks new friction

IDF: Knife-wielding Palestinian attacks Israeli troops, is shot dead

Israeli Dies as Palestinian Attackers Stage Assaults in Jerusalem

Macron meets Jordan’s king, condemns deadly Jerusalem attack

Mother of Damascus Gate assailant arrested for calls to attack Jews

Israel disputes success of Iran missile strike

IDF chief: Iran’s strike on ISIS not as impressive as they claimed

US ‘mystified’ by Gulf states’ refusal to justify Qatar boycott

Israel, Saudi Arabia reportedly discuss establishing economic ties

State Department issues unusual public warning to Saudi Arabia and UAE over Qatar rift

US rebukes Saudi Arabia over Qatar embargo in reversal after Trump comments

Saudi king ousts nephew to name son as first in line to throne

Saudi king names son Mohammed bin Salman as crown prince, removing counterterror czar and upending royal succession

Egyptian court blocks transfer of islands to Saudi Arabia, despite parliament’s decision

Egypt kills 12 militants in North Sinai air strike

US shoots down second Iran-made armed drone over Syria in 12 days

US signals involvement in Syria could escalate

U.N. chief hopes U.S., Russia calm tensions over Syria

Syria war: Polio paralyses 17 children in Mayadin and Raqqa

Pro-ISIS rebels storm school in Philippines, students held hostage

Explosion at Brussels train station, suspect shot

Brussels train station blast being treated as terror attack

Belgium avoided serious attack in station blast: interior minister

Car bomb in Somalia capital kills at least 15

Catholic Church: Fighting kills more than 3,000 in Congo’s Kasai region

UN: Congo-backed militia mutilates toddlers, burns villages

Armed Russian jet comes within 5 feet of US recon jet

Trump meets Ukraine’s president, U.S. adds to Russia sanctions

US sanctions to stay until Russia quits eastern Ukraine

Trump says China NKorea pressure hasn’t worked

US sends supersonic bombers in show of force against N.Korea

US spy satellites detect activity at North Korean nuclear test site

South Korea confirms drone discovered in June was from North Korea

After student’s death, US weighs travel ban on North Korea

US State Department presses N. Korea to release detained Americans

Venezuela dares US to ‘send in the Marines’

UN chief: US will be replaced if it disengages from world

Anti-Trump Website Calls for ‘Physical Violence’ Against Conservatives

Study supports Trump: 5.7 million noncitizens may have cast illegal votes

Message from Georgia: Hating Trump is not a platform

Dems Suddenly Worry Trump Impeachment Could Backfire

State Department probes Clinton handling of government emails, could pull her security clearance

Pass the valium: U.S. anxiety levels climb faster than rest of the world

Soros says Britain nearing tipping point, may reverse Brexit

Illinois careens into financial meltdown – and not even the lottery is safe

Personal details of nearly 200 million US citizens exposed

The End of Car Ownership – Ride sharing and self-driving vehicles will redefine our relationship with cars

L.A. Fire Department could soon seek federal permission to fly drones

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Bengkulu, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Tobelo, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Saumlaki, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Saiki, Japan

Yellowstone Supervolcano Hit by a Swarm of More Than 400 Earthquakes in One Week

Sharp earthquake activity in Katla volcano

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Klyuchevskoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 18,000ft

Poas volano in Costa Rica erupts to 11,000ft

Decades-old camera reveals forgotten images of Mount St. Helens eruption

Bret becomes earliest named storm so far south in the Atlantic

Tropical Storm Cindy may bring ‘life-threatening’ flooding across Gulf Coast

Israel’s summer start dampened by freak rainfall

Tornadoes Touch Down In Delaware And Pennsylvania

The Latest: Las Vegas ties record high of 117 degrees

Portugal fire: Firefighters battle deadly blaze as temperatures soar

Highly contagious citrus disease now in Alabama

More U.S. counties are finding Zika-carrying mosquitoes

Family of teen who died from brain-eating amoeba sues water park

Cholesterol Lowering Vaccine May Help Prevent Heart Attacks

Ex-NFL Player Comes Out as Gay, Says He Considered Suicide

New York threesome gone wrong: Murder suspect arrested

Christian School Told They Can’t Teach ‘Offensive’ Scripture

The Summer Solstice Brings Out the Pagan in All of Us – and Some Christian Leaders Don’t Like It

Summer solstice 2017: Stonehenge crowds as sun rises

Michael Hall – The Untouchables

Anthony Wade – The Anatomy of a False Teaching and the Dangers Within

Noemi Breaks Free of Beth Moore

Former New Age Follower Shares Vital Information With Her Pastors and Church Leaders

Pastor Henry Lyons ousted again amid fraud accusations – previously served prison time for fraud

DEVELOPING: Explosion in tick related diseases spreading across Northeast…

Posted: 21 Jun 2017 06:14 AM PDT

Tick numbers are on the rise across New England, raising the prospect of an increase in Lyme and other diseases associated with the bloodsuckers. Much of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Two-month countdown begins to total solar eclipse across U.S.

Posted: 21 Jun 2017 06:03 AM PDT

Two months before the first total solar eclipse to cross the continental United States in a century, NASA on Wednesday is expected to detail its…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

If The U.S. Continues To Creep Toward World War 3, Eventually It Is Going To Happen

Posted: 21 Jun 2017 05:58 AM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) After a bit of a lull for the past couple of months, the march toward war appears to be accelerating once…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Black Eyed Peas Star Fergie Seen Attending Church in Recent Weeks

Posted: 21 Jun 2017 05:54 AM PDT

In an emotional 2012 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Grammy-winning recording artist Fergie opened about her struggle with drug addiction and how turning to her Christian…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

These 3 Hebrew Feasts Depict Christ’s Second Coming

Posted: 21 Jun 2017 05:48 AM PDT

(By Ron Allen) June 21, the summer begins on the summer solstice.  Astronomically, the summer solstice is the day when the sun reaches its highest…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

69 Percent Of Americans Do Not Have An Adequate Emergency Fund

Posted: 21 Jun 2017 05:41 AM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) Do you have an emergency fund?  If you even have one penny in emergency savings, you are already ahead of about…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Swarm of 460 earthquakes in Yellowstone begins to spark concerns

Posted: 21 Jun 2017 05:38 AM PDT

The earthquake swarm affecting the western edge of Yellowstone National Park has included more than 460 quakes so far. The University of Utah, whose seismograph…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ken doll gets a makeover!

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 05:49 PM PDT

He’s been overshadowed by Barbie for decades, but now Ken is finally getting some attention.  Mattel is introducing 15 new looks for the male doll,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Europe on High Alert in Wake of Paris, London Attacks

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 05:39 PM PDT

The terror threat level remains elevated in France after another attack. An Islamic terrorist set off a fiery blast in Paris Monday when he drove…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Phoenix heatwave generates record energy demand…

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 05:34 PM PDT

Phoenix-area residents are setting a record demand for energy as scorching temperatures roll though the valley during the week’s punishing heat wave.  Salt River Project…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Top Fashion Mag Encourages Women to Awaken Their Inner Witch

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 05:26 PM PDT

Whether the #MagicalResistance or The Handmaid’s Tale, the age of the witch is upon us, top fashion magazine Vogue proclaims.  “Women across the globe are actively using the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT: Teachers Union Demands Mandatory LGBT Education for Children

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 05:18 PM PDT

Scotland’s largest teaching union has voted for children across the country to be taught about same-sex families and LGBT history.  At its annual general meeting…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Thousands of Witches Gathering To More Cast Spells Against Trump Tonight

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 05:16 PM PDT

Thousands of witches will gather at midnight tonight to cast spells on President Donald Trump as part of a summer solstice ritual. “My thought from…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Soldiers ‘neutralize’ suspect after small blast at Brussels Central Station

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 01:11 PM PDT

Belgian police have “neutralized” a person reportedly wearing an explosive belt at Brussels Central Station. The news comes after the station was evacuated following reports…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christians, We Must Wake Up to the Blinding Effects of Sin

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 12:01 PM PDT

(By Shane Idleman) “The church is physically alive, but spiritually dead.”  I recently referred to a true story. A young girl, devastated by the choice…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

After More Than 20 Years as Conservative Leader, Paul Williams Comes Out as Transwoman

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 11:54 AM PDT

Paul Williams, who led the conservative church planting organization Orchard Group for 20 years, has publicly come out as a transgender woman named Paula Stone Williams.  Williams began…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

CA Teacher Who Voiced Christian Views on Sexuality Resigns After Backlash, Death Threats

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 11:46 AM PDT

A California high school teacher has willingly resigned after receiving intense backlash over his Christian views on sexuality. Michael Stack taught special education at San…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Is End Times Prophecy Unfolding Before Our Eyes in Syria?

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 11:40 AM PDT

The Syrian conflict continues to escalate, with the U.S. government shooting down a Syrian jet over the weekend. It was an act that sparked a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Katy Perry: ‘Grace of God’ Brought Me Through Suicidal Depression

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 11:36 AM PDT

Pop star Katy Perry gave audiences an intimate look into her struggle with faith during a live stream therapy session with her psychiatrist last week….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Australia halts air strikes in Syria after Russia-US tensions over downed Damascus jet

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 11:31 AM PDT

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has suspended flights over Syria after Russia said it halted sky incident prevention interactions with the US as of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Kenya Bans 6 Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon Shows for ‘Glorifying Gay Behavior’

Posted: 20 Jun 2017 11:27 AM PDT

Kenya’s government has banned six animated shows airing on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network to battle what it described as attempts to “glorify homosexual behavior” and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn’t decide or didn’t care. But Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today don’t understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They’re content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That’s why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).

C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!

JESUS IS HOLY

God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13).

As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy (Hebrews 4:15). Even His enemies couldn’t prove any accusation against Him (John 8:46)

God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

Our failure to obey God—to be holy—places us in danger of eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ … died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

Some people think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless

If you take poison—thinking it’s medicine—all the faith in the world won’t restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you’re trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God—then and forever.

JESUS IS LORD

Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority (Philippians 2:10-11). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection—the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son (Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31).

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That doesn’t mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge.

Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you—free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose. Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?


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