Student expelled from university for quoting Bible

Now court issues stunning ruling in fight over social media



The Court of Appeal in the United Kingdom has issued a landmark victory for a Christian student who was expelled from Sheffield University for citing the Bible’s view of sexuality and marriage in social media conversations.

The university learned of Felix Ngole’s social media posts through an anonymous complaint.

The new court ruling reversing the punishment is a “statement of the law likely to be relied upon in hundreds of cases,” according to the U.K. activist group Christian Concern.

The decision affirmed the rights of British Christians “to freely express their faith,” the group said.

Calling it a “major development of the law,” Christian Concern said it’s “now clear that Christians have the legal right to express Biblical views on social media and elsewhere in public without fear for their professional careers.”

“This is the first Court of Appeal judgment regarding freedom of expression of biblical views which sets limits on the rights of professional regulators to limit free speech on social media,” the group said.

Ngole was expelled in 2016 from his social-work studies at Sheffield University after quoting Bible verses on Facebook that were deemed critical of homosexuality, the organization said.

The year before, Ngole engaged in a discussion on Facebook about Kim Davis, the Kentucky registrar jailed for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

During that debate he quoted Bible verses regarding marriage and the sin of homosexual activity.

The anonymous complaint to the school, apparently from a fellow student, came months later. Sheffield officials held a “Fitness to Practice” hearing because of his social-work studies.

“He was informed that he had brought the social work profession into disrepute and was then expelled from the course, losing the career he had worked so hard for,” Christian Concern said.

School officials later tried to justify their actions by claiming Ngole lacked “insight” into his social media posts.

They said that expressing Christian views was unacceptable.

“In some shocking exchanges from the High Court hearing, [which preceded the Court of Appeal decision] the University of Sheffield implied that Felix was not allowed to express the Christian viewpoint on same-sex marriage or homosexuality on any public forum, including in a church,” Christian Concern said.

But the Court of Appeal’s decision means it was the university that was “lacking insight” into the Christian viewpoint.

The Court of Appeal condemned the position of the university, which would have people fearing they would become the target of an anonymous complaint.

“The mere expression of views on theological grounds (e.g. that ‘homosexuality is a sin’) does not necessarily connote that the person expressing such views will discriminate on such grounds,” the judgment said.

It noted Ngole never was shown to be acting with discrimination.

“The outcome of this case will have significant implications not only for Christian freedom of speech, but in relation to all free speech. For example, comments made by people on social media (often many years ago) have recently been arbitrarily used to silence viewpoints that people dislike or disagree with,” Christian Concern explained.

Ngole said: “This is great news, not only for me and my family, but for everyone who cares about freedom of speech, especially for those working in or studying for caring professions. As Christians we are called to care for and serve others, and publicly and privately we must be free to express our beliefs, especially when asked, without fear of losing our livelihoods.

“I have suffered tremendously as a result of how I was treated by the University of Sheffield and I feel that four years of my life have been taken away from me. Despite all this, I feel overwhelming joy that what I have lost will be so much gain to Christians today and in the future as a result of this important ruling for freedom.”

Andrea Williams of the U.K.’s Christian Legal Centre called it a “watershed case for Christians and a resounding victory for freedom of speech.”

“We are delighted that the Court of Appeal has seen the importance of this case and made a ruling that accords with common sense. It is shocking that the university sought to censor expression of the Bible in this way, and we hope this sends out a message of freedom across all universities and professions that Christians and others should be allowed to express their views without fear of censorship or discipline.”

Williams said the case now returns to the university which must review its actions in light of the new precedent.


Yes, I am

by Allen Elston by jc cast

An interesting expression caught my attention at the Summer Missionary orientation last month. When asked, “Are you James Henry? or “Mary Johnson?”, many would reply with a twinkle in their eye, three equally accented words, “Yes, I am.” Several men answered in unison when asked, “Are you from Tennessee” – “Yes, we are.” Then I remembered where I had heard the expression before, and whom they were imitating. It was a TV commercial where the young imposter was asked, “Are you Mr. Maconovich?” (or some name like that), and with that same gleam, he answered in that same positively convincing manner, “Yes, I am.”

Then last week at a service station in Redmond, a couple of young men, sunburned and covered with cement dust, began a conversation with me. They were servicing a truck pulling a concrete pump trailer. I responded to their greeting by saying, “Are you guys real mud slingers?” Then together they said, with those same three equally accented words, “Yes, we are!”, and went on to explain they had pumped 90 yards of concrete that day. They said they were from Portland, and asked where I lived. They made a wonderful impression on me that they were proud of their job, where they lived, and what they accomplished that day. They almost convinced me to join them on their next job!

How refreshing to hear statements of affirmation that are true—not boastful or judgmental—just good, open statements that reflect self-respect and self-esteem in one’s role in everyday life. Wouldn’t it be refreshing to get to the place in our everyday Christian testimony where we could tactfully express our faith and God’s purpose in our lives in an attractive, non-threatening way?

The early disciples were threatened not to speak in Christ’s name. They were living in troubled times. People were having to make up their minds where they stood on eternal issues. Was this way real? It was for them. Their experiences of recent days had made such a life-changing impression that they knew, without a doubt, who they were and what their response to Christ really meant. They could stand before outcasts or authorities with the same boldness that state, “We cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard…”. Maybe they sensed something deeper than many of us because they were living on the cutting edge of a vital, loving relationship with the Father, and the recently resurrected Son that they now knew had come to change the world forever. Their whole personhood had yielded to the purpose of His indwelling presence to proclaim in power the “Prince and Savior…who grants forgiveness of sins.” “Yes, now we know for sure.”

With these thoughts in mind, the other morning a quail caught my attention. Sitting on our deck rail he was broadcasting his role to his world. I said, “Hello, Mr. Quail. Are you doing what the Lord created you for today?” He stood up tall, flicked his top-knot, and with the same three, equally accented words said, “Yes, I am. Yes, I am. Yes, I am.”


[Retired pastor, Allen Elston, has graciously given me permission to reprint a collection of inspiring newsletter articles he authored from 1994-1996 (like this one). I thank him for his generosity.]


Original here

Strong Direction! Energy to Thrive


Rafer Johnson’s career is almost unbelievable. A versatile high school athlete, he played basketball at UCLA and competed in long jump events in the 1956 Olympics. He won gold in the decathlon at the 1960 Olympics in Rome. Retiring from athletics, he starred in various television shows and movies, including the James Bond film License to Kill. He also developed a close friendship with Senator Robert F. Kennedy. He was there when Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles and helped apprehend the assassin. In 1984, Rafer was the torchbearer at the Los Angeles Olympics, climbing the stadium stairs and lighting the flame symbolizing the opening of the Games. In athletics, politics, and cinema, he’s been a star.

Rafer credits his success to his college basketball coach, the legendary John Wooden. Coming to UCLA from a small Swedish community, Rafer said he was intimidated long before he walked into the gym. He didn’t think he could possibly compete with all the great players in a big city school. That changed on the first day of practice when Wooden said, “Don’t worry about whether you’re doing better than the next guy. Just give me your best.”

Rafer later wrote: “My subsequent performance in the 1960 Olympics, held in Rome, had a lot to do with Coach’s philosophy of concentrating just on being the best I could be. Don’t worry about the score, the medal, the prize; don’t worry about the other guy; just concentrate on doing your best. It’s that simple…. Don’t worry about the competition; don’t worry about the gold medal or winning the race. Just focus on running the race that’s right in front of you.”1

That simple philosophy, homespun from a wise coach, shaped the life of a tall young fellow from a small town who came to UCLA to play ball.

Three Keys

It’s no secret that a good coach often becomes the greatest influence in a young person’s life. High quality coaches are more concerned about mentoring athletes than winning games. Former Canadian Olympian Dr. Penny Werthner has devoted her life to sports psychology. She’s now Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology at the University of Calgary, and her husband is President of the Coaching Association of Canada. After the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Dr. Werthner conducted a study to identify why some athletes did so well.

She found the most important theme was the relationship between the coach and athlete. For example, Coach Xiuli Wang, a former Olympic speed skater for China who has since coached Canadian athletes, described how she guided Clara Hughes to a gold medal:

“At the time of meeting Clara,” said Coach Wang, “she was very fit and she had lots of sport experience … but now she was changing sports. She needed help with skating technically well. She was asking lots of technical questions, but they were the right questions…. I was straight with her. I told her the truth, and I got on the ice with her to show her how to skate well.”2

Notice those three phrases: “I was straight with her…. I told her the truth…. I got on the ice with her to show her how to skate well.”

That’s the secret to excellence in coaching, and that’s exactly what the Lord does with us. God—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit—plays many different roles in the life of the Christian. But have you ever thought of Him as your Coach, the One who will help you navigate through the ups and downs of life? As the One who gives you strong and perfect direction in good times and bad?

First, He’s straight with us. He watches how we run the race of life, how we wrestle with conflict, how we swing and miss, how we stumble out of the blocks or give up before the race is over. He knows when we’re spiritually dehydrated, lax on our disciplines, or off our game. Sometimes we don’t know what’s wrong, but the Coach always identifies the problem.

Take Jonah for example. At the end of his book, Jonah is sulking, angry, and depressed, though he didn’t really know the root of his problem. The Lord was straight with him, saying, in effect, “Your problem is you don’t really care about the people of Nineveh, its children, or its livestock. You care more about the vine over your head than about the eternal destinies of the multitudes in this city” (see Jonah 4:7-11). Jonah evidently got the point, because his autobiographical book is the testimony of how God coached him throughout this phase of his ministry.

Think of how Jesus coached His disciples. When Peter fumbled the ball at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus rebuked him before the whole team: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (Matthew 16:23).

We must listen carefully to the Coach when He shoots straight with us. While reading our Bibles, we need to apply the truths to ourselves. While meditating on the Word, we need to ask God to search and try us. When reeling from a failure, we need to listen to God’s voice of rebuke and correction. The Bible describes our Christian experience as a “work out” (Philippians 2:12), and we have a Coach who helps us by being straight with us.

Second, He tells us the truth. His Word is truth. He’s the only infallible Coach in history, and we can depend on every word of advice, every syllable of encouragement, and every command and promise. Remember when Paul was aboard a sinking ship in a prolonged typhoon in the Mediterranean? Everyone had given up hope of being saved. All expected to drown. But the Coach stepped onto the deck and gave Paul a word of truth: “Do not be afraid, Paul; you must be brought before Caesar; and indeed God has granted you all those who sail with you.” Those words so encouraged the apostle he was able to lead his team to victory, telling his fellow sailors and passengers, “Take heart, men, for I believe God that it will be just as it was told me” (Acts 27:24-25).

The Holy Spirit takes His Word and gets inside us with the truth. That’s where we acquire the energy to thrive. That’s where we get the strong direction we need.

Coach Xiuli Wang’s third secret was: “I got on the ice with her to show her how to skate well.” Good coaches don’t just stay on the sidelines. They get on the field, on the ice, on the mat, on the hardwood. That’s exactly what our Coach did. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory” (John 1:14). Wanting to demonstrate a winning life, God entered humanity through a virgin’s womb, grew up like an ordinary child, and exhibited a wholly righteous life. He showed us how to play the game, how to consistently win over the world, the flesh, and the devil.

Though Jesus returned to heaven, He sent His Spirit to live within us, and the secret to victory is allowing Him to work in and through us with all His strength. Paul said, “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” (Colossians 1:29, NIV).

A Coach Who Gets Inside Us

Vince Lombardi once said: “Coaches who can outline plays on a blackboard are a dime a dozen. The ones who win get inside their players and motivate.” That’s what our Lord does, giving us strong direction, fresh empowerment, renewed energy, and the strength to thrive in life.

Here at the end of this article, why don’t you pause a moment for a brief time-out. See the Lord as the best Coach in the world. Think of yourself as an important part of the team. He wants to shoot straight with you, to tell you the truth, and to get on the ice with you today, whether you’re experiencing the thrill of victory just now or the agony of defeat.

Don’t worry about the score, the medal, the prize; don’t worry about the other guy; just concentrate on doing your best. Just focus on running the race before you, looking unto the best Life-Coach in the world, the Lord Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of our faith.

1John Wooden and Steve Jamison, The Essential Wooden (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007), 50-51.

2Bo Hanson, “Success of Coach Athlete Relationships (Canadian Olympic Study” Athlete Assessments. September 20, 2013).

VA fixes rules to allow Bibles, religious symbols

‘A welcome breath of fresh air’


Constitution Bible

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has brought a “breath of fresh air” to its practices by allowing “religious literature, symbols and displays at VA facilities,” according to  First Liberty Institute. contributor Todd Starnes noted a VA medical center in Augusta, Georgia, had banned high school carolers from singing Christmas songs containing religious references in public areas of the hospital.

In Iowa City, American Legion volunteers said they could not hand out gifts to veterans if the wrapping paper included “Merry Christmas.”

And the Dallas VA medical center refused to accept the delivery of handwritten Christmas cards from local school children because the cards contained phrases such as “God Bless You.”

At the time, American Legion National Commander Daniel Dellinger pointed out, “Christians are more and more often targeted for censorship and restriction at VA facilities.

He said the decision “to prohibit the delivery of Christmas cards that mention Christmas is ludicrous.”

But now the VA has announced a change in policy to allow “the inclusion in appropriate circumstances of religious content in publicly accessible displays at VA facilities.”

The VA will “allow patients and their guests to request and be provided religious literature, symbols and sacred texts during visits to VA chapels and during their treatment at VA” and “allow VA to accept donations of religious literature, cards and symbols at its facilities and distribute them to VA patrons under appropriate circumstances or to a patron who requests them.”

The intent of the new policy is to protect religious liberty for veterans and their families.

“We want to make sure that all of our veterans and their families feel welcome at VA, no matter their religious beliefs. Protecting religious liberty is a key part of how we accomplish that goal,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “These important changes will bring simplicity and clarity to our policies governing religious and spiritual symbols, helping ensure we are consistently complying with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution at thousands of facilities across the department.”

“This new VA policy is a welcome breath of fresh air,” said Mike Berry, director of Military Affairs for First Liberty Institute. “On the eve of our nation’s Independence Day, this is the perfect time to honor our veterans by protecting the religious freedom for which they fought and sacrificed. The Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutionality of religious displays with historic roots such as those commonly found in VA facilities. We commend the VA for taking this necessary and positive action.”

The institute had sent a letter only weeks ago urging the VA to fix its practices. That came after the Military Religious Freedom Foundation filed a lawsuit challenging a POW/MIA Remembrance display at the Manchester VA Medical Center because it included a Bible.

Waging a Smarter War on Porn

It’s a serious problem among evangelicals. But fixating on it might be missing the bigger picture.

Waging a Smarter War on Porn

Porn appears to be overrunning Christian cultures. Some have quietly capitulated. Evangelicalism, however, has not. But conservative Christians are no longer on the offensive against “obscenity,” as they were in the 1970s and ’80s. Today, they’re in survival mode. That’s one lesson we learn from Addicted to Lust: Pornography in the Lives of Conservative Protestants, a new book from University of Oklahoma sociologist Samuel Perry.

Evangelicals have a dilemma on their hands. For good reason, Perry surmises, “there can be no truce with pornography.” But the battlefield’s casualty list is fast mounting, even while the enemy’s weaponry is becoming more powerful and sophisticated. What to do? Surrender? Desert? And what of the walking wounded—leave them to the enemy? The language of war pervades evangelical discussions of pornography because resisting its siren call is hard.

Addicted to Lust is about as close to a page-turner as you’ll get with a scholarly book. Perry gets the players and the tensions right. He’s fair. He knows the science can be biased because it’s conducted by scientists—humans—who often have a stake in the answers to their questions. While he seeks to avoid rooting for one side—a noble effort to remain an impartial observer—he nevertheless acknowledges that porn has not made the world “a more humane and equitable place.”

Perry and I agree that we have overestimated addiction to pornography. Genuine addiction interrupts daily life. It’s hard to make the case that a habit hidden for years applies here. When dad’s an alcoholic, on the other hand, everyone in the family knows it. Elsewhere in his copious publication history, Perry has wondered whether the real problem is how pornography fosters masturbation, taking control over one’s solitary sexual existence. I happen to think he’s right. In other words, when we fixate on porn, we are apt to miss the bigger picture—that sexual expression is becoming more characteristic of the individual life rather than a life together.

Gratefully, very few Americans think porn is an obvious good. It is never linked with positive marital outcomes. But being a committed, conservative Christian makes matters worse, Perry holds. Why? Because porn causes a social problem for evangelicals, not just a personal one. “No one wants to be the wife of a known porn addict,” one interviewee observed.

Sexual Exceptionalism

Evangelicals suffer from moral incongruence over porn. That is, they say it’s bad but look at it anyway. Addicted to Lust explores how this incongruence—which is neither surprising nor novel—plays out in their lives and within their culture.

How bad is it? “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” wrote a 17th-century playwright in an era that could scarcely fathom our own pornified times. Evangelical wives react to revelations of spousal porn use with greater intensity, anger, and anguish than others, Perry claims. They’re more apt to classify porn use as on par with adultery. The reason, Perry posits, is “sexual exceptionalism”—the evangelical tendency to accord sexual sin greater gravity than nearly every other transgression. Believers, of course, have Scripture on their side. Sexual sin is different: As Paul states in 1 Corinthians, it’s against your own body (6:18). Ironically, most of the wives Perry interviews confess that their husbands’ revelations—tormenting though they were—tended to yield good fruit in their marriages over the long run. Confronting sin creates opportunities to know the real persons to whom we are married.

According to Perry, evangelical sexual exceptionalism compels men to “evaluate their entire spiritual condition in terms of whether they have looked at porn and/or masturbated recently.” In other words, when someone asks how you are doing spiritually, you tend to hear the underlying question as how you are doing sexually. It’s hard to know if Perry’s right about this, although I suspect he is. This is not, however, a phenomenon exclusive to evangelicals. The problem with accountability structures, though often helpful in reducing the frequency of unwanted behavior, is that they unwittingly make porn and masturbation the primary concerns of one’s spiritual life. Mix in a dose of Calvinist pietism, and you have the recipe for more despair and isolation. As “David,” an interviewee, put it, “I don’t think I have much to offer in terms of spiritual maturity. . . . I certainly couldn’t hold anyone else accountable.” American men are failing to counsel and guide their boys in part because they feel so inept themselves. This is not good.

Porn may be “every man’s battle,” but it’s not only a man’s battle. Evangelical women, like many other women in the world, wonder why they’re “not enough” for their husbands. Many men, writes Perry, “wish their wives wouldn’t take it so personally.” That’s a tough sell, since porn use “just feels more personal and violating to [Christian] women.” Amid this, Perry describes how women who look at porn are simply left out. Such women feel twice scorned—by their peers, for acting “like a man,” and by their pastors, who feel ill-equipped to counsel a sex addict who is a woman.

The issue of masturbation, in particular, highlights the challenges of living by sola scriptura. Most evangelical leaders refuse to pronounce authoritatively on matters the Bible doesn’t explicitly address. But to say nothing is not to signal nothing. (The Latin phrase qui tacet consentire videtur translates as “He who is silent is understood to consent.”) This poses problems. Given the free market in faith upon which evangelicalism thrives, it is simple to locate disagreements about the morality of masturbation but difficult to resolve them.

The absence of authoritative interpretations is obvious. One man told Perry he brings seductive photos of his wife on trips so that he can “take care of that myself (masturbate) whenever I feel tempted.” Others perform the strange gymnastics of masturbating without lustful thoughts, a path, Perry notes, that some commend. But that route still tends to leave its practitioners lonely. Several pastors held that masturbation was wrong “because it was self-centered and they believe God intends sexuality to be self-giving.” Our bodies are meant for another, as a gift.

All this suggests the body itself has a discernible meaning. What does the Bible say? That we’re to honor God with our bodies, which are not meant for “sexual immorality,” a term scrutinized like few others in Scripture. Perry notes that there is nothing like a “theology of the body” for evangelicals to consult. True. But what he doesn’t mention is that the only developed theology of the body derives from the thought and writing of a Catholic pope, John Paul II. Instead of depending exclusively on the Bible, it hinges on the living authority of the Catholic church which, perhaps most importantly here, bluntly labels masturbation “an intrinsically and gravely disordered action.” If Perry thinks evangelicals need to lighten up—and to his credit, it’s not obvious what he thinks—be careful what you wish for.

Fumbling Toward Progress

While there is no evangelical theology of the body, there is what Perry labels the “purity industrial complex,” a phrase borrowed many times over from President Eisenhower’s original 1961 warning about the military’s post-war collaboration with industrial profiteering. There remains an active abstinence movement within evangelicalism, but the financial gains from fighting pornography strike me as comparatively modest. I don’t know how profitable successful web-filtering companies like Covenant Eyes are, but they appear to meet a perceived need for help. Do they work? The book doesn’t explore the effectiveness of solutions—that would require a different kind of data. It focuses instead on the squabble Perry perceives among three different levels of solution-seekers: evangelical thought leaders, pastors, and the scores of men and women who just want their solitary behavior to be better tomorrow than it was yesterday. It highlights the tension between being right and being helpful.

Evangelical leaders, Perry argues, promote quite different ways out for the beleaguered. Theologians and famous pastors, he observes, tend to stick to the Bible and encourage “leaning in” to biblical wisdom for reinforcement. Therapeutic counseling that relies on secular psychological technique remains suspect in the eyes of many such leaders. If the heart doesn’t change, they hold, behavioral changes just won’t stick. Endorsing non-scriptural methods of resistance strikes leaders as risky to their reputation as respected expositors of the Word. Perry notes this with thinly veiled ambivalence. Guilt, for the record, is a terrible motivator. And lust, according to a Covenant Eyes developer, “is simply learned behavior.”

But there are no great conclusions here. Success, however measured, is more apt to come through a combination of openness, discussion, and curbing access. Perry does note, as a sociologist might, that “it seems to be through those close personal relationships that one’s communion with God can have an effect.” Is that enough? Ultimately, Addicted to Lust is about how sinners—and their spiritual guides—fumble their way toward progress. Christians are better than their failures and collapses. They’re wooed by warring interests, only one of which offers sustained happiness. (They know this.) Years spent duking it out with the flesh remind us that the stain of sin remains. Every man and woman who’s stared at porn for any length of time knows they can remember things that, in their lucidity, they would rather forget.

Digesting this book won’t give readers exact guidance on what to do next. Good sociology isn’t like that. They will, however, have a good deal more insight into the contours of the problem. Walking in that light—and under the Spirit’s power—they might just discover a path out of the darkness.

Mark Regnerus teaches sociology at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy (Oxford University Press).


Original here

A Rich Legacy to Enjoy

by John MacArthur , June 12, 2019

Where did Christians ever get the notion that they need anything other than Christ? Is He somehow inadequate? Is His gift of salvation somehow deficient? Certainly not. We are children of God, joint heirs with Christ, and therefore beneficiaries of a richer legacy than the human mind could ever comprehend: “We are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:16–17). Christians are rich beyond measure. All true Christians are heirs together with Christ Himself.

Scripture has much to say about the Christian’s inheritance. It is, in fact, the central point of our New Covenant relationship with Christ. The writer of Hebrews referred to Christ as “the mediator of a new covenant, so that . . . those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:15).

We were chosen for adoption into God’s own family before the world began (Ephesians 1:4–5). And with our adoption came all the rights and privileges of family membership, including an inheritance in time and eternity that is beyond our ability to exhaust.

This was a key element in the theology of the early church. In Acts 26:18 Paul says he was commissioned by Christ to preach to the Gentiles “so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in [Christ].” In Colossians 1:12 he says that God the Father has “qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.” Paul viewed the believer’s inheritance as so enormous in scope that he prayed the Ephesians would have the spiritual enlightenment to comprehend the richness of its glory (Ephesians 1:18).

The concept of an inheritance from God had great significance to early Jewish believers in Christ because their Old Testament forefathers inherited the land of Canaan as part of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 12:1). Theirs was for the most part an earthly, material inheritance (Deuteronomy 15:419:10), though it included many spiritual blessings. Our inheritance in Christ, however, is primarily spiritual. That is, it is not a promise of wealth and material prosperity. It goes far beyond temporal or transient physical blessings.

We Inherit God

Believers inherit God. This concept was key to the Old Testament understanding of a spiritual inheritance. Joshua 13:33 says, “To the tribe of Levi, Moses did not give an [earthly] inheritance; the Lord, the God of Israel, is their inheritance, as He had promised to them.” Of the twelve tribes of Israel, Levi had a uniquely spiritual function: It was the priestly tribe. As such, its members did not inherit a portion of the Promised Land; the Lord Himself was their inheritance. They literally inherited God as their own possession.

David said, “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance” (Psalm 16:5). In Psalm 73:25–26 Asaph says, “Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. . . . God is the strength of my heart and my [inheritance] forever.”

The prophet Jeremiah said, “The Lord is my portion . . . therefore I have hope in Him” (Lamentations 3:24). That Old Testament principle applies to every Christian. We are “heirs of God” (Romans 8:17). First Peter 2:9 describes believers as “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” We are His, and He is ours. What a joy to know that we inherit God Himself and will spend eternity in His presence!

We Inherit Christ

Believers enter into an eternal oneness with Christ. Christ Himself indwells them (Colossians 1:27). He prayed to the Father “that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me” (John 17:22–23). Someday “we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2) and we will reign with Him as joint heirs (Romans 8:17).

We Inherit the Holy Spirit

Ephesians 1:14 says that the Holy Spirit “is given as a pledge of our inheritance.” That is, He is the Guarantor of our inheritance. The Greek word translated “pledge” (arrabōn) originally referred to a down payment—money given to secure a purchase. It came to represent any token of a pledge. A form of the word even came to be used for an engagement ring. The Holy Spirit is the resident guarantee of our eternal inheritance.

We Inherit Salvation

Peter said our inheritance includes “a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5). The Greek word translated “salvation” (sōtērian) speaks of a rescue or deliverance. In its broadest sense it refers to our full and final deliverance from the curse of the law; the power and presence of sin; and grief, pain, death, and judgment. No matter how difficult our present circumstances might be, we can look beyond them and bless God for the ultimate fullness of our eternal salvation.

We Inherit the Kingdom

Jesus said in Matthew 25:34: “The King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.’”

And so, we inherit God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, eternal salvation, and the kingdom. Still, the fullness of our inheritance has not yet been revealed to us. John wrote, “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be” (1 John 3:2). Paul said, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

We’re like a child prince who is too young and immature to understand the privileges of his position or the royal inheritance that awaits him. Consequently he may struggle with petty wants and throw tantrums over trinkets that pale in comparison to the riches he has access to, and will receive when he assumes his father’s throne. As he grows up, his parents must discipline and train him so he learns to behave like someone of royal lineage. Throughout that training and maturing process he begins to understand the immense value and implications of his inheritance.

We, too, will someday experience the fullness of our inheritance. In the meantime we must learn to act like children of the King, and let the hope of future blessings purify our lives (1 John 3:3).

(Adapted from Our Sufficiency in Christ)

Remembering America’s Christian Roots

Michael Brown: To the extent we’ve cast off biblical foundations, we have deteriorated

Despite our many national failings, it cannot be denied that our nation has deep Christian roots. And it is because of, not despite, these godly, Christian origins that America became a great nation and that our daring national experiment succeeded as wildly as it did.

After all, in the beginning, we were just a bunch of struggling, fragmented colonies, and it seemed like the height of folly to take on the might of the British homeland. How, then, did we become the greatest global superpower in world history?

It is our biblically based foundations that paved the way. To the extent we have cast those off, we have deteriorated.

Consider the original charters of our first colonies. Stephen McDowell cites these representative examples.

The First Charter of Massachusetts (1629) states the desire that all the inhabitants would “be so religiously, peaceably, and civilly governed, as their good life and orderly conversation may win and incite the natives of country to the knowledge and obedience of the only true God and Savior of mankind, and the Christian faith, which in Our royal intention and the adventurers’ free profession, is the principal end of this plantation.”

Adopted Jan. 14, 1639, the Fundamental Orders of Connecticut began with the inhabitants covenanting together under God “to maintain and preserve the liberty and purity of the gospel of our Lord Jesus which we now profess.”

In 1682 the Great Law of Pennsylvania was enacted revealing the desire of William Penn and the inhabitants of the colony to establish “laws as shall best preserve true Christian and civil liberty, in opposition to all unchristian, licentious, and unjust practices, (whereby God may have his due, Caesar his due, and the people their due).”

Not surprisingly, in some of these colonies, Sabbath (Sunday) laws were enforced, church attendance was mandatory, and biblical morality was required.

Obviously, we cannot return to those days, since America today is greatly diversified. And even among professing Christians, we are far from totally unified. Plus, we cannot expect tens of millions of non-Christians and non-believers to practice some form of Christianity.

To be quite frank, it would be dangerous to think that by passing certain laws, we could turn 21st century America into 18th century America.

Certainly not. To do so would be the equivalent of trying to make America into a Christian theocracy, which is something I categorically reject.

But that doesn’t mean we cannot recover much of the spirit and ethic of our earliest founders. And it certainly doesn’t mean that followers of Jesus cannot live as followers of Jesus. To the contrary, given the unique history and Constitution of our country, our nations depends on it. And without a thriving church, America cannot be truly great.

So, as the colonies developed and the United States of America was born, as the population grew and diversified, changes had to come. And they most certainly did.

There were greater divergences in Christian expression along with an ever-increasing secularism.

But the Bible still remained prominent in American thinking. And, quite certainly, the nation identified as Christian and was, broadly speaking, a God-fearing country.

This is reflected by the observations of the French philosopher and historian Alexis de Tocqueville during his celebrated visit to America in the 1830s.

As he famously remarked, “Upon my arrival in the United States the religious aspect of the country was the first thing that struck my attention; and the longer I stayed there, the more I perceived the great political consequences resulting from this new state of things.”

De Tocqueville noticed how bookseller shops contained “an enormous quantity of religious works, Bibles, sermons, edifying anecdotes, controversial divinity, and reports of charitable societies.” He also spoke of visiting people living in log cabins whose only book was the Bible.

So, despite the diversity of the United States in the 1830s, the biblical principles on which the nation were founded continued to have a profound influence.

As de Tocqueville also noted, “The safeguard of morality is religion, and morality is the best security of law as well as the surest pledge of freedom.”

And, he added, “The Americans combine the notions of Christianity and of liberty so intimately in their minds, that it is impossible to make them conceive the one without the other. Christianity is the companion of liberty in all its conflicts – the cradle of its infancy, and the divine source of its claims.”

Ultimately, it was our Christian foundations that enabled us to eradicate slavery and fight against other injustices. If we believe in certain fundamental God-given rights, they must apply to all.

As our first president, George Washington, said in his Farewell Address, “Religion and morality” are the “firmest props of the duties of men and citizens” and therefore are “indispensable supports” of “the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity.” And, he added, “[R]eason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

On this Fourth of July, we do well to remember his words. Our very freedoms are at stake.

(Excerpted and adapted from Michael L. Brown, “Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation.”)