Was George Washington a Christian?

This is a question often asked today, and it arises from the efforts of those who seek to impeach Washington’s character by portraying him as irreligious. Interestingly, Washington’s own contemporaries did not question his Christianity but were thoroughly convinced of his devout faith–a fact made evident in the first-ever compilation of the The Writings of George Washington, published in the 1830s.

That compilation of Washington’s writings was prepared and published by Jared Sparks (1789-1866), a noted writer and historian. Sparks’ herculean historical productions included not only the writings of George Washington (12 volumes) but also Benjamin Franklin (10 volumes) and Constitution signer Gouverneur Morris (3 volumes). Additionally, Sparks compiled the Library of American Biography (25 volumes), The Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution (12 volumes), and the Correspondence of the American Revolution (4 volumes). In all, Sparks was responsible for some 100 historical volumes. Additionally, Sparks was America’s first professor of history–other than ecclesiastical history–to teach at the college level in the United States, and he was later chosen president of Harvard.

Jared Sparks’ decision to compile George Washington’s works is described by The Dictionary of American Biography. It details that Sparks began . . .

. . . what was destined to be his greatest life work, the publication of the writings of George Washington. [Supreme Court] Justice Bushrod Washington, [the nephew of George Washington, the executor of the Washington estate, and] the owner of the Washington manuscripts, was won over by an offer to share the profits, through the friendly mediation of Chief Justice [of the Supreme Court, John] Marshall [who from 1804-1807 had written a popular five volume biography of George Washington], who also consented to take an equal share, twenty-five per cent, with the owner. In January 1827, Sparks found himself alone at Mount Vernon with the manuscripts. An examination of them extending over three months showed that years would be required for the undertaking; and with the owner’s consent, Sparks carried off the entire collection, eight large boxes, picking up on the way to Boston a box of diplomatic correspondence from the Department of State, and the [General Horatio] Gates manuscripts from the New York Historical Society. Not content with these, he searched or caused to be searched public and private archives for material, questioned survivors of the Revolution, visited and mapped historic sites. In 1830, for instance, he followed [Benedict] Arnold’s [1775] route to Quebec. The first of the twelve volumes of The Writings of George Washington to be published (vol. II) appeared in 1834 and the last (vol. I, containing the biography) in 1837.

In Volume XII of these writings, Jared Sparks delved into the religious character of George Washington, and included numerous letters written by the friends, associates, and family of Washington which testified of his religious character. Based on that extensive evidence, Sparks concluded:

To say that he [George Washington] was not a Christian would be to impeach his sincerity and honesty. Of all men in the world, Washington was certainly the last whom any one would charge with dissimulation or indirectness [hypocrisies and evasiveness]; and if he was so scrupulous in avoiding even a shadow of these faults in every known act of his life, [regardless of] however unimportant, is it likely, is it credible, that in a matter of the highest and most serious importance [his religious faith, that] he should practice through a long series of years a deliberate deception upon his friends and the public? It is neither credible nor possible.

One of the letters Sparks used to arrive at his conclusion was from Nelly Custis-Lewis. While Nelly technically was the granddaughter of the Washingtons, in reality she was much more.

When Martha [Custis] married George, she was a widow and brought two young children (John and Martha–also called Patsy) from her first marriage into her marriage with George. The two were carefully raised by George and Martha, later married, and each had children of their own. Unfortunately, tragedy struck, and both John and Patsy died early (by 1781). John left behind his widow and four young children ranging in age from infancy to six years old.

At the time, Washington was still deeply involved in guiding the American Revolution and tried unsuccessfully to convince Martha’s brother to raise the children. The young widow of John was unable to raise all four, so George and Martha adopted the two younger children: Nelly Parke Custis and George Washington Parke Custis, both of whom already were living at Mount Vernon.

Nelly lived with the Washingtons for twenty years, from the time of her birth in 1779 until 1799, the year of her marriage and of George Washington’s untimely death. She called George and Martha her “beloved parents whom I loved with so much devotion, to whose unceasing tenderness I was indebted for every good I possessed.”

Nelly was ten years old when Washington was called to the Presidency, and she grew to maturity during his two terms. During that time, she traveled with Washington and walked amidst the great foreign and domestic names of the day. On Washington’s retirement, she returned with the family to Mount Vernon. Nelly was energetic, spry, and lively, and was the joy of George Washington’s life. She served as a gracious hostess and entertained the frequent guests to Mount Vernon who visited the former President.

On Washington’s birthday in 1799, Nelly married Washington’s private secretary, Lawrence Lewis. They spent several months on an extended honeymoon, visiting friends and family across the country. On their return to Mount Vernon, she was pregnant and late that year gave birth to a daughter. A short few weeks later, on December 14, General Washington was taken seriously ill and died.

Clearly, Nelly was someone who knew the private and public life of her “father” very well. Therefore, Jared Sparks, in searching for information on Washington’s religious habits, dispatched a letter to Nelly, asking if she knew for sure whether George Washington indeed was a Christian. Within a week, she had replied to Sparks, and Sparks included her letter in Volume XII of Washington’s writings in the lengthy section on Washington’s religious habits. Of that specific letter, Jared Sparks explained:

I shall here insert a letter on this subject, written to me by a lady who lived twenty years in Washington’s family and who was his adopted daughter, and the granddaughter of Mrs. Washington. The testimony it affords, and the hints it contains respecting the domestic habits of Washington, are interesting and valuable.”

Woodlawn, 26 February, 1833.

Sir,

I received your favor of the 20th instant last evening, and hasten to give you the information, which you desire.

Truro [Episcopal] Parish is the one in which Mount Vernon, Pohick Church [the church where George Washington served as a vestryman], and Woodlawn [the home of Nelly and Lawrence Lewis] are situated. Fairfax Parish is now Alexandria. Before the Federal District was ceded to Congress, Alexandria was in Fairfax County. General Washington had a pew in Pohick Church, and one in Christ Church at Alexandria. He was very instrumental in establishing Pohick Church, and I believe subscribed [supported and contributed to] largely. His pew was near the pulpit. I have a perfect recollection of being there, before his election to the presidency, with him and my grandmother. It was a beautiful church, and had a large, respectable, and wealthy congregation, who were regular attendants.

He attended the church at Alexandria when the weather and roads permitted a ride of ten miles [a one-way journey of 2-3 hours by horse or carriage]. In New York and Philadelphia he never omitted attendance at church in the morning, unless detained by indisposition [sickness]. The afternoon was spent in his own room at home; the evening with his family, and without company. Sometimes an old and intimate friend called to see us for an hour or two; but visiting and visitors were prohibited for that day [Sunday]. No one in church attended to the services with more reverential respect. My grandmother, who was eminently pious, never deviated from her early habits. She always knelt. The General, as was then the custom, stood during the devotional parts of the service. On communion Sundays, he left the church with me, after the blessing, and returned home, and we sent the carriage back for my grandmother.

It was his custom to retire to his library at nine or ten o’clock where he remained an hour before he went to his chamber. He always rose before the sun and remained in his library until called to breakfast. I never witnessed his private devotions. I never inquired about them. I should have thought it the greatest heresy to doubt his firm belief in Christianity. His life, his writings, prove that he was a Christian. He was not one of those who act or pray, “that they may be seen of men” [Matthew 6:5]. He communed with his God in secret [Matthew 6:6].

My mother [Eleanor Calvert-Lewis] resided two years at Mount Vernon after her marriage [in 1774] with John Parke Custis, the only son of Mrs. Washington. I have heard her say that General Washington always received the sacrament with my grandmother before the revolution. When my aunt, Miss Custis [Martha’s daughter] died suddenly at Mount Vernon, before they could realize the event [before they understood she was dead], he [General Washington] knelt by her and prayed most fervently, most affectingly, for her recovery. Of this I was assured by Judge [Bushrod] Washington’s mother and other witnesses.

He was a silent, thoughtful man. He spoke little generally; never of himself. I never heard him relate a single act of his life during the war. I have often seen him perfectly abstracted, his lips moving, but no sound was perceptible. I have sometimes made him laugh most heartily from sympathy with my joyous and extravagant spirits. I was, probably, one of the last persons on earth to whom he would have addressed serious conversation, particularly when he knew that I had the most perfect model of female excellence [Martha Washington] ever with me as my monitress, who acted the part of a tender and devoted parent, loving me as only a mother can love, and never extenuating [tolerating] or approving in me what she disapproved of others. She never omitted her private devotions, or her public duties; and she and her husband were so perfectly united and happy that he must have been a Christian. She had no doubts, no fears for him. After forty years of devoted affection and uninterrupted happiness, she resigned him without a murmur into the arms of his Savior and his God, with the assured hope of his eternal felicity [happiness in Heaven]. Is it necessary that any one should certify, “General Washington avowed himself to me a believer in Christianity?” As well may we question his patriotism, his heroic, disinterested devotion to his country. His mottos were, “Deeds, not Words”; and, “For God and my Country.”

With sentiments of esteem,

I am, Nelly Custis-Lewis

George Washington’s adopted daughter, having spent twenty years of her life in his presence, declared that one might as well question Washington’s patriotism as question his Christianity. Certainly, no one questions his patriotism; so is it not rather ridiculous to question his Christianity? George Washington was a devout Episcopalian; and although as an Episcopalian he would not be classified as an outspoken and extrovert “evangelical” Founder as were Founding Fathers like Benjamin Rush, Roger Sherman, and Thomas McKean, nevertheless, being an Episcopalian makes George Washington no less of a Christian. Yet for the current revisionists who have made it their goal to assert that America was founded as a secular nation by secular individuals and that the only hope for America’s longevity rests in her continued secularism, George Washington’s faith must be sacrificed on the altar of their secularist agenda.

For much more on George Washington and the evidences of his strong faith, examine the following sources:

  • George Washington, The Writings of George Washington, Jared Sparks, editor (Boston: Ferdinand Andrews, Publisher, 1838), Vol. XII, pp. 399-411.
  • George Washington, The Religious Opinions of Washington, E. C. M’Guire, editor (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1836).
  • William Johnson, George Washington The Christian (1917).
  • William Jackson Johnstone, How Washington Prayed (New York: The Abingdon Press, 1932).
  • The Messages and Papers of the Presidents, James D. Richardson, editor (Published by the Authority of Congress, 1899), Vol. I, pp. 51-57 (1789), 64 (1789), 213-224 (1796), etc.
  • George Washington, Address of George Washington, President of the United States, Late Commander in Chief of the American Army, to the People of the United States, Preparatory to his Declination (Baltimore: George & Henry S. Keatinge, 1796), pp. 22-23.
  • George Washington, The Maxims of Washington (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1855).

* Originally Posted: Dec. 31, 2016.

AUDIO It’s Not About the Manger

12/23/20 Chuck Colson John Stonestreet

Listen at the link below:

https://html5-player.libsyn.com/embed/episode/id/17280350

As you enjoy this Christmas in the company of friends and family, be sure to reflect on how the babe in the manger reveals to us God’s wonderful love. But even more, as Chuck Colson explained over a decade ago, remember the cosmic implications of the incarnation… that God would indeed become flesh. Here is Chuck Colson.

The manger scene inspires a sense of awe and comfort to the hearts of Christians everywhere. But we often forget the staggering implications of Christmas. What image does the mention of Christmas typically conjure up? For most of us, it’s a babe lying in a manger while Mary and Joseph, angels, and assorted animals look on.

Heartwarming picture, but Christmas is about far more than a Child’s birth—even the Savior’s birth. It’s about the Incarnation: God Himself, Creator of heaven and Earth, invading planet Earth, becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

It’s a staggering thought. Think of it: The Word—that is, Logos in the Greek, which meant all knowledge that could be known, the plan of creation—that is, ultimate reality, becomes mere man? And that He was not born of an earthly king and queen, but of a virgin of a backwater village named Nazareth? Certainly, God delights in confounding worldly wisdom and human expectations.

Thirty years after His humble birth, Jesus increased the Jews’ befuddlement when He read from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…to proclaim release to the captives…to set free those who are downtrodden…” Jesus then turned the scroll back and announced, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

In effect, the carpenter’s son had just announced He was the King.

So yes, the birth of Jesus is a glorious moment, and the manger scene brings comfort and joy and Christmas cheer. But it should also inspire a holy terror in us—that this baby is God incarnate, the King who came to set captives free, through His violent, bloody death on the cross as atonement for us, His unworthy subjects.

It’s through the Incarnation God sets His grand plan in motion. He invades planet Earth, establishing His reign through Christ’s earthly ministry. And then Christ leaves behind an occupying force, His Church, which is to carry on the work of redemption until His return and the kingdom’s final triumph.

Do we get this? I’m afraid most of us are so preoccupied and distracted by last-minute Christmas shopping and consumerism, we fail to see God’s cosmic plan of redemption in which we, as fallen creatures, are directly involved.

Well, the average Christian may not “get” this announcement, but those locked behind bars do. Whenever I preach in the prisons, and I read Christ’s inaugural sermon, Luke 4:18, and when I quote His promise of freedom for prisoners, they often raise their arms and cheer. The message of Jesus means freedom and victory for those who once had no hope. They’re not distracted by the encumbrance of wealth and comfort.

People in the developing world get it, too. Whenever I’ve shared this message with the poor and oppressed people overseas, I see eyes brightening. Stripped of all material blessings, exploited by earthly powers, they long for the bold new kingdom of Christ.

Today is Christmas. Go ahead, enjoy singing about and celebrating the birth of the Savior. Set up a manger scene in your home. But don’t forget this earth-shaking truth: The birth of the Baby in the manger was the thrilling signal that God had invaded the planet. And that gives us real reason to celebrate Christmas.

For all of us at BreakPoint, this is Chuck Colson in Washington, wishing you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas.

https://breakpoint.org/its-not-about-the-manger-5/

VIDEO Jim Caviezel Urges Christians to Be Bold: ‘Many of Us Are Playing Judas’

By Jessica Lea -September 2, 2020

jim caviezel

Actor Jim Caviezel recently appeared on the Edifi podcast, where he discussed his new movie “Infidel” with host Billy Hallowell. Caviezel said he hopes the film will bring about a greater awareness of Christian persecution and galvanize American Christians to follow Jesus without regard to their own comfort or what others think about them. 

“I would say the goal would be to create a sense of urgency and relevance to Christians and non-Christians,” said Jim Caviezel when Billy Hallowell asked him for the main takeaway of the film. Many American have very comfortable lives and are oblivious to the persecution that Christians are experiencing elsewhere in the world. However, said Caviezel, “Barbaric Christian persecution is something that still goes on today…We should be aware and engaged in this issue.” 

Jim Caviezel: Don’t Love Approval More Than Jesus

Jim Caviezel told Billy Hallowell that “Infidel,” which releases to theaters Sept. 18, 2020, portrays the “persecution of Christians in the Middle East.” After an American man is invited to speak on national television in Cairo, Egypt, he gets kidnapped and is held captive in Tehran. When the U.S. government does nothing to save him, his wife goes to Iran to save him.

The film, while not based on a specific true story, is nevertheless “thinly disguised truth” and portrays real injustices people have suffered in the Middle East. As examples, Caviezel mentioned the Christians who were martyred in Libya by ISIS, as well as the disappearance of FBI veteran and CIA contractor Robert Levinson, who reportedly died after 13 years of imprisonment in Iran. The actor also drew attention to the fact that many Muslims in the Middle East are suffering the loss of their freedoms. 

Caviezel said there is a moment in the film when his character is on TV and the host presents a certain perspective of who Jesus is. Caviezel’s character has a choice to bow to the pressure to agree with the host or to say what he believes is true. “I love this character,” said the actor, “because he stands up for what he believes in, and that is something that is lacking today in this world’s cancel culture…people want to be liked so badly.”

While it is easy for American Christians and church leaders to let their desire for influence cause them to neglect following God, this is not the example we see in Scripture from Jesus or his disciples. First, Jesus did not ignore the suffering of others. “When I read the gospels,” said Caviezel, “I’ve never seen a Jesus that would sit there and say, ‘Well, you know, too bad for him.’ That is not the gospel I know.” Second, Caviezel pointed out that the Apostle Paul actually had more comfort, power, and influence before he encountered God on the road to Damascus than he did when following God after that experience. 

Caviezel challenged his listeners not to be apathetic about injustice and not to deceive themselves or others about who they are truly following. “The way God sees us is who we really are,” he said, and God will bring the truth to light eventually. “Many of us are playing Judas,” said the actor, “Many of us are playing the Pharisees. And it will come when we have to face God, and it will come, even to non-believers…And we don’t get to see ourselves the way we want to see ourselves anymore.”

We need to be on guard against being complacent about atrocities and injustices in our own country as well, said Caviezel, specifically mentioning the “barbarism of abortion.” Being apathetic toward such wrongs is not how God wants us to live as his people. The actor hopes his latest film will encourage believers to stand up for what is right, no matter the consequences, no matter the tyranny of cancel culture. “You know a tyrant when you’re not allowed to speak your truth,” he said. “We as Christians have to be bold and speak the truth.”

12’s in the Bible

 

November 8, 2019 hepsibahgarden

 

1. The temple that king Solomon built had 12 oxen as base for the lavers.

2. The length and breadth of the Altar was 12 cubits.

3. The Holy City New Jerusalem had 12 gates and 12 Angels at each gate.

4. The disciples of Jesus were 12 in number.

5. There were 12 tribes of Israel — the 12 sons of Jacob.

6. Moses sent 12 men to spy the land of Canaan.

7. 12 baskets full of the fragments , and of the fishes remained after Jesus fed the five thousand.

8. Ishmael had 12 sons who were princes.

9. The wall of the city of New Jerusalem had 12 foundations.

10. The 1gates of New Jerusalem City were 12 pearls. Each gate was made of a single pearl.

11. The Tree of life brought forth 12 manner of fruits every month.

12. When the Israelites moved from Marah to Elim, they found 12 wells of water.

Be blessed 💕

Original here

Can A Born Again Christian Fall Away and Be Lost?

  by 

Christians have debated for centuries over whether a truly saved person can lose their salvation. Probably the strongest Biblical passage for that position is Hebrews 6:4-6. This is what the text says,

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

 Now, exactly what does this passage mean? It seems to indicate that a saved person who has experienced all the blessings in vs.4-5 can in the end fall away and be lost. In this blog I want to refer you to two principles of Biblical interpretation:

1) Remember that Scripture will never contradict Scripture; and

2) Remember that context rules

Scripture Will Never Contradict Scripture:

That first rule of interpretation about Scripture not contradicting Scripture comes into play because there are other passages in Hebrews which seem to teach the opposite position. Let’s take a look at a few other passages which seem to teach that a born again Christian can’t lose their salvation, because they will persevere in faith to the end.

 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end (Heb. 3:14)

This text speaks about something that has already taken place (have become partakers of Christ) if the following condition is met (we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end). The text is not saying that we will become a partaker of Christ if we go on to hold fast the assurance of our faith until the end. Rather, we have already become partakers of Christ if we go on to persevere in faith. Thus, a person who does not hold fast their assurance firm until the end never became a partaker of Christ. Thus Hebrews 3:14 seems to be saying the exact opposite of Hebrews 6:4-6. Now, two mutually exclusive positions can not both be true. Either one of them is wrong, or both are wrong, but both can’t be true. Either it is possible for a true believer to fall away and lose their salvation, or it is not possible for a true believer to fall away and lose their salvation, but it is one or the other.

Furthermore, Hebrews 10:14 says, For by a single offering He has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified (ESV).

If it is true that Jesus’ offering up of Himself on the cross has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified, then it is not possible for those same persons to fall away and lose their salvation. For those who are indwelt, regenerated and sanctified by the Spirit, they possess a perfect standing before God based on the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ, and it is “for all time”! They were not perfected until they fall away, but for all time.

Hebrews 13:20-21 tells us,

Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen

This text mentions the “eternal covenant.” Well, in Jeremiah 32:40 we also read of the “everlasting covenant”, which I would presume refers to the same thing. What is the nature of the everlasting covenant?

I will make an everlasting covenant with them that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put the fear of Me in their hearts so that they will not turn away from Me.

This covenant includes two things:

1) God will not turn away from them to do them good; and

2) Those with whom this everlasting covenant is made will not turn away from God because God will put the fear of Him in their hearts.

Now, if God promises that He will never turn away from them, and that they will never turn away from Him, what is our only conclusion? That these people will never fall away and be lost.

I’ve said all of this to highlight our first principle of Biblical interpretation – “remember that Scripture will never contradict Scripture.” It appears that Scripture is contradicting Scripture. But that’s just it. It must be only an appearance of a contradiction. Our understanding of one or more of these texts must be wrong, because God who inspired all of these texts is a God of truth, and doesn’t contradict Himself. So what are we to do? We need to go back to the drawing room, and decide if we have understood Hebrews 6:4-6 correctly.

Context Rules:

In order to do that, let’s utilize our second rule of Biblical interpretation – “remember that context rules.” So, let’s go back and look at the context of this passage to see if we can uncover any clues as to its proper interpretation.

Hebrews 5:11-14 – in this section we discover several things about the recipients of this letter.

1) they were dull of hearing

2) they should have advanced to teachers by then

3) instead they needed someone to teach them the elementary principles of the Word of God

4) they were spiritual infants and unable to consume anything except for milk

5) they were spiritually immature.

Now, remember the whole situation in which this letter was written. The Letter to the Hebrews was written to Jewish believers who were being tempted to forsake Christ and go back to Judaism. That’s why all the way through the author keeps emphasizing the word “better.” Christ is better than the angels, better than Moses, better than the Aaronic priesthood, He brings in a better covenant, a better hope, better promises, and is a better sacrifice. The author of this letter is urging these new Jewish believers not to forsake Christ and go back to Judaism, for that would mean their spiritual destruction.

Hebrews 6:1-3 – Here the author exhorts his readers to press on to maturity (vs. 1). In other words, they must make progress in their faith. They should have been at the point where they could be teaching others, but were still spiritual babies. They needed to mature.

Hebrews 6:4-6 – Notice that vs. 4 begins with the word “for”, which tells us that the author is giving us a reason why the readers must press on to maturity. It is because if they have received great and precious privileges and blessings, and then have fallen away, they are lost forever. This is a very serious and solemn passage. The author of Hebrews is urgently exhorting his readers to mature in their faith and bear fruit of their salvation, because it is possible that some of them who do not do this may “fall away” and prove that they were never truly saved to begin with.

But you might be thinking, “Brian, how in the world can verses 4-5 be speaking of a person who is not truly saved? Well, let’s look at them. What are these great blessings they had experienced?

1) Enlightenment

2) Tasted of the heavenly gift (probably the gift of the Holy Spirit- Acts 2:38)

3) Partakers of the Holy Spirit

4) Tasted the good word of God

5) Tasted the powers of the age to come

Notice that these readers had “tasted” several of these blessings. Is it possible for someone to taste something, swish it around in their mouth for a while, and then spit it out? Of course it is. No doubt these readers were participating in a Christian church in which the gospel was preached (enlightened, tasted the good word of God), and the power of the Holy Spirit was manifest (tasted the heavenly gift, partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted the powers of the age to come). So, if we were to boil down these blessings we could reduce them to two – the gospel was proclaimed and the Spirit was working. And these professing Christians had continually heard the Word and seen the Spirit work. Yet, there was still the possibility that they could “fall away” and find it impossible to be renewed again to repentance.

Many find the expression “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance” to be ironclad proof that these people were truly saved. After all, they had already repented. However, in 2 Cor. 7:10 Paul says, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.” Evidently there are two kinds of sorrow – one leading to salvation and the other leading to death. Just as there is a saving faith which ushers in a life of good works, and a non-saving faith which does not usher in good works, so there is a true repentance which leads to salvation and a worldly repentance which is merely regret for the misery their sin has caused them.

The author goes on to say, “since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” Note the little word “and.” These people had once put the Son of God to open shame by valuing other things of the world more than Him. Then they professed faith in Christ and conversion. If they fell away after that, they would be doing the same thing they had done originally, by showing that they valued the rituals and laws of Judaism more than Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 6:7-8 – Notice again that vs. 7 begins with the word “for.” That tells us that he is going to explain what he meant in verses 4-6. Here he gives a little parable of two different kinds of fields. Both of these fields received abundant rains. However, only one field brought forth useful vegetation, while the other brought forth only worthless thorns and thistles. The first kind of field receives a blessing from God, while the latter is close to being cursed and ends up being burned. The author is explaining the person in vs. 4-6 who received the abundant rains of hearing the Word of God, and seeing the works of the Spirit. However, if he did not produce fruit in his life his end would be that of being “cursed” and “burned” (Mt.25:41). This brings us to the final piece of context which we need to examine.

Hebrews 6:9-12 – The author says in vs. 9, “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.” The author believed that his readers were the fruitful and blessed field, not the barren and cursed field. Notice how he puts it – “we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation.” Now, what are the “better things” he’s referring to? Fruitfulness and persevering faith! And, notice that these are the things that “accompany salvation.” When an individual receives salvation, he will produce fruit, and he will persevere to the end, which is exactly what Hebrews 3:14; 10:14; 13:20-21 and Jer. 32:40 all teach.

So, to sum up, I believe that Hebrews 6:4-6 is a strong, sobering, warning for any professing Christian who seems to remain in a spiritually immature condition, rather than pressing on to maturity, bearing the fruit of the Spirit, and persevering in faith to the end. To any professing Christian who has heard the Word of God continually, and seen the powers of the Holy Spirit, and then falls away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance. Why? Because they have already received all the light they can receive, and then they have turned their backs on it, and deserted Christ to go back from where they came. They have proven that the things of the world are more valuable to them than Jesus. Thus, repentance becomes impossible for them. [ The author seems to outline an unpardonable sin of falling away which seems to contradict the teaching of the Prodigal Son  Luke 15:11-31 ]

I hope this blog is more than an exercise in Biblical Hermeneutics for you. I hope it gives us all a needed and sobering reminder that true saving faith always results in a transformed life, and that we “must show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end (Heb.6:11).” None of us want to hear those terrifying words out of the mouth of our Lord, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness”!

Original here

God’s Holiness, Your Wholeness

by Skip Heitzig | December 29, 2020

If ever there was a religious sounding word, it’s holy. Regardless of the context, most people probably hear it and think of cathedrals, stained glass, candlelight, and the sound of monks chanting. Step outside, and holiness evokes a desert landscape wandered by bearded men in sandals.

Most of the time, our understanding of God’s holiness makes Him seem unapproachable, even unpleasant. He’s up there, we’re down here, and all we can do is hope He grades on a curve. The prophet Isaiah’s vision of God fits that profile: he saw the Lord “high and lifted up,” His robe spread throughout the temple, with six-winged seraphim crying out, “Holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:1, 3). Isaiah’s reaction was fitting: he cried out, “Woe is me, for I am undone!” (v. 5).

The apostle John’s vision of the same awe-inspiring scene in Revelation 4 offers a few more details but echoes the same proclamation from the angels: “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty” (v. 8). Though we might say that holiness is God’s most unpopular attribute, it is His most noteworthy one to the heavenly hosts, worth the emphasis of triple repetition.

Heaven’s cry is not “love, love, love” or “grace, grace, grace.” It isn’t “wrath, wrath, wrath” or “justice, justice, justice.” Those are all key aspects of God’s character and nature, but His only attribute that merits such a superlative highlighting is His holiness. The Bible calls God holy over 630 times. His holiness separates Him from all of His creation. There is no one like Him, perfect in all His ways. And as Isaiah discovered, His perfection magnifies our imperfection.

But Isaiah also discovered that God is not aloof in His holiness. While Isaiah lamented his “unclean lips” (v. 5), an angel touched his corrupt human mouth with a live coal from the altar. It was a symbolic gesture of purification, and a necessary one, since God’s holiness cannot abide the presence of unholiness. It also pointed to the ultimate cleansing that God would provide through Jesus Christ.

That leads us to an important truth about God’s holiness: He doesn’t destroy the unholy but declares us holy through the blood of Christ. “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). In other words, God’s holiness includes paying the price required to allow us into His presence. His holiness informs His love, grace, and mercy, and it satisfies His justice and wrath.

Like Isaiah, when we have the humility to recognize the gulf between us and God, we will respond with repentance and gratitude. We’ll embrace what God has done for us in Christ, and the smoke surrounding God’s holiness will clear: we’ll see that His holiness makes our salvation possible, empowers us with purpose, and guides us to wholeness.

A relationship with God is transformative; He loves us the way we are, but He loves us so much He won’t leave us that way. This is where our sanctification—growing in holiness—comes into play. When you grow in holiness, you’re after not perfection but pursuit. You want to pursue the God who pursued you, and you want to let others know that His holiness leads to our wholeness. And just like the angels in heaven who never tire of God’s holiness, you’ll come to a place where you’re captivated by His perfection, driven to glorify Him in all things.

http://www.connectwithskip.com/devomail/read/daily-devotional/2020/12/29/god’s-holiness-your-wholeness

This Is God

by Skip Heitzig | December 15, 2020

I remember the night I met the woman who would become my wife. I was at a friend’s apartment in Southern California, and I saw her from across the room. She confidently walked up to me, put out her hand, and said, “Hi, I’m Lenya.” On our first date, she told me about her background, her hopes, and her dreams. Thus started a long, lasting, and very satisfying relationship.

The best way to get acquainted with someone is to get firsthand knowledge from them about who they are. Essentially, that is what Moses did to God in Exodus 34. Moses asked to see God’s glory, and God answered his request not with an appearance, but with a list of attributes. In this foundational passage about who God is, we see two aspects of His personality: His designation, or who He says He is, and His description, what He says about Himself.

First is His designation: God began by naming Himself. “And the Lord passed before him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God'” (v. 6)—or Yahweh, Yahweh El in Hebrew. El is the generic term for God, but Yahweh is specific, and it means I am. This is the name God used when He introduced Himself to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3: “I AM WHO I AM” (v. 14). The repetition here was to emphasize to Moses that this was the same God who spoke to him back then.

What does the name I am tell us about God? It means He is the self-existent one, the only noncontingent being in the universe—that is, He doesn’t depend on anybody else for His existence. It also refers to his eternal nature. God is not the great I was or I used to be; He is the great I am. And it highlights His active existence—that He is involved with humanity, not detached or aloof.

In the Bible, a person’s name was far more than just an identity tag. The Hebrew people believed there was a connection between a person’s name and a person’s nature. Whatever they were named was often brought to bear with their character. So this is God’s character, reputation, and authority—His designation: Yahweh, Yahweh El.

That brings us to God’s description of who He is: “The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation” (vv. 6-7). What a description, isn’t it?

Here’s how Moses responded: he “made haste and bowed his head toward the earth, and worshiped” (v. 8). God introduced Himself to Moses—”Hi, I’m God. Here’s what I’m like”—and Moses worshiped. All teaching of the Scriptures should lead to this; good theology is the foundation and impetus for true worship. That’s why I tell worship leaders every chance I get, “Make sure your songs are filled with good theology.”

Do you, like Moses, make haste to worship the Lord every time you learn more about Him? It’s the fitting response, and it’s one of the keys to a long, lasting, and satisfying relationship with Him.

http://www.connectwithskip.com/devomail/read/daily-devotional/2020/12/15/this-is-god

VIDEO Taliban going door-to-door searching for Christians, inspecting phones for Bible apps

By Ryan Foley, Christian Post Reporter| Friday, August 20, 2021

Afghanistan, Christians,
Afghan refugee Faridah visits a course preparing her to convert into Christian confession by baptism in Berlin, on October 23, 2016. | CLEMENS BILAN/AFP via Getty Images

As the Taliban continue to gain control of Afghanistan following the pullout of U.S. troops, leaders of the underground Christian church are warning of the implications for religious minority groups in the country.

In a statement released Tuesday, the leader of the underground church ministering to Christians in Afghanistan and the founder of the nonprofit organization Global Catalytic Ministries, who goes by the alias Pastor X, provided a “first-hand ground report” on the situation in the country. The statement was shared by Frontier Alliance International, an organization committed to laying the foundations for the Gospel where there are none. 

“The Taliban has a hit list of known Christians they are targeting to pursue and kill. The U.S. Embassy is defunct and there is no longer a safe place for believers to take refuge,” the statement reads. 

“All borders to neighboring countries are closed and all flights to and from have been halted, with the exception of private planes. People are fleeing into the mountains looking for asylum. They are fully reliant on God, who is the only One who can and will protect them.”

The statement noted that “the Taliban are going door-to-door taking women and children.”

“The people must mark their house with an ‘X’ if they have a girl over 12 years old, so that the Taliban can take them. If they find a young girl and the house was not marked, they will execute the entire family,” the statement added. “If a married woman 25 years old or older has been found, the Taliban promptly kill her husband, do whatever they want to her, and then sell her as a sex slave.”

Additionally, Pastor X stated that “Husbands and fathers have given their wives and daughters guns and told them that when the Taliban come, they can choose to kill them or kill themselves — it is their choice.” 

In a statement released Tuesday and shared with The Christian Post, Rex Rogers, the president of the nonprofit Christian media ministry SAT-7, elaborated on the dangers faced by Christians.

“We’re hearing from reliable sources that the Taliban demand people’s phones, and if they find a downloaded Bible on your device, they will kill you immediately,” Rogers said. 

“It’s incredibly dangerous right now for Afghans to have anything Christian on their phones. The Taliban have spies and informants everywhere.”

With the Taliban’s takeover, SAT-7 reports that many Afghans have begun censoring themselves to avoid “retribution.” In the first six months of 2021, SAT-7 PARS reported an increase in audience engagement from viewers in Afghanistan. SAT-7 PARS broadcasts two Dari programs targeting Afghan viewers titled “Window of Light” and “Secret of Life.”

In an update Thursday, SAT-7 reported that an anonymous SAT-7 PARS viewer told the organization that Christians “are in real danger.”

“Sadly, in the past two to three days, my family and I have received death threats,” the viewer was quoted as saying. “In this emergency situation, I have no other way but to escape from the country.”

Another viewer who came to Christ about a year ago told SAT-7 that the situation is “dreadful.” 

My daughter’s life and my life are both in danger,” the viewer was quoted as saying. “My daughter is 8 years old. She has no one else except me. It was so difficult to find a phone to contact you.”

Joel Richardson, preacher and host of “The Underground” podcast, explained Monday that “In the rural villages, what the Taliban is doing … especially if they know that the families are Christians, i.e., infidels, they’re taking the women who are … teens and younger and giving them away as prizes” to Taliban fighters. According to Richardson, it’s not just Afghan Christians who find themselves in danger due to the Taliban’s resurgence. 

The Taliban has also set its sights on Afghans who have demonstrated any allegiance to the U.S. over the past two decades. “Tens of thousands of Afghanis who worked with the American military as translators, who were part of the government, many of them are being targeted, executed,” he said. 

As the Taliban gains ground in Afghanistan, leaders of Christian nonprofit agencies and pastors have called on Americans and the international community as a whole to pray for Christians in Afghanistan. Officials with faith-based refugee resettlement agencies have urged the U.S. government to admit tens of thousands of Afghan Christians and “American-affiliated Afghans” as refugees.

Although leaders of Christian organizations agree that Christians, other religious minorities and women will face much stronger persecution with the Taliban in control, they disagree about the degree of progress made in Afghanistan before the pullout of U.S. troops.  

Pastor X lamented that “20 years of work and the strengthening of a nation being destroyed in a single day” while World Evangelical Alliance Secretary General Bishop Thomas Schirrmacher stressed that “we should not pretend as if everything was well in Afghanistan before the Taliban taking control of the country.” Schirrmacher asserted that because “the constitution of 2004 stated that Afghanistan is an Islamic republic with Islam as its state religion,” religious minorities never fully received equal rights in the country.

With the Taliban on the march in Afghanistan, Global Catalytic Ministries has launched a “war chest” for Christians in Afghanistan that seeks to provide them with “emergency funds and supplies to help them get to safety” as well as food, water, shelter and other basic needs. The organization hopes to raise $500,000 for 1,500 families between now and Sept. 11, which marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that led the U.S. to become militarily involved in Afghanistan to combat al Qaeda. 

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

https://www.christianpost.com/news/taliban-hunting-for-christians-inspecting-phones-for-bible-apps.html


URGENT: Pray for Afghan Christians – Thousands are Facing Persecution and Even Death for Their Faith

New report sheds more light on US equipment now in hands of Taliban




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https://www.christianpost.com/news/americans-have-been-beaten-by-taliban-fighters-john-kirby-says.html

https://churchleaders.com/news/396471-president-biden-becomes-first-president-to-omit-god-from-national-day-of-prayer-proclamation.htm

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https://cnsnews.com/blog/michael-w-chapman/fmr-uk-commander-afghanistan-biden-should-be-court-martialed-betraying-us

https://redstate.com/nick-arama/2021/08/22/kamalas-horrible-reaction-to-the-afghanistan-question-not-only-exposes-her-but-the-media-n431240

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Luck is The Religion of The Lazy

Luck Is The Religion Of The Lazy
LUCK IS THE RELIGION OF THE LAZY

Some people would do almost anything to ward off ‘bad luck’ and bring themselves a little good fortune. There was a time in my life that I believed when things happened in my life it was either “lucky,” or “unlucky.”

As I have become a more mature Christian I have realized that there is truly no such thing as luck, luck is just a religion of the lazy and disillusioned.  Here’s why.

psychologist Richard Wiseman surveyed a bunch of people who considered themselves lucky or unlucky, then performed a very interesting test:

“[Wiseman] gave both the “lucky” and the “unlucky” people a newspaper and asked them to look through it and tell him how many photographs were inside. He found that on average the unlucky people took two minutes to count all the photographs, whereas the lucky ones determined the number in a few seconds.”

“How did the “lucky” people do this? Because they found a message on the second page that read, “Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper.” So why didn’t the so called unlucky people see it? Because they were so intent on counting all the photographs that they missed the message.”

So what does this mean?

People who we often consider themselves lucky are more relaxed and open to what’s going on around them. Many people either do not see the open doors that God has provided for them or do not even believe that God will ever open a door for them. God is gracious and gives us blessings. I have learned if I can look beyond the raging storm, I can see where God is constantly blessing me and moving in my life.

This week, my primary doctor told me he was moving to another city. I will not deny that I was really sad as a unique doctor/patient relationship had formed. He has been the only doctor so far that has truly kicked open doors for me, validated me, listened to me, and truly cared for me. It is extremely hard to find a great doctor when you have chronic and rare illnesses. I can’t say enough about how much my now old primary doctor has been a blessing to me and my husband. It wasn’t by chance or luck that I got this doctor that only worked in my area for one-year. God placed him in my path. God used him to change every single one of my other doctors and now I have a great team. God used him for a short while to put some pieces together for me. God sent him to help in my journey but as life has it, God changes things up and that’s ok. I haven’t met my new doctor yet but I am very confident that God has once again moved in my best interest and is sending another person to help me get me to another point.

I had a choice this week. I could have had a meltdown and worried about the unknowns of my doctor’s replacement or I could have scurried to find someone else. Instead, I chose to find peace and solitude in my Father. I can trust that he is moving and I am not relying on luck or chance. The biggest part of trusting God is not knowing all of the answers but placing the unknowns directly in his hands and allowing him to move and bless me.

https://godinterest.com/2018/01/23/luck-is-the-religion-of-the-lazy/

Your Life’s Every Detail

by Skip Heitzig | January 12, 2021

We’re all familiar with the incredible story of Joseph in the Bible. It’s a riches-to-rags-to-riches tale that shows us the massive scope of God’s providence. Providence is when God intervenes in natural law—the chain of cause and effect that governs our lives—to bring about a supernatural result.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about Joseph’s story is that, while God was working out the enormous, nation-changing, top-leader-level ramifications of everything that was happening, He was also taking care of the most personal, faith-building character details, too. Nothing is too big for God to handle or too small to escape His notice.

Joseph knew that and believed that. And because he trusted God, he was able to look beyond his circumstances and live with a higher purpose. He lived in tune with God’s faithful sovereignty—but not because the details themselves harmonized; they didn’t. Betrayed by his own brothers, sold into slavery, falsely accused and jailed, and forgotten in prison, Joseph couldn’t have looked at everything he suffered and said, “This all makes perfect sense.”

This is where we see the difference between looking at life horizontally and looking at life vertically. Joseph’s brothers looked at life horizontally—within their own tainted hearts and at the turmoil around them. Joseph, on the other hand, lived with a vertical view. He learned to wait on God’s timing and trust God’s sovereignty and goodness, especially when things went wrong. The contrast between these two ways of living is summed up in Proverbs 29:25: “The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord shall be safe.”

It’s natural to slip into self-preservation mode when we’ve been wronged, but it’s supernatural to look for God’s hand in the hardship. Joseph overcame the default setting of looking out for himself by instead listening to God, trusting His promises, and obeying His words. And at the end of it all, he could tell his brothers, “You meant evil against me; but God meant it for good” (Genesis 50:20).

Joseph believed that God was in charge—not him. He believed that God uses bad events to bring about good results. And he believed that God uses people to help other people. He funneled the gracious love God had showered on him to bless his brothers and preserve his father Jacob’s family—through whom the Messiah would eventually come.

God cares about the big picture, but He cares equally about you and your role in His story. Do you believe that He uses your suffering for good? That He is big enough to take the bad things from your past and weave them into something better? God is with you in your pain; let Him use it to bring healing and restoration, redeeming it into something of great value and beauty.

http://www.connectwithskip.com/devomail/read/daily-devotional/2021/01/12/your-life’s-every-detail

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