MIT chaplain forced to resign after citing George Floyd’s rap sheet to students

MATT LAMB – ASSISTANT EDITOR

Although the priest argued for forgiveness, the message was lost on students

The Archdiocese of Boston forced Daniel Moloney to resign from his chaplain role at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after students and alumni complained that Moloney brought up George Floyd’s past criminal history in an email to students.

Although Moloney, a Catholic priest, was making an argument that Floyd’s past should not justify his death, the fact that he brought up Floyd’s rap sheet at all prompted some to protest the chaplain’s message to campus officials and file bias complaints over it.

“George Floyd was killed by a police officer, and shouldn’t have been,” Moloney wrote in his June 7 email to the Tech Catholic Community, a group of Catholic students on campus.

“He had not lived a virtuous life. He was convicted of several crimes, including armed robbery, which he seems to have committed to feed his drug habit. And he was high on drugs at the time of his arrest. But we do not kill such people. He committed sins, but we root for sinners to change their lives and convert to the Gospel,” the priest wrote.

“ … In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism. I don’t think we know that. Many people have claimed that racism is major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.”

The e-mail was republished in its entirety by New Boston Post.

Although Moloney’s argument aimed to promote justice and forgiveness, that message seemed lost on many of its readers.

An article in The Tech campus newspaper reports that MIT’s dean for student life, Suzy Nelson, said administrators and the bias response team received reports about Moloney’s email.

In an email to student and faculty leaders June 12, Nelson wrote Moloney’s message “contradicted the Institute’s values” and “was deeply disturbing” and that “by devaluing and disparaging George Floyd’s character,” Moloney did not “acknowledge the dignity of each human being and the devastating impact of systemic racism” on “African Americans, people of African descent, and communities of color,” The Tech reports.

The Archdiocese of Boston told Moloney to resign from his role as chaplain at the school on June 9, according to the Boston Globe. The move came after more than 60 people attended a forum hosted by Tech Catholic Community on June 9, according to the school newspaper.

Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, told WBZ-TV “While Fr. Moloney’s comments should not reflect on the entirety of his priestly ministry, they nonetheless were wrong and by his resignation he accepts the hurt they have caused.”

Moloney told the Boston Globe on June 16, “I regret what happened, I regret it was misunderstood, I regret that [it] became difficult for me to be a voice for Christ on campus.”

Moloney is a published author at First Things, The Wall Street Journal and National Review. He used to work at the Heritage Foundation as a senior policy analyst for the DeVos Center for Religion and Society. His doctoral dissertation focused on justice and mercy, the subject of a recent book he published as well. He also maintains an active Tumblr page but has not explicitly addressed the controversy on it.

MORE: Conservative prof says seminary used COVID as excuse to get rid of him

MIT chaplain forced to resign after citing George Floyd’s rap sheet to students



Related

https://www.foxnews.com/us/live-updates-chauvin-trial-closing-arguments

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/17/maxine-waters-derek-chauvin-must-be-guilty-guilty-guilty-or-we-take-to-the-streets/

https://www.breitbart.com/news/derek-chauvin-trial-closing-arguments-over-george-floyds-death-begin/

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/19/facing-down-censure-vote-maxine-waters-defiant-the-whole-civil-rights-movement-is-confrontation/

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/19/mitch-mcconnell-calls-out-maxine-waters-inappropriate-conduct/

https://www.breitbart.com/clips/2021/04/19/mccarthy-maxine-waters-believes-theres-value-in-violence-censure-could-result-in-loss-of-financial-services-chairmanship/

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2021/04/19/watch-judge-in-derek-chauvin-case-calls-maxine-waterss-comments-disrespectful-to-the-rule-of-law-abhorrent/

VIDEO Nothing Can Separate Us

By John MacArthur Feb 12, 2012

Now we come to message number 13 – I never intended that, but message number 13 in Romans 8 series on the Holy Spirit, and we certainly welcome you who are guests to our church to the end of our series.  Regrettably, some of you haven’t been with us in the previous messages, so you’re a little bit behind the curve, but that’s okay.  Turn to Romans 8, and while you’re doing that, I do want to make a comment about the worship book. 

There’s a note about it in the Grace Today.  There have been some rather careful edits in that book that has come out in past years and some added material to it, to enrich it and update it.  And perhaps the most notable thing is that the final chapter in the book is on music, what is appropriate music for worship, and there are things in that chapter that are unique to the book, and I just wanted to let you know that that and another brand new chapter sort of set it apart from the past editions of it. 

And speaking of worship, the series that we’re doing has one goal in mind and that is to help us worship the Holy Spirit as we should.  When I gave the first message and I called for worship of the Holy Spirit, after the service was over, I didn’t get very far until I was stopped in my tracks by someone who was outraged – outraged that I would even suggest that we ought to worship, offer praise, prayer to the Holy Spirit, which points out the problem.  We need to worship the Holy Spirit in the same way that we worship the Son of God and God the Father Himself. 

In Revelation 22:9, there’s a very brief command and it says, “Worship God.”  Worship God.  The last chapter of the Bible, “Worship God.”  That isn’t anything new.  If you go to the beginning of the Bible, the Pentateuch, the writings of Moses, you will find there are many calls to worship God.  If you get into the books of history, the books of poetry, the prophets, all the sacred writings that make up the Old Testament, everywhere you go, you will be repeatedly commanded in one way or another to worship God.  In fact, Jesus tells us in John 4 that the Father seeks true worshipers.  We are described by Paul in Philippians 3 as those who worship God in the Spirit, the Spirit of God.  We are worshipers of God, that’s what we do, that’s why we’re here.  God is the audience and we are offering Him worship as we should every day individually in our lives and do collectively when we gather like this. 

When the Bible instructs us to worship God, the God we are to worship is the triune God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the true and living God, the only God, three in one.  When we are commanded – as we are so frequently – to worship God, that must mean all three members of the Trinity.  In no sense are we to offer any member of the Trinity any less worship than we offer any other member of the Trinity.  We are not to assume that when Scripture says to worship God that somehow we are to worship certain persons of the Trinity and not others or certain persons more than others.  Should we not assume that every command in Scripture to worship God is a command to worship the Holy Spirit who is fully God?  When we get a glimpse of heaven in the fourth chapter of Revelation, and we read in verses 10 and 11 that the 24 elders, along with the living creatures, fall down before Him who sits on the throne and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, are we to assume that that is one member of the Trinity or two but not the third?  When the worship is given to us, the very words of heavenly worship, “Worthy are You, our Lord, and our God to receive glory and honor and power for You created all things and because of Your Will they exist and were created,” that that is excluding the Holy Spirit?  I think not. 

We are to worship the God who is God, and God declares Himself to be “I am who I am” and who He is is three in one.  And yet when we talk about worshiping the Holy Spirit, it sounds new and it sounds novel, and for some people it even sounds wrong.  And the argument tends to be, “Well no, no, the Spirit points to Christ.”  Well, of course the Spirit points to Christ, but in pointing to Christ, He does not diminish His own deity.  He does not depreciate His own identity.  He does not intend to diminish worship given to Him.  He points us to Christ, but He is no less God, and God is to be worshiped. 

The Holy Spirit is fully God, gloriously God, holy God, eternal God, worthy of worship.  The Holy Spirit is equally the possessor of all divine attributes that belong to the Father and the Son.  The Holy Spirit equally participates in every divine activity for the Holy Spirit is inseparable from the Father and the Son.  The Holy Spirit participates in everything from creation to consummation.  All true worship, then, embraces the Holy Spirit, includes the Holy Spirit.  He cannot be separated from the Trinity whom we worship and whom we praise.

Why has this not been clear to us?  Because for many people, that point that I made about the Holy Spirit pointing to Christ, which Jesus disclosed in His last night with the disciples in the Upper Room, seems to some people – and it’s caught traction and become part of Christian thinking – that the Holy Spirit is therefore deflecting worship toward Christ.  Not so.  He shows us Christ for a very clear purpose, which we studied some weeks ago, that we might see the model of perfected humanity, and as we gaze at the glory of the perfected human, He changes us into His image.  To show us Christ is not to defer worship.  It is another way in which we should worship Him and honor Him. 

But beyond that sort of strange quirk in traditional understanding, even worse the Holy Spirit is not considered today in the same way that the Son and the Father are considered because there has been for many, many years now, coming from the third force, the third column in the Christian world – first column, Protestantism; second, Roman Catholicism; the third, Pentecostal Charismaticism – there has been coming from that third wave terrible, tragic confusion about the Holy Spirit, misrepresentation of the Holy Spirit, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, insults directed at the Holy Spirit, and they are relentless and they are severe and they are serious. 

The evangelical church’s understanding of the Holy Spirit has been mangled.  Biblical truth has been depreciated and in its place have come bizarre things attributed to the Holy Spirit by people who have, in many cases, absolutely no relationship to the Holy Spirit whatsoever.  Endless assaults are waged on His person and His work coming out of that third column.  This movement has kidnapped the Holy Spirit and held Him hostage, and all criticisms of their aberrations and blasphemies are denounced by them as being divisive, unloving, and intolerant. 

Obviously, thinking through all of this over the last three months and preaching all of this has stirred my own heart and hearts of people around me who are saying, “We need to do a book on this, we need to bring this to light, it’s been a long time since Charismatic Chaos came out, this needs to be addressed,” and so we’ve decided to do that.  But one of the compelling reasons to do that was the fact that we had a discussion the other day and it was brought to our attention that in searching the literature on the Holy Spirit and the things that are being ascribed to the Spirit today that are not true about Him and about His works, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit has gone, in a sense, unprotected.  The truth of the Holy Spirit has gone unaffirmed, in this sense, that it was the – maybe the early or mid-1990s since there was any definitive book produced on the true person and work of the Holy Spirit.  Evangelicals have gone silent on this issue under the intimidation of that third column.  This is unacceptable.  We cannot allow this to go on, the Holy Spirit to be grieved, quenched, insulted, and blasphemed. 

It’s amazing to me that the evangelical world doesn’t tolerate attacks on God the Father.  When there came an attack a few years ago called the Openness theology which denied that God knew the future, denied His omniscience, it not only denied that He knew the future, it denied that He could control the future.  This is a massive attack on the nature of God, and evangelicals rose up en masse to denounce that attack of Openness theology and became prolific in providing material for that denunciation.  Over the last 15 years or so, 20 years, there have been assaults on the person of Christ, assaults on His nature but more directly on His work on the cross, the doctrine of justification, the biblical doctrine of justification at the heart of the gospel, most notably in a movement called “The New Perspective on Paul,” which was a denial of the doctrine of imputation and justification.  There is no end of literature that has been amassed, a huge library of literature defending the doctrine of justification, defending the Son of God against these attacks.  But no one member of the Trinity in the same period of time has been attacked nearly to the degree that the Holy Spirit has been attacked, and I say for about ten years there has been virtually nothing to come to the defense of a biblical understanding of the Holy Spirit.  And as a result, there is confusion if not indifference toward Him and a lack of ability to worship Him for who He is, and He should be worshiped. 

We understand blasphemy of the Holy Spirit from non-Christians.  We understand blasphemy of the Holy Spirit from false Christians and false teachers.  But we, as Christians, while not blaspheming the Holy Spirit can be guilty of grieving the Holy Spirit.  And it is a grief to the Holy Spirit, of course, for us to sin because we sin against Him who is in us, but it is a grief to the Holy Spirit to think wrongly about Him, to underestimate what He does, to be unappreciative or ungrateful, to fail to worship Him out of a grasp of the wondrous grace and the wondrous power of His continuing work on our behalf all the way to eternal glory. 

So we have been looking at Romans 8 to refocus on the Holy Spirit, to fully embrace Him in our worship.  We know that God the Father initiated the work of salvation, God the Son validated and demonstrated the work of salvation, and the Holy Spirit activates and completes the work of salvation in the believer.  We have literally begun to catalogue the work of the Holy Spirit for us as believers. He regenerates us, He participates in our justification, He sanctifies us, He confirms our adoption as sons of God, He indwells us, He baptizes us, immerses us into the union with other believers that we call the body of Christ.  He gives us spiritual gifts by which we minister to one another.  He strengthens us in the inner man for all righteousness.  He guides us.  He produces right attitudes in us.  He delivers us from sin.  He illuminates the Scripture to our understanding.  But His greatest work and that which brings us the greatest joy is that He guarantees our future glory, He guarantees our eternal glory.  And, of course, at this point the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement renders against Him one of the greatest insults of all by denying the doctrine of eternal security, perseverance of the saints, and attacking His most wondrous work by claiming that He does not necessarily keep all believers secure and safe until eternal glory.

This week I was reading the writings of Charles Finney, whose ministry attacked a lot of things in the Scripture, not the least of which was this doctrine.  Finney said, “You are sealed by the Spirit but you can shatter the seal.”  The testimony of the Word of God is not consistent with that error. 

Listen to the words of Ephesians 1:13-14.  In Him – that is, in Christ – you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.  We are God’s possession; God will redeem us to the praise of His own glory.  The Holy Spirit is given as a pledge of that future redemption, which is called our inheritance, and that is why He is identified as the Spirit of promise because He is the guarantee of God’s promise of heaven. 

Peter similarly writes:  “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who, according to His great mercy, has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are protected by the power of God, for a salvation to be revealed in the last time.”  The Holy Spirit is the seal, the guarantee, the down payment, the first fruits, the earnest, the power, the protector of every true believer, who brings us to final glory. 

That becomes the theme of Romans 8 starting in verse 17.  Verse 17, you first read the word “glorified,” and from then on to verse 39, it is all focused on our future glory and the plans that God has to secure us to that end.  We’ve gone through all of that in great detail.  We’ve learned in verses 26 and 27 that the Holy Spirit constantly from within every true believer is interceding for us in a communion that is not in any language.  It is too deep for words.  It is inter-Trinitarian groaning in which the Spirit intercedes, praying for our eternal glory consistently with God who knows what His plans are and has purposed our glory.  And the Spirit, as well, knows the plans of God, the heart of God.  So God has a plan.  Christ provided for the fulfillment of that plan.  The Spirit prays for the completion of that plan in accord with the Will of God. 

As a result, verse 28 says, “Everything works together for good.”  Things, as we live life, God has a good purpose in them, that is true for His glory.  But this is primarily talking about ultimate, final good.  All things are working together for good because we have been loved by God and love Him in return according to His purpose. 

So the Spirit then effects the good intention and ending and purpose of God on our behalf.  The plan of God, He foreknew us, He predestined us, He called us, He justified us, and He will glorify us, and our glory will be conforming us to the image of His Son, verse 29 says.  We’ve gone through all of that in detail.  God has a plan to choose people that He will glorify.  Christ provides the sacrifice that pays for their sin to make the plan possible.  The Holy Spirit becomes the power of the plan.  He regenerates us, sanctifies us, protects us, and one day will raise us to glory.  We are caught up in that plan.  We are as secure as the Father’s plan because what God purposes, He does.  We are as secure as the Son’s provision.  Christ actually paid in full for all our sins – not a potential payment, but an actual payment.  And we are, thirdly, as secure as the power of the Holy Spirit who intercedes and who keeps us to glory. 

Now, having said all of that great theology, come to verse 31, where we dropped off last time, and Paul knows there will be some objections.  So he assumes that there would be objections from some who would say, “Well, maybe there are some persons who can change this.  Maybe there are some persons who can influence a dramatic alteration in the plan of God.”  Like Finney says, “You can shatter the seal.”  I read a couple of other writers who hold that view and they said the same thing, “The Holy Spirit seals you as long as you don’t break the seal.”  Is that possible?  So we could ask the question, “Are there some humans that can do that?”  What shall we say to these things?  Are there some humans that can do it?  The answer, verse 31:  “If God is for us, who’s against us?”  Are there humans stronger than God?  If God is for us, does it really matter who might be against us?  Does it matter who might want to destroy our faith?  If God is for us, that settles it because there is no power greater than God.  There is no human or human system or human religion or human influence or human society or human form of education or human pressure that is greater than God. 

“Well,” you say, “maybe God would do it.  Maybe God would be weary of us.”  God?  Verse 32 answers that.  “He who didn’t spare His own Son but delivered Him over for us all”?  You mean God who when we were enemies gave us the best gift, His Son?  He would turn against us?  The end of verse 32:  “How will He not also with Him, with His Son, freely give us all things?”  That’s an argument from the greater to the lesser.  If when we were enemies He gave the best gift to save us, will He not now that we are children of His give us lesser gifts to keep us?  That’s just logical.  That’s the argument from the greater to the lesser.  God, who did the most for us, gave the best gift when we were enemies of His, will do whatever lesser things He needs to do now that we’re His sons to keep us. 

Somebody might say, “Well, what about Satan?  Maybe Satan can pull us out of the hands of God, he’s very powerful.”  He tried it with Job, he tried it with Peter, he tried it with Paul and he tried it with the high priest in Zechariah chapter 3.  You have four illustrations of it in Scripture.  He is identified here in verse 33:  “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect?”  Or verse 34:  Who is the one who condemns?  Who is the one who is that’s always before God condemning us?  Who’s the accuser of the brethren?  Revelation 12:10.  Satan and his demons as well gather around the presence of God and bring endless accusations against believers night and day, it says in Scripture.  Can he succeed, the accuser of the brethren?  Could he break Job’s faith?  No.  Could he break Peter’s faith when he tried to sift Peter?  Could he break Paul when messenger demons literally were tearing into the ministry of Paul?  Was that enough to shatter Paul?  Can he successfully bring a condemning accusation that’ll cause God to turn? 

Well, for one thing, saving faith can’t be broken, the purpose of God can’t be thwarted, but you also have the additional reality of Christ at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us against all accusations and saying again and again, “For that I paid in full in My death.” 

Well then, somebody might suggest, “Boy, we’re in trouble if Christ turns against us.  What if Christ were to turn against us?”  Verse 34:  What?  Christ Jesus is He who died, yea rather, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God.  In other words, He died for us, He was raised for us, His death and resurrection were the perfect satisfaction of God, and thus He was exalted at the right hand of God, having fully accomplished our redemption and who also intercedes for us.  He is the great high priest who intercedes for us, our great heavenly advocate. 

It won’t be any humans because God is more powerful than they.  Won’t be God because He gave us the best when we were enemies.  It won’t be Satan because he can’t successfully bring a condemnation against us – Christ has already paid in full for them.  It won’t be Christ – He ever lives to make intercession for us.  Only one possibility remains then.  Us.  You can break the seal.  You can shatter the seal, as Finney put it.  Can you?  Why would you do that?  Oh, circumstances in life.  Well, life could get pretty tough.  As long as everything is going good – that was the argument with Job, wasn’t it?  He’s blessed, he’s rich, he’s got it all, family, crops, animals, wealth – no wonder he’s faithful.  Can we literally exercise power to sever our relationship to the Lord?  Can our faith dissolve, break, crumble under certain circumstances? 

So we go from persons in verses 32 to 34 – 31 to 34, to circumstances in verses 35 to 37, follow them, it’s just pretty simple.  This is worst-case scenario.  The question is:  Who will or what will, brought by who – who – behind all these whats, there’s a who.  If there’s tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, somebody’s responsible for that.  These are the kind of circumstances that are extreme.  Can extreme circumstances destroy our faith, cause us to abandon the Holy Spirit?  Who will separate us from the love of Christ?  Just a reminder that what holds us is the love of Christ for us.  That’s what’s hold us, the love of Christ for us.  It’s mentioned in verse 39, by the way, as the love of God – the love of God.  And I might add, it encompasses the love of the Holy Spirit.  We are loved by the Trinity.  Can something happen to cause that love to be broken? 

Well, let’s paint a picture of extremity.  Seven hypothetical realities escalating, tribulation – tribulation, that’s outside pressure.  Things are going bad on the outside and this assumes attacks coming at us.  The word thlipsis means – it’s a squeezing, outward difficulty, rejection, trouble, harm.  It’s putting pressure on us on the outside.  The next word, distress, is a word that refers to inside pressure.  It’s two words that mean to be crunched into a narrow space but it has to do with the inside.  When outside pressure comes, it has an effect on the inside, right?  You start to react to it, fear, anxiety, doubt, questions, dread, and you become victimized by a certain level of panic.  You lose your sense of confidence because the pressure is so great. 

Can pressure come on the outside that can cause you to be so compressed on the inside that you literally are led into fear and anxiety and it gets worse?  And then persecution.  This is abuse – abuse – and for the purpose of this argument by Paul, it would be abuse for the testimony of Jesus, physical suffering, mental suffering, things are really going badly for you now.  This is the worst-case scenario.  You got all kinds of issues on the outside crushing you in, they get on the inside and they begin to produce anxiety, fear, and dread and then it gets worse, outright persecution, digmos breaks out at the hands of Christ rejecters.  It gets extreme because famine follows.  You don’t get food.  You’re deprived, maybe you’re in jail, you’re in prison.  That is not the end of it, it gets even worse.  You’re in rags.  There’s no provision for you.  You end up naked, you need clothes.  It gets worse.  You’re in peril, you’re on the dangerous edge, and finally they start rattling a sword.  It’s the end. 

Can that do it?  That’s the worst-case scenario.  You’re about to be martyred.  You’re about to have your head hacked off.  Well, by the way, that’s Paul’s personal testimony, and it happened more than once that he got to the brink of peril.  And it finally happened that his head was cut off by a sword.  Can that drive you to doubt?  Can that drive you to reject Jesus Christ?  Can that drive you to turn away from Christ?  Turn away from God?  Can that do it?  And he quotes from Psalm 44 to say that this is kind of the experience that the people of God have had through history, not just us.  He’s quoting from Psalm 44.  There’s a plea from the people of God in the Old Testament for God to deliver them because they’re in distress.  “For Your sake we’re being put to death all day long, we’re considered sheep to be slaughtered.”  They were suffering in the past.  As you know, Israel suffered at the hands of its enemies many times.  Being connected to God can be a very dangerous situation.  It happened then, it happens now.  And when it happens, is that enough to shatter us?  Smash the seal? 

One of the wonderful treasures that I have is a original set of the Foxe’s Book of Martyrs.  Three volumes.  You stack them up, they’re that thick and they’re this big – huge things.  Foxe’s Book of Martyrs contains the testimony of literally hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people who went through that process that Paul just described here and ended up at the sword or the flame, burned at the stake, or myriad ways that they were executed.  And the books are a testimony to the fact that their faith did not fail – could not fail – because they had a faith designed by God, a supernatural faith just like yours. 

“In this you greatly rejoice,” Peter goes on to say, “for a little while if necessary you’ve been distressed” – there’s that same word – “by various trials so that the proof of your faith being more precious than gold, which is perishable, even though tested by fire may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”  And then he says this:  “Though you don’t see Him, you love Him.”  Even then you love Him.  You don’t turn on Him, you don’t resent Him, you love Him.  You love Him all the way to death. 

Verse 37 sums it up:  “In all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”  We love Him because what?  He loved us first.  No, there’s no circumstance that’s going to break this.  There is no circumstance that’ll separate us from the love of Christ.  There’s no circumstance that will separate us from the love of God.  There is no person who will separate us from that love, the love of the Trinity.  It is not possible.  There is no power that can shatter our faith.  There is no power that can break the seal of the Spirit.  There is no accusation against us that Christ has not paid for in full.  There is no higher court than God, and there’s no greater power than the secure power of the Holy Spirit.  We come out hupernikmenhupernika.  You get the word Nike from the Greek verb to conquer, to be the victor, super-victor, huper-victor.  We are more than conquerors; we overwhelmingly conquer, not in in our own strength, but through Him who loved us.  Through Him who loved us. 

Trial, no matter how severe, tests our faith and proves it true.  Therefore, it’s to our greater good and our greater joy, even in the most severe suffering.  It does something else.  It earns an eternal weight of glory in the life to come.  This kind of extremity/severity makes a nobler Christian here and a stronger Christian, not a weaker one, and one whose faith is firm and whose assurance is settled.  It’s the proof of your faith when it stands that test.  It proves you have the real thing, and that’s a gift of God to rejoice over, and it also leads to a greater reward. 

Paul wrote this while he was in Corinth in the winter, and he had no idea, nor did the church at Rome to whom he wrote, that a short time would elapse and then they would see him in this very situation.  He would stand in need of the very comforting truths which he wrote in this chapter because all the things that are written in the list, he would experience.  He would himself be this time killed by a sword.  And the readers in Rome would be caught up in persecution, men and women whose blood would soak the sands of the great Roman arenas and amphitheaters.  But the honor of Christ and the love of Christ was safe in their keeping because they were safe in His keeping.  They didn’t need to fear any of these things, including death.  They were mauled by wild beasts, they were soaked in tar and lit as torches, they fought with men and beasts and hell’s demons, but they were safe in the love of Christ, safe in the love of God, safe in the protecting love of the Holy Spirit.  Safe until they entered into glory. 

Paul ends by saying, “We’re super conquerors.”  And then there’s a beautiful closing refrain, verses 38 and 39, that almost shouldn’t be explained, it should just be read or sung.  For I am convinced – are you?  Are you convinced of this great truth?  I am persuaded, I am confident, I have come to a settled conclusion that neither death, the great enemy, or life with all its dangers and difficulties, its temptations and troubles, nor angels, holy angels, hypothetically, nor principalities, unholy angels, demons, nor things present, nor things to come, the here and now or the future, nor powers – that’s plural in the New Testament and when it’s used plural in the New Testament, the Greek form, it refers to miracles, mighty works, some supernatural power – nothing, so far, not death, not life, not holy angels, not fallen angels, not anything happening now or anything in the future, not any supernatural, mighty, transcendent power, nor height – that is a term that refers to a star at the apex of its orbit – nor depth, bathos – that’s the star at the lowest point of its orbit, nothing at the highest point of the universe or the lowest point of the universe – nothing, nor any other created thing, nothing in life, nothing in death, nothing in the world of angels, nothing in the world of demons, nothing in time, nothing in eternity, no miracle power, nothing on earth, nothing in heaven from the edges of space, nothing, no created thing in the entire created universe will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

Jeremiah 31:3:  God says, “I’ve loved you with an everlasting love.”  That, dear friends, is because we are kept by the Holy Spirit.  We need to worship Him for that gracious work.  Let’s pray.

Lord, we thank You that we have been able to look at the glory of our salvation in this wonderful way, through the ministry in particular of the Holy Spirit.  We know that Christ even went to the cross in the power of the Holy Spirit.  As we come to remember His death for us, we want to be grateful from the bottom of our hearts for this massive work of salvation that began in eternity past with election, went through the cross, out the open tomb, and is produced in us by the ongoing ministry of the dear Holy Spirit.  We worship You, O God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, for this mighty work of amazing grace.  We thank You for it.  As we come now to remember the cross of Christ, cleanse our hearts, fill us with praise – praise as it should be offered to You, our great God.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/90-429

VIDEO I Am the Resurrection and the Life, Part 3

John MacArthur Sep 28, 2014

For now, we open our Bibles to John 11.  The whole chapter is about one event, and that is the raising of Lazarus from the dead.  Lazarus was a member of a little family.  We only know three members of the family; Lazarus and his two sisters.  We don’t know anything else.  We don’t know a lot about them except that they were a host family to Jesus and that He had come to know them very well to the degree that He not only loved them with a spiritual and divine love, but He loved them with a personal affection because the Greek verb, phile is used to describe His affections for that family, and in particular, for Lazarus.

So He had gotten to know them.  They were a group of believers who believed that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God.  They believed He was the one who had come down from heaven.  Martha gives testimony to that in the chapter verses 25 and following.  So this is a family that He had come to know and for whom He not only had divine love, the love that He has for His children, but for whom He had personal affection.  That drew out of Him, a very painful experience when He came to the tomb and stepped into the situation of all these people who had come around to mourn and weep and wail over the loss of this family.  Mary and Martha were weeping and sorrowful over the loss of their dear brother. 

Jesus stepped into that situation, and it wasn’t just them weeping; it was a huge crowd, chapter 11 tells us, of mourners there.  There would always be professional wailers, people who did that very well and sort of ignited the wailing.  Then there would be the legitimate weepers and wailers and mourners who were sorrowful.  They apparently came from many, many places.  In verse 19 it says, “Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.” 

This particular initial sadness lasted seven days in the Jewish tradition, and then they would kind of go back to their own homes, but sort of commit themselves to being available for comfort and consolation for a period of at least 30 days.  This is a community event that is going on, and Jesus steps into it.  Lazarus has been in the ground four days, and by 72 hours complete decomposition has set in, as I laid out for you in our last discussion about it. 

Jesus arrives, and He comes to the tomb.  He is sorrowful.  He is sad.  There are verbs here that describe a kind of sorrow that’s really almost abnormal.  It isn’t just that He’s weeping because He lost a friend.  It isn’t just that He’s weeping because He sees the pain of these two ladies over the loss of their brother.  He’s not weeping because the community feels bad about it.  It is a kind of agony.  It is a kind of wrenching experience for Jesus that comes because He collects all the data that is visible in this event. 

He not only loses a friend in this; He not only sees that sorrow, but He’s able to process immediately the sorrow of every death in every human relationship in every human family.  He can project His omniscience to grasp all of human sorrow and suffering in the face of death.  Not only that, He’s surrounded by unbelief, a whole nation of unbelievers and even by the tomb and in the home there, a group of unbelievers.  So He’s literally engulfed in unbelief.  He also grasps the reality of death and eternal punishment and eternal judgment.

So this is an agonizing moment for Jesus, matched only by His agony in the garden where He comes into a face to face confrontation with sin, which He Himself will bear.  This takes His horror to another level, but here I think is the greatest agony in the life of Jesus up to this point as He faces the deadly reality and the eternal consequence of death and how far-reaching it is.  In the agony, He comes to the tomb and in verse 43 He says, “‘Lazarus, come forth.’  The man who died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth.  Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him and let him go.’”  And the curtain falls.  We don’t know anything more about that scene.  We have no further information.

Tradition says he lived another 30 years.  Maybe that’s true.  Certainly, he lived for a while.  This was not a temporary resurrection in that sense, in a human sense.  We don’t know anything about the reunion of Mary and Martha.  We don’t know anything about the shock and awe that must have just literally roared through the mourners.  We don’t know anything about that.  We don’t know anything about the conversations that Lazarus had after this.  You can imagine the questions. “Lazarus, where were you?  Can you tell us where you were and what was it like?”  Maybe, maybe he had the same response that the apostle Paul had when he had his trip to heaven in 2 Corinthians 12.  He was caught up into the third heaven, you remember, but he said, “I saw things too wonderful to speak of, and it’s not profitable to speak of them anyway.”

Paul had been to heaven, and nobody could get out of him what that was like.  We have no information.  Why not?  Because this isn’t about the psychology of reunion.  This isn’t about the rest of Lazarus’s life.  This isn’t about our curiosity of heaven.  What is this about?  Verse 4 says, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”

All we’re interested in is the glory of the Son, and when He said, “Lazarus, come out,” and in a moment Lazarus was standing there, that’s the point of the story.  The rest is irrelevant.  In fact, in verse 40, Jesus says to Martha, “Didn’t I say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?” and they did.  The purpose of this was to bring glory to God, and glory to God incarnate, the Lord Jesus Christ. 

So when the curtain fell last Sunday for us at the end of verse 44 and the scene ends.  So we pick it up in verse 45.  This is an important final section, final scene in this incredible drama.  But before we look at it, I’m going to tell you, this is the aftermath.  This is the effect.  Here come the responses, and they are predictable.  They are predictable because we’ve seen them all through the gospel of John and we see them all through the other gospels. 

But before we look at that, I want to remind you about a statement made by Peter.  Peter was preaching in Jerusalem in the temple, in the temple courtyard with the masses of Jewish people there.  It was his second sermon after the ascension of Christ, after the Day of Pentecost, after the birth of the church, the second great apostolic sermon.  He indicts the Jews with an astonishing accusation, paradoxical, ironic.  He says to them, “You killed the Author of life.  You killed the Author of life,” Acts 3:15.  Some translations say the Prince of life.  That’s the old traditional one, but it’s the word archgon and that means, “the author.”  That means, “The founder.”  That means, “The source.”

How ironic.  You killed the life giver.  We learned that from John 1, “In Him was life.”  John 1, “Nothing was made without Him because He made everything that was made.”  He says, “I am the resurrection and the life.  I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  He doesn’t give life.  He is life.  You killed the Author of life.  More ironically, Peter said, “And you desired a killer to be released to you.  You killed the Author of life, and you gave life to a killer.”  How bizarre.  That’s the nature of unbelief, and the crime has no parallel really.  It is without equal in its heinousness.

It had been the desire of the religious leaders in Israel and all who followed their lead to kill Jesus for a long time.  They’d been wanting to do that for years, a couple of years.  It now reaches a point where they cannot let Him live any longer.  This miracle is the final boiling point.  They can’t let it go any further, and so this raising of Lazarus, perhaps the week before the Passover, that close, triggers their desire to kill Him now and not wait, which is in perfect accord with God’s plan; because God wants Him to be the sacrificial Lamb the next week on Friday at the Passover.  They don’t know that, of course, but they’re not operating on their schedule.  They’re operating on God’s.  They had tried to kill Him many times before that unsuccessfully, but now after this miracle, which is the seventh great miracle that John chronicles in his gospel, after this, they can’t wait any longer.

In fact, it’s all sort of summed up as you note down into verse 47 when they call a counsel and they say, “What are we doing?  We’ve got to act.  We cannot let this man – ” verse 48, “ – go on like this.”  Completely oblivious to the fact that He raised a dead man on top of everything else.  Now remember, it is a radical claim for someone to say He is God and is to be summarily rejected no matter who says it with one exception – that’s Jesus. 

He said He was God, and then He demonstrated the truth of that claim.  Now, you have two choices.  You can believe or not believe.  When He said He was God, He was either telling the truth or lying.  You can look at the evidence and there’s plenty of it in the four gospels and the testimony of the rest of the New Testament and the testimony of the Old Testament leading up to it, and the testimony of the living church ever since.  There’s plenty of evidence that what He claimed is true, and there is no indication that what He said is false.  You can look at the evidence, but you only have two options.  You believe or you don’t believe.  There’s no third possibility.  There’s no safe middle ground. 

Luke 11:23 Jesus said, “He who is not with Me is – ” what? “ – against Me.”  And all the evidence demands belief, belief; all the evidence of Scripture.  Still, no matter what He did, no matter what He said, no matter how the evidence made the case clear, unmistakable, undeniable, they hated Him, the leaders did.  It was an aggressive kind of unbelief.  It was a hostile kind of unbelief.  It was a violent kind of unbelief.  They tried to stone Him to death in Nazareth after one sermon in His own hometown. 

They accused Him over and again of being demon-possessed, of being under the power of Satan.  They said He was a violator of the Law of God and a violator of their religious law and tradition.  They said He was a blasphemer.  They said He was a drunkard.  They said He was a friend of sinners, the low-life crowd who were outcasts.  They said His teaching was unacceptable, His authority was self-invented.  Everything that they viewed Him as being led them to the need to kill Him.  That’s the hostile unbelief.

There’s another kind of unbelief.  There were a lot of people who followed Him because of His miracles and they were curious and they were fascinated, and they were interested, and they even were healed and fed, but it was superficial.  They’re like the ones in John 6, who when He started speaking very clearly and very demandingly, it says that, “Many of His disciples walked no more with Him.”  There was that kind of unbelief that isn’t hostile.  It isn’t violent.  It isn’t angry.  It isn’t murderous.  It’s just indifferent.  It was that kind of attitude to which our Lord spoke in Matthew 11:20-24 when He said, “You’re in some serious trouble, you folks around Galilee because if what had been done in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and the cities around Galilee had been done in Sodom and Gomorrah, they would have repented.  You’ve seen enough to have a very high level of accountability to God.  You are in serious trouble.”

It’s not a safe place to be curious.  It’s not a safe place to be a nominal believer in Jesus, to feel sentimental about Him.  That’s a very dangerous place.  You might as well be hostile.  But there are those who were hostile, and those who were just curious or indifferent. 

Thirdly, there were those always who believed, who believed.  They were the few who found the narrow way.  They were the ones Jesus called, “the little flock.”  They were the 12 minus Judas, who left everything to follow Him.  They were those like Martha, Mary, and Lazarus who confessed that He was the Son of God, the Messiah, the one who came down from heaven. 

There were those who repented like Zacchaeus, like the Samaritans in the village of Sychar, like the royal official and his household in John chapter 4.  They were like the blind man in John 9 who believed, and then many in chapter 10, across the Jordan where Jesus went with His disciples and proclaimed His messiahship and many believed.  There were others. 

There definitely was a little flock of believers.  So these were the responses that we’ve seen in the gospel of John and they’re in Matthew, Mark, and Luke as well.  There is belief and unbelief, and two kinds of unbelief.  I guess maybe unbelief on a spectrum all the way from being extremely hostile to being only marginally curious, but it’s still unbelief.  As we come to verse 45 then, we leave the scene behind us.  The curtain falls, as I said, and we now meet these three groups.  We meet the believers.  We meet the violent haters, and then we meet the indifferent people. 

So we have here at the end of this chapter, a microcosm of what you see through the whole ministry of Jesus and actually what you see even today.  There are people, of course, now and you’re among them who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, there are people who are violently hostile to Him, violently aggressively hateful toward Him.  Then there is that massive people who have some sort of marginal, sentimental attitude; equally damning.

Let’s meet group one, verse 45.  “Therefore, many of the Jews who came to Mary and saw what He had done, believed in Him.”  Here is the “many.”  Let’s just call them the “many.”  They believed in Him.  Who are these “many”?  Back to verse 19, which I read earlier.  “Many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.”  Now, I told you this is a fairly substantial family.  They live in a town called Bethany two miles east near the Mount of Olives, around the side of the Mount of Olives.  Folks from Jerusalem can easily come.  They are sort of on a highway from Jericho to the city, which is traversed a lot, so they’re easy access.  People knew them.  They knew who they were. 

You’ve got not only villagers in Bethany, but you’ve got people coming out of Jerusalem to visit with them.  The indication is they were a relatively substantial family.  They show up later and show that they have some means.  I don’t know what the number is.  Maybe it’s dozens.  Maybe it’s multiple of 20.  Maybe it’s 100 or more.  I don’t know what the “many” is, but many mourners came, and they have been there now four days already, filling up the first seven days when everybody would be there.  Now the resurrection has happened, and the mourners are still there.  They have known the family.  They have known Lazarus.  They know he was dead.  They know he’s been in the grave four days.  They know what that means because Jews don’t embalm.  They get it. 

He comes out of the grave.  The miracle is so clear, unmistakable, undeniable.  Their hearts open to the reality that this is truly who Martha said it is.  He is the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who came down from heaven, God incarnate.  They also believe the way she believed.  We have to assume that theirs is a genuine belief because that’s what’s indicated in verse 26.  “Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.  Do you believe this?”  Martha says, “Yes, I believe,” and here we find in verse 45, “Many of the Jews believed.” 

We assume that the verb in the same context has the same significance and the same meaning.  They believed.  They believed, and rightly they should believe.  What would you believe if you saw that?  Clearly, they believed.  They had seen the glory of God.  They had seen the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ, if you will, to borrow Paul’s language.  They’re convinced.  Now, not all believing is legitimate, but genuine belief is mentioned in chapter 1, verse 12, “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even those who believed in His name.” 

They believed and they were given the right to become children of God.  Their sins were forgiven.  They were redeemed.  They became the children of God.  They ceased being the children of the devil.  They are the believing many, many in a relative sense.  Many of the number that were there; not many of the nation.  Many of the number that were there.  They believed. 

There is a kind of believing that doesn’t save.  If you go back to chapter 2 of John, you will remember this.  In John 2:23, He was in Jerusalem at the Passover.  This is the beginning of His ministry, and many believed in His name.  Many believed in His name, “Observing His signs, His miracles He was doing.  But Jesus on His part was not entrusting Himself to them, for He knew all men and because He didn’t need anyone to testify concerning man, for He Himself knew what was in man.” 

He knew that the kind of believing that was in them was not sufficient to save them.  It wasn’t sufficient to make a genuine connection, and it’s illustrated in the next two verses.  “One of those who believed was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews.  This man came to Jesus by night,” and he tells Him what they believed.  “Rabbi, we know you’ve come from God as a Teacher, for no one could do the signs unless God is with Him.”  They believed He was a Teacher.  That’s true.  That’s not sufficient.  That’s true.  That’s not enough.  He didn’t say, “You’re the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who came down from heaven,” like Martha did.

So there’s a kind of faith that is superficial.  It’s not enough.  It’s not sufficient.  We see it again in chapter 6.  Disciples following Him, listening to Him, who turn and go the other way and walk no more with Him, a superficial, temporary kind of belief, like the seed sown in the rocky soil and the weedy soil.  It never produces fruit and it dies.  In chapter 8, you see this same kind of thing again.  This may be more characteristic of the superficial indifferent group that we’ll see in a minute than anything. 

John 8:30, “Many came to believe in Him.”  Many.  Well, what kind of faith is it?  What does it mean to believe?  Jesus said to them, the Jews who believed Him, “If you continue in My Word, then you’re truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  You’re not free from sin.  You’re not free from judgment.  You’re not free from everlasting punishment yet, but if you continue down this path, you will come to the knowledge of the truth that saves.  So there is a kind of faith that can be only initial, only a kind of beginning faith that isn’t sufficient to save. 

But in the case we have here, I think we have to interpret the believing here in the context of the believing that our Lord spoke of and saw illustrated in Martha early in the chapter.  There is here a wonderful thing going on.  Now, mark this.  We’re maybe the week before the death of Christ, and there’s a flurry of things happening to the souls of people.  Before Jesus came, a week before that, He had been beyond the Jordan and many were believing in Him there.  That’s what we saw at the end of chapter 10. 

So in the last weeks of His life, as He preaches the gospel and puts on display His sovereign power, many are believing.  Here, there’s actually a great encouragement of conversion and regeneration at the funeral of Lazarus.  That’s group one.  Throughout all of the history of the gospel and the proclamation of Scripture and the reading of Scripture, there will be those who believe.  The Lord has His people everywhere in the world.  He’ll draw them out of every tongue and tribe and people and nation.

Group two is the murderers.  Group one is the “many.”  Group two is the murderers.  They take up the bulk of the rest of this section, verse 46.  The Pharisees were very powerful.  They basically were the architects of Judaistic synagogue religion.  They had the power over the populous.  They had the control over the people.  They dominated the people with their laws and rules and Sabbath restrictions and restraints.  The people pretty much knuckled under the Pharisees.  If you didn’t do that, you got thrown out of the synagogue, and if you got thrown out of the synagogue you were a pariah.  You were cut off from all social contact.  You might as well be a leper. 

So everybody sort of took whatever abuse the Pharisees laid out in order to stay in the system.  Some of those people, some of those Pharisaical sycophants are there mourning at this event.  When they see what’s going on, they decide to report to the Pharisees.  So, verse 46, “Some of them went to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus had done.”  What did they tell them?  He raised the dead.  It’s what He did.  He went to the tomb.  Gave them the story, He raised this guy who had been dead.  He was really dead.  We know he was dead.  He raised him from the dead.  They gave the report.

They are concerned more about the Pharisees than they are about their own souls.  This is what false religion does.  False religion allows you to give up your own soul to please somebody who is the destroyer of your soul.  That’s what false religion does.  So they report.  They saw the miracle.  They described the miracle.  With a sinister intention, they tell the Pharisees.  Knowing how much the Pharisees hate Jesus already, and knowing that this is going to enrage them even further, but they’re complicit with the Pharisees because they’ve sold their souls to the devil. 

This is the hardness of the human heart in the face of literally overwhelming evidence.  Evidence means nothing.  Evidence means nothing.  Why do they hate Jesus so much?  Jesus said that in John 7, “The world hates Me because I testify to it that its deeds are evil.”  They hated Him because He told them they were evil, not evil in their sin, but evil in their religion.  Sure, evil in their sin.  Sinners can usually take that.  If you tell them they’re evil in their sin, they can handle it, but you tell them they’re evil in their righteousness, and they’ll hate you for it.

You see the depths of unbelief, the profound fortress of anti-God ideology and ideas in religion.  God had put His glory on display through His Son.  They didn’t see it.  So the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, verse 47.  They called together either a sort of a quorum of the Sanhedrin or the Sanhedrin itself, which was the religious tribunal, the ultimate supreme court of Israel.  They called together a meeting of the chief priests.  They would be the Sadducees and the Pharisees.  This is made up of the religious elite, people with money and power and influence convening a council, and this is where they say, “What are we doing?  We have to stop talking.  Why – ” as they say in verse 48 “ – are we letting this man go on like this?  We’ve got to stop Him.” 

Do they fear the political implications?  Not in reality.  They just hate what He says.  They just hate what He says.  “What are we doing?  We have to stop talking.  We have to act.”  So, as John Calvin puts it, they come up with a plausible disguise.  They create a theoretical, imaginary disaster because they want Jesus dead.  They don’t believe this, but they invent it.  This is it: “For this man is performing many signs.”  Now, there you have it folks.  The testimony of the people who hated Jesus, that what He was doing was miraculous. 

Why are there liberals living now who deny the miracles when the enemies of Jesus who were there don’t even deny them?  Nobody denied them.  He’s performing many miraculous feats.  “If we let Him go on like this – ” here’s their thing “ – all men will believe in Him.”  That is political hyperbole.  That sounds like a politician to me.  Everybody will believe, and the Romans will come and take away both our place, and our nation will lose our position, will lose our power, will lose our nation.  Talk about a doomsday scenario.  This is the end of everything.  We can’t allow this to go on.  We’ve got to stop.  We’ve got to act or we’re going to lose it all.  This is an idea concocted as a pretense to kill Jesus for His teaching, which tore at the fabric of their system. 

By the way, this is the same exact thing they say to Pilot later.  “Well, if you don’t crucify Jesus, you’re no friend of –” who?  “ – Caesar,” because Jesus is going to lead a revolution, and it’s not going to make Caesar happy.  The apostles went to Thessalonica in Acts 17, and Paul and Silas are preaching in the synagogues, and Jews are believing and believing.  But some of the Jews didn’t believe, and they’re furious about what’s going on.  This happened in the synagogue with the Jews in Thessalonica.  They’re furious, so they start to go after the Christians.  They go to the house of Jason, and they drag him out of the house, and they’re starting this persecution, and how do they defend this bizarre behavior?  They defend it with these words: “They all act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying there’s another king.”  They stirred up the crowd.

The Jews doing the same thing long after this in the book of Acts saying the Christians are going to start a revolution and the Romans are going to come, and there’s going to be a huge conflict, and we’re going to lose our freedom.  They knew Jesus wasn’t a revolutionary.  What did Jesus say?  “Render to Caesar what is Caesar’s.  Give to God what is God’s.”  Jesus never picked up a sword.  Jesus never started a revolution.  Jesus wasn’t anti-Roman.  Jesus didn’t try to free the slaves.  Jesus didn’t try to balance economics.  Jesus didn’t get caught up in social justice.  Jesus didn’t start an army.  He didn’t call people to defend Him.  He was meek.  He was gentle.  He was compassionate.  He didn’t go around killing people.  He went around making dead people live. 

They knew.  They knew, but this was a ploy.  We’ve got to create a massive potential scenario here so that we can justify killing Jesus, or else everybody is going to believe in Him, which again is another testimony to the validity of His miracles.  His worse enemies, the very people who really crucified Him using the hands of the Romans, believed in His miracles.  They had no other choice. 

So, Caiaphas steps up.  Caiaphas, despicable guy, who was the son-in-law of Annas.  Annas had previously been the high priest.  Caiaphas is in that office because Rome allowed him to be there.  He knows that.  Rome has the power to depose any high priest.  Now, if you go to the Old Testament, you can go back into instruction in the Old Testament Mosaic Law about the high priest.  It was an office for life essentially.  There are comments made in the Old Testament about what happens, certain things happened when a high priest died.  It signaled a significant event.  So the office of high priest in its primal sense was to be for life.  It didn’t always work out that way, but that was the ideal. 

Contrast that with the fact that Josephus tell us from the time of Herod the Great, just around the time we move from B.C. to A.D., Herod the Great comes in.  Between Herod the Great and 70 A.D. when Jerusalem is destroyed, less than 100 years, there are 28 high priests, 28 high priests.  This is a revolving door.  This is a power position.  This is a political position.  People are vying and buying and selling this position.  You even have references in the New Testament to Annas and Caiaphas both being high priest at the same time. 

It was supposed to be much more strict than that.  Caiaphas, as I said, was Annas’s son-in-law.  It sort of stayed in the family at this particular point.  But Caiaphas, this guy who was there because he’s not a threat to Rome, knows his position is only his as long as he pleases Rome, uses that as a ploy.  By the way, I think it’s interesting that it mentions a little later – I’ll comment more on that – but in verse 51, being high priest “that year.”  It’s just something about that “that year” that grabbed because “that year” was the final year of any legitimate high priest or any illegitimate high priest.  Why?  Because it was a week later or so that the veil was shredded and the priestly system was null and void.  He is the last of, I guess you could say, somewhat official high priest.

Now, this shows up as we follow the history that the office sort of declined and continued to drift and be bought and sold.  By the time you get to the 23rd chapter of Acts, the apostle Paul is called before the Sanhedrin.  It was many years later and he is confronted in this council.  It’s worth reading this.  “Paul looked at the council – ” Acts 23, “ – and said, ‘Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God to this day.’  The high priest Ananias commanded those standing by to smack him on the mouth.”  Wow, whack him on the mouth.  For what?  For saying, “I’ve lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God until this day.”

So this guy whacks Paul in the mouth.  Paul responds.  “God’s going to strike you, you whitewashed wall!”  You know, honestly, there’s something about that I like.  I just have to confess that.  “‘God smite you, you whitewashed wall!  Do you sit to try me according to the law and in violation of the law order me to be struck?’  But the bystanders said, ‘Do you revile God’s high priest?’  Paul says, ‘I wasn’t even aware he was the high priest.’”  Now that will tell you what the high priesthood had descended to.  He didn’t even know who it was.  He didn’t even know who the high priest was.  There shouldn’t even have been a high priest.  So whatever this thing was, it was high priest with lower case “h” and a lower case “p” and high only in the mind of whoever bought the office. 

So that kind of corruption starts with Herod, who appoints three or four of the early ones, and then the Romans appoint the rest.  One of them Caiaphas says, “You know nothing at all.”  That’s autocratic speech at its best.  You’re all ignorant.  Aren’t you glad I’m here?  “You know nothing at all.”  I’ve got the answer to everything.  “Nor do you take into account that it is expedient.”  He’s talking to the Sanhedrin, the elite.  “It is expedient – ” not just, not righteous, not correct, not right, but expedient, beneficial “ – for you that one man die for the people and that the whole nation not perish.”

“Don’t you get it?” he says.  It’s beneficial.  Under the guise of being a noble politician, under the guise of Jewish nationalism and patriotism, this unscrupulous man is trying to get rid of the biggest obstacle to his own power, popularity, and theology, and that is this Jesus Christ.  He wants him dead, and he says, “Don’t you get it?  If we don’t kill Him, we all die.”  Again, more political nonsense and hyperbole.  Either one man, Jesus, perishes or the whole nation perishes. 

So, the conclusion of the council is follow the wishes of the high priest.  Follow the wishes of the high priest.  That’s going to be the plan.  We’ve got to kill Jesus to save the nation or we’re going to have a revolution, and the Romans are going to come.  We’re going to lose our power.  We’re going to lose our nation.  They’re going to massacre us. 

So, look at the words again.  Verse 50, “It is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.”  Jesus must die to save the nation.  Jesus must die to save the nation.  If we kill Jesus, we save the nation.  How strangely true is that statement?  But not in the way that he thought.  The words of Caiaphas have a deep resonating reality of truth that he never even understood.  But notice the next verse, verse 51, “Now, he didn’t say this on his own initiative, but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus was going to die for the nation and not for the nation only, but in order that He might also gather together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad.”

Do you know what this man did, this autocratic, self-exalting, dictatorial, brutal, sly, corrupt man?  He gave a clear statement on the substitutionary atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  He talks about substitutionary atonement.  He has no idea what he’s saying.  Not surprising.  God used the mouth of Cyrus to give a prophecy.  God used the mouth of a false prophet Balaam.  God used the mouth of Balaam’s jackass to speak for Him.  There are no limits to what God can do.  He had no idea what he was talking about.  He meant one thing, but God meant something different.

“There are many devices,” says Proverbs, “in a man’s heart, nevertheless, the council of the Lord shall stand.”  Or Joseph’s word in Genesis 50, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”  This is a divine irony.  By the way, nothing in Scripture says that the high priest had any prophetic gift.  Nowhere, no.  This isn’t an actual prophecy that he gave.  This is not that at all.  This is not a power that belongs to the high priest.  He said what he said.  It just so happened that God ordered every word and gave it a completely different meaning, but every word was correct.  This is a backdoor into understanding verbal inspiration, verbal inspiration.

An illustration, by the way, of how Scripture is given.  When the Bible writers write, they write their own words, but God controls their own words just as in this bizarre sort of almost anti-illustration.  He says his own words, but God orders every word.  So Caiaphas’s ignorant words, God declares the true impact of the death of Christ.  He will die to save the nation, but not physically, not physically.  Why?  In 70 A.D., they’re all going to perish in the Roman holocaust.  But spiritually, He will die for the salvation of that nation, and not that nation only, “But that He might father together into one the children of God who are scattered abroad in every nation.”  He died for the sins of His children all over the globe. 

Caiaphas’s ignorant, hateful, vengeful, trumped up words are absolutely true.  This gives us a foretaste of what it’s going to be like when we go through the rest of the Passion Week, how every single detail no matter who is doing what for what reason fits into God’s purpose.  He’s just a link in the chain begun by divine decrees until God fulfills His purpose. 

So, verse 53. “From that day forward, that day on, they planned to kill Him.”  Apparently, unanimous vote.  We have to kill Him, save the nation.  Caiaphas’s speech worked.  They decided to kill Him from then on.  Didn’t take them long.  Really didn’t.  They were amped up to put it mildly, and at the end of the next week, they were able to accomplish it in the purpose of God.

There’s a final group to add to these murderers.  The end of the meeting, what’s the final minutes?  What do they write?  Death to the life-giver.  Death to the life-giver.  What a climax.  “Therefore Jesus no longer continued to walk publicly among the Jews.”  He becomes an outlaw, has to escape at least for a few days until He comes back in the next week.  Went away from there to the country near the wilderness into a city called Ephraim.  It’s probably Ephron, which is a town mentioned in 2 Chronicles 13, about 12 miles north of Jerusalem.  So He got about 12 miles walk away, and He went there with His disciples for the days between that day, the raising of Lazarus and the day He came back to the house of Simon and met back with Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and came into the city.

That brings us to 55, which is the final group, the multitudes.  They were stirred by Him, but indifferent.  Verse 55, “Now the Passover of the Jews was near.  Many went up to Jerusalem out of the country before the Passover to purify themselves.”  The Levitical law laid out in the book of Leviticus, laid out in 2 Chronicles 30 requires all kinds of ceremonial cleanings before you can do Passover.  So they all come pouring in to do this prior to the actual Passover itself.  So they’re pouring into the city.   

They’re gathering in 56 as they were seeking for Jesus.  Why?  Because He was the focal point of the previous two Passovers.  He as the focal point of the previous Passovers?  Where is He?  He was the topic of conversation through the whole nation.  They were saying to each other as they stood in the temple, “What do you think?  That He will not come to the feast at all?”  They know how the leaders feel.  They are very clear about that.  They know He’s hated.  Of course, verse 57, “The chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where He was, he was to report it so that they might seize Him,” arrest Him.

What can I say about the crowd?  Curious?  Sure.  They knew about Jesus?  Yeah.  Fascinated with Jesus?  Right.  Where is He?  They want to see Him.  They want to see His miracles.  Do you think He’ll show?  He did show.  What happened when He came?  What happened?  Chapter 12 tells us what happened.  They shouted at Him in verse 13, “Hosanna!  Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.  Fear not, daughter of Zion; behold your King is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.”  Wow, triumphal entry Monday.  By Friday, what were they crying?  “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”  We’re going to live through all of that.

Those are the only options really when it comes to Christ.  You believe and all the evidence supports that you believe or you reject.  You reject with hostility and animosity and anger; or you reject with superficiality and indifference.  But there’s only heaven and there’s only hell.  Whether you reject Jesus with hatred or reject Him with sentimental good feelings, you end up in the same hell.  “You will die in your sins,” Jesus said, “And where I go, you will never come because you believe not on Me.”  Either you believing savingly on Christ or you will perish.  The question is the same question that Jesus asked Martha, “Do you believe?”  That’s the question. 

Father, we thank you for the time that we’ve been able to look at this really amazing chapter, and again end up where we always end up in the gospel accounts, facing the decision of all decisions, the choice of all choices; to believe or not believe.  I pray, Lord, that you will produce faith.  We know that faith is a gift of God.  It comes from heaven.  Lord, would you be gracious and grant life and belief to those who are dead in trespasses and sin?  May the realities of the claims of Christ and the evidence come to life so vividly and with such compulsion, and may the reality of heaven and all its joys and hells and all its horrors become real as well. 

May you open minds and hearts to go from either animosity toward Christ or indifference toward Christ to full faith in Him as the only Savior, the only hope of heaven. 

Thank you for the power of your Word.  We are told in the Scripture that the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit convinces us of the truth of Scripture, that the Holy Spirit testifies that we are yours.  And He testifies not above the Scripture, beside the Scripture, but through the Scripture.  We thank you again that the Holy Spirit testifies to the veracity of Scripture through the Scripture itself, through its self-evident truthfulness.  Again, we have seen that today.  Take your truth and pour it into us, and then out from us and use us for your glory.  We pray in Christ’s name.  Amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/43-60/i-am-the-resurrection-and-the-life-part-3

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Two historic women, one old and one young, were the first to welcome and praise the Savior of the world. And two glorious paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events.

Behold Two Paintings That Show A Miraculous Christmas Meeting

Dec 23, 2019

If quizzed “Who was the first person to welcome Jesus and announce his lordship?” how would you answer? It’s an important question when we consider that this man from the nowhere town of Nazareth is the most consequential individual ever.

His teaching and followers across the globe radically transformed world culture, toppled great powers without ever firing a shot, established the world of humanitarianism and accessible medical care for commoners, inspired the scientific method, and enlivened the world movements for justice, human dignity, and individual freedom. He literally divides history and is responsible for the founding of the largest, most diverse collection of people around some basic ideals.

This all started with two women no one had ever heard of, whose life-altering experiences are now illustrated in two exquisite works of art. Mary, a humble, young virgin, by tradition about 14 years old at the time, is told by an angel she will give birth to the very Son of God. At this striking news, she “arose and went with haste” to see her cherished relative, Elizabeth, some 90 miles away.

Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her own miraculous pregnancy, for she was well past child-bearing years. Of course, her baby was Jesus’ cousin, John the Baptist.

The beauty of this part of the Christmas story is the miracle that happens the moment Mary enters Elizabeth’s home. Christ is recognized, received, proclaimed, and worshiped, and Mary and Elizabeth are not the only two involved in the divine drama here. We read in Luke 1:41-44:

And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy.

This is a major event in Jesus’ story and thus the Christian church, but we seldom appreciate it as such. It is the first time Jesus is both proclaimed and worshiped as God! This was done, we are told, “in a loud voice.” And Christ the Lord is worshiped by two people at the same time — one very old, one super young.

The First to Proclaim Jesus’ Lordship

Elizabeth proclaims the blessedness of Jesus and his mother. The simple but world-changing confession, “Jesus is Lord,” was the first and most basic way Christians began to proclaim their faith and greet one another in the church’s early years. It was the first Christian creed, and Elizabeth was the first to proclaim it, long before Christmas morning. Think on that for a moment.

The second greeting is even more incredible and speaks to an intimate relationship in the Savior’s life. Baby John leaps for joy, literally, at the coming of the Savior. He does so as a child in the darkness of his mother’s womb. (Yes, Christianity has profoundly strong words for the humanity and dignity of the unborn child in John and Jesus’ remarkable in utero contribution to the good news.)

John did not start serving as the forerunner of Christ when preaching about his coming in the desert. It was here, in the womb. And it was two very common mothers, Elizabeth and Mary, who experienced this remarkable, history-changing event. It happened in distinctly womanly interiors of their hearts and wombs, and in the humbleness of Elizabeth’s home. Humble motherhood and the intimate bond only mothers can share is the human font of the Christian story.

To be sure, the Christian church, which is often incorrectly charged with being sexist by people who know little of its actual story, is founded upon two women being the first to welcome and praise the Savior. (Remember as well, it was a small group of women who announced the “second birth” of the Savior, if you will, at his resurrection.) What other major faith or philosophy has women playing such a significant role in its founding? I cannot think of one.

Two famous paintings communicate the beauty of these wondrous events, “The Annunciation” and “The Visitation.” The first African-American painter to achieve significant critical acclaim, Henry Ossawa Tanner, created both. He is a remarkable man and one of my favorite artists.

Christmas paintings by Henry O. Tanner

‘The Annunciation’

One of the things I like best in Tanner’s two works here is that he shows us the simple humanness of Mary and Elizabeth. They are not supernatural, other-worldly, saintly subjects in the typical sense. Tanner’s images show us the regular, everyday women they were.

Christmas Painting The Annunciation

He will not allow us to miss the youth, innocence, and commonness of our Mary. Tanner doesn’t give her a facial expression communicating anything obvious. Is she scared? Stunned? Joyful? Solemn? His Mary is more complex than many artists’ as is undoubtably true of the actual event. Tanner has her communicating all these feelings and struggles at once.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary with this most startling news, he found a teenage girl living a typical teenage girl’s life. The greatest royal announcement in the history of the universe takes place in this teen girl’s humble bedroom, illuminated by the majesty of God’s oracle. That is precisely what Tanner gives us, and it’s just stunning. Also, his technique in presenting the folds and flow of her gown and bed coverings is nothing short of magnificent.

‘The Visitation’

As wonderful as Tanner’s “Annunciation” is, his “Visitation” is even more striking.

Just look at it and consider what’s happening here.

When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leapt in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

Christmas painting The Visitation

Tanner allows us personally to witness this event. Elizabeth most likely did not have any notice that Mary was coming or the grand news that prompted the visit. She sits at the table on an ordinary day, when she hears Mary possibly utter what any of us likely would as she comes to the door, “Liz, you home?”

Elizabeth’s divine surprise and wonder is dramatically communicated simply in her uplifted hands. It’s a glorious device. Are they hands of praise or surprise? Certainly both at the same time.

This simple scene of a surprise family visitation and domesticity is the first scene of Jesus being worshiped. Reflect on this a moment. The event we are witnessing right here in this kitchen is the initiation of what the rest of history and eternity will be about, the worship of the second person of the divine Trinity: Jesus, the Father’s beloved Son.

The interchange between these two women in this domestic setting is unspeakably profound. We typically move over it far too easily, wanting to get onto what we see as the center of the Christmas story, the manger.

This exchange is also vitally important because it is the first revelation of Christ beyond Mary’s heart and womb. It is the precise second and scene that commenced the worship of the Son of the God that will continue without end into eternity, the story that encapsulates a Christian’s whole reality.

P.S. Tanner Lived in Philadelphia

I knew Tanner lived in Philadelphia for some time, so on a business trip there some years ago, I wanted to see if his house was discoverable. It was, and I found it, right around the corner from John Coltrane’s home. How cool is that?

Henry O. Tanner house

Glenn T. Stanton is a Federalist senior contributor who writes and speaks about family, gender, and art, is the director of family formation studies at Focus on the Family, and is the author of the brand new “The Myth of the Dying Church” (Worthy, 2019). He blogs at glenntstanton.com.

https://thefederalist.com/2019/12/23/behold-two-paintings-that-show-a-miraculous-christmas-meeting/

117k people express need for Jesus after hearing Gospel through ministry’s virtual Easter events

By Leonardo Blair, Christian Post Reporter

Despite a global lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, some 117,000 people from around the world expressed an interest in committing their faith in Jesus after hearing the Gospel through virtual events hosted by evangelist Nick Hall and his young-adult ministry Pulse during the week of Easter.

Pulse led two major events during the week, namely, Leader Check-In and a Good Friday service that featured several high-profile Christian speakers, including Francis Chan, founder of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, who now lives in Hong Kong.

“I’m guessing this is the strangest Good Friday you’ve ever had,” Chan told viewers during his quarantined Good Friday presentation broadcast in nearly 100 countries, including Japan, China, Nepal, Thailand, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Ukraine, and Russia, and was translated into 40 different languages.

“You’re used to being in a church building with a crowd of people celebrating the cross of Jesus, but I actually think that there’s something fitting about you being alone because most of you are watching this by yourself or maybe with your family in just a small group,” he said, noting that being alone can be a golden opportunity to connect with God.

“That’s why there’s something good about you being alone right now. It’s one thing to yearn for Him and scream for Him when everyone else is there because the crowd may move you to that. But this Good Friday [it’s good] for you to have some quiet and some isolation so that the core of your being, not just your lips, the core of your being will connect with Him,” Chan said.

Other speakers featured during the Good Friday service were: renowned apologist Ravi Zacharias, bestselling author Max Lucado, NFL Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy, and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez. Worship was courtesy of Christian singers Lauren Daigle, Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes.

“We were literally getting smartphone photos from all over the world — from Nigeria to India and China — of families gathering in their living rooms, around 18-inch cathode-ray TVs, laptops and HD screens watching our services,” Hall said in a release shared with The Christian Post about the collective reaction to the event. “The doors to our church buildings may have been closed, but the church has not closed. We are living through a Great Quarantine Revival, and I think God is just getting started.”

At the Leader Check-In event hosted on April 8, ministry leaders and pastors were encouraged ahead of the Easter weekend. Bible teachers and bestselling authors such as Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore, Chan, David Platt, Rodriguez, Priscilla Shirer and Lecrae offered practical advice anchored in the Word of God.

“This Easter may have been the most significant in a century,” Hall said. “The fields have never been more ripe for harvest as people search for hope and meaning during this global pandemic. It may very well be the greatest opportunity we’ve had to share the Gospel — but we will miss it if we don’t care for our pastors and ministers now.”

https://www.christianpost.com/news/117k-people-express-need-for-jesus-after-hearing-gospel-through-ministrys-virtual-easter-events.html

Born to Holiness

John MacArthur Sep 7, 1986

I want to welcome you to our continued study of the epistle of James.  So you can take your bible and open up to James.  We have much ahead of us in this great epistle, but we are going to stop tonight for just a brief look at verse 18.  Normally, we would be taking another section starting in verse 19, since we did mention verse 18 in our last study.  But I want to stop for a moment and expand our understanding of James 1:18, because it is such a great, great verse.  This is a verse that really articulates in a very simple way the meaning of the new birth, the meaning of salvation.

I was interested this morning in the reception for our first time guests to meet a lovely young lady from Japan who understands some English, conversational English and confessed this morning that she found it very difficult to follow what I was saying in the message.  And it alerted me not so much to the fact that the words that I say are not intelligible as such, but the fact that the longer you are a Christian and the more you get involved in Christianity and in the word of God, the more sort of evangelical lingo you probably develop and somebody coming in who knows conversational English is going to have a very hard time plugging into what you are saying.  It’s a good reminder also, that every once in a while, we need to go back to the simple reality of what the gospel really is and that’s what we want to do tonight.  Let’s look together at verse 18 of James chapter 1. 

It says this, of his own will, speaking of the father, God the father mentioned in verse 17, “Of his own will begot he us, with the word of truth that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creatures.  A simple verse, but on in which is bound up all the richness of the new birth.  The Old Testament said, be holy for I the Lord am holy.  Peter says in his epistle, be holy, for I the Lord am holy.  In order to enter into the presence of God, man must be holy.  Set apart from sin unto righteousness.  Now men are not holy.  That’s obvious.  They are not righteous, that is, they are sinful.  They do not think right, speak right, act right, do right.  They to not rightly perceive God.  They do not rightly perceive themselves.  They do not rightly perceive God’s truth, God’s revelation or God’s law or God’s will.

But even though men are not holy and they are not right with God, for the most part they do not perceive that they are not holy.  They do not understand that they are not righteous, they do not willingly agree with the diagnosis of scripture that they are sinful.  Men are not holy, and worse, they do not recognize either the need for holiness or in many cases, the absence of it.  And if they do recognize that they are not holy, they usually blame someone else for that reality. 

And that’s what we were discussing in our last look at this tremendous chapter.  In directly, men push the responsibility for their sinfulness off on God, typically.  And as we looked at verses 13 through 18, we saw that we have no one to blame but ourselves for our own sinfulness.  Certainly, we cannot blame God by saying, well, God created us.  God made laws that are impossible to keep.  God has allowed me to become the way I am by my environment.  God put me into circumstances that put such constraints on me I can’t control my behavior, et cetera, et cetera.  But what James says to us is, God cannot have any part in our sinfulness either directly or indirectly.

So men have to be holy in order to have a relationship with God.  They are not holy.  For the most part, they don’t even recognize that they are not holy and if they do recognize that they sin, they will usually blame someone else’s and that someone in a very vague sense is the God who put them in the circumstances they are in and gave them the impulses he gave them and they want to shirk the responsibility.  So James says in verse 13 to 18, you cannot blame anyone but yourself for your sin.  In verse 13 he says, the nature of evil demonstrates that.  No man can say, when he is tempted, I am tempted by God, for God can’t be tempted with evil, neither tempts he any man.  You can’t blame God for evil because God and evil are mutually exclusive.  And then in verse 14, the nature of man.  He says, man has his own problem.  Man is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lust and enticed.  The problem is in man, it is in his sinfulness, his fallenness.  Then he talks about the nature of lust in verses 15 and 16. 

Lust when it conceives brings forth sin, sin when it finally comes forth produces nothing but death, and don’t you be wrong about that.  In other words, understand that that is the reality of sin, so it isn’t God, because God and evil are incompatible.  The problem is in the nature of man and in the nature of man the problem is his evil desire, his lust, his passion for that which is wrong.  Then in verse 17, he goes back to discussing the nature of God and says, from God comes every good gift and every perfect gift and that never varies and there is never any shadow cast on that, so you can’t blame God because his nature is to give only good things.  Only good comes from God.  So, he says, we can’t blame God for our sin because of the nature of evil, the nature of man, the nature of lust and the nature of God  Then in verse 18 he sort of sums up his argument by saying, the nature of regeneration itself or conversion or salvation or the new birth shows us that God does not lead us into sin.  Verse 18 says, of his own will in other words, it was his will to beget us to become like him.  A kind of first fruits of his own creation.  So the purpose of regeneration was to give birth into life.  To create us to do good not evil.  To give us power over sin as a part of a new creation. 

So God is in no way involved in our sinfulness.  He cannot be mixed with evil.  The problem is in man.  In man, the problem is bound up with his lust.  The nature of God is such that he only gives good gifts and when God touches your life, it is to produce life, not death, to produce righteousness not sin.  To make a new creation, not exercise the old one. 

So all of those things we looked at last time, point to the fact that God cannot directly or indirectly be the source of sin.  God is not and cannot be tempting men to sin.  And so we looked at verse 18 in that light.  But the verse is so rich because it discusses this matter of the new birth of begetting a person, of regenerating a person and it demands a closer and longer look and we want to do that tonight.  He introduces us to the subject of regeneration in verse 18 in connection with a point in his context.  And the point is what I have just said to you, he is using regeneration as a way to show you that God doesn’t lead people into sin, he leads them to be creations of a new kind, like him.  He leads them out of sin into new life.  And that would be inconsistent with any thought that he would lead us into sin.  He is recreating us away from sin, not into sin, but apart from the context itself, as we look at the verse, I want you to just examine it in and of itself, because it says so much about regeneration, and the whole teaching of regeneration and new birth is worthy of our careful attention.  Now keep in mind what I said earlier and what we noted in the text that man is filled with lust and lust produces sin and sin begets death.  It is true that without holiness no one will ever have a relationship with God, no one will ever fully know God.  No one will ever enter into God’s eternal presence without holiness.  And yet man is unholy and he is sinful and everything in his nature produces lust and evil.  To give you a clearer understanding of that, look at Romans with me, chapter 3.

A very familiar portion of scripture to bible students but one that needs examination, in the light of this particular point.  At the end of verse 9 he says, Jews and Greeks, they are all under sin.  They are literally under the mastery of sin.  They are all subject to the control of sin.  And then he goes on to show this in extent by quoting from some Old Testament passages and he says, “As it is written, There is none righteous no not one.”  There is not one human being created in this world since the fall of Adam that is righteous and that means that is right with God, that does righteously, that obeys the will of God in and of himself.

There is none righteous, no not one.  There is none that understands.  That is, there is none that fully comprehends that which God requires and is fully able to understand it and carry it out.  There is none that even seeks after God.  The bent of man is to seek sin.  Men love what?  Darkness, John 3 says, rather than light because their deeds are evil.  They are all gone out of the way.  They have all diverted themselves from the path that God ordained for righteousness.  They are altogether become unprofitable.  The Greek word has to do with sour milk.  It is good for nothing.  They are absolutely useless.  And there is none that does good, not even one.  And then he describes the nature of their evil.  Their throat is an open sepulcher.  It stinks like a dead corpse whose scent comes oozing out of a tomb.  With their tongues, they have used deceit.  The poison of asps or snakes is under their lips.  A man is basically revealed in his conversation and in his mouth, and the ugly, evil, defiled, deadness of his sinful nature comes out through his mouth.  The mouth is full of cursing and bitterness.  Their feet are in a hurry to shed blood.  Destruction and misery are in their ways.  The way of peace have they not known and there is absolutely no reverence of God before their eyes.  Here is a definition of sinful man, man without God.  And the whole world comes under this in verse 18.  Every mouth is stopped and all the world stands guilty before God.  And there is no way he says, in verse 20, that through their flesh, they can be justified by God, by keeping some rules by obeying law, even though it be the law of God.  The law simply produces the knowledge of sin, it doesn’t produce righteousness.  So there is the definition of man from Romans 3.  Man in his sinful state, look at Ephesians 2.

In Ephesians 2 it says, verse 1, “And you who were dead in trespasses and sins.”  And here we find that man is characterized again as  being dead, the stench of a corpse and the characteristic of his deadness is a deadness in trespasses and sins.  Just using two words to show kind of the breadth and the extent of his sinfulness.  He walks, it says, according to the course of this world.  In other words, he daily conduct is dictated by the evil system.  The one who is in charge of his life is the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that works in the children of disobedience, those are titles for Satan.  He functions, verse 3, in the lust of the flesh.  He fulfills the desire of the flesh and the mind and he is by nature a child of wrath.  That means, he is a target of judgment, he is the object of God’s judgment. 

Now all this is very basic, man in order to have a right relationship to God, needs to be holy.  Man is not holy.  Man doesn’t recognize that he is not holy and sometimes if he does recognize that he is not holy and sinful he tends to blame God for his circumstances, pass off the responsibility which keeps him confined under the subjection of sin and therefore cut off from God.  Now the question comes up, what are you going to do to help this man?  What are you going to do to change the situation?  What does this man need?  External changes are not enough.  He cannot by some resolution in his own mind determine that he is going to obey the law of God and work his way out of this deadness.  He cannot give himself new life. 

What he needs is to be recreated.  He needs is a new heart, a new inner person, a new life principle.  He needs to be born again.  He needs to start all over and come out different.  As if in the words of Nicodemus, he could crawl back into his mother’s womb and start all over again with a different nature.  Since holiness is the absolute condition for acceptance into fellowship with God, sinful man in his fallen dead condition can’t ever have that fellowship and God won’t accept his corrupt self, so he needs a new life.  He needs a brand new life.  So when we talk about the gospel or the new birth, we are not talking about adding something.  We are not talking about tacking something on.  We are not talking about putting a ribbon on a sow.  We are not talking about putting a new suit of clothes on an old man.  We are talking about a total transformation.  To enter into a right relationship with God, demands a total new person.  You have to go back and start all over again and be born all over again into a new life.

Now scripture affirms this.  It isn’t even new, in the New Testament, this was part of the promise in anticipation of the Old Testament.  Jerimiah for example, says the heart of man is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked and Jeremiah says, can the Ethiopian change his skin?  Can he by willingly and by being willing rather and wishing can he change the color of his dark skin?  And then Jeremiah says, can the leopard change his spots?  And the answer is of course not, then, may you also do good that are accustomed to do evil.

You can’t change your life either, so you need a transformation.  That’s Jeremiah 13:23 and over in chapter 31, comes the wonderful promise of that transformation, Jeremiah 31:31, “Behold the days come, says the Lord, I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not according to the covenant I made with their fathers, in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the hand of Egypt, and so forth.”  He says, “I’ll make a new covenant,” verse 33, “I will put my law in their inward parts.  I will write it in their hearts.  I will be their God and they will be my people.  I am going to get inside and change their inside.”  They can’t do it on their own so it has to be done for them.  Man has to have a change at the very core of his being. 

The natural man, that is the unregenerate man, the man that doesn’t know God.  The sinful man, the unredeemed man, the unsaved man, does not, 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “Receive the things of the spirit of God.”  He can’t receive them.  He’s dead.  And a corpse doesn’t respond to anything.  And so what does he need?  He needs new birth.  He needs new life.  I just read you Ephesians 2:1 to 3, how that men are dead in trespasses and sin following the lust of the flesh, the lust of the mind, the desires of the flesh, being subject to the leadership of Satan, the prince of the power of the air, they are children of wrath, but it says, even when we were dead in sins in the same chapter verse 5, Christ has made us alive and raised us up.  And here is the idea of a resurrection from the dead, of new life, of a new birth.  In Romans 6, it says, when you put your faith in Christ, you die and you rise to walk in and it uses this wonderful phrase, newness of what?  Of life.  Now that’s what every person has to have, newness of life.  The old life has to be totally done away and a new life has to come.  In Ephesians 4:24, you have put on the new man, which, listen to this, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.  When you come to salvation, you put on a new man, a new person, not new clothes.  A new person. 

It’s a recreation.  The best and most graphic illustration of this is found in the wonderful encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus so turn to John 3 and let’s look at it briefly and remind ourselves of this wonderful, wonderful story.  There was a man of the Pharisees, that was, he was a religious leader of great esteem.  He may have well been as prominent as any teacher because in verse 10 Jesus says, are you and uses the definite article, the teacher of Israel and don’t know these things.

So here is one man who is recognized perhaps publicly as the teacher in Israel of some great stature, a Pharisee well versed in the law.  He approaches Jesus and says we know you are  a teacher from God.  Here is a man of great esteem.  Here is a man who recognizes his own calling, but recognizes one who is even significantly above himself in understanding, so he comes to Jesus and he says in verse 2, we know you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do the miracles that you do except God be with him.  And he never says what’s in his heart.  He doesn’t ask a question, but Jesus reads his heart.  And Jesus answered, that’s an interesting statement because he didn’t ask anything.  He just said, you are a teacher, and went on to say, you come from God, we know that, but Jesus answered the question in his heart and said, Truly, truly I say to you, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God and he knew that what was in the heart of Nicodemus was how do I get into the kingdom.

Here was a man who was the teacher in Israel.  A Pharisee, had it all going religiously, but knew he had not entered into truly to the kingdom of God.  How did he know he hadn’t?  Because there was nothing inside of him confirming that.  So he comes to Jesus and the question of his heart is, what do I do to get into the kingdom and the implication would be, I’m very religious, I study the law, I try to live by the code of the Old Testament.  I’m an ethical man.  I’m a trusted man.  I’m a respected man.  What do I need to add to my life to get into the kingdom and Jesus said, you don’t add anything, you start all over again.

You just kill the whole thing and start with birth.  You have to be born again.  And Nicodemus said to him, how can a man be born when he’s old.  Now he’s not asking the physical thing.  Give him a break.  He’s not saying, physically, how can I go back and be born?  He knows what Jesus is talking about.  He is simply picking up on the same use of veiled language, of parabolic talk of the meshal, the kind of speech that they use.  And he’s picking up on the same metaphor, the same descriptive terms that Jesus is using and he’s saying how does someone so many years in one religion, so many years following one code, so many years to be now a Pharisee and a rabbi and a teacher of the law, ever go back and undo all of that and start all over again.

That’s what he’s saying.  And if you have ever witnessed to an orthodox Jew, of any years, you will understand this mindset.  How can I ever unravel all this lifelong pursuit of religion and start all over again, that’s what was in the mind of Nicodemus.  Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born and he’s tongue in cheek at that point.  He’s saying that again, consistent with the analogy that Jesus was using.  How can I be born again spiritually?  He knows Jesus speaks spiritually.  How can I do it?  How can it happen?  And Jesus says to him, basically, you can’t do it. 

You can’t do it Nicodemus, truly, truly, I say to you, except a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot what?  Enter the kingdom of God.  He says, you can’t do it.  It has to be done by water and the spirit.  It has to be done by a power and a resource outside yourself, outside of you.  And that power is the water and the spirit.  Now what does that refer too?  That’s the water of salvation, I believe if you go back for a brief moment to Ezekiel 36, you will see Jesus is speaking to Nicodemus in very familiar terms, he knew the Old Testament.  He knew the promise of Ezekiel 36 verse 25, I will sprinkle clean water upon you.

Who is I?  God.  This is a sovereign act.  And you will be clean from your filthiness and from all your idols will I cleans you, what he is saying to Nicodemus is this, number one, you must have a sovereign cleansing by God.  Secondly, it comes through the Holy Spirit.  You need a sovereign salvation that comes from outside yourself.  Just like Ezekiel prophesied, clean water, cleansing your filthiness.  Paul writing to Titus talks about the washing of water through the word.  The water of regeneration, verse 26, a new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, take away the stony heart out of your flesh, I will give you a heart of flesh, then this, I will put my spirit within you and cause you from the inside to walk in my statues.  You shall keep my ordinances and you shall do them. 

So when Jesus says to Nicodemus you must be born of the water and the spirit to enter the kingdom, he’s taking Nicodemus right back to Ezekiel 36 and saying, you know what the prophet said, you need a sovereign cleansing that comes from God outside yourself and the planting of his holy spirit in your heart to give you a new life and a new heart and a new motivation.  Why?  Verse 6, if you try to do it on your own, that which is born of the flesh is what?  All you are going to do is reproduce what?  Yourself.  More of you.  But that which is born of the spirit is what?  Spirit.  So don’t be surprised that I said you must be born again.  Don’t be surprised.  Then he says, the wind blows where it wants and you hear the sound and you can’t tell from where it comes and where it goes and so is everyone that is born of the spirit.  You know what he’s saying there?  He’s saying, I can’t tell you how or when the Holy Spirit does this, but this is a sovereign act of the Holy Spirit.  It can’t be charted.  You can’t even see it coming or going, but the spirit of God moves in where he wills and gives new birth to whom he wills as sovereign God by the agency of the spirit, through the washing of the water of the word in regeneration, cleanses the heart and plants that spirit within a man.  What you need Nicodemus is a new life and that is a sovereign act of God.  Just what Jerimiah 24 said in verse 7 where God said, I will give them a heart to know me.

A new nature, a new heart, a new life.  If any man be in Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:17, he is a new creature, old things have passed away, behold all things have become new.  So what I’m saying here is a new birth is essential.  That’s what salvation is.  It is God sovereignly coming down to a sinner and by his grace cleansing that sinner and planting his spirit in that sinner so that the cleansing of that sinner takes care of his relationship to God and the planting of the spirit takes care of his power to live in the will of God.  And that’s the purpose or regeneration. 

Now I want to ask four questions in our verse, James 1:18, let’s go back.  That was introduction.  James 1:18, I want to ask you four questions about regeneration.  Very simple questions and it won’t take us but a brief time to answer the four.  First question, what is it?  You’ve just said that man cannot know God without holiness.  Man is not holy.  Man doesn’t recognize his unholiness and when he does, he tends to blame God.  How is he ever going to get out of the dilemma.  Here is he blaming God for it, or not recognizing it.  How is he every going to change.  Well, you say somebody brings him so higher standards, some better ethics, a law that he is supposed to keep and he does it on his own.  No, that which the flesh produces is more what?  More flesh, so what has to happen is, he needs the divine intervention of a sovereign God,  who by his spirit comes in, washes away his sin, plants a new life in him.  Gives him his spirit to energize that new life unto obedience, that is a sovereign act.  That’s really regeneration.  But let’s get into this verse and look at the four questions, question number one.  What is is? What is the nature of regeneration?  And I have already alluded  to it, in fact already covered a great portion, but just this phrase, of his own will be begat us.  That’s the nature of regeneration.

It is God brining us forth, giving birth to us as new beings.  You are not the same.  You are a whole new creating.  Its’ the same verb, by the way, exactly the same one used back in verse 15.  God, when he conceives brings forth regeneration.  Brings forth new life, it’s the very same verb.  It’s in Eros tense so it looks back to the event of salvation when we were born by the divine parent and given new life as children of God.  Now if you want a technical definition for he begat us, here is one that I think is excellent.  It’s given by the theologian Berkhoff many years ago, but really says it.  Regeneration is, that act of God by which the principle of new life is implanted in man and the governing disposition of his soul is made holy.  That is a great definition.  Regeneration is that act of God by which the principle of new life is implanted in man and the governing disposition of his soul is made holy.  That is a total transformation.  That doesn’t sound anything like Romans 3, does it or anything like Ephesians 2:1 to 3.  In fact, Peter says, we become partakers of the divine nature.  God gives us his own life, his own self, his own righteous character, his own holiness is implanted in us, just a tremendous thought.  As a Christian, you and possess the very nature of God, 2 Peter 1:4.  We are partakers of this divine nature.  Now, in its fullness, we are yet to receive all that that implies, but already that new life principle is planted in us.  This is completed in a moment of time.  It is not a process.  It is an event.  It is an act by which God creates you new.  It is a secret work.  It cannot be perceived.  That’s why we can’t, in the words of Jesus, tell the wheat from the tares, because this particular act is imperceptible.  It is known only through its effect.  We can’t see God recreate someone.  That is a divine miracle unseen by any human eye.

But it plants in the person a new life principle and a new disposition that is enabled and driven to keep the law of God. Marvelous.  It overcomes the deadness of sin.  And the deadliness of sin.  No longer are we subject to sin, Paul says in Romans chapter 6, sin no longer has dominion over us.  We now follow a new master willingly and eagerly.

Jesus said in John 10, I am come that they might have what?  Life.  What do dead men need most?  Life.  And so, he comes to give us new life.  So what is regeneration?  What is it?  He begot us.  What does that mean?  He gave us new life.  Total transformation of the inner person.  Second question, who does it?  Well, I have already told you that from John chapter 3, who does it?  Look back at verse 18 again, of his own will, he begot us.  He being God the father mentioned in verse 17 as the source of every good and every perfect gift, of his own will is first in the Greek in the verse, which put is it in the emphatic position showing that the sovereign will of God is the root of this new life.  It couldn’t be any other way, because how is a dead person going to give himself life?  Impossible.  The source of new life is God.  God.  It is the grace of the giver, not the desire of the receiver.  That desire of the receiver is prompted by the grace of the giver.  So it is wholly the choice and the work of almighty God.

If I am saved, and you are saved, who gets all the credit?  God does.  We praise him.  Go back to John 1:12 and I want to just draw a little more on this thought.  You say, but wait a minute, didn’t I receive Christ, didn’t I believe, of course, you did.  You reached out and received him and believed.  Look at verse 12 of John 1, “As many as received him to them gave he the right or the authority to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name.”  You say that’s right.  I believed and I received.  Didn’t I do that?  Didn’t I initiate that?  Look at verse 13, who were born, not of the blood, not talking about a human birth, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man,” but of what?  “God.”  You believed and you received because it was the will of whom?  Of God.  It is a sovereign thing.  Yes, you believed.  Yes, you received.  Behind it, all was the sovereign, determinative, gracious will of God. 

No, child has ever been born into the world humanly speaking because he or she wanted to be born.  Fair enough?  The birth of a child is strictly the decision of parents, not of unborn children.  Spiritual birth is analogous to that.  It is the decision of the sovereign divine parent.  No man comes unto me Jesus said, except the father what?  Draws him.  Except the father draws him and even the very faith we exercise, is granted graciously by God.  So our conscious experience of conversion, our conscious experience of committing our life to Jesus Christ of believing in his death and resurrection, of opening our hearts to receive him, of believing the gospel, all is a consequence of his sovereign will.

Beloved when you stop to think that you are saved because he predetermined in eternity past to save you, that is a marvelous thing.  God in his grace and love predetermined to have an eternally intimate love relationship with you just because that’s what he wanted, marvelous.  John put it this way, we love him because he first loved us.  A child gives love to a human parent as a response to parental love and care and the life they gave that child.  And because God has willed to save us, because God has willed to give us new life and a holy nature, it is absolutely impossible, James says that he could ever lead us into sin.  You see how absolutely incongruous that is?  What a thrilling thought.  He predestinated us to set his love on us.

To give us new life that we might have eternal fellowship with him and he longs for us to be in his presence and when we go into his presence he will make us like his own son and he will pour out eternal blessing on us forever and ever and ever.  No wonder John says in 1 John 3, “Behold what manner of love the father hath bestowed on us that we should be called the children of God.”  He can’t even think of an adjective.  It’s absolutely indescribable.  He just says, what manner of love, he couldn’t even come up with an adjective to describe that kind of predetermined sovereign free choice to love. 

Now looking back at James 1:18, just one other thought about that particular point, when it says of his own will, it uses the word boultheis, aorist participle.  It is not just a wish, but it is an active will of accomplishment.  It isn’t God just wishing it.  He wishes us to be saved, it is he wills it to the extent that it actually happens.  May I say something to you that’s very profound theologically?  This is what we would say is God’s productive will.  That is when he wills this, it happens.  It is not a wish.  You can wish something, oh, I wish, oh, how I wish this will happen and it may be remotely unrelated to what will happen.  Or you can say, I will that to happen because it’s within your power to make it happen.  That’s the intent of the word here, God’s desire produces the end of that desire.  So what is regeneration?  It is God recreating us.  Who does it?  God does it by his sovereign power and we respond to that sovereign grace.  Third question, okay, we have asked what and who here is the third on, how does it happen?  How does it happen?

You say, well, does God just reach down and bang you are saved, does God just zap you?  How does it happen?  Well, let’s look back at the verse, verse 18, “Of his own will he begot us,” here it comes, “With the word of truth.  With the word of truth.”  Or literally, by truth’s word.  By truth’s word.  That means the word of God, the scripture.  You see, God regenerates us and washes us and cleanses us and gives us a new inner person and plants a spirit in us through the power of his what?  Of his word.  Of his word.  Men are born again by the power of the word.  If you don’t hear the word, you don’t hear the message that saves, in 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul is commending the Thessalonians for how they responded to the preaching of God’s word.  He says, “For this cause we thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth the word of God,” listen to this, “which effectually is working also in you that believe.  It is the word that works with a believing heart.  God Sovereignly moves to redeem.  A person responds to the exposure to the word with faith and salvation takes place.  God’s will then of salvation is brought to the heart of a person through an understanding of the word mixed with faith and regeneration takes place.  How does it happen?  It happens through the word of God.  And again, I remind you of Titus 3:5, “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.”  We don’t get salvation and new life by doing things, by trying to obey God in the flesh, but according to his mercy, he saved us, watch this, “by the washing of regeneration and the renewing of the Holy Spirit.”  There are the same two things, the washing of the water of the word and the planting of the Holy Spirit.  That’s the sovereign work of God.  SO, the word of truth is the issue.

Now let me just take that phrase a little bit further, the word of truth or truth’s word.  That particular designation is used several times in the New Testament.  In 2 Corinthians 6:7, you don’t need to look these up, I’ll just mention them to you.  It says, by the word of truth, by the power of God and it goes on.  In Colossians 1:5, it says, “Of which you heard before,” listen to this, “in the word of the truth of the gospel.  The word of the truth of the gospel.”  And there the word of the truth is specifically linked to the gospel.  By the way, 2 Timothy 2:15 also mentions the word of truth, rightly dividing the word of truth.  So the word of truth in general is the word of God.

It is that which God brings to us to unfold an understanding to us of his revelation of himself.  In specific, on the basis of Colossians 1:5 we could call it the word of the truth of the gospel.  Now with that in mind, we go back to James and we can just simply say that we wouldn’t be out of line to say, that we are born again with the word of truth, not only God’s general revelation, but as in Colossians 1:5, his specific revelation of the gospel.  And you say what’s the gospel?  The good news that Jesus came, died and rose again, so people are saved then when God sovereignly sets out to give them new birth, to give them a new nature to wash away their sin, to plant his spirit in them.  He brings them an understanding of that through the knowledge that comes in the gospel that is preached or that is given to them.  That mixed with faith results in the new birth.  In Romans 10:17, and I’m just picking up some scriptures that come to mind that I think are related to this as we kind of wind down.  But in Romans 10:17, do you remember this, how then shall they call on him whom they have not believed?  And how shall they believe in him in whom they have not heard?  How shall they hear without a preacher?  And then it says, and how shall they preach unless they be sent and so forth and so on.  It’s talking about we have to have preachers.  How are people going to hear if they don’t have a preacher?  How can we send anybody if there is no one to send?  People have to have a preacher, how beautiful, quoting from Isaiah, are the feet of them that preach the gospel.  How important it is to preach it, why?  Because of verse 17, faith comes by hearing, a speech about Christ.  That’s the proper Greek rending of 10:17, faith comes by hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, Romans 10:17.  So, God sovereignly saves by moving into a life and recreating that life, but that takes place when a person comes to hear and understand the gospel and it is mixed with faith and that brings about the new birth.  What is it?  It is total transformation.  Who does it?  God does it by his own sovereign will.  How does it happen?  By hearing and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ that he died on the cross and rose again, that comes through the reveled word of God.  One other scripture on this regard is 1 Peter 1.  Being born again, it says, and here is the definition of the means.  Being born again, not of corruptible seed, he’s not talking about human birth, but of incorruptible, here it comes, by the word of God, which lives and abides forever. 

By the word of God which lives and abides forever.  For flesh, you can’t have a new birth in the flesh, it’s just like the grass and the glory of man is like the flower of grass, the grass withers and the flower falls away.  The flesh can’t produce anything lasting, but the word of the Lord endures forever.  Now listen, and this is the word, which by the gospel is preached unto you.  And again he says, you are born again by the word and the word that you are born again by is the gospel and the gospel is the story of Jesus death and resurrection.

So God sovereignly chooses to redeem, comes down, cleanses the heart, plants his spirit, but in order to do that, the heart must be comprehend the gospel as clearly preached and that comprehension mixed with faith brings about new life, new life.  Now, if anything is to change in us, God must do it, but we must respond as well, to the gospel.  Now that leaves us with one question, one question.  Why is it done?  Why?  Why does God bother.  We know what, we know who, we know how, but why?  What is the purpose of making us new?  The end of verse 18, this is marvelous.  In order that we should be a kind of first fruits of his creation.  Boy, what a statement.  We could really go to town on this one.  The ramifications of this are just tremendous, that we should be, that’s an ace with the verb to be, that’s a purpose cause, with the purpose of producing a new kind of creation, that’s what God wants.  He wants a new kind of creation and we are the first fruits of that.

That’s great.  What are first fruits?  Well, if we had time and we won’t take the time, we could study the Old Testament, mark down Exodus 23:19, Leviticus 23, Deuteronomy chapter 18, Deuteronomy chapter 26, that tells about first fruits.  When you planted a crop, God said, I want your first fruits.  First fruits meant two things, I want the first in order and I want the best. 

When you harvest that crop, bring an offering to me and I want the first that you harvest and that will show that you live by faith, because if you take your first, the tendency for a farmer is to take the first thing that he harvest and he hordes it incase nothing else comes through.  So you bring me the first and you bring me the best, that’s the first fruits.  The first of a full crop that’s coming later and that’s exactly what it means here. 

He says, I want you to, this is thrilling, to be the first and the best indicative of a whole crop that’s coming later.  That’s marvelous.  Now listen to me carefully, do you realize people that the world will not continue the way it is right now?  Do you know that?  Do you know that we are headed to a total transformation of the world as we know it?  Do you know that this entire operation on the earth will burn up and the bible tells us that the Lord will recreate this earth, to his own liking?  He will make a new creation, everything will be born again, everything.  Men and women and dirt and hills and valleys and water and grass and plants and animals and everything, in fact, he will make a new heaven and a new earth, there is coming a whole new creation and we are just the first evidence of it. 

As Paul says in Romans 8, the world doesn’t even know what we are going to be yet, because we are still veiled in our flesh and waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God when it becomes clear to everybody what we really are. That’s kind of exciting to know what I am in that regard.  I’m a sample as a Christian and so are you, of what’s coming.  We’re just the first look at the new creation.  Incredible.  We are his.  And he recreates us as symbols, as examples, as illustrations, of his coming new creation.  You want to know what the future is going to be like.  I’ll tell you what it’s going to be like.  It’s going to be like us all new on the inside.  It’s going to be like us after we get all new on the outside too, but we are just the first fruits.  What is that?  The first fruits is the promise of the full crop.  The promise of the full crop.  And we are the first fruits.  What a thought.  God says, I want to take you to be my special possession.  I want to take you to belong to me.  To be symbols of the full new creation yet to come. 

Do you realize that here we are in little Grace Community Church in this little pocket of bricks here tonight and the world has no idea what we are, but we are just first fruits of an incredible new creation when God recreates the whole heaven and the whole earth?  We are just the first fruits.  Creation, it says in Romans 8 is groaning waiting for its recreation.  And we also are crying out for the recreation, not of our soul, we have had that, but of our what?  Of our bodies where the flesh hangs on.

This new life we have in Christ is a taste of future glory when the whole universe will be recreated.  So, what a marvelous privilege is ours.  What is regeneration?  It’s recreation.  Making us all new from the inside.  Who does it?  God does it sovereignly.  When does it happen or how does it happen?  It happens when we hear with believing hearts the word of the gospel and then God mixes his faith with his sovereign power, transforms us and why does he do it?  Because we are to stand out in the world as living examples of where this world is headed when he recreates is.

Now to put this thing back in James context, try to tell me now that God wants us to sin and I’ll tell you you got a screw loss.  There is no way that God wants you to sin.  No way he is pleased with your sin.  He created you to be a model of a sinless society.  That’s what he wants.  So when you sin, don’t blame him.  Put the blame where it out to be on your flesh and long for the day when your flesh is redeemed. 

That’s what it means to be born again and we have much to praise God for.  Let’s bow in prayer.  Our father, we titled our message tonight, Born to Holiness.  And we indeed are committed to that.  That we have been made new in order that we who were unholy might be holy. What a tremendous truth that is.  Father we thank you so much for making us the symbols of your new creation.  And father, we pray that we might shine as lights in the world.

That we might, who have been redeemed be so grateful that we might live in such a way as to properly represent that whole new creation of which we are but the first fruits.  Forgive us for those times when we have blamed you for our sin and help us to realize that it is your desire to recreate us unto holiness.

And help us to pursue that with all our might and the power of the spirit.  And father, if there are some in our fellowship tonight who have never come to Christ who have never been born again, who have not yet received the life principle.  Who have not been changed on the inside.  Who have not been washed from all their sin.  Who have not received a new spirit and a new inner person.  A new life principle.  Who have not received the Holy Spirit to live in them.  Who are not your special beloved and intimate possession, your first fruits and a promise of a whole new universe.  Oh Lord, may this be the night when they embrace Jesus Christ.  May they believe in the one who died on the cross for them, shed his blood to pay the penalty for their sin.  Rose again the third day for their salvation.

May they put their faith in the living Jesus Christ and may they experience that glorious sovereign mercy and grace and the joy of being first fruits, living examples of the coming recreation.  Oh God, help us who know you to live up to who we are.  And rightly represent to this world what is coming in the future.  We pray in Christ’s name, amen.

https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/59-8/born-to-holiness

The Meaning of Passover

Laura Bagby

The Jews celebrated their Passover Feast in remembrance of God’s deliverance from death during the time of Moses.

Origination of Passover

Moses had been instructed to lead God’s people out of Egypt and save them from the evil and ungodly Pharaoh. Because of Pharaoh’s disbelief in the power of the One True God, Yahweh sent a series of ten plagues upon the Egyptians: the Nile turned to blood and at various times the land was filled with frogs, gnats, flies, hail, locusts, and darkness. In one awesome act of God’s ultimate authority, He sent one final devastating plague: every firstborn of every household would be annihilated.

In His mercy towards His people, God would shield the Israelites from such unmerciful judgment if they would follow the instructions He gave to Moses and Aaron. The specific instructions are outlined in Exodus 12:1-11. In sum, each family was to take a lamb and all households were to slaughter their lambs at the same time at twilight after a certain number of days. Then they were commanded to paint the sides and top of their doorways with some of this blood. Once this was done and all the meat of the lamb was eaten in accordance with God’s instructions, God would spare the Israelites from death. This is what the Lord said:

“On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn — both men and animals — and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt. This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord — a lasting ordinance” (Exodus 12:12-14)

The Seder Meal

The highlight of a contemporary Jewish Pesach, or Passover, is the Seder.

The Seder meal consists of six highly symbolic elements: matzah, a roasted shank bone, parsley or green herbs, the top of a horseradish, charoset, and an egg. On each plate are three pieces of matzah (a special type of cracker or unleavened bread). Two of these pieces represent the traditional loaves used in the ancient Temple during festivals and the third piece symbolizes Passover. The roasted lamb bone connotes the sacrificial Passover lamb. Herbs symbolize springtime growth. The horseradish represents the bitter years of slavery in Egypt; charoset, a mixture of fruit and ground nuts soaked in wine, represents the mortar used in Egypt; and the egg represents the chagigah (a secondary sacrifice prepared along with the Passover lamb).

The Biblical Accounts

Accounts of what happened can be found in all four gospels — Matthew 26:17-27:10; Mark 14:12-72Luke 22:1-65John 13:1-18:27.

Can God change your life?

God has made it possible for you to know Him and experience an amazing change in your own life. Discover how you can find peace with God. You can also send us your prayer requests.

https://www1.cbn.com/teaching/the-meaning-of-passover

Komodo Dragon Genome Bites Evolution

BY JEFFREY P. TOMKINS, PH.D. * | SEPTEMBER 10, 2019

Komodo dragons are the largest lizards in the world and a top predator on the remote Indonesian islands they inhabit. Their sensory system allows them to detect large prey, such as deer, over seven miles away. Although Komodo dragons are cold-blooded reptiles, they can rapidly increase their metabolism to near-mammalian levels for amazing bursts of speed and even long strenuous runs. Because of their highly venomous bites, all they need is one good chomp on their victim’s leg or foot and the poisoned prey will soon be the lizard’s lunch.

The Komodo dragon’s unusual traits have made scientists eager to sequence its DNA to see what sorts of genes it contains and how it compares to other creatures. This sequencing was discussed in a recent scientific publication.1

When the researchers compared the newly sequenced Komodo dragon genes that were common among reptiles, they found many startling traits specific to the Komodo dragon and many of these genetic novelties were associated with its remarkable mammal-like ability to exhibit high levels of sustained physical activity. Because the gene variations are unique to the Komodo dragon and very different from other reptiles, the genes were deemed to be the result of “positive selection”—a magic evolutionary phrase.2

A creature’s environment has no God-like ability to create new useful genetic information for complex multi-genic traits like those associated with complex metabolic functions. Evolutionists basically substitute the magic words “positive selection” or “natural selection” for something only an omnipotent God can do.

The researchers also used other magic words to explain their non-evolutionary findings as noted in this comment from a press interview in which they stated, “Our analysis showed that in Komodo dragons, many of the genes involved in how cells make and use energy had changed rapidly in ways that increase the lizard’s aerobic capacity.”2 In this case, the term “changed rapidly” means the genes were so different and unique that the idea of random mutational processes combined with the mystical paradigm of nature supposedly “selecting” for them could not account for the great differences observed.

It’s also highly noteworthy that the researchers reported actually throwing out data in their selection analysis where the variation was deemed “unreasonably high.”The data was actually manipulated to show less variability and, therefore, more in line with the evolutionary model. The stark reality is that these genes—specific to the Komodo dragon—were engineered to produce their unique God-given traits. No sign of evolution existed in the data even though the researchers cherry-picked it to favor evolution.

The bigger evolutionary (phylogenetic) analysis the researchers did comparing the Komodo dragon DNA to other reptiles, birds, and mammals also made no evolutionary sense—the patterns and groupings were totally different than predicted by standard evolutionary models. By all accounts, the data showed that Komodo dragons were created uniquely with their own specific God-given engineering.

References
1. Lind, A. L. et al. 2019. Genome of the Komodo dragon reveals adaptations in the cardiovascular and chemosensory systems of monitor lizards. Nature Ecology & Evolution. 3: 1241-1252. DOI: 10.1038/s41559-019-0945-8.
2. Guliuzza, R. 2010. Unmasking Evolution’s Magic Words. Acts & Facts. 39 (3): 10-11.
3. Gladstone Institutes. 2019. Komodo dragon genome reveals clues about its evolution. Phys.org Posted July 29, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019.

https://www.icr.org/article/komodo-dragon-genome-bites-evolution/

VIDEO If it’s good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me

Larry Klayman notes that his Jewish grandfather knew how to ‘bring home the bacon’

My grandfather Isadore “Izzy” Klayman escaped from a small village near Odessa in the Ukraine just a few years after the Bolshevik Revolution. His father, Meyer, had been smuggled out of what then was part of Russia a few years earlier, and landed in Philadelphia, Pennyslvania, getting a job in a meatpacking plant as a butcher. Indeed, this was the family trade back in old country. Saving money, Meyer later sent for his wife, my great grandmother, Bubba Raisal, and young Izzy and his sister Rose, who as Jews would not have had a “guaranteed” long life expectancy in the USSR, given the intense anti-Semitism of the Communists and their historic persecution in Russia.

Given that my grandfather hailed from a peasant village, where birth records were not kept, Izzy, when he entered the United States at Ellis Island in New York City, did not know his birth date. When the immigration officer asked him to identify his birthday, he responded only: “Give me Christmas. If It’s good enough for Jesus, its good enough for me.”

My grandfather was a proud Jew, and at one time he wanted to be a rabbi. Instead, he continued the family trade in the food business, opening a grocery store and then a meatpacking operation, in which my father, Herman, and Uncle Benny Klayman partnered with him. It was called “I. Klayman & Co.,” and it grew into the largest independent pork-packing plant on the East Coast by the time it was driven out of business – brought about by the stupid wage-price freeze of Nixon’s economic adviser Alan Greenspan. At its end, the operation slaughtered over 5,000 hogs per day. You could say that my family knew how to bring home the bacon!

Years later I would quip when asked how and why I came to fight powerful deadly criminals like Bill and Hillary Clinton, whose administration saw the “fatal disappearance” of over 80 material witnesses to their myriad of scandals, that working in my family’s meatpacking plant as a youngster, where I was a “teenage butcher,” taught me how to “slice and dice.” To take on the criminals and the corrupt legal establishment in our nation’s capital for now going on 44 years, one has to be tough but also ethical and moral!

And that was my grandfather Izzy in a nutshell. To his dying day, he was a spiritually religious man. Indeed, as a young boy I would ask him about his faith coupled with the kind humanitarian deeds he did, not just for fellow Jews, but for everyone! As just one example, the blacks who worked at I. Klayman & Co. loved him, and despite being the boss along with my father and uncle, he would frequently go down on the kill and cutting room floors and work side by side with them, even when he did not have to – just to show his solidarity. He and my grandmother Freda, when they had their grocery store, would often hand out free food to the poor, even during the Great Depression when they themselves were on their financial backs.

This caring and generosity for mankind marked Izzy as a true disciple of Jesus. Indeed, when I would ask him at lunchtime breaks at the pork plant, when he would take me to eat with him at Horn & Hardart restaurant in the northeast section of Philly, if he believed in Christ, my grandfather would answer, “Why not? God can do whatever he desires.” For a Jew, albeit one with a pork business, to respond in this way showed me that our Savior was real.

Intellectually, I thus came to believe in Jesus myself, even with my schooling in Hebrew school, which was necessary for me to be bar mitzvah’ed at age 13, the time Jewish boys are scheduled to enter into adulthood. But it was not until Yeshua, the Hebrew name for Jesus, came to me on two occasions, during difficult periods in my life, that I truly became a Christian, albeit a Jewish one, much like our Savior, a simple rabbi born to Mary and Joseph in a manger.

I chronicle my becoming a Jewish Christian in my autobiography, “Whores: Why and How I Came to Fight the Establishment,” and in some of my past weekly columns in this fine and courageous publication.

And I am indeed blessed, because not many people have actually had the experience to have our Lord and Savior speak directly to them. But if people would open up their hearts to Him as my grandfather and later his grandson did, His presence would be experienced.

I have always believed in going directly to the source. And, while I respect rabbis, ministers and priests and try to listen respectfully to their teachings, my own way of praying is to transcend and talk directly to the Father and His Son. I do not need intermediaries. Each to his own, and as Izzy used to say, some people drive Cadillacs and others Lincolns, but they both will get you to the same destination if one is righteous and opens his heart.

Christmas, when the nation is on the ropes and revolution is just around the corner, as I write in my new book, “It Takes a Revolution: Forget the Scandal Industry!” remember that Jesus himself was a revolutionary. For starters, He and the Father destroyed the corrupt high priests and brought down the evil and oppressive Romans. Now with God and His Son’s grace and glory, we must take a pledge this Christmas Day to be Their servants and vanquish the radical leftists who would attempt to enslave us in a Biden-Harris regime.

Christmas reflects that Jesus is with us, and that we can overcome all with His and the Father’s Divine Providence, just as our Founding Fathers did, as inscribed in the Declaration of Independence, on July 4, 1776! But the Father and His Son will not countenance our sitting around watching and being entertained by the cynical and profiteering scandal industry on cable news. We must act ourselves to save the nation from the leftist barbarians, not much better than the Romans who crucified Jesus, who are now inside our gates and are bent on destroying us from within!

Listen to Larry’s recent podcast:

VIDEO Chinese Man Arrested for Evangelizing Shares Gospel with Police – Sarah’s Journey for Christ!

By Jessica Mouser -August 14, 2020

street evangelism

A Chinese man was arrested on August 3 for conducting street evangelism and was consequently placed under administrative detention for 10 days. Remarkably, the man continued sharing the gospel by encouraging the officers who took him into custody to believe in Jesus.

“Brother Chen Wensheng received 10-day administrative detention sentence for sharing gospel of Christ on the street at his own hometown in Hunan province including to policemen,” tweeted Bob Fu. Fu is the founder and president of human rights organization ChinaAid, which reported the incident.

 
 

Man Perseveres in Street Evangelism 

The man arrested for “illegal evangelism,” Chen Wensheng, is part of the Xiaoqun Church in Hengyang, a city in Hunan province. According to ChinaAid, he was preaching the gospel in a city street while displaying a cross with the phrases “Glory to our Savior” and “Repent and be saved by faith alone.” When officials arrested Chen, they also confiscated his cross. In its report, ChinaAid shared two videos, one of Chen’s street evangelism booth and one of him sharing the gospel with Chinese officials after being released from a previous arrest.

According to International Christian Concern (ICC), conducting street evangelism and getting arrested for it has become a habit for Chen, so much so that the local authorities know him. Says ICC, “He has repeatedly urged the police officers to believe in Jesus.” In the video of Chen speaking to officials during a previous release, the officers ask if Chen makes money from telling people about Jesus. He replies that the point of believing in Jesus is not to get money, but to receive eternal life. ICC says that members of Chen’s church have visited him and provided for his needs during his most recent detainment.

There is no doubt that Chen Wensheng has shown tenacity and courage, particularly as religious persecution in China has been increasing. Among the many ways the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is oppressing Christians and other people of faith is by threatening to “re-educate” their children and by taking away children who have been adopted. In 2019, one Christian family that was part of Early Rain Covenant Church left China for Taiwan for fear that the CCP would take away their adopted child.

 
 

Not even the state-approved Three-Self Church is protected from the government’s interference. There have been reports of authorities removing crosses and religious imagery from churches throughout the country, whether or not those churches are approved by the government. And it is not only churches that the CCP is targeting with this policy. Authorities are forcibly removing religious imagery from people’s homes and replacing it with images of Chairman Mao Zedong and President Xi Jinping, as part of the government’s efforts toward sinicization. Those who refuse face losing their welfare benefits.

This is not to mention the government’s ongoing surveillance and unjust sentencing of Christians in China, in addition to other human rights abuses such as the CCP’s invasive use of technology and the atrocities the party is committing against the Uighur people. ICC has recently published a comprehensive report on religious persecution in China, which you can access here.

 
 
Jessica Mouser is a writer for churchleaders.com. She has always had a passion for the written word and has been writing professionally for the past two years. She especially enjoys evaluating how various beliefs play out within culture. When Jessica isn’t writing, she enjoys playing the piano, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.
 
 
 

Sarah’s Journey for Christ!