VIDEO Book Review: The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur

Over the past several decades, Evangelical Christians have been fiercely debating the true nature of saving faith in Christ. Some believe that a person can place their faith in Christ for salvation and yet persist in a sinful lifestyle, even growing more wicked as the years go by. Some call this “easy-believism.” But others believe that true, saving faith in Christ will necessarily result in a lifestyle of growing love for God and man, so that a true believer will grow in holiness, not sinfulness, having submitted his life to the authority of Jesus. This is often called “lordship salvation.” This debate continues, and no end is in sight.

John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus is perhaps the classic book on this issue. He firmly and clearly sets forth the lordship salvation position. His method for proving this is simple: he goes through the teachings of Jesus Himself, as portrayed in the four gospels, and shows how He expects that His true followers will obey Him.

This issue cannot be ignored. If easy-believism is correct, then lordship salvation wrongly places a heavy burden on the “carnal Christians,” telling them that they are still under the wrath of God. But if lordship salvation is true, then many professing Christians are indeed on the road to Hell, for many professing Christians live with complete disregard for the commands of Christ—and easy-believism helps them on to their eternal torment.

If you are a pastor or teacher, it is especially necessary for you to examine this issue, for you have a special care over the souls of the people under you. MacArthur’s book will greatly help you in your investigation. But really, every professing Christian must look into this question, whether or not our teachers do, since in the end we all—individually—must give an account to God.


May 20, 2016 By Douglas R. Kump

I first read John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus in 1990 shortly after it was published. It is not an over-exaggeration when I say the book completely revolutionized my understanding of the message of the good news as proclaimed by Jesus in the Gospels. John MacArthur is one of the greatest influences on my Christian life and ministry. As a very young man and Christian I learned from John MacArthur what the true Gospel is, and I also learned to love the Word of God. Later, in my teaching and pastoral ministry I followed (and still do) his example of expository preaching through the biblical text. John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus is definitely a contemporary classic and is just as relevant and important today as it was when it first appeared almost 30 years ago.

John MacArthur is the Bible-teacher on the internationally broadcast radio program Grace to You. He is also the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church and president of the Master’s College and Seminary all in Southern California. He is a prolific author and has written on many subjects in the fields of biblical studies, theology, practical ministry, as well as The MacArthur Study Bible and his massive New Testament commentary series. In 2008 a revised and expanded anniversary edition of The Gospel According to Jesus was released. It is this edition of the book that I will be reviewing in this post. Upon reading The Gospel According to Jesus again after all of those years it still had a profound impact on me and really helped in so many ways, especially given the present assault of the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The exclusion of the lordship of Jesus Christ from the contemporary Gospel message was the primary catalyst for MacArthur’s writing The Gospel According to Jesus. The message of Jesus in the Gospels was clear in that He called sinners to “a repentant, submissive surrender to the truth—including the truth of His lordship” (p. 11). Some erroneously charged MacArthur with teaching a works-based salvation because of his insistence that the Bible declared obedience to Christ as Lord. However, this false accusation was easily refuted and MacArthur very carefully and correctly shows what the true Gospel entails over and against the unbiblical view of “carnal Christianity” and “easy-believism.” MacArthur begins by asking the question “What is the Gospel?” He then examines the biblical accounts and presents a powerful portrait of the true Gospel as proclaimed by Jesus in contrast to the weak, popular, and false gospel taught by so many today. His goal is to present a “clear and precise understanding of the eternal gospel” (p. 22) and in my estimation he succeeds exceedingly well.

The Gospel According to Jesus is divided into six parts including three appendixes (Part 6). In part one MacArthur explains what it means to follow Jesus as Lord and as slaves of Christ. He then goes on to show how Jesus’ Gospel has been abandoned and gives a historical overview of exactly how it happened. An outstanding presentation of the biblical doctrine of salvation is also provided in this section. In part two the Gospel is shown to be a call for a “new birth” and this necessary regeneration is the only means by which a person can be saved. MacArthur gives an excellent exposition of John 4 and the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Genuinely converted people will necessarily worship God according to “spirit and truth” (cf. John 4: 24). Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) and MacArthur powerfully demonstrates that God saves his elect so that they may in turn repent, exercise faith, submit, and bear fruit. This is indeed taking upon the “yoke of rest” (see chapter 10). Salvation from beginning to end is entirely a work of the triune God.

In part three, the illustrations used by Jesus in his parables to explain the Gospel are explored. MacArthur really brings out the riches of the parables: “the soils” (chapter 11), the wheat and tares (chapter 12), “the treasures of the kingdom” (chapter 13), “the first and the last” (chapter 14), “the lost and found” (chapter 15), and “the vine and branches” (chapter 16). When I first read this book it was this section that really helped me understand the Gospel in a concrete manner and lead me to truly commit myself to the Lordship of Christ. The parables that Jesus taught are just amazing stories that vividly clarify the content of the Gospel and our response to it. In part four MacArthur writes about the critical essence and requirement of repentance as well as the nature of true faith. MacArthur’s section on justification (chapter 19) is crucial to a proper understanding of the Gospel. And, with all the current controversy over the nature of justification this chapter really needs to read and heeded today. The chapter (22) on the “Cost of Discipleship” is a superb and sobering reminder of what it means to authentically “take up the cross” in following the Lord Jesus Christ. In part five it is Jesus who fulfills the Gospel. There is only one chapter in part five but it is a very powerful section because it deals with the death of Jesus and what his death accomplished on our behalf. And, in the end it is the resurrection of Christ that gives us the great hope of salvation for all of eternity.

Part six offers three appendixes. In Appendix 1 the Gospel that Jesus proclaimed is shown to be the same Gospel the apostles would also preach. This was the subject of MacArthur’s subsequent work entitled The Gospel According to the Apostles in which he expands and offers a more detailed account of the Gospel message of the apostles. Appendix 2 gives a brief but solid overview of the Gospel in church history. Appendix 3 provides MacArthur’s answers to questions raised in response to The Gospel According to Jesus.

This book is a much needed corrective to the prevalent weak and corrupted gospel that is being proclaimed in many churches today. MacArthur provides us with a clear and compelling presentation of the Gospel as proclaimed by Jesus Christ. It is my hope and prayer that this book would be read widely and that the Gospel according to Jesus would be believed, obeyed, and taught, all for the glory of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Douglas R. Kump

Tutor of Theology and Apologetics at Woodstream Christian Academy
Education: B.A., Biblical Studies Washington Bible College 
M. Div., Liberty University 
Location: Odenton, MD 
Pastorate Pastor/Teacher @ Messiah New Covenant Congregation 
Harris Connection: Former student of Dr. Greg Harris at Washington Bible College.

Book Review: The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur


John MacArthur: The Gospel According to Jesus, Singapore

Aug 27, 2017
John MacArthur came to Singapore in the 90s and shared his new book, “The Gospel According to Jesus.”
I have converted from VHS tape to Mp4 video. The video quality is not good but I hope you can enjoy his sermon.


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Outspoken Christians Will Not Be Tolerated

Well, that didn’t take long. For daring to share some Scripture passages on his own social media page, Australian rugby star Israel Folau has been given the boot – all in the name of tolerance and inclusion of course. As one report puts it:

Israel Folau is set to be sacked following his social media posts on Wednesday night, leaving the Wallabies’ preparations ahead of September’s World Cup in chaos. A year after telling gay people that they were destined for hell on Instagram, the 30-year-old doubled down on his hateful, harmful rhetoric by sharing a meme that informed the masses that hell awaits “drunks, homosexuals, adulterers, liars, fornicators, thieves, atheists and idolaters” on the social media platform.

https://www.foxsports.com.au/rugby/wallabies/it-is-our-intention-to-terminate-his-contract-rugby-australia-to-sack-israel-folau/news-story

Hmm, “hateful, harmful rhetoric”? Nothing like throwing in some editorialising with your reporting mate. But this is always how the tolerance crowd operates – drone on and on about it all the time, but refuse to practice it when it comes to Christians and conservatives.

Of course it is not hard to see why the persecution of Folau was so swift and severe: Qantas, headed by a homosexual, is a major sponsor of the Wallabies. They are not really into love and acceptance. Qantas boss Alan Joyce said a few years back that if you are not pro-homosexual you should not fly with Qantas: billmuehlenberg.com/2016/04/27/godless-corporations-rampant-discrimination-blackmailing-christians/

And get a load of this statement from Qantas: “These comments are really disappointing and clearly don’t reflect the spirit of inclusion and diversity that we support.” Um, let me see if I got this straight: in the name of inclusion and diversity Qantas and Rugby Australia will NOT tolerate and include Folau. Sure, makes perfect sense.

The attack on him has been relentless. As I keep saying, I expect pagans to hate on Christians. What grieves my spirit deeply is how many so-called Christians have been blasting him as well. As but one example of many, I had one gal say this on a social media post about him:

Bill Muehlenberg Homosexuality is not the only sin referred to in scripture – I would take his stand far more seriously if he highlighted other sins impacting professional sportsmen and women as well – e.g. cheating, rough and unnecessarily aggressive play, greed, and the most serious of all not placing God first in their lives. Further, these sins have far more serious consequences impacting the lives of others, than what goes on between two consenting adults in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

To which I replied:

Thanks, but you obviously did not even bother to read my article (nor the remarks of Folau). Had you actually done so instead of offering us your knee jerk reaction you would have seen that he did EXACTLY that!! He highlighted a whole bunch of sins! He mentioned an entire list of sins, not just homosexuality. Indeed, he simply quoted a list of sins from Scripture.

But what has bothered me far more than these clueless Christians are all the Christian “leaders” who have come out to attack him and rebuke him. This I find so very worrying. One online Christian magazine asked a bunch of these leaders what they would say to Folau.

Most of their replies were really rather appalling. Most accused Folau of being unloving and judgmental and ungracious and condemning and reckless – the very same things most non-Christians call Christians when they seek to share biblical truth.

One spoke of “Folau’s clodhopping use of the Bible — with verses ripped out of context and lists of ‘sinners’ bound for hell, without any sense of the broader story — distorts the core message of the text”. Umm, he simply quoted some Scriptures which speak to the situation at hand. And such people are NOT sinners? You mean Paul was wrong?

Why do I suspect that some of these leaders would condemn the prophets, Jesus, Paul and Peter for the way they shared truth and evangelised? Why do I suspect that some of them would think they have a better grip on these matters than they did?

And all this despite what Folau has actually said – the stuff the lamestream media and clueless Christians do NOT want you to be aware of. He recently wrote some pieces seeking to explain his stance. Let me quote from some of it:

People’s lives are not for me to judge. Only God can do that. I have sinned many times in my life. I take responsibility for those sins and ask for forgiveness through repentance daily. I understand a lot of people won’t agree with some of the things I’m about to write. That’s absolutely fine. In life, you are allowed to agree to disagree. But I would like to explain to you what I believe in, how I arrived at these beliefs and why I will not compromise my faith in Jesus Christ, which is the cornerstone of every single thing in my life.

I hope this will provide some context to the discussion that started with my reply to a question asked of me on Instagram two weeks ago. I read the Bible every day. It gives me a sense of peace I have not been able to find in any other area of my life. It gives me direction. It answers my questions. I believe that it is a loving gesture to share passages from the Bible with others. I do it all the time when people ask me questions about my faith or things relating to their lives, whether that’s in-person or on my social media accounts….

I have tried to live my life in God’s footsteps ever since. I follow his teachings and read the Bible all the time in order to learn and become a better person. Since that happened I have been at peace and enjoyed life with an open, honest heart, which is why my faith in Jesus comes first. I would sooner lose everything – friends, family, possessions, my football career, the lot – and still stand with Jesus, than have all of those things and not stand beside Him….

Anyone who knows me knows I am not the type to upset people intentionally. Since my social media posts were publicised, it has been suggested that I am homophobic and bigoted and that I have a problem with gay people. This could not be further from the truth. I fronted the cover of the Star Observer magazine to show my support for the Bingham Cup, which is an international gay rugby competition for both men and women. I believe in inclusion. In my heart, I know I do not have any phobia towards anyone.
www.playersvoice.com.au/israel-folau-im-a-sinner-too/

I for one support Israel and am praying for him. I will ignore the legion of armchair critics and keep seeking to encourage him. That does not mean I would do everything the way he has done it, as I wrote in my earlier piece: billmuehlenberg.com/2019/04/11/israel-folau-the-apostle-paul-and-the-gospel/

But I applaud his courage and his dedication to Christ. And yes, it IS a loving thing to do to warn the sinner about his fate and to urge him to run to Christ: billmuehlenberg.com/2019/04/11/yes-it-is-loving-to-tell-sinners-about-hell/

Sorry, but give me one courageous – albeit imperfect – Israel Folau instead of a thousand of his milquetoast critics any day of the week. God bless you Israel.

As seen here at Culture Watch. Posted here with permission.

Original here


As In The Days Of Noah

In recent years, I’ve noticed a messaging trend in columns, commentary and sermons regarding a section of Scripture in Matthew 24.  It’s the, “As in the days of Noah,” passage, and I believe some people are missing its central meaning.  The point they make is that when the Lord returns, the world will be sinful like in the days of Noah, and as proof they use this part of the verse:

“38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage…”

In part, they claim it refers to the corruption of marriage, as in same-sex “marriage,” but that’s not what Jesus is saying there.  Yes, when the Lord returns there will be horrible, rampant sin in the world, but the sinfulness will be worse than in the days of Noah.  Remember what Jesus said earlier in verses 21-22:

“21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.”

What is yet to come is unimaginably worse than anything the world has ever seen.  The sinfulness, the tribulation, everything will be worse even than in the days of Noah.  It will be terrible, but look at the context of what Jesus is saying in the, “as in the days of Noah,” passage.  In Matthew 24, He is speaking to His disciples of the events that will lead up to His return and the return itself, and starting in verse 36, He pivots to the exact time of His return:

“36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

37 But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,

39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”

Jesus is making the point that His return will be sudden and will catch people unaware, so Christians must always watch and be ready.  As in the days of Noah, everyone was living his life as usual, eating and drinking, marrying, going to work, going to sleep at night, and they were all unaware until suddenly the flood came and took them away.

That’s how it will be at the end of this world when Jesus comes back and gathers His church.  Then, two will be working by each other, and very suddenly, one will be taken and the other left.  Jesus takes his church and leaves behind those who refused Him.  And because Jesus has warned us in what He says here in Matthew 24 and what He says through His prophets, like Daniel, John in Revelation and others, we need not be caught off-guard by His return.

For those who are not Christians:  If you have read this far and have not accepted the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, then please know that everyone is accountable to God Who made us.  There is only one Way to God, and that is through His Son Jesus, alone.  Whether you believe or not, one of two people will pay for your sins:  either you or Jesus.  That’s why Jesus came into this world, God in human form, and gave His innocent, sinless life on the cross, because of His great love for us.  It was to pay the price for sin that none of us could ever pay, to redeem the lost and remake the bridge between God and man that Adam broke.

Seek Jesus today, while you still can.  If you seek Him, you will find Him.  Grab a Bible and read it.  What you need to know is in there.

Original here

Ahab Blamed the Prophet, Nero Blamed the Christians – America Blames Both!

A nation that is pushing ever closer to total moral reprobation is not likely to rush to the fountain of theological wisdom or prophetic warning. But since God has been careful to tell us over and over again how much he loves us, (John 3: 16) and those in the world around us, it is appropriate that his messengers are so relentless.

We use Biblical examples to help us see our state, some more effective than others, and yet, some are so spot on that people may want to kill the messenger. Don’t hurt the mouthpiece, but don’t fail to hear the clarion call of the trumpet. Our lives and futures depend upon it!

The day is fast approaching in which the disdain people now feel at the rebuke of the prophet, preacher, and messenger, will be given to longing for another chance to hear and heed the message; the clanging will seem as a pleasant chime, but long since swallowed in time.

Nero covered his evil by blaming the Christians for the burning of Rome. Much further back in time, King Ahab blamed the prophet Elijah for stirring up the entire nation of Israel. Elijah, who never minced words, clearly ascribed the entire problem in Israel back to Ahab. That almost cost him his life. And now history has begun to repeat itself.

Trending: When a Homosexual Episcopalian Calls Trump’s Christianity ‘Hypocritical’

The first words from Ahab’s mouth upon seeing the prophet were;

“And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel?” (1Ki 18:17)

The prophet replied with this;

“And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.” (1Ki 18:18)

From American comedian and political commentator Bill Maher’s irreverent takes on God and his people, to the eleven Christians killed every day around the world – the world has begun again to blame the Christians for all their ills and unsolvable problems.

Who is to blame and what is the cost

America is to blame for its own problems not the voices that stand and warn.

The Christians are not to blame, but we will answer to God for our own extremes and gross immoral behaviors.

Is there no price attached to these things?

  • The killing of 60,000,000 (sixty million) perfectly healthy babies
  • The bulldozing of every moral precept known to man under the raging perversions of the LGBT movement.
  • The corrupting of our youth under to tutelage of leftist whacko progressive liberal teachers, from grade school to college.
  • The promotion of every religion from Muslim to big sweet daddy grace and his TV evangelism crusades.

If we owe – when is the first bill due?

Whether it was ancient Israel, modern nations or the example seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son, the one way God responds to all of them always start in the same way. Put simply it is the removal of all wealth, supply and excess.

Sodom, that ancient bastion of perversion was judged when she reached a state that America has long since passed.

“Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”(Ezekiel 16:49)

We can be sure that all that happened leading up to the pouring out of fire and brimstone on Sodom would include the ending of  “fulness of bread” – now you have the key!

What we will see first in these United States is what this writer will refer to as “ov ov penury,” in all its glaring simplicity that means a time of extreme poverty and scarcity.

With our economy presently booming such a prediction may seem like pure nonsense. We think we have our economy in our own hands, but the reality is that it is not and it has never been. In the following passage it behooves us to take note of the word – “instant.”

“At what instant I shall speak concerning a nation, and concerning a kingdom, to pluck up, and to pull down, and to destroy it; If that nation, against whom I have pronounced, turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil that I thought to do unto them.” (Jeremiah 18: 7-8)If you happen to be bewitched, bothered and bewildered by the message here, then let me offer the short version.

Very hard times are coming!

https://barbwire.com/ahab-blamed-the-prophet-nero-blamed-the-christians-america-blames-both/

How to Kill Sin

Three weeks ago I blew the trumpet for “Planting a Passion” to waken a dream in you of being a part of spreading a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples by starting a new, strong, God-centered, Christ-exalting, Bible-saturated, missions-mobilizing, soul-winning, justice-pursuing church somewhere else in the Twin Cities. I pray that this vision of Planting a Passion is simmering in all of you.

The Call for Justice-Pursuing, Coronary Christians

Then in the last two weeks, we fleshed out some of what it means to be a justice-pursuing church. We focused two weeks ago on racial justice, and we focused last week on justice for the unborn. And in general my plea was that God would create justice-pursuing, coronary Christians at Bethlehem — not adrenal Christians. Christians who keep on pumping the blood of life hour after hour, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, decade after decade into a Cause bigger than yourself or your family or your church. Marathon Christians, not sprinters. William Wilberforce-likeChristians who gave all his life to defeat the slave trade in Britain two hundred years ago.

“Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

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One of his adversaries said, “It is necessary to watch him as he is blessed with a very sufficient quantity of that Enthusiastic spirit, which so far from yielding that it grows more vigorous from blows.” In other words, knock him down and he gets up stronger. There are not many people like that in America today. Most people who get knocked down for righteousness’ sake feel sorry for themselves, then they ask where God was, and then they take someone to court. A coronary Christian learns from the defeat, gets up, sets a new goal, and presses on in the cause.

Coronary Christians Fight Warfare Against Their Sin

Now, this morning we have returned to Romans 8 to pick up where we left off on December 16th. But I am still trumpeting Planting a Passion, and I am still working to build “justice-pursuing” churches, and I am still pleading for God to create coronary Christians, because that is what verses 12–13 help me do.

If you are going to be the kind of person who gets up when you get knocked down and instead of planning revenge, plans fresh strategies of love; and instead of questioning God, submits to his wise and good sovereignty; and instead of whining, rejoices in tribulation and is refined like steel, then you will have to learn to kill the sins of self-pity and pride and grudge-holding and loving the praise of man. In other words, coronary Christians who joyfully press on in some great cause of love and justice don’t come out of nowhere. They come out of the fiery furnace of warfare with sin — fought mainly in their own souls.

Let’s look at verses 12-13: “So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh [literally: we are debtors not to the flesh], to live according to the flesh — for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live.”

If you are going to be a coronary, justice-pursuing, passion-planting Christian — or, for that matter, any kind of Christian who inherits life and not death — Paul says you must not be the debt-paying slave of the flesh — that old rebellious, insubordinate, self-sufficient nature we all have (Romans 8:7). “Brethren, we are debtors not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh” — we owe the flesh nothing but enmity and war. Don’t dally with your destroyer. Don’t be a debtor to your destroyer. Get out debt to the flesh, don’t pay for your own destruction.

How, we ask? That’s what verse 13 describes. If you are going to be a coronary, justice-pursuing, passion-planting, free-from-debt-to-fatal-flesh Christian, you must be skilled at killing your own sins. This is dangerous language here, so be careful. Don’t think about other people’s sins. Don’t think about how people wrong you. Think about your own sins. That’s what Paul is talking about. Verse 13b: “But if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of [your!] body, you will live.”

John Owen on Mortification of Sin

The great teacher of the church on this doctrine is John Owen. Nobody has probed it more deeply, probably. He wrote a little 86-page book called Mortification of Sin in Believers. “Mortify” means “kill” in 17th century English. Today it just means “embarrass” or “shame.” But Owen was talking about this verse. In fact, his whole book is an exposition of this verse — Romans 8:13. He put it like this: “Be killing sin or it will be killing you.”

My mother wrote in my Bible when I was fifteen years old — I still have the Bible — “This book will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from this book.” Now Owen says, based on Romans 8:13, “Be killing sin or [sin] will be killing you.” We will see that these two mottos are very closely connected, because Romans 8:13 says that we are to put be putting sin to death by the Spirit: “If by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” — and what is the instrument of death wielded by the Spirit? The answer is given in Ephesians 6:1: “the sword of the Spirit, the word of God.” This book will keep you from sin — this book will kill sin.

I just want you to see how everything in these recent weeks is connected. We thought we were taking a detour from Romans since December 16, but it turns out that we were really simply giving application of what happens when Christians put to death the deeds of the body. They become coronary, marathon, God-centered, Christ-exalting, justice-pursuing, passion-planting Christians.

So now what would be helpful to know in order to experience what Romans 8:13 is calling for? Well, I see four questions that would be helpful to answer so that we can be about this crucial duty of killing sin.

“If you have been justified by faith you will be glorified.”

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  1. What are “the deeds of the body” when Paul says, “If by the Spirit you kill the deeds of the body, you will live”? Surely not all the deeds of the body are to be killed. The body is supposed to be an instrument of righteousness. So what are the deeds of the body that are to be killed?
  2. What does killing them mean? Do they have life that we should take away? What will killing them involve?
  3. What does “by the Spirit” mean? The Spirit is himself God. He is not a lifeless instrument in our hands to wield as we wish. The very thought of having the Spirit in my hand gives me the shivers of disrespect. I am in his hand, aren’t I? Not he in mine. He is the power, not me. How am I to understand this killing of sin “by the Spirit”?
  4. Does this threat of death mean that I can lose my salvation? Verse 13a: “If you are living according to the flesh, you must die.” This is spoken to the whole church at Rome. And death here is eternal death and judgment. We know that because everyone — whether you live according to the flesh or not — dies a physical death. So the death this verse warns about is something more, something that happens only to some and not to others. So the question remains: can we die eternally if we have justified by faith? If so what becomes of our assurance, and if not why does Paul threaten us all with death if we live according to the flesh and tell us to be about the business of killing sin?

So let’s start here with this last question and then take up the others in two weeks. What we should take away this morning is a general sense of how justification relates to sin-killing; and how crucial it is that we do it.

Does the Threat of Death Imply We Can Lose Our Salvation?

You know my answer: no, someone who is justified by faith alone apart from works of the law cannot die in this sense of eternal death. One of my main reasons for believing this is found in this chapter in verse 30. In this verse, Paul argues that salvation from beginning to end is a work of God with every part linked to the other in an unbreakable chain.

Romans 8:30: “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Here the link between justification and glorification is certain. If you have been justified by faith you will be glorified. That is, you will be brought to eternal life and glory. The chain will not be broken: predestination, calling, justification, glorification.

Killing Sin Is the Result and Evidence of Justification

So the question then is why does Paul say to the church in Rome — and to Bethlehem — “If you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live”? The reason is this: Putting to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit — the daily practice of killing sin in your life — is the result of being justified and the evidence that you are justified by faith alone apart from works of the law. If you are making war on your sin, and walking by the Spirit, then you know that you have been united with Christ by faith alone. And if you have been united to Christ, then his blood and righteousness provide the unshakable ground of your justification.

On the other hand, if you are living according to the flesh — if you are not making war on the flesh, and not making a practice out of killing sin in your life, then there is no compelling reason for thinking that you are united to Christ by faith or that you are therefore justified. In other words, putting to death the deeds of the body is not the way we get justified, it’s one of the ways God shows that we are justified.

And so Paul commands us to do it — be killing sin — because if we don’t — if we don’t make war on the flesh and put to death the deeds of the body by the Spirit — if growth in grace and holiness mean nothing to us — then we show that we are probably false in our profession of faith, and that our church membership is a sham and our baptism is a fraud, and we are probably not Christians after all and never were.

Killing Sin Is the Effect, not the Cause

This is a good place to review and reestablish the great foundation for our call for coronary, justice-pursuing Christians. Are we calling for you to live this way so that you will get justified, or are we calling for you to live this way because this is the way justified sinners live? Is the pursuit of justice and love “by the Spirit” with life-long perseverance the cause or the effect of being set right with God?

Let Wilberforce answer. Here was a man who had a passion for holiness and righteousness and justice greater than anyone in his day perhaps. When he wrote his book, A Practical View of Christianity, to trumpet this passion for justice and for political engagement in the cause of righteousness, here is what he said,

Christianity is a scheme “for justifying the ungodly” [Romans 4:5], by Christ’s dying for them “when yet sinners” [Romans 5:6–8], a scheme “for reconciling us to God” — when enemies [Romans 5:10]; and for making the fruits of holiness the effects, not the cause, of our being justified and reconciled.

“If we died to sin by being united with Jesus in his death, we can’t stay married to sin.”

We have spent almost four years laying the foundation for understanding Romans 8. The first five chapters of Romans demonstrate that the only way for us sinners to be declared righteous in God’s sight is by having righteousness reckoned to us — credited to us, imputed to us — by grace, through faith, on the basis of Christ’s perfect life and death, and not on the basis of our own works. God is just and justifies the ungodly who have faith in Jesus (Romans 3:26).

With that stunning and unspeakably wonderful foundation laid, Paul has to ask in chapter 6, two times: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase” (verse 1)? “What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace” (verse 15)? And all of chapters 6 and 7 is written to show that justification by faith alone apart from works does notand cannot lead a person to make peace with sin.

Paul answers his own question in Romans 6:2, “How can we who died to sin still live in it?” We can’t. If we died to sin by being united with Jesus in his death, we can’t stay married to sin. The faith that unites us to Christ disunites from his competitors. The faith that makes peace with God makes war on our sin. If you are not at odds with sin, you are not at home with Jesus, not because being at odds with sin makes you at home with Jesus, but because being at home with Jesus makes you at odds with sin.

Therefore, I call you and urge you, for the sake of being God-centered, Christ-exalting, soul-winning, justice-pursuing, passion-planting, coronary Christians, don’t live according to the flesh but “by the Spirit put to death the deeds of the body.” Be killing sin, or sin will be killing you.

 

Yale Law School Yanks Stipends From Students Who Work For Christian Firms

Yale has found a roundabout way to blacklist legal and nonprofit organizations that don’t adhere to Yale’s understanding of gender identity.

Yale Law School Yanks Stipends From Students Who Work For Christian Firms

April 1, 2019 by Aaron Haviland

Several weeks ago, I wrote about the challenges of being a Christian and a conservative at Yale Law School. A few days ago, the law school decided to double down and prove my point.

After the Yale Federalist Society invited an attorney from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a prominent Christian legal group, to speak about the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, conservative students faced backlash. Outlaws, the law school’s LGBTQ group, demanded that Yale Law School “clarify” its admissions policies for students who support ADF’s positions. Additionally, Outlaws insisted that students who work for religious or conservative public interest organizations such as ADF during their summers should not receive financial support from the law school.

On March 25, one month after the controversy, Yale Law School announced via email that it was extending its nondiscrimination policy to summer public interest fellowships, postgraduate public interest fellowships, and loan forgiveness for public interest careers. The school will no longer provide financial support for students and graduates who work at organizations that discriminate on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.”

Yale based its decision on a unanimous recommendation from the school’s Public Interest Committee. The committee explained: “The logic of our broader recommendation is that Yale Law School does not and should not support discrimination against its own students, financially or otherwise. Obviously, the Law School cannot prohibit a student from working for an employer who discriminates, but that is not a reason why Yale Law School should bear any obligation to fund that work, particularly if that organization does not give equal employment opportunity to all of our students.”

The law school also thanked Outlaws for raising this issue.

Too Vague and Broad

Conservative students who read the announcement were outraged. At first glance, the policy looks like it applies to organizations with disfavored policy positions. A student working for ADF, for example, would not receive school funding because ADF advocates for natural marriage.

In private emails to students, however, the Yale administration has been presenting a narrower explanation of the new policy. The school’s funding restrictions will only apply to organizations with disfavored hiring practices.

While admitting that there are still many details to be worked out, Yale currently says it envisions a self-certification process for employers. For a Yale student to receive a summer public interest fellowship, the employer must certify that it is in compliance with Yale’s nondiscrimination policy. If an organization does not self-certify, then the student will receive no financial support from the law school.

For organizations like ADF, this presents a problem. ADF employees must sign a statement of faith in which they affirm—among other principles—the Christian sexual ethic. This ethic teaches that “all forms of sexual immorality (including adultery, fornication, homosexual behavior, polygamy, polyandry, bestiality, incest, pornography, and acting upon any disagreement with one’s biological sex) are sinful and offensive to God.”

When asked specifically about ADF, Yale officials claimed they do not know enough about ADF’s hiring practices to make a determination. However, they admitted that if ADF does not certify that it will comply with Yale’s policy, then students working for ADF will be ineligible for public interest fellowships and the loan forgiveness program.

Discriminating Against Christians Is Totally Acceptable

When questioned about this new policy, Yale officials act puzzled as to why religious and conservative students and alumni are so worried. There are several reasons to be concerned.

First, Yale’s only assurances that the policy will be limited to hiring practices, and not applied to policy positions, are private emails sent to individual students. This is not enough. What ultimately matters is the text of the policy. Behind-the-scenes promises about how the policy will be interpreted and applied are not binding. The law school’s public position is too vague.

Second, even if this new policy is limited to hiring practices, it’s still deeply troubling. The policy was obviously a response to ADF. Yale made this clear when it thanked Outlaws for raising this issue, which was in the context of a protest against ADF. And in announcing the new policy, Yale said, “while the law governing nondiscrimination against LGBTQ people is subject to contestation, the Law School’s commitment to LGBTQ equality is not.”

Without naming ADF, Yale has found a roundabout way to functionally blacklist them and other organizations that do not adhere to Yale’s progressive understanding of gender identity. Law students and graduates will still receive funding to work at organizations like the American Civil Liberties Union that defend abortion, for example. But if students and graduates want to work for ADF or other similarly situated religious or conservative organizations, they will get no help.

Finally, Yale has already caved to one progressive demand by restricting financial support for conservative students. Who is to say that the school will not cave again and start denying admission to conservative applicants? There were certainly calls among the student body to do so. Progressive students are attempting to shrink the Overton Window of reasonable public discourse, and Yale seems all too willing to comply.

I still believe that there is plenty of good at Yale. As Justice Kavanaugh said, we should all strive to be “on the sunrise side of the mountain.” I am incredibly lucky to be here and am determined to leave this school without any anger or bitterness. But they’re making it hard.

Aaron Haviland is a student at Yale Law School. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and the University of Cambridge, and he served in the Marine Corps.

Photo Nick Allen / Wikimedia

https://thefederalist.com/2019/04/01/yale-law-school-yanks-stipends-students-work-christian-firms/

The Old Testament, Justice and Morality – And Fuzzy Christian Thinking

By Bill Muehlenberg -March 22, 2019

There is never a shortage of sloppy thinking and faulty understanding concerning most things in life, and this is especially true when it comes to matters pertaining to the Bible. There is so much biblical illiteracy out there that it is really quite alarming, yet that does not deter all those folks who think they are experts on Scripture from completely twisting it and mangling it.

Examples of this are of course endless. Not a day goes by on the social media for example where you see some horrible howlers when it comes to biblical understanding. I have written often about cases of this, but let me provide another, more recent example.

The other day I came upon an argument two people were having concerning the Christchurch killer. One person – who I presume is not a Christian – had a pretty quick and easy solution to this killer, and others like him. He said this:

“take them out the back and shoot them – no trial, no jail time, no wasted tax payers money – just ZERO tolerance for extremism!”

To which another person (whom I know a little bit about, and know to be basically intelligent and no dummy) immediately responded:

“then we’re back in Old Testament times and we’d be like Isis. But we’re not like them. A right to a fair trial is part of what makes our nations civilised.”

I am not sure if the respondent is a Christian, but here at least we have a rather fuzzy and distorted understanding of the Old Testament and what it actually says. This person equates OT law and ethics to Isis, and thinks it is the opposite of civilised societies.

Hmm. Perhaps actually reading through the OT would be of some help here. Those who have read it know full well that this understanding is simply a distortion and a caricature of the OT. Even a cursory reading of the Pentateuch for example will show that a high standard of justice is to be found there – including such things as a fair trial.

Indeed, OT justice is the very opposite of the kind of redneck justice that the first person was advocating. Since we are talking here about murderers and how best to deal with them, let me briefly look at how the Old Testament law dealt with such issues. Consider for example what it has to say about “cities of refuge.”

These were places that an Israelite could flee to if they had accidently killed another person. Since I have written about this in some detail elsewhere, let me simply quote from an earlier article here:

Old Testament law on this is found in places like Exodus 21:12-14; Deuteronomy 4:41-43; 19:1-13; and Joshua 20:1-9. These passages speak about appointed places where people could flee to if they were involved in the accidental death of another person.

Six of the 48 Levitical cities were set aside for this purpose: Kedesh, Shechem, Hebron, Bezer, Ramoth, and Golan (Josh. 20:7-8). There were three of them located on either side of the Jordan river. Thus those in need of such cities did not have to travel too far to get to them.

Numbers 35:6-34 is the lengthiest passage on this matter. Verse 12 offers the rationale for these cities: “The cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger, that the manslayer may not die until he stands before the congregation for judgment.” It is a safe place, a place to harbour these people, until proper adjudication can take place regarding the incident.
billmuehlenberg.com/2018/10/26/on-the-sanctuary-movement/

I went on to say in that piece that one major purpose of these cities was to prevent blood feuds from developing, and to deter personal vengeance. So this was a very orderly and just approach to what had often degenerated into bloody revenge killings. It sounds much like what we find in modern ‘civilised’ nations in fact.

We can look further at how the OT law dealt with such matters. For example, it required at least two or three witnesses to convict someone of a crime. The final portion of Deuteronomy 19 for example speaks directly to this matter (verses 15-21):

One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party. You must purge the evil from among you. The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid, and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

There is nothing barbaric about this, and there is no place for any lynch mob mentality or actions here. And that is true even of the final verse, which expresses the principle of lex talionis, or the law of just retribution. The punishment should fit the crime in other words – no more and no less. This is a basic principle of justice: giving to each one his or her due.

As Chris Wright says of this text:

The purpose of the plurality of witnesses (cf. 17:6) is clearly the protection of the accused, especially the protection of the weaker individual from the vindictiveness of a more powerful opponent. . . . This text is notable, first, for its insistence on great care and diligence in establishing the truth of each case, on the assumption that all matters of justice are decided in the presence of the Lord, the supreme judge. Second, this text has a simple but effective deterrent to perjury. Anyone proved to have lied in court is to suffer whatever penalty would have been inflicted on the accused if the false accusation had been successful. If the case is capital, then the risk to a malicious witness was very great indeed. And even in less serious matters, such a law would decidedly dampen any frivolous “taking the neighbour to court,” with all the undesirable social side effects of uncontrolled litigation. The severity of this law reflects the way justice in Israel was a matter of the utmost seriousness. Yahweh, by his character as well as his action, demanded commitment to social and judicial justice among the people who claimed his name. The most essential components of that justice were the impartiality of judges and the integrity of witnesses; hence the presence of the ninth commandment in the Decalogue and hence this direct and uncompromising attack on perjury.

None of this sounds like rough, outback justice to me. And Iain Duguid, commenting on the other key text on cities of refuge and the need for multiple witnesses, Numbers 35, shows us further how all this is clearly in line with modern principles of legal justice:

The Lord gave guidelines for determining the difference between murder and manslaughter. Premeditation and intent make a death murder, whatever the kind of implement that actually causes the death (vv. 16-21). If the death is accidental, however, or the result of carelessness, then the crime is manslaughter, and the city of refuge is to provide a shelter for the person against the avenger (vv. 22-24). A proper trial must always be carried out to determine the exact circumstances of the death (v. 24), with more than one witness required before the death penalty could be imposed (v. 30).

Again, all this sounds very humane, civilised, and fully in line with the principles of justice. As to the supposed rejection of lex talionis by Jesus, see my earlier article on this: billmuehlenberg.com/2011/04/20/difficult-bible-passages-matthew-539/

So we can see quite clearly just in this one area of OT law that aspects of crime and punishment were very carefully and justly dealt with. There were no Wild West hangmen and shoot-ups going on here. Indeed, the laws were designed to prevent that very thing from happening.

Now I am certainly not seeking to pick on this one individual. There would be countless others just like him who really have no clue what the Bible teaches. And many of them would be folks who claim to be Christians, but have bought into the completely dodgy and unbiblical notion that the two Testaments are somehow worlds apart.

They wrongly believe that somehow the OT is full of an angry, wrathful God while the NT is full of a tree-hugging, never-hurt-a-fly Jesus. Again, nothing could be further from the truth. God never changes, and the very same God we find in the OT is the same one we find in the NT.

Justice, grace, mercy and wrath are found in equal measure in both Testaments. Jesus and the Father are one, and there is no change to be found in their fundamental nature, character and attributes. But I have written often about this before, so please check out these articles:

billmuehlenberg.com/2010/05/27/on-divine-love-and-wrath/

billmuehlenberg.com/2012/02/27/modern-day-marcionism/

In sum, a lot of messy thinking about what the Bible actually says could be remedied if folks started to read it for a change, instead of pontificating on what they think it says.

As seen here at Culture Watch. Posted here with permission.

https://barbwire.com/the-old-testament-justice-and-morality-and-fuzzy-christian-thinking/