Our mind-sets make a huge difference in how we perceive our circumstances.
What we expect shapes how we respond. If we expect peace, we will resent having to fight. If we expect rest, we will resent having to endure. If we expect leisure, we will resent having to work hard.
This is why it’s so important for us to prepare our minds for action (1 Peter 1:13). It’s clear in the New Testament that the Holy Spirit wants us to prepare to fight a grueling war, to run an endurance race, and to engage in the difficult work of kingdom farming.
Prepare for Action
Paul captures all three analogies in his exhortation to Timothy:
Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him. An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. It is the hardworking farmer who ought to have the first share of the crops. Think over what I say, for the Lord will give you understanding in everything. (2 Timothy 2:3–7)
“As Christians, we are not called to easy passivity, but to rigorous activity.”
Paul wants Timothy and us to “think over” what he says. He wants us to engage in expectation-shaping thinking, because Paul knows the crucial importance of mind-sets:
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit (Romans 8:5).
Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things (Philippians 3:19).
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (Colossians 3:2).
So, the Holy Spirit speaking in 2 Timothy 2:3–7 wants us to have a soldier’s mind-set, which is very different from a civilian’s. A soldier expects to suffer the rigors and dangers of war; a civilian does not.
The Spirit wants us to have an athlete’s mind-set, which is very different from a spectator’s. “Every athlete [expects to exercise] self-control in all things” in order to win the prize; a spectator does not (1 Corinthians 9:25).
And the Spirit wants us to have a farmer’s mind-set, which is very different from an average customer’s. A farmer expects to work hard for long hours, over long months, in all kinds of weather, to realize a harvest; a customer does not.
Civilians are passive during war; spectators are passive during competition; an average customer is passive during the growing season. As Christians, we are not called to easy passivity, but to rigorous activity. Therefore, we must prepare our minds for action.
What Do You Expect?
Sometimes this preparation is preventative (to preempt discouragement), and sometimes it’s restorative (to revive courage). The former is always helpful, but all of us repeatedly require the latter. We lose perspective and forget that in this age war, not peace, is the norm; vigilant self-control, not indulgent rest, is the norm; difficult cultivation, not easy picking, is the norm.
Our emotions typically tell us what our mind-sets are; our responses reveal our expectations. So, when weariness, disappointment, disillusionment, and resentment set in, we need to examine what’s fueling those feelings. Perhaps they’re the result of sleep deprivation or overwork, and we need to heed the biblical model of regular Sabbaths and occasional seasons of rejuvenation. But frequently these emotions are fueled by misplaced expectations, and what we need is to re-set our minds.
So, ask yourself: what do you expect? What is your mind set on? Are you a soldier or civilian? Are you an athlete or spectator? Are you a hardworking farmer or a customer?
Think it over, “for the Lord will give you understanding in everything” (2 Timothy 2:7).
Lay Aside the Weight
Soldiers and farmers cannot afford a passive mind-set. It makes them ineffective and unfruitful. Passivity weighs an athlete down, sapping his endurance (Hebrews 12:1). It needs to be laid aside.
The original readers of the epistle to the Hebrews were weary, disappointed, and disillusioned because they had lost perspective and forgotten who they were. And to help them reset their minds, the writer said this:
Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. (Hebrews 12:12–14)
The writer sought to restore them by helping them re-prepare their minds for action. And he did this by calling them to take action and lay aside their passive mind-set.
Our emotions springing from misplaced expectations of peace, rest, and leisure ask to be coddled. But the Bible doesn’t coddle them; it confronts them. This is kind, not cruel. Because such expectations are weights to be discarded, not desires to be indulged.
Hello dear readers!! It’s me again. How’s you going? I hope and pray everything is going well with all of you. My post this time isn’t a new post. I wrote it a year ago but has never been posted before. I hope and pray this post could be a blessing to all of us.
Not many people know that I’m a melancholic woman. I have a very sensitive feeling. I’m easily moved and sad. My tears easily drop when I see something really touched my heart such as sad movie or story. Many people argue that someone who easily touched, sad, and crying is a weak people. Well, I don’t agree with this opinion. People who are sensitive or easily sad aren’t necessarily a weak person. Sadness is a thing that couldn’t be separated from our lives. No matter how good we organize our lives, still, there’re times we’ve to feel sad and should to cry. A simple example, we could be feeling sad and crying caused losing someone who we really love. My dear readers, through this post allow me to discuss about this topic. Let’s see what God’s word says about sadness.
Indeed, the Lord doesn’t want us to be people who are full of sadness but instead wants His children to be full of joy to completely feel His love and cares. Yet, as I said before at a time unavoidably, like it or not we should get into the sad time and situation and we even cannot avoid it. There’re many verses in the Bible which strengthens us to go back to feel joy when in difficult conditions, under pressure or when oppressed, but God’s word also said that:
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4)
There’s a bible verse that sounds very controversial and opposed with the strengthen verses. Begin with the passage: “The Value of Practical Wisdom” It’s written:
Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. (Ecclesiastes 7:3)
This verse was written by the most wise man who ever existed in the world, Solomon! But, this verse seemed pretty weird. This verse as though has a meaning suggest us to be sad because will be better than to be happy. Is that true? Does God want us to be people who are often filled with sadness? Does God want us to be person who always have grim face and cheerless? Furthermore, let’s say God allows us to feel sorrow, what’s benefit for us? If any, what are they?
Essentially, God doesn’t want all of us to be in a prolonged sadness. He gives so many tips and promises that can affirm, strengthen and restore us into a sense of happiness, full of peace and joy. But once again, there’re times we’ve to be sad and it isn’t wrong as long as we could handle it very soon and not make our relationship with God frays. Well, it turns out, based on my experience, there’re positive things we can learn and it all will make us become stronger, wiser and better than before. After took quite long time to ponder this verse, I finally conclude that this verse break a paradigm that we absolutely shouldn’t grieve no matter the situation and condition. So that means, although we have to live joyfully and peacefully, if one day we must be sad, just be sad because through our sadness we could learn something positive and it will makes us better in the future and finally will bring happiness to our heart.
My beloved readers, let’s take a look to the next verse of Ecclesiastes 7. This following verse also looks so weird.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure. (Verse 4)
Let’s to be honest, where we like to be, at the house of mourn or in a festive party? Of course we would prefer want to be in the party. There’s no sadness there. We just happy and enjoy the delicious foods, drinks, and other. But God’s word says the opposite. The fool is in the house of pleasure and the wise is in the house of mourning. This verse will be difficult to accept but let’s take a look why being at the house mourning is better than the party house. Let’s think about the true meaning of this verse.
For an example, let say, we are in the festive birthday party. What we think about while we are in that party? I am pretty sure when in a party we don’t think about important and essential things of our lives. Probably we don’t ponder and think hard the way out of problems we face. We will dissolve in the festive spirit and we will busy involved in chat with friends or relatives. Now, in the house of mourn. Being in the house of mourn often brings the moment of reflection for us. Maybe we will think and ponder that life is short, maybe we will think about of our own lives whether we are ready if one day God calls us home to the Father’s home. Or maybe we will think weather in our lives we have pleasing God? The point is being in the house of mourn will usually remind us and bring a reflection for us and make us wiser. This’s the essential significance of the verse.
I reminded of David’s word that was written in Psalm 119:71 and in my opinion still related with the verses in the Ecclesiastes. David said,
” It is good for me that I have been afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.”
David didn’t use his hard time as an excuse to be weak, to be disappointed to God, desperate, hopeless, and so on. He even felt that it was an opportunity to explore deeper about God’s statutes, learn more than before, and made it as moment to feel God’s touching extraordinarily.
Many people around me often said that I’m a woman who has never experienced trouble and sadness. Oh no! That’s totally wrong! Like other women I also often sad and cry, I often experience the pressure of the hard problems, even I’ve experienced being at the lowest and hardest point in my life. But in that very bad condition I was always reminded and strengthened by that verses. There’s a time for everything. When I have to weep and cry in sorrow, that does not mean God is being cruel and having fun torturing me. Precisely for me, at that moment the Lord is forming me be strong and resilient. The hard situation teach me to be wiser and closer to God.
My dear friends, what about us now? Weather we are in “sad” season? If yes, this time I encourage all of us not to be discouraged and do not despair. Don’t waste our sad time just by moaning and crying but let’s use those time reflect thoroughly. Once again, please trust me, based on my own experience, there’re many valuable lesson we can learn behind our sadness. Please be grateful because behind our suffering and sorrow, realize that we’re being formed and transformed to be stronger and wiser person. Through the difficult season we will experience spiritual and faith growth, learn more about God statutes, learn to always rely on God’s power more than anything. There’s a time for everything! Let’s put our faith on it and totally trust to God that in God’s time, He will lift all of our sorrow and change it to relief, joy, peace and happiness. Amen
Australia has an eSafety Commissioner named Julie Inman-Grant. While delivering remarks to the World Economic Forum summit in Davos, Switzerland, she outlined a new on-line era where free speech would need to be “recalibrated,” and the ability to be free from something called “on-line violence.” WATCH:
For the past several years we have noted a progressive, totalitarian, shift in speech, specifically a redefinition of the word “violence.” Speech the leftists do not like, they call violence; and violence the leftists support, they call speech. As a result, the overlay of a newly recalibrated on-line world for speech and violence would be modified accordingly.
Speech the Big Tech consortium would define as against their views would be considered on-line violence and thus controlled by the governmental guardians of the internet like the eSafety Commissioner. As you can see in the video below, “violence” now includes their perception of something happening on a metaphysical level. An emotional impact. They have a spiritual avatar that they feel the drive to defend from the viewpoints of the Others.
‘Jail or something worse’: Ex-Fox News reporter goes to war with Tucker Carlson
‘The U.S. government is going to have to stop the lying’
By Joe Kovacs May 23, 2022
Tucker Carlson of Fox News (video screenshot)
A former top reporter for Fox News is now going to war with Tucker Carlson, suggesting the highest-rated host at the popular network could end up in jail or “something worse” for what is aired on his program.
Carl Cameron, one-time chief political correspondent who left the Fox News Channel in 2017, was interviewed Saturday by Jim Acosta of CNN, and compared what Carlson airs on his show to falsely crying fire in a crowded movie theater.
“The fact of the matter is, if you disturb the peace by starting a riot in a movie theater, cops are going to arrest you and you might end up in jail or you might end up in something worse.”
Cameron even called on Joe Biden to take action against Carlson and those online who are likeminded.
“The president has to be more forceful and sooner or later the law enforcement and the U.S. government is going to have to stop the lying because it’s causing people’s deaths,” he indicated.
“It’s not just Fox, it’s social media in general. It’s on the internet. And we have to remember that a good portion of what we read is coming from folks who aren’t Americans, pretending to be Americans in order to gaslight them even worse.” WATCH:
Cameron’s remarks echoed what he told MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace on May 17 when the two were discussing the aftermath of mass shootings.
“What happens at Fox News when something like this happens?” Wallace asked Cameron.
“I can’t even imagine. It’s partly why I ended up gettin’ out of there,” Cameron responded.
Carl Cameron (Video screenshot)
“It really is kind of horrible to think that journalists with national and international capacity are putting together this type of nonsense.
“I think the president did a great job. I wish he had done a lot of this a lot sooner, and we need a lot more from the left and the middle, and we got to watch out because the Republicans have become the purveyors of misinformation, and when our two-party system is broken like that, democracy is seriously in trouble.
“The president acknowledged that it’s time to actually start doing things and maybe taking some names and putting people in jail.”
WATCH THE VIDEO:
In the wake of Cameron’s CNN interview Saturday, some online reaction included:
“If the police should stop people from lying then they should start with Carl Cameron.”
“Didn’t Jim and the left push Russian collision for 4 years?”
“CNN needs to jailed 😂 🤣 🤣”
“I love these Leftists praising the Constitution in one breath, then saying government needs to crush free speech in the next breath.”
“Nice propaganda piece here. They never specifically said what he was lying about.”
“Who are these two Nimrods?”
“I expect the comments to be disabled after people calling out CNNs bullsh**.”
The Chosen is not the Gospel and is not a substitute for studying the Gospel. There is no better source about God than God Himself. The best fact checker is Jesus Himself, he is available 24/7 with no call waiting and no call forwarding…. Jesus can hear and answer each of us directly at the same time.
The Chosen is “the first-ever multi-season series about the life of Christ. The free show tens of millions of people won’t stop talking about.”
The success of the series is a powerful reminder to Hollywood that faith-focused projects can sometimes become breakthrough hits.
– John Jurgensen
Take it from a critic and a Christian with an aversion to Christian entertainment: The show is good.
– Chris DeVille
The Chosen carries the character development of House of Cards or The Crown, but with an authenticity to the biblical narrative like nothing I’ve ever witnessed in faith-based media.
The Chosen is a television drama based on the life of Jesus of Nazareth, created, directed and co-written by American filmmaker Dallas Jenkins. It is the first multi-season series about the life of Jesus, and season one was the top crowd-funded TV series or film project of all time. The series’ creators stated that they had hoped to distinguish the new series from previous portrayals of Jesus by crafting a multi-season, episode-based story. The series portrays Jesus “through the eyes of those who met him”.
The show has used innovative methods to finance its production and stream the series. The show is financed via crowdfunding; the show is free to watch and viewers are asked to “pay it forward” by contributing whatever amount they wish to fund future seasons, and contributors may receive perks such as appearing as an extra in the film. As of 2021, viewers had contributed $40 million towards its production, making it by far the most successful crowdfunded entertainment project. The show is available through a free app. It is also available on streaming platforms like the free Angel Studios, Amazon Prime Video and Peacock.
It uses scripture as the skeleton for its story and obviously adds a TON of stuff. I’m not aware of anything that contradicts scripture. Just make sure you don’t let it become Gospel to you.
Currently watching it with my family and it is really good. We are about half way through season 1. It is heavily based on scripture and gives a disclaimer that some stories are mashed together or shortened for the sake of brevity (i.e. including it in a 45min episode).
It is entertaining and Biblically accurate. Would recommend
HOW DO I WATCH?
Download the Chosen app to watch Seasons 1 & 2 for free. Want to get started now? Tune into the Angel app on your TV or watch online today.
P. T. Barnum was an American showman of the nineteenth century who captivated American audiences with elaborate hoaxes that earned him a reputation as the “Prince of Humbugs.” He didn’t consider his shows to be underhanded because his audiences were willing participants in his ruses. In Barnum’s words, “The people like to be humbugged.”
During the Tribulation, there will be a new showman who surpasses every grandstander before him. Unlike Barnum, his tricks won’t be lighthearted entertainment or freely chosen. Promising peace and prosperity, he will convince nations to disarm and grant him complete control. Together with his False Prophet, the Antichrist will convince millions that his government and his economic system is:
Everything you ever want It’s everything you ever need And it’s right here in front of you [It] is where you wanna be.1
The price of admission to this world order will be a nonrefundable, mandatory mark worn by every citizen. It is known as the mark of the Beast, or simply “666.”
The price of admission to this world order will be a nonrefundable, mandatory mark worn by every citizen.
What Is the Mark of the Beast?
In Revelation 13, we are told the Antichrist’s right–hand man, the Beast from the earth (also known as the False Prophet), will introduce a mark to bolster his one-world rule. “He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name” (Revelation 13:16–17).
The word used in the passage for the mark is the Greek word charagma. In antiquity, this word was always associated with the Roman emperor. It often contained the emperor’s name, his image, and the year of his reign. It was necessary for buying and selling and was required to be affixed to documents to attest to their validity. During the Tribulation, every living person will be required to take the Beast’s mark. As in the days of Rome, it will be the only way to function in society.
Open your Bible, if you will, to Mark 7 – come to the last paragraph in the seventh chapter of Mark, working our way with great blessing through this account, this historical account of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. While you’re looking up Mark 7 and verses 31 to 37, I’ll give you a riddle. Who is permitted to speak but not able and able to speak but not permitted? That’s a paradox, and I’m not going to leave you hanging. I’ll give you the answer. The answer is in the passage before you. We’re going to meet the man who was permitted to speak, but not able and then able to speak but not permitted.
Verse 31, “Again He” – being Jesus – “went out from the region of Tyre and came through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee within the region of Decapolis. They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty. And they implored Him to lay His hand on him. Jesus took him aside from the crowd by himself and put His fingers into his ears. And after spitting, touched his tongue with the saliva and looking up to heaven with a deep sigh, He said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were open and the impediment of his tongue was removed and he began speaking plainly. And He gave them orders not to tell anyone. But the more He ordered them, the more widely they continued to proclaim it. They were utterly astonished, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’”
Every Sunday when we get together and go through the narrative of Mark’s gospel, I feel a little bit like a story teller, and that’s exactly what the gospel writers have done. They have told us the story of Jesus one event after another. In telling a story, it is always helpful to get the general context, the big picture so we know how this particular event fits into the full story. For well over a year now, our Lord Jesus has ministered in the region of Galilee. Galilee is the northern part of the land of Israel. The south is called Judea. The south features the great city of Jerusalem. The north, a more rural area, has as its main feature a lake called the Lake of Galilee or the Lake of Tiberius or the Sea of Galilee. Life in Galilee surrounds the lake. There are several hundred towns and villages in that area, but it is primarily an agrarian area.
For well over a year our Lord has been ministering in Galilee. By the time we get to chapter 10 and verse 1, He leaves that region and heads into Judea and spends the final months of His ministry going through the towns and villages of the southern part, Judea, ending up in Jerusalem with a triumphal entry and then His crucifixion and resurrection and ascension.
He’s about to leave Galilee. But before He leaves Galilee, He travels outside Israel with the Twelve. He crosses the border to the north and west of Israel and enters into Gentile territory. That is indicated in chapter 7 verse 24. He left. He went away from the region of Capernaum and Galilee to the region of Tyre, that would be modern-day Lebanon – modern-day Lebanon. He went with the Twelve. Why? This was to be their walking seminar, lasted several months. The whole idea was to spend isolated, non-stop time with the Twelve. They had affirmed already – you remember, from that night when they were on the sea and Jesus came walking in the water – they had affirmed, “You are God’s Son.” Now that they had been brought to the point where they understood that He is the Son of God, that is their saving confession, it is time now for their intense private personal training.
Up to this time, our Lord has spoken mainly to the crowds. Early on in His ministry He would teach the crowds and eventually He would speak to them in parables, and because of their unbelief He wouldn’t explain the parables to them. He would explain them only to the Twelve and His other disciples in private. Now it isn’t just messages to the crowd explained to the disciples, it’s time alone with the Twelve. They have a formidable task. They will be the first generation of preachers of the gospel. They will be empowered by the Holy Spirit to do that. They will set in motion the proclamation of the salvation that is found only in Jesus Christ, which will eventually stretch to the corners of the world. They need to be prepared and so this is their private, personal, walking seminar, as they travel with Jesus for a number of months into Gentile regions, where He is going to be able to isolate Himself from the busyness from around Galilee to have time with them uninterrupted.
When He arrives in Tyre, however, according to verse 24, He wanted to escape being noticed but couldn’t. Came into town with twelve men. People in Tyre knew who He was. Mark 3:8 says people from Tyre had come to Galilee cause they had heard about Him and they came and they saw Him and they heard Him teach and do miracles. So they knew about Him. The crowds were not huge but when He reached Tyre He couldn’t completely escape notice, and at least one woman found Him because she had a demon-possessed daughter. And you remember the story, how He delivered that daughter and that woman exhibited great faith. Jesus called it in Matthew’s Gospel, who gives the parallel account, great faith. So He’s now in this Gentile area in what today is Lebanon, north and west of the Galilee in the city of Tyre, which is on the Mediterranean coast.
After this, after His visit in Tyre, we pick the story up in verse 31, “He went from the region of Tyre and came through Sidon – came through Sidon. He’s now moving directly north. Sidon is twenty miles north of Tyre, straight up the coast. There is no record that He taught there. There’s no record that He healed anybody there. There’s no record that He had any public presence there. It’s possible, because in John 21:25 it says that if all the things He did were written down, the books of the world couldn’t contain them. We can assume that He had a divine purpose in going from Tyre to Sidon. We just don’t have a record of what that was. But again, John says more is left out of the record even with four Gospels than is included. This again is important for Him because after going to Tyre, it says that He moves from there, according to verse 31, through Sidon to the Sea of Galilee within the region of Decapolis.
Now Decapolis is on the east of the Sea of Galilee and the south end. It’s called Decapolis because it is a region with ten cities, Hellenized, Greek-influenced cities, pagan cities, heathen cities, non-Jewish cities, but it is from the lower part of the eastern side of the Sea of Galilee and south from there. So He’s all the way to the northwest and He ends up all the way in the southeast of Galilee. And He takes that complete circuitous trip going way further north than one would need to go to get to the area of Decapolis for the purpose of extending the time in order that He might teach the Twelve personally. He visits on His journey outlying areas of Galilee, Bethsaida, Caesarea Philippi, way, way up on the north border between Israel and Lebanon, twenty-five miles north of the lake.
He doesn’t come back into Capernaum. He doesn’t come back on this trip into Galilee, because He’s engaged in private instruction with the disciples. And you see that at the end of chapter 9. We’ll note that when we get there. This is prior to His leaving Galilee for the final time.
Preparation of these men is critical. It was important that He get time with them. Herod Antipas was after Him and he was the one who beheaded John the Baptist and had no good intention for Jesus. The Pharisees and the scribes hated Him. The Pharisees and the scribes wanted Him dead. They were after Him. The intensity of Galilee posed a very serious threat to Him there. Shallow disciples who followed only His miracles and had no interest in His message had defected from Him and abandoned Him when He preached the great message in John 6 on the bread of life. The crowd in one moment had indifference toward Him and in another moment wanted to force Him to be king. There were so many things converging on Him in Galilee that He needed isolated time with the Twelve, preparation time, crucial preparation time.
So He leaves Capernaum, goes fifty miles north and west to Tyre, goes twenty miles north to Sidon and then takes a long loop even further north. The road east from Sidon would go over the little hillsides, and then it would have to cross the Leontes River, and then it would have to ascend the mountains of Lebanon, which would be a rather arduous walk, all the way to the east. And they would go east, way past the Lake of Galilee into territory east of Galilee, down from the north to the southern part of the Sea of Galilee, and they would enter Decapolis from the east, rather than from the north because it says they came in to the midst of Decapolis. All of this time with His own. No mention of visiting cities or towns in Decapolis. This is just a walking seminar preparing them for their future ministry.
How do we know it was months that passed by? Because just prior to when He left Capernaum, days prior to when He left Capernaum, He had fed the vast multitude near Bethsaida. Remember that? That feeding is described in the sixth chapter of Mark. We estimate twenty-five thousand people were there. But it says that He told the people to sit down, you remember, on the green grass. Well in chapter 8 while He’s in Decapolis, there’s another multitude, this time a Gentile multitude, and He will feed them. He will do the same thing again. He will create food for them. However, in verse 6 of chapter 8, He says to them, “Sit on the ground.” What’s the difference between the green grass and the ground? Well you would know. You live in California. In the spring we get green grass. A few months later we get ground, because the frail, fragile spring grass that pops up after the spring rains is gone within two months. And this is the indication that what was green grass at the feeding in the north end of the Sea of Galilee was just plain parched ground, a couple of months have passed for sure.
He comes then down and enters into Decapolis. The best we can discern, in about the middle of that area. He doesn’t visit any towns in particular but makes His way to the edge of the Sea of Galilee. He would be exposed to heathenism. These were Hellenized or Greek-influenced towns that made up the ten towns in that region. They were really under the power of the Syrian government. Remember now, Phoenicia, which is where Tyre and Sidon were, was annexed by a Roman general to Syria so it became Syrophoenicia. Well Syrophoenician rulers, Syrian rulers, also ruled all the way down into the Decapolis. So this is Gentile territory. He would have run into statues of Zeus and statues of Astarte, the Ashtaroth that they worshiped way over in Tyre connected with Baal. He would have seen statutes of Athene, if He had visited the cities, statues of Artemis, Hercules, Dionysius, a drunken god of the Greeks, Demeter, et cetera. These are free Greek cities subject to the governor of the Syrophoenician realm. Though within the ancient territory of Israel, this was a Gentile, heathen, pagan area.
So the Lord was still then in Gentile land. Now when He went to Tyre, remember, He healed that Syrophoenician woman’s daughter from her demon possession, delivered her from her demon possession, and we said last time that’s an illustration of the purposes of God, saving purposes of God for the Gentiles. Right? He commended her for her great faith. She believed in Him. She identified Him as Lord. She repented. So we see a Gentile conversion there, which is important for us to understand because the purposes of God were always to save the Gentiles. Christ came to be the Savior of the world, the Redeemer of the world. He came first to Israel, but Israel was not the end of salvation but the means to carry the message of salvation to the rest of the world. So He is still in Gentile territory, still giving us a preview of the great commission when He sends His own into all the world to preach the gospel to every creature.
The area was outside, as I said, Herod’s jurisdiction. It was really under Syrian rule. It would be close to the area south of it, but close to the area of Gerasa or Gadara, where Jesus had healed the man with the legion of demons in him, thousands of demons that our Lord sent into the pigs that went off the hill into the lake. People from that area knew about Jesus from the Decapolis. In Matthew 4 and verse 25 it says, “Many people came into Galilee to see Jesus from Decapolis.” So His reputation had extended. We also know that when He healed that demoniac, He told him to tell the people in his region what He had done for that man. And that man responded, chapter 5 verse 20 of Mark, by going out and proclaiming what Christ had done for him through the region of Decapolis. So when Jesus came to Decapolis, there were people who had already come to see Him from there, and there was the testimony of this delivered demoniac that had preceded Him.
So when He arrives He is not an unknown, and in order to give you the full picture, turn to Matthew 15 – Matthew 15. This is the full picture. Here Matthew gives us a parallel look, same time, same place. But He doesn’t tell the story Mark tells. That healing is only in Mark. There are three such incidents in Mark that don’t appear in any other Gospels and this is one of them. But Matthew sets the scene. Verse 29, Matthew 15, “Departing from there, Jesus went along by the Sea of Galilee having gone up on the mountain, was sitting there.” When He got to the Sea of Galilee through the middle of Decapolis, He found a hillside along the sea and there are many such. And He was sitting there. No doubt resting after a very long and arduous journey that would be somewhere between totally 120 and a 150 or 160 miles. He sits down, which is easy to understand.
However, “Large crowds came to Him” – literally, many crowds, multiple crowds, waves of crowds – “bringing with them those who were lame, crippled, blind, mute and many others.” Guess what? These pagans living in Decapolis, worshiping their idols, had become very much aware of the powers of Jesus from the experience of those who had crossed over into Israel and seen for themselves and from the testimony of the demoniac, which was very convincing because everybody in the area would have known about Him. So they all come and they bring the lame, crippled, blind, mute and many other infirmities, and they flung them down at His feet. He’s at the foot of this hill somewhere on the slope and they just start throwing people at His feet with all these maladies. And He healed them. He healed them. He healed them. So verse 31 says, “The crowd marveled as they saw the mute speaking, the crippled restored, the lame walking, the blind seeing.” And here’s the hint that makes us sure these were Gentiles, “They glorified the God of Israel.”
Back in Matthew chapter 9 verse 8, when Jesus did miracles among the Jews, it says, “They glorified God” – they glorified God. Here it says, “They glorified the God of Israel,” not their god, the God of Israel whom, they knew to be the power behind this man Jesus. So He comes, He begins this healing, and everybody who is brought to Him is instantaneously healed to the degree that the people are absolutely astounded at His healing power, and they actually go so far as to glorify the God of Israel. Believe me, they had never seen anything like this from any or all of their deities combined. They recognize that the God of Israel is a God of a completely different nature than theirs. Now it is in that context that we come to Mark 7, because it is in that context that this miracle takes place. This is one of those who was thrown at His feet by friends and family, a deaf mute. And again, this is one of three accounts in Mark’s Gospel that appear nowhere else in the other three Gospels.
Let’s just break the story down. First we’ll say, unable to speak – unable to speak. Verse 32, “They brought to Him one who was deaf and spoke with difficulty.” They meaning friends, family, unnamed people brought their friend, their friend that they cared about, that they loved, and they had heard that Jesus could help people. And this is not the first person He healed that day, this is just one of the masses, so healings were going on the whole time. His malady was deafness. They didn’t have any reservations about what Jesus was able to do. They were seeing it right before them. All they wanted to do was get their friend there and throw him down in front of Jesus so he could experience what the rest were experiencing. He was deaf and deafness, when it’s congenital or when it occurs by the age of two or three, always leaves an impediment in the speech because it’s hard to form words if you can’t hear words. And so it is normal who are congenitally deaf to struggle to speak when they cannot hear. And in that world, there were no remedies. There were no hearing aids. There were no sophisticated techniques for training people like that nor was there any desire to do that. This kind of deafness is either congenital or perhaps an infectious disease of which there were many in infancy or in early childhood, had brought about this deafness. And when that occurs, there will be difficulty in speaking.
Even in Israel – and this is a sad reality – but even in Israel, deaf mutes were categorized with the insane because the rabbis said, we have no way of knowing what they understand. They were not granted normal human rights. And in the Gentile world, it was worse. Who knows what life was like for this man or for all the others. The Jews would also heap on the person the fact that if they had that kind of malady they were under the curse of God and the judgment of God, and it would be viewed by the Pharisees and Sadducees as unclean because they were under divine judgment. We don’t know what perspective all the Gentiles had, depending on what deities they worshiped, but these would be people who in any culture were outcasts, treated with disdain. Because it was virtually impossible to communicate with them, it was assumed that they had these limiting capacities mentally.
That was pretty common all through the world. I read this week that Native Americans viewed deaf people as monsters and executed them. That would be true in other cultures as well. So it was a struggle to be deaf and to be unable to communicate. Much more of a struggle than to be blind, because you could still talk and hear and interact. A lifetime of stigma, a lifetime of sadness, a life time of rejection up to this point, and his friends cared about him so they bring him to Jesus. They throw him – literally the verb is to fling him at His feet. And, “They implored Him” – Jesus, verse 32 – “to lay His hand on him.” This is what He did. He put His hands on people when He healed them. You see that in chapter 1 verse 31, 41; chapter 5 verse 41; chapter 6 verse 5; chapter 8. We’ll see it again verses 22 and 25, places in Matthew, places in Luke. He touched people. There’s a tenderness in that, but also there’s a recognition of the fact that He did not care for the assumed defilement idea. He was eager to touch these people which the Pharisees and scribes would view as a defiling act on His part. Touching a person like him was a way to express compassion and love.
So here we meet the man unable to speak – unable to speak. But in verse 35 he becomes enabled to speak – he becomes enabled to speak. The Lord responds to this man’s friends and to him as he is there at His feet. Verse 33, this is so wonderful, “Jesus took him aside from the crowd by himself.” There’s a heap of people there wanting to be healed. This man comes and Jesus takes the man aside from the crowd by himself. There is a crushing crowd. There is chaos. There is a din. There is all kinds of jostling going on. This is the man who has been ignored all his life. This is a man who has received scorn and disdain. This is a man who has not probably known this kind of personal care and attention from a total stranger in his whole life. Jesus took him aside, showing compassion, kindness. He’s not just another face in the crowd to Jesus. He’s a person, and he’s going to have time alone with Jesus, going to have His full concentration, going to have His full attention.
And then Jesus began to speak to him in his own version of sign language. They didn’t have American Sign Language. Jesus has His own version of sign language and He communicates to him in sign language. Four signs that He uses. First of all it says in verse 33, “He put His finger into his ears.” His fingers into his ears, both sides. What was He doing? He was identifying for the man what He knew about his problem. He wasn’t insane. He wasn’t a maniac. He couldn’t hear. Jesus knew that. And He wanted him to know that He not only knew that, but that He was about to heal that. A symbolic gesture to show the man what He was going to do. Secondly, after spitting, He touched his tongue, implied with the saliva, and that said to the man, again I understand. You’re not insane. You’re not crazy. You’re not mentally deficient. You have a speech problem and I’m going to fix that. It’s just beautiful gestures. That’s not all.
In verse 34, “Looking up to heaven.” That’s another sign. He’s saying to the man, “What is about to happen to you comes from heaven.” Everybody understood that. Everybody understood that. Even pagans understood that the gods were above them, the gods were heavenly, the gods were supernatural. We can’t assume that he knew anything about Jesus, nothing is indicated that he did. But Jesus wanted him to know that this power came from on high. This is not some magic trick that Jesus can do. And by the way, there were a lot of really phony healers running around in ancient times with all kinds of really bizarre concoctions. I read about an inscription in Rome that required a three-day application of blood from a white rooster mixed with honey and salve to cure blindness. Blind people would try to apply these kinds of ridiculous remedies with no effect. Jesus had no interest in bogus things. He didn’t want the attention to come to Himself. And so He looked up – this is a sign, this is a gesture to indicate to the blind (meant deaf) man that the power that’s about to surge into his body is coming from God.
And then there’s a fourth sign. “Looking up to heaven with a deep sigh.” Now people who have difficulty hearing usually have heightened vision, because they have to see. They have to read lips. They have to draw in all that they can visually if they can’t get it in an auditory fashion. The man would see this. What is the deep sigh? An expression of sympathy, an expression of pain over the man’s suffering and an expression of compassion, of tenderness, strong emotion showing that God is going to come down in power and give him his hearing and give him his speech because God is compassionate. And so with sign language, Jesus gives him his first lesson about God. God is powerful and God is compassionate. He cares. And if you study the life of our Lord Jesus, and you look through Matthew and Mark and Luke, you are constantly faced with statements about His compassion. He saw the multitudes and was moved with compassion. He saw this person and felt compassion. Matthew 9; 14, 15, 18, 20; Luke 7; and on it goes. This is the heart of God, and this is why I’ve told you so many times that when Jesus came to demonstrate His deity, He did it through healing people, because it also communicated the great compassion of God.
So, these are inescapable realities now in the man’s mind. A compassionate power from heaven is going to change my situation, give me hearing and give me speech. And it happened. Verse 34, “He said to him, ‘Ephphatha,’ that is ‘be opened.’” That’s probably an Aramaic statement – verb. Some think it might be a Hebrew, but the weight of evidence is on Aramaic, which would have been the language Jesus spoke every day. Ephphatha – be opened.” The response was instant, absolutely instant. With a word out of His mouth, one verb, ephphatha, the power came. Verse 35 says, “His ears were opened and the impediment” – the bond, the desmos, it’s the word for chains that chain a prisoner, the chain of his tongue – “was broken and he began speaking plainly.” In an instant he could hear perfectly and he could speak plainly.
Do you understand the extent of this? To hear is one thing. To be able to know that what you’re hearing is language when you’ve never heard language is another miracle. Right? There’s no speech therapy here. He doesn’t have to go to language class to learn Aramaic or Greek. He has full facility in the language that he’s never heard. To hear it and understand it and speak it plainly. The word plainly in the Greek is orthōs from which we get orthopedics. It means to straighten things out. Correctly would be the right translation, to put something back to the correct alignment. He heard and spoke perfectly. No therapy, no learning curve, nobody had to teach him how to form the letters, form the words, nobody had to teach him what the words were. He received an instant facility in the language to hear it and speak it implanted in his brain. It’s really stunning. No recovery period, but then there never is in Jesus’ miracles. There’s no progression here. He couldn’t hear; now he hears. He couldn’t speak, and now he speaks. And he hears perfectly and he speaks perfectly. This is staggering. The man unable to speak is now enabled to speak.
And then we come to a third point. He is unable not to speak. Now that he can speak, he can’t hold it back. Verse 36, however, listen to this, “And He” – Jesus – “gave him orders not to tell anyone.” Come on. I’ve never said anything in my life, now I have something to say and, I mean, what I have to say is just absolutely astonishing. What are You telling me? “Yeah, could you just not say anything about it?” That is an agonizing command, which we wouldn’t expect the man to obey, and he didn’t. And I mean, I’ve got to kind of go with him on this one, frankly. I just could never imagine any kind of human restraint that would keep him from telling everybody what had happened to him when he couldn’t hear and he couldn’t speak for his whole life. Now he’s unable not to speak. Verse 36, “He gave them orders not to tell anyone” – not the man, not his friends, don’t tell anyone.”
Now we’re getting used to this. Aren’t we? We’re getting used to this. In the gospel of Mark, chapter 1 verse 34, “Don’t tell anyone;” chapter 1 verse 44, “Don’t tell anyone;” chapter 3 verse 12, “Don’t tell anyone;” chapter 5 verse 43, “Don’t tell anyone.” We’ll see it in chapter 8 verse 26, “Don’t tell anyone.” And here we have it again, “Don’t tell anyone.” This seems such a strange command. Doesn’t it? Especially in the light of the fact that back in chapter 5 when Jesus was in Gadara, Gerasa which is also in Gentile territory over in the same area, and He healed the man who had the legion of demons, He said to him, “Go home to your people and report to them what great things the Lord has done for you and how He had mercy on you. And the man went away and began to proclaim in Decapolis what great things Jesus had done for him and everyone was amazed.” He tells that man to tell everybody. He tells this man to tell nobody. What’s the difference here? How do we explain that?
We explain that because the maniac was the first missionary to Decapolis. There had never been anybody to talk about Jesus there before. And it needed to be established who He was and what He could do and His power. But now it’s reached epic proportions, massive crowds. In the next section, in chapter 8, there’s going to be the feeding of four thousand men plus women and children, another massive, massive crowd. And all of a sudden, this simple knowledge about the Lord has exploded into the fact that the place is going crazy because He’s a healer and a miracle worker. And Jesus has to slow that down if not grind it to a halt. Why does He say, “Don’t tell anyone?” Because – and we’ve said it before, because the message is not yet complete. Don’t spread the message that I’m a healer and a miracle worker. That’s not the whole story. It would be like you having one part of the gospel story that Jesus was born of a virgin, came into the world, did miracles and healed people, and preached the kingdom of God, and that’s the story. That’s not the story, because it doesn’t include – what? – the cross, and it doesn’t include the resurrection. That’s the full story. So He says this again.
Now in Luke 9 verse 18, and I showed you this a few weeks go. I’ll do it again. Luke 9:18, “He was praying alone, he disciples were with Him. He questioned them saying, ‘Who do people say that I am?’ And they said, you know, ‘Some say You’re John the Baptist, others Elijah, others say You’re one of the prophets of old who has risen again.’ And He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ And Peter said, ‘You’re the Christ of God.’” And they all agreed. They all affirmed that He’s the Christ of God. “But He warned them and instructed them, ‘Don’t tell anybody.’” What? Don’t tell anybody that I’m the Christ of God. Don’t tell everybody that I’m a miracle worker and a healer. Why? Next verse, verse 22, “The Son of Man must suffer many things; be rejected by the elders, chief priests, scribes; be killed; be raised on the third day.” The story’s not complete until the crucifixion and the resurrection. After that, He gets them all together and says, “Go into all the world and preach this to everybody.” Right? Got to have the full story.
Well verse 36 says, “The more He ordered them,” which means He kept repeating it, “the more widely they continued to proclaim it.”
Jesus still accomplished His intended purpose by letting His disciples know that they were not yet in possession of the full message and letting everybody who reads this know that that’s not the full message. Even though they were disobedient, Jesus still established that point. And why were they so disobedient? Because verse 37 says, “They were utterly astonished.” How could they possibly keep this in? The word for utterly astonished, one word in Greek, huperperissōs – huperperissōs. It’s used only here in the New Testament. It is a compound word, very, very strong. It means above all measure, over the top, superabundantly amazed and astonished. They had their minds blown in the vernacular. They’re just completely amazed. They can’t contain it. They cannot keep this in. So they spread it everywhere. And that’s not the full story.
Their final comments wrap up our story in an incredible way. Verse 37, what did they say in their astonishment? Said two things. “He’s done all things well. He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” I want to talk about those. The first thing they said was, “He has done all things well.” He has done – perfect tense meaning continuously. Everything that He’s ever done He’s done well. Everything He’s ever done, He’s done perfectly, literally. A rich adverb, kalos meaning rightly, correctly, appropriately. Everything He has done, He has done perfectly. They’re commenting on the perfection of His miracles. Look at the blind, they see. Look at the lame, they walk. Look at the deaf, they hear. Look at the mute, they talk. And it’s perfect. They walk perfectly. They see perfectly. They hear perfectly. They speak perfectly. And the people who were sick, they’re perfectly healthy. They’re commenting on the perfection of His miracles.
And how did He do it? With a word. Right? Be opened. Be healed.” He literally spoke and it happened. Does that remind you of another text? It does me. Listen to this other text. Genesis 1:4, “God saw the light and saw that it was good.” Verse 10, “God called the dry land earth and the gathering of the waters He called seas and God saw that it was good.” Verse 12, “The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed after their kind, trees bearing fruit with seed after their kind, and God saw that it was good.” Verse 18, “He made the greater light and the lesser light, the sun and the moon to govern the day and the night and to separate the light from the darkness and God saw that it was good.” Verse 21, “He made the sea monsters, every living creature that moves in the waters, every winged bird and God saw that it was good.” Verse 25, “He made the beasts of the earth after their kind, the cattle after their kind, everything that creeps on the earth after its kind and God saw that it was good.” And in verse 31, God looked at all of it and said it’s not just good, it’s “very good.” That’s creation. That is creation. And it was perfect. Everything He made was perfect, absolutely perfect.
Jesus created new eyes, new ears, new voices, new legs, new arms, new organs, creatively by speaking them into existence the same way God created in Genesis 1 by the word of His mouth. God said, “Let there be light.” God said, “Let the waters divide from the land.” God spoke and it was created. What does it say of Jesus in John 1, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” And then it says, “Everything that was made was made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made.” He is the Creator. And here we see Him creating. Every miracle was an act of creation, brought into existence by His Word, the same way He had created the universe to start with. And it was all absolutely perfect – perfect. He is the Creator.
The second thing they said, “He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.” It’s interesting that Mark records that, because there was a lot of healing going on that day, blind people, lame people, as well as deaf people, and mute people. But the crowd used this word, “He makes even the deaf to hear and the mute, alalous – alalous. laleō means to speak; a is the alpha privative, not to speak – speechless. He makes the speechless speak. That was the normal word. If you’re going to refer to somebody who is mute, you would say alalous. That’s what the people used, but Mark, back in verse 32, when he describes the man who spoke with difficulty, uses a different word. It’s a different word. It is the word mogilalon – mogilalon, very rare word. The only time it ever appears in the New Testament is right there. It’s like Mark pulled it out of the air. There are many references in the New Testament to being speechless or being mute. But one place you have this mogilalon word, it’s a rare, rare word. And Mark because he writes to Gentiles, only rarely refers to the Old Testament because they have no background in the Old Testament. But here he borrows this word. It is here in the New Testament and nowhere else, but it does occur once in the Old Testament.
You say, I thought the Old Testament was Hebrew. It is, but there’s a Greek version of it called the Septuagint with which the writers of the New Testament were familiar. And since they were also Greek speakers, they perhaps had read that. It’s likely Mark had. Mark borrows the word mogilalon which appears only one time in the Old Testament and I want to show you where it is, Isaiah 35 – Isaiah 35. Isaiah’s prophecy is broken into two parts. The first part of his prophecy is about judgment. The second part of his prophecy is about salvation. The transition comes in chapter 35; the first part about judgment, judgment on Edom and Egypt and Tyre and Israel and Jerusalem; and the second part about salvation for Israel and even for the world through the coming of Messiah. So in this chapter, chapter 35, you have a transition from judgment to salvation, from doom to hope, from sorrow to joy as salvation comes.
And when salvation comes, when God brings the great salvation of Messiah to the world – and we’re talking here about the great millennial kingdom of Christ when He comes to reign on earth – things are going to change. “The wilderness and the desert will be glad. The Arabah” – which is the desert – “will rejoice and blossom, like the crocus and blossom profusely. Rejoice with rejoicing and shouts of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it.” Oh that’s Gentile territory, that territory of Syrophoenicia under Syrian rule that swept all around the Lake of Galilee around the land of Israel. “The majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God.” Those parts of the land will be included in the kingdom and they’ll be transformed in glorious ways. “Encourage the exhausted, strengthen the feeble,
say to those with anxious hearts, ‘Take courage, fear not, your God will come with vengeance. The recompense of God will come but He will save you.” God is coming in judgment but He’s also coming with salvation.
Look to the future, verse 5, and this is what will happen when the Messiah comes and establishes His glorious kingdom on the earth. Not only will the desert blossom like a rose, like a crocus, not only will the land surrounding the nation of Israel flourish with beauty and majesty and see the glory of the Lord, but what also will happen, individuals will be touched. “The eyes of the blind,” verse 5, “will be opened. The ears of the deaf will be unstopped.” There will be massive healing in the kingdom of Christ. “The lame will leap like a deer and hear, the tongue of the mogilalon will shout for joy.” Wow. That’s the eschaton. That’s the final kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. And the word used there is mogilalon. Those who cannot speak correctly, who cannot speak properly will shout for joy. This will encompass not only Israel, Carmel, and Sharon, but Gentiles indicated by Lebanon. All kinds of things are going to happen. The scorched land will become a lake, thirsty ground springs of water, a highway, verse 8 – I love this – will be their roadway called the Highway of Holiness. Jew and Gentile are going to take the Highway of Holiness into the presence of the reigning Christ. It’s really a magnificent picture.
When that great kingdom of Messiah comes, with it will come changes in the land. Deserts will turn into flourishing forests. Streams and lakes will be everywhere, where there’s been nothing but dry ground. And there will be miraculous healings during the kingdom of our Lord, and those healings will mean the removal of blindness and deafness and inability to speak. The mogilalon will shout for joy. And all the ransom, Jew and Gentile, will take the Highway of Holiness into the presence of the King of kings and Lord of lords.
Why did Mark use that word? Such an obscure and rare word? Why did he use that word? Why did he tell this story? I think to touch the hem of the eschatological robe of Jesus and give us a preview of the kingdom glory when men from every tongue and tribe and nation will gather into His kingdom and Jew and Gentile will be healed of all their diseases. Gentiles included in the glorious kingdom. What a picture. Salvation is offered through our Lord Jesus Christ to everyone, Jew or Gentile. And in Christ there is neither Jew nor Gentile. We come to Him by faith in the gospel, the full message. Not just that Jesus is a healer and a worker of miracles, but that He is a Redeemer who gave His life on the cross, paid the penalty for our sins, rose from the dead triumphantly, as God endorsed Him by exalting Him to His right hand on His throne. Have you received the Lord Jesus as your Savior? Have you confessed Him as your Lord? He will heal your soul now and one day your body. He has the power to do both.
Father, we thank You for the way that the Scripture unfolds for us – subtle beauties. We thank You for the little things that sometimes can be so overlooked that open up huge vistas. We see in this story that You are the Creator. You spoke and creation occurred, just as it did in Genesis. And it was perfect, just as it was originally. We see in this story the recognition that Your promise of a future kingdom will be a promise of a time in this world when disease will be banished, infirmity will disappear, life will be long, peace and righteousness will reign, and the blind will see and the lame will leap and the mute will shout. Here’s a preview of that glorious day.
We thank You that there is in the atonement, for all who believe in Christ, spiritual healing and one day physical healing when we all enter Your presence and receive glorified bodies, like the very body of Christ after His resurrection. Oh Lord, again You put Your glory on display in unmistakable ways as our Creator, as our compassionate Healer and more as our Redeemer and Savior. We confess You as Lord with grateful hearts in Your Son’s name. Amen.
Johns Hopkins University announced a professor who defended pedophilia would be joining its child sexual abuse prevention center.
The university’s Moore Center for Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse announced on Twitter Thursday that former Old Dominion University (ODU) professor Allyn Walker would be joining as a postdoctoral fellow on May 25. Walker garnered national attention in November over his claims it is not immoral for adults to be sexually attracted to children.
ODU placed Walker on immediate administrative leave on Nov. 16 due to the negative backlash and disruptive “reactions” from the university community. On Nov. 25, ODU announced Walker would be stepping down from his position.
In his book, “A Long, Dark Shadow: Minor-Attracted People and Their Pursuit of Dignity,” Walker challenges “widespread assumptions that persons who are preferentially attracted to minors—often referred to as ‘pedophiles’” and looks at the “lives of non-offending minor-attracted persons (MAPs),” a term used to describe the group because it is less stigmatizing than a word like “pedophile,” according to Walker.
“From my perspective, there is no morality or immorality attached to attraction to anyone because no one can control who they’re attracted to at all,” Walker said in a November interview with the Prostasia Foundation. “In other words, it’s not who we’re attracted to that’s either okay or not okay. It’s our behaviors and responding to that attraction that are either okay or not okay.”
The center defended its decision to hire Walker, calling him a “leader in the field of perpetration prevention research, which is essential for developing a comprehensive public health approach to addressing child sexual abuse and effective prevention programs.”
The Moore Center aims to change the way “people view child sexual abuse” through its mission of “supporting and conducting interdisciplinary research, educating and training students and professionals, providing objective information to policymakers and the media, and partnering with organizations,” according to its website.
Walker could not be reached for comment on LinkedIn, does not accept messages on Facebook and has no contact on the Moore Center’s website. John Hopkins University did not respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.
Biden transgender health mandate blocked by federal court in Christian alliance’s appeal
Judge says no government agency should evaluate ‘sincerity of another’s religious beliefs’
A federal district court Monday temporarily blocked the enforcement of two Biden administration mandates forcing both nonprofit and for-profit religious employers and health care providers to pay for and perform transgender medical procedures and counseling even if these measures violate the employers’ or providers’ religious beliefs.
District Judge Daniel M. Traynor of the U.S. District Court of North Dakota ruled that the Christian Employers Alliance “has shown a likelihood of success on the merits” in its case.
“No government agency ought to be in the business of evaluating the sincerity of another’s religious beliefs,” Traynor wrote.
Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra (Shawn Thew/Pool via AP, File)
“HHS Guidance encourages a parent to file a complaint if a medical provider refuses to gender transition their child, of any age, including an infant,” the judge noted. “The thought that a newborn child could be surgically altered to change gender is the result of the Biden HHS Notification and HHS Guidance that brands a medical professional’s refusal to do so as discrimination. Indeed, the HHS Guidance specifically invites the public to file complaints for acting in a manner the Alliance says is consistent with their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
“Beyond the religious implications, the Biden HHS Notification and resulting HHS Guidance frustrate the proper care of gender dysphoria, where even among adults who experience the condition, a diagnosis occurs following the considered involvement of medical professionals,” the judge added. “By branding the consideration as ‘discrimination,’ the HHS prohibits the medical profession from evaluating what is best for the patient in what is certainly a complex mental health question.”
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission seal inside a hearing room at headquarters in Washington, D.C. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images, File)
The Christian Employers Alliance, represented by the Christian law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, claims that the Biden administration violated its free exercise rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) and the free exercise clause of the First Amendment, and its free speech rights.
The alliance claimed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the HHS Office of Civil Rights and its agents misinterpreted Section 1157 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) – also known as ObamaCare – when sending guidance interpreting denial of transgender medical procedures and counseling as discrimination on the basis of sex.
Neither the EEOC nor HHS responded to Fox News’ requests for comment.
The mandates would force religious employers and health care providers to pay for and perform surgeries, procedures, counseling and treatments that seek to alter a patient’s biological sex, even if such actions violate the employers’ or providers’ convictions.
“The administration’s mandates are crippling for the countless Christian-owned and operated businesses seeking to care well for their employees without the fear of punishing fines, burdensome litigation costs, the loss of federal funds, and even criminal penalties,” Christian Employers Alliance President Shannon Royce said in a statement on the ruling.
“As stewards of the health and safety of our valued employees, it is unconscionable and unconstitutional to be mandated to provide, pay for, or promote services and procedures that directly contradict our deeply held religious beliefs,” Royce added. “We are pleased that we can continue to act consistent with those beliefs while our lawsuit proceeds and look forward to ultimately prevailing with our case.”
“All employers and health care providers, including those in the Christian Employers Alliance, have the constitutional right to conduct their business and render treatment in a manner consistent with their deeply held religious beliefs,” ADF Legal Counsel Jacob Reed, who argued before the court on behalf of CEA, said in a statement Monday.
“The employers we represent believe that God purposefully created humans as either male or female, and so it would violate their religious beliefs to pay for or perform life-altering medical procedures or surgeries that seek to change one’s biological sex,” Reed added. “The court was on firm ground to halt enforcement of these unlawful mandates that disrespect people of faith.”
Tyler O’Neil is an editor at Fox News. On Twitter: @Tyler2ONeil. News tips can be sent to: email@example.com.
In a video released Thursday to mark Yom HaShoah — Israel’s Holocaust Remembrance Day — 100 Holocaust survivors asked people to stand with them and remember the Nazi genocide to avoid repeating the horrors of the past.
The 100 Words project video was released by the New York-based Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, also referred to as the Claims Conference. The group represents the world’s Jews in negotiating for compensation and restitution for victims of Nazi persecution and their heirs, and provides welfare for Holocaust survivors around the globe.
“The world is full of strife – from the pandemic to the crisis happening in Ukraine – on remembrance days like Yom HaShoah, it is so important to stop and reflect,” Gideon Taylor, president of the Claims Conference, said in a statement.
“The call to action these survivors put forth today is not only one of remembrance, but one of action, a reminder that we do not have to be bystanders. We can all stand up in our own way and we can choose to not let our collective history repeat itself.”
The project is being released as Russia faces widespread revulsion and accusations of war crimes over attacks on civilians in its invasion of Ukraine. It also comes at a time when Holocaust survivors — now in their 80s and 90s — are dying, while studies show that younger generations lack even basic knowledge of the Nazi genocide, in which a third of the world’s Jews were annihilated.
“If we do not remember them, we are murdering them twice because we have forgotten them. And we have forgotten the tragic travesty that was visited upon millions of people,” said Ginger Lane, a Holocaust survivor who along with her siblings was hidden in a fruit orchard near Berlin by non-Jews.
“It is important to remember because it is a part of our heritage and our legacy that we pass on to the younger generation,” said Lane, whose mother was killed at the Auschwitz death camp, and who has made it her lifelong mission to educate others.
“Holocaust denial, we know it has always existed, but it seems to be on the upswing and … a huge number of young people don’t even know what the word Holocaust means … These young people are eager to move forward with their lives. But their lives today are shaped by the past. And they need to know what happened in the past.”
In a 50-state study of Millennials and Generation Z-age people in the U.S. in 2020, researchers found that 63% of respondents did not know that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust and 48% could not name a single death camp or concentration camp.
The 100 Word Project statement by Holocaust survivors says:
“Today is Holocaust Remembrance Day
We all survived the Holocaust
We are here to give voice to the six million Jews who were murdered
We are a reminder unchecked hatred can lead to actions, actions to genocide
Just over 75 years ago, one-third of the world’s Jews were systematically murdered
Among them, over 1.5 million children were killed
in the name of indifference, intolerance, hate
Hatred for what was feared
Hatred for what was different
We must remember the past or it will become our future
On Holocaust Remembrance Day we ask the world to stand with us and remember.”
The annual remembrance known as Yom HaShoah is one of the most solemn on Israel’s calendar, with the nation coming to a standstill during a two-minute siren on Thursday morning. According to the Hebrew calendar, Holocaust Remembrance Day marks the anniversary of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto uprising — the most significant act of Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. Although the uprising ultimately failed, it is remembered in Israel as a symbol of strength and the struggle for freedom in the face of annihilation.
It means “resilience, tenacity, strength. It’s the hallmark of being a Holocaust survivor, the very concept of surviving, of everyday problems, of fighting until the end,” said Greg Schneider, executive vice president of the Claims Conference.
“And for some people, unfortunately, the end was the gas chamber. For other people the end was the Warsaw ghetto, where a very small group of people who weren’t well-equipped held out for nearly a month,” Schneider said.
“And that’s why it’s such an important day in Israel, and around the world for the Jewish community because it symbolizes the fight of certainly the Jewish people, but of any people facing this type of incredible adversity.”
Holocaust survivors from Canada, England, France, Germany, Israel, the United States and Ukraine were part of the video statement.
“Survivors from many different countries and languages who have vastly different persecution experiences — some were in concentration camps, some were in ghettos, some fled, some were in hiding,” Schneider said.
A reading from the gospel according to John 13:1-15:
1 Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end. 2 The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over. So, during supper, 3 fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power and that he had come from God and was returning to God, 4 he rose from supper and took off his outer garments. He took a towel and tied it around his waist. 5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist. 6 He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Master, are you going to wash my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing, you do not understand now, but you will understand later.” 8 Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered him, “Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed, for he is clean all over; so you are clean, but not all.” 11 For he knew who would betray him; for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.” 12 So when he had washed their feet and put his garments back on and reclined at table again, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you? 13 You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. 14 If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 I have given you a model to follow, so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
Reflection: Wash one another
During the last supper, Jesus showed by example how His disciples are to treat one another. In those days, people wore only sandals, no shoes and no socks. They walked on dusty and dirty roads which mean that their feet get easily dirty. That is why before they enter a house, it is customary that must first wash their feet. For well to do families, they have servants to do it for their master and guests.
There are three main lessons that Jesus wants His disciples to learn.
1. Maintain cleanliness not just physically but more importantly spiritually. Baptism made us clean but our journey on this dirty world makes us unclean. Through repentance, we ask Jesus to wash away the dirt in our soul. It is important to practice hygiene but it is necessary that we always wear our baptismal garment of purity. Am I clean? That’s a short but profound question one can ask of himself. Judas was unclean not only in his feet but also his soul. That is why Jesus said that not all of His disciples were clean.
2. It is not easy to lower oneself before others. People see it as a sign of weakness. It is better to brag and show off in order to move ahead. Likewise, it is not easy to bow down to another person’s opinion. Humility is one trait that is not easy to practice. People would rather fight to prove that they are right than accept that they are wrong. Here is Jesus the master and teacher stooping down to wash His disciples’ feet. Only with sincere humility can we do the same.
3. Jesus came to serve and not to be served. Washing the feet of others is a glorious display of servitude. He says, “The greatest among you shall be your servant.” (Matthew 23:11) He wants His disciples to help one another, forgive one another, and teach one another. They must exercise servant leadership with Jesus as their prime model.
We cannot truly serve without humility. Without humility, there is no forgiveness. Without forgiveness, we cannot be made clean.
***** By washing the feet of His apostles just before His passion and death, Jesus confirmed once more how much He loved them despite their weaknesses and sinfulness. These apostles were unworthy but Jesus accepted them and with the power of the Holy Spirit, He will transform them later. May we also learn to accept and love one another in spite of our own unworthiness.
I want you to open your Bible this morning, as we wrap up our Shepherds’ Conference, to 2 Timothy chapter 2. It would almost be a serious oversight if we were to have a conference of pastors and church leaders and elders and not deal with portions of Scripture in 1 and 2 Timothy because they are, after all, the Pastoral Epistles, and they speak directly to the responsibility that we have in serving the Lord in His church.
I always feel, when we come to the end of the Shepherds’ Conference, on this particular Sunday, that there’s a burden on my heart to speak to the pastors – even though the whole congregation of our church is here – to direct the message to them. And in so doing, you in no way ignore the congregation, because whatever standard the Lord sets for the pastor is set so that the pastor can be an example to the flock.
Paul said to Timothy, “Be an example to the believers in word and conduct.” The apostle Paul said that, “You are to follow me as I follow Christ.”
So, when we talk about the standard that God has established for the pastor, we are establishing that so that he can be the model for the people to follow. Whatever a pastor is to be in his own sanctification, whatever a pastor is to be in his own commitment to the Word of God, whatever a pastor is to be in his own behavior is so that he can be the model for what everybody else is to be. We’re simply lifting the standard of leadership so that leadership can lead people to the very standard which is their standard.
There’s a passage of Scripture that I think directs our attention to this that begins in verse 14 of 2 Timothy 2, and I want to read the text to you and then we’ll hear from the Lord with regard to its significance.
Verse 14, “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the Word of Truth. But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it will lead to further ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, men who have gone astray from the truth saying that the resurrection has already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.
“Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.’
“Now in a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and of earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Maser, prepared for every good work. Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call o the Lord from a pure heart. But refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.
“The Lord’s slave must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the Devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.”
In verse 14 you see the word “useless.” In verse 21 you see the word “useful.” There’s a contrast in this text about being useless or being useful. Anybody who serves the Lord Jesus Christ I think would desire to be useful. In chapter 4 of this same epistle, in verse 11, Paul, speaking of John Mark, says, “Pick up Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.” There was a time when Mark was useless, and Paul would not include him on his second missionary journey, but there came a time when he became useful.
When Paul wrote his letter to Philemon, appealing to Philemon to receive back the runaway slave Onesimus who had run away from Philemon, ended up in Rome, run right into the apostle Paul and become a believer. So, Paul sent him back with the words in Philemon, verse 11, that he had been useless, but he was now useful.
I think we all want to be useful to the Lord rather than useless. Now, that drives us to sort of the heart of the passage in verse 21. What does it mean to be useful? Verse 21 says, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the master prepared for every good work.
Being useful here is like a vessel that is honorable. This is an analogy. The word “vessel” is skeuos in the Greek. It means a household container. It is a domestic term. It refers to domestic gear, a plate, a platter, a serving dish, a serving bowl. The master of the house, the despotēs, the ruler of the house has certain vessels that are honorable. They are honorable because they are sanctified. They are therefore useful for every good purpose.
On the other hand, there are some other vessels. They are dishonorable. Verse 20 says, “In a large house there are not only gold and silver vessels, but also vessels of wood and earthenware, and some to honor and some to dishonor.”
The honorable utensils – the honorable platters, plates, dishes, bowls – those are the ones that are gold and silver. The dishonorable ones are wood and earthenware. Paul is giving us a picture, believe it or not, of the church. And the Master here, in this large house, which is the church, is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. And within the church there are contrasting vessels that serve the congregation. Some of them are worthy to be brought out in public. They are beautiful; they are valued; they are prized; they’re clean; they’re useful for every purpose.
There are others that would never be brought into public, that are not for public view, that are not for any clean usage. The honorable vessels are made of gold and silver, things beautiful and valuable and prized. The dishonorable vessels are made of wood and earthenware, pottery. The contrast, frankly, is really extreme, because the honorable vessels in the house were what you served the food on, and the dishonorable vessels are what you took the waste out in.
In the church there are honorable vessels who serve the heavenly food, and there are garbage buckets, trashcans. You want your people to see, you want your guests to see the beautiful. You would never want your guests to see the garbage bucket, the filthy pails. That’s how it is in a big house, though; you have both.
What is it to be a useful vessel? What is it to be a gold and silver serving dish, to bring to people the heavenly food? Well, if you go back to verse 21, it says there are three things that describe the useful vessel. First of all, it is sanctified. Secondly, the Master employs it for His good purposes. And thirdly, it is prepared for every good work, sanctified – very important to understand the Greek text here because it is the perfect passive, having already been sanctified. Having already been sanctified.
The gold and silver, the honorable vessel – the doulos if you want to use the term in verse 24, the Lord’s doulos, the Master’s doulos – the useful slave, the useful vessel, if you use the metaphoric picture of the dishes – is to be sanctified – in this sense, perfect passive, already having been sanctified. Having already been sanctified. That is to say it is sanctified before it ever shows up in a ministry function.
The ministry is not the place to work on an unsanctified man. A person is not a vessel unto honor until that person is already in a settled condition of being separated from sin to holiness. That’s why the Bible says, “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” Don’t put someone into ministry before they’re in a settled condition of having been sanctified. A man in the ministry must already have been proven, must already have been known as a man who is above reproach, a one-woman man, temperate, dignified, etcetera, sober minded, etcetera, and not greedy, and on and on the requirements go. This is not a place where you put people in a trial-and-error environment. They have already been set apart; they have already been made clean. And thus they are brought out into the public place on behalf of the Master to serve the heavenly food. When it says they are useful to the Master, it means they are submissive. It has the connotation of obedience. And then they are prepared for every good work, and that again is a perfect passive, having already been established in a prepared condition.
You don’t go into the ministry until you have already been sanctified, until you already have demonstrated obedience to the Master, until you already have become prepared.
And then you go back to verse 20 and again look at the analogy. A large house – this pictures the church. There are valued, prized, pure, clean, beautiful utensils that are used to serve the food, but there are also cheap, ugly, garbage buckets. The contrast is really extreme. Really extreme. Some ministers are prized by the Lord, the Master – noble, useful, having been sanctified, having been prepared. Others are disgraceful, should never appear in public at all. That this house is the church can be drawn from verse 19, where it says, “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands.” Most all commentators think that phrase “the firm foundation of God” refers to the church which is called by Paul, in 1 Timothy, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
So, we’re talking here about the church. The Master of the church, the Lord of the church recognizes that there are in His church those who are noble and honorable and those who are ignoble and dishonorable. And that leads us to ask the essential question, “What makes for an honorable servant?” I really don’t think you want to be anything other than that.
So, what are the characteristics of a noble, useful, honorable vessel? And there is no mistaking the answer. If this is what you desire to be, let me give you seven characteristics of the noble servant, the noble slave, the noble vessel.
Number one, biblical fidelity. A biblical fidelity. Back in verse 14 we read this, “Remind them of these things” – things to come in this text – “and solemnly charge them in the presence of God.” Now we’re into this solemn charge which Paul loved to use. And you will notice it again in chapter 4, verse 1, “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the Word” – in other words, you are mandated to preach the Word under a solemn charge, under the omniscient scrutiny of God and of Christ.
And you have the same thing here, “I solemnly charge them in the presence of God” – that is to say you have an accountability to God; you are visible to God; you are under His omniscient eye with a view toward a future judgment of your effort. It is a very solemn charge, as solemn as it gets before our watching God. And what is the charge? It’s the positive charge to preach the word in chapter 4, verse 2. It’s the negative here, “Not to wrangle about words, which is useless to the ruin of the hearers.” To wrangle about words, which is useless to the ruin of the hearers. The word “ruin,” by the way, here is the Greek word katastrophē. It is catastrophic; it is devastating; it is destructive. That word is used in 2 Peter 2:6 to refer to the devastation of Sodom and Gomorrah which was reduced to ashes.
For a minister to get caught up in wrangling about words is catastrophic. It is devastating. It is destructive. It is like raining down fire and brimstone on a congregation, reducing them to ashes. What does it mean wrangling about words? It means dialogue, conversation, debate with lies and false doctrine; the abandonment of biblical fidelity, the abandonment of biblical conviction, the abandonment of sound doctrine, the abandonment of clarity, the abandonment of authority; propositional declaration in favor of a dialogue with the Devil, in favor of a conversation which is the buzzword today, “Don’t be dogmatic; enter the conversation; we’re all talking, and all ideas are valuable, and all ideas ought to be laid out on the table, and we ought to be able to find as much common ground as we can.”
The conversation the church has with the world is always catastrophic – always – because it’s being conducted by the garbage buckets in Paul’s language. Perhaps an apt analogy could go further and include the fact that this dialogue with the garbage buckets has allowed the seepage from the world’s sewer of ideas to pollute the stream of truth. That’s why churches affirm evolution. That’s why churches affirm abortion. That’s why churches affirm homosexuality and homosexual marriage; and premarital sex; and divorce; and unholy leaders; and pride and self-esteem; and corrupt theology about God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit; about Scripture and about the gospel; and every bad theology and its consequent bad behavior. You’ll find all of those things being advocated in a church or in churches.
You don’t engage in dialogue with those people. Any pastor who’s a part of that should be ashamed. Verse 15 says, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed.” You forgo the wrangling. You forgo that, and in its place you accurately handle the Word of Truth. “Be diligent” – spoudazō in the Greek – means to give maximum effort. I know the old King James said, “Study to show yourself approved” – it’s not the word “study,” it’s “be diligent,” be eager. This is not a picture of a student; this is a picture of a master craftsman. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who doesn’t need to be ashamed.” You don’t want to bring your work up to God if it’s a work to be ashamed of.
The picture here is the ergatēs, the worker, the master craftsman, the journeyman, the one who has perfected his trade. Be diligent to perfect the trade. What is the trade? It is accurately handling the Word of Truth. And you want to perfect it in such a way that you can literally present it to God and have His approval. And that is such a vivid picture, because it says in this verse, “Present yourself approved to God.” And the verb “present” is paristēmi, and it means to stand beside, “Take your stand beside God without fear of His disapproval or discipline.” Vivid picture.
Can you stand beside God and say, “This is my work that I offer to You” and, to draw the analogy out, Have Him put His arm around you and know He’ll say, “Well done, good and faithful servant”? That’s how you want to minister. How do you do that? By handling accurately the Word of Truth. “Handling accurately” is a verb orthotomeō from which we get orthopedic, orthodontic; it means to straighten. Our responsibility is to cut it straight; it means to cut a straight line, cut a straight road, cut a straight path, cut a straight edge.
We are to be craftsman, cutting the truth straight. Our responsibility is not to engage in some kind of a conversation with the Devil and with the liars and the false teachers and those who would destroy the truth, and find some common kind with them. Our responsibility is to be diligent so as to have become craftsman in the way we can handle the truth.
And he repeats in verse 16 again, as if we needed to hear it again, because we do, “But avoid worldly and empty chatter, for it leads to further ungodliness, and that kind of talk spreads like gangrene.”
Again he says, “Avoid worldly and empty talk.” Worldly is profane in the Greek, profane talk, talk like the world, language like the world. And empty chatter – kenophōnias – phōnias from which we get telephone, having to do with sound; kenos means empty, empty sounds, empty babbling. Stay away from all of it; be a craftsman who can proclaim the truth straight because all this other worldly, empty chatter, it will lead to further ungodliness. There’s already ungodliness; it just leads to further ungodliness. What does that mean? It spreads; it’s exponential. Don’t give them a voice or it’s just going to produce more ungodliness.
It goes down, down; deeper, deeper; wider, wider into ungodliness. And he gives an illustration of one example of this, “Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus” – these would be two pastors who allowed themselves to engage in dialogue with the Devil, who bought into the lies that were being told, who listened to the garbage buckets, you might say, and allowed the sewage from the world to seep into the pure stream of the truth and, as a result, confuse the people they were influencing. They went astray from the truth, saying that the resurrection had already taken place, and they upset the faith of some.
You want to stay away from this; it just leads to compounded ungodliness. And this is such a vivid picture, “It spreads like gangrene.” What does gangrene do? It eats the healthy flesh. It eats the healthy flesh. Let this stuff loose in the church, in the body as it were, and it’ll just eat everything that’s healthy.
And, in fact, this kind of activity isn’t even imagined among true ministers of Christ. Because verse 19 says, “Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands” – the church – “has this seal, ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’” – and how does He know them; how are they recognized? – “‘Everyone who names the name of the Lord is to abstain from wickedness.’” And that’s borrowed from Numbers 16, Korah’s rebellion and God’s judgment. Back in Numbers 16, judgment fell on the corrupt. Shameful, useless, destructive men. And it will fall on them again. But God knows His elect. God knows His true and faithful ministers because they have biblical fidelity, and it shows up in the way they abstain from wickedness. Good behavior is always the product of good theology.
So, the call to be a vessel unto honor – useful to the Master, prepared for every good work, set apart from sin – is then a call to a biblical fidelity. And right alongside that, number two, it is a call to a pure fellowship. It is characterized by a pure fellowship.
And this ties right in, verse 21 – notice this – “Therefore” – which comes immediately off the previous verse, and I’ll explain that in a moment – “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.”
What do you mean “these?” To what does “these” refer? What is the antecedent of “these?” Well, backing up from there, what do you mean by “cleanses?” Compound ekkathairō – catharsis is a cleansing. This is a compound catharsis; this is a total cleansing, a real purging, a complete removal of all that defiles, if a man removes literally away from himself, pushes away from himself “these.” What do you mean these? Well, the antecedent can only be one thing. Only one thing.
Go back to verse 20, “In a large house there are vessels of gold and silver, vessels of wood and earthenware, some to honor and some to dishonor. If anyone cleanses himself from these…” Well, that would have to be the vessels of dishonor. The vessels of dishonor. Thoroughly remove yourself from them. The nearest and only antecedent, the only possibility, the vessels of dishonor.
The first exhortation is to be faithful to biblical interpretation and cut it straight, don’t get caught up in a conversation that sucks your conviction out and spills lies into the stream of truth. And the second one is stay away from the kind of people who espouse those things. It’s Psalm 1. That’s an absolutely foundational concept of spiritual life. “How blessed is the man who doesn’t walk in the counsel of the wicked, doesn’t stand in the path of sinners, doesn’t sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the Law of the Lord, and in His Law does he meditate day and night. He’s like a tree planted by the rivers of waters; he flourishes.” This is a call for separation from corrupt influences.
Paul said in 1 Corinthians 5, “There’s a man corrupting the church with his immorality. Put him out because a little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
Jesus said, “Confront people’s sin. If they don’t repent, put them out.”
Proverbs puts it this way, “The companion of fools will suffer harm.”
Paul told the Corinthians, “Evil company corrupts good morals.”
The gold and silver vessels need to hang out together, that’s the idea. That’s why it’s so wonderful to have a conference like this, isn’t it? We wouldn’t want to have half gold and silver and half garbage buckets. What kind of production would that be? What would be the end result of that? There’s no value in going to a school where you sit in the seat of a scoffer. There’s no value to having a conversation with someone who’s going to pollute the stream of truth. It’s a pure fellowship that is called for. And that’s why we do what we do. That’s why you come, because you know that it’s a pure fellowship, because you understand the power of that pure fellowship to strengthen you, to give you accountability, to challenge you, to encourage you.
The third thing he says is this, “If you want to be a useful vessel, if you want to be an honorable vessel, you must have not only a biblical fidelity and you must have a pure fellowship, but thirdly, a clean heart. And they’re all overlapping and intertwined, aren’t they? A clean heart.
Verse 22, “Now flee from youthful lusts.” That’s the negative. The positive is, “Pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Pure heart. Very similar to 1 Timothy 6 where Paul says, “Flee the love of money,” verse 11, and then , “Follow after righteousness.” Same idea. The minister’s a running man. He’s a running man. Flee is the word pheugō from which we get fugitive. He’s a fugitive from all that defiles. He’s a fugitive from all that corrupts. He’s a fugitive from all that stains and blights. He runs with all his might from youthful lusts, the desire for wrong things and the wrong kind of desire.
And by the way, they’re youthful lusts because they begin in youth, not because they end there. They’re those lusts that are activated as someone becomes an adult, that are so powerful, and they remain.
I stood over the bed of a dying man in his late 70s, praying for him as he was entering heaven. And he said, “I just have to tell you one thing. I’m thankful for the grace of God because I have never been able to overcome my attraction to pornography.” Those are youthful lusts that last a lifetime.
Run from youthful lusts; keep on fleeing. The kind of sinful yearning that goes beyond the sexual – it could be inordinate craving for money, inordinate craving for power, self-assertiveness, desire for material things, jealousy, envy, pride – you name it. All those things that fire up in youth.
Timothy, by the way, was in his late 30s, at most his early 40s. Paul was at least 30 years his senior. Paul identifies those things as the things that are born in a fire in your youth and continue through your whole life. How do you run? Well, you can run physically, Genesis 39, like Joseph and leave your coat and get out of there. You can run mentally, Philippians 4, by thinking on things that are pure, just, holy, good. I think you run biblically, “Thy Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin.” Right? “How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your Word.”
Timothy was young, and Paul understood that. I don’t think Timothy was in some kind of horrible sin at this time in his life, in some kind of situation which was overwhelming him. I just think Paul was giving him good instruction because of the reality that we are, though Christians, simultaneously righteous and sinful.
So, he says, “Flee from youthful lusts.” And then he says, “Pursue” – imperative, keep on pursuing, keep it up, keep running. You’re a running man; you’re running away and you’re running toward. Run toward righteousness, doing right according to God’s standards. That’s what that means: living in harmony with God’s Law, living in obedience to His Word.
But it’s not just that. There’s a second word here that’s so very, very important; you’re not only pursuing righteousness you’re pursuing faith. The word could be better translated faithfulness. Righteousness speaks of adherence to the Law, faithfulness speaks of loyalty to the person so that we live our Christian life both as an effort to be obedient to the Law of God, and secondly to be loyal to the person of God. I think you understand that from the time you’re a child. You want to obey your parent because the parent lays down the Law, but you also want to obey your parent because you love your parent.
And the same is true in the spiritual dimension. We run from iniquity because we want to fulfill the Law of God. We want to be obedient to the Law of God because we want to be loyal to the one who gave Himself for us.
And he adds love. Love – agapē, the love of choice, the love that works in the selfless, the love that works sacrificially. Love toward God is the idea. We want to be faithful to the one we love. And then he adds peace, undisturbed tranquility. When you run toward righteousness and you run toward loyalty and you run toward the love of God and the consequent love for others, you are running toward a life of peace. Obedience, loyalty, love, peace – marks of holiness.
And notice what he says at the end of the verse, “With all those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” This is what – this is what pure-hearted people do. “Call on the Lord” is a salvation expression. “Call on the Lord” is a salvation expression; it has to do with that. Romans 10:12 to 14 says that, that calling upon the Lord is the equivalent of expressing saving faith in Him for salvation.
And of all those who call on the Lord, the ones whose hearts are truly pure are the ones who run from youthful lusts and run after righteousness. You want to have a pure heart, a clean heart. You win the battle in the heart – right? – because that’s where lust conceives and brings forth sin. James 1, “Lust, when it conceives in the heart, brings forth sin, and sin brings forth death.” So, you have to defeat sin on the inside before it produces on the outside and it brings about destruction. Win the battle on the inside, maintain a clear conscience.
I love that Paul always said that, “My conscience is clear; my conscience is clear.” He told the Corinthians, “No matter what the false teachers say about me, my conscience is clear that I have served you in a blameless way. Accuse me with whatever you will, my conscience is not accusing me.” Win the battle on the inside. Genuineness, clean heart. You want to be a vessel useful to the Master? Biblical fidelity, pure fellowship which provides the accountability and the stimulation for godliness and purity. And then the pursuit of righteousness and fleeing from all that corrupts.
Number four, if you would be a vessel fit for the Master’s use, useful to Him, you must have a discerning mind. And here he comes right back to the same issue again, verse 23, “Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”
You know, we don’t debate; we don’t debate. I remember early at Grace church, when I was in the chapel, I was preaching one Sunday there. The place was packed. People used to sit around my feet because you couldn’t get them all in, in the early years, and it was a very small building, and not a lot of places to sit. And it got pretty intimate. And people kind of felt like there wasn’t really a platform and a speaker, it was just kind of me talking and they were there, and they were all around the place.
And on one occasion, the familiarity of the whole thing manifested itself when a guy stood up and said, “Frankly, I don’t buy anything you’re saying.”
“Oh. This is a sermon, not a discussion.” Well, it immediately became a discussion, but I had to make the point that I’m here to declare; I’m here to proclaim; I’m here to preach and teach. There are places when you want to discuss, and you want to go from house to house and instruct, and you want to have private conversations obviously.
But there is a – there’s an incredible power in the proclamation God has designed by the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe, according to 1 Corinthians. There’s a tendency today – it’s more than a tendency; it’s a movement today to turn the pulpit into some kind of a dialogue. And if you don’t let people stand up and talk to you, you speak to them out of the conversation by having them tell you what they want you to say. There are churches that actually have committees that make up the sermons, and they decide what the pastor should say about what.
This is a time for proclamation. This is not a time for argumentation. You can argue in your heart; you can argue in your mind, but the proclamation of the Word of God establishes the foundation upon which you can argue. “Refuse foolish and ignorant speculations, knowing that they produce quarrels.”
The brain is an amazing thing. You know, I just thank God – I’ve said this so many times, through my life, to pastors –I thank the Lord all the time that my brain is not a battleground between truth and error. I’m so glad I’m not slugging it out all the time in my mind, trying to find out what I actually believe so that I can get up here and tell you.
The brain is an amazing thing. Yours weighs about three pounds – some more, some less. I guess it has about ten billion cells. It’s two percent of your body weight. Twenty-five percent of the oxygen supply in your blood goes to your brain. Of the many nerve cells in the cerebral cortex, by far the majority are utilized in memory. These cells are linked together in chains of billions of association fibers, all of which can be reused indefinitely. Memories jump from cell to cell, over the fibers, to form associations. They’re linked by coded proteins which store them, and once stored, these memories remain permanently. And they mix in the associations that either strengthen your convictions or weaken your convictions.
I want to make sure that everything that goes into my little three-pound deal strengthens my convictions. Think on these things – if there’s anything to think about, if there’s anything praiseworthy, think on these things. Philippians 4:8, whatever is good, and holy, and just. Your brain is a treasure house, don’t turn it into a dump.
Specifically, if you just took the Pastoral Epistles, we’re to avoid strange doctrines, myths, endless genealogies, fruitless discussions, unbiblical assertions, worldly fables fit only for old women, different doctrine, not agreeing with sound words, doctrine that is conformed to ungodliness, controversial questions, disputes about words, unholy empty babble, opposing arguments of what is falsely called science, battles over words, useless talk which spreads like gangrene, and now foolish and ignorant speculations.
“Foolish” – mōros from which you get moron, stupid – “and ignorant” – untrained, undisciplined, uninstructed. It comes from paideuō which means to train a child. And you put an alpha privative apaideuō. It is untrained, unskilled, infantile, senseless. And the word for speculations is zētēseis; it means questionings, debates, arguments, disputes, all of that. What is the point in ignorant, untrained, uninstructed, undisciplined men spouting senseless arguments against the truth? Why would engage in that conversation?
You know, in 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul says, “Don’t despise preaching.” Don’t despise preaching. “Don’t quench the Spirit. The Spirit is coming with truth through preaching. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to what is good; and reject what is evil.” You have to be discerning. You don’t want to get caught up in what only produces quarrels rather than conviction.
Number five, if you want to be a useful vessel, honorable, you must be characterized by a gentle manner. I don’t know that there could be anybody more fiery than Paul; when he wanted to unload, he could really unload. And he learned it from Jesus because He could, too. Make a whip and clean the temple out and strip the false leaders of Israel naked with His words and leave them exposed for the wretchedness that they really manifested. But always there was this other side, and in verse 24, Paul hurries to say, “The Lord’s slave must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged.” The Lord’s doulos must not fight. Must not fight – that’s actually what it says.
By the way, the Lord’s doulos is a technical term, I think, for a pastor. The Lord’s slave. I think it’s a technical term – the Lord’s slave. And the apostles owned it. Paul introduces himself in his epistles as a slave of God, of Christ. James calls himself a slave. Peter calls himself a slave. Jude calls himself a slave, and John calls himself a slave. It’s a technical title referring to an elder, a pastor, an overseer. And it’s a wonderful picture because Christ Himself called Himself a slave in Philippians 1 – “took upon the form of a slave.” So, the Lord was firm, and the Lord was strong, but there was a side of Him that was gentle.
Paul reminds us in 2 Corinthians 10:1 to manifest the meekness and gentleness of Christ. This is a delicate balance. The Lord’s slave has to fight for the truth, earnestly contend for the truth as Jude puts it. He has to endure suffering. He has to fight the forces of Satan with spiritual weapons. He has to preach the truth against the lies. But he never descends to a fight. He is kind. There’s a soft authority; there’s a gentleness in demeanor when dealing with those in error – never harsh, never abusive, never overbearing, never unkind, easy to approach, easy to speak to, sensitive, tender, and able to teach – so important, the only qualification that describes any function of an elder is that he be didaktikos – that’s the word “able to teach.”
What that means is that in a reasonable, sensible manner, you can delineate what it is that is the truth. It’s so important because you can’t refute the error unless you can make it reasonable. That’s where your sensitivity, your kindness, your gentleness comes in. You have a skill in collecting the data, you have a skill in understanding the data, and you have a skill in disseminating it. That’s what it means to be a pastor, an elder, a teacher. That’s what sets them apart from deacons. But you do it with kindness, and you do it with graciousness, and you do it with sensitivity. And even when there’s a hostile reaction, it says you are patient when wronged; you teach with forbearance and patience. And, of course, that is what it says in chapter 4, verse 2, “Preach the Word, but do it with great patience and instruction.” Don’t turn on your audience. Don’t become bitter and caustic and abusive.
So, the vessel unto honor is marked by a biblical fidelity, a pure fellowship, a clean heart, a discerning mind, a gentle manner. And number six, a humble spirit. Verse 25 is, “With gentleness” – prautēs, actually humility – “correcting those who are in opposition. But “with humility,” let’s just take that – with humility. It means a mild, gentle, softness, meekness. And that’s such a hard thing to balance off, isn’t it? I mean when you know the truth, when you know you have the right answer, and you know the others don’t, and you’re bringing them the truth, to not be overbearing, to not be brutish, to not be harsh really comes out of humility. This is the kind of meekness that has been defined as power under control. Power under control.
Proverbs 16:32 says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules a spirit better than the one who captures a city.” Real power is the ability to know the truth, to have the truth, and to be under complete control. That’s meekness: power under control.
There is no one in any profession, any place in the world that has more power than the preacher. You have the power of life and death – right? “Who’s adequate for these things?” Paul says. Your words are life unto life or death unto death, but it has to be power under control. We’re not talking about cowardice. We’re not talking about meekness in the sense of a kind of a wishy-washy softness. We’re not talking about some passive acceptance of things. We’re talking about power that never gets angry, power that isn’t self-defensive and self-protective and self-exalting.
Like John Bunyan, who said, “He who is already down can’t fall.” There’s nothing to lose. A meek person never defends himself, because he knows he doesn’t deserve to be defended. This is what we’re talking about, being able to balance off this power that the truth has with humility is so important. It’s not about impotence; it’s not about poverty; it’s not about shyness; it’s not about embarrassment. It’s about keeping the truth under control.
Horatius Bonar said once that he could tell when a Christian was really humble because he talked less about what he was doing and became smaller in his own sight, like the morning star fading away before the rising sun, living for the Lord with no thought of yourself.
And then finally, number seven, if you want to be a vessel unto honor, you must have a confrontive will. If you go back to the verse we’re looking at, verse 25, “With humility correcting those who are in opposition” – you’ve got to be willing to correct.
Go over to chapter 4, verse 2, he says it again, “Reprove, rebuke, exhort.” First Timothy 3 says that the Word give by inspiration of God is profitable for instruction and correction.
People sometimes say to me about a pastor, “Oh, he just doesn’t have a will to confront. He just will not confront anything. He’s just a nice guy, and he won’t confront.”
Then you’re not really a vessel unto honor. You have to confront because the world is full of error and sin, and it’s your responsibility to confront that. In spite of all the love, and the gentleness, and the humility, and the desire to make peace and avoid quarreling, the useful servant must confront. You must correct those who are in opposition not for your own sake, but for their sake. Why? Because if you correct them, God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the Devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.
Bottom line, folks, look, God does the work. God gives repentance. God brings people out of the snare of the Devil, but He does it by means of the truth. The end of verse 25, “Leading to the knowledge of the truth.” Well, somebody has to disseminate the truth. We could be talking about a nonbeliever. This passage can be talking about a nonbeliever that God would lead to repentance regarding salvation.
We also could be talking about a believer who has fallen into some error, some sin, and needs to be confronted with the truth so that by that truth even a believer can come back to his senses, escape the snare of the Devil where he’s been held captive. But it doesn’t happen without confrontation.
The tone today is just say what everybody wants to hear; just say what they want to hear; just say what’s going to be popular, what’s going to make you likable. The opponents of the truth are always spouting their useless, destructive, catastrophic lies. Who’s going to expose them? Be humble but be confrontive. Instruct in a corrective way the uninstructed, the uneducated, the untaught in the truth. Do it graciously, do it gently, but do it correcting them. Constant correction, by the way, is implied in the form of the verb, “So that God may” – if He chooses – “grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they can escape the snare of the Devil,” where they’ve been held captive by their misunderstandings. You want to bring people to their senses.
By the way, verse 26, it says, “May come to their senses.” He uses a verb ananēphō which means to return from drunkenness, sober up, come out of a stupor. It’s used only here in the New Testament. There’s all kinds of lies floating out around there, all through the world, filtered into Christianity by the dialogue that the church always wants to have. These false teachers numb the conscience, confuse the mind, paralyze the will, and catapult even believers into a spiritual stupor like some kind of drunkenness from which they need to be delivered because it is a snare of the Devil. And he’ll hold them captive, as long as he can, and render them useless. And so, we need to deliver them by a confrontive will.
Compassionate heart? Yes, but we don’t back off when it comes to truth. So, you want to be an honorable vessel, you want to be useful to the Lord? A biblical fidelity, a pure fellowship, a clean heart, a discerning mind, a gentle manner, a humble spirit, and a confrontive will. I know that’s the desire of all who truly know the Lord and are called to this service. May it be a reality in all our lives to the glory of God. Let’s bow in prayer.
Father, we recognize that none of us is worthy for such a calling; we all fall short. But we thank You that by the strength of Your Spirit and the relentless outpouring of Your grace, You accept us and You use us as vessels.
We can’t imagine ourselves being vessels unto honor, gold and silver, sanctified, useful, prepared for every good work, but by Your grace we can become so. Where there are failures, and there certainly are, may we run to repent and run to be restored. And may we never do anything to bring scandal on the name of Christ or the church. May we never be disqualified in any way.
Would you raise up, Lord, many who are vessels of gold and silver to deliver the heavenly food to Your church, and save us from those that should never be seen in public, never be heard, who only come to pollute. Keep us faithful.
And, Lord, as we think about this for ministers and pastors, we think about how important it is that people follow the same path because all of us, as Christians, have been called to live to this standard; to live to biblical fidelity; to engage in pure fellowship, possess a clean heart; to be lowly, and meek, and humble, and compassionate, and gracious, as well as to confront sin. Raise up many pastors who can set the example so that Your people can be all that You would have them be. For Your glory we pray, in Christ’s name, amen.