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Jesus: The Only Savior

Written by R.C. Sproul |
Thursday, August 26, 2021
It is good for us to remember the uniqueness of Christ. May we never suggest that God has not done enough for us, considering what He has done for us in Christ Jesus.

I cannot imagine an affirmation that would meet with more resistance from contemporary Westerners than the one Paul makes in 1 Timothy 2:5: “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” This declaration is narrow and downright un-American. We have been inundated with the viewpoint that there are many roads that lead to heaven, and that God is not so narrow that He requires a strict allegiance to one way of salvation. If anything strikes at the root of the tree of pluralism and relativism, it is a claim of exclusivity to any one religion. A statement such as Paul makes in his first letter to Timothy is seen as bigoted and hateful.
Paul, of course, is not expressing bigotry or hatefulness at all. He is simply expressing the truth of God, the same truth Jesus taught when He said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Paul is affirming the uniqueness of Christ, specifically in His role as Mediator. A mediator is a go-between, someone who stands between two parties that are estranged or involved in some kind of dispute. Paul declares that Christ is the only Mediator between two parties at odds with one another — God and men.
We encounter mediators throughout the Bible. Moses, for example, was the mediator of the old covenant. He represented the people of Israel in his discussions with God, and he was God’s spokesman to the people. The prophets in the Old Testament had a mediatorial function, serving as the spokesmen for God to the people. Also, the high priest of Israel functioned as a mediator; he spoke to God on behalf of the people. Even the king of Israel was a kind of mediator; he was seen as God’s representative to the people, so God held him accountable to rule in righteousness according to the law of the Old Testament.
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Peter, Put Away Your Sword

The way of the cross is not the easy way or the natural way. But it’s the Jesus way. So put your sword back in its place and pick up your cross. Either way we perish, but one leads to true victory.

I can’t say I blame Peter. His Master was under attack, the one he left everything to follow. His best friend was being betrayed and falsely accused right before him. If you’re going to carry a sword, you must be prepared to use it. And what better time than then? It was his duty to protect Jesus, an honor even.
So Peter decided to fight. And it was over as quickly as it started.
The sword unsheathed. The flash of metal in the torchlight. The servant clutching his ear, or what was left of it, in pain. Then the stern rebuke.
“Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then should the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must be so?” (Matthew 26:52-54).
As Peter chose the sword, Jesus chose the cross.
That night in the garden and the days that followed were a rollercoaster ride of failure and redemption for Peter. His transformation became evident in the stories that followed in the Acts of the Apostles.
But with the completed scriptures today, we can  see the radical difference in post-Pentecost Peter in his New Testament letters. Rather than spilling ink on all the incredible events he witnessed like walking on water, the Transfiguration, the empty tomb, he chose to write as a humble leader to humble exiles.
He clearly grew a lot. The lessons he learned fill the space between his words. And this is especially evident when he instructs the early believers on how to deal with hostile authorities. Like that night in the garden, powerful people in the first century sought to destroy Christ and his disciples. The Roman Empire led by Nero was beginning to grow tired of these Christians. The antagonism from the culture around them was pressing in.
No doubt, some of these early Christians were ready to reach for their swords.
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A Holy Tension

We can face the disappointments of life with hope because we know that one day sin, sorrow, and disappointment will be no more. We can repent over our sin and feel freedom because we know Christ became sin for us. We can live without shame because we know God will never leave us or forsake us.

I don’t know about you, but my life hasn’t always turned out like I anticipated. I didn’t experience the bliss of motherhood that the baby shampoo commercials promised. My dream job wasn’t such a dream after all. The house that was supposed to be better than the last turned out to be just as imperfect and broken. And no matter how many how-to books I’ve read, I still struggle in relationships, in my role as a wife and mother, and in organizing my life.
The truth is, life is filled with failed expectations. We pursue dreams only to find that they weren’t what we thought they’d be. Relationships let us down. Our bodies let us down. We let ourselves down. That’s because life is not as it should be. We live in a broken and fallen world where life is disappointing. It often doesn’t “work” or go as planned. We sin and are sinned against.
When life is disappointing, I often ask myself, how should I respond? Do I make lemonade from my challenges and view life from Pollyanna-rimmed glasses, denying the harsh realities of life? Or do I fully taste the sourness of this fallen world and just accept it like it is? Do I demand life work my way, or do I lock myself in my house, fearful of the next disappointment and failure?
Or is there perhaps another way to view life altogether?
In many ways, our lives as Christians are like walking on a slackline.
Have you ever watched a tightrope walker? We once went on a vacation to the mountains of Northern California. While hiking in Yosemite, we came across a group of brave hikers. They hung a slackline across a deep crevasse and walked across it. One misstep and the hiker would fall thousands of feet to the ground below. I couldn’t even watch because just the thought of what they were doing made me nauseous.
Like someone walking across a rope, we live out a holy tension. We are called to live in the world without being of the world. Because of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for our sins, we are dead to the power of sin, yet not completely free from its presence. We are called to be both dependent on Christ (John 15:5) and to “work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12).
In fact, as long as we live on this earth and until Christ returns, we live in what theologians call the “already/not yet.” We are in an in-between time where life is not one-dimensional. It’s not as simple as making lemonade from the bitter experiences of life. Rather, life is an intertwined experience of joy and pain, tears and laughter, beauty and bitterness.
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Pursuing Education, or Just Credentials?

Education, rightly understood, shouldn’t start with the end goal of a degree in mind. It should start with the vision of who you want to become and how your educational journey will form you into a particular kind of person. It’s about truth, goodness, beauty. It’s about cultivating a heart of wisdom, not just a mind that can pass the tests or turn in the reports. 

The digital age has led to an explosion of educational opportunities. You can stream online courses, attend all your classes in short bursts of time, join a seminary’s extension center, work through a program with a cohort, do an independent study, or attend all your classes on campus and become part of the school’s community. These approaches have strengths and weaknesses, and I’ve experienced all of them at one point or another in my educational journey.
In an era with so many choices, the temptation is to think of one’s education in terms of checking off boxes on the way to a degree. You need a particular set of credentials on your résumé, and so you fulfill the requirements the school gives you and eventually, you receive the degree you want. According to a recent study by Barna, most evangelicals view education in terms of career:

Evangelicals are more likely than people of no faith to say main purpose of education is career prep and increased financial opportunity.

Only 10 percent of evangelicals see college in terms of development of moral character—3 percent lower than those of “no faith.” Only 9 percent believe college should encourage spiritual growth.

Not surprisingly, when people ask me about furthering their education, they’re wondering about how to get the credentials they need in a short amount of time, with as little disruption to their lives as possible. They’re looking for answers, but I give them different questions.
Heart of Wisdom
An approach to education that focuses primarily on credentials and convenience is superficial and, let’s face it, boring. It’s all about hoops to jump through to pass classes and get a degree.
The oft-asked question concerning credentials is: What degree do I need so I can do what I want to do? That’s the wrong question. The better question is, What kind of person do I want to become? It’s not about your résumé, but your heart. It’s not about knowledge alone, but wisdom.
Education, rightly understood, shouldn’t start with the end goal of a degree in mind.
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Ryan Anderson on Gender Ideology and Taking on the “Woke Elite”

Policymakers should do everything in their power to legally prevent the promotion of a harmful ideology, especially as directed to children. Just as citizens have rightly pushed back on critical race theory being mandated in K-12 schools, so, too, should we push back on the various transgender-ideology mandates taking place in public schools.

Last week a school district in Virginia passed a controversial policy mandating teachers use “transgender pronouns” in the classroom while the state of Texas moved to declare sex-reassignment surgeries for minors be treated as child abuse. This all comes on the heels of a federal court moving to block the Biden administration’s transgender mandate, protecting the rights of millions of doctors and nurses who are faced with violating their consciences. As the traditional family and our faith come under attack, it has become increasingly clear that we, as Catholics, must engage in war with these ideologies that are invading our homes and wreaking havoc on the minds of our children grappling with discerning the truth.
Catholic husband and father Ryan Anderson, the president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, has been a leading advocate for biology and the truth of such matters, especially as it pertains to male and female, with his highly acclaimed, and recently banned, book, When Harry Became Sally. In an email interview, Anderson discussed with the Register the recent federal court blocking of the transgender mandate, the need for conscience protections, and how Catholics can be best equipped to take on the nonstop onslaught of gender ideology. He also discusses several projects of the Ethics and Public Policy Center that are in place to help promote and protect the traditional family from secular assault.
With the news last week of a federal court blocking the transgender mandate — it’s now the second court ruling blocking the mandate — what are your thoughts, and what role is the EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project playing in shedding light on these violations of conscience? 
There should be no transgender mandate. And thank God for [law group] Becket’s work in litigating these cases. They’ve now successfully stopped both the Obama transgender mandate and the Biden transgender mandate. Of course, in between, there was no Trump transgender mandate, thanks to the hard work of Roger Severino, who was the head of the Office for Civil Rights at HHS throughout the Trump administration. He rightfully saw that the transgender mandate was unlawful — because the word “sex” does not mean “gender identity”; that it was bad medicine — because gender dysphoria should be treated without radically transforming the body with puberty-blocking drugs, cross-sex hormones, and surgery; and that it would violate the civil rights of conscientious medical doctors who sought to follow the Hippocratic Oath.
And I was proud to bring Roger Severino to EPPC as my first hire as president to head up EPPC’s new HHS Accountability Project. EPPC’s HHS Accountability Project monitors the largest federal agency (by budget) to ensure its actions further the common good under law. Particular attention is given to respect for conscience, religious freedom, the family and human life from conception to natural death. Roger was instrumental in rolling back the original transgender mandate imposed under Obama, and he and his team at EPPC have exposed the Biden administration’s abandonment of conscience protections regarding transgender treatments and abortion as both bad law and bad policy through scholarship, advocacy in the media, coalition building and collaboration with members of Congress. They’re keeping tabs on various other violations coming from HHS, including most recently the Biden administration’s refusal to penalize a hospital that forced a pro-life nurse to assist in performing an abortion.
Your book, When Harry Became Sally, took on gender dysphoria in a compassionate way, but also called out gender ideology. As you succinctly state in your book: “Biology isn’t bigotry.” Why should we as Catholics be concerned about this full court press of the “LGBT” movement, and what can families do who are concerned about this infiltrating their own homes? 
All of us, and Catholics in particular, should be concerned with transgender ideology because it isn’t true, and it causes harm to those who get caught up in it. All of us, and Catholics in particular, have a duty to bear witness to the truth and to promote the common good in all of its aspects. That includes a sound understanding of sex and gender. My book was one contribution to that discussion, a discussion that Amazon and others would rather we not have. But it is vital that we refuse to be silenced. If we don’t speak up, who will?
Parents in particular need to educate themselves about what activists are promoting through the schools, media, entertainment — the teen world, especially social media, is saturated with messages and images promoting “trans” identity and “gender diversity” as normal and healthy, which means kids are consuming those messages all day long. It will have an effect on how they think about themselves, the body and relationships in ways incompatible with both science (reason) and faith.
In addition to my book, my EPPC colleague Mary Hasson has created an entire set of wonderful resources to help parents, pastors and educators better understand and respond to “trans” ideology. The Person and Identity Project at EPPC has exactly what Catholics need — Q&As, “toolkits” and recommended resources — to understand the Christian vision of the person and counter the lies of gender ideology.
Beyond educating themselves, parents need to realize that “LGBT” content is flooding the public schools, not just in coursework, but in the school culture. And there’s no “opting out” of school culture the way you might be able to opt out of a given sex-ed class. One public-school principal in Atlanta recently told a Catholic family, “It doesn’t matter what class or teacher your kids have, ‘LGBT-inclusive’ materials will be in every classroom.” Parents need to realize their kids need a Catholic education more than ever — whether at home, in a Catholic classical school or the parish school — which means we need public policy making educational choice a reality, something EPPC Fellow Patrick Brown wrote on just last week.
The American Association of Pediatrics recently told the Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine, comprised of more than 100 clinicians and researchers who doubt so-called transgender science and ideology, that they couldn’t set up an information booth at the association’s national conference. We have also heard from many voices who have transitioned regretting their decision. Why is the debate on transgenderism stifled on such a grand scale, it seems? Of course, this follows after the digital book burning you experienced with Amazon and other outlets. 
The silencing, shaming and censoring that we see on this issue is a sign of weakness from the left, not strength. Sure, it’s strength in one sense, that they control so many powerful institutions of American life — from the news media, to entertainment, to big business and big tech, to the major medical associations. But it’s a sign of weakness because they know their ideology can’t stand up to scrutiny, and that’s why they have to use their power to shut down discussion. We’re on the side of the truth, and we need to be faithful in bearing witness to it, and in using legal mechanisms to reduce the power of various “woke” forces in our culture.
For example, legislation is needed to prevent adults from interfering with a child’s normal, natural bodily development. As I’ve argued before, “gender affirmation” procedures violate sound medical ethics. It is profoundly unethical to intervene in the normal physical development of a child as part of “affirming” a “gender identity” at odds with bodily sex.
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A Kingdom with a King

Written by T. M. Suffield |
Thursday, August 26, 2021
We must always know that the kingdom cannot be fully inaugurated without Christ’s return, and even our very best attempts will be flawed before then. We must always stress the need to respond to Christ’s kingship to further bring the kingdom into the world.

We live in modernity, the source of all evil, according to some. I’m the sort of grumpy curmudgeon who thinks everything was better before the modern era, by which I mean the last 500 years.
This clearly isn’t true. Antibiotics, for one, are a gift we would not want to give up! What is true is that the current age had a particular set of challenges that are different to those of ages before ours; that the digital revolution in 2007 has changed the world in innumerable ways we have not even counted, let alone fathomed; and that there is something hostile to Christianity in our specific cultural moment.
Yet, if we look around at people’s desires and attempts to change the world we see that much of what people desire looks something like the kingdom of God.
Let me give you some examples:
After reading my post on acedia several friends sent me this New York Times piece on ‘languishing,’ which seems to be talking about essentially the same phenomenon. I rolled my eyes at the need to define a new term for something when there are rich resources in the great tradition for us to draw on, but what else did I expect? The nature of liberalism, and for now at least the NYT remains staunchly liberal, is to with dewy eyes reinvent the wheel. I get that there’s no gain when writing to a largely progressive audience to appeal to the great tradition, but it irks me.
(For the sake of clarity, I am using the term liberalism to mean liberalism, rather than to mean ‘left-wing’ as is probably more common in discourse).
It’s exactly the same approach that made everyone declare the Covid-19 pandemic ‘unprecedented’ until it became true by its repetition. Unprecedented in your lifetime, maybe.
The follow-up to that piece outlined ways to ‘flourish’ instead of ‘languish’. Broadly speaking they outlined the Sermon on the Mount.
At the same time the Guardian had this wonderful post-pandemic idea of inventing ‘lockdown days’. As numerous respondents on Twitter pointed out, they’d ‘invented’ humanity’s oldest law, the Sabbath.
A Kingdom
There’s a reason we keep seeing things that look a little bit like the kingdom, and there’s a reason they don’t look as good.
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Misunderstood, Misrepresented, Maligned, Ridiculed, and Rejected

Written by B. Nathaniel Sullivan |
Thursday, August 26, 2021
Learn enough about the new Netflix movie Pray Away to stay away from its overall message. Jesus really does change people from the inside out, and no amount of distortion or propaganda ever will change that.

Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. —The apostle Paul to the Christians at Corinth, and to us, in 1 Corinthians 6:9-11—
Key point: Because certain truths are difficult for many to accept, they and the people advocating them are regularly maligned, distorted, and misrepresented. Yet these realities still are true, and they still have all the power and authority accorded everything true. People ignore and dismiss such truths, and the people presenting them, to their own peril.
If someone were to ask you to describe Jesus, what adjectives would you use? Many Christians would use adjectives like these: caring, compassionate, and loving. Certainly He was all of these, but I believe one of the Lord’s most important qualities — and one of the most forgotten — is that He was controversial. He was loved by many but hated by many more. Moreover, He warned His disciples that if they truly followed Him, they, too, would be misunderstood, misrepresented, and hated.
Jeffrey McCall: A True Disciple of Christ
Nearly two years ago I introduced you to Jeffrey McCall. He is a former homosexual who was radically transformed by Jesus Christ. Jesus changed this young man from the inside out, and he became the founder of the Freedom March, a movement that calls on men and women who have been delivered from a gay lifestyle and found freedom in Christ to come together and publicly declare how Christ transformed and delivered them. We have highlighted Freedom March events more than once at Word Foundations.1

Luis Ruiz and Angel Colon also have been involved in the Freedom March. Both of them came out of homosexuality and gave their lives afresh to God after the bloody shooting at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on June 12, 2016. Ruiz and Colon now have a ministry and website called Fearless Identity.
Can Homosexuals Change?
Ex-gays are the most misunderstood minority in America. Also, they are the most discriminated against group in the nation, bar none. The prevailing narrative regarding homosexuals is that they were “made” that way or “born” that way, and efforts efforts to change their sexual orientation are extremely harmful. Yet, if a person truly is objective, he or she cannot overlook men and women who have come out of homosexuality. These people are real, and their number is growing. Jeffrey McCall, Luis Ruiz, Angel Colon, Becket Cook, Stephen Black of First Stone Ministries, Daren Mehl of Voice of the Voiceless, and Anne Paulk of Restored Hope Network are only a few of many who would testify to authentic change in their lives.

Have all of these individuals overcome every element of same-sex attraction? No. But at a deep and authentic level, they no longer desire sexual encounters with members of the same sex; and with God’s help, they have walked away. In other words, they have shed their gay identity. Speaking about his conversion encounter with Christ, Becket Cook put it this way on the Eric Metaxas radio show that aired on August 8, 2019. You can learn more about Becket here.
Can homosexuals change? Resoundingly, formerly gay men and women who’ve been transformed by Christ say yes! Some, like Becket Cook, still may struggle with same-sex attraction (SSA) or homosexual temptation. Even so, these men and women have renounced a gay identity and welcomed an identity in Christ that aligns with the purposes for which God made them. This includes embracing biblical masculinity or femininity, as well as heterosexuality as part of God’s good design. Such a change in perspective and outlook has given these men and women a freedom they never could have attained without Christ.

What About So-Called “Conversion Therapy” ?
While some Christians with homosexuality in their pasts have experienced profound transformations in their sexual desires and moved toward heterosexuality without the help of professional counseling, others have found such counseling very beneficial. Go here to read about what legitimate counseling in this area looks like.

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Living on the Borders of Sodom

Written by J.R. Miller |
Thursday, August 26, 2021
“Remember Lot’s wife!” (Luke 17:32). We should not miss the “lesson’” which our Lord Himself teaches us from the tragic fate of this woman: we cannot have both worlds! Lot’s wife could have escaped with her husband and her daughters, but she could escape only by resolutely and determinedly leaving everything she had in Sodom. Her love for her possessions, cost her her life!

Run for your lives! Do not stop anywhere in the plain. Do not look back! Escape to the mountain, or you will die! (Genesis 19:17). This is still the gospel message. We are in danger of God’s judgment and must escape from it if we would live. We must not stay anywhere in all the plain of sin, for there is no safe spot, no shelter anywhere, no place where the fires of judgment will not fall.
Some people would like to compromise; they are willing to flee from some sins but not from others. There are some professed Christians who like to stay on the borders of their old life. They are continually asking whether they can do this or that, go here or there and still be Christians. They want to keep just as near to Sodom as possible so as not to be burnt up in Sodom’s destruction! The answer to all such questions is, “Run for your lives! Do not stop anywhere in the plain. Do not look back! Escape to the mountain, or you will die!” Even the borders are unsafe! The only safe place is the mountain, the mountain where Christ’s Cross stands!
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Is My Roman Catholic Baptism Valid?

Episode 779 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions. Show Notes CoreChristianity.com

We Cannot Be Faultless (But May Still Be Blameless)

Shouldn’t we believe that God treasures what we do, however feeble, however immature, however bungled and blundered it is? For though what we do is most certainly not faultless, it is any father’s joy to count his children as blameless.

A devotional writer from a bygone era believed it was crucial to carefully distinguish faultlessness from blamelessness, for while we cannot live faultlessly in this world, we may live blamelessly. Even the best deeds we do cannot be faultless when we ourselves are so very imperfect and when this world is so firmly arrayed against us. Yet we may still remain blameless before the Lord, even in light of our many imperfections.
A fictional illustration may serve. Let’s suppose a day came when my father, a landscaper, was hired by one of our neighbors to design and install a garden. He dutifully sat before his drafting table to create the design, he visited the nursery to purchase the plants, he stood in the garden and began to create the shape of the different beds. But then a serious illness overcame him and he was forced to remain indoors for days or weeks.
And though at the time I was merely a child, I was a son who loved his father, so took it upon myself to surprise him by completing the project on his behalf. I studied the plans as carefully as I could, I carved the shape of the different beds, I put down a layer of topsoil, I planted the ferns and hostas, the roses and euonymus, doing my absolute best to lay them exactly where the plans dictated. When my father recovered sufficiently to venture out-of-doors, I led him to that garden and happily presented the work I had done for him.
His reaction was both joy and concern. He felt great joy that I had attempted to serve and please him, that I had done my best with the little knowledge and minimal skill I possessed. But he felt concern that the job was done more poorly than he would have done it. He noticed that the flower beds were not quite the right shape, that the edges were ragged, that many of the plants and flowers were a little out of place. He knew that he still had work to do in order to make it right.
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