Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Revelation of Man’s Destiny

“He did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking. But one has testified somewhere, saying, ‘What is man, that Thou rememberest him? Or the son of man, that Thou art concerned about him? Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou hast crowned him with glory and honor, and hast appointed him over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.’ For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him” (Heb. 2:5-8).

Man’s original intended destiny was to be king of the earth.

When we look at the vast, seemingly endless universe and then think about the little dot we call earth in the middle of it all, we cannot help but wonder, “What is man? What right do we have to be so much on God’s mind?”

David had an answer: “Thou hast made him for a little while lower than the angels . . . crowned him with glory and honor . . . appointed him over the works of Thy hands . . . put all things in subjection under his feet” (Heb. 2:6-8). The writer of Hebrews was quoting one of the Psalms (Ps. 8:4-6) to show that God made man to be king.

David undoubtedly penned his psalm based on what God said in the beginning: “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Gen. 1:26). God’s original design for man in his innocence was to be king over an undefiled earth.

When God made Adam, who was pure and innocent, He gave Him honor and glory. God crowned man king of the earth: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet” (Heb. 2:8). One day we again will be given the right to rule the earth, and all God’s creation will be put under our feet.

Suggestion for Prayer

Read Psalm 8 and offer it as your own praise to God.

For Further Study

Read Daniel 7:1827 and note the extent of the saints’ ultimate rule.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Choosing Godly Thoughts

You will guard him and keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind [both its inclination and its character] is stayed on You.

— Isaiah 26:3 (AMPC)

If you want to live a peaceful, joy-filled, abundant life, you need to understand it all begins with the thoughts you choose to think. Your mind is connected to every feeling you have and every action you take.

A worried, anxious life begins with thoughts like this: How am I going to do everything I have to do? My life is impossible! This is more than I can handle!

But a contented, happy life begins with thoughts like this: God loves me, and He will take care of everything in my future. He will give me the strength and ability to do each thing I need to do as it comes up.

You can choose the thoughts you want to dwell on. Your mind is connected to every part of your life, so choose to focus on godly thoughts today in order to experience the life Jesus came to give you.

Prayer of the Day: Thank You, Father, for helping me think positive, godly thoughts. I am grateful that I am not a prisoner to negative thinking and that I can choose to be happy, and joy filled.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – Lord, You Know

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.”

John 21:17

The heart of Christianity isn’t found in doing a course on systematic theology or in memorizing doctrines to be regurgitated. The focal point for the Christian is a relationship with Jesus—to be known and loved by Him, and to love Him in return.

We see this illustrated firsthand when, after sharing a meal on the beach with His disciples, the risen Jesus initiated a private conversation with Peter. This talk resulted in both Peter’s conviction and calling. Supremely, though, it displays Christ’s intimate knowledge and care for those who love Him. Christ’s greatest concern was Peter’s response to His question, “Do you love me?”

In this exchange, Jesus asked Peter this question repeatedly. The question was not meant to provoke mere sentimentalism; it demanded a decision. The repetition served as a stark reminder of Peter’s three denials of knowing Christ (John 18:15-18, 25-27), and forced Peter to recognize that his recent actions had failed to show his love for Christ. He couldn’t point to his own works to justify himself.

We will come to the same realization as we consider times when we have stumbled. When Christ asks us the same question, there is nothing we can say or do in our defense to prove our love. The only thing that Peter could plead before the Father, before Christ, was God’s own omniscience: “Lord … you know that I love you.” Likewise, our only appeal is to the understanding heart of Jesus.

Our actions may discourage us, our circumstances may have buffeted and beaten us, and our love for God may be weak—but we can take comfort in the truth that Jesus knows our hearts! He knows our hearts will fail. He knows our faith can be weak. But our failings are the very reason why He came into this world, died on the cross, and rose again.

If we find ourselves needing restoration but having nothing to say in our defense, the wonderful hope we have is that we can say, “Lord, You know.” And if we find ourselves needing our love to be rekindled but having nothing within us to spark it, the wonderful truth is that we can look to our Lord hanging on a cross out of love for us: for “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

Take a moment and reflect upon the immensity and the intimacy of God’s grace and love for you. Jesus bore all of your failures on the cross so that you might die to sin and live for Him (1 Peter 2:24), and He continues to pursue relationship with you despite all your imperfections. He knows you utterly, and yet He loves you perfectly.

Do you love Him? For surely there is none more worthy.


1 John 3:16-24

Topics: Grace of God Love of God

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God’s Good News Is Reliable

“And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” (Luke 2:10-14)

In France, there is a traditional Christmas dessert known as La Bûche de Noël (“la byOOsh duh noEL” – a Christmas log). Have you ever seen a bûche de Noël? Also known as “a yule log,” the bûche is not really a log at all. It is a chocolate sponge cake with cream filling (or a chocolate ice cream cake) that is made to look like a log ready to be put into a fireplace.

Like many traditions, it is hard to be sure exactly how the tradition of the bûche de Noël began in the first place. But one story goes like this:

Back in the early 1800s, Napoleon I was ruling France. Doctors back then had not learned yet about some things that doctors know now, in the 21st century. Napoleon was told that cold air can cause illness. So he made a law, saying it was for the good of the people, and he made everyone in the city of Paris obey it.

What was this “good” law? Because cold air might come down into their houses through the chimneys, Napoleon declared that nobody could use their fireplaces during winter. Everybody had to seal off their chimneys so no cold air could get in. The problem was that no smoke could get out, either. The people were not able to use their fireplaces to keep their homes warm. This story is a little silly, if it is really true. The people had to endure cold air, anyway, both outside and inside their homes!

Not only did the Parisian homes have to go without heat, but many of the Christmas traditions back then involved family and friends sitting around the fireplace. They would tell stories and play games in front of the fire. To help spread Christmas cheer, the Parisian bakers created a fake substitute for a fireplace – a cake decorated to look like a log for the fireplace. So the families in Paris would buy a bûche de Noël and set it on the table. Instead of spending time around the fire together at Christmas, they spent time around the bûche de Noël (in their freezing cold houses!).

Napoleon was not a perfect ruler. He made mistakes, and there were some things he could not have known. Aren’t you glad that God knows everything and never makes mistakes? When God reveals good news to us, we can always trust that it really is for our good. When God sent a great angel to announce the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the angel told the shepherds exactly where the Baby could be found, and exactly how they would find Him – wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger. Not only that, but the angel made it very clear that this baby Jesus Christ was born to be the Savior! The Bible records how a whole crowd of angels joined this one, singing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

Now, that is good news! And because it was God Who sent these angelic messengers, and because it was God Who included their message in His Word for us to read today, we can be sure that this good news truly is good news. The angel’s announcement of “good will toward men” was nothing like the “good” law that Napoleon announced to his kingdom (a law which really wasn’t very “good,” after all). God’s news is reliable (trustworthy). God always speaks truth. He never makes mistakes about His own glory and our own good. Unlike a decree from some human king, the word of the God of the universe is trustworthy. The shepherds went and found Jesus exactly as they had been promised. We too can find Jesus Christ to be exactly Who God said He is: the Savior!

We can trust that God’s Word is really true and really for our good.

My Response:
» Have I been doubting God’s Word about something?
» Is there a promise that God has given that I have forgotten and need to remember?
» How can I show that I believe God’s Gospel (good news) about Jesus Christ?

Denison Forum – Why we celebrate Christmas on December 25

No one knows exactly when Jesus was born because the Bible doesn’t give us a specific date.

And the Bible doesn’t tell us, in large part, because the first generations of Christians just didn’t really care. Celebrating births was seen as more of a pagan tradition and something that, for the first few centuries, the church tried to distance itself from.

The Epiphany, the date that commemorates the coming of the wise men, was actually a much more significant day for much of Christian history, even after people started celebrating Christmas.

For example, the old English carol “The Twelve Days of Christmas” actually begins on December 25 and culminates on January 6, with the largest celebrations historically reserved for the latter date.

But if the Bible doesn’t tell us when Jesus was born and it took Christians a few centuries to start celebrating his birth, how did Christmas end up on December 25?

Was Jesus born in the fall?

There are good reasons to believe that Jesus was actually born sometime in late September to early October.

For example, it is thought that Zacharias—the Father of John the Baptist—likely entered the temple to burn incense in mid-June, which would have put John’s conception later that month.

Given that Elizabeth was six months pregnant when the angel came to see Mary (Luke 1:26), that would put Christ’s birth in the fall of the next year. However, because Scripture doesn’t tell us when Zacharias encountered the angel and we are left to rely on tradition for that dating, there is room for disagreement.

The earliest dating of December 25 goes back to the 200s, when a tradition began to circulate that Jesus was conceived on the same day that he was crucified.

Since Tertullian dated the crucifixion to March 25, nine months after that would have meant that Jesus was born on December 25. The idea that Jesus was conceived on the same day that he died is also not found in Scripture, but it became popular enough that most accepted it without giving it too much thought. By the time of Augustine, that belief had become common knowledge, and he incorporated it into his treatise On the Trinity.

However, our celebration of Christmas on December 25 is not due solely—or even primarily—to this theological quirk.

Sharing a birthday with the gods

In addition to the dating from Christian sources, December 25 has been an important day for cultures throughout much of human history.

The winter solstice was often celebrated around that time—which is the origin, in some ways, of our Christmas trees—and, by the first century, two significant Roman feasts occurred on December 25.

The first was the Feast of Saturnalia. Saturn was the Roman sun god, and, since the solstice commemorated the days beginning to get longer, people feasted and shared gifts in his honor.

The second major feast was the birthday of Mithra.

By the third century, Mithraism was quickly becoming one of the most popular mystery cults in the Roman world and was especially significant in the army. Mithra was their sun god, and they actually had several traditions in common with Christians.

For example, they practiced baptism—though by the blood of a bull instead of water—as a way of initiating new members. They believed in the “unconquered one” who served as a mediator between the light and the darkness, while also functioning as a revealer of truth. And they had a fairly well-developed theology of the afterlife, which was not overly common back then.

Both of these celebrations are important for the dating of Christmas because when Constantine—the Roman emperor who legalized Christianity—ascended to the throne and began encouraging people to convert, making a bigger deal out of Christmas was part of his approach. Because Romans already had significant festivals in place worshiping the birth or rebirth of some of their gods on December 25, it was easier to ask them to keep the parties but make them about Jesus than give up a popular celebration altogether.

So, in 336, Constantine formally declared that the celebration of Christ’s birth would occur on December 25. For the most part, it’s stayed that way ever since.

Accommodating the culture for Christ

Does knowing a bit more about the pagan and theologically questionable background to our celebration of Christmas on December 25 change the way you see the holiday?

For some, it might.

The Puritans, for example, essentially banned any large celebrations of Christmas because of those connections, and their hesitance persisted until the mid-to-late 1800s for most Americans.

But Christians have been taking pagan or cultural beliefs and recontextualizing them in ways that point people back to Jesus for much of our history, often to great effect.

Rather than dwelling on the degree to which Constantine’s motivations for setting the date diminish Christmas, let’s focus instead on whether aspects of our culture could be used for a similar purpose.

With Halloween, for example, giving out tracts with candy—and note I said with candy rather than in place of candy—or hosting trunk-or-treats the weekend before at our churches can be a great way to take a fun celebration that has little to do with Jesus and use it as a way to share the gospel.

It’s certainly possible to go too far with such efforts and cross into heresy—which is why allowing God to guide our plans is so important—but we could do far more for the kingdom if we looked for ways to accommodate the culture rather than asking the culture to accommodate us.

Denison Forum

Our Daily Bread — Bending Low

Bible in a Year:

The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort . . . comforts us in all our troubles.

2 Corinthians 1:3–4

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

2 Corinthians 1:3–11

A young mom followed behind her daughter, who pedaled her tiny bike as fast as her little legs could go. But picking up more speed than she wanted, the little girl suddenly rolled off the bike and cried that her ankle hurt. Her mom quietly got down on her knees, bent down low, and kissed it to “make the pain go away.” And it worked! The little girl jumped up, climbed back on her bike, and pedaled on. Don’t you wish all our pains could go away that easily!

The apostle Paul experienced the comfort of God in his continual struggles yet kept going. He listed some of those trials in 2 Corinthians 11:23–29: floggings, beatings, stonings, sleep deprivation, hunger, concerns for all the churches. He learned intimately that God is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” (1:3) or as another version translates it: “He is the Father who gives tender love” (nirv). Much like a mom comforting her child, God bends down low to tenderly care for us in our pain.

God’s loving ways of comforting us are many and varied. He may give us a Scripture verse that encourages us to continue on, or He may have someone send a special note or prompt a friend to give us a call that touches our spirit. While the struggle may not go away, because God bends down low to help us, we can get up and pedal on.

By:  Anne Cetas

Reflect & Pray

In what ways has God comforted you? How can you be a comfort to others because of that?

Father of compassion, come near to me and hold me in Your arms where I can find rest and encouragement.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – The Confirmation from God

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3-4).

God confirmed the truth of the gospel preached through Christ with many miracles.

When Jesus preached the gospel, He performed miracles that made what He said believable. He said, “Though you do not believe Me, believe the works” (John 10:38). Jesus claimed to be from God, then made it obvious He really was from God.

Nicodemus came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “No one can do these signs that You do unless God is with Him” (John 3:2). Jesus confirmed His ministry by His own miracles. Peter reiterated that fact on the day of Pentecost: “Jesus the Nazarene [was] a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs” (Acts 2:22).

God also gave these same confirming signs to His second generation of preachers—the apostles—so no one could dispute the validity of their message. What the apostles said was not their own opinion; it was divine truth substantiated by signs, wonders, and miracles.

Signs, wonders, and miracles are synonyms referring to all the supernatural things the apostles did. But the apostles also confirmed the Word with “gifts of the Holy Spirit.” That’s a reference to the temporary sign gifts described in Scripture, such as tongues and healings, not to the permanent edifying gifts given to the church for all time.

Today God attests to the gospel with the miracle of His written Word. Let it not be said that you neglected Jesus Christ. History confirms that hours of neglect cost Napoleon Waterloo. Neglecting Christ’s salvation will cost you eternal blessing and joy and bring you damnation. Don’t allow yourself to drift past God’s grace.

Suggestion for Prayer

Thank God for His Word, and that through it you have all the truth you need to communicate the gospel.

For Further Study

Read Acts 5-19 and list all the miracles performed by the apostles to confirm the gospel.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Success Starts with Your Thoughts

We destroy every proud obstacle that keeps people from knowing God. We capture their rebellious thoughts and teach them to obey Christ.

— 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NLT)

Nobody is successful in any venture just by wishing they would be. Successful people make a plan and talk to themselves about that plan constantly. You can think things on purpose, and if you make what you think about match what you actually want to do, your feelings may not like it, but they will go along.

I slept great last night, and when I woke up at 5:00 a.m., I didn’t feel like getting up. It was so cozy under the fluffy cover, and I felt like staying right there. But I had a plan. I had decided how many hours I would write today, and in order to do that I had to get up. I thought, I am going to get up now, and I got up!

Do you make an effort to choose your thoughts, or do you just meditate on whatever falls into your head, even if it is in total disagreement with what you have said you want out of life? When your thoughts are going in a wrong direction, do you capture them and submit them to Christ as the Bible instructs (see 2 Cor. 10:5)?

I want to encourage you today—the good news is you can change. As I have said for years, we are in a war and the mind is the battlefield. We either win or lose our battles based on winning or losing the war in our minds. Learn to think according to the Word of God, and your emotions will start lining up with your thoughts.

If you have had years of experiencing wrong thinking and letting your emotions lead you as I did, making the change may not be easy, and it will definitely require a commitment of study, time, and effort. But the results will be worth it. Don’t say, “I am just an emotional person, and I can’t help the way I feel.” Take control. You can do it!

Prayer of the Day: Father, please help me think thoughts that You approve of and quickly cast down the ones that You don’t approve of. Help me think things that are pleasing to You and that will release Your power into my life.

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg – A Warning Against Idleness

I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense, and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns; the ground was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down … A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest…

Proverbs 24:30-31, Proverbs 24:33

Imagine driving down the road and coming to a house that is broken down and overgrown with weeds. First, you assume that no one lives there. But then you see someone through a broken window. You wonder if the owner is sick and unable to care for the property. Then they wander outside and they look full of health. It turns out that they are simply lazy.

That, of course, is the scene described in this proverb: a sluggard lives on the land, and his vineyard is a testimony to his laziness.

Sluggards don’t set out with the desire to live in poverty and disgrace. Rather, when challenged with work, their attitude is marked by key characteristics that many of us may find in our own lives if we are willing to gaze into the mirror of God’s word.

A sluggard doesn’t merely enjoy his bed; he is hinged to it, making a lot of movement but no progress towards anything substantial (Proverbs 26:14). He never flat-out refuses to do anything. Rather, he just puts off tasks bit by bit, moment by moment, and deceives himself into thinking he will get around to them.

A sluggard is also masterful at making excuses. Possessing no mind to work, she always finds reasons to continue in her idleness. There is nothing difficult about taking out the overflowing trash bag, but the sluggard will rationalize her failure to follow through on even the simplest of duties.

Sluggards will, quite ironically, always be hungering for fulfillment, because, by virtue of their posture of heart, they never find it. It’s always “out there somewhere,” but it’s never realized. The souls of sluggards crave and gets nothing, not because they can’t but because they won’t. In their overabundance of rest, they are restless.

When laziness comes to mark our existence, we may convince ourselves that we really are prepared to run ten miles, start writing that paper, or finish that project—but we are only living in the realm of imagination until our reality is changed by God’s power and grace.

Beware of looking at idleness as some sort of minor detail or small problem. Laziness is not an infirmity. It is a sin. Little by little it can affect the whole of our lives, growing with unperceived power—and Satan is longing to lull us into defeat. In what ways are you tempted to be lazy? What are you putting off or making excuses for, and why? Will you confront this sin and ask God to help you deal with it ruthlessly, immediately, and consistently?


2 Thessalonians 3:6-15

Topics: Laziness Sin

Devotional material is taken from the Truth For Life daily devotional by Alistair Begg,

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – Jesus Was Born to Mary as the Holy Son of God

“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35b)

One of the most incredible facts about Christmastime is that it is the celebration a miraculous birth, a birth that never could have happened if it had not been for a divine miracle (a miracle of God). There was no human way possible for Mary, a God-fearing woman (but still a sinner), to have been able to give birth to God Himself in human form. Jesus was 100% man, but He was also 100% God. Not only is it impossible for a normal birth to happen without an earthly father, but even the earthly mother of Jesus was a human being. Jesus’ birth was not going to be “normal,” because even though He was coming in authentic human form, He is also God (the Creator of humans). He always has been and always will be God. For a sinful human being to give birth to God would have to have been a miracle!

We are human beings, and all of our mothers were sinners, too, like Mary was. Some of us have been given God-fearing homes, and some of us have parents who do not even know Who Jesus Christ was. As human beings, we are limited by our sinfulness and by our human limitations. We cannot explain the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, and we cannot even understand it. But we can trust in it as a true fact – however incredible it is – because God’s Word teaches it clearly, and God’s Word is our most reliable Source of truth.

Think about your mother, and think about yourself. She is not perfect, and neither are you. You are probably reminded every day that you are not perfect. What a miracle it was for God to send Himself, in all His divine perfections, down to Earth to seek and to save sinful human beings.

This Christmas season, celebrate the incredible yet trustworthy truth: God accomplished that miracle of the virgin birth. He did it for His own glory and for our best good.

Jesus Christ had a miraculous birth, and God deserves all the glory for it.

My Response:
» Is the doctrine of the miraculous birth of Christ difficult for me to understand?
» Do I believe the Bible is God’s Word to me, even when it teaches difficult truths?
» Am I praising God for all the good and great things He did in sending His Son to be the Savior?

Denison Forum – President Zelensky visits the US on his first trip abroad

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington, DC, yesterday on his first trip outside his homeland since it was invaded by Russia exactly three hundred days ago.

He met with President Biden in the afternoon and addressed a joint session of Congress last night. Prior to his arrival, President Biden announced that he is sending nearly $2 billion in additional security assistance to Ukraine. Congress is poised to pass more than $44 billion in additional military and economic aid to Ukraine as part of its omnibus funding bill.

I thought President Zelensky’s address to Congress was especially stirring. He spoke movingly of the sacrifices his people are making: “In two days we will celebrate Christmas. Maybe candlelit. Not because it’s more romantic, no, but because there will not be—there will be no electricity.”

To those who question our financial support of Ukraine, he said, “Your money is not charity. It’s an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.” He also declared, “The struggle will define in what world our children and grandchildren will live in.”

The same day, Russian President Vladimir Putin presided over the launch of a major new Siberian gas field to help drive a planned surge in supply to China. His country is obviously an existential threat to Ukraine and its neighbors, and his nuclear capacities make him a danger to the world. However, Russia is not yet the clear and present danger to the United States that the old Soviet Union represented.

This is good news for our country. But is it bad news for our faith?

Three reasons for the decline of American Christianity

Pew Research Center estimates that Christians could make up a minority of Americans by 2070. According to sociology professor Stephen Bullivant, a practicing Catholic who teaches in London and Sydney, there are three main reasons for this decline in religious commitment and the concomitant rise of the nonreligious: the Cold War, 9/11, and the internet.

The Cold War pitted Christian America against godless communism in the eyes of many Americans. However, in response to 9/11, a “new atheism” rose to prominence: public figures such as Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, and Richard Dawkins claimed that religion produces terrorists and gave intellectual respectability to religious skepticism. Along the way, the internet has provided support for people who are questioning their faith by offering community with fellow doubters.

Bullivant admits that cultural issues such as abortion and gay marriage have played a factor in the current exodus from the church, but he notes that denominations such as the Episcopal Church have adopted progressive theological positions but still lost members in droves.

His analysis aligns with a narrative we have seen in the decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union: the USSR gave the US an external enemy that united our disparate cultural blocs in a common cause. Confronting the existential threat of nuclear annihilation forced our political parties to work together in ways we have not since the USSR fell. Apart from a brief moment of patriotism after 9/11, we have not experienced such unity for decades.

If, in fact, our unity was based on external enemies more than internal cohesion, it’s hard to see what could unify us again apart from a cataclysmic crisis.

How the world changes

Architect, writer, and inventor Buckminster Fuller observed, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

From the printing press to the iPhone, cultural history has proven him right. But Fuller’s thesis was never more powerfully demonstrated than it was twenty centuries ago in a manger in a tiny town south of Jerusalem.

The world into which Jesus was born was as divided and divisive as ours. While the “Pax Romana” prevailed through military force and subjugation to the Empire, the culture of the first century was conflicted and confused in the extreme.

A plethora of religions and worldviews competed with each other, including Greek and Roman mythology, mystery cults, Judaism, and philosophical schools such as neo-Platonism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, Cynicism, and Skepticism. Jewish society was divided into supporters of Rome such as the Sadducees, zealots plotting to overthrow the Empire, legalists like the Pharisees, and those who were caught in the midst of their conflicts.

Into this dark and divided culture came the “light of the world” (John 9:5). His movement transcended the cultural and spiritual divides of his day with a new hope unlike any the world could offer. He promised his followers, “Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).

Of course, the key is to “follow” Jesus.

The only path to true peace

St. Ambrose (340–397) was one of the greatest theologians in Christian history and a seminal contributor to the conversion of St. Augustine. Referring to our bodies as God’s temple, he urged us to “maintain this house, sweep out its secret recesses until it becomes immaculate and rises as a spiritual temple for a holy priesthood, firmly secured by Christ, the cornerstone.”

Ambrose also noted: “Christ is the image of God and so any good or religious act that a soul performs magnifies that image of God in that soul, the God in whose likeness the soul itself was made. And thus the soul itself has some share in its greatness and is ennobled.”

Billy Graham made the same point more simply but no less profoundly: “In the same proportion that the world has trusted Christ, it has peace.”

Is your heart at peace today?

If not, why not?

Denison Forum