This article was published by The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Friday, February 9, 2018:
There is scarcely a newborn Christian who doesn’t know and rejoice in the Apostle Paul’s confirmation of his salvation in his letter to baby Christians living in Ephesus in the first century. It’s Ephesians Chapter 2, verses 8 through 10. First, the New International Version (NIV):
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Some consider the New Living Translation (NLT) to be a little more “user-friendly”:
God saved you by His grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this: it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago.
When President Trump deliberately and intentionally inserted part of this into his speech on Thursday at the Prayer Breakfast attended by an estimated 3,000 evangelicals, he was sending a message: I am saved by the grace of God through faith.
Trump started off his speech by giving God the credit for His many blessings He has bestowed upon the American republic:
Our founders invoked our Creator four times in the Declaration of Independence; our currency declares “In God We Trust,” and we place our hands on our hearts as we recite the pledge of allegiance and proclaim we are one nation under God. That is why the words “Praise be to God” are etched atop the Washington Monument, and those same words are etched into the hearts of our people. So today we praise God for how truly blessed we are to be American….
And then he treaded where the previous president most certainly feared to go: Trump unabashedly quoted from part of Paul’s letter, using the precious name of his Savior in the process:
As the Bible tells us, we are God’s handiwork, created in Jesus Christ to do good works … all we have to do is open our eyes and look around us, and we can see God’s hand. In the courage of our fellow citizens, we see the power of God’s love and work in our souls, and the power of God’s will to answer all of our prayers.
George Barna thinks he knows when Trump first became a believer. Writing in his book “The Day Christians Changed America,” it was in September 2015 when he met with 40 evangelical leaders in a private meeting. As Barna reported:
Among those present were David Jeremiah, Jan Crouch, Paula White, Robert Jeffress, Kenneth Copeland, and black pastors Darrell Scott and Clarence McClendon.
After the substantive portion of the meeting ended, many of the pastors and others present felt led to pray for Trump; they laid hands on him and asked for God’s blessing and guidance for this man.
Barna was tentative in describing what happened next:
Somewhere along the line it seems that Trump may have discovered enough spiritual truth to embrace Jesus Christ as his savior.
It was James Dobson, the former head of Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, who revealed his belief that Trump had become a born-again Christian. In the face of initial consternation and disbelief in the evangelical community, Dobson clarified his statement:
Only the Lord knows the condition of a person’s heart. I can only tell you what I’ve heard. First, Trump appears to be tender to things of the Spirit. I also hear that Paula White [a believer whom some refer to as Trump’s spiritual advisor] has known Trump for years and that she personally led him to Christ….
This man is a baby Christian who doesn’t have a clue about how believers think, talk, and act.
One clue to the confirmation Trump expressed in his talk on Thursday is the consternation expressed by the liberal media. The New York Times is fit to be tied. Times writer Noah Weiland simply doesn’t know what to do with this. The day before Trump’s speech at the Prayer Breakfast, he penned an article in which he decried the fact that the “front door [to the White House] is open to evangelicals,” quoting the Rev. Johnnie Moore, a Southern Baptist minister. Said Moore, “It hasn’t been evangelicals reaching into the White House. It’s been the White House reaching out to evangelicals. Not a day goes by when there aren’t a dozen evangelical leaders in the White House for something.”
Weiland noted that Moore, a former Liberty University vice president, is only one of about a half-dozen people in Trump’s informal evangelical advisory group that pays regular visits to the White House. Others include Tim Clinton (Director of Liberty University’s Center for Counseling and Pastoral Care, and certainly no relation to Bill or Hillary), Robert Jeffress, Darrell Scott, Samuel Rodriguez, and Paula White. In restrained horror, Weiland noted that these meetings “start with policy briefings from West Wing staff and agency officials and end with impromptu visits to the Oval office, where Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will banter, then pray, with them.”
As so many have before him, Trump started as a baby Christian, gaining insight, confidence and boldness to profess his faith with the passage of time and support from his evangelical friends. Thursday’s Prayer Breakfast speech gave him an opportunity to flex his spiritual wings more broadly than ever before, confounding people like Weiland but confirming suspicions in the evangelical community that Trump is one of them.
The New York Times: Evangelicals, Having Backed Trump, Find White House ‘Front Door Is Open’
Voice of America: Trump Addresses Staunch Supporters at Annual Prayer Breakfast
ChristianToday.com: Trump at National Prayer Breakfast: ‘We are God’s handiwork’