April 22-23, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 04/22/2017

Cleveland Man Randomly Shoots Elderly Man Dead in Video Posted to Facebook, Says He Is on Killing Spree   Apr 16, 2017 06:58 pm

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to reflect that Stephens uploaded the video of the shooting to Facebook after-the-fact, and did not broadcast it live as the Cleveland Police Department originally reported. Facebook later released a statement clarifying that the video was uploaded as opposed to live.  CLEVELAND, Ohio — A major manhunt is underway…

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Entire Faculty Senate at Christian College Resigns After Pro-Homosexual Professor Denied Promotion   Apr 17, 2017 05:56 pm

Photo Credit: John Phelan WENHAM, Mass. — All seven members of the faculty Senate at a Christian college in Massachusetts have resigned after a professor who has advocated for changes in the evangelical school’s policies on homosexual behavior was recently denied a promotion. According to reports, Margaret DeWeese-Boyd, an assistant professor of sociology…

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Jimmy Carter Says He Can’t ‘Judge’ Whether or Not Man Is Christian Despite Doubts About Resurrection   Apr 19, 2017 11:35 am

Former President Jimmy Carter, a professing Christian who teaches Sunday School at a Baptist Church in Georgia, told liberal op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof that he can’t judge whether or not someone is a Christian despite their doubts about Christ’s virgin birth and resurrection. In his April 15th piece in the New York Times entitled “President Carter, Am I a…

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Muslim Man Seeking to Enforce Sharia Law in Minneapolis Neighborhood   Apr 15, 2017 04:41 pm

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — Residents in a Minneapolis neighborhood are expressing concern about a Muslim man who is seeking to enforce the “civil part of sharia law” among Islamic residents. Abdullah Rashid, 22, who just moved to the Cedar-Riverside section of the city last year, told the Star Tribune that it is his desire to turn the neighborhood into…

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North Carolina Lawmakers Present Bill Declaring Supreme Court ‘Gay Marriage’ Ruling ‘Null and Void’   Apr 18, 2017 04:49 pm

Pittman RALEIGH, N.C. — Four Republican lawmakers in North Carolina recently presented a bill that would declare the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on “gay marriage” to be “null and void,” but the House speaker has considered it dead and won’t bring it up for a hearing. Reps. Larry Pittman of Concord, Michael Speciale of New Bern, Carl Ford of Rowan County…

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Abortionist Confronts Christians With Remains of Young Unborn Child to Assert It’s ‘Not a Baby’   Apr 21, 2017 11:08 am

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — A video recorded outside of a Las Vegas abortion facility captures a Jewish abortionist confronting a group of Christians with a container holding the remains of an early gestated child in an attempt to assert that he was not killing babies. Approximately 10 sidewalk counselors stood outside of A-Z Women’s Center on Saturday to urge parents…

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Virginia Woman Accused of Self-Aborting Baby, Burying Dead Infant in Back Yard   Apr 16, 2017 09:40 am

NORTH CHESTERFIELD, Va. — A Virginia woman is facing criminal charges after allegedly self-aborting her unborn baby and then burying the dead infant in her back yard. Michelle Roberts, 43, was recently indicted by a grand jury on a felony charge of procuring an abortion “with intent to destroy her unborn child.” According to reports, police had received a…

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College Football Coach Unfazed After Atheist Group Takes Issue With Social Media Posts   Apr 18, 2017 06:01 am

OXFORD, Miss. – The head football coach at the largest university in Mississippi continues to publish Bible verses and Christian messages on his personal Twitter account, even after a prominent professing atheist organization took issue with his posts and demanded that he stop promoting religion on social media. Hugh Freeze is the head coach of the football team…

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Ex-Alabama Governor’s Former Church Refutes Claim Bentley Was Expelled Over Affair   Apr 20, 2017 03:29 pm

Photo Credit: Sutherland Boswell MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The former pastor to now-ex Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is refuting reports fueled by testimony from a former aide to Dianne Bentley that Gov. Bentley was expelled from the church over his inappropriate relations with his senior advisor. Gil McKee, the senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa,…

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Alabama Supreme Court Affirms Suspension of Chief Justice Roy Moore Over ‘Gay Marriage’ Memo   Apr 19, 2017 05:21 pm

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A special panel of the Alabama Supreme Court comprised of randomly-selected retired judges has unanimously affirmed the term-long suspension of Chief Justice Roy Moore, who was found guilty of ethics violations by the state Court of the Judiciary (COJ) over his 2016 memo surrounding the issue of same-sex “marriage.” “Because we have previously…

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WEEKEND SNAPSHOT

APR. 22, 2017
TOP STORIES THIS WEEK
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“You know a Republican’s in the White House when he fires missiles into Syria, drops a MOAB on ISIS, and Sunday’s big story is his tax returns.” —Twitter satirist @hale_razor


CAIR To Help Teach Your Kids Sharia Law

A school board in the United States that refuses to allow any symbols or images regarding Christmas and the birth of Jesus Christ, voted to allow an outside group of Muslim activists to begin the process of indoctrination of young American children…..

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Barack Che Guevara Obama Back to Kick Off the Revolution

The curse of Marxist Revolution is upon us with the return to the pubic spotlight of Private Citizen FORMER President Barack Obama at the University of Chicago where he will fill the ranks of the Revolution by luring university students into lifelong Community Organizer duty.

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ACC VIDEO: Obama’s back and he’ll be talking “community organizing” at The University of Chicago on Monday. Like it’s a legit thing.

See the comments for this video at our Facebook page.

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LGBT movement’s other goal: Lower age of consent to 10 years old for psychiatric therapy – without parents’ knowledge or consent!

MassResistance reports:

Fresh from the recent victory stopping the LGBT movement’s “anti-therapy” bill in the Colorado Legislature, pro-family people are up against an equally frightening bill that has been filed and just passed its first hurdle toward becoming law. It’s the latest among similar laws that are being quietly passed across the country.

The LGBT lobby is quietly but forcefully pushing for laws to allow children as young as 10 years old to “decide” they need psychiatric therapy – without their parents’ knowledge or consent. LGBT-allied “therapists” could push vulnerable children to affirm and accept homosexual and transgender “identity” and behaviors as “normal.”

View article →


Top News – 4/22-23/2017

Fatah Calls for Day of Rage
The West Bank’s ruling party Fatah called on Palestinians to participate in a day of rage this Friday in support of the hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners. Maan, a Palestinian news agency, reported on Saturday that Fatah is urging Palestinians “to clash with the occupier at all friction points.” More than a thousand Palestinian prisoners, led by Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, who was convicted of five counts of murder, are carrying out a mass hunger strike in Israeli prisons.

Report: Pro-Assad militia base targeted in alleged Israel airstrike
The IDF struck a base belonging to a pro-Syrian militia near Quneitra early Sunday morning, al-Jazeera reported. In a statement released by The National Defense Forces (NDF), a pro-regime militia, the alleged Israeli strike targeted the Naba Fawar base, killing three fighters and wounding two others. The unconfirmed airstrike comes after the army confirmed that the IDF struck several positions in Syria following projectiles which landed in Israel’s Golan Heights on Friday…

Report: Global antisemitism drops 12%, but surges by 45% on US campuses
While violent incidents of antisemitism dropped 12% worldwide in 2016, US campuses saw a surge of 45% in antisemitism, according to data released Sunday…One of the most startling findings is a 45% increase in antisemitism on US campuses, which the report stated have become a hot-bed for antisemitism, often under the guise of anti-Zionism and due to increased pro-Palestinian movements, such as BDS on campuses.

Russian chief rabbi: France’s Jews should leave if Le Pen wins election
Russian Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar called on French Jews to leave their country if the far right politician Marine Le Pen is elected president next month…Le Pen recently called for banning the wearing of the kippah in public and for making it illegal for French nationals to also have an Israeli passport — steps she said were necessary because of the principle of equality in order to facilitate similar limitations on Muslims.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman reverses public sector pay cuts
Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has reinstated bonuses and special allowances for civil servants and military personnel that had been cut last September as part of austerity measures when oil revenues were low. The king fired his civil service minister and put him under investigation for abuse of office. He also named his son Prince Khalid as new ambassador to the US.

“Total Chaos” – Cyber Attack Feared As Multiple Cities Hit With Simultaneous Power Grid Failures
The U.S. power grid appears to have been hit with multiple power outages affecting San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Officials report that business, traffic and day-to-day life has come to a standstill in San Francisco, reportedly the worst hit of the three major cities currently experiencing outages…The cause of the outage has not yet been made clear, though given the current geo-political climate it is not out of the question to suggest a cyber attack could be to blame.

North Koreans Go Back to Work at Nuclear Site, Analysts Say
North Korea appears to have resumed work at its nuclear test site after a perplexing series of volleyball matches were held there, according to analysts who studied satellite images of the site, renewing concerns that a major weapons test could be imminent…From the commercial imagery dating from Wednesday, they noted what looked like trailers near the portal of a tunnel where they said North Korea appeared to have been preparing for a nuclear test, which would be its sixth.

North Korea says ready to strike U.S. aircraft carrier
North Korea said on Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a U.S. carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific. U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to rising tension over the North’s nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies.

Germany AfD: Right-wingers set to move further right
The populist, anti-immigrant Alternative for Germany (AfD) has rejected a bid by its co-leader to move the party closer to the mainstream. Frauke Petry had wanted the AfD to seek coalition with other parties and reject extremist views but delegates in Cologne rejected her approach.

“The Retail Bubble Has Now Burst”: A Record 8,640 Stores Are Closing In 2017
“Thousands of new doors opened and rents soared. This created a bubble, and like housing, that bubble has now burst.” – Richard Hayne, Urban Outfitters CEO, March 2017

Central Banks Give “All Clear” To BTFD If French Election Upsets Market
“The central bank is ready for any shocks that should materialize [after the French election]… Intervening very quickly is really very easy now given the instruments we have… But as we have seen in similar cases, no need has really been observed. And the reason is that all market participants know that these instruments are there to be used.”

Did Russia Shoot Down US Missiles In Syria
“The missing [missiles] were either brought down by S-300 battery or were taken over by Russian electronic jamming and were plunged into the sea,” explains Dr. Karasik. “Now, this alternative theory means that the US and Russia have already clashed if you will—technically—with the use of the TLAMs (Tomahawk missiles) and then being intercepted or taken over by Russian control.”

Opposition: Missiles knock out hospital in Syria’s north
Missiles struck a medical center in Syria’s northern rebel-held province, putting the facility built underground for protection out of service and killing a number of its staff, opposition activists said Saturday.

Venezuelans march in memory of those killed in unrest
Thousands of Venezuelans dressed in white marched in the capital Saturday to pay homage to the at least 20 people killed in anti-government unrest in recent weeks.

Netanyahu: If Palestinians want peace, ‘prove it’ by halting payments to terrorists
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Friday that if the Palestinians truly desire peace with Israel, they must first “come clean” and put an end to “rewarding terrorism.” During a interview with Fox News television host Sean Hannity, Netanyahu claimed that the Palestinian Authority, lead by Mahmoud Abbas, has spent much of the financial aid they receive on paying terrorist and their families at the expense of the American tax-payer.

Russia complains to US over exclusion from Syria chemical probe
Russia has told the United States it regrets Washington’s opposition to letting its inspectors take part in an investigation into a chemical weapons attack in Syria earlier this month, the foreign ministry said on Friday. It said Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke by phone to US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and the two sides agreed to consider one more time an “objective investigation into the incident” under the aegis of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

IDF strikes targets in Syria after projectile fire lands in Israel’s Golan
The IDF struck sources in Syria from where errant fire emanated and hit open areas on the northern Golan Heights on Friday afternoon, the military confirmed. Two rockets landed in open territory on the Golan Heights Friday afternoon. No damage or injuries were reported. According to initial estimates, the projectiles were thought to have been errant fire from fighting in the civil war across the border in Syria.

Afghan casualties in Taliban Mazar-e Sharif attack pass 100
More than 100 Afghan soldiers were killed or wounded in a Taliban attack on an army base on Friday, the defence ministry has confirmed. Fighting lasted for several hours near the city of Mazar-e Sharif in northern Balkh province. Insurgents targeted those leaving Friday prayers at the base’s mosque and others in a canteen, the army said.

US to honour ‘dumb’ Australia migrant deal
The United States has confirmed it will be going through with a migrant resettlement plan made with Australia. US President Donald Trump once called the deal, which was agreed under his predecessor, “dumb”. The agreement allows for up to 1,250 asylum seekers to Australia to resettle in the US.

German riot police deployed for AfD Cologne conference
Thousands of police officers are being deployed in Cologne, Germany, in case of violence at left-wing protests against an Alternative fuer Deutschland (AfD) party conference there. The AfD, a populist right-wing and anti-Islam party, will seek to choose a new co-leader to take it up to a general election later this year. Demonstrators on Saturday carried banners saying “Block the Nazis”.

Communist Party membership numbers climbing in the Trump era
The Communist Party USA (CPUSA) has been receiving membership requests ever since Donald Trump was elected President…Since its establishment, the CPUSA has lived through the inter-war period and Cold War repression, which practically forced the organization underground. Of the country’s 300 million inhabitants, the organization currently has some 5,000 members nationwide.

US naval armada to be in Sea of Japan in days
The US supercarrier Carl Vinson will arrive in the Sea of Japan in days, Vice President Mike Pence said in Australia Saturday amid high tensions with North Korea. The Trump administration has been trying to clear the waters after sending out confusing messages concerning the whereabouts of the Vinson carrier group that supposedly was steaming toward North Korea last week.

Netanyahu: Palestinians need to stop paying terrorists
In an interview with Fox News, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed peace prospects with the Palestinians, saying, “I think the first test of peace is to say to them, ‘Hey, you want peace? Prove it. Confront terrorism, stop rewarding terrorism, stop paying terrorists.” The interview with Netanyahu was conducted by host Sean Hannity, who accompanied US Secretary of Defense James Mattis on his visit to Israel.

Trump orders review of financial rules to prevent future crises
U.S. President Donald Trump ordered the Treasury Department on Friday to examine two powers given to regulators to police large financial companies following the 2008 financial crisis, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said. In his first visit to the Treasury building, Trump signed two memos that analysts view as largely affirming existing priorities he has outlined.

Dutch ‘abortion boat’ arrives off Mexico
A Dutch sailing boat offering abortions, often in defiance of some country’s laws, arrived in international waters off Mexico, the organization crewing it said. The “Women on Waves” vessel was expelled from near Guatemala in February without carrying out a single pregnancy termination.

Russian Planes Buzz Alaska Four Nights in a Row
American and Canadian fighter planes scrambled to intercept two Russian TU-95 “Bear” bombers Thursday night, marking the fourth consecutive night of Russian probes near the Alaskan coast, U.S. defense officials said Friday.

US forces kill ISIS leader’s crony
A crony of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi who was tied to the deadly New Year’s nightclub bombing in Turkey was killed by US forces in Syria, the US Central Command announced Friday.

Trump Administration Begins Quiet Preparations For Government Shutdown
“Until this week, shutdown threat seemed very low as Congressional GOP leadership, appropriators hammered out spending agreements, were on same page as Democrats. That went sideways when White House pushed more confrontational approach on ObamaCare, immigration.”

Satellite Images Suggest North Korea May Have Resumed Nuclear Test Preparations
Satellite images of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site from April 19 indicate that North Korea may have resumed preparations for a possible imm

Marine Le Pen gets poll boost after Paris attack as Donald Trump says her chances of victory have improved
Donald Trump has said the Paris terrorist attack would boost Marine Le Pen’s presidential chances after a last-minute poll gave her a modest increase in support.

Iran Wants to Import Tons of Uranium. Opponents of the Nuclear Deal Want the Trump Administration to Say No.
The Trump administration is facing pressure to definitively rule out a longstanding request by Iran to import 950 tons of natural uranium, according to government sources and proliferation experts who spoke to THE WEEKLY STANDARD. Tehran has signaled it will petition again for the yellowcake next week at a quarterly meeting in Vienna regarding implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal.

The enigma of Assad: How a painfully shy eye doctor turned into a murderous tyrant
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad never seemed cut out to be a dictator. As a young man, Assad—the second son of strongman president Hafez al-Assad—was so painfully shy that in conversation, “he wouldn’t look in your eye…he covered his mouth with his hands when he talked, and spoke in a low voice,” says Ayman Abdel Nour, a university friend.


Top Headlines – 4/22-23/2017

Netanyahu issues stern warning on Iran in exclusive interview with Fox News

Netanyahu: If Palestinians want peace, ‘prove it’ by halting payments to terrorists

‘There will be no Palestinian state without Gaza’

Number of Palestinian prisoners quitting hunger strike hits 186

Why Are Christian Organizations Supporting Anti-Israel Hate?

Chinese jihadis’ rise in Syria raises concerns at home

Opposition: Missiles knock out hospital in Syria’s north

Pope says some refugee centres ‘concentration camps’

Thousands of ex-Taliban fighters may have entered Germany

North Korea threatens to strike US aircraft carrier to show ‘military’s force’

Kim Jong Un party paradise: North Korean dictator’s resort revealed as his people starve

French consulate in New York evacuated after bomb threat

Presidential election could lead to rioting in French cities, intelligence agencies warn

Security tight as France goes to the polls in presidential vote

Russian chief rabbi: France’s Jews should leave if Le Pen wins

In or out? EU is hot-button issue in French vote

Global Finance Leaders Grapple With Globalization Fears

Venezuela’s socialist hell

Venezuelans march in memory of those killed in unrest

Brick-and-Mortar Stores Are Shuttering at a Record Pace

“Total Chaos” – Cyber Attack Feared As Multiple Cities Hit With Simultaneous Power Grid Failures

Driverless cars are learning from Grand Theft Auto

March for (Political) Science: Earth Day rally doubles as latest anti-Trump protest

Trump on Earth Day: ‘Rigorous science is critical to my administration’

Earth Day Co-Founder Killed, Composted His Girlfriend

5.9 magnitude earthquake hits near Valparaiso, Chile

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Burgos, Philippines

Klyuchevskoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 19,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 16,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Paos volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 10,000ft

State Dept. Workers Called Religious Freedom Specialists ‘Whack Jobs,’ Former Official Says

Netanyahu: Palestinians must make ‘real change’ for peace

US Secretary of Defense to Netanyahu: ‘Committed to next generation living in peace’

State Democrats roiled by resolution opposing Israeli settlements

Israeli soldiers escort Palestinian children to school in order to avoid possible violence from nearby settlements

Cynically led, and out of electricity, Gaza is close to breaking point again

Palestinians ask Red Cross to intervene in hunger strike

Holocaust denial leaflets strewn at 2 Australian universities

US files charges against teen accused of JCC bomb threats

Israel-Sinai border crossing re-opens, terror threat remains in place

Lebanese PM asks UN to help seek permanent truce with Israel

As Syria continues to disintegrate, the chances increase that a new conflict with Hezbollah will erupt

IDF attacks Syria in response to mortar hits in Golan

Syria: Israeli retaliation proof it supports rebels

Jordan rejects Assad claim it plans to send troops to Syria

Syria chemical weapons: ‘No doubt’ Damascus retains stocks

Russia complains to US over exclusion from Syria chemical probe

Syrians babies called ‘Putin’ in honour of Russian president

The enigma of Assad: How a painfully shy eye doctor turned into a murderous tyrant

ISIS moves its capital in Syria

Isis leader behind Turkey nightclub attack is killed by US forces in secretive raid

Greater power, less restraint: Turkey’s new constitution lets Erdogan call the shots

Saudi Arabia, a kingdom built on oil, plans a future beyond it

Over 100 killed, wounded in Taliban attack on Afghan military base: govt

Paris gunman named as small-time criminal apparently inspired by Islamic State

France investigates Champs-Elysees attacker as presidential vote looms

Following Paris shooting, French presidential hopefuls go on attack

French Jewish leader: Our democracy is in ‘real danger’

Trump: Paris killing will ‘probably help’ Le Pen in France

Rep. King on Growing Terror Threat: ‘This Is a Multi-Pronged War’

Iran: Group claims regime is ‘in full gear’ on covert work on nuclear weapons

Iran Wants to Import Tons of Uranium. Opponents of the Nuclear Deal Want the Trump Administration to Say No.

Liberman: Crucial to place more pressure and sanctions on Iran

Pence: Peaceful outcome for Korean peninsula still possible

South Korea on heightened alert as North Korea readies for army anniversary

Russia: North Korea border troop movements ‘our business’

US supercarrier to arrive in Sea of Japan in days: Pence

Gas stations in North Korea’s main city restrict services, speculation that China is reducing supply

US Treasury rejects Exxon Mobil request to drill in Russia

Russian Planes Buzz Alaska Four Nights in a Row

FBI suspects Russia tried to infiltrate Trump campaign through advisers

WikiLeaks releases more top-secret CIA docs as U.S. considers charges

As US prioritises Julian Assange arrest, UK hints Sweden comes first

Trump Administration Begins Quiet Preparations For Government Shutdown

The White House Seems Excited to Shut Down the Government

U.S. states realign in legal battle over Trump’s travel ban

Trump tells young immigrants in US illegally to ‘rest easy’ – ‘dreamers’ will not be targets for deportation: ‘We are after the criminals’

DOJ puts nine sanctuary cities on notice; New York, Chicago, Philadelphia make name-and-shame list

“Enough is enough”: Sessions slams sanctuary cities during border trip

Trump admin aims to start border wall by ‘the end of the summer’

Berkeley Is Being Tested on 2 Fronts: Free Speech and Safety

Power outage cripples San Francisco for seven hours

Drones used for first time in major search at Grand Canyon

Elon Musk on mission to link human brains with computers in four years

Thousands of tiny satellites are about to go into space and possibly ruin it forever

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits off the coast of Ecuador

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Selendi, Turkey

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 13,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 13,000ft

Poas volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 10,000ft

At least 16 killed in Colombia floods: government

India: New Delhi to face more dangerous heat after enduring hottest April day since 2010

Could more than 600,000 California jobs be lost due to water restrictions?

Dutch ‘abortion boat’ arrives off Mexico

In 7 US states, rape victims can be legally forced to share custody of their children with their rapist fathers – The realities of such laws make rape victims who conceive more likely to consider abortion

Hillary Clinton blasts Trump on LGBT rights

Caitlyn Jenner Warns Trump: You ‘Mess’ with LGBT Community, ‘I’m Coming After You’

‘They Starve You. They Shock You’: Inside the Anti-Gay Pogrom in Chechnya

Another doctor, and his wife, arrested in genital mutilation case

Muslims to March on Amazon Over Prayer Breaks

Blasphemy Blocks Re-Election of Indonesia’s Only Christian Governor


Cyber Attack Feared As Multiple U.S. Cities Hit With Simultaneous Power Grid Failures Over Last 24 Hours

The U.S. power grid appears to have been hit with multiple power outages affecting San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles in what some are now calling a cyber attack

Officials report that business, traffic and day-to-day life has come to a standstill in San Francisco, reportedly the worst hit of the three major cities currently experiencing outages. Power companies in all three regions have yet to elaborate on the cause, though a fire at a substation was the original reason given by San Francisco officials.

A series of subsequent power outages in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York City left commuters stranded and traffic backed up on Friday morning. Although the outages occurred around the same time, there is as of yet no evidence that they were connected by anything more than coincidence.

The first outage occurred at around 7:20 a.m. in New York, when the power went down at the 7th Avenue and 53rd Street subway station, which sent a shockwave of significant delays out from the hub and into the rest of the subway system. By 11:30 a.m. the city’s MTA confirmed that generators were running again in the station, although the New York subways were set to run delayed into the afternoon.

Later in the morning, power outages were reported in Los Angeles International Airport, as well as in several other areas around the city.

Via : Inverse

The San Francisco Fire Department was responding to more than 100 calls for service in the Financial District and beyond, including 20 elevators with people stuck inside, but reported no immediate injuries. Everywhere, sirens blared as engines maneuvered along streets jammed with traffic.

Traffic lights were out at scores of intersections, and cars were backing up on downtown streets as drivers grew frustrated and honked at each other.

Via: SF Gate

The cause of the outage has not yet been made clear, though given the current geo-political climate it is not out of the question to suggest a cyber attack could be to blame. It has also been suggested that the current outages could be the result of a secretive nuclear/EMP drill by the federal government.

As we have previously reported, the entire national power grid has been mapped by adversaries of the United States and it is believed that sleep trojans or malware may exist within the computer systems that maintain the grid.

In a 2016 report it was noted that our entire way of life has been left vulnerable to saboteurs who could cause cascading blackouts across the United States for days or weeks at a time:

It isn’t just EMPs and natural disaster that poses a threat to the grid, but there is also the potential for attacks on individual power substations in the vast network of decentralized and largely unguarded power grid chain. A U.S. government study established that there would be “major, extended blackouts if more than three key substations were destroyed.”

Whether by criminals, looters, terrorists, gangs or pranksters, it would take very little to bring down the present system, and there is currently very little the system can do to protect against this wide open threat.

Whether the current outages are the result of a targeted infrastructure cyber attack or simply a coincidence, most Americans think the impossible can’t happen, as The Prepper’s Blueprint author Tess Pennington highlights, a grid-down scenario won’t just be a minor inconvenience if it goes on for more than a day or two:

Consider, for a moment, how drastically your life would change without the continuous flow of energy the grid delivers. While manageable during a short-term disaster, losing access to the following critical elements of our just-in-time society would wreak havoc on the system.

  • Challenges or shut downs of business commerce
  • Breakdown of our basic infrastructure: communications, mass transportation, supply chains
  • Inability to access money via atm machines
  • Payroll service interruptions
  • Interruptions in public facilities – schools, workplaces may close, and public gatherings.
  • Inability to have access to clean drinking water

It is for this reason that we have long encouraged Americans to prepare for this potentially devastating scenario by considering emergency food reserves, clean water reserves and even home defense strategies in the event of a widespread outage. The majority of Americans have about 3 days worth of food in their pantry. Imagine for a moment what Day 4 might look like in any major city that goes dark. source


March For Science And Earth Day Combine To Promote End Times Gaia Worship And Pagan Idoloatry

“science in universal, science points out the best in us., with an informed, optimistic view of the the future we can – dare I say it – save the world!”

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. Grace be with thee. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6:20,21 (KJV)

On April 22, 2017, liberal, atheists, agnostics, pagans and liberals of all stripes from around the globe participated in an event called March For Science. In a “rolling my eyes” coincidence, it just happened to land on Earth Day as well. Rounding out the mix were various anti-Trump protests sprinkled in for added flavor.

One of the main speakers at an event in Washington was world-renowned agnostic Bill Nye “The Science Guy“, who proudly preached the gospel of lost people everywhere when he said “science in universal, science points out the best in us., with an informed, optimistic view of the the future we can – dare I say it – save the world!” Umm, no Bill, science is not going to save the world.

March For Science events around the world:

The world still hasn’t caught up to the ‘breaking news’ found in the King James Bible

The millions of people who participated in these events around the world yesterday probably thought that they were on the cutting-edge of modern day 2017 “happening now” events, but they are about 2,000 years behind the times. Why? Because my King James Bible, in the first chapter of Romans, saw this day coming from a long way off.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.” Romans 1:18-23 (KJV)

What are those verses talking about? Romans 1 is telling you that the day will come when lost people would worship the creation that God made instead of the One who made it in the first place. That “day” was on full view yesterday with the March For Science and Earth Day. Bill Nye absolutely echoed the hopes and dreams of those many pagan millions when he said that “science will save us”. Sorry, Bill, science will not and cannot save you. Only Jesus can save your soul.

March For Science Earth Day Compilation  2017 Washington DC:

Lost people have a religion, they have a congregation, the gospel of Climate Change, and they have preachers and evangelists. Watch the video below to see what I’m talking about. This is how pagans “do church”. Enjoy!

In these days now before the Rapture of the Church, lost people are preaching the gospel of science and Gaia worship. In the time of Jacob’s trouble, they again will call out to nature but for a very different reason. They will cry out to the Earth to hide them from the wrath of God, take a look at this:

“And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:15-17 (KJV)

As it turns out, the vast majority of pagan Liberals, after they miss the Rapture, don’t get saved in the Tribulation either. They stick with science and Earth worship right to the bitter end. In a highly-ironic twist, their final resting place is in the “heart of the earth” they loved so much.

In a place called Hell.

“But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.” Luke 12:5 (KJV)

truth-about-heaven-hell-are-real-if-you-were-to-die-tonight-where-would-you-go-street-preacher-nteb

CLICK TO WATCH A SHORT 5 MINUTE VIDEO PRESENTING THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT HEAVEN AND HELL


DEVELOPING: North Korea has arrested and detained 3rd US citizen.

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 07:32 AM PDT

A third US citizen has been arrested and remains in custody in North Korea, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap.  A Korean-American professor in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea threatens to sink US aircraft carrier with a ‘single strike’ 

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 07:25 AM PDT

North Korea has vowed to sink the USS Carl Vinson, which is scheduled to arrive in the waters around the Korean peninsula “within days.” Meanwhile,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Threatens Australia With Nuclear Strike For Siding With America

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 02:37 PM PDT

North Korea has warned Australia of a possible nuclear strike if it continues to “blindly and zealously toe the US line.” It comes after Australian…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Warns China of “Catastrophic Consequences” If They Stand With America

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 02:33 PM PDT

North Korea has apparently asked China not to step up anti-North sanctions, warning of “catastrophic consequences” in their bilateral relations. Pyongyang issued the warning through…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

From corn to cattle, gene editing is about to “supercharge” agriculture

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 01:55 PM PDT

Corn isn’t the sexiest crop but it’s one of the most important. It’s the most abundant grain on Earth, used as food and biofuel around…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists Baffled By Huge Object Lurking At Edge Of The Solar System

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 01:47 PM PDT

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article. Ever since enthusiasm started growing over the possibility that there could be a ninth major…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Researchers developing self-destructing bacteria probiotic

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 01:42 PM PDT

As resistance to antibiotics grows in the U.S., researchers are looking for new ways to fight germs like Clostridium difficile, a bacterium that can cause…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

School-Issued Computers ‘Spy’ on Children Without Parental Consent

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 01:36 PM PDT

A new report finds that, under the guise of “personalized learning,” school-issued computer devices — now distributed to one-third of K-12 students in schools across…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Sharia Law Advocate to Give Commencement Speech at Taxpayer-Funded University

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 01:23 PM PDT

There’s been some controversy after the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate School of Public Health announced a pro-Palestinian Sharia Law advocate will serve…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Netanyahu Issues Stern Warning to Iran – Cannot Allow Development Of Nuclear Weapon

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 01:17 PM PDT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday in an exclusive Fox News interview that the world cannot allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon. Netanyahu theorized…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

French Presidential Candidate: Islamic ‘Preachers of Hate Should Be Expelled, Their Mosques Closed’

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 01:11 PM PDT

French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen told reporters on Friday that the country should ban Islamic hate preachers and close their mosques in light of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Warns Arsenal of Nuke Missiles May Reach California

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 01:06 PM PDT

North Korea has threatened the US with ‘full out war’ as it’s claimed Kim Jong-un may have the technology to hit California with a nuclear…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: North Korea May Perform Next Nuclear Test This Week!

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 12:58 PM PDT

North Korea appears to have resumed work at its nuclear test site after a perplexing series of volleyball matches were held there, according to analysts…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

1 In 5 Adults Don’t Know How To Change Light Bulb and Boil and Egg

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 12:50 PM PDT

Are you handy enough that if a lightbulb went out in your home you’d be able to change it? Believe it or not, one in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Vending machine at the UC Davis campus dispenses Plan B pills

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 12:43 PM PDT

Students at UC Davis can now press A4 for Plan B. A new vending machine in a University of California Davis study room traded the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

NK warns of wiping America off face of the Earth – Accuses US of plotting chemical weapons attack

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 12:40 PM PDT

North Korea has warned it will wipe America “off the face of the Earth” after accusing the US of planning a chemical weapons attack. In…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Multiple Cities Hit With Simultaneous Power Grid Failures…

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 06:55 AM PDT

The U.S. power grid appears to have been hit with multiple power outages affecting San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles. Officials report that business,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Is It Ok for Christians to Listen to Secular Music?

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 06:49 AM PDT

It may not rise to the level of justification by works versus justification by faith alone, but the debate over whether or not Christians should…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Over a million people are descending in Africa for massive prayer gathering

Posted: 22 Apr 2017 06:46 AM PDT

In the biggest recorded prayer gathering in Africa, with over 1,7 million tickets given away already, South Africans are taking to their knees this weekend…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Thousands Of Dead Fish Washing Up On Shores Of McKinley Park Lagoon

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 07:58 PM PDT

Possibly thousands of dead fish — and countless others that are gasping for their last breaths — have piled up on the shores of McKinley…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Popocatepetl volcano explodes three times in the last 24 hours

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 07:45 PM PDT

The Popocatépetl volcano exhaled 77 times in the last 24 hours sending low amounts of water vapor, gas and ash in the sky. Moreover, 3…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russian military aircraft fly off US coast for the 4th Time in Past 4 Days

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 07:33 PM PDT

Russian military aircraft were spotted flying off the coast of Alaska for the fourth time in as many days, a spokesperson for the North American…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Turkey’s President Dreams of “New Ottoman Empire”

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 04:52 PM PDT

As Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, continues to consolidate power in the formerly secular nation, one of the foremost experts on Middle East geopolitics is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Feds to Deploy Facial Recognition Tech at Border Checkpoints

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 04:45 PM PDT

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is planning to unveil a facial recognition program that will track visa holders at U.S. airports while using the same…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Are You Calling the Works of God the Work of the Devil?

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 04:42 PM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will discuss the dangers of attributing the work of the Holy Spirit to the Devil and how many…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Transgender Teen Suing Virginia School District Named One of Time’s ‘100 Most Influential People’

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 04:28 PM PDT

A transgender student born female who is suing a Virginia school district over not being allowed to use boys’ restrooms was named one of Time…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US nuclear submarine seen crossing the Panama Canal

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 11:00 AM PDT

A US nuclear submarine transited the Panama Canal in the early hours of Monday, April 17, according to the Panama Canal Authority. The ship was…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Discerning the Devil’s Customized Plan Against You

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 10:55 AM PDT

(By Kyle Winkler) Since the Garden of Eden, the devil has honed his skills on presenting his bait. And Peter gives us a glimpse into…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Coronal Hole From Sun Could Put Power Grids In Danger – Produce Mass-Blackouts

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 10:50 AM PDT

A Giant fissure has opened across the Sun and is spewing rapid solar winds toward our planet. NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory got wind of the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pro-Weed ‘Nuns’ Embark On Perverted Healing Mission

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 10:43 AM PDT

The Sisters of the Valley, California’s self-ordained “weed nuns,” are on a mission to heal and empower women with their cannabis products. Based near the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Massive Power Outage Strikes San Francisco – 90,000 Without Power

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 10:40 AM PDT

A massive power outage in San Francisco on Friday morning caused a blackout in neighborhoods across the city, from the Financial District to the Presidio,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WAR DRUMS: Japanese destroyers join US strike group amid tensions on Korean Peninsula

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 10:36 AM PDT

Two Japanese Navy destroyers have joined the carrier strike group ‘USS Carl Vinson’ heading towards the Korean Peninsula for a massive show of force as…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn’t decide or didn’t care. But Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today don’t understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They’re content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That’s why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).

C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!

JESUS IS HOLY

God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13).

As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy (Hebrews 4:15). Even His enemies couldn’t prove any accusation against Him (John 8:46)

God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

Our failure to obey God—to be holy—places us in danger of eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ … died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

Some people think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless

If you take poison—thinking it’s medicine—all the faith in the world won’t restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you’re trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God—then and forever.

JESUS IS LORD

Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority (Philippians 2:10-11). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection—the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son (Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31).

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That doesn’t mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge.

Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you—free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose. Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

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The Left’s Ultimate Plan For the World Finally Revealed

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

I love frontpagemag.com.

As a strong Conservative, I know that I can go to this news source to get Truth.  They cut to the chase, call progressivism what it really is: Communism – and make no apologies for standing firm on their Conservative convictions.  They know what’s coming.  We all know what’s coming; but frontpagemag is using this window of time to expose the Left Wing loonies and to tell TRUTH.

We thought that perhaps the “window of time” would be extended for freedom of speech for Conservatives after Trump was elected. We see just the opposite happening.  Our First Amendment right of freedom of speech is on shakier ground than ever before in our history.  The Left follow Satan. Satan is angry, so therefore his followers are throwing caution to the wind, and have declared an all out war on Conservatism.

Recently, a so-called blogger posted a piece on…

View original post 1,613 more words

April 23, 2017: Verse of the day

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96:11–13 All creation is invited to join in the festal joy as the Lord (Jehovah, or Yahweh) arrives to rule the world. The heavens will be happy. The earth will be glad. “The sea and all within it will thunder praise” (Gelineau). No field will be silent, and “no tree in the forest but will rejoice to greet its Lord’s coming” (Knox). For He is coming to rule over the world. He will rule in perfect righteousness and in absolute honesty.

“Now therefore, why do you say nothing about bringing back the king?” (2 Sam. 19:10).[1]


96:11, 12 This is what even inanimate creation awaits (cf. Ro 8:19–22).[2]


96:10–13 Let All Nations Know that the Lord Will Judge in Righteousness. The Gentiles addressed throughout this psalm (cf. vv. 1, 7) are to spread the news among all their fellow Gentiles (among the nations, v. 10; cf. v. 3), namely, that the Lord reigns! The universal rule of the one true God (who is above all other gods, who are worthless anyway, vv. 4–5) is good news to those who will acknowledge his kingship. These verses describe a time when God will judge (i.e., rule justly; see note on Psalm 96) the peoples with equity (v. 10; cf. v. 13). When all kinds of people gladly receive God’s rule, worshiping him according to his gracious character, the rest of the creation (the heavens, the earth, the sea, and the field with all their inhabitants, and the trees of the forest) will all celebrate (be glad, rejoice, roar, exult, and sing for joy). The creation suffers from the curse upon mankind, and from God’s discipline of wayward human beings, and from the evil that people do; but when they genuinely come under the rule of the true God, the blessings will spread throughout the world. Cf. note on Rom. 8:20–21.[3]


96:11–13 The psalmist describes personified creation as looking forward to Yahweh’s judgment, which will be right and fair. As Yahweh’s reign is fully established over everything in the way that it should be—with justice and equality (righteousness)—everything on heaven and earth that knows Yahweh will rejoice.[4]


96:11–13 These verses call us to sing to the Lord as the judge of the earth.

96:11 heavens be glad … earth rejoice. This verse and the one that follows personify the whole creation.

96:13 comes to judge. The sense is that He comes to put everything back into proper order, which is why the creation is rejoicing in vv. 11, 12.[5]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 696). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 96:11). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1060). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 96:11–13). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 944). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

April 23 – Hindrances to Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

✧✧✧

Sin and falsehood hinder true peace.

Just as righteousness and truth are the noble companions of peace, so sin and falsehood are its great hindrances. The prophet Jeremiah said, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately [evil]; who can understand it?” (Jer. 17:9). Jesus said, “From within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts and fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21–23).

People with sinful hearts create a sinful society that resists true peace. Ironically, many who talk of peace will also pay huge sums of money to watch two men beat the daylights out of each other in a boxing ring! Our society’s heroes tend to be the macho, hard-nosed, tough guys. Our heroines tend to be free-spirited women who lead marches and stir up contention. Psychologists and psychiatrists tell us to stand up for our rights and get everything we can for ourselves. That breeds strife and conditions people to reject the peace of the gospel.

Furthermore, the unbelieving world has never tolerated God’s peacemakers. Christ Himself often met with violent resistance. His accusers said, “He stirs up the people” (Luke 23:5). Paul’s preaching frequently created conflict as well. He spent much time under house arrest and in filthy Roman prisons. On one occasion his enemies described him as “a real pest … who stirs up dissension among all the Jews throughout the world” (Acts 24:5).

All who proclaim the gospel will eventually meet with opposition because sin and falsehood have blinded people’s hearts to true peace. That’s why Paul warned us that all who desire to be godly will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12). You can avoid strife by remaining silent about the Lord, but a faithful peacemaker is willing to speak the truth regardless of the consequences. Let that be true of you.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for Christ, who is the solution for the world’s problem of sin and falsehood. ✧ Follow Paul’s example by praying for boldness to proclaim God’s truth at every opportunity (Eph. 6:19).

For Further Study: Read Matthew 10:16–25, noting the kind of reception the disciples were to expect from unbelievers.[1]


Happy Are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (5:9)

The God of peace (Rom. 15:33; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9) has emphasized that cherished but elusive reality by making peace one of the dominant ideas of His Word. Scripture contains four hundred direct references to peace, and many more indirect ones. The Bible opens with peace in the Garden of Eden and closes with peace in eternity. The spiritual history of mankind can be charted based on the theme of peace. Although the peace on earth in the garden was interrupted when man sinned, at the cross Jesus Christ made peace a reality again, and He becomes the peace of all who place their faith in Him. Peace can now reign in the hearts of those who are His. Someday He will come as Prince of Peace and establish a worldwide kingdom of peace, which will eventuate in ultimate peace, the eternal age of peace.

But one of the most obvious facts of history and of human experience is that peace does not characterize man’s earthly existence. There is no peace now for two reasons: the opposition of Satan and the disobedience of man. The fall of the angels and the fall of man established a world without peace. Satan and man are engaged with the God of peace in a battle for sovereignty.

The scarcity of peace has prompted someone to suggest that “peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload.” In 1968 a major newspaper reported that there had been to that date 14,553 known wars since thirty-six years before Christ. Since 1945 there have been some seventy or so wars and nearly two hundred internationally significant outbreaks of violence. Since 1958 nearly one hundred nations have been involved in some form of armed conflict.

Some historians have claimed that the United States has had two generations of peace-one from 1815 to 1846 and the other from 1865 to 1898. But that claim can only be made if you exclude the Indian wars, during which our land was bathed in Indian blood.

With all the avowed and well-intentioned efforts for peace in modern times, few people would claim that the world or any significant part of it is more peaceful now than a hundred years ago. We do not have economic peace, religious peace, racial peace, social peace, family peace, or personal peace. There seems to be no end of marches, sit-ins, rallies, protests, demonstrations, riots, and wars. Disagreement and conflict are the order of the day. No day has had more need of peace than our own.

Nor does the world honor peace as much by its standards and actions as it does by its words. In almost every age of history the greatest heroes have been the greatest warriors. The world lauds the powerful and often exalts the destructive. The model man is not meek but macho. The model hero is not self-giving but self-seeking, not generous but selfish, not gentle but cruel, not submissive but aggressive, not meek but proud.

The popular philosophy of the world, bolstered by the teaching of many psychologists and counselors, is to put self first. But when self is first, peace is last. Self precipitates strife, division, hatred, resentment, and war. It is the great ally of sin and the great enemy of righteousness and, consequently, of peace.

The seventh beatitude calls God’s people to be peacemakers. He has called us to a special mission to help restore the peace lost at the Fall.

The peace of which Christ speaks in this beatitude, and about which the rest of Scripture speaks, is unlike that which the world knows and strives for. God’s peace has nothing to do with politics, armies and navies, forums of nations, or even councils of churches. It has nothing to do with statesmanship, no matter how great, or with arbitration, compromise, negotiated truces, or treaties. God’s peace, the peace of which the Bible speaks, never evades issues; it knows nothing of peace at any price. It does not gloss or hide, rationalize or excuse. It confronts problems and seeks to solve them, and after the problems are solved it builds a bridge between those who were separated by the problems. It often brings its own struggle, pain, hardship, and anguish, because such are often the price of healing. It is not a peace that will be brought by kings, presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, or international humanitarians. It is the inner personal peace that only He can give to the soul of man and that only His children can exemplify.

Four important realities about God’s peace are revealed: its meaning, its Maker, its messengers, and its merit.

The Meaning of Peace: Righteousness and Truth

The essential fact to comprehend is that the peace about which Jesus speaks is more than the absence of conflict and strife; it is the presence of righteousness. Only righteousness can produce the relationship that brings two parties together. Men can stop fighting without righteousness, but they cannot live peaceably without righteousness. Righteousness not only puts an end to harm, but it administers the healing of love.

God’s peace not only stops war but replaces it with the righteousness that brings harmony and true well-being. Peace is a creative, aggressive force for goodness. The Jewish greeting shalom wishes “peace” and expresses the desire that the one who is greeted will have all the righteousness and goodness God can give. The deepest meaning of the term is “God’s highest good to you.”

The most that man’s peace can offer is a truce, the temporary cessation of hostilities. But whether on an international scale or an individual scale, a truce is seldom more than a cold war. Until disagreements and hatreds are resolved, the conflicts merely go underground-where they tend to fester, grow, and break out again. God’s peace, however, not only stops the hostilities but settles the issues and brings the parties together in mutual love and harmony.

James confirms the nature of God’s peace when he writes, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable” (James 3:17). God’s way to peace is through purity. Peace cannot be attained at the expense of righteousness. Two people cannot be at peace until they recognize and resolve the wrong attitudes and actions that caused the conflict between them, and then bring themselves to God for cleansing. Peace that ignores the cleansing that brings purity is not God’s peace.

The writer of Hebrews links peace with purity when he instructs believers to “pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Peace cannot be divorced from holiness. “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” is the beautiful expression of the psalmist (Ps. 85:10). Biblically speaking, then, where there is true peace there is righteousness, holiness, and purity. Trying to bring harmony by compromising righteousness forfeits both.

Jesus’ saying “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34) seems to be the antithesis of the seventh beatitude. His meaning, however, was that the peace He came to bring is not peace at any price. There will be opposition before there is harmony; there will be strife before there is peace. To be peacemakers on God’s terms requires being peacemakers on the terms of truth and righteousness-to which the world is in fierce opposition. When believers bring truth to bear on a world that loves falsehood, there will be strife. When believers set God’s standards of righteousness before a world that loves wickedness, there is an inevitable potential for conflict. Yet that is the only way.

Until unrighteousness is changed to righteousness there cannot be godly peace. And the process of resolution is difficult and costly. Truth will produce anger before it produces happiness; righteousness will produce antagonism before it produces harmony. The gospel brings bad feelings before it can bring good feelings. A person who does not first mourn over his own sin will never be satisfied with God’s righteousness. The sword that Christ brings is the sword of His Word, which is the sword of truth and righteousness. Like the surgeon’s scalpel, it must cut before it heals, because peace cannot come where sin remains.

The great enemy of peace is sin. Sin separates men from God and causes disharmony and enmity with Him. And men’s lack of harmony with God causes their lack of harmony with each other. The world is filled with strife and war because it is filled with sin. Peace does not rule the world because the enemy of peace rules the world. Jeremiah tells us that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick [or wicked]” (Jer. 17:9). Peace cannot reign where wickedness reigns. Wicked hearts cannot produce a peaceful society. “ ‘There is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord” (Isa. 48:22).

To talk of peace without talking of repentance of sin is to talk foolishly and vainly. The corrupt religious leaders of ancient Israel proclaimed, “Peace, peace,” but there was no peace, because they and the rest of the people were not “ashamed of the abominations they had done” (Jer. 8:11–12).

“From within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21–23). Sinful men cannot create peace, either within themselves or among themselves. Sin can produce nothing but strife and conflict. “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing,” James says. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:16–18).

Regardless of what the circumstances might be, where there is conflict it is because of sin. If you separate the conflicting parties from each other but do not separate them from sin, at best you will succeed only in making a truce. Peacemaking cannot come by circumventing sin, because sin is the source of every conflict.

The bad news of the gospel comes before the good news. Until a person confronts his sin, it makes no sense to offer him a Savior. Until a person faces his false notions, it makes no sense to offer him the truth. Until a person acknowledges his enmity with God, it makes no sense to offer him peace with God.

Believers cannot avoid facing truth, or avoid facing others with the truth, for the sake of harmony. If someone is in serious error about a part of God’s truth, he cannot have a right, peaceful relationship with others until the error is confronted and corrected. Jesus never evaded the issue of wrong doctrine or behavior. He treated the Samaritan woman from Sychar with great love and compassion, but He did not hesitate to confront her godless life. First He confronted her with her immoral living: “You have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18). Then He corrected her false ideas about worship: “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:21–22).

The person who is not willing to disrupt and disturb in God’s name cannot be a peacemaker. To come to terms on anything less than God’s truth and righteousness is to settle for a truce-which confirms sinners in their sin and may leave them even further from the kingdom. Those who in the name of love or kindness or compassion try to witness by appeasement and compromise of God’s Word will find that their witness leads away from Him, not to Him. God’s peacemakers will not let a sleeping dog lie if it is opposed to God’s truth; they will not protect the status quo if it is ungodly and unrighteous. They are not willing to make peace at any price. God’s peace comes only in God’s way. Being a peacemaker is essentially the result of a holy life and the call to others to embrace the gospel of holiness.

The Maker of Peace: God

Men are without peace because they are without God, the source of peace. Both the Old and New Testaments are replete with statements of God’s being the God of peace (Lev. 26:6; 1 Kings 2:33; Ps. 29:11; Isa. 9:6; Ezek. 34:25; Rom. 15:33; 1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Thess. 3:16). Since the Fall, the only peace that men have known is the peace they have received as the gift of God. Christ’s coming to earth was the peace of God coming to earth, because only Jesus Christ could remove sin, the great barrier to peace. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:13–14).

I once read the story of a couple at a divorce hearing who were arguing back and forth before the judge, accusing each other and refusing to take any blame themselves. Their little four-year-old boy was terribly distressed and confused. Not knowing what else to do, he took his father’s hand and his mother’s hand and kept tugging until he finally pulled the hands of his parents together.

In an infinitely greater way, Christ brings back together God and man, reconciling and bringing peace. “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19–20).

How could the cross bring peace? At the cross all of man’s hatred and anger was vented against God. On the cross the Son of God was mocked, cursed, spit upon, pierced, reviled, and killed. Jesus’ disciples fled in fear, the sky flashed lightning, the earth shook violently, and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. Yet through that violence God brought peace. God’s greatest righteousness confronted man’s greatest wickedness, and righteousness won. And because righteousness won, peace was won.

In his book Peace Child (Glendale, Calif.: Regal, 1979), Don Richardson tells of his long struggle to bring the gospel to the cannibalistic, headhunting Sawi tribe of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Try as he would, he could not find a way to make the people understand the gospel message, especially the significance of Christ’s atoning death on the cross.

Sawi villages were constantly fighting among themselves, and because treachery, revenge, and murder were highly honored there seemed no hope of peace. The tribe, however, had a legendary custom that if one village gave a baby boy to another village, peace would prevail between the two villages as long as the child lived. The baby was called a “peace child.”

The missionary seized on that story as an analogy of the reconciling work of Christ. Christ, he said, is God’s divine Peace Child that He has offered to man, and because Christ lives eternally His peace will never end. That analogy was the key that unlocked the gospel for the Sawis. In a miraculous working of the Holy Spirit many of them believed in Christ, and a strong, evangelistic church soon developed-and peace came to the Sawis.

If the Father is the source of peace, and the Son is the manifestation of that peace, then the Holy Spirit is the agent of that peace. One of the most beautiful fruits the Holy Spirit gives to those in whom He resides is the fruit of peace (Gal. 5:22). The God of peace sent the Prince of Peace who sends the Spirit of peace to give the fruit of peace. No wonder the Trinity is called Yahweh Shalom, “The Lord is Peace” (Judg. 6:24).

The God of peace intends peace for His world, and the world that He created in peace He will one day restore to peace. The Prince of Peace will establish His kingdom of peace, for a thousand years on earth and for all eternity in heaven. “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’ ” (Jer. 29:11). Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The one who does not belong to God through Jesus Christ can neither have peace nor be a peacemaker. God can work peace through us only if He has worked peace in us.

Some of the earth’s most violent weather occurs on the seas. But the deeper one goes the more serene and tranquil the water becomes. Oceanographers report that the deepest parts of the sea are absolutely still. When those areas are dredged they produce remnants of plant and animal life that have remained undisturbed for thousands of years.

That is a picture of the Christian’s peace. The world around him, including his own circumstances, may be in great turmoil and strife, but in his deepest being he has peace that passes understanding. Those who are in the best of circumstances but without God can never find peace, but those in the worst of circumstances but with God need never lack peace.

The Messengers of Peace: Believers

The messengers of peace are believers in Jesus Christ. Only they can be peacemakers. Only those who belong to the Maker of peace can be messengers of peace. Paul tells us that “God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15) and that “now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). The ministry of reconciliation is the ministry of peacemaking. Those whom God has called to peace He also calls to make peace. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us” (2 Cor. 5:19–20).

At least four things characterize a peacemaker. First, he is one who himself has made peace with God. The gospel is all about peace. Before we came to Christ we were at war with God. No matter what we may consciously have thought about God, our hearts were against Him. It was “while we were enemies” of God that “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). When we received Christ as Savior and He imputed His righteousness to us, our battle with God ended, and our peace with God began. Because he has made peace with God he can enjoy the peace of God (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15). And because he has been given God’s peace he is called to share God’s peace. He is to have his very feet shod with “the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15).

Because peace is always corrupted by sin, the peacemaking believer must be a holy believer, a believer whose life is continually cleansed by the Holy Spirit. Sin breaks our fellowship with God, and when fellowship with Him is broken, peace is broken. The disobedient, self-indulgent Christian is not suited to be an ambassador of peace.

Second, a peacemaker leads others to make peace with God. Christians are not an elite corps of those who have spiritually arrived and who look down on the rest of the world. They are a body of sinners cleansed by Jesus Christ and commissioned to carry His gospel of cleansing to the rest of the world.

The Pharisees were the embodiment of what peacemakers are not. They were smug, proud, complacent, and determined to have their own ways and defend their own rights. They had scant interest in making peace with Rome, with the Samaritans, or even with fellow Jews who did not follow their own party line. Consequently they created strife wherever they went. They cooperated with others only when it was to their own advantage, as they did with the Sadducees in opposing Jesus.

The peacemaking spirit is the opposite of that. It is built on humility, sorrow over its own sin, gentleness, hunger for righteousness, mercy, and purity of heart. G. Campbell Morgan commented that peacemaking is the propagated character of the man who, exemplifying all the rest of the beatitudes, thereby brings peace wherever he comes.

The peacemaker is a beggar who has been fed and who is called to help feed others. Having been brought to God, he is to bring others to God. The purpose of the church is to preach “peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). To preach Christ is to promote peace. To bring a person to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most peacemaking act a human being can perform. It is beyond what any diplomat or statesman can accomplish.

Third, a peacemaker helps others make peace with others. The moment a person comes to Christ he becomes at peace with God and with the church and becomes himself a peacemaker in the world. A peacemaker builds bridges between men and God and also between men and other men. The second kind of bridge building must begin, of course, between ourselves and others. Jesus said that if we are bringing a gift to God and a brother has something against us, we are to leave our gift at the altar and be reconciled to that brother before we offer the gift to God (Matt. 5:23–24). As far as it is possible, Paul says, “so far as it depends on [us],” we are to “be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). We are even to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, “in order that [we] may be sons of [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44–45).

By definition a bridge cannot be one-sided. It must extend between two sides or it can never function. Once built, it continues to need support on both sides or it will collapse. So in any relationship our first responsibility is to see that our own side has a solid base. But we also have a responsibility to help the one on the other side build his base well. Both sides must be built on righteousness and truth or the bridge will not stand. God’s peacemakers must first be righteous themselves, and then must be active in helping others become righteous.

The first step in that bridge-building process is often to rebuke others about their sin, which is the supreme barrier to peace. “If your brother sins,” Jesus says, “go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church” (Matt. 18:15–17). That is a difficult thing to do, but obeying that command is no more optional than obeying any of the Lord’s other commands. The fact that taking such action often stirs up controversy and resentment is no excuse for not doing it. If we do so in the way and in the spirit the Lord teaches, the consequences are His responsibility. Not to do so does not preserve peace but through disobedience establishes a truce with sin.

Obviously there is the possibility of a price to pay, but any sacrifice is small in order to obey God. Often confrontation will bring more turmoil instead of less-misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and resentment. But the only way to peace is the way of righteousness. Sin that is not dealt with is sin that will disrupt and destroy peace. Just as any price is worth paying to obey God, any price is worth paying to be rid of sin. “If your right eye makes you stumble,” Jesus said, “tear it out, and throw it from you; … And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt. 5:29–30). If we are unwilling to help others confront their sin, we will be unable to help them find peace.

Fourth, a peacemaker endeavors to find a point of agreement. God’s truth and righteousness must never be compromised or weakened, but there is hardly a person so ungodly, immoral, rebellious, pagan, or indifferent that we have absolutely no point of agreement with him. Wrong theology, wrong standards, wrong beliefs, and wrong attitudes must be faced and dealt with, but they are not usually the best places to start the process of witnessing or peacemaking.

God’s people are to contend without being contentious, to disagree without being disagreeable, and to confront without being abusive. The peacemaker speaks the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). To start with love is to start toward peace. We begin peacemaking by starting with whatever peaceful point of agreement we can find. Peace helps beget peace. The peacemaker always gives others the benefit of the doubt. He never assumes they will resist the gospel or reject his testimony. When he does meet opposition, he tries to be patient with other people’s blindness and stubbornness just as he knows the Lord was, and continues to be, patient with his own blindness and stubbornness.

God’s most effective peacemakers are often the simplest and least noticed people. They do not try to attract attention to themselves. They seldom win headlines or prizes for their peacemaking, because, by its very nature, true peacemaking is unobtrusive and prefers to go unnoticed. Because they bring righteousness and truth wherever they go, peacemakers are frequently accused of being troublemakers and disturbers of the peace-as Ahab accused Elijah of being (1 Kings 18:17) and the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of being (Luke 23:2, 5). But God knows their hearts, and He honors their work because they are working for His peace in His power. God’s peacemakers are never unfruitful or unrewarded. This is a mark of a true kingdom citizen: he not only hungers for righteousness and holiness in his own life but has a passionate desire to see those virtues in the lives of others.

The Merit Of Peace: Eternal Sonship In The Kingdom

The merit, or result, of peacemaking is eternal blessing as God’s children in God’s kingdom. Peacemakers shall be called sons of God.

Most of us are thankful for our heritage, our ancestors, our parents, and our family name. It is especially gratifying to have been influenced by godly grandparents and to have been raised by godly parents. But the greatest human heritage cannot match the believer’s heritage in Jesus Christ, because we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Nothing compares to being a child of God.

Both huios and teknon are used in the New Testament to speak of believers’ relationship to God. Teknon (child) is a term of tender affection and endearment as well as of relationship (see John 1:12; Eph. 5:8; 1 Pet. 1:14; etc.). Sons, however, is from huios, which expresses the dignity and honor of the relationship of a child to his parents. As God’s peacemakers we are promised the glorious blessing of eternal sonship in His eternal kingdom.

Peacemaking is a hallmark of God’s children. A person who is not a peacemaker either is not a Christian or is a disobedient Christian. The person who is continually disruptive, divisive, and quarrelsome has good reason to doubt his relationship to God altogether. God’s sons-that is, all of His children, both male and female-are peacemakers. Only God determines who His children are, and He has determined that they are the humble, the penitent over sin, the gentle, the seekers of righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.

Shall be called is in a continuous future passive tense. Throughout eternity peacemakers will go by the name “children of God.” The passive form indicates that all heaven will call peacemakers sons of God, because God Himself has declared them to be His children.

Jacob loved Benjamin so much that his whole life came to be bound up in the life of that son (Gen. 44:30). Any parent worthy of the name loves his children more than his own life, and immeasurably more than all of his possessions together. God loves His children today as He loved Israel of old, as “the apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8; cf. Ps. 17:8). The Hebrew expression “apple of the eye” referred to the cornea, the most exposed and sensitive part of the eye, the part we are the most careful to protect. That is what God’s children are to Him: those whom He is most sensitive about and most desires to protect. To attack God’s children is to poke a finger in God’s eye. Offense against Christians is offense against God, because they are His very own children.

God puts the tears of His children in a bottle (Ps. 56:8), a figure reflecting the Hebrew custom of placing into a bottle the tears shed over a loved one. God cares for us so much that He stores up His remembrances of our sorrows and afflictions. God’s children matter greatly to Him, and it is no little thing that we can call Him Father.

God’s peacemakers will not always have peace in the world. As Jesus makes clear by the last beatitude, persecution follows peacemaking. In Christ we have forsaken the false peace of the world, and consequently we often will not have peace with the world. But as God’s children we may always have peace even while we are in the world-the peace of God, which the world cannot give and the world cannot take away.[2]


5:9 A blessing is pronounced on the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. Notice that the Lord is not speaking about people with a peaceful disposition or those who love peace. He is referring to those who actively intervene to make peace. The natural approach is to watch strife from the sidelines. The divine approach is to take positive action toward creating peace, even if it means taking abuse and invective.

Peacemakers are called sons of God. This is not how they become sons of God—that can only happen by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12). By making peace, believers manifest themselves as sons of God, and God will one day acknowledge them as people who bear the family likeness.[3]


9 Jesus’ concern in this beatitude is not with the peaceful but with the peacemakers. Peace is of constant concern in both Testaments (e.g., Pr 15:1; Isa 52:7; Lk 24:36; Ro 10:15; 12:18; 1 Co 7:15; Eph 2:11–22; Heb 12:14; 1 Pe 3:11). But as some of these and other passages show, the making of peace can itself have messianic overtones. The Promised Son is called the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6); and Isaiah 52:7—“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ ”—linking as it does peace, salvation, and God’s reign, was interpreted messianically in the Judaism of Jesus’ day.

Jesus does not limit the peacemaking to only one kind, and neither will his disciples. In the light of the gospel, Jesus himself is the supreme peacemaker, making peace between God and man, and man and man. Our peacemaking will include the promulgation of that gospel. It must also extend to seeking all kinds of reconciliation. Instead of delighting in division, bitterness, strife, or some petty “divide and conquer” mentality, disciples of Jesus delight to make peace wherever possible. Making peace is not appeasement. The true model is God’s costly peacemaking (Eph 2:15–17; Col 1:20). Those who undertake this work are acknowledged as God’s sons. In the OT, Israel has the title “sons” (Dt 14:1; Hos 1:10; cf. Pss. Sol. 17:30; Wis 2:13–18). Now it belongs to the heirs of the kingdom, who, meek and poor in spirit, loving righteousness yet merciful, are especially equipped for peacemaking and so reflect something of their heavenly Father’s character. “There is no more godlike work to be done in this world than peacemaking” (Broadus). This beatitude must have been shocking to Zealots when Jesus preached it, when political passions were inflamed (Morison).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 126). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 209–218). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1217). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 165). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 23 – REJOICING IN TRIALS

But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.

1 Peter 4:13

The Apostle Peter stated a great Christian truth in the form of an amazing paradox: The obedient Christian believer will continue to rejoice and praise God even in the midst of continuing trials and suffering in this earthly life!

God’s people know that things here on this earth are not all they ought to be, but they refuse to join the worry brigade. They are too busy rejoicing in the gracious prospect of all that will take place when God fulfills His promises to His redeemed children.

This ability to rejoice is demonstrated throughout the Bible, and in the New Testament it rings forth like a silver bell!

The life of the normal believing child of God can never become a life of gloom and pessimism, for it is the Holy Spirit of God who keeps us above the kind of gloomy resignation that marks the secularism of the day.

We are still able to love the unlovely and to weep with those who weep, for in Peter’s words, “When Christ’s glory shall be revealed, you may be glad with exceeding joy!” (see 1 Peter 4:13).

 

Lord, thank You for helping me not just to cope but to rise above the difficult situations that face me at work, at home, and at church.[1]


Exult in Suffering

but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (4:13–14)

To the degree is a generous way to translate katho (“as,” “according to which”) and thus to show that Christians’ eternal reward is proportionate to their earthly suffering (cf. Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:16–18; Heb. 11:26; 2 John 8; Rev. 2:10). That is a reasonable relationship since suffering reveals faithfulness to their Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself noted this relationship between suffering and reward, saying,

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. (Luke 6:22–23)

Peter further enriches the endurance of those who are persecuted by stating that they share the sufferings of Christ. That is not in any redemptive sense; neither does it refer only to spiritual union with Him, as Paul describes in Romans 6. But it refers to believers experiencing the same kind of sufferings He endured—suffering for what is right. R. C. H. Lenski rightly elaborates the meaning of Peter’s expression:

The readers [of 1 Peter] are only in fellowship with the sufferings of Christ. This is a thought that is prominent and fully carried out by Paul in Rom. 8:17; II Cor. 1:7; 4:10; Phil. 1:29; 3:10; Col. 1:24. It goes back to Christ’s word (John 15:20, 21).

We fellowship Christ’s sufferings when we suffer for his name’s sake, when the hatred that struck him strikes us because of him. Never is there a thought of fellowshiping in the expiation of Christ’s suffering, our suffering also being expiatory. In Matt. 5:12 persecution places us in the company of the persecuted prophets (high exaltation indeed); here it places us in the company of Christ himself, into an even greater communion or [koinōnia]. Is that “a strange thing” or to be deemed strange? It is what we should deem proper, natural, to be expected, yea, as Peter says (following Matt. 5:12), a cause for joy. (The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude [reprint; Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1966], 203)

Christ who suffered at the hands of wicked men even though He was without sin (Isa. 53:9; Matt. 26:67; 27:12, 26, 29–31, 39–44; John 10:31, 33; 11:8; Acts 2:23) promised believers it would be their privilege to suffer in the same way when He said, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20).

To the degree that believers suffer unjustly, they should, as their Lord did, keep on rejoicing, a sentiment completely unacceptable to those who have no hope of heavenly reward, but affirmed by the Lord when He declared,

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt. 5:10–12)

The revelation of His glory will come in “the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:30), which refers to Christ’s return. The Lord resumed the full exercise of His glory after He ascended to heaven, but He has not yet revealed it on earth for everyone to see (cf. Matt. 24:30; Phil. 2:9–11; Rev. 19:11–16). (Peter, James, and John did get a preview of that glory when they witnessed Christ’s transfiguration [Mark 9:2–3; cf. 2 Peter 1:16–18].)

Peter’s second use of rejoice (chairō) in verse 13 is qualified by exultation (agalliaō), a reference to rapturous joy. When Christ returns, believers will rejoice with exultation (cf. the discussion of joy in chapter 3 of this volume), and do so in proportion to their share in His sufferings in this life. Those who share His sufferings will also share His glory (5:1; cf. Matt. 20:20–23). The saints’ suffering for righteousness proves them, refines them, and earns for them “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17) so that the greater their suffering the stronger their hope, and the richer their joy (cf. 2 Cor. 4:16–18; James 1:2).

The name of Christ is the cause of evil hatred directed toward believers (Matt. 10:22; 24:9). In the early days of the church, His name first became synonymous with the Savior Himself and all that He represents (cf. Luke 24:47; John 1:12; Acts 2:38; 4:17, 30; 9:15; 19:17). In Peter’s sermon before the Sanhedrin, he asserted, “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Later the apostles “went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (5:41). In His vision concerning the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and his subsequent preaching as Paul the apostle, Christ told Ananias of Damascus, “I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (9:16). It is not the name “Christ” that offends the ungodly, but rather who He is and what He said and did that causes hostility from them.

That animosity is summed up in the word reviled (oneidizō), meaning “to denounce,” or “to heap insults upon.” In the Septuagint it described hostility heaped at God and His people by the godless (Pss. 42:10; 44:16; 74:10, 18; cf. Isa. 51:7; Zeph. 2:8). In the New Testament it refers to the indignities and mistreatments Christ endured from sinners (Matt. 27:44; Mark 15:32; Rom. 15:3). In the first century, unbelievers were often exasperated and infuriated that believers were so frequently speaking of Christ, whose indictment of sinners they despised (cf. Acts 4:17–18; 17:1–7).

However, all the hatred and violence of the world against Christians does not diminish their blessedness. Actually they are more blessed for such suffering, not only for the eternal reward they will receive but for the present blessing, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on them. It is not merely because of suffering that the Holy Spirit will rest on believers, as when He came on and departed from an Old Testament prophet, but rather that He, already being in believers permanently (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19–20; 12:13), gives them supernatural relief in the midst of their suffering. Because the Spirit is God, divine glory defines His nature (cf. Pss. 93:1; 104:1; 138:5). Glory recalls the Shekinah, which in the Old Testament symbolized God’s earthly presence (Ex. 24:16–17; 34:5–8; 40:34–38; Hab. 3:3–4). When the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant were brought to Solomon’s newly dedicated temple, “the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:11). As the brilliant cloud of the Shekinah rested in the tabernacle and the temple, so the Holy Spirit lives in and ministers to believers today. Rests (from the present tense of anapauō) means “to give relief, refreshment, intermission from toil” (cf. Matt. 11:28–29; Mark 6:31), and describes one of His ministries. “Refreshment” comes on those believers who suffer for the sake of the Savior and the gospel. The Spirit gives them grace by imparting endurance, understanding, and all the fruit that comes in the panoply of His goodness: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22–23).

That kind of refreshment and divine power came upon Stephen, a leader in the Jerusalem church and its first recorded martyr. As he began to defend his faith before the Jewish leaders, they “saw his face like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). His demeanor signified serenity, tranquility, and joy—all the fruit of the Spirit—undiminished and even expanded by his suffering and the Holy Comforter’s grace to him. The Sanhedrin became enraged as Stephen rehearsed redemptive history to them from the Old Testament, an account that culminated in the atoning work of Jesus the Messiah. Stephen’s Spirit-controlled rest was evident as “he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’ ” (Acts 7:55–56). As his enemies stoned him to death, Stephen “called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep” (vv. 59–60). Truly the Spirit of glory elevated him above his suffering to sweet relief. That powerful work of the Spirit was the cause of Paul’s later testimony in 2 Corinthians 12:9–10, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”[2]


4:13 The privilege of sharing Christ’s sufferings should cause us great rejoicing. We cannot of course share His atoning sufferings; He is the only Sin-Bearer. But we can share the same kind of sufferings He endured as a Man. We can share His rejection and reproach. We can receive the wounds and scars in our bodies which unbelievers would still like to inflict on Him.

If the child of God can rejoice today in the midst of suffering, how much more will he rejoice and be glad when Christ’s glory is revealed. When the Savior comes back to earth as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, He will be revealed as the Almighty Son of God. Those who suffer now for His sake will be honored then with Him.[3]


13 Rather than be shocked or surprised at suffering, the readers are told to rejoice. The writer is not hereby glibly suggesting that one rejoices in suffering qua suffering. It is rather “in the Lord” (Php 4:4) that one rejoices. Believers “participate in the sufferings of Christ” (cf. Php 3:10, which speaks of “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings”), based on the believer’s union with Christ, and therefore can emit a response of “rejoicing.” The believer is united with Christ in his death as well as his resurrection (Ro 6:5–14), not in the sense of paying for our sins, as only the Son of God could do, but in the sense that “our old self was crucified with him … that we should no longer be slaves to sin … but alive to God” (Ro 6:6, 11). Rejoicing and shock stand at opposite ends, and a deep awareness of our union with Christ—and all that it entails—preserves the Christian from surprise that metastasizes into disenchantment and disillusionment. To expect suffering, it should be emphasized, is not to welcome it in some blindly fatalistic way; it is, however, to be realistic about our union with Christ.

The attitude of rejoicing in the context of suffering is further magnified by the cognizance of the coming revelation of Christ’s glory. Peter writes, “so that you may be overjoyed [lit., ‘that you may rejoice exultingly’] when his glory is revealed,” using the same strengthened form of “rejoice” (agalliaō, GK 22) as earlier (1:6, 8), and in the same context (Christ’s return). His theological rationale squares with that of Paul: “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Ro 8:17); “if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Ti 2:12). Suffering for Christ is a privilege and not a penalty (so Barclay, 258). In Petrine thinking, eschatology informs Christian ethics.[4]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 251–254). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2278). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 349–350). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 23 – THE WORD OF GOD: SHORTEST ROUTE TO SPIRITUAL PEACE

Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.

EPHESIANS 4:13

The work of God is not finished in the heart and life of the new believer when the first act of inward adjustment has given him a sense of cleansing and forgiveness, peace and rest for the first time in his life!

The Spirit would go on from there to bring the total life into harmony with that blissful “center.” This is wrought in the believer by the Word and by prayer and discipline and suffering.

It could be done by a short course in things spiritual if we were more pliable, less self-willed and stubborn; but it usually takes some time before we learn the hard lessons of faith and obedience sufficiently well to permit the work to be done within us with anything near to perfection.

In bringing many sons unto glory God works with whatever He has in whatever way He can and by whatever means He can, respecting always His own gift to us, the freedom of our wills. But of all means He uses, the Bible is the best.

The Word of God well understood and religiously obeyed is the shortest route to spiritual perfection, and we must not select a few favorite passages to the exclusion of others. Any tinkering with the truth, any liberties taken with the Scriptures, and we throw ourselves out of symmetry and invite stiff discipline and severe chastisement from that loving Father who wills for us nothing less than full restoration to the image of God in Christ![1]


The building up of the redeemed involves a two–fold ultimate objective, which Paul identifies as the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, out of which flow spiritual maturity, sound doctrine, and loving testimony.

Some commentators advocate the view that such an ultimate objective is only attainable at glorification, believing that Paul is describing our final heavenly unity and knowledge. But that idea does not fit the context at all, because the apostle is not describing the final work of Christ on behalf of the church in heaven but the work of gifted men in the church on earth. These results could only apply to the church in its earthly dimension.

Unity of the Faith

The ultimate spiritual target for the church begins with the unity of the faith (cf. v. 3). As in verse 5, faith does not here refer to the act of belief or of obedience but to the body of Christian truth, to Christian doctrine. The faith is the content of the gospel in its most complete form. As the church at Corinth so clearly illustrates, disunity in the church comes from doctrinal ignorance and spiritual immaturity. When believers are properly taught, when they faithfully do the work of service, and when the body is thereby built up in spiritual maturity, unity of the faith is an inevitable result. Oneness in fellowship is impossible unless it is built on the foundation of commonly believed truth. The solution to the divisions in Corinth was for everyone to hold the same understandings and opinions and to speak the same truths (1 Cor. 1:10).

God’s truth is not fragmented and divided against itself, and when His people are fragmented and divided it simply means they are to that degree apart from His truth, apart from the faith of right knowledge and understanding. Only a biblically equipped, faithfully serving, and spiritually maturing church can attain to the unity the faith. Any other unity will be on a purely human level and not only will be apart from but in constant conflict with the unity of the faith. There can never be unity in the church apart from doctrinal integrity.

Knowledge of Christ

The second result of following God’s pattern for building His church is attaining the knowledge of the Son of God. Paul is not talking about salvation knowledge but about the deep knowledge (epignōsis, full knowledge that is correct and accurate) through a relationship with Christ that comes only from prayer and faithful study of and obedience to God’s Word. After many years of devoted apostleship Paul still could say, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, … that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings. … Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:8–10, 12). Paul prayed that the Ephesians would have that “knowledge of Him” (1:17; cf. Phil. 1:4; Col. 1:9–10; 2:2). Growing in the deeper knowledge of the Son of God is a life–long process that will not be complete until we see our Lord face–to–face. That is the knowing of which Jesus spoke when He said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them” (John 10:27). He was not speaking of knowing their identities but of knowing them intimately, and that is the way He wants His people also to know Him.

Spiritual Maturity

The third result of following God’s pattern for His church is spiritual maturity, a maturity to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. God’s great desire for His church is that every believer, without exception, come to be like His Son (Rom. 8:29), manifesting the character qualities of the One who is the only measure of the full–grown, perfect, mature man. The church in the world is Jesus Christ in the world, because the church is now the fullness of His incarnate Body in the world (cf. 1:23). We are to radiate and reflect Christ’s perfections. Christians are therefore called to “walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6; cf. Col. 4:12), and He walked in complete and continual fellowship with and obedience to His Father. To walk as our Lord walked flows from a life of prayer and of obedience to God’s Word. “We all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). As we grow into deeper fellowship with Christ, the process of divine sanctification through His Holy Spirit changes us more and more into His image, from one level of glory to the next. The agent of spiritual maturity, as well as of every other aspect of godly living, is God’s own Spirit—apart from whom the sincerest prayer has no effectiveness (Rom. 8:26) and even God’s own Word has no power (John 14:26; 16:13–14; 1 John 2:20).

It is obvious that believers, all of whom have unredeemed flesh (Rom. 7:14; 8:23), cannot in this life fully and perfectly attain the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ. But they must and can reach a degree of maturity that pleases and glorifies the Lord. The goal of Paul’s ministry to believers was their maturity, as indicated by his labors to “present every man complete (teleios, mature) in Christ” (Col. 1:28–29; cf. Phil. 3:14–15).[2]


4:13 Verse 13 answers the question, “How long will this growth process continue?” The answer is till we all come to a state of unity, maturity, and conformity.

Unity. When the Lord takes His church home to heaven, we will all arrive at the unity of the faith. “Now we see in a mirror dimly” with regard to many matters. We have differences of opinion on a host of subjects. Then we will all be fully agreed. And we will reach the unity of … the knowledge of the Son of God. Here we have individual views of the Lord, of what He is like, of the implications of His teachings. Then we will see Him as He is, and know as we are known.

Maturity. At the Rapture we will also reach full growth or maturity. Both as individuals and as the Body of Christ, we will achieve perfection of spiritual development.

Conformity. And we will be conformed to Him. Everyone will be morally like Christ. And the universal church will be a full-grown Body, perfectly suited to its glorious Head. “The fulness of Christ is the Church itself, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (FWG). The measure of the stature of the church means its complete development, the fulfillment of God’s plan for its growth.[3]


13 Here we encounter three goals that Paul specifies “we all” (hoi pantes) ought to reach or attain. Paul includes himself in this collective goal for all Christians (recall v. 7: “to each one of us grace has been given”), not just the gifted leaders. This also confirms that “works of service” (v. 12) refers to the congregation, not the leaders. The conjunction “until” (mechri) specifies both the time frame and the purpose of the leaders’ work: they labor until. Though the church already is the fullness of Christ—its identity (1:23)—its members strive until they achieve “the whole measure of the fullness” (cf. 3:19). The first goal is unity in two dimensions: “in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God.” Unity in the faith (Greek objective genitive) points to a common trust in and assent to the “one faith” (recall v. 5). Since there is only one (body of) faith and one Jesus, faith in whom secures salvation, church members need to embrace it in common. Whatever differences of opinion we possess on various matters, on the central core issues of the faith we must strive for unity.

Unity in knowledge (again, an objective genitive) has an intriguing object: “of the Son of God” (the Son being the object of believers’ knowledge). Probably this second phrase unpacks the meaning of the “unity in the faith.” For the first time in Ephesians, Paul calls Jesus by this title (he uses it elsewhere only in Ro 1:4; 2 Co 1:19; Gal 2:20; cf. Ac 9:20). There are both relational and informational dimensions to our knowledge of Christ (see commentary on 1:17). Unity centers in Jesus, and the goal for Christian learning is to “know [Christ] better,” personally and intimately (1:17; cf. Php 3:10; Col 2:20; 2 Pe 3:18), as the one who loves us and gave himself for us. Knowing God and his Son Jesus is the very essence of eternal life (Jn 17:3; Eph 4:20; cf. 2 Pe 1:8; 2:20). Jesus’ parting instructions stressed the need to teach followers of Jesus to obey everything he commanded (Mt 28:20). Having listed the unshakable realities in vv. 4–6, now Paul stresses the need for a unified knowledge or understanding of the central Christian truths. We see their opposite in v. 14—immature people flummoxed by various teachings and wily deceivers. Leaders must equip the saints to secure unity in their beliefs and knowledge. Christians ought to espouse unequivocally a common worldview instructed by the one faith centered in the knowledge of Christ and true beliefs about him.

A second objective is to “become mature,” literally, “to a mature man,” taking the church as a corporate whole. “Man” translates anēr (GK 467), the gender-specific term for adult male (or husband, as in 5:22–33), here modified by “mature” (or “perfect”), denoting a full-grown, mature person (cf. BDAG, 79). Paul’s point here is not that the individual men of the church become mature (requiring the plural “men”), but that the corporate body of Christ does (cf. Best, 401; Lincoln, 256; Schnackenburg, 85; O’Brien, 307). Paul’s goal is a perfect church, as the “whole measure of the fullness of Christ” implies. So leaders have the task of promoting maturity, and all members have the responsibility to ensure that the body of Christ grows up spiritually. The failure to work at this leaves people as spiritual “infants” (v. 14). In v. 16 Paul spells out what maturity entails; in v. 17 he starts delineating its results in the life of the body.

This passion for the church’s maturity underlies Paul’s third goal for the body: to attain, literally, “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” On “fullness,” see commentary at 1:23. In referring to “stature” (hēlikias [GK 2461], NASB; not in the NIV), Paul introduces the metaphor of a physical body—one he will develop in vv. 15–16. Recall that at 3:19 Paul prayed that the readers would be filled “to the measure of all the fullness of God.” What might the “measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” imply here? “Stature” refers to either a person’s age or physical size. It implies maturity, full growth in size or age. We find a general depiction of the metaphor in vv. 15b–16 and the specific traits in the remainder of the letter. Christ is the standard for maturity. Christ seeks to give the church his fullness. Measuring up to Christ is the church’s ideal and target—the goal of knowing him. Maturity as a church derives only through its integral relationship to Christ as it comes to know him more and more. Leaders in their equipping and the church in its growing must strive for nothing less than full Christlikeness.[4]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 156–158). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1936). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 119–120). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 23 – Jesus on Vows and Oaths

Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.” But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black.—Matt. 5:33–36

In the regular business of life, people use vows and oaths—at marriage ceremonies, in the courtroom, executive oaths of office. Because human nature is prone to lying and distrust, God has provided for proper use of oaths (cf. Heb. 6:16). In describing who may enter God’s presence, the psalmist says one requirement is that the person be one who “swears to his own hurt and does not change” (Ps. 15:4b; cf. vv. 2–3). Such a person’s word is more important than his or her welfare.

God Himself has issued oaths in the past (Gen. 22:16–17; cf. Pss. 89:3, 49; 110:4; Jer. 11:5; Luke 1:73). He did so to impress upon people the special importance or urgency of a promise. As Hebrews notes, “Since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself” (6:13). Christ often used the expression “truly” or “truly, truly” (e.g., Matt. 5:18, 26; 6:2, 5, 16; John 1:51; 3:3, 5; 5:19, 24). As with the Father’s oaths, the Son’s use of “truly” did not make those statements any more trustworthy than any other pronouncements. The “truly” teachings underscored the importance of certain teachings. Jesus even used an oath before the high priest Caiaphas that He was indeed God’s Son (Matt. 26:63–64).

In view of the special nature of divine oaths, we should “make no oath[s] at all”—in other words, no frivolous ones that would compromise our truthfulness and integrity (cf. Pss. 119:29, 163; 120:2).

ASK YOURSELF

Could your conversation be improved with less embellishment and exaggeration? Can your word stand on its own two feet?[1]


The Spiritual Credibility Gap

Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.” But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, “Yes, yes” or “No, no”; and anything beyond these is of evil. (5:33–37)

Credibility gaps are not a creation of modern times. They have existed since the Fall and have continually been one of the major marks of the world system. Satan is the prince of this world, and since he not only is a liar himself but also “the father of lies” (John 8:44), it should not be surprising that the system he heads is characterized by lying. Because all men are born in sin, all men are born liars (see Ps. 58:3; 62:4; Jer. 9:3–5).

The natural credibility gap is widened even further by popular novels, movies, television, music, and advertising-in which truth, fantasy, and outright falsehood are blended into mixtures impossible to unscramble. Truth is so scarce that nearly everyone is suspect. Business people, advertisers, commentators, clerks, salesmen, lawyers, doctors, tradesmen, teachers, writers, politicians, and even many, if not most, preachers are suspect. Our whole society is largely built on a network of fabrication, of manufactured “truth.” We shade the truth, we cheat, we exaggerate, we misrepresent income tax deductions, we make promises we have no intention of keeping, we make up excuses, and betray confidences-all as a matter of normal, everyday living.

So much of business, politics, government, the educational system, science, religion, and even family life is built on falsehoods and half-truths that a sudden revelation of the whole truth would cause society as we know it to disintegrate. It would be too devastating to handle.

Yet even the most corrupt and deceptive societies have always realized that, in certain areas at least, the “real truth” is necessary. Courts of law require witnesses to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Without truth, even a semblance of justice would be impossible. Because of the extreme importance of truthful testimony to justice, perjury itself is a crime that can bring severe penalties. Even gangs of criminals and conspirators, who use lying and cheating as their stock-in-trade, demand the truth among themselves, because it is necessary to their own survival.

Individually men are inclined to the truth only when it benefits them, yet collectively they have always known something of its importance and rightfulhess-even outside courts of law. The great Roman orator Cicero said, “Truth is the highest thing a man may experience.” Sadly, with most people it is an infrequent experience. Daniel Webster wrote, “There is nothing as powerful as truth and often nothing as strange.”

Even the ancient Jewish rabbis, whose unbiblical traditions and flippancy with the truth Jesus challenges in the Sermon on the Mount, moralistically considered lying-along with scoffing, hypocrisy, and slander-to be one of the four great sins that would shut a person out of God’s presence. In their consciences men know that truth is right and essential. That is one reason they go to such lengths to make what they say appear to be truthful. Our problem is in being truthful.

The Jews of Jesus’ day revered the idea of truth in principle, but in practice it was buried under their system of tradition, which over the centuries had continually cut God’s law down to fit their own sinful perspectives and purposes. In Matthew 5:33–37 the Lord proceeds to expose their convenient distortion and contradiction of the divine revelation they claimed to love and teach. In these five verses Jesus sets forth the original Mosaic teaching, the traditional perversion of that teaching, and His own reemphasis of what God’s standard for truth has always been.

The Principle of Mosaic Law

Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.” (5:33)

The traditional teaching that Jesus quotes here was a composite of ideas based on Leviticus 19:12, Numbers 30:2, and Deuteronomy 23:21. The two vows mentioned here are from two different, but related, Greek terms. The first is from the verb epiorkeō, which means to perjure oneself, to swear falsely, to make false vows. The second is from the noun horkos, which literally means to enclose, as with a fence, or to bind together. The truth of an oath or vow is enclosed, bound, and therefore strengthened by that which is invoked on its behalf.

A clear description of an oath is given in the book of Hebrews: “For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute” (6:16). The name of something or someone greater than the person making the oath is invoked to give greater credibility to what is said. Any oath calling on God invites Him to witness the truthfulness of what is said or to avenge if it is a lie. An oath was therefore generally taken to be the absolute truth, which made “an end of every dispute,” because it invited judgment on the one who violated his word. The Jews who returned from the Babylonian Exile to Israel took “on themselves a curse and an oath to walk in God’s laws” (Neh. 10:29).

God provided for making oaths by His name (Lev. 19:12) and many Old Testament saints, both before and after the giving of the law, followed the practice. Abraham confirmed his promises to the king of Sodom (Gen. 14:22–24) and to Abimelech (21:23–24) with oaths in the name of God. He also made his servant Eliezer “swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth” that he would not take a wife for Isaac from among the pagan Canaanites around them but from among relatives in Abraham’s homeland of Mesopotamia (24:1–4, 10). A similar oath is related involving Isaac (26:31). Jacob and Laban, his father-in-law, called on God as their witness when they made a covenant with each other at Mizpah (31:44–53). David and Jonathan did likewise when they covenanted together (1 Sam. 20:16). David himself “swore to the Lord, and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob” (Ps. 132:2). All those great men of God, and many others, made oaths and covenants calling on God as witness to their truthfulness and sincerity (see Gen. 47:31; 50:25; Josh. 9:15; Judg. 21:5; Ruth 1:16–18; 2 Sam. 15:21; 2 Chron. 15:14–15).

Even God Himself made oaths on certain occasions. To Abraham He said, “By Myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, indeed I will greatly bless you, and I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies” (Gen. 22:16–17). As the writer of Hebrews explains, since God “could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself” (Heb. 6:13–14, cf. v. 17). Obviously the Lord’s promises made with an oath were no more truthful or binding than anything else He promised. It is not that God makes an oath because His word would otherwise be questionable or unreliable, but because He wishes to impress upon men a special importance or urgency related to the promise. (More references to divine oaths are mentioned in Ps. 89:3, 49; 110:4; Jer. 11:5; and Luke 1:73.)

Jesus many times used the phrase “Truly I say to you” (Matt. 5:18, 26; 6:2, 5 16; etc.), and the even more emphatic “Truly, truly, I say to you” (John 1:51; 3:3, 5; 5:19, 24; etc.), to call attention to a teaching of special importance. As with God’s oaths, the words Jesus introduces with “truly” are no more truthful than anything else He said, but emphasize the unique importance of certain of His teachings. It is important to note that Jesus Himself swore an oath before Caiaphas that He was the Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 26:63–64).

God provided for proper oath-giving in His name as an accommodation to sinful human nature, which is so prone to deceit and lying. Without any prohibition, Hebrews 6:16 affirms the place of proper oaths. He knows that men’s inclination to lie causes them to distrust each other, and in serious situations an oath is permissible to give greater motivation to tell the truth or to keep a pledge. To make the wedding vow, with God as a witness, to love and cherish our mates for as long as we both live is to recognize and make a firm commitment to honor the special sanctity that God places on marriage. The psalmist, in describing the kind of person who may enter God’s holy presence, makes clear that one mandatory requirement is that such a person be one who “swears to his own hurt, and does not change” (Ps. 15:1, 4). His word is more important than his welfare. Keeping oaths made to God is the mark of a true worshiper. To put it another way, true sons of the kingdom hate lies (Ps. 119:29, 163; 120:2).

Obviously an oath, no matter how strong the words used, is only as reliable as the one who makes it. As Peter sat in the courtyard outside the Sanhedrin while Jesus was being tried, a servant-girl said, “You too were with Jesus the Galilean”-to which Peter replied, “I do not know what you are talking about.” When another servant-girl made a similar statement a short while later, Peter “denied it with an oath.” Still later, when other bystanders made the same assertion, Peter “began to curse and swear, ‘I do not know the man!’ ” (Matt. 26:69–74). That swearing was not profanity, but an oath given with special vehemence. Peter increased the strength of his oath, but that did not increase the truth of what he said. It was bad enough to have lied; it was even worse to call God as a witness to the lie. In addition to denying His Lord, Peter used God’s name in vain. It is small wonder that he “went out and wept bitterly” (v. 75).

Sometimes oaths are made sincerely but foolishly, without considering their seriousness and possible consequences. Such rash oaths were made by Joshua (Josh. 9:15), Jephthah (Judg. 11:30–31), Saul (1 Sam. 14:24), and Herod (Matt. 14:7).

By Old Testament law, oaths were to be made only in God’s name. “You shall fear only the Lord your God; and you shall worship Him, and swear by His name” (Deut. 6:13; cf. 10:20). “He who is blessed in the earth shall be blessed by the God of truth; and he who swears in the earth shall swear by the God of truth” (Isa. 65:16). Even Gentiles were to swear only by God’s name. Of Israel’s wicked neighbors, the Lord said, “Then it will come about that if they will really learn the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As the Lord lives,’ … then they will be built up in the midst of My people” (Jer. 12:16).

God established the seriousness of keeping an oath. Even “if a person swears thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good, in whatever matter a man may speak thoughtlessly with an oath, and it is hidden from him, and then he comes to know it, … he shall confess that in which he has sinned. He shall also bring his guilt offering to the Lord for his sin which he has committed” (Lev. 5:4–6). Joshua 9:20 punctuates how essential keeping an oath is: “… lest wrath be upon us for the oath which we swore.”

The Perversion of Rabbinic Tradition

The tradition Jesus mentions in verse 33 seemed to be biblical, but it had several flaws that made it fall short of what the Old Testament actually taught. First, it had a missing ingredient, and second, it had a misplaced emphasis.

The missing ingredient was a proper circumstance for making an oath. Virtually any kind of oath, used for almost any kind of purpose, was acceptable-just as long as it was not false and the person would fulfill it. The missing ingredient of a serious circumstance led to frivolous, meaningless oath-making that completely vitiated the legitimate purpose of oaths. People would declare anything and promise anything with an oath, while having no qualms about providing means by which lying or breaking their word could still be done. Indiscriminate and insincere vows became so commonplace that no one took them seriously. Instead of being a mark of integrity they became a mark of deceit. Instead of prompting confidence they prompted skepticism.

The misplaced emphasis was in limiting the honest oaths to vows to the Lord, to oaths made directly to Him or in His name. The keeping of those oaths was mandatory, whereas the keeping of others they made optional.

The system of oaths between one person and another was like a giant game of King’s X. People would swear by heaven, by the earth, by the Temple, by the hairs on their heads, and by any other thing they thought would impress those they wanted to take advantage of. That kind of routine oath-making was usually lie-making; and it was considered by those who practiced it to be perfectly acceptable as long as it was not in the name of the Lord.

The command “You shall not swear falsely by My name” (Lev. 19:12) was conveniently interpreted to mean that swearing falsely by any other name was allowed. The command “If a man makes a vow to the Lord, or takes an oath to bind himself with a binding obligation, he shall not violate his word; he shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth” (Num. 30:2) was interpreted as permitting the reneging on oaths made to anyone but God.

Thus, through rabbinic tradition, God’s standard of absolute truthfulness was contradicted and lowered to a level that accommodated the sinful, selfish capacities and purposes of the people. They wanted to lie, and they did not want to be hampered by God’s absolute standard of truth. Instead of calling on the Lord to help them live up to the divine standard, they reduced that standard to suit their own carnal abilities and interests.

The Perspective of Divine Truth

But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. But let your statement be, “Yes, yes” or “No, no”; and anything beyond these is of evil. (5:34–37)

In contrast to those alterations of the divine will, Jesus simply reasserts the Old Testament standard that had been misconstrued and perverted by tradition: make no oath at all. Oaths are to be used only on important occasions and are to be given only in the name of the Lord. Though the Greek construction here is an unconditional negative (holōs), that does not preclude all oaths. Commentator William Hendriksen’s explanation is helpful: “What we have here in Matthew 5:33–37 (cf. James 5:12) is the condemnation of the flippant, profane, uncalled for, and often hypocritical oath, used in order to make an impression or to spice daily conversation. Over against that evil Jesus commends simple truthfulness in thought, word and deed” (Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973], p. 309).

In light of specific Old Testament teaching approving oaths, in light of Jesus’ use of such phrases as “truly, truly,” and in light of God Himself’s making oaths that correspond to men’s (Heb. 6:13–17; cf. Luke 1:73; Acts 2:30; etc.), it can hardly be correct, as many interpret this passage, that Jesus here forbids the making of any oath under any circumstance. (See Meredith G. Kline, The Treaty of the Great King [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1963]; and Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, n.d.], p. 478, for a discussion of oaths.) He had just said that He did not come to destroy the smallest part of the law (Matt. 5:17–18), a law that taught proper oath-making by both precept and example. Additionally, in the early days of the church, even the apostle Paul gave a type of oath in saying to the Romans, “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 9:1). He called on Christ and the Holy Spirit as witnesses with his own conscience to the truthfulness of what he was about to say. That is swearing by God.

So, in accordance with the Old Testament standard, we are to swear by no other name but God’s-not by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. Appealing to heaven, earth, Jerusalem, and other such things was considered by most Jews to make their oaths less binding. Those were grand and great things, things that gave an aura of power, importance, and veracity to what was said or promised in their name. But because those things were far less than God, they made oaths given in their names far less binding than an oath made in His name. Still less binding would be an oath made merely by your head.

The common attitude toward oaths is also seen in Jesus’ great series of woes in Matthew 23 against the hypocritical Jewish leaders. “Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘Whoever swears by the temple, that is nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple, he is obligated.’ … And, ‘Whoever swears by the altar, that is nothing, but whoever swears by the offering upon it, he is obligated’ ” (vv. 16, 18). First, Jesus exposed the utter illogic of their practice. “You fools and blind men; which is more important, the gold, or the temple that sanctified the gold? … You blind men, which is more important, the offering or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore he who swears, swears both by the altar and by everything on it” (vv. 17, 19–20). By what twisted logic, He asks, should that which is less valuable make an oath more binding?

But the greatest error in the system was not in its illogic but in its basic deceptiveness and dishonesty. As a matter of accepted policy, some oaths were used to undermine the very purpose they purportedly were meant to serve: the truth. In spite of the fact that an oath is given to reinforce and emphasize the truthfulness of a statement or the reliability of a promise, over the years an intricate system of duplicity had been devised that virtually promoted the use of oaths for deception.

Jesus therefore went on to condemn the system still further: “He who swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And he who swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it” (vv. 21–22). However and whenever the truth is profaned, God’s name is profaned.

Jesus’ point was that God is the Creator and Lord of everything and is the God of truth in everything. To carelessly and dishonestly call any part of His creation as witness to a false oath was to dishonor God Himself, whether or not His name was invoked. To dishonor and compromise any truth is to dishonor and compromise His truth. Heaven is God’s, the earth is God’s, Jerusalem is God’s, and every person’s head is God’s. It is therefore wicked and sinful to use anything of God’s, whether His name or a part of His creation, as witness to anything that is dishonest, deceitful, insincere, or in the least way knowingly false. God has no separate categories of sacred and secular. Everything that pertains to Him is sacred, and all truth is His truth, just as all creation is His creation. Every lie is against God, and therefore every false oath dishonors His name.

Comments William Barclay, “Here is a great eternal truth. Life cannot be divided into compartments in some of which God is involved and in others of which he is not involved; there cannot be one kind of language in the Church and another kind of language in the shipyard or the factory or the office; there cannot be one kind of conduct in the Church and another kind of conduct in the business world. The fact is that God does not need to be invited into certain departments of life, and kept out of others. He is everywhere, all through life and in every activity of life. He hears not only the words which are spoken in his name; he hears all words; and there cannot be any such thing as a form of words which evades bringing God into any transaction. We will regard all promises as sacred if we remember that all promises are made in the presence of God” (The Gospel of Matthew, 2 vols. [rev. ed.; Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], 1:160).

Truth has no degrees or shades. A half truth is a whole lie, and a white lie is really black. God has never had any standard lower than absolute truthfulness. Of every person He desires “truth in the innermost being” (Ps. 51:6). Among the things He especially hates is “a lying tongue” (Prov. 6:16–17), and “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (12:22). And just as God hates lying, so do those who are faithful to Him (Ps. 119:163). Those “who speak lies go astray from birth. They have venom like the venom of a serpent” (Ps. 58:3–4). Jeremiah wept over Israel because “lies and not truth prevail in the land” (Jer. 9:3). The destiny of liars is the lake of fire (Rev. 21:8).

God’s absolute, unchanging standard is truth and sincerity in everything. Not only should oaths be totally truthful and dependable, but even the most routine conversations should be truthful in every detail. Let your statement be, “Yes, yes” or “No, no”; anything beyond these is of evil. Statement is from logos, the basic meaning of which is simply “word.” Every normal word in the course of daily speech should be a truthful word, unadorned and unqualified in regard to its truthfulness. A person’s words, message, or speech (as logos is used in Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 2:1; 4:19; and Titus 2:8) should be as good as his bond and as good as his oath or vow. “But above all, my brethren,” James counsels, “do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; so that you may not fall under judgment” (James 5:12).

God is a holy God, His kingdom is a holy kingdom, and the people of His kingdom are to be a holy people. His righteousness is to be their righteousness, and anything less than His righteousness, including anything less than absolute truth, is unacceptable to Him, because it is of evil. So our Lord shatters the fragile glass of their hypocritical oaths, which they used to cover lies.[2]


Jesus Condemns Oaths (5:33–37)

5:33–36 The Mosaic Law contained several prohibitions against swearing falsely by the name of God (Lev. 19:12; Num. 30:2; Deut. 23:21). To swear by God’s Name meant that He was your witness that you were telling the truth. The Jews sought to avoid the impropriety of swearing falsely by God’s Name by substituting heaven, earth, Jerusalem, or their head as that by which they swore.

Jesus condemns such circumvention of the law as sheer hypocrisy and forbids any form of swearing or oaths in ordinary conversation. Not only was it hypocritical, it was useless to try to avoid swearing by God’s Name by merely substituting another noun for His Name. To swear by heaven is to swear by God’s throne. To swear by the earth is to swear by His footstool. To swear by Jerusalem is to swear by the royal capital. Even to swear by one’s own head involves God because He is the Creator of all.

5:37 For the Christian, an oath is unnecessary. His Yes should mean Yes, and his No should mean No. To use stronger language is to admit that Satan—the evil one—rules our lives. There are no circumstances under which it is proper for a Christian to lie.

This passage also forbids any shading of the truth or deception. It does not, however, forbid taking an oath in a court of law. Jesus Himself testified under oath before the High Priest (Matt. 26:63ff). Paul also used an oath to call God as his witness that what he was writing was true (2 Cor. 1:23; Gal. 1:20).[3]


33 “Again” probably confirms 5:31–32 as an excursus to the preceding antithesis rather than a new one. Matthew now reports an antithesis on a new theme. What the people have heard is not given as direct OT quotation but as a summary statement accurately condensing the burden of Exodus 20:7; Leviticus 19:12; Numbers 30:2; and Deuteronomy 5:11; 6:13; 23:21–23. The Mosaic law forbade irreverent oaths, light use of the Lord’s name, broken vows. Once Yahweh’s name was invoked, the vow to which it was attached became a debt that had to be paid to the Lord.

A sophisticated casuistry judged how binding an oath really was by examining how closely it was related to Yahweh’s name. Incredible distinctions proliferate under such an approach. Swearing by heaven and earth was not binding, nor was swearing by Jerusalem, though swearing toward Jerusalem was. That an entire Mishnaic tract (m. Šebu.) is given over to the subject (cf. also m. Sanh. 3.2; t. Ned. 1; Str-B, 1:321–36) shows that such distinctions became important and were widely discussed. Matthew returns to the topic with marvelous examples in the polemical setting of 23:16–22. The context is not overtly polemical here but simply explains how Jesus relates the kingdom and its righteousness to the OT.

34–36 If oaths designed to encourage truthfulness become occasions for clever lies and casuistical deceit, Jesus will abolish oaths, for the direction in which the OT points is the fundamental importance of thorough and consistent truthfulness. If one does not swear at all, one does not swear falsely. Not dissimilar reasoning was found among the Essenes, who avoided taking oaths, “regarding it as worse than perjury for they say that one who is not believed without an appeal to God stands condemned already” (Josephus, J.W. 2.135 [8.6])—though they did require “tremendous oaths” of neophytes joining the community (ibid., 2.139 [8.7]; cf. 1QS 5:7–11; CD 15:5).

Jesus insists that whatever a man swears by is related to God in some way, and therefore every oath is implicitly in God’s name; heaven, earth, Jerusalem, even the hairs of the head are all under God’s sway and ownership (v. 36). (There may be allusions here to Ps 48:2; Isa 66:1.) Significantly, Matthew breaks the flow to say (in Gr.) “toward Jerusalem” rather than “by Jerusalem” (on the distinction, see comments at v. 33). The “Great King” (v. 35) may well be God, but see comments at 25:34.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 122). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 319–326). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1222). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 187). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 23 – THE SWEETEST STRING ON OUR HARP

But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved).

—Ephesians 2:4-5

When through the blood of the everlasting covenant we children of the shadows reach at last our home in the light, we shall have a thousand strings to our harps, but the sweetest may well be the one tuned to sound forth most perfectly the mercy of God.

For what right will we have to be there? Did we not by our sins take part in that unholy rebellion which rashly sought to dethrone the glorious King of creation? And did we not in times past walk according to the course of this world, according to the evil prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now works in the sons of disobedience? And did we not all at once live in the lusts of our flesh? And were we not by nature the children of wrath, even as others? But we who were one time enemies and alienated in our minds through wicked works shall then see God face-to-face and His name shall be in our foreheads. We who earned banishment shall enjoy communion; we who deserve the pains of hell shall know the bliss of heaven. And all through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the Dayspring from on high hath visited us. KOH139-140

Lord, let me begin even now to sing of Your great mercy. My voice may be poor and my earthly instrument rusty, but my heart is full. Amen. [1]


Salvation Is by Love

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (2:4)

Salvation is from sin and by love. God’s mercy is plousios, rich, overabounding, without measure, unlimited. The problem with reconciliation is not on the Lord’s side. The two words but God show where the initiative was in providing the power of salvation. His great desire is to be rejoined with the creatures He made in His own image and for His own glory. The rebellion and rejection is on man’s side. Because He was rich in mercy toward us and had great love for us, He provided a way for us to return to Him. In Romans 11:32 the apostle Paul focuses on this same issue in saying, “God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.” His purpose in so doing is given in verse 36: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (emphasis added).

Salvation for God’s glory is by the motivation and power of God’s great love. God is intrinsically kind, merciful, and loving. And in His love He reaches out to vile, sinful, rebellious, depraved, destitute, and condemned human beings and offers them salvation and all the eternal blessings it brings. Man’s rebellion is therefore not only against God’s lordship and law but against His love.

If a person were driving down the street and carelessly ran down and killed a child, he probably would be arrested, tried, fined, and imprisoned for involuntary manslaughter. But after he paid the fine and served the sentence he would be free and guiltless before the law in regard to that crime. But paying his penalty before the law would do nothing to restore the life of the child or alleviate the grief of the parents. The offense against them was on an immeasurably deeper level. The only way a relationship between the parents and the man who killed their child could be established or restored would be for the parents to offer forgiveness. No matter how much the man might want to do so, he could not produce reconciliation from his side. Only the one offended can offer forgiveness, and only forgiveness can bring reconciliation.

Though greatly offended and sinned against (as depicted in the parable of Matt. 18:23–35), because of God’s rich … mercy and His great love He offered forgiveness and reconciliation to us as He does to every repentant sinner. Though in their sin and rebellion all men participated in the wickedness of Jesus’ crucifixion, God’s mercy and love provide a way for them to participate in the righteousness of His crucifixion. “I know what you are and what you have done,” He says; “but because of My great love for you, your penalty has been paid, My law’s judgment against you has been satisfied, through the work of My Son on your behalf. For His sake I offer you forgiveness. To come to Me you need only to come to Him:” Not only did He love enough to forgive but also enough to die for the very ones who had offended Him. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Compassionate love for those who do not deserve it makes salvation possible.

Salvation Is into Life

even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (2:5)

Above all else, a dead person needs to be made alive. That is what salvation gives—spiritual life. To encourage believers who doubt the power of Christ in their lives, Paul reminds them that if God was powerful and loving enough to give them spiritual life together with Christ, He is certainly able to sustain that life. The power that raised us out of sin and death and made us alive (aorist tense) together with Christ (cf. Rom. 6:1–7) is the same power that continues to energize every part of our Christian living (Rom. 6:11–13). The we may emphasize the linking of the Jew with the Gentile “you” in verse 1. Both are in sin and may receive mercy to be made alive in Christ.

When we became Christians we were no longer alienated from the life of God. We became spiritually alive through union with the death and resurrection of Christ and thereby for the first time became sensitive to God. Paul calls it walking in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). For the first time we could understand spiritual truth and desire spiritual things. Because we now have God’s nature, we now can seek godly things, “the things above” rather than “the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). That is what results from being alive together with Christ. “We shall also live with Him” (Rom. 6:8) says the apostle, and our new life is indistinguishable from His life lived in us (Gal. 2:20). In Christ we cannot help but be pleasing to God.[2]


2:4 The words, But God, form one of the most significant, eloquent, and inspiring transitions in all literature. They indicate that a stupendous change has taken place. It is a change from the doom and despair of the valley of death to the unspeakable delights of the kingdom of the Son of God’s love.

The Author of the change is God Himself. No one else could have done it, and no one else would have done it.

One characteristic of this blessed One is that He is rich in mercy. He shows mercy to us by not treating us the way we deserve to be treated (Ps. 103:10). “Though it has been expended by Him for six millennia, and myriads and myriads have been partakers of it, it is still an unexhausted mine of wealth,” as Eadie remarks.

The reason for His intervention is given in the words, because of His great love with which He loved us. His love is great because He is its source. Just as the greatness of a giver casts an aura of greatness on his gift, so the surpassing excellence of God adds superlative luster to His love. It is greater to be loved by the mighty Sovereign of the universe, for instance, than by a fellow human being. God’s love is great because of the price He paid. Love sent the Lord Jesus, God’s only begotten Son, to die for us in agony at Calvary. God’s love is great because of the unsearchable riches it showers on its objects.

2:5 And God’s love is great because of the extreme unworthiness and unloveliness of the persons loved. We were dead in trespasses. We were enemies of God. We were destitute and degraded. He loved us in spite of it all.

As a result of God’s love for us, and as a result of the redeeming work of Christ, we have been: (1) made alive together with Christ; (2) raised up with Him; (3) seated in Him.

These expressions describe our spiritual position as a result of our union with Him. He acted as our Representative—not only for us, but as us. Therefore when He died, we died. When He was buried, we were buried.

When He was made alive, raised, and seated in the heavenlies, so were we. All the benefits of His sacrificial work are enjoyed by us because of our link with Him. To be made alive together with Him means that converted Jews and converted Gentiles are now associated with Him in newness of life. The same power that gave Him resurrection life has given it to us also.

The marvel of this causes Paul to interrupt his train of thought and exclaim, By grace you have been saved. He is overwhelmed by the fathomless favor which God has shown to those who deserved the very opposite. That is grace!

We have already mentioned that mercy means we do not get the punishment we deserve. Grace means we do get the salvation we do not deserve. We get it as a gift, not as something we earn. And it comes from One who was not compelled to give it. A. T. Pierson says:

It is a voluntary exercise of love for which He is under no obligation. What constituted the glory of grace is that it is an utterly unfettered, unconstrained exercise of the love of God toward poor sinners.[3]


4 Swiftly Paul adds the good news: “But” (de) God has acted to remedy human hopelessness, for God is rich in mercy. “Mercy” (eleos, GK 1799), also translated as “compassion” or “pity,” occurs seventy-eight times in the NT, twenty-six of those in Paul’s letters. In the LXX it dominantly translated the Hebrew ḥesed (GK 2876)—God’s covenantal faithfulness to his undeserving people. In the Gospels the sick appeal to Jesus for mercy—that he show kindness by healing (e.g., Mk 10:47–48 par.). This unmerited, compassionate commitment motivates God’s rescue effort for his disobedient, wayward creatures (cf. Tit 3:5). God has decided to have mercy on all people, Jews and Gentiles (cf. Ro 11:32). In the next verses here, Paul characterizes this divine motivation as “grace” (vv. 5, 7–8).

God’s “great love” forms the second basis for his rescue of humanity. Paul commonly situates God’s actions for his people in his great love (Ro 5:5, 8; 8:39; Eph 5:2, 25). In 1:4 we saw that love was the motivation for God’s pretemporal determination to adopt his people. Here we find a kind of Semitic redundancy, where Paul uses the verb and noun together: “on account of the great love [with] which he loved us” (Paul uses both the noun agapē, GK 27, and the verb agapaō, GK 26). Not elegant in a literal translation, but the point emerges forcefully.

5 Now we discover what God’s mercy and love motivated him to do: he raised to life with Christ us who were dead in transgressions (cf. v. 1). Paul does not assert that all the dead ones will live—only “us.” In 1:20 Paul rehearsed God’s great power in bringing Jesus back to physical life. Jesus had been physically dead, and God raised him from among the dead and installed him on his heavenly throne at God’s right hand. Now we learn here that much more was riding on Jesus’ resurrection than simply the restoration of his own physical life. We who were spiritually dead were “made alive with” Christ, a composite verb prefixed with the preposition “with” (syn), which occurs only here and at Colossians 2:13 and later Christian writings dependent on these verses. In other words, those “with Christ” were raised with Christ (this redundancy being Paul’s). To relieve the redundancy, some aver that the verb might indicate “with each other,” anticipating vv. 11–22 (so Barth, 1:222). “In Christ” we were raised to a life together with other believers. Though attractive, this is unlikely: the parallel to Colossians 2:13, the essential meaning of the verb, and the pervasive concept of corporate solidarity probably point only to union “with Christ.” We participated in Christ’s resurrection from the dead, and it means we too live now. Though our physical resurrection awaits the end of the age, again Paul has brought eschatology into the present. What will happen physically has already happened spiritually, since we are “in Christ.” Formerly “dead,” we now live. Formerly dominated by the power center of the world system, we now live through the power of the Holy Spirit (1:13, 18–19).

In a brief parenthesis (repeated in v. 8) that switches back to second person “you,” Paul appends a third motivation for God’s action and then describes the event with an extremely loaded term. “Grace,” along with mercy and love, moved God to “save.” The dative case chariti (GK 5921) points to cause; grace is the basis and reason God saved. Paul pinpointed God’s grace in 1:2, 6–7, already identifying it as the motivation behind God’s decision to grant redemption and to forgive sins. This connecting of salvation and grace reflects a rare combination for Paul (see 2 Ti 1:9; Tit 2:11).

Because of God’s grace, “you have been saved” (here Paul uses the verbal form sōzō, GK 5392, the cognate of the noun for salvation he used in 1:13). Though the salvation word group can convey the physical sense of “rescue,” “deliver,” or “preserve,” the theological meaning most interests readers of Paul, who uses it to convey the grand sense of God’s rescue of his people from their sinful condition. Jesus received his very name—which means “Yahweh saves”—“because he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21). Paul’s apostolic mission was to use all available means to “save some” (1 Co 9:22), because “God was pleased … to save those who believe” (1 Co 1:21). Paul assured his readers in Ephesians 1:13 that, because they believed the good news of salvation, God rescued them—he saved them. The good news shouts out that God saves through Jesus’ resurrection from the dead those dead in sin. Here and in v. 8 Paul employs the perfect tense of “save,” the most heavily marked Greek tense (and rarely used for “save” elsewhere and never by Paul; see Mk 5:34 par.; 10:52 par.; Lk 7:50). In so doing, he emphasizes the ongoing consequences in the present of God’s action to save. Not only did God save them, but believers enjoy the ongoing results of that salvation. They live in a saved condition.[4]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 58–59). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1917). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 67–68). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 23 – A Special Testimony

“And last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.”

1 Corinthians 15:8

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The resurrection power of Christ transformed Paul into a preacher of the gospel.

Throughout history, reliable eyewitness testimony about a person or event has been one of the most accepted forms of courtroom evidence. The apostle Paul appeals to the eyewitness record as an important confirmation of the Resurrection’s reality. He cites the examples of Peter, the apostles (twice), 500 believers, and James (1 Cor. 15:5–7). And with today’s verse, Paul presents himself as a special eyewitness to the fact of Jesus’ resurrection.

Paul’s case was unique. He was not among the original apostles, nor the 500 other believers, all of whom had opportunities to be with the Lord during His earthly ministry and/or see Him soon after He arose. Paul was not even a Christian during his early life and career but was rather the leader of those who persecuted the early church.

Furthermore, Paul’s situation was different because Christ’s appearance to him was not only post–resurrection but post–ascension. The Lord’s dramatic manifestation to the apostle was probably several years after the forty–day period of His many other appearings.

Paul genuinely viewed the timing of Jesus’ appearance to him as coming “to one untimely born.” We know he greatly rejoiced in his conversion, but if he had not seen the risen Savior then or some other time, Paul could not have become an apostle. In other words, by gracious, sovereign provision God chose Paul to be an apostle because “He [Jesus] appeared to me also.” The longtime opponent of the church was now like the Twelve—he had seen the risen Christ.

The power of the Resurrection is always strong enough to change a life. It transformed Paul’s life in three major ways. First, he recognized his sin and saw how far removed external religion was from internal godliness. Second, his character was revolutionized. He went from a self–righteous hatred of the things of Christ to a self–giving love for the truth. Finally, Paul’s personal energy and motivation were completely redirected. He went from being a zealous opponent of Christians to one who fervently served and supported the church.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to help your testimony always show forth the power of the risen Christ.

For Further Study: What common elements were present in Paul’s experiences in Acts 18:9–10; 23:11? Note some things that were more unusual about Paul’s experience in 2 Corinthians 12:1–7.[1]


The fourth major testimony of Christ’s resurrection was that of the apostle Paul himself, a special and unique witness of the risen Lord. Paul was not among the original apostles, all of whom had been disciples of Jesus during His earthly ministry. He was not among the five hundred other believers who had seen the resurrected Christ. Rather, he had for many years been an unbeliever and a chief persecutor of the church.

He was, however, last of all allowed to see the risen Christ. The Lord’s appearance to Paul not only was post-resurrection but post-ascension, making Paul’s testimony more unique still. It was not during the forty days in which He appeared to all the others but several years later. All the others to whom Christ appeared, except perhaps James, were believers, whereas Paul (then known as Saul) was a violent, hateful unbeliever when the Lord manifested Himself on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1–8). There were also other appearances (Acts 18:9–10; 23:11; cf. 2 Cor. 12:1–7).

Jesus appeared to Paul as it were to one untimely born. Ektrōma (untimely born) ordinarily referred to an abortion, miscarriage, or premature birth—a life unable to sustain itself. In Paul’s figure, the term could indicate hopelessness for life without divine intervention, and convey the idea that he was born without hope of meeting Christ. But the use of the term in the sense of an ill–timed birth, too early or too late, seems to fit Paul’s thought best. He came too late to have been one of the twelve. In carrying the idea of unformed, dead, and useless, the term was also used as a term of derision. Before his conversion, which coincided with his vision of the resurrected Lord, Paul was spiritually unformed, dead, and useless, a person to be scorned by God. Even when he was born it was wrong timing. Christ was gone. How could he be an apostle? Yet, by special divine provision, He appeared to me also, Paul testifies.[2]


15:8 Paul next speaks of his own personal acquaintance with the risen Christ. This took place on the road to Damascus, when he saw a great light from heaven and met the glorified Christ face to face. One born out of due time means an abortion or an untimely birth. Vine explains it as meaning that in point of time, Paul speaks of himself as inferior to the rest of the apostles, just as an immature birth comes short of a mature one. He uses it as a term of self-reproach in view of his past life as a persecutor of the church.[3]


8 Finally, Paul says, he had his own personal appearance of the risen Christ. This appearance was not one that took place prior to Jesus’ ascension but much later. Most likely this refers to the time when Jesus appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus and asked him the question, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” (Ac 9:1–6; 22:5–8; 26:12–15). In response to Paul’s “who are you, Lord?” Jesus responded, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Shortly thereafter, Jesus gave Paul a new commission for his life, namely, to take the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles.

Because this appearance of Jesus is not in the same category as the others—not only later in time but also different in character (i.e., not a physical appearance in the flesh)—Paul refers to it here as “as to one abnormally born.” The meaning of the Greek word used here (ektrōma, GK 1765) is uncertain, since it occurs only here in the NT and is not frequently used outside the NT. This word does occur in the Septuagint (Nu 12:12; Job 3:16; Ecc 6:3), where it refers to a stillborn child. Perhaps Paul uses this word to allude to the fact that he was spiritually as dead as a stillborn child when he received his visit from the risen Lord Jesus. Moreover, there is something horrible and sad about a fetus that is stillborn, and this could link up with Paul’s persecution of the church, which he talks about next.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 404–405). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1804). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 393). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 23 – Drawn to Christ

No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.

John 6:44

Jesus Christ is the One who introduces men and women to God. Those whom He ushers into the Father’s presence all have a loathing of their sin, a desire to be forgiven, and a longing to know God. Those attitudes are the work of God in drawing us to Christ. A response to the gospel message thus begins with a change in attitude toward sin and God.

Beyond that initial change in attitude is the transformation brought about in every believer at the instant of salvation. Christ didn’t die just to pay the penalty for sin: He died to transform us.

Deserted by most of His followers, Christ hung in darkness and agony on the cross, crying out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). Those were moments that Jesus felt incredible rejection and hostility. Yet out of those very circumstances Christ triumphed by atoning for sin and providing a way for men and women to be introduced to God and transformed. It was a triumph He Himself would soon proclaim (1 Pet. 3:19–20).[1]


Then Jesus uttered some very solemn words: “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him,” emphasizing man’s helplessness and utter inability to respond to Him apart from God’s sovereign call. Unbelievers are unable to come to Jesus on their own initiative (cf. the discussion of verse 37 above). If God did not irresistibly draw sinners to Christ, no one would ever come to Him.

To explain how lost sinners supposedly have the power to accept or reject the gospel of their own free will, some theologians introduce the concept of prevenient grace. Millard J. Erickson explains,

As generally understood, prevenient grace is grace that is given by God to all men indiscriminately. It is seen in God’s sending the sunshine and the rain upon all. It is also the basis of all the goodness found in men everywhere. Beyond that, it is universally given to counteract the effect of sin.… Since God has given this grace to all, everyone is capable of accepting the offer of salvation; consequently, there is no need for any special application of God’s grace to particular individuals. (Christian Theology [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1985], 3:920)

But the Bible indicates that fallen man is unable, of his own volition, to come to Jesus Christ. Unregenerate people are dead in sin (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13), slaves to unrighteousness (John 8:34; Rom. 6:6, 17, 20), alienated from God (Col. 1:21), and hostile to Him (Rom. 5:10; 8:7). They are spiritually blind (2 Cor. 4:4) captives (2 Tim. 2:26) trapped in Satan’s kingdom (Col. 1:13), powerless to change their sinful natures (Jer. 13:23; Rom. 5:6), unable to please God (Rom. 8:8), and incapable of understanding spiritual truth (1 Cor. 2:14; cf. John 14:17). Although the human will is involved in coming to Christ (since no one is saved apart from believing the gospel—Mark 1:15; Acts 15:7; Rom. 1:16; 10:9–15; Eph. 1:13), sinners cannot come to Him of their own free will. (Moreover, a comparison of verse 44 with verse 37 shows that God’s drawing cannot apply to all unregenerate people, as proponents of prevenient grace argue, because verse 37 limits it to the redeemed whom God has given to Christ.) God irresistibly, efficaciously draws to Christ only those whom He chose for salvation in eternity past (Eph. 1:4–5, 11).

Once again, Jesus repeated the wonderful promise that all whom the Father chooses will be drawn, will come, will be received, and He will raise them on the last day (vv. 39–40, 54). Everyone who comes to Christ will be kept by Him; there is no possibility that even one elect person given to Him by the Father will be lost (see the discussion of v. 39 above).[2]


6:44 Man in himself is utterly hopeless and helpless. He does not even have the strength to come to Jesus by himself. Unless the Father first begins to work in his heart and life, he will never realize his terrible guilt and his need of a Savior. Many people have difficulty with this verse. They suppose that it teaches that a man may desire to be saved and yet might find it impossible. This is not so. But the verse does teach in the strongest possible way that God is the One who first acted in our lives and sought to win us to Himself. We have the choice of accepting the Lord Jesus or refusing Him. But we never would have had the desire in the first place if God had not spoken to our hearts. Again the Lord added the promise that He will raise every true believer up at the last day. As we have seen before, this refers to the coming of Christ for His saints, when the dead will be raised and the living will be changed. It is a resurrection of believers only.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 128). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 252–253). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1504). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

April 22, 2017: Verse of the day

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One with Other Christians

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (3:28)

Paul focused on the existing, well-defined distinctions of his society that drew sharp lines and set up high walls of separation between people. The essence of those distinctions was the idea that some people-namely Jews, free men, and males in general-were better than, more valuable than, more significant than others. The gospel destroys all such proud thinking. The person who becomes one with Christ also becomes one with every other believer. There are no distinctions among those who belong to Christ. In spiritual matters, there is to be made no racial, social, or sexual discrimination-neither Jew nor Greek, … slave nor free man, … male nor female.

It is not, of course, that among Christians there is no such thing as a Jew Gentile, slave, free person, man, or woman. There are obvious racial, social, and sexual differences among people. Paul, however, was speaking of spiritual differences-differences in standing before the Lord, spiritual value, privilege, and worthiness. Consequently, prejudice based on race, social status, sex, or any other such superficial and temporary differences has no place in the fellowship of Christ’s church. All believers, without exception, are all one in Christ Jesus. All spiritual blessings, resources, and promises are equally given to all who believe unto salvation (cf. Rom. 10:12).

It was only with great difficulty that Peter finally learned that there are no racial distinctions in Christ, “that God is not one to show partiality” among Jew or Greek, “but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right, is welcome to Him” (Acts 10:35). Among the five prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch was “Simeon, who was called Niger,” which means black (Acts 13:1). Paul’s beloved son in the faith was Timothy, whose father was Gentile and whose mother and grandmother were Jewish (Acts 16:1; 2 Tim. 1:5).

Likewise there are no distinctions according to social or economic status. Paul told the Christian slave to be obedient to his master, “as to Christ,” and he told the Christian master, a free man, to “give up threatening, knowing that” the Master of both “is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him” (Eph. 6:5, 9).

James warned, “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? … If you show partiality, you are committing sin” (James 2:1–4, 9). The oneness of the Body of Christ focuses on common spiritual life and privilege, as Paul wrote to the Ephesians: “Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift” (Eph. 4:3–7).

Nor are there spiritual distinctions according to sex. There is neither male nor female. In recognizing believing women as the full spiritual equals of believing men, Christianity elevated women to a status they had never known before in the ancient world. In matters of rule in the home and in the church God has established the headship of men. But in the dimension of spiritual possessions and privilege there is absolutely no difference.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

April 22 – Risking True Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

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True peace exists only where truth reigns.

People often define peace as the absence of conflict, but God sees it differently. The absence of conflict is merely a truce, which might end overt hostilities but doesn’t resolve the underlying issues. A truce simply introduces a cold war, which often drives the conflict underground, where it smolders until erupting in physical or emotional disaster.

James 3:17 says, “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable.” Godly wisdom, purity, and peace go hand in hand. Peace is wisdom in action and is never established at the expense of righteousness. Peace brings righteousness to bear on the situation, seeking to eliminate the source of conflict and to create right relationships. Feuding parties will know true peace only when they are willing to admit that their bitterness and hatred are wrong and humbly seek God’s grace to make things right.

Some people equate peacemaking with evading issues, but true peace can be very confrontational. In Matthew 10:34 Jesus says, “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” That may seem to contradict Matthew 5:9, but it doesn’t. Jesus knew that sinful people have to be confronted with the truth before they can experience peace. That can be a painful and difficult process because people usually have a hostile reaction to the gospel before they finally embrace it. Even believers will sometimes react negatively when confronted with God’s truth.

Being a Biblical peacemaker has its price. You can expect to upset unbelievers who openly oppose God’s Word, as well as believers who compromise its truth for the sake of maintaining “peace” among people of differing doctrinal persuasions. Some will call you narrow-minded and divisive for dealing with controversial issues. Some will misunderstand your motives or even attack you personally. But that’s been the path of every true peacemaker—including our Lord Himself. Take heart, and be faithful. Your efforts to bring peace show that you are a child of God.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God for the boldness never to compromise His truth. ✧ Pray for those you know who are suffering for the sake of the gospel.

For Further Study: Read Luke 12:51–53, noting how the gospel can bring division even among families.[1]


Happy Are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (5:9)

The God of peace (Rom. 15:33; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9) has emphasized that cherished but elusive reality by making peace one of the dominant ideas of His Word. Scripture contains four hundred direct references to peace, and many more indirect ones. The Bible opens with peace in the Garden of Eden and closes with peace in eternity. The spiritual history of mankind can be charted based on the theme of peace. Although the peace on earth in the garden was interrupted when man sinned, at the cross Jesus Christ made peace a reality again, and He becomes the peace of all who place their faith in Him. Peace can now reign in the hearts of those who are His. Someday He will come as Prince of Peace and establish a worldwide kingdom of peace, which will eventuate in ultimate peace, the eternal age of peace.

But one of the most obvious facts of history and of human experience is that peace does not characterize man’s earthly existence. There is no peace now for two reasons: the opposition of Satan and the disobedience of man. The fall of the angels and the fall of man established a world without peace. Satan and man are engaged with the God of peace in a battle for sovereignty.

The scarcity of peace has prompted someone to suggest that “peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload.” In 1968 a major newspaper reported that there had been to that date 14,553 known wars since thirty-six years before Christ. Since 1945 there have been some seventy or so wars and nearly two hundred internationally significant outbreaks of violence. Since 1958 nearly one hundred nations have been involved in some form of armed conflict.

Some historians have claimed that the United States has had two generations of peace-one from 1815 to 1846 and the other from 1865 to 1898. But that claim can only be made if you exclude the Indian wars, during which our land was bathed in Indian blood.

With all the avowed and well-intentioned efforts for peace in modern times, few people would claim that the world or any significant part of it is more peaceful now than a hundred years ago. We do not have economic peace, religious peace, racial peace, social peace, family peace, or personal peace. There seems to be no end of marches, sit-ins, rallies, protests, demonstrations, riots, and wars. Disagreement and conflict are the order of the day. No day has had more need of peace than our own.

Nor does the world honor peace as much by its standards and actions as it does by its words. In almost every age of history the greatest heroes have been the greatest warriors. The world lauds the powerful and often exalts the destructive. The model man is not meek but macho. The model hero is not self-giving but self-seeking, not generous but selfish, not gentle but cruel, not submissive but aggressive, not meek but proud.

The popular philosophy of the world, bolstered by the teaching of many psychologists and counselors, is to put self first. But when self is first, peace is last. Self precipitates strife, division, hatred, resentment, and war. It is the great ally of sin and the great enemy of righteousness and, consequently, of peace.

The seventh beatitude calls God’s people to be peacemakers. He has called us to a special mission to help restore the peace lost at the Fall.

The peace of which Christ speaks in this beatitude, and about which the rest of Scripture speaks, is unlike that which the world knows and strives for. God’s peace has nothing to do with politics, armies and navies, forums of nations, or even councils of churches. It has nothing to do with statesmanship, no matter how great, or with arbitration, compromise, negotiated truces, or treaties. God’s peace, the peace of which the Bible speaks, never evades issues; it knows nothing of peace at any price. It does not gloss or hide, rationalize or excuse. It confronts problems and seeks to solve them, and after the problems are solved it builds a bridge between those who were separated by the problems. It often brings its own struggle, pain, hardship, and anguish, because such are often the price of healing. It is not a peace that will be brought by kings, presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, or international humanitarians. It is the inner personal peace that only He can give to the soul of man and that only His children can exemplify.

Four important realities about God’s peace are revealed: its meaning, its Maker, its messengers, and its merit.

The Meaning of Peace: Righteousness and Truth

The essential fact to comprehend is that the peace about which Jesus speaks is more than the absence of conflict and strife; it is the presence of righteousness. Only righteousness can produce the relationship that brings two parties together. Men can stop fighting without righteousness, but they cannot live peaceably without righteousness. Righteousness not only puts an end to harm, but it administers the healing of love.

God’s peace not only stops war but replaces it with the righteousness that brings harmony and true well-being. Peace is a creative, aggressive force for goodness. The Jewish greeting shalom wishes “peace” and expresses the desire that the one who is greeted will have all the righteousness and goodness God can give. The deepest meaning of the term is “God’s highest good to you.”

The most that man’s peace can offer is a truce, the temporary cessation of hostilities. But whether on an international scale or an individual scale, a truce is seldom more than a cold war. Until disagreements and hatreds are resolved, the conflicts merely go underground-where they tend to fester, grow, and break out again. God’s peace, however, not only stops the hostilities but settles the issues and brings the parties together in mutual love and harmony.

James confirms the nature of God’s peace when he writes, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable” (James 3:17). God’s way to peace is through purity. Peace cannot be attained at the expense of righteousness. Two people cannot be at peace until they recognize and resolve the wrong attitudes and actions that caused the conflict between them, and then bring themselves to God for cleansing. Peace that ignores the cleansing that brings purity is not God’s peace.

The writer of Hebrews links peace with purity when he instructs believers to “pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Peace cannot be divorced from holiness. “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” is the beautiful expression of the psalmist (Ps. 85:10). Biblically speaking, then, where there is true peace there is righteousness, holiness, and purity. Trying to bring harmony by compromising righteousness forfeits both.

Jesus’ saying “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34) seems to be the antithesis of the seventh beatitude. His meaning, however, was that the peace He came to bring is not peace at any price. There will be opposition before there is harmony; there will be strife before there is peace. To be peacemakers on God’s terms requires being peacemakers on the terms of truth and righteousness-to which the world is in fierce opposition. When believers bring truth to bear on a world that loves falsehood, there will be strife. When believers set God’s standards of righteousness before a world that loves wickedness, there is an inevitable potential for conflict. Yet that is the only way.

Until unrighteousness is changed to righteousness there cannot be godly peace. And the process of resolution is difficult and costly. Truth will produce anger before it produces happiness; righteousness will produce antagonism before it produces harmony. The gospel brings bad feelings before it can bring good feelings. A person who does not first mourn over his own sin will never be satisfied with God’s righteousness. The sword that Christ brings is the sword of His Word, which is the sword of truth and righteousness. Like the surgeon’s scalpel, it must cut before it heals, because peace cannot come where sin remains.

The great enemy of peace is sin. Sin separates men from God and causes disharmony and enmity with Him. And men’s lack of harmony with God causes their lack of harmony with each other. The world is filled with strife and war because it is filled with sin. Peace does not rule the world because the enemy of peace rules the world. Jeremiah tells us that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick [or wicked]” (Jer. 17:9). Peace cannot reign where wickedness reigns. Wicked hearts cannot produce a peaceful society. “ ‘There is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord” (Isa. 48:22).

To talk of peace without talking of repentance of sin is to talk foolishly and vainly. The corrupt religious leaders of ancient Israel proclaimed, “Peace, peace,” but there was no peace, because they and the rest of the people were not “ashamed of the abominations they had done” (Jer. 8:11–12).

“From within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21–23). Sinful men cannot create peace, either within themselves or among themselves. Sin can produce nothing but strife and conflict. “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing,” James says. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:16–18).

Regardless of what the circumstances might be, where there is conflict it is because of sin. If you separate the conflicting parties from each other but do not separate them from sin, at best you will succeed only in making a truce. Peacemaking cannot come by circumventing sin, because sin is the source of every conflict.

The bad news of the gospel comes before the good news. Until a person confronts his sin, it makes no sense to offer him a Savior. Until a person faces his false notions, it makes no sense to offer him the truth. Until a person acknowledges his enmity with God, it makes no sense to offer him peace with God.

Believers cannot avoid facing truth, or avoid facing others with the truth, for the sake of harmony. If someone is in serious error about a part of God’s truth, he cannot have a right, peaceful relationship with others until the error is confronted and corrected. Jesus never evaded the issue of wrong doctrine or behavior. He treated the Samaritan woman from Sychar with great love and compassion, but He did not hesitate to confront her godless life. First He confronted her with her immoral living: “You have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18). Then He corrected her false ideas about worship: “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:21–22).

The person who is not willing to disrupt and disturb in God’s name cannot be a peacemaker. To come to terms on anything less than God’s truth and righteousness is to settle for a truce-which confirms sinners in their sin and may leave them even further from the kingdom. Those who in the name of love or kindness or compassion try to witness by appeasement and compromise of God’s Word will find that their witness leads away from Him, not to Him. God’s peacemakers will not let a sleeping dog lie if it is opposed to God’s truth; they will not protect the status quo if it is ungodly and unrighteous. They are not willing to make peace at any price. God’s peace comes only in God’s way. Being a peacemaker is essentially the result of a holy life and the call to others to embrace the gospel of holiness.

The Maker of Peace: God

Men are without peace because they are without God, the source of peace. Both the Old and New Testaments are replete with statements of God’s being the God of peace (Lev. 26:6; 1 Kings 2:33; Ps. 29:11; Isa. 9:6; Ezek. 34:25; Rom. 15:33; 1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Thess. 3:16). Since the Fall, the only peace that men have known is the peace they have received as the gift of God. Christ’s coming to earth was the peace of God coming to earth, because only Jesus Christ could remove sin, the great barrier to peace. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:13–14).

I once read the story of a couple at a divorce hearing who were arguing back and forth before the judge, accusing each other and refusing to take any blame themselves. Their little four-year-old boy was terribly distressed and confused. Not knowing what else to do, he took his father’s hand and his mother’s hand and kept tugging until he finally pulled the hands of his parents together.

In an infinitely greater way, Christ brings back together God and man, reconciling and bringing peace. “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19–20).

How could the cross bring peace? At the cross all of man’s hatred and anger was vented against God. On the cross the Son of God was mocked, cursed, spit upon, pierced, reviled, and killed. Jesus’ disciples fled in fear, the sky flashed lightning, the earth shook violently, and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. Yet through that violence God brought peace. God’s greatest righteousness confronted man’s greatest wickedness, and righteousness won. And because righteousness won, peace was won.

In his book Peace Child (Glendale, Calif.: Regal, 1979), Don Richardson tells of his long struggle to bring the gospel to the cannibalistic, headhunting Sawi tribe of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Try as he would, he could not find a way to make the people understand the gospel message, especially the significance of Christ’s atoning death on the cross.

Sawi villages were constantly fighting among themselves, and because treachery, revenge, and murder were highly honored there seemed no hope of peace. The tribe, however, had a legendary custom that if one village gave a baby boy to another village, peace would prevail between the two villages as long as the child lived. The baby was called a “peace child.”

The missionary seized on that story as an analogy of the reconciling work of Christ. Christ, he said, is God’s divine Peace Child that He has offered to man, and because Christ lives eternally His peace will never end. That analogy was the key that unlocked the gospel for the Sawis. In a miraculous working of the Holy Spirit many of them believed in Christ, and a strong, evangelistic church soon developed-and peace came to the Sawis.

If the Father is the source of peace, and the Son is the manifestation of that peace, then the Holy Spirit is the agent of that peace. One of the most beautiful fruits the Holy Spirit gives to those in whom He resides is the fruit of peace (Gal. 5:22). The God of peace sent the Prince of Peace who sends the Spirit of peace to give the fruit of peace. No wonder the Trinity is called Yahweh Shalom, “The Lord is Peace” (Judg. 6:24).

The God of peace intends peace for His world, and the world that He created in peace He will one day restore to peace. The Prince of Peace will establish His kingdom of peace, for a thousand years on earth and for all eternity in heaven. “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’ ” (Jer. 29:11). Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The one who does not belong to God through Jesus Christ can neither have peace nor be a peacemaker. God can work peace through us only if He has worked peace in us.

Some of the earth’s most violent weather occurs on the seas. But the deeper one goes the more serene and tranquil the water becomes. Oceanographers report that the deepest parts of the sea are absolutely still. When those areas are dredged they produce remnants of plant and animal life that have remained undisturbed for thousands of years.

That is a picture of the Christian’s peace. The world around him, including his own circumstances, may be in great turmoil and strife, but in his deepest being he has peace that passes understanding. Those who are in the best of circumstances but without God can never find peace, but those in the worst of circumstances but with God need never lack peace.

The Messengers of Peace: Believers

The messengers of peace are believers in Jesus Christ. Only they can be peacemakers. Only those who belong to the Maker of peace can be messengers of peace. Paul tells us that “God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15) and that “now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). The ministry of reconciliation is the ministry of peacemaking. Those whom God has called to peace He also calls to make peace. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us” (2 Cor. 5:19–20).

At least four things characterize a peacemaker. First, he is one who himself has made peace with God. The gospel is all about peace. Before we came to Christ we were at war with God. No matter what we may consciously have thought about God, our hearts were against Him. It was “while we were enemies” of God that “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). When we received Christ as Savior and He imputed His righteousness to us, our battle with God ended, and our peace with God began. Because he has made peace with God he can enjoy the peace of God (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15). And because he has been given God’s peace he is called to share God’s peace. He is to have his very feet shod with “the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15).

Because peace is always corrupted by sin, the peacemaking believer must be a holy believer, a believer whose life is continually cleansed by the Holy Spirit. Sin breaks our fellowship with God, and when fellowship with Him is broken, peace is broken. The disobedient, self-indulgent Christian is not suited to be an ambassador of peace.

Second, a peacemaker leads others to make peace with God. Christians are not an elite corps of those who have spiritually arrived and who look down on the rest of the world. They are a body of sinners cleansed by Jesus Christ and commissioned to carry His gospel of cleansing to the rest of the world.

The Pharisees were the embodiment of what peacemakers are not. They were smug, proud, complacent, and determined to have their own ways and defend their own rights. They had scant interest in making peace with Rome, with the Samaritans, or even with fellow Jews who did not follow their own party line. Consequently they created strife wherever they went. They cooperated with others only when it was to their own advantage, as they did with the Sadducees in opposing Jesus.

The peacemaking spirit is the opposite of that. It is built on humility, sorrow over its own sin, gentleness, hunger for righteousness, mercy, and purity of heart. G. Campbell Morgan commented that peacemaking is the propagated character of the man who, exemplifying all the rest of the beatitudes, thereby brings peace wherever he comes.

The peacemaker is a beggar who has been fed and who is called to help feed others. Having been brought to God, he is to bring others to God. The purpose of the church is to preach “peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). To preach Christ is to promote peace. To bring a person to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most peacemaking act a human being can perform. It is beyond what any diplomat or statesman can accomplish.

Third, a peacemaker helps others make peace with others. The moment a person comes to Christ he becomes at peace with God and with the church and becomes himself a peacemaker in the world. A peacemaker builds bridges between men and God and also between men and other men. The second kind of bridge building must begin, of course, between ourselves and others. Jesus said that if we are bringing a gift to God and a brother has something against us, we are to leave our gift at the altar and be reconciled to that brother before we offer the gift to God (Matt. 5:23–24). As far as it is possible, Paul says, “so far as it depends on [us],” we are to “be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). We are even to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, “in order that [we] may be sons of [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44–45).

By definition a bridge cannot be one-sided. It must extend between two sides or it can never function. Once built, it continues to need support on both sides or it will collapse. So in any relationship our first responsibility is to see that our own side has a solid base. But we also have a responsibility to help the one on the other side build his base well. Both sides must be built on righteousness and truth or the bridge will not stand. God’s peacemakers must first be righteous themselves, and then must be active in helping others become righteous.

The first step in that bridge-building process is often to rebuke others about their sin, which is the supreme barrier to peace. “If your brother sins,” Jesus says, “go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church” (Matt. 18:15–17). That is a difficult thing to do, but obeying that command is no more optional than obeying any of the Lord’s other commands. The fact that taking such action often stirs up controversy and resentment is no excuse for not doing it. If we do so in the way and in the spirit the Lord teaches, the consequences are His responsibility. Not to do so does not preserve peace but through disobedience establishes a truce with sin.

Obviously there is the possibility of a price to pay, but any sacrifice is small in order to obey God. Often confrontation will bring more turmoil instead of less-misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and resentment. But the only way to peace is the way of righteousness. Sin that is not dealt with is sin that will disrupt and destroy peace. Just as any price is worth paying to obey God, any price is worth paying to be rid of sin. “If your right eye makes you stumble,” Jesus said, “tear it out, and throw it from you; … And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt. 5:29–30). If we are unwilling to help others confront their sin, we will be unable to help them find peace.

Fourth, a peacemaker endeavors to find a point of agreement. God’s truth and righteousness must never be compromised or weakened, but there is hardly a person so ungodly, immoral, rebellious, pagan, or indifferent that we have absolutely no point of agreement with him. Wrong theology, wrong standards, wrong beliefs, and wrong attitudes must be faced and dealt with, but they are not usually the best places to start the process of witnessing or peacemaking.

God’s people are to contend without being contentious, to disagree without being disagreeable, and to confront without being abusive. The peacemaker speaks the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). To start with love is to start toward peace. We begin peacemaking by starting with whatever peaceful point of agreement we can find. Peace helps beget peace. The peacemaker always gives others the benefit of the doubt. He never assumes they will resist the gospel or reject his testimony. When he does meet opposition, he tries to be patient with other people’s blindness and stubbornness just as he knows the Lord was, and continues to be, patient with his own blindness and stubbornness.

God’s most effective peacemakers are often the simplest and least noticed people. They do not try to attract attention to themselves. They seldom win headlines or prizes for their peacemaking, because, by its very nature, true peacemaking is unobtrusive and prefers to go unnoticed. Because they bring righteousness and truth wherever they go, peacemakers are frequently accused of being troublemakers and disturbers of the peace-as Ahab accused Elijah of being (1 Kings 18:17) and the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of being (Luke 23:2, 5). But God knows their hearts, and He honors their work because they are working for His peace in His power. God’s peacemakers are never unfruitful or unrewarded. This is a mark of a true kingdom citizen: he not only hungers for righteousness and holiness in his own life but has a passionate desire to see those virtues in the lives of others.

The Merit Of Peace: Eternal Sonship In The Kingdom

The merit, or result, of peacemaking is eternal blessing as God’s children in God’s kingdom. Peacemakers shall be called sons of God.

Most of us are thankful for our heritage, our ancestors, our parents, and our family name. It is especially gratifying to have been influenced by godly grandparents and to have been raised by godly parents. But the greatest human heritage cannot match the believer’s heritage in Jesus Christ, because we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Nothing compares to being a child of God.

Both huios and teknon are used in the New Testament to speak of believers’ relationship to God. Teknon (child) is a term of tender affection and endearment as well as of relationship (see John 1:12; Eph. 5:8; 1 Pet. 1:14; etc.). Sons, however, is from huios, which expresses the dignity and honor of the relationship of a child to his parents. As God’s peacemakers we are promised the glorious blessing of eternal sonship in His eternal kingdom.

Peacemaking is a hallmark of God’s children. A person who is not a peacemaker either is not a Christian or is a disobedient Christian. The person who is continually disruptive, divisive, and quarrelsome has good reason to doubt his relationship to God altogether. God’s sons-that is, all of His children, both male and female-are peacemakers. Only God determines who His children are, and He has determined that they are the humble, the penitent over sin, the gentle, the seekers of righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.

Shall be called is in a continuous future passive tense. Throughout eternity peacemakers will go by the name “children of God.” The passive form indicates that all heaven will call peacemakers sons of God, because God Himself has declared them to be His children.

Jacob loved Benjamin so much that his whole life came to be bound up in the life of that son (Gen. 44:30). Any parent worthy of the name loves his children more than his own life, and immeasurably more than all of his possessions together. God loves His children today as He loved Israel of old, as “the apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8; cf. Ps. 17:8). The Hebrew expression “apple of the eye” referred to the cornea, the most exposed and sensitive part of the eye, the part we are the most careful to protect. That is what God’s children are to Him: those whom He is most sensitive about and most desires to protect. To attack God’s children is to poke a finger in God’s eye. Offense against Christians is offense against God, because they are His very own children.

God puts the tears of His children in a bottle (Ps. 56:8), a figure reflecting the Hebrew custom of placing into a bottle the tears shed over a loved one. God cares for us so much that He stores up His remembrances of our sorrows and afflictions. God’s children matter greatly to Him, and it is no little thing that we can call Him Father.

God’s peacemakers will not always have peace in the world. As Jesus makes clear by the last beatitude, persecution follows peacemaking. In Christ we have forsaken the false peace of the world, and consequently we often will not have peace with the world. But as God’s children we may always have peace even while we are in the world-the peace of God, which the world cannot give and the world cannot take away.[2]


5:9 A blessing is pronounced on the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. Notice that the Lord is not speaking about people with a peaceful disposition or those who love peace. He is referring to those who actively intervene to make peace. The natural approach is to watch strife from the sidelines. The divine approach is to take positive action toward creating peace, even if it means taking abuse and invective.

Peacemakers are called sons of God. This is not how they become sons of God—that can only happen by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12). By making peace, believers manifest themselves as sons of God, and God will one day acknowledge them as people who bear the family likeness.[3]


9 Jesus’ concern in this beatitude is not with the peaceful but with the peacemakers. Peace is of constant concern in both Testaments (e.g., Pr 15:1; Isa 52:7; Lk 24:36; Ro 10:15; 12:18; 1 Co 7:15; Eph 2:11–22; Heb 12:14; 1 Pe 3:11). But as some of these and other passages show, the making of peace can itself have messianic overtones. The Promised Son is called the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6); and Isaiah 52:7—“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ ”—linking as it does peace, salvation, and God’s reign, was interpreted messianically in the Judaism of Jesus’ day.

Jesus does not limit the peacemaking to only one kind, and neither will his disciples. In the light of the gospel, Jesus himself is the supreme peacemaker, making peace between God and man, and man and man. Our peacemaking will include the promulgation of that gospel. It must also extend to seeking all kinds of reconciliation. Instead of delighting in division, bitterness, strife, or some petty “divide and conquer” mentality, disciples of Jesus delight to make peace wherever possible. Making peace is not appeasement. The true model is God’s costly peacemaking (Eph 2:15–17; Col 1:20). Those who undertake this work are acknowledged as God’s sons. In the OT, Israel has the title “sons” (Dt 14:1; Hos 1:10; cf. Pss. Sol. 17:30; Wis 2:13–18). Now it belongs to the heirs of the kingdom, who, meek and poor in spirit, loving righteousness yet merciful, are especially equipped for peacemaking and so reflect something of their heavenly Father’s character. “There is no more godlike work to be done in this world than peacemaking” (Broadus). This beatitude must have been shocking to Zealots when Jesus preached it, when political passions were inflamed (Morison).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 125). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 209–218). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1217). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 165). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.