Daily Archives: March 27, 2017

March 27, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Mar. 27, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

President Trump is set to sign a sweeping executive order aimed at promoting domestic oil, coal and natural gas by reversing much of his predecessor’s efforts to address climate change — prompting warnings the action will undermine U.S. leadership on the issue.

The Pentagon is poised to review — and probably approve — a new helicopter from Lockheed Martin to transport heavy cargo for the Marine Corps in a program valued at $29 billion.

Belarusian authorities plan to set up a nationwide surveillance system to get a better grip on their own population as the largest protests in two decades sweep the country.

Libya’s biggest oil terminal loads its first tanker since fighting between armed groups earlier this month halted shipments from two ports in the country with Africa’s largest crude reserves.

South Korean prosecutors sought to arrest former President Park Geun-hye over allegations that she abused her powers and colluded with her longtime friend and former aides to get bribes from the nation’s top businesses. It’s reasonable and lawful to detain her because there’s a risk that she will destroy evidence since she continues to deny wrongdoing, they said.

The Pakistan government has taken its fight against blasphemy to social media, with authorities now claiming Facebook officials will be arriving in the country to help security agencies trace those who are guilty of the offence online. Many in the blogger community insist they will stop criticizing the state or writing on religion.

Thousands of people gathered in Moscow and other major Russian cities on Sunday, heeding a call by opposition leader Alexei Navalny to protest against official corruption in what appeared to be some of the largest anti-government demonstrations in the last five years.

America’s biggest foreign creditor is unloading U.S. debt. And in a warning sign for the $13.9 trillion Treasuries market, Japan’s famously risk-averse money managers are giving little sense that an about-face is imminent.

Uber is suspending its self-driving car program after one of its autonomous vehicles was involved in a high-impact crash in Tempe, Arizona.

As members of Congress in Washington debate raising the minimum required to obtain a U.S. immigrant investor visa from $500,000 to $1.35 million, concern about the hike has set off a scramble among wealthy would-be participants in China.

Iran sanctioned what it described as 15 American companies, alleging they support terrorism, repression and Israel’s occupation of land Palestinians want for a future state, likely in retaliation for sanctions earlier announced by the U.S.

AP Top Stories

Despite Republican assurances that North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” isn’t hurting the economy, the law limiting LGBT protections will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years, according to an Associated Press analysis.

Despite Republican assurances that North Carolina’s “bathroom bill” isn’t hurting the economy, the law limiting LGBT protections will cost the state more than $3.76 billion in lost business over a dozen years, according to an Associated Press analysis.

The Philippines military said Monday they have rescued three more Malaysian tugboat crewmen held hostage by Muslim militants for eight months in the south of the country.

China’s premier has arrived in New Zealand for high-level talks at a time that both countries are pushing to expand free trade.

As tensions escalate in East Asia, North Korea may be closing in to conducting its sixth underground nuclear test, a report citing intelligence gathered by the United States said Friday.

Brazil won a major victory Saturday in the fight to restore credibility amid a tainted meat scandal, with key markets China, Egypt and Chile lifting their bans on its products.

BBC

President Donald Trump is expected to unveil a new unit aimed at overhauling the US federal bureaucracy, and headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner.

US-backed Syrian fighters have paused their offensive near the Tabqa dam so engineers can do any work necessary to ensure it continues to function.

Militia fighters in DR Congo have decapitated about 40 police officers in an ambush in the central province of Kasai, local officials said.

An Egyptian court has sentenced 56 people to prison over the capsizing of a migrant boat that killed more than 200 people in September.

Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of Yemen’s capital on Sunday to call for an end to war in the country.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has asked for help from the United Nations to boost supplies of medicine.

WND

Biological males are joining women’s teams, smashing records and dominating in sports such as weightlifting, softball, cycling, track, wrestling, football, volleyball, dodgeball, handball, cricket, golf, basketball and mixed martial arts. The movement for “equality” has apparently inspired transgender athletes to join teams of their preferred gender.

Astronomers have discovered a supermassive black hole that got kicked off its throne. Now it’s rocketing through space at a speed of almost 5 million miles an hour.

Australian Federal Police have been called in after an Islamic group called for Muslims to be executed if they leave the religion.

A Portland student has become the first American to gain legal designation as “genderless”, following a ruling by a Multnomah County judge. The 27-year-old, now legally designated agender, also got legal approval to change names, now going only by “Patch,” no surname.


Top News – 3/27/2017

Scientists Discover Portal Into Parallel Universe. Will it Reveal God’s Hiding Place?
Scientists at the Center for Theoretical Physics of the Universe believe they have discovered one of these portals via a newly discovered subatomic particle called a heavy quark. It is believed that heavy quarks have a “dark charge” which allows them to act as a bridge between the two universes, but as scientists are unable to observe dark particles or dark energy, no more is known about the parallel universe other than the fact of its existence.

UN Leader’s Support for Jewish Temple a ‘Breath of Fresh Air’
“It is completely clear the Temple that the Romans destroyed in Jerusalem was a Jewish temple,” Guterres said…..so it is particularly outrageous that the UN has been hijacked by Israel’s enemies to delegitimize the Jewish state.”

Polish PM joins European Union heads to sign Rome declaration
The Rome Declaration that the leaders will sign proclaims that “Europe is our common future”, according to a copy obtained by AFP. It went on to pledge to bring the suddenly diminished European Union – the result of Brexit – more tightly together: “Europe is our common future.We are determined to make the European Union stronger and more resilient, through even greater unity”. “And in that sense, I’m glad that the wording of the Declaration of Rome includes the language about listening to people, about working with national governments and about striving for peace and prosperity, and opportunity in the time ahead”.

Kushner to lead new WH office focused on using business ideas to fix gov’t bureaucracy
Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, will be tapped to lead a new White House office that will effort to use business solutions to fix “government stagnation”, a senior White House official told Fox News Sunday. “We can confirm we are making an announcement tomorrow to establish the White House office of American Innovation and look forward to sharing additional details,” the official said.

More Syrian Rebels, Families Evacuate Homs under Regime Deal
Hundreds of rebels and their families left their last bastion in Syria’s Homs city on Monday,as part of an ongoing evacuation expected to be among the largest of its kind under a Russian-backed deal with the regime, state media and a monitor said.

‘She’s as frosty as a storm’ Trump puts screws on Angela Merkel with ‘£300BN Nato bill’
With member countries pledging to contribute two per cent of their GDP to defence in 2014, something only a handful do, Mr Trump has been critical of those who he deems are not paying their fair share. The bill is said to take into account how much Germany underspent by since 2002, when Chancellor Merkel’s predecessor, Gerhard Schröder, pledged to spend more on defence. It is said to have come to £250n, with £50n interest added on.

‘Religious left’ emerging as U.S. political force in Trump era
“The election of Trump has been a clarion call to progressives in the Protestant and Catholic churches in America to move out of a place of primarily professing progressive policies to really taking action,”

PEGIDA marks anniversary with Nuremberg march against Islamization, EU & Erdogan
Another called on the Germans to “wake up” unless they want to see the rule of the Sharia law as the country’s near future. “Sharia law will become the supreme law. The constitution will land on the garbage heap of history. Do you want this? Then finally wake up!” the sign read.

For First Time in Decades, “No Daylight” Between Israel and US, Ambassador Tells AIPAC
The governments of Israel and the United States are experiencing a nearly unprecedented level of intimacy, Ron Dermer said, in what was clearly an implicit criticism of relations with previous US administrations. “For the first time in many years, perhaps even many decades, there is no daylight between our two governments,” Dermer declared to the thousands-strong crowd of pro-Israel participants.

UK Joins Trump Administration in Putting UNHRC ‘On Notice’ for Anti-Israel Bias
“Today we are putting the Human Rights Council on notice,” U.K. Ambassador Julian Braithwaite told the UNHRC during the closing moments of its latest session. The group approved four resolutions that condemned Israeli policy on the Palestinians, and called on the Jewish state to return control of the Golan Heights to Syria. “If things do not change, in the future we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the occupied Syrian and Palestinian territories,” Braithwaite said.

Pence: Trump is defender of Israel and Jewish people
“For the first time in a long time America has a president who will stand with our allies and stand up to our enemies.” Regarding his campaign pledge to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, Pence said only this was under serious consideration.

IDF launches military exercises on two fronts, high alert on third
Israel embarked Sunday on two week-long military exercises – one across the Golan to drill the forces’ preparedness for attack, and the other in Judea and Samaria. Residents were warned the drills will be accompanied by explosions.

Anti-Putin Opposition Energized by Biggest Protests in Years
Energized by the largest anti-government demonstrations in Russia for at least five years, opponents of President Vladimir Putin are preparing for a new wave of protests as the next presidential elections loom.

Israelis warned of increased ISIS threat abroad ahead of Passover holiday
Leading into the Passover and summer travel seasons, Israel has raised travel warnings to the highest level, cautioning Israelis against traveling to Egypt’s Sinai region, Prime Minister’s Office Counter-Terrorism Bureau Chief Eitan Ben David said at a special media briefing on Monday. Ben David said that “the threat has grown, including to Israelis in the coming period and is the gravest level of threat.”

‘Mossad attempted to turn French spies into double agents’
The Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, attempted to infiltrate French espionage services and turn some of its employees into double agents who would provide Israel with secret intelligence…Le Monde supported its claims by including in its report excerpts it had obtained from an internal report written by French intelligence. According to the report, the Mossad had tried to develop relationships with French spies “to the point of crossing the line of turning them into double agents.”

Eight school children feared dead in Japanese avalanche
Eight Japanese high school students are feared dead, after they were caught in an avalanche at a ski resort. The avalanche occurred early on Monday near Nasu in Tochigi prefecture, 120km (75 miles) north of Tokyo. Eight students were found with no vital signs while more than 30 people were injured, Japan’s Kyodo news agency said.

Cyclone Debbie: Thousands evacuate in Queensland, Australia
About 25,000 people have been told to evacuate as a cyclone carrying winds up to 240km/h (150 mph) moves towards the Queensland coast. Cyclone Debbie is expected to intensify into a Category 4 system before it arrives early on Tuesday local time. Some people have refused to leave despite warnings the destructive core could be as wide as 100km (62 miles).

Chile pensions protest draws tens of thousands
Tens of thousands of people in Chile have taken part in demonstrations against the country’s controversial privatised pension system. Demonstrators called on the socialist government of Michelle Bachelet to scrap the the system, which is managed by private funds. Critics say the system benefits the rich but leaves poorer Chileans with a pension below the minimum wage.

Syria fighters ‘take control’ of IS-held airbase near Raqqa
A US-backed force of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters say they have taken full control of a key airbase held by the Islamic State group (IS) near Raqqa. Its capture is seen as a significant step in the fight to drive the jihadists out of the city, which has become their de facto capital. Talal Sello, a spokesman for the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), said they had seized Tabqa airport from militants.

After Terrorist Attack, a British City Linked to Jihadis Winces and Asks Why
Outside the Maasha’Allah internet cafe, Mohammed Hussain raised his voice over the recorded Quranic verses blaring from the abaya shop two doors down. He was furious that Britain’s latest terrorist attacker had amplified his city’s stigma. “Why do all the jihadis come to Birmingham?” he half-shouted, prompting a passing group of teenage girls in bright-colored head scarves to frown, then giggle.

Female Athletes Crushed By ‘Women Who Were Once Men’
You’ve heard the expression, “Boys will be boys.” But what happens when a brawny boy wants to be one of the girls – fiercely competing with females in weightlifting, brutally tackling girls on the football field or even dealing powerful knockout punches to ladies in a mixed martial-arts cage?

Get ready for Calexit! Now Nigel Farage and the ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ set their sights on splitting California in two
The ‘Bad Boys of Brexit’ who led the campaign to break Britain away from the European Union have taken on a new exit challenge: splitting California into two states. Former UKip leader Nigel Farage and Leave backer Arron Banks have just returned from the United States, where they helped raise $1million (£800,000) for a ‘Calexit’ campaign, which would split California into two eastern and western regions.

Stunner! U.N. plan to ‘mark’ world population
If you believe the Bible is true, then you know it’s going to happen. The “Mark of the Beast” is a staple of prophecy, a development many evangelical Christians would take as a sign the end times have truly begun. And Pastor Carl Gallups believes there are real, concrete indications the United Nations has already started making preparations to develop the very technology that could be used to register every single person on Earth.

Judge OK’s Petition for America’s First ‘Genderless’ Person
A Portland student has become the first American to gain legal designation as “genderless”, following a ruling by a Multnomah County judge. The March 10 decision, reported for the first time on Thursday, involved a 27-year-old who was born male but claimed to identify with no gender whatsoever. Judge Amy Holmes, who approved the petition, also last year approved a “non-binary” gender designation for another Portland resident.

This Is The Nightmare Scenario For The GOP: A $2 Trillion Funding “Hole”
When one strips away the partisan rhetoric and posturing, the practical impact of Friday’s GOP failure to repeal Obamacare has a specific monetary impact: a funding hole that is at least $1 trillion bigger, and perhaps as large as $2.2 trillion.

Cook County Illinois Suffers Largest Population Drop In Entire US
Illinois voters are voting with their feet. Not only are people scrambling to get out of Cook County, but the entire state is suffering.

The Evidence That Russia Hacked The DNC Is Collapsing
The allegation – now accepted as incontrovertible fact by the “mainstream” media – that the Russian intelligence services hacked the Democratic National Committee (and John Podesta’s emails) in an effort to help Donald Trump get elected recently suffered a blow from which it may not recover.


The Briefing 03-27-17

Should it be illegal to be a stay-at-home mom? Why feminists want to take this choice away from women

Studies show most women with young children don’t want to try to “lean in” and “have it all”

The post The Briefing 03-27-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Mid-Day Snapshot

Mar. 27, 2017

Who’s to Blame for the GOP’s Health Care Debacle?

Ryan, Trump and others failed Friday, but that cannot be the end of the effort.

Top Opinion
Peggy Noonan: High Anxiety Over Health-Care Reform
Edwin J. Feulner: The Strategic Defense Initiative at 34
Jeff Jacoby: Deliver Us From Scripture-Citers
More Opinion →
The Foundation

“Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.” —Benjamin Franklin (1771)


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: March 27

  • Markets Slide on Doubts that Trump Can Deliver (Read More)
  • Dollar hits four-month low as Trump trade deflates (Read More)
  • These Charts Show Alarm Bells Ringing on Trump Trade (Read More)
  • White House may court Democrats on tax reform (Read More)
  • Republicans Could Have Another Fight Over Tax Overhaul (Read More)
  • ‘Religious left’ emerging as U.S. political force in Trump era (Read More)
  • Democrats Weigh Next Steps on Gorsuch Nomination (Read More)
  • Iraq Military Rejects Claim U.S. Airstrike Killed Civilians (Read More)
  • Deutsche Bank in Bind Over How to Modify $300 Million Trump Debt (Read More)
  • ‘Project Scalpel’: Behind Big Banks’ Plan to Save $2 Billion (Read More)
  • Trump to sign order on Tuesday easing energy regulations: officials (Read More)
  • United Airlines bars teenage girls in leggings from flight (Read More)
  • Rich Chinese Race to Apply for a U.S. Golden Visa (Read More)
  • Huishan Had Emergency Creditor Meeting Before Rout, Lender Says (Read More)
  • France’s Le Pen says the EU ‘will die’, globalists to be defeated (Read More)
  • Shell and Anadarko mull clean break from Permian venture (Read More)
  • How a Battle Over Fish Could Batter Brexit Talks (Read More)
  • U.S. tourist killed in London would not have borne ill feelings toward attacker (Read More)
  • High-Speed Trading Behind Your Amazon Purchase (Read More)
  • Tesla Model 3 Ramp Up Aims to Crush BMW and Mercedes (Read More)
  • Toshiba shares rise after report Westinghouse may file bankruptcy Tuesday (Read More)
  • Kremlin rejects U.S., EU calls to free detained opposition protesters (Read More)
  • Hedge Funds Are Training Their Computers to Think Like You (Read More)
  • China state firms eye land around Panama Canal: waterway authority (Read More)
  • EU antitrust regulators clear $130 billion Dow, DuPont merger (Read More)
  • China Southern in talks over American Airlines tie-up (Read More)

The Civil War is Here

The left doesn’t want to secede. It wants to rule.

A civil war has begun.

This civil war is very different than the last one. There are no cannons or cavalry charges. The left doesn’t want to secede. It wants to rule. Political conflicts become civil wars when one side refuses to accept the existing authority. The left has rejected all forms of authority that it doesn’t control.

View Article


Romancing the World: The Compromised Church

A growing number of evangelical pastors and leaders in our day are diluting the message of the gospel. Preaching the gospel and witnessing has morphed into pep talks on relationship building and developing friendships. Many churches are concerned with what the surrounding community thinks about them and many Christians are equally concerned with what people think about them rather than what God thinks.

View Article


Top Headlines – 3/27/2017

Pence at AIPAC: Trump still seriously considering moving embassy to Jerusalem

Dermer: For first time in years, ‘no daylight’ between US and Israel – Implying criticism of Obama

Anti-Israel protesters block entrance at AIPAC conference

In Amman, Arab League set to reaffirm Saudi Peace Initiative

Settler leader: Population growth is end of 2-state solution

Hamas reopens Gaza crossing shut over assassination of terror leader

Israel arrests senior Hamas operative in West Bank raid

Early Elections in the Air as Netanyahu-Kahlon Crisis Reaches Impasse

Anti-Semitism expressed by a quarter of the German population

Egypt’s last Jews aim to keep alive heritage

Israel-Lebanon maritime dispute heats up

The Syrian refugees selling sex to survive in Lebanon

Mossad reportedly tried to recruit French agents during joint Syria operation

Syria fighters ‘take control’ of IS-held airbase near Raqqa

Isis tells Raqqa residents to evacuate over fears nearby dam will collapse

US-backed forces capture ISIS-held airport near Euphrates dam

US sending around 200 more troops to Middle East, official says

‘Two dead’ in Mosul market attack in Iraq

Iraqi Prime Minister al Abadi says ISIS military defeated ‘within weeks’

Iraq suspends Mosul offensive after coalition airstrike atrocity

Mosul offensive: Iraq denies air strike caused civilian deaths

7-Y-O ISIS Suicide Bomber Strapped With Explosives Found Among Iraqis Fleeing Mosul

‘If Iran was benign the Mideast’s problems would be solvable’

Iran denies harassing U.S. warships in Gulf, warns of clashes

In role reversal, Iran and Hamas impose sanctions

Yemenis protest on war’s second anniversary

Trump administration weighs deeper involvement in Yemen war

Pakistani al-Qaeda Leader Killed In U.S. Strike In Afghanistan

Erdogan setting back integration in Germany by years: Schaeuble

Egypt convicts 56 over migrant boat sinking that killed 200

Why the London attacker’s links to Saudi Arabia might matter

Isis uses terror attack to sign up YouTube recruits

WhatsApp accused of giving terrorists ‘a secret place to hide’ as it refuses to hand over London attacker’s messages

Weekend killings in Cincinnati, Las Vegas are terrifying but not terrorism

Hundreds Arrested at Huge Anti-Corruption Protests Across Russia

Russia protests: US condemns arrests of anti-Putin critic, hundreds of others in rallies

Jing-Jin-Ji: China Planning Megalopolis the Size of New England

Mexico’s Catholic Church: Work on Trump wall is treason

Trump gave Merkel $370 billion ‘invoice’ for NATO debt

France’s Le Pen says people no longer want the EU

The bad boys of Brexit join fight to break up California

Trump taps Kushner to lead a SWAT team to fix government with business ideas

White House Fence Jumper Tries Again, This Time at Treasury

Angry over U.S. healthcare fail, Trump voters spare him blame

Trump takes aim at Freedom Caucus over defeat of GOP health care plan

Trump: “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!”

White House Opens Door to Democrats in Wake of Health-Bill Failure

Illinois lawmakers see marijuana legalization as gateway to fiscal boost

More than two hours of social media a day doubles your risk of feeling isolated

The High-Speed Trading Behind Your Amazon Purchase

Bill Gates vs. the Robots – Sure, they’ll kill jobs. Like Microsoft Excel, they’ll also create new ones.

‘People aren’t spending’: stores close doors in ‘oversaturated’ US retail market

Oil falls on rising U.S. drilling, uncertainty of OPEC-led cut extension

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Saumlaki, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kirakira, Solomon Islands

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Shimen, China

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

Ruiz volcano in Colombia erupts to 23,000ft

Kambalny volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 20,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 17,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 13,000ft

Australian residents begin evacuating ahead of cyclone Debbie

Eight school children feared dead in Japanese avalanche

EPA chief: Trump to undo Obama plan to curb global warming

Judge grants person the right to be genderless in landmark ruling

Nonprofit floats child sex dolls as treatment for pedophiles

Witches toil, spell trouble for Trump

Tim Challies – Seven False Teachers in the Church Today

J.C. Ryle – Are You Born Again?

Pastor Chris Hill of The Potter’s House Denver Reportedly Steps Down for a Month After Wife Exposes his Affair with Church Employee

Pastor Accused of Staging Home Burglary to Get Money For Drug Debt

Where in the World is Phoenix University of Theology?

California Pastor Hospitalized With Broken Hip After Being Attacked by Former Member

Vimeo Declares War on Gospel Transformation

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 09:34 AM PDT

(Reported By Michael Brown) If Jesus has changed your life and set you free from homosexual practice, your testimony is not welcome on Vimeo –…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

5 Blessings Connected to the Fear of the Lord

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 07:56 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) We don’t hear much preaching today on the “Fear of the Lord” but many don’t realize the blessings that are connected to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Did Putin Just threaten Israel with a ‘”Red-line”?

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 07:39 AM PDT

There is an interesting article coming out of Russia this morning that really leaped out at me that I believe is definitely worth sharing. Are…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Wellesley Student Creates Database of Professors Who Commit Microaggressions or Fail to Respect Students’ Pronoun Preferences

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 07:23 AM PDT

(Reported By Truth Revolt) In true totalitarian, Cultural Revolution fashion, a Wellesley College student has created a public database of professors who are guilty of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

One Day Humanity Will See “Non-Biological Bodies’

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 07:17 AM PDT

Ray Kurzweil who is the current head of Artifical Intelligence for Google has recently come out and made a startling statement that should raise the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Iranian bill to label CIA and US Army as “Terrorist Groups”

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 07:02 AM PDT

In a crazy story coming out of the Mideast, It appears that Iran has just announced it set to impose sanctions on 15 US companies…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Dollar Sees lowest Drop Since November as Trump trade deflates

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 06:52 AM PDT

Looks like “Happy Days” are over for now as the US dollar has just reportedly slid to a four-month low against a slew of currencies…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Dow plummets 150 points as global markets fall on Trump’s health-care failure

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 06:46 AM PDT

Looks the recent Trump Health-Care flop has produced big ripples in Wallstreet as reports are indicating that Wall Street futures have underlined a global market sell-off…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Stock-Market Fears Returns as Dow stares at longest losing streak in 6 years

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 06:42 AM PDT

Looks like the stock-market jitters have returned to Wallstreet as a new report is revealing that measures of risk are rising once again. This comes…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hijab Fashion Accessory Made For Barbies in United States

Posted: 26 Mar 2017 07:51 PM PDT

(by Kelly McDonald, Jr) A new hijab fashion accessory was recently created for barbies. A hijab is the head scarf worn by Muslim women. The…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

More US Troops Heading to the Middle East To Fight ISIS

Posted: 26 Mar 2017 07:49 PM PDT

(by Kelly McDonald, Jr) According to a report by Fox News, the US is sending an additional 200 troops to the Middle East. The goal…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

First Genderless Person Becomes Legalized

Posted: 26 Mar 2017 07:44 PM PDT

(by Kelly McDonald, Jr) In Portland, Oregon, a judge recently ruled that a 27-year old male student is allowed to be genderless. He will be…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Student in Underwear Gets Transgender Shock; School Says ‘Tolerate’ It

Posted: 26 Mar 2017 06:35 PM PDT

A ridiculous story is coming out of Pennsylvania where a high school student there is suing his school district after a transgender student reportedly surprised…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Thousands Of Americans Are Fleeing Big Cities In Preparation For Coming “American Apocalypse”

Posted: 26 Mar 2017 06:09 PM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) Why are so many people suddenly moving away from major U.S. cities?  Recently, I wrote about the mass exodus that is happening…

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?


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Legalism and the Conscience

1 John 2:1-2

Code: B170327

Legalism is best disguised when it takes up residence in our consciences. From there it can taunt us, urging us to do better and try harder in our feeble fallen existence.

Such guilt-riddled consciences long to be soothed. Invariably, false religion steps into that void, offering a system of works. Man-made religions are particularly appealing to burdened sinners desperate to silence the cries of their consciences.

Roman Catholicism is a great example. We’ve already pointed out their codified denials of salvation by grace alone. On top of that, however, Catholic dogma also affirms works-righteousness through their doctrine of penance:

Raised up from sin, the sinner must still recover his full spiritual health by doing something more to make amends for the sin: he must “make satisfaction for” or “expiate” his sins. This satisfaction is also called “penance.” [1]

In his book, The Gospel According to Rome, James McCarthy explains how penance is implemented and enforced among Roman Catholics: “To assist the person in making reparation for his sin, the priest imposes an act of penance. It is selected to be ‘in keeping with the nature of the crimes and the ability of the penitents.’” [2]Prior to his conversion, Martin Luther was deemed by his Catholic peers to be a penitent with a lot of “ability.” As a result, he suffered egregiously under the weight of Roman Catholic penance.

Luther vs. Legalism

Luther’s conscience was plagued by his inability to conquer the sin in his life. Thus he was constantly putting himself through rigorous penance requirements, as James Kittelson vividly describes:

Long periods with neither food nor drink, nights without sleep, bone-chilling cold with neither coat nor blanket to warm him—and self-flagellation—were common and even expected in the lives of serious monks. . . . [Luther] did not simply go through the motions of prayers, fasts, deprivations, and mortifications of the flesh, but pursued them earnestly. . . . It is even possible that the illnesses which troubled him so much in his later years developed as a result of his strict denial of his own bodily needs. [3]

It’s little wonder that Luther’s conversion to Christ was intensely euphoric and liberating. The apostle Paul’s words in Romans 1:17—“the Righteous man shall live by faith”—were the lightning rod that ignited Luther, sparked the Reformation, and shook the world.

Professing Protestants, Practicing Catholics

All true Protestants gladly join with Martin Luther in proclaiming the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ—completely apart from any human effort. Even so, the harsh practices of his former monastery often linger in our cloistered consciences.

To be sure, most Christians find the Catholic doctrine of penance to be abhorrent. Nonetheless, many are inwardly self-flagellated by their guilt-riddled consciences. They know their right standing with God hinges on Christ’s atoning work, yet still consider it to be a fragile reconciliation—one that’s on a perpetual knife edge. God may have adopted them as His children, but they still live in constant fear of being disowned if they commit a big enough sin. For this reason, many churches are full of Protestants who think and act like Catholics.

I should know, because I used to be one of them. I understood that I was saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. But my relationship with God felt like a continual roller coaster that went up and down with my behavior. Some days I felt extra obedient to His commands and consequently walked with confidence that God must be pleased with me. Other days I felt humiliated by acts of disobedience and was too embarrassed to approach Him in prayer. Then it was up to me to tip the scales back in my favor by trying harder and doing better.

It may have been imperceptible to my Christian friends, but my mind was racked with legalistic guilt and fear. Worse still, I actually thought my mental penance demonstrated great humility and righteousness. But living under that kind of pressure isn’t a form of piety, nor does it reflect a low view of self. Rather, it reveals unbelief concerning God’s Word and a low view of Christ in His role as our heavenly Advocate:

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in us. . . . And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 1:9–2:2)

Concerning Christ as our Advocate, John MacArthur writes:

All those standing before the bar of divine justice are guilty of violating God’s holy law; they “are all under sin; as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one’” (Romans 3:9–10), and “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). The just sentence the divine court should hand down is eternal punishment in hell, “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).

But all is not hopeless for the guilty, because there is one more character to consider in this divine courtroom scene: the Lord Jesus Christ. He acts as the Advocate, or Defense Attorney, for all those who believe savingly in Him. He is a most unusual defense attorney, however, since He does not maintain His clients’ innocence, but rather acknowledges their guilt. Nonetheless, He has never lost a case—and never will (John 6:39; cf. Romans 8:29–30). Using the language of the courtroom, Paul declared, “Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Romans 8:33–34; cf. Colossians 2:13–14). That last phrase is the key to how the Lord Jesus Christ infallibly wins acquittal for those who put their faith in Him. He intercedes with the Father on the basis of His own substitution for sinners in sacrificial death, which fully paid sin’s penalty for all who trust Him for salvation, thus meeting the demands of God’s justice. [4]

We Depend on Christ to Save Us and Keep Us

It was John MacArthur who delivered the death blow to my inner legalism when he said, “If I could lose my salvation, I would.” I immediately understood his point. If maintaining my right standing with God hinged on my own efforts at pleasing Him, then it would be as doomed to failure as any self-effort to bring about my own salvation. We must depend on Christ for everything. If I am trusting Him to save me then I also need to trust Him to keep me from ever falling out of His grace.

I give eternal life to [My sheep], and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:28–29)

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March 27, 2017: Verse of the day

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Holding God and His will in high regard is the right motive. They are to work heartily (Putting their whole inner man into the effort), as for the Lord rather than for men, serving their master as they would the Lord Himself.

Paul stresses to Timothy that such obedience and honor given by slaves to their masters keeps “the name of God and our doctrine” from being evil spoken of (1 Tim. 6:1).[1]


23 In 3:17 Paul enjoins the Colossians in general to do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus. At the outset of v. 23, the apostle admonishes slaves in particular to work heartily (lit., “from [your] soul”; NIV, “with all your heart”) in whatever they do. Slaves are to not only obey their masters with singularity of heart but are also to perform their given duties with all the energy they can muster. A slave characterized by integrity and productivity would be a valued commodity for any master. That being said, this is not what ought to motivate their work; rather, Paul directs slaves to expend their energies as to the Lord and not their masters, who are, in the final analysis, mere mortals. Even though they work for their lords, they are to do their work for their Lord.[2]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (p. 172). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 342). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 27, 2017 – Identifying with Christ’s Suffering

It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

Hebrews 2:10

 

Christians can identify with their Master because like Him, they suffer to enter their glory.

Christ said to the disciples on the road to Emmaus, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25–26). Our Lord had to explain that future glory required that He suffer. We should expect the same.

The path to glory for Christ was the path of unjust suffering. That’s our path also. Jesus endured suffering with perfect patience and was exalted to the highest point of glory. He is our example of how to respond to suffering.[1]


Our Salvation Author

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. (2:10)

The phrase it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things refers primarily to God the Father, though it obviously refers to the Son as well. It was fitting means that what God did through Jesus Christ was consistent with His character. It was consistent with God’s wisdom. The cross was a masterpiece of wisdom. God solved the problem which no human or angelic mind could have solved. What He did was also consistent with His holiness, for God showed on the cross His hatred for sin. It was consistent with His power, being the greatest display of power ever manifested. Christ endured for a few hours what will take an eternity for unrepentant sinners to endure. It was consistent with His love, in that He loved the world so much that He gave His only Son for its redemption. Finally, what He did was consistent with His grace, because Christ’s sacrifice was substitutionary. The work of salvation was totally consistent with God’s nature. It was entirely fitting for Him to have done what He did.

What was fitting for the Father was equally fitting for the Son. Christ’s suffering humiliation for the sake of man’s salvation was consistent with His loving and gracious nature. Though all things were both for Him and through Him, He became for a little while lower than the angels in order to bring many sons to glory and become the perfect author of their salvation through sufferings. Here is the second perfection that His humiliation accomplished—Author of salvation. Jesus had to become a man and He had to suffer and die in order to be the perfect provider of salvation.

The Greek word for author is archēgos, literally, a “pioneer” or “leader.” In Acts 3:15 and 5:31 the term, used both times of Christ, is translated “Prince.” It always refers to someone who involves others in his endeavor. For example, it is used of a man who starts and heads a family, into which others are born or married. It is used of a man who founds a city, in which others come to live. It was commonly used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow. The archēgos never stood at the rear giving orders. He was always out front, leading and setting the example. As the supreme Archegos, Christ does not stand at the rear giving orders. He is always before us, as perfect Leader and perfect Example.

He lived for us the pattern of perfect obedience. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Heb. 5:8–9). By His own obedience He set the perfect pattern for us. He also set us the the pattern for suffering. “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Pet. 2:21).

For most people, life becomes most anxious and dreadful at the point of death. That is the point beyond which we cannot go a single step by ourselves. But the Author of our salvation promises us that “because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). The world’s ultimate question is: “Has anyone ever cheated death?”—to which the Bible replies: “Yes, Jesus Christ.” The second most important question is: “If He did, did He leave the way open for me?”—to which the Bible also replies, “Yes.” He did leave the way open. All we have to do is put our hand in His hand and He will lead us from one side of death to the other. When we accept Him as our Savior, we can say with the apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).

As the great Pioneer of redemption, He blazed the trail through death and resurrection. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die” (John 11:25–26). God made Christ for a little while lower than the angels so that He could come down to us, be our Archegos—our spiritual Pioneer and Example—and bring us to the Father.[2]


10 We are first reminded of the purpose that underlies the whole divine plan: it is to “bring many sons to glory.” (TNIV has correctly changed “sons” to “sons and daughters,” since no one believes the author thought only males were to be saved; such changes are rightly made throughout the letter wherever masculine terms such as “sons,” “brothers,” and “men” are used in an inclusive sense, and I shall from now on take them for granted rather than draw attention to them individually.) “Many” is in contrast with the one Son through whom the many are brought to glory (rather than restricting the scope of “everyone” in v. 9; cf. the “many” of Isa 53:11–12). The nature of that “glory” will be explained more fully later, for instance in terms of the heavenly “rest” (4:1–11) and the festivities of Mount Zion (12:22–24). Salvation is thus not merely a rescue mission but the positive fulfillment of the “glory and honor” for which humanity was created (Ps 8:5), sharing in the authority and glory of the living God, “for whom and through whom everything exists.” (Note that this clause echoes closely what was said of the Son in 1:2.) And it is the role of the Son to be the “author” of that salvation; the term archēgos (GK 795) means both “leader” and “originator,” and probably here as in 12:2 suggests not only the one who makes salvation possible but also the one who has gone on ahead to prepare the way (cf. 6:20). Some versions helpfully translate archēgos as “pioneer.” But his ability to fulfill that role depends on his first undergoing suffering on our behalf, so that it is “through what he suffered” (TNIV) that he becomes “perfect” as our savior. “Perfect” here, as always in Hebrews, is not a term for moral rectitude but speaks of the completion of God’s purpose (see Introduction, p. 32); Peterson, 66–73, argues in detail for a “vocational” sense here. There is no suggestion Jesus was at some time “imperfect” in the moral sense (cf. 4:15; 7:26).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 99). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 65–67). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 54). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 27, 2017 – Enemies of Humility: Selfish Ambition

“But Jesus answered and said, ‘You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?’ They said to Him, ‘We are able.’ ”

Matthew 20:22

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Selfish ambition in spiritual things shows that we are ignorant of the real path to God’s glory.

Yesterday we saw that James and John, with their mother, posed a bold power–play question to the Lord Jesus. Now, as He answers them, they display another attitude at odds with the humble spirit: selfish ambition.

If the brothers’ power–play request was brazen, it was also very foolish. They did not have a clue about what was involved if Jesus granted their request. “The cup that I am about to drink” was His way of referring to His suffering and death. When He asked James and John if they were prepared to drink that cup, Christ was saying that if you are His disciple, you must be prepared for suffering and hardship.

In fact, Jesus’ words “to drink the cup” indicate that something very difficult lay ahead. Not only do those words refer to the Savior’s own painful suffering and death (Matt. 26:39), but they mean we must stay the course to the end, enduring whatever is necessary. James, John, and the other disciples initially did not have such staying power.

James and John, thinking they would always persevere, overconfidently declared, “We are able.” Peter brashly promised never to forsake the Lord, and all the other disciples echoed that pledge. But Peter denied Jesus three times, and the ambitious brothers, along with the rest of the disciples, fled after Jesus’ arrest.

The disciples eventually did finish well and shared in the “fellowship of His sufferings” (Phil. 3:10). James became the first martyred apostle, and John was exiled to the island of Patmos. But such faithfulness was not attained in their own strength, nor by their ambitious maneuvering, but by the Spirit’s power. This is a strong reminder to us that no position in God’s kingdom is rewarded because of selfish human ambition, but only by His sovereign choice of “those for whom it has been prepared” (Matt. 20:23).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that God would give you a view of service in His kingdom that is unclouded by your own ambitions.

For Further Study: Read and compare Psalms 15 and 75. What do they say about pride and humility? ✧ Meditate on several verses that relate to that theme.[1]


These verses reflect a second wrong way to spiritual greatness, that of self-serving ambition. The request of James, John, and their mother not only was brash but foolish. Bypassing the mother, Jesus answered the two brothers directly and said, “You do not know what you are asking for. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” The three had no idea of the full implications of their request.

The cup that Jesus was about to drink was the cup of suffering and death, which He had just finished describing to them (vv. 18–19). Jesus was saying, “Don’t you realize by now that the way to eternal glory is not through worldly success and honor but through suffering? Haven’t you heard what I’ve been teaching about the persecuted being blessed and about taking up your own crosses and following Me?”

The apostle Paul learned that the way to great glory is through great affliction for Christ’s sake. Although he suffered extreme hardship, persecution, and suffering, he considered those things to be insignificant compared to what awaited him in heaven. He told the self-serving, pleasure-loving Corinthians, “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17). It is those who are persecuted “on account of Me” who Jesus said will have great reward in heaven (Matt. 5:11–12).

Suffering from physical afflictions such as disease, deformity, and accident or from the emotional distresses of a lost job or the death of a loved one can be used by the Lord to strengthen believers spiritually. He can help them grow even through problems and hardships they bring on themselves because of foolishness or sin. But the affliction that brings eternal glory is that which is brought about and is willingly endured because of faithfulness to the Lord. It is suffering because of the gospel, being “persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:10). The one who has the greatest glory beside Christ in heaven will be the one who has faithfully endured the greatest suffering for Him on earth.

To drink the cup meant to drink the full measure, leaving nothing. It was a common expression that meant to stay with something to the end, to endure to the limits, whatever the cost. The cup that Jesus was about to drink was immeasurably worse than the physical agony of the cross or the emotional anguish of being forsaken by His friends, painful as those were. The full measure of His cup was taking the world’s sin upon Himself, an agony so horrible that He prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39).

Either because they completely misunderstood what Jesus meant or because, like Peter promising never to forsake Christ, they self-confidently thought they could endure anything required of them, James and John foolishly declared, “We are able.” And just as Peter denied the Lord three times before the cock crowed, those two brothers, along with all the other disciples, fled for their lives when Jesus was arrested (Matt. 26:56).[2]


22 The additional words “and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with” (KJV)—and similarly in v. 23—are almost certainly an assimilation to Mark 10:38–39. Jesus’ answer is not severe but mingles firmness with probing. It is often ignorance that seeks leadership, power, and glory; the brothers do not know what they are asking. To ask to reign with Jesus is to ask to suffer with him, and not only do they not know what they are asking for (cf. 10:37–39; Ro 8:17; 2 Ti 2:12; Rev 3:21); they have as yet no clear perceptions of Jesus’ sufferings. To ask for worldly wealth and much honor is often to ask for anxiety, temptation, disappointment, and envy; in the spiritual arena, to ask for great usefulness and reward is often to ask for great suffering (cf. 2 Co 11:23–33; Col 1:24; Rev 1:9). “We know not what we ask, when we ask for the glory of wearing the crown, and ask not for grace to bear the cross in our way to it” (Matthew Henry).

The “cup” (cf. 26:39) characteristically refers, in OT imagery, to judgment or retribution (cf. Ps 75:8; Isa 51:17–18; Jer 25:15–28). If the disciples grasped anything of Jesus’ passion predictions, they probably thought the language was partly hyperbolic (Jesus did use hyperbole elsewhere [e.g., 19:24]) and referred to the eschatological conflict during which Messiah’s side would suffer losses; but these could scarcely be too severe for one who could still storms and raise the dead. Thus, by their bold response, James and John betray their misunderstandings of the timing of the dawn of the kingdom in all its glory (cf. Lk 19:11), and equally of the uniqueness and redemptive significance of Jesus’ sufferings (cf. v. 28) now imminent.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 20:20). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 487–488). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MARCH 27, 2017 – WHAT A SEA TO SWIM IN!

There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

—1 Samuel 2:2

What a broad world to roam in, what a sea to swim in is this God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is eternal. He antedates time and is wholly independent of it. Time began in Him and will end in Him. To it He pays no tribute and from it He suffers no change.

He is immutable. He has never changed and can never change in any smallest measure. To change He would need to go from better to worse or from worse to better. He cannot do either, for being perfect He cannot become more perfect, and if He were to become less perfect He would be less than God.

He is omniscient. He knows in one free and effortless act all matter, all spirit, all relationships, all events. He has no past and He has no future. He is, and none of the limiting and qualifying terms used of creatures can apply to Him.

Love and mercy and righteousness are His, and holiness so ineffable that no comparisons or figures will avail to express it. POG037

I’m overwhelmed when I even try to comprehend Your attributes, Father. I worship You, for there is indeed no God like You. Amen. [1]


2:2 The first and third lines of this verse are parallel: holy is parallel to rock, and the Lord is parallel to God, with different structure but similar meaning. The formula “there is no … like …” denotes incomparability. Thus, there is none besides you states that there is no absolutely holy being besides the Lord; moreover, only the Lord is God, i.e., “monotheism” is true (see Deut. 4:35; 32:39; 2 Sam. 22:32). “Rock,” a common OT epithet for God (e.g., Deut. 32:4, 15; 2 Sam. 22:2; 23:3), indicates God’s protection and strength. In Ps. 118:22 and Isa. 8:14; 28:16; as well as in 1 Pet. 2:6–8, “rock” has a messianic significance (see note on 1 Sam. 2:10). With “our God,” Hannah speaks as a member of the covenant community, whom she addresses in the next verse.[2]


2:2 rock. A metaphor for God that emphasized His strength and the security of those who trust in Him (see Dt 32:4; Ps 18:1, 2).[3]


2:2 rock. As a metaphor for God, this term is concentrated in poetic passages such as the song of Moses in Deut. 32; the song of David in 2 Sam. 22; Psalms; and Isaiah. The metaphor suggests God’s strength and sovereignty and the security of those who trust in Him. Here the focus is on the uniqueness of the one true God as opposed to false sources of security (cf. false gods, also called “rock,” in Deut. 32:31, 37; Is. 44:8).[4]


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

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 493). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Sa 2:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (pp. 405–406). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

March 27, 2017 – True Salt and Light Are Pure

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.—Matt. 5:13–15

With great responsibility, there is often great danger. We can’t be an influence for purity in the world if we have compromised our own purity. We can’t sting the world’s conscience if we continually go against our own. We can’t be used of God to retard the corruption of sin in the world if our lives become corrupted by sin. To lose our saltiness is not to lose our salvation, but we will lose our effectiveness.

Light, too, is in danger of becoming useless. Like salt, it can’t lose its essential nature. A hidden light is still light, but it is useless light. That’s why people do not “light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house.” A light that is hidden under a basket can’t even be used to read by; it helps neither the person who hides it nor anyone else.

Don’t hide your light for fear of offending others, whether out of indifference or lovelessness or any other reason. If you do, you demonstrate unfaithfulness to the Lord.

ASK YOURSELF

The demands of purity call for more than merely the eradication of sin and shameful habits, but also for replacing impurity with active, living, breathing righteousness. What are some specific acts of obedience and service to which God is calling you at this hour, in this generation?[1]


Salt of the Earth and Light of the World

(5:13–16)

You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do men light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on the lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (5:13–16)

In these four verses the Lord summarizes the function of believers in the world. Reduced to one word, that function is influence. Whoever lives according to the Beatitudes is going to function in the world as salt and light. Christian character consciously or unconsciously affects other people for better or for worse. As John Donne reminds us, “No man is an island.”

An ancient Greek myth tells of a goddess who came to earth unseen but whose presence was always known by the blessings she left behind in her pathway. Trees burned by forest fires sprouted new leaves, and violets sprang up in her footprints. As she passed a stagnant pool its water became fresh, and parched fields turned green as she walked through them. Hills and valleys blossomed with new life and beauty wherever she went. Another Greek story tells of a princess sent as a present to a king. She was as beautiful as Aphrodite and her breath was as sweet as perfume. But she carried with her the contagion of death and decay. From infancy she had fed on nothing but poison and became so permeated with it that she poisoned the very atmosphere around her. Her breath would kill a swarm of insects; she would pick a flower and it would wither. A bird flying too close would fall dead at her feet.

Andrew Murray lived an exceptionally holy life. Among those on whom his influence was the greatest were his children and grandchildren. Five of his six sons became ministers of the gospel and four of his daughters became minister’s wives. Ten grandsons became ministers and thirteen grandchildren became missionaries.

Woodrow Wilson told the story of being in a barbershop one time. “I was sitting in a barber chair when I became aware that a powerful personality had entered the room. A man had come quietly in upon the same errand as myself to have his hair cut and sat in the chair next to me. Every word the man uttered, though it was not in the least didactic, showed a personal interest in the man who was serving him. And before I got through with what was being done to me I was aware I had attended an evangelistic service, because Mr, D. L. Moody was in that chair. I purposely lingered in the room after he had left and noted the singular affect that his visit had brought upon the barber shop. They talked in undertones. They did not know his name, but they knew something had elevated their thoughts, and I felt that I left that place as I should have left a place of worship.”

Many years ago Elihu Burrit wrote, “No human being can come into this world without increasing or diminishing the sum total of human happiness, not only of the present but of every subsequent age of humanity. No one can detach himself from this connection. There in no sequestered spot in the universe, no dark niche along the disc of nonexistence to which he can retreat from his relations with others, where he can withdraw the influence of his existence upon the moral destiny of the world. Everywhere his presence or absence will be felt. Everywhere he will have companions who will be better or worse because of him. It is an old saying, and one of the fearful and fathomless statements of import, that we are forming characters for eternity. Forming characters? Whose? Our own or others? Both. And in that momentous fact lies the peril and responsibility of our existence. Who is sufficient for the thought? Thousands of my fellow beings will yearly enter eternity with characters differing from those they would have carried thither had I never lived. The sunlight of that world will reveal my finger marks in their primary formations and in their successive strata of thought and life.”

In Matthew 5:13–16 Jesus talks about the influence of His people on the world for God and for good. In His high priestly prayer Jesus said to His Father, “I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world … As Thou didst send Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:15–16, 18). John wrote, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world” (1 John 2:15). Christ’s kingdom people are not to reflect the world but they are to influence the world; they are to be in it but not of it.

When we live the life of the Beatitudes some people will respond favorably and be saved, whereas others will ridicule and persecute us. In the words of Paul, we will manifest “the sweet aroma of the knowledge of [Christ] in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life” (2 Cor. 2:14–16). In either case our lives have profound effects, and even persecution is not to alter our function in the world. We “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that [we] may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).

Though Jesus was speaking before a great multitude of people on the hillside, His teaching about kingdom life was primarily for His disciples, for those who believed in Him. His concern was for the all of the multitude, and in hearing His teaching on godly living many of them may have been drawn to faith. But the principles He teaches here are appropriate only for believers, for they are impossible to follow apart from the power of God’s own Spirit.

Here is a mandate for Christians to influence the world. The Beatitudes are not to be lived in isolation or only among fellow believers, but everywhere we go. God’s only witnesses are His children, and the world has no other way of knowing of Him except through the testimony of what we are.

The figures of salt and light emphasize different characteristics of influence, but their basic purpose is the same. They will both be studied from the aspects of the presupposition of the world’s corruption and darkness, the plan for believers’ godly dominion in the world, the problem of the danger of failure, and the purpose of glorifying God.

The Presupposition: Corruption and Darkness

The world needs salt because it is corrupt and it needs light because it is dark. G. Campbell Morgan said, “Jesus, looking out over the multitudes of His day, saw the corruption, the disintegration of life at every point, its breakup, its spoilation; and, because of His love of the multitudes, He knew the thing that they needed most was salt in order that the corruption should be arrested. He saw them also wrapped in gloom, sitting in darkness, groping amid mists and fogs. He knew that they needed, above everything else, … light” (The Gospel According to Matthew [New York: Revell, 1929], p. 46).

The biblical world view is that the world is corrupted and decayed, that it is dark and darkening. “Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived,” Paul warns (2 Tim. 3:13). The world cannot do anything but get worse, because it has no inherent goodness to build on, no inherent spiritual and moral life in which it can grow. Year after year the system of evil accumulates a deeper darkness.

A college student told me his professor had recently told the class that marriage was on the decline because man was evolving to a higher level. Marriage was something that man needed only at the lower stages of his evolutionary development. Now that man had ascended farther up the evolutionary scale, marriage was falling off just as his prehensile tail had done millions of years ago.

Any person who knows the history of mankind, even the history of the past hundred years, and thinks that man is evolving upward is “deceiving and being deceived,” just as Paul said. Man has increased in scientific, medical, historical, educational, psychological, and technological knowledge to an astounding degree. But he has not changed his own basic nature and he has not improved society. Man’s knowledge has greatly improved, but his morals have progressively degenerated. His confidence has increased, but his peace of mind has diminished. His accomplishments have increased, but his sense of purpose and meaning have all but disappeared. Instead of improving the moral and spiritual quality of his life, man’s discoveries and accomplishments have simply provided ways for him to express and promote his depravity faster and more destructively. Modern man has simply invented more ways to corrupt and destroy himself.

Many philosophers, poets, and religious leaders at the end of the last century had great optimism about man’s having come of age, about his inevitable moral and social improvement. They believed that Utopia was around the corner and that man was getting better and better in every way. The golden age of mankind was near. Wars would be a bad memory, crime and violence would disappear, ignorance would be gone, and disease would be eradicated. Peace and brotherhood would reign completely and universally. Few people today hold to such blind, unrealistic ideas.

It was not many generations after the Fall that “the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). Because wickedness was so great, God destroyed every person but eight-and they were far from perfect. A few generations after that, the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah became so rotten from the offspring of those eight that God destroyed them with fire and brimstone. Another day of judgment is coming when God will again rain fire on earth, but that destruction will be a holocaust such as men have never dreamed of. “The present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men … the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:7, 10).

Man is infected with the deadly virus of sin, which has no cure apart from God. Yet unlike their attitude toward physical diseases, most men do not want their sin cured. They love their decadence and they hate God’s righteousness (cf. John 3:19–21). They love their own way and they hate God’s.

Man’s knowledge is increasing by quantum leaps, but his increased knowledge is mechanical knowledge, inanimate knowledge, lifeless knowledge, knowledge that has no bearing on the inner man (cf. 2 Tim. 3:7). His knowledge does not retard his corruption but rather is used to intensify and defend it.

Bertrand Russell devoted most of his 96 years to the study of philosophy. Yet at the end of his life he acknowledged that philosophy proved to be a washout, and had taken him nowhere. Nothing he had thought or had heard that other philosophers had thought had changed the world for the better. He felt that the basic causes of man’s problems, not to mention the solutions, had evaded the best minds of every age including his own.

Some scientists have proposed that by surgery or careful electronic stimulation of the brain, a person’s bad impulses can be eradicated, leaving only the better part of his nature. Others propose that the ideal, crime-free, problem-free person will be developed by genetic engineering. But every part of every man is corrupt. He has no inherent, naturally good traits that can be isolated from the bad. His total nature is depraved. David knew that he was sinful from the moment of his conception. “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5). There is no good part in man from which a better can be constructed or from which his corrupt part can be isolated. Isaiah said, “The whole head is sick, and the whole heart is faint” (Isa. 1:5), and Jeremiah labeled the heart as “more deceitful than all else” and as “desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9).

We go on from war to greater war, from crime to greater crime, from immorality to greater immorality, from perversion to greater perversion. The spiral is downward, not upward (see Rom. 1:18–32). Despair and pessimism reign in our day, because the honest person knows that man has not been able to retard his descent. He hopes that he can just live out his own life before someone pushes the button that blows mankind into oblivion.

A leading news magazine reported a few years ago that Americans tend to see themselves as potential saints rather than real-life sinners. Another leading magazine reported, “Today’s young radicals in particular are almost painfully sensitive to … wrongs of their society, and they denounce them violently. But at the same time they are typically American in that they fail to place evil in its historic and human perspective. To them evil is not an irreducible component of man; it is not an inescapable fact of life, but something committed by the older generation, attributable to a particular class or the establishment and eradicable through love or revolution” (Time, 5 December 1969).

Just as every person is affected by the sin problem, every person also contributes to the sin problem.

The Plan: The Dominion of His Disciples

The church cannot accept the world’s self-centeredness, easy solutions, immorality, amorality, and materialism. We are called to minister to the world while being separated from its standards and ways. Sadly, however, the church today is more influenced by the world than the world is influenced by the church.

In both verse 13 and verse 14 the pronoun you is emphatic. The idea is, “You are the only salt of the earth” and “You are the only light of the world.” The world’s corruption will not be retarded and its darkness will not be illumined unless God’s people are its salt and light. The very ones who are despised by the world and persecuted by the world are the world’s only hope.

The you in both verses is also plural. It is His whole body, the church, that is called to be the world’s salt and light. Each grain of salt has its limited influence, but it is only as the church collectively is scattered in the world that change will come. One ray of light will accomplish little, but when joined with other rays a great light is created.

Some years ago a magazine carried a series of pictures that graphically depicted a tragic story. The first picture was of a vast wheat field in western Kansas. The second showed a distressed mother sitting in a farmhouse in the center of the field of wheat. The accompanying story explained that her four-year-old son had wandered away from the house and into the field when she was not looking. The mother and father looked and looked all day but the little fellow was too short to see or be seen over the wheat. The third picture showed dozens of friends and neighbors who had heard of the boy’s plight and who had joined hands the next morning to make a long human chain as they walked through the field searching. The final picture was of the heartbroken father holding his lifeless son who had been found too late and had died of exposure. The caption underneath read, “O God, if only we had joined hands sooner.”

The world is full of lost souls who cannot see their way above the distractions and barriers of the world and cannot find their way to the Father’s house until Christians join together as salt and light and sweep through the world in search of them. Our work is not simply as individual grains of salt or as individual rays of light but as the whole church of Jesus Christ.

Are stresses being rather than doing. Jesus is stating a fact, not giving a command or request. Salt and light represent what Christians are. The only question, as Jesus goes on to say, is whether or not we are tasteful salt and effective light. The very fact that we belong to Jesus Christ makes us His salt and light in the world.

Christ is the source of our savor and of our light. He is “the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (John 1:9). “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world,” He said (John 9:5). But now that He has left the world His light comes to the world through those whom He has enlightened. We shine forth the reflected light of Christ. “You were formerly darkness, but now you are light in the Lord,” Paul tells us; “walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8). “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son”(Col. 1:13).

We are God’s salt to retard corruption and His light to reveal truth. One function is negative, the other positive. One is silent, the other is verbal. By the indirect influence of the way we live we retard corruption, and by the direct influence of what we say we manifest light.

Both salt and light are unlike that which they are to influence. God has changed us from being part of the corrupted and corrupting world to being salt that can help preserve it. He has changed us from our own darkness to be His agents of giving light to others. By definition, an influence must be different from that which it influences, and Christians therefore must be different from the world they are called to influence. We cannot influence the world for God when we are worldly ourselves. We cannot give light to the world if we revert to places and ways of darkness ourselves.

The great blessings emphasized in verses 3–12 lead to the great responsibilities of verses 13–16. The blessings of heaven, comfort, inheriting the earth, being filled with righteousness, being given mercy, being called God’s children, and being given heavenly reward bring the responsibility of being His salt and light in the world.

Being Salt

Salt has always been valuable in human society, often much more so than it is today. During a period of ancient Greek history it was called theon, which means divine. The Romans held that, except for the sun, nothing was more valuable than salt. Often Roman soldiers were paid in salt, and it was from that practice that the expression “not worth his salt” originated.

In many ancient societies salt was used as a mark of friendship. For two persons to share salt indicated a mutual responsibility to look after one another’s welfare. Even if a worst enemy ate salt with you, you were obliged to treat him as a friend.

Salt was frequently used in the ancient Near East to bind a covenant, somewhat in the way an agreement or contract is notarized in our day. When the parties to a covenant ate salt together before witnesses, the covenant was given special authentication. Though no particulars are given in the account, we learn from 2 Chronicles 13:5 that God made a covenant of salt with David. God prescribed that all sacrificial offerings in Israel were to be offered with salt “so that the salt of the covenant of your God shall not be lacking” (Lev. 2:13).

In numerous ways Jesus’ hearers-whether Greek, Roman, or Jewish-would have understood salt of the earth to represent a valuable commodity. Though most could not have understood His full meaning, they knew He was saying that His followers were to have an extremely important function in the world. Whatever else it may have represented, salt always stood for that which was of high value and importance.

Many suggestions have been made as to the particular characteristics of salt that Jesus intended to associate with this figure. Some interpreters point out that salt is white and therefore represents purity. As the “pure in heart” (v. 8), Jesus’ disciples are to be pure before the world and are to be God’s means of helping purify the rest of the world. Their glistening white moral and spiritual purity is to contrast with the moral discolor of the world. Christians are to exemplify the divine standards of righteousness in thought, speech, and actions, remaining “unstained by the world” (James 1:27). All that is certainly true; but it does not seem to the point, because saltiness, not the color of salt, is the issue.

Others emphasize the characteristic of flavor. That is, Christians are to add divine flavor to the world. Just as many foods are tasteless without salt, the world is drab and tasteless without the presence of Christians. Someone has even said, “We Christians have no business being boring. Our function is to add flavor and excitement to the world.” Christians are a means of God’s blessing mankind, including unbelievers, just as He sends His sun and rain on the righteous and unrighteous alike.

There are certain senses in which that principle is true. An unbelieving marriage partner is sanctified by a believing spouse (1 Cor. 7:14), and God offered to spare Sodom for the sake of only ten righteous people, if that many could be found within it (Gen. 18:32).

The problem with that view, however, is that, from the earliest days of the church, the world has considered Christianity to be anything but attractive and “flavorful.” It has, in fact, often found the most spiritual Christians to be the most unpalatable. In the world’s eyes, Christians, almost above all others, take the flavor out of life. Christianity is stifling, restrictive, and a rain on the world’s parade.

After Christianity became a recognized religion of the Roman Empire, the emperor Julian lamented, “Have you looked at these Christians closely? Hollow-eyed, pale-cheeked, flat-breasted, they brood their lives away unspurred by ambition. The sun shines for them, but they don’t see it The earth offers them its fullness, but they desire it not. All their desire is to renounce and suffer that they may come to die.”

Oliver Wendell Holmes reportedly once said that he might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen he knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers. Sometimes the world is turned away from the church because Christians are hypocritical, self-righteous, judgmental, and truly boring by any standard. But even when the church is faithful-indeed, especially when it is faithful-the world does not value whatever taste or aroma it sees in Christianity. Paul reminds us that Christians are an “aroma from life to life” and “a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved,” but are an “aroma of death to death” among “those who are perishing” (2 Cor. 2:15–16).

Because salt stings when placed in a wound, some interpreters believe that Jesus meant to illustrate just the opposite characteristic to that of flavor. Christians are to sting the world, prick its conscience, make it uncomfortable in the presence of God’s holy gospel.

That analogy also has merit. The church frequently is so concerned with trying to please, attract, and excuse that its witness against sin is obscured and all but lost. We may be so concerned with not offending others that we fail to confront them with their lostness and their desperate need to be saved from their sin. A gospel that does not confront sin is not the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Some years ago a young couple who came to me to be married said they knew the Lord had brought them together and given them to each other. The woman claimed to have been a Christian all her life, but her concept of salvation was that of trying to please God by doing the best she could. She admitted that, although she had filed for divorce because her husband had been unfaithful, she was still married to him. On further questioning, she admitted that she had been committing fornication with the young man she now wanted to marry. The young man claimed to be born again, but he saw no great wrong in their relationship and no reason why they should not be married in a Christian service. I told them that God could not possibly have brought them together because they were living contrary to His revealed will-and worse, trying to justify it. At that point they both got up and angrily stormed out of the office.

The church cannot stand for the Lord if it does not stand for His Word, and when it stands for His Word its witness will often sting.

Salt also creates thirst. Partly because it increases the body’s craving for water, salt tablets often are given to those who do hard work in excessive heat. Without proper intake of fluids, dehydration and even death may result. God intends for His people so to live and testify before the world that others will be made more aware of their spiritual dehydration and danger. A person may see our peace in a trying circumstance, or our confidence in what we believe, and thereby be persuaded to try our faith.

I believe that all of the foregoing analogies have some validity. Christians are to be pure; they should add a certain attractiveness to the gospel; they should be true to God’s Word even when it stings; and their living should create a thirst for God in those who do not know Him.

But I believe the primary characteristic Jesus emphasizes is that of preservation. Christians are a preserving influence in the world; they retard moral and spiritual spoilage. When the church is taken out of the world at the rapture, Satan’s perverse and wicked power will be unleashed in an unprecedented way (see 2 Thess. 2:7–12). Evil will go wild and demons will be almost unbridled. Once God’s people are removed it will take only seven years for the world to descend to the very pits of hellishhess (see Dan. 9:27; Rev. 6–19).

Until that day Christians can have a powerful influence on the welfare of the world. Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes, “Most competent historians are agreed in saying that what undoubtedly saved [England] from a revolution such as that experienced in France at the end of the eighteenth century was nothing but the Evangelical Revival. This was not because anything was done directly, but because masses of individuals had become Christians and were living this better life and had this higher outlook. The whole political situation was affected, and the great Acts of Parliament which were passed in the last century were mostly due to the fact that there were such large numbers of individual Christians found in the land” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971], 1:157).

As God’s children and as the temples of His Holy Spirit, Christians represent God’s presence in the earth. We are the salt that prevents the entire earth from degenerating even faster than it is.

Helen Ewing was saved as a young girl in Scotland and gave her life completely to the lordship of Christ. When she died at the age of 22 it is said that all Scotland wept. She had expected to serve God as a missionary in Europe and had become fluent in the Russian language. But she was not able to fulfill that dream. She had no obvious gifts such as speaking or writing, and she had never traveled far from home. Yet by the time she died she had won hundreds of people to Jesus Christ. Countless missionaries mourned her death because they knew that a great channel of their spiritual strength was gone. She had risen every morning at five in order to study God’s Word and to pray. Her diary revealed that she regularly prayed for over three hundred missionaries by name. Everywhere she went the atmosphere was changed. If someone was telling a dirty story; he would stop if he saw her coming. If people were complaining, they would become ashamed of it in her presence. An acquaintance reported that while she was at Glasgow University she left the fragrance of Christ wherever she went. In everything she said and did she was God’s salt.

Being Light

Jesus also calls us to be light. You are the light of the world. Whereas salt is hidden, light is obvious. Salt works secretly, while light works openly. Salt works from within, light from without. Salt is more the indirect influence of the gospel, while light is more its direct communication. Salt works primarily through our living, while light works primarily through what we teach and preach. Salt is largely negative. It can retard corruption, but it cannot change corruption into incorruption. Light is more positive. It not only reveals what is wrong and false but helps produce what is righteous and true.

In his introduction to the book of Acts, Luke refers to his gospel as “the first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach” (1:1). Christ’s work always has to do with both doing and speaking, with living and teaching.

David wrote, “For with Thee is the fountain of life; in Thy light we see light” (Ps. 36:9). “God is light,” John reminds us, “and in Him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; but if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:5–7). Light is not given simply to have but to live by. “Thy word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path,” the psalmist tells us (Ps. 119:105). God’s light is to walk by and to live by. In its fullest sense, God’s light is the full revelation of His Word-the written Word of Scripture and the living Word of Jesus Christ.

God’s people are to proclaim God’s light in a world engulfed in darkness, just as their Lord came “to shine upon those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79). Christ is the true light, and we are His reflections. He is the Sun, and we are His moons. A free rendering of 2 Corinthians 4:6 could be, “God, who first ordered the light to shine in the darkness has flooded our hearts with His light. We now can enlighten men only because we can give them knowledge of the glory of God as we have seen it in the face of Jesus Christ.” God sheds His light on the world through those who have received His light through Jesus Christ.

The Jews had long claimed to have God’s light, and He had long called them to be His light. But because they had ignored and rejected His light, they could not be His light. They were confident that they were guides “to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness,” but Paul told them they were blind guides and lamps without light. “You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself?” he asks (Rom. 2:19–21). They had the light, but they were not living by it. “You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal?” Paul continues by way of illustration. “You who say that one should not commit adultery, do you commit adultery?” (vv. 21–22). We are to prove ourselves “to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we are to] appear as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).

By its nature and by definition light must be visible in order to illuminate. Christians must be more than the largely indirect influence of salt; they must also be the direct and noticeable instruments of light.

Both in the daytime and at night, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden. It is exposed for all to see. By day its houses and buildings stand out on the landscape, and at night the many lights shining out of its windows make it impossible to miss. A secret Christian is as incongruous as a hidden light. Lights are to illuminate, not to be hidden; to be displayed, not to be covered. Christians are to be both subtle salt and conspicuous light.

God did not give the gospel of His Son to be the secret, hidden treasure of a few but to enlighten every person (John 1:9). Many reject the light and reject those who bring it, but just as God offers His light to the whole world, so must His church. It is not our gospel but God’s, and He gives it to us not only for our own sakes but the entire world’s. True believers are salt and light, and must fulfill that identity.

The Problem: Danger of Failure

but if the salt has become tasteless, how will it be made salty again? It is good for nothing anymore, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. (5:13b)

Much salt in Palestine, such as that found on the shores of the Dead Sea, is contaminated with gypsum and other minerals that make it taste fiat and even repulsive. When a batch of such contaminated salt would find its way into a household and be discovered, it was thrown out. People would be careful not to throw it on a garden or field, because it would kill whatever was planted. Instead it would be thrown onto a path or road, where it would gradually be ground into the dirt and disappear.

There is a sense in which salt cannot really become unsalty. But contamination can cause it to lose its value as salt. Its saltiness can no longer function.

Jesus is not speaking of losing salvation. God does not allow any of His own to be taken from Him. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand,” Jesus assures us (John 10:27). Christians cannot lose their salvation, just as salt cannot lose its inherent saltiness. But Christians can lose their value and effectiveness in the kingdom when sin and worldliness contaminate their lives, just as salt can become tasteless when contaminated by other minerals. It is a common New Testament truth that although true believers are identified as righteous, godly, and salty, there are times when they fail to be what they are (cf. Rom. 7:15–25), which Peter says leads to loss of assurance (2 Pet. 1:9–10), not loss of salvation.

With great responsibility there is often great danger. We cannot be an influence for purity in the world if we have compromised our own purity. We cannot sting the world’s conscience if we continually go against our own. We cannot stimulate thirst for righteousness if we have lost our own. We cannot be used of God to retard the corruption of sin in the world if our own lives become corrupted by sin. To lose our saltiness is not to lose our salvation, but it is to lose our effectiveness and to become disqualified for service (see 1 Cor. 9:27).

Pure salt does not lose its saltiness, that which makes it valuable and effective. Christians who are pure in heart do not become tasteless, ineffective, and useless in the kingdom of God.

Light, too, is in danger of becoming useless. Like salt, it cannot lose its essential nature. A hidden light is still light, but it is useless light. That is why people do not light a lamp, and put it under the peck-measure, but on a lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. The exemplary woman praised in Proverbs 31 does not let her lamp go out at night (v. 18). There was always illumination for anyone in the household who had to get up or find his way home during the night. A light that is hidden under a peck-sized basket cannot even be used to read by; it helps neither the person who hides it nor anyone else.

Whether we hide our light because of fear of offending others, because of indifference and lovelessness, or because of anything else, we demonstrate unfaithfulness to the Lord.

The Purpose: to Glorify God

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (5:16)

The word (kalos) for good that Jesus uses here does not so much emphasize quality-though that obviously is important-as it does attractiveness, beautiful appearance. Letting our light shine before men allows them to see our good works, the beauty the Lord has worked in us. To see good works by us is to see Christ in us. That is why Jesus says, let your light shine. It is not something we create or make up, but something we allow the Lord to do through us. It is God’s light; our choice is whether to hide it or let it shine.

The purpose of letting our light shine and reveal our good works is not to bring attention or praise to ourselves but to God. Our intent should be that, in what we are and in what we do, others may see God in order that they may glorify [our] Father who is in heaven. Jesus’ speaking of the Father emphasizes God’s tenderness and intimacy, and speaking of His being in heaven emphasizes His majesty and holiness, as He is pictured dwelling in the splendor of His eternal holy home. Our good works are to magnify God’s grace and power. This is the supreme calling of life: glorifying God. Everything we do is to cause others to give praise to the God who is the source of all that is good. The way we live should lead those around us to glorify (doxazō, from which we get doxology) the heavenly Father.

When what we do causes people to be attracted to us rather than to God, to see our human character rather than His divine character, we can be sure that what they see is not His light.

It is said of Robert Murray McCheyne, a godly Scottish minister of the last century, that his face carried such a hallowed expression that people were known to fall on their knees and accept Jesus Christ as Savior when they looked at him. Others were so attracted by the self-giving beauty and holiness of his life that they found his Master irresistible.

It was also said of the French pietist Francois Fenelon that his communion with God was such that his face shined with divine radiance. A religious skeptic who was compelled to spend the night in an inn with Fenelon, hurried away the next morning, saying, “If I spend another night with that man I’ll be a Christian in spite of myself.”

That is the kind of salt and light God wants His kingdom people to be.[2]


Commentary

13 Salt and light are such common substances (cf. Pliny, Nat. 31.102: “Nothing is more useful than salt and sunshine”) that they doubtless generated many sayings. Therefore it is improper to attempt a tradition history of all gospel references as if one original stood behind the lot (cf. Mk 4:21; 9:50; Lk 8:16; 11:33; 14:34–35). Equally, the suggestion that Jesus is referring to the “covenant of salt” (Lev 2:13; Nu 18:19; 2 Ch 13:5) seems unlikely. Where that expression shows up in the OT, it seems to be connected with the permanence or stability of God’s covenant with his people. Here, however, Jesus says that his disciples are “salt.” There is no mention of covenant, and, far from symbolizing stability, the salt of which Jesus speaks loses its effectiveness.

The reality is that “salt” is not a technical word with only one set of associations. It can even be connected with judgment (Lot’s wife is turned into a pillar of salt, Ge 19:26; one might ruin an enemy’s field by sowing it with salt, Jdg 9:45). Salt was used in the ancient world to flavor foods and even in small doses as a fertilizer (cf. Eugene P. Deatrick, “Salt, Soil, Savor,” BA 25 [1962]: 44–45, who wants tēs gēs to read “for the soil,” not “of the earth”; but notice the parallel “of the world” in v. 14). Sometimes the word is simply referring to a commodity (Ezr 6:9) or identifies a place (2 Sa 8:13). Above all, salt was used as a preservative. Rubbed into meat, a little salt would slow decay. Strictly speaking, salt cannot lose its saltiness; sodium chloride is a stable compound. But most salt in the ancient world derived from salt marshes or the like rather than by evaporation of salt water, and therefore contained many impurities. The actual salt, being more soluble than the impurities, could be leached out, leaving a residue so dilute it was of little worth.

In modern Israel, savorless salt is still said to be scattered on the soil of flat roofs. This helps harden the soil and prevent leaks; and since the roofs serve as playgrounds and places for public gathering, the salt is still being trodden under foot (Deatrick, “Salt, Soil, Savor,” 47). This explanation negates the attempt by some (e.g., Lenski, Schniewind) to suppose that, precisely because pure salt cannot lose its savor, Jesus is saying that true disciples cannot lose their effectiveness. The question “How can it be made salty again?” is not meant to have an answer, as Schweizer rightly says. The rabbinic remark that what makes salt salty is “the afterbirth of a mule” (mules are sterile) rather misses the point (cf. Schweizer). The point is that if Jesus’ disciples are to act as a preservative in the world by conforming to kingdom norms, if they are “called to be a moral disinfectant in a world where moral standards are low, constantly changing, or nonexistent …, they can discharge this function only if they themselves retain their virtue” (Tasker).

Notes

13 The verb μωρανθῇ (mōranthē, “loses its saltiness,” GK 3701) is used four times in the NT. In Luke 14:34, it again relates to salt, but in Romans 1:22 and 1 Corinthians 1:20, it has its more common meaning “to make or become foolish” (cf. cognate μωρέ [mōre, “fool”] in v. 22). It is hard not to conclude that disciples who lose their savor are in fact making fools of themselves. The Greek may hide an Aramaic תפל (tpl, “foolish”) and תבל (tbl, “salted”; see Black, Aramaic Approach, 166–67).

(2) Light (5:14–16)

Commentary

14–15 As in v. 13, “you” is emphatic—namely, You, my followers and none others, are the light of the world. Though the Jews saw themselves as the light of the world (Ro 2:19), the true light is the Suffering Servant (Isa 42:6; 49:6), fulfilled in Jesus himself (Mt 4:16; cf. Jn 8:12; 9:5; 12:35; 1 Jn 1:7). Derivatively, his disciples constitute the new light (cf. Eph 5:8–9; Php 2:15). Light is a universal religious symbol. In the OT as in the NT, it most frequently symbolizes purity as opposed to filth, truth or knowledge as opposed to error or ignorance, and divine revelation and presence as opposed to reprobation and abandonment by God.

The reference to the “city on a hill” is at one level fairly obvious. Often built of white limestone, ancient towns gleamed in the sun and could not easily be hidden. At night the inhabitants’ oil lamps would shed some glow over the surrounding area (cf. Bonnard). As such cities could not be hidden, so also it is unthinkable to light a lamp and hide it under a peck measure (v. 15, NIV, “bowl”). A lamp is put on a lampstand to illuminate all. Attempts to identify “everyone in the house” as a reference to all Jews in contrast with Luke 11:33, referring to Gentiles (so Manson, Sayings of Jesus, 93), are probably guilty of making the metaphor run on all fours, especially in view of the Gentile theme so strongly present in Matthew.

But the “city on a hill” saying may also refer to OT prophecies about the time when Jerusalem or the mountain of the Lord’s house, or Zion, would be lifted up before the world, the nations streaming to it (e.g., Isa 2:2–5; cf. chs. 42, 49, 54, 60). This allusion has been defended by Grundmann, Trilling (Das wahre Israel, 142), and especially K. M. Campbell (“The New Jerusalem in Matthew 5.14,” SJT 31 [1978]: 335–63). It is not a certain allusion, and the absence of definite articles tells against it; if valid, it insists that Jesus’ disciples constitute the true locus of the people of God, the outpost of the consummated kingdom, and the means of witness to the world—all themes central to Matthew’s thought.

16 Jesus drives the metaphor home. What his disciples must show is their “good works,” i.e., all righteousness, everything they are and do that reflects the mind and will of God. And people must see this light. It may provoke persecution (vv. 10–12), but that is no reason for hiding the light others may see and by which they may come to glorify the Father—the disciples’ only motive (cf. 2 Co 4:6; 1 Pe 2:12). Witness includes not just words but deeds; as Stier (Words of the Lord Jesus) remarks, “The good word without the good walk is of no avail.”

Thus the kingdom norms (vv. 3–12) so work out in the lives of the kingdom’s heirs as to produce the kingdom witness (vv. 13–16). If salt (v. 13) exercises the negative function of delaying decay and warns disciples of the danger of compromise and conformity to the world, then light (vv. 14–16) speaks positively of illuminating a sin-darkened world and warns against a withdrawal from the world that does not lead others to glorify the Father in heaven. “Flight into the invisible is a denial of the call. A community of Jesus which seeks to hide itself has ceased to follow him” (Bonhoeffer, Cost of Discipleship, 106).

Notes

15 There are several probable Semitisms in this verse (cf. Hill). The μόδιος (modios, “bowl,” GK 3654) is a wooden grain measure, usually given as 8¾ liters, i.e., almost exactly one peck (see comments at 13:33). It is doubtful whether the vessel was used for hiding light, despite various suggestions. A different word is used in Josephus (Ant. 5.223 [6.5]). In any case, Jesus’ point turns on what is not done.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 95). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 233–247). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 168–171). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MARCH 27, 2017 – THE WORLDLY “VIRUS”

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour…be put away from you.

Ephesians 4:31

 

As Christian believers, we must stand together against some things. So, if you hear anyone saying that A.W. Tozer preaches a good deal that is negative, just smile and agree: “That is because he preaches the Bible!”

Here are some of the things we oppose: We are against the many modern idols that have been allowed to creep into the churches; we are against the “unauthorized fire” that is being offered on the altars of the Lord; we are against the modern gods that are being adopted in our sanctuaries.

We are against the world’s ways and its false values. We are against the world’s follies and its vain pleasures. We are against this world’s greed and sinful ambitions. We are against this world’s vices and its carnal habits.

We believe this spells out clearly the Bible truth of separation. God asks us to stand boldly against anything or anyone who hurts or hinders this New Testament body of Christians. Where the Church is not healed, it will wither. The Word of God is the antibiotic that alone can destroy the virus that would plague the life of the Church!

 

Lord, I pray that our churches will be faithful to the whole Word of God and that churchgoers will set themselves apart from the world’s ungodly values.[1]


Man’s natural tendency is to sin, and the natural tendency of sin is to grow into greater sin. And a Christian’s sin will grow just like that of an unbeliever. If not checked, our inner sins of bitterness and wrath and anger will inevitably lead to the outward sins of clamor, slander, and other such manifestations of malice.

Bitterness (pikria) reflects a smoldering resentment, a brooding grudge–filled attitude (see Acts 8:23; Heb. 12:15). It is the spirit of irritability that keeps a person in perpetual animosity, making him sour and venomous, Wrath (thurmos) has to do with wild rage, the passion of the moment. Anger (orgē) is a more internal smoldering, a subtle and deep feeling. Clamor (kraugē) is the shout or outcry of strife and reflects the public outburst that reveals loss of control. Slander (blasphēmia, from which we get blasphemy) is the ongoing defamation of someone that rises from a bitter heart. Paul then adds malice (kakia), the general term for evil that is the root of all vices. All of these, he says, must be put away from you.

These particular sins involve conflict between person and person—believer and unbeliever and, worse still, between believer and believer. These are the sins that break fellowship and destroy relationships, that weaken the church and mar its testimony before the world. When an unbeliever sees Christians acting just like the rest of society, the church is blemished in his eyes and he is confirmed still further in resisting the claims of the gospel.[2]


31 Continuing in this negative mode, Paul implores his readers to “get rid of” six additional behaviors that are sinful and that, presumably, would also grieve the Holy Spirit. (Four of the items parallel sins in Col 3:8; for similar lists, see 2 Co 12:20; Gal 5:20–21.) Here is a list of vices to avoid. While the verb the NIV translates “get rid of” is in the passive voice—perhaps an implicit reminder that believers need the Spirit’s power to jettison these—clearly they must exert their wills to put off these offenses. So this translation is appropriate. Paul precedes the list with the particle pasa, thus prohibiting “all kinds of” instances of the following acts. Many commentators point out the inner to outer progression in this list. First, Paul prohibits “bitterness” or “harshness,” probably in their speech, as he also employs this Greek word pikria (GK 4394) in Romans 3:14 to speak of “bitter” words. This inner feeling leads to anger. So second, they must avoid “rage” (thymos, GK 2596; cf. BDAG, 461) and its synonymous vice “anger” (orgē, GK 3973), a word denoting an emotional outburst of strong displeasure (cf. BDAG, 720) which Paul also uses of God’s wrath in 2:3; 5:6. Though it may be possible to be angry without sinning, the presence of anger usually proves dangerous. Anger leads to the next two examples of verbal outbursts. Believers must shun shouting or quarreling (kraugē, GK 3199; NIV, “brawling”). It speaks of a “shouting match.” (See Ac 23:9 for an example of this type of clamor or uproar.) Fifth, Paul prohibits blasphēmia (GK 1060), a term that refers to abusive speech that denigrates, defames, or slanders (cf. BDAG, 178). Finally, they must put off “every form of malice,” a phrase Paul uses to include any other kinds of behaviors that destroy harmony in the body. Members of Christ’s body must take great pains to rid themselves of all of these; they grieve the Spirit who has called believers to unity.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 190). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] 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. 132–133). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 27, 2017 – Solving Man’s Greatest Problem

“And forgive us our debts” (Matt. 6:12).

✧✧✧

Forgiveness removes the guilt and penalty of sin and restores intimacy with God.

Man’s greatest problem is sin. It renders him spiritually dead, alienates him from God and his fellowman, plagues him with guilt and fear, and can eventually damn him to eternal Hell. The only solution is forgiveness, and the only source of forgiveness is Jesus Christ.

All sin is punishable by death (Rom. 6:23), but Christ bore the sins of the world, thereby making it possible for us to be forgiven and to have eternal life through faith in Him (John 3:16). What a glorious reality!

Scripture speaks of two kinds of forgiveness: judicial and parental. Judicial forgiveness comes from God the righteous Judge, who wiped your sin off the record and set you free from its punishment and guilt. At the moment of your salvation He forgave all your sins—past, present, and future—and pronounced you righteous for all eternity. That’s why nothing can ever separate you from Christ’s love (Rom. 8:38–39).

Parental forgiveness is granted to believers by their loving Heavenly Father as they confess their sin and seek His cleansing. That’s the kind of forgiveness Jesus speaks of in Matthew 6:12.

When a child disobeys his father, the father/child relationship isn’t severed. The child is still a member of the family, and there’s a sense in which he is already forgiven because he’s under the umbrella of his father’s parental love. But some of the intimacy of their relationship is lost until the child seeks forgiveness.

That’s the idea in Matthew 6:12. The sins you commit as a believer don’t rob you of your salvation, but they do affect your relationship with God. He still loves you and will always be your Father, but the intimacy and sweet communion you once knew is jeopardized until you seek reconciliation by confessing your sins.

As a Christian, you are judicially forgiven and will never come into condemnation. But never presume on that grace. Make confession part of your daily prayers so sin will never erode your relationship with your Heavenly Father.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His judicial forgiveness of all your sins. ✧ Ask Him to help you maintain the joy of your relationship with Him by quickly dealing with any sin that comes up in your life.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 32:1–7. ✧ How did David feel about forgiveness? ✧ What happened to David before he confessed his sin?[1]


God’s Pardon

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (6:12)

Opheilēma (debts) is one of five New Testament Greek terms for sin. Hamartia is the most common and carries the root idea of missing the mark. Sin misses the mark of God’s standard of righteousness. Paraptōma, often rendered “trespass,” is the sin of slipping or falling, and results more from carelessness than from intentional disobedience. Parabasis refers to stepping across the line, going beyond the limits prescribed by God, and is often translated “transgression.” This sin is more conscious and intentional than hamartia and paraptoma. Anomia means lawlessness, and is a still more intentional and flagrant sin. It is direct and open rebellion against God and His ways.

The noun opheilēma is used only a few times in the New Testament, but its verb form is found often. Of the some thirty times it is used in its verb form, twenty-five times it refers to moral or spiritual debts. Sin is a moral and spiritual debt to God that must be paid. In his account of this prayer, Luke uses hamartia (“sins”; Luke 11:4), clearly indicating that the reference is to sin, not to a financial debt. Matthew probably used debts because it corresponded to the most common Aramaic term (ḥôbā˒) for sin used by Jews of that day, which also represented moral or spiritual debt to God.

The Problem

Sin is that which separates man from God, and is therefore man’s greatest enemy and greatest problem. Sin dominates the mind and heart of man. It has contaminated every human being and is the degenerative power that makes man susceptible to disease, illness, and every conceivable form of evil and unhappiness, temporal and eternal. The ultimate effects of sin are death and damnation, and the present effects are misery, dissatisfaction, and guilt. Sin is the common denominator of every crime, every theft, lie, murder, immorality, sickness, pain, and sorrow of mankind. It is also the moral and spiritual disease for which man has no cure. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23). The natural man does not want his sin cured, because he loves darkness rather than light (John 3:19).

Those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ have received God’s pardon for sin and are saved from eternal hell. And since, as we have seen, this prayer is given to believers, the debts referred to here are those incurred by Christians when they sin. Immeasurably more important than our need for daily bread is our need for continual forgiveness of sin.

Arthur Pink writes in An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974), pp. 163–64:

As it is contrary to the holiness of God, sin is a defilement, a dishonor, and a reproach to us as it is a violation of His law. It is a crime, and as to the guilt which we contact thereby, it is a debt. As creatures we owe a debt of obedience unto our maker and governor, and through failure to render the same on account of our rank disobedience, we have incurred a debt of punishment; and it is for this that we implore a divine pardon.

The Provision

Because man’s greatest problem is sin, his greatest need is forgiveness-and that is what God provides. Though we have been forgiven the ultimate penalty of sin, as Christians we need God’s constant forgiveness for the sins we continue to commit. We are to pray, therefore, forgive us. Forgiveness is the central theme of this entire passage (vv. 9–15), being mentioned six times in eight verses. Everything leads to or issues from forgiveness.

Believers have experienced once-for-all God’s judicial forgiveness, which they received the moment Christ was trusted as Savior. We are no longer condemned, no longer under judgment, no longer destined for hell (Rom. 8:1). The eternal Judge has declared us pardoned, justified, righteous. No one, human or satanic, can condemn or bring any “charge against God’s elect” (Rom. 8:33–34).

But because we still fall into sin, we frequently require God’s gracious forgiveness, His forgiveness not now as Judge but as Father. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” John warns believers. But, he goes on to assure us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9).

During the Last Supper, Jesus began washing the disciples’ feet as a demonstration of the humble, serving spirit they should have as His followers. At first Peter refused, but when Jesus said, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me,” Peter went to the other extreme, wanting to be bathed all over. Jesus replied, “ ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean’ ” (John 13:5–11).

Jesus’ act of footwashing was therefore more than an example of humility; it was also a picture of the forgiveness God gives in His repeated cleansing of those who are already saved. Dirt on the feet symbolizes the daily surface contamination from sin that we experience as we walk through life. It does not, and cannot, make us entirely dirty, because we have been permanently cleansed from that. The positional purging of salvation that occurs at regeneration needs no repetition, but the practical purging is needed every day, because every day we fall short of God’s perfect holiness.

As Judge, God is eager to forgive sinners, and as Father He is even more eager to keep on forgiving His children. Hundreds of years before Christ, Nehemiah wrote, “Thou art a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness” (Neh. 9:17). As vast and pervasive as the sin of man is, God forgiveness is more vast and greater. Where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds even more (Rom. 5:20).

The Plea

Asking forgiveness implies confession. Feet that are not presented to Christ cannot be washed by Him. Sin that is not confessed cannot be forgiven. That is the condition John makes plain in the text just quoted above: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). To confess means basically to agree with, and when we confess our sins we agree with God about them that they are wicked, evil, defiling, and have no part in those who belong to Him.

It is difficult to confess sins, and both Satan and our prideful nature fight against it. But it is the only way to the free and joyful life. “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Prov. 28:13). John Stott says, “One of the surest antidotes to the process of moral hardening is the disciplined practice of uncovering our sins of thought and outlook, as well as of word and of deed, and the repentant forsaking of them” (Confess Your Sins [Waco, Tex.: Word, 1974], p. 19).

The true Christian does not see God’s promise of forgiveness as a license to sin, a way to abuse His love and presume on His grace. Rather he sees God’s gracious forgiveness as the means of spiritual growth and sanctification and continually gives thanks to God for His great love and willingness to forgive and forgive and forgive. It is also important to realize that confessing sin gives God the glory when He chastens the disobedient Christian because it removes any complaint that God is unfair when He disciplines.

A Puritan saint of many generations ago prayed, “Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, and the exceeding wonder of grace.” At another time he prayed, “I am guilty but pardoned. I am lost but saved. I am wandering but found. I am sinning but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness. Keep me always clinging to Thy cross” (Arthur Bennett, ed., The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1975], pp. 76, 83).

The Prerequisite

Jesus gives the prerequisite for receiving forgiveness in the words, as we also have forgiven our debtors. The principle is simple but sobering: if we have forgiven, we will be forgiven; if we have not forgiven, we will not be forgiven.

We are to forgive because it is the character of righteousness, and therefore of the faithful Christian life, to forgive. Citizens of God’s kingdom are blessed and receive mercy because they themselves are merciful (Matt. 5:7). They love even their enemies because they have the nature of the loving heavenly Father within them (5:44–45, 48). Forgiveness is the mark of a truly regenerate heart. Still we fail to be consistent with that mark and need constant exhortation because of the strength of sinful flesh (Rom. 7:14–25).

We are also to be motivated to forgive because of Christp’s example. “Be kind to one another,” Paul says, “tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). John tells us, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

Because it reflects God’s own gracious forgiveness, the forgiving of another person’s sin expresses the highest virtue of man. “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11).

Forgiving others also frees the conscience of guilt. Unforgiveness not only stands as a barrier to God’s forgiveness but also interferes with peace of mind, happiness, satisfaction, and even the proper functioning of the body.

Forgiving others is of great benefit to the whole congregation of believers. Probably few things have so short-circuited the power of the church as unresolved conflicts among its members. “If I regard wickedness in my heart,” the psalmist warns himself and every believer, “the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66:18). The Holy Spirit cannot work freely among those who carry grudges and harbor resentment (see Matt. 5:23–24; 1 Cor. 1:10–13; 3:1–9).

Forgiving others also delivers us from God’s discipline. Where there is an unforgiving spirit, there is sin; and where there is sin, there will be chastening (Heb. 12:5–13). Unrepented sins in the church at Corinth caused many believers to be weak, sick, and even to die (1 Cor. 11:30).

But the most important reason for being forgiving is that it brings God’s forgiveness to the believer. That truth is so important that Jesus reinforces it after the close of the prayer (vv. 14–15). Nothing in the Christian life is more important than forgiveness-our forgiveness of others and God’s forgiveness of us.

In the matter of forgiveness, God deals with us as we deal with others. We are to forgive others as freely and graciously as God forgives us. The Puritan writer Thomas Manton said, “There is none so tender to others as they which have received mercy themselves, for they know how gently God hath dealt with them.”[2]


12 The first three petitions stand independently from one another. The last three, however, are linked in Greek by “ands,” almost as if to say that life sustained by food is not enough. We also need forgiveness of sin and deliverance from temptation.

In Matthew, what we ask to be forgiven for is ta opheilēmata hēmōn (“our debts,” GK 4052); in Luke, it is our “sins.” Hill notes that the crucial word to opheilēma (“debt”) “means a literal ‘debt’ in the LXX and NT, except at this point.” And on this basis, S. T. Lachs (“On Matthew 6.12,” NovT 17 [1975]: 6–8) argues that in Matthew this petition of the Lord’s Prayer is not really dealing with sins but with loans in the sixth year, one year before the Jubilee. But the linguistic evidence can be read differently. The word opheilēma is rather rare in biblical Greek. It occurs only four times in the LXX (Dt 24:10 [2x]; 1 Esd 3:20; 1 Macc 15:8); and in Deuteronomy 24:10, where it occurs twice, it renders two different Hebrew words. In the NT, it appears only here and in Romans 4:4. On this basis it would be as accurate to say the word always means “sin” in the NT except at Romans 4:4 as to say it always means “debt” except at Matthew 6:12.

More important, the Aramaic word ḥôbā (“debt”) is often used (e.g., in the Targums) to mean “sin” or “transgression.” Deissmann (Bible Studies, 225) notes an instance of the cognate verb hamartian opheilō (lit., “I owe sin”). Probably Matthew has provided a literal rendering of the Aramaic Jesus most commonly used in preaching; and even Luke (Lk 11:4) uses the cognate participle in the second line, panti opheilonti hēmin (“everyone who sins against us”). There is therefore no reason to take “debts” to mean anything other than “sins,” here conceived as something owed God (whether sins of commission or omission).

Some have taken the second clause to mean that our forgiveness is the real cause of God’s forgiveness, i.e., that God’s forgiveness must be earned by our own. The problem is often judged more serious in Matthew than Luke, because the latter has the present “we forgive,” the former the aorist (not perfect, as many commentators assume) aphēkamen (“we have forgiven”; GK 918). Many follow the suggestion of Jeremias (Prayers of Jesus, 92–93), who says that Matthew has awkwardly rendered an Aramaic perfectum praesens (a “present perfect”): he renders the clause “as we also herewith forgive our debtors.”

The real solution is best expounded by C. F. D. Moule (“ ‘… As we forgive …’: a Note on the Distinction between Deserts and Capacity in the Understanding of Forgiveness,” in Donum Gentilicium [ed. E. Bammel et al.; Oxford: Clarendon 1978], 68–77), who, in addition to detailing the most important relevant Jewish literature, rightly insists on distinguishing “between, on the one hand, earning or meriting forgiveness, and, on the other hand, adopting an attitude which makes forgiveness possible—the distinction, that is, between deserts and capacity.… Real repentance, as contrasted with a merely self-regarding remorse, is certainly a sine qua non of receiving forgiveness—an indispensable condition” (pp. 71–72). “Once our eyes have been opened to see the enormity of our offense against God, the injuries which others have done to us appear by comparison extremely trifling. If, on the other hand, we have an exaggerated view of the offenses of others, it proves that we have minimized our own” (Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 149–50; see comments at 5:5, 7; 18:23–35).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 99). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 391–395). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 206–207). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MARCH 27, 2017 – THE NEW MAN IN CHRIST IS A PERPETUAL MIRACLE

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

ROMANS 8:14

The man of God, the true Spirit-filled man of God, is a perpetual miracle!

He has come to his knowledge of God by the wonder of the new birth and the illumination of the Spirit. Therefore his life is completely different from the world around him.

Consider with me the words of 1 John 2:27: “But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”

John was a teacher and he says that your knowledge of God is not taught you from without—it is received by an inner anointing!

What are we going to do with this truth? Are we going to open the door of our personality—fling it wide?

Let us not be afraid of the Holy Spirit—He is an illuminator. He is light to the inner heart. He will show us more of God in a moment than we can learn in a lifetime without Him. He will not throw out what we have learned if it is the truth—He will set it on fire, that’s all! He will add fire to the altar.

The blessed Holy Spirit waits to be honored. He will honor Christ as we honor Christ. He waits—and if we will throw open our hearts to Him, a new sun will rise on us! I know this by personal experience in my own life and ministry.[1]


We Are Led by the Spirit

For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. (8:14)

The first inner confirmation of adoption is the believer’s being led by the Spirit of God. A person who is truly experiencing the leading hand of God at work in his life can be certain he is God’s child.

It is important to note the tense Paul uses here. Are being led translates the present passive indicative of agō, indicating that which already exists. The phrase are being led does not, however, indicate uninterrupted leading by the Spirit. Otherwise the many New Testament admonitions and warnings to Christians would be meaningless. But the genuine believer’s life is basically characterized by the Spirit’s leading, just as it is basically characterized by Christ’s righteousness.

A merely professing Christian does not and cannot be led by the Spirit of God. He may be moral, conscientious, generous, active in his church and other Christian organizations, and exhibit many other commendable traits. But the only accomplishments, religious or otherwise, he can make claim to are those of his own doing. His life may be outstandingly religious, but because he lives it in the power of the flesh, he can never be truly spiritual and he will never have the inner conviction of God’s leading and empowering.

When someone confides in me that he has doubts about his salvation, I often respond by asking if he ever senses God’s leading in his life. If he answers yes, I remind him of Paul’s assurance in this verse: All who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.

God’s children are secure in Him even when they are not as responsive and obedient to His leading as they ought to be. But that is not to say that a child of God will always feel secure. The Christian who neglects study of Scripture, who neglects God in prayer, who neglects fellowship with God’s people, and who is careless about His obedience to God will invariably have doubts about his salvation, because he is indifferent to God and the things of God. Even for the obedient child of God, doubts about his relationship to God can easily slip into the mind during times of pain, sorrow, failure, or disappointment. Satan, the great accuser of God’s people, is always ready to take advantage of such circumstances to plant seeds of uncertainty.

But our heavenly Father wants His children to be certain at all times that they belong to Him and are secure in Him. As Paul has just stated (Rom. 8:13), a person who is succeeding in putting to death sin in his life is not doing so in his own power, that is, in the power of the flesh, but by the power of the Spirit. Those who see victory over sin in their lives, who see their sinful desires and practices diminishing, can be certain they are sons of God, because only God’s Spirit can bring victory over sin. In the same way-when we begin to understand biblical truths that have long puzzled us, when we experience God’s convicting our consciences, when we grieve for the Lord’s sake when we sin-we have the divine assurance that we are sons of God, because only the indwell-ing

Spirit of God can instill such understanding, conviction, and godly sorrow.

Our finite minds cannot comprehend how the Spirit leads a believer, just as we cannot fully understand any of the supernatural work of God. We do, however, know that our heavenly Father does not force His will on His children. He seeks our willing obedience, which, by definition, cannot be coerced. It is when we are genuinely submissive to Him that our Lord supernaturally reshapes and redirects our will into voluntary conformity with His own.

God saves men through their faith in Him, and He leads those he saves through the same human channel of faith. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding,” the writer of Proverbs counsels. “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Prov. 3:5–6). The seeking, willing, and obedient heart is open to the Lord’s leading. David prayed, “Make me know Thy ways, O Lord; teach me Thy paths. Lead me in Thy truth and teach me, for Thou art the God of my salvation; for Thee I wait all the day” (Ps. 25:4–5). Later in that psalm he reminds us that God “leads the humble in justice, and He teaches the humble His way” (Ps. 25:9). In another psalm he entreated the Lord, “Teach me to do Thy will, for Thou art my God; let Thy good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Ps. 143:10).

Isaiah assures us that if we truly seek the Lord’s will, He is already standing beside us, as it were, ready to say, “This is the way, walk in it” (Isa. 30:21). The prophet was not speaking necessarily of an audible voice, but the voice of the believer’s God-directed conscience, a conscience instructed by God’s Word and attuned to His Spirit. Isaiah also assures us that the Lord is continually ready and eager to lead His people in the right way. Prophesying in the name of the preincarnate Christ, the prophet declared, “Come near to Me, listen to this: from the first I have not spoken in secret, from the time it took place, I was there. And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit. Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit, who leads you in the way you should go’ ” (Isa. 48:16–17). Jeremiah acknowledged, “I know, O Lord, that a man’s way is not in himself; nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps” (Jer. 10:23). Even the child of God cannot discern divine truth by his own intelligence or obey it in his own power.

God’s Spirit sovereignly leads His children in many ways, sometimes in ways that are direct and unique. But the primary ways by which He promises to lead us are those of illumination and sanctification.

In the first way, God leads His children by illumination, by divinely clarifying His Word to make it understandable to our finite and still sin-tainted minds. As we read, meditate on, and pray over Scripture, the indwell-ing Spirit of God becomes our divine interpreter. This begins with the conviction of sin that leads through saving belief into the whole of the Christian life.

Although Joseph was not indwelt by the Holy Spirit as are believers under the New Covenant, even the pagan Egyptian ruler recognized him as a man “in whom is a divine spirit.” Consequently, “Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has informed you of all this, there is no one so discerning and wise as you are’ ” (Gen. 41:38–39).

The Old Testament saint who wrote Psalm 119, which so eloquently glorifies God’s Word, knew he needed the Lord’s divine help both to understand and to obey that Word. Every believer should continually pray with the psalmist: “Make me walk in the path of Thy commandments, for I delight in it” (Ps. 119:35), and, “Establish my footsteps in Thy word, and do not let any iniquity have dominion over me” (Ps. 119:133).

During the Upper Room discourse, shortly before His betrayal and arrest, Jesus told the apostles, “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:25–26). That promise had special significance for the apostles, who would become Christ’s uniquely authoritative witnesses to His truth after His ascension back to heaven. But the promise also applies in a general way to all believers after Pentecost. From that time on, every believer has been indwelt by Christ’s own Holy Spirit, whose ministry to us includes that of shedding divine light on scriptural truths that otherwise are beyond our comprehension.

During one of His postresurrection appearances, Jesus said to the eleven remaining apostles, “ ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” (Luke 24:44–45). Again Jesus’ words had unique significance for the apostles, but in a similar way the Lord opens the minds of all His disciples “to understand the Scriptures.”

On behalf of the Ephesian believers Paul prayed that “the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might” (Eph. 1:17–19). Later in that epistle Paul offered a similar prayer, asking that God “would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man; so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God” (3:16–19).

Paul assured the saints at Colossae that “we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9). His devotion to them was again expressed in the loving words: “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (3:16).

Perhaps the most definitive passage on the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit is in Paul’s first letter to Corinth. “A natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God,” he asserts; “for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:14–16). In other words, even God’s own children could not understand their heavenly Father’s Word apart from the illuminating work of His Spirit within them.

The second major way in which the Spirit leads God’s children is by their sanctification. The Spirit not only illuminates our minds to understand Scripture but divinely assists us in obeying it, and that obedience becomes another testimony to our salvation. The humble child of God knows he cannot please his Lord in his own power. But he also knows that, when he sincerely labors in the Lord’s work in accordance with the commands and principles of Scripture, the Holy Spirit will bless that work in ways far beyond what the believer’s own abilities could have produced. It is then that our heavenly Father is deeply pleased with us, not for what we have accomplished but for what we have allowed Him to accomplish in and through us. It is not our work in itself but our spirit of obedience to Him and dependence on Him as we do His work that brings joy to our heavenly Father’s heart. It is through our faithful obedience that we experience the gracious working of the Spirit in our lives. And, as with His divine illumination, His divine work of sanctification gives us assurance that we are indeed sons of God.

“I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh,” Paul admonished the Galatians. “For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please” (Gal. 5:16–17). And because “we live by the Spirit,” he goes on to say, “let us also walk by the Spirit” (v. 5:25).

As with illumination and all other divine works, we cannot understand exactly how God accomplishes His sanctifying work in us. We simply know from His Word, and often from experience, that He performs spiritual works in and through us that are not produced by our own efforts or power. Often we become aware of the Spirit’s activity only in retrospect, as we see His sanctifying power bearing fruit in our lives from seeds planted long beforehand. We also have the blessed assurance that, although we are not consciously aware of the Spirit’s work in us at all times, He is nevertheless performing His divine work in us at all times. He not only gives and sustains our spiritual life, He is our spiritual life.

It is our heavenly Father’s great desire for His children to submit to the leading of His Spirit, for the sake of His glory and for the sake of their spiritual fruitfulness, well-being, and peace.[2]


The Family of God

Romans 8:14

… because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

One of the things I have said about Romans 8, as we have been working our way through it, is that basically Paul is not teaching anything new here but is instead reinforcing what he already stated. The general theme is assurance of salvation, but that doctrine was laid out in chapter 5. And, as I have explained, chapters 6 and 7 were a digression to answer several important questions growing out of chapter 5, after which the apostle picked up where he left off earlier.

But true as that is in general, we find something new when we come to Romans 8:14. This verse tells us that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God,” and here the idea that we are “sons of God” appears in Romans for the first time.

This is not merely an incidental thought, although it would be possible for a new idea to appear at some point simply by accident, as it were. There is nothing accidental about this reference. Paul is talking about assurance of salvation and is arguing that one basis for this is our new relationship to God, which is a family relationship. Moreover, having introduced the theme in our text, he then elaborates upon it in verses 15–17, speaking of such related concepts as “sons,” “sonship,” “children,” and “heirs.” Some of the words reappear later on in verses 19, 21, and 23. The idea is so important that a number of commentators, such as John R. W. Stott, treat verses 14–17 as a separate section, in spite of the fact that verse 14 is linked to the preceding verse by the word because, or for.

Technically, verse 14 is introduced as proof of what has gone immediately before. Calvin saw this and said, “The substance … amounts to this, that all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God; all the sons of God are heirs of eternal life; and therefore all who are led by the Spirit of God ought to feel assured of eternal life.” Therefore, Romans 8:14 is meant to be both a test of spiritual life and a comfort.

Verse 14 is one of those amazing verses, found often in the Bible, which is literally loaded with important teachings. I want to list five of them.

Two Fathers, Two Families

The first point is a negative one: Not everyone is a member of God’s family. The reason this is important is that we have an idea in western thought, a product of older liberalism, which said that human beings are all sons or daughters of God and that therefore we are all members of one family. The popular way of putting this has been to speak of “the universal fatherhood of God” and “the universal brotherhood of man.” I am sure you have heard those expressions.

There is a sense, of course, in which all human beings are brothers and sisters, having been created by the one God. This is the way the apostle Paul spoke in Athens when he quoted the Greek poets Cleanthes and Aratus to say to that particularly intellectual audience that “we are [all] his [that is, God’s] offspring” (Acts 17:28). But that is not the way the words “sons of God” are used in Scripture, and it is certainly not the way the apostle is speaking here. When Paul writes of “those who are led by the Spirit of God,” he is distinguishing between those who are led by the Spirit and those who are not led by the Spirit, which means that only a portion of humanity are God’s spiritual children.

The clearest statement of this important truth is from the mouth of Jesus Christ. The relevant passage is John 8:31–47. Jesus had been teaching the people and had made a statement similar to what Paul has been saying in Romans: “If you hold to my teachings, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

This offended his Jewish listeners, because they did not like to think of themselves as enslaved. “We have never been slaves of anyone,” they said.

Their statement was absurd, of course. They had been enslaved by many nations during their long history, and even then were under the domination of the Roman Empire.

But Jesus ignored that point and answered instead that he had been speaking spiritually. “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. … I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father” (vv. 34, 38).

They answered that Abraham was their father.

Jesus denied it, saying that if they were Abraham’s children, they would be like Abraham and would not be determined to kill him, which they were. He said again that, instead, they were acting like their true father.

They then replied that God himself was their only Father, at which point Jesus became most explicit: “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. … You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. … The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God” (vv. 42, 44, 47).

It cannot be said any clearer than that. In these words Jesus made clear that there are two families and two fatherhoods, and that only those who love and serve God are God’s children.

Born of God

This leads to the second important teaching of this verse. In fact, it is the main one: All Christians are members of God’s family. This involves a change that is radical, supernatural, and far-reaching.

  1. It is radical. To become a child of God means that the individual has experienced the most radical or profound change possible. This is because, before a person becomes a son or daughter of God, he or she is not a member of God’s family but is a member of the devil’s family (to use Jesus’ terminology in John 8) or is merely “in Adam” (to use Paul’s earlier teaching in Romans). We do not need to review Paul’s earlier teaching in detail, because it was covered thoroughly in our studies of chapters 5 and 6. To be “in Adam” means to be in sin, a slave to wickedness, under divine judgment, and destined for eternal death. To be “in Christ” is the reverse. It means to be delivered from sin and its judgment, to be growing in holiness, and to possess eternal life. The change is as radical as passing from a state of slavery to freedom or from death to life.
  2. It is supernatural. This change is not only radical. It is supernatural, too, which means that it is done for us from above by God. Here again we are helped by the very words of Jesus Christ, as recorded in John 3. He had been approached by Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, and had told Nicodemus that he would never be able to understand spiritual matters unless he was “born again.”

This puzzled the Jewish ruler, so he asked, “How can a man be born when he is old?”

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (vv. 5–8). In these words Jesus made clear that becoming a child of God is a matter of spiritual birth and that this is something only the Spirit of God can do. The Greek word translated “again” implies that this birth is “from above,” rather than from below, which means that this new spiritual life is divinely imparted.

  1. It is far-reaching. This point will be developed more as we proceed through this section, but it is important to say here that the end of this spiritual rebirth is not only deliverance from sin’s judgment—or, as many in our day seem to think, happiness now—but glorification. This is where chapter 5 began, and it is where chapter 8 will end. It is the point of this section of Romans: “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (v. 17).

In his exceptional study of these verses, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones stresses that the apostle’s interest “is always in glorification,” bemoaning the fact that the interest of today’s church has settled on sanctification “because we are so miserably subjective.”

A Practical Result

Not every characteristic of our age is bad, however, though super subjectivity undoubtedly is a troublemaker. One potentially good characteristic is modern-day practicality. We are a down-to-earth people and want to see results. So I ask, what is the practical result of this important change that has happened to us? What does being a Christian mean in one’s daily life?

Here is where Romans 8:14 provides us with a third important doctrine: To be a Christian means to be led by God’s Spirit. Up to this point the doctrines I have been explaining might be thought to refer to a change of status only—before, we were “in Adam”; now we are “in Christ.” Before, we were under condemnation; now we are delivered from condemnation. Before, we were spiritually dead; now we are spiritually alive. All that is true, of course, and Paul has taught it. But it is not the only truth he is teaching. Because our change of status has been accomplished by the Holy Spirit, who lives within every genuine Christian, being a Christian also means that we will be led by that same Spirit. Or, as I have said in different words, it means that we will be growing in holiness increasingly.

This is the way verse 14 is tied to the preceding one. Verse 13 said that we will live spiritually, now and forever, “if by the Spirit [we] put to death the misdeeds of the body.” Now verse 14 adds that we will indeed do that if the Spirit is within us, for this is the direction the Holy Spirit is leading.

A Test of Spiritual Paternity

From time to time we read in the papers of a “paternity suit,” in which a mother sues for support of her child on the grounds that a certain man is the father though he denies it. In earlier ages this was a matter usually impossible to prove, which made a situation like this extremely difficult for the woman. But today a test can be made of both the alleged father’s and the child’s genetic makeup, and the relationship can be established (or disproved) with nearly 100 percent accuracy.

This introduces the fourth important teaching in this verse, which is, we might say, a test of paternity. It tells us how we can know we are in God’s family. We are in God’s family if the Spirit of God is leading us in our daily lives.

Do you remember what I said earlier about this being a new idea and a new section of Romans 8? Here I have to confess that it is not such a new idea after all, since we have really been noting this point all along. It is only another way of saying that those who are Christians will necessarily live accordingly. They are on the path of discipleship. Therefore, although they may fall while walking along that path, they also inevitably get up again and go forward. They grow in holiness.

A big question still remains: How does the Holy Spirit lead us?

People have a lot of ideas at this point, many of them unbiblical. Some answer in terms of outward circumstances, suggesting that God orders external events to direct us in the way we should go. Others look for special intimations or feelings or perhaps even special revelations. Some think of guidance almost magically, expecting God’s Spirit to direct them to some verse supernaturally or to let them overhear some human remark that is actually from God. We have to be careful in this area since it is futile to deny that God does indeed sometimes lead in “mysterious” ways. Saint Augustine was converted by hearing a neighbor’s child singing the words, “Tole lege (Take, read).” He received it as a word from God, picked up a Bible and, turning to a passage at random, fell upon verses that spoke to his specific need, and so was converted. We dare not say that this was not from God.

But is that sort of guidance what we are to expect normally? If so, the majority of us have not experienced it. If being “led by the Spirit” is what it means to be a Christian, and if that is what it means to be led, then most of us are not Christians! Of course, this is not what Paul is saying.

The place to start is by recognizing that the Holy Spirit works within us or, as we might say, “internally.” Everything in the passage indicates this. Paul has been talking about our minds being set on what the Holy Spirit desires and about our having an obligation to live according to the Spirit rather than according to the sinful nature. In the next verses he will speak of an internal witness of the Spirit by which we instinctively call God “Father.” God can order external events, of course, and he does. He orders everything. But that is not what is being discussed here. In this verse Paul is talking about what God’s Spirit does internally within the Christian.

So we reduce the earlier question to this one: What does the Holy Spirit do internally in Christians to lead them? Let me suggest three things.

  1. He renews our minds. The first area in which the Holy Spirit works is the intellect, and he does this by what Paul will later call “the renewing of your mind.” This comes out very clearly in Romans 12. There, having laid down the great doctrines of the epistle, the apostle begins to apply them to the believer’s conduct, saying, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Rom. 12:1–2).

The person who discovers, tests, and approves what God’s pleasing and perfect will is obviously is being led by God. But the key to this, according to Romans, is the mind’s renewal.

How, then, are our minds to be renewed? There is only one way. It is by our reading and being taught by the Spirit from the Bible. That is what God has given the Bible to us for—to inform us, enlighten our minds, and redirect our thinking. I hold the Bible and the Holy Spirit together in this, however, as the Reformers were particularly astute in doing. For alone, either is inadequate. A person who considers himself to be led by the Spirit apart from the Bible will soon fall into error and excess. He will begin to promote nonbiblical and therefore false teachings. But a person who reads the Bible apart from the illumination provided by the Holy Spirit, which is true in the case of all unbelievers, will find it to be a closed and meaningless book. The Christian is led by the operation of the Holy Spirit and the Bible together.

Here is a test for you. Has the Holy Spirit been leading you by enlightening your mind through Bible study? Have you discovered things about God, yourself, the gospel, and the ways of God that you did not know before? Do you realize that they are true? Are you beginning to live differently? Unless you are crazy, you will begin to live differently. Because a person who realizes that one way is true and another is false and yet takes the false path must be out of his or her mind, irrational. If your mind has been renewed, you will show it.

  1. He stirs the heart. Figuratively, the heart is the seat of the emotions, and the Holy Spirit works upon it by stirring or quickening the heart to love God. In the verse that follows our text Paul speaks of an inner response to God by which we affectionately cry out, “Abba, Father.” This verse does not actually mention the heart, but in a parallel text in Galatians Paul does, showing that he is thinking of the operation of the Holy Spirit upon our hearts explicitly. He writes, “Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father’ ” (Gal. 4:6). In other words, the Spirit of God leads us by making us affectionate toward God and his ways. It is the Spirit who causes us, as Jesus said, to “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matt. 5:6).

This brings us to another test of whether or not you are a Christian. I mentioned it in an earlier study. Do you love God? I do not mean, “Do you love God perfectly?” If you think you do, you probably do not love him much at all. I mean only, “Do you try to please God? Do you want to spend time with him through studying the Bible and praying? Do you seek his favor? Are you concerned for his glory?”

  1. He directs our wills. Just as the Spirit leads us by renewing our minds and stirring our hearts or affections, so also does he lead us by redirecting and strengthening our wills. Paul speaks of this in Philippians, where he writes: “Therefore, my dear friends … continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose” (Phil. 2:12–13).

God gives us a singleness of purpose—to do his will. It is the way God works. Has your will been redirected in that way? When you look deep inside, do you find that you really want to serve God and act according to his good purpose? God does not force you to be godly against your will. He changes your will by the new birth so that what you despised before you now love, and what you were indifferent to before you now find desirable.

John Murray had it right when he wrote, “The activity of the believer is the evidence of the Spirit’s activity, and the activity of the Spirit is the cause of the believer’s activity.” If you are trying to please God, it is because the Spirit is at work within you, leading you to want and actually do the right thing. It is a strong reason for believing you are in God’s family.

Our Brothers and Sisters

There is one more important teaching in this short but potent verse, and it comes from the fact that the words we are dealing with are plural: “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.” Therefore: Those led by the Spirit of God are our true brothers and sisters. We are part of the same divine family.

The older, King James Version started this verse with “For as many as …” and I am almost sorry this has been changed, since it emphasized the inclusive nature of God’s family better than “those” in the New International Version. Yet it is the same thing. And the problem is not so much our understanding the point as practicing it. There are many differences between believers within the church of Jesus Christ—differences of class, personality, background, economic status, temperament, abilities, drive, sensitivity, and thousands of other things. They have led to divisions in the church, for not all divisions (perhaps not even the majority) are doctrinal. Many divisions exist that should not exist, and sometimes these lead Christians in one camp to suspect and even fail to associate with those in another.

This should not be, for the text teaches that what makes other believers our brothers or sisters in Christ is not what denomination or movement they may belong to, but whether or not they are being led by God’s Spirit. Anyone for whom that is true is our brother or sister in Christ, and we should recognize it and be willing to work with that person to fulfill God’s purposes.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (pp. 429–434). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: The Reign of Grace (Vol. 2, pp. 829–836). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers (Week Four: Monday)

Monday

Confession: Psalm 90:1–8

O Lord, you have been our help in all generations.

Before the mountains were born

and you brought forth the earth and the world,

even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God.

You return man to the dust,

saying, “Return, O sons of man.”

For a thousand years in your eyes

are like yesterday when it passes,

or like a watch in the night.

You sweep them away like a flood.

They fall asleep.

In the morning they are like grass that sprouts anew.

In the morning it blossoms and sprouts anew;

by evening it withers and dries up.

For we are brought to an end by your anger,

and we hasten off by your wrath.

You have put our iniquities before you,

our hidden sins into the light of your countenance.

Reading: Mark 13:9–13

“But you, watch out for yourselves! They will hand you over to councils and you will be beaten in the synagogues and will have to stand before governors and kings because of me, for a witness to them. And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all the nations. And when they arrest you and hand you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you should say, but whatever is given to you at that hour, say this. For you are not the ones who are speaking, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will hand over brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end—this one will be saved.”

Reflection

Learn the lessons of the evangelic conversation—of mastery over the body, a meek spirit, purity of mind, and destruction of pride. Pressed into the service, add to your gifts for the Lord’s sake; robbed, never go to law; hated, love; persecuted, endure; slandered, entreat. Be dead to sin; be crucified to God. Cast all your care upon the Lord, that you may be found where are tens of thousands of angels, assemblies of the firstborn, the thrones of prophets, sceptres of patriarchs, crowns of martyrs, and praises of righteous men. Earnestly desire to be numbered with those righteous men in Christ Jesus our Lord.

—Basil of Caesarea

Admonition to the Young

Response

How are you being an effective witness of Jesus? On what occasions have you felt the Holy Spirit guiding your speech? Write down your prayer for the Spirit’s guidance as you tell others about Christ’s work in your life.[1]

 

[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.