Daily Archives: March 28, 2017

March 28, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Mar. 28, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

Texas and a dozen other mostly Republican-led states are throwing their support behind the Trump administration’s temporary ban on new visas for people from six mostly Muslim nations.

Asia is a key part of Moscow-based Rostec State Corp.’s plan to become one of the world’s top five defense companies within a decade, according to a senior executive. Rostec, whose units account for about 70 percent of Russia’s defense industrial base and include AK-47 assault rifles and MiG fighter jets, will focus on selling more to countries including India, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Ford will announce investments in three Michigan plants, Donald Trump said in a Twitter post, two weeks after the president urged car companies to follow his pledge for eased regulations with more hiring.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to revive a $5.7 billion settlement of retailer claims that Visa and MasterCard improperly fixed credit-card swipe fees, in a rebuff that could mean years of additional litigation.

President Trump is set to sign an executive order that will in part reverse two main planks of federal efforts under President Obama to adapt to climate change, according to details of the order shared with Bloomberg News. The White House is expected to rescind Obama’s order to federal agencies to plan for climate change and another to have the military plan for the national security implications.

AP Top Stories

The leaders of Britain and Scotland met for talks, but failed to resolve their differences over a new push for Scottish independence as the U.K. prepares to leave the EU.

Pakistan has begun building a fence along its border with Afghanistan to curtail the movement of militants, its army said, in a move criticised by its eastern neighbour for dividing communities.

Fire inspectors visited a Northern California building three days before a blaze ripped through it, killing at least three people. Documents released by the city of Oakland late Monday show inspectors found multiple violations Friday when they visited the building where recovering drug addicts and squatters lived in squalid conditions. A fire on Monday gutted the building and killed three people and injured four.

Bahrain said on Sunday it had broken an Iranian-linked “terrorist cell” suspected of involvement in a bomb attack on a police bus in February and plotting to assassinate senior officials, state news agency BNA reported.

Hundreds of rebels left their last bastion in Syria’s Homs city on Monday, resuming an evacuation expected to be among the largest of its kind under a Russian-backed deal with the government.

A report from a U.S. think tank says China has nearly completed construction work on three man-made islands in the South China Sea, giving it the ability to deploy combat aircraft and other military assets to the disputed region.

An “unprecedented” 21 different types of dinosaur tracks have been found on a stretch of Australia’s remote coastline, scientists said Monday, dubbing it the nation’s Jurassic Park. Paleontologists from the University of Queensland and James Cook University said it was the most diverse such discovery in the world, unearthed in rocks up to 140 million years old in the Kimberley region of Western Australia.

Boko Haram Islamists raided a village in northeast Nigeria, in the latest rampage to steal food and medical supplies, as fears grew of more attacks, locals and security personnel said on Sunday.

Michigan and the city of Flint agreed to replace thousands of home water lines under a sweeping deal to settle a lawsuit by residents over lead-contaminated water in the struggling community. Flint will replace at least 18,000 lead or galvanized-steel water lines by 2020, and the state will pick up the bill with state and federal money, according to the settlement filed in federal court.

The U.S. military is developing a fairy-tale-inspired “Gremlin” program that aims to launch and retrieve drones in midair. “Gremlins” are a swarm of drones deployed from a manned aircraft.

US consumer confidence spiked to a 16-year high in March, according to the Conference Board’s monthly survey. The headline index jumped to 125.6, the highest since December 2000. Economists had forecast that the index dipped in March to 114.0 from a 15-year high of 114.8.

BBC

The globally popular statue of a young girl staring down Wall Street’s iconic bull will stay in place until next March, New York’s mayor has said.

Carlos the Jackal, a notorious Venezuelan militant serving two life sentences, has been handed a third by a French court.

A Tennessee couple has been accused of trying to sell a five-month-old baby for $3,000 on Craigslist.

An outbreak of meningitis in several states of Nigeria has killed at least 140 people, officials said.

WND

Hamas has recently developed a new high-powered rocket of which it has already produced several dozen, Army Radio reported on Tuesday. According to the report, the rocket is short-range and can carry a relatively heavy explosive load. In the event of a future conflict between Israel and Hamas, the new rocket would have the most effect on the Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip.

According to the watchdog organization Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR), IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) recently captured 197 children in western Mosul. The militants intend to use the abducted children as human shields to stand in the way of the advancing coalition troops.

University of Regina will be hosting a “Masculinity Confession Booth” along with a number of other workshops and screenings to combat “hypermasculinity.” “Come and share your sins so we can begin to discuss how to identify and change our ways !!!”


Confused

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Fetch My Spectacles

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The Briefing 03-28-17

Does the secular European project have a future?

On terrorism — can you read the mind of a dead man? Police in London try.

The ultrasound of unborn baby said to “upset” mothers considering abortion. Why?

The post The Briefing 03-28-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


March 27, 2017
ALAN KEYES — These days, the logic of statements made by our politicians and government officials often defies reason. Take this statement, made by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, justifying the cuts the Trump administration wants Congress to make in the U.S. State Department’s budget:… (more)

March 27, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — BuzzFeed, described by Wikipedia as “a liberal American internet media company based in New York City,” is in the “donor spotlight” at the national news museum in Washington, D.C., known as the Newseum. The “honor” demonstrates how the media have changed and how low they have sunk…. (more)

March 27, 2017
THE RESURGENT — Representative Mo Brooks, a Republican from the 5th Congressional District in Alabama, has filed a one-sentence bill to completely repeal Obamacare…. (more)


March 27, 2017
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — It was a careful choice of words, Bernard Lewis being nothing if not careful. In 2004, the West audibly gasped when its preeminent scholar of Islam famously told the German newspaper Die Welt,”Europe will be Islamic by the end of the century,” if not sooner…. (more)

March 27, 2017
ROBERT KNIGHT — It’s been a long while since I perused Time magazine, either online or in print. Years ago, the weekly ceased being an interesting news magazine and evolved into a caricature of fashionable left-wing thought. It is no longer required reading. However, Time managed to work its way back into national consciousness this week with its colorful cover asking, “Is Truth Dead?” The irony of Time’s editors raising that question probably never dawned on them…. (more)

March 27, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — President Trump will issue an executive order on Tuesday to begin undoing former President Obama’s rule on carbon emissions, Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt said Sunday…. (more)

March 27, 2017
JOSEPH FARAH — Headlines in the popular press and science journals have been screaming the claim since January: “Planet Earth makes its own water from scratch deep in the mantle.”… (more)


March 26, 2017
PHILIP KLEIN — Broken promises are as old as politics itself, and there are many famous examples of them in modern history. President George H.W. Bush’s “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge comes immediately to mind, as does President Bill Clinton reneging on his middle-class tax cut, and President Barack Obama never closing Guantanamo Bay. But in each of those cases, those were promises that were made in a given campaign by a given politician. The promise of Obamacare repeal is much different…. (more)


March 26, 2017
MCCLATCHY DC — Donald Trump ran for president as a businessman who could make a deal. But on Friday, he failed to close the biggest deal of his young presidency. And then, like a businessman, he moved on…. (more)

March 26, 2017
NEWSMAX — White House chief of staff Reince Priebus is mostly to blame for the implosion of the GOP healthcare replacement bill, the New York Times reported. But other groups and individuals factored into the bill’s doom as well…. (more)

March 24, 2017
WASHINGTON POST — House Republican leaders abruptly pulled a rewrite of the nation’s health-care system from consideration on Friday, a dramatic acknowledgment that they are so far unable to repeal the Affordable Care Act. “We just pulled it,” President Trump told The Washington Post in a telephone interview…. (more)


March 24, 2017
THE RESURGENT — In an interview with CNN, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) scorched the House Leadership’s proposed Obamacare replacement bill for perpetuating the status quo. Citing a comment from Speaker Paul Ryan, Wolf Blister prefaced his question to Senator Lee by saying conservatives will get roughly 85 percent of what they want from the American Health Care Act. Lee respectfully but strongly disagreed with Speaker Ryan’s assertion that this bill provides 85 percent of what conservatives want in healthcare reform…. (more)

March 24, 2017
NEW YORK TIMES — President Trump, the author of “The Art of the Deal,” has been projecting his usual bravado in public this week about the prospects of repealing the Affordable Care Act. Privately he is grappling with rare bouts of self-doubt…. (more)

March 24, 2017
NEWSMAX — House Republican leaders expect to vote Friday on their embattled health-care bill, moving on the legislation under pressure by Trump administration officials who voiced urgency during a closed-door meeting on the Capitol with conservative holdouts…. (more)

March 24, 2017
NEWSMAX — House Freedom Caucus member Rep. Mo Brooks said Thursday he was still against the American Health Care Act – – “a massive Republican welfare plan” – – even after meeting with such heavy hitters as House Speaker Paul Ryan, White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and Chief of Staff Reince Priebus…. (more)

March 24, 2017
RALPH Z. HALLOW — House Speaker Paul Ryan didn’t just step in it again, big time, on the Ryancare bill this week. The Wisconsin Republican unmasked himself as the man most capable of demolishing his own party and the Trump presidency. The Ryan American Healthcare Bill is a piece of moderate GOP trash that Mr. Ryan owns and has been trying and failing miserably to sell as the long-promised Republican repeal and replacement of Obamacare…. (more)

March 24, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — On the same day that the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal warned that President Donald Trump was going to go down in history as a “fake president,” in part because of his “false tweet” about the “wiretapping” of Trump Tower, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee disclosed evidence of the wiretapping, also known as surveillance…. (more)

March 24, 2017
FOX NEWS — Republican congressional investigators expect a potential “smoking gun” establishing that the Obama administration spied on the Trump transition team, and possibly the president-elect himself, will be produced to the House Intelligence Committee this week, a source told Fox News…. (more)


March 24, 2017
DAILY MAIL — The British-born jihadi who killed four and injured 29 in Westminster was last night revealed to be a middle-aged criminal career who MI5 had investigated in the past and had a previous conviction for stabbing a man in the nose. English teacher Khalid Masood, 52, a ‘lone wolf’ attacker, who was living in the Birmingham area, had a series of convictions for assault and other crimes…. (more)


March 24, 2017
ART MOORE — In a refrain that has become remarkably familiar in the aftermath of a terrorist attack, a neighbor of Khalid Masood – – the 52-year-old Muslim who ran over pedestrians on Westminster Bridge then killed a police officer at the Parliament building Wednesday – – described him as a “normal calm and kind family man, always with a smile on his face.”… (more)

March 24, 2017
GREG COROMBOS — One of the Senate’s most conservative members says Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch showed lawmakers and the nation this week why he is a tremendous choice for the high court, while also rejecting the attempts of Democrats to discredit Gorsuch and promising President Trump’s choice will be confirmed…. (more)

March 24, 2017
WESLEY PRUDEN — Neil Gorsuch took the best shots, such as they were, of disheartened, dismayed and despondent Democrats this week, and nobody laid a glove on him. He was as fresh when it was over as when the slugging, such as it was, began. “So what have we learned?” asked The New York Times, which presumes to be the leader of the insurrection against the new presidency. “He’s probably going to be confirmed.”… (more)


March 23, 2017
PETER LEMISKA — Considering America’s 240-year history, 16 years is not a long time. But for some, it’s long enough to forget the outrage and fear all Americans felt after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001…. (more)

March 22, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — President Donald Trump is usually a fan of Fox News, but his opinion may now be changing. Fox News has been caught misrepresenting its own interview with Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) on the subject of alleged wiretapping of President Trump, in order to make Trump look bad. The cable channel also threw one of its own commentators, Judge Andrew Napolitano, under the bus for highlighting a possible British role in gathering intelligence on Trump and his associates…. (more)

March 22, 2017
BOSTON HERALD — President Trump’s transition team may have had its communications picked up and distributed throughout the intelligence community, according to a leading Republican on the House Intelligence Committee – – news that had conservatives claiming vindication as shock waves spread across Washington…. (more)


After Dramatic Obamacare Failure, Trump Now Faces A Looming Government Shutdown He May Not Be Able To Prevent

If you thought that the Obamacare debacle was bad, just wait until you see what happens next.  The continuing resolution that is currently funding the government expires on April 28th, and if a new funding agreement is not reached prior to that time, there will be a government shutdown like we witnessed in 2013 starting on April 29th.  Unfortunately, as I will explain below, if a government shutdown happens it may go for a lot longer than just a couple of weeks this time around. (Read More…)


The Religious Left Becomes a Political Force in Trump Era

Financial support is also picking up. Donations to Jim Wallis’ Christian activist group Sojourners have picked up by 30 percent since Trump’s election, the group said.

But some observers were skeptical that the religious left could equal the religious right politically any time soon.

View Article


The False Compassion Of ‘Liberalism’*

Don’t worry. It’s for a good cause.

Read More


The Two Faces of Denial

Another reason so many Americans live in denial of where we are headed is because of the non-stop culture of mindless entertainment and distractions we live in – think Internet, video games, television, social media (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, etc.), sports and spectator sports, smart phone apps and texting, etc. In the Roman Empire, non-stop entertainment and distractions were called “bread and circuses.” Part of the reason those people lived in apathy and denial of the rapid decline in their day and the rise of freedom-destroying evil was that they were entertained and distracted non-stop by their government.

This “bread and circuses” phenomenon is 100 times greater in our day in America and other Western nations – and not just for the young, but for people of all ages. Deep thought, discernment, and recognition of rising evil comes from thinking people who read good books, who have studied history and the Bible, and who understand and apply the principles of what works and doesn’t work in life. It comes from people who have not been completely dumbed down by television propaganda, mindless/shallow distractions, by non-stop government disinformation/brainwashing, or by a socialist controlled educational system.

But sadly, even among those who do understand the times and who do see America’s decline into a socialist dictatorship, like their counterparts in Russia (in 1916/17) or in Germany (1932-37), most are doing little to nothing to prepare for the coming train wreck or to get out of harm’s way. Not only are they doing little or nothing to fight back against the emerging dictatorship, but they are doing little to nothing to prepare personally, physically, financially, or even spiritually. Even though they do understand the times, they are doing very little to prepare for those times – for what is coming (perhaps very shortly). In this respect, they too are in denial – hoping and wanting to believe that somehow we will return to the “good ol’ days”; everything will continue to go on like it always has – everything will be fine, because it has to….”

(Excerpt from McAlvany Intelligence Advisor, October 2016)


Top News – 3/28/2017

Former PM Tony Blair: We Need a New Kind of Peace for Israel
Speaking at the annual AIPAC conference, former British prime minister and Middle East expert Tony Blair discusses why the old ideas about peace between Israel and the Palestinians won’t work anymore. (video)

Tony Podesta Made $500K Lobbying For Chinese Firm Convicted Of Illegal Sales To Iran
The seriousness of the illegal sales to Iran were so extreme and continued for so long — from 2010 to last year — the Department of Justice (DOJ) imposed a record $1.19 billion fine on the ZTE Telecommunications company, making it the largest penalty ever imposed in a U.S. sanctions case.

‘We had him booted out’: Palestinian won’t get top UN post, US envoy Haley tells AIPAC
The US won’t allow a Palestinian to secure “one of the highest positions” at the UN, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said, explaining why the US had blocked a former Palestinian prime minister’s appointment to lead the UN’s Libya mission.

DNA-repairing drug could fight aging and radiation damage
the scientists used the compound to fight aging by fixing the chemical communication going on inside cells. Now the team has shed more light on the role that NAD plays in regulating the interactions between certain proteins that keep the body running like a well-oiled machine.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions Announces Coming Crackdown on Sanctuary City Funding
It also made clear that failure to remedy violations could result in withholding of grants, termination of grants, and disbarment or ineligibility for future grants.” “The Department of Justice will also take all lawful steps to claw-back any funds awarded to a jurisdiction that willfully violates Section 1373.

Vimeo Declares War on Gospel Transformation
If Jesus has changed your life and set you free from homosexual practice, your testimony is not welcome on Vimeo – not now, not ever. And if you see homosexuality as another aspect of sexual brokenness, something for which Jesus died and something from which you can be healed, your opinion is not welcome on Vimeo. Case closed, door shut, end of subject. In the words of Dr. David Kyle Foster, director of Pure Passion Ministries and himself a former homosexual, “This is pure religious bigotry and censorship.”

Report: Hamas develops new ‘high-powered’ rocket akin to Hezbollah projectiles
Hamas has recently developed a new high-powered rocket of which it has already produced several dozen, Army Radio reported on Tuesday. According to the report, the rocket is short-range and can carry a relatively heavy explosive load. In the event of a future conflict between Israel and Hamas, the new rocket would have the most effect on the Israeli communities bordering the Gaza Strip.

Iran: Russia can use military bases ‘on case by case basis’
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Reuters on Tuesday that Russia could use Iranian military bases to fight terrorists in Syria on a “case by case basis.” Zarif said that regional issues, including Syria, would be discussed at a meeting in the Kremlin later on Tuesday. An Iranian delegation, including President Hassan Rouhani, arrived in Moscow on Monday.

Israel Air Force partakes in drill with Arab forces, among others
The Israel Air Force along with pilots from the United Arab Emirates and a number of other countries began a joint drill in Greece Monday, marking the second time crews from the two countries have flown side by side. According to a statement released by the Hellenic Air Force, the “complex exercise” named Iniohos 2017, which will run from March 27 to April 6, will involve the airforces of Israel, the United States, the UAE, and Italy.

Cyclone Debbie: ‘Monster’ storm batters Australia
A powerful cyclone has pummelled the north-east Australian coast, causing major damage, torrential rain and power cuts to tens of thousands of homes. Cyclone Debbie made landfall between Bowen and Airlie Beach in Queensland as a category four storm, whipping gusts of up to 263km/h (163 mph). It is moving inland as a category two but could cause damage for hours yet. One serious injury has been reported.

Trump to sweep away Obama climate change policies
US President Donald Trump is due to sign an executive order to overturn key parts of the Obama administration’s plan to tackle global warming. The move will undo the Clean Power Plan which required states to slash carbon emissions. The executive order also cuts the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget. Regulations on oil, gas and coal production are to be reviewed.

Rep. Mo Brooks files bill to repeal Obamacare
In a simple two-page document, an Alabama congressman has filed a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal Obamacare…U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, introduced the bill Friday. “This Act may be cited as the ‘Obamacare Repeal Act,’” the bill states. And the bill uses just one sentence to do it. “Effective as of Dec. 31, 2017, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is repealed, and the provisions of law amended or repealed by such Act are restored or revived as if such Act had not been enacted,” the bill states.

Elon Musk Launches Neuralink to Connect Brains With Computers
Building a mass-market electric vehicle and colonizing Mars aren’t ambitious enough for Elon Musk. The billionaire entrepreneur now wants to merge computers with human brains to help people keep up with machines…Neuralink is pursuing what Mr. Musk calls “neural lace” technology, implanting tiny brain electrodes that may one day upload and download thoughts.

Russia Joins US in Race to Field Gun-Launched Swarmbots
Russian arms makers have announced efforts to shoot multiple small drones in rapid succession from small arms and cannons, hastening a day when Russian and U.S. drone swarms may meet each other over the skies of distant battlefield. On Thursday, Russian news site Tass revealed a reconnaissance drone that a soldier would shoot from “a hand-held grenade launcher.”

Sessions says he’ll punish sanctuaries, cities could lose billions of dollars
The Trump administration officially put sanctuary cities on notice Monday that they are violating federal laws and could lose access to billions of dollars in Justice Department grants if they continue to thwart efforts to deport illegal immigrants. And counties and cities that have taken money in the past…could have that money clawed back…That would mean Chicago, Philadelphia and other prominent sanctuaries would not only lose money going forward, but might have to pay back tens of millions of dollars from their treasuries.

North Korea conducts another missile engine test, US officials say
Two US defense officials told CNN Monday that North Korea conducted another ballistic missile engine test Friday. The officials said the latest engine trial is the third such test in recent weeks using similar technology. One official said that the initial assessment indicates that the engine technology could possibly be used in an eventual intercontinental ballistic missile.

China able to deploy warplanes on artificial islands any time: U.S. think tank
China appears to have largely completed major construction of military infrastructure on artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea and can now deploy combat planes and other military hardware there at any time, a U.S. think tank said on Monday. The Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), part of Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the work on Fiery Cross, Subi and Mischief Reefs in the Spratly Islands included naval, air, radar and defensive facilities.

Israel’s airstrike on Syria spooks Middle East
Israeli warplanes carrying out airstrikes on a shipment of Iranian arms to Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas in Syria managed to evade Syrian air-defense missiles but the incident is a graphic demonstration of how the war has the potential to further inflame the region.

School Budget Cuts Due To High White Student Percentage Sparks Outrage
Outrage has grown at Walter Reed Middle School in North Hollywood, as the school faces layoffs and increased class sizes due to a law limiting funds for schools with a higher white student body.

Coming To An Inner-City Uprising Near You: The “Ultimate Riot Control Truck” Of The Future
One upon a time, the benevolent future was supposed to bemuse with hoverboards, flying cars and interplantary travel. Instead, according to the folks at Slovakia’s Bozena Riot Security Systems, the dystopian future has arrived, and it is made of armored plates and riot gear.

NBC News Signs Former Obama Press Secretary To Provide “Unbiased” Political Commentary
“Now you have to wear your analyst hat, not your Democrats hat….”

Is Twitter Now Censoring Drudge Report?
In an extraordinary development, Westmonster has found that the world famous Drudge Report has been marked as “sensitive material” by Twitter, with some users now having to OPT IN in order to see tweets. Hardly any tweets from Drudge were visible today when we first logged in.

U.S. leads nations in boycott of U.N. talks to ban nuclear weapons
The United States joined about three dozen other nations in boycotting a conference at the United Nations on a treaty to ban nuclear weapons.


Mid-Day Snapshot

Mar. 28, 2017

Sanctuary City Crackdown Begins

AG Sessions promises to withhold DOJ funding from offending jurisdictions.

Top Opinion
Rich Lowry: On ObamaCare, a Partywide Failure
Cal Thomas: Personality and Policy
Stephen Moore: The False Compassion of Liberalism
More Opinion →
The Foundation

“If it be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws.” —Alexander Hamilton (1794)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: March 28

  • U.S. stock futures up as investors look beyond failed healthcare bill (Read More)
  • Ryan’s Tax Plan May Get Familiar Foes: GOP’s Conservative Caucus (Read More)
  • Congress to Battle Over Spending After Failed Health Bill (Read More)
  • Trump to End Obama Policies for Paris Climate Accord (Read More)
  • Trump to sign order sweeping away Obama-era climate policies (Read More)
  • If Stocks Wobble, Will Bonds Be There To Absorb the Blow? (Read More)
  • Nunes Meeting Prompts Call for Him to Step Aside From Probe (Read More)
  • As Democratic attorneys general target Trump, Republican AGs target them (Read More)
  • U.S. Says Gambler Made Clorox Trades After Calls With Icahn (Read More)
  • Despite Trump’s Move on Climate Change, Firms to Still Shift Away From Coal (Read More)
  • Manhattan Retail Landlords Offer Unprecedented Giveaways (Read More)
  • Ford plans ‘significant’ investments in 3 plants (Read More)
  • America’s Housing Inventory Problem, Explained in Four Charts (Read More)
  • SoftBank Considers $6 Billion Investment in China’s Didi (Read More)
  • More Democrats oppose Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court pick (Read More)
  • Rich Venezuelans Are Seeking Haven in Madrid (Read More)
  • Police erect new security barriers around Queen’s Windsor castle after London attack (Read More)
  • Riots in Paris after Chinese man shot dead (Read More)
  • With Help From France’s Elite, Le Pen Tries to Steer Far-Right Party to Mainstream (Read More)
  • China’s HNA in talks to buy controlling stake in Forbes – sources (Read More)
  • China able to deploy warplanes on artificial islands any time: U.S. think tank (Read More)

Top Headlines – 3/28/2017

EU: Israeli-Palestinian peace deal a ‘top priority’

Trump’s peace envoy meets Bennett, Livni in Washington

PM at AIPAC: Israel ‘committed’ to working with Trump on peace process

Full text of Netanyahu’s AIPAC 2017 address

At AIPAC, Paul Ryan talks tough on Iran, says US will no longer tolerate UN’s anti-Israel bias

At the UN, ‘there’s a new sheriff in town,’ Nikki Haley tells AIPAC

Netanyahu: Trump has already turned words of support for Israel into actions

White House: Trump ‘was right’ to hedge on JCC bomb threats

Friedman likely won’t become ambassador to Israel until June

Settler population leaped by 80,000 since 2012, leader says

22 ultra-Orthodox men arrested for sex assaults on women, minors

US bipartisan bill would boost penalties for anti-Semitic bomb threats

Pakistani convicted in Germany for staking out Israeli targets for Iran

Israel cyber consortium lands multi-million dollar Latin America deal

‘Birthright for moms’ brings nearly 1,000 Jewish dads to Israel

Netanyahu: If quiet is maintained until after Ramadan, MKs will be allowed on the Temple Mount

After top operative’s death, Hamas threatens ‘assassination equation’

Mashal on assassination: ‘We are at open war’ against Israel

Israeli Air Force Holds Joint Exercise With United Arab Emirates, U.S. and Italy

Israel issues travel warning for Turkey, Jordan and Egypt

Galant to Hezbollah: ‘We will push Lebanon back 100 years’

The Arab League will seek to ‘separate terrorism from resistance to the Israeli occupation’

Israel’s airstrike on Syria spooks Middle East

Israelis warned of increased ISIS threat abroad ahead of Passover holiday

Spanish court to investigate Syrian ‘state terrorism’ by Assad regime

Mosul residents were told not to flee city before airstrikes that killed civilians

US-backed fighters pause operations amid fears over Syria dam

Iran says Russia can use military bases ‘on case by case basis’

Iran’s president to meet with Putin; economic ties on agenda

At least 11 dead in suicide bombing and gun attack in southern Yemen

Child marriage soars in Yemen as famine looms

Nigeria: Christians Denied Aid in Refugee Camps

Suspect arrested, accused of throwing ‘biblical text’ into Colorado mosque

UK: ‘No evidence’ London attacker linked to IS, al-Qaeda

France’s Le Pen says the EU ‘will die’, globalists to be defeated

France’s Hollande says fight against populism is final mission

Merkel celebrates German election win, challenger deflated

Jared Kushner to be grilled by Senate on talks with Russians

‘Religious left’ emerging as U.S. political force in Trump era

More Democrats oppose Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court pick

Democrats Delay Vote on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

Bitter GOP finger-pointing clouds path for Trump agenda

13 states urge appeals court to OK Trump travel ban

AG Sessions says he’ll punish sanctuaries, cities could lose billions of dollars

Stock-market fear threatens a return, as Dow stares at longest losing streak in 6 years

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

Chile pensions protest draws tens of thousands

Emaciated Venezuelan elephant becomes latest symbol of food crisis

School budget cuts due to high white student percentage sparks outrage

Amazon retail stores could use augmented reality to sell furniture, appliances

Silicon Valley’s Quest to Live Forever – Can billions of dollars’ worth of high-tech research succeed in making death optional?

Elon Musk Launches Neuralink to Connect Brains With Computers

Uber’s self-driving cars back on the road after Friday crash in Tempe

Drone Without Human Pilot Given Permission To Hit Skies Of Israel In World First

A Startup’s Plan To Cut Air Freight Costs In Half With 777-Size Drones

Italian Company Designs Passenger Drone Resembling UFO

Russia and US race to develop ‘swarmbot’ drones

North Korea conducts another missile engine test, US officials say

US leads boycott of UN talks to ban nuclear weapons

World nuclear ban ‘not realistic’, says US ambassador to UN

Coming To An Inner-City Uprising Near You: The “Ultimate Riot Control Truck” Of The Future

Green groups promise guerrilla warfare tactics to stop Keystone pipeline

6.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Attu Station, Alaska

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Kamiiso, Japan

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Padangsidempuan, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Central Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 28,000ft

Klyuchevskoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 23,000ft

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

Ruiz volcano in Colombia erupts to 20,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 18,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 12,000ft

Cyclone Debbie: ‘Monster’ storm batters Australia

Cyclone Debbie: Thousands evacuate in Queensland, Australia

Peru: Torrential Rains Causing Devastating Floods; 78 People Dead

India: Dangerous heat to intensify this week after arriving unusually early

Trump set to undo Obama’s action against global warming

Environmentalists Vow To Fight Donald Trump’s ‘Dangerous,’ ‘Embarrassing’ Climate Rollback

‘Bathroom bill’ to cost North Carolina $3.76B, report says

Italy could be first Western country to offer paid menstrual leave

Students Confess Their Sins At ‘Masculinity Confession Booth’

Maryland high school girl planned ‘shooting event,’ had bomb-making materials, police say

Mike Oppenheimer – Why can’t all believers do signs and wonders today just like the apostles did in the early church?

False Teacher of the Day #1: Tamara Lowe

Christians Leaving the New Apostolic Reformation (UPDATE March 27/2017)

Baptist pastor told police he kept child porn to research lessons on Cupid, love

Paul Washer Still Hospitalized: May be Released Today

Florida College Suspends Christian Student Who Challenged Muslim Prof.’s Jesus Assertion

Canada Reportedly Harvesting Organs of Euthanasia Patients

Christian Suspended From University For Challenging Muslim Hate Speech

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 05:53 PM PDT

Apparently, one University in Florida doesn’t tolerate any opposing views to Islam. According to a report coming out of the state, One Christian found this…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Are We Ready To Connect Brains With Computers?

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 05:42 PM PDT

Technology is advancing at break-neck speed and one billionaire entrepreneur is now desiring to merge computers with human brains to help people keep up with machines….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Islamic Militant Saved By Jesus now leads Prayer meetings in Turkey!

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 12:27 PM PDT

How does a Muslim go from the front lines of a Syrian civil war and fighting for an Islamic militant group to leading a Christian prayer…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

One Mother’s Chilling Close Encounter With a Team of Child Abductors That People Can’t Stop Talking About

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 12:08 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) After reading this article, you will never be careless with your child in a public place ever again. There really are…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Magnitude 6.1 Earthquake Strikes Aleutian Islands, Alaska

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 11:56 AM PDT

Reports indicate that overnight a strong and shallow magnitude 6.1 earthquake struck near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands at according to the USGS. Reports indicated that the quake…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Unexplainable Sound From Sky Baffles Residents in Nottingham, UK

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 11:47 AM PDT

Residents in the Nottingham, UK area are left with questions after experiencing a loud and unexplainable series of sounds coming from the skies that reportedly…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Powerful Tropical Cyclone “Debbie” Set To Strike Queensland, Australia

Posted: 27 Mar 2017 11:30 AM PDT

Powerful Tropical Cyclone Debbie is reportedly closing in on Australia’s Queensland Province. Reports are indicating that the current conditions are now quickly deteriorating. This deadly…

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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Are You Actually a Christian?

How many people do you know who identify as Christian, yet lack any real sense of living for Christ? We all know, and pray we are not, the type. They call themselves Christians if asked what their religious preference is, but when you examine their lives, there’s little evidence of this.

An ABC News poll says that 83% of Americans identify themselves as Christian.[1] That is a staggering number. When you consider the issues of our nation such as poverty, racial strife, political division, divorce rates, unwed pregnancies, and the list could continue, it is head-scratching to consider that over 8 out of 10 Americans would say they are Christian. How can this be the case?

We live in a culture that’s guilty for knowing things about God without any real love for God. Many people can recite things they have heard about God, or learned growing up. People can speak about God being powerful, all-knowing, loving, forgiving, or any number of other qualities. But how many of those people actually love God? How many of the 83% of Americans who claim to be Christian have any affections for the Christ of Christianity? How many love Jesus?

Evidence of Fellowship and Love

In Matthew 7, Jesus makes it clear this issue is a real problem. In verses 15-20, Jesus is coming near the end of the Sermon on the Mount; he warns those claiming to be something, but not bearing the fruit of what they claim to be.

Healthy trees bear good fruit. Diseased trees bear bad fruit. You will recognize who is real by their fruits. This emphasis is also covered in Luke 6. There (vv. 43-45), Jesus highlights that a tree is always known by the kind of fruit it produces. Figs are not gathered from thornbushes, nor grapes from a bramble bush. Whatever the tree is will determine the kind of fruit it bears.


Genuine Christians will bear corresponding fruit. There will be evidence that we are in Christ.
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In the same way, genuine Christians will bear corresponding fruit. There will be evidence that we are in Christ.

One of the greatest is our desire for fellowship with God; we want to draw close to him. Another fruit is radical, life-giving joy. As we walk in fellowship with him, we experience the highest and most satisfying joy available to our hearts (Psalm 16:11; John 15:11). Another fruit we exhibit is love for Christ, genuine affection for him. We see him as the treasure above all treasures, worth losing and leaving everything to attain (Matthew 13:44; Philippians 3:7-9).

When you look at America, do you see 83% of the people overflowing with those fruits? Do you see love for Christ, abundant joy, or eagerness for fellowship with God? No, you don’t. That is because we have made Christianity less about loving God and more about knowledge of God.

Evidence of the Gospel

Again, in Matthew 7:21-23, following the tree and fruit teaching, Jesus continues by explaining how many on the Last Day will appeal to their beliefs (“Lord, Lord”) and behaviors (“Did we not…”), only to hear the key was knowing him.

Knowing Christ and being known by him is how we inherit the kingdom of God.

Beliefs and behaviors alone (“alone” is the key word here) cannot save. Unfortunately, we often promote these two things as “the gospel” in our churches:“Believe the right beliefs, and you’ll be saved. Behave and get your life together, and you will be saved.”

But these are false. Beliefs and behaviors matter, but in their right context. Beliefs matter because we are not free to make up views of God and dictate our versions of morality. Behaviors matter because they are evidence of what kind of tree we are. They are the fruit of salvation, not the root.

What is the root of the gospel? Jesus came into the world to pay the debt we could never pay. He died on the cross as our substitute and resurrected three days later. Our sins were atoned for through his shed blood. He drank dry the righteous wrath of God at Calvary’s hill. We become recipients of this amazing love and grace when, upon hearing this good news, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes to see it, and in seeing it, we put our faith in Christ alone.

This not only gives us union with God (legal status change), but communion with God (relationship status change). The fruit of being a Christian is not that you have believed the right facts of the Bible—for even the demons do that (James 2:19). But true Christians exhibit the fruit of loving the God who saved us and show the joy that is found only in walking with him.

The Fruit Tells the Truth

Thomas Watson, the puritan preacher of old, once wrote, “Knowledge which is not applied will only light a man to hell.” There are too many in our country today who profess to be Christians, but their lives do not show fruit, for a tree is known by its fruit.

Are you and I exhibiting the fruit of a true Christian?

  • Let the absence of these fruits send you to Christ. Beseech him to show you mercy for the lack of fruit, and plead for his grace to do this work in your heart.
  • If you are in Christ, make fellowship with God your highest priority. Seek him daily. As we abide in him, we will bear much fruit (John 15:4-5).
[1] http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=90356

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Hillsong’s Brian Houston faces sex abuse cover-up inquiry

Amy Spreeman of Berean Research has the latest on the sex abuse cover-up inquiry involving Hillsong Church’s celebrity pastor Brian Houston.  According to Spreeman, Houston once blamed a victim of Frank Houston’s sexual assault saying, “It’s your fault this happened, you tempted my father.”  She writes:

Brian Houston’s hearings before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse are underway, as Houston faces questions about the safety of his Hillsong empire after the original charge: that Houston failed to tell police his father was a child sex abuser.

“Frank Houston had abused up to nine boys in Australia and New Zealand, and in its final report on the case released on Monday, the commission found multiple failings within the church executive – at the time led by Frank Houston’s son Brian – in responding.   Source

Many of you remember this from 2014:

“After the allegations became public within the church during 1999, Frank Houston met his victim offering him $10,000 and saying: “I want your forgiveness for this. I don’t want to die and have to face God with this on my head,” the commission heard.

Months later, when the money had not arrived, his victim called Frank Houston’s son Brian, who was then the national president of the Assemblies of God in Australia Pentecostal movement.

The victim said Brian told him: “You know, it’s your fault all this happened. You tempted my father”.

“Brian got very angry after that. He slammed the phone down after saying words to the effect of ‘You’ll be getting your money’,” the victim told the commission. He received a cheque for $10,000 about two weeks later. 

View article →

Hindu nationalists, led by Narendra Modi, crack down on religious liberty

WINTERY KNIGHT

Map of India Map of India

This was reported by the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

In a sad development, the government of India is clamping down on religious liberty, and impoverished children stand to lose the most.

Compassion International, a Christian organization that partners with local churches around the world to improve the lives of children in poverty, began shutting down its operations in India due to financial restrictions imposed on them by the Indian government. This will leave an estimated 145,000 children worse off.

The shutdown comes after months of attempts to convince the Indian government to reverse its decision, and the clampdown on Compassion International comes amid other government actions against nearly 11,000 faith-based and secular organizations operating in India.

Compassion International is a faith-based aid organization that provides humanitarian assistance for underprivileged children around the world, and has operated in India since 1968. The group is the largest single foreign…

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The true nature of unbelief

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

17 So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart; Ephesians 4:17-18 (NASB) 

Genuine Christianity is that which is within the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Christians are commanded to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12) within that Lordship. We are to obey our Lord as branches abiding in the True Vine (John 15). How do we practically do this? We must work out our own salvation with fear and trembling presuppositionally, that is, with every thought, intent, and action taken captive to the will of God. We do this by approaching and living life with God at the center…

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Collection of Pringle and Kong’s CHC/C3 prophetic and financial exploits.

With the deadline of Kong Hee’s appeal to his jail sentence fast approaching, we have compiled (and transcribed) a selection of quotes from Phil Pringle and Kong Hee. The quotes below alert readers to the fact that Apostle Phil Pringle was instrumental in the downfall of Kong Hee’s life and ministry.

Kong Hee copies Phil Pringle

[Watch this space]

TRANSCRIPT PRESENCE CONFERENCE 2011

“Then, I think it was even more for him. I can’t remember the figures. But I know that for- they had to raise seven million dollars for members of staff and others to travel. That’s just that area. If you’ve ever been to Singapore, you know how expensive this place is. To fight the case he has had to employ a legal firm. And I know what the bills are. They are nearly a million dollars each time they come. Between half a million and a million dollars each time those bills…

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March 28, 2017: Verse of the day

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A Single Treasure

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (6:19–21)

Lay up (thēsaurizō) and treasures (thēsauros) come from the same basic Greek term, which is also the source of our English thesaurus, a treasury of words. A literal translation of this phrase would therefore be, “do not treasure up treasures for yourselves.”

The Greek also carries the connotation of stacking or laying out horizontally, as one stacks coins. In the context of this passage the idea is that of stockpiling or hoarding, and therefore pictures wealth that is not being used. The money or other wealth is simply stored for safekeeping; it is kept for the keeping’s sake to make a show of wealth or to create an environment of lazy overindulgence (cf. Luke 12:16–21).

It is clear from this passage, as well as from many others in Scripture, that Jesus is not advocating poverty as a means to spirituality. In all of His many different instructions, He only once told a person to “sell your possessions and give to the poor” (Matt. 19:21). In that particular case, the young man’s wealth was his idol, and therefore a special barrier between him and the lordship of Jesus Christ. It provided an excellent opportunity to test whether or not that man was fully committed to turning over the control of his life to Christ. His response proved that he was not. The problem was not in the wealth itself, but the man’s unwillingness to part with it. The Lord did not specifically require His disciples to give up all their money and other possessions to follow Him, although it may be that some of them voluntarily did so. He did require obedience to His commands no matter what that cost. The price was too high for the wealthy young ruler, to whom possessions were the first priority.

Both testaments recognize the right to material possessions, including money, land, animals, houses, clothing, and every other thing that is honestly acquired. God has made many promises of material blessing to those who belong to and are faithful to Him. The foundational truth that underlies the commandments not to steal or covet is the right of personal property. Stealing and coveting are wrong because what is stolen or coveted rightfully belongs to someone else. Ananias and Sapphira did not forfeit their lives because they kept back some of the proceeds from the sale of their property, but because they lied to the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:3). Holding back some of the money was selfish, especially if they had other assets on which to live, but they had a right to keep it, as Peter makes plain: “While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control?” (v. 4).

God expects, in fact commands, His people to be generous. But He also expects, and even commands, them not only to be thankful for but to enjoy the blessings He gives-including the material blessings. The Lord “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17). That verse is specifically directed to “those who are rich in this present world,” and yet it does not command, or even suggest, that they divest themselves of their wealth, but rather warns them not to be conceited about it or to trust in it.

Abraham was extremely rich for his day, a person who vied in wealth, influence, and military power with many of the kings in Canaan. When we first meet Job he is vastly wealthy, and when we leave him-after the testing that cost him everything he possessed outside of his own life-God has made him wealthier still, in flocks and herds, in sons and daughters, and in a healthy long life. “And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12–17).

The Bible gives considerable counsel for working hard and following good business practices (cf. Matt. 25:27). The ant is shown as a model of the good worker, who“prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provision in the harvest” (Prov. 6:6–8). We are told that “in all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (14:23) and “by wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches” (24:3–4). “He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty” (28:19).

Paul tells us that parents are responsible for saving up for their children (2 Cor. 12:14), that “if anyone will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thess. 3:10), and that “if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith, and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8).

During his exceptionally long ministry, which spanned most of the eighteenth century, John Wesley earned a considerable amount of money from his published sermons and other works. Yet he left only 28 pounds when he died, because he continually gave what he earned to the Lord’s work.

It is fight to provide for our families, to make reasonable plans for the future, to make wise investments, and to have money to carry on a business, give to the poor, and support the Lord’s work. It is being dishonest, greedy, covetous, stingy, and miserly about possessions that is wrong. To honestly earn, save, and give is wise and good; to hoard and spend only on ourselves not only is unwise but sinful.

Some years ago, I happened to have contact with two quite wealthy men during the same week. One was a former professor at a major university who, through a long series of good investments in real estate, had accumulated a fortune of possibly a hundred million dollars. But in the process he lost his family, his happiness, his peace of mind, and had aged far beyond his years. The other man, a pastor, also acquired his wealth through investments, but they were investments to which he paid little attention. Because of his financial independence, he gave to his church over the years considerably more than he was paid for being its pastor. He is one of the godliest, happiest, most fruitful, and contented persons I have ever met.

The key to Jesus’ warning here is yourselves. When we accumulate possessions simply for our own sakes-whether to hoard or to spend selfishly and extravagantly-those possessions become idols.

It is possible that both our treasures upon earth and our treasures in heaven can involve money and other material things. Possessions that are wisely, lovingly, willingly, and generously used for kingdom purposes can be a means of accumulating heavenly possessions. When they are hoarded and stored, however, they not only become a spiritual hindrance but are subject to loss through moth, rust, and thieves.

In ancient times, wealth was frequently measured in part by clothing. Compared to our day of mass-produced clothes, garments represented a considerable investment. Rich people sometimes had golden threads woven into their clothing, both to display and to store their wealth. But the best clothes were made of wool, which the moth loves to eat; and even the richest persons had difficulty protecting their clothes from the insects.

Wealth was also often held in grain, as we see from the parable of the rich farmer who said, “I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods” (Luke 12:18). Brōsis (rust) literally means “an eating,” and is translated with that meaning everywhere in the New Testament but here (see Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 8:4, “eating”; 2 Cor. 9:10, “food”; and Heb. 12:16, “meal”). It seems best to take the same meaning here, in reference to grain that is eaten by rats, mice, worms, and insects.

Almost any kind of wealth, of course, is subject to thieves, which is why many people buried their nonperishable valuables in the ground away from the house, often in a field (see Matt. 13:44). Break in is literally “dig through;” and could refer to digging through the mud walls of a house or digging up the dirt in a field.

Nothing we own is completely safe from destruction or theft. And even if we keep our possessions perfectly secure during our entire lives, we are certainly separated from them at death. Many millionaires will be heavenly paupers, and many paupers will be heavenly millionaires.

But when our time, energy, and possessions are used to serve others and to further the Lord’s work, they build up heavenly resources that are completely free from destruction or theft. There neither moth nor rust destroys, and … thieves do not break in or steal. Heavenly security is the only absolute security.

Jesus goes on to point out that a person’ished possessions and his deepest motives and desires are inseparable, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. They will either both be earthly or both be heavenly. It is impossible to have one on earth and the other in heaven (cf. James 4:4),

As always, the heart must be right first. In fact, if the heart is right, everything else in life falls into its proper place. The person who is right with the Lord will be generous and happy in his giving to the Lord’s work. By the same token, a person who is covetous, self-indulgent, and stingy has good reason to question his relationship with the Lord.

Jesus is not saying that if we put our treasure in the right place our heart will then be in the right place, but that the location of our treasure indicates where our heart already is. Spiritual problems are always heart problems. Sinful acts come from a sinful heart, just as righteous acts come from a righteous heart.

When the exiles who came back to Jerusalem from Babylon began turning to God’s Word, a revival also began. “Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people” and various leaders took turns reading “from the law of God” (Neh. 8:5–8). Through hearing God’s Word the people became convicted of their sin, began to praise God, and determined to begin obeying Him and to faithfully support the work of the Temple (chs. 9–10).

Revival that does not affect the use of money and possessions is a questionable revival. As the Tabernacle was being built, “everyone whose heart stirred him and everyone whose spirit moved him came and brought the Lord’s contribution for the work of the tent of meeting and for all its service and for the holy garments” (Ex. 35:21). As plans were being made to build the Temple, David himself gave generously to the work, and “the rulers of the fathers’ households, and the princes of the tribes of Israel, and the commanders of thousands and of hundreds, with the overseers over the king’s work, offered willingly … Then the people rejoiced because they had offered so willingly, for they made their offering to the Lord with a whole heart, and King David also rejoiced greatly” (1 Chron. 29:2–6, 9).

G. Campbell Morgan wrote:

You are to remember with the passion burning within you that you are not the child of to-day. You are not of the earth, you are more than dust; you are the child of tomorrow, you are of the eternities, you are the offspring of Deity. The measurements of your lives cannot be circumscribed by the point where blue sky kisses green earth. All the fact of your life cannot be encompassed in the one small sphere upon which you live. You belong to the infinite. If you make your fortune on the earth-poor, sorry, silly soul-you have made a fortune, and stored it in a place where you cannot hold it. Make your fortune, but store it where it will greet you in the dawning of the new morning. (The Gospel According to Matthew [New York: Revell, 1929], pp. 64–65)

When thousands of people, mostly Jews, were won to Christ during and soon after Pentecost, the Jerusalem church was flooded with many converts who had come from distant lands and who decided to stay on in the city. Many of them no doubt were poor, and many others probably left most of their wealth and possessions in their homelands. To meet the great financial burden suddenly placed on the church, local believers “began selling their property and possessions, and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need” (Acts 2:45).

Many years later, during one of the many Roman persecutions, soldiers broke into a certain church to confiscate its presumed treasures. An elder is said to have pointed to a group of widows and orphans who were being fed and said, “There are the treasures of the church.”

God’s principle for His people has always been, “Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce; so your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will overflow with new wine” (Prov. 3:9–10). Jesus said, “Give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return” (Luke 6:38). Paul assures us that “he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully” (2 Cor. 9:6). That is God’s formula for earning dividends that are both guaranteed and permanent.

At the end of His parable about the dishonest but shrewd steward, Jesus said, “I say to you, make friends for yourselves by means of the mammon of unrighteousness; that when it fails, they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9). Our material possessions are “unrighteous” in the sense of not having any spiritual value in themselves. But if we invest them in the welfare of human souls, the people who are saved or otherwise blessed because of them will someday greet us in heaven with thanksgiving.[1]


20–21 By contrast, the treasures in heaven are forever exempt from decay and theft (cf. Lk 12:33). The words “treasures in heaven” go back to Jewish literature (m. Peʾah 1:1; T. Levi 13:5; Pss. Sol. 9:9). Here it refers to whatever is of good and eternal significance that comes out of what is done on earth. Doing righteous deeds, suffering for Christ’s sake, forgiving one another—all these have the promise of “reward” (see comments at 5:12; cf. 5:30, 46; 6:6, 15; 2 Co 4:17). Other deeds of kindness also store up treasure in heaven (10:42; 25:40), including willingness to share (1 Ti 6:13–19).

In the best MSS, the final aphorism (v. 21) reverts to second person singular (cf. vv. 2, 6, 17; see comments at 5:23). The point is that the things most highly treasured occupy the “heart,” the center of the personality, embracing mind, emotions, and will (cf. NIDNTT, 2:180–84), and thus the most cherished treasure subtly but infallibly controls the whole person’s direction and values. “If honor is rated the highest good, then ambition must take complete charge of a man; if money, then forthwith greed takes over the kingdom; if pleasure, then men will certainly degenerate into sheer self-indulgence” (Calvin). Conversely, those who set their minds on things above (Col 3:1–2), determining to live under kingdom norms, discover at last that their deeds follow them (Rev 14:13).[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 409–413). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 212). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MARCH 28, 2017 – IT IS MODERN MAN HIMSELF WHO IS THE DREAMER

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness…let us watch and be sober.

1 THESSALONIANS 5:5, 6

We of the Christian faith need not go on the defensive, for it is the modern man of the world who is the dreamer, not the Christian believer!

The sinner can never be quite himself. All his life he must pretend. He must act as if he were never going to die, and yet he knows too well that he is. He must act as if he had not sinned, when in his deep heart he knows very well that he has. He must act unconcerned about God and judgment and the future life, and all the time his heart is deeply disturbed about his precarious condition. He must keep up a front of nonchalance while shrinking from facts and wincing under the lash of conscience. All his adult life he must dodge and hide and conceal. When he finally drops the act he either loses his mind or tries suicide.

If realism is the recognition of things as they actually are, the Christian is of all persons the most realistic. He of all intelligent thinkers is the one most concerned with reality. He pares things down to their stark essentials and squeezes out of his mind everything that inflates his thinking. He demands to know the whole truth about God, sin, life, death, moral accountability and the world to come. He wants to know the worst about himself in order that he may do something about it. He takes into account the undeniable fact that he has sinned. He recognizes the shortness of time and the certainty of death. These he does not try to avoid or alter to his own liking. They are facts and he faces them full on.

The believer is a realist—his expectations are valid and his faith well grounded![1]


Far from being in the darkness, believers are all sons of light and sons of day (cf. Luke 16:8; John 12:36; Eph. 5:8). The phrase sons of is often part of an idiomatic Hebrew expression describing the dominant influence in a person’s life. The Old Testament uses the phrase “sons of Belial” (Judg. 19:22; 1 Sam. 2:12; 2 Sam. 23:6; 1 Kings 21:10 kjv) to describe worthless men who are by nature children of the devil (cf. 2 Cor. 6:15). Jesus nicknamed James and John “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17) because of their volatile, aggressive personalities. Barnabas’s name literally means “Son of Encouragement” (Acts 4:36), denoting his gentle, encouraging nature. Thus, to describe believers as sons of light is to say that light is the dominant influence in their lives. Adding the parallel phrase sons of day reinforces Paul’s point; light belongs to day just as darkness belongs to night.

To drive home his point, Paul declared emphatically, We are not of night nor of darkness. Believers live in an entirely different sphere than those who will experience God’s wrath in the Day of the Lord. As sons of light and sons of day, believers “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4), are new creatures in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), are new creations (Gal. 6:15), are “seated … in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6), and have their lives “hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:3). Therefore, the Thessalonians did not need to fear missing the Rapture, being caught in the Day of the Lord, or experiencing God’s wrath and condemnation. Believers live in a separate sphere of life, where judgment cannot come.[2]


The phrase so then emphasizes the inseparable link between Christians’ nature and their behavior, between their character and their conduct—a truth taught throughout the New Testament (cf. 2:12; 4:1; Eph. 4:1, 17; Phil. 1:27; Col. 1:10). What people are determines how they act; believers are day people and must act accordingly.

On that basis, Paul exhorted the Thessalonians, let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. The apostle did not need to exhort them to be day people, because their nature was permanently fixed by the transforming, regenerating power of God in salvation. But because that new nature is incarcerated in fallen, sinful human flesh (cf. Rom. 7:14–25), it is possible for day people to do deeds of the darkness. Therefore, Paul exhorted the Thessalonians to live consistently with their new natures. The present tense verbs indicate that the Thessalonians were to be continuously awake, alert, and sober. Rather than threaten them with chastening, the apostle appealed to their sense of spiritual dignity. As children of the day and the light, it was unthinkable for them to participate in the deeds of darkness (cf. Eph. 4:1; 5:11).[3]


5 Paul’s assertion that believers are “all sons of the light and sons of the day” rules out living in darkness. “All” brings reassurance that no one is excluded. The fainthearted may take heart, as may others who have been confused about the parousia (cf. 4:11–12; 5:14; Frame, 184). “The day” here does not refer to the eschatological day of the Lord, as the anarthrous (i.e., lacking a definite article) construction attests, but is used metaphorically in association with spiritual light (cf. Lightfoot, 73). Verse 5 guarantees the readers’ participation in a spiritual environment entirely different from that of non-Christians.

To reinforce his point, Paul returns to the negative side. Putting light and day in inverse order, he excludes himself, along with all Christians, from the night of moral insensitivity. By a casual change from “you” to “we,” he takes his place with his readers in accepting the exhortation of v. 6. This dulls the edge of what would otherwise be a sharp rebuke (cf. Frame, 185).

6 This verse provides a solid basis (“so then,” ara oun) for the ethical behavior Paul now urges on his readers—a lifestyle free from moral laxity. Mē katheudōmen (lit., “let us not sleep,” GK 2761) represents the ethical insensitivity that besets people in the other realm (“like others”; cf. 4:13). Though it is impossible for the day of the Lord to catch Christians unprepared, it is possible for them to adopt the same lifestyle as those who will be caught unawares. Paul urges his readers not to let this happen.

Conduct in keeping with “the light” and “the day” also includes alertness. Inattention to spiritual priorities is utterly inappropriate for those who will not be subject to the coming day of wrath. Though the Thessalonians were, if anything, overly watchful to the point of neglecting other Christian responsibilities (4:11–12; 2 Th 3:6–15), they were not to cease watching altogether.

Apparently self-control was a great need. Nēphō (“to be self-controlled, be sober,” GK 3768) is found with grēgoreō (“to be alert, watch,” GK 1213) in the noneschatological context of 1 Peter 5:8. Its usage in 1 Peter 1:13 and 4:7 is eschatological. Nēphō denotes sobriety. To counteract what might become a state of wild alarm or panic, Paul urges self-control as a balance for vagaries arising from distorted views of the parousia. Undue eschatological excitement was a serious malady; spiritual sobriety was the cure.[4]


5:5 For. Paul grounds his assurance of v. 4 in the Thessalonians’ status and destiny. children of light. This phrase is used in Jewish literature and in the NT (e.g., Luke 16:8; John 12:36) of those who belong to the realm of God and his salvation (Col. 1:13). children of the day. This phrase, which is unique to Paul, seems to link the concepts of “light” and “day” together. Thus, because Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5), Christians are “children of the light”; but Christians are also those who are called to live a godly life as people who “belong to the day” (1 Thess. 5:8) and who are destined to inherit salvation on “the day of the Lord,” when Christ (the light of the world) will return in power and great glory (cf. Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27). We. Paul shifts to the first person plural to reinforce his confirmation and perhaps to prepare for and soften the exhortation of 1 Thess. 5:6–8. night … darkness. The dominion of evil and enmity with God.

5:6 So then. Paul gives general exhortations based on the reassurances of v. 5. To sleep is to be morally and spiritually disengaged, and/or living without a consciousness of the coming day.[5]


5:5 children of light The Greek phrase used here, huioi phōtos, refers to people characterized by light. In this context, light symbolizes God’s favor toward those who will be spared from His judgment. In the ot, light symbolizes God’s favor (Prov 4:18; Psa 112:4) and truth (Psa 119:130).

darkness See note 1 Thess 5:4.

5:6 let us not sleep Earlier in this letter, Paul used a Greek word for “sleep,” koimaō, metaphorically to describe those who have died (4:13). In this verse, he uses a different Greek word, katheudō, also translated “sleep,” to refer to being unaware of God, His workings, and His return.[6]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2002). 1 & 2 Thessalonians (p. 158). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2002). 1 & 2 Thessalonians (p. 159). Chicago: Moody Press.

[4] Thomas, R. L. (2006). 1 Thessalonians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 424). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2310). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Th 5:5–6). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

March 28, 2017 – Forgiving as You Are Forgiven

“And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. … For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matt. 6:12, 14–15).

✧✧✧

An unforgiving Christian is a contradiction in terms.

It’s possible to confess your sins and still not know the joy of forgiveness. How? Failure to forgive others! Christian educator J. Oswald Sanders observed that Jesus measures us by the yardstick we use on others. Jesus didn’t say, “Forgive us because we have forgiven others,” but “Forgive us as we have forgiven others.”

An unforgiving Christian is a contradiction in terms because we are the forgiven ones! Ephesians 4:32 says, “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.” God forgave us an immeasurable debt, saving us from the horrors of eternal Hell. That should be motivation enough to forgive any offense against us, and yet some Christians still hold grudges.

Here are three practical steps by which to deal with the sin of unforgiveness. First, confess it to the Lord, and ask Him to help you mend the relationship in question. Second, go to the person, ask for forgiveness, and seek reconciliation. You might discover that he or she wasn’t even aware of the offense. Third, give the person something you highly value. This is a very practical approach based on our Lord’s teaching that where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6:21). Whenever I’ve given a book or other gift to someone who had wronged me, I’ve felt a great sense of liberty in my spirit. In addition, my joy is compounded because I feel the joy of giving as well as the joy of forgiving.

Don’t ever let a grudge stand between you and another person. It will rob you of the full joy of God’s forgiveness.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Before praying, examine your heart. If you harbor bitterness toward another person, follow the procedure given above. Then pray, thanking the Lord for the joy of reconciliation.

For Further Study: Read the Parable of the Servant in Matthew 18:21–35. ✧ What question prompted the parable? ✧ How did the king respond to his servant’s pleading? ✧ What did the servant do later on? Why was that wrong?[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]


God’s Postscript

For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (6:14–15)

The prayer lesson concludes with a reminder that follows the teaching of forgiveness in verse 12. This is the Savior’s own commentary on our petition to God for forgiveness, and the only one of the petitions to which He gives added insight. Thus its importance is amplified.

For if you forgive men for their transgressions puts the principle in a positive mode. Believers should forgive as those who have received judicial forgiveness (cf. Eph. 1:7; 1 John 2:1–2) from God. When the heart is filled with such a forgiving spirit, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Believers cannot know the parental forgiveness, which keeps fellowship with the Lord rich and blessings from the Lord profuse, apart from forgiving others in heart and word. Forgive (aphiēmi) means literally “to hurl away:”

Paul had this in mind when he wrote, “I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience” (1 Tim. 1:16; cf. Matt. 7:11). An unforgiving spirit not only is inconsistent for one who has been totally forgiven by God, but also brings the chastening of God rather than His mercy. Our Lord illustrates the unmerciful response in the parable of Matthew 18:21–35. There a man is forgiven the unpayable debt representing sin and is given the mercy of salvation. He then refuses to forgive another and is immediately and severely chastened by God.

But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. That states the truth of verse 14 in a negative way for emphasis. The sin of an unforgiving heart and a bitter spirit (Heb. 12:15) forfeits blessing and invites judgment. Even the Talmud taught that he who is indulgent toward others’ faults will be mercifully dealt with by the Supreme Judge (Shabbath 151b).

Every believer must seek to manifest the forgiving spirit of Joseph (Gen. 50:19–21) and of Stephen (Acts 7:60) as often as needed (Luke 17:3–4). To receive pardon from the perfectly holy God and then to refuse to pardon others when we are sinful men is the epitome of abuse of mercy. And “judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

There are petitions for the believer to ask from God, but there are also conditions for the answers to be received. Even more, our prayers are to be primarily concerned with the exaltation of the name, kingdom, and will of the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer is primarily worship which inspires thanks and personal purity.[3]


Forgiveness Guaranteed

Matthew 6:12, 14–15

Once, as I was talking to a Christian psychiatrist, I touched on the problem of forgiveness and the need men have for it. The psychiatrist said, “As far as I am concerned most of what a psychiatrist does is directly related to forgiveness. People come to him with problems. They feel guilty about their part in these problems. They are seeking forgiveness. In effect, they confess their sins to the counselor and find that he forgives them. Then a pattern is set up in which they can show their change of heart in tangible ways toward the other person or persons.” The psychiatrist concluded by observing that the great need to be forgiven by men that many persons feel is only a shadow of a far greater need that all men have to be forgiven by God.

It is true. In his book Confess Your Sins Dr. John R. W. Stott, minister of All Souls Church in London, quotes the head of large English mental hospital as having said, “I could dismiss half my patients tomorrow if they could be assured of forgiveness.” He cites the Scottish churchman George MacLeod as having written, “We live in a world where literally thousands of church members [not to mention others] are in need of … release. … We live … in a vacuum where men simply are not freed.” None of these statements is in the least exaggerated. For in our day, as in all ages of man, people are crying out for real forgiveness and an assurance of it.

Types of Forgiveness

It is this, of course, that makes the second area of requests in the Lord’s Prayer so important. It concerns forgiveness. However, if we are to understand this request accurately, we must realize that it is speaking of forgiveness in one sense only—the forgiveness that is given after justification of a disobedient child of God. And we must realize that before this forgiveness is possible it must be preceded by another type of forgiveness by which one becomes a member of God’s family in the first place.

The request given here is certainly not a prayer for forgiveness in the same sense that we ask for forgiveness when we first believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. That request involves the acceptance of Christ’s death as the one sufficient sacrifice for our sin—past, present, and future—and it is something that is done once for all. If the fifth petition in the Lord’s Prayer is referring to this initial forgiveness, then we can have no real security before God. We cannot say, as Paul does, that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). We cannot say with Jeremiah that God will “remember their sins no more” (Jer. 31:34). We cannot say, “As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Ps. 103:12). All these verses would be meaningless if that kind of forgiveness is meant.

No, the Lord is not speaking of the forgiveness we receive in the first moment of our salvation. He is speaking of forgiveness that comes later, that comes repeatedly, a forgiveness that restores a broken relationship with God.

Forgiveness for Believers

Most Christians will immediately see the need for a distinction between the two types of forgiveness. But, unfortunately, there are Christians who feel that sin can be eradicated in the Christian during this life; and since they generally apply this to themselves, they therefore come to believe erroneously that they no longer need this forgiveness. That is wrong, of course, and the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ directed all his disciples to seek forgiveness refutes it.

We need to get one great principle straight. When a sinful human being becomes a Christian he does not cease to be a sinner any more than he ceases to be a human being. Oh, he has a new nature planted within him by God. The new nature does not sin. The new nature will constantly lead him along the paths of holiness if he will yield to it. But the Christian also has a sinful, fallen nature that he will never eradicate in this life. This old nature will get him into trouble again and again, and every time it breaks out he will find that it also breaks the fullness of his fellowship with God. What is the Christian to do in these circumstances? The Bible teaches that he is to return to the Lord again and again to confess his sin and to ask for forgiveness and cleansing. If he neglects to do this, he will lose all the joy of salvation. If he asks for forgiveness, he will enter increasingly into the joy of a deepening fellowship with God.

Moreover, this will involve our attitude toward others. For we shall not experience the fullness of God’s forgiveness toward us, according to Jesus, unless we extend the same forgiveness to those who have wronged us. Thus, Christ says, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matt. 6:14–15).

Why is this so? Well, it is not because God waits for us to earn his forgiveness by forgiving others; we can never earn any of God’s favors. It is simply because we cannot truly ask for forgiveness unless our heart is right regarding other people. God does not work by halves. He will not allow us to come to him confessing half a sin while hanging onto the other half. It must be all or nothing. Thus, if we confess our sin, that confession must of necessity involve a forgiving attitude toward others. Dr. Harry Ironside, in his commentary on Matthew, writes correctly: “In the government of God as Father over his own children our forgiveness of daily offenses depends upon our attitude toward those who offend against us. If we refuse to forgive our erring brethren, God will not grant us that restorative forgiveness for which we plead when conscious of sin and failure. This, of course, has nothing to do with that eternal forgiveness which the believing sinner receives when he comes to Christ. It is the Father’s forgiveness of an erring child, which must of necessity take into account the attitude of the failed one toward other members of the family.”

Jesus tells us to pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” And this certainly means, among other things, that we are to pattern the scope of our own forgiveness upon God’s.

Assurance

We cannot go on to consider other parts of the Lord’s Prayer without pausing to see one other great truth about this matter of forgiveness. When a person comes to God through Jesus Christ confessing his sin and seeking forgiveness, he need not be uncertain of the outcome. Instead, he can be absolutely certain that God will provide the forgiveness which he asks for.

You may be saying, “How can I be sure of that?” In the only way that we can be sure of anything else of a spiritual nature. How can we be sure that the death of the Lord Jesus Christ was the one sufficient sacrifice for our sins? Because God says so. He says, “Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:14). How can we be certain that once we have believed on Jesus Christ we will never be lost? Because God says so. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27–28). How can we be certain that God will forgive our sin when we come to him to confess it? It is the same answer: Because God says so. Thus, we read in 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”

There cannot be a greater promise than that, that we can be absolutely certain of the forgiveness of sins and that we can be certain because the forgiveness is based upon the faithfulness and justice of God. To what is God faithful? To his promises. God has promised to forgive, and he does not break his word. What is more, he is just in his forgiveness. The Lord Jesus Christ has paid the full price for our sin. On the basis of that fact, the justice of God necessarily requires him to grant us full forgiveness. Full forgiveness! It is a wonderful truth, for it means that God has made provision in advance for our daily and sometimes hourly cleansing from sin and that his faithfulness and justice stand behind these promises.

Forgiveness in Advance

Furthermore, God has assured us in advance of this full forgiveness. Why has he done so? Is it not precisely to keep us from sinning? Certainly it is. For no sooner has John written, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9), then he goes on to say, “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin” (1 John 2:1). In other words, God says that the truth that will most keep us from sinning is the promise that we will be forgiven by God even if we do.

Many years ago an incident occurred in the life of Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse that is the perfect illustration of this truth. Dr. Barnhouse had been holding a series of meetings on a college campus and had been approached by one of the young professors at the close of a meeting. He had a sad story to tell. During the war, before he had become a Christian, he had fallen in with bad companions and while in Paris had lived a life of great sin. Now he had returned home, become a Christian, and had fallen in love with a fine Christian girl who also loved him. However, he hesitated to tell her of his love because he feared that his proclivities toward sin might cause him to sin again and thus wound the heart of the girl he now loved. What should he do? He stated his problem and waited for an answer.

Dr. Barnhouse prayed silently for a moment and then, after he had assured himself that the young man was a believer, advised him to share the story of his past life with the girl. If they were to live their lives together, said Dr. Barnhouse, there should be no barriers between them. Furthermore, he argued, her knowledge of his weakness would help him at every turn of the road.

Dr. Barnhouse then began to tell a story of two other people who had found themselves in a similar set of circumstances. The man had lived a life of great sin but had been converted, and eventually had come to marry a fine Christian woman. He had confided to her the nature of his past life in a few words. As he had told her these things, the wife had taken his head in her hands and had drawn him to her shoulder and had kissed him, saying, “John, I want you to understand something very plainly. I know my Bible well, and therefore I know the subtlety of sin and the devices of sin working in the human heart. I know you are a thoroughly converted man, John, but I know that you still have an old nature, and that you are not yet as fully instructed in the ways of God as you soon will be. The devil will do all he can to wreck your Christian life, and he will see to it that temptations of every kind will be put in your way. The day might come—please God that it never shall—when you will succumb to temptation and fall into sin. Immediately the devil will tell you that it is no use trying, that you might as well continue on in the way of sin, and that above all you are not to tell me because it will hurt me. But John, I want you to know that here in my arms is your home. When I married you I married your old nature as well as your new nature, and I want you to know there is full pardon and forgiveness in advance for any evil that may ever come into your life.”

As Dr. Barnhouse was telling this story to the college professor, the young man lifted his eyes and said reverently, “My God! If anything could ever keep a man straight, that would be it.”

God has given you full provision in advance for every sin that may ever come into your life, and he has done this precisely that you might be kept from sinning. Do not forget that there is nothing in you that can ever astonish God or take him by surprise. He knows what you are. Moreover, he has recommended his love to you on the basis of the fact that it was while you were yet a sinner Christ died for you (Rom. 5:8).

Debtors

There is just one other point that comes to us from this great text in Matthew; it comes from the word “debts.” In this context the word refers to our sin, and the verse is a prayer for forgiveness. In this sense, by means of confession and God’s forgiveness, we cease to become debtors to sin.

After we have come confessing our sin and receiving forgiveness, however, we become debtors in another sense, the same sense that occurs in Romans 1:14–15, where Paul says, “I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are at Rome.” This is a debt on two levels. First, we become debtors to God. We were nothing before him. We were going our own way. We were serving ourselves. We were not even understanding or “did not even understand” spiritual things. But God came to us first in Christ Jesus to redeem us from sin and then in the Holy Spirit to open our eyes to his truth and to lead us in his way. Because of these things we are debtors to God to serve him with all our heart and soul and mind and to carry out his purposes in this life.

But we are also debtors to men. Have you known God’s forgiveness? If you have ever come to him confessing your sin and your need for his Son to be your Savior, you have confessed that you know the gospel. If you have ever come to a communion service, eating the bread and drinking the wine that stand for the broken body and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, you have declared your knowledge of God’s forgiveness. Well, then, if you know this, you are also acknowledging your indebtedness to declare that same forgiveness to others. You must tell them, for Jesus said, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded” (Luke 12:48).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 100). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 397–398). Chicago: Moody Press.

[4] Boice, J. M. (2002). The Sermon on the Mount: an expositional commentary (pp. 195–200). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

MARCH 28, 2017 – LET FEAR BECOME TRUST

Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear.

Romans 8:15

What can we do but pray for the throngs of defiant men and women who believe that their humanistic view of life is all sufficient? They believe that they are responsible “captains” of their own souls.

The sad fact is that even while they are joining in the age-old rejection of Jesus Christ—“We will not have this Man to rule over us”—they still are beset with fears within.

The present competitive world and its selfish society have brought many new fears to the human race. I can sympathize with those troubled beings who lie awake at night worrying about the possible destruction of the race through some evil, misguided use of the world’s store of nuclear weapons. The tragedy is that they have lost all sense of the sovereignty and omnipotence and faithfulness of the living God.

Although the material world has never understood it, our faith is well placed in the Scriptures! Those who take God’s Word seriously are convinced of an actual heavenly realm as real as this world we inhabit!

 

Dear Lord, thank You that You are a strong tower where we can find shelter and protection. I choose to put my trust in You.[1]


We Are Given Access to God by the Spirit

For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!” (8:15)

A second way in which the Holy Spirit confirms our adoption as God’s children is by freeing us from the spirit of slavery that inevitably leads us to fear again. Because God’s “children share in flesh and blood,” we are told by the writer of Hebrews, “He Himself [Christ] likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14–15).

No matter how cleverly they may manage to mask or deny the reality of it, sinful men are continually subject to fear because they continually live in sin and are therefore continually under God’s judgment. Slavery to sin brings slavery to fear, and one of the gracious works of the Holy Spirit is to deliver God’s children from both.

John Donne, the seventeenth-century English poet who later became pastor and dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, wrote in “A Hymn to God the Father” the following touching lines:

Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun,

Which was my sin, though it were done before?

Wilt Thou forgive that sin, through which I run,

And do run still, though still I do deplore?

When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done;

For I have more. …

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun

My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;

But swear by Thy self that at my death Thy Son

Shall shine as he shines now and heretofore:

And, having done that, Thou hast done,

I fear no more.

Paul reminded Timothy that our heavenly Father “has not given us a spirit of timidity [or, fear], but of power and love and discipline” (2 Tim. 1:7). John assures us that “there is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love” (1 John 4:18).

At this point in Romans, Paul is not so much emphasizing the transaction of adoption as the believer’s assurance of it. Through the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit, we not only are truly and permanently adopted as children of God but are given a spirit of adoption. That is, God makes certain His children know they are His children. Because of His Spirit dwelling in our hearts, our spirit recognizes that we are always privileged to come before God as our beloved Father.

The term adoption is filled with the ideas of love, grace, compassion, and intimate relationship. It is the action by which a husband and wife decide to take a boy or girl who is not their physical offspring into their family as their own child. When that action is taken by the proper legal means, the adopted child attains all the rights and privileges of a member of the family.

The first adoption recorded in Scripture was that of Moses. When Pharaoh ordered all the male Hebrew children slain, Moses’ mother placed him in a waterproof basket and set him in the Nile River among some reeds. When Pharaoh’s daughter came to the river with her maids to bathe, she saw the basket and had one of her maids retrieve it. She immediately realized the infant was Hebrew but took pity on him. Moses’ sister, Miriam, had been watching nearby and she offered to find a nursemaid for the child, as her mother had instructed. With the approval of Pharaoh’s daughter, Miriam brought her own mother, who was then paid to take Moses home and nurse him. When Moses was a young boy, he was brought to the palace and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter (see Ex. 2:1–10).

Because Esther’s parents had died, she was adopted by an older cousin named Mordecai, who loved her as a father and took special care to look after her welfare (see Esther 2:5–11).

Perhaps the most touching adoption mentioned in the Old Testament was that of Mephibosheth, the crippled son of Jonathan and the sole remaining descendent of Saul. When King David learned about Mephibosheth, he gave him all the land that had belonged to his grandfather Saul and honored this son of his dearest friend, Jonathan, by having him dine regularly at the king’s table in the palace at Jerusalem (see 2 Sam. 9:1–13).

Pharaoh’s daughter adopted Moses out of pity and sympathy. And although Mordecai dearly loved Esther, his adoption of her was also prompted by family duty. But David’s adoption of Mephibosheth was motivated purely by gracious love. In many ways, David’s adoption of Mephibosheth pictures God’s adoption of believers. David took the initiative in seeking out Mephibosheth and bringing him to the palace. And although Mephibosheth was the son of David’s closest friend, he was also the grandson and sole heir of Saul, who had sought repeatedly to kill David. Being crippled in both feet, Mephibosheth was helpless to render David any significant service; he could only accept his sovereign’s bounty. The very name Mephibosheth means “a shameful thing,” and he had lived for a number of years in Lo-debar, which means “the barren land” (lit., “no pasture”). David brought this outcast to dine at his table as his own son and graciously granted him a magnificent inheritance to which he was no longer legally entitled.

That is a beautiful picture of the spiritual adoption whereby God graciously and lovingly seeks out unworthy men and women on His own initiative and makes them His children, solely on the basis of their trust in His true Son, Jesus Christ. Because of their adoption, believers will share the full inheritance of the Son. To all Christians God declares, “ ‘I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,’ says the Lord Almighty” (2 Cor. 6:17–18). Paul gives us the unspeakably marvelous assurance that God has “predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Eph. 1:5).

For some people today, the concept of adoption carries the idea of second-class status in the family. In the Roman culture of Paul’s day, however, an adopted child, especially an adopted son, sometimes had greater prestige and privilege than the natural children. According to Roman law, a father’s rule over his children was absolute. If he was disappointed in his natural sons’ skill, character, or any other attribute, he would search diligently for a boy available for adoption who demonstrated the qualities he desired. If the boy proved himself worthy the father would take the necessary legal steps for adoption. At the death of the father, a favored adopted son would sometimes inherit the father’s title, the major part of the estate, and would be the primary progenitor of the family name. Because of its obvious great importance, the process of Roman adoption involved several carefully prescribed legal procedures. The first step totally severed the boy’s legal and social relationship to his natural family, and the second step placed him permanently into his new family. In addition to that, all of his previous debts and other obligations were eradicated, as if they had never existed. For the transaction to become legally binding, it also required the presence of seven reputable witnesses, who could testify, if necessary, to any challenge of the adoption after the father’s death.

Paul doubtless was well aware of that custom, and may have had it in mind as he penned this section of Romans. He assures believers of the wondrous truth that they are indeed God’s adopted children, and that because of that immeasurably gracious relationship they have the full right and privilege to cry out, “Abba!” to God as their heavenly Father, just as every child does to his earthly father. The fact that believers have the compelling desire to cry out in intimate petition and praise to their loving Father, along with their longing for fellowship and communion with God, is evidence of the indwell-ing Holy Spirit, which indwell-ing proves one’s salvation and gives assurance of eternal life.

Abba is an informal Aramaic term for Father, connoting intimacy, tenderness, dependence, and complete lack of fear or anxiety. Modern English equivalents would be Daddy, or Papa. When Jesus was agonizing in the Garden of Gethsemane as He was about to take upon Himself the sins of the world, He used that name of endearment, praying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt” (Mark 14:36).

When we are saved, our old sinful life is completely canceled in God’s eyes, and we have no more reason to fear sin or death, because Christ has conquered those two great enemies on our behalf. In Him we are given a new divine nature and become a true child, with all the attendant blessings, privileges, and inheritance. And until we see our Lord face-to-face, His own Holy Spirit will be a ceaseless witness to the authenticity of our adoption into the family of God.

The idea of Christians being God’s adopted children was clearly understood by Paul’s contemporaries to signify great honor and privilege. In his letter to Ephesus, the apostle exults, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will” (Eph. 1:3–5). Countless ages ago, before He created the first human being in His divine image, God sovereignly chose every believer to be His beloved and eternal child!

It should be kept in mind that, marvelous as it is, the term adoption does not fully illustrate God’s work of salvation. The believer is also cleansed from sin, saved from its penalty of death, spiritually reborn, justified, sanctified, and ultimately glorified. But those who are saved by their faith in Jesus Christ by the work of His grace have no higher title than that of adopted child of God. That name designates their qualification to share full inheritance with Christ. It is therefore far from incidental that Paul both introduces and closes this chapter with assurances to believers that they are no longer, and never again can be, under God’s condemnation (see 8:1, 38–39).[2]


15 It is difficult to know whether the word “spirit” should be capitalized in v. 15. The NASB uses the lower case “spirit” in both occurrences of the word. It would be equally possible to capitalize the word in both instances. On the other hand, Paul may well be playing on the word, so that we could take the first as “spirit”—“spirit that makes you a slave”—and the second as “Spirit”—“the Spirit of sonship” (so NIV). The new title given to the Spirit, “the Spirit of sonship,” emphasizes the vast gulf between slavery and family relationship. It is by the Spirit that believers can cry, “Abba, Father.” The two terms are equivalent, the first being the Aramaic word Jesus used in prayer (Mk 14:36). Paul’s use of the Aramaic alongside the Greek both here and in the closely related Galatians 4:6 may well indicate that the tradition concerning the prayer life of Jesus filtered down through the church even before Mark wrote his gospel. J. Jeremias (The Central Message of the New Testament [New York: Scribner’s, 1965], 28) notes that in permitting the Twelve to use the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus “authorizes his disciples to follow him in saying Abba. He gives them this address as the token of their discipleship.” The “cry” refers to calling on God in prayer.

The important term huiothesia (GK 5625; NASB, “adoption”; NIV, “sonship”) bears a relationship to justification in that it is declarative and forensic (inasmuch as it is a legal term). Adoption bestows an objective standing, as justification does; like justification, it is a pronouncement that is not repeated. It has permanent validity. Like justification, adoption rests on the loving purpose and grace of God (Eph 1:5). Though the term is used of Israel in relation to God (Ro 9:4; cf. Hos 11:1), it is doubtful that adoption was practiced in the OT period. Much more likely is the conclusion that Paul was drawing on the background of Roman law both here and in Galatians 4:5. The readers of both epistles would be familiar with adoption in their own society (for a thorough discussion, see J. M. Scott, Adoption as Sons of God [WUNT 2.48; Tübingen: Mohr, 1992]). Paul’s readers are called “sons” (v. 14) and “children” (v. 16) without any appreciable distinction. Both are family terms used interchangeably by Paul.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (pp. 434–438). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 136). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 28, 2017 – Shining the Light

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.—Matt. 5:16

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’s 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.

We allow God’s light to shine through us so God will receive the praise. Our intent should be that in what we are and what we do, others may see God and “glorify [our] Father who is in heaven.”

Our good works should magnify God’s grace and power. That is the supreme calling of life: glorifying God. Everything we do is to cause others to give praise to God, the source of all that is good. The way we live ought to lead those around us to glorify our heavenly Father.

However, 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. Make sure your deeds point people to God, the author of those deeds.

ASK YOURSELF

As we’ve seen before, some will respond to your good deeds with derision and persecution, but others will shower praise on you for your acts of Christian character. How do you respond to those who give you credit for your servant’s heart and faithful obedience? How do you deflect that praise to God so it doesn’t nestle down in your own heart?[1]


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]


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).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 96). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 246–247). 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, p. 170). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MARCH 28, 2017 – GOD RISES ABOVE RATIONALITY

Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?

—Job 26:14

Now the holy man of God said, “Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him?” (Job 26:14). All that we can think or say is rational. But God rises above rationality. He rises as high above the rational as He does above the physical. God is of an essence and substance the like of which nothing else exists in the universe. He is above it all—and yet we can know a little portion of God’s ways. When I preach on the being of God, the attributes of God, when I talk about what God is like, and what kind of God He is, I approach it respectfully, from afar. I point with a reverent finger to the tall mountain peak which is God, which rises infinitely above my power to comprehend. But that is only a little portion. The paths of His ways cannot be known; the rest is super-rational….

How terrible it is that, in the presence of this awesome, awful God, some people are untouched by it all! How frightful, how awesome, how awful it is! We don’t want to hear about God. We want to hear about something that can tickle our fancy, that can satisfy our morbid curiosity or our longing after romance. AOGII040-041

I see such a little portion, Lord, of who You are, and yet how awesome are Your ways! May I never be untouched by what I see of You. Amen. [1]


14 For Job these manifestations and deeds are but mere shadows or whispers of the smallest part of God’s might. We stand merely at the fringe of his majestic power. Who among us can even begin to comprehend this fully, let alone fully realize the thunderous might of which he is capable? How beautifully and humbly Job asserts the majestic omnipotence of God! But he ends the poem convinced of the mystery that surrounds that omnipotence.[2]


26:14 the outskirts of his ways These mighty acts of God give only a glimpse of His power.

how small a whisper The mighty thunder and wind is only a whisper to God. This description anticipates God’s response in ch. 38, where God speaks from a whirlwind. Elsewhere, God speaks in a whisper (1 Kgs 19:11–13).[3]


26:14 Behold, these are the fringes of His ways. Poetic language reminding his counselors that all that could be said and understood by man was only a glimpse of God’s powerful hand.[4]


26:14 the outskirts of his ways. Job is aware that such phenomena only hint at the full extent of divine power. Since even there, God’s ways lie beyond human comprehension, Job’s friends are presumptuous to suppose that they can unerringly interpret God’s dealings with him.[5]


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

[2] Smick, E. B. (2010). Job. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Chronicles–Job (Revised Edition) (Vol. 4, p. 817). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Job 26:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Job 26:14). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 797). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

March 28, 2017 – Enemies of Humility: Partisanship

“… That no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.”

1 Corinthians 4:6

✧✧✧

Genuine humility among Christians will leave no room for arrogant partisanship.

The Corinthian church was a notorious illustration of the sin of partisanship among believers. Its partisanship—some members claimed allegiance to Paul, some to Apollos, and some to Cephas (Peter)—was essentially caused by pride. Paul, as author of 1 Corinthians, vigorously opposed such pride of divisions, as Apollos and Peter would have.

The Corinthian believers did have reason to be thankful to God for sending them such quality leaders. And it was right for those in Corinth to respect and honor their spiritual elders. Scripture says, “Appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction” (1 Thess. 5:12). However, the Corinthians went far beyond God’s Word and exalted the leaders for the prideful sake of themselves, the followers, thus creating partisan sects.

Such partisan spirit, even on behalf of godly leaders, always leads to hostility toward other faithful servants of God. And the motivation behind all this is pride, which is essentially having an inflated (arrogant) view of yourself, one that says “I’m for me.” When pride rules the operations of any church, humility is forgotten, and fellowship and harmony are inevitably torn apart.

You can help prevent or counteract partisanship simply by considering that all the daily benefits you take for granted—food, housing, clothing, job, family—are yours because of God’s kind providence. And if you’re a Christian, you have eternal life, God’s Word, spiritual gifts, and many other blessings that are all of grace. The apostle James reminds us, “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17).

So again we see that God gives us every reason to be humble and leaves no place for pride and partisanship. If you have a good pastor and good elders or deacons, humbly thank God for them. You and your leaders are all stewards of God, entrusted for a short while to serve Him with His resources.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that the Lord would help you be a positive influence for humility and harmony, rather than for pride and partisanship.

For Further Study: Read Acts 14:8–18. How did the people of Lystra react to Paul and Barnabas? ✧ How difficult was it for Paul and Barnabas to correct the people’s errors?[1]


The Corinthians’ Conceit

Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant in behalf of one against the other. For who regards you as superior? And what do you have that you did not receive? But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and I would indeed that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you. (4:6–8)

The Corinthians were proud and boastful. The cause of their factionalism—with some claiming Paul, some Apollos, and some Cephas (1:12; 3:4, 22)—basically was pride. They were proud of their human wisdom and proud of their human leaders. It was that worldly, carnal pride that caused the serious divisions that plagued the church. Those leaders themselves were godly and humble servants of the Lord, and the Corinthians had much reason to be grateful for His having sent them such men. But instead of being grateful they were proud.

Throughout most of the letter thus far Paul had been teaching them not to exalt human wisdom and human leaders. Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes. These things refers to the figures of farmers (3:6–9), builders (3:10–15), and servant–stewards (4:1–5), which refer to those who minister for the Lord. Paul tells his Corinthian brethren that he has applied these figures of speech and analogies to himself and Apollos. His reason is to begin to teach them not to exalt themselves, either: that in us you might learn not to exceed what is written, in order that no one of you might become arrogant. Paul (myself) and Apollos had been given as illustrations of what true ministers should be: humble servants and stewards (4:1). Servants are faithful and meek, not proud; stewards are trustworthy and submissive, not arrogant. Neither is any Christian to be.

God’s faithful servants are to receive proper honor and respect. We are to “appreciate those who diligently labor among [us], and have charge over [us] in the Lord and give [us] instruction” (1 Thess. 5:12), and faithful elders should “be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). But they are to be honored only within such bounds of Scripture. godly respect turns into ungodly exaltation when we exceed what is written. When loving gratitude and legitimate loyalty are contaminated with pride and conceit, Christ’s church is fractured and weakened. What God intends as a means of unity Satan turns into a means of division.

The Corinthians had gone far beyond scriptural respect for ministers and had developed factions that were virtually sects. As is often the case, the leaders were exalted for the followers’ own sakes, not for the leaders’ sakes. The leaders were not a party to their glorification but were simply used as a focal point for the Corinthians’ own pride. In fact, the humble example of their leaders was rejected; thus Paul had to remind them of his own humility and that of Apollos. The factions gave the Corinthians a means to become arrogant in behalf of one against the other.

When the Israelites were being delivered from Egypt, Moses was clearly the leader. Moses had stood before Pharaoh and demanded the release of his people. Through Moses the Lord had performed the great miracles that finally convinced Pharaoh to let them go. Moses was the undisputed head of his people. After the Lord sent a special anointing of his Spirit on seventy of the elders, two of them, Eldad and Medad, continued to prophesy in the camp after the others had stopped. When Moses was told what they were doing, his young assistant, Joshua, was annoyed and said, “ ‘Moses, my lord, restrain them.’ But Moses said to him, ‘Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!’ ” (Num. 11:28–29). Joshua’s loyalty to Moses was misplaced. Misplaced loyalty, even to faithful men of God, inevitably brings hostility to others of God’s servants. It causes envy, competition, and division.

Moses did not exalt himself and would not let others exalt him. That was the attitude of Paul and Apollos. “If we, as God’s apostles and ministers, refuse to exalt ourselves or be exalted by you or anyone else,” Paul was telling the Corinthians, “what reason do you have to exalt yourselves?” (An interesting comparison to this text can be made from Acts 14:8–18.)

The reason was arrogance. Arrogant (phusioō) literally means to “puff up (KJV), inflate, blow up.” The term was used metaphorically to indicate pride, which is having an inflated view of oneself. Paul uses that word four times to describe the Corinthian believers (see also 4:18, 19; 5:2) and three other times to warn them against pride (18:1; 13:4; 2 Cor. 12:20). The meaning of pride basically is “I’m for me.” When everyone is pulling first of all for himself, fellowship and harmony are torn apart in the process.

A closely related sin is boasting. Pride must brag, but that is no more excusable than being arrogant. Why do you boast? Paul asked. Actually he asked the question in three parts. First, For who regards you as superior? “Why,” he says, “do you think you are above other believers in the church? Why do you think your group is better than any other? You are made of the same stuff they are and have been redeemed by the same Lord. You are no better. You have nothing to boast of.”

Second he asks, And what do you have that you did not receive? What does anyone have that, in one way or another, was not given to him? We did not give ourselves life, the food and care and protection we had as babies, an education, talents, the country we were born in, the opportunity to earn a living, the iq we have, or anything else. No matter how hard we may have studied in school and worked at our business or profession, we would have nothing except for what the Lord and many others, by His providential hand, have given us.

Christians have been given even more. We have salvation, eternal life, God’s presence within us, His Word, His spiritual gifts, His love, and countless other blessings for which we have done nothing and can do nothing. All those are gifts of God’s grace. We have absolutely no good thing that we did not receive (cf. James 1:17; 1 Chron. 29:11–16). What does any person have to boast about?

If we have a good pastor, God gave him to us. If we have good parents, God gave them to us. If we live in a good country, God gave it to us. If we have a good mind or creative talent God gave it to us. We have no reason to boast either in people or possessions. Not only ministers, but all Christians, are but God’s stewards. Everything we have is on loan from the Lord, entrusted to us for a while to use in serving Him.

The third question follows logically. But if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? In other words, if they possessed only what someone else had given them, why were they boasting as if they had created the things themselves, or earned them? The whole foundation of their boasting was nothing more than a fabrication of their pride. Nothing is more self–deceitful than pride. We are inclined to believe almost anything about ourselves if it is favorable.[2]


6 Paul now comes to the crux of the issue. He has been writing this to the Corinthians so that they will apply this message to their own attitudes toward himself and Apollos. He follows up this statement with two purpose clauses, both introduced by the Greek word hina (the first one translated in the NIV with “so that” and the second with “then”).

The phrase the NIV translates “so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, ‘Do not go beyond what is written’ ” is one of the most difficult phrases in this letter to interpret. What seems certain is that the neuter singular article (to) functions here as a quotation mark to introduce a quote. The quotation itself is probably some sort of proverb or maxim. But note that it does contain the negative particle , which is a normal marker for a nonindicative verbal form. It is probably for this reason that the NIV translates the phrase as an imperative, “Do not go beyond what is written.”

But what does “what is written” mean? This verbal form is the perfect passive indicative of graphō, a form that Paul frequently uses to introduce OT quotations. (This same form is found, e.g., in 1:19, 31; 2:9; 3:19.) How might the apostle be using it here? I suggest that what lies behind this phrase is the preaching of the apostle. We know from Acts 17:3 that Paul’s typical preaching included two elements: demonstrating from the OT what God had prophesied would happen to the Messiah, and then proving from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus that he was the promised Messiah. We can almost hear him saying over and over as he disputed with the Jews, “Let’s not let our Jewish traditions determine our understanding of the Scriptures. Don’t go beyond what is written!” He must have used that “maxim” repeatedly.

How does this apply here? Insofar as Paul constantly drew the attention of his audience to the Scriptures, and since he has been using several Scriptures in his discussion of the problem of divisions in the church (in sequence, Isa 29:14; Jer 9:24; Isa 64:4; 40:13; Job 5:13; Ps 94:11), he is calling on his readers here to reflect on all of these Scriptures. If they do nothing more than keep these texts in mind, they will not choose favorites—Paul, Apollos, Peter, and so forth.

This leads us into the meaning of the second hina clause (lit.): “so that no one of you may become arrogant in one person over against another.” Since Paul has just referred earlier in this verse to himself and Apollos, he undoubtedly has these two in mind here. And he is addressing both elements in the church: those who are manifesting pride in him over against Apollos, and those who are manifesting pride in Apollos over against him. Neither party receives his blessing! As far as Paul himself is concerned, all pride is wrong. The verb he uses here for “take pride” (physioō, GK 5881) is a favorite in this letter (see 4:18–19; 5:2; 8:1; 13:4; cf. 2 Co 2:17, the only other occurrence in the NT). Each time he uses this verb it expresses an attitude that he condemns. His goal for this church is that they stop all arrogance.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 106–108). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 291–292). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 28, 2017 – The True Picture

I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

1 Corinthians 2:2

Jesus Christ evokes many images in the minds of people. Some picture Him as a baby in a manger—the Christ of Christmas. Others picture Him as a child, perhaps living in the home of a carpenter or confounding the religious leaders of Jerusalem. Many picture Him as a compassionate and powerful healer who restored the sick and raised the dead. Still others picture a bold and fiery preacher speaking the Word of God to great crowds. And there are those who see Him as the consummate man—a model of goodness, kindness, sympathy, concern, care, tenderness, forgiveness, wisdom, and understanding.

Yet the one image of Christ that surpasses all the rest is Jesus Christ on the cross. To know Christ crucified is to know Him as the author and finisher of your faith—the truest picture of His Person and work.

Christ’s suffering on the cross is the focal point of the Christian faith. That’s where His deity, humanity, work, and suffering are most clearly seen.[1]


And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (2:1–2)

As we have noted, the gospel of God’s wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption cannot be obtained through human wisdom. Here Paul demonstrates that it also is not to be presented through human wisdom. Paul did not come to Corinth as a philosopher but as a witness. He came proclaiming … the testimony of God. Testimony (marturion) means just that—a testimony or witness. A person can only testify to what he himself has seen or heard or experienced. A witness in a courtroom is to report only what he knows objectively, factually, and personally. He is not to speculate, guess, or deduce. Paul was a witness only to God’s revelation, not to his own human understanding or reason or inclinations. God’s revelation was everything; human wisdom was nothing.

We should not come to church to hear the pastor’s opinions about politics, psychology, economics, or even religion. We should come to hear a word from the Lord through the pastor. God’s Word edifies and unifies; human opinions confuse and divide.

Paul assured the Corinthians that he had not come to them with a lot of human verbiage and opinion. He presented them with the testimony of God and nothing else. Some years later he assured them again: “We have renounced the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God, but by the manifestation of truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (Cor. 4:2). The primary task, the only task, of the ministry is to manifest the truth of God.

Paul warned Timothy, “The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron” (1 Tim. 4:1–2). Timothy was to “give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (v. 13). That was his job. That is every preacher’s job. Any other approach prostitutes the pulpit.

In his second letter to that young minister, Paul solemnly charged him “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus” to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:1–2). I cannot comprehend how any man who calls himself a minister of God can do anything but preach the Word of God and be ready to do it “in season and out of season” (v. 2). Many congregations, however, do not want their pastors to preach only the Word. They “will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires” (v. 3). As one commentator has observed, “In periods of unsettled faith, skepticism, and mere curious speculation in matters of religion, teachers of all kinds swarm like the flies in Egypt. The demand creates the supply. The hearers invite and shape their own preachers. If the people desire a calf to worship, a ministerial calf–maker is readily found.” Some people, including some immature believers, will go from church to church looking for the right preacher. Unfortunately their idea of “right” preaching is not sound biblical exposition but interesting observations and suggestions based on the preacher’s personal philosophy. They are not looking for a word from God to believe but for a word from man to consider.

When Paul had preached to the Corinthians, as when he had preached anywhere, he was determined to know nothing among his hearers except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. He was not interested in discussing men’s ideas or insights, his own or those of anyone else. He would proclaim nothing but Jesus Christ, the crucified, risen, and redeeming Jesus Christ. He did not preach Jesus simply as the perfect teacher or the perfect example or the perfect Man—though He was all of these. The foundation of all of his preaching was Jesus as the divine Savior.

Obviously the apostle was not saying that he preached or taught nothing but messages, or that he expounded only those parts of Scripture that deal directly with Christ’s atonement. He taught the full counsel of God, as his writings make clear (Acts 20:27). He ministered in Corinth for a year and a half, “teaching the word of God among [them]” (Acts 18:11). But it was, and still is, the cross of Jesus Christ that is the stumbling block or the foolishness to unbelievers (1 Cor. 1:23), and until a person accepts God’s revelation in the cross, no other revelation matters. The preaching of the cross was so dominant in the early church that many Jews and Gentiles accused the Christians of worshiping a dead man. To help a person understand the gospel Paul would go to any length to explain and clarify the cross, but he would not say one word to modify or contradict it.[2]


2 The focal point of Paul’s message was “Jesus Christ and him crucified”—the same message that in ch. 1 he wrote was “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles” (1:23; see comments). Note that Paul uses the perfect tense here for “crucified” (cf. also 1:23; Gal 3:1), which suggests that his focus was not as much on the historical event of the cross but on its ongoing effect for those who believe in Jesus, namely, that in this event they can find personal justification, redemption, and sanctification (cf. 1 Co. 1:30).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 100). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 54–56). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 274). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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

Tuesday

Confession: Psalm 90:9–17

For all of our days dwindle away in your rage;

we complete our years like a sigh.

As for the days of our years, within them are seventy years

or if by strength eighty years, and their pride is trouble and disaster,

for it passes quickly and we fly away.

Who knows the strength of your anger,

and your rage consistent with the fear due you?

So teach us to number our days

that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

Return, O Yahweh. How long?

And have compassion on your servants.

Satisfy us in the morning with your loyal love,

that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days.

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,

for as many years as we have seen calamity.

Let your work be visible to your servants,

and your majesty to their children.

And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us,

and establish for us the work of our hands,

yes, the work of our hands, establish it.

Reading: Mark 13:14–23

“But when you see the abomination of desolation standing where it should not be” (let the one who reads understand), “then those in Judea must flee to the mountains! The one who is on his housetop must not come down or go inside to take anything out of his house, and the one who is in the field must not turn back to pick up his cloak. And woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing their babies in those days! But pray that it will not happen in winter. For in those days there will be tribulation of such a kind as has not happened from the beginning of the creation that God created until now, and never will happen. And if the Lord had not shortened the days, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom he chose, he has shortened the days.

“And at that time if anyone should say to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ ‘Behold, there he is,’ do not believe him! For false messiahs and false prophets will appear, and will produce signs and wonders in order to mislead, if possible, the elect. But you, watch out! I have told you everything ahead of time!”

Reflection

But as the Lord Himself says, “Beware that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Messiah!’ and they will lead many astray” (Matt 24:4–5 nrsv). But see how He has pointed out the judgment of the true Christ: “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matt 24:27 nrsv).

When, therefore, the true Lord Jesus Christ shall come, He will sit and set up His throne of judgment. Also, the gospel says, “He shall separate the sheep from the goats” (Matt 25:32 [Paraphrase])—that is, the righteous from the unrighteous. As the apostle writes, “For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense for what has been done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Cor 5:10 nrsv). Moreover, the judgment will be not only for deeds, but for thoughts also, as the same apostle said, “Their conflicting thoughts will accuse or perhaps excuse them on the day when, according to my gospel, God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all” (Rom 2:15–16 nrsv).

—Rufinus of Aquileia

A Commentary on the Apostles’ Creed

Response

Paul says we must take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor 10:5). It’s easy to focus on the external workings of faith, but what about our thoughts? Do you love Christ with your thoughts?[1]

 

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