Daily Archives: March 29, 2017

March 29, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Mar. 29, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

The U.S. and Japan are taking steps toward upgrading ties with Taiwan, risking a run-in with China as Donald Trump and Xi Jinping prepare for a first meeting in Florida next week.

President Donald Trump’s pick to head the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is among the most vigorous advocates of lowering drug costs by approving cheap generics faster, an initiative aimed directly at the profit centers of major companies.

About a third of the risky car loans that are bundled into bonds are considered “deep subprime,” a level that has surged since 2010 and is translating to higher delinquencies on the loans, according to Morgan Stanley. Consumers are falling behind on most subprime car loans, but deep subprime borrowers have deteriorated fastest, the analysts said.

A senior executive at one of Turkey’s largest state-owned banks was arrested in the U.S. on charges of conspiring to evade trade sanctions on Iran, escalating a case that has prompted diplomatic tensions and political maneuvering between the two countries.

Starship Technologies, the London-based company that has created six-wheeled self-driving delivery robots, will begin taking customers Domino’s pizzas in Germany and the Netherlands.

Mercedes-Benz is accelerating its rollout of battery-powered autos in a race to meet tighter emissions rules as European buyers turn away from fuel-efficient diesel cars.

AP Top Stories

Prime Minister Theresa May formally began Britain’s divorce from the European Union on Wednesday, saying there was “no turning back” from a decision pitching her country into the unknown and triggering years of fraught negotiations.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez has asked all members of the DNC staff to submit resignation letters by April 15, NBC News reported Tuesday.

U.S. Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill sought on Tuesday details from the nation’s top opioid drug makers on their sales and marketing practices, as lawmakers step up efforts to tackle the country’s deadly opioid crisis.

A teenage girl in Maryland has been accused of plotting a mass shooting at her high school that she anticipated would end with her own death, police said. The suspect, 18-year-old honor roll student Nichole Cevario, was immediately pulled from class Thursday after her father warned officials at Catoctin High School in Thurmont that she was a threat to student safety.

Uber says it is resuming its self-driving car program in Arizona and Pittsburgh after it was suspended following a crash over the weekend.

Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX, Tesla, and a man who wants to nuke Mars, has founded a new company. According to WSJ sources, Neuralink is a new venture that aims to pursue “neural lace” technology to help brains interface with computers.

As the water level in the seas and oceans around the world continues to rise, there are many coastal areas that are at risk. A new study by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) showed that California is definitely one of those places, and that the golden state could find anywhere between a third and two-thirds of its southern beaches completely eroded by 2100.

The remains of two U.N. investigators who went missing earlier this month are likely among bodies discovered by villagers in central Democratic Republic of Congo, the father of one victim and Congo’s government spokesman said on Tuesday

More than 100 countries on Monday launched the first UN talks aimed at achieving a legally binding ban on nuclear weapons, as Washington led an international boycott of a process it deems unrealistic.

President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, already a White House senior adviser, will take on the additional task of overseeing an effort to overhaul the federal government, the White House said on Monday. Kushner, who is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, will lead a White House Office of American Innovation to leverage business ideas and potentially privatize some government functions as the White House pushes to shrink government, cut federal employees and eliminate regulations.

Homebuyers are trickling back into the mortgage market, but not enough to offset the industry’s steep and steady drop in refinance business. Total mortgage application volume was essentially flat last week, falling just 0.8 percent from the previous week.

BBC

Police in Washington have fired on a woman in a car after she struck a police vehicle near the US Capitol and tried to run over several officers.

Opponents of President Donald Trump’s decision to scrap his predecessor’s climate change policies say they will organize a public campaign and pursue legal avenues to challenge it.

A missing Indonesian man was found dead inside the body of a python, according to local police. The reticulated python, reported to be 23ft-long, was cut open and the man’s body was found.

US internet service providers will soon no longer need consent from users to share browsing history with marketers and other third parties. Supporters of the move said it would increase competition, but critics said it would have a “chilling effect” on online privacy. President Donald Trump is expected to sign the order soon.

WND

A new Ipsos poll finds that 61 percent of adults say Islam is incompatible with French society, compared to just 17 percent who say the same about Judaism and 6 percent who believe Catholicism is incompatible with French society.

Long known for its ties to Saudi royals – who helped foot the bill for its Islamic studies program – Georgetown University is also strongly tied to radical elements in Qatar who call for killing Jews. In fact, it has a satellite campus in Doha, Qatar, and is hosting a lecture Tuesday evening by a convicted felon and known member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a designated foreign terrorist organization.


The Briefing 03-29-17

History, law, and abortion politics: Why is Europe more conservative on abortion than America?

No middle ground on life and death: Why the Democratic Party isn’t likely to change on abortion

Money, markets, and marijuana: Colorado to protect lucrative marijuana industry if Feds crack down

Should we break up the liberal city? Looking closer at history’s urban-rural divide

The post The Briefing 03-29-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 3/29/2017

Huge North Atlantic Ocean Storm Produces Stunning Satellite Imagery
A huge ocean storm spinning in the north Atlantic Ocean this week is making for stunning satellite imagery. The images are of an intense low-pressure system that saw its minimum central pressure drop to 958 millibars Monday. Hurricane-force winds were detected by satellite at that time over the open north Atlantic waters, according to NOAA’s Ocean Prediction Center. Wave heights maxed out at 45 feet near the low-pressure center.

Iran May Grant Russia Access to Its Military Facilities on Certain Terms
Tehran is willing to grant Russia ad hoc access to its military bases should Moscow need them to carry out its counterterrorism operations, with the Iranian leadership making a discrete decision in each particular case.

Dem lawmaker tips off illegals in MS-13 hotbed
A Democrat state lawmaker in Massachusetts has been caught tipping off illegals – many of whom are violent street gang members, child sex offenders and drug traffickers – to imminent Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids Tuesday, even telling criminal targets not to open their doors, to stay silent, to refuse to sign anything and to “fight back” with an attorney.

Rabbi Tuly Weisz Prays at UN Podium: World Leaders Should Recognize Truth of Bible
When the United Nations (UN), in October 2016, passed a contentious anti-Israel resolution denying the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem, publisher of The Israel Bible and founder of Israel365 Rabbi Tuly Weisz decided to go full-steam-ahead and “Bombard Them With Bibles”. “Anyone who can disconnect the Jewish nation from Jerusalem has not read the Bible,”

US Planning Unprecedented Peace Summit Between Israel, Palestinians, Arab States: Report
The Trump administration is reportedly exploring whether or not to hold an Israeli-Palestinian peace summit that would be attended by Arab leaders from the Gulf states.

UK PM Theresa May to trigger Brexit Wednesday
On Wednesday, the prime minister will officially tell the EU’s other 27 members that the UK wants to pull out, just over nine months after the British public backed withdrawal in a referendum. By triggering Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, Theresa May will set in motion the two-year negotiations on the terms of the UK’s exit from the EU on 29 March 2019.

Huge 6.6 magnitude earthquake rocks eastern Russia
The UGS said: “An earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 7.0 struck near Komandorskiye Ostrava in Russia’s far east on Wednesday.” There was no immediate report of any casualties or destruction.

Terrifying new MEGA FAULT found beneath California with power to cause Big One
SCIENTISTS have left Californians terrified after they revealed two fault lines in the state are connected and form a ‘mega fault’ system.

Arab world surprisingly mum on Modi visit to Israel
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s planned visit to Israel this summer, the first by an Indian head of state, has not led to any protest from the Arab world, according to Bobby Ghosh, editor-in-chief of the mass circulation Hindustan Times. Ghosh wrote in a column in his paper on Tuesday that no Arab state has voiced displeasure at the visit, either publicly or through diplomatic back channels.

Political crisis deepens, Netanyahu and Kahlon fail to reach agreement
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and their closest advisers met late Tuesday at the Prime Minister’s Office in another effort to resolve the political crisis over public broadcasting and avoid a general election, but failed to reach an agreement…On Wednesday morning, Israel radio quoted a source in the coalition saying the countdown to elections may have begun.

New PLO ambassador to US has high hopes for Trump era
US President Donald Trump has demonstrated that he is interested in reviving the peace process between the Palestinians and Israelis, incoming PLO Ambassador to the United States Husam Zomlot told journalists ahead of his departure for Washington…“All indicators are that President [Donald] Trump is serious and keen about restarting the peace process,” said Zomlot, who will officially start his new role on April 1.

Article 50: May signs letter that will trigger Brexit
Theresa May has signed the letter that will formally begin the UK’s departure from the European Union. Giving official notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, it will be delivered to European Council president Donald Tusk later. In a statement in the Commons, the prime minister will then tell MPs this marks “the moment for the country to come together”.

California is the top state with most UFO sightings, say UFO experts
According to a new UFO reference book…California is the top state with the most UFO sightings in the country. California is followed by Florida, Texas, Washington and Pennsylvania respectively. New York came in at 6th followed by Arizona, Illinois, Michigan and Ohio. The “UFO Sightings Desk Reference: United States of America 2001-2015” is a deep data dive into UFO sightings reported to The National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC) and the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) from 2001 to 2015, explains author and UFO columnist Cheryl Costa.

North Korea could be in final stages of nuclear test preparations: report
Satellite imagery of North Korea’s main nuclear test site taken over the weekend indicates that Pyongyang could be in the final stages of preparations for a sixth nuclear test, a U.S. think tank reported on Tuesday. Washington-based 38 North, a website that monitors North Korea, said the images from Saturday showed the continued presence of vehicles and trailers at the Punggye-ri test site and signs that communications cables may have been laid to a test tunnel.

Right before Passover, 230 olim from Ukraine land in Israel
Right before Passover, 230 new immigrants from Ukraine landed in Ben Gurion Airport early Tuesday as part of the Freedom Flight organized by the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews (IFCJ)…For many of them the upcoming Passover holiday will be the first celebrated in Israel. Part of a recent wave of Aliyah…78 families arrived, with the majority expected to settle in the north and center of the country. Among the olim (new immigrants) are four Holocaust survivors and more than 40 children.

Supreme Court nominee to face confirmation vote April 7: Senate leader
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Tuesday that the Senate would have a final vote on April 7 on President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, even as more Democrats opposed his confirmation. The Gorsuch nomination, McConnell told reporters, will hit the Senate floor next week after the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday approves him. McConnell added that Gorsuch will be “confirmed on Friday” of next week.

Exclusive: Thai junta seeks law to bring more order to Buddhism
Thailand’s military government is working on a law to help regulate Buddhism, officials say, giving the junta far more say over a pillar of Thai society that has so far eluded its control. The proposed bill…would appear to significantly reduce the say of the Sangha Supreme Council, Buddhism’s governing body in Thailand…”The bill does not ‘support’, but forces monks to obey and stay under state governance, which is inappropriate,” Phra Metha Winairos, deputy dean of Mahamakut Buddhist University…

Scottish Lawmakers Back Independence Referendum Call
Scottish lawmakers voted Tuesday to seek a new referendum on independence, presenting the British government with an unwelcome distraction as it prepares to push the European Union exit button.

DNC Asks Entire Staff For Resignation Letters
New DNC Chair Tom Perez:  “What we’re trying to do is culture change.  We’re repairing a plane at 20,000 feet. You can’t land the plane, shut it down, and close it until further notice.”

White House plan to help pay for border wall is a long shot
The White House is calling for immediate budget cuts of $18 billion from programs like medical research, infrastructure and community development grants to help pay for the border wall that President Donald Trump repeatedly promised would be financed by Mexico.

The Transformation Of Our Nation Into A Surveillance State Is Almost Complete
“The surveillance state is almost ubiquitous, and it has been made so through the efforts of our own complacencies.”

New Study Says Robots Took All Of Detroit’s Jobs, Not Mexico
“We are being afflicted with a new disease of which some readers may not have heard the name, but of which they will hear a great deal in the years to come—namely, technological unemployment.” – John Maynard Keynes (1930).

Japan loans Manila military planes for South China Sea
The Philippines Monday took delivery of two Japanese military surveillance aircraft to help it patrol vital sea lanes in the South China Sea, despite Manila’s increasingly conciliatory stance to Beijing’s claims over the disputed waters.


CALIFORNIA CHARGES UNDERCOVER INVESTIGATORS WITH 15 FELONIES TO PROTECT PLANNED PARENTHOOD CORRUPTION

California prosecutors charged the filmmakers behind undercover videos of Planned Parenthood executives with 15 felonies Tuesday, The Associated Press reported.

View Article


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: March 29

  • British PM May fires starting gun on Brexit (Read More); Britain Starts ‘Historic’ Brexit Process (BBG)
  • Firms stack up Brexit warnings as May triggers divorce talks (Read More)
  • Huge range of sterling forecasts clouds horizon for Brexit talks (Read More)
  • Merger of Deutsche B??rse and LSE Blocked by EU Regulator (Read More)
  • After crippling cost overruns, Toshiba’s Westinghouse files for bankruptcy (Read More)
  • Manafort Received Loans From Former Trump Adviser (Read More)
  • The Great Nevada Lithium Rush to Fuel the New Economy (Read More)
  • More States Weigh Expanding Medicaid After Health Bill’s Demise (Read More)
  • Germany to block right-winger from ceremonial post in parliament (Read More)
  • FDA Approves Drug for Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis (Read More)
  • Behind Trump Rally Resilience Is Unusually Firm Profit Outlook (Read More)
  • Stores Serving Immigrants Feel Pinched by Trump Moves (Read More)
  • Police union warns Trump ‘sanctuary city’ cuts could risk safety (Read More)
  • German engineering association sees potential upswing in U.S. (Read More)
  • Malaysia inspects North Korean coal ship for possible U.N. sanctions breach (Read More)
  • Amazon and Facebook Hit Unexpected Obstacle in India: China (Read More)
  • Islamic State shelling stops work on damaged Syrian dam (Read More)

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Today on ChristianHeadlines
Report: China Aborted 336 Million Babies Since 1971
Report: China Aborted 336 Million Babies Since 1971
by Veronica Neffinger
China recently released statistics that reveal that there have been 336 million abortions performed in the country over the past four decades.
READ FULL ARTICLE   >>
Franklin Graham Criticizes Republicans and Democrats for Failing to Pass Healthcare Bill
Franklin Graham Criticizes Republicans and Democrats for Failing to Pass Healthcare Bill
by Veronica Neffinger
The Rev. Franklin Graham recently called out Republicans for failing to pass a new healthcare bill.
READ FULL ARTICLE
Egyptian Copts Finally Fulfilling ‘Dream’ of Traveling to Jerusalem
Egyptian Copts Finally Fulfilling ‘Dream’ of Traveling to Jerusalem
by Jacob Wirtschafter and Mina Nader
For years, pilgrimages for Egypt’s Coptic Christians were discouraged. Now, it is a dream increasingly being realized.
READ FULL ARTICLE
7 Events from the Past Year that Shaped Race Relations—and Rocked America
7 Events from the Past Year that Shaped Race Relations—and Rocked America
by
To advance better understanding across racial lines, one must listen in and consider the black experience. Seven recent events have given trauma or hope, and sometimes both, to minority people resilient in standing for justice.
READ FULL ARTICLE
Christian Student Reprimanded for Disagreeing with Muslim Professor about the Resurrection
Christian Student Reprimanded for Disagreeing with Muslim Professor about the Resurrection
by Amanda Casanova
A conservative Christian student at a private college in Florida says he was suspended after he opposed his Muslim professor, who said that the crucifixion of Jesus was a hoax.
READ FULL ARTICLE

MID-DAY SNAPSHOT

MAR. 29, 2017

ObamaCare Repeal Failure Makes Tax Reform Harder

The GOP majority is worthless if it can’t work together to accomplish its larger goals.

TOP OPINION
John Stossel: Free Market Care
Star Parker: Freedom Caucus, Today’s Abolitionists
Hans von Spakovsky: The Left’s Sanctuary Cities Hurt Americans’ Safety
More Opinion →
THE FOUNDATION

“There must be a positive passion for the public good, the public interest, honour, power and glory, established in the minds of the people, or there can be no republican government, nor any real liberty: and this public passion must be superiour to all private passions.” —John Adams (1776)


Top Headlines – 3/29/2017

Trump’s peace envoy meets Abbas as he returns to region for fresh talks

Tony Blair: “We’re not going to reach peace in the old way; we need a new way forward”

New Palestinian envoy in DC sees ‘opportunity’ in Trump

Abbas awaiting US word on Israel settlements

Israeli Minister: The Bible – not Google – gives Israel moral right to land

California senator to introduce resolution condemning anti-Semitic attacks

Israel and Nicaragua renew ties after seven-year freeze

Report: India to buy $1 billion in Israeli anti-tank missiles

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox take to streets in mass anti-draft protest

Prepare for battle: Israel, Hezbollah on the path to war

The wall that could spark a war between Israel and Hamas

Report: Hamas develops new ‘high-powered’ rocket akin to Hezbollah projectiles

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

The IDF and Shin Bet exposed three weapon production workshops in the West Bank

UN’s Zeid says Iraq must avoid civilian deaths in west Mosul

Panic spreads in Iraq, Syria as record numbers of civilians are reported killed in U.S. strikes

No peace deal in Syria without US role – opposition

UN chief urges divided Arab states to come together on Syria

Russia criticizes US-led coalition over bombing of Syria dam

Russia and Iran discuss energy ties, Syrian settlement

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

Putin meets Iran’s Rouhani as ties deepen

Russia says US anti-missile system to spark new arms race

Planned Russian Exercises in September Sow NATO Worries

Russia calls U.S. Black Sea naval patrols potential threat: RIA

EU court rules Russia sanctions over Ukraine are valid

House panel’s Russia probe effectively put on hold

Kremlin says bank’s meeting with Trump son-in-law was routine business

Spicer slams ‘false’ report claiming ex-official blocked from testifying to Nunes panel

Dick Cheney: Russian Election Interference Possibly ‘Act of War’

Detained Pakistani Bloggers Face Blasphemy Charges

Pakistan says Facebook vows to tackle concerns over blasphemous content

North Korea could be in final stages of nuclear test preparations: report

Japan loans Manila military planes for South China Sea

China calls for explanation after Paris police shoot dead Chinese man

Scottish lawmakers back independence referendum call

Brexit: UK PM Theresa May signs Article 50 letter with call to ‘come together’

Sweden Warned Not to Return to High-Tax 70s as Incomes Squeezed

Austria says wants exemption from EU migrant relocation system

White House calls for domestic cuts to finance border wall

White House plan to help pay for border wall is a long shot

Gregg Jarrett: Sanctuary cities won’t find refuge in law

Massachusetts Sheriff: Arrest Leaders Of Sanctuary Cities

LA mayor vows to fight Trump administration attempt to strip ‘sanctuary city’ funding

NYC vows to fight for sanctuary status

DC Mayor, Police Dept. reiterate District policy of not enforcing civil immigration laws

Chicago leaders vow to keep fighting ‘sanctuary’ threats

Emanuel brands Trump’s sanctuary city threat a ‘bit of a joke’

Embattled DNC Asks All Staffers For Resignation Letters

US Secret Service detains man with package outside White House

The Transformation Of Our Nation Into A Surveillance State Is Almost Complete

The House just voted to wipe away the FCC’s landmark Internet privacy protections

Texas Mom Films ‘Traumatizing’ TSA Pat-Down of Disabled Son

New Study Says Robots Took All Of Detroit’s Jobs, Not Mexico

Automation of port terminals threatens thousands of lucrative dock worker jobs

Official: Tesla ‘autopilot’ car hits Phoenix police motorcycle

Quadriplegic man’s arm and hand brought back to life by thought-control tech

Facial Recognition In The Toilet: Asia’s Restrooms Are Going High Tech

Virtual lemonade sends colour and taste to a glass of water

Firm Floats Plan to Hang Colossal Skyscraper From an Asteroid

China’s secret plan to crush SpaceX and the US space program

We Might Finally Have a Good Way to Predict Dangerous Space Weather

6.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Kamchatsk Staryy, Russia

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Bitung, Indonesia

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits South of Panama

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Ohonua, Tonga

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Santa Cruz das Flores, Portugal

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Merizo Village, Guam

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Kamchatsk Staryy, Russia

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Lagoa, Portugal

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Bilungala, Indonesia

Klyuchevskoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 25,000ft

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

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 19,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 15,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 14,000ft

More than 8 inches of rain reported in an hour as Cyclone Debbie makes landfall

Reports: Over 200,000 without power following severe weather in central Texas

China Poised to Take Lead on Climate After Trump’s Move to Undo Policies

Scientists Add 50,000 Seeds to Arctic Doomsday Vault Because Everything Is Awful

WHO warns of measles outbreak across Europe

Shutdown threat returns after ObamaCare repeal meltdown

Affordable Care Act Repeal Is Back on the Agenda, Republicans Say

Freedom Caucus leader says he’ll force repeal

States push to protect birth control, Planned Parenthood, and abortion coverage despite failed GOP bill

Planned Parenthood videos: Anti-abortion activists charged with 15 felonies for secret tapes

Transgender California inmates could have bras, cosmetics

Vimeo Declares War on Gospel Transformation

Mike Ratliff – Light and Life vs Darkness and Death

The Testimony Of Jesus (Not Israel) Is The Spirit Of Prophecy!

False Teacher of the Day #2: Poncho Lowder

The Fruit of Hillsong: a Culture of Cover-up

Joel Osteen Sued Over ‘Serious’ Injury To Child At His Church

Church hearing to decide case of Newport Beach congregation vs. Episcopal bishop who tried to sell church building to developers

Biological Male Transgender Volleyball Player Made Eligible to Compete in Women’s Volleyball, May Qualify for Olympics

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 07:52 AM PDT

Recently we reported the story on the Biologically born man who identifies himself as a woman who recently competed in a women’s weightlifting competition in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Magnitude 6.6 Earthquake Strikes Kamchatka

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 07:39 AM PDT

Reports indicate that a magnitude 6.6 earthquake struck the eastern Kamchatka region leaving the epicenter located at a depth of 22.8 km or (14.1 miles)….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Masculinity Confession Booth’ lets college students disclose ‘sins’ of ‘hypermasculinity’

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 07:23 AM PDT

If you’re a man and you feel like you are just too “Masculine” and need to repent of it, now you can get your opportunity….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Capitol Hill on lockdown after reports of shots fired

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 07:08 AM PDT

We are receiving breaking reports that Congressional office buildings in the United States have been locked down after reports of alleged gunfire. According to sources,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Threatens War After US Senator Calls Kim Jong-Un a ‘Crazy Fat Kid’

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 07:03 AM PDT

North Korea is fired up again and once again threatening all out war with the US! What set them off this time? According to reports,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

A Swedish Man Has Just Been Charged for Assault with Bacon!

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 06:40 PM PDT

And now for the most ridiculous story, you will probably hear all day! According to a report coming out of Sweden, a Swedish man is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

World Health Organization warns of measles outbreak across Europe

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 06:19 PM PDT

It appears that Measles may be making a comeback! At least in Europe anyway. According to a new report, The World Health Organization has given…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hamas Develops New ‘High-Powered’ Rocket Putting Israel on Alert

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 06:09 PM PDT

According to reports, Hamas has now produced several dozen short-range rockets that can carry a relatively heavy explosive load and is putting Israel on High-Alert! The report…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

What you desire to enable you may end up ensnaring you!

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 05:59 PM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will discuss how many times we believe we need someone or something to enable us to fulfill our…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Facebook removes 85 percent of ‘blasphemous material’ on request of Pakistan

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 03:12 PM PDT

We previously reported how Pakistan’s government recently contacted Facebook and requested that they would remove “Blasphemous” content from its Social Media platform. This includes anything that is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

What This Chaplain Prophesied 100 Years Ago Is Unfolding Before Our Very Eyes

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 01:33 PM PDT

(By David Benham) Dr. Elton Trueblood, the former chaplain for Stanford and Harvard universities in the early 1900s, was once asked what the church in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mysterious ‘explosion’ rocks Gordonvale, Queensland residents

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 01:24 PM PDT

Residents are left baffled, and Mystery continues to surround the cause of a large “explosion” that was reported in Gordonvale, Queensland that was so powerful,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

16 Million People at Risk of Dying as Famine grips 3 African Nations

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 01:17 PM PDT

Revelation 6:5 -6 When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come and see.” So I looked, and behold, a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Free Speech Bus Vandalized by Harsh Opposers

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 01:07 PM PDT

According to a report, The #FreeSpeechBus is currently unable to get back on the road after being vandalized by LGBT extremists last Friday in Manhattan….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: Global Tensions Could Trigger World War 3 in 2017 or 2018?

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 12:11 PM PDT

(By Alessandro Bruno) In 2017, the marching sound of boots on the ground is already echoing throughout Eastern Europe. The South and East China Seas…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

GOG AND MAGOG WATCH: Russia and Iran’s Cooperation Hints at a New Middle East

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 12:06 PM PDT

More headlines are coming out today that are revealing the footprint of a future Prophetic War that is that is mentioned in the Book of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Rare Storm Developing Not Seen Since Pre-Civil War Era.

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 11:50 AM PDT

According to reports, An extremely rare subtropical storm could develop in the Atlantic Ocean this week. Why is this rare? Because according to sources it…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

War Drums: Will Japan Launch Preemptive Strike on North Korea?

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 11:05 AM PDT

(By Kelly McDonald, Jr) Japanese lawmakers are working on a resolution that allows them to launch a preemptive strike on North Korea. North Korea has…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Rahm Emanuel Affirms City’s Sanctuary City Status

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 11:02 AM PDT

(By Kelly McDonald, Jr) Yet another city is defying Jeff Session’s recent statement about withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities. Rahm Emanuel, the Mayor of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

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

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 11:01 AM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) If you thought the Obamacare debacle was bad, just wait until you see what happens next. The continuing resolution that is currently…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

LA Mayor Promises Battle with Trump over “Sanctuary City” Status

Posted: 28 Mar 2017 11:00 AM PDT

(By Kelly McDonald, Jr) This week Jeff Sessions announced that all federal funds will be withheld from sanctuary cities. The goal of the Justice Department…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to YouYou may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/connect/copyright).


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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

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Analysis: how much did each Obamacare mandate drive up health insurance premiums?

WINTERY KNIGHT

How each Obamacare mandate affected the health insurance premiums How each Obamacare mandate affected the health insurance premiums

Since 2010, we were inundated with reports and studies from various groups that argued that the new mandates in Obamacare would drive up the cost of health insurance. And that was actually observed to happen. Year after year, health insurance costs rose – usually by double digits. We knew why this was happening, too: Obamacare required health insurers to cover more conditions, many of them not even related to health insurance.

Here is an an analysis of which mandates caused health insurance costs to rise the most from the Daily Signal.

Excerpt:

Obamacare caused premiums to rise for various reasons, chief among them being the vast new regulations the law imposed on insurance markets. A new analysis from Milliman backs this up. The study provided estimates of the average impact that various Obamacare regulations had on premiums.

[…]Changes in morbidity (or…

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Heaven, Hillsong, and Heresy.

Pulpit & Pen have a new contributor, Benny Hinn’s nephew, Costi Hinn – Associate pastor of Adult Ministry at Mission Bible Church.

Costi Hinn

Mr Hinn writes,

Heaven, Hillsong, and Heresy

The 2017 church conference circuit is in full swing and with it comes a plethora of unholy alliances. No surprise, Hillsong and Jesus Culture will headline the apostasy this year. In keeping with Paul’s exhortation from Romans 16:17-18, it behooves pastors and Christians to be aware of the sort of tactics that mainstream movements are using to draw young people to their blasphemous ministries. Two of the more prominent events to be aware of will take place this fall, on back-to-back weekends, on two sides of the country. Each will feature lineups full of known false teachers, and music by Hillsong and Jesus Culture. These alliances allow powerhouse music ministries and their teachers to team up and target millennials with their sensual…

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Light and Life vs Darkness and Death

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light.
9 There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the…

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You Might Be a Pharisee If . . .

Matthew 23:1-33

Code: B170329

The odds are good that someone, somewhere, at some point has called you a Pharisee. The odds are even better that you’ve slapped that label on someone else.

It’s no surprise that the name “Pharisee” carries a leprous stigma. They’re the villains virtually every time they appear in the pages of Scripture. Jesus never had anything good to say about them. And their heavy-handed, legalistic authority made them a scourge to all of Israel—even other pious Jews.

In the evangelical vernacular, “Pharisee” is the umbrella term used to describe the gatekeepers of Jewish religion in the time of Christ. There were different ranks and factions—Scribes, Lawyers, Rabbis, Sadducees, Pharisees, and others—but all of them collectively represented the pharisaical religious system.

However, in modern usage the term cuts a much wider swath. And it’s that haphazard use that’s in focus for us today. God’s people need to break the habit of “playing the Pharisee card”—particularly to deflect confrontation or dismiss a rebuke. The fact is, there are modern Pharisees lurking among the church today. We do need to be able to spot them. But we also need to be careful how we deploy this potent pejorative.

To that end, let’s consider three biblical earmarks of these corrupt characters.

If You Supplement Scripture with Man-Made Rules, You Might Be a Pharisee

The Pharisees were far more fixated with enforcing their own pharisaical legal code than they were with administering God’s law. They did this by adding mountains of unbiblical fine print to biblical commands [hyperlink to Legalism and Sanctification] as well as inventing their own doctrines apart from Scripture:

Then some Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, “Why do Your disciples break the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat bread.” And He answered and said to them, “Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother is to be put to death.’ But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever I have that would help you has been given to God,” he is not to honor his father or his mother.’ And by this you invalidated the word of God for the sake of your tradition. You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.’” (Matthew 15:1–9)

The Pharisees had developed a tradition whereby people were encouraged to dedicate material possessions to God by giving them to the Jewish religious leaders. The inviolability of that vow caused it to supersede the fifth commandment—honoring your mother and father—because any dedicated wealth was forbidden as a means of financially supporting one’s parents. As John MacArthur points out, the implicit guilt of the Pharisees was unmistakable:

The scribes and Pharisees knew the Ten Commandments well and could recite them easily from memory. They were the most educated of all Jewish men and were considered the supreme authorities on Scripture as well as tradition. They could not possibly have failed to see that this tradition directly violated God’s commandment to honor one’s father and mother. They knowingly replaced God’s specific command with their own contradicting tradition. [1]

The rules and prohibitions of the ancient Pharisees are not without their modern parallels. They bear undeniable similarities with the fundamentalist denominations we see today. If you attend a fundamentalist church it won’t take long before you are confronted with a list of extrabiblical dos and don’ts—rules that carry the weight of essential doctrine. In fact, many of these rules find their way into the doctrinal statements of fundamentalist churches—prohibitions concerning drinking, smoking, dancing, tattoos, piercings, and unacceptable musical genres.

If You’re a Liberal, You’re Definitely a Sadducee

Lest any liberals gain some smug pleasure out of pointing their accusatory finger at the “Fundies” they despise so much, think again. Liberals only avoid the Pharisee label because they’re actually something much worse: Sadducees.

Just like liberal theologians, the Sadducees denied fundamental biblical doctrines—especially anything that involved the miraculous. On one occasion, the Sadducees attempted to vindicate their denial of the resurrection by asking Jesus a trick question about it (Matthew 22:24–28). But Christ condemned them for their unbelief and biblical incompetence: “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). He then exposed their biblical illiteracy (Matthew 22:30–32).

While fundamentalist churches are breeding grounds for modern Pharisees, liberal churches are dens of modern Sadducees. Both should be avoided like the plague.

If You Preach a False Gospel, You Might Be a Pharisee

The Pharisees had evangelistic fervor. But they had wrong motives, wrong methods, and the wrong message: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:15). John MacArthur comments:

Jesus cursed the scribes and Pharisees for their subversion of the people. They not only excluded them from the true faith but subverted them with false faith.

In New Testament times a great effort was being made to convert Gentiles to Judaism. They worked aggressively, traveling about on sea and land to make one proselyte. The word proselyte had the basic meaning of a person who has arrived, and came to be commonly used of an outsider who was brought into a religion. . . .

Many of the proselytes of righteousness became extremely zealous for their new faith, some of them even more zealous than those who converted them. But because they were brought into a false religious system that had replaced biblical Judaism, such a proselyte became twice as much a son of hell as the scribes and Pharisees themselves. They sometimes surpassed their mentors in fanatical zeal, but because their zeal was not godly it simply led them more certainly to hell. [2]

The evangelistic efforts of the Pharisees were damnable according to Christ, not because they evangelized but because they evangelized with their own false religion.

Like the Pharisees, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses travel extensively and fervently recruit people to their false religions. Yet even more subtle forms of this are pervasive in evangelical churches.

The prosperity gospel replaces the offer of eternal life with the seductive promises of health and wealth in the here and now. Likewise, the social gospel emphasizes temporal good works at the expense of eternal concerns. Both errors, while seemingly antithetical, fall into the same pharisaical category of proselytizing people with a false gospel.

If You’re a Self-Appointed Biblical Authority, You Might Be a Pharisee

The Pharisees considered themselves to be the guardians of God’s Word—the experts in all things biblical. But Jesus repeatedly chastised them for their biblical illiteracy. Christ’s verdict was that the Pharisees hadn’t studied Scripture enough—borne out by His oft-repeated phrase, “Have you not read?” (Matthew 12:3; 12:5, 19:4; 21:16; 21:42; 22:31; Mark 2:25; 12:10; 12:26; Luke 6:3).

Jesus never accused the Pharisees of taking Scripture too seriously. He told them they didn’t take it seriously enough:

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel! (Matthew 23:23–24)

The Pharisees were certainly lousy Bible scholars—they majored in minor doctrines, while missing most of the major doctrines altogether. While they might have been fervent students of Scripture, their academic prowess hadn’t given them any spiritual insight. Ultimately, their confidence in their own expertise blinded them to the arrival of the Messiah. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life” (John 5:39–40).

Implicit in Christ’s damning accusation was His expectation that those who read God’s Word should be able to understand it. The Bible isn’t a cryptic puzzle waiting for some scholar or expert to decipher what God is really saying to us. “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33, KJV).

Christ’s expectation concerning the clarity of Scripture was shared by the biblical authors. Paul wrote his epistles to an audience that was predominantly lay believers (1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1) and he expected them to be able to comfortably differentiate between true and false gospels (Galatians 1:8­–9), as well as biblical and unbiblical theology (Acts 17:11).

Yet the modern descendants of the Pharisees—the self-appointed biblical experts of our day—offer all sorts of novelty and mystery masquerading as biblical expertise. We’ve now got experts cracking numerological codes hidden in Scripture, authors unveiling the Jesus we never knew, pastors finding the lost message of Jesus and ivory tower academics discovering new perspectives on Paul that the Reformers and Puritans never noticed.

They are not the sages of our day. They’re a motley bunch of Pharisees who warrant nothing less than the blistering rebuke Jesus issued to their spiritual forefathers: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! . . . You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”

Modern Pharisees do exist. But applying that label in a careless and reckless manner often ends up striking at the wrong target. And sometimes the real Pharisees end up being the ones who hypocritically use the pejorative against others. Scripture teaches us enough to readily identify Pharisees and pharisaical culture in modern churches. Even so, engaging in name-calling is a poor way to invest that discernment. That knowledge can be used far more profitably in admonishing the Pharisees we meet, avoiding places where pharisaical culture is dominant, and repenting of pharisaical tendencies in our own lives.

Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170329
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/connect/copyright).

March 29, 2017: Verse of the day

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First, since all true believers, those who abide in Christ and He in them, will bear spiritual fruit, there is no such thing as a fruitless Christian. John the Baptist challenged his hearers to “bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matt. 3:8), and warned that “every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (v. 10). Contrasting true and false teachers, Jesus said, “Every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:17–20). In Luke 6:43 He added, “There is no good tree which produces bad fruit, nor, on the other hand, a bad tree which produces good fruit.”

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

4 The central focus of Jesus’ teaching in this opening paragraph is found here: “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” Since a verb must be supplied in the Greek text for the second clause, the NIV adds, “will remain.” Moffatt has, “as I remain in you.” Morris, 670, favors taking the second clause as a continuation of the command in the first clause and translates, “and see that I abide in you.” A more satisfactory approach is to allow the ambiguous relationship between the clauses to remain and to see in the sentence as a whole the dual condition that we as believers are to bring into being. Jesus is setting before us the prospect of the mutual indwelling of Jesus and those who will abide in him. So central is this mutual indwelling to what it means to be a Christian that Temple, 2:258, can say, “Whatever leads to this is good; whatever hinders this is bad; whatever does not bear on this is futile.”

The verb “remain” occurs ten times in the first eleven verses of ch. 15. For a branch to bear fruit it must share the life of the vine. Likewise, for believers to bear fruit they must remain in Christ. All spiritual power for living out the Christian life comes from God. There is only one way for a believer to receive this power, namely, to remain in unbroken fellowship with the source of power. Paul pictures the relationship in terms of a spiritual death and resurrection: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal 2:20).

Expositor’s Bible Commentary

March 29, 2017 – Servanthood: Humility in action

“Whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.”

Matthew 20:26–27

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In God’s sight, greatness is marked by a humble, servant’s heart.

Bible commentator R.C.H. Lenski once wrote that God’s “great men are not sitting on top of lesser men, but bearing lesser men on their backs.” Jesus would have agreed with Lenski’s observation, but He did not see it as wrong to desire greater usefulness to God. Those standards of usefulness, however, are much more demanding than any worldly ideals for self–serving, domineering leadership. For example, Paul lists for us the high standards God has for church overseers (1 Tim. 3:1–7). God considers men great who are among those willing to be servants.

In Matthew 20:26–27, Jesus was speaking of genuine servanthood, not the “public servant” who merely uses his position to gain power and personal prestige. The original Greek word for “servant” referred to a person who did menial labor and was the lowest level of hired help. Jesus could have used a more noble word to denote obedient discipleship, but He picked this one (from which we get deacon) because it best described the selfless humility of one who served.

But in verse 27, Jesus intensifies His description of God’s way to greatness. He tells us if we want to be great in His kingdom, we must be willing to be slaves. Whereas servants had some personal freedom, slaves were owned by their masters and could go only where their masters allowed and do only what their masters wanted. The application for us as believers is that “whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8).

If you desire real spiritual greatness, you will be willing to work in the hard place, the lonely place, the place where you’re not appreciated. You’ll be willing to strive for excellence without becoming proud, and to endure suffering without getting into self–pity. It is to these godly attitudes and more that Christ will say, “Well done, good and faithful slave … enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to help you cultivate a servant’s heart.

For Further Study: Read 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and make a list of the qualifications for an overseer (elder). ✧ Meditate on the implications of each trait, and write down ways in which humility relates to these leadership qualities.[1]


The Precept of True Greatness

It is not so among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; (20:26–27)

Jesus turned the world’s greatness upside down. The self-serving, self-promoting, self-glorying ways of the world are the antithesis of spiritual greatness. They have no place in God’s kingdom and are not to be so among you, Jesus told the Twelve. In many different ways He had taught them what He told Pilate: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

The world’s way of greatness is like a pyramid. The prestige and power of the great person is built on the many subordinate persons beneath him. But in the kingdom, the pyramid is inverted. As the great commentator R. C. H. Lenski has observed, God’s “great men are not sitting on top of lesser men, but bearing lesser men on their backs.”

Unfortunately, however, there are still many people in the church who, like James and John, continually seek recognition, prestige, and power by manipulating and controlling others to their own selfish advantage. A tragic number of Christian leaders and celebrities have gained great followings by appealing to people’s emotions and worldly appetites. But that is not to be so among Christ’s disciples today any more than among the Twelve.

Jesus went on to explain that it is not wrong to desire great usefulness to God, only wrong to seek the world’s kind of greatness. Paul assures us that “it is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do” (1 Tim. 3:1). As the apostle goes on to point out (vv. 2–7), the standards for an overseer in Christ’s church are high. But the man who is willing to meet those standards for the Lord’s sake and in the Lord’s power will have the Lord’s blessing.

Therefore, Jesus said, “Whoever wishes to become great among you, that is, great by God’s standards rather than men’s, shall be your servant.” He was not, as some have suggested, contradicting what He had just taught. He was speaking of an entirely different kind of greatness than the sort James and John were seeking and that the world promotes. This kind of greatness is pleasing to God, because it is humble and self-giving rather than proud and self-serving. The way to the world’s greatness is through pleasing and being served by men; the way to God’s greatness is through pleasing Him and serving others in His name. In God’s eyes, the one who is great is the one who is a willing servant.

It is not only not wrong but very much right to seek eternal glory, because that glory is God-given. PauI declared, “Nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority” (1 Thess. 2:6). But he also declared to those same believers in Thessalonica that “it was for this He called you through our gospel, that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14). The way to that divine and eternal glory, which comes from God, is the way of renouncing the worldly and temporal glory that comes from men. The way to God’s glory is the way of the servant. Man’s focus must be on rendering spiritual service with consummate excellence and leaving the success of that service to the Lord.

Jesus was speaking of being a true servant, not a sham. He did not have in mind the “public servant” who uses his office for personal, gain and power, Godly greatness comes from genuine humility Only God knows a persons heart, and Paul assures us that the Lord “will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of metes hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God” (1 Cor. 4:5).

Servant is from diakonos, from which the term deacon is derived. The original Greek word was purely secular, referring to a person who did menial labor, such as house cleaning or serving tables. It was not necessarily a term of dishonor but simply described the lowest level of hired help, who needed little training or skill.

But Christ elevated diakonos to a place of great significance, using it to describe His most faithful and favored disciples. He could have chosen any number of more noble words to characterize obedient discipleship, but He chose this one because it best reflects the selfless, humble life that He honors. It is also the life that He Himself exemplified, as He would go on to say (v. 28).

The surest mark of the true servant is willing sacrifice for the sake of others in the name of Christ. The sham servant avoids suffering, while the true servant accepts it.

Paul had the pure, genuine heart of a servant. He readily acknowledged his apostleship and the divine authority that came with that unique, high office. But he even more readily acknowledged that his office and authority belonged to God and were only entrusted to him as a steward (1 Cor. 4:1). To the proud, self-centered, factious, and worldly Corinthians he said, “What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one” (1 Cor. 3:5). Later in that letter he says sarcastically,

You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us. … For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor. To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now” (4:8–13)

In his book A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life, William Law writes,

Let every day be a day of humility; condescend to all the weaknesses and infirmities of your fellow-creatures, cover their frailties, love their excellencies, encourage their virtues, relieve their wants, rejoice in their prosperities, compassionate their distress, receive their friendship, overlook their unkind-ness, forgive their malice, be a servant of servants, and condescend to do the lowliest offices of the lowest of mankind.

Another great saint of past years, Samuel Brengle, wrote,

If I appear great in their eyes, the Lord is most graciously helping me to see how absolutely nothing I am without Him, and helping me to keep little in my own eyes. He does use me. But I am so concerned that He uses me and that it is not of me the work is done. The axe cannot boast of the trees it has cut down. It could do nothing but for the woodsman. He made it, he sharpened it, and he used it. The moment he throws it aside, it becomes only old iron. O That I may never lose sight of this. (Quoted in Oswald Sanders, Spiritual Leadership [Chicago: Moody, 1967], p. 58.)

Jesus reiterated and intensified His description of God’s way to greatness: “Whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave.” The position and work of a slave were much lower and demeaning even than those of a servant. A servant was to some degree his own person. He often owned little more than the clothes on his back, but he was free to go where he wanted and to work or not work as he pleased. But a slave (doulos) did not belong to himself but to his master and could go only where the master wanted him to go and do only what the master wanted him to do. He did not belong to himself but was the personal property of someone else.

In several of his letters Paul identified himself as Christ’s slave (doulos) even before identifying himself as His apostle. He greeted the Romans with the words, “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle” (Rom. 1:1; cf. Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:1). That is why he could say, “If we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). Slaves were the property of their owners and could therefore be bought and sold. Like such a slave, Christians “have been bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20; cf. 7:23) and are the property of the Lord who bought them with His own precious blood (1 Pet. 1:18–19).

Paul greatly desired to be exalted and to receive glory, but the exaltation and glory he sought were God’s and he sought them in God’s way, through the suffering of servanthood and the bondage of slavery. It was said of one leader in the early church that “He belonged to that class of early martyrs whose passionate soul made an early holocaust of the physical man.”

In one of her most beautiful poems Amy Carmichael wrote,

Hast thou no scar?

No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?

I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,

I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star;

Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?

Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent.

Leaned me against the tree to die, and rent

By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned:

Hast thou no wound?

No wound? No scar?

Yes, as the master shall the servant be,

And pierced are the feet that follow Me;

But thine are whole. Can he have followed far

Who has no wound? No scar?

The cost of true greatness is humble, selfless, sacrificial service. The Christian who desires to be great and first in the kingdom is the one who is willing to serve in the hard place, the uncomfortable place, the lonely place, the demanding place, the place where he is not appreciated and may even be persecuted. Knowing that time is short and eternity long, he is willing to spend and be spent. He is willing to work for excellence without becoming proud, to withstand criticism without becoming bitter, to be misjudged without becoming defensive, and to withstand suffering without succumbing to self-pity.

When faithful believers have done everything they can for the Lord to the limit of their abilities and energy, they say to Him, “We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done” (Luke 17:10). It is to such disciples that the Lord will say in return, “Well done, good and faithful slave; … enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).

William Barclay has succinctly commented, “The world may assess a man’s greatness by the number of people whom he controls and who are at his beck and call; or by his intellectual standing and his academic eminence; or by the number of committees of which he is a member; or by the size of his bank balance and the material possessions which he has amassed; but in the assessment of Jesus Christ these things are irrelevant.”[2]


24–27 The indignation of the ten doubtless sprang less from humility than jealousy plus the fear that they might lose out. If these verses scarcely support egalitarianism—choice positions, after all, will be allotted—they demonstrate that interest in egalitarianism may mask a jealousy whose deepest wellsprings are not concern for justice but “enlightened self-interest.” The disciples revert to the squabbling of an earlier period (Mk 9:33–37; cf. Mt 18:1). Jesus calls them together and draws a contrast between greatness among ta ethnē (“pagans” or “Gentiles,” v. 25) and greatness among heirs of the kingdom. The “pagans” or “Gentiles” who would spring to mind were Romans; power and authority characterized their empire. The NIV’s “lord it over” gives a false impression. Jesus is not criticizing abuse of power in political structures—the verb never has that meaning (cf. K. W. Clark, “The Meaning of [κατα] κυριεύειν,” in Studies in New Testament Language [ed. Elliott], 100–105) and should be translated “exercise lordship over,” parallel to “exercise authority over” in the next line—but insists that the very structures themselves cannot be transferred to relationships among his followers.

Greatness among Jesus’ disciples is based on service. Anyone who wants to be great must become the diakonos (“servant,” v. 26, GK 1356) of all. Here diakonos does not mean “deacon” or “minister” (KJV) in the modern church use. One of the ironies of language is that a word like “minister,” which in its roots refers to a helper, one who “ministers,” has become a badge of honor and power in religion and politics. But lest the full force of his teaching be lost, Jesus repeats it in v. 27 with the stronger word doulos (“slave,” GK 1528; cf. 1 Co 9:19; 2 Co 4:5). In the pagan world, humility was regarded not so much as a virtue but as a vice. Imagine a slave being given leadership! Jesus’ ethics of the leadership and power in his community of disciples are revolutionary.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 20:26). 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. 488). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MARCH 29, 2017 – SPEECHLESS HUMILITY

And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb…. There remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me.

—Daniel 10:15, 17

When we meet God we also have a sense of weakness. I don’t think you will ever be strong until you know how utterly weak you are. And you will never know how utterly weak you are until you have stood in the presence of that great plenitude of strength, that great fullness of infinite power that we call God. When for an awful, happy, terrible, wonderful moment the eyes of our hearts have gazed upon the transcendent God, high and lifted up with His train filling the temple, then we will know how weak we are….

I’ve been preaching since I was nineteen years old and now I’m sixty-three. And yet, after all these years of preaching, I come into the pulpit shaking inside—not because I fear the people, but because I fear God. It’s the fear and trembling of knowing that I stand to speak of God and if I don’t speak rightly about God, what a terrible error it will be. If I speak evilly of God, what a frightful crime! It is only when I speak well of God that I dare sleep at night without asking forgiveness. AOGII046

Most of us have never had a true vision of Your power, Lord, and so have not experienced a real sense of our own weakness. May I fear You in speechless humility. Amen. [1]


10:15–16 On hearing of the magnitude and power of the spiritual forces ranged against God’s people in Jerusalem, Daniel was overtaken again by such an overwhelming sense of weakness that he was bowed to the ground, unable even to speak until the angel touched him on the lips.[2]


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

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1609). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

March 29, 2017 – How Jesus Understood the Law and the Prophets

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.—Matt. 5:17

Is there an absolute basis for truth, for law, for morals, for real right and wrong? The absolute, Jesus says, is the law of the eternally sovereign God. God laid down His absolute, eternal, abiding law and made it known to humanity. And as God’s own Son, Jesus declared unequivocally that He did not come to teach or practice anything contrary to that law even in the slightest way, but to uphold it entirely.

Jesus obviously had a high regard for the law, but at the same time He taught things completely contrary to the traditions. His teachings did not lower scriptural standards but upheld them in every way. He not only elevated God’s standard to the height it belonged, but also lived at that humanly impossible level.

The law and the prophets represent what we call the Old Testament, the only written Scripture at the time Jesus preached. Because Matthew does not qualify his use of law, we are safe to say that it was God’s whole law—the commandments, statutes, and judgments; the moral, judicial, and ceremonial—that Jesus came not to abolish but fulfill. It was also the other Old Testament teachings based on the law, and all their types, patterns, symbols, and pictures that He came to fulfill. Jesus Christ came to accomplish every aspect and every dimension of the divinely authored Word.

ASK YOURSELF

Knowing how hard it is for us to maintain holy attitudes and behaviors for more than a few hours at a time, marvel again at the extreme power of Jesus Christ, who endured every temptation to maintain His perfect purity on earth. And marvel anew that such supernatural righteousness has been imputed to us![1]


Christ and the Law—Part 1: The Preeminence of Scripture

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. (5:17)

In a recent book titled The Interaction of Law and Religion (Nashville: Abingdon, 1974), Harold J. Berman, professor of law at Harvard University, has developed a significant thesis. He notes that Western culture has had a massive loss of confidence in law and in religion. One of the most important causes of this double loss of confidence is the radical separation that has been made between the two. Berman concludes that you cannot have workable rules for behavior without religion, because only religion provides an absolute base on which morality and law can be based. The author fears that western society is doomed to relativism in law because of the loss of an absolute. When men break away from the idea of an authoritative religion, and even from the concept of God, they break away from the possibility of absolute truth. Their only remaining resource is existential relativism, a slippery, unstable, and ever-changing base on which no authoritative system of law or morals can be built. Religionless law can never command authority.

In that book Professor Berman notes that “Thomas Franck of New York University [has observed that law] in contrast to religion ’has become undisguisedly a pragmatic human process. It is made by men and it lays no claim to divine origin or eternal validity.’ ” (p. 27). Berman says that this observation

leads Professor Franck to the view that a judge, in reaching a decision, is not propounding a truth but is rather experimenting in the solution of a problem, and if his decision is reversed by a higher court or if it is subsequently overruled, that does not mean it was wrong but only that it was, or became in the course of time, unsatisfactory. Having broken away from religion, Franck states, law is now characterized by “existential relativism?” Indeed, it is now generally recognized “that no judicial decision is ever ‘final,’ that the law both follows the event (is not eternal or certain) and is made by man (is not divine or True).” (pp. 27–28)

Professor Berman goes on to ask, “If law is merely an experiment, and if judicial decisions are only hunches, why should individuals or groups of people observe those legal rules or commands that do not conform to their own interests?” (p. 28)

He is right. Rules without absolutes are rules without authority, except the authority of force and coercion. When God is abandoned, truth is abandoned; and when truth is abandoned, the basis for morals and law is abandoned. A consistent, coherent legal system cannot be built on philosophical humanism, on the principle that right and wrong fluctuate according to man’s ideas and feelings.

In an article in Esquire magazine titled “The Reasonable Right:” Peter Steinfels asks, “How can moral principles be grounded and social institutions ultimately legitimized in the absence of a religiously based culture?” (13 February 1979). The obvious answer is that they cannot be.

If there is no religious absolute there can be no basis for real law. People will not respect or long obey laws that are only judicial guesses. An evil, godless society, floating about on a sea of relativism, realizes that it has no foundation, no anchor, no unmoving point of reference. Law becomes a matter of preference and order a matter of power. A democracy where power is ultimately vested in the people is particularly vulnerable to chaos.

Is there an absolute basis for truth, for law, for morals, for real right and wrong; and if so, what is it? Those questions are the essence of what Jesus teaches in Matthew 5:17–20. The absolute, He says, is the law of the eternally sovereign God, God has laid down His absolute, eternal, abiding law and made it known to men. And as God’s own Son, Jesus declared unequivocally that He did not come to teach or practice anything contrary to that law in even the slightest way, but to uphold it entirely.

We continually hear the idea that because times have changed the Bible does not fit our day. The truth, of course, is the opposite. The Bible always fits, because the Bible is God’s perfect, eternal, and infallible Word. It is the standard by which true “fit” is measured. It is the world that does not fit the Bible, and not because the world has changed but because the Bible has not changed. Outwardly the world has changed a great deal since biblical days, but in its basic nature and orientation it has always been opposed to God and has never conformed to His Word. The world has never fit Scripture.

The argument is also proposed that Scripture is but a collection of various men’s ideas about God and about right and wrong. One person’s interpretation of the Bible is therefore just as good as another’s, and there is no place for dogmatism. Men have been left free to believe or not believe, to follow or not follow, any or all of Scripture as it suits them. Each person becomes his own judge over Scripture, and the end result for most is to disregard it altogether.

It is impossible, however, to take Jesus seriously and not take Scripture seriously. It is impossible to believe Jesus spoke absolute truth and not to consider Scripture to be that absolute truth, because that is precisely what Jesus taught it to be. If Jesus was mistaken or deluded on this point, there would be no reason to accept anything else that He said. At the outset of His ministry He makes clear that His authority and Scripture’s authority are the same; His truth and Scripture’s truth are identical and inseparable.

God’s revealed Word, Jesus says, not only is truth, but is truth conveyed with absolute, inviolable authority. It is in that authority that He came to teach and to minister, and it is to that authority that He commands His kingdom citizens to bow and obey. “Let it speak,” He says. “Let it rebuke, correct, shatter, overturn all your evil ways and let it show the absolute, inerrant, and perfect will of God-and the way to eternal life.”

For thirty years Jesus lived in privacy and obscurity. Oy Mary and intimates to the family would have remembered the miraculous events that surrounded His birth and early years. As far as His friends and neighbors were concerned, He was but a unique Jewish carpenter. It was when He began His ministry, when He was immersed in the Jordan by John the Baptist and started to preach, that all eyes suddenly turned on Him. At that point, even the leaders of Israel could not ignore Him.

Jesus’ meekness, humility, gentleness, and love marked Him out in great contrast to the proud, selfish, and arrogant scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and priests. His call to repentance and His proclamation of the gospel of the kingdom made people listen, even if they did not understand or agree. They wondered if He was just another prophet, a special prophet, or a false prophet. They wondered if He was a political or military revolutionary who might be the Messiah they anxiously awaited, who would break the yoke of Rome. He did not talk or act like anyone else they had ever heard or seen. He did not identify Himself with any of the scribal schools, or with any of the sects or movements of the time. Nor did He identify Himself with Herod or with Rome. Instead, Jesus openly and lovingly identified Himself with the outcast, the sick, the sinful, and the needy of every sort. He proclaimed grace and dispensed mercy. Whereas all the other rabbis and religious leaders talked only about the religious externals, He taught about the heart. They focused on ceremonies, rituals, and outward acts of every kind, whereas He focused on the heart. They set themselves above other men and demanded their service, while He set Himself below other men and became their Servant.

Of primary concern to every faithful Jew seeking to evaluate Jesus was, “What does He think of the law; what does He think of Moses and the prophets?” The leaders often confronted Jesus on matters of the law. Many Jews believed that the Messiah would radically revise or completely overturn the Mosaic law and establish His own new standards. They interpreted Jeremiah 31:31 as teaching that God’s new promised covenant would annul the old covenant and start over on a completely new moral basis. Sickened of the demanding, hypocritical legalism of the Pharisees, many people hoped the Messiah would bring in a new day of freedom from the burdensome, mechanical, and meaningless demands of the traditional system.

Even the scribes and Pharisees realized God’s revealed standards of righteousness were impossible to keep-which is one reason they invented traditions that were easier to keep than the law. The traditions were more involved, complicated, and detailed than God’s law, but for the most part, they stayed within the bounds of human accomplishment, within what man could do in his own power and resources. Because of that, the traditions invariably and inevitably lowered the standards of God’s scriptural teaching. The whole system of self-righteousness is built on reducing God’s standards and elevating one’s own imagined goodness.

It soon became obvious that Jesus fit none of the common molds of the religious leaders. He obviously had a high regard for the law, but at the same time He taught things completely contrary to the traditions. His teachings did not lower scriptural standards but upheld them in every way. He not only put God’s standard at the height where it belonged but lived at that humanly impossible level.

The Law and the Prophets represent what we now call the Old Testament, the only written Scripture at the time Jesus preached (see Matt. 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Luke 16:16; John 1:45; Acts 13:15; 28:23). It is therefore about the Old Testament that Jesus speaks in Matthew 5:17–20. Everything He taught directly in His own ministry, as well as everything He taught through the apostles, is based on the Old Testament. It is therefore impossible to understand or accept the New Testament apart from the Old.

As has been pointed out several times, each teaching in the Sermon on the Mount flows out of the teachings that have preceded it. Each beatitude logically follows the ones before it, and every subsequent teaching is related to previous teachings. What Jesus teaches in 5:17–20 also follows directly from what He has just said. Verses 3–12 depict the character of believers, who are kingdom citizens and children of God. Verses 13–16 teach the function of believers as God’s spiritual salt and light in the corrupt and darkened world. Verses 17–20 teach the foundation for the inner qualifies of the Beatitudes and for functioning as God’s salt and light. That foundation is God’s Word, the only standard of righteousness and of truth.

We cannot live the righteous life or be God’s faithful witnesses by lowering His standards and claiming to follow a higher law of love and permissiveness. Whatever is contrary to God’s law is beneath His law, not above it. No matter what the motive behind them, standards that are unbiblically permissive have no part either in God’s love or His law, because His love and His law are inseparable. The key, and the only key, to a righteous life is keeping the Word of the living God.

Jesus’ warning, do not think, indicates that most, if not all, of His hearers had a wrong conception about His teaching. Most traditionalistic Jews considered the rabbinic instructions to be the proper interpretations of the law of Moses, and they concluded that, because Jesus did not scrupulously follow those traditions, He obviously was doing away with the law or relegating it to minor importance. Because Jesus swept away the traditions of washings, special tithes, extreme Sabbath observance, and such things, the people thought He was thereby overthrowing God’s law. From the outset, therefore, Jesus wanted to disabuse His hearers of any misconceptions about His view of Scripture.

Throughout the gospel of Matthew, more than in the other gospels, Jesus repeatedly uses Scripture to contradict and indict the superficial and hypocritical scribes and Pharisees. Though not always specifically identified as such, it is primarily their beliefs and practices that Jesus exposes in Matthew 5:21—6:18.

Kataluō (abolish) means to utterly overthrow or destroy, and is the same word used of the destruction of the Temple (Matt. 24:2; 26:61; etc.) and of the death of the physical body (2 Cor. 5:1). The basic idea is to tear down and smash to the ground, to obliterate completely. In several places, as here, the word is used figuratively to indicate bringing to naught, rendering useless, or nullifying (see Acts 5:38–39; Rom. 14:20). Doing that to God’s law is the antithesis of the work and teaching of Jesus.

In the remainder of verse 17 Jesus focuses on the preeminence of Scripture as God’s perfect, eternal, and wholly authoritative Word. By implication He suggests three reasons for that preeminence: it is authored by God, it is affirmed by the prophets, and it is accomplished by Christ.

Authored by God

By including the definite article (the) Jesus made clear to His Jewish audience what Law He was talking about-the Law of God. The giving of the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mt. Sinai was prefaced by the statement: “Then God spoke all these words, saying …” (Ex. 20:1). That God gave the law personally and directly is emphasized repeatedly in verses 2–6 by the use of the first person pronouns I and Me. The law given there is the only law because the Lord is the only God. The Lord does not change (Mal. 3:6), and His law does not change. It does not change to meet the whims of society or even of theologians. It was not given to be adapted and modified but to be obeyed. It was not given to suit man’s will but to reveal God’s.

Jews of that day referred to the law in four different ways. In its most limited sense it was used of the Ten Commandments. In a broader sense it was used of the Pentateuch, the five books written by Moses. In a still broader sense it was used to speak of the entire Scriptures, what we now call the Old Testament.

The fourth and most common use of the term law, however, was in reference to the rabbinical, scribal traditions-the thousands of detailed and external requirements that obscured the revealed Word of God the traditions were supposed to interpret. Jesus sternly told the scribes and Pharisees that they “invalidated the word of God for the sake of [their] tradition” (Matt. 15:6). On the surface it seemed that the traditions made the law harder, but in reality they made it much easier, because observance was entirely external. Keeping the traditions demanded a great deal of effort, but it demanded no heart obedience and no faith in God.

God’s law had always required inward as well as outward obedience. “This people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote” (lsa. 29:13). During the Exile and especially during the intertestamental period, the traditions were greatly multiplied and covered almost every conceivable activity a person could be involved in.

The rabbis looked through Scripture to find various commands and regulations, and to those they would add supplemental requirements. To the command not to work on the Sabbath they added the idea that carrying a burden was a form of work. They then faced the question of determining exactly what constituted a burden. They decided that a burden is food equal to the weight of a fig, enough wine for mixing in a goblet, milk enough for one swallow, honey enough to put on a wound, oil enough to anoint a small member of the body, water enough to moisten eyesalve, paper enough to write a customs house notice, ink enough to write two letters of the alphabet, reed enough to make a pen, and so on and on. To carry anything more than those prescribed amounts on the Sabbath was to break the law.

Since it was not possible to anticipate or provide for every contingency, much time was spent arguing about such things as whether a tailor committed a sin if he went out on the Sabbath with a needle stuck in his robe, or whether moving a lamp from one place in a room to another was permissible. Some strict interpreters believed that even wearing an artificial leg or using a crutch on the Sabbath constituted work and argued about whether or not a parent could lift a child on the Sabbath. They decided that to heal was work, but made exceptions for grave situations. But only enough treatment to keep the patient from getting worse was allowed; he could not be fully treated until after the Sabbath.

It was the keeping of such external minutia that had become the essence of religion for the scribes and Pharisees and for many other Jews as well. To the strict orthodox Jew of Jesus’ day the law was a plethora of extra-Scriptural rules and regulations.

The phrase the Law and the Prophets, however, was always understood to refer to the Jewish Scriptures themselves, not the rabbinical interpretations. The phrase is used in that sense some fifteen times in the New Testament (see Matt. 11:13; Luke 16:16; cf. 24:27, 44; etc.), reflecting the common Jewish understanding. Therefore when Jesus said, Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets, His Jewish hearers knew He was speaking of the Old Testament Scripture.

The foundation of the Old Testament is the law given in the Pentateuch, which the prophets, psalmists, and other inspired writers preached, expounded, and applied. That law of God was composed of three parts: the moral, the judicial, and the ceremonial. The moral law was to regulate behavior for all men; the judicial law was for Israel’s operation as a unique nation; and the ceremonial law was prescribed to structure Israel’s worship of God The moral law was based on the Ten Commandments, and the judicial and ceremonial laws were the subsequent legislation given to Moses. On the plains of Moab Moses reminded Israel that “He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to perform, that is, the ten commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that you might perform them in the land where you are going over to possess it” (Deut. 4:13–14).

Because Matthew does not qualify his use of Law, we are safe to say that it was God’s whole law-the commandments, statutes, and judgments; the moral, judicial, and ceremonial-that Jesus came not to abolish but to fulfill. It was also the other Old Testament teachings based on the law, and all their types, patterns, symbols, and pictures that He came to fulfill. Jesus Christ came to accomplish every aspect and every dimension of the divinely authored Word (cf. Luke 24:44).

Affirmed by the Prophets

The law is also preeminent because it is affirmed by the Prophets. The prophets reiterated and reinforced the law. All of their warnings, admonitions, and predictions were directly or indirectly based on the Mosaic law. God’s revelation to the prophets was an extension of His law. The prophets expounded the moral, the judicial, and the ceremonial law. They spoke on idolatry, adultery, lying, stealing, and all the other Ten Commandments. They warned the kings, the nobles, and the people in general about keeping the laws God had given for their government, their life-style, and their worship.

Though all the prophets did not have their mouths touched by God’s own hand as did Jeremiah, they could all claim with him that the Lord had put His very words in their mouths (Jer. 1:9; Heb. 1:1). Clearly, the work of the prophet was to preach the law of God. Exodus 4:16 gives an excellent definition of a prophet when it records the word of the Lord to Moses regarding the service of Aaron: “He shall be as a mouth for you, and you shall be as God to him.”

Accomplished by Christ

The culminating reason, however, for the law’s preeminence was its fulfillment by Jesus Christ, God’s own Son. I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. In His incarnation, in the work of His Holy Spirit through the church, and in His coming again Jesus would fulfill all of the law-moral, judicial, and ceremonial.

The Old Testament is complete; it is all God intended it to be. It is a wondrous, perfect, and complete picture of the coming King and His kingdom, and Jesus the King came to fulfill it in every detail. Five times in the New Testament we are told of Jesus’ claiming to be the theme of the Old Testament: here, in Luke 24:27, 44; John 5:39; and in Hebrews 10:7.

Bible students have suggested a number of ways in which Jesus fulfilled the law. Some say He fulfilled it by His teaching. The law was the divine sketch or outline which He filled in with detail and color. In this view Jesus completed what was incomplete by giving it full dimension and meaning. There is a sense in which Jesus did that. Through His direct teaching in the gospels and through the apostles in the rest of the New Testament, Jesus elucidated more of the law of God than anyone ever had.

But that cannot be the primary meaning of fulfill, because that is not what the word means. It does not mean fill out but fill up. It does not mean to add to but to complete what is already present. Jesus did not add any basic new teaching but rather clarified God’s original meaning.

Other commentators say that Jesus fulfilled the law by fully meeting its demands. In His life He perfectly kept every part of the law. He was perfectly righteous and did not violate the smallest part of God’s law. Jesus, of course, did that. He was utterly flawless in His obedience, and He provided the perfect model of absolute righteousness.

But most importantly, as the Spirit surely intends to emphasize here, Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament by being its fulfillment. He did not simply teach it fully and exemplify it fully-He was it fully. He did not come simply to teach righteousness and to model righteousness; He came as divine righteousness. What He said and what He did reflected who He is.

Jesus Fulfilled the Moral Law

The moral law was God’s foundational code. As already mentioned, Jesus fulfilled that law by His perfect righteousness. Every commandment He obeyed, every requirement He met, every standard He lived up to.

Because keeping the Sabbath is one of the Ten Commandments, it may be helpful to comment on that part of the moral law The essence of Sabbath observance was holiness, not resting or refraining from work. It was a provision meant to remove the heart from earthly endeavors and to turn it toward God. Because Christ fulfilled all righteousness and has become our righteousness, the purpose of Sabbath observance ended at the cross. Christians possess the reality, and so no longer need the symbol. All believers have entered into permanent salvation rest, as the writer of Hebrews carefully points out (4:1–11). Every day has become holy to the Lord.

In demonstration of that fact the early church met together every day for worship (Acts 2:46). But before long their primary worship meetings were held on the first day of the week (see 1 Cor. 16:2), which came to be called the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10) because of its association with Jesus’ resurrection. That day was to stimulate them to holiness every other day as well (Heb. 10:24–25). As Paul made clear, however, there is no longer any special day of worship (Rom. 14:5–6; Col. 2:16–17). Worship on Tuesday, Thursday, or any other clay of the week is no less biblical or spiritual than worship on the Lord’s Day. Sunday is not the “Christian Sabbath,” as some claim, but is simply the day of worship most Christians have observed since New Testament times, a special time set aside for spiritual exercises. The moral aspect inherent in the Sabbath law is the heart of true worship.

Jesus Fulfilled the Judicial Law

God’s judicial law was given to provide unique identity for Israel as a nation that belonged to Jehovah. The laws relating to agriculture, settlement of disputes, diet, cleanliness, dress, and such things were special standards by which His chosen people were to live before the Lord and apart from the world. That judicial law Jesus fulfilled on the cross. His crucifixion marked Israel’s ultimate apostasy in the final rejection other Messiah (see Matt. 27:25; John 19:15) and the interruption of God’s dealing with that people as a nation. With that the judicial law passed away, because Israel no longer served as His chosen nation. Before His crucifixion Jesus warned the Jews, “I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you” (Matt. 21:43). Praise God, He will someday redeem and restore Israel (Rom. 9–11) but in the meanwhile the church is His chosen body of people on earth (1 Pet. 2:9–10). All the redeemed-those who receive the work of His cross-are His chosen ones.

Jesus Fulfilled the Ceremonial Law

The ceremonial law governed the form of Israel’s worship. When Jesus died on the cross He fulfilled that law as well as the judicial. Sacrifice was the heart of all Old Testament worship, and as the perfect Sacrifice, Jesus brought all the other sacrifices to an end. While He was on the cross “the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom” (Matt. 27:51). Christ Himself was the new and perfect way into the Holy of Holies, into which any man could come by faith. “Since therefore, brethren, we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:19–22). The Levitical, priestly, sacrificial system ended. Though the Temple was not destroyed until a.d. 70, every offering made there after Jesus died was needless.

Symbolically they had no more significance. The Tabernacle and Temple sacrifices even before Christ’s death never had power to cleanse from sin. They were only pictures of the Messiah-Savior’s work of cleansing, pictures that pointed to that supreme manifestation of God’s mercy and grace. “When Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption” (Heb. 9:11–12).

The ceremonial law ended because it was fulfilled. Because the reality had come, the pictures and symbols had no more place or purpose. On the final Passover night of our Lord’s life, He instituted new symbols to commemorate His death. (The Prophet Ezekiel points to a future time in the kingdom when Old Testament symbols will be a renewed part of worship by the redeemed; see Ezek. 40–48.)

Aaron was the first and foremost high priest of the Old Covenant, but he could not compare with the great High Priest of the New Covenant. Aaron entered the earthly tabernacle, but Christ entered the heavenly. Aaron entered once a year, Christ once for all time. Aaron entered beyond the veil, Christ tore the veil in two. Aaron offered many sacrifices, Christ only one. Aaron sacrificed for his own sin, Christ only for the sins of others. Aaron offered the blood of bulls, Christ His own blood. Aaron was a temporary priest, Christ is an eternal one. Aaron was fallible, Christ infallible. Aaron was changeable, Christ unchangeable. Aaron was continual, Christ is final. Aaron’s sacrifice was imperfect, Christ’s was perfect. Aaron’s priesthood was insufficient, Christ’s is all-sufficient.

Nor could the Tabernacle and Temple compare with Christ. They each had a door, whereas Christ is the door. They had a brazen altar, but He is the altar. They had a laver, but He Himself cleanses from sin. They had many lamps that continually needed filling; He is the light of the world that shines eternally. They had bread that had to be replenished, but Christ is the eternal bread of life. They had incense, but Christ’s own prayers ascend for His saints. They had a veil, but His veil was His own body. They had a mercy seat, but He is now the mercy seat.

Nor could the offerings compare with Christ. The burnt offering spoke of perfection, but Christ was perfection incarnate. The meal offering spoke of dedication, but Jesus was Himself wholly dedicated to the Father. The peace offering spoke of peace, but Jesus is Himself our peace. The sin and trespass offerings spoke of substitution, but He is our Substitute.

Nor could the feasts compare to Christ. The Passover spoke of deliverance from physical death, whereas Christ is our Passover who delivers from spiritual death. The unleavened bread spoke of holiness, but Christ fulfilled all holiness. The first fruits spoke of harvest, but Jesus rose from the dead and became “the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). The feast of Tabernacles spoke of reunion, but only Christ is able one day to gather all of His people together in His heavenly house forever.

From Genesis 1:1 through Malachi 4:6, the Old Testament is Jesus Christ. It was inspired by Christ, it points to Christ, and it is fulfilled by Christ.

Over and over the New Testament tells us that the law could not make anyone righteous. Jesus had to do what the law could not. “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith” (Gal. 3:24). The law only pointed to righteousness, but Christ gives us righteousness, His own righteousness.

The judicial law and the ceremonial law were fulfilled and set aside. They ended at the cross. But the moral law fulfilled by Christ is still being fulfilled through His disciples. Because Christ fulfilled the law, so can those who belong to Him. God sent “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Rom. 8:3–4). When we walk in the Spirit we fulfill the righteousness of the law, because Christ in us fulfills it with His own righteousness which He has given to us.[2]


17 The formula “Do not think that” (or “Never think that,” Turner, Syntax, 77) is repeated by Jesus in 10:34 (cf. 3:9). Jesus’ two sayings were designed to set aside potential misunderstandings as to the nature of the kingdom, but neither demonstrably flows out of open confrontation on the issue at stake. Matthew has not yet recorded any charge that Jesus was breaking the law. (On the relation between these verses and the preceding pericopes, see W. J. Dumbull, “The Logic of the Role of the Law in Matthew 5:1–20,” NovT 23 [1981]: 1–21.)

Some have argued that many Jews in Jesus’ day believed that law would be set aside and a new law introduced at Messiah’s coming (cf. Davies, Setting, 109ff., 446ff.). But this view has been decisively qualified by R. Banks (“The Eschatological Role of Law,” in Pre- and Post-Christian Jewish Thought [ed. R. Banks; Exeter: Paternoster, 1982], 173–85; Jesus and the Law, 65ff.), who presents a more nuanced treatment.

The upshot of the debate is that the introductory words “Do not think that” must be understood, not as the refutation of some well-entrenched and clearly defined position, but as a teaching device Jesus used to clarify certain aspects of the kingdom and of his own mission and to remove potential misunderstandings. Moreover, comparison with 10:34 shows that the antithesis may not be absolute. Few would want to argue that there is no sense in which Jesus came to bring peace (see comments at v. 9). Why then argue that there is no sense in which Jesus abolishes the law?

The words “I have come” do not necessarily prove Jesus’ consciousness of his preexistence, for “coming” language can be used of prophets and indeed is used of the Baptist (11:18–19). But it can also speak of coming into the world (common in John; cf. 1 Ti 1:15) and, in light of Matthew’s prologue, is probably meant to attest Jesus’ divine origins. At very least, it shows Jesus was sent on a mission (cf. Maier).

Jesus’ mission was not to “abolish” (a term more frequently connected with the destruction of buildings [24:2; 26:61; 27:40], but not exclusively so [e.g., 2 Macc 2:22]) “the Law or the Prophets.” By these words Matthew forms a new inclusio (5:17–7:12), which marks out the body of the sermon and shows that Jesus is taking pains to relate his teaching and place in the history of redemption to the OT Scriptures. For that is what “the Law or the Prophets” here means—the Scriptures. The disjunctive “or” makes it clear that neither is to be abolished. The Jews of Jesus’ day could refer to the Scriptures as “the Law and the Prophets” (7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Lk 16:16; Jn 1:45; Ac 13:15; 28:23; Ro 3:21); “the Law …, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Lk 24:44); or just “the Law” (v. 18; Jn 10:34; 12:34; 15:25; 1 Co 14:21); the divisions were not yet stereotyped. Thus even if “or the Prophets” is redactional (Dalman, Jesus-Jeshua, 62, and many after him), the referent does not change when only law is mentioned in v. 18, but it may be a small hint that law also has a prophetic function (cf. 11:13, and comments there). Yet it is certainly illegitimate to see in “the Law or the Prophets” some vague reference to the will of God (so G. S. Sloyan, Is Christ the End of the Law? [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1978], 49–50; Sand, Gesetz und die Propheten, 186) and not to Scripture, especially in the light of v. 18.

The nub of the problem lies in the verb “fulfill” (plēroō, GK 4444). N. J. McEleney (“The Principles of the Sermon on the Mount,” JBL 41 [1979]: 552–70) finds the verb so difficult in a context (vv. 17–48) dealing with law that he judges it a late addition to the tradition. Not a few writers, especially Jewish scholars and some in the Reformed tradition, take the verb to reflect the Aramaic verb qûm (“establish,” “validate,” or “confirm” the law; GK 10624). Jesus did not come to abolish the law but to confirm it and establish it (e.g., Dalman, Jesus-Jeshua, 56–58; Daube, New Testament and Rabbinic Judaism, 60–61; Schlatter, 153–54.; and esp. Sigal, Halakhah of Jesus, 23ff.; Greg Bahnsen, Theonomy in Christian Ethics [Nutley, N.J.: Craig Press, 1979], 90ff.).

There are several objections.

  1. The focus of Matthew 5 is the relation between the OT and Jesus’ teaching, not his actions. So any interpretation that says Jesus fulfills the law by doing it misses the point of this passage.
  2. If it is argued that Jesus confirms the law, even its jot and tittle, by both his life and his teaching (e.g., Hill; Maier; Mark E. Ross, Let’s Study Matthew [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2009]); Ridderbos, Coming of the Kingdom, 292–321)—the latter understood as setting out his own halakah (rules of conduct) within the framework of the law (Sigal)—one marvels that the early church, as the other NT documents testify, misunderstood Jesus so badly on this point; and even the first gospel, as we shall see, is rendered inconsistent.
  3. The LXX never uses plēroō (“fulfill”) to render qûm or cognates (which prefer histēmi [GK 2705] or bebaioō [“establish” or “confirm,” GK 1011]). The verb plēroō renders mālēʾ (GK 4848) and means “to fulfill.” In OT usage, this characteristically refers to the “filling up” of volume or time, meanings that also appear in the NT (e.g., Ac 24:27; Ro 15:19). But though the NT uses plēroō in a number of ways, we are primarily concerned with what is meant by “fulfilling” the Scriptures. Included under this head are specific predictions, typological fulfillments, and even the entire eschatological hope epitomized in the OT by God’s covenant with his people (cf. C. F. D. Moule, “Fulfillment Words in the New Testament: Use and Abuse,” NTS 14 [1967–68]: 293–320; see comments at 2:15).

The lack of background for plēroō as far as it applies to Scripture requires cautious induction from the NT evidence. In a very few cases, notably James 2:23, the NT writers detect no demonstrable predictive force in the OT passage introduced. Rather, the OT text (in this case Ge 15:6) in some sense remains “empty” until Abraham’s action “fulfills” it. But Genesis 15:6 does not predict the action. Most NT uses of plēroō in connection with Scripture, however, require some teleological force (see Notes, 1:22); and even the ambiguous uses presuppose a typology that in its broadest dimensions is teleological, even if not in every detail (see comments at 2:15). In any case, the interchange of mālēʾ (“fulfill”) and qûm (“establish”) in the Targumim is not of sufficient importance to overturn the LXX evidence, not least owing to problems of dating the Targumim (cf. Meier, Law and History, 74; Banks, Jesus and the Law, 208–9).

Other views are not much more convincing. Many argue that Jesus is here referring only to moral law: the civil and ceremonial law are indeed abolished, but Jesus confirms the moral law (e.g., Hendriksen; D. Wenham, “Jesus and the Law: An Exegesis on Matthew 5:17–20,” Them 4 [1979]: 92–96). Although this tripartite distinction is old, its use as a basis for explaining the relationship between the Testaments is not demonstrably derived from the NT and probably does not antedate Aquinas (cf. R. J. Bauckham’s chapters in Carson, From Sabbath to Lord’s Day; Carson, “Jesus and the Sabbath”). Also, the interpretation is invalidated by the all-inclusive “not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen” (v. 18).

Others understand the verb plēroō to mean that Jesus “fills up” the law by providing its full, intended meaning (so Lenski), understood perhaps in terms of the double command to love (so O. Hanssen, “Zum Verständnis der Bergpredigt,” in Der Ruf Jesu und die Antwort der Gemeinde [ed. Edward Lohse; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1970], 94–111). This, however, requires an extraordinary meaning for plēroō, ignores the “jot and tittle” of v. 18, and misinterprets 22:34–40.

Still others, in various ways, argue that Jesus “fills up” the OT law by extending its demands to some better or transcendent righteousness (v. 20), again possibly understood in terms of the command to love (e.g., Lagrange; Grundmann; A. Feuillet, “Morale ancienne et morale chrétienne d’après Mt 5:17–20; Comparaison avec la doctrine de l’épître aux Romains,” NTS 17 [1970–71]: 123–37, esp. 124; Trilling, Das wahre Israel, 174–79). Thus the reference to prophets (v. 17) becomes obscure, and the entire structure is shaky in view of the fact that mere extension of law will not abolish any of its stringencies—yet in both Matthew and other NT documents some abolition is everywhere assumed. H. Ljungman (Das Gesetz erfüllen [Lund: Gleerup, 1954]) takes the “fulfillment” to refer to the fulfillment of Scripture in the self-surrender of the Messiah, which in turn brings forgiveness of sins and the new righteousness the disciples are both to receive and to do. But in addition to weaknesses of detail, it is hard to see how all this can be derived from vv. 17–20.

The best interpretation of these difficult verses says that Jesus fulfills the Law and the Prophets in that they point to him, and he is their fulfillment. The antithesis is not between “abolish” and “keep” but between “abolish” and “fulfill.” “For Matthew, then, it is not the question of Jesus’ relation to the law that is in doubt but rather its relation to him!” (R. Banks, “Matthew’s Understanding of the Law: Authenticity and Interpretation in Matthew 5:17–20,” JBL 93 [1974]: 226–42). Therefore, we see in plēroō (“fulfill”) exactly the same meaning as in the formula quotations, which in the prologue (Mt 1–2) have already laid great stress on the prophetic nature of the OT and the way it points to Jesus (see Davies and Allison; France [TNTC]; Gibbs; Turner; Roland Deines, Die Gerechtigkeit der Tora im Reich des Messias: Mt 5:13–20 als Schlüsseltext der mattäischen Theologie [WUNT 177; Tübingen: Mohr, 2004]). Even OT events have this prophetic significance (see comments at 2:15). “It is eschatological actualization that is in view” (Tom Wells and Fred Zaspel, New Covenant Theology [Frederick, Md.: New Covenant Media, 2002], 115). A little later Jesus insists that “all the Prophets and the Law prophesied” (11:13).

The manner of the prophetic foreshadowing varies. The exodus, Matthew argues (2:15), foreshadows the calling out of Egypt of God’s “son.” The writer to the Hebrews argues that many cultic regulations of the OT pointed to Jesus and are now obsolete. In the light of the antitheses (vv. 21–48), the passage before us insists that just as Jesus fulfilled OT prophecies by his person and actions, so he fulfilled OT law by his teaching. In no case does this “abolish” the OT as canon, any more than the obsolescence of the Levitical sacrificial system abolishes tabernacle ritual as canon. Instead, the OT’s real and abiding authority must be understood through the person and teaching of him to whom it points and who so richly fulfills it.

As in Luke 16:16–17, Jesus is not announcing the termination of the OT’s relevance and authority (else Lk 16:17 would be incomprehensible), but that “the period during which men were related to God under its terms ceased with John” (Moo, “Jesus and the Authority of the Mosaic Law,” esp. 23); and the nature of its valid continuity is established only with reference to Jesus and the kingdom. The general structure of this interpretation has been well set forth by Banks (Jesus and the Law), Meier (Law and History), Moo (“Jesus and the Authority of the Mosaic Law”; see also his “The Law of Christ as the Fulfillment of the Law of Moses: A Modified Lutheran View,” in The Law, the Gospel, and the Modern Christian [ed. Wayne G. Strickland; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993], 319–76), Wells and Zaspel (New Covenant Theology), and, at a popular level, Carson (Sermon on the Mount, 33–40). For a somewhat similar approach, see McConnell (Law and Prophecy, 96–97), who points out that Jesus’ implicit authority is also found in the closing verses of the sermon (7:21–23) where as eschatological Judge he exercises the authority of God alone. Of course, if Jesus fulfills the law and the prophets in this eschatological sense, such fulfillment brings with it both continuity and discontinuity. The authority of the older revelation is not called into question, but its continuing power lies not in unchanging legal prescription but in that to which it points, its fulfillment.

Several objections to this view have been raised. One is that the use of “to fulfill” in the fulfillment quotations is in the passive voice, whereas here the voice is active. But it is doubtful whether much can be made out of this distinction (cf. Meier, Law and History, 80–81). Perhaps one of the weightiest objections has come from Greg Welty (“Eschatological Fulfilment and the Confirmation of Mosaic Law: A Response to D. A. Carson and Fred Zaspel on Matthew 5:17–48” [http://www.the-highway.com/mosaic-law_Welty.html], last revised on March 28, 2002). Welty’s lengthy discussion depends almost entirely on his claim that what is being argued here is that OT prophecies are fulfilled in Jesus’ person and actions, while OT law is fulfilled in the teaching of Jesus. But that means the former category cannot be used as a reliable analogy of the latter—and the latter Welty finds incoherent for a number of reasons. But it is very doubtful that such a sharp antithesis can legitimately be introduced:

(a) Matthew 11:13 insists that both the Law and the Prophets prophesy. Similarly here: Jesus comes to fulfill both the Law and the Prophets.

(b) It is not only OT prophecies (understood as verbal predictions) that “prophesy” and are “fulfilled,” but very frequently the “prophecies” are in fact legal structures and institutions that “prophesy” and are “fulfilled.” They are, in short, typologies that establish patterns that point forward. That is presupposed by Paul, for instance, when he tells us that Christ our Passover has been sacrificed (1 Co 5:7): the legally established Passover of the Mosaic covenant is a prophecy that anticipates the ultimate “Passover.” It is presupposed again when texts that describe David or some other early Davidic king are said to be “fulfilled” in King Jesus, the ultimate Davidide.

(c) When one speaks of “prophecy” and “fulfillment” in this larger eschatological sense, inevitably there is both continuity and discontinuity between the prophecy and the fulfillment. If X in some sense prophesies Y, and Y in some sense fulfills X, it is impossible to think of continuity alone. Equally, however, it is impossible to think of discontinuity alone, for all links between X and Y would disappear. If the ancient Passover celebration anticipates Christ our Passover, the discontinuities are plain: Jesus is not a literal lamb, his blood was never put on the two doorposts and the lintel, he is not eaten by a family, and so forth. Yet the fundamental continuity is equally plain: Just as the death of the Passover lamb and the sprinkling of its blood ensured that the angel of death “passed over” the house, so the death of Christ our Passover and the shedding of his blood ensure that those protected by Christ escape the certainty of death and judgment. The Passover ritual simultaneously looked back to the Passover night in Egypt, and looked forward to the ultimate Passover sacrifice.

(d) One must not forget the commonplace observation that tōrâ (GK 9368), “law,” fundamentally means “instruction” rather than “legal demand” (Lat. lex). The “instructions” or “laws” related to the observation of Passover celebrations clearly (from the perspective of NT writers) point forward to the ultimate Passover. It is difficult to imagine why “laws” such as “Do not commit murder” might not also point forward to something deeper—not merely the prohibition of murder but the promised transformation of God’s image bearers such that they will love. The orientation, in other words, is eschatological. In other words, the bifurcations that Welty detects simply are not there.

(e) It appears that the fundamental reason why Welty cannot allow something called “law” to foreshadow the teaching of Jesus is that he is operating with an a priori definition of moral law. Thus in the antitheses (vv. 21–48), when Jesus says, for instance, that under his authority the prohibition of adultery includes the prohibition of lust, Welty says this is merely unpacking moral dimensions that are implicit in the OT commandment; there is no discontinuity. But it is better to say that the “fulfillment” terminology suggests that all the moral dimensions Jesus delineates are not already in the legal antecedent but are precisely that to which the legal antecedent points. In other words, both Welty and this exposition usually come out at the same place when it comes to understanding what Jesus is teaching and demanding, but Welty claims such material was already present in the OT law—and thus he loses the eschatological framework, the sense that the new fulfills the old.

(f) The approach adopted here does not render useless the category of “moral law.” The difference is this: Welty and many others promote an a priori definition of moral law as that law which never changes, unlike civil and ceremonial law, both of which pass away as the locus of the people of God escapes the national boundaries of the OT and becomes an international community, and the ceremonies give way to the realities. This a priori understanding of moral law then becomes the criterion by which to establish patterns of continuity and discontinuity between the Testaments, without first taking on board the categories used by the biblical writers themselves. By contrast, one might usefully come up with an a posteriori (“after the fact”) definition of moral law. One might attempt to delineate the patterns of continuity and discontinuity between the Testament on their own terms and then label “moral” those instructions and laws that change the least across time (contra Richard Barcellos, In Defense of the Decalogue: A Critique of New Covenant Theology [Enumclaw, Wash.: Winepress, 2001]).

(g) Finally, we should reflect on 7:12, where, we are told, the Golden Rule “sums up” the Law and the Prophets. The verb used is estin (“is,” GK 1639)—but transparently this verb takes on various emphases from its context. It cannot in 7:12 be making an ontological claim (that would be silly); the NIV attempts to catch the idea by rendering it “sums up.” One might as easily supply “fulfills,” as in Acts 2:16 and elsewhere. This is all the more attractive when one observes that 7:12 closes the body of the Sermon on the Mount as the paragraph vv. 17–20 opens it.

Three theological conclusions are inevitable. First, if the antitheses (vv. 21–48) are understood in the light of this interpretation of vv. 17–20, then Jesus is not engaged there primarily in extending, annulling, or intensifying OT law but in showing the direction in which it points, on the basis of his own authority (to which, again, the OT points). This may work out in any particular case to have the same practical effect as “intensifying” the law or “annulling” some element; but the reasons for that conclusion are quite different. On the ethical implications of this interpretation, see the essay by Moo (“Jesus and the Authority of the Mosaic Law”).

Second, if vv. 17–20 are essentially authentic (cf. Davies, Christian Origins, 31–66) and the above interpretation is sound, the christological implications are important. Here Jesus presents himself as the eschatological goal of the OT and thereby its sole authoritative interpreter, the one through whom alone the OT finds its valid continuity and significance.

Third, this approach eliminates the need to pit Matthew against Paul, or Palestinian Jewish Christians against Pauline Gentile believers, the first lot adhering to Mosaic stipulations and the second abandoning them. Nor do we need the solution of Brice Martin (“Matthew and Paul on Christ and the Law: Compatible or Incompatible Theologies?” [PhD diss., McMaster Univ., 1976]), who argues that Matthew’s and Paul’s approaches to law are noncomplementary but noncontradictory; they simply employ different categories. This fails to wrestle with Matthew’s positioning of Jesus within the history of redemption; and Paul well understood that the Law and the Prophets pointed beyond themselves (e.g., Ro 3:21; Gal 3–4; cf. Ro 8:4). The focus returns to Jesus, which is where, on the face of it, both Paul and Matthew intend it to be. The groundwork is laid out in the Gospels for an understanding of Jesus as the one who established the essentially christological and eschatological approach to the OT employed by Paul. But this is made clearer in v. 18.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 97). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 248–259). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 172–177). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MARCH 29. 2017 – OUR FUTURE REWARDS

Every man shall receive his own reward.

1 Corinthians 3:8

Our motives in the Christian life should be both right and genuine. God is the Faithful One. We are to love Him and serve Him because He is God—not because of the gracious things He does for us or for the rewards He promises us!

However, it should be said that God does not expect us to forget or ignore the gracious future promises He has made to us. It is a glorious truth that if we believe God and honor His Word, if we walk by faith in love and obedience, there will be eternal rewards for each of us in that great coming day. The rewards will differ. Wisdom and knowledge and love reside in Him who is our God. He will make the right judgments for His people.

I for one will not be surprised if some of God’s faithful people serving Him today should rise as high and shine as brightly as the heroes of faith listed in the book of Hebrews.

I say that in all truthfulness because I do not think that all of the heroes of faith are dead and gone!

Praise to the Lord from whom all blessings flow! I worship You today, the mighty God of all creation![1]


8 Paul develops the agricultural imagery further by emphasizing that both the planter and the waterer have one purpose, namely, to see to it that there is a harvest from what has been sown. And if there is a decent harvest, there will obviously be a “reward” (misthos, GK 3635) awaiting each one for the hard work put into the project. The word misthos is used in the Gospels and elsewhere in the NT for the spiritual reward one receives. In some passages (e.g., Mt 5:12; Mk 9:41; Lk 6:23; 2 Jn 8; Rev 22:12) it denotes a “reward” given in heaven; in other passages (e.g., Mt 20:8; Ro 4:4) it means “wages,” which metaphorically points to one’s eternal reward. Paul’s meaning for this word falls in line with this usage, and here he is setting up the discussion he will explore in 1 Corinthians 3:12–15.[2]


3:8 are one. All the human instruments God uses to produce salvation life are equally considered and rewarded for their willingness to be used by God. But all the glory goes to Him, who alone saves. Because of that, the silly favoritism of v. 4; 1:12 is condemned. [3]


God does not fail to recognize the faithful work of His servants. Each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. God will “give their reward to [His] bond–servants the prophets and to the saints and to those who fear [His] name, the small and the great” (Rev. 11:18). That is the uniqueness of future glory.

God rewards on the basis of labor, not success or results. A missionary may work faithfully for 40 years and see only a handful of converts. Another may work far fewer years and see far more converts. Jeremiah was one of God’s most faithful and dedicated prophets, yet he saw little result of his ministry. He was ridiculed, persecuted, and generally rejected along with the message he preached. Jonah, on the other hand, was petty and unwilling, yet through him God won the entire city of Nineveh in one brief campaign. Our usefulness and effectiveness are purely by God’s grace (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10).

It is appropriate that God’s faithful servants be appreciated and encouraged while they are on earth. But they are not to be glorified, set apart, or made the center of special groups or movements.[4]


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

[2] 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. 284). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Co 3:8). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 74–75). Chicago: Moody Press.

MARCH 29, 2017 – TRUE WISDOM: LISTENING TO THE WORDS JESUS SPOKE

Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said; This is an hard saying, who can hear it?

JOHN 6:60

In the world of men we find nothing approaching the virtues of which Jesus spoke in the opening words of the famous Sermon on the Mount. Instead of poverty of spirit we find the rankest kind of pride; instead of meekness, arrogance; instead of mourners we find pleasure seekers; instead of hunger after righteousness we hear men saying, “I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing”; instead of mercy we find cruelty; instead of purity of heart, corrupt imaginings; instead of peacemakers we find men quarrelsome and resentful; instead of rejoicing in mistreatment we find them fighting back with every weapon at their command!

Into a world like this the sound of Jesus’ words comes wonderful and strange, a visitation from above. It is well that He spoke, for no one else could have done it as well; and it is good that we listen, for His words are the essence of truth.

Jesus does not offer an opinion for He never uttered opinions. He never guessed; He knew, and He knows! His words are not as Solomon’s were, the sum of sound wisdom or the results of keen observation. He spoke out of the fullness of His Godhead, and His words are very Truth itself. He is the only one who could say “blessed” with complete authority for He is the Blessed One come from the world above to confer blessedness upon mankind!

Best of all, His words were supported by deeds mightier than any performed on this earth by another man.

It is wisdom for us to listen![1]


Unable to swallow Jesus’ teaching any longer, these disciples, when they heard His words, said, “This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it?” It finally dawned on them that following Jesus meant far more than merely hanging around Him, hoping to see and experience the physical benefits of His power. The adjective sklēros (difficult) literally means “rough,” “withered,” or “stiff.” Figuratively, it describes something harsh, unpleasant, or hard to accept (cf. Matt. 25:24; Acts 26:14; Jude 15). Here it and the parallel statement who can listen to it? describe Jesus’ statement not as incomprehensible, but as unacceptable. They rejected His words as objectionable and offensive. Like those who dismissed Jesus’ teaching outright, they were scandalized by His claim to have come down from heaven (vv. 33, 38, 41–42, 50–51), His contention that He was the only answer to mankind’s spiritual need (vv. 33, 35, 40), and His call for them to eat His flesh and drink His blood (51–57). In reality, however, what shut them out of the kingdom was not Jesus’ teaching being unacceptable, but rather their being unbelieving and unaccepting.

Their reaction is typical of false disciples: as long as they perceived Jesus to be a source of healing, free food, and deliverance from enemy oppression, the self-serving disciples flocked to Him. But when He demanded that they acknowledge their spiritual bankruptcy, confess their sin, and commit themselves to Him as the only source of salvation, they became offended and left. Like countless other false disciples throughout the history of the church, they followed Jesus for what they thought they could get from Him. True disciples, on the other hand, come to Christ poor in spirit (Matt. 5:3), mourning over their sin (5:4), and hungering and thirsting for the righteousness that only He can supply (5:6). Our Lord left nothing to doubt when He identified the elements of true discipleship:

If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? (Luke 9:23–25; cf. Matt. 10:34–39)

False disciples do not follow Christ because of who He is, but because of what they want from Him. They have no problem viewing Him as a baby in the manger at Christmas; a social reformer with a broad message of love and tolerance; the ideal human everyone should emulate; or a source of health, wealth, and worldly happiness. But they are unwilling to embrace the biblical Jesus—the God-man who fearlessly rebuked sinners and warned them of eternal hell, and that salvation from that hell comes only through believing His words (John 5:24). Those who resist or reject Jesus’ teaching fail the test of true discipleship that He Himself laid down in John 8:31: “So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, ‘If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine’ ” (cf. 15:8). Continued obedience to the words of Jesus Christ always marks true disciples (cf. 1 John 2:3–5). [2]


60 The initial response of Jesus’ followers was that what he had been saying was “a hard teaching.” It was “hard” not so much because they couldn’t understand it but because they found it offensive. The claims that Jesus was greater than Moses (vv. 32–33), that he had come down from heaven to bring life to all who believe (vv. 38–40), and that by eating his flesh and drinking his blood a person would live forever (v. 54) were so far-reaching that many of those who heard found them incredible, to say the least. These assertions were difficult to accept because they were so inconceivable. It is one thing to listen to sound moral teaching and respect the teacher, but what can be said about a person who makes such grandiose claims regarding his relationship to God and the significance of his own person and ministry! Those who did not believe could arrive at only one conclusion: if Jesus were not demented, he was at least a paranoid suffering severe delusions of grandeur.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 269–270). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 451–452). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 29, 2017 – A Suffering Standard

For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens.

1 Peter 3:18

Jesus was executed as a criminal on a cross. Yet He was guilty of no crime—no wrong, no trespass, no sin. He never had an evil thought or spoke an evil word. His was the most unjust execution ever perpetrated on a human being. Yet it shows us that though a person may be perfectly within the will of God—greatly loved and gifted, perfectly righteous and obedient—he may still experience unjust suffering. Like Jesus, you may be misunderstood, misrepresented, hated, persecuted, and even murdered. Yet you must follow His standard.[1]


His Triumphant Sin-Bearing

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, (3:18a)

The conjunctions also and for point Peter’s readers back to the previous passage (3:13–17) and remind them that they ought not to be surprised or discouraged by suffering, since Christ triumphed in His suffering even though He died an excruciating death, and that of the most horrific kind—crucifixion. In contrast, the author of the letter to the Hebrews reminded his readers who suffered that they had “not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood” (12:4). Most believers will not die as martyrs, but even when they do, that death is the wages of their sin (Rom. 6:23). All people die because they are sinful, which makes even a death for righteousness’ sake a just death, in a sense. Man deserves to die; Jesus did not.

Some translations (e.g., kjv, nkjv) of this verse render died as “suffered,” a reading based on variant Greek manuscripts. But the different translations do not change the meaning: Christ suffered in that He died for sins. Sin caused the sinless Christ’s death. This is the supreme example of suffering for righteousness’ sake (v. 18), and He willingly endured it on behalf of sinners (Isa. 53:4–6, 8–12; Matt. 26:26–28; John 1:29; 10:11, 15; Rom. 5:8–11; 8:32; 1 Cor. 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:15, 18–19; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 2:13–16; Col. 1:20–22; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Tim. 2:5–6; Heb. 2:9, 17; 7:27; 9:12, 24–28; 10:10; 13:12; 1 John 1:7; 2:2; 4:10; Rev. 1:5; 5:9). Earlier in this letter, Peter asserted that Christ “committed no sin” (2:22). He never had a single thought, word, or action that did not fully please God; rather His behavior in every respect was perfectly holy (Isa. 53:11; Luke 1:35; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; cf. John 5:30; Heb. 1:9).

So Jesus died for sins in that He was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28; cf. Rom. 8:3; Heb. 10:5–10). In the Old Testament economy, God required animal sacrifices to symbolize the need to atone for sin by the death of an innocent substitute (Ex. 29:31–33, 36; Lev. 1:4–5; 8:34; 16:2–16; 17:11; 23:26–27; Num. 15:25; 1 Chron. 6:49); the New Testament presents Christ as that perfect sacrifice who fulfilled all the symbols in the reality of atoning for all sinners who would ever believe (John 3:14–15; Rom. 5:6–11; 1 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 9:11–14, 24, 28; 12:24; 13:11–12).

The phrase once for all translates the word hapax, which means “of perpetual validity, not requiring repetition.” For the Jews so familiar with their sacrificial system, that was a new concept. To atone for sin, they had slaughtered millions of animals over the centuries. During their annual Passover celebration, as many as a quarter million sheep would be sacrificed. But Jesus Christ’s one sacrificial death ended that insufficient parade of animals to the altar and was sufficient for all and for all time (Heb. 1:3; 7:26–27; 9:24–28; 10:10–12), as He took the punishment due the elect and bore it for them, thus fully satisfying God’s righteous judgment.

Thus, in Christ’s substitutionary death, He suffered the just for the unjust. As the perfect offering for sin, He willingly (John 10:15–18) and in accord with the Father’s redemptive purpose from before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; 13:27–29; cf. 2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:8) took upon Himself the entire penalty due the unrighteous (2:24). No text says it more concisely than 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Much more can be said about sin and imputation, as is elsewhere (cf. Rom. 3–6), but here Peter directs his statements at the practical, referring to the substitutionary suffering of Jesus as an illustration of how the most extreme affliction and injustice resulted in the singularly supreme triumph of salvation. This should be eminently encouraging to believers who suffer unjustly.

The triumph in Christ’s death is expressed in the phrase that He might bring [believers] to God. The divine tearing of the temple veil from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51) symbolically demonstrated the reality that He had opened the way to God. The heavenly Holy of Holies, the “throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16), was made available for immediate access by all true believers. As royal priests (2:9), all believers are welcomed into God’s presence (Heb. 4:16; 10:19–22).

The verb translated He might bring (prosagō) expresses the specific purpose of Jesus’ actions. It often describes someone’s being introduced or given access to another. In classical Greek the noun form refers to the one making the introduction. In ancient courts certain officials controlled access to the king. They verified someone’s right to see him and then introduced that person to the monarch. Christ now performs that function for believers. Hebrews 6:20 says concerning the inner court of heaven that He “has entered as a forerunner for [believers], having become a high priest forever.” Christ entered to bring the elect into communion with God (cf. Ps. 110:4; Heb. 2:17–18; 3:1–2; 4:14–15; 5:4–6; 7:17, 21–22, 25; 8:1–2, 6; 9:13–14).

Christ’s Triumphant Sermon

having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, (3:18b–20a)

Some critics have disputed Christ’s resurrection from the dead by claiming He never died in the first place. According to such skeptical reasoning, He merely fainted into a semi-coma on the cross, was revived in the coolness of the tomb, unwrapped Himself, and walked out. But the phrase having been put to death in the flesh leaves no doubt that on the cross Jesus’ physical life ceased. To hasten the deaths of the two thieves at Calvary crucified on either side of Christ, the Roman executioners broke their legs (John 19:31–32). (Crucifixion victims postponed their deaths as long as possible by pushing themselves up on their legs, which allowed them to gasp for another breath.) However, the soldiers did not bother to break Christ’s legs because they could see He was already dead. Confirming that reality, one of them pierced His side with a spear, causing blood and water to flow out, a physiological sign He was certainly dead (19:33–37).

The phrase made alive in the spirit is a reference to Jesus’ eternal inner person. The Greek text omits the definite article, which suggests Peter was not referring to the Holy Spirit, but that the Lord was spiritually alive, contrasting the condition of Christ’s flesh (body) with that of His spirit. His eternal spirit has always been alive, although His earthly body was then dead; but three days later His body was resurrected in a transformed and eternal state.

Some interpreters think the aforementioned phrase describes Jesus’ resurrection. But if the apostle had intended to make such a reference he would have used an expression such as, “He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the flesh.” The resurrection was not merely a spiritual reality—it was physical (cf. Luke 24:39; John 20:20, 27). Thus Peter’s point here must be that though Jesus’ body was dead, He remained alive in His spirit (cf. Luke 23:46).

Although Christ is the One who is eternal life itself (1 John 5:20), He did experience a kind of spiritual death—defined not as cessation of existence but an experience of separation from God. While on the cross, Jesus was fully conscious as He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). That utterance reflected His temporary and humanly incomprehensible sense of alienation from the Father while God’s full wrath and the burden of sinners’ iniquities were placed on Him and judged (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:10–13; Heb. 9:28). For that brief time, Christ’s experience paralleled the condition of unbelievers who live, paradoxically, in spiritual death (separation from God) in this life and face divine judgment in physical death (cf. Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:41, 46; Mark 9:43–48; John 3:36; Rev. 20:15). In His death for sin and resurrection to eternal glory, Christ conquered death; however, unregenerate sinners die their own deaths for their unrepented sins and go to eternal shame and punishment.

In which also refers to what occurred with His living spirit while His dead physical body lay in the tomb (concerning His burial, see Matt. 27:57–60; John 19:38–42). He went (poreuomai) denotes going from one place to another (see also v. 22, where the word is used concerning the ascension). When the text says Christ made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, it is indicating that He purposefully went to an actual place to make a triumphant announcement to captive beings before He arose on the third day.

The verb rendered made proclamation (kērussō) means that Christ “preached” or “heralded” His triumph. In the ancient world, heralds would come to town as representatives of the rulers to make public announcements or precede generals and kings in the processions celebrating military triumphs, announcing victories won in battle. This verb is not saying that Jesus went to preach the gospel, otherwise Peter would likely have used a form of the verb euangelizō (“to evangelize”). Christ went to proclaim His victory to the enemy by announcing His triumph over sin (cf. Rom. 5:18–19; 6:5–6), death (cf. Rom. 6:9–10; 1 Cor. 15:54–55), hell, demons, and Satan (cf. Gen. 3:15; Col. 2:15; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8).

Christ directed His proclamation to the spirits, not human beings, otherwise he would have used psuchai (“souls”) instead of pneumasin, a word the New Testament never uses to refer to people except when qualified by a genitive (e.g., Heb. 12:23; “the spirits of the righteous”).

Ever since the fall of Satan and his demons, there has been an ongoing cosmic conflict between the angelic forces of good and evil (cf. Job 1–2; Dan. 10:13; Zech. 3:1; Eph. 6:16; Rev. 12:3–4; 16:12–14). After the devil’s apparent victory in inducing Adam and Eve (and consequently all their descendants) to fall into sin (Gen. 3:1–7; Rom. 5:12–14), God promised to the Evil One himself eventual destruction by Messiah, who would triumph with a crushing victory over him, despite suffering a minor wound from him (Gen. 3:15). Satan therefore sought to prevent this by the genocide of the Jews (cf. Est. 3:1–4:3) and the destruction of the Messianic line itself during the time of Joash (2 Chron. 22:10–12; cf. 23:3, 12–21). When all that failed, he attempted to kill the infant Messiah (Matt. 2:16–18). Thwarted at that, he tried to tempt Christ Himself to abandon His mission (Matt. 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–13). Later, Satan incited the Jewish leaders and their followers to mob action that resulted in the Lord’s crucifixion (Mark 15:6–15). The diabolical Jewish leaders even saw to it that Jesus’ tomb was guarded lest He exit the grave (Matt. 27:63–66). The demons may have been celebrating their seeming victory in the wake of Christ’s death and burial—but only to soon be profoundly and permanently disappointed when the living Christ Himself arrived. The angelic spirits Christ was to address were now in prison (phulakē; an actual place of imprisonment, not merely a condition).

At the present time believers must struggle against the powers of the unbound demon forces as those forces influence them through the corrupt world system over which Satan has rule. The apostle Paul told the Ephesian church, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12), which clearly says that the demonic hierarchy is actively and freely conducting its evil work in the world. It was not to such unbound spirits, but to the bound demons that Christ went to announce His triumph.

The book of Revelation calls this prison the “bottomless pit,” literally the “pit of the abyss.” Some analysis of Revelation 9:1–2 provides further understanding of the prison and its captive subjects.

With his theater of operations now restricted to the earth, and his time running out (cf. 12:12), Satan will now seek to marshal all of his demonic hosts—those already on earth, those cast to earth with him, and those incarcerated in the bottomless pit (literally “the pit of the abyss”). Abussos (bottomless) appears seven times in Revelation, always in reference to the abode of incarcerated demons (cf. 9:2, 11; 11:7; 17:8). Satan himself will be held prisoner there during the Millennium, chained and locked up with the other demonic prisoners (20:1, 3).

Scripture teaches that God has sovereignly chosen to incarcerate certain demons in that pit of punishment. Second Peter 2:4 says that “God did not spare angels when then sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.” The phrase “cast them into hell” is a participle derived from the Greek noun Tartarus. Just as Jesus used a term for hell derived from the Jewish vernacular (Gehenna; cf. Matt. 5:22), so Peter chose a term from Greek mythology with which his readers would be familiar. Tartarus was the name used in Greek literature for the place where the worst sinners, those who had offended the gods personally, went after death and were punished. The place where God keeps demons imprisoned is actually different from the imaginary place of Greek mythology. Yet the use of the term Tartarus does seem to convey the idea that because of the heinousness of their sin, God has imprisoned certain fallen angels in such a place of severest torment and isolation. They remain in that place, awaiting their sentencing to final punishment in the eternal lake of fire (Rev. 20:10, 13–14).

The demons incarcerated in the abyss are undoubtedly the most wicked, vile, and perverted of all the fallen angels. Jude describes some of them as “angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode,” noting that God “has kept [them] in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 6–7). That passage describes certain fallen angels who left the angelic domain to indulge in sexual sin with humans, just as the men of Sodom and Gomorrah attempted to engage in perverted sex with angels (Gen. 19:1, 4–5).

Peter reveals when this angelic sin occurred:

-For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (1 Peter 3:18–20).

The “spirits now in prison” in the abyss are those “who once were disobedient … in the days of Noah.” They are the demons who cohabited with human women in Satan’s failed attempt to corrupt the human race … (Gen. 6:1–4). That demons still fear being sent to the abyss is evident from the fact that some pled with Jesus not to send them there (Luke 8:31). That suggests that other demons have been incarcerated there since the events of Genesis 6. The demons released by Satan at the fifth trumpet may not include those who sinned in Noah’s day (cf. Jude 6), since they are said to be in “eternal bonds” (Jude 6) until the final day when they are sent to the eternal lake of fire (20:10; Jude 7). Other demons imprisoned in the abyss may be the ones released. So the pit is the preliminary place of incarceration for demons from which some are to be released under this judgment. (John MacArthur, Revelation 1–11, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1999], 257–58)

Peter further identifies the demons to whom Christ preached His triumphant sermon as those who once were disobedient. As the reason that God bound them permanently in the place of imprisonment, that disobedience is specifically related to something that happened in the time of Noah.

What was that disobedience that had such severe and permanent results? Peter’s readers must have been familiar with the specific sin committed by the imprisoned demons because the apostle did not elaborate on it. Genesis 6:1–4 gives the account of this demonic disobedience:

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

Satan and his angels had already rebelled and been thrown out of heaven and eternally fixed in a state of unmixed wickedness. Satan had been successful in the Garden and his demonic force had been at work motivating corruption in the world.

The Genesis 6 account was perhaps the most heinous effort they made related to the God-ordained provision of marriage (v. 1). The demons mounted an attack on marriage and procreation that wickedly influenced subsequent generations.

“The sons of God” are juxtaposed against “the daughters of men.” The contrast is between supernatural beings and women. “Sons of God” cannot be men, or they would be called “sons of men.” Neither can they be righteous men of a righteous line of people, or Sethites (as some suggest), because that does not contrast with “daughters of men,” as if all women were unrighteous or all righteous “sons of God” were men only.

The oldest interpretation, the traditional Jewish view of ancient rabbis and modern Jewish commentators, as well as of the church fathers, is that “the sons of God” were demons, or fallen angels. The context of judgment in the Flood precludes holy angels from being in view (see Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary [Waco, Tex.: Word, 1987), 1:139).

The phrase “sons of God” (Heb., bene haelohim) always refers to angels in its other Old Testament uses (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Pss. 29:1; 89:6). The term is always used of those brought directly into being by God—not those who are procreated through human birth, such as Sethites, nobles, kings, or aristocracy. Heavenly spirits are being contrasted with earthly women. These, then, are fallen angels who acted perversely, overstepping the boundaries of their realm. They defied God by leaving their spirit world to enter the human realm (as Satan had entered the animal world in Eden). This is the first biblical record of demon-possession, demons indwelling people.

Those wicked spirits were drawn to females, whom they saw as “beautiful” in some perverse and lascivious way. They are “the daughters” mentioned in 6:1 (not a special class of women), whom the demons took for wives. The Hebrew is Laqach, which describes marriage transactions (Gen. 4:19; 11:29; 12:19; 20:2–3; 25:1), not rape or fornication.

That certainly raises the question: How can spirit beings marry women? It is possible only if they dwell in human bodies, as angels can and have done (cf. Gen. 18:1–2, 8; 19:1, 5; Heb. 13:2). Those demons entered men’s bodies (a phenomenon frequently encountered by Christ and the apostles in the Gospel record), as is clear from the children who were born from those unions (Gen. 6:4). Though the children were human, there was a pervasive influence on them from the demons.

Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The Lord said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Gen. 6:5–7)

That the people were open to demons shows the evil of man at the time. Those wicked, demon-possessed men then produced a generation that was nothing but corrupt inside and out, needing to be destroyed.

Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth. (Gen. 6:11–13)

The original temptation in the Garden may help explain the demonic strategy:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’ ” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die! For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. (Gen. 3:1–6)

Satan’s plan in Eden was to convince Eve that she could become like God. She and Adam could be exalted to a higher life, escaping even the few limitations they experienced. If that was attractive—becoming more “supernatural”—before sin and death reigned, how attractive would it be after? Genesis 4 and 5 record that death reigned through all of creation and, with it, pain and sorrow (eight times in chapter 5 the phrase “he died” appears). It would be consistent with Satan’s strategy to promise a supernatural elevation, a transcendent experience, communion with the spirits, and even victory over death and eternal life, through a perverse marital union.

Satan has always promised that if man is open to the spirit world, he can circumvent judgment and gain immortality. That insidious promise has a familiar ring to it. Certain false religions since then, beginning as early as the Babylonian mystery religions with their pagan fertility rites, have promised some magical way for humans to attain a higher level of existence (immortality or even godhood), with out-of-the-ordinary sexual relations playing a key part in the process.

But in spite of Satan’s involvement and promise, the offspring of the Genesis 6 unions, though demonized, were only human beings and therefore targets for the divine judgment about to occur. When God drowned the world 120 years later, they would all perish because they were all “flesh” (Gen. 6:3). They were nothing other than depraved, demon-dominated people.

Genesis 6:4 adds: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” “Nephilim” transliterates a Hebrew word meaning “the falling ones” or those of great power that crushes people. The text says they were on the earth already when the embodied demons went after the women. The term is used in one other place, Numbers 13:30–33, where it describes not a race of people, since none survived the Flood, but people in the land of Canaan who were powerful conquerors threatening Israel. When the faithless spies who went into Canaan wanted to stop Israel from going to battle, they described the people as Nephilim, borrowing the ancient transliteration to make their point, because the word was familiarly used to describe frightening enemies.

The phrase “and also afterward” makes the purpose of the Nephilim’s mention clear. After the “sons of God” and “daughters of men” married, they proliferated children who were like the Nephilim—“mighty men who were of old, men of renown.” Out of those unions came an abundance of infamous, powerful warriors, who like the Nephilim were heroes in a dangerous way—attaining power, reputation, and inducing fear in ancient times by being fierce and deadly. All of those offspring, along with the earlier Nephilim, were drowned, with the rest of the world (Genesis 7:23–24).

What seals this interpretation is the text here by Peter. The Lord proclaimed His triumph over Satan, sin, death and hell to the very worst of demons, who disobeyed God in the worst manner in the days of Noah before the Flood. The fallen angels’ long effort to demonize people, hinder the redemptive purpose of God, and prevent the “seed” of the woman (Gen. 3:15) from crushing Satan’s head and sending the demons into the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15) was ultimately foiled at the Cross.

In his second letter, Peter also briefly refers to the bound demons’ sin:

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter. (2 Peter 2:4–6)

The perversion that brought the Flood is linked to the perversion that brought the fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18–19). Jude makes the same parallel:

And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. (vv. 6–7)

Those wicked spirits were sent to the abyss because they overstepped the boundaries of God’s tolerance. They filled the earth with their wretchedness to such an extent that not even 120 years of Noah’s preaching convinced anyone beyond his family to repent, believe in God, and escape His judgment. Since that time, the demons who committed such heinous sins had been bound and imprisoned when Jesus died at Calvary. Perhaps by then they thought He had lost the upper hand over them, but such was not the case. Instead He appeared in their midst and proclaimed His triumph. Colossians 2:15 declares, “When [God] had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through [Christ].”

Peter’s point is riveting and dramatic—believers will suffer “for the sake of righteousness” (3:14), for doing what is right (v. 17). All suffering believers can be encouraged that such is not a disaster but rather the path to spiritual victory. The unequalled example of such triumph is the Lord Himself, who suffered unjustly and through that suffering conquered sin and the demons of hell (v. 22). God indeed uses unjust persecution mightily for His holy purposes.[2]


18 Immediately preceding this verse, the writer stresses the Christian response to persecution. Believers are thus to look to their Lord: “For Christ suffered …” (NIV, “died”; paschō,GK 4248, used twelve times in 1 Peter, roughly one-third of all its occurrences in the NT). This suffering, moreover, was vicarious, for the sins of others; it was substitutionary atonement—“the righteous for the unrighteous,” unique and once-for-all (hapax, GK 562) in character (Heb 7:27; 9:28; 10:11–12; cf. Jude 5). This was done, writes Peter, “to bring [prosagō, GK 4642] you to God.” Accessibility to the divine throne, where Peter ends in this parenthetical insertion (3:22), is of critical importance to the readers psychologically if they are enduring considerable hardship in the present cultural context.

That Christ was “put to death [thanatoō, GK 2506] in the body” establishes immediate and crucial identification with the readers. Both share a common existential experience (lit.) “in the flesh”: both suffer. But this is not the end; the story progresses. While Christ was put to death in the flesh, on the one hand, he was also and subsequently “made alive by the Spirit” (zōopoieō pneumati). This flesh-Spirit contrast serves several purposes. At one level, it counters any divorce or dichotomizing of the two that would have typified Hellenistic thinking (cf. 1 Jn 4:2). The scandal of the early church’s preaching was its Christology: Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine (cf. Col 1:19). At another level, it reminds the audience that, while “the body is weak,” indeed, the Spirit is willing (cf. Mt 26:41). The same Spirit who sanctifies (1:2), grants revelation (1:11), makes us holy (1:15–16), and raised Jesus from the dead (3:18) also quickens the believer. The Spirit helps us transcend our earthly limitations.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 101). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 206–216). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 338). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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

Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 6:1–5

O Yahweh, do not rebuke me in your anger,

and do not discipline me in your wrath.

Be gracious to me, O Yahweh, because I am feeble.

Heal me, O Yahweh, for my bones are terrified.

My soul is also very terrified.

But you, O Yahweh, how long?

Turn, O Yahweh; deliver my life.

Save me for the sake of your steadfast love.

For there is no remembrance of you in death.

In Sheol, who will give thanks to you?

Reading: Mark 13:24–37

“But in those days, after that tribulation,

‘the sun will be darkened

and the moon will not give its light,

and the stars will be falling from heaven,

and the powers in the heavens will be shaken.’

“And then they will see the Son of Man arriving in the clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels, and will gather the elect together from the four winds, from the end of the earth to the end of heaven.

“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also you, when you see these things happening, know that he is near, at the door. Truly I say to you that this generation will never pass away until all these things take place! Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.

“But concerning that day or hour no one knows—not even the angels in heaven nor the Son—except the Father. Watch out! Be alert, because you do not know when the time is! It is like a man away on a journey, who left his house and gave his slaves authority—to each one his work—and to the doorkeeper he gave orders that he should be on the alert. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or early in the morning—lest he arrive suddenly and find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to everyone: Be on the alert!”

Reflection

O may the Angel of the Lord come upon you, and the light shine into your prison! And may you feel the stroke of an almighty hand, raising you, with, “Get up quickly … gird yourself and put on your sandals … wrap your cloak about you and follow me” (Acts 12:7–8).

… Did not God create you for Himself? Then you cannot rest till you rest in Him. Return, you wanderer! Fly back to your ark; this is not your home. Do not think of building tabernacles here. You are but a stranger, a sojourner upon earth, a creature of a day—just launching out into an unchangeable state. Make haste. Eternity is at hand, and it depends on this moment. An eternity of happiness, or an eternity of misery!

In what state is your soul? Was God, while I am yet speaking, to require it of you, are you ready to meet death and judgment? Can you stand in His sight, who is of “eyes too pure to see evil” (Hab 1:13)? Are you “giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you for a share of the inheritance of the saints in light” (1 Col 1:12)? Have you “fought the good fight” and “kept the faith” (2 Tim 4:7)? Have you secured the one thing needful? Have you recovered the image of God, even righteousness and true holiness? Have you put off the old man, and put on the new? Are you clothed upon with Christ?

Have you oil in your lamp? Grace in your heart? Do you “love the Lord your God from all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind” (Luke 10:27)? Is that mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus? Are you a Christian indeed, that is, a new creature? Are old things passed away, and all things become new?

—John Wesley

Awake, Thou That Sleepest

Response

How can you live a life of alertness, ready for Christ’s return? Reread the passage and John Wesley’s questions, and respond to them in the space below.[1]

 

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