Daily Archives: March 30, 2017

March 30, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Mar. 30, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

The U.S. State Department told Congress it backs the sale of 19 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16 fighters to Bahrain without preconditions on improved human rights previously demanded by the Obama administration, according to two people familiar with the proposal.

With President Donald Trump trying to find his footing after his failed effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, a group of wealthy backers is launching a 10-state media blitz to pressure Democratic senators to support him — or at least think twice about piling on.

Ivanka Trump said she will become an official unpaid federal employee after Democratic lawmakers said her previously unspecified role advising her father, President Donald Trump, raised questions about how she’d avoid conflicts of interest.

President Vladimir Putin says he is ready to meet with U.S. President Donald Trump if Finland hosts an Arctic summit.

President Donald Trump’s administration denied a petition by environmental groups that sought to ban a common pesticide used on citrus fruits, apples, cherries and other crops, reversing a push by the Obama administration to revoke all uses of the pesticide on food after a government review concluded it could harm children’s brains.

Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits declined last week by less than forecast, while remaining at levels consistent with a solid labor market, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. Jobless claims decreased by 3,000 to 258,000 (forecast was 247,000) in the week ended March 25.

Signs of growing U.S. fuel demand are propping up oil above $49 a barrel, with more refinery purchases seen helping ease a glut in American stockpiles.

The oil market is risking a supply crunch as producers cut spending on major projects to focus on short-term low-cost shale output in the U.S.

Jeff Bezos has leapt past Amancio Ortega and Warren Buffett to become the world’s second-richest person. Bezos has a net worth of $75.6 billion on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, $700 million more than Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s Buffett and $1.3 billion above Ortega, the founder of Inditex S.A. and Europe’s richest person.

AP Top Stories

Pedestrian deaths are climbing faster than motorist fatalities, reaching nearly 6,000 deaths last year – the highest total in more than two decades. But researchers say they think the biggest factor may be more drivers and walkers distracted by cellphones and other electronic devices, although that’s hard to confirm.

President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday afternoon, following through on his campaign promise to roll back Obama-era environmental protections intended to combat climate change. The Trump administration’s “Energy Independence” order essentially begins the process of dismantling the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which limits greenhouse gas emissions from coal-burning power plants.

On some college campuses, students and outsiders are allowed to protest and distribute flyers only in free-speech zones. Supporters say it’s a way to protect against disruptions to school operations, but opponents call it censorship.

The U.S. Census Bureau said Wednesday that it mistakenly proposed counting LGBTQ Americans and has since “corrected” the proposal to remove the gender and sexuality category. Gay rights groups quickly declared that it was another sign that President Donald Trump was reneging on a campaign promise to protect them.

BBC

The organizers of two privacy campaigns say they plan to buy, and then sell, the internet browsing histories of some of America’s best-known politicians. But experts said the schemes were doomed to fail. The campaigners are protesting against a congress vote to repeal a key internet privacy law earlier this week.

A late-night deal has been reached in North Carolina to repeal a controversial law that limits protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

A US footwear company has sparked outrage among consumers and campaign groups over a range of high heeled shoes for babies.

Thirteen people have been killed in a head-on crash between a church minibus and and a pick-up truck in Texas, officials in the US state said.

WND

With the newest makeover planned for old St. Nick, 2017 may be the year to tell the kids there’s no such person as Santa Claus. He’s no longer “jolly.” He’s “gay.” And he’s in an interracial marriage. Santa is the black one. The book’s story line has black Santa Claus and his white husband living at the North Pole. The white husband frequently covers for Santa at shopping malls, which is why most people think Santa is white.

A previously defeated proposal to amend the state constitution to say that God is the source of Tennesseans’ liberties has been resurrected in the House.

A radical Drexel University professor who once wished for “White Genocide” for Christmas and hoped to “Abolish the White Race” is under fire again. This time, he said he wants to “vomit or yell about Mosul” after someone gave their seat to a uniformed soldier.

Fox News Channel legal analyst Andrew Napolitano returned to the air Wednesday, saying he stood by his claim about spying on President Donald Trump that got him benched by the network for more than a week.

A kidney patient in Maine has been taken off a transplant wait list for using medical marijuana. State lawmakers are now considering a bill that would prohibit Maine hospitals from doing that, even though one local hospital says there are medical reasons to disqualify patients who use pot.


Top News – 3/30/2017

EU could BREAK UP the US: Juncker in jaw-dropping threat to Trump over support for Brexit
EUROPEAN Union boss Jean-Claude Juncker this afternoon issued a jaw-dropping threat to the United States, saying he could campaign to break up the country in revenge for Donald Trump’s supportive comments about Brexit.

Bible, Not Google, Gives Jews Right to the Land: Secular Israeli Minister
The shift towards Biblical language among the heads of Israel’s government was visible this week at a Washington event held at the annual AIPAC conference, with one politician proclaiming that the land of Israel was given to the Jews “not by Google and Wikipedia, but by the Bible.”

‘Very ominous warning’ from Turkish strongman just ‘a preview’
it’s an ominous sign for Europe that Turkish ministers felt the need to go into European countries to campaign for a Turkish referendum in front of Europe’s large Turkish population.“It tells me they view Europe as an extension of their territory, of their sovereignty, of their influence,” Haney told WND. “This is a preview of what we can expect in the time ahead: an inordinate amount of malevolent influence exerted by rulers of countries, in this case in the Middle East, interfering with the sovereign authority of countries in Europe directly, no pretense.”

Mike Huckabee HEAVILY IMPLIES That Lindsey Graham Is Gay
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee heavily implied that Sen. Lindsey Graham is gay during a Wednesday morning interview with Laura Ingraham. “I sometimes wonder what uniform he puts on each morning when goes out to the field to play, and I’m not just talking about the partisan uniform.”

Arab states remove Jerusalem sites from UNESCO resolution
Despite removing sensitive Jerusalem-related holy sites from an upcoming UNESCO Executive Board meeting, Arab states are keeping other contentious items on the agenda including the Cave of the Patriarchs and the Tomb of Rachel as Palestinian sites.

McCain, North Korea in war of words over ‘crazy fat kid’ crack
Sen. John McCain went nuclear against North Korea, in a manner of speaking. The Arizona Republican’s verbal put-down of dictator Kim Jong Un earlier this month – “this crazy fat kid” – was met with a stiff, angry response from the communist regime, which warned McCain of dire consequences to follow.

Arab leaders at summit endorse two-state solution
The 28th Arab League Summit endorsed the two-state solution in its closing statement on Wednesday, saying the Arab world would be ready to reconcile with Israel if it withdrew from the land it conquered in the 1967 war.

UK won’t have to pay 50 billion pound Brexit fee
Brexit minister David Davis said he did not expect Britain to have to pay 50 billion pounds ($62 billion) to the European Union as part of the Brexit process and said the era of huge sums being paid to Brussels was coming to an end.

Arab states to UNESCO: Reject Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem
Arab states plan to contest Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem at the upcoming UNESCO Executive Board meeting in Paris, according to a draft text obtained by Israeli officials. The resolution, due for a vote on May 1, states: “any action taken by Israel, the Occupying Power, to impose its laws, jurisdiction, and administration on the City of Jerusalem, are illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever.”

Watch: Hamas threatens top Israeli officials over Gaza assassination
Hamas released a video on Wednesday evening threatening to kill senior Israeli defense officials as revenge for the unresolved assassination of senior Hamas operative Mazen Fuqaha last week. The video, released by the Gaza-based Shehab News Agency, shows seven officials through the crosshairs of a sniper rifle with a short message in Hebrew and Arabic stating: “the type of retribution will be based on the act.

Greenblatt meets Saudi, UAE ministers amid talk of Mideast summit
The security cabinet is scheduled to meet on Thursday to be briefed on talks with the US administration regarding the formulation of new guidelines for settlement construction, as the long-dormant diplomatic process with the Palestinians is showing signs of revival. Jason Greenblatt, US President Donald Trump’s special representative for international negotiations, is leading the US team in talks with Israel about the guidelines. Greenblatt has spent the last few days as an observer at the Arab League meeting in Jordan.

Arab leaders at summit endorse two-state solution
The 28th Arab League Summit endorsed the two-state solution in its closing statement on Wednesday, saying the Arab world would be ready to reconcile with Israel if it withdrew from the land it conquered in the 1967 war. “We affirm that we will continue to work to relaunch serious Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations… that take place within a set period of time based on the two-state solution,” the closing statement said…

Brexit: UK to set out plans to replace all EU laws
Thousands of EU laws on everything from workers’ rights to the environment are to be scrapped or replaced with UK equivalents in a new plan. Details of the planned Great Repeal Bill are to be published shortly – the day after the UK officially began the two year process of leaving the EU. Ministers need to “copy and paste” EU laws into UK law to avoid a legal “black hole” when Brexit happens.

Turkey: Euphrates Shield campaign in Syria ‘ended’
Turkey says it has “successfully” ended its seven-month Euphrates Shield military campaign in northern Syria. But Prime Minister Binali Yildirim did not rule out new military operations and did not say whether Turkish troops would now leave Syria. Turkey launched the offensive last August to push Islamic State militants away from its border and also to stop the advance of local Kurdish fighters.

North Carolina ‘bathroom’ law: Deal reached on repeal
A late-night deal has been reached in North Carolina to repeal a controversial law that limits protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. A key element banned transgender people from using restrooms in accordance with their chosen gender, earning the measure the “bathroom law” tag. The deal came hours before the state was to lose key basketball fixtures.

Border Patrol Agents Assaulted by Increasingly Aggressive Illegal Immigrants
Several illegal immigrants attacked Border Patrol agents assigned to the Rio Grande Valley Sector during a 24-hour period…“Apprehension levels began to decrease as law, policy, and strategy aligned. Unfortunately, we are now seeing an increase in assaults against our agents,” Chief Patrol Agent Manuel Padilla, Jr. said in a written statement. “Attacks against agents will not be tolerated and we will work to pursue prosecution against violators.”

Israel slashes dues to UN following anti-Israel votes
Israel announced Wednesday it is reducing its required payment to the United Nations by $2 million following recent “anti-Israel” votes. Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said the decision to reduce the annual payment was taken following votes critical of Israel at the Geneva-based Human Rights Council.

Japan ruling party urges strike capability amid N. Korea threat
Japan’s ruling party said Wednesday the government should consider developing the capability to strike enemy bases if the country is attacked, citing North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats.

Trudeau airport secure despite concerns about radicalized workers, officials say
Officials are trying to reassure the public that Montreal’s Trudeau airport is secure and there are strict screening procedures in place to vet employees, following a report about potentially radicalized workers.

Country With The World’s Largest Oil Reserves Runs Out Of Gasoline
While fuel supplies in the country with the world’s largest proven oil reserves had continued flowing despite monetary collapse and hyperinflation, a domestic oil industry in turmoil and a deepening economic collapse under President Nicolas Maduro, that changed last Wednesday when Venezuelans found themselves waiting in lines for gasoline.

Jim Rogers Warns, The Fed “Has No Clue… Will Ruin Us All”
“this is all going to end very, very, very badly…propping up zombie banks and dead companies is not the way the world is supposed to work.”

Mexican news editor shot as attacks against journalists soar
A Mexican journalist was shot and injured early on Wednesday in the eastern state of Veracruz, the state attorney general’s office said, the latest in a spate of attacks against reporters in Mexico.


The Briefing 03-30-17

Pro-life journalists charged with 15 felonies for exposing Planned Parenthood’s abortion business

Dominion, stewardship, and creation: How worldview shapes the climate change debate

Ethics, truth, and the importance of public trust in Congress’s ongoing Russia investigation

The post The Briefing 03-30-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


12 Signs That America Has Become A Politically-Correct Madhouse

What in the world has happened to the United States? We are rapidly getting to the point where political correctness is in danger of becoming our national religion. Of course most people would not even call it a “religion”, but for most Americans this unwritten set of rules shapes everything that they think, do and say. Many had been hoping that the spell of political correctness would be broken by the election of Donald Trump, but that obviously has not happened. The forces of political correctness still have a stranglehold on our education system, on all forms of entertainment, on our legal system, and on most of the politicians in both political parties. (Read More…)


Broken America

Is this the beginning of the end for the United States of America?  It has been said that a house divided against itself will surely fall, and today we live in a shattered union.  In all my years, I have never seen so much strife, discord, bitterness and resentment in this country.  Everyone can see what is happening, but nobody can seem to stop it.  Politically, you have got tens of millions of people trying to pull America one way, and you have got tens of millions of people trying to pull it the exact opposite way.  As I discussed in a previous article, the term “civil war” is now being thrown around by some pundits even though nobody has started shooting yet.  We are a deeply divided and broken nation, and if we don’t find a way to fix things America will not survive. (Read More…)


Mid-Day Snapshot

Mar. 30, 2017

Democrats’ Convenient Memory Loss

They contradict themselves on the practice of obstructing judicial nominees.

Top Opinion
Tony Perkins: Planned Parenthood’s Killer Workout
Larry Elder: ObamaCare Was Designed to Explode — Dems Want Single-Payer
Hans von Spakovsky: The Left’s Sanctuary Cities Hurt Americans’ Safety
More Opinion →
The Foundation

“The truth is, that, even with the most secure tenure of office, during good behavior, the danger is not, that the judges will be too firm in resisting public opinion, and in defence of private rights or public liberties; but, that they will be ready to yield themselves to the passions, and politics, and prejudices of the day.” —Joseph Story (1833)

Thursday, March 30, 2017
Today on ChristianHeadlines
California Files Felony Charges against Journalists Who Exposed Planned Parenthood
California Files Felony Charges against Journalists Who Exposed Planned Parenthood
by Veronica Neffinger
READ FULL ARTICLE   >>
Mexico: Another Priest Killed in Increasing Violence
Mexico: Another Priest Killed in Increasing Violence
by Veronica Neffinger
Another Catholic priest has been killed in Mexico, continuing the alarming trend of violence in the country particularly against clergy members.
READ FULL ARTICLE
Christian Actor Jason David Frank to be Part of New ‘Power Rangers’ Film
Christian Actor Jason David Frank to be Part of New ‘Power Rangers’ Film
by Veronica Neffinger
Outspoken Christian celebrity Jason David Frank will reportedly have a role in the new Power Rangers movie.
READ FULL ARTICLE
Republicans Reworking Healthcare after American Health Care Act is Pulled from Consideration
Republicans Reworking Healthcare after American Health Care Act is Pulled from Consideration
by Amanda Casanova
While Republicans initially said there was no “plan B” for their proposal to replace Obamacare, they may actually have a second plan in mind.
READ FULL ARTICLE
The Russian Issue on Which We Should be Focusing: Putin’s War on Christianity
The Russian Issue on Which We Should be Focusing: Putin’s War on Christianity
by Veronica Neffinger
Christian persecution is increasing in Russia under a set of laws Putin signed last year known as the Yarovaya laws.
READ FULL ARTICLE

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: March 30

  • Trump’s Border Wall: A Tall Order (Read More)
  • Trump’s Hope for Rapid Reset With Russia Fades (Read More)
  • China’s Xi to meet Trump in Florida next week (Read More)
  • U.S. Softens Call for Shift on Nafta (Read More)
  • ESPN Has Seen the Future of TV and They’re Not Really Into It (Read More)
  • Inside the Leadership Shakeup at Merrill Lynch (Read More)
  • States’ Next Target on Sales Taxes: Sellers on Amazon (Read More)
  • South Africa’s Zuma considers stepping down early in deal to oust Gordhan (Read More)
  • Zuma to Face Mass Cabinet Walkout If He Fires Gordhan (Read More)
  • U.S., Turkey Set on a Collision Course (Read More)
  • Ackman Is ‘Profoundly’ Sorry for $4 Billion Valeant ‘Mistake’ (Read More)
  • ‘You Are All Liars’: Toshiba Shareholders Vent After Westinghouse Bankruptcy (Read More)
  • Malaysia mistook slain Kim Jong Nam for South Korean (Read More)
  • JPMorgan in Talks for Dublin Office That Holds 1,000 People (Read More)
  • North Carolina lawmakers reach deal to repeal transgender bathroom law (Read More)
  • Chinese women golfers may shun LPGA event amid South Korea tensions (Read More)
  • This Chinese Stock Soared 4,500% on the Nasdaq and No One Knows Why (Read More)
  • Amazon Wants Cheerios, Oreos and Other Brands to Bypass Wal-Mart (Read More)
  • Spain’s Mom and Pops Are Hurting (Read More)

Top Headlines – 3/30/2017

Arab leaders endorse two-state solution, say ready for reconciliation with Israel

Jordan’s King: Two-state solution the only way

Azerbaijani US Ambassador: Israel Is a Pragmatic Partner and Good Friend, We Want it to Be Normal for Muslims and Jews to Be Allies

Arab states remove Jerusalem sites from UNESCO resolution

Arab states to UNESCO: Reject Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem

Israel cuts UN payment by $2 million over ‘anti-Israel’ bias

Israeli Mission to the UN holds anti-BDS summit

Israel second to US for cyber-defender firms

Hamas threatens top Israeli officials over Gaza assassination

Anti-Semitic troll calls his online tactics ‘a national sport’

Pro-Trump radio host: George Soros is head of ‘Jewish mafia’

Students unearth a 2000-year-old Jewish settlement

Israel’s National Emergency Authority head warns of severe damage possible from earthquake

Dead Sea evidence of unprecedented drought is warning for future

To stop treading water, minister floats Gaza island plan

Palestinian woman shot dead trying to stab Israeli police, officials say

Hamas Acquired Heavy Short-Range Rockets, Israelis Fear Passover Massacre

Israeli military exports rise to $6.5 billion

Turkey announces end to operation in Syria

US envoy to UN: Syria’s Assad ‘hindrance to moving forward’

Syrian refugee numbers in the region surpasses 5 million – UNHCR

UN Secretary General starts official visit to Iraq

ISIS claims responsibility for Baghdad Wednesday attack

‘They’re going to kill me next’: Yemen family fears drone strikes under Trump

Will Iran’s Rouhani survive the bleak economy?

Ethiopia extends state of emergency by 4 months

Boy found clinging to debris sole survivor as dozens feared dead in Mediterranean

Struggle for control of Libya’s oil threatens to deepen conflicts

Venezuela: Country With The World’s Largest Oil Reserves Runs Out Of Gasoline

John McCain sparks war of words with North Korea after calling Kim Jong-un ‘crazy fat kid’

Japan ruling party urges strike ability amid NKorea threat

Fears Grow of Terror in U.S. With Weaponized Civilian Drones

EU vows unity as Britain braces for Brexit

Brexit: UK to set out plans to replace all EU laws

‘No turning back’ on Brexit as Article 50 triggered

Mexican president says seeking ‘new relationship’ with US

These Hispanic contractors offered to build Trump’s border wall. Then the death threats began

Border Patrol Agents Assaulted by Increasingly Aggressive Illegal Immigrants

Seattle Files Lawsuit Over ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Funding Threat

Fed Officials Say They May Need to Pick Up Pace of Rate Increases

Jim Rogers Warns, The Fed “Has No Clue… Will Ruin Us All”

The new face of suburbia: Economic woes and early death

Comey reportedly tried to expose possible Russia tampering before election

Former Obama official discloses rush to get intelligence on Trump team

Hannity: Ex-Obama official ‘could vindicate’ Trump’s surveillance claims

Uber Self-Driving Car Crash Detailed in Police Report

Robots bringing meals to DC

California is the top state with most UFO sightings, say UFO experts

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Higuera de Zaragoza, Mexico

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Isangel, Vanuatu

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Kokopo, Papua New Guinea

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits the Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Mocimboa, Mozambique

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Carlos Fonseca Amador, Nicaragua

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

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

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

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 14,000ft

Ex-Cyclone Debbie: Australia floods force more evacuations

Invest 90-L Could Develop Into a Subtropical Storm This Week; Would Be Second Time In March Since Records Began

Record snowfall buries Anchorage

House approves bill to force public release of EPA science

J Scott Armstrong: Fewer Than 1 Percent Of Papers in Scientific Journals Follow Scientific Method

Stem-cell therapy: The medicine of the future

Report: China Aborted 336 Million Babies Since 1971

Christian Flight Surgeon Says Air Force Punished Him Over Biblical Beliefs on Sexuality

North Carolina lawmakers set to vote on ‘bathroom bill’ repeal, gay rights advocates slam deal

‘Stunning’ Drug Lab Scandal Could Overturn 23,000 Convictions

Trump, Christie pledge to combat nation’s opioid addiction

More older women are binge drinking

Suspected killer says ‘God told him’ to behead his ex-wife

‘Stick gun’ gets 5-year-old suspended from North Carolina school

“Hope Renewed” in what, exactly?

Heaven, Hillsong, and Heresy

Hot off the press: ‘Study Guide for God’s Super-Apostles’

Cult expert: World Mission Society Church of God has cult markers

Paul Washer Develops ‘Severe Skin Reaction’ to Heart Medication; Hospital Release Delayed

American Pastor Imprisoned in Turkey Calls on Trump to Fight for His Release

Laughing Planned Parenthood Abortionist: It ‘Takes More Force’ to Dismember Some Babies

Felony Charges Against Pro-Lifers Who Exposed Planned Parenthood Is ’21st Century Totalitarianism’

Tennessee Couple Arrested After Allegedly Seeking to Sell Baby on Craigslist

Childrens Book Gives New Meaning to the Term ‘Fairy’ Tale

An Inside Look at China’s Remarkable Religious Resurgence

RUMORS OF WAR: Israel Making Preparations For Next War With Hezbollah

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 07:35 AM PDT

It appears that Israel is gearing up for their next major war in the Mideast. Between a collection of concrete buildings with Arabic graffiti that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Male Birth Control To Hit The Market Soon

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 07:28 AM PDT

Doctors are on the cusp of launching the first new male contraceptive in more than a century. But rather than a Big Pharma lab, the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

College Student Banned From Passing Out Copies Of Constitution.

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 07:22 AM PDT

Apparently handing out copies of the constitution at a University in California doesn’t go over very well! According to reports, A Los Angeles college student is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Fatah Urges Tens of Thousands to Rise Up Against Israel

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 07:11 AM PDT

Psalm 83:2-4 For behold, Your enemies make a tumult; And those who hate You have lifted up their head. They have taken crafty counsel against…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why False Teachers Are Absolutely Terrible for Your Health

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 07:05 AM PDT

(By Michael Brown) Headlines like these, which can easily be found everywhere online and which reflect thousands of articles and studies, offer a small sampling…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: North Carolina lawmakers reach deal to repeal “transgender bathroom law”

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 07:02 AM PDT

North Carolina Republican lawmakers said late on Wednesday they had reached a deal to repeal the state’s controversial law prohibiting transgender people from using restrooms…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Telecom Giants Looking to Track All Internet Activity You Use!

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 06:58 AM PDT

What if your telecom company tracked the websites you visit, the apps you use, the TV shows you watch, the stores you shop at and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Seattle Files Lawsuit Over ‘Sanctuary Cities’ Funding Threat

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 06:53 AM PDT

The city of Seattle on Wednesday announced a federal lawsuit over the Trump administration’s threat to withhold federal grants to so-called “sanctuary cities,” citing the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

5-year-old suspended from North Carolina school for bringing “Stick-Gun”

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 06:45 AM PDT

(Reported By Todd Starnes) Apparently, someone forgot to tell this 5-year old Caitlin Miller and several of her classmates that this North Carolina School was…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China Capable Of Deploying Warplanes To Artificial Islands Any Time

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 08:09 PM PDT

China appears to have largely completed major construction of military infrastructure on artificial islands it has built in the South China Sea and can now…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Russia and Iran sign bilateral agreements

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 08:05 PM PDT

Russia and Iran signed a string of bilateral agreements on Tuesday, as President Vladimir Putin hosted his Iranian counterpart Hassan Rouhani for his first official…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Fake news’ focus of Senate probe into ‘Russian meddling’ in 2016 US election

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 08:01 PM PDT

Gearing up to start hearings in the probe of alleged Russian interference in the US presidential election, the Senate Intelligence Committee leaders said they would…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

California Just Criminalized Undercover Reporting — if Recorded by Conservative Media

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 07:37 PM PDT

California law long criminalized recording a person without their consent. This law has never before been applied to a journalist engaged in undercover reporting. It…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Man Reveals Heavenly Visitation After Near-Death Experience

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 06:55 PM PDT

(by Kelly McDonald, Jr) Several years ago, Steven Musick had a heavenly visitation after a near-death experience. He was in the Navy at that time….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Left-Wing Religious Groups Begin to Mobilize

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 06:50 PM PDT

(by Kelly McDonald, Jr) Left-Wing religious groups claim that their numbers and support have skyrocketed since the election of Donald Trump. One of the primary…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Twitter Now Censoring Search Terms, Offers No Transparency and Mixed Results

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 06:15 PM PDT

Move over Facebook and it’s now Twitter’s turn to begin censorship! Twitter has upped its censorship game and is now blocking certain terms from showing up…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Tennessee Couple Arrested After Allegedly Seeking to Sell Baby on Craigslist

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 06:12 PM PDT

A Tennessee couple has been arrested after allegedly seeking to sell their infant son for $3,000 on Craigslist. John David Cain, 26 and Deanna Greer,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Category 4 Cyclone “Debbie” Strikes Queensland, Australia

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 06:09 PM PDT

Tropical Cyclone “Debbie” made landfall around 00:40 UTC on March 28, 2017 between small towns of Bowen and Airlie Beach in Queensland as Category 4…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

12 Signs That America Has Become A Politically-Correct Madhouse

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 06:05 PM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) What in the world has happened to the United States? We are rapidly getting to the point where political correctness is in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Fears Are Raised After Radicalization of Canadian Airport Worker

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 06:01 PM PDT

Officials are trying to reassure the public that Montreal’s Trudeau airport is secure and there are strict screening procedures in place to vet employees, following…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Texas church bus crash: 12 killed, 3 injured in collision with pickup truck

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 05:51 PM PDT

Please keep the victims and their families in much prayer at this hour as reports are indicating that at least 12 people were killed and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

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

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 01:38 PM PDT

Another report is coming in this week of a breakthrough in technology as a quadriplegic man has had his right arm and hand brought back…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Winning Your Battle for a Lust-Free Mind

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 01:28 PM PDT

(By Doug Weiss) Lust can present itself as a plaything, but as you may have learned, it is vicious. Lust is not just about lying;…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ancient Coin Found With Face of Jesus?

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 01:17 PM PDT

Has a rare discovery just been discovered that gives us a glimpse of the face of Christ? According to reports, An ancient coin depicting a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Are You Afraid to Die?

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 01:01 PM PDT

A new study has found that religious individuals and atheists might actually share a shocking similarity: both are among the least afraid of dying, according to at…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Undercover Journalists Now Face Felony Charges for Exposing Planned Parenthood

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 12:52 PM PDT

Two men today are paying a high price for exposing a large organization that has been operating for years and is still standing today. The…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mass Immigration May Signal ‘the End of Britain’

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 12:44 PM PDT

(Reported By Dale Hurd) The Britain we once knew may be coming to an end! Last week’s terror attack by a British-born Muslim proves again that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Even the Government Admits it: Cuban Churches are Experiencing a Revival

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 12:32 PM PDT

(Reported By Heather Sells) Cuba’s churches may still be restricted, but that’s not stopping a spiritual revival in the communist nation, one church leader says….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Student Loses Credit for Using ‘Mankind’ in English Paper

Posted: 29 Mar 2017 12:27 PM PDT

Did you ever believe we would see a day this ridiculous in America? A Northern Arizona University student has reportedly lost credit on his English…

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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Spiritual Darkness

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

5 This is the message we have heard from Him and announce to you, that God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth; 7 but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar and His word is not in…

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How to Avoid a Hardened Heart

Video Notes:

If you come to the Bible as a critic, the Bible will be a closed book to you. Your heart will be as hard at the end as it was at the beginning.

If you are going to move beyond hardness of heart, you have to humble yourself before God and open his Word with an honest recognition of your true position before him:



  •  “God, I don’t even know you, so I need you to make yourself known to me through your Word.”
  • “Lord, the truth is not in me – I need you to teach me through your Word.”
  • “Lord, I do not have faith – I need you to give me faith through your Word.”
  • “Lord, the inclination of my heart is to turn from you – create a new desire in me through your Word.”
  • Lord, I do not have your love in my heart. Show me the love of Christ, and pour out that love into my heart by your Holy Spirit.”
  • “Lord, I have been seeking the wrong kind of glory, so create within me a new heart that seeks the glory that comes from you alone.”
  • “Lord, I have put my hope in all the wrong places, lead me to a hope that will not be put to shame.”

Face the truth about yourself. Find the truth about Jesus. The Savior says these things so that you may be saved.

Taken from Pastor Colin’s sermon “He Wants You to Be Saved.”

RELATED POSTS:

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Where Do We Go When We Die?

In this piece over at The Watchman’s Bagpipes, Glenn Chatfield examines what the scriptures teach about the soul after death.  He writes:

Many teachings about where we go when dead can be totally unbiblical, including the ideas of “soul sleep” and annihilation, as promoted by cults such as the Seventh-day Adventists and Jehovah’s Witnesses, as well as by many individual false teachers.  Along with these teachings is usually the claim that there is no hell (as the place of eternal torment and separation from God).
If the scripture tells us the abode of the soul after death, that it is still conscious and aware, then the idea of the soul sleeping until resurrection is proven wrong, as is the idea that the souls of unbelievers are annihilated.  One could actually write a whole book on the topic in order to cover what the Bible says about the grave, the afterlife before and after Christ, etc, but here I can only highlight the most important and concise arguments against the “anti-Hell”, “soul sleep” and “annihilation” teachings.

March 30, 2017: Verse of the day

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13 Confidence in the Lord’s ability to discern and perceive the nature and needs of his people comes from a belief in God’s purpose. He is the Creator, and his creative concerns include individuals.

In a sense this section continues the emphasis on divine involvement by an emphatic use of “you” (ʾattâ, vv. 2, 13: “you know … you created”) and by the use of the pronominal prefixes and suffixes to the verbs and nouns in Hebrew (translated by “you” and “your”). The Lord has formed the individual as a spiritual (“you created [qānâ, GK 7865; Ge 14:22; Pr 8:22] my inmost being [‘kidneys’],” v. 13) and a physical being (“you knit me together”; cf. Job 8–11; Jer 1:5). All beings owe their existence to the Creator-God. How much more the individual who walks with God, who knows that the Lord has formed him or her for a purpose.[1]


139:13 formed … wove. By virtue of the divinely designed period of pregnancy, God providentially watches over the development of the child while yet in the mother’s womb.[2]


139:13 you formed my inward parts. God’s knowledge of the writer goes back even before his birth, to his conception, when the Lord created the psalmist’s personal existence.

knitted me together. The Bible speaks here as elsewhere of ultimate cause, not of proximate cause.[3]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 962). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 139:13). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 995). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

MARCH 30, 2017 – BELIEVING: DIRECTING THE HEART’S ATTENTION TO JESUS

And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God!

JOHN 1:36

The Hebrew epistle instructs us to run life’s race “looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith,” for faith is not a once-done act, but a continuous gaze of the heart at the Triune God!

Believing, actually, is directing the heart’s attention to Jesus. It is lifting the mind to “behold the Lamb of God,” and never ceasing that beholding for the rest of our lives. Distractions may hinder, but once the heart is committed to Him, after each brief excursion away from Him the attention will return again and rest upon Him like a wandering bird coming back to its window.

I would emphasize this one committal, this one great volitional act which establishes the heart’s intention to gaze forever upon Jesus. God takes this intention for our choice and makes what allowances He must for the thousand distractions which beset us in this evil world.

Faith is a redirecting of our sight, a getting out of the focus of our own vision and getting God into focus.

When we lift our inward eyes to gaze upon God we are sure to meet friendly eyes gazing back at us, for it is written that the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout all the earth. The sweet language of experience is, “Thou God seest me.” When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on earth![1]


Third Day, Third Group, Third Emphasis

Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. (1:35–37)

The phrase the next day continues the sequence of days discussed above in connection with verse 29. This is now the third day in the sequence, the second one after John’s encounter with the investigative delegation from Jerusalem. The third group is the smallest one, consisting only of two of John’s disciples (Andrew [v. 40], and John [who never names himself in his gospel]). John looked at Jesus as He walked nearby and repeated to his disciples what he had proclaimed to the crowds on the previous day, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” Having heard their teacher speak again those powerful words, the two disciples followed Jesus. John’s willingness to unhesitatingly hand them over to Him is further evidence of his self-effacing humility and complete acceptance of his subordinate role.

That the two disciples followed Jesus does not imply that they became His permanent disciples at this time. It is true that akoloutheō (followed) is used in John’s gospel to mean “to follow as a disciple” (e.g., 8:12; 10:27; 12:26; 21:19; cf. Matt. 4:20, 22; 9:9). But it can also be used in a general sense (e.g., 6:2; 11:31; 18:15; 20:6; 21:20). Andrew and John here received their first exposure to Jesus. Later, they became His permanent disciples (Matt. 4:18–22).

John’s third emphasis follows logically from his first two. Since the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lamb of God, is here, the only proper response is to follow Him.

Having served his purpose as a witness to the true identity of Jesus, John the Baptist now faded from the scene (apart from a brief mention in 3:23ff.). The rest of the gospel focuses on the ministry of Jesus, something the Baptist himself would have approved of. As he said to some of his disciples who were jealous for his reputation,

A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven. You yourselves are my witnesses that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but, “I have been sent ahead of Him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease. (John 3:27–30)

He did decrease and, while in prison wondering how that imprisonment fit with the anticipated glory of Messiah’s kingdom, was hit with doubts about Jesus being Messiah. The Lord graciously dispelled those doubts by reporting the record of His miracles (Matt. 11:2–5; Luke 7:19–22).[2]


[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. 57–58). Chicago: Moody Press.

March 30, 2017 – Avoiding Temptations

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13).

✧✧✧

Don’t let your trials turn into temptations.

When we hear the English word temptation, we usually think of a solicitation to evil. But “temptation” in Matthew 6:13 translates a Greek word that can refer either to a trial that God permits in order to refine your spiritual character (James 1:2–4) or a temptation that Satan or your flesh brings to incite you to sin (Matt. 4:1; James 1:13–15). Both are valid translations.

I believe “temptation” in Matthew 6:13 refers in part to trials. Even though we know God uses trials for our good, it’s still good to pray that He won’t allow us to be caught in a trial that becomes an irresistible temptation. That can happen if we’re spiritually weak or ill-prepared to deal with a situation.

God will never test you beyond what you’re able to endure (1 Cor. 10:13), but resisting temptation requires spiritual discipline and divine resources. Praying for God to deliver you from trials that might overcome you is a safeguard against leaning on your own strength and neglecting His power.

God tested Joseph by allowing him to be sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused by an adulterous woman, and unjustly imprisoned by a jealous husband. But Joseph knew that God’s hand was on his life. That’s why he could later say to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to … preserve many people alive” (Gen. 50:20). Joseph was ready for the test and passed it beautifully!

Jesus Himself was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil (Matt. 4:1). God wanted to test Him to prove His virtue, but Satan wanted to tempt Him to destroy His virtue. Jesus, too, was victorious.

When you experience trials, don’t let them turn into temptations. Recognize God’s purposes and seek His strength. Learn from the example of those who have successfully endured the same trials. Be assured that God is in control and is using each trial to mold your character and to teach you greater dependence on Him.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the trials He brings your way. ✧ Ask Him to help you see your trials as means by which He strengthens you and glorifies Himself.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 119:11, Matthew 26:41, Ephesians 6:10–18, and James 4:7. What do those verses teach you about dealing with temptation?[1]


God’s Protection

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (6:13a)

Peirasmos (temptation) is basically a neutral word in the Greek, having no necessary connotation either of good or evil, as does our English temptation, which refers to inducement to evil. The root meaning has to do with a testing or proving, and from that meaning are derived the related meanings of trial and temptation. Here it seems to parallel the term evil, indicating that it has in view enticement to sin.

God’s holiness and goodness will not allow His leading anyone, certainly not one of His children, into a place or experience in which they would purposely be induced to commit sin. “Let no one say when he is tempted,” says James, “ ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13).

Yet James had just said, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (peirasmos), knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (vv. 2–3). There is an interpretive problem, therefore, as to whether peirasmos in Matthew 6:13 is translated temptation or trial. As James tells us, God does not tempt. So why ask Him not to do what He would never do anyway? Yet James also tells us we should rejoice when trials come and not seek to avoid them. So why should we pray, do not lead us into temptation?

I affirm with Chrysostom, the early church Father, that the solution to this issue is that Jesus is here not speaking of logic or theology but of a heart desire and inclination that cause a believer to want to avoid the danger and trouble sin creates. It is the expression of the redeemed soul that so despises and fears sin that it wants to escape all prospects of falling into it, choosing to avoid rather than having to defeat temptation.

Here is another paradox of Scripture. We know that trials are a means for our growing spiritually, morally, and emotionally. Yet we have no desire to be in a place where even the possibility of sin is increased. Even Jesus, when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, first asked, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me,” before He said, “yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). He was horrified at the prospect of taking sin upon Himself, yet He was willing to endure it in order to fulfill the will of His Father to make possible the redemption of man.

Our proper reaction to times of temptation is similar to Christ’s, but for us it is primarily a matter of self-distrust. When we honestly look at the power of sin and at our own weakness and sinful propensities, we shudder at the danger of temptation or even trial. This petition is another plea for God to provide what we in ourselves do not have. It is an appeal to God to place a watch over our eyes, our ears, our mouth, our feet, and our hands-that in whatever we see, hear, or say, and in any place we go and in anything we do, He will protect us from sin.

Like Joseph we know that what men and Satan mean for evil God will turn to the good of His children (see Gen. 50:20); but we are not certain that, like Joseph, we will be completely submissive to and dependent on God in our trials. The implication of this part of the prayer seems to be: “Lord, don’t ever lead us into a trial that will present such a temptation that we will not be able to resist it.” It is laying claim to the promise that “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

This petition is a safeguard against presumption and a false sense of security and self-sufficiency. We know that we will never have arrived spiritually, and that we will never be free of the danger of sin, until we are with the Lord. With Martin Luther we say, “We cannot help being exposed to the assaults, but we pray that we may not fall and perish under them.” As our dear Lord prayed for us in His great intercessory prayer, we want, at all costs, to be kept from the evil one (John 17:15).

When we sincerely pray, do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we also declare that we submit to His Word, which is our protection from sin. “submit therefore to God,”James says. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Submitting to God is submitting to His Word. “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11). So the believer prays to be kept from overwhelming solicitation to sin, and if he falls into it, to be rescued from it. Deliver is actually in the form of a command.

In a cursed world where we are battered by evil all around us, we confess our inadequacy to deal with evil. We confess the weakness of our flesh and the absolute impotency of human resources to combat sin and rescue us from its clutches. Above all we confess our need for the protection and deliverance of our loving heavenly Father.

God’s Preeminence

[For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.] (6:13b)

Because they are not found in the most reliable manuscripts, it is likely that these words were not in the original text. In many modern translations they are therefore given in footnotes or, as here, placed in brackets.

Although they may not have been in the original account, the words are perfectly fitting in this passage, and express truths that are thoroughly scriptural. They form a beautiful doxology, declaring the preeminence of God as seen in the greatness of His eternal kingdom, … power, and … glory. They are an echo of 1 Chronicles 29:11 and, to the minds and hearts of Matthew’s Jewish readers, would have been a moving and appropriate climax.[2]


How to Defeat Temptation

Matthew 6:13

At the end of the sixteenth century, after the Protestant Reformation in Europe and the wars that followed it, an anonymous Christian wrote these lines about temptation:

In all the strife of mortal life

Our feet shall stand securely;

Temptation’s hour shall lose its power,

For thou shalt guard us surely.

O God, renew, with heavenly dew,

Our body, soul, and spirit,

Until we stand at thy right hand,

Through Jesus’ saving merit.

These lines summarize some of the truths that the Word of God contains about temptation. To some extent they are, therefore, a commentary on the references to temptation in the Lord’s Prayer, in the verse to which we now come in our study. The Prayer says, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

Types of Temptations

If we are to understand what the Lord Jesus Christ was talking about in this suggestion of how we should pray, we need to understand that several distinct types of temptation are mentioned in the Bible—some from God and some from Satan—and that this is a prayer for deliverance from only one kind.

Words often have more than one meaning. For instance, I have often had to explain the double significance of the word “marry” to my young daughter, particularly after I have performed a marriage ceremony. My daughter loves weddings and loves to talk about them. But when I say something about marrying the couple, this is very confusing to her. “How can you marry them?” she asks. “You already have a wife. You can’t have two wives. And besides you can’t marry the man anyway; you have to marry a woman.” I am glad to see that she has all of the important rules and relationships right, but I have to explain that the word “marry” can be used in two senses.

Well, the word “temptation” also has two meanings. It can refer either to a direct temptation to do evil, or to a trial, an ordeal, a testing.

We see this most clearly in the first chapter of the Book of James. In the second and third verses of that chapter we read, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds [kjv, ‘divers temptations’], because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” It is obvious that the writer is referring to a kind of test that comes to a Christian from God. This is the kind of testing that came to Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice his son, or that comes to us in persecution, sickness, discouragement, or abuse by our family or friends. Through these experiences God strengthens the faith of the Christian. We are to rejoice in such testing, counting it an honor so to suffer.

Later on in the same chapter James speaks of another kind of tempting, however. This is not at all from God. In fact, James says of this temptation, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone” (v. 13). This is a temptation to sin, of course. So James adds, “But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (v. 14). We are not to rejoice in this type of temptation. It comes from our own sinful natures, and we are urged to triumph over it.

Finally, in the fourth chapter, verse 7, James speaks of the assaults we receive from the devil. Only here he says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

The temptation referred to in the Lord’s Prayer is not the first or the second of these three temptations. It is not the temptation that comes from God as a trial to strengthen our faith. Nor is it primarily the temptation that comes from within our own sinful lusts. The temptation that Jesus meant is the last of these three temptations. It is the temptation that comes to the believer directly from Satan (the “evil one”).

Submit and Resist

What is the secret to resisting this type of temptation? The secret is found in the last verse quoted from James. We read elsewhere that the temptation that comes from the flesh is to be resisted by fleeing from it; Paul writes, “Flee the evil desires of youth” (2 Tim. 2:22) and “Flee from sexual immorality” (1 Cor. 6:18). We are to resist the temptation that comes to us from the world by allowing God to transform us by the renewing of our minds, that we may prove his perfect will for us (Rom. 12:1–2). But when it comes to the devil, Scripture says, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”

I think that at this point we must be very clear about what James is saying. He says, “Submit … to God” and “Resist the devil.” We are to submit and resist. But how do we do that? What does “submission” mean? And how can we “resist” the wisdom and superior cunning of Satan? We need to answer these questions clearly, for if we are sensitive to spiritual things we know that Satan is stronger than we are. We know that we are unable to resist him in ourselves, and that we are weak beside him. Therefore, we need to know how we are to seek deliverance from the One who has defeated Satan and who will one day imprison him forever.

What does it mean to submit? Quite simply it means to surrender one’s will to God; and since this cannot be done in isolation apart from a personal relationship to him, it means that we must spend time conversing with God through prayer. It is certainly no accident, for instance, that the petition “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” comes last in the Lord’s Prayer, after the Christian has already prayed, “Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done.” This means that although the believer is to resist the devil—although he is to fight against him—he is able to do this successfully only after he has first of all submitted himself to God.

And what does it mean to resist? How do we resist? The answer is: by God’s Word, by means of the Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ said to his disciples, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you” (John 15:3), meaning that purity of life can be ours to the degree that we feed upon the Bible and study it. The psalmist said, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11). Paul wrote specifically of our spiritual warfare saying, “Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17).

In Pilgrim’s Progress there is a scene in which this is portrayed allegorically as a terrible battle between Apollyon (who is the devil) and Christian:

Then Apollyon espying his opportunity, began to gather up close to Christian, and wrestling with him, gave him a dreadful fall; and with that Christian’s Sword flew out of his hand. Then said Apollyon, I am sure of thee now; and with that he had almost pressed him to death, so that Christian began to despair of life. But as God would have it, while Apollyon was fetching of his last blow, thereby to make a full end of this good man, Christian nimbly reached out his hand for his Sword, and caught it, saying, Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy! When I fall I shall arise; and with that gave him a deadly thrust, which made him give back, as one that had received his mortal wound: Christian perceiving that, made at him again, saying Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. And with that Apollyon spread forth his Dragon’s wings, and sped away, that Christian for a season saw him no more.”

As I read this paragraph I realize that Bunyan knew the truth of James 4:7 personally, for he knew that it had reference to the use of the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.

The Lord’s Example

One final example of how temptation can be resisted is the account of the temptation of Jesus Christ recorded in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of Matthew.

At some point during the first year in which I was speaking on the Bible Study Hour, in a question and answer period, the announcer asked a question that I have heard many people ask in one form or another. He asked, “We have all heard the expression, Dr. Boice, that temptations come to us from the world, the flesh and the devil, but it seems that all three of Christ’s temptations in the wilderness came to him from the devil. Isn’t that right? And if it is, how can we say Jesus ‘was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin’ (Heb. 4:15)?”

It was a good question. I pointed out the fact that there is a fine distinction here, on the basis of which it was necessary for Jesus to be tempted in all points directly by the devil. Jesus did not have a sinful nature as we do, so he could not be tempted by a sinful nature. Neither could he be tempted by the world directly because the sins of the world are pride, arrogance, a desire for dominance, and so on, and Jesus had no point of contact in himself for these. If Jesus was to be tempted at all, the temptations had to come to him from a direct encounter with the devil, just as Adam and Eve had to receive their temptations from the devil; for before their fall, Adam and Eve did not have a sinful nature either.

At the same time, however, we notice as we read the account of Christ’s temptations that each of the temptations did relate to one of these three areas. The temptation to turn stones to bread was a fleshly temptation; the temptation to throw himself from the top of the temple in Jerusalem was a temptation to gain the world’s esteem in the world’s way; the temptation to worship Satan was an outright spiritual temptation that would have placed the Lord in direct opposition to God, his heavenly Father. Thus, although all the temptations came originally from the devil, they were nevertheless temptations to the sins of the flesh, the world, and the devil. They show us that Jesus was tempted in all the ways that we are. Of course, these temptations were far more subtle and stronger than our temptations because of their source.

Now, how did the Lord Jesus Christ come out on top of these temptations? The answer to this question is contrary to what most people think, for they think he did it by drawing on his divine nature. They believe that he had more power to resist temptation than we have. It is true, of course, that Jesus did have more power than we have. But there is nothing in the Bible to show that Christ ever resisted temptation by drawing on his divine nature. Jesus was both man and God. Yet he resisted temptation as a man. What is more, it is for this reason that he is an example for us when we are tempted.

So let me ask the question again. How did Jesus resist the temptations that are recorded in Matthew 4? Well, first, he had just spent forty days in fasting and in prayer. And, second, he replied to the devil in every instance by quoting Scripture.

Satan had come to him saying, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.” This was a temptation to put physical needs above spiritual ones, and Jesus answered by saying, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” It was a direct quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3. Next, the devil took him up to Jerusalem and, placing him on a pinnacle of the temple, challenged him to throw himself down trusting God to bear him up. In this way Christ would appear, as it were, from heaven and thereby gain an immediate following. Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:16, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ” In the final temptation Satan asked Christ to worship him in exchange for this world’s glory. This was a spiritual temptation. Jesus replied, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’ ” Once again Jesus had resisted the devil by a quotation from the Book of Deuteronomy (Deut. 6:13).

Jesus overcame temptation just as we are to overcome temptation—by prayer and by the knowledge of the Bible, and he even had to learn his knowledge of the Bible. Certainly when we learn to pray as Jesus prayed and when we learn the Bible as Jesus knew the Bible, then we will experience victory over our temptations also.

Our Confidence

Moreover, if we do these things we also will have great confidence before God even when we are faced with temptations. We will pray that God will keep us from Satan’s temptations. I would rephrase this section of the Lord’s Prayer to say, “Keep us from wandering into paths where we will be tempted by the devil; but if he comes, keep us out of his clutches.” But even as we pray this we will pray knowing that “God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

Finally, the prayer ends with the words, “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.” It does not ask that these things might become true. It acknowledges that they are true. Are they true? Then we ought not to worry about the future if we are God’s children. All too often we find ourselves doubting that God really is able to take care of us, and we worry about our own little kingdoms, our power, and our glory. How foolish when we know that his kingdom is certain, that his power is sufficient for all situations, and that his glory ultimately will prevail.[3]


13 The word peirasmos (“temptation,” GK 4280) and its cognate verb rarely if ever before the NT mean “temptation” in the sense of “enticement to sin” (whether from inward lust or outward circumstances) but rather “testing” (see comments at 4:1–12). But testing can have various purposes (e.g., refinement, ascertaining the strength of character, enticement to sin) and diverse results (greater purity, self-confidence, growth in faith, sin); as a result, the word can slide over into the entirely negative sense of “temptation.” See comments on the cognate verb in 4:1. The word sustains the unambiguous meaning in James 1:13–14, which assures us that “God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone [i.e., with evil]” (cf. Mt 4:1, 3; 1 Co 7:5; 1 Th 3:5; Rev 2:10). In this light, peirasmos cannot easily mean “temptation” here in v. 13, for that would be to pray that God would not do what in fact he cannot do, akin to praying that God would not sin.

But if peirasmos here means testing, we face another problem. The NT everywhere insists that believers will face testings or trials of many kinds but that these should be faced with joy (Jas 1:2; cf. 1 Co 10:13). If this is so, to pray for grace and endurance in trial is understandable; but to pray not to be brought to testings is strange. For detailed probing of the problem and interaction with the sources, see C. F. D. Moule, “An Unsolved Problem in the Temptation-Clause in the Lord’s Prayer,” RTR 33 (1974): 65–75.

Some have argued that the testing is the eschatological tribulation, the period of messianic woes (e.g., Jeremias, Prayers of Jesus, 104–7) characterized by apostasy. The petition becomes a plea to be secured from that final apostasy and is reflected in the NEB’s “do not bring us to the test.” But not only is peirasmos never used for this tribulation unless carefully qualified (and therefore Rev 3:10 is no exception, regardless of its interpretation), but one would at least expect to find the article in the Matthean clause. Carmignac (Recherches sur le “Notre Père,” 396, 445) so reconstructs the alleged Hebrew original that he distinguishes “to testing” from “into testing,” interpreting the latter to mean actually succumbing. The prayer then asks to be spared, not from testing, but from failing. Unfortunately, his linguistic arguments are not convincing.

Many cite b. Ber. 60b as a parallel: “Bring me not into sin, or into iniquity, or into temptation, or into contempt.” It is possible that the causative form of the Lord’s Prayer is, similarly, not meant to be unmediated but has a permissive nuance: “Let us not be brought into temptation [i.e., by the devil].” This interpretation is greatly strengthened if the word “temptation” can be taken to mean “trial or temptation that results in fall”; this appears to be required in two NT passages (Mk 14:38; Gal 6:1; cf. J. V. Dahms, “Lead Us Not into Temptation,” JETS 17 [1974]: 229).

It also may be that we are forcing this sixth petition into too rigid a mold. The NT tells us that this age will be characterized by wars and rumors of wars (see comments at 24:6) but does not find it incongruous to urge us to pray for those in authority so “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives” (1 Ti 2:2). While Jesus told his disciples to rejoice when persecuted (Mt 5:10–12), he nevertheless exhorted them to flee from it (10:23) and even to pray that their flight should not be too severe (24:20). Similarly, a prayer requesting to be spared testings may not be incongruous when placed beside exhortations to consider such testings, when they come, as pure joy.

“Deliver us” (rhyomai, GK 4861) could mean either, on the one hand, “spare us from,” “preserve us against,” or, on the other hand, “deliver us out of,” “save us from” (BDAG, 907–8). Both are spiritually relevant, and which way the verb is taken depends largely on how the preceding clause is understood. The words tou ponērou (“the evil one,” GK 4505) could be either neuter (“evil”; cf. Lk 6:45; Ro 12:9; 1 Th 5:22) or masculine (“the evil one,” referring to Satan; Mt 13:19, 38; Eph 6:16; 1 Jn 2:13–14; 3:12; 5:19). In some cases, the Greek does not distinguish the gender (see comments at 5:37). However, a reference to Satan is far more likely here for two reasons: (1) “deliver us” can take either the preposition ek (“from”) or apo (“from”), the former always introducing things from which to be delivered, the latter being used predominantly of persons (cf. J. B. Bauer, “Liberanos a malo,” Verbum Domini 34 [1965]: 12–15; Zerwick, Biblical Greek, para. 89); and (2) Matthew’s first mention of temptation (4:1–11) is unambiguously connected with the devil. Thus the Lord’s model prayer ends with a petition that, while implicitly recognizing our own helplessness before the devil, whom Jesus alone could vanquish (4:1–11), delights to trust the heavenly Father for deliverance from the devil’s strength and wiles.

The doxology—“for yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen”—is found in various forms in many MSS. The diversity of what parts are attested is itself suspicious (for full discussion, see Metzger, Textual Commentary, 16–17; cf. Hendriksen, 337–38). The MS evidence is overwhelmingly in favor of omission—a point conceded by Davies (Setting, 451–53), whose liturgical arguments for inclusion are not convincing.

The doxology itself is theologically profound and contextually suitable and was no doubt judged especially suitable by those who saw in the last three petitions a veiled allusion to the Trinity: the Father’s creation and providence provides our bread, the Son’s atonement secures our forgiveness, and the Spirit’s indwelling power assures our safety and triumph. But “surely it is more important to know what the Bible really contains and really means than to cling to something not really in the Bible, merely because it gratifies our taste, or even because it has for us some precious associations” (Broadus).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 102). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 395–397). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Boice, J. M. (2002). The Sermon on the Mount: an expositional commentary (pp. 201–206). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 207–208). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MARCH 30, 2017 – WHICH CROSS DO WE CARRY?

Having made peace through the blood of his cross.

Colossians 1:20

 

One of the strange things under the sun is a “crossless” Christianity. The cross of Christendom is a “no cross,” an ecclesiastical symbol. The cross of our Lord Jesus Christ is a place of death!

Let each one be careful which cross he carries!

Thousands turn away from Jesus Christ because they will not meet His conditions. He watches them as they go, for He loves them, but He will make no concessions.

Admit one soul into the kingdom by compromise and that kingdom is no longer secure. Christ will be Lord, or He will be Judge. Every man must decide whether he will take Him as Lord now, or face Him as Judge then!

“If any man will…let him…follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Some will rise and go after Him, but others give no heed to His voice. So the gulf opens between man and man, between those who will and those who will not.

The Man, the kindly Stranger who walked this earth, is His own proof. He will not put Himself again on trial; He will not argue. But the morning of the judgment will confirm what men in the twilight have decided!

 

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your patience as You wait for people to repent and turn to You. I pray that this will be a day when many will respond to Your voice calling them to follow You.[1]


The Plan of Reconciliation

and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, (1:20–21)

God’s ultimate plan for the universe is to reconcile all things to Himself through Jesus Christ. When His work of creation was finished, “God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good”  (Gen. 1:31). God’s good creation, however, was soon marred by man’s sin. The Fall resulted not only in fatal and damning tragedy for the human race, but also affected the entire creation. Sin destroyed the perfect harmony between creatures, and between all creation and the Creator. The creation was “subjected to futility” (Rom. 8:20) and “groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now” (Rom. 8:22). One evidence of that is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which indicates that the universe is losing its usable energy. If God did not intervene, the universe would eventually suffer a heat death—all available energy would be used up, and the universe would become uniformly cold and dark.

We live on a cursed earth in a cursed universe. Both are under the baleful influence of Satan, who is both “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4), and “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph. 2:2). The devastating effects of the curse and satanic influence will reach a terrifying climax in the events of the Tribulation. Some of the various bowl, trumpet, and seal judgments are demonic, others represent natural phenomena gone wild as God lets loose His wrath. At the culmination of that time of destruction and chaos, Christ returns and sets up His kingdom. During His millennial reign, the effects of the curse will begin to be reversed. The Bible gives us a glimpse of what the restored creation will be like.

There will be dramatic changes in the animal world. In Isaiah we learn that

The wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; their young will lie down together; and the lion will eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain. (Isa. 11:6–9)

“The wolf and the lamb shall graze together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox; and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall do no evil or harm in all My holy mountain,” says the Lord. (Isa. 65:25)

The changes in the animal world will be paralleled by changes in the earth and the solar system:

Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, for the Lord of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders. (Isa. 24:23)

The light of the moon will be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven days, on the day the Lord binds up the fracture of His people and heals the bruise He has inflicted. (Isa. 30:26)

No longer will you have the sun for light by day, nor for brightness will the moon give you light; but you will have the Lord for an everlasting light, and your God for your glory. Your sun will set no more, neither will your moon wane; for you will have the Lord for an everlasting light. (Isa. 60:19–20)

Tremendous, dramatic changes will mark the reconciliation of the world to God. Paul writes, “The creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption” (Rom. 8:21). God and the creation will be reconciled; the curse of Genesis 3 will be removed. We might say that God will make friends with the universe again. The universe will be restored to a proper relationship with its Creator. Finally, after the millennial kingdom, there will indeed be a new heaven and a new earth, as both Peter and John indicate:

According to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwell-s. (2 Pet. 3:13)

I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away. (Rev. 21:1)

The Lord will make everything new.

Paul again takes direct aim at the false philosophical dualism of the Colossian heretics. They taught that all matter was evil and spirit was good. In their scheme, God did not create the physical universe, and He certainly would not wish to be reconciled to it. Paul declares that God will indeed reconcile the material world to Himself, and further, that He will do it through His Son, Jesus Christ. Far from being a spirit emanation unconcerned with evil matter, Jesus is the agent through which God will accomplish the reconciliation of the universe. The German theologian Erich Sauer comments,

The offering on Golgotha extends its influence into universal history. The salvation of mankind is only one part of the world-embracing counsels of God.… The “heavenly things” also will be cleansed through Christ’s sacrifice of Himself (Heb. 9:23). A “cleansing” of the heavenly places is required if on no other ground than that they have been the dwelling of fallen spirits (Eph. 6:12; 2:2), and because Satan,  their chief, has for ages had access to the highest regions of the heavenly world… the other side becomes this side; eternity transfigures time and this earth, the chief scene of the redemption, becomes the Residence of the universal kingdom of God (The Triumph of the Crucified [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1960], pp. 179, 180 [italics in original]).

Some have imagined all things to include fallen men and fallen angels, and on that basis have argued for universalism, the ultimate salvation of everyone. By so doing they overlook a fundamental rule of interpretation, the analogia Scriptura. That principle teaches that no passage of Scripture, properly interpreted, will contradict any other passage. When we let Scripture interpret Scripture, it is clear that by all things Paul means all things for whom reconciliation is possible. That fallen angels and unregenerate men will spend eternity in hell is the emphatic teaching of Scripture. Our Lord will one day say to unbelievers, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels,” and they “will go away into eternal punishment” (Matt. 25:41, 46). In Revelation 20:10–15, the apostle John writes,

The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

On the other hand, there is a sense in which even fallen angels and unredeemed men will be reconciled to God for judgment—but only in the sense of submitting to Him for final sentencing. Their relationship to Him will change from that of enemies to that of the judged. They will be sentenced to hell, unable any longer to pollute God’s creation. They will be stripped of their power and forced to bow in submission to God. Paul writes in Colossians 2:15 that after Christ “disarmed the rulers and authorities [fallen angels], He made a public display of them, having  triumphed over them.” Because of Christ’s victory, “the God of peace will-soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20). And “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10). God has elevated Christ to a position above all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Paul wrote to the Ephesians that God “raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet” (Eph. 1:21–22).

Though in the sacrifice of Christ, God made provision for the world (cf. John 3:16; 1 John 2:2), all persons will not be reconciled to God in the saving sense of being redeemed. The benefits of Christ’s atonement are applied only to the elect, who alone come to saving faith in Him.

From God’s general plan to reconcile all things to Himself, Paul turns to the specific reconciliation of believers like the Colossians. That they had been reconciled was evidence enough that Christ was sufficient to reconcile men and women to God. Their reconciliation foreshadowed the ultimate reconciliation of the universe.

To impress on them Christ’s power to reconcile men to God, Paul reminds the Colossians of what they were like before their reconciliation. They were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds. Apallotrioō (alienated) means “estranged,” “cut off,” or “separated.” Before their reconciliation, the Colossians were completely estranged from God. In a similar passage, Paul writes, “You were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ” (Eph. 2:12–13). NonChristians are detached from God because of sin; there is no such thing as an “innocent heathen.” All unbelievers suffer separation from God unless they receive the reconciliation provided in Jesus Christ.

The Colossians had also been hostile in mind. Echthros (hostile) could also be translated “hateful.” Unbelievers are not only alienated from God by condition, but also hateful of God by attitude. They hate Him and resent His holy standards and commands because they are engaged in evil deeds. Scripture teaches that unbelievers “loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19–20). Their problem is not ignorance, but willful love of sin.

Even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God, or give thanks; but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures. Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, that their bodies might be dishonored among them. (Rom. 1:21–24)

Although “that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Rom. 1:19), they “suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18). As Isaiah wrote to wayward Israel, “Your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear” (Isa. 59:2). Sin is the root cause of man’s alienation from God. Because God cannot fellowship with sin (cf. Hab. 1:13; 1 John 1:6), it is sin that needs to be dealt with before God and man can be reconciled.

The question arises as to whether man is reconciled to God, or God to man. There is a sense in which both occur. Since “the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God” (Rom. 8:7), and “those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8), reconciliation cannot take place until man is transformed. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. Now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ” (2 Cor. 5:17–18).

There is also God’s side to reconciliation. From His holy perspective, His just wrath against sin must be appeased. Far from being the harmless, tolerant grandfather that many today imagine Him to be, God “takes vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies” (Nah. 1:2). “At His wrath the earth quakes, and the nations cannot endure His indignation” (Jer. 10:10). The one who refuses to obey the Son will find that “the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36). Because of their sin, “the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6). Man and God could never be reconciled unless God’s wrath was appeased. The provision for that took place through Christ’s sacrifice. “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him” (Rom. 5:9). It is “Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). He bore the full fury of God’s wrath against our sins (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24). After all, “God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess. 5:9).

Christ’s death on the cross reconciled us to God (Eph. 2:16), something we could never have done on our own. In Romans 5:6–10, Paul gives four reasons for that. First, lack of strength: “we were still  helpless” (v. 6). Second, lack of merit: we were “the ungodly” (v. 6). Third, lack of righteousness: “we were yet sinners” (v. 8). Finally, lack of peace with God: “we were enemies” (v. 10). It is only through the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ that anyone can receive reconciliation (v. 11).

The Means of Reconciliation

having made peace through the blood of His cross… He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death (1:20b, 1:22a)

Those two phrases sum up the specific means whereby Christ effected our reconciliation with God. Paul says first that Christ made peace between God and man through the blood of His cross. Blood speaks metaphorically of His atonement. It connects Christ’s death with the Old Testament sacrificial system (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18–19). It is also a term that graphically notes violent death, such as that suffered by the sacrificial animals. The countless thousands of animals sacrificed under the Old Covenant pointed ahead to the violent, blood-shedding death the final sacrificial Lamb would suffer. The writer of Hebrews informs us that “the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the holy place by the high priest as an offering for sin, are burned outside the camp. Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people through His own blood, suffered outside the gate (Heb. 13:11–12).

The reference to Christ’s blood again stresses the link between His violent death and the violent deaths of the animals sacrificed under the Old Covenant. Unlike many of them, however, Jesus did not bleed to death (cf. John 19:34). No man took His life. He was not a helpless victim, but willingly offered up His life to God.

For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father. (John 10:17–18)

Jesus chose the moment of His death: “When Jesus therefore had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And He bowed His head, and gave up His spirit” (John 19:30).

There is nothing mystical, however, about the blood of Christ. It saves us only in the sense that His death was the sacrificial death of the final Lamb. It was that death that reconciled us to God (Rom. 5:10).

Proper biblical teaching on the blood of Christ simply is that His physical blood has no magical or mystical saving power. It is not some supernaturally preserved form of the actual blood of Christ that literally washes believers of their sin. The blood of Christ is applied to the believer in a symbolic sense, by faith, in the same way that we “see” Christ by faith, and we are seated with Him in the heavenlies—not in a physical sense.

How could the red and white corpuscles be literally applied to believers in salvation? To our physical bodies? Could it be otherwise with literal blood? Where is that literal, tangible blood kept? How much of it is applied, and why is it not used up? To one degree or another, we must acknowledge that there is symbolism in what Scripture says about the blood. Otherwise we will wind up with an obviously unbiblical doctrine like transubstantiation to explain how literal blood can be applied to all believers for salvation. (I have recently heard that some believe the blood of Jesus is kept in a bottle in heaven to be literally used in some way to apply to the soul!)

A strictly physical interpretation of what Scripture says about the blood of Christ cannot adequately deal with such passages as John 6:53–54: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

It would be equally hard to explain how physical blood is meant in Matthew 23:30–35 (“We would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets”); 27:24–25 (“His blood be on us, and on our children”); Acts 5:28 (“[you] intend to bring this man’s blood upon us”); 18:6 (“Your blood be upon your own heads”); 20:26, 28 (“I am pure from the blood of all men”); and 1 Corinthians 10:16 (“The cup of blessing… is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?”).

The literal blood of Christ ran into the dirt and dust, and nothing in Scripture hints that it now exists in any tangible or visible form. Communion wine does not change into blood. There is no way the actual blood of Christ could be applied to all of us. We must acknowledge at some point that the sprinkling with blood under the New Covenant is symbolic.

“Without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). I affirm that truth and have never denied it. But the “shedding of blood” in Scripture is an expression that means much more than just bleeding. It refers to violent sacrificial death. If just bleeding could buy salvation, why did not Jesus simply bleed without dying? Of course, He had to die to be the perfect sacrifice, and without His death our redemption could not have been purchased by His blood.

The meaning of Scripture in this matter is not all that difficult to understand. Romans 5:9–10 clarifies the point; those two verses side by side show that to be “justified by His blood” (v. 9) is the same as being “reconciled to God by the death of His Son” (v. 10). The critical element in salvation is the sacrificial death of Christ on our behalf. The shedding of His blood was the visible manifestation of His life being poured out in sacrifice, and Scripture consistently uses the term “shedding of blood” as a metonym for atoning death. (A metonym is a figure of speech in which the part is used to represent or designate the whole.)

Bloodshed was God’s design for all Old Testament sacrifices. They were bled to death rather than clubbed or burnt. God designed that sacrificial death was to occur with blood loss as a vivid manifestation of life being poured out (“the life of the flesh is in the blood”). Nevertheless, those who were too poor to bring animals for sacrifices were allowed to bring one-tenth of an ephah (About two quarts) of fine flour instead (Lev. 5:11). Their sins were covered just as surely as the sins of those who could afford to offer a lamb, goat, turtledove, or pigeon (Lev. 5:6–7). Christ’s blood was precious—but as precious as it was, only when it was poured out in death could the penalty of sin be paid.

Thus, if Christ had bled without dying, salvation would not have been purchased. In that sense, it is not His blood but His death that saves us. And when Scripture talks about the shedding of blood, the point is not mere bleeding, but dying by violence as a sacrifice. That is not heresy, and nothing in Protestant church history would support the notion that it is. The only major group to insist that the application of the blood is literal is the Roman Catholic Church.

Christ died not only as a sacrifice, but also as our substitute. He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death. In Romans 8:3, Paul tells us that God sent “His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh.” He took the place of sinners, dying a substitutionary death that paid the full penalty for the sin of all who believe. This death satisfied God’s wrath. Once again Paul hammers away at the false teaching of the Colossian heretics that Christ was a mere spirit being. On the contrary, Paul insists, He died as a man for men. Were that not true, there could be no reconciliation for any person.

The Aim of Reconciliation

in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach (1:22b)

God’s ultimate goal in reconciliation is to present His elect holy and pure before Him. Paul expressed a similar desire for the Corinthians: “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin” (2 Cor. 11:2). Jude tells us that we will one day “stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy” (Jude 24). Such purification is necessary if sinners are to stand in the presence of a holy God.

Holy (hagios) means to be separated from sin and set apart to God. It has to do with the believer’s relationship with Him. As a result of a faith union with Jesus Christ, God sees Christians as holy as His Son. God “chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph. 1:4). “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Blameless (amōmos) means without blemish. It was used in the Septuagint to speak of sacrificial animals (Num. 6:14). It is used in the New Testament to refer to Christ as the spotless Lamb of God (Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19). In reference to ourselves, reconciliation gives us a blameless character.

Beyond reproach (anegklētos) goes beyond blameless. It means not only that we are without blemish, but also that no one can bring a charge against us (cf. Rom. 8:33). Satan, the accuser of the brethren (Rev. 12:10), cannot make a charge stick against those whom Christ has reconciled.

Christ’s reconciliation makes believers holy, blameless, and beyond reproach before Him. God sees us now as we will be in heaven when we are glorified. He views us clothed with the very righteousness of Jesus Christ. The process of spiritual growth involves becoming in practice what we are in reality before God. We “have put on the new self” and that new self “is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (Col. 3:10). The Christian life involves “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord [which covers us before God, and] being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18).[2]


20 Lest a person be tempted to forget, however, this verse reminds that “the Lord of glory” (1 Co 2:8) was subjected to tremendous agony on the cross (2 Co 13:4). Christ’s ministry of reconciliation was costly indeed. Why should God’s Son have first place in all things (v. 18)? It is not only because of his resurrection (v. 18) or incarnation (v. 19), but it is also because of his crucifixion (v. 20). It would be difficult to exaggerate the centrality of the cross in Paul’s theology (cf. Ro 3:23–25; 5:8–9; 14:7–9; 1 Co 1:18–25; 2:1–2; 15:3–4; 2 Co 5:14–15, 21; Gal 2:20–21; 5:11; 6:12; Eph 2:13–16; Php 2:6–8; 1 Th 4:14; 5:9–10). The cross will feature again in this letter in 1:22 and 2:11–15. For Paul, the cross graphically and persuasively demonstrates the depth of God’s love; the humble, radical obedience of Christ to the Father on behalf of humanity; and the seriousness of sin and the fallen human condition.

It pleased God, the “hymn” contends, to reconcile (i.e., to restore or restitute) all things to himself through Christ (cf. 1:22; Eph 2:16). That there existed a need for restitution between the Creator and the created presupposes a schism and a resulting chasm between the two. Paul believed that this division was due (in large part) to human rebellion against God and the good (see esp. 2:13–14, as well as 1:13, 21; 3:7; cf. Ro 3:23; 6:23; Eph 2:1, 5). The divine solution to the human predicament, Paul propounded, was to turn an instrument of execution (i.e., a Roman cross) into an implement of peace. Jesus, the Prince of Peace (Isa 9:6; Eph 2:14), has effected peace between God and humanity through his bloody (i.e., sacrificial) death on the cross. As 1 Timothy 2:5–6 puts it, Christ Jesus, the One who “gave himself as a ransom for all people” (cf. Mk 10:45), is the “mediator between God and human beings” (TNIV). Where spiritual disconnect and disquiet exist, he comes to bring peace and reign in peace (3:15; cf. Ro 5:1; Eph 2:13–17).

Despite claims to the contrary, the scope of God’s reconciling work in Christ is universal. Be that as it may, reconciliation with God through Christ is not a foregone conclusion. The proclamation and reception of the gospel are the means through which people are reunited with God (cf. 1:5, 23). Those who embrace God’s grace through Christ in the word of the gospel are reconciled to God; those who choose not to do so remain estranged from God and stand outside the realm of his salvific rule (see 1:13, 21; 4:5).[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 55–63). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 293–294). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 30, 2017 – How Jesus Fulfilled the Law—Moral and Judicial

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

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

But most important, 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.

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. This judicial law Jesus fulfilled on the cross.

Jesus’ crucifixion marked Israel’s ultimate apostasy in the final rejection of her Messiah 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.

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 Peter 2:9–10). All the redeemed—those who receive the work of the cross—are His chosen ones.

ASK YOURSELF

There is no way, of course, for us to duplicate the perfect performance of Jesus, but by surrendering in daily, ongoing ways to His Holy Spirit, we can see Christ’s character exuding from us in steady practice. Have your own failures and experiences caused you to deny this truth? Submit to Him afresh today.[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. 98). 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 30, 2017 – GOD IS THERE FIRST

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

—Revelation 1:8

The unconditioned priority of God in His universe is a truth celebrated both in the Old Testament and in the New. The prophet Habakkuk sang it in ecstatic language, “Art thou not from everlasting, O LORD my God, mine Holy One?” (1:12). The Apostle John set it forth in careful words deep with meaning,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made (1:1-3)….

Here we acknowledge (and there is fear and wonder in the thought) the essential unity of God’s nature, the timeless persistence of His changeless being throughout eternity and time…. Begin where we will, God is there first. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending…. If we grope back to the farthest limits of thought where imagination touches the pre-creation void, we shall find God there. In one unified present glance He comprehends all things from everlasting, and the flutter of a seraph’s wing a thousand ages hence is seen by Him now without moving His eyes. POM001, 003-004

Your timelessness is a truth that is beyond my comprehension, Lord, but it leads me to fall before You in awe. Amen. [1]


The Certainty of the Second Coming

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (1:8)

In this verse the Lord God puts His signature on the prophecy of the Second Coming recorded in the previous verse. Three of His divine attributes guarantee the certainty of the pledge of Christ’s return.

Alpha and the Omega emphasizes God’s omniscience. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last. All knowledge is conveyed through the letters of the alphabet; thus God’s designation of Himself as the Alpha and the Omega affirms that He has all knowledge. He knows, therefore, the certainty of this promise.

As the one who is and who was and who is to come, God’s transcendent, eternal presence is not confined by time or space or any feature or event in them. There is no possible contingency of which He is unaware regarding the Second Coming. Thus, His promise that the Lord Jesus Christ will return settles the issue.

The designation of God as the Almighty (cf. 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22) affirms His omnipotence. Since He is all powerful, nothing can hinder Him from carrying out His sovereign will. No one or no thing can possibly prevent Christ from returning in glory as described in verse 7.

Jesus came the first time in humiliation; He will return in exaltation. He came the first time to be killed; He will return to kill His enemies. He came the first time to serve; He will return to be served. He came the first time as the suffering servant; He will return as the conquering king. The challenge the book of Revelation makes to every person is to be ready for His return.

John Phillips writes,

One of the most stirring pages in English history tells of the conquests and crusades of Richard I, the Lionhearted. While Richard was away trouncing Saladin, his kingdom fell on bad times. His sly and graceless brother, John, usurped all the prerogatives of the king and misruled the realm. The people of England suffered, longing for the return of the king, and praying that it might be soon. Then one day Richard came. He landed in England and marched straight for his throne. Around that glittering coming, many tales are told, woven into the legends of England. (One of them is the story of Robin Hood.) John’s castles tumbled like ninepins. Great Richard laid claim to his throne, and none dared stand in his path. The people shouted their delight. They rang peal after peal on the bells. The Lion was back! Long live the king!

One day a King greater than Richard will lay claim to a realm greater than England. Those who have abused the earth in His absence, seized His domains, and mismanaged His world will all be swept aside. (Exploring Revelation, rev. ed. [Chicago: Moody, 1987; reprint, Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux, 1991], 22–23)

Only those “who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8), who love Him and acknowledge Him as the rightful king, will enjoy the blessings of His kingdom.[2]


8 Such a stupendous promise requires more than the prophet’s own signature or even Christ’s “Amen.” God himself speaks and, with his own signature, vouches for the truthfulness of the coming of Christ. Of the many names of God that reveal his character and memorialize his deeds, there are four strong ones in this verse: “Alpha and Omega”; “Lord God”; “who is, and who was, and who is to come”; and “the Almighty” (cf. v. 4 for comments on the second title). Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Their mention here is similar to the “First” and “Last” in v. 17 and is further heightened by the “Beginning” and the “End” in 21:6 and 22:13. Only the book of Revelation refers to God as the “Alpha and the Omega.” God is the absolute source of all creation and history; nothing lies outside of him. Therefore, he is the “Lord God” of all and is continually present to his people as the “Almighty” (pantokratōr, lit., “the one who has his hand on everything”; GK 4120; cf. 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22; 2 Co 6:18).[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1999). Revelation 1–11 (pp. 34–35). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 601). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 30, 2017 – God–Centered Teamwork

“He who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. For we are God’s fellow–workers.”

1 Corinthians 3:8–9

✧✧✧

Humble teamwork in ministry gives God all the glory and promotes humility.

Paul’s agricultural illustration of planting and watering makes it clear that the ministry works best in a team concept and that all credit for results must go to God. Paul (the one planting) and Apollos (the one watering) had done their God–appointed work faithfully and well, but they had to wait on the Lord for whatever was accomplished.

Paul mentions just two kinds of ministry in today’s passage: planting the seed of the gospel by evangelism and watering it by further teaching. However, the apostle’s point applies to every kind of ministry you might engage in. You might be tempted to think that your ministry is glamorous or significant and that everything revolves around your efforts. Or you could be envious of another believer who has a more public ministry than you. But all God’s work is important, and Paul is reminding us that whatever work He has called us to is the most important ministry we can have.

First Corinthians 3 also reminds us that all believers who minister are one in the Body of Christ. If you recognize and accept this fact, it is a sure guarantee that humility will be present as you serve God. Humility simply leaves no place for fleshly competitiveness or selfish jealousy toward other Christians.

God will be certain to recognize your individual, faithful work—“according to [your] own labor”—in His day of rewards. But Jesus also taught His disciples and us the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matt. 20:1–16) to keep our perspectives balanced regarding the corporate nature of ministry in God’s kingdom. None of us should look with pride at our own service and see ourselves as deserving more reward than someone who worked less time or in a less prominent position. It is not our ministry, any more than it was Paul’s or Apollos’s. It is God’s, and all the glory goes to Him, not us.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that God would give you a greater sense of humble gratitude for whatever type of ministry opportunity you have.

For Further Study: Compare Matthew 19:27–30 with 20:1–16. Why could the disciples have been tempted to feel superior? ✧ What does the landowner’s behavior in the parable suggest about the character of God?[1]


He who plants and he who waters are one. All of God’s workers are one in Him, and to Him all glory should go. Recognition of our oneness in the Lord is the sure and only remedy for divisiveness. It leaves no place for the flesh and its jealousy strife, and division.

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.

Paul and Apollos were but God’s fellow workers. It was not their own ministry that they worked in, but His. What divine companionship! It was God’s church in Corinth, not Paul’s or Apollos’s or Peter’s. The believers there were God’s field, God’s building, and His alone. And the glory for any good work done there, or anywhere, is also His alone.[2]


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.

9 Paul first reaffirms that he and Apollos are both “fellow workers” of God. Then he switches his imagery from that of agriculture to that of architecture when he calls the Corinthians “God’s field” and then “God’s building.” Such dual images have their root in the OT’s description of the task to which God called his servant and prophet Jeremiah: “to uproot” and to “tear down,” and later “to build” and “to plant” (Jer 1:10; cf. 24:6; Sir 49:7).

With this perspective, Paul undercuts once and for all the statements that were making the rounds in Corinth, cited both in 1:12 and 3:4: “I follow Paul,” and, “I follow Apollos.” Literally these slogans translate, “I am of Paul,” and, “I am of Apollos,” meaning something like, “I belong to Paul,” or, “I belong to Apollos.” As far as the apostle is concerned, believers do not belong to any particular individual, no matter how influential that person may be in someone’s life. We belong to God! We are his field; we are his building. This is a strong warning to any of us who are pastors to make sure that the people under our care do not develop such an attachment to us that we feel as though they belong to us. (Attachment to a human leader, in fact, is one of the chief characteristics of a cult.) If anything, the reverse is true: Paul and Apollos and any other human leaders belong to the people as servants (see 3:21–23 and comments).[3]


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

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

[3] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 284). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 30, 2017 – Follow Christ’s Example

Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.

1 Peter 2:21

Jesus gave us the ultimate example of suffering. The Greek word translated as “example” refers to a pattern that is placed under a piece of paper to be traced. Like children who learn their letters using tracing paper over a pattern, we are to trace our lives according to the pattern Christ laid down for us.

We follow His pattern by walking “in His steps.” We are to walk in Christ’s steps because His was a righteous walk. It was also a walk of unjust suffering, which is part of the walk of righteousness. Some suffer more than others, but if you truly want to follow after Christ, you will practice tracing His example.[1]


2:21 you have been called. The “call,” as always in the NT epistles, is the efficacious call to salvation (v. 9; 5:10; Ro 8:30). Peter’s point is that a person called to salvation will, sometimes at least, have to endure unfair treatment. Commendable behavior on the part of the believer in the midst of such trials results in the strengthening and perfecting of the Christian on earth (5:10; cf. Jas 1:2–4), and his increased eternal capacity to glorify God (cf. Mt 20:21–23; 2Co 4:17, 18; 2Ti 2:12). for this purpose. Patient endurance (v. 20). leaving you an example. The word “example” lit. means “writing under.” It was writing put under a piece of paper on which to trace letters, thus a pattern. Christ is the pattern for Christians to follow in suffering with perfect patience. His death was efficacious, primarily, as an atonement for sin (2Co 5:21); but it was also exemplary, as a model of endurance in unjust suffering.[2]


2:21 to this you have been called … leaving you an example. Suffering is a part of the Christian’s calling (1 Thess. 3:3, 4; 2 Tim. 3:12) because it was first a part of Christ’s vocation (John 15:18–20). Christians are united with Christ in His sufferings as well as in His resurrection (2 Cor. 1:5; 4:10; Phil. 3:10, 11), and the example of Christ provides a pattern by which Christians are to understand their own lives.[3]


2:21 example The Greek word used here, hypogrammos, occurs only here in the nt. The word technically refers to a pattern or model for copying in writing or drawing, but it came to be used figuratively to describe a model for behavior.

Believers should follow Jesus’ example when they respond to unjust suffering. Jesus faced His persecutors without threats or strong words, humbly trusting Himself to God’s justice (vv. 22–23; compare Heb 4:15).[4]


2:21 Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice in which he gave his life for sinners is unique, and yet those he has saved may follow Christ’s example when they suffer unjustly, even though their sufferings do not atone for sin.[5]


21–22 While a revolutionary call to undermine the social structure is not Peter’s emphasis, Jesus’ attitude toward suffering and unjust treatment is. To facilitate this model, the “suffering servant” song of Isaiah 53 is utilized, of which Jesus’ attitudes are reminiscent (cf. also its use by Philip, Ac 8:26–40). This establishes an immediate and obvious link to the readers’ situation—committing no sin, no deceit being found in his mouth, refusal to respond in kind, and not threatening under the heat of suffering but entrusting himself to God. After all, Christians constitute the “community of the cross” (so Davids, 106–8).

Peter is by no means fatalistic about persecution for the sake of Christ, but once more he enlists the language of election: “To this [i.e., suffering for good] you were called [eklēthēte, GK 1721]” (cf. up to this point 1:1; 2:4, 9). The Petrine perspective on suffering is that Christians endure hardship for the sake of Christ precisely because he suffered, as an example (hypogrammos, GK 5681), for us. The words “To this you were called” are a reiteration of the conditions of basic Christian discipleship, and the call of Jesus is to “take up the cross” and “follow” him (Mt 10:38; 16:24; Mk 8:34; Lk 9:23; 14:27). For this reason, the saints are called to “follow in his steps.” In recalling Jesus’ penetrating post-resurrection challenge to Peter to “follow” (Jn 21:19), Peter’s failure earlier in his life to do precisely this doubtless imbues his present exhortation to “follow in his steps” with deep meaning.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 102). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Pe 2:21). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2246). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Pe 2:21). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2409). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 324–325). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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

Thursday

Confession: Psalm 30:1–5

I will exalt you, O Yahweh,

because you have drawn me up,

and have not made my enemies rejoice over me.

O Yahweh, my God,

I cried for help to you,

and you healed me.

O Yahweh, you have brought my life up from Sheol.

You preserved me alive

from among those going down to the pit.

Sing praises to Yahweh, you his faithful ones,

and give thanks to his holy fame.

For there is a moment in his anger;

there is a lifetime in his favor.

Weeping lodges for the evening,

but in the morning comes rejoicing.

Reading: Mark 14:1–2

Now after two days it was the Passover and the feast of Unleavened Bread, and the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how, after arresting him by stealth, they could kill him. For they said, “Not at the feast, lest there be an uproar by the people.”

Reflection

Dastardly fear often drives men to the greatest crimes. He who is not brave enough to be master of his own spirit, and to follow the dictates of his own conscience, may do, before long, he little knows what. Because of the fear of the people, the chief priests and scribes were driven to compass the death of Christ by craft, and to bring Him to His death by the cruel betrayal of Judas—one of His own apostles.

—Charles H. Spurgeon

The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons

Response

Are your actions guided by fear? What ways can the good and true fear of God drive out these fears?[1]

 

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