Daily Archives: March 31, 2017

March 31, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Mar. 31, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump will order on Friday a comprehensive study to identify every form of “trade abuse” that contributes to U.S. deficits with foreign countries, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said. Trump also will take steps to toughen enforcement of trade penalties just a day after announcing the date for a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, leader of the country Trump has blamed most frequently for trade deficits and job losses. Ross said the two executive actions weren’t intended as a warning to China.

The defection of two Republican senators forced Vice President Mike Pence to break two tie votes as the Senate passed a resolution that would free states to withhold federal family planning money from Planned Parenthood.

Venezuela slid closer toward dictatorship after the country’s Supreme Court gutted the only opposition-run institution — the Congress — seizing its powers and declaring the body invalid.

Illinois Tool Works Inc. will close an auto-parts plant in Mazon, Illinois, this month and head to Ciudad Juarez. Triumph Group Inc. is reducing the Spokane, Washington, workforce that makes fiber-composite parts for Boeing Co. aircraft and moving production to Zacatecas and Baja California. TE Connectivity Ltd. is shuttering a pressure-sensor plant in Pennsauken, New Jersey, in favor of a facility in Hermosillo.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX flew a reused rocket to space and back again, a key milestone to reducing launch costs and one day enabling people to live on other planets.

AP Top Stories

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s right-hand man said in an interview today on ABC’s “Good Morning America” that current relations between Russia and the United States are “maybe even worse” than the Cold War.

A Boko Haram faction led by the son of the group’s founder is trying to win over civilians by shunning the indiscriminate violence of its longtime figurehead that has alienated locals.

U.S. District Judge Derrick K. Watson has extended a national ban pertaining to the Trump administration’s latest immigration executive order, likely sending the case to the full Ninth Circuit for consideration.

The creator of the popular card game Cards Against Humanity has pledged to purchase and publish the internet browsing history of members of Congress who voted to repeal an Obama-era protection that prevented internet service providers from collecting and selling users’ personal information.

A bridge on Interstate 85 in Atlanta collapsed Thursday as a fire raged beneath it, authorities said, sending black smoke into the air and briefly causing a fireball before the structure fell in on itself.

The Philippine president unleashed an expletive-laden tirade Thursday against the country’s leading newspaper and TV network and threatened to humiliate them and their owners, whom he accused of distorting news of his anti-drug crackdown.

At least 14 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle at an entrance to Baghdad, in an attack claimed by the Islamic State group, officials said Thursday.

Over 600 men and women were sworn in as New York City police officers during their graduation ceremony at Madison Square Garden, March 30, 2017, in New York. The latest graduating class included officers from over 39 countries who speak 53 different languages.

North Carolina’s Democratic governor says he’s on board with a proposal to end the standoff with Republican legislative leaders over the state’s “bathroom bill,” saying “it’s not a perfect deal” but begins to repair the state’s reputation. Gov. Roy Cooper released the statement Wednesday night about the same time GOP lawmakers unveiled the details of their agreement. The proposal would repeal the law known as House Bill 2, but it would still leave state legislators in charge of policy on public restrooms.

Austria wants to stop refugees from coming into its borders, officials from the country said Tuesday, asking the European Union to be exempt from taking in more asylum seekers. The country’s chancellor argued that it had already taken in enough refugees over the past few years as the migrant crisis has swelled.

BBC

An 85-year-old woman survived in her car for five days with nothing but her pet cat, some spare clothes, snacks and a tin of cat food.

President Donald Trump has given the US military greater authority to attack militants in Somalia. This effectively means US Special Forces will be able to call in air strikes more quickly and accompany partner troops in more advanced positions, US media report.

The western Indian state of Gujarat has passed a law making the slaughter of cows punishable with life imprisonment. Under an amendment to the state’s Animal Preservation Act, those found guilty of transporting beef will also be jailed for 10 years.

WND

The State Department is ramping up refugee admissions back to more normal levels after it had slowed to a trickle over the past month under President Trump. WND has confirmed through a State Department spokesperson that the administration is set to more than double the number of refugees arriving in U.S. cities from the current 400 per week to 900 per week.

The Rollins College student who accused his Muslim teacher of religious discrimination has been reinstated to school and will return next week, his attorney said Thursday night. “A student’s freedom of speech and expression are the cornerstones of liberty in a free society,” attorney Kenneth Lewis said in a statement that also called for a “full inquiry” into the actions of the professor, Areej Zufari.

Gasoline prices could see a significant springtime jump of 20 to 45 cents per gallon, pushing retail pump prices to their highest level since June 2015.


The Briefing 03-31-17

The perennial “rise” of the religious left: Why the secular left doesn’t need the religious left

The horrifying intersection of assisted suicide and organ donation: Culture of death advances in Canada

AP updates style guide to include genderless “they” as Oregon grants citizen “right” to be genderless

The post The Briefing 03-31-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 3/31/2017

It’s On: GOP Appears Ready to Go ‘Nuclear’ if Democrats Mount Indefensible, Unpopular Filibuster of Gorsuch
Democrats have zero intellectually-defensible reasons — none — to sustain the first-ever partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee, but due to the demands of their extreme base and their misplaced anger over finally being held to their own standards last year, they appear to be headed in that direction anyway.

Trump Envoy Greenblatt Seeks Rabbinic Wisdom to Solve Peace in the Middle East
Jason Greenblatt may succeed in the seeming impossible task of jump-starting the clinically dead negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority because he has an ace up his sleeve: he has God on his side.

Editor’s notes: Trump’s process to peace
Israel is not yet clear what Trump’s plans are for the Middle East. His expressed desire to achieve what he refers to as the “ultimate deal” seems sincere, although the path to that so-called deal remains vaguely marked.

Abbas: Trump is serious about peace
Abbas praised President Donald Trump on Thursday, saying he is “serious” about solving the Israel-PA conflict. “The U.S. administration of President Donald Trump is seriously considering a solution to the Palestinian issue,” Abbas told AFP following a meeting of the Arab League in Jordan.

Sanhedrin Fighting Police to Allow Pesach Sacrifice: Call for Nations to Play Their Role
“We believe that this is the only path to world peace: by recognizing the God of Abraham via the Jewish Temple,” Rabbi Weiss said. “We are requesting this from the world as Jews, living freely in our land.”

‘Marble’: Wikileaks Releases Third Batch of ‘Vault-7’ on CIA Hacking Tactics
“Marble is used to hamper forensic investigators and anti-virus companies from attributing viruses, trojans and hacking attacks to the CIA.” “This is the digital equivallent of a specalized CIA tool to place covers over the english language text on U.S. produced weapons systems before giving them to insurgents secretly backed by the CIA,” according to the whistleblowing site. Wikileaks stated that the “Marble” was used by the Central Intelligence Agency during 2016.

UN issues condemnation of new Israeli settlement
Israel’s decision to build the first new government-sanction settlement in a quarter-century elicited a 75-word condemnation from from UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday morning. The statement said that Guterres “took notice with disappointment and alarm” at the decision by Israel “to build a new settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory.”

Steinitz to JPost: Iran’s traction in Syria a greater threat to Israel than ISIS
As world powers focus on toppling ISIS, Iran is quietly gaining traction in Syria – posing a direct threat to Israel, eastern Mediterranean countries and the entire Arabian Peninsula, according to National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz. “It’s very easy and convenient to focus on ISIS,” he told The Jerusalem Post. “But we have two challenges in Syria.

US beefs up muscle in Somalia fight
President Donald Trump has given the US military greater authority to attack militants in Somalia. The US provides military support to Somalia in its fight against al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda affiliate, which is waging an armed insurgency in the country. The head of US forces in Africa had asked for more flexibility and faster responses.

EU sets out ‘phased’ Brexit strategy
The EU has outlined its strategy for Brexit negotiations, suggesting talks on a trade deal could begin once “sufficient progress” is made on a separation settlement with the UK. The draft guidelines, issued by European Council President Donald Tusk, argue for a “phased approach” in talks. The draft will be sent to the 27 member states for approval. They will set the tone for two years of negotiations.

Venezuela court takes over National Assembly functions
There has been growing criticism of Venezuela’s government after the Supreme Court took over legislative powers from the National Assembly. “The decision has dealt the final blow to democracy in the country,” said the Organisation of American States. The court ruled that the assembly was in contempt and said it would exercise congressional functions.

Campaigners seek ‘to sell US politicians’ browsing data’
The organisers of two privacy campaigns say they plan to buy, 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.

Senate kills family-planning rule; Pence breaks tie
Vice President Mike Pence took the rare step of breaking a tie in the U.S. Senate on Thursday, casting the deciding vote to roll back protections for reproductive health funds. Using the Congressional Review Act, which allows lawmakers to repeal recently minted regulations, senators killed a rule intended to keep federal grants flowing to clinics that provide contraception and other services in states that want to block the funding.

U.S. appeals injunction of Trump revised travel order
The U.S. Justice Department on Thursday appealed a ruling by a federal judge in Hawaii extending a suspension of President Donald Trump’s revised restrictions on travel from some Muslim-majority countries. The appeal will be considered by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which last month upheld a suspension of Trump’s first travel order.

North Carolina Repeals Transgender Bathroom Law
North Carolina on Thursday repealed a law regulating bathroom use for transgender people, hoping to lure back businesses and sports leagues that boycotted the Southern state because they saw the year-old measure as discriminatory.

Israel approves first new West Bank settlement in 20 years
Israel has approved the building of the first new settlement on the occupied West Bank in more than two decades. A statement after a meeting of the country’s security cabinet said the construction would take place in the Emek Shilo area near Nablus.

Mike Flynn Tells FBI He Will Testify In Exchange For Immunity
Mike Flynn, President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, has told the FBI and congressional officials investigating the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia that he is willing to be interviewed in exchange for a grant of immunity from prosecution.

Facial Recognition Tech Could Ensnare Millions Of Innocent Americans For Crimes They Didn’t Commit
If we ever allow our government to roll out facial recognition cameras on a wider scale, lots of innocent people are going to be hurt. Whether by mistake or by malice, it will become shockingly easy for law enforcement to identify ordinary people as criminals.

“Trump Can Go Down in History as First President to Recognize Jerusalem as Capitol”
“Almost 70 years ago, President Truman made history by being the first president to recognize the State of Israel,” Bennett said, , adding, “Now, President Trump can go down in history as the first president to recognize Jerusalem as its capital.”

SATIRE: “Jesus Not Coming Back By The Looks Of It” Admits Vatican Cardinal
Cardinal Giorgio Salvadore has officially announced that this years 1,981st anniversary is to be the Vatican’s last in regards to waiting for the Lord to return to Earth. But he urged followers to still continue with their faith, regardless of the news.


You Do Not Go To War With Your Own People

Donald Trump is making the exact same tragic mistake that other prominent leaders have made in the past. You never, ever, ever go to war with your own people. Yes, you may have some very serious disagreements with your own team sometimes, but you never go to war with them. When Trump openly declared war on the Freedom Caucus, he immediately lost the support of millions of conservatives. And now Trump is going to have a tremendously difficult time getting anything on his agenda through Congress, because without Freedom Caucus votes the Democrats will be able to block just about everything that Trump wants to do. (Read More…)


The Ticking Time Bomb That Will Wipe Out Virtually Every Pension Fund In America

Are millions of Americans about to see the big, juicy pensions that they were counting on to fund their golden years go up in flames in the biggest financial disaster in U.S. history? When Bloomberg published an editorial entitled “Pension Crisis Too Big for Markets to Ignore“, it simply confirmed what a lot of people already knew to be true.  Pension funds all over America are woefully underfunded, and they have been pouring mind boggling amounts of money into very risky investments such as Internet stocks and commercial mortgages.  Just like with subprime mortgages in 2008, this is a crisis that everyone can see coming well in advance, and yet nothing is being done about it. (Read More…)


Hillary’s 2020 Vision of Revenge

Did anyone really expect Madame Secretary to meander forever? Even in the wake of her unexpected defeat, Hillary’s professed pining for natural seclusion was, as usual, a lie.

View Article


March 30, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — As someone who goes back decades with Accuracy in Media, I remember the days when Ted Koppel, then with ABC News and host of “Nightline,” would cover serious matters and treat his conservative critics with respect. So Koppel’s attack on Sean Hannity of Fox News was a shocker. Something has happened to journalism, and the problem is not with Hannity, it’s with Koppel…. (more)

March 30, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — President Trump accused three conservative lawmakers in a series of tweets Thursday of stalling the legislative process on healthcare and tax reform. “If Reps. Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Raul Labrador would get on board we would have both great healthcare and massive tax cuts and reform,” Trump tweeted just after 5 p.m. ET…. (more)

March 30, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — The chairman of the House Freedom Caucus argued Thursday that President Trump is “not being well served” by attacking members of the group after they broke with the GOP over healthcare reform last week…. (more)


March 30, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s concerned that President Trump might strike a deal with Democrats should Republican lawmakers fail to come up with a follow-up to the failed American Health Care Act…. (more)

March 30, 2017
GARTH KANT — A former Obama official appears to have inadvertently confirmed the former president’s administration spied on then President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team for political purposes. Speaking on MSNBC March 2, Evelyn Farkas, deputy assistant secretary of defense under Obama, confirmed that not only was the previous administration collecting intelligence on the Trump team, it was attempting to share it as far and wide as possible…. (more)

March 30, 2017
ASSOCIATED PRESS — House Republicans are taking aim at the Environmental Protection Agency, targeting the way officials use science to develop new regulations…. (more)

March 30, 2017
NEWSMAX — An ethics lawyer who worked under former President Barack Obama said Wednesday he believes Ivanka Trump’s official role at the White House violates federal law. Norman Eisen appeared on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360” and was asked about President Donald Trump’s daughter taking a job at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, regardless of the fact she is not accepting a salary for it…. (more)


March 30, 2017
LEO HOHMANN — President Trump has decided not to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as a foreign terrorist organization, at least for now, according to published reports citing pressure from the U.S. State Department and the King of Jordan…. (more)

March 30, 2017
BOB UNRUH — U.S. Air Force officials at Joint Base San Antonio in Texas have been warned by a law firm that they need to withdraw punitive notations from an officer’s personnel file concerning his view of homosexual behavior or face legal action, because they were added on the whim of another officer…. (more)

March 29, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — The Heritage Foundation article “We Don’t Have to Choose Between Putin and George Soros” is a very effective rebuttal to claims in the media that conservatives who oppose the influence of billionaire George Soros in foreign affairs are therefore siding with another billionaire, Russian ruler Vladimir Putin…. (more)

March 29, 2017
JOAN SWIRSKY — It’s easy to deride the aberrant behavior of the leftists we’ve been unhappily witness to, both over the course of the presidential campaign and particularly since Donald J. Trump ascended to the presidency on November 8th, 2016. After all, they’ve never recovered from the Bush v Gore race of 2000!… (more)

March 29, 2017
SUSAN FERRECHIO — Republican lawmakers in both the House and Senate aren’t ready to walk away from efforts to pass legislation repealing and replacing Obamacare, even if it means compromise among conservatives or working with Democrats…. (more)


March 29, 2017
TIMOTHY P. CARNEY — The Art of the Deal didn’t work. The Trump White House tried simply commanding the intransigent conservatives on healthcare. The conservatives didn’t follow orders. Trump tried heckling the resisters on Twitter, but that just alienated them. Trump repeatedly, though indirectly, threatened to work against the re-election of no votes…. (more)

March 29, 2017
NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump’s declaration he is willing to work with Democrat lawmakers to move his agenda forward is “a rookie idea” that will not end well, former House majority leader Tom DeLay, R-Texas, told Newsmax TV…. (more)

March 29, 2017
JOSEPH FARAH — May I speak frankly about what we just endured over recent weeks with regard to the House debate over Ryancare? House Speaker Paul Ryan is simply a non-smoking, better-looking, non-alcoholic version of John Boehner who had no desire to overturn Obamacare because he is an establishment Republican who detests conservatives more than Democrats and is a sellout to the insurance companies with little regard for the American people who would be hit with skyrocketing health-care insurance premiums had the bill he crafted been passed by Congress and signed by President Trump. That was a mouthful, but it needed to be said in one deep breath…. (more)

March 29, 2017
ART MOORE — Despite his support for the failed House health-care bill, President Trump knew when to walk away from a “bad deal,” according to White House spokesman Sean Spicer. At the daily briefing Monday, Spicer was asked if the president could still work with the conservative House Freedom Caucus, which led the opposition to the American Health Care Act…. (more)

March 29, 2017
NEWSMAX — House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, R-Calif., says he will not be heeding the call of the panel’s ranking Democrat to recuse himself from its probe of attempted Russian interference in the presidential election…. (more)

March 29, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — A central piece of President Trump’s executive order Tuesday nixes the federal government’s use of the obscure “social cost of carbon” calculation, ending an Obama-era experiment that put an official price tag on greenhouse gas emissions…. (more)


March 29, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump’s executive action Tuesday to begin unraveling the Clean Power Plan may also signal America’s de facto exit from the landmark Paris climate treaty – – former President Barack Obama’s signature environmental achievement…. (more)

March 29, 2017
BOB UNRUH — A coalition of experts on civil rights is asking Attorney General Jeff Sessions to clean up the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division by removing political activists from leadership, ridding the office of “ideological rot” and stopping its bureaucrats from abusing their authority…. (more)

March 29, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Monday that jurisdictions must demonstrate they are not sanctuary cities to receive financial grants from the Justice Department. He said he’s carrying out a policy laid out by the Obama administration last year, which identified three grant programs – – the COPS grants, Byrne grants and State Criminal Alien Assistance Program money – – that already require certification…. (more)


March 29, 2017
CHRISTIAN POST — The Islamic State terrorist group has kidnapped nearly 200 children and reportedly plans to use them as human shields in its battle against Iraqi-led coalition forces in Mosul…. (more)


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

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

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


Friday, March 31, 2017
Today on ChristianHeadlines
Cost of Rebuilding Iraq’s Homes and Churches is $200 Million
Cost of Rebuilding Iraq’s Homes and Churches is $200 Million
by Veronica Neffinger
A Christian Aid group estimates that the cost to rebuild and restore the thousands of homes and churches that have been destroyed by the Islamic State and the fighting in Iraq is $200 million.
READ FULL ARTICLE   >>
Planned Parenthood’s New Clinic Cost $20 Million
Planned Parenthood’s New Clinic Cost $20 Million
by Veronica Neffinger
America’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, recently opened a new clinic in Washington D.C. which cost $20 million.
READ FULL ARTICLE
Turkey: Jailed American Pastor Calls on Trump for Help
Turkey: Jailed American Pastor Calls on Trump for Help
by Veronica Neffinger
An American pastor who is being held in jail in Turkey is calling on the Trump administration to secure his release.
READ FULL ARTICLE
North Carolina Lawmakers Compromise on Controversial Transgender 'Bathroom Bill'
North Carolina Lawmakers Compromise on Controversial Transgender ‘Bathroom Bill’
by Amanda Casanova
North Carolina’s Senate approved a compromised version of the state’s transgender bathroom bill on Thursday.
READ FULL ARTICLE
California Gov: Undocumented Immigrants are ‘Children of God’ and Should Be Treated as Such
California Gov: Undocumented Immigrants are ‘Children of God’ and Should Be Treated as Such
by Veronica Neffinger
California Gov. Jerry Brown recently condemned President Trump’s proposed border wall and stated that illegal immigrants are “children of God and they should be treated that way.”
READ FULL ARTICLE

Mid-Day Snapshot

Mar. 31, 2017

Is Trump Playing With Fire?

He takes to Twitter to go after the conservative Freedom Caucus.

Top Opinion
Jonah Goldberg: Reaction to Pence Story Shows Traditional Christians Face Double Standard
Mona Charen: Democratic Vendetta
Charles Krauthammer: The Road to Single-Payer Health Care
More Opinion →
The Foundation

“In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural Passions so hard to subdue as Pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will now and then peek out and show itself.” —Benjamin Franklin (1771)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: March 31

  • GOP disarray deepens (Read More)
  • Zuma’s Night of Long Knives Risks ANC Split, Credit Rating (Read More)
  • China downplays tensions with U.S. ahead of summit (Read More)
  • Wall Street’s New Favorite Way to Swap Secrets Is Against the Rules (Read More)
  • EU offers Brexit trade talks, sets tough transition terms (Read More)
  • Bearish Hedge Funds Stand to Gain as Trump Rally Fizzles (Read More)
  • U.S. diplomatic delays, Trump agenda snarl Italy’s G7 agenda (Read More)
  • Trump to order trade abuses study (Read More)
  • U.K. Outsider Farage Finds a Home in Trump’s Orbit (Read More)
  • North Korean murder suspects go home with victim’s body as Malaysia forced to swap (Read More)
  • Airlines Make More Money Selling Miles Than Seats (Read More)
  • Jeep Missing Its Compass Leaves Brand Adrift as Rival SUVs Surge (Read More)
  • Pipelines Face Stiffening Resistance (Read More)
  • Madoff Deals Locked in Safe at Center of U.K. Hedge-Fund Lawsuit (Read More)
  • Poland expects to ink $7.6 billion deal for Patriot systems by end-2017 (Read More)
  • In Rebuke to Trump Policy, GE Chief Says ‘Climate Change Is Real’  (Read More)
  • American Jobs Are Headed to Mexico Once Again (Read More)
  • Two Senate Democrats Put Support Behind Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court (Read More)
  • Ukrainian intelligence officer killed in car blast in Mariupol port (Read More)

Top Headlines – 3/31/2017

Israel approves first West Bank settlement in two decades

Palestinians, UN chief rap new settlement for Amona evacuees

US expresses understanding for new settlement, as it was promised months ago

Israel will curb settlement expansion to satisfy Trump

Settler group unfazed by West Bank building curbs

Israeli guidelines point to largely unconstrained settlement expansion

230 new immigrants arrive in Israel from Ukraine

Discounting Muslim anti-Semitism, group says attacks on French Jews down

Close to 40 Palestinian schools named for terrorists

IDF holds major West Bank drill ahead of Passover holiday

Israel prepares for next war with Hezbollah in mock village

UN criticizes Hamas for closing Israel border

Egypt, Jordan, PA look to coordinate stances ahead of White House visits

Arab leaders: We’ll try to relaunch Israeli-Palestinian peace talks

Arab leaders send a message to Trump: Palestine first

Iran’s traction in Syria a greater threat to Israel than ISIS

Iran denies Arab League accusation of Mideast meddling

Russia’s Putin says ready to meet Trump at a summit in Finland

Russia’s Putin says would support Trump in fighting terrorism

Putin Takes Tough Stance on Protests, Warns of Arab Spring Chaos

US envoy to UN: Removing Assad ‘not our priority’

Death, devastation and diplomacy: battle for Mosul intensifies – in pictures

Tiny graves: Syrian refugees in Lebanon struggle for space to bury children

Syrian refugees: more than 5m in neighbouring countries now, says UN

Hundreds missing in Boko Haram’s biggest abduction of kids

Germany: radicalized teen charged over attempted mall attack

Trump administration appeals latest ruling blocking travel ban

Sessions: Border crossings down 60 percent due to ‘Trump’s strong leadership’

‘Build that wall?’ Some Canadians are calling for more border control, too

Trump threatens hard-liners as part of escalating Republican civil war

Republican disarray deepens as Trump attacks rebel conservatives

Biden says 9 Republicans admitted to him opposing Garland was wrong

Scalia’s seat has been vacant longer than any Supreme Court justice’s in nearly 50 years

Gorsuch battle brings Senate to brink of a new low

Feeling sad is ‘new normal’ in Trump’s America, therapists say

Berkeley Joins Other Bay Area Cities Calling For Trump’s Impeachment

Trump revives threat to change libel laws

White House Invites Lawmakers to View Surveillance Documents

Trump ally: Obama official should be subpoenaed after ‘leaking’ admission

Flynn offers to cooperate with congressional probe in exchange for immunity

Flynn in 2016: When you are ‘given immunity’ that probably means you committed a crime

FBI chief ‘sought to reveal Russian election meddling in mid-2016’

Ex-Trump adviser Carter Page rips ‘false narrative’ on Russia collusion

Venezuela Lurches Toward Dictatorship as Top Court Seizes Power

Trump to target trade abuses in latest executive orders

Trump says trade gap will make China meeting ‘a very difficult one’

I’ll back Texas independence, EU’s Juncker warns Trump

EU sets out ‘phased’ Brexit strategy

Amazon and Walmart are in an all-out price war that is terrifying America’s biggest brands

This could push Amazon’s Jeff Bezos past Bill Gates as the world’s richest human

U.S. Music Industry Sees First Double Digit Growth in Almost 20 Years as Streaming Takes Over

With Washington’s Blessing, Telecom Giants Can Mine Your Web History

Internet users raise funds to buy lawmakers’ browsing histories in protest

Facial Recognition Tech Could Ensnare Millions Of Innocent Americans For Crimes They Didn’t Commit

Biden’s message to Trump: Grow up, stop tweeting

Connecticut considering weaponizing drones

SpaceX Pulls Off First Reused Rocket Mission in Musk Triumph

Recycled Rockets Could Drop Costs, Speed Space Travel

Spacewalking astronauts lose a piece of shield needed for International Space Station

Hope in human life on Mars rises as scientists in Peru successfully grow a potato in Mars simulator

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Tinabogan, Indonesia

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Pijijiapan, Mexico

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Kokopo, Papua New Guinea

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Ust’-Kamchatsk Staryy, Russia

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Kokopo, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kimbe, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Hihifo, Tonga

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

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

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 14,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 12,500ft

Australia cyclone flooding overwhelms towns, leaves one dead

California snowpack is one of the biggest ever recorded, and now poses a flooding risk

No joke: New England to get snow dump on April Fools’ Day

India heat wave turns deadly; Brief relief may come to New Delhi next week

Interstate 85 collapses in massive fire in Atlanta

I-85 collapses after massive fire: ‘The entire bridge is compromised’

Traffic horrors expected after fire-caused I-85 overpass collapse in Atlanta

Animal to man, fear of the next pandemic – Orangutan’s mysterious death points to threat of diseases that jump to humans

Experimental Breast Cancer Vaccine

A New Kind of Male Birth Control Is Coming

Jimmy Carter: Democrats Should Abandon Pro-Abortion Position

Pence breaks tie, allowing Senate to revoke Obama order on abortion provider funding

Felony charges are a disturbing overreach for the duo behind the Planned Parenthood sting videos

North Carolina transgender ‘bathroom bill’ flushed by lawmakers

Deal to end ‘bathroom law’ under fire from LGBT people

Cosby on seducing women: ‘They need chemicals’

Google knows if you’re watching too much porn using Chrome Incognito browsing

Harry Potter Haggadah casts spell

Matt Walsh – This is what persecution looks like. All decent Americans should be infuriated

Televangelist Ernest Angley ordered to pay $388,000 over unpaid labor

Charisma’s Jennifer LeClaire Writes New Inspired Scripture?

Have You Heard the Term, “Thin Places”?

Baptist pastor accused of taking more than $300,000 from Old East Dallas church

Young Christian Shot Dead in Streets of Sheikhupura, Pakistan

Pastor Imprisoned in China Denied Emergency Treatement for Flesh-Eating Disease

Imprisoned Pakistani Christians Offered Release If They Convert to Islam

Christian Air Force Doctor Feels Targeted for His Faith

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 07:03 AM PDT

An Air Force doctor who is a known Christian with a stellar 26-year military record has been punished for allegedly making derogatory comments about homosexuality,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian Nurse Fired for Offering to Pray With Her Ailing Patients

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 06:52 AM PDT

If anyone should be able to pray for people in their line of work, you would think it would be a nurse right? Think again!…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BIG BROTHER: Facial Recognition Could Convict Americans For Crimes Didn’t Commit…

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 06:48 AM PDT

It’s often the case that new technologies arrive on the scene faster than our society and its legal code can keep up. Sometimes this can…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WikiLeaks Reveals CIA CoverUp of Hacking Attacks, Framed as Russian or Chinese Activity’

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 06:42 AM PDT

WikiLeaks has published hundreds more files today which it claims show the CIA went to great lengths to disguise its own hacking attacks and point the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Claim Says Department of Education Indoctrinates Students Into Islam

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 06:32 AM PDT

Christian Action Network has sent a “Letter of Demand” to the U.S. Department of Education “mandating that it cease its Islamic education program for the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Supreme Court to decide whether religious hospitals should be considered part of church

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 06:28 AM PDT

A group of religious hospitals are asking for the Supreme Court to protect it from a group of lawyers that claim the hospitals are not…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China Cracks Down on Homeschooling, Students ‘Should not be Allowed to Study at Home’

Posted: 31 Mar 2017 06:25 AM PDT

China’s communist government over the years has restricted religious practice, political speech, assembly and other practices regarded as rights in the West. Now it is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Breaking News: Venezuela on the Brink of Autocracy

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 10:07 PM PDT

“Venezuela took its strongest step yet toward one-man rule under the leftist President Nicolás Maduro as his loyalists on the Supreme Court seized power from…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Breaking News: Anti-Abortion Bill Passes Senate

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 07:35 PM PDT

Breaking News: Anti-Abortion Bill Passes Senate Vice President Pence cast a tie-breaking Senate vote Thursday to pass legislation that will allow states to withhold federal…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why Now Is the Most Dangerous Time for You to Be a Christian

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 06:59 PM PDT

(By Dr. Mark Rutland) The age of martyrs is now. It is misguided to believe that the worst persecution of Christians took place in the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New children’s book portrays Santa as gay black man in interracial marriage

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 06:48 PM PDT

A new children’s book, coming out for Christmas this year, will depict Santa Claus as a gay black man in an interracial relationship. Harper Design, a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Mike Flynn Offers to Testify in Exchange for Immunity

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 06:38 PM PDT

Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser, has offered to be interviewed by House and Senate investigators who are examining the Trump campaign’s ties…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Police Ready to Roll Out Weaponized Drones

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 06:34 PM PDT

Connecticut lawmakers are considering whether the state should become the first in the country to allow police to use drones outfitted with deadly weapons, a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Ticking Time Bomb That Will Wipe Out Virtually Every Pension Fund In America

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 05:59 PM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) Are millions of Americans about to see the big, juicy pensions that they were counting on to fund their golden years go…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: Green comet to fly by Earth on April 1st 2017

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 05:55 PM PDT

Green comet 41P/Tuttle-Giacobini-Kresak is flying over Earth’s North Pole this week where sky watchers can find it all night long not far from the bowl…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Texas Struck With Tornadoes, Strong Winds and Giant Hail, 200,000 Without Power

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 05:50 PM PDT

Reports are indicating that Powerful thunderstorms and tornadoes have left behind serious damage across North Texas on Tuesday and Wednesday and triggered power outages to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

College in CA Honors Professor Who Called Trump’s Election ‘Act of Terrorism’

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 05:44 PM PDT

Pop Quiz! What reward does a college professor receive in California for calling the election of Donald Trump an “Act of Terrorism”? The answer is, They…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Generational Giant-Slayers: Taking Up the Caleb Anointing

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 05:35 PM PDT

(By Dawn Hill) When you think about slaying giants, who is the first person that comes to your mind? Chances are, David has been placed…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Mexico Struck by Strange Weather Phenomenon

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 05:31 PM PDT

Residents of New Mexico witness something you don’t see every day. Across New Mexico, unusually warm March weather and virtually no rain for a month…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Israel approves first new West Bank settlement in decades

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 05:27 PM PDT

Israel’s security cabinet has approved construction of a new settlement in the occupied West Bank for ex-residents of the Amona outpost demolished under a Supreme…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pakistan Prosecutor tells Christians to Convert to Islam and They Will Be Set Free

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 12:54 PM PDT

Would you convert to Islam and renounce your faith in Christ to be freed from Jail?  Some Pakistani Christians accused of murder are standing firm in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hawaii Indefinitely Extends Order to Block Trump’s Revised Travel Ban

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 12:50 PM PDT

A federal judge in Hawaii has indefinitely extended an order to block President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban, just hours before it was set to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Avoid the Paths of these 3 Men!

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 12:20 PM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, you will discover why it is extremely critical that you and I avoid taking the direction of three men…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF NOAH: Epigenetic Modification May Be the Next Game-Changer

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 12:11 PM PDT

Are we witnessing humanity reach a tipping point where they are now crossing the line with attempting to play God and alter genetic order to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christians Being Urged to Pull Children From Public Schools

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 11:56 AM PDT

The warning was clear: Christian parents should pull their children out of public schools, now, to protect them from spiritual damage, extreme indoctrination, and other…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Lawmakers Just Flushed the Transgender Bathroom Bill in North Carolina!

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 11:46 AM PDT

North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill,” which limited people to the public restroom aligned with their biological gender, was flushed by lawmakers Thursday after a year…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

What to Do if You Miss the Rapture

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 11:41 AM PDT

(By Dr. Dave Williams) It is possible to be a professing Christian and not actually be in the faith. Paul said, “Examine yourselves, seeing whether…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

We Are Fighting Demons More Than Democrats

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 11:34 AM PDT

The Views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of End Time Headlines (By Michael Brown) I believe in political involvement. I believe…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

EU Boss Makes Threat To US Over Trump Support For Brexit

Posted: 30 Mar 2017 11:30 AM PDT

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…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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


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

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Barna Update | Meet Those Who “Love Jesus but Not the Church”

We live in a rapidly secularizing American culture. But even though fewer are going to church, many still believe in God and practice faith outside its walls. In this first of a two-part exploration of faith and spirituality outside the church, we look at those who “love Jesus but not the church.”

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Weekly Watchman for 03/31/2017

Needed: Men of God

God is a God of order. In His infinite wisdom and understanding He established guidelines for His Church to carry out His will on earth until the day Jesus Christ returns. When we do not follow His guidelines, we get the results we see today: a decaying morality, corrupt culture, ineffective churches, and families falling apart.

God ordained men to be leaders in His Church and in our families. But over the past 50-plus years, many men have abdicated their position of leadership for a variety of reasons. Most studies show that professing Christians divorce at a rate similar to unbelievers. And the disintegration of the family is creating problems for the church and our society.

How do we stand up once again and become godly men, following hard after Christ and embracing the privilege and responsibility God has given us as leaders? We’re joined this morning by Pastor Gary Gilley who just taught on this very subject at a recent Christian Men’s Conference.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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The Cold Sting of Political Reality

Reality is not always pleasant. But to deny the reality of the crisis we face in America is foolishness. By every measurable standard we are a nation in decline. Republicans are arguing among themselves about who has the best policies to fix the problems while Democrats have become obstructionists and have forged a national resistance against anything the Trump administration attempts to do. And Christians are also divided politically and morally on many issues including whether we should even engage in politics.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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A Church on the Defensive

Today we look at another Christian survey as well as some disturbing news on just how far many professing churches and leaders have fallen. Some are deceived while others are deceiving people into moral relativism, false teachings, and abandoning the truth of God for the faulty wisdom of man. Christian churches should be affecting secular culture. Instead secular culture seems to be infecting many churches.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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The Gospel, the Church, and the Supreme Court

In the book of Ephesians, Paul tells us our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. He encourages us to put on the full armor of God for this battle for the eternal souls of men.

Every effective army is comprised of strong focused leaders and committed followers. As we see the church in America being generally ineffective in sharing the gospel and making true disciples for Christ, we have to wonder if the problem is weak leadership; disinterested, uncommitted followers, or both. We cover an article by Peter Heck in our second segment titled, “Maybe the Problem isn’t the Church… Maybe it’s You.”

In our first segment we talk with author Preston Condra of watchman.org about his new book By Which We are Saved: Sharing the Gospel with Confidence. Why are we failing to share the gospel of salvation with our friends and families?

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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“The End Of Truth” – Hayek Saw It All Coming Over 70 Years Ago

Article Image
03-30-2017 • LewRockwell.com by Tyler Durden

“The most effective way of making everybody serve the single system of ends toward which the social plan is directed is to make everybody believe in those ends. To make a totalitarian system function efficiently, it is not enough that everybody should be forced to work for the same ends. It is essential that the people should come to regard them as their own ends.”[p.171]

Berit’s comment: Ponder that statement. It helps explain the significance of universal service-learning. Like socialist youth in Nazi (National Socialism) and Communist countries, all must embrace the new ideology. Those who don’t — the intolerable dissenters — must be silenced.

The next section elaborates:

“Although the beliefs must be chosen for the people and imposed upon them, they must become their beliefs, a generally accepted creed which makes the individuals as far as possible act spontaneously in the way the planner wants. If the feeling of oppression in totalitarian countries is in general much less acute than most people in liberal countries imagine, this is because the totalitarian governments succeed to a high degree in making people think as they want them to.”[p.171]

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.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NASB) 

All forms of Liberal (so-called) Christianity are another religion, not True Christianity. Why? They are rooted in worldly, humanistic, and non-Christian presuppositions.  On the other hand, the Word of God clearly directs believers to avoid these philosophies and, instead, their presuppositions must be the precepts and doctrines of Christ, not the futile traditions of men (Colossians 2:3, 4, 22; 3:1-2). Based upon this clear division, believers are precluded from any form of neutrality or even seeking after it. Why? As we have seen in earlier posts, neutrality is in actuality veiled agnosticism or unbelief—a failure to walk in Christ, an obscuring of Christian commitment and distinctives, and a suppression of truth (cf. Romans 1:21, 25). 

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Professor: Students Are Becoming Moral Nihilists

By starting with students’ own moral practices and intuitions concerning justice, a professor can lead them in productive conversations about moral matters. The most important step is to point out the contradiction in saying that there are no moral standards that apply to everyone, and then prohibiting legitimate criticism of other cultures. For in that case, there are indeed moral principles that apply to everyone and criticism of other cultures is not simply being “intolerant.”

The Problem

One thing I’ve learned in my years of teaching in the U.S. is that many young Americans are moral relativists. As students in elementary and secondary schools, they were taught that there is no moral fact of the matter. Thus, when people disagree about moral issues, their different perspectives are equally valid. It would be wrong to criticize anyone from another culture who sees things differently.

For example, my son’s high school English teacher wanted her students to say that child slavery in Ghana is morally permissible, the unstated premise being that there are no absolute moral principles that apply to all cultures at all times and places. In my college teaching, I often encounter the results of such thinking.

If I leave students’ relativism unchallenged and ask “Was the Holocaust evil and immoral?” many students will say “No.” “Was slavery evil and immoral?” I ask. Students often respond, “No. At the time people thought it was moral; society said it was moral, so it was moral.”

I often describe female genital mutilation, practiced in places like rural Sudan and argue that it is immoral because it is painful, involuntary, can lead to infection and death and removes the possibility of feeling sexual pleasure. Thus, this practice is immoral. But my students frequently respond, “That’s just your perspective. The Sudanese would be unlikely to agree with you.”

Students enter my classroom believing nothing is truly good or evil and that moral beliefs are the result of what society says. Their moral nihilism can be seen when they write good and evil with scare quotes—i.e., “good” and “evil”—and when they demonstrate their desire to tolerate any evil imaginable as long as it is practiced in another culture.

Teachers are apparently so worried that moral disagreements will lead to conflicts that they teach that “everyone is entitled to their opinion.”

Well-meaning liberal teachers think they are thereby promoting “tolerance,” but they are actually unintentionally producing moral nihilism in their students, leaving them with the moral compass of a psychopath.

The term “Islamophobia” is now used by teachers and professors to prevent legitimate criticism of Muslim cultural practices and behaviors. The liberal media are mostly silent about Pakistani rape gangs in England, the killing of homosexuals, and the ill-treatment of women. Moral relativism and its cousin cultural relativism (the notion that moral criticism of another culture is neither possible nor permissible) are widely taken to be true in America.

There is one enormous exception to the prohibition on cultural criticism. Liberal teachers and professors, meaning very nearly all of them, think Western culture is to be condemned as ethnocentric and immoral, with the crime of colonialism being the chief criticism. All other cultures, however, must be defended against all-comers in the name of tolerance, anti-racism, and anti-ethnocentrism. They are beyond criticism and most students accept that.

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The post Professor: Students Are Becoming Moral Nihilists appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “A Testimony of One Surprised to Be in Hell, Part 3” Luke 16:19-31

Luke 16:19-31

Code: B170331

You don’t hear a lot about hell in church—for obvious reasons. Long gone are the days when crowds would flock to sit under scathing sermons about fire and brimstone. Today’s genteel society doesn’t want to hear about the shocking horrors of hell, and the wrath God that will pour out on unrepentant sinners. And that’s tragic for a couple of reasons.

First, it’s tragic because it speaks to a lack of compassion on the part of pastors. As John MacArthur says in his sermon, “A Testimony of One Surprised to Be in Hell, Part 3,”

It is a compassionate preacher who preaches on hell. It is a loving preacher, a sympathetic preacher who warns people of the horrors of eternal punishment. All of that is true because it was a sympathetic God who revealed hell, and a sympathetic Christ who was the primary preacher of hell.

The compassionate preacher knows that hell is a real place, and that countless souls will end up there, enduring eternal torment for their sins. And he can’t stand the thought of anyone facing an eternity of God’s wrath. All Christians ought to have that attitude—we ought to love unrepentant sinners enough to warn them of the horrors that await if they refuse to repent and believe.

There’s another reason it’s tragic that we don’t hear more about hell, and it flows out of the first one. Not only should we have compassion on the lost, but we must recognize that plenty of people who will spend eternity in hell had no idea they were headed there. They will be surprised to find themselves in hell.

While the world is full of unrepentant sinners, not many truly expect to go to hell. And aside from those cavalier few, much of the world is convinced they will be good enough to avoid God’s judgment, or that there won’t be any judgment to face beyond the grave. Even the church is home to plenty of self-deceived souls who will be shocked to face God’s wrath in hell.

That was the point of the story of the rich man and Lazarus—the parable Christ told in Luke 16:19-31. He served as an indictment of Israel’s religious elite, and as a warning to anyone who would look to their own self-righteousness for assurance.

In his weekly preaching ministry at Grace Community Church, John MacArthur took five weeks to work through this powerful, chilling passage of Scripture. The whole series is worth your time, but the message we’re highlighting today is particularly gripping. Focused on the central verses in the passage, this message vividly depicts what it would be like to awaken to the horrors of hell.

The memorable, illuminating nature of those vivid descriptions is why “A Testimony of One Surprised to Be in Hell, Part 3” was recommended by a member of the Grace to You staff.

The Bible’s descriptions of hell—a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, where the worm does not die—were always obtuse to my mind. In this sermon, John clearly and powerfully explains those somewhat cryptic descriptions. For example, he says “The worm that never dies is the relentless, accusing conscience of the sinner, keeping up an unending and unmitigated and undiminished torment as it hammers the truth of the sinner’s guilt and wretchedness without ceasing.” That sobering description makes me cherish my salvation, hate the residing sin in my life, and urges me to be more committed to proclaim gospel truth to those without Christ, lest they find themselves in that horrible eternity. – Scott L.

To listen to “A Testimony of One Surprised to Be in Hell, Part 3,” click here.


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170331
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

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

March 31, 2017: Verse of the day

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3 Divine omniscience. The Lord knows everyone completely. The thought is continuous in the two lines of this verse; it uses anthropomorphic language to stress God’s exacting knowledge. But as Plaut, 169, says, this verse is not intended as a statement of theology but an incentive for conduct. Of course, for the righteous divine omniscience is a great comfort (see also 2 Ch 16:9; Ps 11:4; Heb 4:13, which show that God’s purpose in this activity is salvific).

Expositor’s Bible Commentary

15:3 eyes of the Lord. Cf. 5:21. This refers to God’s omniscience. Cf. 1 Sam 16:7; 2Ch 16:9; Job 24:23; Pss 33:13–15; 139:1–16; Jer 17:10.

MacArthur Study Bible

15:3 The eyes of the Lord is a major theme in Proverbs: the Lord knows the actions and hearts of all, so he is neither pleased with nor fooled by one who offers sacrifices while continuing in the way of wickedness (cf. vv. 8–9, 11, 26, 29).

ESV Study Bible

15:3 keep watch over the evil and the good Yahweh sees the ways of all people (Prov 5:21). The Psalms portray Him as examining humanity from His heavenly throne (Psa 11:4–5). He watches so He can eventually bring all actions under His judgment (Eccl 12:14).

Faithlife Study Bible

15:3 eyes of the Lord. See 2 Chr. 16:9; Ps. 33:13–15. The sages sometimes looked beyond the observable events and natural retribution to remind themselves of the reality of divine justice. See theological note “God Sees and Knows: Divine Omniscience.”

Reformation Study Bible

MARCH 31, 2017 – SALVATION: A RIGHT RELATION BETWEEN GOD AND MAN

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.

EPHESIANS 2:13

The cause of all our human miseries is a radical moral dislocation, an upset in our relation to God and to each other.

For whatever else the Fall of man may have been, it was most certainly a sharp change in man’s relation to his Creator. He adopted toward God an altered attitude, and by so doing destroyed the proper Creator-creature relation in which, unknown to him, his true happiness lay.

Essentially salvation is the restoration of a right relation between man and his Creator, a bringing back to normal of the Creator-creature relation.

A satisfactory spiritual life will begin with a complete change in relation between God and the sinner; not a judicial change merely, but a conscious and experienced change affecting the sinner’s whole nature.

The atonement in Jesus’ blood makes such a change judicially possible and the working of the Holy Spirit makes it emotionally satisfying. The story of the prodigal son perfectly illustrates this later phase.

He had brought a world of trouble upon himself by forsaking the position which he had properly held as son of his father. At bottom his restoration was nothing more than a reestablishing of the father-son relation which had existed from his birth and had been altered temporarily by his act of sinful rebellion. This story overlooks the legal aspects of redemption, but it makes beautifully clear the experiential aspects of salvation.[1]


2:13 in Christ Jesus … by the blood of Christ. There are two dimensions to Gentiles’ being brought near to God. The first is their experience of spiritual union with Christ (vv. 4–10); the second is the historical basis of that experience in Christ’s sacrificial death (vv. 14–16; 1:7).

far off … near. See v. 17.[2]


2:13 far off. A common term in rabbinical writings used to describe Gentiles, those who were apart from the true God (cf. Is 57:19; Ac 2:39). brought near. Every person who trusts in Christ alone for salvation, Jew or Gentile, is brought into spiritual union and intimacy with God. This is the reconciliation of 2Co 5:18–21. The atoning work accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross washes away the penalty of sin and ultimately even its presence.[3]


2:13 in Christ Jesus. The old division of all people into two classifications, Jews or Gentiles (Acts 14:5; Rom. 3:29; 9:24; 1 Cor. 1:23), or Jews and Greeks (John 7:35; Acts 14:1; 18:4; Rom. 3:9; 1 Cor. 1:22, 24; etc.), has been transcended by a new entity in Christ: “the church of God” (1 Cor. 10:32). near. To be brought near means to have access to God (see Eph. 2:18). blood. Christ’s substitutionary death. He died not only for the Jews but for all his sheep (John 10:16), even those who are far off (cf. Acts 2:39).[4]


13 Starting with “but now” (nyni de), Paul affirms that their former estrangement has been replaced with being brought near in Christ Jesus (corporate solidarity). Formerly they were “far away” and the Jews were “near” (see the more complete discussion in v. 17). Now they are members of the near ones. All that they lacked they now have in Christ (though, in fact, Paul does not contrast all five elements of their formerly sorry state, only the first and second). The instrument that reversed their former plight is “the blood of Christ,” the same means of redemption named in 1:7. “Blood” refers to Christ’s death on the cross, as in v. 16 (cf. Col 1:20). According to the OT sacrificial system, God required the shedding of blood to gain forgiveness (Ex 30:10; 2 Ch 29:24; Heb 9:22). Christ shed his blood, i.e., he died to save from sins (Heb 9:14; 1 Jn 1:7). Christ’s death is key and central to the reversal of the Gentiles’ fortunes.[5]


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

[2] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2094). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

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

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2265). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 76). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

March 31, 2017 – Applying the Disciples’ Prayer

“For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (Matt. 6:13).

✧✧✧

The Disciples’ Prayer is a pattern to follow for life.

The implications of the Disciples’ Prayer are profound and far-reaching. An unknown author put it this way:

“I cannot say ‘our’ if I live only for myself in a spiritual, watertight compartment. I cannot say ‘Father’ if I do not endeavor each day to act like His child. I cannot say ‘who art in heaven’ if I am laying up no treasure there.

“I cannot say ‘hallowed be Thy name’ if I am not striving for holiness. I cannot say ‘Thy kingdom come’ if I am not doing all in my power to hasten that wonderful day. I cannot say ‘Thy will be done‘ if I am disobedient to His Word. I cannot say ‘in earth as it is in heaven’ if I will not serve Him here and now.

“I cannot say ‘give us … our daily bread’ if I am dishonest or an ‘under the counter’ shopper. I cannot say ‘forgive us our debts’ if I harbor a grudge against anyone. I cannot say ‘lead us not into temptation’ if I deliberately place myself in its path. I cannot say ‘deliver us from evil’ if I do not put on the whole armor of God.

“I cannot say ‘thine is the kingdom’ if I do not give to the King the loyalty due Him as a faithful subject. I cannot attribute to Him ‘the power’ if I fear what men may do. I cannot ascribe to Him ‘the glory’ if I am seeking honor only for myself. I cannot say ‘forever’ if the horizon of my life is bounded completely by the things of time.”

As you learn to apply to your own life the principles in this marvelous prayer, I pray that God’s Kingdom will be your focus, His glory your goal, and His power your strength. Only then will our Lord’s doxology be the continual song of your heart: “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen” (v. 13).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to use what you’ve learned from the Disciples’ Prayer to transform your prayers.

For Further Study: Read John 17, noting the priorities Jesus stressed in prayer.[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]


6:13 This final (sixth) petition addresses the disciples’ battle with sin and evil. Lead us not into temptation. The word translated “temptation” (Gk. peirasmos) can indicate either temptation or testing (see notes on 4:1; James 1:13). The meaning here most likely carries the sense, “Allow us to be spared from difficult circumstances that would tempt us to sin” (cf. Matt. 26:41). Although God never directly tempts believers (James 1:13), he does sometimes lead them into situations that “test” them (cf. Matt. 4:1; also Job 1; 1 Pet. 1:6; 4:12). In fact, trials and hardships will inevitably come to believers’ lives, and believers should “count it all joy” (James 1:2) when trials come, for they are strengthened by them (James 1:3–4). Nonetheless, believers should never pray to be brought into such situations but should pray to be delivered from them, for hardship and temptation make obedience more difficult and will sometimes result in sin. Believers should pray to be delivered from temptation (cf. Matt. 26:41; Luke 22:40, 46; 2 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 3:10) and led in “paths of righteousness” (Ps. 23:3). deliver us from evil. The phrase translated “evil” (Gk. tou ponērou) can mean either “evil” or “the evil one,” namely, Satan. The best protection from sin and temptation is to turn to God and to depend on his direction. “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen” (ESV footnote) is evidently a later scribal addition, since the most reliable and oldest Greek manuscripts all lack these words, which is the reason why these words are omitted from most modern translations. However, there is nothing theologically incorrect about the wording (cf. 1 Chron. 29:11–13), nor is it inappropriate to include these words in public prayers.[5]


6:13 lead us not into temptation. The forgiven pray this petition because they trust God and distrust themselves. The Father may test us (4:1; Deut. 8:2), but He will not allow us to be tempted beyond our capacity (1 Cor. 10:13; James 1:12, 13).[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 103). 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.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1832). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1681). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

MARCH 31, 2017 – POWER OF THE CROSS

The cross…by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

Galatians 6:14

 

Only a person with a perfect knowledge of mankind could have dared to set forth the terms of discipleship that our Lord Jesus Christ expects of His followers.

Only the Lord of men could have risked the effect of such rigorous demands: “Let him deny himself” (Matthew 16:24).

Can the Lord lay down such severe rules at the door of His kingdom? He can—and He does!

If He is to save the man, He must save him from himself. It is the “himself” which has enslaved and corrupted the man. Deliverance comes only by denial of that self.

No man in his own strength can shed the chains with which self has bound him, but in the next breath the Lord reveals the source of the power which is to set the soul free: “Let him take up his cross.”

The cross was an instrument of death—slaying a man was its only function. “Let him take his cross,” said Jesus, and thus he will know deliverance from himself!

 

Dear Lord, I have much to learn about denying myself and bearing my cross daily—especially in the midst of so many mundane activities. Have Your way with me, Lord.[1]


The Power to Free Men from the World’s Bondage

through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (6:14b)

The first reason Paul gives for his glorying in the cross is its power to free him from bondage to the world system of evil. The world translates kosmos (the opposite of kaos, from which we get the English chaos) and speaks of an ordered system. Our word cosmetic (derived from kosmos) has the basic meaning of covering up disorder with something that brings order. In the New Testament, kosmos refers to the order of the evil world system ruled by Satan and his agents (see John 12:31; 14:30; 1 Cor. 2:6,

8; Eph. 2:2). The life of a person apart from Jesus Christ is the life of a victim of that system. It is a meaningless life, a life with no hopeful plan, purpose, or reason for being. It is also a life ruled by the flesh, which naturally and inevitably follows the system of evil promoted by the world, whether in gross immorality or simply in day-to-day self-gratification.

The person without Christ is often haunted by the past. He cannot free himself from the guilt of things he has done and failed to do. Yet he has no way of relieving his guilt or his anxiety. He is often enthralled with the future, continually expecting tomorrow to bring better things and more meaning; but it never does, and life becomes a pile of frustrated dreams. Or he may decide hedonistically to live just for the day, taking all he can while he can. Because physical life is all he can see or cares about, he declares with ancient Greeks who denied the resurrection, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” (1 Cor. 15:32). In one way or another, every unbeliever is in bondage to the futilities and frustrations of the world.

The person who belongs to Jesus Christ, however, is freed from the world’s evil and hopelessness. He knows that his past, present, and future sins are forgiven through Christ’s death, that his present life is in the Holy Spirit’s care and strength, and that his future life is as secure in heaven as if he were already there. Everything a believer ultimately treasures is in heaven. His heavenly Father is there, his Savior is there, his eternal home is there, and his reward is there. His greatest hopes are there and, although they are yet to be realized, they are assured and secured by the Lord. “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus,” Paul declares (Phil. 1:6).

But a believer’s blessings are not all in the future. In this present life he has the awareness of God’s presence and love and peace, the consciousness that God is alive and that he himself is alive because of what Christ accomplished on the cross on his behalf. He knows that he has been blessed “with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” chosen “in Him before the foundation of the world, [to] be holy and blameless before Him,” in love “predestined … to adoption as [a son] through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,” and that he has “redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of [his] trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:3–8).

In light of the immeasurable blessings of the cross, Paul therefore says, the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. As noted earlier, kosmos (world) here refers to Satan’s spiritual system under which humanity is now in bondage because of sin. In a more specific aspect it refers to Satan’s vast system of false religions, all of which are grounded in human merit and works righteousness. “The whole world lies in the power of the evil one,” John declares (1 John 5:19). Whether a person is religious or atheistic or agnostic, if he does not know Christ he is captive to the satanic system of the world. Reminding them of their pre-Christian lives, Paul told the Ephesians, “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Eph. 2:1–3).

The world is corrupt (2 Pet. 1:4) and is going to be judged (1 Cor. 11:32), and everyone who is identified with that system is corrupt and will be judged with it. But the Christian is freed from the world’s corruption and judgment. The idea of the world and the believer being crucified to each other means they are dead to each other. As in the case of the flesh being crucified (5:24), it does not mean the world has no more influence over the believer, but that its dominion is broken and he is no longer in total bondage to it. The death blow has been dealt to the world system, so that soon it will not exist at all. It is still in the throes of dying, and it can still touch the believer with its corruption. In the meanwhile, the Christian’s citizenship is no longer in the evil world system but “in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ; who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself” (Phil. 3:20–21).

“I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world,” Jesus prayed to His Father. “Thine they were, and Thou gavest them to Me, and they have kept Thy word. … And I am no more in the world; and yet they themselves are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep them in Thy name, the name which Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, even as We are … I do not ask Thee to take them out of the world, but to keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (John 17:6, 11, 15–16).

The phrase the world has been crucified to me also relates to the believer’s spiritual position before God, to the historical fact of his trusting in Christ for salvation and his spiritual union with Christ through His death on the cross. “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world,” John tells us, “and this is the victory that has overcome the world-our faith. And who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4–5). When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, sin becomes a dead issue, the law becomes a dead issue, and the world becomes a dead issue.

In light of the specific danger of the Judaizers, Paul was saying, in effect, “That part of the world system called Judaism is crucified to me and I to Judaism. It is dead to me and I am dead to it. We no longer have any part in each other.” Whatever the particular manifestation of the world system a person is trapped in, his only escape is through the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, through which he becomes dead to his old life and his old life becomes dead to him. “Our old self was crucified with Him, that our body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin” (Rom. 6:6–7).

The phrase and I to the world relates to the Christian’s practical living before God. The faithful believer has no more compelling interest in the things of the world, though he still falls prey to its lusts. Just as they have become dead to him, he becomes dead to them. Obviously it makes no sense to associate with a corpse, which is the reason Paul asked the Colossians, “If you have died with Christ to the elementary principles of the world, why, as if you were living in the world, do you submit yourself to decrees, such as, ‘Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch!’ (which all refer to things destined to perish with the using)-in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men? … If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 2:20–22; 3:1–3).[2]


14 Paul has just expressed what he considers to be improper or misguided boasting. Now he suggests where appropriate boasting or exultation should center: “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (cf. Ro 5:3–5, 11; 1 Co 1:18–31). It is only in the cross, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, that redemption is to be found; it cannot come by circumcision as a means of law observance (cf. 2:16–21). Focusing on the cross ends all forms of legalistic observance, as Paul has maintained throughout this letter to the Galatians (1:4; 2:20; 3:1, 13; 6:12, 14). Thus, contrary to the base motivations of the Judaizers, who want only to advance their own cause among their Jewish brethren by means of “capturing” these Gentiles, Paul boasts in the very thing that brings him persecution (cf. 1:10; 5:11; 6:12), and the only thing that brings one into reconciliation with the one true and living God. Further, identification with Jesus and his cross brings one into different relationship to the world (kosmos, GK 3180). In Christ, this “mode of life which is characterized by earthly advantages, viewed as obstacles to righteousness” (Burton, 354), this world system with its claims to one’s time and energy and its supposed entitlements and position is “crucified” to the believer and the believer crucified to it. This is not to suggest that Paul means a distancing oneself from the physical world, an opting out of involvement with God’s material creation. Rather, what Paul has in mind is a disengagement from human power structures or from wealth sinfully used as a means to advance one’s own agenda at the expense of others around you (cf. Mk 10:42).[3]


6:14 the world has been crucified to me. Paul is saying that the entire world system in all its glory, but in opposition to God, is dead or destroyed in its power to attract him; it has no influence or power over Paul, no appeal to him. and I to the world. Paul is (similarly) dead to the desires and attractions of the world, for he serves Christ as his new master.[4]


6:14 world has been crucified to me Paul states that he has died to the values of the world: selfishness, ambition, and pride.[5]


6:14 boast … in the cross. For a more detailed outworking of this concept, see 1 Cor. 1:18–2:5.

the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Because Paul has been crucified with Christ (2:20), the criteria and approval of those who are outside Christ no longer define his identity and control his values.[6]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Galatians (pp. 206–209). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Rapa, R. K. (2008). Galatians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 637–638). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2256). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ga 6:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2084). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

March 31, 2017 – Jesus Christ Is Superior to the Ceremonial Law

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 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 became the new and perfect way into the Holy of Holies, into which any man could come by faith.

In this way, the Levitical, priestly, sacrificial system ended. Though the temple was not destroyed until A.D. 70, every offering made on its altar after Jesus died was needless. Symbolically, they had no more significance. Of course, the Tabernacle and Temple sacrifices that were offered 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.

The ceremonial law ended because it was fulfilled. Since the reality had come, the pictures and symbols had no more place or purpose. 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.

ASK YOURSELF

What does the magnificence of God’s story stir in you as you consider it again—the signs and fulfillments created by God’s design before the foundation of the world and forged through long centuries of human history? Sit at His feet again today in awe-filled worship.[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]


5:17 abolish the Law or the Prophets. The “Law” or “Torah” refers to the first five books of the OT, while the “Prophets” includes the rest of the OT, all of which was held to have been written by prophets (cf. Matt. 13:35, which cites Ps. 78:2; on “Law [and the] Prophets,” cf. Matt. 7:12; 11:13; 22:40; Rom. 3:21). but to fulfill them. Jesus “fulfills” all of the OT in that it all points to him, not only in its specific predictions of a Messiah but also in its sacrificial system, which looked forward to his great sacrifice of himself, in many events in the history of Israel which foreshadowed his life as God’s true Son, in the laws which only he perfectly obeyed, and in the Wisdom Literature, which sets forth a behavioral pattern that his life exemplified (cf. Matt. 2:15; 11:13; 12:3–6, 39–41, 42; also Luke 24:27). Jesus’ gospel of the kingdom does not replace the OT but rather fulfills it as Jesus’ life and ministry, coupled with his interpretation, complete and clarify God’s intent and meaning in the entire OT.[4]


5:17 Law or the Prophets. A way of referring to the whole OT.

not come to abolish … but to fulfill. The correctives of vv. 21–48 should be read in light of this opening remark. In fulfilling the law, Jesus does not alter, replace, or nullify the former commands; rather, He establishes their true intent and purpose in His teaching and accomplishes them in His obedient life. The Law, as well as the Prophets, points forward to Christ. See theological note “The Law of God” on p. 124.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 99). 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.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1828). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1679). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

MARCH 31, 2017 – GOD IS INFINITE!

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised; and his greatness is unsearchable.

—Psalm 145:3

God is infinite! That’s the hardest thought I will ask you to grasp. You cannot understand what infinite means, but don’t let it bother you—I don’t understand it and I’m trying to explain it! “Infinite” means so much that nobody can grasp it, but reason nevertheless kneels and acknowledges that God is infinite. We mean by infinite that God knows no limits, no bounds and no end. What God is, He is without boundaries. All that God is, He is without bounds or limits.

We’ve got to eliminate all careless speech here. You and I talk about unlimited wealth, but there’s no such thing; you can count it. We talk about boundless energy—which I don’t feel I have at the moment—but there’s no such thing; you can measure a man’s energy. We say an artist takes infinite pains with his picture. But he doesn’t take infinite pains; he just does the best he can and then throws up his hands and says, “It isn’t right yet, but I’ll have to let it go.” That’s what we call infinite pains.

But that is a misuse of the words “boundless,” “unlimited” and “infinite.” These words describe God—they don’t describe anything but God. AOG004

Lord, Your greatness extends beyond the limitations of my human ability to comprehend. You are boundless, unlimited and infinite, and You are greatly to be praised. Amen. [1]


145:3 his greatness is unsearchable. That is, past the capacity of the human mind to fully describe or comprehend. It will take many worshipers, and a long duration (forever and ever, vv. 1, 2, 21), even to begin to do justice to what the Lord deserves.[2]


145:3 his greatness is unsearchable Emphasizes that God—along with all of His worthy qualities—is simply too much for people to comprehend.[3]


145:3 Great is the Lord. A standard affirmation in worship (35:27; 40:16; 48:1; 96:4) that alludes to the Lord as the great king.

unsearchable. God’s power and might are so great that finite human minds are unable to comprehend them fully. This verse teaches the doctrine of the incomprehensibility of God. People can have a true understanding of God but never a complete or exhaustive one.[4]


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

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1122). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 145:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1000). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

March 31, 2017 – The Summation of Humility

“Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.”

Romans 13:8

✧✧✧

If believers fulfill their constant debt of love, they will have a continual attitude of sacrificial humility.

Origen, the early church father, wisely said, “The debt of love remains with us permanently and never leaves us. This is a debt which we pay every day and forever owe.” The primary reason you and I can pay that debt is that “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). God’s own love to us and every other believer is the bottomless well from which we can draw and then share with others.

If we have this wonderful, supernatural resource of love through the Holy Spirit, it only follows that we must submit to the Spirit. When we do so, all the enemies and impediments to humility—pride, unjustified power–grabbing, selfish ambition, partisanship, hatred—will melt away. What an overwhelming thought to consider that such humility can be ours because God Himself, through His Spirit, is teaching us to love as we yield to Him (1 Thess. 4:9).

At every turn we see humility going hand in hand with godly love. Genuine love never turns its “freedom into an opportunity for the flesh” (Gal. 5:13). It will not do anything to cause another Christian to fall into sin or even be offended in his conscience (Rom. 14:21). Love that is from God will “be kind to one another, tender–hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [us]” (Eph. 4:32).

The greatest test of love and humility is the willingness to sacrifice for the good of others. As we have already seen in our study of humility, Jesus was the ultimate example of this (Phil. 2:5–8). Our supreme demonstration of humility is when we imitate Him: “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for an occasion today to show some facet of biblical love to another person. ✧ If nothing develops today, keep praying that the Lord would make you alert for future opportunities.

For Further Study: First John 4 is a wonderful chapter on God’s love and its meaning for believers. According to the apostle, how can we know truth from error? ✧ What benefits derive from God’s love?[1]


The Debt of Love

Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. (13:8)

Paul has just been speaking of paying taxes (vv. 6–7), and the admonition to owe nothing to anyone continues his focus on the Christian’s financial obligations.

That phrase is sometimes interpreted to mean that a Christian is never justified in going into debt of any sort. But neither the Old nor New Testament categorically forbids borrowing or lending.

The Mosaic law did require that, “If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest” (Ex. 22:25; cf. Ps. 15:5). It is obvious from this verse that if lending was permitted, so was borrowing. The moral issue involved charging interest (or “usury” KJV) to the poor. The principle of charging interest is stated more explicitly in Leviticus: “Now in case a countryman of yours becomes poor and his means with regard to you falter, then you are to sustain him, like a stranger or a sojourner, that he may live with you. Do not take usurious interest from him, but revere your God, that your countryman may live with you” (Lev. 25:35–36, emphasis added; cf. Neh. 5:7; Ezek. 22:12).

God also warned His people against refusing to give a loan to a fellow countryman because a sabbatical year was near, when all debts were canceled (Deut. 15:7–9). The Lord promised the unselfish and generous lender that “for this thing the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in all your undertakings” (v. 10). He declared that “the righteous is gracious and gives.… All day long he is gracious and lends; and his descendants are a blessing” (Ps. 37:21, 26), and that “He who is gracious to a poor man lends to the Lord, and He will repay him for his good deed” (Prov. 19:17). Whether or not a gracious lender is repaid by the borrower, he unquestionably will be repaid by the Lord.

From those passages and many others, it is obvious that lending, and therefore borrowing, were common and legitimate practices in ancient Israel. The Law carefully regulated lending by prohibiting charging interest to those who were destitute, but it did not forbid lending with honest and reasonable interest.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gives tacit approval of borrowing and commands potential lenders: “Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you” (Matt. 5:42). Augmenting the truth mentioned above regarding divine blessing of those who give graciously and generously, Jesus said, “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High” (Luke 6:35). Again we are promised that, when we give out of genuine kindness to those in need, the Lord Himself will reward us in His own gracious way.

Both the old and new testaments, therefore, justify borrowing by those who are in serious need and have no other recourse, and both testaments command believers who are able to do so to lend to their needy brethren without taking advantage.

In the realm of business, apart from the needy, Jesus approved of financial borrowing for the purpose of investment. In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14–30), the master highly commended the two servants who had wisely invested his money, but he strongly rebuked the unfaithful servant who merely buried the money entrusted to him: “You ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest” (v. 27).

Many businesses could not operate without borrowing money to invest in such things as buildings, equipment, and raw materials. Many farmers could not plant new crops without borrowing money for seed and fertilizer. Most families could never afford to buy a home without taking out a mortgage.

When borrowing is truly necessary, the money should be repaid as agreed upon with the lender, promptly and fully. But Scripture nowhere justifies borrowing for the purpose of buying unnecessary things, especially luxuries, that cannot be afforded. And whatever is owed must be paid on time and in full. Those financial principles are the essence of Paul’s admonition to owe nothing to anyone.

The apostle then makes what appears at first glance to be a radical transition, declaring that all Christians have a type of perpetual indebtedness. Completely apart from financial considerations or situations, all believers have the constant obligation to love one another. It is a debt we are constantly to pay against but can never pay off. The early church Father, Origen said, “The debt of love remains with us permanently and never leaves us. This is a debt which we pay every day and forever owe.” And by our Lord’s gracious provision, it is a debt we will always have the resources to pay and which, the more we pay toward it, the more willing and joyous the payment will be.

Our love toward one another applies first of all to fellow believers, our brothers and sisters in Christ. “A new commandment I give to you,” Jesus said, “that you love one another, even as I have loved  you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35). To serve other Christians is to serve Christ. “I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat,” He said; “I was thirsty, and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.… Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me” (Matt. 25:35–36, 40). “Ministering to the saints” not only demonstrates our love for them but also our love for God (Heb. 6:10).

Love is the theme of John’s first letter. He tells us that “the one who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:10). He reminds us that God commands “that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us” (3:23). He admonishes us, “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (4:7), and that “this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (4:21).

Paul also has much to say about loving fellow Christians. In his letter to Colossae, he wrote, “And so, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (Col. 3:12–14). He counseled the often factious and worldly Corinthian believers to “pursue love” (1 Cor. 14:1), and he advised Timothy to encourage the godly women to “continue in faith and love and sanctity” (1 Tim. 2:15). He prayed that the love of believers in Philippi might “abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” (Phil. 1:9).

The apostle Peter, who had found it so difficult to love in the way his Lord desired (see, e.g., John 21:15–22; Acts 10), wrote, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22).

But one another also applies to unbelievers—all unbelievers, not just those who are likeable and friendly. Our Lord tells us, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). As we have seen in the previous chapter of Romans, Paul commands: “Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not” (12:14), and, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink” (v. 20). In his letter to the Galatian churches he admonishes, “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith” (Gal. 6:10, emphasis added).

Righteous love is so immeasurably important that he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law, a truth that Paul reiterates in verse 10 and that will be discussed in detail in the study of that verse.

It is clear that righteous, godly love is much more than emotion or feeling. As seen in the Galatians passage just quoted, love begins with “a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” But it also and always finds ways to “do good” to those whom we love, whether they seem to deserve it or not. Because of distance or other circumstances beyond our control, sometimes the only good we can do is to pray for them or forgive them. There are, of course, no greater things to do for anyone than to pray for them and forgive them, especially if we are praying for their salvation and if our forgiveness of them might lead them to seek God’s. But, as noted above, “while we have opportunity,” we are also commanded to demonstrate our love in direct and practical ways. Godly love includes ministering to the physical and financial needs of others, unbelievers as well as believers. That truth is the central point of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25–37).

There are many other ways to demonstrate godly love. Of supreme importance is to teach and to live God’s truth. For unbelievers, by far the most important truth to convey is the gospel of salvation. Believers teach God’s truth by living faithfully “in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God” (2 Cor. 6:6–7). Even when we find it necessary to warn or rebuke others, we are to speak “the truth in love” (Eph. 4:15).

Godly love never turns its “freedom into an opportunity for the flesh” (Gal. 5:13) and never rejoices in anything that is false or unrighteous (1 Cor. 13:6). Love refuses to do anything, even things that are not sinful in themselves, that might offend a brother’s conscience and cause him to stumble morally or spiritually (Rom. 14:21). “Above all,” Peter reminds us, “keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8).

Godly love is forgiving. We are to “be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven [us]” (Eph. 4:32). The Lord’s promise that “if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you,” is followed by the sober warning, “But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matt. 6:14–15; cf. Luke 6:36–37).

Godly love is characterized by humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance (Eph. 4:2). In his beautiful entreaty to the Corinthian  church, which was not characterized by love, Paul said, “Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor. 13:4–8).

The greatest test of godly love is its willingness to sacrifice its own needs and welfare for the needs and welfare of others, even to the point of forfeiting life if necessary. “Greater love has no one than this,” Jesus said, “that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). The supreme example of such love was the Lord Jesus Himself, “who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6–8). We are to be “imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved [us], and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma” (Eph. 5:1–2). As John reminds us, “We know love by this, that He laid down His life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).

But how, we ask, can we love in such a righteous and selfless way? First, we must keep in mind that our gracious heavenly Father provides His children every resource they need to obey His commands and to follow His example. We are divinely enabled to pay our great debt of love “because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). God’s own love is the inexhaustible well from which, as it were, we can draw the supernatural love He commands us to live by. Paul prayed for the Ephesians that, “being rooted and grounded in love, [you] may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God” (Eph. 3:17–19).

In order to love as God commands, Christians must submit to the Holy Spirit. In doing so, we must surrender all hatred, animosity, bitterness, revenge, or pride that stands between us and those we are called to love. “Now as to the love of the brethren,” Paul says, “you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another” (1 Thess. 4:9). Through His own Holy Spirit, God Himself teaches us to love! And because God Himself is love (1 John 4:16), it is hardly surprising that the first “fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal. 5:22).

The love that God commands must be pure and genuine, because love cannot coexist with hypocrisy. Peter therefore admonishes, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). Later in that same letter the apostle pleads for love with a sense of urgency: “The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (4:7–8).

Godly love is a matter of choice, and nothing less than willing, voluntary love is pleasing to God or can energize and unify His people. “Beyond all these things put on love,” Paul says, “which is the perfect bond of unity” (Col. 3:14). Our own godly love encourages other believers to love, and for that reason the writer of Hebrews calls us to “consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24). The best opportunity we have for inspiring love in others, the writer goes on to say, is by “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near” (v. 25). “If therefore there is any encouragement in Christ,” Paul entreated the Philippians, “if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion, make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose” (Phil. 2:1–2).

And amazingly, in our Lord’s infinite grace, righteous love is reciprocal love. We know that we are able to love God only “because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And yet our Lord promises that “he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.… And We will come to him, and make Our abode with him” (John 14:21, 23).[2]


8 The NASB’s “owe nothing to anyone” (NIV, “let no debt remain outstanding”) should not be taken as meaning that it is wrong to borrow. If incurring any indebtedness whatever is contrary to God’s will, Jesus would not have said, “Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Mt 5:42). Of course, to be perpetually in debt is not a good testimony for a believer, and to refuse to fulfill one’s obligations is unacceptable (v. 7). Now comes the remarkable exception to the rule. There is one debt owed to all: “to love one another.” One can never say that one has completely discharged it. Ordinarily, “one another” in the Epistles refers to relationships within the Christian community. But such is not the case here, for the expression is explained in terms of one’s “fellow man” (lit., “the other [person]”). Since the passage goes on to refer to one’s “neighbor” (vv. 9, 10), we may be reasonably sure that the sweep of the obligation set forth here is intended to be universal. It is, therefore, a mistake to accuse the early church of turning its eyes inward on itself and to a large extent neglecting the outside world. Granted that the usual emphasis is on one’s duties to fellow believers, yet the wider reference is not lacking (Gal 6:10; 1 Th 3:12).

In saying that the one who loves “has fulfilled the law,” Paul presents a truth that parallels his statement in 8:4 about the righteous requirement of the law being fulfilled in those who live according to the Spirit. The connecting link between these two passages is provided by Galatians 5:22–23, where first place in the enumeration of the fruit of the Spirit is given to “love” and the list is followed by the observation that “against such [fruit] there is no law.” So the Spirit produces in the believer a love to which the law can offer no objection, since love fulfills what the law requires—something the law itself cannot do. Paul again follows the teaching of Jesus that love is the fulfilling of the law (cf. Mt 22:39–40; see also Mt 7:12; Jas 2:8).[3]


13:8 Verses 8–10 focus on the Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic law. Owe no one anything links back to v. 7, and thus the command does not prohibit all borrowing but means that one should always “pay what is owed” (see v. 7), fulfilling whatever repayment agreements have been made. The debt one never ceases paying is the call to love one another. Indeed, love fulfills what the Mosaic law demands.[4]


13:8 has fulfilled the law. See theological note “Antinomianism” on p. 2272. Since the law of God is the law of love (Matt. 22:38–40) and love of God and love of neighbor summarize our moral obligation, then truly loving one’s neighbor (vv. 8, 9), or keeping the second table of the law, “fulfills” God’s requirements (v. 10). Those who do not rely on their own law-keeping but on God’s work in Christ are now empowered by His Spirit to progressively fulfill the law’s righteous requirement (8:1–4).[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Ro 13:8). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 199–200). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2180). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2005). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

March 31, 2017 – Our Sinless Savior

[Christ] committed no sin, nor was deceit found in His mouth; who when He was reviled, did not revile in return.

1 Peter 2:22–23

 

Jesus would have been prominent in Peter’s mind when he wrote today’s verses because he personally witnessed Jesus’ pain—though from afar. In spite of the severity of His pain, however, Christ committed no sin in word or deed.

Isaiah 53:9 says, “He had done no violence.” “Violence” is translated as “lawlessness” in the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Hebrew Old Testament). The translators understood that “violence” referred to violence against God’s law—or sin. In spite of the unjust treatment He had to endure, Christ did not and could not sin (cf. 1 Pet. 1:19).

Isaiah 53:9 adds, “Nor was any deceit in His mouth.” Sin usually first makes its appearance in us by what we say. In Jesus there was no sin, neither externally nor internally.

Jesus Christ is the perfect model of how we are to respond to unjust treatment because He endured far worse treatment than any person who will ever live, and yet never sinned.[1]


Believers’ Perfect Standard for Suffering

since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; (2:21b–23)

As discussed in the previous chapter of this volume, Christians have been called to persecution and suffering, whether in the workplace or any other realm of life (2:20–21a). In all forms of suffering, they must look to Christ as their standard, their example. For Him, the path to glory was the path of suffering (Luke 24:25–26), and the pattern is the same for His followers.

Peter’s phrase since Christ also suffered for you certainly recalls the reality of His efficacious, substitutionary, sin-bearing death—His redemptive suffering (cf. the discussion in the next section of this chapter). His redemptive suffering as the one sacrifice for sin has no parallel in His followers’ sufferings. But there are features of His suffering that do provide an example for them to follow in their own sufferings. For instance, in a complete breach of justice and goodness, He was crucified as a criminal (Isa. 53:12; Matt. 27:38) even though He committed no crime (1:19; cf. Isa. 53:9; John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26). He was perfectly sinless. Life in this world has always been filled with such unjust treatment of God’s faithful (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12). His execution demonstrates that one may be absolutely faithful to God’s will and still experience unjust suffering. So Christ’s attitude in His death on the cross provides believers with the ultimate example of how to respond to unmerited persecution and punishment (cf. Heb. 12:3–4).

That is clearly Peter’s point, because he adds the words leaving you an example. Believers will never suffer for others’ salvation, including their own. But they will suffer for Christ’s sake, and His example is their standard for a God-honoring response. The word translated example is hupogrammon, which literally means “writing under” and refers to a pattern placed under a sheet of tracing paper so the original images could be duplicated. In ancient times, children learning to write traced over the letters of the alphabet to facilitate their learning to write them. Christ is the example or pattern on which believers trace their lives. In so doing, they are following in His steps. Ichnesin (steps) means “footprints” or “tracks.” For believers as for Him, the footprints through this world are often along paths of unjust suffering.

In view of the suffering they were enduring (1:6–7; 2:20; 3:14, 17; 4:12–19; 5:9) and would yet endure, Peter wanted his readers to look closely at how their Lord responded to His suffering. Since Christ endured unequalled suffering when He went to the Cross, Peter, to set forth the example, focused on that event as the ultimate experience. The apostle examined Jesus’ response to intense suffering through the prophetic words of Isaiah 53, the most significant Old Testament chapter on Messiah’s suffering.

Peter first borrowed from Isaiah 53:9 to describe Christ’s reaction to unjust treatment. The phrase who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth is a close parallel to the prophet’s words in the second half of that verse, “Because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” Isaiah used “violence” not in the sense of a single act of violence, but to signify sin, all of which is violence against God and His law. The prophet indicated that the Suffering Servant (the Christ to come) would never violate God’s law. The Septuagint translators understood this and used “lawlessness” rather than “violence” to translate the term. Peter chose the word sin because under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration he knew that was Isaiah’s meaning.

Peter further drew from Isaiah, affirming Christ’s sinlessness by declaring that there was no deceit found in His mouth. The heart of man expresses sin most easily and often through the mouth, as the prophet made clear even in documenting his own experience: “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5; cf. Matt. 15:18–19; Luke 6:45; James 1:26; 3:2–12). Jesus’ mouth could never utter anything sinful, since there was no sin in Him (Luke 23:41; John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 John 3:5). Deceit is from dolos (see the discussion of that word in 2:1, chapter 8 of this volume), which here is used as a general term for sinful corruption.

Peter then describes Christ’s exemplary response to such unjust torture by saying while being reviled, He did not revile in return, again echoing the prediction of Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.” During the cruel hours preceding His actual crucifixion, Jesus suffered under repeated provocations from His accusers (Matt. 26:57–68; 27:11–14, 26–31; John 18:28–19:11). They tried to push Him to the breaking point with their severe mockery and physical torture but could not (Mark 14:65; Luke 22:63–65). He did not get angry at or retaliate against His accusers (Matt. 26:64; John 18:34–37).

Being reviled is a present participle (loidoroumenos) that means to use abusive, vile language over and over against someone, or “to pile abuse on someone.” It described an extremely harsh kind of verbal abuse that could be more aggravating than physical abuse. But Jesus patiently and humbly accepted all the verbal abuse hurled at Him (Matt. 26:59–63; 27:12–14; Luke 23:6–10) and did not return abuse to His tormentors. That He did not revile in return is all the more remarkable when one considers the just, righteous, powerful, and legitimate threats He could have issued in response (cf. Matt. 26:53). As the sovereign, omnipotent Son of God and the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Jesus could have blasted His cruel, unbelieving enemies into eternal hell with one word from His mouth (cf. Luke 12:5; Heb. 10:29–31). Eventually, those who never repented and believed in Him would be sent to hell; but for this time He endured with no retaliation—to set an example for believers. While suffering, He uttered no threats; instead of giving back threats for the repeated, unjust abuse, He chose to accept the suffering and even ask His Father to forgive those who abused Him (Luke 23:34).

Jesus drew the strength for that amazing response from His complete trust in His Father’s ultimate purpose to accomplish justice on His behalf, and against His hateful rejecters. He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. The verb for entrusting (paredidou) means “to commit,” or “hand over” and is in the imperfect tense signifying repeated past action. With each new wave of abuse, as it came again and again, Jesus was always “handing Himself over” to God for safekeeping. Luke records how that pattern continued until the very end: “ ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46). Undergirding Jesus’ peaceful, resolute acceptance of suffering was an unshakeable confidence in the perfectly righteous plan of Him who judges righteously (cf. John 4:34; 15:10; 17:25). He knew God would vindicate Him according to His perfect, holy justice. Alan Stibbs comments,

In … the unique instance of our Lord’s passion, when the sinless One suffered as if He were the worst of sinners, and bore the extreme penalty of sin, there is a double sense in which He may have acknowledged God as the righteous Judge. On the one hand, because voluntarily, and in fulfillment of God’s will, He was taking the sinner’s place and bearing sin, He did not protest at what He had to suffer. Rather He consciously recognized that it was the penalty righteously due to sin. So He handed Himself over to be punished. He recognized that in letting such shame, pain and curse fall upon Him, the righteous God was judging righteously. On the other hand, because He Himself was sinless, He also believed that in due time God, as the righteous Judge, would vindicate Him as righteous, and exalt Him from the grave, and reward Him for what He had willingly endured for others’ sake by giving Him the right completely to save them from the penalty and power of their own wrongdoing. (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, The First Epistle of Peter [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971], 119)

He is believers’ perfect example in suffering for righteousness’ sake and sets the standard for them to entrust themselves to God as their righteous Judge (cf. Job 36:3; Pss. 11:7; 31:1; 98:9; 119:172; Jer. 9:24). Though saints are not sinless, they are righteous in Christ and have the promise of God’s vindication of them. Such hope undoubtedly prompted Stephen to fix his eyes on the exalted Christ and ask God to forgive his murderers (Acts 7:54–60). Paul wrote,

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17–18; cf. Rom. 8:18; 2 Tim. 2:12; Heb. 2:10; James 1:2–4; 1 Peter 1:6–7)

The apostle suggests that the intense but comparatively trifling amount of suffering believers experience in this life will result in an infinitely greater weight (lit., a “heavy mass”) of glory in the life to come.[2]


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.[3]


2:22 This crucial verse underscores the sinlessness of Christ (committed no sin) and his substitutionary death for sinners (cf. 3:18). Jesus’ freedom from deceit alludes to Isa. 53:9. Isaiah 52:13–53:12 especially emphasizes that the servant of the Lord died as a substitute to remove the sins of his people.

2:23 when he suffered, he did not threaten. It is common to long for retaliation in the face of unjust criticism or suffering, but Jesus behaved like the meek lamb of Isa. 53:7. He could do so because he continued entrusting both himself and those who mistreated him entirely to God, knowing that God is just and will make all things right in the end. Likewise believers, knowing that God judges justly, are able to forgive others and to entrust all judgment and vengeance to God (cf. Rom. 12:19). Every wrong deed in the universe will be either covered by the blood of Christ or repaid justly by God at the final judgment.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 103). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 166–169). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

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

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

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

Friday

Confession: Psalm 30:6–10

But as for me, I had said in my prosperity,

“I shall not be moved ever.”

O Yahweh, by your favor

you caused my strong mountain to stand.

You hid your face. I was bewildered.

To you, O Yahweh, I called,

and to the Lord I pleaded for grace saying,

“What gain is there in my death,

in my going down into the pit?

Will the dust praise you?

Will it tell of your faithfulness?

“O Yahweh, hear and be gracious to me.

O Yahweh, be my helper.”

Reading: Mark 14:3–11

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining for a meal, a woman came holding an alabaster flask of very costly perfumed oil of genuine nard. After breaking the alabaster flask, she poured it out on his head. But some were expressing indignation to one another: “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? For this perfumed oil could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor!” And they began to scold her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you cause trouble for her? She has done a good deed to me. For the poor you always have with you, and you can do good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

And Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard this, they were delighted, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how he could betray him conveniently.

Reflection

When a poor sinner cleaves to Jesus and finds the forgiving love of God, he cannot but love God back. When the prodigal returned home and felt his father’s arms around his neck, then did he feel the gushings of affection toward his father. When the summer sun shines full down upon the sea, it draws the vapors upward to the sky. So when the sunbeams of the son of righteousness fall upon the soul, they draw forth the risings of love to Him in return.

Some of you are longing to love God. Come into His love, then. Consent to be loved by Him, though worthless in yourself. It is better to be loved by Him than to love, and it is the only way to learn to love Him. When the light of the sun falls upon the moon, it finds the moon dark and unlovely, but the moon reflects the light and casts it back again. So let the love of God shine into your breast, and you will cast it back again. “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

The only cure for a cold heart is to look at the heart of Jesus.

—Robert McCheyne

Perfect Love Casteth out Fear

Response

The woman in this story responds to Christ’s love with an extravagant action that shocks the people around her. What would that kind of extravagant response look like in your life?[1]

 

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