Monthly Archives: April 2017

April 28, 2017: Verse of the day

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11:1 Isaiah 11 is one of the greatest passages on the Millennium in either the OT or the NT. In one of the quick transitions, so frequent in the prophets, we are now carried forward to the Second Coming of Christ.

First we see the lineage of the Son of David, a Rod from the stem of Jesse, who was David’s father (1 Sam. 17:12).

Believer’s Bible Commentary

11:1 stem … roots. With the Babylonian captivity of 586 b.c., the Davidic dynasty appeared as decimated as the Assyrian army. A major difference between the two was the life remaining in the stump and roots of the Davidic line. That life was to manifest itself in new growth in the form of the Rod and Branch. Jesse. Jesse was David’s father through whose line the messianic king was to come (Ru 4:22; 1Sa 16:1, 12, 13). branch. This is a title for the Messiah (see 4:2).

MacArthur Study Bible

11:1 a shoot from the stump. After portraying the destruction of arrogant human evil as the felling of a vast forest (10:33–34), Isaiah presents the Messiah as a shoot or twig growing from a stump remaining after God’s judgment (cf. 4:2; 6:13; 53:2). Jesse. The father of David (cf. 1 Sam. 16:1–13; 2 Sam. 20:1). A greater David is prophesied (cf. Ezek. 34:23–24; Hos. 3:5). bear fruit. Unlike the human failure before him, especially King Ahaz, this son of Jesse bears the fruit of a new world.

11:1 The Messiah is from the line of Jesse, the father of David (1 Sam. 16:1). He is filled with the Spirit (Matt. 3:16; Luke 4:18), with wisdom (Col. 2:3), and with justice (Rev. 19:11).

ESV Study Bible

April 28 – Three Kinds of Persecution

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men revile you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me” (Matt. 5:10–11).

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When you speak out for Christ, you can expect harassment, insults, and slander.

Jesus mentioned three broad categories of suffering that Christians will experience. The first is persecution. “Persecuted” (Matt. 5:10) and “persecute” (v. 11) both come from the same Greek root, meaning “to pursue” or “to chase away.” Over time it came to mean “to harass” or “to treat in an evil manner.” Verse 10 literally reads, “Blessed are those who have been allowing themselves to be persecuted.” You are blessed when people harass you for your Christian stance and you willingly accept it for the sake of your Lord.

The second form of suffering is “insults” (v. 11), which translates a Greek word that means “to reproach,” “to revile,” or “to heap insults upon.” It speaks of verbal abuse—attacking someone with vicious and mocking words. It is used in Matthew 27:44 of the mockery Christ endured at His crucifixion. It happened to Him, and it will happen to His followers as well.

The final category Jesus mentioned is slander—people telling lies about you. That’s perhaps the hardest form of suffering to endure because our effectiveness for the Lord is directly related to our personal purity and integrity. When someone’s trying to destroy the reputation you worked a lifetime to establish, that is a difficult trial indeed!

If you’re going through a time of suffering for righteousness’ sake, take heart—the Lord went through it too, and He understands how difficult it can be. He knows your heart and will minister His super-abounding grace to you. Rejoice that you are worthy of suffering for Him and that the Kingdom of Heaven is yours.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for those who treat you unkindly, asking God to forgive them and to grant them His grace. ✧ Pray that you might always treat others with honesty and fairness.

For Further Study: Throughout history God Himself has endured much mocking and slander. Read 2 Peter 3:3–9, then answer these questions: ✧ What motivates mockers? ✧ What do they deny? ✧ Why doesn’t God judge them on the spot?[1]


Happy Are the Harassed

Of all the beatitudes, this last one seems the most contrary to human thinking and experience. The world does not associate happiness with humility, mourning over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, or peacemaking holiness. Even less does it associate happiness with persecution.Of all the beatitudes, this last one seems the most contrary to human thinking and experience. The world does not associate happiness with humility, mourning over sin, gentleness, righteousness, mercy, purity of heart, or peacemaking holiness. Even less does it associate happiness with persecution.Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (5:10–12)

Some years ago a popular national magazine took a survey to determine the things that make people happy. According to the responses they received, happy people enjoy other people but are not self-sacrificing; they refuse to participate in any negative feelings or emotions; and they have a sense of accomplishment based on their own self-sufficiency.

The person described by those principles is completely contrary to the kind of person the Lord says will be authentically happy. Jesus says a blessed person is not one who is self-sufficient but one who recognizes his own emptiness and need, who comes to God as a beggar, knowing he has no resources in himself. He is not confident in his own ability but is very much aware of his own inability. Such a person, Jesus says, is not at all positive about himself but mourns over his own sinfulness and isolation from a holy God. To be genuinely content, a person must not be self-serving but self-sacrificing. He must be gentle, merciful, pure in heart, yearn for righteousness, and seek to make peace on God’s terms-even if those attitudes cause him to suffer.

The Lord’s opening thrust in the Sermon on the Mount climaxes with this great and sobering truth: those who faithfully live according to the first seven beatitudes are guaranteed at some point to experience the eighth. Those who live righteously will inevitably be persecuted for it. Godliness generates hostility and antagonism from the world. The crowning feature of the happy person is persecution! Kingdom people are rejected people. Holy people are singularly blessed, but they pay a price for it.

The last beatitude is really two in one, a single beatitude repeated and expanded. Blessed is mentioned twice (vv. 10, 11), but only one characteristic (persecuted) is given, although it is mentioned three times, and only one result (for theirs is the kingdom of heaven) is promised. Blessed apparently is repeated to emphasize the generous blessing given by God to those who are persecuted. “Double-blessed are those who are persecuted,” Jesus seems to be saying.

Three distinct aspects of kingdom faithfulness are spoken of in this beatitude: the persecution, the promise, and the posture.

The Persecution

Those who have been persecuted are the citizens of the kingdom, those who live out the previous seven beatitudes. To the degree that they fulfill the first seven they may experience the eighth.

“All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). Before writing those words Paul had just mentioned some of his own “persecutions, and suffering, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra” (v. 11). As one who lived the kingdom life he had been persecuted, and all others who live the kingdom life can expect similar treatment. What was true in ancient Israel is true today and will remain true until the Lord returns. “As at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also” (Gal. 4:29).

Imagine a man who accepted a new job in which he had to work with especially profane people. When at the end of the first day his wife asked him how he had managed, he said, “Terrific! They never guessed I was a Christian.” As long as people have no reason to believe that we are Christians, at least obedient and righteous Christians, we need not worry about persecution. But as we manifest the standards of Christ we will share the reproach of Christ. Those born only of the flesh will persecute those born of the Spirit.

To live for Christ is to live in opposition to Satan in his world and in his system. Christlikeness in us will produce the same results as Christlikeness did in the apostles, in the rest of the early church, and in believers throughout history. Christ living in His people today produces the same reaction from the world that Christ Himself produced when He lived on earth as a man.

Righteousness is confrontational, and even when it is not preached in so many words, it confronts wickedness by its very contrast. Abel did not preach to Cain, but Abel’s righteous life, typified by his proper sacrifice to the Lord, was a constant rebuke to his wicked brother-who in a rage finally slew him. When Moses chose to identify with his own despised Hebrew people rather than compromise himself in the pleasures of pagan Egyptian society, he paid a great price. But he considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11:26).

The Puritan writer Thomas Watson said of Christians: “Though they be never so meek, merciful, pure in heart, their piety will not shield them from sufferings. They must hang their harp on the willows and take the cross. The way to heaven is by way of thorns and blood. … Set it down as a maxim, if you will follow Christ you must see the swords and staves” (The Beatitudes [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1971], pp. 259–60).

Savonarola was one of the greatest reformers in the history of the church. In his powerful condemnation of personal sin and ecclesiastical corruption, that Italian preacher paved the way for the Protestant Reformation, which began a few years after his death. “His preaching was a voice of thunder,” writes one biographer, “and his denunciation of sin was so terrible that the people who listened to him went about the streets half-dazed, bewildered and speechless. His congregations were so often in tears that the whole building resounded with their sobs and their weeping.” But the people and the church could not long abide such a witness, and for preaching uncompromised righteousness Savonarola was convicted of “heresy,” he was hanged, and his body was burned.

Persecution is one of the surest and most tangible evidences of salvation. Persecution is not incidental to faithful Christian living but is certain evidence of it. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians by sending them Timothy, “so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know” (1 Thess. 3:3–4). Suffering persecution is part of the normal Christian life (cf. Rom. 8:16–17). And if we never experience ridicule, criticism, or rejection because of our faith, we have reason to examine the genuineness of it. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake,” Paul says, “not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Phil. 1:29–30). Persecution for Christ’s sake is a sign of our own salvation just as it is a sign of damnation for those who do the persecuting (v. 28).

Whether Christians live in a relatively protected and tolerant society or whether they live under a godless, totalitarian regime, the world will find ways to persecute Christ’s church. To live a redeemed life to its fullest is to invite and to expect resentment and reaction from the world.

The fact that many professed believers are popular and praised by the world does not indicate that the world has raised its standards but that many who call themselves by Christ’s name have lowered theirs. As the time for Christ’s appearing grows closer we can expect opposition from the world to increase, not decrease. When Christians are not persecuted in some way by society it means that they are reflecting rather than confronting that society. And when we please the world we can be sure that we grieve the Lord (cf. James 4:4; 1 John 2:15–17).

When (hotan) can also mean whenever. The idea conveyed in the term is not that believers will be in a constant state of opposition, ridicule, or persecution, but that, whenever those things come to us because of our faith, we should not be surprised or resentful. Jesus was not constantly opposed and ridiculed, nor were the apostles. There were times of peace and even popularity. But every faithful believer will at times have some resistance and ridicule from the world, while others, for God’s own purposes, will endure more extreme suffering. But whenever and however affliction comes to the child of God, his heavenly Father will be there with him to encourage and to bless. Our responsibility is not to seek out persecution, but to be willing to endure whatever trouble our faithfulness to Jesus Christ may bring, and to see it as a confirmation of true salvation.

The way to avoid persecution is obvious and easy. To live like the world, or at least to “live and let live,” will cost us nothing. To mimic the world’s standards, or never to criticize them, will cost us nothing. To keep quiet about the gospel, especially the truth that apart from its saving power men remain in their sins and are destined for hell, will cost us nothing. To go along with the world, to laugh at its jokes, to enjoy its entertainment, to smile when it mocks God and takes His name in vain, and to be ashamed to take a stand for Christ will not bring persecution. Those are the habits of sham Christians.

Jesus does not take faithlessness lightly. “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). If we are ashamed of Christ, He will be ashamed of us. Christ also warned, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). To be popular with everyone is either to have compromised the faith or not to have true faith at all.

Though it was early in His ministry, by the time Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount He had already faced opposition. After He healed the man on the Sabbath, “the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him” (Mark 3:6). We learn from Luke that they were actually hoping Jesus would heal on the Sabbath “in order that they might find reason to accuse Him” (Luke 6:7). They already hated His teaching and wanted Him to commit an act serious enough to warrant His arrest.

Our Lord made it clear from His earliest teaching, and His opponents made it clear from their earliest reactions, that following Him was costly. Those who entered His kingdom would suffer for Him before they would reign with Him. That is the hard honesty that every preacher, evangelist, and witness of Christ should exemplify. We do the Lord no honor and those to whom we witness no benefit by hiding or minimizing the cost of following Him.

The cost of discipleship is billed to believers in many different ways. A Christian stonemason in Ephesus in Paul’s day might have been asked to help build a pagan temple or shrine. Because he could not do that in good conscience, his faith would cost him the work and possibly his job and career. A believer today might be expected to hedge on the quality of his work in order to increase company profits. To follow His conscience in obedience to the Lord could also cost his job or at least a promotion. A Christian housewife who refuses to listen to gossip or to laugh at the crude jokes of her neighbors may find herself ostracized. Some costs will be known in advance and some will surprise us. Some costs will be great and some will be slight. But by the Lord’s and the apostles’ repeated promises, faithfulness always has a cost, which true Christians are willing to pay (contrast Matt. 13:20–21).

The second-century Christian leader Tertullian was once approached by a man who said, “I have come to Christ, but I don’t know what to do. I have a job that I don’t think is consistent with what Scripture teaches. What can I do? I must live.” To that Tertullian replied, “Must you?” Loyalty to Christ is the Christian’s only true choice. To be prepared for kingdom life is to be prepared for loneliness, misunderstanding, ridicule, rejection, and unfair treatment of every sort.

In the early days of the church the price paid was often the ultimate. To choose Christ might mean choosing death by stoning, by being covered with pitch and used as a human torch for Nero, or by being wrapped in animal skins and thrown to vicious hunting dogs. To choose Christ could mean torture by any number of excessively cruel and painful ways. That was the very thing Christ had in mind when He identified His followers as those willing to bear their crosses. That has no reference to mystical devotion, but is a call to be ready to die, if need be, for the cause of the Lord (see Matt. 10:35–39; 16:24–25).

In resentment against the gospel the Romans invented charges against Christians, such as accusing them of being cannibals because in the Lord’s Supper they spoke of eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood. They accused them of having sexual orgies at their love feasts and even of setting fire to Rome. They branded believers as revolutionaries because they called Jesus Lord and King and spoke of God’s destroying the earth by fire.

By the end of the first century, Rome had expanded almost to the outer limits of the known world, and unity became more and more of a problem. Because only the emperor personified the entire empire, the caesars came to be deified, and their worship was demanded as a unifying and cohesive influence. It became compulsory to give a verbal oath of allegiance to caesar once a year, for which a person would be given a verifying certificate, called a libellus. After publicly proclaiming, “Caesar is Lord,” the person was free to worship any other gods he chose. Because faithful Christians refused to declare such an allegiance to anyone but Christ, they were considered traitors-for which they suffered confiscation of property, loss of work, imprisonment, and often death. One Roman poet spoke of them as “the panting, huddling flock whose only crime was Christ.”

In the last beatitude Jesus speaks of three specific types of affliction endured for Christ’s sake: physical persecution, verbal insult, and false accusation.

Physical Persecution

First, Jesus says, we can expect physical persecution. Have been persecuted (v. 10), persecute (v. 11), and persecuted (v. 12) are from diōkō, which has the basic meaning of chasing, driving away, or pursuing. From that meaning developed the connotations of physical persecution, harassment, abuse, and other unjust treatment.

All of the other beatitudes have to do with inner qualities, attitudes, and spiritual character. The eighth beatitude speaks of external things that happen to believers, but the teaching behind these results also has to do with attitude. The believer who has the qualities required in the previous beatitudes will also have the quality of willingness to face persecution for the sake of righteousness. He will have the attitude of self-sacrifice for the sake of Christ. It is the lack of fear and shame and the presence of courage and boldness that says, “I will be in this world what Christ would have me be. I will say in this world what Christ will have me say. Whatever it costs, I will be and say those things.”

The Greek verb is a passive perfect participle, and could be translated “allow themselves to be persecuted.” The perfect form indicates continuousness, in this case a continuous willingness to endure persecution if it is the price of godly living. This beatitude speaks of a constant attitude of accepting whatever faithfulness to Christ may bring.

It is in the demands of this beatitude that many Christians break down in their obedience to the Lord, because here is where the genuineness of their response to the other beatitudes is most strongly tested. It is here where we are most tempted to compromise the righteousness we have hungered and thirsted for. It is here where we find it convenient to lower God’s standards to accommodate the world and thereby avoid conflicts and problems that we know obedience will bring.

But God does not want His gospel altered under pretense of its being less demanding, less righteous, or less truthful than it is. He does not want witnesses who lead the unsaved into thinking that the Christ life costs nothing. A synthetic gospel, a man-made seed, produces no real fruit.

Verbal Insults

Second, Jesus promises that kingdom citizens are blessed … when men cast insults at them. Oneidizō carries the idea of reviling, upbraiding, or seriously insulting, and literally means to cast in one’s teeth. To cast insults is to throw abusive words in the face of an opponent, to mock viciously.

To be an obedient citizen of the kingdom is to court verbal abuse and reviling. As He stood before the Sanhedrin after His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus was spat upon, beaten, and taunted with the words “Prophesy to us, You Christ; who is the one who hit You?” (Matt. 26:67–68). As He was being sentenced to crucifixion by Pilate, Jesus was again beaten, spit upon, and mocked, this time by the Roman soldiers (Mark 15:19–20).

Faithfulness to Christ may even cause friends and loved ones to say things that cut and hurt deeply. Several years ago I received a letter from a woman who told of a friend who had decided to divorce her husband for no just cause. The friend was a professed Christian, but when she was confronted with the truth that what she was doing was scripturally wrong, she became defensive and hostile. She was reminded of God’s love and grace, of His power to mend whatever problems she and her husband were having, and of the Bible’s standards for marriage and divorce. But she replied that she did not believe the Bible was really God’s Word but was simply a collection of men’s ideas about God that each person had to accept, reject, or interpret for himself. When her friend wanted to read some specific Bible passages to her, she refused to listen. She had made up her mind and would not give heed to Scripture or to reason. With hate in her eyes she accused the other woman of luring her into her house in order to ridicule and embarrass her, saying she could not possibly love her by questioning her right to get a divorce. As she left, she slammed the door behind her.

The woman who wrote the letter concluded by saying, “I love her, and it is with a heavy heart that I realize the extent of her rejection of Christ. Painful as this has been, I thank God. For the first time in my life I know what it is to be separate from the world.”

Paul told the Corinthian church, whose members had such a difficult time separating themselves from the world, “For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men” (1 Cor. 4:9). Paul drew the expression “become a spectacle” from the practice of Roman generals to parade their captives through the street of the city, making a spectacle of them as trophies of war who were doomed to die once the general had used them to serve his proud and arrogant purposes. That is the way the world is inclined to treat those who are faithful to Christ.

In a note of strong sarcasm to enforce his point, Paul continues, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but you are prudent in Christ; we are weak, but you are strong; you are distinguished, but we are without honor” (v. 10). Many in the Corinthian church suffered none of the ridicule and conflict the apostle suffered because they prized their standing before the world more than their standing before the Lord. In the world’s eyes they were prudent, strong, and distinguished-because they were still so much like the world.

God does not call His people to be sanctified celebrities, using their worldly reputations in a self-styled effort to bring Him glory, using their power to supplement His power and their wisdom to enhance His gospel. We can mark it down as a cardinal principle that to the extent the world embraces a Christian cause or person-or that a Christian cause or person embraces the world-to that extent that cause or person has compromised the gospel and scriptural standards.

If Paul had capitalized on his human credentials he could have drawn greater crowds and certainly have received greater welcome wherever he went. His credentials were impressive. “If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more,” he says. He was “circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee” (Phil. 3:4–5). He had been “caught up to the third heaven, … into Paradise” (2 Cor. 12:2, 4) and had spoken in tongues more than anyone else (1 Cor. 14:18). He had studied under the famous rabbi Gamaliel and was even a free-born Roman citizen (Acts 22:3, 29). But all those things the apostle “counted as loss for the sake of Christ, … but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7–8). He refused to use worldly means to try to achieve spiritual purposes, because he knew they would fail.

The marks of authenticity Paul carried as an apostle and minister of Jesus Christ were his credentials as a servant and a sufferer, “in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city; dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure” (2 Cor. 11:23–27).

The only thing of which he would boast was his weakness (12:5), and when he preached he was careful not to rely on “superiority of speech or of wisdom” (1 Cor. 2:1), which he could easily have done. “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” he told the Corinthians. “And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (vv. 2–5).

We live in a day when the church, more than ever before, is engaged in self-glorification and an attempt to gain worldly recognition that must be repulsive to God. When the church tries to use the things of the world to do the work of heaven, it only succeeds in hiding heaven from the world. And when the world is pleased with the church, we can be sure that God is not. We can be equally sure that when we are pleasing to God, we will not be pleasing to the system of Satan.

False Accusation

Third, faithfulness to Christ will bring enemies of the gospel to say all kinds of evil against [us] falsely. Whereas insults are abusive words said to our faces, these evil things are primarily abusive words said behind our backs.

Jesus’ critics said of Him, “Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-gatherers and sinners” (Matt. 11:19). If the world said that of the sinless Christ, what things can His followers expect to be called and accused of?

Slander behind our backs is harder to take partly because it is harder to defend against than direct accusation. It has opportunity to spread and be believed before we have a chance to correct it. Much harm to our reputations can be done even before we are aware someone has slandered us.

We cannot help regretting slander, but we should not grieve about it. We should count ourselves blessed, as our Lord assures us we shall be when the slander is on account of Me.

Arthur Pink comments that “it is a strong proof of human depravity that men’s curses and Christ’s blessings should meet on the same persons” (An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1950], p. 39). We have no surer evidence of the Lord’s blessing than to be cursed for His sake. It should not seriously bother us when men’s curses fall on the head that Christ has eternally blessed.

The central theme of the Beatitudes is righteousness. The first two have to do with recognizing our own unrighteousness, and the next five have to do with our seeking and reflecting righteousness. The last beatitude has to do with our suffering for the sake of righteousness. The same truth is expressed in the second part of the beatitude as on account of Me. Jesus is not speaking of every hardship, problem, or conflict believers may face, but those that the world brings on us because of our faithfulness to the Lord.

It is clear again that the hallmark of the blessed person is righteousness. Holy living is what provokes persecution of God’s people. Such persecution because of a righteous life is joyous. Peter identifies such experience as a happy honor.

And who is there to harm you if you prove zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong. For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Pet. 3:13–18)

With those words, the apostle extols the privilege of suffering for holiness, and thus of sharing in a small way in the same type of suffering Christ endured. In the next chapter, Peter emphasizes the same thing.

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. … If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. … Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (4:12–14, 16, 19)

When we are hated, maligned, or afflicted as Christians, the real animosity is not against us but against Christ. Satan’s great enemy is Christ, and he opposes us because we belong to Jesus Christ, because He is in us. When we are despised and attacked by the world, the real target is the righteousness for which we stand and which we exemplify. That is why it is easy to escape persecution. Whether under pagan Rome, atheistic Communism, or simply a worldly boss, it is usually easy to be accepted if we will denounce or compromise our beliefs and standards. The world will accept us if we are willing to put some distance between ourselves and the Lord’s righteousness.

In the closing days of His ministry Jesus repeatedly and plainly warned His disciples of that truth. “If the world hates you,” He said, “you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me” (John 15:18–21).

The world went along for thousands of years before it ever saw a perfect man. Until Christ came, every person, even God’s best, were sinful and flawed. All had feet of clay. To see God’s people fail and sin is often taken as an encouragement by the wicked. They point a finger and say, “He claims to be righteous and good, but look at what he did.” It is easy to feel smug and secure in one’s sinfulness when everyone else is also sinful and imperfect. But when Christ came, the world finally saw the perfect Man, and all excuse for smugness and self-confidence vanished. And instead of rejoicing in the sinless Man, sinful men resented the rebuke that His teaching and His life brought against them. They crucified Him for His very perfection, for His very righteousness.

Aristides the Just was banished from ancient Athens. When a stranger asked an Athenian why Aristides was voted out of citizenship he replied, “Because we became tired of his always being just.” A people who prided themselves in civility and justice chafed when something or someone was too just.

Because they refused to compromise the gospel either in their teaching or in their lives, most of the apostles suffered a martyr’s death. According to tradition, Andrew was fastened by cords to a cross in order to prolong and intensify his agony. We are told that Peter, by his own request, was crucified head down, because he felt unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. Paul presumably was beheaded by Nero. Though John escaped a violent death, he died in exile on Patmos.[2]


5:10 The next beatitude deals with those who are persecuted, not for their own wrongdoings, but for righteousness’ sake. The kingdom of heaven is promised to those believers who suffer for doing right. Their integrity condemns the ungodly world and brings out its hostility. People hate a righteous life because it exposes their own unrighteousness.

5:11 The final beatitude seems to be a repetition of the preceding one. However, there is one difference. In the previous verse, the subject was persecution because of righteousness; here it is persecution for Christ’s sake. The Lord knew that His disciples would be maltreated because of their association with, and loyalty to, Him. History has confirmed this: from the outset the world has persecuted, jailed, and killed followers of Jesus.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 131). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 219–229). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1217). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

APRIL 28 – A MAN SENT FROM GOD

Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist.

Matthew 11:11

The Bible record is very plain when it assures us that John the Baptist was a man sent from God.

Our generation would probably decide that such a man ought to be downright proud of the fact that God had sent him. We would urge him to write a book. Seminary leaders would line up to schedule him as guest lecturer.

Actually, John the Baptist would never have fit into the contemporary religious scene in our day—never! He did not keep his suit pressed. He was not careful about choosing words that would not offend. He did not quote beautiful passages from the poets. The doctors of psychiatry would have quick advice for him: “John, you really need to get adjusted to the times and to society!”

Adjust. That is a modern word I have come to hate. It was never an expression used to speak about human beings until we forgot that man has a soul. Now we have weird guys with mental “screwdrivers” adjusting one person a little tighter and another a little looser. John needed no adjustment. He gladly stepped down so that all eyes could turn to Jesus, the Lamb of God!

Lord, I pray that my church and other evangelical churches will exhibit the courage and boldness of John the Baptist and point many people to Jesus Christ.[1]


Continuing His praise of John, Jesus said, Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist. To emphasize the unquestionable truthfulness of what He said, Jesus prefaced His words with verily (amēn), a term of strong affirmation often simply transliterated as “Amen.”

Born of women was a common ancient expression that simply referred to basic humanness, to identification with the human race (see Job 14:1; 15:14). Jesus’ point was that, as far as mankind is concerned, there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist. He was the greatest human being who had lived until that time. From an earthly perspective, John’s character and calling made him the greatest man yet born besides Jesus Himself. In superior qualities as a human being, John was unequalled.

Arisen is from egeirō, which means to rise up or to appear on the stage of history and was often used of prophets, both true and false (see, e.g., Matt. 24:11, 24). Not only as a human being but as a prophet, no one had arisen to equal John, because he was sent on the very threshold of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus.

But lest the people misunderstand the nature of John’s greatness, Jesus added, yet he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Although he was a spiritual giant among men, John’s unique greatness was in his role in human history, not in his spiritual inheritance, in which he would be equal to every believer. Therefore, the least in the kingdom of heaven, the spiritual dimension, is greater than he, that is, than anyone in the human dimension, including John.[2]


11:11 The statement that “he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he” proves that Jesus was speaking of John’s privilege, not his character. A person who is least in the kingdom of heaven does not necessarily have a better character than John, but he does have greater privilege. To be a citizen of the kingdom is greater than to announce its arrival. John’s privilege was great in preparing the way for the Lord, but he did not live to enjoy the blessings of the kingdom.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 11:9). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1243). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

APRIL 28 – HAPPINESS: YOUR WHOLE AMBITION TO BE LIKE JESUS

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.

ROMANS 12:2

The assumption that human beings are born “to be happy” is scarcely questioned by anyone in today’s society and the effect of this modern hedonism is felt also among the people of God.

The Christian gospel is too often presented as a means toward happiness, to peace of mind or security. There are even those who use the Bible to “relax” them, as if it were a drug.

How far wrong all this is will be discovered easily by the simple act of reading the New Testament through once, with meditation. There the emphasis is not upon happiness but upon holiness. God is more concerned with the state of people’s hearts than with the state of their feelings.

Undoubtedly the will of God brings final happiness to those who obey, but the most important matter is not how happy we are but how holy!

The childish clamor after happiness can become a real snare. One may easily deceive himself by cultivating a religious joy without a correspondingly righteous life. For those who take this whole thing seriously I have a suggestion: Go to God and have an understanding. Tell Him that it is your desire to be holy at any cost and then ask Him never to give you more happiness than holiness! Be assured that in the end you will be as happy as you are holy; but for the time being let your whole ambition be to serve God and be Christlike![1]


The Mind Must Be Given to God

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, (12:2a)

The third element of our priestly self-sacrifice is that of offering Him our minds.

It is in the mind that our new nature and our old humanness are intermixed. It is in the mind that we make choices as to whether we will express our new nature in holiness or allow our fleshly humanness to act in unholiness.

Be conformed is from suschēmatizō, which refers to an outward expression that does not reflect what is within. It is used of masquerading, or putting on an act, specifically by following a prescribed pattern or scheme (schēma). It also carries the idea of being transitory, impermanent, and unstable. The negative (not) makes the verb prohibitive. The verb itself is passive and imperative, the passive indicating that conformation is something we allow to be done to us, the imperative indicating a command, not a suggestion.

Paul’s gentle but firm command is that we are not to allow ourselves to be conformed to this world. We are not to masquerade as a worldly person, for whatever the reason. J. B. Phillips translates this phrase as “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould.” We must not pattern ourselves or allow ourselves to be patterned after the spirit of the age. We must not become victims of the world. We are to stop allowing ourselves to be fashioned after the present evil age in which we live.

New Testament scholar Kenneth Wuest paraphrased this clause: “Stop assuming an outward expression which is patterned after this world, an expression which does not come from, nor is representative of what you are in your inner being as a regenerated child of God” (Wuest’s Word Studies from the Greek New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1955], 1:206–7).

World translates aiōn, which is better rendered “age,” referring to the present sinful age, the world system now dominated by Satan, “the god of this world (aiōn)” (2 Cor. 4:4). World here represents the sum of the demonic-human philosophy of life. It corresponds to the German zeitgeist (the spirit of the age) and has been well described as “that floating mass of thoughts, opinions, maxims, speculations, hopes, impulses, aims, aspirations, at any time current in the world, which it may be impossible to seize and accurately define, but which constitute a most real and effective power, being the moral, or immoral atmosphere which at every moment of our lives we inhale, again inevitably to exhale” (G. C. Trench, Synonyms of the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1973], pp. 217–18).

It is not uncommon for unbelievers to mask themselves as Christians. Unfortunately, it also is not uncommon for Christians to wear the world’s masks. They want to enjoy the world’s entertainment, the world’s fashions, the world’s vocabulary, the world’s music, and many of the world’s attitudes—even when those things clearly do not conform to the standards of God’s Word. That sort of living is wholly unacceptable to God.

The world is an instrument of Satan, and his ungodly influence is pandemic. This is seen in the prideful spirit of rebellion, lies, error, and in the rapid spread of false religions—especially those that promote self and come under the broad umbrella of “New Age.” “We know that we are of God,” John wrote nearly two thousand years ago, “and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19). It clearly still does.

Instead, Paul goes on to say, you should rather be transformed. The Greek verb (metamorphoō) connotes change in outward appearance and is the term from which we get the English metamorphosis. Matthew used the word in describing Jesus’ transfiguration. When “He was transfigured [metamorphōtheē] before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light” (Matt. 17:2), Christ’s inner divine nature and glory were, for a brief time and to a limited degree, manifested outwardly. Our inner redeemed nature also is to be manifested outwardly, but as completely and continually as possible, in our daily living.

Like the preceding verb (be conformed), be transformed is a passive imperative. Positively, we are commanded to allow ourselves to be changed outwardly into conformity to our redeemed inner natures. “We all,” Paul assured the Corinthians believers, “with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). Although we are to aspire to this outward change, it can be accomplished only by the Holy Spirit working in us, by our being “filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).

The Holy Spirit achieves this transformation by the renewing of the mind, an essential and repeated New Testament theme. The outward transformation is effected by an inner change in the mind, and the Spirit’s means of transforming our minds is the Word. David testified, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11). God’s own Word is the instrument His own Holy Spirit uses to renew our minds, which, in turn, He uses to transform our living.

Paul repeatedly emphasized that truth in his letter to Colossae. As he proclaimed Christ, he was “admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28). By receiving Christ as Lord and Savior, we “have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him” (3:10). Consequently, we are to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within [us], with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God” (3:16).

The transformed and renewed mind is the mind saturated with and controlled by the Word of God. It is the mind that spends as little time as possible even with the necessary things of earthly living and as much time as possible with the things of God. It is the mind that is set “on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). Whether good or bad, when anything happens in our lives, our immediate, almost reflexive response should be biblical. During His incarnation, Jesus responded to Satan’s temptations by hurling Scripture back into His adversary’s face (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10). Only the mind that is constantly being renewed by God’s Spirit working through God’s Word is pleasing to God. Only such a mind is able to make our lives “a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is [our] spiritual service of worship.”

The Will Must Be Given to God

that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (12:2b)

An implied fourth element of presenting ourselves to God as a living, holy, and acceptable sacrifice is that of offering Him our wills, of allowing His Spirit through His Word to conform our wills to the will of God.

The Greek construction makes that you may prove a purpose/ result phrase. That is to say, when a believer’s mind is transformed, his thinking ability, moral reasoning, and spiritual understanding are able to properly assess everything, and to accept only what conforms to the will of God. Our lives can prove what the will of God is only by doing those things that are good and acceptable and perfect to Him.

In using euarestos (acceptable), Paul again borrows from Old Testament sacrificial language to describe the kind of holy living that God approves, a “living sacrifice” that is morally and spiritually spotless and without blemish.

Perfect carries the idea of being complete, of something’s being everything it should be. Our wills should desire only what God desires and lead us to do only what He wants us to do in the way He wants us to do it—according to His will and by His power. Our imperfect wills must always be subject to His perfect will.

A transformed mind produces a transformed will, by which we become eager and able, with the Spirit’s help, to lay aside our own plans and to trustingly accept God’s, no matter what the cost. This continued yielding involves the strong desire to know God better and to comprehend and follow His purpose for our lives.

The divine transformation of our minds and wills must be constant. Because we are still continuously tempted through our remaining humanness, our minds and wills must be continuously transformed through God’s Word and by God’s Spirit.

The product of a transformed mind is a life that does the things God has declared to be righteous, fitting, and complete. That is the goal of the supreme act of spiritual worship, and sets the stage for what Paul speaks of next—the ministry of our spiritual gifts.[2]


12:2 Secondly, Paul urges us not to be conformed to this world, or as Phillips paraphrases it: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mold.” When we come to the kingdom of God, we should abandon the thought-patterns and lifestyles of the world.

The world (literally age) as used here means the society or system that man has built in order to make himself happy without God. It is a kingdom that is antagonistic to God. The god and prince of this world is Satan (2 Cor. 4:4; John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). All unconverted people are his subjects. He seeks to attract and hold people through the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 Jn. 2:16). The world has its own politics, art, music, religion, amusements, thought-patterns, and lifestyles, and it seeks to get everyone to conform to its culture and customs. It hates nonconformists—like Christ and His followers.

Christ died to deliver us from this world. The world is crucified to us, and we are crucified to the world. It would be absolute disloyalty to the Lord for believers to love the world. Anyone who loves the world is an enemy of God.

Believers are not of the world any more than Christ is of the world. However, they are sent into the world to testify that its works are evil and that salvation is available to all who put their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We should not only be separated from the world; we should be transformed by the renewing of our mind, which means that we should think the way God thinks, as revealed in the Bible. Then we can experience the direct guidance of God in our lives. And we will find that, instead of being distasteful and hard, His will is good and acceptable and perfect.

Here, then, are three keys for knowing God’s will. The first is a yielded body, the second a separated life, and the third a transformed mind.[3]


2 The dedicated life is also the transformed life. Whereas v. 1 has called for a decisive commitment, v. 2 deals with the maintenance of that commitment. The stress provided by the present tenses in this verse points to the necessity of continual vigilance, lest the original decision be vitiated or weakened. The threat to Christians comes from “this world,” whose ways and thoughts are so prevalent and powerful. Paul here uses aiōn (GK 172), essentially a time word meaning “age,” but it has much common ground with kosmos (GK 3180), the more usual term for “world.” Christians have been delivered from this “present evil age” (Gal 1:4), which has Satan for its god (2 Co 4:4). They live by the powers of the age to come (Heb 6:5), but their heavenly calling includes residence among sinful people in this world, where they are to show forth the praises of him who called them out of darkness into God’s wonderful light (1 Pe 2:9). They are in the world for witness but not for conformity to that which is a passing phenomenon (1 Co 7:31).

The positive call is complementary to the negative call. That is, with the command to avoid conformity to the pattern of this world comes the command to “be transformed.” (The striking verb is metamorphoō [GK 3565], used of the transfiguration of Jesus [Mk 9:2 par.] and applied to the Christian in 2 Co 3:18.) The two processes are viewed as going on all the time, as the present tenses indicate—a continual renunciation and renewal. Our pattern here is Jesus, who refused conformity to Satan’s solicitations in the temptation but was transformed to the doing of the will of God and to acceptance of the path that led to Calvary. As the mission of Jesus can be summarized in the affirmation that he had come to do the Father’s will (Jn 6:38), so too the service of Christians can be reduced to this simple description. They are in the present age to “live a new life” (6:4), to “live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory” (1 Th 2:12), to “live a life worthy of the calling you have received” (Eph 4:1). But they must “test” what is in accord with the will of God, refusing the norms of conduct employed by the sinful world and reaffirming for themselves the spiritual norms befitting the redeemed. Only from Christ do the redeemed “finally obtain the criteria for that which in the world can be called good, well-pleasing, and perfect” (Stuhlmacher, 189).

Crucial to the process of being transformed is “the renewing of your mind” (tē anakainōsei tou noos, GK 363, 3808)—which seems to indicate the necessity of setting one’s mind on the theological truths of the faith—to the basis of one’s original commitment, reaffirming its necessity and legitimacy in the light of God’s grace. It is by means of this use of the mind that transformation and renewal take place. In this activity, the working of the Holy Spirit should no doubt be recognized (cf. Tit 3:5, where the Holy Spirit is the agent of renewal). It appears from the context that the believer is not viewed as ignorant of the will of God but as needing to avoid blurring its outline by failure to renew the mind continually (cf. Eph 5:8–10). Dedication leads to discernment, and discernment to delight in God’s will. That there is an intimate connection between certifying the will of God and making oneself a living sacrifice is indicated by the use of “pleasing” in each case (cf. Php 4:18; Heb 13:16). For the Christian, the will of God is “good” (agathon, GK 19), “pleasing” (euareston, GK 2298), and “perfect” (teleion, GK 5455).[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Ro 12:2). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1728–1729). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] 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. 183–184). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 28 – Jesus and Non-retaliation: Liberty

Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.—Matt. 5:41

The concept of liberty is much cherished in the United States and other democratic nations. The Declaration of Independence famously speaks of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Patrick Henry of Virginia used the bold oratory, “Give me liberty or give me death!” These sentiments were derived from biblical principles, although sometimes altered from those ancient origins.

God’s intention from the beginning was for mankind created in His image to live in perfect liberty, both spiritually and physically. But the Fall ruined this ideal and introduced such corrupt concepts as slavery and subjugation to totalitarian governments. Democratic governments have tried, although imperfectly, to protect the liberty of their citizens—sometimes even extending such freedoms to foreign visitors and immigrants. However, civil liberties should not supersede our duties to righteousness or our obligations to display a faithful witness.

Jesus here makes the analogy between surrendered liberties and the Roman law that could force civilians to carry a soldier’s pack for a mile. Except for facing them in battle, Roman troops were not as despised by their opponents as when those people were obligated to carry the troops’ packs or other equipment.

Yet our Lord teaches that we should be willing to go the extra mile for someone else—even at the expense of our cherished liberty. In so doing, we are worthy ambassadors for Christ, realizing that in Him we have an eternal liberty that can never be taken.

ASK YOURSELF
Who in your life regularly asks you to go the second mile for them? What is your usual response to their demand for your time and energy? How do you strike the balance between being sacrificial and maintaining boundaries that help you protect other godly priorities?[1]

Liberty

And whoever shall force you to go one mile, go with him two. (5:41)

The third right the Lord indicates kingdom citizens are to be willing to sacrifice is that of liberty. God’s original intention was for everyone made in His image to live in freedom. Human bondage and slavery are consequences of the Fall and have no part in God’s original plan for His creation. The best of human governments have always tried to protect the freedom of their citizens, and sometimes even of foreigners. In light of God’s will and proper human justice, men have the right to certain freedoms. But like all other rights, freedom is not to be cherished and protected at the expense of righteousness or even of faithful witness.

Roman law gave a soldier the right to force a civilian to carry his pack for a milion, a Roman mile, which was slightly shorter than our modern mile. The law, designed to relieve the soldier, not only caused great inconvenience to civilians but was made even more despicable by the fact that the oppressed were made to carry the equipment and weapons of their oppressors. Outside of combat the Roman soldier was probably never more hated than when he forced someone to carry his pack.

Yet even so despised a burden should be carried willingly, Jesus says-not only willingly but with magnanimity. When we are forced to go one mile, we should willingly go two. When we are robbed of some of our cherished liberty, we should surrender even more of it rather than retaliate. In so doing we are obedient to our Lord and testify to His righteousness, knowing that in Him we have a dearer freedom that the world cannot take from us.[2]


41 The third example refers to the Roman practice of commandeering civilians to carry the luggage of military personnel a prescribed distance, one Roman “mile.” (On the verb angareuō (“commandeer,” GK 30; NIV, “force”), see W. Hatch, Essays in Biblical Greek [Oxford: Clarendon, 1889], 37–38.) Impressment, like a lawsuit, evokes outrage, but the attitude of Jesus’ disciples under such circumstances must not be spiteful or vengeful but helpful—willing to go a second mile (exemplars of the Western text say “two more [miles],” making a total of three!). This illustration is also implicitly anti-Zealot.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 127). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 334–335). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 190). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 28 – NEAR TO EVERYTHING AND EVERYONE

But will God indeed dwell on the earth? behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?

—1 Kings 8:27

I want to explain briefly what omnipresence is and then show what it means in human experience. That God is omnipresent is of course believed by all churches who believe in the Bible. I am not introducing anything new. Omnipresence means that God is all-present. God is close to (for that is what the word means—“close to, near to, here”) everywhere. He is near to everything and everyone. He is here; He is next to you wherever you may be. And if you send up the furious question, “Oh God, where art Thou?” the answer comes back, “I am where you are; I am here; I am next to you; I am close to everywhere.” That’s what the Bible says….

We talk about God being close to us or about the problem of God being far away. We don’t think right because we think geographically or astronomically; we think in light-years or meters or inches or miles or leagues. We’re thinking of Him as dwelling in space, which He does not. Rather He contains space so that space is in God. There is never any problem about God being anywhere, for the fact is, as the texts say, God is everywhere. AOG118, 120

Lord, help me to take this truth out of the realm of theological concept and to realize the practical implication, today, of Your being right here with me. Amen. [1]


8:27 heaven … cannot contain You. Solomon confessed that even though the Lord had chosen to dwell among His people in the cloud at the temple, He far transcended containment by anything in all creation.[2]


8:27–30 will God indeed dwell on the earth? Though God will dwell in the temple (vv. 10, 13; cf. note on 1 Sam. 4:3–4), it is not to be thought of as the only place where God is, but as a special place where his name is, a place toward which his eyes are open (1 Kings 8:29; cf. Isa. 66:1–3). The hearing of prayer is done in heaven (1 Kings 8:30), which is (if anywhere is) the dwelling place of God. Even then, however, God cannot be limited to any one place; he cannot, strictly speaking, dwell in even the highest heaven (v. 27). He cannot be confined by space.[3]


8:27–30 Although Solomon realized that no temple on earth was adequate to contain the great God, yet he asked that the Lord might recognize this temple and that when he or any of the people of Israel addressed God there, He might hear and forgive.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Ki 8:27). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 611). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 364). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

April 28 – The Resurrection: Motive for Sanctification

“Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals.’ Become sober–minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.”

1 Corinthians 15:33–34

✧✧✧

Trusting in the fact of Christ’s resurrection and looking forward to our own rising from the dead ought to stimulate us toward sanctification.

Like any essential teaching of Scripture, the doctrine of the Resurrection can be studied and discussed from an academic standpoint only. When that happens, we usually acquire a factual understanding of the topic and perhaps some appreciation of how the doctrine supports our faith—but that’s as far as we go.

However, our studies on the Resurrection have already taught us some of the implications this Bible truth ought to have for our conduct. The hope of the Resurrection can give everyone an incentive to be saved and believers an incentive for service. This hope also provides a third incentive: the motivation toward sanctification.

The apostle Paul knew that those in the Corinthian church were being exposed to the heretical theology that there is no real resurrection from the dead. This false teaching was having a bad influence on the Corinthians’ behavior. That’s why Paul tells them in today’s verse, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” It is impossible to be around evil people and not be contaminated both by their ideas and their habits. The apostle goes on to urge those believers who hoped in a resurrection to be a positive influence on others and lead them to the truth.

This glimpse at the situation in Corinth proves that sound doctrine matters and does affect how people live. We see all around us today what results when there is no belief in a resurrection. People become short–sighted and live as they please because ultimately nothing keeps them accountable. This is all the more reason for us to hold firm to the truth of the Resurrection, live in its hope, and proclaim it to others.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: How is the pursuit of holiness coming in your life? Pray that the Lord would increase your diligence and help you especially in an area of weakness.

For Further Study: Read 1 Peter 1. List all the verses that refer to God’s plan for Christ’s death and resurrection. ✧ How does the existence of such a divine plan strengthen your hope? ✧ Write a theme sentence for the chapter.[1]


An Incentive for Sanctification

Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Become sober–minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. (15:33–34)

The third incentive the hope of resurrection gives is for sanctification. Looking forward to resurrection should lead to more godly living and spiritual maturity. Verses 32 and 33 are closely related. Denying the resurrection destroys the incentives both for service and for sanctification. Why then bother serving the Lord or serving others in His name, and why bother to be holy and pure?

Paul warned the Corinthians that they should not be deceived about the danger of bad company. Homilia (company) basically means an association of people, but also can have the connotation of a lecture or sermon. It seems possible, therefore, that the Corinthians were both listening to some wrong teaching and associating with some evil people. Whether the teaching was in formal messages or not, it was bad and corrupting.

People who think wrongly invariably behave wrongly. Wrong behavior comes from wrong thinking, from wrong beliefs and wrong standards. It is impossible to associate regularly with wicked people without being contaminated both by their ideas and by their habits. The context implies that the bad company was teaching the heretical theology that there is no resurrection of the dead, and that bad theology had corrupted good morals.

Just as hoping in the resurrection is an incentive to obedience and holiness, so disbelief of it is an incentive to disobedience and immorality. As Paul has just pointed out, if there is no resurrection, we might as well eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. If death is the end, what great difference does it make what we do?

Some in the Corinthian congregation had no knowledge of God, and therefore no knowledge of His truth. Their bad theology was leading to bad behavior, especially because they denied the resurrection.

The Greek historian Thucydides reported that when a deadly plague came to Athens, “People committed every shameful crime and eagerly snatched at every lustful pleasure.” They believed life was short and there was no resurrection, so they would have to pay no price for their vice. The Roman poet Horace wrote, “Tell them to bring wine and perfume and the too short–lived blossoms of the lovely rose while circumstance and age and the black threads of the three sisters fate still allow us to do so.” Another Roman poet, Catullus, penned the lines: “Let’s live my Lesbia and let’s love, and lets value the tales of austere old men at a single half penny. Suns can set and then return again, but for us when once our brief light sets there is but one perpetual night through which we must sleep.”

Without the prospect of a resurrection, and of the accountability it brings, there is no incentive for doing anything but what we feel like doing here and now. If behavior has no reward or condemnation, it is uncontrollable.

Become sober–minded as you ought, and stop sinning, Paul pleads in the imperative. “Those of you who believe in the resurrection know better, and you should be leading those who do not believe in the resurrection into a true knowledge of God, rather than allowing their heresy and their immorality to mislead and corrupt you.” The apostle spoke this to [their] shame. They had the truth, but they did not fully believe it and therefore did not fully follow it. He commands them to cease the sin they were involved in.

What tremendous power the resurrection has, and what wonderful hope it gives! Jesus rose from the dead; He is alive; and we also shall live because one day He will raise us up to be with Him eternally. What greater incentive, what greater motive, could we have for coming to Him, for serving Him, and for living for Him?[2]


15:33 The Corinthians should not be deceived on this score. Evil company corrupts good habits. Paul is referring to the false teachers who had come into the church at Corinth, denying the resurrection. The Christians should realize that it is impossible to associate with evil people or evil teachings without being corrupted by them. Evil doctrine inevitably has an effect on one’s life. False teachings do not lead to holiness.

15:34 The Corinthians should awake to righteousness and not sin. They should not be deluded by these evil teachings. Some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. This verse is commonly interpreted to mean that there are still men and women who have never heard the gospel story, and that Christians should be ashamed of their failure to evangelize the world. However, while this may be true, we believe that the primary meaning of the passage is that there were men in the fellowship at Corinth who did not have the knowledge of God. They were not true believers, but wolves in sheep’s clothing, false teachers who had crept in unawares. It was to the shame of the Corinthians that these men were allowed to take their place with the Christians and to teach these wicked doctrines. The carelessness which let ungodly people enter the assembly resulted in lowering the congregation’s whole moral tone, thus preparing an opening for the intrusion of all kinds of error.[3]


33–34 Paul ends this section with a warning, presumably to those in Corinth who were under the influence of the heretical doctrine of the resurrection. The maxim “bad company corrupts good character” (which can be traced to the Greek poet Menander but was probably a common proverb in Greco-Roman society) reflects essentially the same concern as contemporary sayings about peer pressure, where going along with the crowd can lead an otherwise good person into bad behavior.

Apparently there were some in Corinth who were doing precisely this—being caught up in the “wine, women, and song” philosophy of those who believed there were no consequences for immoral behavior since there was no resurrection of the dead. Such people had no true knowledge of God (in spite of the claim of some in Corinth to be so wise; cf. the “wisdom” section of 1:18–2:16; also 3:18; 8:1–2). As a result, they were being easily led into sinning. In writing this, Paul was intending to shame his readers to whom this applied (see comments on the “honor-shame” culture at 4:14; 11:7–10; 14:35). What he wanted them to do was to sober up and come to their senses.

It appears that the thinking reflected here is similar to what Paul dealt with in 6:12–20. There, too, I argued that part of the problem was a lack of belief in the resurrection of the body. One can even argue that 15:1–35 is an expansion of these earlier verses. So why would Paul not have coupled together these two sections? As noted in the introduction (pp. 251–52), I suggest that Paul probably wrote this letter over a period of time (perhaps a couple of months). After all, he seems to go back and forth between his responses to their written questions to him and things he keeps hearing about as visitors come to him in Ephesus. Rather than start the letter over again when he hears something new about a problem he has already touched on (or do a “cut and paste,” as we do today on computers), Paul simply wrote his sections as the issues came to him. When the letter was finally read, the connections would be clear to the Corinthians.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 429–430). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1808). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 400). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 28 – Illustrating Salvation

[God] waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water.

1 Peter 3:20

Genesis 6:9 through 8:22 tells how Noah and his family were delivered through the Flood. They were the only people who believed God’s warning of the coming worldwide catastrophe. As a result, all mankind was drowned in judgment, except them.

Noah preached the righteousness of God for the hundred and twenty years it took him to build the ark. The size of a modern ocean liner (Gen. 6:15), it was sure to attract attention. But it must have been discouraging to build that ark and preach its meaning for over a century, yet have only your immediate family believe.

Noah’s tremendous effort was spent on building a vessel he would spend only a year using, but those eight people were safe from God’s judgment when it came. The ark served as their shelter from the encompassing judgment of God. What a graphic illustration of salvation![1]


The biblical account of when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, before sending the Flood, Peter saw as an analogy for the triumphant salvation provided through Jesus Christ. God was patient with the corrupt world, as Genesis 6:3 states: “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” During that 120-year grace period Noah was “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5) who announced judgment but also offered the way of deliverance. The members of Noah’s family were the only eight persons on earth to heed the divine warning and escape the coming catastrophe of a worldwide flood. Hence only Noah, his wife, his three sons, and their wives were brought safely through the water while the rest of mankind was drowned in God’s act of judgment (Gen. 6:9–8:22).

During the grace period, people witnessed the construction of the ark by Noah and his sons. While its purpose was to rescue Noah and his family from the Flood, the ark also was a vivid object lesson to unbelievers of God’s impending judgment on the world. The lack of responsiveness to the “sermon of the ark” reveals the profound wickedness in Noah’s day: “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).[2]


Next Peter refers to Noah. For 120 years this faithful preacher warned that God was going to destroy the world with water. His thanks was scorn and rejection. But God vindicated him by saving him and his family through the flood.

Then there is the problem, “If we are right, why are there so few of us?” Peter answers: “There was a time when only eight people in the world were right and all the rest were wrong!” Characteristically in the world’s history the majority has not been right. True believers are usually a small remnant, so one’s faith should not falter because of the small number of the saved. There were only eight believers in Noah’s day; there are millions today.

At the end of verse 20, we read that a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. It is not that they were saved by water; they were saved through the water. Water was not the savior, but the judgment through which God brought them safely.

To properly understand this statement and the verse that follows, we must see the typical meaning of the ark and of the flood. The ark is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. The flood of water depicts the judgment of God. The ark was the only way of salvation. When the flood came, only those who were inside were saved; all those on the outside perished. So Christ is the only way of salvation; those who are in Christ are as saved as God Himself can make them. Those on the outside could not be more lost.

The water was not the means of salvation, for all who were in the water drowned. The ark was the place of refuge. The ark went through the water of judgment; it took the full brunt of the storm. Not a drop of water reached those inside the ark. So Christ bore the fury of God’s judgment against our sins. For those who are in Him there is no judgment (John 5:24).

The ark had water beneath it, and water coming down on top of it, and water all around it. But it bore its believing occupants through the water to safety in a renewed creation. So those who trust the Savior are brought safely through a scene of death and desolation to resurrection ground and a new life.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 133). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 216–217). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2273). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

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

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Apr. 27, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump won’t immediately terminate U.S. participation in the North American Free Trade Agreement, the White House said, after he spoke with the leaders of Mexico and Canada about ways to renegotiate the accord.

The tax plan released Wednesday by top economic adviser Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin provided much for multinational corporations to rejoice over — it calls for slashing the corporate income tax rate to 15 percent from 35 percent and applying a one-time, low rate to an estimated $2.6 trillion in offshore profits that have so far avoided U.S. taxes. The plan also calls for shifting to a territorial system for corporate taxes in which, going forward, most foreign profits would be exempt from U.S. levies. Currently, the U.S. taxes corporate income no matter where it’s earned.

Explosions hit a warehouse and fuel tanks near Damascus airport, the latest in a series of suspected Israeli attacks on Hezbollah positions in Syria, where the Iranian-backed militant group is supporting President Bashar al-Assad in the six-year civil war.

Ivanka Trump is in discussions with the World Bank about setting up a fund that would pool resources from G-20 countries to support female entrepreneurs.

United Continental Holdings Inc. will pay as much as $10,000 to passengers who voluntarily give up their seats on oversold flights, one of 10 changes the airline is adopting after setting off worldwide outrage when a customer was dragged off a plane by security officers.

International banks are getting serious about moving staff to Frankfurt after last year’s Brexit vote spurred competition among European cities to lure jobs away from London.

Orders for durable goods rose 0.7 percent, less than forecast in March, as demand for automobiles, fabricated-metal products and machinery all declined, Commerce Department data showed Thursday.

Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits rose to a four-week high last week, interrupting a run of subdued firings, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. Jobless claims increased by 14,000 to 257,000 (forecast was 245,000) in the week ended April 22.

AP Top Stories

U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts took issue on Wednesday with the Trump administration’s stance in an immigration case, saying it could make it too easy for the government to strip people of citizenship for lying about minor infractions.

The US Supreme Court took a narrow view Tuesday on the immunity from lawsuits enjoyed by Native American tribes, which are treated in some respects like sovereign states that cannot be sued in American courts.

Venezuela said on Wednesday it was withdrawing from the Organization of American States, deepening the diplomatic isolation of the socialist-run nation that is already out of step with Latin America’s steady shift to the right.

French intelligence services have scientific proof that the Syrian regime was responsible for a suspected chemical attack that killed 88 people, France’s foreign minister said Wednesday.

Arkansas plans to end its series of April executions by putting to death on Thursday an inmate convicted of murdering a cheerleader and who escaped from prison and killed two other people before being captured again.

The death of an American member of an international monitoring team in eastern Ukraine in a landmine blast, which also injured a Czech colleague, is the latest act of lethal violence putting enormous stress on the country’s fragile ceasefire.

An unarmed Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missile was launched from California early Wednesday in a test of the weapon system that is part of the U.S. nuclear force.

Donald Trump is reportedly considering disbanding the US ninth circuit of appeals after court judges blocked two of his executive orders. Mr. Trump said he was “absolutely” considering proposals to break up the “outrageous” court.

Chicago hit a grim milestone Tuesday, with more than a thousand people shot in the Midwestern US city since the beginning of the year.

NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has been delivering fantastic views of Saturn and its moons for many years now, and this year it will meet its ultimate fate: incineration in Saturn’s atmosphere.

President Trump is stepping up diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea, and military preparations are “underway” in the event that such action is necessary, a senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday.

BBC

A Russian spy ship has sunk off the Turkish coast after being breached in a collision with a freighter, with all its crew rescued, the Turkish coastal authority said.

An Illinois couple married for 69 years have died within an hour of each other.

WND

Responding to a demand by the controversial Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Pentagon will formally review the content of a counter-terrorism training program taught to Special Forces by a private contractor.

President Barack Obama considered being homosexual as a young man, according to a forthcoming biography of the president. The biography by David Garrow, “Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama,” is set to come out on May 9.

Texas Republicans were poised Wednesday to take a big step toward banning “sanctuary cities” in their state, debating a bill through which police chiefs and sheriffs could even be jailed for not cooperating fully with federal immigration authorities.

Germany’s Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) has confessed it is dealing with a “four-digit number” of migrants with declared links to the Taliban, potentially endangering neighboring countries such as France.


The Briefing 04-27-17

The prophets of secularization miscalculated: Religious people have more children than secular people

ISIS, Cubs of the Caliphate, and the importance of capturing the hearts of our children with the truth

The post The Briefing 04-27-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top Headlines – 4/27/2017

Report: ISIS Militants Killed by Wild Boars in Northern Iraq
The group was planning to attack a band of local tribesmen who had fled from the ISIS-controlled town of Hawija, which the jihadists seized in mid-2014. Three militants were reportedly killed and five more were injured. Al-Assi said the group of eight likely disturbed a herd of wild pigs, which inhabit the area and apparently mauled the fighters. According to Al-Assi, the militants had summarily executed 25 people fleeing the Islamic State’s territory in the three days before the boar attack.

Trump ‘absolutely’ looking at breaking up 9th Circuit
“Absolutely, I have,” Trump said of considering 9th circuit breakup proposals during a far-ranging interview with the Washington Examiner at the White House on Wednesday. “There are many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit. It’s outrageous.”

UK Refuses to Apologize to Palestinians for 1917 Balfour Declaration
The United Kingdom has rejected a request by the Palestinians to apologize for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which helped pave the way for the founding of the state of Israel.

Amalek Fought Israel on Biblical Battlefield of Rephidim. Today, New Generation of Ancient Enemy Appears on Same Site
The violent, ongoing conflict between Egypt and the Islamic State currently raging in the Sinai is a reenactment of the Biblical confrontation between Israel and Amalek, even taking place on the same battlefield, pointed out a military analyst who has turned to the Bible to make sense of current events.

North Korea threat: Top admiral calls on more missile interceptors in Hawaii
Adm. Harry Harris told the House Armed Services Committee that Hawaii’s defenses were sufficient for now, but could one day be overwhelmed in an onslaught. “I don’t share your confidence that North Korea is not going to attack either South Korea, or Japan, or the United States … once they have the capability,” Harris said.

Mysterious spike in humpback whale deaths on Atlantic Coast
On Wednesday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Fisheries issued a press release, declaring an “unusual mortality event” when an abnormally high number of marine mammals were found dead for unknown reasons. There have been 62 such events designated since 1991, when the program was established.

Syria says Israeli missile strike near Damascus airport confirmed
Several Israeli missiles hit a Syrian military position southwest of Damascus airport at dawn on Thursday, Syrian state media said. The “Israeli aggression” resulted in explosions at the site and some material losses, it said, citing a military source. Earlier in the day, Syrian rebel and regional sources said the alleged Israeli strike hit an arms supply hub operated by the Lebanese Hezbollah group near Damascus airport where regular supplies of weapons from Tehran are sent by commercial and military cargo planes.

IDF strikes Hamas target in Gaza in response to cross-border fire
IDF tank fire struck and destroyed a Hamas terror target in the southern Gaza Strip on Thursday shortly after shots from the Palestinian enclave were fired at Israeli forces stationed near the border, the military said. “The IDF will continue to act with determination at all times to maintain the security of the State of Israel,” the IDF said in a statement on the cross-border exchange.

Palestinian Authority says it’s halting Gaza power payments to Israel
The Palestinian Authority informed Israel that it is stopping all payments for electricity that enters Gaza through 10 electrical lines, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said on Thursday. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has warned over the past two weeks that he will take “unprecedented measures,” if Hamas does not concede some of its control over Gaza to the PA.

Israeli defense minister warns of Iranian presence in Golan Heights
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman reiterated Israel’s position that it will “not allow the concentration of Iranian and Hezbollah forces on the Golan Heights” while in Moscow on Wednesday. Speaking with Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov while in the Russian capital for the International Moscow Security Conference, Liberman expressed Israel’s concern over Iranian activity in Syria, stating that Tehran is using Syrian soil as a base to smuggle arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

South Africa’s nuclear deals unlawful, court rules
A South African court has annulled initial agreements the government reached with three countries to help it build nuclear power stations. The deals with Russia, the US and South Korea were unlawful, the court ruled. The government failed to hold public hearings and a parliamentary debate over its plans, it added.

North Korea: US vows sanctions and will activate Thaad system ‘within days’
The US says it plans to activate a missile defence system in South Korea “within days” and tighten economic sanctions against North Korea. The announcements from the Trump administration come amid rising fears about the North’s military advances. The Thaad system was originally not expected to be in use until late 2017. Many South Koreans oppose it, fearing they will become a target.

Brexit: Chancellor Merkel warns UK on scope of talks with EU
German Chancellor Angela Merkel says some British people have “illusions” about discussing the UK’s future ties with the EU at the same time as nailing down the UK’s Brexit terms. The future relationship can only be discussed once the exit issues – such as UK payments to the EU budget – are resolved, she told German MPs. On the sequence of the Brexit talks, she said “some people in the UK still have some illusions on that score”.

Trump ‘considering draft order to scrap Nafta’
The Trump administration has drafted an executive order that would withdraw the US from the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), US media say. It is unclear whether President Donald Trump will follow through and strike down the deal, which eliminated tariffs between the US, Mexico and Canada. In the election he vowed to withdraw from the 23-year-old pact, calling it a US job killer.

Hawaii threatened by North Korea now, U.S. commander tells Congress
The Pentagon needs to consider deploying new anti-ballistic missile systems and a defensive radar to Hawaii to protect against a growing threat from North Korea… “Kim Jong-Un is clearly in a position to threaten Hawaii today, in my opinion,” Adm. Harry Harris, the chief of U.S. Pacific Command, told the House Armed Services Committee. “I have suggested that we consider putting interceptors in Hawaii that…defend (it) directly, and that we look at a defensive Hawaii radar.”

Trump’s promised tax plan is here, including lower tax rates and fewer deductionsPresident Donald Trump’s long-anticipated tax proposal was released today. U.S. National Economic Director Gary Cohn…said the President has focused on three things since he took office: job creation, economic growth, and “helping the low and middle income families…The White House proposal eliminates four tax brackets, leaving only three: 10%, 25%, and 35%. The administration has yet to disclose the earning parameters for the remaining brackets.

Chelsea Clinton Gets Another Award For Doing Nothing Special
Like her mother before her, Chelsea Clinton appears to be creating a cottage industry for herself in receiving random awards for her unparalleled contributions to society, scintillating takes on current events, and incredibly generous heart. Not content with just her Variety-sponsored “achievement award,” Chelsea on Tuesday night accepted the annual City Harvest Award for Commitment in fighting hunger in New York City.

Cashless society getting closer, survey finds
More than a third of Europeans and Americans would be happy to go without cash and rely on electronic forms of payment if they could, and at least 20 percent already pretty much do so, a study showed on Wednesday.

Senators Told North Korea Nuclear Threat Is Urgent
The Senate took part in a rare White House briefing on Wednesday to hear what senior leaders described as “an urgent national security threat” posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

Why We Have A 2nd Amendment: Venezuela Plans To Give Firearms To Loyalists To Purge Growing Resistance
After enduring shortages of food and medicine for years, as well as a total collapse of their currency, the people of Venezuela have had enough. In the lead-up to last week’s massive protests, President Maduro issued an alarming proclamation that didn’t receive nearly enough press… He promised to expand the nation’s armed militia, and hand out firearms to as many as 400,000 loyalists.

Tillerson, Mattis, Coats Call North Korea “Urgent National Security Threat”, Prepared To Act
“North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is an urgent national security threat… The United States seeks stability and the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We remain open to negotiations towards that goal. However, we remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies.”

Macron Booed, Jeered By Factory Workers In His Hometown After Le Pen “Ambush”
Chaotic scenes broke out during a visit by French presidential frontrunner Emmanuel Macron to striking factory workers in his hometown of Amiens. Macron was greeted Wednesday with jeers, boos and chants in favour of his far-right rival Marine Le Pen as he made a chaotic visit to the factory in northern France.


Is God Going To ‘Bless’ A Government That Gives $500 Million A Year To Fund Planned Parenthood’s Abortion Holocaust?

More video has just been released which proves that Planned Parenthood has been selling off aborted baby parts to the highest bidder.  The crimes against humanity that Planned Parenthood is committing are off the charts, and yet nobody ever goes to jail, and the federal government keeps on giving them about half a billion dollars a year.  If the federal government did not give Planned Parenthood giant mountains of money every year, there are real doubts about whether it would be able to survive or not.  Planned Parenthood is the number one abortion provider in the United States, and the U.S. government is their number one financial supporter by a very, very wide margin.  So no matter how you want to look at the issue, the truth is that America’s abortion holocaust is being bankrolled by the U.S. government. (Read More…)


Have We Just Reached Peak Stock Market Absurdity?

Have you ever wondered how tech companies that have been losing hundreds of millions of dollars year after year can somehow be worth billions of dollars according to the stock market?  Because I run a website called “The Economic Collapse“, there are naysayers out there that take glee in mocking me by pointing out how well the stock market has been doing.  This week, the Dow is flirting with 21,000 and the Nasdaq crossed the 6,000 threshold for the first time ever.  But a lot of the “soaring stocks” that have been fueling this rally have been losing giant mountains of money every single year, and just like the first tech bubble this madness will eventually come to an end in a spectacular fiery crash in which investors will lose trillions of dollars. (Read More…)


The Deception Of Bruce Jenner And The Olympic Committee

According to Steve McConkey, president of 4 Winds Christian Athletics, Bruce “Caitlyn” Jenner neglected to tell  Fox News host Tucker Carlson during an interview that hormones do not reverse the size of bone and muscles which gives male athletes a clear advantage over female athletes. “So a retired 6-10 NBA male player can play women’s basketball at the Olympics without a reduction in size, only a year of hormone therapy,” says McConkey.  Following is an excerpt of the interview from a piece he penned for Canada Free Press:

Carlson: “A transgender woman just won a major weightlifting title. Some people said, well, this is someone who has a massive physical advantage over the other entrants in that contest. It seemed like a real thing to me.”

Jenner: “The Olympic Committee is way ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to dealing with identifying transgender issues in competing. Back when I was competing in the 70s, all the women had saliva tests to make sure their in their DNA they were female. We had the East German women and the Soviet women and all that kind of stuff. Well, since then, there has been a lot of gender non-conforming. We don’t quite know where they fit into the athletic world. And the Olympic Committee has done 20 years of studies on issues of hormone levels of whether you need gender confirmation surgery, what can you do as a trans person to be able to compete as your authentic self. And they’ve come up with guidelines. If you meet those guidelines, you can compete. And obviously this woman did.”

Carlson: “Do you think it’s fair?”

Jenner: “Yes, I think it’s totally fair. If the Olympic Committee thinks it’s fair, I’m fine with it. Yes, because there’s no big advantage.”

View article →


Mid-Day Snapshot

Apr. 27, 2017

Who’s Up for Paying Lower Taxes?

How about just three brackets, and a higher standard deduction coupled with eliminating other deductions?

The Foundation

“[U]nequal taxes oppress one species of property and reward another species.” —James Madison (1792)

Prominent Trump Cabinet Members Meet for Weekly Prayer
Prominent Trump Cabinet Members Meet for Weekly Prayer
by Veronica Neffinger
Several prominent members of President Trump’s cabinet reportedly meet for prayer sessions every week.
Planned Parenthood Abortionist Caught Selling Fetal Tissue Again
Planned Parenthood Abortionist Caught Selling Fetal Tissue Again
by Amanda Casanova
The Planned Parenthood senior executive who was caught on video saying, “I want a Lamborghini” while discussing the sale of the body parts of aborted babies has been caught on video discussing the potential sale of aborted baby parts again.

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 27

  • Israel strikes Iran-supplied arms depot near Damascus airport (Read More)
  • ECB Keeps Policy Settings Unchanged Awaiting Political Clarity (Read More)
  • Lawmakers push one-week stopgap funding bill (Read More)
  • Key Moments From Trump’s First 100 Days (Read More)
  • Trump Makes Huge U-Turn on Pulling Out of Nafta (Read More)
  • Trump’s tax cut proposal shines light on MLPs (Read More)
  • United Says Litany of Failures Led to Flight Fiasco (Read More)
  • Trump’s plan to slash business taxes seen as ‘guidepost’ by congressional Republicans (Read More)
  • Trump’s Corporate Tax Rewrite Faces Major Obstacle: Its Cost (Read More)
  • Obamacare Customers Left Without Options as Insurers Bolt (Read More)
  • Venture-Capital Quandary: Too Much Money Chasing Too Few Ideas (Read More)
  • And Then There Was Hannity (Read More)
  • Deutsche Bank’s Return to Growth Delayed as Trading Trails (Read More)
  • Ford’s Profit Falls 35% (Read More)
  • Thai Prosecutors to Seek Arrest Warrant for Red Bull Heir (Read More)
  • Oil Shortage Feared by 2020 as Discoveries Fall to Low (Read More)
  • EU Determined to Limit Brexit Damage as Bloc Finalizes Position (Read More)
  • Fannie and Freddie, Back in the Black (Read More)
  • Ex-Congresswoman Accused of Living Large on Charity Funds (Read More)

Top Headlines – 4/27/2017

Trump to recognize entire Jerusalem as Israel’s capital during trip – report

Netanyahu: I won’t meet diplomats who engage with groups that slander Israel

Hamas Interior Ministry arrests Gazans for ‘spreading rumors’

World Bank: Gaza power cuts causing ‘humanitarian crisis’

PA tells Israel it will no longer pay for Gaza’s electricity

IDF troops come under fire near Gaza, respond with tank fire

Cyber attack aimed at over 120 Israeli targets thwarted

‘Huge’ blasts near Damascus airport blamed on Israeli strike

Intelligence minister appears to confirm Israeli strike on Syria

Report: Israel attacked Iranian arms depot near Damascus airport

Ivanka Trump Parts Ways With Her Father on Syrian Refugees

Trump gives Pentagon power to reset Iraq, Syria troop limits

Isis faces exodus of foreign fighters as its ‘caliphate’ crumbles

IS conflict: Iraqi force ‘retakes ancient city of Hatra’

ACLJ Urges New UN Secretary-General to Declare ISIS’ Atrocities on Christians a Genocide

‘It’s a war on Christians’: Egypt’s beleaguered Copts in sombre mood before papal visit

Over 1,000 People Are Detained in Raids in Turkey

US Navy fires warning flare at Iran vessel in Persian Gulf

UAE jails Iranian for 10 years for aiding nuclear program

Hard-line Iranian candidate says US should fear Iran

Ukraine, Belarus leaders mark Chernobyl anniversary

Rumors rife as gas restrictions in N. Korean capital drag on

Senators: Little learned during rare all-hands North Korea briefing

Senators Told North Korea Nuclear Threat Is Urgent

Trump team softens war talk, vows other pressure on N. Korea

North Korea’s weapons progress a top concern as US senators have rare briefing

North Korea’s Special Operations forces are numerous, mysterious and formidable

North Korea threat: Experts paint dark picture of what fallout of pre-emptive strike may look like

U.S. may need stronger defense against North Korea missiles – admiral

Pentagon Ramps Up Space Warfare Effort

Why We Have A 2nd Amendment: Venezuela Plans To Give Firearms To Loyalists To Purge Growing Resistance

Venezuela snubs regional powers as more die in unrest

Venezuela says it will split from OAS as unrest continues

White House readies order on withdrawing from NAFTA

Nafta Report Sends Peso Reeling

Trump administration launches effort to help crime victims whose assailants are here illegally

Trump slams sanctuary city ruling, says opponents are ‘judge shopping!’

Border wall talk leads top Mexican official to float American entry fee

Will GOP Fund Planned Parenthood But Not Border Wall?

Moderates balk at conservative-backed, revised health bill

UN warned Trump that ObamaCare repeal could violate international law

Cashless society getting closer, survey finds

Judges, mayors, actors: 100 days of Trump resistance

Trump and the media: a win-win reality show?

Trump faces conundrum with conservative media

Ann Coulter says she will not speak at Berkeley: ‘It’s a sad day for free speech’

FCC Chief Sets Up Clash With Call to Repeal Net Neutrality

China tried to hack group linked to controversial missile defense system, US cybersecurity firm says

New computers could delete thoughts without your knowledge, experts warn

Swedish Startup Uses AI to Figure Out What Dolphins Talk About

Amazon’s new AI gadget will watch you in your home – and also rate your clothes

Crime Fighting Robots May Be Coming to a Mall Near You

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Iquique, Chile

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Lambasa, Fiji

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Valparaiso, Chile

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Pacific-Antarctic Ridge

Scottish earthquake tally hits 4,000

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 26,000ft

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

Mt Etna volcano in Italy erupts to 16,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 13,000ft

Sakurajima volcano in Japan erupts to 10,000ft

US may stay in Paris climate accord, with caveats

Humans alter Earth’s chemistry from beyond the grave

Video: Planned Parenthood exec who ‘wanted a Lamborghini’ caught haggling over baby body parts

“Basic Instinct” director Verhoeven to make film about lesbian nuns

UMC Announces ‘Special Session’ to Determine Church’s Homosexuality Stance

IRS raids televangelist Benny Hinn’s office in Grapevine

Gavin Finley – Pilgrims and Puritans

Feds raid televangelist Benny Hinn’s offices

Chris Rosebrough reviews Jurgen Matthesius’ ad hominem attack against ChurchWatch

Pastor Saeed Abedini Says He Doesn’t Want $200K at Center of Church Lawsuit, Blames Ex-Wife

A man tried to argue in federal court that dealing heroin is his religious right

Website aims to help women self-induce abortions using drugs

DEVELOPING: IRS and Postal Inspectors Raid Benny Hinn Ministries

Posted: 27 Apr 2017 06:40 AM PDT

Federal agents descended on the North Texas headquarters of television evangelist Benny Hinn and took boxes out of the offices. The search began about 9…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Arrest Made After Attempted Arson Attack at Trump International

Posted: 27 Apr 2017 06:36 AM PDT

A man was taken into custody Wednesday night after arson investigators found devices set to start two separate fires to Trump International. The suspected arsonist…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

“Evangelical” Porn Star Claims She Is Doing “God’s Work”

Posted: 27 Apr 2017 06:31 AM PDT

A Porn star has outraged churchgoers by declaring she is an Evangelical Christian who believes there’s nothing wrong with her work in the eyes of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Cryogenically frozen brains will be ‘woken up’ and transplanted in donor bodies within three years

Posted: 27 Apr 2017 06:26 AM PDT

People who have had their brains cryogenically frozen could be ‘woken up’ within three years, a pioneering Italian surgeon has claimed. Professor Sergio Canavero, Director…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

300 Year-Old River In Canada Vanishes In Just Four Days

Posted: 27 Apr 2017 06:19 AM PDT

The Earth is melting. The ice is melting. The glaciers are melting. But the stubborn human heart refuses to melt. In an unsettling illustration of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mexico and Canada leaders agree to renegotiate NAFTA…

Posted: 27 Apr 2017 06:10 AM PDT

Despite indications earlier Wednesday to the contrary, President Donald Trump agreed not to terminate the NAFTA treaty “at this time” in afternoon phone calls with…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Releases New Video Simulating Strike on White House

Posted: 27 Apr 2017 06:04 AM PDT

A North Korean propaganda outlet Thursday released an inflammatory video clip showing a simulated attack on the White House, declaring “the enemy to be destroyed…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China attempted to hack group linked to controversial missile defense system

Posted: 27 Apr 2017 05:59 AM PDT

A cybersecurity firm in the United States believes state-sponsored Chinese hackers were trying to infiltrate an organization with connections to a US-built missile system in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China to conduct drills and weapons tests in response to THAAD deployment

Posted: 27 Apr 2017 05:52 AM PDT

China will continue to stage live-fire drills and test new weapons to protect its national security, the Defense Ministry says. It comes after the deployment…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Israeli Airstrike Strikes Damascus Airport

Posted: 27 Apr 2017 05:49 AM PDT

An Israeli strike on Thursday hit an arms supply hub operated by the Lebanese Hezbollah group near Damascus airport where regular supplies of weapons from…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US War Fleet Now Within ‘Strike Range’ of North Korea

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 07:15 PM PDT

An “armada” of American warships – led by the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson – is now within range of the Hermit Kingdom. Donald…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Bill Would Force Pro-Life Pregnancy Centers in Hawaii to Advertise Abortion

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 07:07 PM PDT

Earlier this month, Hawaii’s house of representatives voted 41-10 in favor of a bill that would require the state’s pro-life pregnancy centers to advertise abortion…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why the Enemy Appears as an Angel of Light

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 06:56 PM PDT

(By Michael Youssef) The very name Lucifer is taken from the word light or luciferous, which means “bringing light” or “illumination.” In Satan’s case, it is a false…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists grow a working human brain in the lab

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 06:46 PM PDT

Tiny human brains have been grown in a dish in what could herald a breakthrough in conditions like Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia. The brain cells have formed…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Figure of Jesus’ appears above Colombian city wiped out by giant landslide

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 06:38 PM PDT

This is the amazing moment the ‘Figure of Jesus’ appeared in front of a crowd gathered to film the sunset over the city of Manizales…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US missile shield aims to cover sudden nuclear strike against Russia

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 06:29 PM PDT

The United States is pursuing global strategic domination through developing anti-ballistic missile systems capable of a sudden disarming strike against Russia and China, according to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Military preparations ‘underway’ on North Korea

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 02:15 PM PDT

President Trump is stepping up diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea, and military preparations are “underway,” in the event such action is necessary, a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Only 20% Of Americans Read Entire Bible, Most Call It ‘Good Source of Morals’

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 12:59 PM PDT

Only 20 percent of Americans have read the Bible in its entirety, according to a new survey which also found that most Americans have positive…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Claims 5 million youth “combat ready” and will “annihilate” US with nuclear bombs

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 12:42 PM PDT

North Korea‘s Youth League has vowed to use 5million children “equipped with nuclear bombs” to “mercilessly wipe out” the USA. A terrifying statement from the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FALLING AWAY: Famine of the Word of God in America Opening Floodgates of Immorality

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 12:36 PM PDT

(By Bob Smietana) Americans have a positive view of the Bible. And many say the Christian Scriptures are filled with moral lessons for today. However,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

U.S. Commander warns America may need need stronger defense against North Korea missiles

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 12:28 PM PDT

The United States may need to strengthen its missile defenses, particularly in Hawaii, given the advancing threat from North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Concerns grow regarding North Korean’s miniaturized nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 12:24 PM PDT

With all 100 U.S. senators invited to a rare briefing on White House grounds Wednesday on North Korea, it’s hard to overstate how concerned officials…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: White House weighs order on withdrawing from NAFTA…

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 11:58 AM PDT

The Trump administration is considering an executive order on withdrawing the U.S. from NAFTA, according to two White House officials. A draft order has been…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: US Preparing to ‘EVACUATE 230,000 Americans from South Korea’

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 11:52 AM PDT

Donald Trump has demanded the evacuation of US citizens from South Korea as part of a drill named Courageous Channel, military sources have revealed. The operation,…

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
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April 27, 2017: Verse of the day

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3:13, 14 Moses anticipated questions from the children of Israel when he returned to them as the Lord’s spokesman, and he wanted to be able to tell them who sent him. It was at this point that God first revealed Himself as Jehovah, the great I AM. Jehovah (more precisely Yahweh) comes from the Hebrew verb “to be,” hāyāh. This sacred name is known as the tetragrammaton (“four letters”). English Jehovah comes from the Hebrew YHWH, with vowel markings supplied from Elohim and Adonai, other names of God. No one knows for sure the true pronunciation of YHWH because the ancient Hebrew spelling used no actual vowels in its alphabet. However, the pronunciation “Yahweh” is probably correct. The Jews consider YHWH too sacred to utter. The name proclaims God as self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, and sovereign. The fuller name I AM WHO I AM may mean I AM BECAUSE I AM or I WILL BE THAT I WILL BE.[1]


3:14 I Am WHO I AM. This name for God points to His self-existence and eternality; it denotes “I am the One who is/will be,” which is decidedly the best and most contextually suitable option from a number of theories about its meaning and etymological source. The significance in relation to “God of your fathers” is immediately discernible: He’s the same God throughout the ages! The consonants from the Heb. word Yhwh, combined with the vowels from the divine name Adonai (Master or Lord), gave rise to the name “Jehovah” in English. Since the name Yahweh was considered so sacred that it should not be pronounced, the Massoretes inserted the vowels from Adonai to remind themselves to pronounce it when reading instead of saying Yahweh. Technically, this combination of consonants is known as the “tetragrammaton.”[2]


3:14 I am who I am. In response to Moses’ question (“What is [your] name?” v. 13), God reveals his name to be “Yahweh” (corresponding to the four Hebrew consonants YHWH). The three occurrences of “I am” in v. 14 all represent forms of the Hebrew verb that means “to be” (Hb. hayah), and in each case are related to the divine name Yahweh (i.e., “the Lord”; see note on v. 15). The divine name Yahweh has suggested to scholars a range of likely nuances of meaning: (1) that God is self-existent and therefore not dependent on anything else for his own existence; (2) that God is the creator and sustainer of all that exists; (3) that God is immutable in his being and character and thus is not in the process of becoming something different from what he is (e.g., “the same yesterday and today and forever,” Heb. 13:8); and (4) that God is eternal in his existence. While each of these points is true of God, the main focus in this passage is on the Lord’s promise to be with Moses and his people. The word translated “I am” (Hb. ’ehyeh) can also be understood and translated as “I will be” (cf. ESV footnote). Given the context of Ex. 3:12 (“I will be with you”), the name of Yahweh (“the Lord”) is also a clear reminder of God’s promises to his people and of his help for them to fulfill their calling. In each of these cases, the personal name of God as revealed to Moses expresses something essential about the attributes and character of God.

3:14 The name “I am” anticipates the “I am” sayings of Jesus (see John 8:58), which show his deity.[3]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 91–92). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ex 3:14). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 149). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

April 27 – Are You Avoiding Persecution?

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:10).

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If you don’t experience persecution, people probably don’t know you’re a Christian.

I heard of a man who was fearful because he was starting a new job with a group of unbelievers whom he thought might give him a bad time if they found out he was a Christian. After his first day at work his wife asked him how he got along with them. “We got along just fine,” he said. “They never found out I’m a Christian.”

Silence is one way to avoid persecution. Some other ways are to approve of the world’s standards, laugh at its jokes, enjoy its entertainment, and smile when it mocks God. If you never confront sin or tell people that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, or if your behavior is so worldly no one can distinguish you from unbelievers, you will probably be accepted and won’t feel the heat of persecution.

But beware, for Jesus said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you. … Whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory” (Luke 6:26; 9:26). The last thing anyone should want is for Christ to pronounce a curse on them or to be ashamed of them. That’s an enormous price to pay for popularity!

If you take a stand for Christ and manifest Beatitude attitudes, you will be in direct opposition to Satan and the evil world system. And eventually you will experience some form of persecution. That has been true from the very beginning of human history, when Abel was murdered by his brother Cain because Cain couldn’t tolerate his righteousness.

You should never fear persecution. God will grant you grace and will never test you beyond what He enables you to endure (1 Cor. 10:13). Nor should you ever compromise Biblical truth in order to avoid persecution. In Philippians 1:19 Paul says persecution is as much a gift of God as salvation itself. Both identify you as a true believer!

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Memorize 1 Peter 2:20–21. Ask God to continually grant you the grace to follow Christ’s example when difficulties come your way.

For Further Study: Read 2 Corinthians 11:23–33, noting the severe persecution Paul endured for Christ’s sake.[1]


The Persecution

Those who have been persecuted are the citizens of the kingdom, those who live out the previous seven beatitudes. To the degree that they fulfill the first seven they may experience the eighth.

“All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). Before writing those words Paul had just mentioned some of his own “persecutions, and suffering, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra” (v. 11). As one who lived the kingdom life he had been persecuted, and all others who live the kingdom life can expect similar treatment. What was true in ancient Israel is true today and will remain true until the Lord returns. “As at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also” (Gal. 4:29).

Imagine a man who accepted a new job in which he had to work with especially profane people. When at the end of the first day his wife asked him how he had managed, he said, “Terrific! They never guessed I was a Christian.” As long as people have no reason to believe that we are Christians, at least obedient and righteous Christians, we need not worry about persecution. But as we manifest the standards of Christ we will share the reproach of Christ. Those born only of the flesh will persecute those born of the Spirit.

To live for Christ is to live in opposition to Satan in his world and in his system. Christlikeness in us will produce the same results as Christlikeness did in the apostles, in the rest of the early church, and in believers throughout history. Christ living in His people today produces the same reaction from the world that Christ Himself produced when He lived on earth as a man.

Righteousness is confrontational, and even when it is not preached in so many words, it confronts wickedness by its very contrast. Abel did not preach to Cain, but Abel’s righteous life, typified by his proper sacrifice to the Lord, was a constant rebuke to his wicked brother-who in a rage finally slew him. When Moses chose to identify with his own despised Hebrew people rather than compromise himself in the pleasures of pagan Egyptian society, he paid a great price. But he considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11:26).

The Puritan writer Thomas Watson said of Christians: “Though they be never so meek, merciful, pure in heart, their piety will not shield them from sufferings. They must hang their harp on the willows and take the cross. The way to heaven is by way of thorns and blood. … Set it down as a maxim, if you will follow Christ you must see the swords and staves” (The Beatitudes [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1971], pp. 259–60).

Savonarola was one of the greatest reformers in the history of the church. In his powerful condemnation of personal sin and ecclesiastical corruption, that Italian preacher paved the way for the Protestant Reformation, which began a few years after his death. “His preaching was a voice of thunder,” writes one biographer, “and his denunciation of sin was so terrible that the people who listened to him went about the streets half-dazed, bewildered and speechless. His congregations were so often in tears that the whole building resounded with their sobs and their weeping.” But the people and the church could not long abide such a witness, and for preaching uncompromised righteousness Savonarola was convicted of “heresy,” he was hanged, and his body was burned.

Persecution is one of the surest and most tangible evidences of salvation. Persecution is not incidental to faithful Christian living but is certain evidence of it. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians by sending them Timothy, “so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know” (1 Thess. 3:3–4). Suffering persecution is part of the normal Christian life (cf. Rom. 8:16–17). And if we never experience ridicule, criticism, or rejection because of our faith, we have reason to examine the genuineness of it. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake,” Paul says, “not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Phil. 1:29–30). Persecution for Christ’s sake is a sign of our own salvation just as it is a sign of damnation for those who do the persecuting (v. 28).

Whether Christians live in a relatively protected and tolerant society or whether they live under a godless, totalitarian regime, the world will find ways to persecute Christ’s church. To live a redeemed life to its fullest is to invite and to expect resentment and reaction from the world.

The fact that many professed believers are popular and praised by the world does not indicate that the world has raised its standards but that many who call themselves by Christ’s name have lowered theirs. As the time for Christ’s appearing grows closer we can expect opposition from the world to increase, not decrease. When Christians are not persecuted in some way by society it means that they are reflecting rather than confronting that society. And when we please the world we can be sure that we grieve the Lord (cf. James 4:4; 1 John 2:15–17).

When (hotan) can also mean whenever. The idea conveyed in the term is not that believers will be in a constant state of opposition, ridicule, or persecution, but that, whenever those things come to us because of our faith, we should not be surprised or resentful. Jesus was not constantly opposed and ridiculed, nor were the apostles. There were times of peace and even popularity. But every faithful believer will at times have some resistance and ridicule from the world, while others, for God’s own purposes, will endure more extreme suffering. But whenever and however affliction comes to the child of God, his heavenly Father will be there with him to encourage and to bless. Our responsibility is not to seek out persecution, but to be willing to endure whatever trouble our faithfulness to Jesus Christ may bring, and to see it as a confirmation of true salvation.

The way to avoid persecution is obvious and easy. To live like the world, or at least to “live and let live,” will cost us nothing. To mimic the world’s standards, or never to criticize them, will cost us nothing. To keep quiet about the gospel, especially the truth that apart from its saving power men remain in their sins and are destined for hell, will cost us nothing. To go along with the world, to laugh at its jokes, to enjoy its entertainment, to smile when it mocks God and takes His name in vain, and to be ashamed to take a stand for Christ will not bring persecution. Those are the habits of sham Christians.

Jesus does not take faithlessness lightly. “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). If we are ashamed of Christ, He will be ashamed of us. Christ also warned, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). To be popular with everyone is either to have compromised the faith or not to have true faith at all.

Though it was early in His ministry, by the time Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount He had already faced opposition. After He healed the man on the Sabbath, “the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him” (Mark 3:6). We learn from Luke that they were actually hoping Jesus would heal on the Sabbath “in order that they might find reason to accuse Him” (Luke 6:7). They already hated His teaching and wanted Him to commit an act serious enough to warrant His arrest.

Our Lord made it clear from His earliest teaching, and His opponents made it clear from their earliest reactions, that following Him was costly. Those who entered His kingdom would suffer for Him before they would reign with Him. That is the hard honesty that every preacher, evangelist, and witness of Christ should exemplify. We do the Lord no honor and those to whom we witness no benefit by hiding or minimizing the cost of following Him.

The cost of discipleship is billed to believers in many different ways. A Christian stonemason in Ephesus in Paul’s day might have been asked to help build a pagan temple or shrine. Because he could not do that in good conscience, his faith would cost him the work and possibly his job and career. A believer today might be expected to hedge on the quality of his work in order to increase company profits. To follow His conscience in obedience to the Lord could also cost his job or at least a promotion. A Christian housewife who refuses to listen to gossip or to laugh at the crude jokes of her neighbors may find herself ostracized. Some costs will be known in advance and some will surprise us. Some costs will be great and some will be slight. But by the Lord’s and the apostles’ repeated promises, faithfulness always has a cost, which true Christians are willing to pay (contrast Matt. 13:20–21).

The second-century Christian leader Tertullian was once approached by a man who said, “I have come to Christ, but I don’t know what to do. I have a job that I don’t think is consistent with what Scripture teaches. What can I do? I must live.” To that Tertullian replied, “Must you?” Loyalty to Christ is the Christian’s only true choice. To be prepared for kingdom life is to be prepared for loneliness, misunderstanding, ridicule, rejection, and unfair treatment of every sort.

In the early days of the church the price paid was often the ultimate. To choose Christ might mean choosing death by stoning, by being covered with pitch and used as a human torch for Nero, or by being wrapped in animal skins and thrown to vicious hunting dogs. To choose Christ could mean torture by any number of excessively cruel and painful ways. That was the very thing Christ had in mind when He identified His followers as those willing to bear their crosses. That has no reference to mystical devotion, but is a call to be ready to die, if need be, for the cause of the Lord (see Matt. 10:35–39; 16:24–25).

In resentment against the gospel the Romans invented charges against Christians, such as accusing them of being cannibals because in the Lord’s Supper they spoke of eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood. They accused them of having sexual orgies at their love feasts and even of setting fire to Rome. They branded believers as revolutionaries because they called Jesus Lord and King and spoke of God’s destroying the earth by fire.

By the end of the first century, Rome had expanded almost to the outer limits of the known world, and unity became more and more of a problem. Because only the emperor personified the entire empire, the caesars came to be deified, and their worship was demanded as a unifying and cohesive influence. It became compulsory to give a verbal oath of allegiance to caesar once a year, for which a person would be given a verifying certificate, called a libellus. After publicly proclaiming, “Caesar is Lord,” the person was free to worship any other gods he chose. Because faithful Christians refused to declare such an allegiance to anyone but Christ, they were considered traitors-for which they suffered confiscation of property, loss of work, imprisonment, and often death. One Roman poet spoke of them as “the panting, huddling flock whose only crime was Christ.”

In the last beatitude Jesus speaks of three specific types of affliction endured for Christ’s sake: physical persecution, verbal insult, and false accusation.

Physical Persecution

First, Jesus says, we can expect physical persecution. Have been persecuted (v. 10), persecute (v. 11), and persecuted (v. 12) are from diōkō, which has the basic meaning of chasing, driving away, or pursuing. From that meaning developed the connotations of physical persecution, harassment, abuse, and other unjust treatment.

All of the other beatitudes have to do with inner qualities, attitudes, and spiritual character. The eighth beatitude speaks of external things that happen to believers, but the teaching behind these results also has to do with attitude. The believer who has the qualities required in the previous beatitudes will also have the quality of willingness to face persecution for the sake of righteousness. He will have the attitude of self-sacrifice for the sake of Christ. It is the lack of fear and shame and the presence of courage and boldness that says, “I will be in this world what Christ would have me be. I will say in this world what Christ will have me say. Whatever it costs, I will be and say those things.”

The Greek verb is a passive perfect participle, and could be translated “allow themselves to be persecuted.” The perfect form indicates continuousness, in this case a continuous willingness to endure persecution if it is the price of godly living. This beatitude speaks of a constant attitude of accepting whatever faithfulness to Christ may bring.

It is in the demands of this beatitude that many Christians break down in their obedience to the Lord, because here is where the genuineness of their response to the other beatitudes is most strongly tested. It is here where we are most tempted to compromise the righteousness we have hungered and thirsted for. It is here where we find it convenient to lower God’s standards to accommodate the world and thereby avoid conflicts and problems that we know obedience will bring.

But God does not want His gospel altered under pretense of its being less demanding, less righteous, or less truthful than it is. He does not want witnesses who lead the unsaved into thinking that the Christ life costs nothing. A synthetic gospel, a man-made seed, produces no real fruit.[2]


5:10 The next beatitude deals with those who are persecuted, not for their own wrongdoings, but for righteousness’ sake. The kingdom of heaven is promised to those believers who suffer for doing right. Their integrity condemns the ungodly world and brings out its hostility. People hate a righteous life because it exposes their own unrighteousness.[3]


10 It is no accident that Jesus should pass from peacemaking to persecution, for the world enjoys its cherished hates and prejudices so much that the peacemaker is not always welcome. Opposition is a normal mark of being a disciple of Jesus, as normal as hungering for righteousness or being merciful (see Jn 15:18–25; Ac 14:22; 2 Ti 3:12; 1 Pe 4:13–14; cf. the woe in Lk 6:26). Lachs (“Textual Observations,” 101–3) cannot believe Christians were ever persecuted because of righteousness; so he repoints an alleged underlying Hebrew text to read “because of the righteous One”—a reference to Jesus. But he underestimates how offensive genuine righteousness, “proper conduct before God” (Przybylski, Righteousness in Matthew, 99), really is (cf. Isa 51:7). The reward of these persecuted people is the same as the reward of the poor in spirit—namely, the kingdom of heaven, which terminates the inclusio (see comments at v. 3).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 130). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 220–224). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1217). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[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, p. 165). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 27 – ENOCH ESCAPED DEATH

By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death…he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

Hebrews 11:5

The Genesis record concerning Enoch should speak to us of our own troubled times—for that is the purpose of the Word of God. It should be our concern that we hear and that we obey!

The faith and deportment of the man Enoch compose a vivid picture—a powerful object lesson—to encourage every believer in his or her faith. There is only one conclusion to be drawn—Enoch was translated into the presence of God because of his faith, and thus he escaped death!

It is my strong conviction that Enoch’s experience of translation is a type, or preview, of the coming rapture of the Church, the Bride of Christ, described in the Scriptures.

It is evident that there was no funeral for Enoch. Perhaps members of his family did not fully understand his walk with God, but they could answer with the facts! “He is gone! We thought he was extreme in his beliefs but now he is gone, and we are still here in a troubled world!”

Lord, some days it is especially good to know that there will be an eternal reward for those who walk in close fellowship with You.[1]


The second hero of faith is Enoch. Whereas Abel exemplifies worshiping by faith—which must always come first—Enoch exemplifies walking by faith.

God never intended works as a way for men to come to Him. He intended works to be a result of salvation, not a way of salvation. At no time has man been able to approach God on the basis of works. Rather, God has always intended that works be a product of the salvation men receive when they approach Him on the basis of faith.

And Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him. (Gen. 5:21–24)

Here we see a new concept in the book of Genesis. Abel knew what it was to worship by faith, but he did not really understand the concept of walking with God. Revelation in Scripture is progressive. Abel received some revelation, and Enoch received more.

Adam and Eve had walked and talked with God in the Garden, but when they fell and were thrown out of the Garden, they ceased to walk with Him. The ultimate destiny of man is reinstituted with Enoch, who stands as an illustration for all men of what it is to be in fellowship with God. In Enoch the true destiny of man is again reached, as he experienced the fellowship with God that Adam and Eve had forfeited.

I believe Enoch’s faith included everything Abel’s included. Enoch had to have offered a sacrifice to God, symbolic of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ, because sacrifice is the only way into God’s presence. He could not have walked with God unless he had first come to God, and a person cannot come to God apart from the shedding of blood. The principle has not changed from the days of Abel and Enoch until today.

Hebrews 11:5–6 shows us five features in Enoch’s life that were pleasing to God: he believed that God is; he sought God’s reward; he walked with God; he preached for God; and he entered into God’s presence.[2]


11:5 Sometime during his life Enoch must have received a promise from God that he would go to heaven without dying. Up to that time everyone had died—sooner or later. There was no record of anyone ever having been taken away without dying. But God promised and Enoch believed. It was the most sane, rational thing that Enoch could do; what is more reasonable than that the creature should believe his Creator?

And so it happened! Enoch walked with the invisible God for three hundred years (Gen. 5:21–24) and then he walked into eternity. Before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God. The life of faith always pleases God; He loves to be trusted.[3]


5 Among the human ancestors listed before the flood, Enoch stands out as special. The very brief account of him (Ge 5:21–24) includes twice over the statement that he “walked with God,” an accolade he shares only with Noah (Ge 6:9). He is also distinguished by the relatively short span of his life (365 years compared with an average of some 900 before the flood), which is explained by the enigmatic phrase “he was not, for God took him,” the LXX version of which our author quotes: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away” (TNIV rightly puts these words in quotation marks). In Jewish tradition, this was taken to mean he bypassed death, as did Elijah (2 Ki 2:11) and (according to tradition, though not according to Dt 34:5–7) Moses. As one who was taken alive to heaven, Enoch became a significant figure in Jewish thought, and a rich variety of late Jewish apocalyptic material is presented as Enoch’s accounts of his visions. (There are three lengthy apocryphal “Books of Enoch,” the first of which consists of material probably originating between 200 BC and AD 100.) Our author explains this special privilege of Enoch by the fact that he is twice said to have “pleased God” (the LXX version of “walked with God”). In this case too, therefore, “faith” consists in a close relationship with God that linked earth with heaven in a single continuum.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 304–306). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2195–2196). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 150–151). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.