Daily Archives: April 2, 2017

April 1-2, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 04/01/2017

Teen Who Threw Newborn Out Window Won’t Do Jail Time, Must Delete Facebook Due to Uproar Over Crime   Mar 27, 2017 05:57 pm

OMAHA, Neb. — A Nebraska teenager who threw her newborn baby out the window won’t be spending any time behind bars, but instead has been ordered to therapy, community service and probation, and must delete her Facebook account due to outrage from thousands upset over the girl’s crime. Antonia Lopez, 16, gave birth in the middle of the night on September 30, and…

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Virginia Governor Vetoes Bill Prohibiting Punishment of Those Who Believe in Biblical Marriage   Mar 28, 2017 06:01 am

Photo Credit: Steve Bott RICHMOND, Va. — The Democratic governor of Virginia has vetoed a religious freedom bill which would have prohibited the government from punishing those who believe in biblical marriage and conduct their public lives in accordance with that conviction. “Although couched as a ‘religious freedom’ bill, this legislation is nothing more…

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Man Who Identifies as Woman Dominates Female Weightlifting Competition   Mar 27, 2017 08:38 am

Photo Credit: New Zealand Herald MELBOURNE – A 39-year-old man who identifies as a woman dominated a women’s weightlifting competition in Australia last week, becoming the first “transgender” person from New Zealand to compete in the games. Gavin Hubbard of New Zealand describes himself as a female. Although he spent over 30 years living as man and…

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Liberty University, Liberty Counsel Named in Lesbian’s Lawsuit Over Ex-Partner’s Escape From Country With Daughter   Mar 26, 2017 09:16 am

Miller and Isabella Liberty University and the religious liberties organization Liberty Counsel have been named in a revived parental kidnapping lawsuit that had been placed on hold while one of the defendants in the case was on trial. “We were surprised to learn that we’ve brought back into a case that we’ve previously been dismissed out of,” David…

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Crazed Indiana Man Yelling ‘Allahu Akbar’ Arrested After Strangling Thrift Store Employee   Mar 31, 2017 03:26 pm

MUNCIE, Ind. — An Indiana man broke a police officer’s hand during a scuffle as he was arrested on Saturday after he allegedly strangled a thrift store employee who sought to intervene as he went berserk in his quest to convert those present to Islam. Reports state that he repeatedly yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he fought being taken into custody by police. Khalid…

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Laughing Planned Parenthood Abortionist: It ‘Takes More Force’ to Dismember Some Babies   Mar 30, 2017 06:01 am

LOS ANGELES — Newly-released undercover footage from the Center for Medical Progress captures a Planned Parenthood abortionist laughing about how much force is required to dismember babies when chemical agents aren’t used, and joking that she first thought she needed to go to the gym just to get in shape to perform a dilation and evacuation procedure. “Research…

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California AG Charges Man Behind Planned Parenthood Expose’ Videos With 15 Felonies   Mar 29, 2017 11:11 am

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California state prosecutors have charged the pro-life investigator behind the 2014-2015 undercover Planned Parenthood videos with 15 felonies less than a year after Texas officials dropped all charges. State Attorney General Xavier Becerra alleges that David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, along with his co-worker Sandra…

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Tennessee Couple Arrested After Allegedly Seeking to Sell Baby on Craigslist   Mar 29, 2017 05:10 pm

GREENEVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee couple has been arrested after allegedly seeking to sell their infant son for $3,000 on Craigslist. John David Cain, 26 and Deanna Greer, 37, were arraigned on Monday at the Greene County General Sessions Court on charges of aggravated child abuse and neglect after they handed off the baby to an undercover investigator on…

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Student Groups at Christian-Identified University Seeking Softer Policies on Homosexuality   Mar 25, 2017 01:46 pm

WAYNE, Pa. — Two student groups at a Christian-identified university in Pennsylvania are asking that the school soften its policies on homosexuality, including removing language in its student handbook that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman. Members of Eastern University’s “gay-straight alliance” club known as Refuge, as well as its Political…

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Montana House Advances Bill That Would Ban Sharia Law in State   Mar 26, 2017 06:01 am

HELENA, Mont. — The Montana House of Representatives has advanced a bill that would ban Sharia law in the state. Senate Bill 97, sponsored by Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, passed mainly along party lines on Monday 56-44. While it does not specifically mention Sharia law, it was often the focus of discussion during debate. “If you go back and listen to the…

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Top News – 4/1/2017

More Dangerous Than The NSA? The Massive Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard Of
If you’re one of the countless Americans who was distraught to learn of the revelations made by former National Security Agency (NSA) contractor Edward Snowden, the mere idea that there might be yet another agency out there – perhaps just as powerful and much more intrusive –  should give you goosebumps.

Trudeau “Christians are the worst part of Canadian society”
Why didn’t Trudeau bring Christian or Jew refugees to Canada who fled rape, beatings and many more sufferings, Trudeau seems to hate Christians, he says: “Christians are the worst part of Canadian society” WATCH.

Morgan Stanley: Used Car Prices May Crash 50%
For all of you pension funds out there scooping up all of the AAA-rated slugs of the latest auto ABS deals for the ‘juicy yield‘, now might be a good time to review what happened to the investment grade tranches of MBS structures back in 2009…

Damascus Destroyed-Mark of the Beast- World War III Is Knocking On the Door
…The winds war are blowing. Syria looks like and feels like Sarajevo prior to the commencement of World War I in which one assassination set up a war that killed millions. This conflict, which will go nuclear, looks and feels like World War I from our past. However, these events and their outcome have been foretold thousands of years ago in the Bible. As I review the relevant passages, perhaps you will get the same sinking feeling in my stomach that I did when I began to realize the inevitability of it all.

VA retaliation against whistleblower: doctor kept in empty room
Dr. Dale Klein may be the highest-paid U.S. government employee who literally does nothing while he’s on the clock. A highly rated pain management specialist at the Southeast Missouri John J. Pershing V.A., Klein is paid $250,000 a year to work with veterans, but instead of helping those who served their country, he sits in a small office and does nothing. All day. Every day.

American Jobs Once Again Flowing Into Mexico After Brief, Trump-Induced Pause
“When you dissect the worst-case scenarios, it still makes sense to go forward with their business plans.  It’s a competitive world.”

New terrorist laptop bombs may evade airport security, intel sources say
US intelligence and law enforcement agencies believe that ISIS and other terrorist organizations have developed innovative ways to plant explosives in electronic devices that FBI testing shows can evade some commonly used airport security screening methods, CNN has learned.

Vimeo Voids Christian Content

We have to expect to see a lot more of this in the days and years to come. “Vimeo, a leading online film production and sharing outlet, pulled the entire 850-count video catalog of Pure Passion ministry this month after determining the video content ‘demeaned’ homosexuals.”

Teaching Children Hymns

Jacob explains why he and his wife are teaching their children the great hymns.

How Magellan Circumnavigated the Globe (Video)

Here’s a short account of Magellan’s historic, deadly voyage.

You Cannot Raise Snowflakes in Jesus’ Name

“Today’s parents often go to ludicrous lengths attempting to remove all risk from their children’s lives and protect them from any negative assessment. There are very real consequences in the child’s life when parents raise their children in this self-referential environment. Children are taught that they have a right not to hear anything they do not agree with, and when they do, they should take it personally. This mollycoddling of our children does not prepare them for life.”

The Attraction of Reformed Theology

What is it that people find attractive about Reformed theology? Kyle Borg offers a good answer. “I am persuaded that it is in the theology of the Reformation where the glory of God works itself out most vividly, substantively, and with the greatest consistency.”

Why Japan’s Rail Workers Can’t Stop Pointing at Things (Video)

I’m sure there’s a principal of diligence we can draw from this practice of pointing at things.

An FAQ on The Collected Works of John Piper

Crossway has just published The Collected Works of John Piper, a massive 13-volume set. Justin Taylor has a thorough FAQ on the set, the methodology behind it, and the future additions to it.

Flashback: The Way the World Works

There are a hundred explanations for this desire to protect and preserve life. But the only one that really makes sense, and the only one that is compelling enough to believe, is that God is the creator of life, and that he has given life intrinsic value.To recklessly endanger life is to reject both the giver and his gift.


Weekend Snapshot

Apr. 1, 2017
Top Stories This Week
Top Opinion
John Stossel: Free Market Care
Tony Perkins: Planned Parenthood’s Killer Workout
Stephen Moore: The False Compassion of Liberalism
Jonah Goldberg: Reaction to Pence Story Shows Traditional Christians Face Double Standard
More Opinion →
Quote of the Week

“While the media like to blame ‘unyielding, right-wing extremists’ for the demise of bipartisanship, it is the Left that is poisoning the well. … The Democrat Party of JFK is dead. The radicals have taken over. For all the media’s talk about how Ronald Reagan could not be nominated in today’s Republican Party, Bill Clinton could not be nominated in today’s Democrat Party.” —Gary Bauer


Top Headlines – 4/1/2017

Abbas: Trump is serious about peace

Where Did Jared Kushner Disappear To? Wasn’t Jared Kushner supposed to make Israeli-Palestinian peace?

Fatah official: Israel not a ‘peace partner’

US: ‘Unrestrained’ Israeli settlements do ‘not help advance peace’

UK, France, Germany slam Israeli announcement to build new settlement

Though politically challenging, new settlement curb likely a win-win for Netanyahu

The sword of Netanyahu still looms, as he emerges victorious from coalition crisis

Herzog: Gov’t on the way to falling apart

Kahlon warned Netanyahu: If we go to elections, you will not be next PM

Anti-Israel ‘apartheid’ report was no secret, despite UN chief’s disavowal

Hamas steps up security following terror chief’s assassination

Hamas looking undersea, not just underground, for attack routes

Israel takes baby step toward rebuilding Temple?

Pakistan Allows One Citizen to Register as a Jew for First Time Since 1980s

For some, Passover Seder will address global refugee crisis

Trump seeks to ‘reboot’ US relationship with Egypt in Monday talks

The threat of ISIS terrorist attacks is growing in south Sinai

Syria’s conflict: More war crimes, more peace talks-and more radicalization by Russian design

No deal in sight as fifth round of UN Syria talks concludes

UN urges new efforts to defeat Boko Haram and tackle hunger

At least 22 dead, 57 wounded in Pakistan market blast

US Defense Secretary Mattis says Iran continues to sponsor terrorism

US defense chief worries about ‘reckless’ NKorea actions

Defense Sec. James Mattis: North Korea ‘Has Got to Be Stopped’

US sanctions North Koreans linked to weapons, financial networks

FBI releases photos from 9/11 attack at Pentagon

New terrorist laptop bombs may evade airport security, intel sources say

Sessions Moves To Quickly Deport Imprisoned Immigrants

Federal officials defend immigration arrests in courthouses

Customs and Border Protection asks companies for drone tech

Passenger jet in near-miss with large drone at 10,000 feet on Heathrow approach

Russia develops hypersonic 4,600 mph Zircon missile

Putin spokesman: US-Russia relations ‘maybe worse’ now than Cold War

Michael Flynn’s Immunity Request Rejected By Senate Intelligence Committee

Trump faces questions of interference in investigations

Obama Officials Made List of Russia Probe Documents to Keep Them Safe

White House wants Congress to dig deeper on snooping after Obama official comments

Trump’s approach to intel agencies shows anxiety, distrust

Trump’s poll numbers are low. But the people who put him in office say it’s not time to judge him – yet

Without Obama, once-booming gun industry poised to shrink

Stock Surge in First Quarter of 2017 Rides the Tech Wave

No Joke: April Fools’ Comet to Pass Closest to Earth Since Discovery

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Tinabogan, Indonesia

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Ovalle, Chile

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Reykjanes Ridge

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Kuril’sk, Russia

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Bouvet Island, Bouvet Island

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

Chirinkotan volcano on the Kuril Islands erupts to 22,000ft

Feugo volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Landslide buries over 2 dozen people in central Indonesia

New Mexico hit by ‘flash drought’ weather phenomenon

Wildflowers, dormant for years during drought, bloom big across California

Robotics aid in the study of corn and drought tolerance

3 in custody in connection with I-85 fire, bridge collapse – 1 arrested 19 times since 1995

Officials Brace For Possible Cases Of Zika With Outbreak Of New Aggressive Mosquito In SoCal

NYC to automatically ban mohels linked to newborn herpes cases

Doctors Perform Heart Surgery On Baby Still Inside Womb To Remove Tumor

Obamacare Choices Could Go From One to Zero in Some Areas

It’s On: GOP Appears Ready to Go ‘Nuclear’ if Democrats Mount Indefensible, Unpopular Filibuster of Gorsuch

Gorsuch explains his stance on gay rights: “No one is looking to return us to horse and buggy days.”

Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Showed Support For His Clerk’s Gay Marriage

Census 2020: Dispute over LGBT questions is really about federal spending

Gilbert Baker, LGBT rainbow flag creator, dies aged 65

  • Why do women need apologetics? Well, let me tell you.
  • I disagree with Challies’ first sentence here, but agree with his points.
  • This is a little bit disgusting, but so good to see that little kitten get help!
  • Salvation is a work of the Trinity.
  • In case you’re looking for Kevin DeYoung.
  • God didn’t need to create such a colorful world, but we are thankful He did!
  • I am thankful for unknown, but faithful pastors.
Putin Spokesman Warns US-Russia relations ‘maybe worse’ now than Cold War

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 08:03 AM PDT

The relationship between the U.S. and Russia may be more antagonistic now than it was during the decades-long Cold War, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China Bans Veils and ‘Abnormal’ Beards to Combat Extremism

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 07:58 AM PDT

China has banned wearing veils as part of a major crackdown on what it sees as religious extremism in the western province of Xinjiang. The…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Terrorist Laptop Bombs May Evade Airport Security

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 07:52 AM PDT

US intelligence and law enforcement agencies believe that ISIS and other terrorist organizations have developed innovative ways to plant explosives in electronic devices that FBI…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Police in Sudan Arrest Christians at School, Prevent Others From Leaving

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 07:43 AM PDT

Police accused staff members of a Christian school in Sudan of obstructing the work of a Muslim-owned business trying to take it over, sources said….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: Top U.S. Commander Warns Iran’s Heightened Threat May Require Military Action

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 07:34 AM PDT

The U.S. needs to consider military action to disrupt Iran’s malign activities in the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia, which have intensified since…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


Top News – 4/2/2017

As French election race tightens, Macron defies National Front
France’s centrist presidential contender Emmanuel Macron singled out the far-right National Front as his chief rival on Saturday, vowing to win the first round on April 23 as a new poll showed the election race getting tighter.

Rare Total Solar Eclipse Coming Soon Hasn’t Happened Since 1918… but Here’s Where It Gets Weird
It’s being called “The Big One”. Coming this summer, we will see an event unlike any we’ve seen in North America since 1918: a total solar eclipse crossing the entire United States in a line from coast to coast on August 21, 2017.

Moscow And Beijing Join Forces To Bypass US Dollar In Global Markets, Shift To Gold Trade
The Russian central bank opened its first overseas office in Beijing on March 14, marking a step forward in forging a Beijing-Moscow alliance to bypass the US dollar in the global monetary system, and to phase-in a gold-backed standard of trade.

Blaming Russia For Everything
With the Senate Intelligence Committee’s hearing on Thursday, this determination to squelch any dissenting American views as “Russian disinformation” moved up a notch. The craziness has now become the focus of an official Senate investigation into Russian “meddling” in American political life. We have taken another step down the path of a New Cold War that blends a New McCarthyism with a New Orwellianism.

Montana Democrats Vote Against Bill Banning Sharia Law, Call It ‘Repugnant’
Democrats in Montana have opposed a bill banning the use of foreign law in its state courts on the grounds that such legislation would target Muslims.

US believes jihadists found innovative ways to put explosives in laptops
US authorities reportedly believe that jihadist organizations have discovered innovative ways to insert explosives inside electronic devices that can evade common screening techniques used by most airports.


Top Headlines – 4/2/2017

Norway FM: Two-state solution ‘under pressure’

Jerusalem demonstration calls for ‘end to occupation’

Three hurt in Jerusalem Old City stabbing, attacker shot dead

Mother of JCC bomb hoaxer: He’s autistic, doesn’t know what he’s doing

Bomb wounds 16 near police training centre in Egypt’s Nile Delta

Iran rejects U.S. terror claim by Mattis, blames Saudi

Trump’s stance on Iran emboldens nation’s hardliners

Merkel: Migrants and Germans can learn from each other

Carr: Real ‘Fake News’ Is Media’s Failure to Cover Illegal Immigrant Crimes

China Bans Veils and ‘Abnormal’ Beards in Western Province of Xinjiang

Venezuela crisis casts shadow over Ecuador presidential election

Turmoil Deepens in Latin America as Paraguay’s Congress Smolders

With Trump approval, Pentagon expands warfighting authority

Airports and nuclear power stations on terror alert as government officials warn of ‘credible’ cyber threat

More Dangerous Than The NSA? The Massive Spy Agency You Haven’t Heard Of

In April Fools’ Day post, Russian Foreign Ministry suggests callers procure the services of its hackers to further their political agendas

DNC’s Perez says Trump a bully, ‘didn’t win election’

Soon you’ll be able to go to work in a flying taxi

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

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 21,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 14,000ft

154 dead, 220 missing in Colombia after wall of water roars through city

Ex-North Carolina governor who signed bathroom bill, LGBT advocates agree: The state didn’t really repeal the law

PROPHECY WATCH: Is Israel Taking Baby Step Toward Rebuilding Temple?

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 03:21 PM PDT

With June marking the 50th anniversary of Israel’s reunification of the capital city of Jerusalem along with the Temple Mount, the Israeli government is considering…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Activist group claims 20% of millennials are LGBT

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 03:09 PM PDT

The LGBT advocacy organization GLAAD, touting an online poll it claims shows a stunning 20 percent of American millennials aged 18-34 “identify as LGBTQ,” is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Rolling Stone Blasts ‘Duck Dynasty’ – Calls Them “Christian-Right Hillbillies”

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 02:57 PM PDT

Duck Dynasty was a modern-day version of Mayberry – a television show that celebrated faith and family and ducks. And now the show has ended…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

It’s Time to Prophesy in This Ezekiel 37 Hour

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 02:53 PM PDT

(By Torrey Marcel Harper) While recently attending a prophetic round table in Washington, D.C. a word from the Lord concerning this year rang loud in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Airports and nuclear power stations put on terror alert

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 02:38 PM PDT

Britain’s airports and nuclear power stations have been told to tighten their defenses against terrorist attacks in the face of increased threats to electronic security…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

154 reported dead, after three rivers overflow in Colombia

Posted: 01 Apr 2017 02:17 PM PDT

An avalanche of water from three overflowing rivers swept through a small city in Colombia while people slept, destroying homes and killing at least 154…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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William Lane Craig explains the resurrection of Jesus in Ireland

WINTERY KNIGHT

Investigation in progress Investigation in progress

I have a couple of friends in Northern Ireland, and one sent me an alert about this article in The Irish News, authored by the top living defender of Christianity, William Lane Craig.

Most churches don’t do a good job of explaining the vital importance of the resurrection when discussing why anyone should consider Christianity as a worldview. Here is how William Lane Craig sets the stage for his defense of the resurrection:

Most people are happy to agree that God exists; but in our pluralistic society it has become politically incorrect to claim that God has revealed Himself decisively in Jesus.

What justification can Christians offer for thinking that the Christian God is real?

The answer of the New Testament is the resurrection of Jesus. It is God’s vindication of Jesus’ radical personal claims to divine authority.

So how do we know that Jesus is…

View original post 1,095 more words

Announcement: Apostle Kong Hee & 5 CHC leaders back in court on April 7.

The Straits Times has officially reported that Apostle Kong Hee is back in court on April 7:

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and 5 CHC leaders back in court on April 7

For your convenience, this article will provide as a resource. We will:

  1. Identify the six accused.
  2. Recap the allegations made in court against Kong Hee and the other five.
  3. Recap on the verdict of each individual.
  4. Supply links how Kong Hee demonized and maligned his own government.
  5. Provide resources how Kong Hee and/or Phil Pringle have used international conferences to malign Singaporean authorities and manipulate people to give money to support Kong Hee’s case (and learn how involved Pringle was in Kong Hee’s ministry, by influencing him in making important decisions regarding the purchase of SunTec, prophesying over Sun’s music career and allowing Kong Hee to copy the C3 building fund model).
  6. Exhibit videos of Kong Hee exploiting…

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C. Peter Wagner – The Don Quixote of Evangelicalism (Part 1): Knighted as a General.

Charles Peter Wagner is famous for leading what is known as the New Apostolic Reformation.

Wagner was one of the most influential heretical figures last century in evangelicalism, encouraging Christians to convert to his NAR movement. In other words, he has been leading people away from the Christian faith into his ways of doing what he thinks is biblical Christianity.

However, in his attempt to invent his own NAR theology, Wagner has been proven to fail spectacularly. Not just once. Not just twice. Not even three times. We are talking about a man who has proven again and again why we as Christians should stick to the bible and not our own silly novelties. Whatever he touches or praises does not turn to gold but turns to shame, irony and embarrassment. Sometimes what he praises or endorses evolves into a scandal, cover-up or illegal activity.

We will be producing a number articles…

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Apostle Brian Houston acknowledges Rick Warren as an NAR Apostle.

The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) leaders are no longer are hiding their agenda in front of Christendom.

Recently on Instagram, Brian Houston named Rick Warren as ‘The General’, which is code talk for an NAR Apostle. This is because in the NAR, ‘Apostles’ are called to be ‘Generals’ leading the end-times army (also known as Joel’s Army). With Rick Warren’s background in associating the church to ‘Nazi Germany’, we think Brian’s bestowal is quite a fitting title for Rick Warren, considering ‘The General’ sends out members of his church with a particular agenda, with their own ‘mission projects’ around the world.

Rick Warren’s Apostolic vision “is the global expansion of the kingdom of God. It is the total mobilization of his church. And the third part is the goal of a radical devotion of every believer.” And in all seriousness, ‘Apostles’ like Rick Warren and Brian Houston desire to raise up young men and women who, instead…

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April 2, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Psalmist’s Relationship to God (vv. 1–2)

The opening verses begin with a statement of the psalmist’s relationship to God. The essence of that relationship is in the names for God he uses. The first word is el, translated simply “God” in verse 1. El is the most common name for God. But the unique quality of this name is that it delineates God as “the Strong (or Mighty) One.” It is appropriately chosen in verse 1, for it is in God as the Mighty One that the psalmist takes refuge.

The second name is Jehovah, translated “Lord” in the first part of verse 2. This is the personal name of the great God of Israel. It was revealed to Moses at the burning bush. “Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’

“God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I am has sent me to you” ’ ” (Exod. 3:13–14). Since this name is the covenant name for God in relation to his chosen people, it is appropriate that David’s confession, “apart from you I have no good thing,” is in this verse, where the name is mentioned, rather than in verse 1.

The third name for God is Adonai, translated “Lord” in the first part of verse 2. Adonai can designate an earthly Lord as well as God. So when the psalmist says, as he does, “I said to the Lord [Jehovah], ‘You are my Lord [Adonai],’ ” he is saying that the God of Israel is his master. That is, God is not only the strong, powerful God in whom he can take refuge but also the one who is able to—and does—order his life and direct what he should do. We have an equivalent of this in our common New Testament way of speaking when we say that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. Savior corresponds to el, since it is as “the Strong One” that Jesus saves us. Lord is the equivalent of Adonai. It means that Jesus is also Master of our lives.

Is Jesus your Lord and Savior, your Master? If he is, you should be able to say, as David does, “apart from you I have no good thing.”

This means that God is the source of all good. James says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). It means that if we do not have God himself, even the best things of life will be valueless to us. Jesus said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26). It means that, having come to know God as our refuge, redeemer, and Lord, nothing hereafter can ever mean as much to us as God does.[1]


2 The psalmist approaches God as “my Lord” (Adonai) and as “my good” (NIV, “I have no good thing”). The designation “my Lord” reveals the psalmist’s submission to him as “Master” and “Ruler” (see 8:1), in contrast to those who run after other gods (v. 4). Hence his confidence is in God’s care for him. He further describes his relationship to his God as the source of all of his benefits (cf. 23:6; 73:25). The sovereign God is “my good,” i.e., the reason for his existence and joy (cf. v. 11). Weiser, 173, contends, “The relation to God dominates the whole of human life because God lays claim to the whole man.” The spirit of joy and confidence in God’s sovereign care is also stated in 73:25: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you” (cf. v. 26).[2]


16:1, 2 As the perfect Man, completely dependent on God, Christ cries out for preservation to the One who is His only refuge. Throughout His thirty years of life on earth, the Savior not only acknowledged God as His Lord but joyfully confessed God as the absorbing passion of His life. The words “My goodness is nothing apart from You” are not a denial of the Savior’s sinlessness, but are simply a moving testimony that Christ found all His sufficiency in God. This testimony is comparable to the worship of Psalm 73:25: “Whom have I in heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.”[3]


16:2 I have no good besides You. I.e., “My well-being is entirely dependent upon You.”[4]


16:1–2 The Lord Is My Refuge. The Lord is the only one on whom the psalmist relies for well-being (no good apart from you, v. 2).[5]


16:2 apart from you The psalmist finds contentment and sufficiency in Yahweh. The psalmist of Psalm 73 makes a similar statement in response to the prosperity of the wicked (73:25).[6]


[1] Boice, J. M. (2005). Psalms 1–41: An Expositional Commentary (pp. 131–132). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 187). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 565). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 16:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 955). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 16:2). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

APRIL 2 – THIS LITTLE CHEAP GOD

Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

—1 Timothy 1:17

If God had goodness, but there was one spot in God that wasn’t good, then He wouldn’t be our God and Father. If God had love but didn’t have all the love, just ninety-nine and nine-tenths percent of the love—or even a higher percentage—God still wouldn’t be God. God, to be God, must be infinite in all that He is. He must have no bound and no limit, no stopping place, no point beyond which He can’t go. When you think of God or anything about God you’ll have to think infinitely about God.

You may have a charley horse in your head for two weeks after trying to follow this, but it’s a mighty good cure for this little cheap god we have today. This little cheap god we’ve made up is one you can pal around with—“the Man upstairs,” the fellow who helps you win baseball games. That god isn’t the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He isn’t the God who laid the foundations of the heaven and the earth; he’s some other god. AOG006-007

Lord, forgive me for assuming such a cheap familiarity with such an awesome God. You are worthy of so much more. May I begin to learn to think infinitely about You today. Amen. [1]


The Response to Grace

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. (1:17)

Having begun the passage with thanksgiving, Paul now closes it with a doxology. Eternal literally means “of the ages.” It refers to the two ages in Jewish thought, the present age, and the age to come. God had no beginning and will have no end. He exists outside of time, though He acts in it. He is immortal, imperishable, and incorruptible. He will never know death, decay, or loss of strength. Because God is invisible, He can be known only by His self-revelation. That He is the only God is a fundamental truth of Scripture (cf.. Deut. 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6; 45:5–6, 21–22; 46:9; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6; 1 Tim. 2:5). He alone is worthy of all honor and glory forever and ever. The doxology closes with the emphatic Amen, meaning “let it be said.”

In contrast to the false gospel of the errorists, Paul emphasizes the true gospel and his participation in it by God’s grace. That grace is available to the worst sinner who comes to the Lord Jesus Christ in humble faith and repentance.[2]


17 Paul concludes this section with a brief prayer or doxology, consisting of the following elements: (1) specification of the recipient (“to the King eternal [King of the ages] … the only God”); (2) ascription of praiseworthy attributes (“be honor and glory”); and (3) a solemn affirmation of the truth of the statement (“for ever and ever. Amen”; cf. Rev 1:6; 4:11; 5:12–13; 7:12). The doxology has a liturgical ring to it and may reflect Diaspora synagogue worship (cf. Tob 13:7, 11).

God’s eternal kingship is commonly acknowledged in the OT (esp. Jer 10:10; cf. Pss 10:16; 74:12). The term “immortal” is a Jewish import from Greek philosophy (Wis 12:1; Philo). “Invisible” casts God as incapable of being depicted in visual images (Ex 20:4–5; Col 1:15; Heb 11:27; cf. Jn 1:18; 5:37; 6:46; 1 Jn 4:20). Note that both characteristics, “immortal” and “invisible,” as well as “only,” resurface in the doxology at the end of the letter (6:15–16).

“Only God” (see Jude 25; cf. Jn 5:44) reflects the monotheism characteristic of both Judaism and Christianity (cf. Dt 6:4; Ro 3:29–30; 16:27; 1 Co 8:4–5; Gal 3:20; Eph 4:5–6). This contrasts sharply with the polytheism of the Greco-Roman world. With Paul, one may legitimately marvel that the transcendent, glorious God has in Christ Jesus come into the world to save sinners.[3]


1:17 As Paul thinks of God’s marvelous dealings with him in grace, he bursts out into this lovely doxology. It is difficult to know whether it is addressed to God the Father or to the Lord Jesus. The words the King eternal seem to refer to the Lord Jesus because He is called the “Kings of kings, and Lord of lords” (Rev. 19:16). However, the word invisible seems to refer to the Father, since the Lord Jesus was obviously visible to mortal eyes. The fact that we are not able to distinguish which Person of the Godhead is intended might serve as an indication of Their absolute equality.

The King eternal is spoken of, first of all, as immortal. This means incorruptible or imperishable. God in His essence is also invisible. Men have seen appearances of God in the OT, and the Lord Jesus fully revealed God to us in visible form, but the fact remains that God Himself is invisible to human eyes. Next He is spoken of as God who alone is wise. In the final analysis, all wisdom comes from God (Jas. 1:5).[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. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 32–33). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 1 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 507). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2079–2080). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

April 2 – Jesus’ Reliance on Scripture

For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.—Matt. 5:18

Repeatedly during His earthly ministry, Jesus referred to the Old Testament as authoritative truth (e.g., Matt. 19:4; 24:38–39; Mark 12:26; Luke 11:51; 17:29; John 3:14; 8:56), always confirming its accuracy and authenticity. On one occasion, in defending His messiahship before the unbelieving Jewish leaders, He declared, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

For Jesus, it was clear that God gave His Word to lead people to salvation. In His parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham tells the rich man that if his brothers, whom he did not want to follow him to hell, “do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). Scripture is more than sufficient to bring sinners to salvation.

More than once, Christ used Scripture’s authority to establish His own. At a Sabbath service in the Nazareth synagogue, He appealed to the book of Isaiah: “ ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ … And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’ ” (Luke 4:18–19, 21; cf. Isa. 61:1; Matt. 11:3–5; Mark 11:17).

Scripture’s authority is Jesus’ authority, and to obey Him is to obey His Word (John 6:68; 8:47).

ASK YOURSELF

What argues against our confidence in the convicting, converting power of the Word of God? What could we do to ensure that our hearts aren’t blinded to this truth, to put ourselves in positions where we can see God at work through the Scriptures?[1]


Christ and the Law—Part 2: The Permanence of Scripture

For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. (5:18)

The honest Jew of Jesus’ day knew he could not fulfill all the requirements of the Mosaic law, and that he could not even keep all the traditions developed over the years by the rabbis and scribes. Many hoped the Messiah would bring God’s standards down to a level they could manage.

But as indicated in previous chapters,Jesus made it clear in His first major sermon that God’s true standard was even higher than the traditions, and that, as the Messiah, He had not come to diminish the law in the least bit, but to uphold and fulfill it in every detail.

By introducing His statement with truly I say to you, Jesus confirmed the special importance of what He was about to say. Amēn (truly) was a term of strong, intense affirmation. Jesus was saying, “I say this to you absolutely, without qualification and with the fullest authority.”

His teaching not only was absolute but was permanent. Until heaven and earth pass away represents the end of time as we know it, the end of earthly history. As God’s Word, the law would outlast the universe, which someday will cease to exist. “The present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7; cf. v. 10). Even the psalmist knew that “Of old Thou didst found the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end” (Ps. 102:25–26). Isaiah said, “Lift up your eyes to the sky, then look to the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment, and its inhabitants will die in like manner, but My righteousness shall not wane” (Isa. 51:6; cf. 34:4; Rev. 6:13–14).

Jesus equated His own words with the Word of God: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). What was true of the law, in its fullest meaning as the Old Testament, was also true of Jesus’ teaching. It is timeless.

It is incredibly foolish to ask, “What does the Bible, a two-thousand-year-old book, have to say to us today?” The Bible is the eternal Word of the eternal God. It “is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). It has long preceded and will long outlast every person who questions its validity and relevancy.

Not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, Jesus continued. The smallest letter translates the word iōta, the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. To Jesus’ Jewish hearers it would have represented the yodh, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which looks something like an apostrophe. A stroke (keraia) literally means “little horn” and refers to the small marks that help distinguish one Hebrew letter from another. It was a small extension of a letter similar to a serif in modern typefaces.

In other words, not only will the smallest letter not be erased, but even the smallest part of a letter will not be erased from the Law. Not even the tiniest, seemingly most insignificant, part of God’s Word will be removed or modified until all is accomplished.

As discussed in the last chapter, Jesus brought to completion all the judicial and ceremonial law and certain parts of the moral law, such as Sabbath observance. But God’s basic moral law, centered in the Ten Commandments, is still every bit as valid today as when God gave it to Moses at Sinai. During His earthly ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus fulfilled many of the prophecies of the Old Testament. Others, such as the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, would be fulfilled in later New Testament times. Still other prophecies, both of the Old and New Testaments, are yet to be fulfilled. But without the smallest exception, every commandment, every prophecy, every figure and symbol and type would be accomplished.

No other statement made by our Lord more clearly states His absolute contention that Scripture is verbally inerrant, totally without error in the original form in which God gave it. That is, Scripture is God’s own Word not only down to every single written word, but down to every letter and the smallest part of every letter.

“Fulfill” in verse 17 has the idea of completion, of filling up. Accomplished (from ginomai) has the similar meaning of becoming or taking place. Arthur Pink comments, “Everything in the Law must be fulfilled [or accomplished]: not only its prefigurations and prophecies, but its precepts and penalty: fulfilled, first, personally and vicariously, by and upon the Surety; fulfilled, second and evangelically, in and by His people; and fulfilled, third, in the doom of the wicked, who shall experience its awful curse forever and ever. Instead of Christ’s being opposed to the law of God, He came here to magnify it and render it honourable. … And rather than His teachings being subversive thereof, they confirmed and enforced it” (An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1950], p. 57).

Jesus referred to the Old Testament at least sixty-four times, and always as authoritative truth. In the course of defending His messiahship and divinity before the unbelieving Jewish leaders in the Temple, He said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

When the Sadducees tried to trip Him up by asking which of seven successive husbands would be a woman’s husband in the resurrection, that is in heaven, He replied, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God” (Matt. 22:29). The question itself was foolish, He said, because its very premise was wrong, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (v. 30). He then went on to correct the Sadducees’ view of resurrection, in which they did not believe. “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (vv. 31–32).

In that confrontation with the Sadducees, Jesus’ whole argument is based on a single verb tense. In the book of Exodus, which He was here quoting, God told Moses that He is, not was, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (3:6). Hundreds of years after those patriarchs had died, the Lord was still their God. Obviously those men were still alive. God’s Word is therefore authoritative not only down to the smallest part of every letter, but also to the grammatical forms of every word. Because Scripture itself is without error, when it is believed and obeyed it will save us from error.

Over and over again, Jesus confirmed the accuracy and the authenticity of the Old Testament. He confirmed the standard of marriage that God established in the Garden of Eden (Matt. 19:4), the murder of Abel (Luke 11:51), Noah and the flood (Matt. 24:38–39), Abraham and his faith (John 8:56), Sodom, Lot, and Lot’s wife (Luke 17:29), the call of Moses (Mark 12:26), the manna from heaven (John 6:31, 58), and the bronze serpent (John 3:14).

Jesus also made clear that Scripture was given to lead men to salvation. In Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham told the rich man that if his brothers, whom he hoped to save from hell, “do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). In other words, they had God’s Word, which was sufficient to bring them to God and to salvation-if they would believe it.

Jesus also used Scripture in His own defense. When He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness at the outset of His ministry, Jesus countered each temptation with quotations from Deuteronomy (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; cf. Deut. 8:3; 6:16, 13). He could have challenged the devil in the power and authority of new words spoken simply for that occasion. But in quoting the Scriptures, He testified to their divine origin and authority.

I heard a preacher once say, “The one thing I’ve learned is that when you get into the pulpit you’ve got to somehow communicate without using the Bible, because the Bible turns people off. I’ve spent a long time developing the ability to communicate to people without ever using the Bible. I started out in my ministry saying this verse says this and this verse says that, and I finally realized that wouldn’t get me anywhere. Now I say it in my own way and people will accept it.”

What that preacher said is true. Many people today are very much turned off by the Bible. But men’s being turned off by God’s Word is hardly a new phenomenon. It has been turning off unbelievers for thousands of years. Many people today, just as in Jesus’ day-and in the days of Moses and of the prophets-would much rather hear the opinions of men than the Word of God. But those opinions cannot lead them to the truth or to salvation. Opinions that do not square with Scripture will often leave men superficially contented and satisfied, but they will also leave them in darkness and sin.

Shortly after His temptation, Jesus went into the synagogue at Nazareth “on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’ ” (Luke 4:16–21; cf. Isa. 61:1).

The Lord used Scripture’s authority to establish His own. When John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else? … Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:3–5). In that reply Jesus again referred to the same passage from Isaiah which predicted the Messiah and His work.

When He cleansed the Temple on returning to Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus defended His action on the basis of Scripture. “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den” (Mark 11:17).

It is impossible to accept Christ’s authority without accepting Scripture’s authority, and vice versa. They stand together. To accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is to accept what He taught about Scripture as binding. To be a kingdom citizen is to accept what the King says about God’s Word. To have a kingdom character and a kingdom testimony is to obey the King’s manifesto, the Scriptures. Scripture’s authority is Christ’s authority, and to obey the Lord is to obey His Word. “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (John 8:47). To trust in Christ is to say of Him as Peter did, “You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

If the Old Testament contains any errors we must conclude one of two things about Jesus Christ. One possibility is that He was ignorant of those errors, in which case He was not omniscient and was therefore not God. The other possibility is that He knew of the errors but denied them, in which case He would have been a liar and a hypocrite, and therefore not holy God.

If not a single letter or stroke or tense of God’s Word is going to pass away, we first should receive it for what it is, “the word implanted, which is able to save [our] souls” (James 1:21). We should receive it because of the infinite majesty of the Author and His authoritative statements about it. We should receive it because of the price that God paid to get it to us, and because it is the standard of truth, joy, blessing, and salvation. And we should receive it because not to receive it brings judgment.

Second, we are called to honor God’s Word. “How sweet are Thy words to my taste!” said the psalmist, “Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119:103). Charles Spurgeon said, “They called George Fox a Quaker. Why? Because when he spoke he would quake exceedingly through the force of the truth he so thoroughly apprehended.” He went on to say, “It were better to break stones on a road than to be a preacher, unless God had given the Holy Spirit to sustain him. The heart and soul of a man who speaks for God will know no ease, for he hears in his ears that warning admonition, ‘If the watchman warned them not, they perished, but their blood will I require at the watchman’s hands.’ Is the infallible revelation of the infallible Jehovah to be moderated, to be shaped, to be toned down to the fancies and fashions of the hour? God forbid us if we ever alter His Word.”

Martin Luther never feared men, but when he stood up to preach he often felt his knees knock together under a sense of great responsibility to be true to the Word of God.

Third, we should obey God’s Word. We should be diligent to present ourselves approved to God as workmen who do “not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Like Jeremiah, we should find God’s words and eat them (Jer. 15:16), and “let the word of Christ richly dwell within” us (Col. 3:16).

Fourth, we must defend God’s Word. We are to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Like Jude, we should fight for the integrity, purity, and authority of Scripture. Spurgeon said, “The everlasting gospel is worth preaching even if one stood on a burning fagot and addressed the crowds from a pulpit of flames. The truths revealed in Scripture are worth living for and they are worth dying for. I count myself thrice happy, to bear reproach for the sake of the faith. It is an honor of which I feel myself to be unworthy, and yet most truly I can say the words of our hymn, ‘Shall I to soothe the unholy throng, soften Thy truths and smooth my tongue to gain earth’s gilded toys, or flee the cross endured my God by Thee?’ ”

Finally, we live to proclaim God’s Word. Says Spurgeon again, “I cannot speak out my whole heart on this theme which is so dear to me, but I would stir you all up to be instant in season and out of season in telling out the gospel message, especially to repeat such a word as this: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.’ Whisper it in the ear of the sick, shout it in the corner of the streets, write it on your tablet, send it forth from the press, but everywhere let this be your great motive and warrant. You preach the gospel because the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”[2]


18 “I tell you the truth” signals that the statement to follow is of the utmost importance (see Notes). In Greek it is connected to the preceding verse by an explanatory “for” (gar): v. 18 further explains and confirms the truth of v. 17. The “jot” (KJV) has become “the smallest letter” (NIV). This is almost certainly correct, for it refers to the letter י (yôd), the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The “tittle” (NIV, “least stroke of a pen,” keraia, GK 3037) has been variously interpreted: it is the Hebrew letter ו (wāw) (so G. Schwarz, “ἱῶτα ἕν ἣ μία κεραία [Matthäus 5:18],” ZNW 66 [1975]: 268–69) or the small stroke that distinguishes several pairs of Hebrew letters (e.g., כ/ב; ר/ד; ך/ד) (so Filson, Lenski, Allen) or a purely ornamental stroke, a “crown” (Tasker, Schniewind, Schweizer; but cf. NIDNTT, 3:182); or it forms a hendiadys with “jot,” referring to the smallest part of the smallest letter (Lachs, “Textual Observations,” 106–8). In any event, Jesus here upholds the authority of the OT Scriptures right down to the “least stroke of a pen.” His is the highest possible view of the OT.

Verses 17–18 do not wrestle abstractly with OT authority but with the nature, extent, and duration of its validity and continuity. The nature of these has been set forth in v. 17. The reference to “jot and tittle” establishes its extent. It will not do to reduce the reference to moral law, or to the law as a whole but not necessarily its parts, or to God’s will in some general sense. “Law” almost certainly refers to the entire OT Scriptures, not just the Pentateuch or moral law (note the parallel in v. 17).

That leaves the duration of the OT’s authority. The two “until” clauses answer this. The first—“until heaven and earth disappear”—simply means “until the end of the age”: i.e., not quite “never” (contra Meier, Law and History, 61), but “never, as long as the present world order persists.” The second—“until everything is accomplished”—is more difficult. Some take it to be equivalent to the first (cf. Sand, Gesetz und die Propheten, 36–39). But it is more subtle than that. The word panta (“all things” or “everything”) has no antecedent. Contrary to Sand (p. 38), Hill, Bultmann (History of the Synoptic Tradition, 138, 405), and Grundmann, the word cannot very easily refer to all the demands of the Law that must be “accomplished,” because (1) “Law” almost certainly refers here to all Scripture and not just its commands—but even if that were not so, v. 17 has shown that even imperatival law is prophetic; (2) the word genētai (“is accomplished,” GK 1181) must here be rendered “happens,” “comes to pass” (i.e., “is accomplished” in that sense, not in the sense of obeying a law; cf. Meier, Law and History, 53–54; Banks, Jesus and the Law, 215ff.).

Hence panta (“everything”) is best understood to refer to everything in the Law considered under the Law’s prophetic function—namely, until all these things have taken place as prophesied. This is not simply pointing to the cross (Davies, Christian Origins, 60ff.), nor simply to the end of the age (Schniewind). The parallel with 24:34–35 is not that close, since in the latter case, the events are specified. Verse 18d simply means the entire divine purpose prophesied in Scripture must take place; not one jot or tittle will fail of its fulfillment. A similar point is made in 11:13. Thus the first “until” clause focuses strictly on the duration of OT authority, but the second returns to considering its nature. It reveals God’s redemptive purposes and points to their fulfillment, their “accomplishment,” in Jesus and the eschatological kingdom he is now introducing and will one day consummate (cf. Gibbs).

Meier (Law and History) ably establishes the centrality of the death and resurrection of Jesus as the pivotal event in Matthew’s presentation of salvation history. Before it Jesus’ disciples are restricted to Israel (10:5–6); after it they are to go everywhere. Similarly, the precise form of the Mosaic law may change with the crucial redemptive events to which it points. For that which prophesies is in some sense taken up in and transcended by the fulfillment of the prophecy. Meier has grasped and explained this redemptive-historical structure better than most commentators. He may, however, have gone too far in interpreting v. 18 d too narrowly as a reference to the cross and the resurrection.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 101). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 260–266). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 177–178). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 2 – GOD HAS A REMEDY

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins.

1 John 1:9

 

Seekers and inquirers have often voiced this deep question of concern: “Why does God forgive? And how does God forgive sin?”

There is plain teaching throughout the Old and New Testaments concerning God’s willingness to forgive and forget. Yet there are segments of the Christian church which appear to be poorly taught concerning God’s clear remedy, through the atonement of Christ, for the believer who has yielded to temptation and failed his Lord.

God knows that sin is the dark shadow standing between Him and His highest creation, man. God is more willing to remove that shadow than we are to have it removed!

He wants to forgive us—and that desire is a part of God’s character. In the sacrificial death of a lamb in the Old Testament, God was telling us that one day a perfect Lamb would come to actually take away sin.

That is how and why God forgives sin now. In John’s words: “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 2:1–2).

 

I am truly thankful, Lord, for Your constant willingness to forgive me when I stumble in my walk with You.[1]


Confessing

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1:9)

Confession of sin is absolutely crucial to entering the Light (justification) (cf. Mark 1:15; Luke 18:13–14) and walking in it (sanctification). Though this is obvious in Scripture, there are many who even claim that one needs only to accept the facts about Jesus for salvation, arguing that the confession and repentance of sin are unnecessary—or optional at best—for justification. Out of the soil of that errant soteriology comes the antinomian indifference toward a Christian life of repentance and confession for the sake of holiness. (For an in-depth discussion of this erroneous viewpoint and an exposition of the biblical doctrine of salvation, see John MacArthur, The Gospel According to Jesus [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1988, 1994], and The Gospel According to the Apostles [Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1993, 2000].)

Such views exist in spite of biblical calls to repentance and examples of people who openly acknowledged their sins to God. “So Judah said, ‘What can we say to my lord? What can we speak? And how can we justify ourselves? God has found out the iniquity of your servants’ ” (Gen. 44:16; cf. 41:9; Jon. 3:5–10). Overwhelmed by a vision of God’s majestic holiness, the prophet Isaiah cried out, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5; cf. 1 Chron. 21:17; Dan. 9:20). The Psalms are filled with confessions, most notably David’s in Psalm 51:

Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge. Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities. (vv. 1–9; cf. 32:5; 38:1–8, 17–18; 41:4)

The New Testament includes similar expressions. No less than John the Baptist preached repentance with manifest evidence as necessary for entering into God’s salvation kingdom (Matt. 2:4–12; Luke 3:4–14). Jesus demanded recognition of sin and a response of repentance for all who desired salvation (Matt. 4:17), even saying that sinners had to repent or perish (Luke 13:3, 5). The repentance and confession of sin He demanded was so strong it required total self-denial (Luke 9:23–26) and hatred of self (Luke 14:25–27), which made coming to salvation too demanding for some (Luke 13:23–24). Peter and Paul each confessed their sinfulness (Luke 5:8; 1 Tim. 1:12–16), and two of Jesus’ parables concerned men who recognized their own sinful conditions (Luke 15:18; 18:13). Moreover, as the apostles proclaimed the gospel, they made it clear that God calls upon sinners everywhere to admit their sin and repent (Acts 17:30; cf. Isa. 45:22; Acts 2:38).

First John 1:9 fits this pattern with perfect consistency, when rightly interpreted. Because John is writing to believers (“my little children,” 2:1), to those who are antinomian it appears to make forgiveness conditional (i.e., if believers confess, God will forgive; if they do not confess, He will not forgive). This confusion is easily cleared away, first of all by noting that the verse is actually a reiteration of God’s faithfulness to His New Covenant promise of salvation in the Old Covenant: “I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more” (Jer. 31:34; cf. Luke 1:77–78; Heb. 9:13–14). The reminder that He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness reemphasizes the truth John had just stated in verse 7, that God will, because of His character, secure their eternal glory by continuing to cleanse believers from all future sin. He is faithful to His promise and always does what is righteous. (The aorist tense of the verb aphiēmi [forgive] carries a past connotation and further demonstrates that God’s forgiveness derives from a historical event, the atonement, which has lasting benefits for all who believe.) In chapter 2 John writes, “your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake” (v. 12). Forgiveness is consistent with who Jesus Christ is and with what the Father promised, according to His perfectly faithful (Isa. 49:7; 1 Cor. 1:9; Heb. 2:17; Rev. 19:11), righteous (Ps. 7:11; Isa. 53:11), just (Gen. 18:25; Col. 3:25), holy (Ex. 15:11; Rev. 4:8), and loving (Jer. 31:3; 1 John 4:8) nature. Forgiveness is not incomplete or dependent in the saving sense on believers’ confessing.

With that established, it is possible to understand the place of ongoing confession. The word translated confess (homologeō) means “to say the same thing.” Thus believers are those who confess their sins, agreeing with God about their sin—they acknowledge its reality and affirm that it is a transgression of His law and a violation of His will, the presence of which the truly penitent seek to eliminate from their lives (3:4; James 2:10–11; 4:17; cf. Rom. 7:24). What John is actually saying here about confession is that since believers are forgiven, they will regularly confess their sins. Stated another way, their forgiveness is not because of their ongoing confession, but their ongoing pattern of penitence and confession is because of their forgiveness and transformation. As the Holy Spirit sanctifies believers, He continually produces within them a hatred for sin (Ps. 97:10; Prov. 8:13; Rom. 7:15–25; Phil. 3:8–9; cf. Ps. 1:1–2), which results in penitent hearts and a sincere acknowledgment of their sins. The more believers grow in Christ, the greater their hatred of sin becomes and the deeper is their penitence. Paul, the most devout and dedicated Christian, at the end of his earthly sanctification, saw himself as the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).

If confession is genuine, it will always stem from proper sorrow over sin and a real longing to turn from sin. In 2 Corinthians 7:9–11 Paul wrote:

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter. (cf. 2 Sam. 12:13)

The apostle was not referring to feeling bad about the consequences of one’s sinful conduct, which is the worldly sorrow characterized by despair, depression, and sometimes suicide (Matt. 27:3–5). Rather, he was describing the kind of godly sorrow that produces real repentance that leads to salvation. Biblical repentance will result in “earnestness,” “vindication,” “indignation,” “fear,” “longing,” “zeal,” and “avenging.” (For more on these results, see comments on 2 Corinthians 7:9–11 in John MacArthur, 2 Corinthians, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 2003], 264–67.) When repentance is present, believers will have a strong desire for God to deal with sin at any cost (cf. Matt. 5:29–30), even when that cost may be high for them personally (cf. Luke 19:8–10). True believers are therefore habitual confessors who demonstrate that God has not only pardoned their sin and is faithfully cleansing them daily from it, but has truly regenerated them, making them new creatures with holy desires that dominate their will. (Later in this epistle, John shows how true believers do not go on sinning [3:4–10], but strive to obey God [3:19–24].)

In spite of this straightforward meaning, many throughout history have misinterpreted and misapplied the concept of confession. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, sees confession as the anonymous divulging of sins to a human priest in a confessional booth. Catholics believe such confession to be a meritorious act, one that earns the confessor forgiveness, if followed by the performance of some penitential ritual (such as repeating a prayer or saying the rosary a certain number of times). Under that system, one essentially receives forgiveness based on the good works of confession and penance.

Others view confession as psychologically and emotionally therapeutic—an act that helps people feel good about feeling bad, ensuring that they “feel” forgiven and experience healing. Still others teach that the confession in this verse refers only to the moment of salvation, with no regard for subsequent times of acknowledging sin. But if one truly trusts in Christ as Lord and Savior (Luke 9:23; Acts 2:38–39; 16:31; Rom. 10:9–10; cf. Mark 10:21–27; John 15:4–8), he will regularly admit his sins before God, as the present, active form of the verb confess indicates.

Perhaps the most popular but erroneous view of confession in this context is that believers are forgiven of only those sins they confess. If that were correct, it would mean that unconfessed sins remain with believers until the judgment seat of Christ, at which time they will have to give an account for those iniquities. But such is simply not the case. No one will enter heaven with a list of unconfessed sins still hanging over his head (cf. 1 Cor. 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; Rev. 22:15), because the finished work of Jesus Christ completely covers all of the sins of those who believe, including those that remain unconfessed (see commentary on 2:12 in chapter 7 of this volume). As the apostle Paul wrote:

David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven, and whose sins have been covered. Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.” (Rom. 4:6–8; cf. 8:33; 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; Col. 2:13).[2]


Conversion does not mean the eradication of the sin nature. Rather it means the implanting of the new, divine nature, with power to live victoriously over indwelling sin.

1:9 In order for us to walk day by day in fellowship with God and with our fellow believers, we must confess our sins: sins of commission, sins of omission, sins of thought, sins of act, secret sins, and public sins. We must drag them out into the open before God, call them by their names, take sides with God against them, and forsake them. Yes, true confession involves forsaking of sins: “He who covers his sins will not prosper: but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy” (Prov. 28:13).

When we do that, we can claim the promise that God is faithful and just to forgive. He is faithful in the sense that He has promised to forgive and will abide by His promise. He is just to forgive because He has found a righteous basis for forgiveness in the substitutionary work of the Lord Jesus on the cross. And not only does He guarantee to forgive, but also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The forgiveness John speaks about here is parental, not judicial. Judicial forgiveness means forgiveness from the penalty of sins, which the sinner receives when he believes on the Lord Jesus Christ. It is called judicial because it is granted by God acting as Judge. But what about sins which a person commits after conversion? As far as the penalty is concerned, the price has already been paid by the Lord Jesus on the cross of Calvary. But as far as fellowship in the family of God is concerned, the sinning saint needs parental forgiveness, that is, the forgiveness of His Father. He obtains it by confessing his sin. We need judicial forgiveness only once; that takes care of the penalty of all our sins—past, present, and future. But we need parental forgiveness throughout our Christian life.

When we confess our sins, we must believe, on the authority of the word of God, that He forgives us. And if He forgives us, we must be willing to forgive ourselves.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 37–41). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2310–2311). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

April 2 – Happiness Is . . .

“Blessed are the poor in spirit … those who mourn … the gentle … those who hunger and thirst for righteousness … the merciful … the pure in heart … the peacemakers … [and] those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:3–10).

✧✧✧

By the world’s standards, Christ’s definition of happiness is shocking and contradictory!

A quiz in a popular magazine characterized happy people as those who enjoy other people but aren’t self-sacrificing, who refuse to participate in negative feelings or emotions, and who have a sense of accomplishment based on their own self-sufficiency.

But Jesus described happy people quite differently. In fact, He characterized them as spiritual beggars who realize they have no resources in themselves. He said they are meek rather than proud, mournful over their sin, self-sacrificing, and willing to endure persecution to reconcile men to God.

By the world’s standards, that sounds more like misery than happiness! But the people of the world don’t understand that what is often thought of as misery is actually the key to happiness.

Follow the Lord’s progression of thought: true happiness begins with being “poor in spirit” (v. 3). That means you have a right attitude toward sin, which leads you to “mourn” over it (v. 4). Mourning over sin produces a meekness that leads to hungering and thirsting for righteousness (vv. 5–6), which results in mercy, purity of heart, and a peaceable spirit (vv. 7–9)—attitudes that bring true happiness.

When you display those attitudes, you can expect to be insulted, persecuted, and unjustly accused (vv. 10–11) because your life will be an irritating rebuke to worldly people. But despite the persecution, you can “rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great” (v. 12).

You are one of God’s lights in a sin-darkened world (v. 14), and while most people will reject Christ, others will be drawn to Him by the testimony of your life. Be faithful to Him today, so He can use you that way.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the grace He gives you, enabling you to have Beatitude attitudes. ✧ Ask Him to make you a bright light in someone’s life today.

For Further Study: Read 1 Peter 2:19–23. ✧ How did Jesus respond to persecution? ✧ How should you respond?[1]


5:3–11 The first four Beatitudes, or “blessed sayings,” portray the ideal heart condition of kingdom citizens; the latter five present the actions resulting from this attitude of heart. Together they emphasize being and living rather than doing, so that the kingdom citizen responds instinctively to various situations as they arise. They revolutionize accepted priorities and the world’s standard of blessedness. The Beatitudes, so designated because of the form of the statement, “Blessed are,” describe the character traits of those accepted as citizens of the kingdom of God and set forth both the present and future blessings of those whose lives portray these virtues. They describe different experiences and attitudes of one person, rather than eight or nine different categories of people.[2]


5:3 Blessed. This means more than the emotional state represented by the word “happy.” It includes spiritual well-being, having the approval of God, and thus a happier destiny (Ps. 1).

poor in spirit. Those with the greater spiritual need are more likely to perceive their need and depend on God alone and not their own goodness. Paul notes the same principle in Rom. 9:30, 31. The parallel in Luke 6:20 omits “in spirit.” This has led many to suppose Jesus primarily spoke of the materially poor. Material poverty and recognition of spiritual need often go together (Ps. 9:18 note), but the two kinds of poverty are not identical.

5:4 those who mourn. The context indicates that these are mourning over sin and evil, especially their own, and over the failure of mankind to give proper glory to God.

5:5 the meek. This beatitude resembles and is perhaps based on Ps. 37:11. The meekness in view is spiritual meekness, an attitude of humility and submission to God. Our pattern for meekness is Jesus (the same Greek word is translated “gentle” in 11:29), who submits to the will of His Father.

inherit the earth. The ultimate fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, whom Paul calls “heir of the world” (Rom. 4:13; cf. Heb. 11:16).

5:6 hunger … for righteousness. Those who seek God’s righteousness receive what they desire, not those who are confident of their own righteousness.

5:8 they shall see God. Because God is a spirit, His divine essence is invisible (Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16). Nevertheless, believers will “see” God through the insight of faith, and Jesus assured His disciples that in seeing Him they had “seen the Father” (John 14:9). In the glorified state, God’s children will “see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

5:9 peacemakers. Spiritual peace, not the cessation of physical violence between nations, is in view. Although the term is usually understood to mean those who help others find peace with God, this peace can also be understood as those who have made their own peace with God and are called His children. The principle is extended in vv. 44, 45—the children of God make peace, even with their enemies.[3]


5:3 Blessed The Greek word used here, makarios (meaning “happy” or “fortunate), often indicates someone who is favored by God.

poor in spirit Refers to those in Jesus’ day who recognize and bear their desperate plight, and who long for God’s restoration through the Messiah.

kingdom of heaven The crowd was already familiar with this terminology through John the Baptist’s proclamation; they anticipated a time of restoration. See note on Matt 3:2.

The Kingdom of God: Already but Not Yet

5:4 the ones who mourn Could refer to those who mourn for Israel and for their plight within its present conditions (e.g., Roman occupation, what seems like a lack of God’s presence, impoverishment). Alternatively, it could refer to those who mourn over their personal sin or are currently enduring difficult times.

because they will be comforted Those who mourn for the unfulfilled condition of Israel will be comforted when the kingdom is fulfilled. In the new kingdom, God’s new covenant will restore what had been lost due to violations of the old covenant.

5:5 the meek Refers to someone who is humble or gentle. The meek do not seek gain for themselves; instead, they hope in the Lord.

they will inherit the earth A reference to Psa 37:11, which foretells the destruction of evildoers (compare Rev 21), so that those who hope in Yahweh will live in peace.

5:6 ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness A metaphor for moral uprightness. This may be an allusion to Psa 37:12–17 (compare note on Matt 5:5), which speaks of a time when oppressors will be no more. This line expresses a deep desire both for personal righteousness and for a world characterized by God’s righteousness (or justice).

This phrase has no exact ot parallel, but Job 15:16 contains the reverse: “one who is abominable and corrupt, a man who drinks injustice like water.” It implies that those who observe God’s commandments should do so not out of resignation, but out of a fundamental desire. Due to widespread poverty, many of those listening to Jesus were probably hungry and thirsty in a literal sense.

5:7 Blessed are the merciful God rewards those who imitate His goodness and mercy. This beatitude has the same emphasis as the others: God’s kingdom is breaking in upon the world. When it does, God will show mercy to those who have been merciful to others.

5:8 pure in heart Possibly an allusion to Psa 18:26. This beatitude uses the terminology of ritual purity and cleanness, which would have been common in Judaism.

At this time, the law—with its ritual precepts—was still in effect. But Jesus’ original audience likely would have made no distinction between having a heart pure from sin and being a person who is ritually pure according to the law. This parallels Jesus’ emphasis on God being concerned about the spiritual state of a person, not just their outward, religious purity (compare Matt 15:11).

they will see God Likely an allusion to the temple entrance liturgy of Psa 24:3–4. The idea being that they will witness God’s entrance.

The law forbade anyone who was unclean from entering the holy place; in Exod 33:20, God declares that none shall see Him and live. Even the prophet Isaiah—calling himself a man of unclean lips—feared for his life when he saw only a vision of Yahweh (Isa 6). The law’s call for purity allowed Jews to hope that, if they could be wholly cleansed, they would finally be able to see God. Jesus here promises this outcome; He implies that God’s people will be able to attain it.

5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers Jewish literature of the time valued those who worked for peace. For instance, 2 Enoch reads “Blessed is one who gives peace and love” (52:11).

sons of God Those whose lives reflect the ethics of Jesus will be clearly identified as children of God (see Rom 8:14 and note).

5:10–12 These three verses address persecution and likely reflect the situation of those who first read Matthew’s Gospel (which may explain why the theme receives such extensive treatment). Later in the narrative, Jesus encounters each form of persecution recorded here and suffers the same fate as many ot prophets (see Matt 23:29–37).[4]

5:3–12 The Beatitudes all begin with “Blessed are …” They are called “beatitudes” from Latin beatus, “blessed, happy” (but see note on v. 3). These short statements summarize the essence of the Sermon on the Mount.

5:3 Blessed. More than a temporary or circumstantial feeling of happiness, this is a state of well-being in relationship to God that belongs to those who respond to Jesus’ ministry. The poor in spirit are those who recognize they are in need of God’s help. theirs is the kingdom of heaven. It belongs to those who confess their spiritual bankruptcy. On a contrast with the first seven beatitudes, see note on 23:13–36.

Jesus’ Five Discourses

The authoritative message of the Messiah (Sermon on the Mount)

 

chs. 5–7

 

The authoritative mission of the Messiah’s messengers

 

ch. 10

 

The mysteries of the messianic kingdom revealed in parables

 

ch. 13

 

The community of the Messiah revealed

 

chs. 18–20

 

The delay, return, and judgment of the Messiah (Olivet Discourse)

 

chs. 24–25

 

5:4 those who mourn. The spiritual, emotional, or financial loss resulting from sin should lead to mourning and a longing for God’s forgiveness and healing (cf. 2 Cor. 7:10).

5:5 The meek are the “gentle” (cf. 11:29), those who do not assert themselves over others in order to further their own agendas in their own strength, but who will nonetheless inherit the earth because they trust in God to direct the outcome of events. Cf. Ps. 37:11.

5:6 Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness recognize that God is the ultimate source of real righteousness, so they long for his righteous character to be evident in people’s lives on earth. They shall be satisfied by responding to his invitation to be in relationship with him.

5:7 The kindness and forgiveness that the merciful show to others will also be shown to them.

5:8 The pure in heart are those whose pursuit of purity and uprightness affects every area of life. they shall see God. Note the ultimate fulfillment in Rev. 22:4; cf. note on John 1:18. In contrast to Jewish traditions that overemphasized external ritual purity, Jesus taught that purity of heart was most important (cf. note on Matt. 5:28).

5:9 peacemakers. Those who promote God’s messianic peace (Hb. shalom, total well-being both personally and communally) will receive the ultimate reward of being called sons of God (see note on Gal. 3:26) as they reflect the character of their heavenly Father.

5:10 Those who are persecuted are those who have been wrongly treated because of their faith. God is pleased when his people show that they value him above everything in the world, and this happens when they courageously remain faithful amid opposition for righteousness’ sake.[5]


5:3 Blessed. The word lit. means “happy, fortunate, blissful.” Here it speaks of more than a surface emotion. Jesus was describing the divinely-bestowed well-being that belongs only to the faithful. The Beatitudes demonstrate that the way to heavenly blessedness is antithetical to the worldly path normally followed in pursuit of happiness. The worldly idea is that happiness is found in riches, merriment, abundance, leisure, and such things. The real truth is the very opposite. The Beatitudes give Jesus’ description of the character of true faith. poor in spirit. The opposite of self-sufficiency. This speaks of the deep humility of recognizing one’s utter spiritual bankruptcy apart from God. It describes those who are acutely conscious of their own lostness and hopelessness apart from divine grace (cf. 9:12; Lk 18:13). See note on 19:17. theirs is the kingdom of heaven. See note on 3:2. Notice that the truth of salvation by grace is clearly presupposed in this opening verse of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus was teaching that the kingdom is a gracious gift to those who sense their own poverty of spirit.

5:4 those who mourn. This speaks of mourning over sin, the godly sorrow that produces repentance leading to salvation without regret (2Co 7:10). The “comfort” is the comfort of forgiveness and salvation (cf. Is 40:1, 2).

5:5 the gentle. Gentleness or meekness is the opposite of being out of control. It is not weakness, but supreme self-control empowered by the Spirit (cf. Gal 5:23). The statement that the meek “shall inherit the earth” is quoted from Ps 37:11.

5:6 hunger and thirst for righteousness. This is the opposite of the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. It speaks of those who seek God’s righteousness rather than attempting to establish a righteousness of their own (Ro 10:3; Php 3:9). What they seek will fill them, i.e., it will satisfy their hunger and thirst for a right relationship with God.

5:7 they shall receive mercy. The converse is also true. Cf. Jas 2:13.

5:8 see God. Not only with the perception of faith, but in the glory of heaven. Cf. Heb 12:14; Rev 22:3, 4.

5:9 peacemakers. See vv. 44, 45 for more on this quality.

5:10 persecuted. Cf. Jas 5:10, 11; 1Pe 4:12–14. See note on Lk 6:22.[6]


5:3–10 The good life (cf. Lk. 6:20–22). The discourse begins with a rounded portrait of the true disciple in the form of eight ‘beatitudes’. Neither blessed nor ‘happy’ adequately translates makarios, which is rather a term of congratulation and recommendation. These qualities are to be envied and emulated; they make up ‘the good life’. Each is followed by a reason, pointing out that no-one will be the loser by following this way of life, however unpromising it may appear in the short term. The rewards are at the level of spiritual experience and relationship with God rather than of material recompense. The key phrase, which opens and concludes the series, is theirs is the kingdom of heaven. This refers to the people who acknowledge God as their King and who may, therefore, confidently look forward to the fulfilment of his purpose in their lives.

Lk. 6:20–22 offers only four beatitudes, balanced by four ‘woes’. They are phrased in the second person and focus on the material and social condition of the disciples, rather than on the spiritual qualities set out here.

Notes. 3 Poor in spirit suggests the OT theme of the ‘poor’ or ‘meek’, the oppressed people of God who, nonetheless, trust in him for deliverance. This and the next verse echo Is. 61:1–2, while v 5 draws on Ps. 37:11, another passage which contrasts the ‘meek’ with the ‘wicked’.[7]


5:3 This first blessing is pronounced on the poor in spirit. This does not refer to natural disposition, but to one’s deliberate choice and discipline. The poor in spirit are those who acknowledge their own helplessness and rely on God’s omnipotence. They sense their spiritual need and find it supplied in the Lord. The kingdom of heaven, where self-sufficiency is no virtue and self-exaltation is a vice, belongs to such people.

5:4 Those who mourn are blessed; a day of comfort awaits them. This does not refer to mourning because of the vicissitudes of life. It is the sorrow which one experiences because of fellowship with the Lord Jesus. It is an active sharing of the world’s hurt and sin with Jesus. Therefore, it includes, not only sorrow for one’s own sin, but also sorrow because of the world’s appalling condition, it’s rejection of the Savior, and the doom of those who refuse His mercy. These mourners shall be comforted in the coming day when “God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes” (Rev. 21:4). Believers do all their mourning in this life; for unbelievers, today’s grief is only a foretaste of eternal sorrow.

5:5 A third blessing is pronounced on the meek: they shall inherit the earth. By nature these people might be volatile, temperamental, and gruff. But by purposefully taking Christ’s spirit on them, they become meek or gentle (compare Matthew 11:29). Meekness implies acceptance of one’s lowly position. The meek person is gentle and mild in his own cause, though he may be a lion in God’s cause or in defending others.

The meek do not now inherit the earth; rather they inherit abuse and dispossession. But they will literally inherit the earth when Christ, the King, reigns for a thousand years in peace and prosperity.

5:6 Next, a blessing is pronounced on those who hunger and thirst for righteousness: they are promised satisfaction. These people have a passion for righteousness in their own lives; they long to see honesty, integrity, and justice in society; they look for practical holiness in the church. Like the people of whom Gamaliel Bradford wrote, they have “a thirst no earthly stream can satisfy, a hunger that must feed on Christ or die.” These people will be abundantly satisfied in Christ’s coming kingdom: they shall be filled, for righteousness will reign and corruption will give way to the highest moral standards.

5:7 In our Lord’s kingdom, the merciful are blessed … for they shall obtain mercy. To be merciful means to be actively compassionate. In one sense it means to withhold punishment from offenders who deserve it. In a wider sense it means to help others in need who cannot help themselves. God showed mercy in sparing us from the judgment which our sins deserved and in demonstrating kindness to us through the saving work of Christ. We imitate God when we have compassion.

The merciful shall obtain mercy. Here, Jesus is not referring to the mercy of salvation which God gives to a believing sinner; that mercy is not dependent on a person’s being merciful—it is a free, unconditional gift. Rather the Lord is speaking of the daily mercy needed for Christian living and of mercy in that future day when one’s works will be reviewed (1 Cor. 3:12–15). If one has not been merciful, that person will not receive mercy; that is, one’s rewards will decrease accordingly.

5:8 The pure in heart are given the assurance that they shall see God. A pure-hearted person is one whose motives are unmixed, whose thoughts are holy, whose conscience is clean. The expression they shall see God may be understood in several ways. First, the pure in heart see God now through fellowship in the Word and the Spirit. Second, they sometimes have a supernatural appearance, or vision, of the Lord presented to them. Third, they shall see God in the Person of Jesus when He comes again. Fourth, they shall see God in eternity.

5:9 A blessing is pronounced on the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. Notice that the Lord is not speaking about people with a peaceful disposition or those who love peace. He is referring to those who actively intervene to make peace. The natural approach is to watch strife from the sidelines. The divine approach is to take positive action toward creating peace, even if it means taking abuse and invective.

Peacemakers are called sons of God. This is not how they become sons of God—that can only happen by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12). By making peace, believers manifest themselves as sons of God, and God will one day acknowledge them as people who bear the family likeness.

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.[8]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 105). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Mt 5:3–11). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1367). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Mt 5:3–12). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 1827–1828). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mt 5:3–10). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[7] France, R. T. (1994). Matthew. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 910). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[8] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1216–1217). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

APRIL 2 – BY CREATION, WE HAVE THE CAPACITY TO KNOW GOD

All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

JOHN 16:15

God wants to communicate with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions. The continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion!

The intercourse between God and the soul is known to us in conscious personal awareness. It is personal: that is, it does not come through the body of believers, as such, but is known to the individual, and to the body through the individuals which compose it. And it is conscious: that is, it does not stay below the threshold of consciousness and work there unknown to the soul.

You and I are in little (our sins excepted) what God is in large. Being made in His image we have within us the capacity to know Him. The moment the Spirit has quickened us to life in regeneration our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition. That is the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the kingdom of God!

It is, however, not an end but an inception. That is where we begin, but where we stop no man has yet discovered, for there is in the awful and mysterious depths of the Triune God neither limit nor end![1]


15 Jesus declares that all that the Father has belongs to him as well (cf. 17:10). The point is not to prove that Jesus is coequal with the Father but to assert that the revelatory work of the Spirit will not be hampered by less-than-complete access to the source of all truth. Whatever knowledge is appropriate for us to know will be made clear by the Spirit.[2]


16:15 All the attributes of the Father belong to the Son as well. It is these perfections that Christ was speaking of in verse 14. The Spirit unveiled to the apostles the glorious perfections, ministries, offices, graces, and fullness of the Lord Jesus.[3]


16:15 Everything that the Father has is mine All of creation came to be through God’s Son, so everything in it belongs to Him (1:1–3). Jesus is also likely suggesting that God’s heavenly abode belongs to Him since He and the Father are one (14:2, 11; 17:11).

proclaim it to you God’s work in the world will become the work of believers. They will be empowered to show people why they should believe and perform signs like Jesus (see note on 14:11).[4]


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

[2] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 589). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1554). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jn 16:15). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

April 2 – Don’t Threaten

Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.

Luke 23:35

 

Jesus “did not threaten” in the face of incredible suffering (1 Pet. 2:23). He was spit on, His beard was pulled out, a crown of thorns was crushed onto His head, and nails were driven through His flesh to pin Him to a cross. In any other person, such unjust treatment would have caused feelings of retaliation to well up and burst out, but not Christ. He was the Son of God—creator and sustainer of the universe, holy and sinless—with the power to send His tormentors into eternal flames.

Yet Jesus never threatened His executioners with impending judgment; instead He forgave them. Christ died for sinners, including those who persecuted Him. He knew the glory of salvation could be reached only through the path of suffering, so He accepted His suffering without bitterness, anger, or a spirit of retaliation. May you respond as well to your suffering.[1]


The crowd at Calvary consisted of four distinct groups. First were the common people, who stood by looking on as the comedy staged by their leaders and the Romans played out. They might have been expected to be more sympathetic to Christ than the religious leaders, soldiers, and two thieves crucified with Him. After all, just a few days earlier they had hailed Jesus as the Messiah at the triumphal entry. They had also enthusiastically received His teaching in earlier days (Luke 19:47–48).

But during Christ’s trial before Pilate, the leaders had managed to turn the people against Him and persuade them to call for His crucifixion (Matt. 27:20–23). Now they had joined in the farcical game and were mercilessly hurling abuse and venomous sarcasm at Him (Matt. 27:39–40).

The rulers were insulting, taunting, and sneering at Christ to mock His claim to be the Messiah. The Greek verb translated sneering literally means to turn up one’s nose in derision. Disdaining even to speak to Him, they said to the crowd, “He saved others; let Him save Himself if this is the Christ of God, His Chosen One.” This sarcastic disdain was predicted in Psalm 22:7–8: “All who see me sneer at me; they separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, ‘Commit yourself to the Lord; let Him deliver him; let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.’ ” As Paul would later write, a crucified Messiah was a stumbling block to the Jews (1 Cor. 1:23).[2]


35 It is difficult to know whether the connective “and … even” (de kai, possibly “but even” or “but also”) identifies the “people” (laos, GK 3295) with the sneering of the rulers or whether Luke intends the reader to understand the role of the “people” still to be passive rather than hostile, while everyone else—“even” the rulers—sneered. The NIV takes it in the latter sense, which is probably correct. The word “saved” (esōsen, GK 5392) does not mean that the rulers believed in the claim of Jesus to forgive people but alludes to his reputation for restoring the sick and disturbed (cf. Ps 22:8–9). The lack of understanding of those uttering the words is made clear by the fact that Jesus “saves” others precisely by not “saving” himself (9:22; 17:25; so Crump, 87). Instead of the words “king of Israel” (Mt 27:42; Mk 15:32), Luke has “Christ of God, the Chosen One,” which is consistent with his frequent presentation of Jesus as a prophet chosen by God. (Compare the words “whom I have chosen,” which occur only in Luke’s version of the transfiguration, in 9:35; cf. Isa 42:1.)[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 107). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. (2014). Luke 18–24 (p. 382). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[3] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 333). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.