Daily Archives: April 12, 2017

April 12, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Apr. 12, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump is issuing a presidential memorandum that will call for a rethinking of the entire structure of the federal government, a move that could eventually lead to a downsizing of the overall workforce and changes to the basic functions and responsibilities of many agencies.

President Donald Trump is finding little support among his Asian allies — both publicly and behind the scenes — as he weighs a military attack on North Korea after unilaterally firing missiles on Syria.

South Korea’s government sought to quell any anxiety about potential military action as tensions rise following the U.S.’s deployment of warships near North Korea.

Concerns about rising global tensions surrounding Syria and North Korea are revitalizing demand for gold as a haven, with the metal trading near the highest since Trump was elected president.

Brazil’s under-fire political establishment was dealt another blow on Tuesday after a Supreme Court judge authorized investigations into leading members of the government as well as dozens of the country’s most senior politicians.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad registered for next month’s presidential election in apparent defiance of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s advice not to run to avoid polarizing the country.

NASA scientists glean valuable data about powerful space explosions and the energy of black holes from their Swift and Fermi satellites. The projects were supposed to last a few years. Instead, they’ve survived for more than a decade. “It’s a matter of time before someone hacks into something in space,” Hanna-Ruiz, 44, said in an interview at her office in Washington. “We see ourselves as a very attractive target.”

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday rolled back an Obama administration attempt to reform how student loan servicers collect debt. Obama issued a pair of memorandums last year requiring that the government’s Federal Student Aid office, which services $1.1 trillion in government-owned student loans, do more to help borrowers manage, or even discharge, their debt. But in a memorandum to the department’s student aid office, DeVos formally withdrew the Obama memos.

AP Top Stories

President Trump has a simple message about military action in Syria: The United States is not going in. “Our policy is the same, We’re not going into Syria.”

President Trump suggested on Tuesday that he could sweeten the terms of a trade agreement with China if Beijing assists in solving the North Korea “problem” – but that the United States is prepared to move forward in the western Pacific without Chinese help.

A former state governor for Mexico’s ruling party arrested in Italy at the weekend could be extradited to his homeland or the United States, where he faces a string of criminal charges linked to drug trafficking, authorities said on Monday.

The U.S. military’s airstrikes that attacked an air force base in Syria last week did not aim to destroy the very chemical weapons that led to the bombings.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions unveiled tough new federal rules to clamp down on undocumented immigrants and deter others from entering the United States, setting the stage for a surge in immigration prosecutions.

NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Russia’s Sergei Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko touched down at 5:20 p.m. local time Monday after spending 173 days in space.

BBC

Somali security forces have rescued eight sailors who were kidnapped by pirates, an official said. The pirates hijacked the Indian cargo ship last month, seizing the 10-man crew and holding them for ransom.

Autonomous robot company Marble is offering food deliveries in parts of San Francisco. Sensors, camera and ultrasonic technology help the robot with navigation, but there is human oversight in case there is a problem.

Nigeria’s spy agency said it thwarted a plot by militant Islamist group Boko Haram to attack the UK and US embassies in the capital Abuja.

Gay men are fleeing brutal persecution in Chechnya, where police are holding more than 100 people and torturing some of them in an anti-gay crackdown, Russian activists said.

The number of executions recorded worldwide in 2016 fell by 37% on the previous year, human rights group Amnesty International said. At least 1,032 people were executed last year, down from 1,634 in 2015, Amnesty said.

WND

Japan is preparing to send several warships to join a US aircraft carrier strike group heading for the Korean peninsula, in a show of force designed to deter North Korea from conducting further missile and nuclear tests.

The American Center for Law and Justice on Tuesday declared victory over the Internal Revenue Service – at least for one of its clients – after a Washington state group with “tea party” in its name was approved by the federal agency to receive tax-exempt status as a lobbying organization. It took seven years.

You won’t find it in your local candy store, but soon there may be a new chewing gum that could help save your life. The gum absorbs what are known as “volatiles” in a person’s saliva as they chew it, then the chewed gum is analyzed to determine whether it contains certain chemicals produced in the body when a person has cancer.

One week after three refugee boys from Sudan and Iraq pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a 5-year-old girl in Twin Falls, Idaho, the city council has voted unanimously to lay out the welcome mat for more refugees. The council voted 7-0 to direct the city staff to draft a resolution declaring Twin Falls a “welcoming city” after hearing a pitch from local Boy Scout Troop 4, which is sponsored by the Mormon Church.


The Briefing 04-12-17

A tale of power, opportunity, & moral failure: Alabama Governor resigns amid unfolding scandal

Study shows millennials more traditional than previous generations when it comes to family life. Why?

When heroes are no longer heroic: Is progressivist agenda to blame for Marvel Comics sales slump?

The post The Briefing 04-12-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top Headlines – 4/12/2017

Puerto Rico seen sliding toward bankruptcy as deadline nears
Bankruptcy for Puerto Rico is looking ever more likely as the clock ticks down toward a May 1 deadline to restructure $70 billion in debt, ramping up uncertainty for anyone betting on returns from the island’s widely held U.S. municipal bonds. When U.S. Congress last year passed the Puerto Rico rescue law dubbed PROMESA, it froze creditor lawsuits against the island so its federally appointed oversight board and creditors could negotiate out of court on the biggest debt restructuring in U.S. municipal history.

A War on Many Fronts: the targeted operations To Ensure Illegal migrants Can Vote in 2020
The battle for the White House in 2020 has begun, but this time, the keys to the front door rest in the hands of illegal immigrants. There is a systematic campaign underway across the US that seeks to ensure that it will be easier than ever for illegal aliens to be able to cast a ballot in the presidential elections. The ideas of the Left have been measured and found wanting; the next step is to cheat.

China threatens to ‘BOMB North Korea’ if tyrant Kim Jong-un crosses THIS ‘bottom line’
The Chinese military would react with force if Kim Jong-un’s nuclear activities adversely affected areas of China bordering the hermit nation, according to an editorial in a government-owned newspaper. The article in the Communist-party affiliated Global Times stressed the North’s nuclear facilities must not put northeastern regions of China in danger.

Ahmadinejad submits name for Iranian presidential election
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad submitted his name on Wednesday for registration as a candidate in Iran’s presidential election in May, state media reported. Although the move by the former hardline president was seen as an attempt to bolster the candidacy of an ally, it was also a challenge to the authority of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who had ordered him not to run.

Israeli security forces arrest Hamas lawmaker in West Bank
Israeli security forces arrested a Palestinian lawmaker and a spokesman for Hamas in the West Bank early Wednesday morning, the Shin Bet internal security agency confirmed. Ahmed Atun, a Hamas lawmaker and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council was arrested at his home in the city of al-Bireh, north of Jerusalem. Hamas spokesman Fayez Abu Wardeh was also arrested at his Ramallah home overnight.

African migrants sold in Libya ‘slave markets’, IOM says
Africans trying to reach Europe are being sold by their captors in “slave markets” in Libya, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) says. Victims told IOM that after being detained by people smugglers or militia groups, they were taken to town squares or car parks to be sold. Migrants with skills like painting or tiling would fetch higher prices, the head of the IOM in Libya told the BBC.

A missing pastor and the disappearances chilling Malaysia
On the morning of 13 February, Raymond Koh was exiting a highway in the leafy suburb of Kelana Jaya just outside of the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur. A widely circulated CCTV clip appears to show what happened next. A convoy of black SUVs and motorcycles is seen swooping down on his car and boxing it in by the side of the road. Then, several men jump out and run to Mr Koh. There is a flurry of activity, and the convoy moves off – along with his car. It is allegedly the last time anyone sees him.

Turkey militants ‘used tunnel to plant explosives’
A big explosion in the Turkish city of Diyarbakir which originally appeared to be an accident was actually the result of a terror attack, the interior minister says. Suleyman Soylu told Turkish TV that explosives had been planted in a tunnel dug beneath the police headquarters. Three people died in Tuesday’s blast in the mainly Kurdish south-eastern city.

Venezuela police clash with anti-government protesters
Monday’s march is the latest in a series of anti-government protests held in Venezuela. The demonstrations were sparked by a controversial decision by the country’s Supreme Court to strip the National Assembly of its legislative powers. The ruling has been overturned since, but the protests have continued.

Fireball Spotted Off California Coast During Unusual Navy Anti-Sub Patrol
A “bright, pulsing orb” streaking across the sky was spotted off the California coast after US and Canadian anti-submarine aircraft conducted an unusual patrol of the area. The green “fireball” occurred on Monday night near an area of ocean where numerous, low-flying sub-hunting aircraft, including a Navy EP-3E Aries II, a Navy P-3C Orion, and a Boeing P-8 Poseidon, spent several hours circling, a patrol which military observers described as odd and unlike routine exercises.

Puerto Rico seen sliding toward bankruptcy as deadline nears
Bankruptcy for Puerto Rico is looking ever more likely as the clock ticks down toward a May 1 deadline to restructure $70 billion in debt, ramping up uncertainty…on returns from the island’s widely held U.S. municipal bonds. When U.S. Congress last year passed the Puerto Rico rescue law dubbed PROMESA, it froze creditor lawsuits against the island so its…oversight board and creditors could negotiate out of court on the biggest debt restructuring in U.S. municipal history.

BREAKING: Sessions Announces Illegal Aliens Who Illegally Re-Enter The U.S. Will Be Charged With a Felony
“For those that continue to seek improper and illegal entry into this country, be forewarned: This is a new era. This is the Trump era. The lawlessness, the abdication of the duty to enforce our immigration laws and the catch and release practices of old are over,” Sessions said.

Mattis: Syria Will ‘Pay a Very, Very Stiff Price’ for Any Use of Chemical Weapons
Responding to a question about future use of chemical weapons and the improvised explosives called “barrel bombs,” Mattis made it clear that future chemical weapons attacks would be met with serious consequences from the United States. Mattis emphasized that the chemical weapons used by the Syrian regime against civilians were against Syria’s agreement with the U.S.

Police Raid Homes, Seize Lambs, Preventing Passover Sacrifice
Over the last several days, Israeli Police raided the homes of seven Jews who declared their intent on social media to bring a sacrificial Paschal lamb to the Temple Mount on Monday, the eve of the Passover holiday. In addition, police set up roadblocks and searched people in the Old City of Jerusalem, arresting 17 people, including six minors. Six goats were confiscated and turned over to the Agriculture Ministry’s investigative department. “Israel is losing its democratic nature, people cannot be arrested in the middle of the night just because they want to observe the commandments of Judaism.”

Top diplomats from US, Russia meet in Moscow with Syria high on agenda
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met in Moscow on Wednesday afternoon. Among other issues, the two senior officials were to discuss the situation in Syria, sanctions on Russia, tensions over North Korea, and accusations that Russia intervened in the US presidential election.

N. Korea must be denuclearized peacefully, China’s Xi tells Trump
The two leaders discussed the possibility of peacefully denuclearizing North Korea and concurred that any use of chemical weapons in Syria is “unacceptable”, according to the report.

North Korea Threatens Nuclear Strike if U.S. Attacks
North Korean state media warned on Tuesday of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of American aggression as a U.S. Navy strike group steamed toward the western Pacific.

Putin: “Idlib Was A “False Flag” Attack And We Have Learned That More Are Coming”
“We have information from various sources that such provocations are being prepared in other regions of Syria, including in the southern suburbs of Damascus, where they intend to plant some substance and blame the official Syrian authorities for its use,” Putin told a briefing.

Trump: “We’re Sending A Very Powerful Armada” To North Korea
“We are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful, far more powerful than the aircraft carrier, that I can tell you. And we have the best military people on Earth. And I will say this. He is doing the wrong thing. He is doing the wrong thing.”

Zimbabwe Central Bank To Accept Cows, TVs, Fridges As Collateral
As Zimbabwe desperately attempts to restart its monetary system, cow, cars, TVs, refrigerators, computers and other household appliances will become acceptable as collateral once they are evaluated and registered in the central bank’s register.

US-Russia diplomacy: Why one airstrike does not leverage make
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives in Moscow Tuesday with an unexpected card in his hand – after the US airstrike in Syria last week signaled President Trump’s willingness to use military force to address egregious and deadly infractions of international norms.


Trump: Hillary Was ‘Guilty of Every Charge’

Newsmax reports:

Hillary Clinton was “guilty of every charge,” and FBI Director James Comey “saved her life” with his revelation that he would not pursue charges against her for her use of a private email server and the handling of classified information, President Donald Trump said in an interview airing Wednesday.

“When he was reading those charges, she was guilty of every charge,” Trump told Fox Business’ Maria Bartiromo about Comey’s 2016 press conference.  “When he was reading those charges, she was guilty of every charge, and then he said she was essentially OK.”

View article →


Today on ChristianHeadlines
Should Christians Celebrate Passover? Conservative Christian Author Answers
Should Christians Celebrate Passover? Conservative Christian Author Answers
by Amanda Casanova
Michael Brown, a Messianic Jew, says in a column for Stream.org that Christians should be able to participate in the Passover Seder.
READ FULL ARTICLE   >>
Alabama Governor, a Former Baptist Deacon, Resigns Amid Scandal
Alabama Governor, a Former Baptist Deacon, Resigns Amid Scandal
by Scott Slayton
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley resigned yesterday after a year-long scandal that derailed his second term.
READ FULL ARTICLE
Report: Chick-Fil-A is Favorite Restaurant of Teens
Report: Chick-Fil-A is Favorite Restaurant of Teens
by Veronica Neffinger
A new report on consumer trends of America’s teens has found that fast food chain Chick-Fil-A ranks number one on the list of restaurants teens like best.
READ FULL ARTICLE
Claremont College Students Silence Conservative Speaker
Claremont College Students Silence Conservative Speaker
by Veronica Neffinger
Students at Claremont College in California recently prevented a conservative speaker from giving a scheduled speech on campus.
READ FULL ARTICLE
Sister of American Pastor Jailed in Turkey: ‘We Believe God is with Him’
Sister of American Pastor Jailed in Turkey: ‘We Believe God is with Him’
by Veronica Neffinger
The sister of Andrew Bunson, the American missionary who is being held in jail in Turkey, is continuing to trust that God will help her brother through this ordeal.
READ FULL ARTICLE

Featured Blogs


Mid-Day Snapshot

Apr. 12, 2017

Bloomberg Targets Gun Rights Legislation

The anti-gun billionaire will spend $25 million to fight against the passage of the national reciprocity bill.

The Foundation

“With hearts fortified with these animating reflections, we most solemnly, before God and the world, declare, that, exerting the utmost energy of those powers, which our beneficent Creator hath graciously bestowed upon us, the arms we have compelled by our enemies to assume, we will, in defiance of every hazard, with unabating firmness and perseverance employ for the preservation of our liberties.” —Declaration of the Cause and Necessity of Taking up Arms (1775)


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 12

  • Futures flat as geopolitical risks weigh; earnings eyed (Read More)
  • Brent oil rises for 8th day on possible extension to supply cut (Read More)
  • U.S. accuses Russia of Syria gas attack ‘cover up’ (Read More)
  • Xi Tells Trump China Wants Peaceful North Korea Solution (Read More)
  • Tillerson, Lavrov Hold Talks in Moscow Amid Rising Tensions Over Syria (Read More)
  • Russian diplomat says U.S. stance on Syria ‘a mystery’ (Read More)
  • Trump’s message to bankers: Wall Street reform rules may be eliminated (Read More)
  • Puerto Rico seen sliding toward bankruptcy as deadline nears (Read More)
  • Trump Lays Groundwork for Widespread Government Reorganization (Read More)
  • In surprise move, Iran’s Ahmadinejad to run for president (Read More)
  • Leftist’s Rise in French Polls Is Spooking Markets (Read More)
  • UK’s Daily Mail to pay Melania Trump damages over modeling claims (Read More)
  • Newly Energized Liberals Pour Record Effort Into Local Races (Read More)
  • PR Nightmares: United Seat Fiasco Among Worst Corporate Gaffes (Read More)
  • Higher Yields Damp China’s Corporate Bond Market (Read More)
  • United Airlines faces mounting pressure over hospitalized passenger (Read More)
  • Japan automakers look to robots to keep elderly on the move (Read More)
  • Airbnb signs dozens more tax agreements in the U.S., France (Read More)

Top Headlines – 4/12/2017

Israel’s navy is preparing for ‘any kind of threat’

Hamas designs terror-inspired ‘Snakes and Ladders’

Coptic diocese in city of Minya says Easter festivities canceled in mourning for 45 Christians murdered in IS terror attacks this week

Palestinians vow to disband Islamist group in volatile Lebanese camp

ISIS Buried Over 1,600 Bodies in Mass Graves in Yazidi Town of Sinjar

Monitor says Syrian forces use barrel bombs despite US warning

UN Security Council will vote Wednesday on Syria gas attack probe: US

Syria ‘chemical attack’: Turkey says tests confirm Sarin was used

Mattis: ‘No doubt’ Assad used chemical weapons against civilians

The UK may have helped Syria make nerve gas – but lax controls mean we’ll never know

Sean Spicer Apologizes for Saying Assad’s Chemical-Weapons Atrocities Were Worse Than Hitler’s

Turkey: Syrian gov’t still has chemical weapons capacity

Syria war: G7 fails to agree sanctions on Russia after ‘chemical attack’

Putin says Russia knows about planned ‘provocations’ to put the blame for chemical attack on Syrian government

U.S.-Russia tensions over Syria will not ‘spiral out of control’: Mattis

Tillerson: Russia must choose between Assad and the US

Trump’s intelligence doubts parroted by Russia

Report: FBI sought to monitor Trump adviser last summer

EU extends sanctions on Iran over human rights violations

U.S. lawmakers raise doubts on sale of smart bombs to Saudi Arabia

UN agency warns of risk of mass starvation in Africa, Yemen

Migrants are being sold at open slave markets in Libya

Sessions signals immigration crackdown: ‘This is the Trump era’

AG Sessions vows to confront cartels, gangs on visit to US-Mexico border

Trump’s border wall will get its start in San Diego County

Hawaii asks full court to hear Trump travel ban appeal

North Korea state media warns of nuclear strike if provoked as U.S. warships approach

White House says Trump has put Pyongyang ‘clearly on notice’

Russia, before Tillerson visit, says hopes USA does not strike North Korea

Trump warns China on North Korea: Help solve the problem or ‘we will’

North Korean missile could hit Australia within 2 years, US diplomat warns

San Bernardino school shooting: Student killed had survived heart surgery

United’s stock falls 1.1%, wipes out $255 million off the airline’s market cap – Carrier continues to draw flak for having customer dragged off plane

Microsoft patches serious Word bug ‘targeted by scammers’

Bright Flash Lights Up SoCal Sky

Harvard Scientists Moving Ahead on Plans for Atmospheric Geoengineering Experiments

Japan has plans to drill through the earth’s crust and reach the mantle

5.8 magnitude earthquake hits near Osias, Philippines

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Pondaguitan, Philippines

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Pondaguitan, Philippines

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Pondaguitan, Philippines

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Copiapo, Chile

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Pondaguitan, Philippines

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Saumlaki, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Fais, Micronesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Pondaguitan, Philippines

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchata, Russia erupts to 15,000ft

Florida under a state of emergency as wildfires spread

Scientists find way to make cells resistant to HIV

Pipes clogged by hundreds of condoms prompts prostitution investigation in Texas

Chechnya denies imprisoning, torturing gays, claiming they don’t exist there

Partisan battles over nominees pose ‘real danger’ for Supreme Court, chief justice says

Mike Ratliff – A Little Leaven

Wanted: A Sunday School Teacher From Hell

Louisiana Church Offering Drive-Thru Good Friday Prayers

North Carolina Church to Host Stadium-Wide Easter Egg Hunt With 20,000 Eggs

In choosing Christianity, Mexican tribals risk alienation, eviction from their communities

FALLING AWAY: Record Numbers Abandon Sweden Church Because ‘They Do Not Believe in God’

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 07:23 AM PDT

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Sweden says people are continuing to abandon the faith in record numbers. More than 90,000 left the church in 2016…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Atheist Mocks Bible, Praises ‘Trinity of Science’ in Invocation Before Iowa Legislature

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 07:17 AM PDT

A professing atheist recently delivered an opening invocation before the Iowa House of Representatives, in which he promoted atheistic ideals and converted a well-known Old…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Did the 7th Circuit Just Rule That Christians Are Bigots?

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 07:12 AM PDT

Justice Neil Gorsuch has been confirmed. Breathe a sigh of relief. The fight against him confirms the importance of President Trump to religious freedom for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Fights over Trump Leading evangelicals to leave their churches

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 07:08 AM PDT

The 2016 presidential contest highlighted just how deeply divided the United States is over both politics and religion. The vast majority of white evangelicals (81…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Putin Says U.S and Russia relations worse since Trump took office

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 07:03 AM PDT

Levels of trust between Moscow and Washington have deteriorated since U.S. President Donald Trump took office, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview broadcast…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

5 Attacks on Churches This Week No One Told You About

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 06:57 AM PDT

(Reported By World Watch Monitor) India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been criticized for condemning the Palm Sunday attacks on churches in Egypt but failing to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Putting Salt Back in the Water!

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 06:52 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will show you how Elisha was able to bring healing to a city and turn bitter waters fresh…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Price Of Gold Spikes As Investors Get Spooked By Talk Of World War III And Nuclear Conflict

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 06:47 AM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) Whenever the world starts going crazy, investors instinctively begin flocking to precious metals.  So it wasn’t exactly a surprise when gold…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Church in Alabama to form it’s own police force…

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 06:43 AM PDT

The Alabama Senate has voted to allow a church to form its own police force. Lawmakers on Tuesday voted 24-4 to allow Briarwood Presbyterian Church…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Nuke-sniffer aircraft arrives on Okinawa as tensions rise on Korean peninsula

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 06:39 AM PDT

A U.S. aircraft that specializes in detecting radioactive debris after the detonation of a nuclear device has arrived on Okinawa amid rising tensions on the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WAR DRUMS: Elite US Navy Seals training in South Korea to Take out Kim Jong-un’

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 05:59 AM PDT

The crack US Navy Seal team that killed Osama bin Laden is reportedly training to take out North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un. Seal Team Six is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Saeed Abedini Accuses George O. Wood Of Being Deceived by the “Spirit of Jezebel”

Posted: 11 Apr 2017 07:35 PM PDT

After verbally attacking evangelist Franklin Graham on social media, Saeed Abedini turned his attention to George O. Wood. “Head and General superintendent of Assemblies of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Deadly Flu Mutation Could Lead to Worst Pandemic in History

Posted: 11 Apr 2017 07:28 PM PDT

Leading scientists in the field of deadly flu epidemics are worried about what could be the granddaddy of them all, and say it could be…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

This Year’s Passover Exposes the Enemy’s Agenda Against God’s People

Posted: 11 Apr 2017 07:24 PM PDT

(By Rabbi Pesach Wolicki) Growing up in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s, my most profound memories are of Jewish collective identity. The Holocaust remembrance…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

What You Should Know About Satan’s Power in This Age—and His Final Destination

Posted: 11 Apr 2017 07:19 PM PDT

(By Becky Dvorak) I receive so many prayer requests about people suffering from demon oppression and possession, so we are going to study and find…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Bible Answer Man’ Hank Hanegraaff Chrismated Into Eastern Orthodoxy

Posted: 11 Apr 2017 07:13 PM PDT

Hank Hanegraaff, also known as the “Bible Answer Man,” was chrismated into the Orthodox Church on Sunday, the well-known radio host and author has confirmed….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists Make Cells Resistant to HIV…

Posted: 11 Apr 2017 07:02 PM PDT

Researchers have found a way to make cells resistant to HIV, a new report reveals. In a major breakthrough, scientists have tethered HIV-fighting antibodies to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Says ‘We’re not going into Syria’!

Posted: 11 Apr 2017 06:55 PM PDT

Amid complaints that his aides are saying different things about Syria and his policy is confusing, President Trump emphatically cleared the air. “We’re not going…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
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A little leaven

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 The Pharisees and Sadducees came up, and testing Jesus, they asked Him to show them a sign from heaven. 2 But He replied to them, “ When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ 3 And in the morning, ‘There will be a storm today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Do you know how to discern the appearance of the sky, but cannot discern the signs of the times? 4 An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign; and a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah.” And He left them and went away.
5 And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. 6 And Jesus said to them, “Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and…

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If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists?

The problem is that we select negative charismatic leaders much more frequently than in the limited situations where the risk they represent might pay off. Despite their grandiose view of themselves, low empathy, dominant orientation toward others, and strong sense of entitlement, their charisma proves irresistible. Followers of superheroes are enthralled by their showmanship: through their sheer magnetism, narcissistic leaders transform their environments into a competitive game in which their followers also become more self-centered, giving rise to organizational narcissism, as one study shows.

The research is clear: when we choose humble, unassuming people as our leaders, the world around us becomes a better place.

Humble leaders improve the performance of a company in the long run because they create more collaborative environments. They have a balanced view of themselves – both their virtues and shortcomings – and a strong appreciation of others’ strengths and contributions, while being open to new ideas and feedback. These “unsung heroes” help their believers to build their self-esteem, go beyond their expectations, and create a community that channels individual efforts into an organized group that works for the good of the collective.

For example, one study examined 105 small-to-medium-sized companies in the computer software and hardware industry in the United Studies. The findings revealed that when a humble CEO is at the helm of a firm, its top management team is more likely to collaborate and share information, making the most of the firm’s talent.

Another study showed that a leader’s humility can be contagious: when leaders behave humbly, followers emulate their modest attitude and behavior. A study of 161 teams found that employees following humble leaders were themselves more likely to admit their mistakes and limitations, share the spotlight by deflecting praise to others, and be open to new ideas, advice, and feedback.

Yet instead of following the lead of these unsung heroes, we appear hardwired to search for superheroes: over-glorifying leaders who exude charisma.

The Greek word Kharisma means “divine gift,” and charisma is the quality of extraordinary charm, magnetism, and presence that makes a person capable of inspiring others with enthusiasm and devotion. German sociologist Max Weber defined charisma as “of divine origin or as exemplary, and on the basis of it, the individual concerned is treated as a leader.” Research evidence on charismatic leadership reveals that charismatic people are more likely to become endorsed as leaders because of their high energy, unconventional behavior, and heroic deeds.

While charisma is conductive to orchestrating positive large-scale transformations, there can be a “dark side” to charismatic leadership. Jay Conger and Rabindra Kanungo describe it this way in their seminal book: “Charismatic leaders can be prone to extreme narcissism that leads them to promote highly self-serving and grandiose aims.” A clinical study illustrates that when charisma overlaps with narcissism, leaders tend to abuse their power and take advantage of their followers. Another study indicates that narcissistic leaders tend to present a bold vision of the future, and this makes them more charismatic in the eyes of others.

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The post If Humble People Make the Best Leaders, Why Do We Fall for Charismatic Narcissists? appeared first on The Aquila Report.

What Happens to a Believer at Death?

Video Notes:

Brother, sister in Christ: There is no condemnation for you in the future because it has already been dealt with by Jesus in the past! “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). We have passed from death to life! Life, as we know it, is life with death and judgment before you. But Jesus speaks about eternal life, which is life with death and judgment behind you!



So what happens to a believer when your heart stops beating, and your lungs stop breathing, and your brain stops sending signals to the rest of your body? To be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord. Which is better by far! (2 Corinthians 5:8).

In a world where, every day, thousands of people are passing from life to death, Jesus has come so that, through faith in him, we may pass from death to life! When you hear this good news don’t you feel motivated to tell others? “I’ve got to tell people what life is! I went into church today thinking that death and judgment were ahead of me, and I went out knowing that eternal life is ahead of me because of Jesus Christ.”

Jesus says, “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life!” (John 5:24).

Taken from Pastor Colin’s sermon “He Is God.”

RELATED POSTS:

The post What Happens to a Believer at Death? appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

Frequently Abused Verses: Does God Condemn Debate? (2 Timothy 2:14)

2 Timothy 2:14

Code: B170412

Almost twenty years ago, during Moody Bible Institute’s Founder’s Week conference, I heard Jim Cymbala make the following plea for unity:

Think of the division right now in the Body of Christ. We have all these names that don’t exist to God: Baptist, Presbyterian, Nazarene, Pentecostal, Charismatic. God doesn’t have any idea what any of them mean, because He only has one Body. . . . He has one Body—the Body of the Lord Jesus Christ. Evangelical—evangelical doesn’t even exist to God. We’re using words that aren’t in the Bible. We’re thumping the Bible and being unbiblical while we’re thumping it. He only has—there’s one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Body. And He doesn’t like us dividing up His Body. [1]

In the moment, it struck me as nonsense. Of course God knows what our denominational titles mean; of course He understands where the doctrinal lines have been drawn in the sand.

But then again, who is going to argue in favor of division?

The church’s current fascination with the soft ecumenism of identifying and celebrating common ground hinges on a false dichotomy—that all division grieves God. They point to a variety of texts—frequently wrenched out of their original context—to make that point.

Cymbala’s text, for example, was Mark 3:20–26—a passage in which Christ answered the allegations that His power came from Satan. The Lord rightly points out it would be illogical to use Satan’s power to cast out demons—that “a house divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” Cymbala turned that statement into a rebuke to a divided church.

Today another text is frequently floated as a mandate for unity: “Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless and leads to the ruin of the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14). Often, that’s taken to mean we should not debate our doctrinal differences—that we shouldn’t let doctrine divide us at all. If we say we’re Christians, we ought to focus on what we agree on, and set aside anything on which we don’t.

Under certain circumstances, that posture might be acceptable. But, as John MacArthur explains, in a world overrun with false gospels and false christs, we cannot afford to simply brush away every doctrinal line in the sand.

Through the centuries, the steady stream of falsehood has become a deeper, wider, and increasingly more destructive sea of ungodliness. False teaching about God, about Christ, about the Bible, and about spiritual reality is pandemic. The father of lies is working relentlessly to pervert and corrupt the saving and sanctifying truth of God’s written Word, the Bible, and of the living Word, His Son, Jesus Christ.

“Christian” cults abound today as never before, as does every type of false religion. Many Protestant denominations that once championed God’s inerrant Word and the saving gospel of Jesus Christ have turned to human philosophy and secular wisdom. In doing so, they have abandoned the central truths of biblical Christianity—including the Trinity, the deity of Christ, His substitutionary atonement, and salvation by grace alone. In rejecting God’s truth, they have come to condone and embrace countless evils—universalism, hedonism, psychology, self-salvation, fornication and adultery, homosexuality, abortion, and a host of other sins. The effects of ungodly teaching have been devastating and damning, not only for the members of those churches but for a countless number of the unsaved who have been confirmed in their ungodliness by false religion. [2]

As he writes in his book, The Truth War, today we need to be all the more fervent in our defense of the truth.

Jude’s command “to contend earnestly for the faith” is not merely being neglected in the contemporary church; it is often greeted with outright scorn. These days anyone who calls for biblical discernment or speaks out plainly against a popular perversion of sound doctrine is as likely as the false teachers themselves to incur the disapproval of other Christians. That may even be an understatement. Saboteurs and truth vandals often seem to have an easier time doing their work than the conscientious believer who sincerely tries to exercise biblical discernment.

Practically anyone today can advocate the most outlandish ideas or innovations and still be invited to join the evangelical conversation. But let someone seriously question whether an idea that is gaining currency in the evangelical mainstream is really biblically sound, and the person raising the concern is likely to be shouted down by others as a “heresy hunter” or dismissed out of hand as a pesky whistle-blower. That kind of backlash has occurred with such predictable regularity that clear voices of true biblical discernment have nearly become extinct. Contemporary evangelicals have almost completely abandoned the noble practice of the Bereans, who were commended for carefully scrutinizing even the apostle Paul’s teaching. They “searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

But in our generation it sometimes seems as if the more aggressively something is marketed to Christians as the latest, greatest novelty, the less likely most evangelicals are to examine it critically. After all, who wants to be constantly derided as a gatekeeper for orthodoxy in a postmodern culture? Defending the faith is a role very few seem to want anymore. [3]

Far from the modern twist on 2 Timothy 2:14, much of what Paul wrote to his apprentice had to do with defending the church and holding fast to sound doctrine. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul wrote:

As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus, in order that you may instruct certain men not to teach strange doctrines, nor to pay attention to myths and endless genealogies, which give rise to mere speculation rather than furthering the administration of God which is by faith. . . . This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith. (1 Timothy 1:3–4, 18–19)

The same kind of exhortations are littered throughout Paul’s writing. In Acts 20:28–30 he warned the Ephesian church,

Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.

He further exhorted the Thessalonians, “Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thessalonians 5:21-22). Paul was clearly not one to shy away from a doctrinal debate. He was a passionate defender of the gospel, and a tireless guardian of the truth.

So what should we make of his exhortation to Timothy “not to quarrel over words” (2 Timothy 2:14, ESV)? Here’s how John MacArthur explains it.

Paul’s purpose was to motivate and encourage Timothy to keep a firm grasp on that truth himself and to pass it on to others who would do likewise (2 Timothy 2:2). It is only with a thorough knowledge of God’s truth that falsehood and deceit can be recognized, resisted, and opposed. . . .

Logomacheō (wrangle about words) carries the idea of waging a war of words, in this instance with false teachers, who are later described as “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Timothy 3:7). Such deceivers use human wisdom and reason to undermine God’s Word, and believers are not to debate with them, especially within the church. [4]

He goes on to explain why such a warning is particularly timely for the church today.

The barrage of ungodly ideas and verbiage that today is assaulting society in general, and even the evangelical church, is frightening. More frightening than the false ideas themselves, however, is the indifference to them, and often acceptance of them, by those who name the name of Christ and claim to be born again. Abortion, theistic evolution, homosexuality, no fault divorce, feminism, and many other unbiblical concepts and attitudes have invaded the church at an alarming rate and to an alarming degree. One of the most popular and seductive false teachings is the promotion of high self-esteem as a Christian virtue, when, in reality, it is the very foundation of sin. Such destructive notions are inevitable when Christians listen to the world above the Word, and are more persuaded by men’s wisdom than by God’s. Far too few leaders in the church today can say honestly with Paul that their “exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit” (1 Thessalonians 2:3).

As Christians become less and less familiar with Scripture and sound doctrine on a firsthand, regular basis, they become easy prey for jargon that sounds Christian but strongly mitigates against God’s truth. Such unbiblical and arbitrary ideas as being “slain in the Spirit” and “binding Satan” frequently replace or are valued above the clear teaching of and submission to Scripture. [5]

God’s people should not be combative; we must not walk around with doctrinal chips on our shoulders, looking for a fight. But we must also have a high enough view of God’s Word that we’re willing to stand up in its defense. We should not condemn doctrinal debate or disagreement; we should use them for God’s glory and the good of His church.

Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170412
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The Case for the Historicity and Deity of Jesus (Free Bible Insert)

187In a world filled with people skeptical about the claims of the Bible related to Jesus, it’s sometimes helpful to review the cumulative case for the historicity and deity of Christ. Like all collective cases, the power of the argument rests on the robust assembly of historical evidences. I’ve assembled some of these in this blog post and created a Bible “insert” (a half-sheet printable summary that fits in your Bible) to help you remember the case:

Ancient Non-Christian Historians Agreed that Jesus Lived
Ancient “pagan” historians wrote about Jesus and his followers and the statements of these historians and writers corroborate the claims of the Bible related to Jesus:

(1) The Historical Record of Thallus (52AD)
(2) The Historical Record of Pliny the Younger (61-113AD)
(3) The Historical Record of Suetonius (69-140AD)
(4) The Historical Record of Tacitus (56-120AD)
(5) The Historical Record of Mara Bar-Serapion (70AD)
(6) The Historical Record of Phlegon (80-140AD)
(7) The Historical Record of Lucian of Samosata: (115-200 A.D.)
(8) The Historical Record of Celsus (175AD)

Ancient Jewish Historians Agree that Jesus Lived
Even though most ancient Jewish accounts of Jesus are hostile, they still affirm much about the historicity of Jesus, even as they attempt to vilify His character:

(1) The Historical Record of Josephus (37-101AD)
(2) The Historical Record of the Jewish Talmud (400-700AD)
(3) The Historical Record of The Toledot Yeshu (1000AD)

Jesus Claimed to Be God
While some skeptics deny Jesus ever identified Himself as God to His first century audience, the evidence demonstrates just the opposite:

(1) He Prefaced His Statements As Though He Was God (Matthew 5:18)
(2) He Identified Himself With God’s Own Name, “I Am” (John 8:49-58)
(3) He Talked As Though He Was Equal With God (John 14:6-9)
(4) He Said That He and God Were One (John 10:25-29)

Jesus Demonstrated that He Had the Nature of God
Jesus possessed a unique authority with those who knew him; an authority that far exceeded that of other important Rabbis. The authority of Jesus was based in his deity:

(1) He Demonstrated Omniscience (John 4:16-30)
(2) He Demonstrated Omnipresence (Matthew 28:20)
(3) He Demonstrated Omnipotence (John 11:38-44, Mark 6:48)

Jesus Was Worshiped As God by Those Who Knew Him
In a first century Jewish culture that rejected the worship of anyone (or anything) other than the one true God, Jesus was repeatedly worshiped by those who encountered him:

(1) The wise men worshiped him at his birth (Matthew 2:10-12)
(2) The leper worshiped Him at his healing (Matthew 8:2)
(3) The synagogue ruler worshiped Him (Matthew 9:18-19)
(4) The disciples worshiped him in the boat (Matthew 14:32-33)
(5) The mother of James and John worshiped Him (Matthew 20:20-21)
(6) The blind man worshiped Him at his healing (John 9:35-38)
(7) The women worshiped Him at the empty tomb (Matthew 28:8-10)

Jesus Fulfilled Old Testament Messianic Prophecies
The disciples and first witnesses of Jesus were repeatedly amazed by the number of ways Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy related to the coming Messiah:

(1) The Messiah Will Appear After the Jews Return to Israel (Jeremiah 23:3-6)
(2) The Messiah Would Be Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
(3) The Messiah Would Be Preceded By a Messenger (Isaiah 40:3)
(4) The Messiah Would Enter Jerusalem While Riding on a Donkey (Zech 9:9)
(5) The Messiah Would Suffer and Be Rejected (Isaiah 53:3)
(6) The Messiah Would Be Betrayed for 30 Pieces of Silver( Zech 11:12-13)
(7) The Messiah Would Be Silent Before His Accusers (Isaiah 53:7)
(8) The Messiah Would Be Wounded, Whipped and Crucified (Isaiah 53:5)

The cumulative case for the historicity and deity of Jesus is compelling when viewed in its entirety. This brief thumbnail sketch is a helpful reminder: The Christian worldview is evidentially verifiable. Be sure to download your free Bible insert by visiting the Cold Case Christianity homepage and selecting the link in the right toolbar. A new, free, downloadable Bible Insert is posted every month.

J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity, Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith.

Source: The Case for the Historicity and Deity of Jesus (Free Bible Insert)

Why Wagner WAS the Leader of the NAR (Part 2): what Wagner’s death signified

WAGNER’S LIE: “THE NAR…..HAS NO LEADER.”

The above quote from C. Peter Wagner was in an article he wrote titled ‘The New Apostolic Reformation Is Not a Cult‘. His attempt to distance himself as being the head of the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) needs to be noted.

“The NAR is not an organization. No one can join or carry a card. It has no leader.
I have been called the “founder,” but this is not the case.

This is a half truth, which means Wagner is lying. The truth is that he became the leader of the NAR because of what he observed developing over time through the New Order of the Latter Rain (NOLR) movement’s Charismatic Renewal Movement (CRM). He observed, and documented, the rise of this apostolic phenomena and even named it. His research and defense of Charismatic Apostles and Prophets eventually led him…

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Obama was an active ally and supporter of Russia for his entire administration

WINTERY KNIGHT

Can we all just get along? Hillary Clinton ended Republican-led opposition to Russian aggression Hillary Clinton ended Republican-led opposition to Russian aggression

I guess everyone remembers how Hillary Clinton presented the Russian Foreign Minister with a “reset” button that they pushed together, signaling to the world that Democrat politicians wanted nothing to do with the view that there was anything morally wrong with Putin’s thugocracy.

But all of a sudden, the same Democrats who bent over for Russia for eight years are complaining about Russia today.

This article from National Review is a helpful reminder of exactly what the Democrats did with Russia during the last eight years.

Excerpt:

He reset with Russia shortly after its clash with Georgia in 2008. He concluded the New START agreement with Moscow that reduced our nuclear forces but not theirs. When candidate Mitt Romney warned about Russia in the 2012 campaign, Obama rejected him as a Cold War relic. The president then went on to forge an…

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Hank Hanegraaff, Greek Orthodoxy, and Patterns in the Cults

Over at Pulpit & Pen, Seth Dunn examines the claim that the man who took over the leadership of the Christian Research Institute (CRI) following the death of its founder Dr. Walter Martin has left the biblical Christian faith to become Eastern Orthodox which, ironically, is considered a cult. Since CRI is a counter-cult ministry it should come as no surprise that this has become a huge story.  Dunn writes:

With the recent defection of Hank Hanegraaff, the Bible Answer Man, to the Greek Orthodox religion, an examination of the compatibility of this religion with Biblical Christianity is in order. Unfortunately, such an examination is a difficult task where the Orthodox religion is concerned. According to an article published by the Christian Research Institute (CRI), “Orthodoxy is not a monolithic bloc that shares a unified tradition and church life.” Despite this, a discerning examination of Greek Orthodoxy is not impossible. Using a variety of available sources, it can be concluded that Greek Orthodoxy falls outside the bounds of Biblical Christianity and exhibits patterns common to other sub-Christian cults. The Watchman Fellowship, an evangelical discernment ministry, has identified four patterns which are common to cults. Greek Orthodoxy exhibits three of them.

View article →

CRN posted Hank Hanegraaff’s response

Source: Hank Hanegraaff, Greek Orthodoxy, and Patterns in the Cults

April 12, 2017: Verse of the day

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53:3 Despised and rejected, He was a Man of sorrows who knew what grief was. To men He was repulsive; even by Israel He was not appreciated.

“Man of Sorrows,” what a name

For the Son of God who came

Ruined sinners to reclaim!

Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude,

In my place condemned He stood;

Sealed my pardon with His blood;

Hallelujah! what a Saviour!

Philip P. Bliss[1]


53:3 despised … forsaken … despised. The prophet foresees the hatred and rejection by mankind toward the Messiah/Servant, who suffered not only external abuse, but also internal grief over the lack of response from those He came to save (e.g., Mt 23:37; Lk 13:34). hide their face … we did not esteem. By using the first person, the prophet spoke for his unbelieving nation’s aversion to a crucified Messiah and their lack of respect for the incarnate Son of God.[2]


53:3 See 49:7; cf. John 1:10–11. Rejection of the servant reveals how misguided the human mind is. a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. Jesus experienced sorrow and grief of various sorts throughout his whole life. “Acquainted” could also be rendered “knowing” (ESV footnote; see note on Isa. 53:11).[3]


53:3 He was despised and rejected by The phrase connotes quick dismissal, not a strong willful and emotional rejection. The Servant is considered worthless, not worthy of attention.

a man of suffering The Hebrew word usually implies physical pain. He knew and understood pain.

acquainted with sickness He understood ailments and perhaps experienced them himself. The same language is used in Isa 53:4 where the phrasing suggests the Servant could heal sickness.

one from whom others hide their faces Parallels the Servant being despised and rejected. People look away to symbolize their dissociation with the Servant (compare note on 59:2).

The nt events surrounding Jesus’ betrayal exemplify this imagery of total rejection and dissociation. After Judas betrays Jesus (Luke 22:47–53), he feels so guilty that he commits suicide (Matt 27:3–10). Also, Peter rejects Jesus on the night He is delivered into the hands of His enemies (Mark 14:66–72); Jesus even prophesies that this will happen (Mark 14:26–30).

we did not hold him in high regard As in Isa 53:1, the “we” here must refer to the nation of Israel. The prophet is likely identifying with his people and speaking on their behalf (compare Jer 14:7–9).

This rejection of the Servant by his own people is likely echoed in John 1:10–11. Similarly, John depicts Jesus’ own disciples initially rejecting His mission after Jesus died and before they learned of His resurrection (see John 21:1–14).[4]


53:3 despised and rejected. See 49:7. Cf. Ps. 22:6; Lam. 1:1–3; 2:15, 16.

a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief. The word for “grief” here is more often translated “sickness.” Human beings flee from suffering and weakness, yet the Servant deliberately embraces both.

53:4 he has borne our griefs. The central stanza of the poem draws attention to the reason for this suffering of the Servant. It is vicarious suffering in our place—that is, on behalf of His wandering people. The prophet includes himself in this redemptive experience, just as he included himself in the condemnation for sin in ch. 6.

smitten by God. They believe this about the Servant because the law said, “a hanged man is cursed by God” (Deut. 21:23; cf. Gal. 3:13). The onlookers thought Christ was suffering only what He deserved, but His experience of pain and anguish was for His people (1 Pet. 2:24). He did not merely suffer physical pain and human abandonment; on the cross, He was even abandoned by God, receiving the hellish fate that all people deserve. The extremity of Jesus’ suffering shows that His compassion is real and not theoretical (Heb. 2:17, 18).

53:5 we are healed. The sufferings of Christ remove the penalty that His people otherwise owe, and as a result He will undo the effects of sin in them. Death itself will be undone at last (1 Cor. 15:26).[5]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 979). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 53:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1338). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 53:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1224). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

April 12 – Evaluating Your Righteousness

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).

✧✧✧

Your relationship with God is the measure of your righteousness.

Righteousness” means “to be right with God.” When you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you passionately desire an ongoing and ever-maturing relationship with God Himself.

Righteousness begins with salvation and continues in sanctification. Only after you abandon all self-righteousness and hunger for salvation will you be cleansed from sin and made righteous in Christ. Then you embark on a lifelong process of becoming as righteous as Christ—a process that will culminate when you are fully glorified in His presence (Rom. 8:29–30; 1 John 3:2). There’s always need for improvement in this life (Phil. 3:12–14), but satisfaction comes in communing with Christ and growing in His grace.

You can know if you’re hungering and thirsting for righteousness by asking yourself some simple questions. First, are you dissatisfied with your sin? Self-satisfaction is impossible if you are aware of your sin and if you grieve when you fall short of God’s holy standard.

Second, do external things satisfy your longings? A hungry man isn’t satisfied until he eats. A thirsty man isn’t satisfied until he drinks. When you hunger and thirst after righteousness, only God’s righteousness can satisfy you.

Third, do you have an appetite for God’s Word? Hungry people don’t need to be told to eat. It’s instinctive! Spiritual hunger will drive you to feed on the Word in order to learn what God says about increasing in righteousness.

Fourth, are you content amid difficulties? A hungry soul is content despite the pain it goes through, because it sees every trial as a means by which God is teaching greater righteousness. If you react with anger or resentment when things go wrong, you’re seeking superficial happiness.

Finally, are your hunger and thirst unconditional? The rich young ruler in Matthew 19 knew there was a void in his life but was unwilling to give up his possessions. His hunger was conditional.

Christ will fully satisfy every longing of your heart, and yet you will also constantly desire more of His righteousness. That’s the blessed paradox of hungering and thirsting after righteousness.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Read Psalm 112 as a hymn of praise to God.

For Further Study: Read the following verses, noting how God satisfies those who trust in Him: Psalm 34:10; 107:9; Isaiah 55:1–3; John 4:14; 6:35.[1]


Happy Are the Hungry

(5:6)

16

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. (5:6)

This beatitude speaks of strong desire, of driving pursuit, of a passionate force inside the soul. It has to do with ambition-ambition of the right sort-whose object is to honor, obey, and glorify God by partaking of His righteousness. This holy ambition is in great contrast to the common ambitions of men to gratify their own lusts, accomplish their own goals, and satisfy their own egos.

As no other creature, Lucifer basked in the splendor and radiance of God’s glory. The name Lucifer means “star of the morning” or, more literally, “the bright one.” But he was not satisfied with living in God’s glory, and he said in his heart, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, and I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isa. 14:13–14). His ambition was not to reflect God’s glory but to usurp God’s sovereign power-while forsaking righteousness. Therefore when Satan declared his intention to make himself like the Most High, the Most High responded by declaring to His adversary, “You will be thrust down to Sheol, to the recesses of the pit” (v. 15).

As king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar ruled over the greatest of all world empires. One day as he walked on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, “the king reflected and said, ‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?”’ (Dan. 4:29–30). Nebuchadnezzar lusted after praise just as Lucifer lusted after power. God’s reaction was immediate: “While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field. You will be given grass to eat like cattle, and seven periods of time will pass over you, until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind, and bestows it on whomever He wishes’ ” (vv. 31–32).

Jesus told a parable about a rich farmer whose crops were so abundant that he did not have enough space to store them. After planning to tear down his old barns and build bigger ones, he said, “ ‘I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years to come; take your ease, eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your soul is required of you; and now who will own what you have prepared?’ So is the man who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:16–21).

Lucifer hungered for power; Nebuchadnezzar hungered for praise; and the rich fool hungered for pleasure. Because they hungered for wrong things and rejected God’s good things, they forfeited both.

Jesus declares that the deepest desire of every person ought to be to hunger and thirst for righteousness. That is the Spirit-prompted desire that will lead a person to salvation and keep him strong and faithful once he is in the kingdom. It is also the only ambition that, when fulfilled, brings enduring happiness.

The American Declaration of Independence asserts that citizens have the right to the pursuit of happiness. The founding fathers did not presume to guarantee that all who pursue it would find it, because that is beyond the power of any government to provide. Each person is free to seek whatever kind of happiness he wants in the way he wants within the law. Sadly, most US citizens, like most people throughout all of history, have chosen to pursue the wrong kind of happiness in ways that provide no kind of happiness.

Jesus says that the way to happiness, the way to being truly blessed, is the way of spiritual hunger and thirst.

The Necessity for Spiritual Hunger

Hunger and thirst represent the necessities of physical life. Jesus’ analogy demonstrates that righteousness is required for spiritual life just as food and water are required for physical life. Righteousness is not an optional spiritual supplement but a spiritual necessity. We can no more live spiritually without righteousness than we can live physically without food and water.

Since the great famine in Egypt during the time of Joseph, and probably long before then, the world has been periodically plagued by famines. Rome experienced a famine in 436 b.c., which was so severe that thousands of people threw themselves into the Tiber River to drown rather than starve to death. Famine struck England in a.d. 1005, and all of Europe suffered great famines in 879, 1016, and 1162. In our own century, despite the advances in agriculture, many parts of the world still experience periodic famines. In recent years Africa has seen some of the most devastating famines in the world’s history. In the last 100 years tens of millions throughout the world have died from starvation or from the many diseases that accompany severe malnutrition.

A starving person has a single, all-consuming passion for food and water. Nothing else has the slightest attraction or appeal; nothing else can even get his attention.

Those who are without God’s righteousness are starved for spiritual life. But tragically they do not have the natural desire for spiritual life that they do for physical. The tendency of fallen mankind is to turn to itself and to the world for meaning and life, just as “ ‘a dog returns to its own vomit,’ and ‘a sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire’ ” (2 Pet. 2:22; cf. Prov. 26:11).

The heart of every person in the world was created with a sense of inner emptiness and need. Yet apart from God’s revelation men do not recognize what the need is or know what will satisfy it. Like the prodigal son, they will eat pigs’ food, because they have nothing else. “Why,” God asks, “do you spend money for what is not bread, and your wages for what does not satisfy?” (Isa. 55:2). The reason is that men have forsaken God, “the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jer. 2:13). Though God has created men with a need for Himself, they try to satisfy that need through lifeless gods of their own making.

Again like the prodigal son, men are prone to take good things God has given-such as possessions, health, freedom, opportunities, and knowledge-and spend them on pleasure, power, popularity, fame, and every other form of self-satisfaction. But unlike the prodigal, they are often content to stay in the far country, away from God and away from His blessings.

People are warned not to “love the world, nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15–17).

Seeking satisfaction only in God and in His provision is a mark of those who come into His kingdom. Those who belong to the King hunger and thirst for the King’s righteousness. They desire sin to be replaced with virtue and disobedience to be replaced by obedience. They are eager to serve the Word and will of God.

Jesus’ call to spiritual hunger and thirst also follows logically in the progression of the Beatitudes. The first three are essentially negative, commands to forsake evil things that are barriers to the kingdom. In poverty of spirit we turn away from self-seeking; in mourning we turn away from self-satisfaction; and in meekness we turn away from self-serving.

The first three beatitudes are also costly and painful. Becoming poor in spirit involves death to self. Mourning over sin involves facing up to our sinfulness. Becoming meek involves surrendering our power to God’s control.

The fourth beatitude is more positive and is a consequence of the other three. When we put aside self, sins, and power and turn to the Lord, we are given a great desire for righteousness. The more we put aside what we have, the more we long for what God has.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones says, “This Beatitude again follows logically from the previous ones; it is a statement to which all the others lead. It is the logical conclusion to which they come, and it is something for which we should all be profoundly thankful and grateful to God. I do not know of a better test that anyone can apply to himself or herself in this whole matter of the Christian profession than a verse like this. If this verse is to you one of the most blessed statements of the whole of Scripture, you can be quite certain you are a Christian. If it is not, then you had better examine the foundations again” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971], 1:73–74).

The person who has no hunger and thirst for righteousness has no part in God’s kingdom. To have God’s life within us through the new birth in Jesus Christ is to desire more of His likeness within us by growing in righteousness. This is readily clear from David’s confession in Psalm 119:97, “O how I love Thy law.” Paul echoes David’s passion for righteousness in Romans 7:22, where he testifies, “I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man.” The true believer desires to obey, even though he struggles with unredeemed flesh (cf. Rom. 8:23).

The Meaning of Spiritual Hunger

Most of us have never faced life-threatening hunger and thirst. We think of hunger as missing a meal or two in a row, and of thirst as having to wait an hour on a hot day to get a cold drink. But the hunger and thirst of which Jesus speaks here is of a much more intense sort.

During the liberation of Palestine in World War I, a combined force of British, Australian, and New Zealand soldiers was closely pursuing the Turks as they retreated from the desert. As the allied troops moved northward past Beersheba they began to outdistance their water-carrying camel train. When the water ran out, their mouths got dry, their heads ached, and they became dizzy and faint. Eyes became bloodshot, lips swelled and turned purple, and mirages became common. They knew that if they did not make the wells of Sheriah by nightfall, thousands of them would die-as hundreds already had done. Literally fighting for their lives, they managed to drive the Turks from Sheriah.

As water was distributed from the great stone cisterns, the more able-bodied were required to stand at attention and wait for the wounded and those who would take guard duty to drink first It was four hours before the last man had his drink. During that time the men stood no more than twenty feet from thousands of gallons of water, to drink of which had been their consuming passion for many agonizing days. It is said that one of the officers who was present reported, “I believe that we all learned our first real Bible lesson on the march from Beersheba to Sheriah Wells. If such were our thirst for God, for righteousness and for His will in our lives, a consuming, all-embracing, preoccupying desire, how rich in the fruit of the Spirit would we be?” (E.M. Blaiklock, “Water,” Eternity (August 1966), p. 27).

That is the kind of hunger and thirst of which Jesus speaks in this beatitude. The strongest and deepest impulses in the natural realm are used to represent the depth of desire the called of God and redeemed have for righteousness. The present participle is used in each case and signifies continuous longing, continuous seeking. Those who truly come to Jesus Christ come hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and those who are in Him continue to know that deep longing for holiness.

The parallel passage in Luke says, “Blessed are you who hunger now” (6:21). Desire for righteousness is to characterize our life now and in the rest of our earthly existence.

When Moses was in the wilderness, God appeared to him in a burning bush. When he went back to Egypt to deliver his people, he saw God’s might and power in the miracles and the ten plagues. He saw God part the Dead Sea and swallow up their Egyptian pursuers. He saw God’s glory in the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire which led Israel in the wilderness. He built a Tabernacle for God and saw the Lord’s glory shining over the Holy of Holies. Over and over Moses had sought and had seen God’s glory. “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend” (Ex. 33:11). But Moses was never satisfied and always wanted to see more. He continued to plead, “I pray Thee, show Thy glory” (v. 18).

Moses never had enough of the Lord. Yet from that dissatisfaction came satisfaction. Because of his continual longing for God, Moses found favor in His sight (v. 17), and God promised him, “I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you” (v. 19).

David declared, “O God, Thou art my God,” but continued, “I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Ps. 63:1).

Paul had great visions of God and great revelations from God, yet he was not satisfied. He had given up his own righteousness “derived from the law” and was growing in “the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.” But still he longed to “know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:9–10). Peter expressed his own great desire and hunger when he counseled those to whom he wrote to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 3:18).

John Darby wrote, “To be hungry is not enough; I must be really starving to know what is in God’s heart toward me. When the prodigal son was hungry, he went to feed on the husks, but when he was starving, he turned to his father.” That is the hunger of which the fourth beatitude speaks, the hunger for righteousness that only the Father can satisfy.

Several years ago someone told me of a friend who had begun coming to a Bible study but soon gave it up, explaining that she wanted to be religious but did not want to make the commitment that Scripture demands. She had little hunger for the things of God. She wanted to pick and choose, to nibble at whatever suited her fancy-because basically she was satisfied with the way she was. In her own eyes she had enough, and thereby became one of the self-adjudged rich whom the Lord sends away empty-handed. It is only the hungry that He fills with good things (Luke 1:53).

The Object of Spiritual Hunger

As with the other beatitudes, the goal of hungering and thirsting for righteousness is twofold. For the unbeliever the goal is salvation; for the believer it is sanctification.

For Salvation

When a person initially hungers and thirsts for righteousness he seeks salvation, the righteousness that comes when one turns from sin to submit to the lordship of Jesus Christ. In poverty of spirit he sees his sin; in mourning he laments and turns from his sin; in meekness he submits his own sinful way and power to God; and in hunger and thirst he seeks God’s righteousness in Christ to replace his sin.

In many Old Testament passages righteousness is used as a synonym for salvation. “My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth,” the Lord said through Isaiah (51:5). Daniel wrote of the time when “those who have insight will shine brightly like the brightness of the expanse of heaven, and those who lead the many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).

When a person abandons all hope of saving himself, all confidence in self-righteousness, and begins to hunger for the salvation that brings God’s righteousness and the obedience that God requires, he will be blessed, be made divinely happy.

The Jews’ greatest obstacle to receiving the gospel was their self-righteousness, their confidence in their own purity and holiness, which they imagined was created by good works. Because they were God’s chosen race, and as keepers of the law-or, more often, keepers of men’s interpretations of the law-they felt heaven was assured.

The Messiah told them, however, that the only way to salvation was by hungering and thirsting for God’s righteousness to replace their own self-righteousness, which was really unrighteousness.

For Sanctification

For believers, the object of hungering and thirsting is to grow in the righteousness received from trusting in Christ. That growth is sanctification, which more than anything else is the mark of a Christian.

No believer “arrives” in his spiritual life until he reaches heaven, and to claim perfection of any sort before then is the ultimate presumption. Children of the kingdom never stop needing or hungering for more of God’s righteousness and holiness to be manifest in them through their obedience. Paul prayed for believers in Philippi that their love might “abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ” (Phil. 1:9–10).

In the Greek language, verbs such as hunger and thirst normally have objects that are in the partitive genitive, a case that indicates incompleteness, or partialness. A literal English rendering would be: “I hunger for of food” or “I thirst for of water.” The idea is that a person only hungers for some food and some water, not for all the food and water in the world.

But Jesus does not here use the partitive genitive but the accusative, and righteousness is therefore the unqualified and unlimited object of hunger and thirst. The Lord identifies those who desire all the righteousness there is (cf. Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:15–16).

Jesus also uses the definite article (tēn), indicating that He is not speaking of just any righteousness, but the righteousness, the only true righteousness-that which comes from God and, in fact, is God’s very own righteousness which He has in Himself.

It becomes obvious, then, that we cannot possibly have our longing for godliness satisfied in this life, so we are left to continually hunger and thirst until the day we are clothed entirely in Christ’s righteousness.

The Result of Spiritual Hunger

The result of hungering and thirsting for righteousness is being satisfied. Chortazō was frequently used of the feeding of animals until they wanted nothing more. They were allowed to eat until they were completely satisfied.

Jesus’ divine pronouncement is that those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be given total satisfaction. The giving of satisfaction is God’s work, as the future passive tense indicates: they shall be satisfied. Our part is to seek; His part is to satisfy.

Again there is a marvelous paradox, because though saints continually seek God’s righteousness, always wanting more and never getting all, they nevertheless will be satisfied. We may eat steak or our favorite pie until we can eat no more, yet our taste for those things continues and even increases. It is the very satisfaction that makes us want more. We want to eat more of those things because they are so satisfying. The person who genuinely hungers and thirsts for God’s righteousness finds it so satisfying that he wants more and more.

God’s satisfying those who seek and love Him is a repeated theme in the Psalms. “For He has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good” (Ps. 107:9). “The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing” (34:10). The best-loved of all psalms begins, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” and later declares, “Thou dost prepare a table before me … my cup overflows” (23:1, 5).

Predicting the great blessings of Christ’s millennial kingdom, Jeremiah assured Israel that in that day, “ ‘My people shall be satisfied with My goodness,’ declares the Lord” (Jer. 31:14). Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well in Sychar that “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:14). To the crowds near Capernaum, many of whom had been among the five thousand He fed with the five barley loaves and the two fish, Jesus said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).

The Testing Of Spiritual Hunger

There are several marks of genuine hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness. First is dissatisfaction with self. The person who is pleased with his own righteousness will see no need for God’s. The great Puritan Thomas Watson wrote, “He has most need of righteousness that least wants it,” No matter how rich his spiritual experience or how advanced his spiritual maturity, the hungering Christian will always say, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24).

Second is freedom from dependence on external things for satisfaction. A hungry man cannot be satisfied by an arrangement of lovely flowers, or beautiful music, or pleasant conversation. All of those things are good, but they have no ability to satisfy hunger. Neither can anything but God’s own righteousness satisfy the person who has true spiritual hunger and thirst.

Third is craving for the Word of God, the basic spiritual food lie provides His children. A hungry man does not have to be begged to eat. Jeremiah rejoiced, “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16). The more we seek God’s righteousness, the more we will want to devour Scripture. Feeding on God’s Word increases our appetite for it.

Fourth is the pleasantness of the things of God. “To a famished man any bitter thing is sweet” (Prov. 27:7). The believer who seeks God’s righteousness above all other things will find fulfillment and satisfaction even in those things that humanly are disastrous. Thomas Watson comments that “the one who hungers and thirsts after righteousness can feed on the myrrh of the gospel as well as the honey.” Even the Lord’s reproofs and discipline bring satisfaction, because they are signs of our Father’s love. “For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6).

A final mark of true spiritual hunger is unconditionality. When our spiritual hunger and thirst are genuine they will make no conditions; they will seek and accept God’s righteousness in whatever way He chooses to provide it and will obey His commands no matter how demanding they may be. The least of God’s righteousness is more valuable than the greatest of anything we possess in ourselves or that the world can offer. The rich young ruler wanted only the part of God’s kingdom that fit his own plans and desires, and he was therefore unfit for the kingdom. He thirsted more for other things than for the things of God. His conditions for God’s blessings barred him from them.

The spiritually hungry do not ask for Christ and economic success, Christ and personal satisfaction, Christ and popularity, or Christ and anything else. They want only Christ and what God in His wisdom and love sovereignly provides through Christ-whatever that may or may not be.

The spiritually hungry cry, “My soul is crushed with longing after Thine ordinances at all times” (Ps. 119:20), and they confess, “At night my soul longs for Thee, indeed, my spirit within me seeks Thee diligently” (Isa. 26:9).[2]


6 “Hunger and thirst” vividly express desire. The sons of Korah cried, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Ps 42:2; cf. 63:1). The deepest spiritual famine is hunger for the word of God (Am 8:11–14).

The precise nature of the righteousness for which the blessed hunger and thirst is disputed. Some argue that it is the imputed righteousness of God—eschatological salvation or, more narrowly, justification: the blessed hunger for it and receive it (e.g., Grundmann; McNeile; Zahn; Barth [“Matthew’s Understanding of the Law,” 123–24]; Bultmann [Theology of the New Testament, 1:273]; Schrenk [TDNT, 2:198]). This is certainly plausible, since the immediate context does arouse hopes for God’s eschatological action, and hungering suggests that the righteousness that satisfies will be given as a gift.

The chief objection is that dikaiosynē (“righteousness,” GK 1466) in Matthew does not have that sense anywhere else (cf. Przybylski, Righteousness in Matthew, 96–98). So it is better to take this righteousness as simultaneously personal righteousness (cf. Hill, Greek Words, 127–28.; Strecker, Weg der Gerechtigkeit, 156–58) and justice in the broadest sense (cf. Ridderbos, Coming of the Kingdom, 190–91; Turner). These people hunger and thirst, not only that they may be righteous (i.e., that they may wholly do God’s will from the heart), but that justice may be done everywhere. All unrighteousness grieves them and makes them homesick for the new heaven and new earth—the home of righteousness (2 Pe 3:13). Satisfied with neither personal righteousness alone nor social justice alone, they cry for both. In short, they long for the advent of the messianic kingdom. What they taste now whets their appetites for more. Ultimately they will be satisfied (same verb as in 14:20; Php 4:12; Rev 19:21) without qualification only when the kingdom is consummated (see discussion in Gundry).[3]


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.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 115). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 177–185). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 164). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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

APRIL 12 – THE TRANSFORMED LIFE

He that taketh not his cross…is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:38

 

Many of the great evangelists who have touched the world for God, including such men as Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney, have declared that the church is being betrayed by those who insist on Christianity being made “too easy.”

Jesus laid down the terms of Christian discipleship, and there are some among us who criticize: “Those words of Jesus sound harsh and cruel.”

This is where we stand: Receiving Jesus Christ into your life means that you have made an attachment to the Person of Christ that is revolutionary, in that it reverses the life and transforms it completely! It is complete in that it leaves no part of the life unaffected. It exempts no area of the life of the total man.

By faith and through grace, you have now formed an exclusive relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ. All of your other relationships are now conditioned and determined by your one relationship to your Savior.

To receive Jesus Christ, then, is to attach ourselves in faith to His holy person, to live or die, forever! He must be first and last and all!

 

Lord, Your call upon my life is total. But there are times when I feel pulled in other directions that may not be pleasing to You. Give me grace and strength to keep You in first place in my life.[1]


10:38 But there is something even more apt to rob Christ of His rightful place than family—that is, the love of one’s own life. So Jesus added, “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.” The cross, of course, was a means of execution. To take the cross and follow Christ means to live in such devoted abandonment to Him that even death itself is not too high a price to pay. Not all disciples are required to lay down their lives for the Lord, but all are called on to value Him so highly that they do not count their lives precious to themselves.[2]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1241–1242). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

APRIL 12 – BELIEVE WHAT GOD SAYS HE WILL DO FOR US

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the LORD.

ACTS 3:19

True faith requires that we believe everything that God has said about Himself, but also that we believe everything He has said about us!

Until we believe that we are as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do. Right here is where popular religion breaks down. It never quite accepts the severity of God or the depravity of man. It stresses the goodness of God and man’s misfortune. It makes sin a pardonable frailty and God is not too much concerned about it—He merely wants us to trust in His goodness.

To believe thus is to ground faith upon falsehood and build our eternal hope upon sand. God has spoken. We are all under solemn obligation to hear the affirmations of the Holy Ghost.

To manipulate the Scriptures so as to make them excuse us, compliment us and console us is to do despite to the written Word and to reject the Living Word. To believe savingly in Jesus Christ is to believe all He has said about Himself and all that the prophets and apostles have said about Him.

A dreamy, sentimental faith which ignores the judgments of God against us and listens to the affirmations of the soul is as deadly as cyanide. A faith which passively accepts all of the pleasant texts of the Bible while it overlooks or rejects the stern warnings and commandments of those same Scriptures is not the faith of which Christ and His apostles spoke![1]


Throughout redemptive history, God’s spokesmen have called sinners to repentance. God told Jeremiah to say to rebellious Israel, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Do men fall and not get up again? Does one turn away and not repent? Why then has this people, Jerusalem, turned away in continual apostasy? They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return’ ” (Jer. 8:4–5). He commanded Ezekiel, “Therefore say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Repent and turn away from your idols, and turn your faces away from all your abominations”’ ” (Ezek. 14:6). Second Kings 17:13 summarizes the sad history of God’s dealings with Israel in the Old Testament: “Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah, through all His prophets and every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments, My statutes according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you through My servants the prophets.’ ” The primary ministry of the prophets was to bring Israel to repentance. Yet the nation refused to heed them, and suffered the terrible consequences of destruction and captivity.

Nor did the message change in the New Testament. Matthew 3:1–2 relates that “John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ ” According to Matthew 4:17, “From that time [of John the Baptist’s imprisonment] Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ ”

Repentance was also the command of apostolic preaching. In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter commanded his hearers to “repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). Paul characterized his ministry in Ephesus as one of “solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). In his defense before Agrippa he said, “I did not prove disobedient to the heavenly vision, but kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:19–20).

As he draws his sermon to a conclusion, Peter continues in that tradition and calls his hearers to repentance. They needed to repent, for they had rejected their Messiah and were in rebellion against God. In the first part of his sermon, Peter convicted them of their guilt. He now offers them hope, reassuring them that it is not too late to repent. If they do so, they will receive the promised covenant blessings.

Repentance is a key New Testament term. The literal meaning of metanoeō (repent) is “to change one’s mind or purpose.” Repentance involves far more than a mere intellectual decision. It is a change of mind that issues in a change of behavior. Peter’s use of epistrephō (return), a word used frequently in the New Testament to speak of sinners turning to God (Luke 1:16–17; Acts 9:35; 11:21; 14:15; 15:19; 26:18, 20; 2 Cor. 3:16; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 Peter 2:25), reinforces that meaning.

In the parable of the two sons, the Lord Jesus Christ gave an illustration of true repentance:

But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, “Son, go work today in the vineyard.” And he answered and said, “I will, sir”; and he did not go. And he came to the second and said the same thing. But he answered and said, “I will not”; yet he afterward regretted it and went. Which of the two did the will of his father? They said, “The latter.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that the tax-gatherers and harlots will get into the kingdom of God before you.” (Matt. 21:28–31)

Note that the second son not only changed his mind but also followed that decision with a change in his behavior. John the Baptist demanded that anyone claiming to have repented validate such a confession with the evidence of a changed life (Matt. 3:6–8). That is the nature of true repentance.

God’s design for men is that they repent (Acts 17:30). To accomplish that purpose, He uses at least four prompters. First, the knowledge of God’s revealed truth should cause men to repent. In Matthew 11:21–24, Jesus sharply rebuked the cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for refusing to repent:

Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had occurred in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. Nevertheless I say to you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment, than for you. And you, Capernaum, will not be exalted to heaven, will you? You shall descend to Hades; for if the miracles had occurred in Sodom which occurred in you, it would have remained to this day. Nevertheless I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for you.

Luke 16:30–31 illustrates the sufficiency of the Word to cause repentance: “But [the rich man in Hades] said, ‘No, Father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

The apostle John defined his purpose in writing his gospel in these words: “Many other signs therefore Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30–31). God has given men all the evidence they need to arrive at the proper conclusion about Jesus Christ. Those who refuse to repent are without excuse.

Second, God uses sorrow for sin to lead men to repentance. In 2 Corinthians 7:9–10 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, in order 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.

Sorrow or regret for sin, however, must not be confused with genuine repentance. Judas “felt remorse” over his betrayal of Jesus, yet never repented. It is possible to have sorrow for sin without repentance, just as it is possible to have knowledge without repentance.

Third, God’s goodness and kindness are to motivate men to repentance. In Romans 2:4, Paul rebukes Israel for missing that point: “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” God, in common grace, blesses men with good things to enjoy. Jesus said in Matthew 5:45 that “He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” This common grace should lead people to penitence.

A final motivation to repentance is fear of final judgment. The apostle Paul warned the pagan Athenians that “having overlooked the times of ignorance, 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). The sobering reality of coming judgment should cause any rational person to repent and turn to God for forgiveness. There is no other way of escape.

In the first part of his sermon Peter gave his hearers abundant evidence that Israel had reached the wrong conclusion about Jesus Christ. Then he called on them to repent and reverse their verdict concerning Jesus Christ and place their faith in Him. To help persuade them, he gives them promised results if they repent: God will forgive their sin, the kingdom will come, Messiah will return, judgment will be avoided, and blessing will be realized.

God Will Forgive Their Sin

that your sins may be wiped away, (3:19b)

Peter’s words no doubt reminded the crowd of David’s cry in Psalm 51:9, “Hide Thy face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities.” The legalism of first-century Judaism, like any works-righteousness system, could not bring about forgiveness. It served only to “weigh men down with burdens hard to bear” (Luke 11:46). The glorious truth is that God has graciously provided for men what they could never obtain on their own. In Isaiah 43:25 God says, “I, even I, am the one who wipes out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins,” while in Isaiah 44:22 He adds, “I have wiped out your transgressions like a thick cloud, and your sins like a heavy mist” (cf. Num. 14:18; Pss. 65:3; 85:2; 86:5; 130:3–4).

There is only one way to receive God’s forgiveness—through faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Peter boldly proclaimed to the Sanhedrin that “[Jesus] is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31). It is “through His name [that] everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43). “In Him,” Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7; cf. Col. 1:14). In Ephesians 4:32 he added, “God in Christ … has forgiven you.” The sacrificial death of Jesus Christ accomplished what the Levitical system was unable to, since “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4).

Exaleiphō (wiped away) pictures the wiping of ink off a document (cf. Col. 2:14). Unlike modern ink, ink in the ancient world had no acid content. Consequently, it did not bite into the papyrus or vellum used for documents. Instead, it remained on the surface where it could easily be wiped away by a damp sponge. God does far more than merely cross out believers’ sins, He wipes them away completely. They are gone beyond the possibility of review or recall. Even their horrible sin of rejecting and executing their Messiah was not indelible and could be wiped away.

Those who place their faith in Christ are united with Him in His death and resurrection (Rom. 6:4–5). Consequently, God has “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross” (Col. 2:14). As a result there is eternally “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1).

Forgiveness produces joy and relief from guilt. Horatio Spafford expressed that reality beautifully in his classic hymn “It Is Well with My Soul.” In it he penned the following familiar words:

My sin, O, the bliss of this glorious thought,

My sin not in part but the whole

Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more,

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

Those words find their echo in every redeemed heart.

The Kingdom Will Come

in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; (3:19c)

Repentance would not only bring the individual blessing of forgiveness of sin, but ultimately collective blessing also. The phrase times of refreshing refers to the millennial kingdom. For generations, Israel had waited anxiously for that kingdom. They longed to see Messiah reign personally on the earth and to have their enemies vanquished. The prophets had spoken of a glorious period of rest for the people who had known little peace over the centuries. Tragically, when the King came to offer that kingdom, they rejected Him. And, as Peter points out, it is impossible to have the kingdom without accepting the King.

Kairos (times) points to a fixed, set, or predetermined time. Jesus used it in Acts 1:7 to answer the disciples’ query about the restoration of the kingdom. He told them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority.” God’s sovereign determination of the time of the kingdom encompasses Israel’s repentance. It is only when “all Israel [is] saved” that “the Deliverer will come from Zion” (Rom. 11:26).

The kingdom will be a time of much needed refreshing for Israel. Ezekiel said it would be a time of “showers of blessing” (34:26). Isaiah saw the kingdom as a time when God “will pour water on him that is thirsty” (44:3 KJV). Joel 2 gives a description of the coming of the kingdom, even referring to it as a time of satisfaction (2:26). No people in history have been so ill-treated as the Jewish people. Over the centuries they have endured invasions, deportations, persecutions, and pogroms. All that has culminated in our century in the insane attempt of the Nazis to exterminate them altogether. Although they are back in their own land, their enemies give them no rest. The rest offered by God in the kingdom will fulfill their hearts’ desire.

The kingdom will be a golden age of blessing for Israel (And believing Gentiles), surpassing even the time of David and Solomon’s reigns. Isaiah 11:6–10 describes the peaceful rest of the kingdom in these familiar words:

And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the kid, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; their young will lie down together; and the lion will eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. Then it will come about in that day that the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious.

Isaiah 35:1–10 adds,

The wilderness and the desert will be glad, and the Arabah will rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it will blossom profusely and rejoice with rejoicing and shout of joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the Lord, the majesty of our God. Encourage the exhausted, and strengthen the feeble. Say to those with anxious heart, “Take courage, fear not. Behold, your God will come with vengeance; the recompense of God will come, but He will save you.” Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy. For waters will break forth in the wilderness and streams in the Arabah. And the scorched land will become a pool, and the thirsty ground springs of water; in the haunt of jackals, its resting place, grass becomes reeds and rushes. And a highway will be there, a roadway, and it will be called the Highway of Holiness. The unclean will not travel on it, but it will be for him who walks that way, and fools will not wander on it. No lion will be there, nor will any vicious beast go up on it; these will not be found there. But the redeemed will walk there, and the ransomed of the Lord will return, and come with joyful shouting to Zion, with everlasting joy upon their heads. They will find gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

The kingdom will not come about through human efforts, but will come from the presence of the Lord. He will bring it to pass according to His own sovereign will. Revelation 5 presents the scene in heaven when the Lamb, the Lord Jesus Christ, takes the title deed to the universe. The unfolding of that scroll (Chapters 6–19) describes His method of retaking of what is rightfully His from the usurper, culminating in the coming of the kingdom (Rev. 20:4–6).

Peter thus placed the responsibility for the delay in the coming of the kingdom squarely on their shoulders. It was their lack of repentance that, humanly speaking, postponed the kingdom. God, through Peter, gave them the opportunity to repent of that sin. Sadly, though a few individuals responded, the nation as a whole continued to spurn God’s gracious offer. There was nothing left for them except the fulfillment of the Lord’s sorrowful prophecy of Luke 19:41–44:

And when He approached, He saw the city [Jerusalem] and wept over it, saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. For the days shall come upon you when your enemies will throw up a bank before you, and surround you, and hem you in on every side, and will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”

The first devastating divine judgment for Israel’s rejection fell upon them in a.d. 70 when the Romans sacked Jerusalem, destroyed the temple, and killed more than one million Jews.

Peter’s hearers paid a fearful price in time and eternity for their rejection of God’s repeated calls for repentance. But “God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew” (Rom. 11:2). The kingdom, though delayed at least two thousand years, will yet come when Israel is converted. Zechariah 12:10–13:1; 14:1ff. prophesy the day of salvation for the Jews and the subsequent coming of the King and His kingdom.[2]


3:19 The people of Israel should repent and make an about-face. When they would do this, their sins would be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come.

It must be remembered that this message is addressed to the men of Israel (v. 12). It emphasizes that national repentance must precede national restoration and blessing. The times of refreshingfrom the presence of the Lord refer to the blessings of Christ’s future kingdom on earth, as mentioned in the next verse.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (pp. 111–119). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1593). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

April 12 – Jesus Clarifies Murder’s Definition

You have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not commit murder” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, “You good-for-nothing,” shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, “You fool,” shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.—Matt. 5:21–22

Throughout history, most decent people rest assured that at least one sin they have not committed is murder. The conventional wisdom limits murder to physically taking another person’s life. But Jesus’ teaching on murder shatters the self-righteous complacency of so many good people.

God’s original command “you shall not commit murder” was of course scriptural (Ex. 20:13). But the Jewish practice of taking murder cases to civil court fell well short of the biblical standard in three ways: it did not prescribe the death penalty (Gen. 9:6), it did not take God’s holy character into consideration (His role in meting out judgment, the sinfulness of taking a life made in His image, or the general disobedience to the law), and it said nothing about the heart offense of the murderer. These omissions ignored David’s statement in Psalm 51:6, “You [God] desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.”

With the transitional words, “But I say to you,” Jesus begins to point us to a scriptural understanding of murder and its implications. Murder goes much deeper than physically taking someone’s life. It originates with evil thoughts in the heart, and is still a serious sin, whether or not it culminates in violent action against another person.

ASK YOURSELF
If Jesus is making this harder than before, then what’s so freeing about being free from the law? Why is this more helpful than a black-and-white statute?[1]


The Effect on Our View of Ourselves

You have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not commit murder” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever shall say to his brother, “Raca,” shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever shall say, “You fool,” shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (5:21–22)

The first effect of Jesus’ words is to shatter the illusion of self-righteousness. Like most people throughout history, the scribes and Pharisees thought that if there was any sin of which they were clearly not guilty it was murder. Whatever else they may have done, at least they had never committed murder.

According to rabbinic tradition, and to the beliefs of most cultures and religions, murder is strictly limited to the act of physically taking another person’s life. Jesus had already warned that God’s righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees (v. 20). As the chosen custodians of God’s Word (Rom. 3:2) the Jews, above all people, should have known that God commands heart-righteousness, not just external, legalistic behavior. But because most of them had come to converse in Aramaic rather than Hebrew, the language of the Old Testament, and because the rabbis had created a vast collection of traditions, which they taught in place of the Scripture itself, the Jews of Jesus’ day were ignorant of much of the great revelation God had given them. Rabbimc interpretation of Scripture also obscured the divinely intended meaning.

As already pointed out, the traditional command you shall not commit murder was scriptural, being a rendering of Exodus 20:13. But the traditional Jewish penalty, whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court, fell short of the biblical standard in several ways. In the first place it fell short because it did not prescribe the scriptural penalty of death (Gen. 9:6; Num. 35:30–31; etc.). The traditional penalty for murder was liability before a civil court, which apparently used its own judgment as to punishment. In the second place, and more importantly, God’s holy character was not even taken into consideration. Nothing was said of disobedience to His law, of desecrating His image in which man is made, or of His role in determining and dispensing judgment. In the third place nothing was said about the inner attitude, the heart offense of the murderer.

The rabbis, scribes, and Pharisees had confined murder to being merely a civil issue anti had confined its prosecution to a human court. They had also confined its evil to the physical act. In doing so, they flagrantly disregarded what their own Scriptures taught. Long before the time of Christ, David had acknowledged, “Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom” (Ps. 51:6; cf. 15:2). The Lord said to Samuel, “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Sam. 16:7).

In saying, But I say to you, Jesus was not contrasting His teaching with that of the Old Testament (cf. Matt. 5:17–19) but with that of rabbinic tradition. He was saying, in effect, “Let me tell what the Scriptures themselves say, what God’s truth is on the matter. You cannot justify yourselves because you have not committed the physical act of murder. Murder goes much deeper than that. It originates in the heart, not in the hands. It starts with evil thoughts, regardless of whether or not those thoughts are brought to consummation in action.”

Here Jesus begins to specifically point up the inadequacy of the righteousness in which the scribes, Pharisees, and many others trusted. Because their view of righteousness was external, their view of themselves was complimentary. But Jesus shatters that complacent self-righteousness by beginning with the accusation that a person is guilty of murder even if he is angry with, hates, curses, or maligns another person. In a statement that may have shocked His hearers more than anything He had yet said, Jesus declares that a person guilty of anger is guilty of murder and deserves a murderer’s punishment.

It is possible for a model, law-abiding citizen to be as guilty of murder as anyone on death row. It is possible for a person who has never been involved in so much as a fist fight to have more of a murderous spirit than a multiple killer. Many people, in the deepest feelings of their hearts, have anger and hatred to such a degree that their true desire is for the hated person to be dead. The fact that fear, cowardice, or lack of opportunity does not permit them to take that person’s life does not diminish their guilt before God. In fact, as the Lord makes plain in the following three illustrations of heart-murder, those who consciously desire the death of another person are not free from guilt.

All anger is incipient murder. “Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer” (1 John 3:15)-making all of us guilty, because who has never hated another person? In light of the context John used the term brother in the sense of a fellow believer. But Jesus’ emphasis was wider than that. Most of those who heard the Sermon on the Mount made no pretense of belief in Christ, and He used brother in the broad ethnic sense of meaning any other Jewish person in that culture.

Jesus strips away every vestige of self-righteousness. Not only did He sweep aside all the rabbinical rubbish of tradition, but He also swept aside the self-justification that is common to all of us. His indictment is total.

In the spring of 1931 one of the most notorious criminals of that day was captured. Known as Two-gun Crowley, he had brutally murdered a great many people, including at least one policeman. It is said that when he finally was captured in his girl friend’s apartment after a gun battle, the police found a blood-spattered note on him that read, “Under my coat is a weary heart, but a kind one, one that would do nobody any harm?” Even the worst of men try to exonerate themselves. Such obvious self-deceit as that of Crowley’s seems absurd, yet that is exactly the attitude the natural man has of himself. “I may have done some bad things,” he thinks, “but down deep I’m not really bad.”

In essence, that was the self-righteous attitude of the scribes and Pharisees, as it is of many people today. Comparing ourselves to a bloodthirsty criminal makes us seem very good in our own minds. Like the Pharisee in the Temple, we feel proud that we are “not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers” (Luke 18:11). What Jesus says in the present passage is that we are just like those other people. Even if we do not take someone else’s life, even if we never physically assault another person, we are guilty of murder.

Sociologists and psychologists report that hatred brings a person closer to murder than does any other emotion. And hatred is but an extension of anger. Anger leads to hatred, which leads to murder-in the heart if not in the act. Anger and hatred are so deadly that they can even turn to destroy the person who harbors them.

Jesus’ main point here, and through verse 48, is that even the best of people, in their hearts, are sinful and so are in the same boat with the worst of people. Not to consider the state of our heart is not to consider that which the Lord holds to be the all-important measure of true guilt.

In verse 22 Jesus gives three examples that show the divine definition of murder: being angry with another person, saying Raca to him, and calling him a fool.

The Evil and Danger of Anger

everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court. (5:22a)

We know from other Scripture, and from Jesus’ own life, that He does not prohibit every form of anger. It was in righteous anger that He cleansed the Temple of those who defiled it (John 2:14–17; Matt. 21:12–13). Paul tells us to “be angry, and yet do not sin” (Eph. 4:26). Although the principle is often abused and misapplied, it is possible to have righteous anger. Faithfulness to Christ will sometimes demand it.

In our day of peace and harmony at any cost, of positive thinking, and of confusing godly love with human sentimentality, we often need to show more anger against certain things. There are things in our country, our communities, our schools, and even in our churches about which we have no excuse for not being angry, vocally angry. Many of the trends in our society, many of the philosophies and standards to which our children are exposed, and some of the unbiblical philosophies and standards within evangelicalism need to be challenged with righteous indignation, because they attack the kingdom and glory of God. God Himself is “angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7:11, KJV).

But Jesus is not talking about anger over God’s being dishonored, but rather selfish anger, anger against a brother, whoever that might be, because he has done something against us, or simply irritates and displeases us. Orgizō (to be angry) has to do with brooding, simmering anger that is nurtured and not allowed to die. It is seen in the holding of a grudge, in the smoldering bitterness that refuses to forgive. It is the anger that cherishes resentment and does not want reconciliation. The writer of Hebrews identifies its depth and intensity as a “root of bitterness” (Heb. 12:15).

Such anger, Jesus says, is a form of murder. The person who harbors anger shall be guilty before the court. To be guilty before the civil court should have been to be guilty of murder and deserving of the death penalty. Anger merits execution, because the fruit of anger is murder.

The Evil and Danger of Slander

and whoever shall say to his brother, “Raca,”shall be guilty before the supreme court. (5:22b)

Raca was an epithet commonly used in Jesus’ day that has no exact modern equivalent. Therefore in most Bible versions, as here, it is simply transliterated. A term of malicious abuse, derision, and slander, it has been variously rendered as brainless idiot, worthless fellow, silly fool, empty head, blockhead, and the like. It was a word of arrogant contempt. David spoke of persons who use such slander as those who “sharpen their tongues as a serpent; poison of a viper is under their lips” (Ps. 140:3). It was the type of word that would have been used by the soldiers who mocked Jesus as they placed the crown of thorns on His head and led Him out to be crucified (Matt. 27:29–31).

A Jewish legend tells of a young rabbi named Simon Ben Eleazar who had just come from a session with his famous teacher. The young man felt especially proud about how he handled himself before the teacher. As he basked in his feelings of erudition, wisdom, and holiness, he passed a man who was especially unattractive. When the man greeted Simon, the rabbi responded, “You Raca! How ugly you are. Are all men of your town as ugly as you?” “That I do not know,” the man answered, “but go and tell the Maker who created me how ugly is the creature He has made.”

To slander a creature made in God’s image is to slander God Himself and is equivalent to murdering that person. Contempt, says Jesus, is murder of the heart. The contemptuous person shall be guilty before the supreme court, the Sanhedrin, the council of the seventy who tried the most serious offenses and pronounced the severest penalties, including death by stoning (see Acts 6:12—7:60).

The Evil and Danger of Condemning Character

and whoever shall say, “You fool,” shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell. (5:22c)

Mōros (fool) means “stupid” or “dull” and is the term from which we get moron. It was sometimes used in secular Greek literature of an obstinate, godless person. It was also possibly related to the Hebrew mārâ which means “to rebel against.” To call someone You fool was to accuse them of being both stupid and godless.

The three illustrations in this verse show increasing degrees of seriousness. To be angry is the basic evil behind murder; to slander a person with a term such as Raca is even more serious, because it gives expression to that anger; and to condemn a person’s character by calling him a fool is more slanderous still.

The Psalms twice tell us that “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God”’ (Ps. 14:1; 53:1; cf. 10:4). The book of Proverbs is filled with references and warnings to fools. On the road to Emmaus Jesus used a similar, but less severe, term when He called the two disciples “foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25).

Because of the testimony of God’s Word, we know that fools of the worst sort do exist. And it is our obligation to warn those who are clearly in opposition to God’s will that they are living foolishly. We certainly are not wrong to show someone what Scripture says about a person who rejects God. Jesus’ prohibition is against slanderously calling a person a fool out of anger and hatred. Such an expression of malicious animosity is tantamount to murder and makes us guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.

Geenna (hell) is derived from Hinnom, the name of a valley just southwest of Jerusalem used as the city dump. It was a forbidding place where trash was continually burned and where the fire, smoke, and stench never ceased. The location was originally desecrated by King Ahaz when “he burned incense in the valley of Ben-hinnom, and burned his sons in fire, according to the abominations of the nations whom the Lord had driven out before the sons of Israel” (2 Chron. 28:3). That wicked king had used the valley to erect an altar to the pagan god Molech, an altar on which one’s own children sometimes were offered by being burned alive. It would later be called “the valley of Slaughter” (Jer. 19:6). As part of his godly reforms, King Josiah tore down all the altars there and turned the valley into the garbage incinerator it continued to be until New Testament times. The name of the valley therefore came to be a metonym for the place of eternal torment, and was so used by Jesus eleven times.

To call a person a fool is the same as cursing him and murdering him, and to be guilty of that sin is to be worthy of the eternal punishment of fiery hell.[2]


5:21 The Jews of Jesus’ time knew that murder was forbidden by God and that the murderer was liable to punishment. This was true before the giving of the law (Gen. 9:6) and it was later incorporated into the law (Ex. 20:13; Deut. 5:17). With the words, “But I say to you,” Jesus institutes an amendment to the teaching on murder. No longer could a person take pride in having never committed murder. Jesus now says, “In My kingdom, you must not even have murderous thoughts.” He traces the act of murder to its source and warns against three forms of unrighteous anger.

5:22 The first is the case of a person who is angry with his brother without a cause. One accused of this crime would be in danger of the judgment—that is, he could be taken to court. Most people can find what they think is a valid cause for their anger, but anger is justified only when God’s honor is at stake or when someone else is being wronged. It is never right when expressed in retaliation for personal wrongs.

Even more serious is the sin of insulting a brother. In Jesus’ day, people used the word Raca (an Aramaic term meaning “empty one”) as a word of contempt and abuse. Those who used this epithet were in danger of the council—that is, they were subject to trial before the Sanhedrin, the highest court in the land.

Finally, to call someone a fool is the third form of unrighteous anger that Jesus condemns. Here the word fool means more than just a dunce. It signifies a moral fool who ought to be dead and it expresses the wish that he were. Today it is common to hear a person cursing another with the words, “God damn you!” He is calling on God to consign the victim to hell. Jesus says that the one who utters such a curse is in danger of hell fire. The bodies of executed criminals were often thrown into a burning dump outside Jerusalem known as the Valley of Hinnom or Gehenna. This was a figure of the fires of hell which shall never be quenched.

There is no mistaking the severity of the Savior’s words. He teaches that anger contains the seeds of murder, that abusive language contains the spirit of murder, and that cursing language implies the very desire to murder. The progressive heightening of the crimes demand three degrees of punishment: the judgment, the council, and hell fire. In the kingdom, Jesus will deal with sins according to severity.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 111). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 291–296). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1219–1220). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

APRIL 12 – THE SUM OF ALL PATIENCE

For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

—Hebrews 12:6

How good it would be if we could learn that God is easy to live with. He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.

Some of us are religiously jumpy and self-conscious because we know that God sees our every thought and is acquainted with all our ways. We need not be. God is the sum of all patience and the essence of kindly good will. We please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections, and believing that He understands everything and loves us still. ROR014

Thank You, Loving Father, for Your incredible patience. Help me indeed to look more and more like You each and every day. Amen. [1]


Proofs in Discipline

“For those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives.” It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (12:6–8)

To the Christian who is responsive to the Lord’s discipline, it proves two things: His love and our sonship.

Proves God’s Love

The first thing we should think of when we are suffering is our Father’s love, for those whom the Lord loves He disciplines. We cannot prove this to anyone, or even to ourselves, except by faith. Even less can we prove, by reason or human understanding, that we are being disciplined because of God’s love. But faith proves it. Faith’s logic is simple: “We are God’s children. God loves His children and is bound by His own nature and His own covenant to do them only good. Therefore, whatever we receive from God’s hand, including discipline, is from God’s love.” More than any earthly father, the heavenly Father wants his children to be righteous, mature, obedient, competent, responsible, capable, and trusting. We benefit in all these ways, and many more, when we accept His discipline.

Paul tells us to be “rooted and grounded in love” (Eph. 3:17), that is, to have a settled assurance that God cannot do anything apart from or contrary to His love for us. God continually loves, whether we are aware of His love or not. When we are aware of it, however, it can accomplish immeasurably more good in us and for us. instead of looking at our troubles, we look at our Father’s love, and thank Him that even the troubles are proof of His love.

A man who was asked why he was looking over a wall replied, “Because I can’t see through it.” When Christians cannot see through the wall of pain, confusion, hardship, or despair, they need only look over the wall into the face of their loving heavenly Father.

Just as God’s love has predestined us (Eph. 1:4–5) and redeemed us (John 3:16), it also disciplines us.

Children have long wondered why parents insist on saying, “This spanking hurts me more than it does you.” The idea is hard for a child to accept, until he himself becomes a parent. A loving parent does hurt when he has to discipline his child. The parent gets no joy or satisfaction out of the discipline itself, but out of the eventual benefit it will be to the child.

God is more loving than any human parent, and He suffers when He has to discipline His children. “For the Lord will not reject forever, for if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant loving-kindness. For He does not afflict willingly, or grieve the sons of men” (Lam. 3:31–33). The Lord is tender and careful in His discipline. Nothing is more sensitive than love. Because God loves with infinite love, He is infinitely sensitive to the needs and feelings of His children. He hurts when we hurt. He takes no more pleasure in the painful discipline of His children than in the death of unbelievers (Ezek. 18:32). Nor will He discipline us beyond what we need or can bear, any more than He will allow us to be tempted beyond what we can endure (1 Cor. 10:13). He does not discipline to grieve us but to improve us.

God suffers whenever we suffer, whatever the reason for it. “In all their affliction He was afflicted” (Isa. 63:9). Everything Israel went through, the Lord went through with her. Everything she suffered, including punishment for her sins, He suffered with her. God does not understand us simply because He made us, but also because He identifies with us as our Father. We can be sure that our discipline hurts Him more than it hurts us. If He Himself is willing to endure suffering for our good, how can we not be willing to endure it gladly and thankfully?

Proves Our Sonship

And He scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. (12:6b-8)

The second thing that discipline proves is closely related to the first. It proves our sonship. All men are subject to God’s punishment, but only His children receive His discipline.

At times we have all wanted to discipline someone else’s children when they disturb or irritate us. When we see an unruly child throwing a tantrum in a store, we think to ourselves, “If I could have him for just about a week.” But we have no continuing desire to discipline children that are not our own, because we do not love them as we love our own. The relationship is not the same and therefore the concern is not the same.

Besides the motivation of love, discipline is given because of obligation. Since our children are our special responsibility, and since discipline is for their good, we are obligated to discipline them as we are not obligated to discipline other peoples’ children. God has a covenant relationship with His people, and has obligated Himself to redeem, protect, and bless them. “ ‘For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My loving-kindness will not be removed from you, and My covenant of peace will not be shaken,’ says the Lord who has compassion on you” (Isa. 54:10).

We can know we are God’s children by His leading us (Rom. 8:14) and by the witness of His Spirit to our spirits (8:15–16). We know from the fact that we have trusted in Jesus Christ that we are God’s children. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). We also know from our discipline that we are His children, because He scourges every son whom He receives. An undisciplined child is an unloved child and a miserable child. God’s love will not allow Him not to discipline us, and His punishment is another of the many proofs of His love and of our sonship.

The other side, the tragic side, of this truth is that those who are not disciplined by God are not His children. He scourges every son is inclusive. Not a single one of His children will miss out on His loving discipline. Whom He receives, however, is exclusive. Only those He receives through their faith in His Son are His children.

Scourges (mastigoō) refers to flogging with a whip, and was a common Jewish practice (Matt. 10:17; 23:34). It was a severe and extremely painful beating. The point of Hebrews 12:6b, and of Proverbs 3:12 (from which it is quoted), is that God’s discipline can sometimes be severe. When our disobedience is great or our apathy is great, His punishment will be great.

Parents often become discouraged when discipline seems to have no effect. Sometimes we just do not want to go through the trouble for ourselves, even though we know our child needs discipline for his own good. But if we love our children, we will discipline and continue to discipline them as long as they are under our care. “He who spares his rod hates his son, but he who loves him disciplines him diligently” (Prov. 13:24; cf. 23:13–14). Our juvenile courts are constant testimonies to the truth that “a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother” (Prov. 29:15)-as well as to his whole family and community. We can be certain that because God will always love us, He will always discipline us while we are in this life.

So, discipline in the Christian life is not in spite of sonship, but because of sonship. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? A truly loving father is absolutely committed to helping his child conform to the highest standards. How much more is our heavenly Father committed to our conforming to His standards, and to inflicting the pain to make such conformity a reality.

When we look at how well many unbelievers are doing and then at how much trouble we are having, we should take this as evidence that we belong to God and they do not. If they are without discipline, they are illegitimate children and not sons. We should pity, not envy, the prosperous, healthy, popular, and attractive person who does not know God. We should not wish on them our trials or suffering, but we should want to say to them, as did Paul to Agrippa, “I would to God, that whether in a short or long time, not only you, but also all who hear me this day, might become such as I am, except for these chains” (Acts 26:29).

Jerome said a paradoxical thing that fits the point of this passage of Hebrews. “The greatest anger of all is when God is no longer angry with us.” The supreme affliction is to be unteachable and unreachable by God. When the Lord disciplines us, we should say, “Thank you, Lord. You have just proved again that You love me and that I am Your child.”[2]


5–6 TNIV repunctuates these verses as a question: “And have you completely forgotten this word …?” The syntax could be read either way (and Greek manuscripts had no punctuation marks), but the gently scolding interrogative perhaps better suits the stronger form of the verb “forget” chosen by the author. It is typical of our author that the words of Proverbs 3:11–12, in which the OT author addresses his own son, are taken as an exhortation addressed directly to the readers as God’s children (just as this letter is itself an “exhortation,” the same word, 13:22), though this time it is Scripture itself rather than God or the Spirit that is understood to be speaking.

The quotation as usual follows the LXX, which by adding the verb “punishes” (TNIV “chastens”; lit., “flogs”) in the last line has sharpened and made more unambiguously physical the nature of the parental “discipline.” There are two opposite but equally wrong ways to respond to discipline: to “make light of” it by refusing to learn from it, or to be so oppressed by it as to “lose heart.” The LXX verb “lose heart” or “faint” picks up the language of v. 3 and so focuses the readers’ attention on how these words fit their own situation. But the key word for our author’s purpose is “discipline” (Gk. paideia, GK 4082), which will be repeated six times in vv. 7–11 as the text is expounded. It is the normal Greek term for education or upbringing, but, like its Hebrew counterpart mûsār (GK 4592), it denotes much more than a merely intellectual process. It is instruction for living, as much concerned with morality and resolve as with mental stimulation and information. And in the process of turning a child into a responsible adult, the ancient world took it for granted that corrective “rebuke” would play an important role at the physical as well as the verbal level. For a similar use of this OT theme, see Revelation 3:19.[3]


12:6 When we read the word chastening, or chastisement, we tend to think of a whipping. But here the word means child training or education. It includes instruction, discipline, correction, and warning. All are designed to cultivate Christian virtues and drive out evil. In this passage, the chastening was not punishment for wrongdoing, but training through persecution.

The passage in Proverbs distinctly states that God’s discipline is a proof of His love, and no son of His escapes chastisement.[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. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 391–395). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 171). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2203). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

April 12 – Leaving No Cause

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.

1 Peter 3:15

 

It’s not likely, but according to the apostle Peter, there is a remote possibility that you may suffer for being righteous. Indeed, many Christians suffered for their obedience to Christ in the early church, but others suffered for their disobedience. When a Christian disobeys God’s Word, the world senses a greater justification and freedom for hostility. Even godly Christians should not be surprised or afraid when the world treats them with hostility.

A passion for goodness is no guarantee against persecution. Doing good only reduces the likelihood of it. No one did more good than Jesus, yet a hostile world eventually killed Him. Nevertheless, your life should be above reproach so critics will have no justification for any accusations against you.[1]


A Devotion to Christ

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, (3:15a)

Here the apostle again alludes to Isaiah 8:13, “Sanctify the Lord of hosts” (kjv). When believers sanctify Christ as Lord in their hearts, they affirm their submission to His control, instruction, and guidance. In so doing they also declare and submit to God’s sovereign majesty (cf. Deut. 4:35; 32:4; 1 Kings 8:27; Pss. 90:2; 92:15; 99:9; 145:3, 5; Isa. 43:10; Rom. 8:28; 11:33) and demonstrate that they fear only Him (Josh. 24:22–24; Pss. 22:23; 27:1; 34:9; 111:10; 119:46, 63; Prov. 14:26; Matt. 4:10).

Sanctify (hagiasate) means “to set apart,” or “consecrate.” But in this context it also connotes giving the primary place of adoration, exaltation, and worship to Christ. Believers who sanctify Christ set Him apart from all others as the sole object of their love, reverence, loyalty, and obedience (cf. Rom. 13:14; Phil. 2:5–11; 3:14; Col. 3:4; 2 Peter 1:10–11). They recognize His perfection (Heb. 7:26–28), magnify His glory (Acts 7:55–56; cf. Rev. 1:12–18), extol His pre-eminence (Col. 1:18), and submit themselves to His will (Mark 3:35; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 6:6; Heb. 10:36; 1 John 2:17), with the understanding that sometimes that submission includes suffering.

This honoring of Christ as Lord is not external, but in the hearts of true worshipers—even when they must face unjust suffering. That submission to and trust in the perfect purposes of the sovereign Lord yields courage, boldness, and fortitude to triumph through the most adverse situations.

A Readiness to Defend the Faith

always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (3:15b)

It is not just endurance through the blessing of suffering that believers are to submit to; there is also the opportunity to defend the truth when they are being persecuted. Christians must be ready to make a defense of the faith. The Greek term for defense (apologia) is the word from which the English terms apology and apologetics derive. It often means a formal defense in a judicial courtroom (cf. Acts 25:16; 2 Tim. 4:16), but Paul also used the word informally to denote his ability to answer those who questioned him (Phil. 1:16). Always indicates believers’ need for constant preparedness and readiness to respond, whether in a formal courtroom or informally, to everyone who asks them to give an account for why they live and believe the way they do. Account is simply logos, “word,” or “message,” and it calls saints to be able at the time someone asks (present tense) to give the right words in response to questions about the gospel.

The gospel is identified as the hope that is in believers. Hope is synonymous with the Christian faith because the motive for believers’ embracing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is their anticipation of escaping hell and entering eternal glory (cf. Acts 26:6; Eph. 1:18; 4:4; Col. 1:23; Heb. 10:23). Thus hope becomes the focal point of any rational explanation believers should be able to provide regarding their salvation. (For further insights into the meaning of hope, see the discussion of 1:3 in chapter 2 of this volume.)

The believer’s defense of this hope before the unbeliever who asks must be firm and uncompromising, but at the same time conveyed with gentleness and reverence. Gentleness refers to meekness or humility, not in the sense of weakness but in the sense of not being dominant or overbearing (cf. Eph. 4:15, “speaking the truth in love”). The Lord Himself was characterized by this virtue, as was Paul: “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1a).

Reverence expresses devotion to God, a deep regard for His truth, and even respect for the person listening (Col. 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:24–26).

Christians who cannot present a biblically clear explanation of their faith (cf. 1 Thess. 5:19–22; 1 John 2:14) will be insecure when strongly challenged by unbelievers (cf. Eph. 4:14–15). In some cases that insecurity can undermine their assurance of salvation. The world’s attacks can overwhelm those who have not “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8; cf. Eph. 6:10–17).[2]


3:15 In the last part of verse 14 and in this verse, Peter quotes from Isaiah 8:12b, 13, which says: “Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” Someone has said, “We fear God so little because we fear man so much.”

The Isaiah passage speaks of The Lord of hosts as the One to be reverenced. Quoting it, Peter by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says, sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.

To reverence the Lord means to make Him the Sovereign of our lives. All we do and say should be in His will, for His pleasure, and for His glory. The lordship of Christ should dominate every area of our lives—our possessions, our occupation, our library, our marriage, our spare time—nothing can be excluded.

Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. This applies primarily to times when Christians are being persecuted because of their faith. The consciousness of the presence of the Lord Christ should impart a holy boldness and inspire the believer to witness a good confession.

The verse is also applicable to everyday life. People often ask us questions which quite naturally open the door to speak to them about the Lord. We should be ready to tell them what great things the Lord has done for us. This witnessing should be done in either case with gentleness and reverence. There should be no trace of harshness, bitterness or flippancy when we speak of our Savior and Lord.[3]


3:15 sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. The meaning is “set apart in your hearts Christ as Lord.” The heart is the sanctuary in which He prefers to be worshiped. Live in submissive communion with the Lord Jesus, loving and obeying Him—and you have nothing to fear. always being ready to make a defense. The Eng. word “apologetics” comes from the Gr. word here translated “defense.” Peter is using the word in an informal sense (cf. Php 1:16, 17) and is insisting that the believer must understand what he believes and why one is a Christian, and then be able to articulate one’s beliefs humbly, thoughtfully, reasonably, and biblically. the hope that is in you. Salvation with its anticipation of eternal glory.[4]


3:15 “Sanctify” means “set apart.” Having established a special dwelling for God in the heart, the Christian ought to be ready always to give an answer to those who seek a reason for his hope. The word “defense” is apologia (Gk.), from which the English word “apology” is derived. However, closer to the intent of Greek thought is the idea of Christian “apologetics,” an organized, thoughtful defense of the faith. The believer’s task is to know well the truths of the faith and to prepare to present them in a persuasive fashion.[5]


3:15 sanctify the Lord God: Believers should acknowledge the eternal holiness of Christ by revering Him as the Lord of the universe who is in control of all things. to give a defense: Peter assumes that the Christian faith will be falsely accused. He therefore encourages Christians to have rational answers to respond to those false accusations. Meekness is the same term translated gentle in v. 4. Meekness is not weakness. Scripture indicates that both Moses and Christ were meek men; however, they were certainly not weak men. Fear implies a high degree of reverence or respect.[6]


3:15. In their hearts Christians are to set apart Christ as Lord. Alexander Maclaren wrote, “Only he who can say, ‘The Lord is the strength of my life’ can go on to say, ‘Of whom shall I be afraid?’ ” (Expositions of Holy Scriptures, 16:42) Christians should overcome fear by sanctifying (hagiasate, “make separate from others”) Christ as their Lord (kyrion). As a result Christians should always be prepared (hetoimoi, “ready”; cf. 1:5) to give … the reason (apologian, the “defense” which a defendant makes before a judge; cf. Acts 22:1; 25:16) for their hope in Christ. Such an oral defense should be consistent with one’s “set-apart” conduct.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 117). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 200–202). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2271). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Pe 3:15). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] 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., 1 Pe 3:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1685). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] Raymer, R. M. (1985). 1 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 850). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

April 12 – The Unjust Condemnation

“ ‘Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?’ They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death!’ ”

Matthew 26:65–66

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Like many through the centuries, members of the Sanhedrin rejected Jesus Christ without fairly judging all the evidence.

Lynching is an activity we don’t hear much about today. But during earlier generations, the heinous crime occurred quite regularly. Innocent people, or those merely presumed guilty (prior to any trial), were tortured and killed, usually by angry, hateful mobs. Often the person lynched was a victim of racial or political prejudice or some other irrational fear held by the perpetrators.

The members of the Sanhedrin certainly held blind prejudices against Jesus. No amount of evidence would open their eyes to the truth of who He was. Those unbelieving leaders of Israel discounted Jesus’ claims to deity long before they placed Him on trial. He had even pleaded with them, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (John 10:37–38).

In today’s passage the high priest Caiaphas reacts forcefully to Jesus’ agreement that He is God’s Son and the Messiah (see Matt. 26:64). Caiaphas’s mind was made up; he was convinced that Jesus had blasphemed, and he was determined to rush forward with this “evidence” to condemn Jesus to death. Caiaphas and the Council could barely wait to render a verdict. The high priest asked for their opinion on Jesus’ guilt, and immediately the Council members asserted, “He is deserving of death!”

The irony of the Jewish leaders’ condemnation of Jesus was their blind insistence that He was a blasphemer when in reality they were the blasphemers for their rejection of the Lord and His message. Even more sobering is that every person who has ever finally rejected Christ is also guilty of blasphemy and will suffer the same fate as the chief priests and elders: “He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for someone you know who has been closed to the gospel. Ask God to open his or her heart and grant him or her repentance.

For Further Study: Read Hebrews 3–4. What spiritual attitude do these chapters warn of? What Old Testament parallel does the writer make?[1]


The Illegal and Unjust Condemnation of Jesus

Then the high priest tore his robes, saying, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death!” (26:65–66)

Upon that unambiguous confession by Jesus, the high priest tore his robes in horror, saying, “He has blasphemed!” The unbelieving members of the Sanhedrin had long ago discounted Jesus’ claims of deity. He had pleaded with them, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (John 10:37–38). In other words, even if they could not believe the divine source of His teaching, how could they argue against the divine power behind His countless public miracles?

They had closed their minds to the truth, and no amount of evidence would open their eyes to it. Like many people throughout the ages who have rejected Christ, it was not that they had carefully examined the evidence about Him and found it to be untrue or unconvincing but that they refused to consider the evidence at all. Even God’s own Holy Spirit cannot penetrate such a willful barrier to His truth and grace. Miracles do not convince the hard-hearted.

When the high priest ceremoniously tore his robes, he did so not out of grief and indignation over the presumed dishonor of God’s name but rather out of joy and relief that, at last, Jesus had placed Himself into their hands, condemning Himself out of His own mouth. Although Leviticus 21:10 strictly forbade the high priest’s tearing his garments, the Talmud held that judges who witnessed blasphemy had a right to tear their robes if they later sewed them up. By his traditional and theatrical display, Caiaphas dramatically gave the appearance of defending God’s name, but inwardly he gloated over the illegal, unjust, and devilish victory he imagined he had just won.

“What further need do you have of witnesses?” he asked the Council rhetorically And with that he asked for an immediate verdict: “Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” He did not bother to have the members polled individually and the results tabulated by scribes, as judicial protocol required, but simply called for verbal support of the predetermined conclusion of guilt.

With one voice they answered and said, “He is deserving of death!” The decision was unanimous as “they all condemned Him to be deserving of death” (Mark 14:64). The unanimous vote to convict should have given Jesus His freedom automatically, because the necessary element of mercy was lacking. But by this time the Sanhedrin had relinquished even the semblance of legality and justice. Because we know that Joseph of Arimathea was a member of the Council but did not consent to Jesus ’ condemnation (Luke 23:50–51), he obviously had left the proceedings before this final judicial farce transpired.

The verdict of guilty and the sentence of death were not based on careful consideration of full and impartial evidence and testimony. It was a senseless mob reaction, much like the one which, a few hours later, these same leaders would instigate and orchestrate regarding the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Jesus (Matt. 27:20–21).[2]


65–66 Rending garments (v. 65) was prescribed for blasphemy (m. Sanh. 7:5) but can also express indignation or grief (cf. 2 Ki 18:37; Jdt 14:19; 1 Macc 11:71; Ac 14:14). It appears that the definition of “blasphemy” varied over the years (see Overview, 26:57–68; cf. Jn 5:18; 10:33; see the careful evaluation provided by Bock, Blasphemy and Exaltation). Whether the Sanhedrin thought Jesus was blaspheming because he claimed to be Messiah, because he put himself on the Mighty One’s right hand, or because God had not especially attested who Jesus was (a requirement in certain rabbinic traditions) is uncertain. The decision of the assembled members of the Sanhedrin appears to have been by acclamation. “Worthy” (enochos, v. 66, GK 1944) is the same word used in 5:21. Jesus is “liable” to the death penalty, mandated for blasphemy (Lev 24:16).[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 26:62–65). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 622). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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

Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 141:1–5

I call on you, O Yahweh; hasten to me.

Listen to my voice when I call to you.

Let my prayer be set before you as incense,

the lifting up of my palms as the evening offering.

Set a guard, O Yahweh, over my mouth;

keep watch over the door of my lips.

Do not incline my heart to any evil thing,

to practice wicked deeds with men who do iniquity;

and do not let me eat of their delicacies.

Let a righteous one strike me in kindness,

and let him chasten me.

It is oil for my head; let not my head refuse.

For still my prayer is against their evil deeds.

Reading: Mark 15:33–36

And when the sixth hour came, darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” (which is translated, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”) And some of the bystanders, when they heard it, said, “Behold, he is summoning Elijah!” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed, and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Leave him alone! Let us see if Elijah is coming to take him down.”

Reflection

Oh, the blessed shadow of Christ’s cross! All the flocks of the Lord lie down under it, and rest in peace. Millions of souls are delivered by it from the heat of vengeance, and myriads more shall find a covert within it from the wrath to come. Dear reader, are you within the shadow of the crucified? Does He stand between God and your soul to ward off the burning beams of justice, which your sins so richly deserve, by bearing them Himself? If you die in the fierce heat of divine wrath, you will have yourself alone to blame, for there is the shadow of the great propitiation, cool and refreshing, and it is at every moment accessible to simple faith. If you refuse to believe, and count yourself unworthy of salvation, your blood must lie at your own door.

Come, now, into the sure and blessed shelter, lest the sunstroke of despair should wither you. Once beneath the shadow of Jesus, the sun shall not smite you by day, nor the moon by night; you shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. “Yahweh is your protector; Yahweh is your shade at your right hand.” (Psa 121:5).

—Charles H. Spurgeon

Hindhead

Response

What does it mean for you to live your life within the shadow of the crucified Christ?[1]

 

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