Daily Archives: April 14, 2017

April 14, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Top News – 4/14/2017

Barley Harvested for the Omer Offering
As soon as Passover ended, entire families, men women and children, gathered in a field in the Negev to harvest barley that would be used the next day by priests to recreate the omer offering of barley. The barley was prepared according to Torah law and presented as a wave offering in Jerusalem by priests in a ceremony that closely resembled what was once seen every year in Solomon’s Temple.

Report: US May Launch Preemptive Strike Against North Korea
the US has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site. Also, US Air Force heavy bombers have been moved to Guam to drop conventional or nuclear charges on North Korea should the need arise.

‘Shariah cop’ cracks down on Minnesota Muslims
But when he isn’t in a turban, he wears a green uniform with a patch marking him as the “religious police.” That’s causing quite a stir, even in the Muslim enclave of Minneapolis’s Cedar Riverside community. In a recent interview with the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Rashid said he aims to turn the city’s Cedar-Riverside area into a “sharia-controlled zone” where Muslims are learning about the proper practices of Islam and that “non-Muslims are asked to respect” it, the paper reported.

Nikki Haley: Russian veto is a ‘no’ to resolving the conflict in Syria
The US mission to the UN, which presides over the Council this month, pointed out that even China decided not to block the measure this time.

SOLAR FILAMENT EXPLODES, HURLS CME
On April 9th, a dark filament of magnetism on the sun rose up and hurled a portion of itself into space. At first it appeared that the CME would miss Earth, but a new analysis by NOAA forecasters suggests that a glancing glow is possible on April 14th.

At least 36 ISIS terrorists dead in massive US bombing
Massive MOAB bomb attack against ISIS tunnel network in Afghanistan kills dozens of terrorists, Afghan military reports. The 21,600 pound bomb was dropped by an MC-130 aircraft on a massive ISIS tunnel network in the Nangarhar province of Afghanistan used for smuggling weapons and fighters.

In battle for Mosul, new US strategy takes shape
The tactical assembly area for US forces south of Mosul is as nondescript as could possibly be…a platoon leader, says “we have the capability to address all targets; the point of the Paladin is a mobile artillery system. The fight that we bring is the precision munition capability. We are able to program and set those fuses and provide those rounds downrange in rapid time in order to accomplish [our task].” He’s…enthusiastic about providing fire support to the Iraqi security personnel who are slowly clearing Mosul of Islamic State fighters.

Hezbollah evacuating positions near Israel’s Golan Heights
Hezbollah forces have begun to evacuate territory near Syria’s Golan region, not far from the Israeli border, after the US State Department demanded that the Lebanese terror organization immediately leave the area, Syrian news agency Al-Ittihad reported Thursday. The report added that Hezbollah fighters began clearing their stronghold in the Qalamun Mountains nearly a week before the US military conducted airstrikes against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s air force on April 6.

Egypt Coptic Church cuts back Easter celebrations after attacks
Egypt’s Coptic Church says it will cut back Easter celebrations after the two bomb attacks that killed at least 45 people last weekend. Church events are cancelled and only prayers will be held, it says. Egypt’s government imposed a three-month state of emergency following the bombings in Alexandria and the Nile Delta city of Tanta on Palm Sunday.

Vice President Pence heads to Seoul as North Korea tensions flare
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence will travel to South Korea on Sunday in what his aides said was a sign of the U.S. commitment to its ally in the face of rising tensions over North Korea’s nuclear program. Pence’s Seoul stop kicks off a long-planned 10-day trip to Asia – his first as vice president – and comes amid concerns that Pyongyang could soon conduct its sixth nuclear test.

A dark matter ‘bridge’ holding galaxies together has been captured for the first time
The first image of a dark matter “bridge”, believed to form the links between galaxies, has been captured by astrophysicists in Canada. Researchers at the University of Waterloo used a technique known as weak gravitational lensing to create a composite image of the bridge. Gravitational lensing is an effect that causes the images of distant galaxies to warp slightly under the influence of an unseen mass, such as a planet, a black hole, or in this case, dark matter.

Texas getting first immigrant center built under Trump
A private prison company announced Thursday it has won a $110-million federal contract to build in Texas the first new immigrant detention center under the Trump administration. The GEO Group said that its 1,000-bed detention facility will be in Conroe, north of Houston, and will open by the end of next year. The facility coincides with President Donald Trump’s promised expansion of immigration detention, part of a larger crackdown on immigrants in the country illegally…

Trump signs resolution allowing U.S. states to block family planning funds
President Donald Trump on Thursday signed a resolution that will allow U.S. states to restrict how federal funds for contraception and reproductive health are spent, a move cheered by anti-abortion campaigners. “This is a major pro-life victory,” said…Speaker Paul Ryan, adding that a regulation enacted under Democratic former President Barack Obama had forced states to fund Planned Parenthood, a national non-profit that provides contraception, health screenings, and abortions.

U.S. military drops 22,000-pound bomb on Islamic State forces in Afghanistan
U.S. forces in Afghanistan dropped a 22,000-pound bomb on Islamic State forces in eastern Afghanistan Thursday, the Pentagon announced, using the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat.

Canada Moves Towards Legalizing Recreational Marijuana
The Canadian government introduced legislation on Thursday that put the country on track to make recreational marijuana use legal by July 2018, with plans to regulate production but left the details of how the drug will be sold up to the provinces.

U.S. Air Force deploys nuke-sniffer jet to Japan
The U.S. Air Force has deployed a nuke-sniffer aircraft at its base in Okinawa, Japan, according to multiple sources. The Boeing WC-135 Constant Phoenix, capable of collecting samples from the atmosphere after a nuclear explosion, arrived at Kadena Air Base, Stars and Stripes reported.

US May Launch Preemptive Strike On North Korea Ahead Of Nuclear Test
The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that Kim Jong Un is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, NBC reports.

Trump May Send Up To 50,000 Troops To Syria
According to Bloomberg’s Eli Lake, Trump may be on the verge of escalating the proxy war in Syria by sending anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000 troops on the ground, a move which many see as a potential precursor to a war involving the US and Russia.

Congress Panics As US Oil Assets Could Fall Into Russian Hands If Venezuela Defaults
If Venezuela defaults on its debt obligations, it could result in Russia taking control over U.S. refining assets, leading to more Russian “control over oil and gas prices worldwide,” which would “inhibit U.S. energy security, and undermine broader U.S. geopolitical efforts.”

Russian Foreign Minister Meets With Tillerson, Says They Inherited ‘Time Bombs’ From Obama Admin
In their “productive” conversation, Tillerson and Lavrov talked about the steps they must take to improve international stability. They agreed that North Korea has to be de-nuclearized and that the civil war in Syria must be addressed in an “orderly” way.

Academia Is Our Enemy So We Should Help It Commit Suicide
today, the higher education racket festers on the rear end of our culture, a painful, useless carbuncle of intellectual fraud, moral bankruptcy, and pernicious liberal fascism that impoverishes the young while it subsidizes a bunch of old pinkos who can’t hack it at Real World U. ….. we normals now have a chance to lance the boil that is 21st Century academia.

Lansing, Michigan rescinds ‘sanctuary’ status after criticism from businesses
The city council in Lansing, Mich. voted Wednesday to rescind its decision to deem itself a “sanctuary” city for illegal immigrants after concerns from the businesses that the status would draw unwelcome attention to the city.

Limbaugh: Proof-positive Obama was spying on Trump
But the biggest, …. is the one that confirmed the FBI did, in fact, obtain a warrant to spy on one of the Trump campaign advisers during the 2016 presidential race last year. “I cannot tell you how big this is,” ….. “This validates what Trump was saying about his campaign being surveilled. And it’s also the first time anything like this has ever happened.”

Syrian representative to the UN: Israel has directly supported ISIS
Syria’s Permanent Representative to the UN Bashar al-Jaafari accused Israel of providing support to the Islamic State group in Syria on Wednesday, claiming that the Jewish state has indirectly but significantly aided one of the most malicious terror groups in the region. Al-Jaafri stated that Israel had directly supported the terror group by bombing Syrian regime sites.

Japan says North Korea may have missiles equipped with sarin gas
North Korea may have the capacity to deliver missiles equipped with sarin nerve gas, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Thursday, amid concerns that the reclusive state could soon conduct its sixth nuclear test or more missile launches. “There is a possibility that North Korea already has a capability to deliver missiles with sarin as warheads,” Abe told a parliamentary session.

Nikki Haley: Russian veto is a ‘no’ to resolving the conflict in Syria
By casting a veto on a UN Security Council resolution condemning the Syrian regime’s use of chemical weapons, Russia said ‘no’ to resolving the conflict in the country, US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Wednesday evening. The draft resolution, aimed at condemning the April 4th chemical weapons attack in Syria and calling on the Syrian regime to cooperate with an independent international investigation, would have passed if not for Russia’s veto.

Cyclone Cook: Evacuations as huge storm lashes north NZ
Heavy rain is lashing New Zealand’s North Island as Cyclone Cook, called the worst storm in decades, makes landfall in the north-east. States of emergency have been declared in the Coromandel Peninsula and Bay of Plenty, with landslips, flash flooding and downed power lines closing roads. Some coastal areas have been evacuated, and local media say 15,000 homes are without power.

Trump says Nato ‘no longer obsolete’
US President Donald Trump has said Nato is “no longer obsolete”, reversing a stance that had alarmed allies. Hosting Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the White House, Mr Trump said the threat of terrorism had underlined the alliance’s importance. He called on Nato to do more to help Iraqi and Afghan “partners”.

Kim Jong Un is ‘preparing to detonate a nuclear bomb in a tunnel’ to mark ‘Day of the Sun’
US military bosses fear North Korea is ready to detonate a nuclear bomb it has placed in a tunnel. It is believed North Korea is in the final states of preparing for its sixth nuclear test. A Voice of America journalist tweeted that US government sources believe North Korea had placed a nuclear device in a tunnel and it could be detonated as early as this weekend.

Trump and Xi: Tensions Turn to Friendship
President Donald Trump was expansive on Wednesday about his relationship with a world leader he has gotten to know since taking office. “We have a very good relationship,” he said in a Wall Street Journal interview in the Oval Office. “We have a great chemistry together. We like each other. I like him a lot. I think his wife is terrific.”

Trump administration moving quickly to build up nationwide deportation force
The Trump administration is quickly identifying ways to assemble the nationwide deportation force… An internal Department of Homeland Security assessment obtained by The Washington Post shows the agency has already found 33,000 more detention beds to house undocumented immigrants, opened discussions with dozens of local police forces that could be empowered with enforcement authority and identified where construction of Trump’s border wall could begin.

CPS takes Ohio child after parents refuse to have their child evaluated on school’s insistence
One set of parents in Ohio is outraged after Child Protective Services took their child from his home on what many would call extremely flimsy grounds. According to these parents, CPS removed their 7-year-old child from their home after they refused to have their child diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder on the school’s insistence. Camden Maple is a typical young boy, according to his stepmother, Katie Maple. He’s energetic and “rambunctious,” acting out in class when he gets bored “like children sometimes do.”

French presidential race tightens further, markets nervous
Polls showed France’s presidential election campaign tightening further on Wednesday as financial markets fretted about the rising popularity of a far-left candidate who wants to put France’s European Union membership to a vote.

In surprise move, Iran’s Ahmadinejad to run for president
Iran’s former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday stunned the country by unexpectedly filing to run in the May presidential election, contradicting a recommendation from the supreme leader to stay out of the race.

North Korea Said To Be Preparing Nuclear Device Detonation; Test Site Is “Primed And Ready”
Voice of America reports that according to US government and other sources, North Korea has “apparently placed a nuclear device in a tunnel and it could be detonated Saturday AM Korea time.”

Recession Alert: Government Revenues Suffer Biggest Drop Since The Financial Crisis
In the 12 months ended March 31, total federal revenues were $3.263 trillion: 1.3% lower than the $3.31 trillion reported one year ago, and the fourth consecutive month of declines. This was the biggest drop since the summer of 2008. Meanwhile, government spending in March just hit an all time high

This digital currency is about to succeed where bitcoin has failed
After languishing for years, the price of a single litecoin has shot higher in recent weeks as its users have thrown support behind a software update that would improve the network’s ability to quickly and efficiently process transactions.On Wednesday, support for a software upgrade called segregated witness—or segwit, for short—was quickly approaching the 75% threshold of processing power needed for it to take effect.


The Briefing 04-14-17

Trump signs law allowing states to defund Planned Parenthood, rolling back Obama regulation

Christianity, Islam, and Egypt: ISIS is targeting Christians in an attempt to destabilize the region

He is risen indeed! Celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead

A high court in Sweden just ruled that a midwife must be willing to perform abortions to keep her job

Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics: Calling breastfeeding “natural” is unethical

Does it matter if the Passover story is literally true? Truth, fact, and the historicity of the Bible

The post The Briefing 04-14-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Why We Celebrate This Weekend


The Dow Falls Another 138 Points As Geopolitical Shaking Forces Investors To Race For The Exits

Stock prices just keep on falling, and many analysts are now wondering if a full-blown stock market crash is in our near future.  On Thursday, the S&P 500 and the Dow both closed at 2 month lows after Donald Trump dropped “the mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan.  It was the first time that one of these bombs has ever been used in live combat, and it is being reported that each of these bombs weighs 22,000 pounds and costs 16 million dollars to make.  Of course Trump was trying to send a very clear message to the rest of the world by dropping this bomb, and investors interpreted it as a sign that we are getting even closer to war. (Read More…)


Tech Stocks Experience Their Longest Losing Streak In 5 Years As Panic Begins To Grip The Market

S&P 500 tech stocks have now fallen for 9 days in a row.  The last time tech stocks declined for so many days in a row was in 2012, and that was the only other time in history when we have seen such a long losing streak.  As I have stated before, the post-election “Trump rally” is officially done, and the market is starting to roll over as investors begin to realize that all of the buying momentum has completely evaporated.  Tech stocks tend to be particularly volatile, and so the fact that they are starting to lead the way down should definitely be alarming to many in the investing community. (Read More…)


23 and Me (and You): Let the Buyer Beware

“Curious about genetic testing and what the results will tell you?” asks Chris Woodward of LifeZette. “Be sure you’re comfortable with privacy issues (or lack thereof).” Woodward writes:

Let the buyer beware! That is the message for people thinking about using home kits promising personal genetic information and details in exchange for something as simple as a saliva sample. The firm 23andMe is the latest company looking to become a household name — and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted it authorization to market genetic reports on personal risk for certain diseases.

The authorization includes reports on genetic risk for 10 conditions, including late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and harmful blood clots, among others.

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President Donald Trump Signs Bill to Overturn Obama Rule Forcing States to Fund Planned Parenthood

According to LifeNews:

Photo credit::Kelsey Lucas Visualsey,The Daily Signal

President Donald Trump signed into law today a bill to overturn a rule pro-abortion President Barack Obama put in place preventing states from defunding the Planned Parenthood abortion business.  The rule from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) prevented states from blocking Title X funding to abortion companies like Planned Parenthood.

After the House first passed the measure, the Senate voted 50-50 for the bill, with a couple of liberal pro-abortion Republicans joining Democrats in supporting the abortion giant and Republicans voting pro-life. The tie vote made it so pro-life Vice-President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote to approve the measure.

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Will Christianity Perish in Its Birthplace?

Whatever they did for democracy, the U.S. interventions in the Middle East and the vaunted Arab Spring have proved to be pure hell for Arab Christians|

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AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals

According to The Guardian “Machine learning algorithms are picking up deeply ingrained race and gender prejudices concealed within the patterns of language use.” So the question is, will robots display human prejudices?

An artificial intelligence tool that has revolutionised the ability of computers to interpret everyday language has been shown to exhibit striking gender and racial biases.

The findings raise the spectre of existing social inequalities and prejudices being reinforced in new and unpredictable ways as an increasing number of decisions affecting our everyday lives are ceded to automatons.

In the past few years, the ability of programs such as Google Translate to interpret language has improved dramatically. These gains have been thanks to new machine learning techniques and the availability of vast amounts of online text data, on which the algorithms can be trained.

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The Daily Wonder of Easter

Michelle Leslie reminds us that “As Christians, every day our sin sick souls need to bow at the cross and be washed afresh in the precious, atoning blood of Christ.”

“What should I preach about on Easter Sunday? Help me out, here.”

That’s the gist of a tweet I saw recently from a pastor. It caught me quite off guard, and it must have had the same effect on many others who punctuated their excellent advice –“preach the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sins”- with lots of “duh’s” and other indications that this should be a no-brainer for a Christian pastor.

Traditionally, the prevailing line of thought about Easter (and Christmas) services has always been, “This is one of the two times a year that a lot of lost people go to church. It might be our only chance to reach some of them. Let’s make sure we give them the gospel.” Maybe after so many years of that, some pastors feel that their church members have heard it all before and they need to move on to something else in order to keep people’s attention. Sometimes, as a pastor, it’s tough to know just what to do to best reach people for Christ.

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April 14, 2017
SIENA HOEFLING — “That attack on children yesterday had a big impact on me. Big impact. That was a horrible, horrible thing.” – President Donald Trump, April 6, 2017. When Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reportedly used chemical weapons against his own people, U.S. President Donald Trump answered with punitive missiles. Assad violated previous agreements, said Trump, and the United States had a security interest “to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons.”… (more)

April 13, 2017
A Special Report from the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism; Cliff Kincaid, Director
CLIFF KINCAID — Ever since President Trump’s missile strike on Syria on April 6, which angered Russia’s Vladimir Putin, the Washington Post has ever-so-subtly backed away from its robotic “Russian interference to help elect Trump” claims, asserted with absolute certainty. The Post now, on April 7, calls it the “alleged” Russian efforts to “interfere in the 2016 presidential race.” The Post no longer sounds so sure of itself and its anonymous anti-Trump intelligence agency sources…. (more)

April 13, 2017
BOB UNRUH — News headlines on Wednesday included Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s visit to Russia as well as that nation’s veto of a United Nations resolution against Syria over its sarin gas attack on citizens. But the biggest headline, talk-radio giant Rush Limbaugh said, is the one that confirmed the FBI obtained a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign adviser during the 2016 presidential race…. (more)

April 13, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Republican lawmakers made their first official inquiry into opening an investigation of reports the Obama administration’s national security adviser and others “unmasked” several Trump campaign officials swept up in U.S. surveillance operations against foreign targets during last year’s presidential election campaign…. (more)

April 13, 2017
GEORGE WILL — With a mellifluous name suggesting bucolic tranquility, Representative Mark Meadows, a North Carolina Republican, is an unlikely object of the caterwauling recently directed at him and the House Freedom Caucus he leads. The vituperation was occasioned by the HFC’s role rescuing Republicans from embracing an unpopular first draft of legislation to replace Obamacare…. (more)

April 13, 2017
NEWSMAX — It is “infinitely safer” for President Donald Trump to keep chief strategist Steve Bannon inside the White House rather than boot him amid reported infighting, according to political commentator Charles Krauthammer…. (more)

April 13, 2017

CAL THOMAS — Nearly three dozen men sit on death row in Arkansas, where capital punishment has been suspended since 2005. Unless clemency is granted, seven of them – – an eighth man was granted a temporary reprieve – – will be given lethal injections all within a 10-day period, between April 17 and 27…. (more)


April 13, 2017

NEWSMAX — Chinese President Xi Jinping called for a peaceful resolution of rising tension on the Korean peninsula in a telephone conversation with U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, as a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group steamed towards the region…. (more)


April 13, 2017

FOX NEWS — The cartel member suspected of shooting and killing Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010 with a gun supplied by the U.S. government was arrested in Mexico Wednesday, senior law enforcement, Border Patrol, and congressional sources told Fox News…. (more)


April 13, 2017
LEO HOHMANN — A government watchdog agency has filed a federal Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives seeking records related to a proposed rule change that would ban certain types of AR-15 ammunition…. (more)

April 12, 2017

NEWSMAX — The FBI obtained a secret court order last summer to monitor the communications of Donald Trump adviser Carter Page as part of a probe of possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign, The Washington Post reported Tuesday…. (more)


April 12, 2017

GARTH KANT — The White House press secretary was visibly amused by the suggestion from a network reporter that Russian President Vladimir Putin was snubbing the Trump administration, after months of the mainstream media advancing the Democrats’ narrative that the Russian had been colluding with the Trump team…. (more)


April 12, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — He has supported Donald Trump since the beginning of the 2016 presidential campaign, but former presidential adviser and presidential candidate Patrick Buchanan believes the president acted “rashly” when he decided to launch 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield in response to a suspected chemical gas attack by the regime of Bashar al-Assad…. (more)

April 12, 2017

WASHINGTON EXAMINER — As pressure builds on the Trump administration to articulate a clear strategy for U.S. involvement in Syria, White House officials have attempted to straddle the line between supporting Syrian President Bashar Assad’s removal and opposing the commitment of American military forces to his ouster…. (more)


April 12, 2017
BYRON YORK — Belligerence is in the air in Washington. President Trump is enjoying (extremely rare) bipartisan praise for a cruise-missile attack on Syria. There’s tough talk from some Republicans about more. And even tougher talk about Russia. North Korea, too…. (more)

April 12, 2017
NEWSMAX — Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., called for House Speaker Paul Ryan to take a new “direction” or step down, CNN reported. “We need either a change in direction from this speaker, or we need a new speaker,” Amash said during a town hall meeting in Cedar Springs, Mich., when answering questions about the gridlock in Congress…. (more)

April 12, 2017
NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump needs to learn the identity of the man or woman leaking embarrassing information about infighting between White House staffers and fire them immediately, veteran political commentator Michael Reagan says…. (more)

April 12, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Attorney General Jeff Sessions declared “a new era” in immigration enforcement on Tuesday, saying his prosecutors will try to bring stiffer criminal charges against repeat illegal immigrants and smugglers as part of President Trump’s crackdown. Mr. Sessions said his enforcement priorities will end the “catch and release” practices of the Obama administration and give the Justice Department a more active role in stemming illegal immigration…. (more)

April 12, 2017
BOB UNRUH — 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…. (more)

April 12, 2017

BOSTON GLOBE — In the world of important political documents – – from the Magna Carta to the Pentagon Papers – – there are also those known for more pedestrian reasons. Count Mitt Romney’s “binders full of women” in that category…. (more)


April 12, 2017
CHERYL K. CHUMLEY — CNN’s Don Lemon made national headlines just recently when he refused to cover Susan Rice, and the matter of her unmasking of names of those tied to President Donald Trump. He said it was a non-story – – and the conservative world, rightly so, reacted with accusations of bias. That fiasco came on the heels of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow’s long-winded, ridiculous report on Trump’s taxes – – a 20-plus minute annoyance that ended with a revelation, basically, that went like this: Trump filed…. (more)

April 12, 2017
CHERYL CHUMLEY — Oh, how nice, leave it to the intellectuals to once again, make lemons out of lemonade – – freedom out of Communism. MIT Press, that supposed bastion of scientific thought, the place where the brainiacs flock and fly – – meaning, this wasn’t an “oops, my bad” moment – – has just put out a new book aimed at the kiddie market. It’s called “Communism for Kids.” And it’s hitting the “best-seller” Amazon lists for the “communism and socialism” section – – yes, that’s truly a section…. (more)

April 12, 2017
NATIONAL REVIEW — Your local PBS station might seem like an unlikely place to find a documentary critical of public education, but that is exactly what viewers get this week with the late Andrew Coulson’s new documentary School, Inc. The film doesn’t attack public schools. Rather, it asks why education has yet to behave like other industries have in the last 200 years or so – – and why it has failed to achieve comparable gains…. (more)

April 10, 2017
ALAN KEYES — “The Trump administration rewarded Border Patrol agents for their support of Trump as president by picking an Obama holdover whom they despise to be their boss…. Many expressed regret for having supported Trump in the first place and for having believed he would actually listen to them and care about what they experienced while risking their lives for other Americans……. (more)

April 10, 2017

CLIFF KINCAID — The mainstream media have not challenged the claim that chemical weapons were used by Syrian and/or Russian forces. Hence, they have been forced to explain how they were used when Obama officials previously claimed they had been removed from Syria. It’s another new low for a press corps that was eager to regurgitate whatever the Obama administration had claimed as a success in foreign policy…. (more)


Featured Blogs


Weekly Watchman for 04/14/2017

That’s a Great Question

We receive hundreds of emails and calls every month from listeners asking about certain topics that we might not have covered on air. This morning we share and discuss as many as we can in our “Great Question” segment.

In the first segment, we check in with Doug Wakefield of Best Minds, Inc. to discuss the tension between the U.S., Russia, China and North Korea and how it might affect markets and the world economy.

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

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Is Scientology Compatible with Christianity?

Why are people seduced by cults? What would make an intelligent person fall into deception or be drawn into anti-biblical teachings? Something that sounds good on the surface perhaps, but is not what it appears to be when you do a little digging. Today we will discuss the Church of Scientology with an expert, James Walker of Watchman.org and touch on some basics.

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

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The End Game in Syria and Israel

Many are wondering what the end game of leaders like President Trump and Russian President Putin might be in Syria and the Middle East. The U.S. attack on the air force base that Syrian President Assad used to attack his people with chemical weapons has the world on edge, and as the U.S. Secretary of State prepares to meet with Russian leaders today, an anxious world looks on hoping for a positive outcome that will avoid an escalation of war.

Hear what Gary Kay has to say on today’s program.

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

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World Religions and the Challenge of Religious Freedom

Freedom is not an easy concept, particularly when it comes to freedom of religious beliefs and conscience. While our nation was clearly established on Judeo-Christian principles from the Bible, our Founding Fathers were also very clear that government should never enforce a national religion upon its citizens. But at what cost do we allow any religion in the U.S.?

This morning we cover a controversy out of Deleware, where a local Muslim Imam opened a government meeting with a quote from the Quran–the very book that calls for Muslim domination of the world and persecution of anyone who opposes Islam.

In our first segment we check in with Roger Patterson the general Editor for an intriguing and informative new book World Religions and Cults – Volume 3.

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

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Syria, Chemical Weapons and Biblical Prophecy

Thursday evening, the United States launched a devastating attack on a Syrian Air Force base, from which a chemical weapons attack against its own people was based two days earlier. The world is once again on edge since Syria is allied with Russia, and many are wondering if this attack will escalate into regional war pitting two nuclear superpowers against one another.

Bible prophecy focuses heavily on Israel and the Middle East. Joining us today is Pastor Carl Gallups, an author and Bible prophecy teacher. We discuss current events and the chaos in the Middle East, viewing it all through the lens of scripture.

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

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The Supreme Ruler is Above the Supreme Court

Today Mike and Dave discuss the heated battle over the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court with guest, Julaine Appling. There are debates and fireworks over the possibility of the ‘nuclear option’ – which Harry Reid and the Democrats put in place – being used as a last resort in the face of opposition and filibusters. it’s just politics and this too shall pass.

Just as important is how Gorsuch will decide on issues and vote on cases presented to the Supreme Court once he is confirmed. We can speculate, but no one knows for sure. What we do know is Washington D.C. is just as divided as our nation politically and spiritually.

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

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The Changing Landscape of Religious Freedom

This morning we focus on the changing landscape of religious freedom in America and how the church views free speech from the pulpit. As secular culture and political correctness increase pressure on Christians, many churches are opting to ignore important social and political (moral) issues. We address a recent survey by the National Association of Evangelicals that shines some light on the opinions of pastors regarding politics, controversial issues and the church’s role.

In our first segment, Tina Griffin of Counter Culture Mom joins us to share her insights on how parents can guard children against some of the most deceptive forces today, including the anti-Christian entertainment industry.

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

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Wielding a Sharp Sword Carefully

Hebrews 4:12 says the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit. Since we are armed with such a powerful weapon, we would be wise to wield it carefully instead of just flailing it around carelessly.

But how many times do we treat this powerful sword as a weapon to attack others instead of using it to convict the hearts and minds of people to submit to God? And how many times do we misuse this weapon for personal gain, even at the risk of God’s discipline?

Dave Wager of Nicolet Bible Institute joins us to discuss how we use this powerful weapon–God’s Word–with care and respect.

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

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Playing with Spiritual Fire

Death has been called the “great door to the unknown”. Since the beginning of time man has wondered if there is life after death; and if so what does that life look like. Of course, God’s Word speaks clearly to the issue. One key section is the ‘resurrection chapter’ where Paul teaches believers about the resurrection of the physical body after death. The other thing is as believers in Christ, we have assurance the world does not have about what happens after we die.

In out first segment, Jay Seegert joins us to discuss the Grand Canyon and the evidence it presents confirming the biblical account of creation.

In our second segment today we cover the story of one Theresa Caputo, the self-proclaimed “Long Island Medium” who was in Green Bay last night. Caputo claims to speak to dead spirits, bringing peace to people who wonder what has happened to their loved ones. We’ll take a look at Caputo’s claims and see what God’s Word has to say about contacting dead spirits.

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

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Top Headlines – 4/14/2017

Palestinians demand Britain apologize for Balfour Declaration

China says lack of Palestinian state is ‘historical injustice’

Abbas threatens ‘unprecedented’ steps to end split with Hamas

How a controversial Palestinian leader justifies paying aid money to families of terrorists

Egypt lawyer gets 10 years, social media ban for Facebook posts

Syrian First Lady Asma Assad’s social media posts reflect ‘alternate reality,’ critics say

Syrian representative to the UN: Israel has directly supported ISIS

Assad says Syria chemical attack that killed dozens is ‘fabrication’

Assad Says Videos of Dead Children in Syria Chemical Attack Were Faked

US-backed forces launch new attacks on Islamic State in Syria

Syria claims US bombed IS chemical stores, ‘killing hundreds’

Misdirected Syria strike by US-led forces kills 18 allied fighters

U.S. drops “mother of all bombs” in Afghanistan, marking weapon’s first use

US drops largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan after Green Beret killed

Trump hails ‘very successful’ MOAB strike on ISIS in Afghanistan

While the U.S. wasn’t looking, Russia and Iran began carving out a bigger role in Afghanistan

Nikki Haley: Russian veto is a ‘no’ to resolving the conflict in Syria

Trump says ‘things will work out fine’ between US and Russia

Turkish referendum polls show ‘Yes’ vote above 51 percent on changing the constitution to grant Erdogan sweeping new powers

Fearing for future, some Turks seek new lives abroad

South Sudan’s silent slaughter: Dinka massacre unchecked by regional, international groups

UK says South Sudan civil war amounts to ‘genocide’

US Expected to Return 4,000 Somali Migrants to Their Homeland

Doctor performed female genital mutilation in Michigan clinic, federal authorities charge

Minneapolis Muslims protest ‘sharia’ vigilante in Cedar-Riverside area

Police Call Qurans Found in Toilet at UTD ‘Shocking and Unusual’

China warns against force as North Korea prepares celebration

U.S. May Launch Strike If North Korea Reaches For Nuclear Trigger

North Korea Said To Be Preparing Nuclear Device Detonation; Test Site Is “Primed And Ready”

North Korea may be capable of sarin-tipped missiles: Japan PM

Russian Foreign Minister Meets With Tillerson, Says They Inherited ‘Time Bombs’ From Obama Admin

Trump says North Korea problem ‘will be taken care of’

British spies were first to spot Trump team’s links with Russia

Lansing, Michigan rescinds ‘sanctuary’ status after criticism from businesses

CNN Panics over French Election, Admits Le Pen Could Win

French presidential race tightens further, markets nervous

Recession Alert: Government Revenues Suffer Biggest Drop Since The Financial Crisis

This digital currency is about to succeed where bitcoin has failed

Venezuela opposition seeks to strain security forces with protests

CIA director calls WikiLeaks, once praised by Trump, a ‘hostile intelligence service’

FBI: Public should be aware of agenda-driven fake news

Phones and social media turn consumers into whistleblowers

Touchscreen use linked to sleep problems in infants

Beijing marathon to use facial recognition in cheating crackdown

AI programs exhibit racial and gender biases, research reveals

‘New golden age’ of (digital) radio heralds review that could end FM

Water harvester can pull moisture out of the air using only power of Sun

Oklahoma is laboratory for research on human-induced earthquakes

5.8 magnitude earthquake hits near Ndoi Island, Fiji

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Ovalle, Chile

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near the southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Pondaguitan, Philippines

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Ascension Island region

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 11,000ft

Poas volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 10,500ft

Cyclone Cook: Evacuations as storm lashes New Zealand

Wet winter sets precipitation record in Northern California

Mumps outbreak in Texas reaches 23-year high

ObamaCare insurance: fear of failure in Tennessee

Ballooning bills: More U.S. hospitals pushing patients to pay before care

Virginia father convicted of murdering baby son for life insurance

Trump lets states block some Planned Parenthood money

Millennials, popular dating apps might have increased your risk of getting STDs, experts say

Adultery in 2017: Christians Rank What Counts as Cheating

Special report: 1 in 4 Americans don’t think one-night stands count as cheating

5 family members arrested on suspicion of kidnapping sibling over sexual orientation

Chechens tell of prison beatings and electric shocks in anti-gay purge: ‘They called us animals’

Justin Trudeau Unveils Long-Awaited Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

The Ancient Pagan Origins of Easter

Extreme religious acts mark Good Friday in the Philippines

Evangelical Author: ‘Heterosexuality is an Abomination.’

Pastor Saeed Abedini’s Divorce Finalized Amid Adultery, Conspiracy Allegations

Alabama Senate gives megachurch the right to form its own police force

Trump Signs Law to Let States Defund Planned Parenthood

Report: Man in Minneapolis policing neighborhood for violations of Sharia law

US intelligence intercepted communications between Syrian military and chemical experts

Russia vetoes UN draft resolution on Syria gas attack probe

Syria war: Anger after Russia vetoes resolution at UN

At UN, US tells Russia it’s isolating itself by backing Assad

As ties ebb, Trump says Russia may have known about Syria gas attack

Tillerson: there is a ‘low level of trust’ with Russia

US relations with Russia may be at all-time low, says Donald Trump

US-Russia diplomacy: Why one airstrike does not leverage make

Russian nuclear-capable bombers fly near Japan, US officials say

Syria war: Deal to evacuate besieged towns begins with prisoner swap

Government is ‘institutionally biased’ against Christian refugees from Syria, claims former Archbishop of Canterbury

Islamic State claims suicide bomb attack that kills five in Kabul

Defense Minister knocks UN for ignoring when Palestinians kill Palestinians

Nigeria says thwarts Boko Haram plans to attack British and US embassies

Iran’s Ahmadinejad Will Run For Presidency, Flouting Ayatollah’s Advice

Turkey: explosion at police station was ‘terror attack’

Turkey militants ‘used tunnel to plant explosives’

‘Journalism is becoming powerless’: Inside a nervous Turkish newsroom as the government closes in

Foreign journalists in North Korea told to prepare for ‘big’ event

North Korea said to ready nuclear test as tensions climb

Midday Update: Stocks Return Gains on Reports of Chinese Troop Deployments on N. Korea Border

China’s Xi urges peaceful resolution of North Korea tension in call with Trump

Trump says Nato ‘no longer obsolete’

Experts warn 800 species, many endangered, affected by border wall

Trump administration moving quickly to build up nationwide deportation force

Sessions Announces Illegal Aliens Who Illegally Re-Enter The U.S. Will Be Charged With a Felony

1,470 economists send Trump a letter to support immigrants

Secretary of State Kris Kobach announces first conviction of noncitizen voting in Kansas

Investigation found Ohio inmates built and hid computers in prison

Teen accidentally kills himself as friends watch on Instagram Live

Delivery robots: a revolutionary step or sidewalk-clogging nightmare?

Yes, the United Airlines scandal is bad. But where’s the media outrage over the IRS scandal?

Puerto Rico seen sliding toward bankruptcy as deadline nears

See a Potentially Hazardous Asteroid From Your Backyard

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Adtugan, Philippines

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Ovalle, Chile

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits the Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Naze, Japan

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

Poas volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 11,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 11,000ft

Tragic Barrier Reef as you’ve never seen it after Debbie reduced it to rubble

Newlyweds contract rare brain parasite during Hawaiian honeymoon

World’s Largest Pig Producer to Look at Human Organ Transplants

Judge rules baby can be taken off life support against parents’ will

The Latest: Trump expected to sign family planning bill

After transgender bathroom battle, North Carolina looks to ban same-sex marriage

N.C. GOP leader says no future for bill banning gay marriage

Outed as Transgender on Reality TV: Survivor’s Zeke Smith Says ‘I Just Wanted to Be Known for My Game’

Londoners protest against ‘unprecedented’ anti-LGBT violence in Chechnya

‘The Case for Christ’ in Top 10 at Box Office

Mike Oppenheimer – Is it God’s will to Heal EVERYONE?

Profane ‘Pastor’ Welcomes Open Homosexuals, Admits He ‘Doesn’t Care’ What Bible Says

Trinity Broadcasting Network campus sale price revealed: $18.25 million

California Murder-Suicide School Shooter Was Self-Proclaimed Pastor

Thousands of Christians expected for rapturous Holy Fire ceremony

Muslims ‘Invoked God’s Wrath on Christians’ Over Loudspeakers Before Church Terror Attacks

HATED BY ALL MEN – Christians Now Being Harassed In 128 Nations

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 07:59 AM PDT

The number of countries in which Christians suffer from government restrictions and social hostilities grew from 108 to 128 in one year, according to a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FALSE FLAG? Assad Claims Chemical Attack Was ‘100 Percent Fabrication’

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 07:53 AM PDT

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad has accused the US of fabricating last week’s chemical attack to justify a military strike, claiming the regime could not be…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Dangerous Cyclone Takes Aim At New Zealand

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 06:19 AM PDT

After hitting New Caledonia with strong winds and heavy rain, Tropical Cyclone “Cook” has undergone extratropical transition but what’s left of it is still very…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China Warns US Against Striking North Korea

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 06:11 AM PDT

China has warned the US against using military force against North Korea, after a surprise redeployment of an aircraft carrier group. Washington’s regional allies said…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Keywords ‘World War 3’ Hits News Record As Fears Grow!

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 06:02 AM PDT

As warships move off the coast of North Korea and cruise missile stay pointed at Syria, you might be forgiven for the odd macabre thought…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: What Happens If Kim Jong-Un Is Not Bluffing?

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 05:55 AM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) Donald Trump has repeatedly promised to “solve” the North Korean problem, and the North Koreans have repeatedly promised to use nuclear weapons…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

If Jesus Can Restore Peter, He Can Restore You

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 05:49 AM PDT

(By J. Lee Grady) One of the saddest parts of the Easter story occurred the night Jesus was arrested. His disciple Peter was stressed to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Japan warns North Korea may be capable of arming missiles with sarin

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 05:44 AM PDT

North Korea may already have the capability to deliver missiles equipped with sarin nerve agent, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Thursday. His warning came…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Satellite photos show North Korean nuclear site ‘primed and ready’

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 05:40 AM PDT

North Korean monitoring service 38 North said Wednesday the country’s Punggye-ri nuclear site is “primed and ready” for a sixth nuclear test. “The activity during…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Tech Stocks Experience Their Longest Losing Streak In 5 Years As Panic Begins To Grip The Market

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 07:50 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) S&P 500 tech stocks have now fallen for 9 days in a row.  The last time tech stocks declined for so…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russian Newspaper Reporting Kim Jong-un orders evacuation of 600,000 from Pyongyang

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 07:36 PM PDT

North Koreaт leader Kim Jong-un ordered 25 percent of Pyongyang residents to leave the city immediately. In accordance with the order, 600,000 people should be…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Foreign journalists in North Korea told to prepare for ‘Big’ Event this Thursday

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 07:24 PM PDT

Foreign journalists visiting North Korea have been told to prepare for a “big and important event” on Thursday, although there were no indications it was…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: North Korea Preparing Nuclear Test

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 07:20 PM PDT

US military bosses fear North Korea is ready to detonate a nuclear bomb it has placed in a tunnel. It is believed North Korea is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists developing earthquake early warning system for entire West Coast

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 05:24 PM PDT

It’s a link up that could lead to a more improved earthquake early warning system for the entire west coast. On Monday, seismic sensors at…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Mount Sinabung Volcano Unleashes Fresh Eruptions in Indonesia

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 05:16 PM PDT

Mount Sinabung on Indonesia’s Sumatra island has spewed hot smoke and ash high into the air on Wednesday, in its latest violent eruptions. According to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Magnitude-6.0 Earthquake rocks parts of the Philippines

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 05:05 PM PDT

The magnitude-6.0 quake that hit Wao, Lanao Del Sur Wednesday morning has left several structures in the municipality damaged. Lanao del Sur Local Disaster and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Successfully Preparing for Earth’s Final Hours

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 04:58 PM PDT

(Dr. Dave Williams) The borders of the prophetic puzzle are now in place. Nearly every day other pieces are falling into their proper positions, signaling…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ahmadinejad set to run for Iran presidency!

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 04:53 PM PDT

The former president of Iran who once admitted that he was trying help usher in the arrival of the Muslim Mahdi in Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Swearing ‘Pastor’ Embraces Open Abominations, ‘Doesn’t Care’ What Bible Says

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 04:47 PM PDT

A profanity-laced preacher who has lost hundreds in his congregation over his decision to allow open homosexuals to serve in leadership positions, and who says…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia Vetoes UNSC Syria Condemnation

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 04:36 PM PDT

Moscow has vetoed a US-backed resolution condemning the Khan Shaykun incident on April 4 as a chemical attack while demanding that Syria open up its…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Solar filament explodes hurling CME into space – G1-class geomagnetic storms possible this weekend

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:54 PM PDT

On April 9, 2017, a dark solar filament exploded hurling a powerful CME into space. At first it appeared that the CME would miss Earth,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

A Prayer for Urgency and Militant Focus

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:49 PM PDT

(By Cameron King) Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Eyewitness Testimony That’ll Make You Never Doubt the Resurrection Again

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:42 PM PDT

Christianity’s core belief is that the Son of God took on human form, died for our sins and then rose from the dead to give…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

These 2 States Are Launching Biblical Pushback on Gay Marriage

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:39 PM PDT

Lawmakers in two states are working to pass bills that push back against the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. In Texas, lawmakers are weighing…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Sweden Proposing Ban on Cars to avert Terrorism!

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:27 PM PDT

Cars and other vehicles “have turned into deadly weapons”, and should be banished from cities to stop attacks like the one in Stockholm from happening…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT: Transgender Boy competes with girls track team for first time

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:23 PM PDT

Cromwell High School freshman Andraya Yearwood finally ran the race she had been dreaming of running, and not because she had a personal best time….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WAR DRUMS: Japanese warships to join US fleet near North Korea as tensions rise

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:15 PM PDT

Navy destroyers will join USS Carl Vinson for military drills amid fears Pyongyang plans further nuclear and missile tests. Japan is preparing to send several…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Popular Pastor Mentored by T.D. Jakes Accused of an Affair

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:12 PM PDT

There are reports that a popular pastor and mentee of Bishop T.D. Jakes had an extra-marital affair with his “spiritual daughter. Pastor Chris Hill of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

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

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:07 PM PDT

A church in North Carolina is going to celebrate Easter with a stadium-wide Easter egg hunt that will have approximately 20,000 Easter eggs. Element Church,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Was Jesus a Liberal or Conservative?

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:03 PM PDT

(By Garrett Kell) As we begin, I want to say that I’m not a political expert. I am a Christian pastor. This is important because I…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Puerto Rico seen sliding toward bankruptcy as deadline nears…

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 12:00 PM PDT

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,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russian nuke bombers fly near Japan… First Time In Months

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 11:56 AM PDT

For the first time in nearly three months, Russia flew nuclear-capable “Bear” bombers near Japan, Wednesday, the latest sign of increasing tensions in the region,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hidden Submarine Poses Great Threat Amid Nuclear Attack Plan

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 11:52 AM PDT

Could Kim Jong-Un be planning an underwater nuclear attack using a secret submarine? While North Korea is still struggling to develop nuclear-headed airborne missiles, it is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why Too Much Comfort Is Dangerous

Posted: 12 Apr 2017 11:48 AM PDT

(By Seth Barnes) When winter comes, I have a love-hate relationship with the indoors. Baby it’s cold outside. But I know that if I sit…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WAR DRUMS: China warns war could break out ‘at any moment’ over North Korea

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 07:04 AM PDT

China has warned that conflict could break out “at any moment” over North Korea amid fears it is preparing to launch a sixth nuclear test…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

N. Korea will strike US bases in Asian Pacific & S. Korean presidential palace if US attacks

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 07:00 AM PDT

North Korea will strike US military bases in Japan and South Korea, as well as the South Korean president’s residence in Seoul, if America engages…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Louisiana Church Offering Drive-Thru Good Friday Prayers

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 06:26 AM PDT

A congregation in Louisiana is going to offer drive-thru prayers for commuters as part of the holy day of Good Friday. For the third year…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Muslim Professor Resigns after Christian Student Stands Up for His Faith

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 06:18 AM PDT

The Muslim professor at the center of a controversy with a Christian student at Rollins College in Florida has resigned her post, the school’s president…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Muslim Parents ‘Turning to Christ’ Through Children Who’ve Embraced Christianity

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 06:08 AM PDT

Muslim families displaced by the Islamic State terror group are reportedly turning to Jesus Christ, following in the footsteps of hundreds of children who’ve embraced…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia, Syria & Iran demand no further US strikes on Syria!

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 06:03 AM PDT

The US cruise missile attack on Syria was an act of international aggression, Russia, Syria and Iran have stated after a meeting of their foreign…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WAR DRUMS: North Korea Warns U.S Not to Provoke! – ‘We will go to war if they choose’

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 06:00 AM PDT

North Korea won’t hesitate to go to war if provoked, its vice foreign minister said in an interview, adding that the North has “a powerful…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WAR DRUMS: Japan sending warships to join US fleet to be ready for conflict.

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:55 AM PDT

North Korea has enemies surrounding its borders after causing global terror with its nuclear weapons program. Kim Jong-un has threatened to nuke many of his…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WAR DRUMS: China Moves Additional 25,000 More troops to North Korean Border

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:50 AM PDT

US president Donald Trump has pressed China to do more to tackle North Korea’s nuclear missile plan. A military report from China stated they would…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Marvel under fire for comic book’s hidden Islamist, anti-Semitic messages

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:43 AM PDT

Marvel Comics plans to take “disciplinary action” against an artist who slipped political propaganda into a comic book. The comic book giant has been under…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Homeless man robs NYC churches to ‘get back at God’…

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:38 AM PDT

A Queens burglary suspect, motivated by his hatred of the Almighty, robbed four houses of worship in three weeks — including one that was hit…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Extreme religious acts mark Good Friday in Philippines…

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:33 AM PDT

Whipping their backs to a bloody state and nailing themselves to crosses, devotees in the fervently Catholic Philippines marked Good Friday with extreme acts of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russian Lawmaker Says U.S Greater Threat Than North Korea

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:30 AM PDT

A senior Russian lawmaker says the U.S. is a greater threat to global peace than North Korea. Konstantin Kosachev, the head of the Foreign Affairs…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT: Dutch MPs vote to punish schools that refuse to teach LGBT awareness

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 06:44 PM PDT

An overwhelming majority of MPs in the Netherlands’ lower house of parliament have voted in support of a motion which would allow schools to be…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Could North Korean Agents Release Biological Weapons In Major U.S. Cities?

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 06:38 PM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) Most Americans have no idea that biological weapons could potentially bring our nation to a complete and utter standstill within a matter…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: Could Australia Be Pulled Into Confrontation with China?

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 06:34 PM PDT

Wars can happen suddenly in an atmosphere of mistrust and provocation, especially if a minor power, like Australia, abandons its independence for an “alliance” with…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian teacher in Germany banned from wearing cross necklace

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 05:52 PM PDT

School management has forced a teacher in Berlin, Germany, to remove a cross necklace from her attire when she’s in the classroom. School administrators in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

3,000 Year Old Manure in Israel Offers Clues on Bible’s King Solomon Mystery

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 05:48 PM PDT

The discovery of 3,000-year-old manure in Israel’s Timna Valley could provide clues about the biblical King Solomon and his 10 century B.C. quest to build…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Dow Falls Another 138 Points As Geopolitical Shaking Forces Investors To Race For Exits

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 05:43 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) Stock prices just keep on falling, and many analysts are now wondering if a full-blown stock market crash is in our…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China Flexes It’s Muscle Amid Growing Military Tensions

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 05:38 PM PDT

China has flexed its military muscle on state television as tensions escalate between the US and North Korea. China Central Television (CCTV) yesterday revealed footage…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea May Attempt Nuclear Detonation to Mark Sinister ‘Day of the Sun’

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 05:34 PM PDT

New satellite images have emerged purportedly showing how North Korea is preparing to detonate a nuclear bomb to coincide with its ‘Day of the Sun’…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: U.S. May Launch Strike If North Korea Reaches For Nuclear Trigger

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 05:11 PM PDT

The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Newlyweds contract rare brain parasite during Hawaiian honeymoon

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 01:40 PM PDT

Among the lures of Maui, second-largest of the Hawaiian islands, is an area known for being less developed than most other regions of our 50th…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

British intelligence passed Trump associates’ communications with Russians on to US counterparts

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 01:37 PM PDT

British and other European intelligence agencies intercepted communications between associates of Donald Trump and Russian officials and other Russian individuals during the campaign and passed…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

President Trump Just Empowered the States to Defund Planned Parenthood

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 01:26 PM PDT

(Reported By Jessilyn Justice) President Donald Trump just moved Planned Parenthood funding to the state level, in essence defunding the abortion giant at the federal…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

More than quarter of UK’s birds at risk of extinction

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 01:21 PM PDT

More than a quarter of the UK’s birds are struggling to survive, with species including curlews and puffins now joining the at-risk list, according to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Thousands of Dead perch washing up in Lake Michigan

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 01:18 PM PDT

CBS Chicago reports that anglers found the dead fish at an old dock, a popular local fishing spot. Photos of the scene were then passed…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

NASA Announces Solar System May Harbor Alien Life

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 12:04 PM PDT

There might be alien life in our own solar system, Nasa has announced. All of the necessary things to support life have been found on…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Falling Away is Picking up Steam!

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 11:56 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will discuss how we are seeing more and more signs that are indicating that the “Falling Away” of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump strong dollar warning sends US currency tumbling

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 10:55 AM PDT

President Donald Trump has triggered a sharp decline in the US dollar by criticizing the currency’s strength on the back of increased confidence in his…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Series of Strong Earthquakes Strikes Philippines – Fear of Big One

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 10:47 AM PDT

The seismic unrest spreads across the world! Magnitude 5.8, Magnitude 5.7 and 9 other strong earthquakes struck the Philippines on April 11, 2017, just a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Drops Largest Non-Nuclear Weapon in fight against ISIS in Afghanistan

Posted: 13 Apr 2017 10:39 AM PDT

The U.S. military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday, just days after a Green Beret was killed fighting ISIS there, a…

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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5 Reasons the Resurrection Brings Hope

RESURRECTION: As Easter Sunday approaches, have you wondered about the resurrection of Jesus Christ? How does the resurrection bring you hope? This article by counselor Lucy Ann Moll, a doctoral student in biblical counseling, appeared first at her website and is used with permission.

BCC logoHope is something God knows all of us needs. Aren’t we in a world of hurt? From hearing of terrorist bombings to learning of a neighbor’s divorce, you and I are tempted to become discouraged, aren’t we?

If the hurt is close to home, we may respond with sadness, anger, fear, or other emotions.

Thank God for Easter and the hope the resurrection brings!  

While Holy Thursday recalls the Last Supper and Good Friday remembers the crucifixion and death of Christ, Easter Sunday celebrates his resurrection.

We have peace with God

through our Lord Jesus Christ,

through whom we have gained

access by faith 

into this grace

in which we now stand.

Romans 5:1-2

Here are 5 reasons the resurrrection brings hope to followers of Jesus.

1. The Resurrection Means…We’re Justified

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.  (Romans 4:25)

Incredible, isn’t it? To imagine that Jesus dare to die and rise again. . .for us. . .me. . .you.

By his resurrection, all believers in Jesus are justified. Justification is a Bible word that means to “to be put right with.” According to Scripture, all of us are “objects of wrath” because we break God’s law and thus deserve eternal death. But God has a glorious and gracious plan of redemption.

Jesus!

God laid our punishment on Jesus on the cross. Why? So we could be justified before him. The resurrection proves that God accepted Jesus’ sacrifice for sin.

I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentence.

Luke 5:32

2. The Resurrection Defeated Death

For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him. (Romans 6:9)

Truly free.

Yes, death is the just punishment for sin. But wonderfully, Jesus rose from the dead because the grave could not hold him. Death had no mastery over him. Therefore, you and I need not fear death. We also do not need to fear eternal punishment.

We are truly loved.

Thanks be to God–through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:25

3. The Resurrection Means…Union with Jesus

 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. (Romans 6:8)

God loves us higher and wider and deeper than we can possibly imagine.

By our faith, you and I received the righteousness of Christ because we are united to him. This means that when God looks at us, he does not see our unrighteousness, but the righteousness of Christ.

Now, as new creations in Christ indwelt by the Holy Spirit, we can walk in the way of love.

His grace was given us in Christ Jesus

before the beginning of time. 

2 Timothy 1:9

4. The Resurrection Gives…Living Hope

In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. (1 Peter 1:3)

We Christ followers have great hope. Not a false hope. Not well wishes. Rather, we have a trustworthy hope based on faith. We have been justified before God. We are no longer his enemies headed for hell.

Rather, we are blessed, chosen, forgiven, redeemed, and sealed by the Holy Spirit, guaranteeing eternal life. Also, we can now live according to our identity as children of God. As the apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Colossae,

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life,appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

And God is able to make all grace abound to you. 2 Corinthians 9:8

5. The Resurrection Means…We’ll Be Raised Too

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Cor.15:21-22)

Jesus is described in Scripture as the firstfruits of the resurrection from the dead. This signals that his resurrection is a precursor to that of all believers.

Christians will enjoy the resurrected life just like Christ did, with glorified bodies raised in power (1 Corinthians 15:42-44). We suffer in this life with pain and illnesses. Indeed, in the counseling office, we comfort those who have been sinned against as well as the grieving.

But in the life to come, you and I will not suffer. Truly we will enjoy our life in Christ forever and ever.

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26)

He has risen. He has risen indeed.

The post 5 Reasons the Resurrection Brings Hope appeared first on Biblical Counseling Center.

10 Reasons The Father Didn’t Turn His Face Away At The Cross

Psalm 22:1 is a key verse for the rejection theory. ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?’ (Ps 22:1). What does it mean? Two things. First, context is clear. Look at the parallel verse: ‘why are you so far from helping me?’ This is the issue: ‘no help’. The sufferer is asking why God doesn’t save him from his oppressors. I.e. ‘Why do you let my oppressors torment me?’ The Father gives the Son over to suffering. Psalm 22:1 is the equivalent of Isaiah’s statement, ‘It pleased the Lord to bruise Him’. In fact, the Psalm later says it: ‘You have brought me to the dust of death’ (v. 15).

Christ took the penalty for our sin upon Himself. Our penalty was eternal separation from God. Therefore, the Son must have suffered separation from God—mustn’t He? What would that mean? Is this the severing of the Triune union between the Father and Son? Is this relational, being ‘cut off from…sweet fellowship with his heavenly Father’, such that Christ was ‘abandoned by his heavenly Father’ (Grudem, Systematic Theology, 574)? What does Townend mean, saying there was ‘searing loss’ when ‘The Father turns His face away’? The Father’s anger was upon the Son, who had ‘become sin for us’, so the Father had no choice but to reject and banish the Son from His presence.

Here are 10 reasons why I don’t believe it.

  1. The Father was never more pleased with the Son than at the Cross.

The Cross was Jesus’ ultimate act of obedience: obedience—even to the point of the Cross (Phil 2:8). If ever the Father could say, ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased’, it was at the Cross. The OT sacrifices were a ‘sweet smelling aroma’; how much more was Christ’s sacrifice a delight to God? ‘Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma’ (Eph 5:2).

  1. The Cross was the Father’s plan.

Jesus was ‘delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God’ (Acts 2:23). ‘It was the will of the Lord to crush Him’ (Isa 53:9, ESV). And the Lord takes pleasure in His will. In fact, the word for ‘will’ in Isaiah 53 is chaphets, pleasure, delight. ‘Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him’ (NKJV). Which takes us back to point one.

  1. The Triune union cannot be severed.

That really should be an obvious point. Father, Son and Spirit each fully and together possess the divine being or substance. They cannot turn on each other. The problem here is that some misunderstand the Trinity. The Trinity is three guys who get along really well with each other. But they’re independent enough to turn on each other, as well. This social model has made deep inroads in evangelicalism’s Trinitarian thinking, but it’s not the Bible’s God. That’s playing with tritheism.

  1. If the Father turned away from the Son, the Son turned away from Himself.

The Father fully possesses the divine attribute of justice. The Son fully possesses the divine attribute of justice. If justice demands the Father turn away from the Son, then precisely the same justice demands that the Son turn away from the Son. Moltmann was wrong: this would not be Father against Son, God against God. This would be Son against Himself, separating Himself from Himself (or the Son’s divine nature rejecting the human nature). Of course, the perfect Son was repulsed to be treated as a criminal—it was a heavy burden to bear—but this is another matter.

The rejection theory is well meant, but it doesn’t make sense. Moltmann wanted a God who felt pain, but it only humanises Him, which leaves us all in a desperate muddle.

  1. Was Jesus banished from God’s presence all through His earthly life?

Jesus wasn’t just ‘made sin’ at the Cross, but all through His earthly life. He was ‘born under the [curse of the] law’ (Gal 4:4). Did the Father ‘turn His face away’ from Jesus through all His earthly life?

  1. Psalm 22:1 doesn’t say the Father rejected the Son.

Psalm 22:1 is a key verse for the rejection theory. ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?’ (Ps 22:1). What does it mean? Two things. First, context is clear. Look at the parallel verse: ‘why are you so far from helping me?’ This is the issue: ‘no help’. The sufferer is asking why God doesn’t save him from his oppressors. I.e. ‘Why do you let my oppressors torment me?’ The Father gives the Son over to suffering. Psalm 22:1 is the equivalent of Isaiah’s statement, ‘It pleased the Lord to bruise Him’. In fact, the Psalm later says it: ‘You have brought me to the dust of death’ (v. 15).

Secondly, it’s a rhetorical question. The sufferer knows full well why God does this. What’s the point of asking it, then? To express his distress. This is real suffering. He really doesn’t want to go through it. He would rather God saved Him instantly out of it. ‘If it is possible, let this cup pass from me. But not my will…’ (Matt 26:39).

Perhaps it also means, ‘It feels like you have abandoned me’ (Calvin), or ‘It’s really hard in my present circumstances to feel your closeness’ (which is a very real human reaction, isn’t it, as the extent of physical pain clouds over our spiritual senses). See Lucas Sharley, ‘Calvin and Turretin’s views of the Trinity in the dereliction’, RTR 75, no. 1, 2016.

  1. Psalm 22 affirms that the Father sustained the Son on the Cross.

Reading the whole of Psalm 22, it strongly affirms that God sustained the sufferer. I’m particularly drawn to the participles of v. 9. ‘You are the one bringing me up, from the time of my birth, and you are the one making me trust from the time I was breastfeed onwards’. The verbs are not just about the time of being born. These are ongoing realities. See also Isa 50:7, of Jesus at crucifixion, ‘The Lord God helps me’.

The Psalm heads to the great turning point in v. 21: ‘You have answered Me’. No hint of relational abandonment in that. Put v. 24 in large letters: ‘He has not hidden His face from Him’.

  1. Rejection would have been unjust.

Jesus became sin for us, but He was still the perfect Son of God. ‘Truly, this was a righteous man’ (Matt 23:47). The implications of this need to be honoured. To personalise this, if you were a judge, and your own innocent son valiantly stepped forward at a trial to take a criminal’s punishment upon himself, would you be angry with him and reject him?

  1. The value of the Cross doesn’t need bolstering with a ‘rejection by God’ theory.

Christ paid our debt. Our debt was eternal death, so where is there eternal death at the Cross? It’s not enough that Christ merely physically died, is it? We are due physical and spiritual death. Therefore, we need to bolster the cost of the Cross. We need to find spiritual death at the Cross.

The ‘rejection by God’ theory looks like the answer. However, division within the Triune God is not the same as our everlasting spiritual death. The Cross simply wasn’t everlasting; it was only a few hours.

Also, this misunderstands the atonement. The atonement doesn’t need to be a tit for tat arrangement—an exact exchange, as it were. An equivalent payment, yes; an exact payment, no. ‘The  payment  is  not  precisely  what  is  demanded  in  the  obligation,  but  an equivalent’ (Turretin).

There is inestimable value in the death of God’s Son. It was God’s Son who died. The value is in the Person: God’s righteous, precious Son. And the nature of His death: a freely given sacrifice, with perfect love for us and obedience to God. That’s what makes it ‘sweet smelling’ (Eph 5:2). We’re so used to people dying, that we miss the uniqueness of Christ’s death. It was the purest life that was willingly offered.

How could we forget this, that we would need to seek the value of the Cross elsewhere? That’s enough ‘value’ to pay the sins of all God’s elect people; and for the sins of the whole world, and a thousand worlds besides, many would add. When I remember who it was who died on the Cross—not just the method of execution, and not some theory of Trinitarian disruption—that’s when I fall silent. It was the incarnate Son of God.

  1. It’s not in Scripture.

There is no clear statement in Scripture that the Father turned His face away. If the Father-Son relationship was separated at the Cross, that would be huge. It would be the core meaning of the Cross. You would expect it to be everywhere in Scripture. But of course it’s not.

Does ‘The Father turn His face away’? ‘The Father gives His Son to die’, yes. ‘He prays, “Please take this cup from me”,’ yes. ‘He bears the full weight of my sin’, yes. But ‘He has not hidden His face from Him’ (Ps 22:24). Townend’s song is beautiful, and the metaphor admits to other meanings. I can sing it with a bit of double think: ‘The Father appears to turn His face away, by giving His Son over to execution, but actually sustains Him through His suffering’. As Jesus bore the full weight of sin, He was sustained by His God; and the Father was never more pleased with the Son.

Dr. Jared HoodLecturer in OT, WCF and Reformation History at the Presbyterian Theological College, Melbourne and Editor of Reformed Theological Review, Australia’s leading evangelical journal. This article appeared on his blog and is used with permission.

The post 10 Reasons The Father Didn’t Turn His Face Away At The Cross appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Four Things We Know About the Resurrection Body

At the resurrection, the transformation of the body you have now into the body you will have will be instantaneous.  All believers will receive this gift at the same time. What do we know about this new resurrection body? There’s continuity, but also changes. Here are four of them.

Four Changes with the Resurrection Body

1. Imperishable

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable. (1 Corinthians 15:42)

Lazarus was raised from the dead (John 11), but the body he came back in was the same body, not a resurrection body, which meant that at some point he would have to go through the whole miserable business of dying again!

But Jesus rose in the power of an endless life (Hebrews 7:16), and he’s never going to go through death again, and neither will you in the resurrection. Your resurrection body, like his, will be a body that will never die. Your resurrection body will never age, and it will never decline.

People say you can’t put an old head on young shoulders, but in the resurrection the wisdom of maturity will be combined with the strength of youth. All of Christ’s people will flourish to their full potential.

2. Glorious

It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory. (1 Corinthians 15:43)

Think about the face of Moses, when he came down the mountain after he had been in the presence of God. His face was shining. Why? Because he had been in the presence of the Lord of Glory.

Think about the transfiguration of Jesus: He goes up the mountain with Peter, James, and John, and their faith was strengthened with a preview of the future glory of Jesus! There was a brightness and a radiance about him. And there will be a brightness, a radiance, and a glory, not only around you, but in you (in the resurrection body).

3. Powerful

It is sown in weakness; it is raised in power. (1 Corinthians 15:43)

The [resurrection] body is going to have more energy, more physical capability, more stamina, more athleticism, more speed, more coordination, more durability than it ever had because we’re not going to need the body less, we’re going to need it more and use it more.¹

Think about what this will mean for all of our friends who have been restricted to wheelchairs, or have physical challenges that have restricted their lives in this world. What will it mean when finally and fully Jesus’ words will come true in all of their fullness? The blind will see, the deaf will hear, and the lame will walk.


Your resurrected body will be as eager to do the will of God as your redeemed spirit.
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The Garden of Eden offered scope for the pursuit of art in all its creativity, the pursuit of science in all its forms, and technology as well as theology. The same will be true of the world to come.

Donald Macleod says it well:

Not only the Creator but the Creation, too will be an object of wonder to the redeemed.  It will challenge their intellects, fire their imaginations, and stimulate their industry. The scenario is a thrilling one: brilliant minds in powerful bodies in a transformed universe.²

If you work out at the gym, and you want to engage someone in conversation, try asking them, “How would you like to have a really strong body, a really powerful body?” Then you can tell them, “You will have one on the resurrection!” I guarantee if you ask them this question, though, at first they’ll think you’re trying to sell them some kind of supplements!

4. Godly

It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. (1 Corinthians 15:44)

I use the word “godly” here, because the word “spiritual” is often misunderstood. A “spiritual” body! What is that?  That doesn’t sound like a body in which you could go bungee jumping, snorkeling, or snowboarding!

The resurrection body is a physical, material, flesh-and-bones body. When Paul speaks about a spiritual body, he’s speaking about a body that is fully responsive to the Holy Spirit. That is a marvelous thought! In the resurrection body, you will never feel or think or say, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Your resurrected body will be as eager to do the will of God as your redeemed spirit.

Here’s what you have to look forward to in the new heaven and the new earth: A body that is adapted to life forever and will never decline, a body that is glorious and powerful, a body that is fully responsive to the Holy Spirit.

How to Live in the Light of Your Resurrection Body

Recognize that you are wholly owned by Jesus Christ.

You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20)

Christ has the right to determine where you live, what you do. He bought you with his own blood, and over every area of your life, Jesus Christ says, “Mine.” You are not your own! Your life is his to spend, and the great calling of your life is to glorify him.

Be done with everything that defiles your body or your soul.

Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God. (2 Corinthians 7:1)

“Since we have these promises,” not “since we have these rules.” He could have appealed to the law, but he is going for a higher motivation.

There is a glorious future for your mind, so use your mind in a way that glorifies God. Don’t pollute your mind! Fill your mind with what is pleasing to God.

It’s the same with your body. Don’t use your body as a vehicle for sin (Romans 6:13). Use your eyes, ears, hands, and feet in ways that honor Christ. Let your tongue speak words of kindness. Let your hands be a means of helping (not hurting) others.

Offer your whole self to God.

I appeal to you…brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. (Romans 12:1)

It is common in church circles to speak about “giving your heart to Jesus.” We understand what is meant by this, but the obvious question is: Why should it only be your heart? It’s not enough to say that your heart is in the right place. God wants more than your heart.

“Present your bodies.” The body is what gives us the capacity to act. Spend your strength in ways that honor Christ! This is the greatest motivation for living a sacrificial life. One of the implications of the doctrine of the resurrection is that you don’t have to worry half as much about your bucket list; you can afford to live sacrificially. You can afford to lay down your life if need-be.

The new earth will be better than the earth we have now. The resurrection body will be better than the body you have now. And you will have forever to savor the pleasures that God has in store for you.

That is the whole basis on which the Christian can say, “I will spend my life doing everything that you call me to do in this world until I see your face.” Otherwise, you will live another life, because you didn’t really believe in the resurrection.

Never give in to discouragement!

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

“Therefore…” Because you will soon savor the joys of life in the resurrection body. Because your struggles with sin in this world will soon be over. Because the weariness that comes with being stretched to the limit will soon be a thing of the past. Because you are pressing toward the resurrection…

Keep giving yourself to everything that God is calling you to do. Don’t hold back in any way!

Do it with joy, and do it knowing that if even a cup of cold water will not go without its reward, you can be sure that a life of faith laid down in service for Jesus Christ will be a life that cannot be lived in vain.

[1] Donald Macleod, A Faith To Live By, p. 277, Christian Focus, 2010. [2] Monthly record of the Free Church of Scotland, 1990, p. 125. This article is taken from the sermon The Joys of Life in the Resurrection BodyPhoto Credit: Lightstock]

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The post Four Things We Know About the Resurrection Body appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “I Am the Bread of Life”

John 6:32–59

Code: B170414

Christ’s preaching has a tendency to shock our sensibilities. One of His most vexing statements occurs in the gospel of John: “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life” (John 6:54).

All sorts of theories and theological mischief have been concocted around those words. They were simply too disturbing for most of Jesus’ disciples who subsequently abandoned Him (John 6:66). Early on in church history that statement was the cause of pagan rumors that Christians practiced cannibalism. And Roman Catholics now use John 6:54 as justification for their belief that the elements of the Lord’s Table—the bread and the wine—are literally Christ’s flesh and blood.

Like most troubling theological issues, biblical context is critical if we are to come to a right understanding of Christ’s words in John 6:54. And John MacArthur does just that in his sermon, “I Am the Bread of Life.” In it he walks us through John 6:32–59 to bring clarity concerning Jesus’ discourse on Himself as the true eternal food all men need.

Hunger is a natural part of the human experience. We were created by God with a built-in desire for sustenance when our body lacks what it needs. But spiritual hunger is far more elusive to those who are spiritually destitute.

John 6 signifies the high-water mark of Christ’s ministry by every external metric of human success. His popularity had peaked as crowds thronged around Him. Stories of His miracles were spreading far and wide. And His expertise in all matters threatened the influence of every other established religious leader.

But Jesus wasn’t swayed by the veneer of a growing kingdom. Miraculously feeding thousands of hungry people in the desert (John 6:1–14) only inflamed their desires for more temporal satisfaction. They wanted more, but their hunger didn’t extend beyond their empty bellies.

John MacArthur’s message, “I Am the Bread of Life” digs right into the discussion between Christ and His legions of followers. He explains what really transpired and why Christ continually referred to Himself as “the bread of life” in contrast to the perishable bread the crowds longed for. And he reveals how God is the author of spiritual hunger as well as physical hunger. Ultimately, Pastor John answers two fundamental questions: Where do we find the bread of life, and how do we eat the bread of life?

Those questions form the dividing line between those who are Christ’s true disciples and those who are false disciples destined for apostasy. Answering them explains how we are to eat Christ’s flesh and drink His blood and inherit eternal life.

Click here to watch or listen to “I Am the Bread of Life.”

Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170414
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Barna Update | Jesus: Man, Myth or God?

Easter is upon us, and with all the iconography of chocolate eggs and marshmallow bunnies, it’s easy to forget that the single most significant Christian holiday is about more than an egg hunt. Has the desacralization of Easter extended to its central figure? To answer that question, we took a closer look at how U.S. adults see and relate to Jesus in a new infographic.

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9 Things You Need to Know about the Resurrection

Pastor Kevin's Blog

9-Things-You-Need-to-Know

This week news broke that a quarter of self-proclaiming Christians in Great Britain do not believe in the Resurrection according to a study by the BBC. For those of you who will celebrate the Resurrection this Easter Sunday, that figure may be shocking. For every reader of this blog, there are 9 things you need to know about the Resurrection.

1. Belief in the Resurrection is the core doctrine of the Christians faith. If you do not believe in the Resurrection, then you do not have a relationship with God in and through Jesus Christ.

“…If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved (Rom 10:9).

“And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile, you are still in your sins!” (1 Cor 15:17).

2. The Resurrection gives everyone else who dies…

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April 14, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Sublime Riches of Christ’s Love

Now before the Feast of the Passover, Jesus knowing that His hour had come that He would depart out of this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. (13:1)

The Feast of the Passover was the annual Jewish festival commemorating God’s deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt. The name derived from the angel of death’s passing over the houses of the Hebrews when he killed the firstborn of the Egyptians (Ex. 12:7, 12–13). This Passover would be the last divinely authorized one. From this point on there would be a new memorial—not one recalling the lambs’ blood on the doorposts but the blood of the Lamb of God (1:29, 36; Rev. 5:6; 6:9; 7:10, 17; 14:4, 10; 15:3; 19:9; 22:1, 3) “poured out for many for forgiveness of sins” (Matt. 26:28). The Last Supper celebrated by the Lord with His disciples gave Him opportunity to use the elements of the Passover meal to form a transition from the old covenant Passover to the new covenant Lord’s Supper (1 Cor. 11:23–26).

An apparent discrepancy exists at this point between John’s chronology and that of the Synoptic Gospels. The latter clearly state that the Last Supper was a Passover meal (Matt. 26:17–19; Mark 14:12–16; Luke 22:7–15). John 18:28, however, records that the Jewish leaders “led Jesus from Caiaphas into the Praetorium, and it was early [Friday morning; the day of the crucifixion]; and they themselves did not enter into the Praetorium so that they would not be defiled, but might eat the Passover.” Further, according to John 19:14 Jesus’ trial and crucifixion took place on “the day of preparation for the Passover,” not the day after the eating of the Passover meal. Thus the Lord was crucified at the same time that the Passover lambs were being killed (cf. 19:36; Ex. 12:46; Num. 9:12). The challenge, then, is to explain how Jesus and the disciples could have eaten the Passover meal on Thursday evening if the Jewish leaders had not yet eaten it on Friday morning.

The answer lies in understanding that the Jews had two different methods of reckoning days. Ancient Jewish sources suggest that Jews from the northern part of Israel (including Galilee, where Jesus and most of the Twelve were from) counted days from sunrise to sunrise. Most of the Pharisees apparently also used that method. On the other hand, the Jews in the southern region of Israel counted days from sunset to sunset. That would include the Sadducees (who of necessity lived in the vicinity of Jerusalem because of their connection with the temple). Though no doubt confusing at times, that dual method of reckoning days would have had practical benefits at Passover, allowing the feast to be celebrated on two consecutive days. That would have eased the crowded conditions in Jerusalem, especially in the temple, where all the lambs would not have had to be killed on the same day.

Thus, there is no contradiction between John and the Synoptics. Being Galileans, Jesus and the Twelve would have viewed Passover day as running from sunrise on Thursday to sunrise on Friday. They would have eaten their Passover meal on Thursday evening. The Jewish leaders (the Sadducees), however, would have viewed it as beginning at sunset on Thursday and ending at sunset on Friday. They would have eaten their Passover meal on Friday evening. (For a further discussion of this issue, see Harold W. Hoehner, Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977], 74–90; Robert L. Thomas and Stanley N. Gundry, A Harmony of the Gospels [Chicago: Moody, 1979], 321–22).

John repeated Jesus’ declaration that His hour had come (12:23); no longer was it future as in 2:4; 7:30; and 8:20 (cf. 7:6, 8). The Lord knew that the time had come for Him to depart out of this world to the Father. He was in full control of everything that was happening, and was never a victim of circumstances, or of men’s evil schemes.

Though He yearned to return to His full glory in the Father’s presence (cf. 17:5), Jesus never wavered in His focus on loving His own (cf. 10:29) who were in the world. The Lord loved them to the end. Telos (end) means “perfection,” or “completeness,” and signifies that Jesus loves His own with the fullest measure of love. There is a general sense in which God loves the world (John 3:16) of lost sinners (Matt. 5:44–45; Titus 3:4), but He loves His own with a perfect, eternal, redeeming love—a love “which surpasses knowledge” (Eph. 3:19). The words of the hymn writer capture the Lord’s marvelous love for believers:

Loved with everlasting love,

Led by grace that love to know;

Gracious Spirit from above,

Thou hast taught me it is so!

O, this full and perfect peace!

O, this transport all divine!

In a love which cannot cease,

I am His, and He is mine.

In Romans 8:35–39 Paul exulted,

Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Even the imminent arrival of His own death could not separate His disciples from His love. That reality becomes even more wonderfully clear in His prayer in the seventeenth chapter.[1]

1 John places the events of the evening just before the Passover Feast. The question of whether the Last Supper was a Passover Feast (Mk 14:12 par.) or a meal on the previous day that had Passover characteristics is discussed at great length in more critical commentaries. Carson, 457, after working through the issue, concludes, “Jesus and his disciples did indeed eat a Passover meal on Thursday, the beginning of 15 Nisan.” Passover was a sacred festival commemorating the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage (Ex 12). It took its name from the “passing over” of the angel of death and the sparing of all the firstborn among the Israelites. At the time of the Passover, devout Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the inhabited world to join in that most sacred and holy festival.

Jerusalem was an exciting place during Passover. Religious emotions ran high. Friends from different areas would meet in the crowded streets and excitedly exchange stories of home and family. But for Jesus, his time had come, and only this one last evening remained for him to spend with his disciples. At an earlier point in his ministry, the Pharisees had tried to seize Jesus but were unable to do so because “his time had not yet come” (7:30; cf. 8:20). But now “the hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified” (12:23; cf. 17:1). This was the hour toward which, in the eternal plan of God, all history had moved with inexorable pace. It was the hour in which the redemptive love of God would reveal itself as voluntary suffering for the unworthy. A Savior crucified by those he came to save is paradoxical only to those who have not grasped the fact that God wins his victories through suffering, not by an outward demonstration of power or might. In the great throne room scene of Revelation 4–5, the Lion of the tribe of Judah turns out to be a Lamb, who is worthy to open the seals of the scroll because he has been slain and with his blood has purchased human beings for God (Rev 5:5–6, 9).

Specifically, it was the time for Jesus to “leave this world and go to the Father.” For the believer, death is not the end but the beginning. It is a departure from the realm of evil (cf. Gal 1:4) and a going home to the Father. Since Jesus is the “firstborn from among the dead” (Col 1:18), we may logically expect that as his death was a journey to the Father so also will be ours. All ideas of soul-sleep are foreign to NT teaching. Neither is the “soul” entrapped along the way in some place of physical punishment. Paul said it clearly: “Absent from the body … present with the Lord” (2 Co 5:8 KJV). What a remarkable way to complete what we call life! Death has been robbed of its terror and made the passage to our eternal home. Waiting for us is the One whose love bridged the gulf created by our sin. We are the prodigals returning home, and he is the Father who rushes out to meet us. This world has been a place of hostility and heartache. Death is the entrance into joy eternal and inexpressible.

The text says that Jesus “knew” that his time had come. This was more than mere premonition; it was a clear understanding of what must necessarily take place in the dark days that lay ahead. As the Lamb of God whose blood would be shed for the sins of the world, he knew not only what would happen but also that the critical time had arrived. Jesus was not trapped into a sequence of events that unexpectedly led to the cross. With full knowledge of what the future held, he moved steadily through his years of public ministry to a destiny ordained by the Father and known by the Son. This foreknowledge makes his sacrifice all the more remarkable.

Though his disciples had often failed to grasp the full meaning of his words and had demonstrated by their behavior an inadequate commitment to his ethical demands, he “loved his own” and would now show them “the full extent of his love.” In the prologue to his gospel John notes that the Word came to “his own creation,” (ta idia is neuter plural), but “his own people” (hoi idioi is masculine plural) did not receive him (1:11–12). Those referred to in ch. 13 as “his own” comprise a much smaller group. To belong to Jesus—to be “his own”—requires far more than to find oneself somewhat unintentionally within an ethnic or religious organization. It requires separation from the prevailing world system and allegiance to a kingdom that belongs to another world. As Paul puts it, the Christian has his citizenship “in heaven” (Php 3:20). “My kingdom,” said Jesus, “is not of this world” (Jn 18:36). Elsewhere believers are called “a people that are his very own” (Tit 2:14, drawing on Moses’ reference to the Israelites as God’s “treasured possession,” Ex 19:5). To be called God’s own is a reward given to those few who by faith have committed themselves to the reality of a universal kingdom yet undisclosed. As Jesus, misunderstood and rejected, moved among people, so also do his current followers find themselves at odds with much of contemporary wisdom and culture.

Throughout his entire ministry Jesus had loved his own. He bore with their lack of spiritual understanding and put up with their all-too-human reactions. When they failed to understand his teachings, he found other ways to communicate what he wanted them to learn. He loved his disciples. And now he was about to show them “the full extent of his love.” The expression may mean either that he loved them utterly and completely or that he loved them to the end, i.e., to his death. It is better in this case not to separate the two ideas, for because the love of Jesus was of the highest degree, it would consequently carry through to the very end. A bit later he will remind his disciples that “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (15:13 NRSV). One of the most remarkable things about Jesus from a human point of view is that there is no disparity between his words and his life. What he taught he lived.[2]


Love Letters from the Lord

John 13:1

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

In 2 Timothy 3:16–17 the apostle Paul writes that “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” But having acknowledged that this is indeed true, that all Scripture is God’s gift to us and is of inestimable value, we nevertheless recognize that for one reason or another some sections of the Bible are particularly valuable and are therefore especially prized and loved by God’s people. We come to such a section in this volume.

To many persons the Gospel of John, as the most intense and spiritual of the Gospels, is the “holy place” of Scripture. But if this is so, then these chapters, 13 through 17, which contain the final discourses of the Lord with his disciples just before his crucifixion and which conclude with his great high-priestly prayer on their behalf, are the “holy of holies.” Nowhere in the entire Bible does the child of God feel that he is walking on more holy ground. For here, more than in many other portions of Scripture, he hears the voice of Jesus leading him into a greater understanding of his new place before the Father and consequently also of his new position in the world. These chapters contain teaching about heaven, the new commandment, the person and work of the Holy Spirit, the mutual union of Christ with the disciples and the disciples with Christ, and prayer.

To what can we compare these chapters? They can only be compared to love letters, in this case love letters from the Lord. For here the One who is the great and faithful Bridegroom of the church speaks to those who are themselves the church and assures them of his special and enduring love for them.

Not for Everyone

This means that the truths contained in these chapters are not for everyone. They are for the Lord’s people only. We have one evidence for this in the fact that they were spoken only to the Twelve in the upper room and not more widely. This irritates some people, of course, for it suggests partiality on the part of God, and in their view partiality is both unjust and despicable. But such people do not recognize the nature of the partiality that is found here, nor do they recognize how much they practice partiality themselves, in some cases even with justification.

We can immediately see the justice of these chapters not being for everyone if we simply extend the idea of these being the Lord’s love letters. What would we think of a man who, for instance, is married to one woman but who writes intimate and endearing letters to many other women whom he knows? We would call that man a philanderer, a hypocrite, a liar. We recognize at once that while he may rightly have friendly contacts with many persons, including other women, nevertheless the most intimate things, those that belong in a marriage, deserve to be spoken only between husband and wife. Marriage is a private relationship. Consequently, it must be partial. In the same way Jesus has taken unto himself a special people, the church. These are his bride. It is entirely fitting and even expected that he should have special, loving, and touchingly tender words for them only.

Is this partiality? Not at all! It is grace. For it is God, of his own sovereign will, choosing those whom he thus determines to save and bless abundantly. This has nothing to do with any supposed merit in God’s people, for there is none. It is simply that when men had rejected God, choosing to go their own way, God out of infinite mercy still elected to save and bless some. If he had not done so, not one soul would have been saved. That he has done so, is tremendous.

The World

It is not surprising in view of the special nature of these chapters that the verse that begins them makes the contrast between those who are Christ’s own and those who are not, sharper than any other comparable passage in the Word of God. It is true that Paul does much the same thing in Romans 9 and 10. A similar contrast is found in Ephesians 2, and many times in the Old Testament. But nowhere is the contrast clearer and the categories involved more absolute. For here, in the first verse of John 13, we are at once introduced to those who are Christ’s own, whom he loved faithfully until the end.

The verse says, “It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.”

Who are Christ’s own? The answer has already been given many times in John’s Gospel. They are those who have been given to Christ by the Father (6:37, 44). They are those for whom Christ was about to die (10:11, 15). They are those who were born, “not of natural descent, nor of human decision or of a husband’s will, but born of God” (1:13). They are those to whom Christ gives eternal life, who shall never perish, and who therefore shall never be plucked from Christ’s hand (10:28–29). What is the world? The world is the human race out of which Christ called them.

It is worth considering this term “world,” for, as we pointed out in one of the studies toward the end of John 4, this is one of the most important concepts in the fourth Gospel. There are several Greek words that are translated “world” in our Bibles, but the one we are interested in is kosmos, from which we get our word “cosmopolitan.” Kosmos means “world.” Politēs means “citizen.” So a citizen of the world is a cosmopolitan. The Greek word kosmos occurs 185 times in the New Testament. But what is extremely interesting is that of these 185 occurrences of the word kosmos, 105 are in the books traditionally ascribed to John. There are 78 occurrences of the word in the Gospel, 24 in the Epistles, and 3 in the Book of Revelation. Moreover, the importance of the word in John’s Gospel is made even more obvious when we compare its 78 occurrences to the 8 times it occurs in Matthew and the merely 3 times each it occurs in Mark and Luke.

What does kosmos mean? The answer to the question is a complex one, for the word is old and therefore in time has acquired multiple meanings. The word originally meant “an ornament,” that is, a decorative object, the unique feature of which was its fine proportions or beauty. This meaning is preserved in our English word “cosmetic,” though in this case the meaning has shifted from what is beautiful in itself to that which is used to improve features that perhaps are not. In time the word was applied to the universe or world globe, as the well-proportioned ornament of God. This meaning occurs in John 1:9 and 10, which tell us that the Light “that gives light to every man was coming into the world” and that “the world was made by him.” Even here another meaning is also present, however, for verse 10 goes on to say that “the world [that is, the people in the world] did not recognize him.”

Since kosmos was used to describe the “world globe,” it was natural that it next came to denote “the world of human beings.” In this second sense we might also translate it as “the human race.” It is said of the world in this sense that God loved it and gave his only Son for it (John 3:16), that it is the object of his saving purposes (John 3:17), that Jesus died for it (1 John 2:2), that he is its Savior (John 4:42; 1 John 4:14). It must be understood of this use of the word that it refers to the human race collectively and not necessarily to each individual, otherwise the verses cited would imply a universal salvation of all men that is clearly repudiated elsewhere.

The third and major use of the word kosmos is the one that occurs in our text and that comes to dominate the remaining chapters of John’s Gospel. This usage also signifies the world of human beings, but with the additional thought that this world stands in rebellion against God. At times we may translate this use of kosmos as “the world system,” including the world’s values, pleasures, pastimes, and aspirations. It is said of the world in this sense that the world does not know God (1 John 3:1), that it rejected Jesus (John 1:10–11), and consequently that it also does not know and therefore also hates his followers (15:18–21; 17:14). This sense of the word is involved in every instance in which Christ’s own are distinguished from the world. For example, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (15:18). Or again, “I have given them your words and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world” (17:14).

In summary we may say that, in the first sense, Christians are to receive the world and be thankful for it, for it is God’s gift. In the second sense, they are to love the world and seek to evangelize it, for God also loves the human race. In the third sense, however, believers in Christ are to reject the world and then by God’s grace also order their lives according to an entirely different set of values.

All Things for Some

The difference between God’s relationship to the world and his relationship to his own has sometimes been stated in this way. God has done some things for all men, that is, everyone in the world. He has created them, sustained them, kept them from the worst that is possible, even tolerated them and thus kept them for a time from hell. On the other hand, God has done all things for some men. These are his own. They do not lack and will never lack any good thing.

What has God done for his own? In one sense the chapters we are to study are themselves the full answer to that question. The answer will come in fullness only as we study them. But as we stand at the threshold of these chapters cannot avoid at least a partial answer by way of expectation. The answer has at least six parts.

  1. The first and greatest teaching of these chapters is that Jesus specifically loved those who are his own. This is how the section begins: “Jesus … having loved his own who were in the world … showed them the full extent of his love” (13:1). It ends with: “I have made you known to them and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them” (17:26). It is not necessary to say at this point that there is no love of God for the world in general. There is a sense in which the love of God extends to all people. It is only necessary to say that the love of which we are speaking here is a special, saving love as a result of which those who are Christ’s own become his own and are kept by him. For having loved them, “he showed [and continues to show] them the full extent of his love.”

While this undoubtedly gives some special privileges to those who are his own, it also gives them equally special obligations. For if they are loved, they also are to love. In this lies the basis for Christ’s new commandment. “A new command I give unto you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (13:34).

  1. The second great teaching of these chapters is that Jesus has gone to prepare a place known as heaven for his people. We are not told a great deal about heaven or what awaits us there. But we are told that in it there is a place for us who believe in him, and we are also promised that he will return one day to guarantee that we get there. “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me, that you also may be where I am” (14:2–3). Even if heaven did not exist, the love of the Lord that we have come to experience here on earth would be wonderful in itself. But, in addition to this, there is heaven. In this promise we learn that the fact that the Lord loved his own “to the end” does not merely mean “to the end of Christ’s life” or even “to the end of our lives.” Rather, it means “to the very end,” “to the uttermost.” His love for us will never end; it is eternal.
  2. During these last discourses, the disciples were naturally troubled, for they had been told that the Lord, whom they loved, would be leaving them in order to return to the Father. In this context, Jesus’ words about heaven were a source of great comfort. But there is another source also, and in this is found the third of Jesus’ teachings. He tells the disciples, and therefore also tells us, that he is going to send a replacement for himself; that replacement, the Holy Spirit, would come and dwell within those who belong to Jesus. “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him; for he dwells with you, and will be in you” (14:16–17).

It is also the work of the Holy Spirit to lead the apostles into all the truth concerning Jesus, bringing it to their remembrance (14:26; 16:13), and to convict the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (16:8–11).

  1. The fourth teaching of the Lord concerns his commissioning of the disciples to a special work, indeed a different work in each individual case. We find it in the fifteenth chapter. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (v. 16). According to this verse, each of us has a spiritually fruitful work to perform. The promise of the Lord is that all we will accomplish in this area will remain.
  2. We are told in these chapters that the Lord intercedes or prays for us. Here the seventeenth chapter is itself one long example. It is encouraging; for in these verses the Lord prays that his own might be kept from the evil that is in the world, that they might have his joy fulfilled in them, that they might be sanctified by means of the Word of God, that they might be one, and finally that they might be with Jesus in heaven. Can God turn his back on a request made by his own dear Son? Of course not! We rightly sing,

The Father hears him pray,

His dear anointed One;

He cannot turn away

The presence of his Son.

So these requests are already fulfilled or are in the process of being fulfilled. They carry the same weight as direct promises. We shall be kept from evil. We shall have joy. We shall be one. We shall be with Jesus in heaven.

  1. Finally, just as Jesus has prayed for us, so he invites us to pray, describing this as a new and blessed privilege. “I tell you the truth, my Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete” (16:23–24).

These are the themes that are developed fully in this important fourth section of John’s Gospel. Perhaps the best comment about them is that of Paul in the great eighth chapter of Romans: “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (vv. 31–32). God has indeed given us all things. But to whom much has been given, much shall also be required. May God use our study of John 13–17 to help us become increasingly his obedient and therefore also his exceedingly joyous children.

Having Loved, He Loved

John 13:1

It was just before the Passover Feast. Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he now showed them the full extent of his love.

In the previous study of the first verse of John 13 we saw that, while God has done some things for all men, he has, in addition to this, done all things for some. This is a tremendous truth. But, like all great truths, it almost cries out for an explanation. Fortunately the explanation is in our text also. For having distinguished between those who are of the world and those who are Christ’s own, the verse goes on to say, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he showed them the full extent of his love.” Love is the explanation. Jesus loves his own; he loves us. This is the entire explanation of why God has done all things for those who are his spiritual people.

No Explanation

When we say this, however, we must immediately recognize that love itself is unexplainable. For if we go on to ask, “But why did God love us? Why does Jesus love us?” there is just no answer to be given.

Obviously we are not loved because we are lovable, for we are not. It is true that some of us may be lovable to some others of us, but this is only when we look at the matter from a human perspective. From God’s perspective there is nothing in us to make us even remotely desirable. He is holy; we are unholy. He is just; we are unjust. He is loving; we are filled with hatred and all forms of sin. In short, we are sinful and in willful rebellion against him. Yet he loves us. In fact, this is so great a marvel that God even uses it to commend his love to us. He says, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6–8).

God has not loved us because we first loved him; he is not merely returning our love. We did not love him. On this point the apostle John writes clearly, “This is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Again, the Lord did not love us because of anything that we could do for him, for we had nothing to offer. He does not need praise; the angels praise him. He does not even need spiritual children; for, as Jesus said, he is able of stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even our numbers are not an asset. So why does God love us? The only answer is the one he gave Moses concerning the children of Israel. “The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers” (Deut. 7:7–8). The reason God loves us is that he loves us. Beyond that, his love is unexplainable. It is without reason, at least without reason known to us.

Empirical Data

If we were to stop at this point, I suppose that in that thought alone we would have enough to keep us pondering on the love of God for eternity. But there is more. For the verse that tells us that God loves without reason also tells us that God loves without variation and without end. His love is eternal. The verse says, “Having loved his own who were in the world, he showed them the full extent of his love.

We want to come back to that phrase, “the full extent.” But before we do so we need to see the reasons God gives why we should believe that his love is eternal. We cannot see into the future; therefore, rationally at least, the future lends no evidence. Why should we believe in this everlasting quality of God’s love? The answer is an empirical one. It has to do with observable data, particularly data from the past and present. First, there is the past: “Having loved.” Second, there is the present: “he showed.” This second occurrence is a past tense (an aorist); but the sense is present, for it refers to what Jesus was then doing and was about to do.

In other words, the verse calls our attention to the observable past and present love of Christ, and it is asking us to reason on that basis. Is not love his nature? Will not he who loved in the past and loves in the present also love in the future? If he loved his disciples to the end, will he not love us similarly?

Past and Present Love

What do we know about the love of God the Father and of the Lord Jesus Christ in the past? Obviously that is a big question, the answer to which can never fully be given. But we can suggest some areas in which the answer can be seen.

First, we can see the love of God in the creation of ourselves and other human beings. We refer at this point, not merely to the fact of our existence, for our existence in itself might prove nothing. We refer rather to the fact that in creating us God created us with a spiritual vacuum within that can be filled only by himself. In other words, he created us, not to a meaningless existence but to an existence that is the highest existence possible for any created object, namely, communion with the One who created it. So it is as Augustine said, “Thou hast made us for Thyself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” The fact that we can know God and are restless until we do know him is proof of his love.

Second, God’s love is seen in the fact that he, by the Holy Spirit’s regenerating power has called us to himself. We have seen this several times in John’s Gospel. We are told, on the one hand, that no one can come to God unless God draws him. In this fatal inability we measure the extent of our depravity. But then, on the other hand, we are told that God does draw some to himself and that none of these can be lost. In this we see God’s love, for apart from the sweet drawing of that love, no one would ever come to him.

Third, we see God’s love in Jesus’ death for his people. This, if you will, completes the trinitarian formula, for in creation we see the love of the Father. In the effectual calling of God’s people we see the love of the Holy Spirit. In the act of redemption we see the love of Jesus Christ, the Son.

The love of the Lord Jesus Christ in dying for us may be illustrated by the following story as told by Harry Ironside. Many years ago, Czar Nicholas I of Russia knew a young man for whom he cared a great deal. He was the son of a good friend of his. Because of his interest in this young man, Nicholas had him assigned to a border fortress of the Russian army and caused him to be given charge of the money used for paying the soldiers. The young man started well. But he fell into bad habits, took to gambling, and eventually gambled away not only his own wealth but also a great fortune taken from government funds. He had taken just a few rubles at a time, but these had mounted up and become prodigious. One day he received notice that on the following day an official would be coming to inspect the books. The young man knew he was in trouble. So he took out the records to find out how great his debt was. He totaled the amount. Then he went to the safe, took out his own small amount of money, and counted it carefully. He subtracted the lesser from the greater. The debt was astronomical. As he sat looking at the final figure, the young officer picked up his pen and wrote in large letters, “A great debt; who can pay?” Then, because he did not see how he could face the terrible dishonor the next day held, he determined to kill himself with his revolver at the stroke of twelve.

The night was warm and drowsy. So as he waited for the midnight hour, in spite of himself the young man’s head dropped lower and lower and he fell asleep.

It happened that Nicholas, who was in the habit of sometimes putting on the uniform of a common soldier and visiting the troops to see how they were getting on, did so this night, coming around to the halls of the very fortress in which the young officer was sleeping. Most of the lights were out, as they should have been. But when Nicholas got to the door of this one room he noticed a light shining under it. He knocked. No answer! He tried the latch and opened the door. There was the young officer, whom he recognized, asleep. He saw also the books and the money. The whole thing became clear in a moment. His first thought was to awaken his young friend and place him under arrest. But as he read the young man’s note, his heart went out to him. “A great debt; who can pay?” Moved by a generous impulse, the Czar leaned over, picked up the pen that had fallen from the hand of the sleeping officer, wrote just one word, and tiptoed out.

For an hour or so the young man slept. Then he suddenly awoke and, seeing that it was long past midnight, reached for the revolver. As he did so his eye caught sight of his note—“A great debt; who can pay?”—and under it the one word that had not been there before: “Nicholas.” He was astonished. Dropping his gun, he raced to the files where the signature of the Czar was available. He pulled this out and carefully compared it with the signature on his note. It was the real signature. He said to himself, “The Czar has been here tonight and knows all my guilt; yet he has undertaken to pay my debt; I need not die.” So instead of taking his life, he rested upon the word of Nicholas and was not surprised when, early the next morning, a messenger came from the palace bearing precisely the amount of money needed to satisfy the deficit. Later, when the inspector came, everything was found to be in order.

Thus did Jesus love us and pay our great debt. We are sinners. There is no possible way for us to atone for that sin. But Jesus has paid that debt. He has signed his name to our bankrupt account. No wonder we sing:

Jesus paid it all,

All to him I owe;

Sin had left a crimson stain—

He washed it white as snow.

That is the love of the Lord Jesus Christ for us as seen in the past. It is that to which God points us and directs our eyes. Thus has he loved. Who then can doubt that he will continue to love us unto the end?

Full Extent … Unto the End

The phrase “the full extent” brings us to the second half of our text. The King James Version says “unto the end.” It raises the question: Unto the end of what? There are several answers.

First, it means “unto the end of the earthly life of Jesus Christ.” Even the context suggests this, for the verse is given to us at the start of those chapters that tell of Christ’s final ministry to his disciples prior to his crucifixion. We must admit that we are not always appreciative of this, for we take Christ’s love for granted. Yet, if we would think of the possible hindrances to love both on his part and on the part of the disciples during these days, we would be more sensitive.

On his part there were great hindrances, as the verse indicates. It says, “Jesus knew that the time had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father,” thereby indicating that Jesus knew clearly that he was about to die. So if we were to read that in those moments his thoughts turned from his own to himself so that, at least for a time, he ceased to love them or think about them, who could blame him? Yet knowledge of his impending death did not deter him. There were also hindrances on the part of the disciples. They were worldly, for instance. He thought spiritually. But every time he tried to teach them spiritual things, they interpreted his words on a wordly level. Moreover, they were dull. He explained great truths to them, and they did not understand. In fact, he had been explaining that he was to leave them to go to the Father, but they could not understand even this. Not one of the disciples was a fit companion for the Lord Jesus Christ. So if he had said to himself, “I have thought about these men long enough; I have done everything for them that I know how to do; it is time I thought of myself,” who could blame him? No one! Yet he loved them, fully and unselfishly, to the end of his life.

Second, he obviously also loved them to the end of their lives. True, he was to be the first to die. He died before Peter, James, John, or any of the others. But then he rose, and as the risen Lord he returned to bestow his own Spirit upon the disciples and then guide them and preserve them until the time when each would go to be with him in glory.

Finally, the phrase also means “to the very end,” that is, “to the end of ends” or “without end,” “forever.” In Greek the word is telos, which literally means “perfection.” Jesus, having loved his own who were in the world, loved them perfectly. So we sing:

The love of God is greater far

Than tongue or pen can ever tell;

It goes beyond the highest star,

And reaches to the lowest hell.

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure—

The saints’ and angels’ song.

Such love is indeed forever. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loves them to the end.

Love Others, Love Him

How shall we apply these truths? On the one hand, we must apply them to believers, and, on the other, to those who are not yet believers. The word to those who believe on Christ is this: If this is the way in which God has loved us, then should we not love one another, and also fervently love him? We will never in this life love as he loved, but we can begin to try to love as he loved—unselfishly, without discrimination, without wavering. We should also serve him. For, as the hymn declares:

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Again, there is a word for those who have still not become true Christians. If you are not yet a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, let me ask you a question that flows from everything I have been saying. If God loves like this, how can you afford to be without such a great love? There is no love on earth like it. Your husband or wife will not love you like this. Your children and parents will not love you like this. Your neighbors and friends will not love you like this. Only Jesus Christ loves with a perfect and everlasting love! Moreover, one day you must stand before the judgment seat of his Father, whom you have offended by your ungodly conduct and by your rejection of his great grace. What will you do in that day—if you refuse the love of the Lord Jesus Christ? What will you do without having him to stand by you and say, “This is one of my own; this is one for whom I died; this is one whose debt I undertook to pay; this is one I love unto the end”? Without such love you will be lost forever. Fortunately, the day of God’s grace is still present; you may yet come to Jesus Christ as your Savior.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 62–64). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 543–545). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 995–1006). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

April 14 – Following Christ’s Example

“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy” (Matt. 5:7).

✧✧✧

Mercy is compassion in action.

Mercy is not a human attribute. It is God’s gift to those who seek Him. Psalm 103:11 says, “As the heaven is high above the earth, so great is his mercy toward them that fear him” (kjv).

The verb form of “merciful” appears many times in Scripture and means “to have mercy on,” “to aid the afflicted,” “to give help to the wretched,” or “to rescue the miserable.” In general it refers to anything you do to benefit someone in need. The adjective form is used only twice—here in Matthew 5:7 and in Hebrews 2:17, which reads, “[Christ] had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest.” Christ Himself is both the source and illustration of mercy.

Christ modeled mercy throughout His earthly ministry. He healed the sick and enabled the crippled to walk. He gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and speech to the mute. His redeeming love embraced sinners of all kinds. He wept with those in sorrow and comforted the lonely. He embraced little children and the elderly alike. His mercy was compassion in action!

Despite His abundant mercy, Jesus received no mercy from His enemies. They hated Him without cause, accused Him falsely, beat Him, nailed Him to a cross, spat upon Him, and cursed Him. Even then He sought mercy for them, praying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Some have paraphrased Matthew 5:7 to say that if you show mercy to others, they will show mercy to you. Now, that might happen in some isolated incidences, but in this jaded world that’s not often the case—as Jesus’ life clearly demonstrates. Many Christians have incurred slander, rebuke, lawsuits, and even death for their noble efforts. Jesus didn’t guarantee merciful treatment from others. His emphasis was that God shows mercy toward those who show mercy to others.

Don’t ever be reluctant to show mercy to others—even when they misunderstand or mistreat you. God will use your kindness for His glory and will reward you accordingly.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise Jesus for being willing to suffer death that you might receive mercy. ✧ Is there someone you might show mercy to today in some tangible way?

For Further Study: Read John 5:1–18. ✧ How did Christ demonstrate mercy to the sick man? ✧ How did the Jewish religious leaders react?[1]


Happy Are the Merciful

(5:7)

17

Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. (5:7)

The first four beatitudes deal entirely with inner principles, principles of the heart and mind. They are concerned with the way we see ourselves before God. The last four are outward manifestations of those attitudes. Those who in poverty of spirit recognize their need of mercy are led to show mercy to others (v. 7). Those who mourn over their sin are led to purity of heart (v. 8). Those who are meek always seek to make peace (v. 9). And those who hunger and thirst for righteousness are never unwilling to pay the price of being persecuted for righteousness’ sake (v. 10).

The concept of mercy is seen throughout Scripture, from the Fall to the consummation of history at the return of Christ. Mercy is a desperately needed gift of God’s providential and redemptive work on behalf of sinners-and the Lord requires His people to follow His example by extending mercy to others.

To discover its essence we will look at three basic aspects of mercy: its meaning, its source, and its practice.

The Meaning of Mercy

For the most part, the days in which Jesus lived and taught were not characterized by mercy. The Jewish religionists themselves were not inclined to show mercy, because mercy is not characteristic of those who are proud, self-righteous, and judgmental. To many-perhaps most-of Jesus’ hearers, showing mercy was considered one of the least of virtues, if it was thought to be a virtue at all. It was in the same category as love-reserved for those who had shown the virtue to you. You loved those who loved you, and you showed mercy to those who showed mercy to you. That attitude was condemned by Jesus later in the Sermon on the Mount. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor, and hate your enemy’ ” (Matt. 5:43). But such a shallow, selfish kind of love that even the outcast tax-gatherers practiced (v. 46) was not acceptable to the Savior. He said, “Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. … For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? … And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?” (vv. 44–47).

Yet many people have interpreted this beatitude in another way that is just as selfish and humanistic: they maintain that our being merciful causes those around us, especially those to whom we show mercy, to be merciful to us. Mercy given will mean mercy received. For such people, mercy is shown to others purely in an effort toward self-seeking.

The ancient rabbi Gamaliel is quoted in the Talmud as saying, “Whenever thou hast mercy, God will have mercy upon thee, and if thou hast not mercy, neither will God have mercy on thee.” Gamaliel’s idea is right. When God is involved there will be mercy for mercy. “If you forgive men for their transgressions,” Jesus said, “your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matt. 6:14–15).

But as a platitude applied among men, the principle does not work. One writer sentimentally says, “This is the great truth of life: if people see us care, they will care.” Yet neither Scripture nor experience bears out that idea. God works that way, but the world does not. With God there is always proper reciprocation, and with interest. If we honor God, He will honor us; if we show mercy to others, especially to His children, He will show even more abundant mercy to us. But that is not the world’s way.

A popular Roman philosopher called mercy “the disease of the soul.” It was the supreme sign of weakness. Mercy was a sign that you did not have what it takes to be a real man and especially a real Roman. The Romans glorified manly courage, strict justice, firm discipline, and, above all, absolute power. They looked down on mercy, because mercy to them was weakness, and weakness was despised above all other human limitations.

During much of Roman history, a father had the right of patria opitestas, of deciding whether or not his newborn child would live or die. As the infant was held up for him to see, the father would turn his thumb up if he wanted the child to live, down if he wanted it to die. If his thumb turned down the child was immediately drowned. Citizens had the same life-or-death power over slaves. At any time and for any reason they could kill and bury a slave, with no fear of arrest or reprisal. Husbands could even have their wives put to death on the least provocation. Today abortion reflects the same merciless attitude. A society that despises mercy is a society that glorifies brutality.

The underlying motive of self-concern has characterized men in general and societies in general since the Fall. We see it expressed today in such sayings as, “If you don’t look out for yourself, no one else will.” Such popular proverbs are generally true, because they reflect the basic selfish nature of fallen man. Men are not naturally inclined to repay mercy for mercy.

The best illustration of that fact is the Lord Himself. Jesus Christ was the most merciful human being who ever lived. He reached out to heal the sick, restore the crippled, give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and even life to the dead. He found prostitutes, tax collectors, the debauched and the drunken, and drew them into His circle of love and forgiveness. When the scribes and Pharisees brought the adulteress to Him to see if He would agree to her stoning, He confronted them with their merciless hypocrisy: “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” When no one stepped forward to condemn her, Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go your way. From now on sin no more” (John 8:7–11). Jesus wept with the sorrowing and gave companionship to the lonely. He took little children into His arms and blessed them. He was merciful to everyone. He was mercy incarnate, just as He was love incarnate.

Yet what was the response to Jesus’ mercy? He shamed the woman’s accusers into inaction, but they did not become merciful. By the time the accounts of John 8 ended, Jesus’ opponents “picked up stones to throw at Him” (v. 59). When the scribes and Pharisees saw Jesus “eating with the sinners and tax-gatherers,” they asked His disciples why their Master associated with such unworthy people (Mark 2:16).

The more Jesus showed mercy, the more He showed up the unmercifulness of the Jewish religious leaders. The more He showed mercy, the more they were determined to put Him out of the way. The ultimate outcome of His mercy was the cross. In Jesus’ crucifixion, two merciless systems-merciless government and merciless religion-united to kill Him. Totalitarian Rome joined intolerant Judaism to destroy the Prince of mercy.

The fifth beatitude does not teach that mercy to men brings mercy from men, but that mercy to men brings mercy from God. If we are merciful to others, God will be merciful to us, whether men are or not. God is the subject of the second clause, just as in the other beatitudes. It is God who gives the kingdom of heaven to the poor in spirit, comfort to those who mourn, the earth to the meek, and satisfaction to those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Those who are merciful … shall receive mercy from God. God gives the divine blessings to those who obey His divine standards.

Merciful is from eleēmōn, from which we also get eleemosynary, meaning beneficial or charitable. Hebrews 2:17 speaks of Jesus as our “merciful and faithful high priest.” Christ is the supreme example of mercy and the supreme dispenser of mercy. It is from Jesus Christ that both redeeming and sustaining mercy come.

In the Septuagint (the Greek Old Testament) the same term is used to translate the Hebrew ḥesed, one of the most commonly used words to describe God’s character. It is usually translated as mercy, love, lovingkindness, or steadfast love (Ps. 17:7; 51:1; Isa. 63:7; Jer. 9:24; etc.). The basic meaning is to give help to the afflicted and to rescue the helpless. It is compassion in action.

Jesus is not speaking of detached or powerless sentiment that is unwilling or unable to help those for whom there is sympathy. Nor is He speaking of the false mercy, the feigned pity, that gives help only to salve a guilty conscience or to impress others with its appearance of virtue. And it is not passive, silent concern which, though genuine, is unable to give tangible help. It is genuine compassion expressed in genuine help, selfless concern expressed in selfless deeds.

Jesus says in effect, “The people in My kingdom are not takers but givers, not pretending helpers but practical helpers. They are not condemners but mercy givers.” The selfish, self-satisfied, and self-righteous do not bother to help anyone-unless they think something is in it for them. Sometimes they even justify their lack of love and mercy under the guise of religious duty. Once when the Pharisees and scribes questioned why His disciples did not observe the traditions of the elders, Jesus replied, “Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him be put to death’; but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, anything of mine you might have been helped by is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down” (Mark 7:10–13). In the name of hypocritical religious tradition, compassion toward parents in such a case was actually forbidden.

Mercy is meeting people’s needs. It is not simply feeling compassion but showing compassion, not only sympathizing but giving a helping hand. Mercy is giving food to the hungry, comfort to the bereaved, love to the rejected, forgiveness to the offender, companionship to the lonely. It is therefore one of the loveliest and noblest of all virtues.

Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (4.1.180–85) Portia says,

The quality of mercy is not strain’d;

It droppeth, as the gentle rain from heaven,

Upon the place beneath: it is twice bless’d.

It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes:

’Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes

The throned monarch better than his crown:

Mercy and Forgiveness

A clearer understanding of mercy can be gained by working through some comparisons. Mercy has much in common with forgiveness but is distinct from it. Paul tells us that Jesus “saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). God’s forgiveness of our sins flows from His mercy. But mercy is bigger than forgiveness, because God is merciful to us even when we do not sin, just as we can be merciful to those who have never done anything against us. God’s mercy does not just forgive our transgressions, but reaches to all our weakness and need.

“The Lord’s lovingkindness [mercies, KJV] indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Thy faithfulness” (Lam. 3:22). God’s mercy to His children never ceases.

Mercy and Love

Forgiveness flows out of mercy, and mercy flows out of love. “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4–5). Just as mercy is more than forgiveness, love is more than mercy. Love manifests itself in many ways that do not involve either forgiveness or mercy. Love loves even when there is no wrong to forgive or need to meet. The Father loves the Son and the Son loves the Father, although they both are without sin and without need. They both love the holy angels, although the angels are without sin and need. When we enter heaven we, too, will be without sin or need, yet God’s love for us will, in comparison to eternity, only be just beginning.

Mercy is the physician; love is the friend. Mercy acts because of need; love acts because of affection, whether there is need or not. Mercy is reserved for times of trouble; love is constant. There can be no true mercy apart from love, but there can be true love apart from mercy.

Mercy and Grace

Mercy is also related to grace, which flows out of love just as forgiveness flows out of mercy. In each of his three pastoral epistles Paul includes the words “grace, mercy and peace” in his salutations (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; Titus 1:4, KJV). Grace and mercy have the closest possible relationship; yet they are different. Mercy and its related terms all have to do with pain, misery, and distress-with the consequences of sin. Whether because of our individual sins or because of the sinful world in which we live, all of our problems, in the last analysis, are sin problems. It is with those problems that mercy gives help. Grace, on the other hand, deals with sin itself. Mercy deals with the symptoms, grace with the cause. Mercy offers relief from punishment; grace offers pardon for the crime. Mercy eliminates the pain; grace cures the disease.

When the good Samaritan bound up the wounds of the man who had been beaten and robbed, he showed mercy. When he took him to the nearest inn and paid for his lodging until he was well, he showed grace. His mercy relieved the pain; his grace provided for healing.

Mercy relates to the negative; grace relates to the positive. In relation to salvation, mercy says, “No hell,” whereas grace says, “Heaven.” Mercy says, “I pity you”; grace says, “I pardon you.”

Mercy and Justice

Mercy is also related to justice, although, on the surface, they seem to be incompatible. Justice gives exactly what is deserved; whereas mercy gives less punishment and more help than is deserved. It is difficult, therefore, for some people to understand how God can be both just and merciful at the same time to the same person. If God is completely just, how could He ever not punish sin totally? For Him to be merciful would seem to negate His justice. The truth is that God does not show mercy without punishing sin; and for Him to offer mercy without punishment would negate His justice.

Mercy that ignores sin is false mercy and is no more merciful than it is just. It is that sort of false mercy that Saul showed to King Agag after God had clearly instructed Saul to kill every Amalekite (1 Sam. 15:3, 9). It is that sort of false mercy that David showed to his rebellious and wicked son Absalom when he was young. Because David did not deal with Absalom’s sin, his attitude toward his son was unrighteous sentimentality, neither justice nor mercy-and it served to confirm Absalom in his wickedness.

That sort of false mercy is common in our day. It is thought to be unloving and unkind to hold people responsible for their sins. But that is a cheap grace that is not just and is not merciful, that offers neither punishment nor pardon for sin. And because it merely overlooks sin, it leaves sin; and the one who relies on that sort of mercy is left in his sin. To cancel justice is to cancel mercy. To ignore sin is to deny the truth; and mercy and truth are inseparable, they “are met together” (Ps. 85:10, KJV). In every true act of mercy, someone pays the price. God did, the Good Samaritan did, and so do we. To be merciful is to bear the load for someone else.

To expect to enter the sphere of God’s mercy without repenting from our sin is but wishful thinking. And for the church to offer hope of God’s mercy apart from repentance from sin is to offer false hope through a false gospel. God offers nothing but merciless judgment to those who will not turn from their sin to the Savior. Neither relying on good works nor relying on God’s overlooking sin will bring salvation. Neither trusting in personal goodness nor presuming on God’s goodness will bring entrance into the kingdom. Those who do not come to God on His terms have no claim on His mercy.

God’s mercy is grounded not only in His love but in His justice. It is not grounded in sentiment but in Christ’s atoning blood, which paid the penalty for and cleanses from sin those who believe in Him. Without being punished and removed, even the least of our sin would eternally separate us from God.

The good news of the gospel is that Christ paid the penalty for all sins in order that God might be merciful to all sinners. On the cross Jesus satisfied God’s justice, and when a person trusts in that satisfying sacrifice God opens the floodgates of His mercy. The good news of the gospel is not that God winked at justice, glossed over sin, and compromised righteousness. The good news is that in the shedding of Christ’s blood justice was satisfied, sin was forgiven, righteousness was fulfilled, and mercy was made available. There is never an excuse for sin, but always a remedy.

Mercy, therefore, is more than forgiveness and less than love. It is different from grace and is one with justice. And what is true of God’s mercy should be true of ours.

Mercy led Abraham to rescue his selfish nephew Lot from Chedorlaomer and his allies. Mercy led Joseph to forgive his brothers and to provide them food for their families. Mercy led Moses to plead with the Lord to remove the leprosy with which his sister Miriam had been punished. Mercy led David to spare the life of Saul.

Those who are unmerciful will not receive mercy from God. In one of his imprecatory psalms David says of an unnamed wicked man, “Let the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out. Let them be before the Lord continually, that He may cut off their memory from the earth.” David’s anger was not vengeful or retaliatory. That man and his family did not deserve mercy because they were not themselves merciful. “He did not remember to show lovingkindness, but persecuted the afflicted and needy man, and the despondent in heart, to put them to death” (Ps. 109:14–16).

Paul characterizes godless men as unrighteous, wicked, greedy, evil, envious, murderous, deceitful, malicious, gossiping, slanderous, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, disobedient to parents, without understanding, untrustworthy, and unloving. The climaxing evil of that long list, however, is being unmerciful (Rom. 1:29–31). Mercilessness is the capstone marking those who reject God’s mercy.

“The merciful man does himself good, but the cruel man does himself harm” (Prov. 11:17). The way to happiness is through mercy; the way to misery is through cruelty. The truly merciful person is even kind to animals, whereas the merciless person is cruel to everything. “A righteous man has regard for the life of his beast, but the compassion of the wicked is cruel” (Prov. 12:10).

In His Olivet discourse Jesus warned that those who claim to belong to Him but who have not served and shown compassion on the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick, and the imprisoned will not be allowed to enter His kingdom. He will say to them, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave Me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite Me in; naked, and you did not clothe Me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit Me.” When they say, “ ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry,’ … He will answer them, saying, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me’ ” (Matt. 25:41–45).

James writes, “Whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, ‘Do not commit adultery,’ also said, ‘Do not commit murder.’ Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act, as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:10–13a).

In the midst of our corrupt, ego-entered, and selfish society that tells us to grab everything we can get, the voice of God tells us to give everything we can give. The true character of mercy is in giving-giving compassion, giving help, giving time, giving forgiveness, giving money, giving ourselves. The children of the King are merciful. Those who are merciless face judgment; but “mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13b).

The Source of Mercy

Pure mercy is a gift of God. It is not a natural attribute of man but is a gift that comes with the new birth. We can be merciful in its full sense and with a righteous motive only when we have experienced God’s mercy. Mercy is only for those who through grace and divine power have met the requirements of the first four beatitudes. It is only for those who by the work of the Holy Spirit bow humbly before God in poverty of spirit, who mourn over and turn from their sin, who are meek and submissive to His control, and who hunger and thirst above all else for His righteousness. The way of mercy is the way of humility, repentance, surrender, and holiness.

Balaam continually prostituted his ministry, trying to keep within the letter of God’s will while conspiring with a pagan king against God’s people. He presumptuously prayed, “Let me die the death of the upright, and let my end be like his!” (Num. 23:10). As one Puritan commentator observed, Balaam wanted to die like the righteous, but he did not want to live like the righteous. Many people want God’s mercy but not on God’s terms.

God has both absolute and relative attributes. His absolute attributes-such as love, truth, and holiness-have characterized Him from all eternity. They were characteristic of Him before He created angels, or the world, or man. But His relative attributes-such as mercy, justice, and grace-were not expressed until His creatures came into being. In fact they were not manifest until man, the creature made in His own image, sinned and became separated from his Creator. Apart from sin and evil, mercy, justice, and grace have no meaning.

When man fell, God’s love was extended to His fallen creatures in mercy. And only when they receive His mercy can they reflect His mercy. God is the source of mercy. “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His lovingkindness [mercy] toward those who fear Him” (Ps. 103:11). It is because we have the resource of God’s mercy that Jesus commanded, “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 6:36).

Donald Barnhouse writes,

When Jesus Christ died on the cross, all the work of God for man’s salvation passed out of the realm of prophecy and became historical fact. God has now had mercy upon us. For anyone to pray, “God have mercy on me” is the equivalent of asking Him to repeat the sacrifice of Christ. All the mercy that God ever will have on man He has already had, when Christ died. That is the totality of mercy. There could not be any more. … The fountain is now opened, and it is flowing, and it continues to flow freely. (Romans [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983], 4:4)

We cannot have the blessing apart from the Blesser. We cannot even meet the condition apart from the One who has set the condition. We are blessed by God when we are merciful to others, and we are able to be merciful to others because we have already received salvation’s mercy. And when we share the mercy received, we shall receive mercy even beyond what we already have.

We never sing more truthfully than when we sing, “Mercy there was great and grace was free; pardon there was multiplied to me; there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.”

The Practice of Mercy

The most obvious way we can show mercy is through physical acts, as did the good Samaritan. As Jesus specifically commands, we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, and give any other practical help that is needed. In serving others in need, we demonstrate a heart of mercy.

It is helpful to note that the way of mercy did not begin with the New Testament. God has always intended for mercy to characterize His people. The Old Testament law taught, “You shall not harden your heart, nor close your hand from your poor brother; but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks” (Deut. 15:7–8). Even in the year of release, when all debts were canceled, Israelites were to give their poor countrymen whatever they needed. They were warned, “Beware, lest there is a base thought in your heart, saying ‘The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,’ and your eye is hostile toward your poor brother, and you give him nothing” (v. 9).

Mercy is also to be shown in our attitudes. Mercy does not hold a grudge, harbor resentment, capitalize on another’s failure or weakness, or publicize another’s sin. On a great table at which he fed countless hundreds of people, Augustine inscribed,

Whoever thinks that he is able,

To nibble at the life of absent friends,

Must know that he’s unworthy of this table.

The vindictive, heartless, indifferent are not subjects of Christ’s kingdom. When they pass need by on the other side, as the priest and the Levite did in the story of the good Samaritan, they show they have passed Christ by.

Mercy is also to be shown spiritually. First, it is shown through pity. Augustine said, “If I weep for the body from which the soul is departed, should I not weep for the soul from which God is departed?” The sensitive Christian will grieve more for lost souls than for lost bodies. Because we have experienced God’s mercy, we are to have great concern for those who have not.

Jesus’ last words from the cross were words of mercy. For His executioners He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). To the penitent thief hanging beside Him He said, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (v. 43). To His mother He said, “ ‘Woman, behold your son!’ Then He said to the disciple [John], ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his own household” (John 19:26–27). Like his Master, Stephen prayed for those who were taking his life, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” (Acts 7:60).

Second, we are to show spiritual mercy by confrontation. Paul says that, as Christ’s servants, we should gently correct “those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth” (2 Tim. 2:25). We are to be willing to confront others about their sin in order that they might come to God for salvation. When certain teachers were “upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain,” Paul told Titus to “reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:11, 13). Love and mercy will be severe when that is necessary for the sake of an erring brother and for the sake of Christ’s church. In such cases it is cruel to say nothing and let the harm continue.

As Jude closed his letter with the encouragement to “keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life,” he also admonished, “And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (Jude 21–23). Extreme situations require extreme care, but we are to show mercy even to those trapped in the worst systems of apostasy.

Third, we are to show spiritual mercy by praying. The sacrifice of prayer for those without God is an act of mercy. Our mercy can be measured by our prayer for the unsaved and for Christians who are walking in disobedience.

Fourth, we are to show spiritual mercy by proclaiming the saving gospel of Jesus Christ-the most merciful thing we can do.

The Result of Mercy

Reflecting on the fact that when we are merciful we receive mercy, we see God’s cycle of mercy. God is merciful to us by saving us through Christ; in obedience we are merciful to others; and God in faithfulness gives us even more mercy, pouring out blessing for our needs and withholding severe chastening for our sin.

As in the other beatitudes, the emphatic pronoun autos (they) indicates that only those who are merciful qualify to receive mercy. David sang of the Lord, “With the kind Thou dost show Thyself kind” (2 Sam. 22:26). Speaking of the opposite side of the same truth, James says, “For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy” (James 2:13). At the end of the disciples’ prayer Jesus explained, “For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matt. 6:14–15). Again the emphatic truth is that God will respond with chastening for an unforgiving disciple.

Neither in that passage nor in this beatitude is Jesus speaking of our mercy gaining us salvation. We do not earn salvation by being merciful. We must be saved by God’s mercy before we can truly be merciful. We cannot work our way into heaven even by a lifetime of merciful deeds, any more than by good works of any sort. God does not give mercy for merit; He gives mercy in grace, because it is needed, not because it is earned.

To illustrate the working of God’s mercy Jesus told the parable of a slave who had been graciously forgiven a great debt by the king. The man then went to a fellow slave who owed him a pittance by comparison and demanded that every cent be repaid and had him thrown into prison. When the king heard of the incident, he called the first man to him and said, “ ‘You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you entreated me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, even as I had mercy on you?’ And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. So shall My heavenly Father also do to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (Matt. 18:23–35).

In that parable Jesus gives a picture of God’s saving mercy in relation to forgiving others (vv. 21–22). The first man pleaded with God for mercy and received it. The fact that he, in turn, was unmerciful was so inconsistent with his own salvation that he was chastened until he repented. The Lord will chasten, if need be, to produce repentance in a stubborn child. Mercy to others is a mark of salvation. When we do not show it, we may be disciplined until we do. When we hold back mercy, God restricts His flow of mercy to us, and we forfeit blessing. The presence of chastening and the absence of blessing attend an unmerciful believer.

If we have received from a holy God unlimited mercy that cancels our unpayable debt of sin-we who had no righteousness but were poor in spirit, mourning over our load of sin in beggarly, helpless condition, wretched and doomed, meek before almighty God, hungry and thirsty for a righteousness we did not have and could not attain-it surely follows that we should be merciful to others.[2]


7 This beatitude is akin to Psalm 18:25 (reading “merciful” [ASV] instead of “faithful” [NIV]; following MT [v. 26], not LXX [17:26]; cf. Pr 14:21). Mercy embraces both forgiveness for the guilty and compassion for the suffering and needy. No particular object of the demanded mercy is specified, because mercy is to be a function of Jesus’ disciples, not of the particular situation that calls it forth. The theme is common in Matthew (6:12–15; 9:13; 12:7; 18:33–34). The reward is not mercy shown by others but by God (cf. the saying preserved in 1 Clem. 13:2). This does not mean our mercy is the causal ground of God’s mercy but its occasional ground (see comments at 6:14–15). This beatitude, too, is tied to the context. “It is ‘the meek’ who are also ‘the merciful’. For to be meek is to acknowledge to others that we are sinners; to be merciful is to have compassion on others, for they are sinners too” (Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 48, emphasis his).[3]


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

The merciful shall obtain mercy. Here, Jesus is not referring to the mercy of salvation which God gives to a believing sinner; that mercy is not dependent on a person’s being merciful—it is a free, unconditional gift. Rather the Lord is speaking of the daily mercy needed for Christian living and of mercy in that future day when one’s works will be reviewed (1 Cor. 3:12–15). If one has not been merciful, that person will not receive mercy; that is, one’s rewards will decrease accordingly.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 117). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 186–197). 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.) (pp. 1216–1217). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

APRIL 14 – ARE WE MIRED DOWN?

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot.

Revelation 3:15

 

God will speak to us if we read and study and obey the Word of God! But when He does speak, we should speak back to Him in prayer and devotion. Otherwise, we are among the Christians who are mired down right where we are.

Many in our congregations have grown older and yet are not one inch farther up the mountain than on that day when the sun first arose on them in conversion. In fact, some are not even as far advanced along the way with God as they were a few years ago.

If these things are true, I can only conclude that there are “common” Christians, men and women who no longer hear the Lord speaking to them as they should.

Can they really think that this halfway Christian life is the best that we can know?

In the face of what Christ offers us, how can we settle for so little?

It is a tragedy of our time that so many are settling for less than the Lord is willing to give!

 

Dear Lord, sometimes my spiritual life seems like a world-class roller-coaster ride! I want to keep growing in my relationship with You, Lord.[1]


Since there was nothing for which to commend this unregenerate church, Christ launched directly into His concerns. Deeds always reveal people’s true spiritual state, as indicated by the Lord’s words “you will know them by their fruits” (Matt. 7:16; cf. Rom. 2:6–8). Though salvation is wholly by God’s grace through faith alone, deeds confirm or deny the presence of genuine salvation (James 2:14ff.). The omniscient Lord Jesus Christ knew the Laodiceans’ deeds and that they indicated an unregenerate church.

Christ rebuked them for being neither cold nor hot but lukewarm. His metaphorical language is drawn from Laodicea’s water supply. Because it traveled several miles through an underground aqueduct before reaching the city, the water arrived foul, dirty, and tepid. It was not hot enough to relax and restore, like the hot springs at Hierapolis. Nor was it cold and refreshing, like the stream water at Colossae. Laodicea’s lukewarm water was in a useless condition.

Comparing its spiritual state to the city’s foul, tepid water, Christ gave the Laodicean church a powerful, shocking rebuke: because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. Some churches make the Lord weep, others make Him angry; the Laodicean church made Him sick.

Hot people are those who are spiritually alive and possess the fervency of a transformed life. The spiritually cold, on the other hand, are best understood as those who reject Jesus Christ. The gospel leaves them unmoved; it evokes in them no spiritual response. They have no interest in Christ, His Word, or His church. And they make no pretense about it; they are not hypocrites.

The lukewarm fit into neither category. They are not genuinely saved, yet they do not openly reject the gospel. They attend church and claim to know the Lord. Like the Pharisees, they are content to practice a self-righteous religion; they are hypocrites playing games. The Lord Jesus Christ described such people in Matthew 7:22–23: “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” The lukewarm are like the unbelieving Jews of whom Paul lamented, “For I testify about them that they have a zeal for God, but not in accordance with knowledge” (Rom. 10:2). They are those who “[hold] to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). Such obnoxious hypocrisy nauseates Christ.

These smug, self-righteous hypocrites are far more difficult to reach with the gospel than cold-hearted rejecters. The latter may at least be shown that they are lost. But those who self-righteously think that they are saved are often protective of their religious feelings and unwilling to recognize their real condition. They are not cold enough to feel the bitter sting of their sin. Consequently, there is no one further from the truth than the one who makes an idle profession but never experiences genuine saving faith. No one is harder to reach for Christ than a false Christian. Jesus’ paralleling critique of the self-righteous, self-deceived Pharisees and Sadducees was that “the tax collectors and prostitutes [would] get into the kingdom of God before [them]” (Matt. 21:31).

Unfortunately, such lukewarm churches are common today, making the letter to the Laodiceans especially relevant. As John R. W. Stott notes,

Perhaps none of the seven letters is more appropriate to the twentieth-century church than this. It describes vividly the respectable, sentimental, nominal, skin-deep religiosity which is so widespread among us today. Our Christianity is flabby and anaemic. We appear to have taken a lukewarm bath of religion. (What Christ Thinks of the Church [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980], 116)[2]


15–16 Sadly, the speaker’s knowledge reveals an unqualified condemnation of the Laodicean church. The verdict is the exact opposite of the church’s own evaluation and expectations. Their deeds were “neither cold nor hot.” The expression “cold nor hot” may refer to their lack of zeal (v. 19) or their uselessness, for Christ says, “I wish you were either one or the other!” (lit., “either cold or hot”). There is good reason why we should not try to take both of these words as though Christ meant, “I wish you were either spiritually cold [i.e., unsaved or hostile] or spiritually hot [i.e., alive and fervent]!” In the first place, it is inconceivable that Christ would wish that people were spiritually cold, or unsaved and hostile. Furthermore, the application of “hot” and “cold” to spiritual temperature, though familiar to us, would have been completely foreign to first-century Christians. The two adjectives in “neither hot nor cold” should be understood together as equivalent to “lukewarmness” (v. 16)—i.e., they were useless to Christ because they were complacent, self satisfied, and indifferent to the real issues of faith in him and of discipleship.

Since the city of Hierapolis, seven miles north of Laodicea, had famous “hot springs,” it may be that similar springs were located south of Laodicea and affected the temperature of the water supply. “I am about to spit [emesai, vomit, GK 1840] you out of my mouth” seems to allude to the lukewarm water. “Cold” could refer to the useful cool water located at Colossae, fewer than ten miles away. “Hot” would remind the Laodiceans of the beneficial “hot springs” to the north of Hierapolis. Yet Laodicea, for all its wealth, had an insipid water supply—one that induced vomiting! Christ detests a Laodicean attitude of compromise, one that seeks easy accommodation and peace at any cost. With such a condition, he must deal harshly. To be a Christian means to be useful to Christ.[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1999). Revelation 1–11 (pp. 136–137). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 636). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 14 – GENERALLY, WE PRAY ONLY AS WELL AS WE LIVE

If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me.

PSALM 66:18

Prayer at its best is the expression of the total life, for all things else being equal, our prayers are only as powerful as our lives.

In the long pull, we pray only as well as we live!

Some prayers are like a fire escape, used only in times of critical emergency—never very enjoyable, but used as a way of terrified escape from disaster. They do not represent the regular life of the one who offers them; rather, they are the unusual and uncommon acts of the spiritual amateur.

Most of us in moments of stress have wished that we had lived so that prayer would not be so unnatural to us and have regretted that we had not cultivated prayer to the point where it would be as easy and as natural as breathing.

No Christian wants to live his whole life on an emergency level. As we go on into God we shall see excellency of the life of constant communion where all thoughts and acts are prayers, and the entire life becomes one holy sacrifice of prayer and worship!

To pray effectively it is required of us that there be no unblessed areas in our lives, no parts of the mind or soul that are not inhabited by the Spirit, no impure desires allowed to live within us, no disparity between our prayers and our conduct.

Undoubtedly the redemption in Christ Jesus has sufficient moral power to enable us to live in a state of purity and love, where our whole life will be a prayer![1]


66:18 If I had considered evil in my heart The psalmist asserts that if he had been living an unrepentant, sinful life—or desired sin—then God would not have heard him (Prov 28:9). However, because he was innocent, God heard his cries and delivered him (see Psa 17:3–7).[2]


66:18 “Regard” means here “to look with favor upon” or “plan.” The believer must take the same attitude toward sin which God takes. A clear conscience, i.e., one devoid of a desire for sin, is necessary for effectual prayer (cf. Is. 59:2; Heb. 10:22; 1 John 3:21).[3]


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

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 66:18). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] 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., Ps 66:18). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.