Daily Archives: April 16, 2017

April 15-16, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 04/15/2017

‘I Have Deep Regrets’: Graphic Artist Who Designed ‘Shack’ Novel Renounces Book   Apr 10, 2017 10:52 am

The graphic artist who helped design the controversial best-selling novel “The Shack” has come forward to express his regret for being a part of the project out of his concern that it contains false doctrine. “ver 10 years ago, I was captivated by the story and felt honored to be part of the graphic creation of the book. I was so drawn into it, wanting to know the…

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Profane ‘Pastor’ Welcomes Open Homosexuals, Admits He ‘Doesn’t Care’ What Bible Says   Apr 12, 2017 07:06 pm

BOTHELL, Wa. — A profanity-speaking preacher who has lost hundreds in his congregation over his decision to allow open homosexuals to serve in leadership positions, and who says he “doesn’t care” what the Bible has to say on the issue, is featured in a new online video that has received over a million views in less than a week. Ryan Meeks is the founder of…

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‘Bible Answer Man’ Hank Hanegraaff Chrismated Into Eastern Orthodoxy   Apr 11, 2017 05:32 pm

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Hank Hanegraaff, also known as the “Bible Answer Man,” was chrismated into the Orthodox Church on Sunday, the well-known radio host and author has confirmed. A photo had been circulating since Sunday of the 67-year-old Hanegraaff being received into Eastern Orthodoxy at Saint Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, along with his wife and…

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Ohio ‘Ministers’ Arrested on Sex Trafficking Charges   Apr 10, 2017 06:01 am

TOLEDO, Ohio — Two ministers from Ohio have been arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) on alleged sex trafficking charges. Cordell Jenkins, 46, who leads Abundant Life Ministries in Toledo, was taken into custody on Friday, along with Anthony Haynes, 37, who oversees Greater Life Christian Center, also in Toledo. “Jenkins and Haynes are…

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Atheist Mocks Bible, Praises ‘Trinity of Science’ in Invocation Before Iowa Legislature   Apr 10, 2017 06:01 am

DES MOINES – A professing atheist recently delivered an opening invocation before the Iowa House of Representatives, in which he promoted atheistic ideals and converted a well-known Old Testament passage into a secular “prayer.” The Iowa House has a longstanding tradition of opening its meetings with prayers, which are typically offered by local pastors….

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North Carolina Church Boots Boy Scouts as Allowing Girls Who Identify as Boys Last Straw   Apr 09, 2017 06:01 am

MOORESVILLE, N.C. — A church is North Carolina has decided to no longer allow a local chapter of the Boy Scouts of America to meet at its house of worship as the organization’s recent decision to allow the membership of girls who identify as boys seemed to be the last straw following its admittance of open homosexuals in 2013 and 2015. “For more than 10 years,…

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Planned Parenthood Acknowledges Meeting With Ivanka Trump   Apr 09, 2017 06:01 am

Photo Credit: Michael Vadon WASHINGTON — The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has acknowledged that its president, Cecile Richards, met with Ivanka Trump in January to discuss why the organization shouldn’t be defunded. “Planned Parenthood welcomes the opportunity to meet with anyone to talk about the important role Planned Parenthood plays in…

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Florida Middle School Teacher Fired for ‘Comfort’ Survey on Gender, Sexuality, Religion   Apr 12, 2017 06:01 am

SPRING HILL, Fla. — A middle school teacher in Florida has been fired for issuing a survey/exercise to students that asked them about their comfort level in situations surrounding matters of gender, sexuality, religion and race. Daryl Cox had left her students at Fox Chapel Middle School in Spring Hill a photocopied assignment from the book “Exploring White…

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European Court of Human Rights to Hear Case of German Family Forced to Send Children to Public School   Apr 08, 2017 05:17 pm

STRASBOURG, France — The European Court of Human Rights is set to hear the case of a German family that was forced to send their children to public school after they were seized by the government because they were homeschooled. “I sincerely hope the European Court of Human Rights will reaffirm that the state has no right to abduct children from their family…

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Atheist Group Takes Issue With Faith-Based Group’s Sex Ed Curriculum in Public Schools   Apr 12, 2017 06:02 am

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. — A prominent professing atheist group is expressing its objection after discovering that a number of school districts in Missouri are allowing a faith-based organization to teach sexual education classes, urging students to remain abstinent until marriage. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) states that a member…

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Weekend Snapshot

Apr. 15, 2017
Top Stories This Week
Quote of the Week

“The reason that the Russians are in [Syria] is not an affection for Assad … but because, as a result of their involvement, they now have a naval base in the warm water Mediterranean, they have an active, very powerful airbase in Syria. They have a presence in the Middle East. They are the power. They have displaced the United States. And their entire foreign policy under Putin is to restore the glory and the territory and the influence of old Soviet Union, one piece at a time. And it does that by taking away from the United States. It’s a zero sum game.” —Charles Krauthammer


TRUMPED: North Korea Missile Blown Up On Launch Pad In Humiliating Defeat For Kim Jong-Un

North Korea has attempted to fire a missile it introduced just hours ago at a military parade – but the launch was an embarrassing failure after the weapon blew up almost immediately.

EDITOR’S NOTE: North Korea made good on their threat to launch a “game changer” missile this weekend, but a funny thing happened on the way to the launch. Seconds after the missile was fired, it blew up. Was that because the United States sabotaged the launch, or because of failure on the part of the North Korean military? We may never know, but either way Kim Jong-Un has egg foo young all over his face. 

It is thought to be one of the country’s new ‘game-changer’ intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) which was revealed to the world in a display of military might yesterday.

The South Korean defence ministry said it had detected a failed launch from Sinpo – where North Korea’s biggest submarine base is located.

According to a military official the weapon is ‘presumed to be a new ICBM’ as it is longer than the existing KN-08 or KN-14 missiles.

The South Korean defence ministry said in a statement: ‘North Korea attempted to test an unidentified type of missile from Sinpo area in the South Hamkyong Province this morning, but we suspect the launch has failed.’

In a statement, the US military said: ‘U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch at 11:21 a.m. Hawaii time April 15.

‘The launch of the ballistic missile occurred near Sinpo.

‘The missile blew up almost immediately. The type of missile is still being assessed. ‘U.S. Pacific Command is fully committed to working closely with our allies in the Republic of Korea and in Japan to maintain security.’

It comes just hours after North Korea unveiled new weapons during a display of the country’s military might as Kim Jong-Un warned of an ‘annihilating strike’ if the US attacks.

President Donald Trump had previously pledged to ‘take care’ of the issue following his surprise cruise missile attack on Syria over its use of chemical weapons.

Meanwhile Pyongyang threatened ‘catastrophic consequences’ when Trump sent an armada of warships to the Korean Peninsula.

At the same time, China has moved 150,000 troops to its border to deal with a possible influx of North Korean refugees amid fears Trump may strike Kim following the surprise US missile attack on Syria last week. source


Top News – April 15-16, 2017

Death toll in Syrian blast targeting evacuation bus hits 112
The death toll from a bomb blast on a crowded Syrian bus convoy outside Aleppo reached at least 112 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Sunday. Syrian rescue workers, the Civil Defense said, had carted away at least 100 bodies from the site of Saturday’s blast, which hit buses carrying Shi’ite residents as they waited to cross from rebel into government territory in an evacuation deal between warring sides.

Abbas to meet with Trump in May, Palestinian official says
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will meet US President Donald Trump on May 3rd in Washington, D.C., top Palestinian official Ahmad Majdalani said on Sunday. “This is a very important visit in which we hope to agree on the fundamentals to revive the peace process and discuss bilateral relations,” Majdalani told The Jerusalem Post in a phone call.

Turks vote in historic referendum on expanding Erdogan’s power
Turks began voting in a hotly contested referendum on Sunday that could place sweeping new powers in the hands of President Tayyip Erdogan and herald the most radical change to the country’s political system in its modern history. Opinion polls have given a narrow lead for a “Yes” vote, which would replace Turkey’s parliamentary democracy with an all-powerful presidency and may see Erdogan in office until at least 2029.

Azerbaijan wants pan-Arab summit with Israel, envoy says
A US-led summit gathering Israel’s prime minister and the Palestinian Authority president on one stage with Levant and Gulf leaders would greatly benefit the region, and likely advance a stalled peace process, Azerbaijan’s envoy said in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. Israeli officials told the Post last month that the Trump administration is exploring the feasibility of such a summit, which would bring Israel and Sunni leaders from Saudi Arabia and neighboring nations together for the first time.

Iran floods kill at least 30
Floods have killed at least 30 people in north-west Iran, state media reported on Saturday. Others are said to be missing after torrential rains hit four provinces. Video footage shows streets inundated with water, and cars being swept away. The Tehran Times news site reported that the flood had also triggered a landslide.

North Korean Missile “Blows Up” During Launch; President Trump Aware, Has “No Further Comment”
North Korea’s attempted missile launch on Sunday ended in failure, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.  The communist state attempted to launch an unidentifed missile from the port city of Sinpo on its east coast in the morning, and the launch is presumed to have failed, the JCS said. Secretary of Defense Mattis says President Trump is aware of the situation and has “no further comment” on failed North Korean missile test.

Doomsday Bunker Sales Soar After Trump’s Military Strikes
“Doomsday crazy person, ‘prepper’ that’s all kind of nutty that people make them out to be…they don’t have $3.5 million to by a 5,500 square-foot bunker. Right?” questioned Scott.

The “Grinch” Is Trying to Steal Easter Eggs
As Christians around the world celebrate Easter, there are believers who are targeted by terrorists for their faith during this holy season. It is shameful these companies are so insensitive or hostile to Christianity by censoring the reason for the season on their candy wrappers.

SCORE For Religious FREEDOM!! Trump Makes Another STRONG Appointment!
Well if you are a person of faith, and have been worried about the direction the government has been heading in the persecution of your first amendment freedoms like religion, fear not! President Trump has just appointed a strong defender of religious liberty, Roger Severino to head the Office for Civil Rights at HHS. What’s even better, is that he is a believer in FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE!

Dove Debuts Bizarre Advertisement Featuring Transgender ‘Mom’ 
Dove rolled out a new advertisement for their baby skincare line ‘Baby Dove’ featuring moms from all walks of life caring for their babies–and of course included a man who identifies as a ‘mom’.

Mumps outbreak in Texas reaches 23-year high
Texas health authorities are trying to combat a record-breaking outbreak of mumps that has swept through the state. The Texas Department of State Health Services reported there have been 221 cases of mumps in the state this year, the highest number since 1994 when 234 cases were reported. College students in particular have been among the hardest hit by the virus, which spreads through close personal contact and can result in swollen glands, fever and headache.

Palestinian campaign demands UK apologize for Balfour Declaration
More than 11,000 people have signed an online petition calling on the British government to formally apologize for the Balfour Declaration, a letter written by British Foreign Secretary Lord Balfour in 1917 expressing Britain’s support for the establishment of a Jewish state in historic Palestine. The petition was recently launched by the Balfour Apology Campaign (BAC) and calls for the British government “to openly apologize to the Palestinian people for issuing the Balfour Declaration.”

US troops to help Somalia fight al-Shabab
The US says it is sending dozens of troops to Somalia to train forces fighting Islamist group al-Shabab. This is the first time regular US troops have been deployed in Somalia since 1994, although some counter-terrorism advisers are already there. President Donald Trump last month approved a directive allowing tougher action against al-Shabab.

North Korea ‘ready for nuclear attack’ amid show of force
North Korea has warned the US not to take provocative action in the region, saying it is “ready to hit back with nuclear attacks”. The comments came as North Korea marked the 105th anniversary of the birth of its founding president, Kim Il-sung. A huge parade in Pyongyang was held amid speculation current leader Kim Jong-un could order a new nuclear test.

MOAB strike: 90 IS fighters killed in Afghanistan
At least 90 militants from the Islamic State (IS) group were killed by a huge bomb dropped by the US in Afghanistan, a regional governor says. The most powerful non-nuclear bomb ever used by the US in combat was dropped on an IS base in Nangarhar province. A network of tunnels and caves was destroyed on Thursday evening local time, US officials said.

US government ‘hacked global bank system’
A huge range of security weaknesses, said to be worth over $2m if sold on the black market, have been leaked online. The tools are said to have been created by the US National Security Agency (NSA), and accompanying documents appear to indicate a possible breach of the Swift global banking system. Such a hack could have enabled the US to covertly monitor financial transactions, researchers said.

North Korea makes menacing boast it will take on Donald Trump with ‘merciless’ strikes on South Korea and US bases
North Korea upped its warmongering with Donald Trump today in a series of menacing boasts threatening to ‘ravage’ US troops amid fears the two countries are heading for war. The secretive state vowed to ‘pulverize’ US bases and South Korean capital Seoul if it was threatened by the US military, which is carrying out drills on the Korean peninsula. A US aircraft carrier group is steaming towards the region. It claimed it would ‘ruthlessly ravage’ the US if Washington attacked. China warned the region could go to war ‘at any moment’.

Chinese foreign minister: No winners if Korea war breaks out
There can be no winners in a war between the U.S. and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said, while pledging support for dialogue between the sides.

French presidential race tightens further as vote looms
France’s presidential race looked tighter than it has all year on Friday, nine days before voting begins, as two polls put the four frontrunners within reach of a two-person run-off vote.

US Conducts Successful Field Test Of New Nuclear Bomb
The US National Nuclear Security Administration and the U.S Air Force announced the first successful field test of the modernized B61-12 gravity thermonuclear bomb at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

U.S. Insurers Sue Saudis For $4.2 Billion Over 9/11
Last year’s Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA), a bill which allowed Americans to sue Saudi Arabia in US court over their involvement in 9/11, has yielded another major lawsuit yesterday, a $4.2 billion suit filed by over two dozen US insurers related to losses sustained because of the 2001 attack.

Homeless Man Allegedly Robbed Queens Churches to ‘Get Back at God,’ Prosecutors Say
A homeless man faces burglary and hate crime charges after he allegedly robbed four churches, one of which he stole from three times, in Queens, New York, because of his hatred of God, according to prosecutors.

Obama to Return to Limelight Next Month, Alongside Candidate Merkel in Germany
President Obama looks set to return to global headlines in late May, four months after leaving the White House, when he takes part in a discussion on democracy alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a religious festival in Berlin.

Biographer Claims Barack Obama Called America ‘Racist Society’ in Unpublished Manuscript
A biographer who is writing a book about former President Barack Obama claims that Obama once called America “a racist society” in an unpublished manuscript from his law school days.


Why is the Dept. of Education Promoting Islam to School Kids?

By Clarion Project

The U.S. Department of Education has proselytized in our public schools on behalf Islam for many years through its “Access Islam” program. Federally funded, it is directed at children in grades 5 through 12. The Christian Action Network recently demanded that President Trump’s recently confirmed Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, terminate the program.

According to an article at Breitbart, a predecessor program began during the Bush administration in 2005. It “simply taught students about the traditions, culture, and holidays of Islam. Then, it became greatly expanded under the Obama administration. It has continued to develop, and now has had a greater, broader outreach.”

View Article


Why We Celebrate This Weekend

The Insanity of the Left’s Child Gender-Confusion Agenda

“This is science with an agenda,” reminds Ben Shapiro in a piece over at CNSNews:

On Sunday, The New York Times ran a piece by Jack Turban, a research fellow at the Yale School of Medicine. Turban says that doctors should begin applying puberty blockers to children who identify as transgender as early as possible. That’s because, according to him, “it has become clear that if we support these children in their transgender identities instead of trying to change them, they thrive instead of struggling with anxiety and depression.”

Turban uses as his example one 14-year-old girl named Hannah who was born a boy named Jonah. Turban glows: “Hannah is using a puberty-blocking implant and getting ready to embark on the path of developing a female body by starting estrogen. Ten years ago most doctors would have called this malpractice. New data has now made it the protocol for thousands of American children.”

View article →


10 Signs of a Cultic Church

Cross Examined has a piece by Brian Chilton who asks: “How does one know that a church has the characteristics of a cultic church?” Good question. According to Chilton, there is a difference between a cult and a cultic church and he gives some signs of cultic churches. So we want you to know what […]

The post 10 Signs of a Cultic Church appeared first on Berean Research.

Visit Berean Research for the full post.

Top Headlines – April 15-16, 2017

Pope presides over solemn Easter Vigil amid security fears

‘I forgive you’: Widow of guard who died protecting Coptic Pope in Egypt’s Palm Sunday bombings addresses his killer

Worshippers spread ‘Holy Fire’ in Church of Holy Sepulchre

Trump-Abbas White House summit said set for May 3 preceded by a preparatory PA delegation on April 23

PLO official: Settlers now inhabit the White House

Hamas leader hints prisoner exchange deal in the works

IDF Special Forces arrested by Palestinian police in Nablus

Syria’s Assad is an ‘arch-terrorist,’ British FM says

Car bomb kills scores of Syrians evacuating town after two years of siege

Iraq: ISIS launches chlorine gas attacks in western Mosul

3,000 migrants said rescued off Libya coast Saturday

Some Turks fear the rise of a dictatorship as a referendum nears to greatly expand Erdogan’s powers

What changes under Turkey’s new constitution plan?

Turkey detains five IS suspects ‘planning polling day attack’

AP Interview: Iran’s Ahmadinejad sees no threat from US

Rouhani: Iran does not need ‘permission to build missiles’

Afghan official: Massive US bomb death toll rises to 94

North Korea’s display of new missiles is worrying, analysts say

North Korea ‘ready for nuclear attack’ amid show of force

N. Korea didn’t test a nuclear weapon, but it did try to launch another missile

North Korea ‘makes unsuccessful missile launch’ day after massive show of strength

North Korea missile test: Latest launch ‘blew up almost immediately’

Chinese Media Almost Sets Off Military Action With Erroneous North Korea Headline

US said preparing strike to ‘utterly destroy’ N. Korean nuclear program

Military Strikes Cause Boom In Underground Bunker Business

New protests set in troubled Venezuela

Hungarians Press on With Protests as Orban Takes Aim at Soros

Obama to Return to Limelight Next Month, Alongside Candidate Merkel in Germany

Biographer Claims Barack Obama Called America ‘Racist Society’ in Unpublished Manuscript

21 arrested as hundreds of Trump supporters and counter-protesters clash at Berkeley rally

Maxine Waters rallies Tax March crowd for Trump’s impeachment

NASA releases new satellite images of the Earth at night – Israel lives up to its moniker as a ‘light unto the nations’

6.2 magnitude earthquake hits near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Kimanuit, Philippines

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 23,000ft

Sri Lanka rubbish dump landslide death toll rises to 19

Tropical Cyclone Maarutha Expected to Strengthen and Threaten Myanmar Into Early Week

Iran floods kill at least 30

Lettuce Prices On The Rise As California’s Wet Winter Prevents Planting

Italian Emma Morano, last known survivor of 19th century, dies at 117

Mary Poppins star Dick Van Dyke slams modern screen violence

Dove includes transgender mom in ad about #RealMoms

Survivor Contestant Who Outed Tribemate Zeke Smith as Transgender Fired From Job

Balfour declaration still creating division

US defense secretary expected in Israel next week to ‘re-affirm military alliances’

EU adopts anti-BDS stance in official commercial policy

Record-breaking number of tourists enter Israel in Q1 2017

Egypt’s shaken Copts mark Good Friday after double bombing

Haaretz columnist stands by claim religious Zionists worse than Hezbollah

Report: Hezbollah evacuating positions near Israel’s Golan Heights

Defected Syrian general: Assad retains hundreds of tons of chemical weapons

Punish Syrian regime harder for chemical attack, say Boris Johnson

Islamic State mufti killed in Mosul air strike, Iraqi forces say

Syrian deal to evacuate tens of thousands of people begins

In Syria, residents board buses in tears as starvation siege comes to an end

Russia Says Evidence Growing Syria Chemical Attack Was Staged

Russia, Iran and Syria issue warning to US

Ex-Obama officials say hesitation to use force in Syria, elsewhere, emboldened adversaries

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

The bombing of Afghanistan shows the US is led by a one-man wild card

Turkey’s Erdogan says emergency rule could be extended upon expiry

UN chief warns that Libya risks a return to wide conflict

US Conducts Successful Field Test Of New Nuclear Bomb

Rogue states like Iran face tougher action as US says nuclear attack by North Korea ‘closer than ever’

North Korea puts on a show for Day of the Sun

North Korea shows off new missiles in huge military parade, but doesn’t test nuke

North Korean Official: Situation in a ‘Vicious Cycle’

NKorea ‘will go to war’ if US provokes

Panetta: Trump Is Risking Nuclear War With North Korea

Vice President Pence heads to Seoul as North Korea tensions flare

Japan says it must remain on alert over N. Korea

Air China cancels some Beijing-Pyongyang flights

China says North Korea tension has to be stopped from reaching “irreversible” stage

Chinese foreign minister: No winners if Korea war breaks out

U.S. Oil Assets Could Fall Into Russian Hands If Venezuela Defaults

5 dead in Venezuela protests as movement gains steam

Texas getting first immigrant center built under Trump

Berkeley fears repeat of violence at planned pro-Trump rally

Battle intensifies between Trump’s CIA, WikiLeaks

Tucker Carlson: MS-13 Street Gang ‘Is a Far Greater Threat to Your Life Than ISIS’

U.S. Insurers Sue Saudis For $4.2 Billion Over 9/11

Soros Sued by Fellow Billionaire in $10 Billion Mine Brawl

Feds Collect Record Income and Payroll Taxes Through March – Still Run $526,855,000,000 Deficit

Tax Day protests: Anti-Trump marches planned nationwide to demand tax returns

Children as young as 13 being treated for addiction to mobile phones

Touchscreen use by toddlers linked to poor sleep patterns

Apple Secures Permit to Test Autonomous Vehicles in California

Facebook knocks down massive spammer network

NSA’s powerful Windows hacking tools leaked online

Getting ready: Pentagon to protect electric grid from massive attack

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits the Southern Mid-Atlantic Ridge

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Calama, Chile

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 28,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 22,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 11,000ft

The Great Japan Potato-Chip Crisis: Panic Buying, $12 Bags

10 infants in California neonatal intensive care unit test positive for antibiotic resistant superbug

Justice Department drops North Carolina LGBT rights lawsuit

1,100 strangers showed up at his home for sex. He blames Grindr revenge scheme.

Alleged ‘sadistic hazing rituals’ lead to 13 arrests of male student athletes in small Texas town

Homeless Man Allegedly Robbed Queens Churches to ‘Get Back at God,’ Prosecutors Say

Catholic college in Kansas wipes ‘yoga’ from names of classes – it’s a Hindu thing

Extreme religious acts mark Good Friday in the Philippines – Tourists watch crucifixions, worshipers whipping themselves to a bloody state

Christians most persecuted group in the world as vicious attacks grow

America Concerned That North Korea Missiles Could Soon Strike Inland

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 07:48 AM PDT

North Korea made an unsuccessful attempt to launch a missile the day after displaying a massive show of strength, South Korean and US military sources…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Missile Launch May Have Been Thwarted By US Cyber‑Attack

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 07:44 AM PDT

A missile test by North Korea that failed seconds after launch may have been sabotaged by a US cyber-attack, a former foreign secretary has said….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

When your darkest hour becomes your finest hour!

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 07:40 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) Discover how many times in our walk with God the Lord allows us to walk through Dark times to Prepare us for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

University students vote to make American flag optional

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 05:52 PM PDT

(Reported By Todd Starnes) Students at the University of California, Davis proved you don’t need a Bic lighter to desecrate Old Glory — you just…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Unrest Breaks Out Resulting In 13 Arrested at Pro-Trump / Anti-Trump Demonstrations

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 05:46 PM PDT

Police say 13 people have been arrested as pro and anti-Trump demonstrators clashed in Berkeley Saturday. Two simultaneous demonstrations were planned for Civic Center Park….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korean Ballistic Missile Launch Fails ….. Now What?

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 05:38 PM PDT

North Korea has attempted to fire a missile it introduced just hours ago at a military parade – but the launch was an embarrassing failure…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Copies of the Quran found in toilet at University of Texas at Dallas

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 12:31 PM PDT

Police are searching for the person responsible for dumping copies of the Quran in campus toilets at the University of Texas at Dallas. A student…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump’s Approval Wasn’t Needed To Drop MOAB!

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 12:24 PM PDT

The decision to drop the largest non-nuclear bomb ever used in combat was made by the top U.S. commander on the ground, officials told Fox…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Australian Christians Warned Not to Wear Christian Symbols in Sydney or Risk Being Attacked.

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 12:18 PM PDT

Australian Christians have been warned not to wear overtly Christian symbols through Muslim areas in Sydney or risk being attacked. Last week, a 30-year-old Greek…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Top Candy Makers Scrub ‘Easter’ From Packaging

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 12:12 PM PDT

Grocery store aisles are lined with chocolate candy bunnies, jelly beans, and marshmallow Peeps, but one thing is missing–the word “Easter.” Hershey’s, M&M’s, Lindor, Russell…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Was Herod’s Palace Discovered? – Site of Jesus’ Sentencing

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 12:05 PM PDT

These are busy days in Jerusalem, as the city marks both Pesach (Passover) and Holy Week, leading up to Easter. Inside the Old City walls,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Houston City Council Bans Homeless Encampments on Public Property and Panhandling

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 11:55 AM PDT

City council members in Houston, Texas have passed an ordinance that bans homeless people from erecting temporary shelters and tents on public property or panhandling…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Drop of your blood may predict how long you’ll live

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 11:44 AM PDT

Blood has many roles in the metaphorical life of the human body. It’s the organ of kinship (“blood ties”), the seat of emotion (“blood lust”)…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

World’s oldest person dies at 117… Last known survivor of 19th century…

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 11:38 AM PDT

Emma Morano, an Italian woman believed to have been the oldest person alive and the last survivor of the 19th century, died Saturday at the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Iran’s Ahmadinejad Fears No Threat from US – Says Iran Cannot Be Harmed

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 11:34 AM PDT

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday he does not view recent U.S. missile strikes on ally Syria as a message for Iran, which he…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Underground Bunker Business Exploding From Fears of War

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 11:28 AM PDT

The Trump administration’s increased military strikes might cause fear for some people. But for one North Texas man, it means big bucks. Nora Holloway of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian Couple Who Refused to Teach Easter Bunny Is Real Loses Foster Children

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 11:24 AM PDT

A Christian couple in Canada has filed a lawsuit against Hamilton Children’s Aid Society for removing two foster children from their home because they refused…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Reveals New Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 11:14 AM PDT

North Korea put its adversaries on notice Saturday, when it showed off a bevy of new missiles and launchers at its annual military parade. Pyongyang…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Rogue states like Iran face tougher action as US says nuclear attack by North Korea ‘closer than ever’

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 11:08 AM PDT

Rogue states such as Iran face tougher military action from America under Donald Trump, the director of the CIA has warned, as he said the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why Kim Jong Un Is Not Backing Down!

Posted: 15 Apr 2017 11:04 AM PDT

As millions of North Koreans celebrate the Day of the Sun today, marking the birth of their cruel dynasty’s founding dictator, Kim Il-sung, his grandson’s…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Admin Preparing to Strike North Korea if Nuclear Test Occurs

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 07:23 PM PDT

An NBC News report citing “military sources” claims Donald Trump and senior military officials are prepared to launch a preemptive conventional strike against North Korea…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

This 9-Year-Old Boy’s Vision Will Send Chills Up Your Spine!

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 06:52 PM PDT

Joel 2:28 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Return Of Ahmadinejad Could Trigger Deeper Middle East Conflict

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:50 PM PDT

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is looking to regain power in the May 2017 election and should he win, bring the Muslim nation into even…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Is the U.S. On The Verge Of Making An Extremely Costly Mistake?

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:38 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) All day long I have just felt sick.  Right at this moment, we are closer to war with North Korea than…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Carolina Lawmakers Seek to Ban Gay Marriage

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:26 PM PDT

Three Republican lawmakers in North Carolina are now looking to ban same-sex marriage in the state with a bill called the “Uphold Historical Marriage Act,”…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

USS Stethem conducting operations in S. China Sea

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:20 PM PDT

The guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem is conducting operations in the South China Sea, the US Navy has announced amid tensions between Washington and Beijing over…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Leaked NSA Malware Threatens Windows Users Around The Globe

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 05:17 PM PDT

The ShadowBrokers, an entity previously confirmed by The Intercept to have leaked authentic malware used by the NSA to attack computers around the world, today released…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHETIC UPDATE: Wars and Rumors of Wars!

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 12:33 PM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this special segment, we will discuss how we are witnessing the increase of Rumors of Wars that was mentioned by Christ…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Largest Mumps Outbreak in 22 Years Strikes Texas

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 12:27 PM PDT

The Texas Department of State Health Services warned this week of multiple ongoing mumps outbreaks. The surge, which includes 221 cases this year, constitutes the…

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Apple Secures Permit to Test Self-Driving Vehicles in California

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 12:20 PM PDT

Apple Inc.’s secretive self-driving car project is on course for a public debut. The technology giant on Friday secured a permit for autonomous-vehicle testing in…

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BREAKING NEWS: USS Carl Vinson Steams Toward North Korea

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 12:15 PM PDT

At a time when experts warn that North Korea’s nuclear test site is “primed and ready,” President Donald Trump on Wednesday told the Fox Business…

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US Air Force F-35s making first operational deployment to Europe this weekend

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 12:10 PM PDT

The U.S. Air Force’s F-35A is deploying internationally for the first time this weekend, heading to Europe to conduct training exercises with NATO allies, the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pentagon Preparing to Protect Electric Grid from Massive Attack

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 12:02 PM PDT

Amid warnings that North Korea and Iran have plans to take out parts of the U.S. electric grid through a cyber attack or atmospheric nuclear…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US successfully tests new nuclear gravity bomb

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 11:57 AM PDT

As the world’s attention was on the first combat use of the conventional “Mother Of All Bombs,” the US National Nuclear Security Administration announced the…

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RUMORS OF WAR: China Warns ‘Storm Clouds Are Gathering’…

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 11:07 AM PDT

China warned on Friday that tensions on the Korean Peninsula could spin out of control, as North Korea said it could test a nuclear weapon…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: Japan Prepares for emergency and Evacuation Plans…

Posted: 14 Apr 2017 11:03 AM PDT

The United States has deployed the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson to waters near the Korean Peninsula amid rising military tensions over North Korea….

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What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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


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10 Signs of a Cultic Church

From Berean Research:

Cross Examined has a piece by Brian Chilton who asks: “How does one know that a church has the characteristics of a cultic church?” Good question.  According to Chilton, there is a difference between a cult and a cultic church and he gives some signs of cultic churches. So we want you to know what those distinctions are. We’ve included links for further study at the end that will help you grow in your faith:

#2 Personal interpretations are held to an equal or higher view than biblical truth. A good example of a cultic church would be Bethel Church in Redding, CA

A few weeks back, I was troubled to hear about a Word of Faith congregation in Spindale, North Carolina, that was guilty of abusing its members. Reports included young children being punched by the leadership while being called Satanists. Jane Whaley and her husband are at the center of these accusations. The full report can be accessed here.

Unfortunately, cultic churches abound. Just last night, a guest pastor from the Philippines spoke about particular cults in his land. He noted that one cult did not allow the congregants to open their Bibles as everything had to be interpreted by the leadership. Churches like these are identified as cultic churches as contrasted with authentic churches. Authentic churches are the body of Christ. They are the assemblies of baptized believers who fully adopt biblical principles and have the freedom to grow and develop in their relationship with Christ.

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CultureWatch: Why the Cross?

The Easter event is the most important even in human history. Without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ we would all be lost – forever. The love relationship God desired with his creatures was marred by sin and rebellion, and there was nothing we could do to make things right.

So he took the initiative, he sent his Son, he allowed our punishment to fall on him, and he let himself, in some strange way, die on our behalf. But he rose again and all who now come to Christ in repentance and faith can experience new life, and a restored relationship with God.

easter 16There is nothing greater or more important than this. That is why Easter is so utterly important, and that is why we must never trivialise it nor minimise it. It is the turning point of human history. It is indeed the greatest story ever told. With two thousand years of reflection and meditation and writing on this, I have nothing new to add here.

With so much already written on the Cross of Christ and what it has achieved for us, allow me if you will to simply offer a number of stirring and inspiring quotes. They are just a drop in the bucket, and plenty more could be offered here of course.

But taken together they offer us something of what the Easter story is all about, and why the Cross is the lynchpin of human history. Here they are in no particular order:

“If we want proof of God’s love for us, then we must look first at the Cross where God offered up His Son as a sacrifice for our sins. Calvary is the one objective, absolute, irrefutable proof of God’s love for us.” Jerry Bridges

“Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.” John Stott

“God undertook the most dramatic rescue operation in cosmic history. He determined to save the human race from self-destruction, and He sent His Son Jesus Christ to salvage and redeem them. The work of man’s redemption was accomplished at the cross.” Billy Graham

“Easter is always the answer to ‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!’” Madeleine L’Engle

“As they were looking on, so we too gaze on his wounds as he hangs. We see his blood as he dies. We see the price offered by the redeemer, touch the scars of his resurrection. He bows his head, as if to kiss you. His heart is made bare open, as it were, in love to you. His arms are extended that he may embrace you. His whole body is displayed for your redemption. Ponder how great these things are. Let all this be rightly weighed in your mind: as he was once fixed to the cross in every part of his body for you, so he may now be fixed in every part of your soul.” Augustine

“It was Christ who willingly went to the cross, and it was our sins that took him there.” Franklin Graham

“As we face the cross, then, we can say to ourselves both, “I did it, my sins sent him there,” and “He did it, his love took him there.” John Stott

“We believe that the history of the world is but the history of His influence and that the center of the whole universe is the cross of Calvary.” Alexander MacLaren

“It costs God nothing, so far as we know, to create nice things: but to convert rebellious wills cost Him crucifixion.” C. S. Lewis

“God turned our greatest evil (sin) into the occasion for our greatest good (salvation); in fact He turned the greatest sin ever—deicide—into the very instrument of our greatest good, ‘Good Friday’.” Peter Kreeft

“The heart of the Christian Gospel with its incarnation and atonement is in the cross and the resurrection. Jesus was born to die.” Billy Graham

“The great event on Calvary . . . is an eternal reminder to a power drunk generation that love is the most durable power in the world, and that it is at bottom the heartbeat of the moral cosmos. Only through achieving this love can you expect to matriculate into the university of eternal life.” Martin Luther

“Jesus has borne the death penalty on our behalf. Behold the wonder! There He hangs upon the cross! This is the greatest sight you will ever see. Son of God and Son of Man, there He hangs, bearing pains unutterable, the just for the unjust, to bring us to God. Oh, the glory of that sight!” Charles Spurgeon

“Miserable indeed is that religious teaching which calls itself Christian, and yet contains nothing of the cross.” J. C. Ryle

“Forgiveness is the reason for the crucifixion, and the crucifixion is the reason for the Incarnation.” Peter Kreeft

“All of heaven is interested in the cross of Christ, hell afraid of it, while men are the only ones to ignore its meaning.” Oswald Chambers

“When Jesus died on the cross the mercy of God did not become any greater. It could not become any greater, for it was already infinite. We get the odd notion that God is showing mercy because Jesus died. No – Jesus died because God is showing mercy. It was the mercy of God that gave us Calvary, not Calvary that gave us mercy. If God had not been merciful there would have been no incarnation, no babe in the manger, no man on a cross and no open tomb.” A. W. Tozer

“Let us go to Calvary to learn how we may be forgiven. And then let us linger there to learn how to forgive.” Charles Spurgeon

“The most obscene symbol in human history is the Cross; yet in its ugliness it remains the most eloquent testimony to human dignity.” R. C. Sproul

“Outside of the cross of Jesus Christ, there is no hope in this world. That cross and resurrection at the core of the Gospel is the only hope for humanity. Wherever you go, ask God for wisdom on how to get that Gospel in, even in the toughest situations of life.” Ravi Zacharias

“The cross … is the watershed event for the whole of the cosmos, affecting everything after it”. J. Louis Martyn

“Both God’s love and God’s wrath are ratcheted up in the move from the old covenant to the new, from the Old Testament to the New. These themes barrel along through redemptive history, unresolved, until they come to a resounding climax – at the cross. Do you wish to see God’s love? Look at the cross. Do you wish to see God’s wrath? Look at the cross.” D. A. Carson

“God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creatures in order that He may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing – or should we say ‘seeing’? there are no tenses in God – the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the medial nerves, the repeated incipient suffocation as the body droops, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. If I may dare the biological image, God is a ‘host’ who deliberately creates His own parasites; causes us to be that we may exploit and ‘take advantage of’ Him. Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.” C. S. Lewis

“God Hold us to that which drew us first, when the Cross was the attraction, and we wanted nothing else.” Amy Carmichael

“Jesus’ death was seen by Jesus himself … as the ultimate means by which God’s kingdom was established. The crucifixion was the shocking answer to the prayer that God’s kingdom would come on earth as in heaven.” N. T. Wright

“In the cross of Christ justice was fully done, its claims were fully met and God’s mercy to sinners triumphed in the provision of a complete forgiveness and a full salvation. . . . Judgment looks at our deserts; mercy at our needs. And God himself looks at the cross of his Son.” John Stott

“The reconciliation of justice with mercy lies in the Cross. God does not balance mercy and justice; He accomplishes both to the full.” J. Budziszewski

Easter rembrandt“Look again at the cross, my friend. Take another survey. Examine it again with greater depth and profundity, and having seen the grace and the mercy and the compassion and the kindness of God, look again and this is what you will see. You will see the righteousness of God. You will see the justice of God and his holiness. It is the place of all places in the universe where these attributes of God can be seen most plainly.” Martyn Lloyd-Jones

“I wonder maybe if our Lord does not suffer more from our indifference, than He did from the crucifixion.” Fulton J. Sheen

“Life is wasted if we do not grasp the glory of the cross, cherish it for the treasure that it is, and cleave to it as the highest price of every pleasure and the deepest comfort in every pain. What was once foolishness to us—a crucified God—must become our wisdom and our power and our only boast in this world.” John Piper

“Come, and see the victories of the cross. Christ’s wounds are your healings, His agonies your repose, His conflicts your conquests, His groans your songs, His pains your ease, His shame your glory, His death your life, His sufferings your salvation.” Matthew Henry

“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” The Apostle Paul

Let me conclude by reminding you of the wonderful painting “The Raising of the Cross”. In it we find Rembrandt crucifying Christ. He sure got the gospel right. Have we done the same? Do we really understand the vital truth that we (you and me) put Christ on the cross? We can never become a true Christian until we personally and profoundly grasp that reality.

[1716 words]

The post Why the Cross? appeared first on CultureWatch.

Of First Importance: The Priority of the Cross and the Empty Tomb

The Christian faith is not a mere collection of doctrines — a bag of truths. Christianity is a comprehensive truth claim that encompasses every aspect of revealed doctrine, but is centered in the gospel of Jesus Christ. And, as the apostolic preaching makes clear, the gospel is the priority.

The Apostle Paul affirms this priority when he writes to the Christians in Corinth. In the opening verses of 1 Corinthians 15, Paul sets out his case:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me. Whether then it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed.

Paul points directly to the events of the cross and resurrection of Christ. He is not concerned with just any gospel, but with the only gospel that saves. This is “the gospel I preached to you,” Paul reminds the Corinthians. The same Paul who so forcefully warned the Galatians against accepting any false gospel reminds the church at Corinth that the very “gospel I preached to you” is the gospel “by which you are being saved.” Their stewardship of the gospel is underlined in Paul’s words, “if you hold fast to the word I preached to you.”

Paul’s statement of priority is a vital corrective for our confused times. Without hesitation, Paul writes with urgency about the truths that are “as of first importance.” All revealed truth is vital, invaluable, life-changing truth to which every disciple of Christ is fully accountable. But certain truths are of highest importance, and that is the language Paul uses without qualification.

And what is of first importance? “That Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,” and “that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” The cross and the empty tomb stand at the center of the Christian faith. Without these, there is no good news — no salvation.

Paul gets right to the heart of the matter in setting out those truths that are “of first importance.” Following his example, we can do no less. These twin truths remain “as of first importance,” and no sermon is complete without the explicit affirmation of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So it was then, so it is now, and so it ever shall be until Christ claims his church.

As Paul reminded the Corinthians — and now instructs us — the gospel is at the center of our faith, and the cross and the empty tomb are at the center of the gospel. “So we preach, and so you believed,” Paul encourages us. [1 Cor. 15:11]

May the power of the cross and the victory of the empty tomb fill every pulpit, every pew, and every Christian heart — and may the Good News of the gospel be received with joy by sinners in need of a Savior.

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 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 15:56-58]

The post Of First Importance: The Priority of the Cross and the Empty Tomb appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

What will become of you when you die?

Easter conjures images of Easter egg hunts, decorative baskets filled with all sorts of goodies, cool new clothes, church services, and families and friends gathering together for a feast. It’s all about….what? Is the reason we observe Easter Sunday to celebrate the coming of the Easter Bunny? To usher in springtime? Or is it an excuse for a parade?

As you might have already surmised, it is none of the above. The significance of Easter is to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For many professing Christians, Easter isn’t about Jesus — it’s about binging on sweets! There’s nothing wrong with Easter festivities per se; but to be sure, the reason we celebrate is Christ’s triumph over death. A little more than two thousand years ago the Son of God experienced a humiliating horrific death to atone for the sins of humankind. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

The Son of God condescended to take on human flesh and come to Earth to die, not because He had some sort of social or political agenda that weighed heavy on His heart. Jesus was not concerned with “social justice.” He came to Earth to die for our sins.

The Bible is clear that God’s hates sin — yet He went to great lengths to save us!  Pastor and author John MacArthur explains it thusly:

When we say God hates sin and doesn’t hate the sinner, you’re really drawing a fine line. God looked on all His creation and said that it was good, so that basically what God created He adores, He considers the work of His hand, and man, though the image of God is marred is none the less made in the image of God. So, the New Testament says God loves the world, God loves all men. It even says that we are to do good unto all men especially of the household of faith, so we are to do good to all men for they are made in the image of God. There is a sense in which no matter what we do in our lives, God still loves what we are as the expression of His creation. But He hates the sin.

The thing most people fail to understand is that God is holy. (Isaiah 6:3, Rev 4:8) And because God is holy He is repelled by evil. All sin is evil — even those “little white lies” we tell. Washing away our sins (cleaning us up) is the sole purpose for Jesus’ death on the cross. He died for one and all, and that includes those we think aren’t worth a plug nickel.

My point is that the person who truly BELIEVES that Jesus shed His blood for his sins and realizes his need for repentance and forgiveness will be saved from eternal damnation. Yes, Jesus died for the worst of the worst, the scum of the earth, the reprobate, the smelly homeless guy, the ugly girl in your math class, Bashful, Dopey, Doc and, yes, even Grumpy. So if an outlaw like Billy the Kid comes to faith in Christ, that outlaw is heaven bound! The blood of Christ has washed away his sins.  From the moment the Kid repents and places his faith in Christ, he is no longer that outlaw; he has become a son of the King.

Christ’s death on the cross is God’s way of saving humans from being sent to hell for all eternity. Every sinner is destined for hell — and hell is a real place! How do I know that? Because Jesus gave us fair warning when He spoke these words:  “If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29). He also spoke of hell to the Pharisees: “You serpents, you brood of vipers, how are you to escape being sentenced to hell?” (Matthew 23:33). Again: “And you, Capernaum, will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades” (Luke 10:15). Christ’s words were not just hyperbole!  If hell is nonexistent, the Lord Jesus wouldn’t have warned people about it. Those who reject Him will be sentenced to hell!

But never fear! There is a way to avoid being sentenced to that terrible place. The Apostle Paul tells us how to avoid it: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved [from hell]” (Romans 10:9).

Now, those who think they know better than God who should enter the Highway to Heaven or be thrown into hell will no doubt reject what Paul said. But they cannot ignore the fact that the scriptures teach that God, no one else, will decide who ultimately goes up…and who goes into the pit.

There are those who believe that “good people” go to heaven. Au contraire! By God’s standard of “good” the Bible says a person’s good deeds are “filthy rags.” No Good person, no good Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Mormon will ever see the Kingdom of Heaven. Why? For the simple reason that “good people” will not be invited into God’s kingdom. Jesus said “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6) So no matter how good an individual appears to be, he/she will never be “good enough” to stand in the presence of Holiness unless he/she is cleansed of all sin by the blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

It’s going to be a huge shock when those in the “me” generation find themselves in the courtroom of the One who will judge the world and are handed a one way ticket to hell. After all, they think God created the sun just to light up their lives. Hell isn’t a real place anyway, they say. So why should anyone have to worry about going there? And if there is a hell, only murders, rapists, pedophiles and Adolph Hitler will go there. It’s indeed true that unrepentant murders and so forth will go to hell; likewise, anyone else who rejects Christ will spend eternity “where the worm never turns…”  Including “good people.”

Warning to the unbeliever! Jesus Christ is the CEO (Chief Executive Over-all) of Heaven.   So – if you have little or no interest in getting to know the Lord Jesus while residing on this planet, why would you want to live in the kingdom He rules for all eternity?  Moreover, if you have no use for biblical Christianity and its “outdated confessions, creeds and dogmas,” then would you really want to bow to and worship the Son of God for all eternity?

One last thing.  There are a large number of professing Christians who claim to love Jesus yet they’re too embarrassed–or proud–to bend a knee to Him.  They embrace Him as their Savior but they’ll not allow Him to be their Lord and Master.  They disobey His commands and live by their own rules…and they believe they’re saved.  Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) So are these people saved?  Really?

Not judging, just saying.

© Marsha West, 2017

Source: What will become of you when you die?

How Does Christ’s Resurrection Benefit Us?

The Heidelberg Catechism (1563) embodies the commitment of the Reformation to non-speculative theology as it logically expounds core biblical truths along practical and pastoral lines for the Christian life. Beginning with belonging to Christ as our only comfort in life and in death (Q/A 1) and concluding with the prayer Christ taught us to pray with full assurance knowing God will surely listen to us in his name (Q/A 116–129), the document constantly unfolds the implications of our personal, covenantal relationship with Christ.

This is manifest in the catechism’s exposition of the article of the Apostles’ Creed on the resurrection of Christ. What good is it for the church to believe that on the third day Christ rose again from the dead? Is this article of faith dispensable for the Christian life? Specifically it asks, “How does Christ’s resurrection benefit us?” Are these benefits something we can do without?

Behind this question is a biblical realization that just as Christ did not die for himself, but for us, so he was not raised for himself, but for us. The apostle Paul writes, “[Christ] was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). The question, then, is not selfish, hedonistic or man-centered, but properly Christ-centered as it shines the spotlight on his gracious role as our mediator. All of the magnificent benefits that we enjoy because of Christ’s resurrection resound to the praise of God’s glorious grace.

With that in mind, we can now look at the three benefits that the Heidelberg lists.

1. Death Has Been Overcome

“First, by his resurrection he has overcome death, so that he might make us share in the righteousness he won for us by his death.”

Scripture Proofs: Rom. 4:25; 1 Cor. 15:16–20; 1 Pet. 1:3–5

Despite attempts to normalize death (think Lion King’s circle of life) or to distract us from its inevitable blow, the resurrection of Jesus Christ gives us the boldness to look unflinchingly into its eyes knowing that it has been overcome. The people of God, then, have every reason to be lionhearted in the face of suffering, for we know the Lion of the tribe of Judah holds in his hands the keys of Death and Hades (Rev. 1:18). “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:56–57). The glory of Christ’s resurrection shines in its power to transform our death from a payment for the debts of our sin into our triumphal entrance into eternal life. For we have come to share in his righteousness, which has opened up for us “an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you” (1 Pet. 1:4).

2. We Have Already Been Raised to New Life

“Second, by his power we too are already now resurrected to a new life.”

Scripture proofs: Rom. 6:5–11; Eph. 2:4–6; Col. 3:1–4

The Heidelberg catechism was well-aware of what has come to be termed the “already-not yet” of salvation (yes, even without the help of Vos’ Pauline Eschatology!). The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ were not private events, but the public work of our covenant mediator who died and rose again as our representative. So “if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom. 6:5). By means of our union with Christ by his Spirit through faith we have already been born again to a new life (1 Pet. 1:3), made partakers of the new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and are presently seated with Christ in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:4–6). We cannot see this with our physical eyes and that’s ok for the present. For we are called today to walk by faith, not by sight. We might better learn to do this if we start viewing ourselves and our circumstances through our ears attuned to the Word of God, rather than our eyes.

3. Our Glorious Resurrection is Guaranteed  

“Third, Christ’s resurrection is a guarantee of our glorious resurrection.”

Scripture Proofs: Rom. 8:11; 1 Cor. 15:12–23; Phil. 3:20–21

While we have already been raised with Christ to a new life, our physical bodies remain subject to our present state of humiliation. This is the case because as Christians united to Christ we follow in his footsteps from humiliation to exaltation, from the cross to the crown, from shame to glory (you can see this pattern in Phil. 2:6–11 and Rom. 1:3–4). So the apostle Paul doesn’t care how fit you may be or how few GMOs you may consume, when he notes that our present natural bodies are perishable, dishonorable and weak (1 Cor. 15:42–43). Essential Oils will not reverse the perishability of your body. Designer clothing will not cover its dishonor. And the perfect gym routine will still leave you weak. In fact, nothing in this creation can change this description of you, save the power of Christ in his resurrection. In him alone is what is perishable, dishonorable and weak raised to a new, Spiritual (note the capital “S”) existence of imperishability, honor and power. We share in his sufferings today, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible we might attain the resurrection from the dead (Phil. 3:10–11). “Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our body of humiliation [τὸ σῶμα τῆς ταπεινώσεως] to be like his body of glory [τῷ σώματι τῆς δόξης], by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Phil. 3:20–21; cf. Rom. 8:29). It is in the hope of this glorious resurrection, which Christ’s own resurrection guarantees as the firstfruits, that we live and die to the glory of God the Father.

Source: How Does Christ’s Resurrection Benefit Us?

April 16, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Resurrection of Christ

And God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. For David says of Him, “I was always beholding the Lord in my presence; for He is at my right hand, that I may not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will abide in hope; because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Thy Holy One to undergo decay. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; Thou wilt make me full of gladness with Thy presence.” Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet, and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants upon his throne, he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. (2:24–32)

As already noted, the resurrection of Jesus Christ was not only the central theme of apostolic preaching but also is without question the climax of redemptive history. It proves beyond doubt the deity of Jesus Christ and establishes His messianic credentials. It is also the guarantee of our own resurrection (John 14:19; Rom. 6:4–5; 1 Cor. 6:14; 15:16–23). The resurrection is the crowning proof that God accepted the sacrifice of Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 4:25). Without it, His death becomes the heroic death of a noble martyr, the pathetic death of a madman, or the execution of a fraud.

The greatest proof that Jesus is the Messiah, then, is not His teaching, His miracles, or even His death. It is His resurrection. That becomes the main theme of Peter’s sermon. After spending one verse each on Christ’s life and death, he spends nine verses on His resurrection.

Verses 23 and 24 form one connected thought. Israel rejected and crucified her Messiah, but God raised Him up again. Peter forcefully drives home the point that they were guilty of opposing God— despite their boasts to the contrary (Rom. 2:17–20). That tactic was frequently employed in Acts (cf. 3:14–15; 10:39–40; 13:27–30).

By raising Jesus, God put an end to the agony of death for Him. Agony translates ōdinas, which literally means “birth pangs.” Like the pain of a woman in labor, the pain of death for Jesus was temporary and resulted in something glorious—the resurrection.

God delivered Jesus from death since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. Death was powerless to hold Him for several reasons. First, death could not hold Him because of divine power. Jesus was “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), who died “that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). Second, death could not hold Him because of divine promise. John 2:18–22 records the following dialogue:

The Jews therefore answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, seeing that You do these things?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews therefore said, “It took forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” But He was speaking of the temple of His body. When therefore He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture, and the word which Jesus had spoken.

“Thus it is written,” our Lord told the disciples, “that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day” (Luke 24:46). Finally, death could not hold Him because of divine purpose. God has designed that His people be with Him for all eternity. In order to do that, they need to go through death and out the other side. Jesus had to go first to make the way (cf. 1 Cor. 15:16–26). Because He lives, His people will live forever (John 14:19).

To further confirm that the resurrection was God’s plan for the Messiah, Peter quotes a prophetic passage from Psalm 16:8–11. Although written by David, the passage is prophetically Messiah speaking in the first person (cf. Ps. 22). It describes Messiah’s confident trust in God as He looked to the cross. His declaration I was always beholding the Lord in my presence is the key to that trust. Jesus kept His focus on God no matter what trials came His way. He knew that because God was at His right hand, He would not be shaken. The right hand symbolizes protection. In a wedding ceremony, the bridegroom stands to the right of the bride. In the ancient world, a bodyguard stood on the right side of the one he was protecting. In that position he could cover him with his shield and still have his right arm free to fight.

Because of His confidence in God’s protection, Messiah could say my heart was glad and my tongue exulted. Even the prospect of the cross could not dampen Christ’s joy. As the writer of Hebrews puts it, “Jesus … for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2).Moreover, another reason for Messiah’s joy was His confidence that His flesh also would abide in hope. Flesh here refers to the physical body. Kataskēnoō (abide) literally means “to pitch a tent.” It expresses Messiah’s certainty that He could commit His body to the grave with the confident hope that it would be raised to life again.

The next statement from Psalm 16 gives the reason for Messiah’s confidence: because Thou wilt not abandon my soul to Hades. Hades is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament term “Sheol.” Although it can refer specifically to hell (Matt. 11:23), Peter uses it here in its more general sense of the abode of the dead. The phrase expresses Christ’s confidence that He would not remain a captive in the realm of death. Nor would God allow His Holy One (A messianic title; cf. Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34; John 6:69) to undergo decay. During its three days in the tomb, our Lord’s body experienced no corruption. The significance of this verse will be seen shortly.

Peter’s quote of verse 11 of Psalm 16 has puzzled some commentators, since it doesn’t appear to advance his argument. The phrase the ways of life (The Hebrew text of Psalm 16:11 uses the singular “path of life”), however, can be interpreted as a reference to the resurrection. It would thus have the sense of “the path to resurrection life.” The context strongly implies such an interpretation. As a result of the resurrection, Messiah would be full of gladness as He experienced God’s presence.

Peter now comes to the crux of his argument. Addressing them once again as brethren, he confidently reminds them that the patriarch David both died and was buried. In fact, his tomb provided visible evidence that he had not fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 16. David spoke as a prophet, however, not of himself. He knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants upon his throne. That promise is recorded in 2 Samuel 7:11–16:

The Lord also declares to you that the Lord will make a house for you. When your days are complete and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be a father to him and he will be a son to Me; when he commits iniquity, I will correct him with the rod of men and the strokes of the sons of men, but My lovingkindness shall not depart from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall endure before Me forever; your throne shall be established forever.

David, then, looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, who, in contrast to David, was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay.

Peter’s argument from Psalm 16 can be summarized as follows: The psalm speaks of a resurrection. Since David, however, was not resurrected, it cannot speak of him. Thus, David speaks in the psalm of the Messiah. Hence, Messiah will rise from the dead. Peter now delivers his powerful conclusion: This Jesus God raised up again, to which we are all witnesses. The argument is conclusive: Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (pp. 63–65). Chicago: Moody Press.

April 16 – Commended or Condemned?

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

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God commends merciful people but condemns the merciless.

Scripture shows that those whom God blessed most abundantly were abundantly merciful to others. Abraham, for example, helped rescue his nephew Lot even after Lot had wronged him. Joseph was merciful to his brothers after they sold him into slavery. Twice David spared Saul’s life after Saul tried to kill him.

But just as sure as God’s commendation is upon those who show mercy, His condemnation is upon those who are merciless. Psalm 109:14–16 says, “Let the iniquity of [the merciless person’s] fathers be remembered before the Lord, and do not let the sin of his mother be blotted out … because he did not remember to show lovingkindness.”

When judgment comes, the Lord will tell such people, “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” (Matt. 25:41–43). They will respond, “Lord, when did we see You hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of You?” (v. 44). He will reply that when they withheld mercy from those who represented Him, they were withholding it from Him (v. 45).

Our society encourages us to grab everything we can for ourselves, but God wants us to reach out and give everything we can to others. If someone wrongs you, fails to repay a debt, or doesn’t return something he has borrowed from you, be merciful to him. That doesn’t mean you should excuse sin, but you are to respond to people with a heart of compassion. That’s what Christ did for you. Can you do any less for others?

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Suggestions for Prayer:  If there is someone who has wronged you, pray for that person, asking God to give you a heart of compassion for him or her. Make every effort to reconcile as soon as possible.

For Further Study: Read Romans 1:29–31. How did Paul characterize the ungodly?[1]


Happy Are the Merciful

(5:7)

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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]


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.[3]


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).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 119). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 186–197). Chicago: Moody Press.

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

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

APRIL 16 – INSTRUCT—THEN EXHORT

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…teaching and admonishing one another.

Colossians 3:16

 

The godly men of old through whom the Scriptures came to us were faithful in their exhortations to personal faith and godliness, characteristic of the early church.

The apostolic method of teaching, instructing and encouraging was based on solid and fundamental Christian doctrine. This was Paul’s method in his New Testament letters. First he gives his readers the scriptural reasons for certain Christian actions and attributes. He provides the basis and reason—then he exhorts the readers to respond appropriately.

We do not know if Paul was the human writer to the Hebrews, but the method of exhortation is like Paul’s. We are assured that Christ is greater than Moses and greater than the angels and that He purchased mankind’s salvation.

Then the exhortation: If all of these things are true, then we should keep on loving one another, keep on praying for one another. It is a good and gracious argument: Because we have reasons for doing something, we ought to do it without delay and without reservation!

 

Lord, today I pray for all the biblical instruction presented by professors in our Christian institutions and by pastors in our churches. May Your Word be taught with Spirit-anointed clarity and power. Amen.[1]


The Word of Christ

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (3:16)

The word of Christ refers to the revelation He brought into the world, which is Scripture. Peace and thankfulness, as well as unity, love, and all the required virtues, flow from a mind controlled by Scripture. Dwell is from enoikeō and means “to live in,” or “to be at home.” Paul calls upon believers to let the Word take up residence and be at home in their lives. Plousiōs (richly) could also be translated“abundantly or extravagantly rich.” The truths of Scripture should permeate every aspect of the believer’s life and govern every thought, word, and deed. The Word dwell-s in us when we hear it (Matt. 13:9), handle it (2 Tim. 2:15), hide it (Ps. 119:11), and hold it fast (Phil. 2:16). To do those things, the Christian must read, study, and live the Word. To let the word of Christ richly dwell is identical to being filled with the Spirit (cf. Eph. 5:18). The Word in the heart and mind is the handle by which the Spirit turns the will. It is clear that these two concepts are identical because the passages that follow each are so similar.

Colossians 3:18–4:1 is a more brief parallel to Ephesians 5:19– 6:9. The result of being filled with the Holy Spirit is the same as the result of letting the Word dwell in one’s life richly. Therefore, the two are the same spiritual reality viewed from two sides. To be filled with the Spirit is to be controlled by His Word. To have the Word dwelling richly is to be controlled by His Spirit. Since the Holy Spirit is the author and the power of the Word, the expressions are interchangeable.

Paul then mentions two specific results of the Word of Christ dwelling in the believer, one positive and the other negative: with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another. Teaching is the impartation of positive truth. Admonishing is the negative side of  teaching. It means to warn people of the consequences of their behavior. Both are the result of a life overflowing with the Word of Christ.

Having the Word of Christ richly dwell in us produces not only information, but also emotion. It generates psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, and singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Psalms were taken from the Old Testament psalter, the book of Psalms. They sang psalms put to music, much as we do today. Hymns were expressions of praise to God. It is thought that some portions of the New Testament (Such as Col. 1:15–20 and Phil. 2:6–11) were originally hymns sung in the early church. Spiritual songs emphasized testimony (cf. Rev. 5:9–10). They express in song what God has done for us. (For more details on this theme, see my commentary, Ephesians, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1986].)

Commentators are divided on whether chariti (thankfulness) should be translated “thankfulness” (As in the NIV and NASB) or “grace” (As in the KJV). Perhaps its use here encompasses both ideas: believers sing out of thankfulness for God’s grace. When Paul tells believers to sing in your hearts he does not mean not to sing with the voice. His concern is that the heart agree with the mouth (cf. Amos 5:23). Singing is to be directed to God as praise and worship offered to Him for His pleasure and glory. That it is edifying to believers is a byproduct of its main purpose.[2]


3:16 There is disagreement as to how verse 16 should be punctuated. There was no punctuation in the original language of the NT, and the meaning of such a verse as this is largely determined by the punctuation marks that are used. We suggest the following: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another; in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.

There are thus three sections to the verse. First, we are to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly. The word of Christ refers to the teachings of Christ as found in the Bible. As we saturate our hearts and minds with His holy word, and seek to walk in obedience to it, then the word of Christ is really at home in our hearts.

The second thought is that in all wisdom we should be teaching and admonishing one another. Every Christian has a responsibility to his brothers and sisters in Christ concerning this matter. Teaching has to do with doctrine, whereas admonishing has to do with duty. We owe it to our brethren to share our knowledge of the Scripture with them, and to seek to help by practical and godly counsel. When teaching and admonishing are given in wisdom, they are more likely to find acceptance than when we speak with force but unwisely or without love.

The third thing is that with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs we should sing with grace in our hearts to the Lord. Psalms describe those inspired utterances which are found in the book by that name, which were sung as part of Israel’s worship. Hymns, on the other hand, are generally understood as songs of worship and praise addressed to God the Father or to the Lord Jesus Christ. For example:

Jesus! the very thought of Thee

With sweetness fills my breast;

But sweeter far Thy face to see,

And in Thy presence rest.

Attributed to Bernard of Clairvaux

These hymns are not inspired in the same sense as the psalms. Spiritual songs refer to religious poetry describing Christian experience. An illustration of this might be found in the words:

O what peace we often forfeit,

O what needless pain we bear,

All because we do not carry

Everything to God in prayer.

Joseph Scriven

Using these various types of songs we should sing with grace or thanksgiving, in our hearts to the Lord. At this point it might be well to say that the Christian should use discernment in the type of music he uses. Much of the so-called “Christian” music of today is light and frothy. A great deal of this music is utterly contrary to Scripture, and still more is so similar to the world’s “pop” and rock that it is a discredit to the name of Christ.

Verse 16 is very similar to Ephesians 5:18, 19, where we read: “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord.” In Colossians 3:16, the main difference is that instead of saying “be filled with the Spirit,” Paul says: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.” In other words, being filled with the Spirit and being filled with God’s word are both requisites for living joyful, useful, fruitful lives. We shall not be filled with the Spirit unless we are saturated with God’s word; and the study of God’s word will not be effective unless we yield up our inmost being to the control of the Holy Spirit. Can we not therefore conclude that to be filled with the Spirit means to be filled with God’s word? It is not some mysterious, emotional crisis that comes in the life, but rather day by day feeding on the Scriptures, meditating on them, obeying them, and living by them.[3]


16 The thankfulness to which Paul calls the Colossians was to be enthusiastically expressed in their corporate worship (cf. Lincoln, 648). Paul enjoins the assembly gathered for worship to “let the word of Christ dwell in [or among] [them] richly.” Like “peace of Christ” in v. 15, “word of Christ” is unparalleled in the NT (cf., however, 1 Th 1:8; 4:15: “the word of the Lord”). (Additionally, as with “the peace of Christ,” some later copyists altered “the word of Christ” to read “the word of God” or “the word of the Lord.”) While “the word of Christ” may refer to instruction proceeding from Christ (i.e., Jesus tradition), it more likely speaks of the message pertaining to Christ (i.e., the gospel; cf. 1:5, 29; so O’Brien, 206)—though arguably a wedge should not be driven too firmly between these alternatives (cf. Abbott, 290; Bruce, 157; Houlden, 207; Moule, 125; Dunn, 236). The proclamation of Christ, not the veneration of angels, was to be central in the Colossians’ worship (cf. Lincoln, 648; Dunn, 235–36). “The gospel is to have its gracious and glorious way in their lives” (O’Brien, 207).

The congregation is encouraged to let this word dwell, live, or abide richly in their midst as an operative, transformative force (cf. Harris, 167). How is it that “the word of Christ” is to make its home among the community? The answer appears to be, by means of the assembly’s ministry of teaching, admonishing, and singing. (The Greek syntax of this verse is complex and has occasioned much discussion [and confusion!] among commentators; cf. Moule, 125–26; Harris, 166–70.) Though Epaphras played a pivotal role in founding and instructing the Colossian assembly (1:7; 4:12; cf. Phm 23), he was not the only one who was meant to function in a teaching capacity. Notwithstanding the fact that Paul was an apostle grasped by God to admonish and teach all people in all wisdom (1:28), mutual, thoughtful, tactful instruction and admonition were privileges and responsibilities entrusted to the entire congregation (cf. Garland, 242; Lohse, 150–51).

It is possible that church members were meant to instruct and correct one another by means of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” (so NASB; cf. Eph 5:19). However, psalms, hymns, and songs may simply be descriptive of the various forms of congregational singing (so NIV). Even if one cannot say with certainty which reading is most likely on grammatical grounds (cf. Moule, 125; O’Brien, 208–9)—though I favor the NIV’s translation here (so also Dunn, 211, 237)—one may note that a positive, mutually reinforcing link is to exist between the church’s teaching and singing (cf. Bruce, 158; Houlden, 208; Lincoln, 649; Lohse, 151). The songs of the church can be both instructive/cognitive and responsive/emotive (cf. Lincoln, 651).

It is best not to try to differentiate too sharply among psalms (cf. 1 Co 14:26), hymns (cf. Ac 16:25; Heb 2:12), and songs (cf. Rev 5:9; 14:3; 15:3; so, rightly, Garland, 212; O’Brien, 209; Lohse, 151). From our vantage point, these three terms appear to be more or less synonymous (so also Dunn, 238–39, who nonetheless contends that “some range of songs is presumably in view, unless we assume that the authors are being needlessly tautologous”; cf. Lincoln, 649, who notes, “They are the three most common terms for religious songs in the LXX, where they are used interchangeably”). Regardless of those nuances now lost on us, these songs are depicted as “spiritual.” (Whether or not the adjective pneumatikos, “spiritual,” GK 4461, is meant to modify “psalms,” “hymns,” and “songs,” or merely “songs,” is an open question, though it arguably applies to all three nouns [so also O’Brien, 210; Lincoln, 649; Lohse, 151].) Some of these songs were probably set (cf. 1:15–20 [?]), while others were likely spontaneous and even glossalalic (cf. Dunn, 239). Taken together, these three terms reveal the rich variety of praise in the worship of the Pauline churches in particular, if not of the early church in general. Whatever the precise form and content of these songs, they were to be sung with a thankful or grateful heart toward God. Gratitude should well up within believers for the grace that God has bestowed on them in the Beloved (cf. Lohse, 152).[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 158–159). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2012). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 333–334). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 16 – THERE IS A FINALITY IN THE BIBLICAL REVELATION

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

HEBREWS 2:1

There are men in our day who have studied the Bible and come to the conclusion that since God is vocal in His universe, there is no such thing as an inspired canon of Scripture containing a full body of revealed truth that can serve as the one final source of doctrine and practice. These teachers reason that if God is still speaking, then we must keep our minds open to further revelation given, it may be, through poets, philosophers, scientists and religionists of various kinds. They would insist that wherever new truth is discovered or new and advanced ideas are brought forth, there God is speaking again as He once spoke by the prophet and seer in olden times. While we grant such men the right to believe what they will, this one thing is settled: whoever, for whatever reason, denies the finality of the biblical revelation and insists upon a continuing revelation having the same authority as the sacred Scriptures has shut himself out from the name of Christian! He is simply not a Christian in the scriptural and historic meaning of the word.

Between the ideas of a fixed biblical canon and a constantly speaking God there is no contradiction! The point I make is that if the living voice of God were not speaking in the world and in the hearts of men the written Word could have no real meaning for us.[1]


2:1 The writer has just completed his argument that Christ is supremely better than the angels because He is the Son of God. Before showing that He is also superior as Son of Man, he pauses to inject the first of several solemn warnings that are found in the Epistle. This is a warning against drifting away from the message of the gospel.

Because of the greatness of the Giver and because of the greatness of His gift, those who hear the gospel must give more serious attention to it. There is always the danger of drifting away from the Person and slipping back into a religion of pictures. This means drifting into apostasy—the sin for which there is no repentance.[2]


1 The danger is of “drifting away,” an unusual word that means more literally, “to flow by,” as of a river (or perhaps a drifting boat) effortlessly slipping past—not primarily doing something they should not, so much as failing to take positive action and merely allowing things to slide. The antidote to such carelessness is to “pay more careful attention to what we have heard,” which in vv. 3–4 will be spelled out as the message of salvation. They have, of course, heard and responded to the Christian gospel, but that, our author implies, is not on its own enough to guarantee their salvation (a theme that will be more fully developed in the later warning passages); they must continue to take its demands seriously.[3]


2:1 closer attention … drift away. Both phrases have nautical connotations. The first refers to mooring a ship, tying it up at the dock. The second was often used of a ship that had been allowed to drift past the harbor. The warning is to secure oneself to the truth of the gospel, being careful not to pass by the only harbor of salvation. The closest attention must be paid to these very serious matters of the Christian faith. The readers in their tendency to apathy are in danger of making shipwreck of their lives (cf. 6:19; see note on 1Ti 1:19).[4]


2:1 Therefore. Since Jesus is superior to the angels, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard because this message of the Son of God is also superior to prior revelation, which came through angels (cf. v. 2). To drift away results in dangerous “neglect” of the message (v. 3).[5]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2161). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 47–48). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2363). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

April 16 – The Evil of Saying, “You Fool”

Whoever says, “You fool,” shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.—Matt. 5:22c

No one wants to be called a fool, and on the other side of the coin, no one should fix that label on someone else. That’s especially true when we realize that the word in this verse translated “fool” is from the Greek word from which we get moron. The word also denotes one who is stupid or dull. Greek literature sometimes used it to refer to a godless or obstinate person. And it was perhaps parallel to a Hebrew word that means “to rebel against.”

Twice the psalmist tells us “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1; cf. 10:4). The book of Proverbs contains many negative references and warnings to fools (1:7; 10:8, 10; 14:9). Jesus used a related but less severe term when He reprimanded the two disciples on the road to Emmaus: “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25).

Because of these and other testimonies in God’s Word, we know people engage in foolish thoughts and actions. Therefore it is not wrong for us to warn or rebuke someone who is acting or speaking foolishly and clearly opposing God’s will. In fact, we are supposed to take this action! The Lord is warning us here, however, that it is sin to slanderously call someone a fool out of personal anger or hatred. Maliciously calling another a fool is again equivalent to murder and worthy of eternal punishment in hell if not repented of.

ASK YOURSELF
Most of our slanderous remarks are not made to others’ faces but rather behind their backs. What guiding principles can you set in place to guard yourself from being ugly and unkind to others, even when speaking about them in private conversation?[1]

The Evil and Danger of Condemning Character

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 115). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 295–296). Chicago: Moody Press.

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

APRIL 16 – THE FEAR OF GOD

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.

—Proverbs 9:10

A truth fully taught in the Scriptures and verified in personal experience by countless numbers of holy men and women through the centuries might be condensed thus into a religious axiom: No one can know the true grace of God who has not first known the fear of God….

We have but to read the Scriptures with our eyes open and we can see this truth running like a strong cable from Genesis to Revelation. The presence of the divine always brought fear to the hearts of sinful men….

I do not believe that any lasting good can come from religious activities that do not root in this quality of creature-fear. The animal in us is very strong and altogether self-confident. Until it has been defeated God will not show Himself to the eyes of our faith. Until we have been gripped by that nameless terror which results when an unholy creature is suddenly confronted by that One who is the holiest of all, we are not likely to be much affected by the doctrine of love and grace as it is declared by the New Testament evangel. The love of God affects a carnal heart not at all; or if at all, then adversely, for the knowledge that God loves us may simply confirm us in our self-righteousness. ROR039-040

Lord, may I not see only Your love without the balance of Your awesome holiness. Grip me with holy fear, that I may truly experience Your grace. Amen. [1]


9:10 Once again we are reminded that the starting point for all true wisdom is in the fear of the Lord. “To know the Deity is what knowledge means” (Moffatt). Because he knows the Holy, a true believer can see more on his knees than others can see on their tiptoes.

The Holy One (plural) may be the plural of majesty, excellence, and comprehensiveness, or it may modify Elohim (understood), a plural word for God.[2]


9:10 The fear of the Lord. Together with 1:7 (see note), this verse stands as the grounding and thematic statement for all of the appeals to wisdom throughout 1:1–9:18.[3]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 813). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1150). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.