Daily Archives: April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Apr. 17, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

Russian state television has no doubt who is unpredictable enough to bring the world to war in the North Korean crisis, and it’s not the reclusive communist dictator Kim Jong-Un. According to Dmitry Kiselyov, the Kremlin’s top TV mouthpiece, the riskiest is Donald Trump, the man Russian officials and propagandists hailed just a few weeks ago as just the kind of leader the world needed.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch didn’t have much time to get up to speed on his new job. Only a week after being sworn in, Gorsuch will take the bench for the first time Monday, filling the space next to Justice Sonia Sotomayor and hearing arguments in three cases, with another four scheduled to follow later in the week. They include a clash Tuesday over the power of the Securities and Exchange Commission to recoup illegal profits and arguments Wednesday in a closely watched church-state dispute.

President Donald Trump explained the decision to not label China a currency manipulator, which reversed a promise he made during the election campaign, as a function of receiving Beijing’s help in reining in North Korea.

The U.S. Homeland Security secretary defended plans to hire thousands of additional immigration and border-control agents, saying the Trump administration’s lower bar on criminal behavior by undocumented immigrants merits a larger force.

A U.S. airstrike with the military’s largest non-nuclear bomb killed at least 36 militants in an attack on Islamic State positions in Afghanistan while also triggering a rift among some of the country’s current and former officials.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused the U.S. of concocting reports of a gas attack on a rebel-held village last week to justify military strikes against his forces. In his first public comments on the April 6 U.S. missile attacks, Assad told the Agence France-Presse news agency in Damascus that neither his troops, nor his government’s “firepower” has been affected.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry is ordering a study of the U.S. electric grid, with an eye to examining whether policies that favor wind and solar energy are accelerating the retirement of coal and nuclear plants critical to ensuring steady, reliable power supplies.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw an elaborate military parade in the center of Pyongyang as the world watched for any provocations that risk sparking a conflict with the U.S.

The White House will no longer disclose logs of visitors to the 18-acre complex where President Donald Trump lives and works, Trump administration officials said Friday.

Vice President Pence encouraged China to take action against N. Korea while he met with troops a day after Kim Jong Un’s regime defied the Trump administration with a ballistic missile test.

AP Top Stories

Dubbed the Small Business Tax Equity Act, Curbelo’s bill, Rep. Carlos Curbelo is a two-term Republican from a South Florida district, would let legal pot dealers take advantage of the same tax deductions and credits as any other business, a move that industry experts say would slash the effective tax rates for weed dispensaries in half.

Just as Vice President Mike Pence took off for South Korea late Saturday, Kim Jong Un’s regime in neighboring North Korea test-fired a new missile. The launch, however, was a failure and the missile “blew up almost immediately,” according to the U.S. military.

The Italian coastguard and other boats rescued some 3,000 migrants from unseaworthy boats off the Libyan coast on Saturday, as the good weather pushes the numbers up. In all 35 rescue operations were launched during the day, with 15 of them still underway as night fell.

A study on AI biases reveals that not only does training an artificial brain create biases, but those leanings reinforce many societal issues regarding race and gender that plague humanity today.

A stalled population transfer resumed Saturday after a deadly explosion killed at least 100, including children, government supporters and opposition fighters, at an evacuation point – adding new urgency to the widely criticized operation.

Lawyers for the state of Arkansas fought on multiple legal fronts Monday to begin a series of double executions before a key sedative used in lethal injections expires at the end of the month.

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser met Afghan officials in Kabul on Sunday and said the new administration was weighing diplomatic, military and economic responses to its Taliban and Islamic State enemies in Afghanistan.

A Guatemalan man and two of his former co-workers have filed a federal lawsuit against a Tennessee landscaping company, accusing the firm of trafficking immigrants for forced labor.

BBC

More than 1,000 Palestinians held in Israeli jails have begun a mass hunger strike against detention conditions.

A huge range of security weaknesses, said to be worth more than $2m if sold on the black market, have been leaked online by a hacking group. The tools are said to have been created by the US National Security Agency.

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 sa.

The world’s oldest person has died in Italy at the age of 117, reports said. Emma Morano was born on 29 November 1899 in the Piedmont region of Italy. She was officially the last person born in the 1800s still living.

WND

A new report shows that the number of illegal immigrants caught crossing the border has dropped by a stunning 93 percent since December.

Stress at work is leading some teachers to become increasingly reliant on caffeine, alcohol and prescription drugs, while a number have seen relationships breakdown, it has been suggested.


The Briefing 04-17-17

The fragility of liberty: Turkey referendum centralizes autocratic rule of President Erdogan

Paranoia on parade: North Korea’s militaristic personality cult and the danger it poses to the world

In apparent moral surrender, Canada’s Trudeau proposes bill to legalize recreational marijuana

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


Top News – 4/17/2017

EU rebellion as members create ALLIANCE OF FORCE to STOP Brussels punishing UK
The three nations are reportedly due to discuss how they can ensure the upcoming Brexit talks progress smoothly and how to avoid the EU divorce payment causing delays to any future trade deal between the bloc and the UK.

‘Our military is BUILDING’ Trump says he has ‘NO CHOICE’ but to build up army in WW3 hint
Following North Korea’s failed missile launch over the weekend Mr Trump took to Twitter and hinted that the US is readying themselves for a possible strike against Kim Jong-un. He tweeted: “Our military is building and is rapidly becoming stronger than ever before. Frankly we have no choice.”

Despite Assad Denial, Top Expert Claims Syria Retains “Hundreds of Tons of Chemical Weapons”
“They [the regime] admitted only to 1,300 tons, but we knew in reality they had nearly double that,” said former Syrian Brigadier General Zaher al-Sakat to The Telegraph on Friday. “They had at least 2,000 tons. At least.”

Chicago Rings In Easter With 34 People Shot
Twenty-three were shot during just a seven hour period between Saturday night and early Sunday morning, reports the Chicago Sun-Times.

PA Politician: There Are Settlers in the White House
Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the PLO Executive Committee, said on Saturday night that the White House is now dominated by right-wing pro-Israelis. It should be noted that she intended this to be a negative comment on the new administration

North Korean missile launch possibly sabotaged
Missile launches have failed before – and not just in North Korea. But worth noting are the comments by US officials before and after the North Korean missile detonated: “We had good intelligence before the launch and good intelligence after the launch,” was one. The US Pacific Command said it had detected and tracked what it assessed to be a North Korean ballistic missile launch. Another US official remarked: “It’s a failed test. It followed another failed test. We don’t need to expend any resources against that.”

Unprecedented Verbal Attack between Palestinian Authority, Hamas
An unprecedented verbal attack has broken out between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas on the eve of a planned meeting between the two sides in Gaza in order to put an end to the Palestinian division.

Erdogan claims victory in vote on expanded presidential power
Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed to have won a major victory in the referendum to grant the presidency greater powers Sunday. With 98% of the ballots counted, 51.3% of voters voted “Yes” to the reform, compared to 48.7% who voted “no.”

Islamists, Neo-Nazis on videogame service discuss killing Jews
Steam videogame platform rife with anti-Semites discussing what it would be like to kill Jews, watchdog finds.

Migrant boats: Thousands saved off Libyan coast over Easter
Thousands of migrants have been saved from the sea near Libya during one of the busiest weekends of the year for rescue workers. More than 2,000 people were rescued on Friday and 3,000 on Saturday in dozens of separate rescues, the Italian Coast Guard said. But at least seven people drowned as aid workers struggled to rescue more than 1,500 migrants in one operation.

Pence: US era of strategic patience with North Korea over
US Vice-President Mike Pence has said his country’s “era of strategic patience” with North Korea is over. Mr Pence first made the remarks at the demilitarised zone (DMZ), the area dividing the two Koreas, during a visit to South Korea to reaffirm ties. His visit comes amid escalated tensions on the peninsula, with heated rhetoric from both North Korea and the US.

Palestinians in Israeli jails hold mass hunger strike
Hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli jails are beginning a mass hunger strike in protest against their conditions. The action is being led by Marwan Barghouti, a Palestinian leader jailed by Israel for life for five murders. Barghouti, a key figure in Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah faction, has been touted as a possible future successor to Mr Abbas.

Syria war: ‘At least 68 children among 126 killed’ in bus bombing
At least 68 children were among 126 people killed in Saturday’s bomb attack on buses carrying evacuees from besieged Syrian towns, activists say. A vehicle filled with explosives hit the convoy near Aleppo. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said at least 109 evacuees from government-held towns were killed, along with aid workers and rebel soldiers.

After U.S. Talks With Afghanistan, Hints at a Harder Line on Pakistan
Talks between the United States and Afghanistan wrapped up here on Sunday, as the Trump administration reviews its options in the 15-year American presence in Afghanistan in the face of a resurgent Taliban. Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, President Trump’s national security adviser, met with Afghan leaders, including President Ashraf Ghani, in talks that came days after the United States dropped a huge bomb on a honeycomb of Islamic State caves in eastern Afghanistan.

Google Hire could allow employers to see your entire search history
IN THIS day and age, every boss is going to quickly Google a prospective employee before asking them to come in for an interview. But now the technology giant is working on project called Google Hire, which The Sun reports will help employers learn perhaps a little bit too much about their new recruits. It will reportedly be a recruitment tool similar to LinkedIn — however, early reports suggest it will be available through your personal Google account.

Russia says plans a meeting with U.S. and U.N. on Syria in Geneva: agencies
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Monday that diplomats from Russia, the United States and the United Nations plan to discuss the Syrian crisis in Geneva next week, Russian news agencies quoted him as saying. Bogdanov also said Moscow was still waiting for confirmation from Washington that the meeting would take place.

Turkey Votes To Expand President’s Powers; Critics Cry Fraud
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan won a historic referendum Sunday that will greatly expand the powers of his office, although opposition parties questioned the outcome and said they would challenge the results.

French presidential hopefuls battle for votes with a week to go
A week before France’s presidential election, the four top candidates began a final push Sunday to woo undecided voters who will determine the outcome of a tight race between the hard left, centre, right and far right.

“Easter Day Slaughter”: Manhunt For Active Cleveland Shooter Who Killed Man Live On Facebook, Reportedly Murdered 15
The Cleveland Police is looking for an active shooter, identified as 37-year-old Steve Stephens, who has broadcast a murder live on Facebook. He has claimed to have killed other people and says he is looking for more victims.

Arkansas judge joined death-penalty protests on same day he blocked executions
An Arkansas judge attended two death-penalty protests on the same day that he issued an order blocking the state’s multiple executions, at one point allowing himself to be strapped to a cot in a simulation of an inmate slated to die by lethal injection.

Paul Craig Roberts: “It Has Become Embarrassing To Be An American”
“Washington is a collection of morons, people stupid below the meaning of stupid. People so far outside of reality that they imagine that their hubris and arrogance elevates them above reality. When the first Satan 2 hits Washington, the greatest collection of morons in the world will cease to exist.”

USDJPY, Yields Slide, Gold Spikes As Markets Finally Respond To Latest Set Of Economic, Geopolitical Shocks
It’s Sunday night, and traders – stuck until now in three-day holiday weekend purgatory – are desperate to catch up, or rather down to, the Dollar and 10Y yields, while sending gold and the Japanese yen shooting higher once again.

US successfully performs zero-yield nuclear test
Scientists at Sandia National Laboratories claim to have successfully tested an upgraded version of the B61-12 nuclear bomb. The US has been working on the B61-12 for several years, and government officials say the latest tests are vital to refurbishing efforts.


Mid-Day Snapshot

Apr. 17, 2017

Trump Removes the Handcuffs

The MOAB bomb drop in Afghanistan demonstrates his commitment to winning wars and proves to warn enemies.

The Foundation

“War, like most other things, is a science to be acquired and perfected by diligence, by perserverance, by time, and by practice.” —Alexander Hamilton (1787)


Entire Faculty Senate Resigns After LGBT Activist Professor Denied Promotion

Gordon College, a private evangelical Christian college in Massachusetts, made the news when the entire faculty senate resigned in a “show of solidarity” for a professor who says the administration denied her a promotion because of her criticisms about the school’s policy on homosexuality. Gordon’s student newspaper The Tartan has the story:

All seven faculty members of Gordon College’s Faculty Senate resigned from senatorship on Wednesday, citing ongoing disagreement with the administration over shared governance, specifically in the processes of approving faculty promotion.

Professor Ivy George, the Senate chair prior to the resignations, read a letter outlining the decision at an all-faculty meeting. Also resigning were fellow professors Tim Sherratt, Bruce Herman, Bryan Auday, Irv Levy, Steve Hunt and Jonathan Senning.

View article →


Trump’s Drastically Increased References To God Has Politico Asking If The President Has ‘Found Religion’

President Donald Trump has increasingly infused references to God into his prepared remarks — calling on God to bless all the world after launching strikes in Syria, asking God to bless the newest Supreme Court justice, invoking the Lord to argue in favor of a war on opioids.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.” Psalm 33:12 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: NTEB has maintained for over a year now that the hand of God was and is on Donald Trump, and is the force behind his amazing election victory win. So it comes to us as no surprise that as time ticks on, the president’s God awareness level seems to be rising. Please continue to pray for his salvation, and that of his entire family, as Bible prophecy continues unfold and long ago prophesied events look like they are about to take place. 

He’s also taken other steps to further cultivate a Christian right that helped elect him, granting new levels of access to Christian media and pushing socially conservative positions that don’t appear to come naturally to him.

One of the first interviews Trump sat for as president was with the Christian Broadcasting Network’s David Brody. “I’ve always felt the need to pray,” Trump said in that late-January interview. “The office is so powerful that you need God even more because your decisions are no longer, ‘Gee I’m going to build a building in New York.’ … These are questions of massive, life-and-death.”

“I’ve always felt the need to pray,” Trump said in that late-January interview. “The office is so powerful that you need God even more because your decisions are no longer, ‘Gee I’m going to build a building in New York.’ … These are questions of massive, life-and-death.”

President Trump Relying On God Now More Than Ever:

“There’s almost not a decision that you make when you’re sitting in this position that isn’t a really life-altering position,” Trump added. “So God comes into it even more so.”

Language like that has the Christian conservatives who helped lift Trump to the White House nodding their heads in approval.

“I believe the weight of the office that he now holds and the burden of responsibility that it carries is humbling him somewhat and causing him to acknowledge and admit his reliance on God,” said Darrell Scott, an Ohio pastor who has known Trump for six years and supported Trump’s campaign and served on his transition team. Scott was last at the White House in February for a meeting Trump held to mark Black History Month.

Melania and Donald Trump’s Biggest Prayer Request:

But others who have long followed Trump — a businessman who was known more as a playboy than a practitioner of faith — are skeptical that the president has found religion in the Oval Office.

“Donald has never been a spiritually or religiously serious person,” said Timothy O’Brien, author of the Trump biography “TrumpNation: The Art of Being Donald.”

Gwenda Blair, author of “The Trumps: Three Generations of Builders and a President,” said: “He’s a transactional guy with humans, and it’s no different with God — it’s all about whatever is to his advantage with regard to his supporters, and referencing God is exactly and only that.”

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CLICK TO READ NTEB’S ‘THE LAST TRUMP’ ARCHIVE

There’s also the question of Trump’s church attendance as president. On the morning of his inauguration, Trump and his family attended a service at St. John’s Episcopal Church near the White House and then participated in an interfaith prayer service that Saturday at the National Cathedral. He also appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast in early February.

On Sunday, Trump went to Easter services at the Bethesda-by-the-Sea Church in Florida, where he and his wife, Melania, were married in 2015.

But there’s no public knowledge of any other church services Trump has attended, and if he has, it has been without the knowledge of White House pool reporters.

The White House did not respond to questions about whether Trump has been attending church as president.

Trump’s frequent invocations of God in his remarks as of late are a change from both his past life as a businessman and his time on the campaign trail. Generally, candidate Trump did not reference God during his rallies and mostly talked about religion only when asked during interviews and during a handful of speeches at faith-based events. source



ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 17

  • Trump’s Renewed Focus on Health Bill Vexes GOP Tax Strategy (Read More)
  • Wall Street banker Cohn moving Trump toward moderate policies (Read More)
  • Trump Rejects Protests Over Tax Returns (Read More)
  • Merkel Calls on Erdogan to Open Talks in ‘Deeply Split’ Turkey (Read More)
  • Turkish Opposition Plans Challenge to President Erdogan’s Referendum Victory (Read More)
  • Simsek Rules Out Turkey Elections Before 2019 on Erdogan Promise (Read More)
  • Trump Is a Global ‘Instability Factor,’ Fillon’s Top Aide Says (Read More)
  • Behind United Airlines’ Fateful Decision to Call Police (Read More)
  • This Is a Dangerous Time to Own Emerging-Market Stocks (Read More)
  • Undaunted by oil bust, financiers pour billions into U.S. shale (Read More)
  • Bullish Oil Bets Gain on Signs OPEC Cuts to Outdo U.S. Boom (Read More)
  • Neiman Marcus Finds Even Wealthy Shoppers Want Better Deals (Read More)
  • A $161 Billion Manager Says the Japanese Stock Gloom Is Overdone (Read More)
  • BJ’s Wholesale Club up for sale and Amazon may be interested (Read More)
  • SEC Targets Illicit Options Trades Made Ahead of Telecom Deal (Read More)
  • Stocks soar as GM builds cache before retooling (Read More)
  • How the Six Hour Workday Actually Saves Money (Read More)
  • Down-on-Its-Luck Caesars Pays Online Chief $210 Million (Read More)
  • Americans are taking out the largest mortgages on record (Read More)
  • ‘Fate of the Furious’ Leaves Box-Office Competitors in the Dust (Read More)
  • Beijing offers $70,000 reward ??? and a cartoon video to help in the hunt (Read More)
  • If Trump Fired Bannon, Would He Seek Revenge? (Read More)

Top Headlines – 4/17/2017

Mass evacuation in Syria postponed after blast kills 80 kids

Iran is trying to provoke a Russia-US hot war in Syria

Pope decries ‘vile’ attack on Syrians in Easter address

Pope Francis goes off-script at Easter Mass, addressing world conflict

Egypt arrests 13 on suspicion of planning terror attacks

Russia appears to deploy forces in Egypt, eyes on Libya role

High Court upholds ban on Israeli tourists in Sinai

700 Palestinian security prisoners announce hunger strike

Azerbaijan wants pan-Arab summit with Israel, envoy says

‘Israel must be ready for confrontation with Hamas this summer’

Turkey referendum grants President Erdogan sweeping new powers

Turkey’s Erdogan hails ‘historic’ referendum win as opposition claims fraud

Turkish opposition questions legitimacy of vote after electoral board move

Istanbul residents bang pots and pans in protest at vote outcome

Erdogan Follows Slim Referendum Win With Warnings to Opponents

Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s Narrow Win Could End Up Undermining Him

Erdogan’s Referendum Victory Puts Turkey on Collision Course With Europe

EU urges Turkey to seek ‘national consensus’ after vote

Gay Porn Kingpin: Protect America From Muslim ‘Barbarians’

US successfully performs zero-yield nuclear test

Pence: North Korea’s latest ‘provocation’ shows the dangers US and South Korean armies face

Trump: China, US working on ‘North Korea problem’

Ex-British foreign minister thinks US hacked North Korea missile

McFarland ‘no comment’ on reports US sabotaged North Korea missile launch, calls launch a ‘fizzle’

China, Russia send ships after U.S. aircraft carrier

Hawaii panel asks state to prepare for North Korea attack

Border wall could leave some Americans on ‘Mexican side’

Sessions on Sanctuary City Leaders: ‘We’re Going to Battle Them Every Step of the Way’

Republicans and Democrats now see Trump as part of Washington ‘establishment’

Protests sweeping South America show rising antigovernment anger

Arkansas judge joined death-penalty protests on same day he blocked executions

‘Easter day slaughter’: Cleveland cops searching for alleged killer who broadcast murder on Facebook

Cleveland Murder Highlights Perils of Live Video for Facebook

Snapchat’s ratings plunge after its CEO allegedly says it’s ‘only for rich people’

Hacker documents show NSA tools for breaching global money transfer system

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits in the South Indian Ocean

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits South of the Fiji Islands

Ruiz volano in Colombia erupts to 23,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 20,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 20,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 17,500ft

Poas volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 11,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 10,000ft

Ranking the 10 Most Dangerous Volcanoes, From Vesuvius to Santa Maria

India bakes as flooding rains target Myanmar

Top military commanders say they can’t keep up with the amount of drugs flowing into the US

Nevada Approved Syringe Vending Machines to Combat the Heroin Crisis

Stanford lab grows cornea cells for transplant

Sweden: Court Rules Nurse Must Assist with Abortions to Keep Her Job

Keith Giles – Four Reasons Why God Doesn’t Owe Any Land To Israel

Gary DeMar – Not Every Bad Thing Happening Today is Related to Bible Prophecy

Former Calvary Chapel Pastor Michael Newnham aka Phoenix Preacher Joins Anglican Church

Pope Says Our Hope Lies With Mary & Mother Church, Not Jesus

Ten Signs of a Cultic Church

Kong Hee still living in Sentosa Cove penthouse

Evangelical College’s Entire Faculty Senate Resigns After LGBT Activist Professor Denied Promotion

Virginia Woman Accused of Self-Aborting Baby, Burying Dead Infant in Back Yard

University of Wisconsin-Madison offers free tampons in men’s bathrooms

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 06:36 AM PDT

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is rolling out a new pilot program to provide free menstrual products in several of its campus bathrooms — including some…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Says ‘We have no choice’ -Justifies US strikes, Military buildup & posturing

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 06:28 AM PDT

The US has “no choice” but to continue boosting its military power, Donald Trump has said, after Washington’s war machine showcased its latest weapons over…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Conflict Compared To “Cuban Missile Crisis”

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 06:22 AM PDT

All the elements of the North Korean nuclear crisis — the relentless drive by Kim Jong-un to assemble an arsenal, the propaganda and deception swirling…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea unveils elite troops trained to defend him if Trump attempts to ‘remove’ him from power

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 06:18 AM PDT

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un unveiled his deadly Special Forces unit for the first time this weekend in an apparent show of force against…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Two Chicago Men Charged With Attempting to Provide Material Support to ISIS

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 06:11 AM PDT

Two men from the Chicago area have been charged with conspiracy to provide material support to the barbaric Islamic group ISIS after they unknowingly assisted…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pence delivers strong warning to North Korea

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 06:06 AM PDT

Vice President Pence warned North Korea Monday the “era of strategic patience is over,” expressing impatience with the speed and willingness of the regime to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Manhunt For Facebook Shooter Intensifies

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 06:00 AM PDT

Cleveland police received hundreds of tips Sunday, speculating on the possible whereabouts of the suspect accused of shooting and killing 74-year-old Robert Godwin Sr. and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Japan strongly urges North Korea to refrain from further provocative actions

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 07:55 PM PDT

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday urged North Korea to refrain from taking further provocative actions, comply with U.N. resolutions and abandon its nuclear…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Over 110 Fires Continue to Spread in Florida

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 07:43 PM PDT

Forest fires have continued to keep firefighters busy in Florida on Sunday. There are still 110 active fires covering 20,285 acres, according to the Florida…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

80,000 Gather at Western Wall to Receive Priestly Blessing During Passover

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 07:36 PM PDT

In a powerful display of the glory that once was the Jewish Temple, tens of thousands of worshipers gathered at the Kotel (Western Wall) in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Will Nuclear Deterrent Keep North Korea EMP Threat At Bay?

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 07:30 PM PDT

WND has been reporting on the threat to America from EMP, the electromagnetic pulse from a nuclear explosion high in the sky, since early in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

South Korea and US Hold Joint Military Exercise

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 07:19 PM PDT

Around 1,000 U.S. airmen and fighter jets have teamed up with South Korea’s Air Force in a joint combat training to ensure their readiness against…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Defected General claims Assad obtains hundreds of tons of chemical weapons

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 07:11 PM PDT

Syrian President Bashar Assad still possesses hundreds of tons of chemical agents which he hid from the international community, a former Syrian general who specialized…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

U.S. Army exploring ‘devastating’ new weapon

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 07:04 PM PDT

Were the United States to go to war with Russia, both sides could draw on deadly weapons that the world has never seen on a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mysterious fish kill in Tennessee lake raises neighborhoods concern

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 05:49 PM PDT

A mysterious fish kill in one community lake is raising questions and leaving many residents concerned. Hundreds of dead fish swamped the shores of one…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

At Least 40 Dead After Deadly Flooding In Iran

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 05:43 PM PDT

At least 40 people were killed and at least 5 are missing as torrential rains caused intense flooding and landslides in northwestern Iran, according to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Army of self-charging robots sort 200,000 packages a Day in a Chinese warehouse

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 05:36 PM PDT

This army of tiny orange robots which can sort up to 200,000 packages every DAY in a Chinese warehouse are providing an alarming glimpse of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Has Trump found religion in the Oval Office?

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 05:30 PM PDT

President Donald Trump has increasingly infused references to God into his prepared remarks — calling on God to bless all the world after launching strikes…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Thousands Gather on Lincoln Memorial to ‘Celebrate the Name of Jesus’

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 04:57 PM PDT

Thousands of believers gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ on Sunday.  Captial Church in Leesburg, Va…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christians Celebrate Easter in Iraqi Church Damaged by ISIS

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 04:39 PM PDT

Hundreds of Iraqi Christians gathered on Sunday in a church damaged by Islamic State north of Mosul, celebrating Easter there for the first time since…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Self-Driving Bus Capable of Speak Sign Language

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 04:28 PM PDT

It’s been 15 years since a degenerative eye disease forced Erich Manser to stop driving. Today, he commutes to his job as an accessibility consultant…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why Turkey May Be on Collision Course With Europe

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 04:18 PM PDT

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s victory in Sunday’s referendum could pave the way for pragmatic cooperation with the U.S. while setting him on a collision…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Hawaii Preparing Plans for responding to North Korea Attack

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 04:11 PM PDT

Hawaii lawmakers want state officials to update plans for coping with a nuclear attack as North Korea develops nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles that can…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: China and Russia send ships after U.S. aircraft carrier

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 04:07 PM PDT

China and Russia have dispatched intelligence-gathering vessels from their navies to chase the USS Carl Vinson nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which is heading toward waters near…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Warns North Korea Threats Cannot Continue!

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 01:14 PM PDT

The US and China are working on a response to the North Korean missile crisis, Donald Trump’s top security adviser has said. General HR McMaster…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

United States F-35 fighter jets arrive in Europe for the first time

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 12:48 PM PDT

A fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets has arrived in Europe from the United States as part of a planned NATO exercise aimed at “deterring”…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Major U.S. University Publishes ‘Communism for Kids’

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 12:44 PM PDT

“Once upon a time, people yearned to be free of the misery of capitalism. How could their dreams come true?” That’s how the promotion for a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FALLING AWAY: Denver Unveils “Church of Cannabis”

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 11:41 AM PDT

For 113 years, this corner church has been a pillar of its Denver neighborhood. But with new owners come new ideas: A group of Elevationists…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Orthodox & Catholic Christians celebrate Easter on same day in “Rare Convergence”

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 11:25 AM PDT

Millions of Christians worldwide are celebrating the most important holiday of their faith, Easter Sunday, when they pay tribute to their belief in the resurrection…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US army makes largest deployment of troops to Somalia since ‘Black Hawk Down’

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 11:20 AM PDT

The US army has deployed dozens of troops to Somalia to train forces fighting Al-Shabab Islamist militant group in the largest deployment of troops to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Muslim Man Seeking to Enforce Sharia Law in Minneapolis Neighborhood

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 11:15 AM PDT

Residents in a Minneapolis neighborhood are expressing concern about a Muslim man who is seeking to enforce the “civil part of sharia law” among Islamic residents. Abdullah…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Turks vote in historic referendum on expanding Erdogan’s power

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 11:05 AM PDT

Turks vote in a hotly contested referendum on Sunday that could place sweeping new powers in the hands of President Tayyip Erdogan and herald the…

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DEVELOPING: U.S and Allies Weigh Options After North Korea’s Missile Test

Posted: 16 Apr 2017 11:03 AM PDT

The United States, its allies and China are working together on a range of responses to North Korea’s latest attempted ballistic missile test, U.S. President…

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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
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Faith and Science, Falsely So-Called

Code: B170417

[Editor’s Note: This article was first published in the earliest days of the GTY Blog. As we recently culled through the ministry archives in preparation for a new blog series on God’s work of creation—which coincides with the broadcast of The Battle for the Beginning sermon series on “Grace to You”—we believed this post deserved further consideration.]

The apostle Paul closed his first epistle to Timothy by urging the young pastor to guard the deposit of truth that had been entrusted to him, “avoiding the profane and idle babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge” (1 Timothy 6:20-21). In the King James Version, the text famously speaks of “science falsely so called.”

Over the course of human history, all kinds of speculative ideas have been falsely labeled “science” and mistakenly accepted as true and reliable knowledge by otherwise brilliant people. The now-discredited dogmas of older scientific theories are numerous—and in some cases laughable. They include alchemy (the medieval belief that other base metals could be transmuted into gold); phrenology (the Victorian belief that the shape of one’s skull reflects character traits and mental capacity); astrology (the pagan belief that human destiny is determined by the motions of celestial bodies); and abiogenesis (the long-standing belief that living organisms are spontaneously generated by decaying organic substances). All those false beliefs were deemed credible as “science” by the leading minds of their times.

Consider just one of those—abiogenesis. Popularly known as “spontaneous generation,” this idea has long been, and continues to be, one of the archetypal expressions of “science falsely so called.” It is also one of the most persistent of all demonstrably pseudoscientific fictions. The notion that aphids arise naturally from dew on plant leaves, mold is generated automatically by aging bread, and maggots are spontaneously begotten by rotting meat was more or less deemed self-evident by most of humanity’s brightest intellects from the time of Aristotle until 1861, when Louis Pasteur conclusively proved that non-living matter cannot spawn life on its own.

Take for example Alexander Ross, an early seventeenth-century Scottish writer and intellectual who harshly criticized Sir Thomas Browne for questioning the dogma of spontaneous generation. Under the heading “Mice and other vermin bred of putrefaction, even in mens bodies,” he wrote:

He doubts whether mice can be procreated of putrefaction. So he may doubt whether in cheese and timber worms are generated; Or if Betels and wasps in cowes dung; Or if butterflies, locusts, grasshoppers, shel-fish, snails, eeles, and such like, be procreated of putrefied matter, which is apt to receive the form of that creature to which it is by the formative power disposed. To question this, is to question Reason, Sense, and Experience: If he doubts of this, let him go to Egypt, and there he will finde the fields swarming with mice begot of the mud of [the Nile]. [1]

It is one of the great ironies of scientific history that the first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species was published exactly two years before Pasteur’s famous experiments proved that life cannot arise spontaneously from non-living matter. The publication of Darwin’s book marked the apotheosis of evolutionary theory, and it was rooted in the basic presupposition that under the right circumstances, life can spring on its own from non-living matter. In other words, two years before abiogenesis was scientifically debunked, it was in effect canonized as the central dogma of modern secular belief about the origins of life. The discovery that fleas don’t magically form out of decomposing dander on the backs of dirty dogs did not dissuade most in the scientific world from embracing the theory that all life in the universe arose by itself out of nothing. The belief that life spontaneously came from non-life remains to this day the great unexplained (albeit easily disprovable) assumption underlying the dogma of evolution.

The irony of that is utterly lost on many in the scientific community today, where evolution has become an article of faith—unshakable faith, it turns out.

Evolutionists have conveniently “solved” the problem of abiogenesis by repeatedly moving their estimates of the earth’s age backward toward infinity. Given enough time, it seems, anything is possible. Trying desperately to keep the biblical concept of eternity at bay, evolutionists have thus devised an alternative kind of infinitude. Every time a challenge to current evolutionary theory arises, geologists and astronomers dutifully tack billions and billions of eons onto their theories about the earth’s age, adding however many ancient epochs are deemed necessary for some new impossibility to be explained.

In the introduction to my 2001 book, The Battle for the Beginning, I suggested naturalism had become the dominant religion of contemporary secular society. “Religion is exactly the right word to describe naturalism,” I wrote. “The entire philosophy is built on a faith-based premise. Its basic presupposition—a rejection of everything supernatural—requires a giant leap of faith. And nearly all its supporting theories must be taken by faith as well.” [2]

Here, then, is a classic example of what I was talking about: the typical evolutionist’s starting point is this notion that life arose spontaneously from inanimate matter sometime in eternity past. That requires not merely the willful suspension of what we know for certain about the origins of life and the impossibility of abiogenesis—but also enough deliberate gullibility to believe that moving-target estimates of the earth’s antiquity can sufficiently answer all the problems and contradictions sheer naturalism poses.

Meanwhile, in the popular media, evolutionary doctrine and ever-expanding notions of prehistory are being promoted with all the pious zeal of the latest religious sect. Watch the Internet forums, programs on the Discovery Channel, interviews and articles published in the mass media, school textbooks, and books aimed at lay readers—and what you will usually see is raw assertions, demagoguery, intimidation, and ridicule (especially when the subjects of biblical theism and the Genesis account of creation are raised).

But question the dogma that all life evolved from a single spontaneously-generated cell, point out that the universe is full of evidence for intelligent design, or demand the kind of proof for evolutionary origins that would ordinarily pass scientific muster, and the ardent evolutionist will simply dismiss you as a heretic or a bigot of the worst stripe. What they are tacitly acknowledging is that as far as they are concerned, evolution is a doctrine that must be received with implicit faith, not something that can be scientifically demonstrated. After all, the claims of true science can always be investigated, observed, reproduced, tested, and proved in the laboratory. So to insist that evolution and so-called “deep time” doctrines must be accepted without question is really just a tacit admission that these are not scientific ideas at all.

Consider these quotations from typical evolutionist writers:

  • No biologist today would think of submitting a paper entitled “New evidence for evolution;” it simply has not been an issue for a century. [3]
  • It is time for students of the evolutionary process, especially those who have been misquoted and used by the creationists, to state clearly that evolution is a fact, not theory. . . . All present forms of life arose from ancestral forms that were different. Birds arose from nonbirds and humans from nonhumans. No person who pretends to any understanding of the natural world can deny these facts. [4]
  • Here is what separates real scientists from the pseudoscientists of the school of intelligent design. . . . One thing all real scientists agree upon is the fact of evolution itself. It is a fact that we are cousins of gorillas, kangaroos, starfish, and bacteria. Evolution is as much a fact as the heat of the sun. It is not a theory, and for pity’s sake, let’s stop confusing the philosophically naive by calling it so. Evolution is a fact. [5]

But as those statements themselves show, evolution is a dogma, not a demonstrable “fact.” I stand by the position I took in The Battle for the Beginning: “Belief in evolutionary theory is a matter of sheer faith. [It is] as much a religion as any theistic world-view.” [6]

I’ll go even further: science cannot speak with any authority about when the universe began, how it came into being, or how life originated on earth. Science by definition deals with what can be observed, tested, measured, and investigated by empirical means. Scientific data by definition are facts that can be demonstrated by controlled, repeatable experiments that always yield consistent results. The beginning of the universe by its very nature falls outside the realm of scientific investigation.

To state the case plainly: there is no scientific way to explain creation. No one but God actually observed creation. It did not happen by any uniform, predictable, observable, repeatable, fixed, or natural laws. It was not a natural event or a series of natural events. The initial creation of matter was an instantaneous, monumental, inexplicable miracle—the exact opposite of a “natural” phenomenon. And the formation of the universe was a brief series of supernatural events that simply cannot be studied or explained by science. There are no natural processes involved in creation; the act of creation cannot be repeated; it cannot be tested; and therefore naturalistic theories purporting to explain the origin and age of the universe are unverifiable.

In other words, creation is a theological issue, not a scientific one. Scripture is our only credible source of information about creation, because God Himself was the only eyewitness to the event. We can either believe what He says or reject it. But no Christian should ever imagine that what we believe about the origin of the universe is merely a secondary, nonessential, or incidental matter. It is, after all, the very starting point of God’s self-revelation.

In fact, in its profound brevity, Genesis 1:1 is a very simple, clear, and unequivocal account of how the universe, the earth, and everything on the earth came to be: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” That is not an ambiguous statement.

Christians should not be intimidated by dogmatic naturalism. We do not need to invent a new interpretation of Genesis every time some geologist or astronomer declares that the universe must be older than he previously thought. Nor should we imagine that legitimate science poses any threat to the truth of Scripture. Above all, we must not seek ways to circumvent the clear meaning of God’s Word, compromise our trust in the Creator, or continually yield ground to every new theory of falsely-so-called science. That is precisely what Paul was warning Timothy about.

Sadly, it seems evolutionary thinking and qualms about the Genesis account of creation have reached epidemic levels among professing Christians in recent decades. Too many Christian leaders, evangelical schools, and Bible commentators have been willing to set aside the biblical account of a relatively young earth in order to accommodate the ever-changing estimates of naturalistic geologists and astronomers. They have thrown away sound hermeneutical principles—at least in the early chapters of Genesis—to accommodate the latest theories of evolution.

When I encounter people who think evolutionary doctrine trumps the biblical account of creation, I like to ask them where their belief in the Bible kicks in. Is it in chapter 3, where the fall of Adam and original sin are accounted for? In chapters 4-5, where early human history is chronicled? In chapters 6-8, with the record of the flood? In chapter 11, with the Tower of Babel? Because if you bring naturalism and its presuppositions to the early chapters of Genesis, it is just a short step to denying all the miracles of Scripture—including the resurrection of Christ. If we want to make science the test of biblical truth rather than vice versa, why would it not make just as much sense to question the biblical record of the resurrection as it does to reject the Genesis account? But “if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! . . . If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable” (1 Corinthians 15:17-19).

 

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170417
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Forsake Sin by Following the Good Shepherd

Seeing the people, [Jesus] felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36, NASB)

Brothers and sisters, the fight against sin feels prolonged and arduous in this life—doesn’t it? We grow in one area, only to meet the next depravity in ourselves to war. Well, though the fight against sin is difficult, sin’s harm within us is far worse.

Jesus, the One who sees into our bare souls, noticed without exception that the people he preached to were “distressed” and “dispirited” without him. Jesus cared about the damaging effects of sin on our souls, and he saw our barren want—coming to give us life and truth for all eternity (c.f. Matthew 9:37-38).

How Sin Scatters the Sheep

Distressed and dispirited.

Distressed denotes that our souls are being harassed by sin and, therefore, are disoriented about our circumstances. Sin rips away at us. It leaves us troubled, disconcerted, anxious, and unhappy.

The second word, dispirited, suggests a limp form, haggardly and motionlessly positioned without help or care.¹ We are astray and lifeless by sin whose wages are death (Romans 6:23; Matthew 18:8), for it keeps us from our Shepherd. The people of Jesus’ time—and we in ours—needed the foretold, divine Ruler:

“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:6)


The opposite of sin is to be led as sheep by the Good Shepherd who has compassion on us.
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This Shepherd would be unlike any other. The infamous Pharisees, the spiritual leadership at the time of Jesus’ first coming, were not shepherding their people well. They were concerned with themselves primarily, and it grievously muddled the hearts and minds of the people in their care, as in the mold of the words of Ezekiel 34:5 and Jeremiah 50:6:

“So [the sheep] were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered;”

“My people have become lost sheep; Their shepherds have led them astray…and have forgotten their resting place.”

Good earthly shepherds herd sheep toward the guidance of the true Shepherd. Yet, without good earthly shepherds, people’s souls are consumed by unsound doctrine and wither from sin, and people do not see their needs accurately. In order to understand our needs as they are, we have to truly hear and see him.

It might be natural to assume that the opposite of sin is not to sin. Yet, better, the opposite of sin is to be led as sheep by the Good Shepherd who has compassion on us.

How Jesus Shows Compassion to His Sheep

Throughout the Gospels, Jesus’ compassion is associated with his messianic signs, people’s faith in him, and his teaching.

“Your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew’s Gospel teaches Jesus as Israel’s Messiah (Matthew 1:1). In Matthew 15:31, Jesus performs many miraculous signs, and people glorify the “God of Israel.” Then, Jesus has “compassion” for the crowd of four thousand, and with a messianic sign he feeds them.

In the previous chapter, a great crowd follows Jesus after the news of the beheading of John the Baptist (14:13), and he miraculously feeds the five thousand, with “compassion” upon them (14:14). These miraculous, messianic signs were likely associated with some display of faith, considering Matthew 13:58 which tells us about a place where Jesus “did not do many might works…because of their unbelief.”

Earlier in Matthew, his miraculous signs were seen alongside the message of having faith in his ability to do the more difficult work: “For which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?” (9:5). He is not merely one who has compassion and performs wonders—he forgives sins. By him, we have eternal direction and life.

“He began to teach them many things.”

Mark 6:34 directly connects Jesus’ compassion with his response of teaching these eternal truths: “When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things”—presumably about his being the Son of God (1:1), their need for his forgiveness (3:28), and their response of repentance and faith (4, 6:12).

Jesus met physical needs; he fed crowds and performed miracles—for he was the long-awaited Messiah (Matthew 1:1) and the Son of God (Mark 1:1). These attested to his authority, but Jesus taught that he was the eternal remedy for our sin-ravaged souls. So the Gospels, including Jesus’ compassionate messianic signs, teach us to follow him toward eternity in full confidence and belief. In him, we become sheep with the Shepherd we have always needed.

How Jesus’ Sheep Forsake Their Sin

Sheep are not the smartest of animals; but I think the comparison can also be one of beauty. I envision sheep following a shepherd trustingly, willingly, and without second-guessing their way.

Being spiritual sheep means we cannot discern that we are sinners in need of a Shepherd without being told so (Romans 10:14). Yet, once we truly hear him and see the truth of his teaching about ourselves and who he is, then we believe he is our Shepherd, and like sheep, we will follow him anywhere. Beautiful! So it is as the Christian life continues—as we see and hear more of Jesus, we want to follow and be led away from sin.

Christian, he has seen your need; he has acted for you for eternal life. So keep fighting your sin! Continue, because you have a true Shepherd whose life-giving voice your reborn soul loves to hear, and whose reorienting truth it marvels to see. Keep fighting your sin because you know you have a Shepherd who has had such compassion upon you. “Compassion involves so identifying with the situation of others that one is prepared to act for their benefit.”²

No other has, will, or ever could act for our behalf as he did.

Forsake your sin by knowing, listening to, and following the sin-forgiving, debt-paying Ruler and Shepherd of your soul.

[1] Nolland, John. The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 2005. [2] Ibid. Photo Credit: Shutterstock]

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Best Easter sermon ever: Andy Stanley on 1 Corinthians 15:3-7

WINTERY KNIGHT

Bible study that hits the spot Bible study that hits the spot

On Sunday night, I decided to blog all 5 posts for this week. Then a friend of mine who attends Andy Stanley’s church sent me a link to Andy Stanley’s Easter sermon. I listened to the sermon, and the sermon was so good – so good! – that I had to bump all the other posts forward one day.

The sermon was about 1 Corinthias 15:3-7, which is an early eyewitness creed received by Paul, which he recorded in his letter to the Corinthians some time around 53 A.D. – 2 decades after the death of Jesus. Within the lifetime of the eyewitnesses.

So, definitely listen to that sermon, and I’ll say a little about the creed below:

First, the creed – which is found in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8:

3For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that…

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April 17, 2017: Verse of the day

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      9       Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
      my flesh also dwells secure.
            10       For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
      or let your holy one see corruption.

9–10 The ground for the psalmist’s joy is twofold. First, his God is the sovereign Master to whom he has fled for protection (vv. 1–2). Second, the Lord has been good to him (vv. 2b, 5–8). He has not been disappointed in having sought him as the ground of his being. His conclusion to this psalm of confidence begins with “therefore” (v. 9); but this “therefore” introduces additional, though related, reasons for his confidence. The psalmist is filled with joy in his Lord, who cares for him in life and in death. In life the Lord gives him security (vv. 5–6) and in death, protection (vv. 9b–10). He may die and go into “the grave,” but the Lord will not permit his beloved (“Holy One”) to suffer eternal alienation. The phrase “see decay” (v. 10) is a metaphor for total isolation and banishment from God’s presence. It is not clear whether the psalmist had in mind the experience of God’s presence in the life hereafter or specifically in the resurrection of the body. But in the apostolic preaching this verse did have a particular apologetic significance, as both Peter (Ac 2:27, 31) and Paul (Ac 13:35) quoted v. 10 as proof of the resurrection of Jesus (see Reflections, p. 663, Sheol—Grave—Death in the Psalms).

The primary significance of the text lies in the confidence of the psalmist that his relationship with God will not end with death. David, to whom the psalm is attributed, died; but we are confident that in his death he, too, enjoyed the presence of God in some special sense. For Peter and Paul, the text spoke of the resurrection. They appropriately argued that since David died and did not rise from the grave, the psalm received a special significance in view of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus, as the Son of David, arose from the dead, “because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him” (Ac 2:24). In the progressive unfolding of God’s revelation, Peter saw a prophetic/messianic sense in the psalm (v. 31). The resurrection of our Lord gives a ground for the confidence of all believers, since they, too, will not suffer corruption. The Father will crown his beloved with life. God is concerned with the whole being, and therefore the body is included in the renewal of life. Calvin, 1:230, observes: “Yet as God defends and maintains not only our souls, but also our bodies, David does not speak groundlessly when he represents the blessing of dwelling in safety as extending to his flesh in common with his soul.”[1]


16:9, 10 Assured of God’s constant care and protection, the Savior faces the future with confidence. His heart is glad. His soul rejoices and His body is safe. He knows that God will not leave His soul in Sheol or allow His body to see corruption. In other words, Christ will be raised from the dead.

The reference to Sheol needs a word of explanation. It is the word used in the OT for the grave, for the “netherworld,” and to describe the disembodied state. It is equivalent to the NT Greek word “Hades.” Sheol did not so much indicate a geographical location as the condition of the dead—the separation of the personality from the body. It was used to describe the condition of everyone who died, whether believer or unbeliever. On the other hand the NT equivalent, Hades, is used only of unbelievers. Sheol was a very indefinite, imprecise word. It did not convey a clear picture of life after death. In fact, it expressed more of uncertainty than of knowledge.

In the NT, all that is changed. Christ has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim. 1:10). Today we know that when an unbeliever dies, his spirit and soul are in a state of suffering called Hades (Luke 16:23), while his body goes to the grave. The spirit and soul of the believer go to be with Christ in heaven (2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23), while his earthly body goes to the grave.

When the Savior said “… You will not leave my soul in Sheol,” He revealed His foreknowledge that God would not allow Him to remain in the disembodied state. Though He entered Sheol, He did not remain there.

God did not allow the usual process of decomposition to take place. By a miracle of preservation, Christ’s lifeless body was kept from corruption for three days and nights.[2]


16:10 These words expressed the confidence of the lesser David, but were applied messianically to the resurrection of the Greater David (the Lord Jesus Christ) both by Peter (Ac 2:25–28) and Paul (Ac 13:35).[3]


16:10 Sheol. See note on 6:5. Here it is likely the abode of the wicked. Likewise, corruption probably describes the experience of being far from God forever. These are not likely terms for the grave, since everyone singing these words would know that his body would one day die and rot.[4]


16:10 In Acts, both Peter and Paul apply this passage to Jesus as a prophecy of His resurrection (Acts 2:24–36; 13:34–39).

Sheol The Hebrew word she’ol is used here. See note on 1 Kgs 2:6.[5]


16:10 you will not abandon my soul to Sheol. The immediate application of this psalm is to David and the OT saints. It refers to deliverance from the immediate threat of death, but it points prophetically to the Son of David whom the historical David reflected and anticipated. Both Peter and Paul recognized Jesus as the ultimate fulfillment of this psalm (Acts 2:25–28; 13:35).[6]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 191–192). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 567–568). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 16:10). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 956). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 16:10). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 845). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

 

April 17 – Breaking the Bondage of Legalism

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matt. 5:8).

✧✧✧

Legalism can’t produce a pure heart.

By the time Jesus arrived, Israel was in a desperate condition spiritually. The Jewish people were in bondage to the oppressive legalism of the Pharisees, who had developed a system of laws that was impossible to keep. Consequently, the people lacked security and were longing for a Savior to free them from guilt and frustration. They knew God had promised a Redeemer who would forgive their sins and cleanse their hearts (Ezek. 36:25–27), but they weren’t sure when He was coming or how to identify Him when He arrived.

The enormous response to John the Baptist’s ministry illustrates the level of expectancy among the people. Matthew 3:5–6 says, “Then Jerusalem was going out to him, and all Judea, and all the district around the Jordan; and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.” The uppermost question in everyone’s mind seemed to be, “How can I enter the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus Himself was asked that question by many people in different ways. In Luke 10:25 a lawyer asks, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” In Luke 18:18 a rich young ruler asks exactly the same thing. In John 6:28 a multitude asks, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Nicodemus, a prominent Jewish religious leader, came to Jesus at night with the same question, but before he could ask it, Jesus read his thoughts and said, “Unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).

As devoutly religious as those people might have been, they would remain spiritually lost unless they placed their faith in Christ. That’s the only way to enter the Kingdom.

Still today many people look for relief from sin and guilt. God can use you to share Christ with some of them. Ask Him for that privilege, and be prepared when it comes.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for those enslaved to legalistic religious systems. ✧ Be sure there is no sin in your life to hinder God’s work through you.

For Further Study: Read Galatians 3. ✧ Why did Paul rebuke the Galatians? ✧ What was the purpose of the Old Testament Law?[1]


Happy Are the Holy

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (5:8)

Here is one of those passages of Scripture whose depths are immeasurable and whose breadth is impossible to encompass. This incredible statement of Jesus is among the greatest utterances in all of the Bible.

The subject of holiness, of purity of heart, can be traced from Genesis to Revelation. The theme is infinitely vast and touches on virtually every other biblical truth. It is impossible to exhaust its meaning or significance, and the discussion in this chapter is nothing more than introductory.

The Context

The Historical Context

As discussed in some detail in earlier chapters, when Jesus began His earthly ministry, Israel was in desperate condition-politically, economically, and spiritually. For hundreds of years, with only brief respites, she had been under the oppression of foreign conquerors. The country had limited freedom to develop its economy, and a large part of income and profit was paid to Rome in taxes. Those were problems that every person saw and felt.

The less obvious problem, however, was by far the worst. For longer than she had suffered political and economic oppression, Israel had suffered spiritual weakness and faithlessness. Yet that problem was not recognized by many Jews. Jewish leaders thought their religion was in fine shape, and believed the Messiah would soon solve the political and economic problems. But when He came, His only concern was for the spiritual problem, the problem of their hearts.

At the time of Christ the most influential religious force in Judaism was the Pharisees. They were the chief managers and promoters of the pervasive legalistic and ritualistic system that dominated Jewish society. Over the centuries various rabbis had interpreted and reinterpreted the Jewish Scriptures, especially the law, until those interpretations-known as the traditions of the elders-became more authoritative than Scripture itself. The essence of the traditions was a system of dos and don’ts that gradually expanded to cover almost every aspect of Jewish life.

To conscientious and honest Jews it had become obvious that total observance of all the religious requirements was impossible. Because they could not keep all of the law, they doubtlessly developed terrible feelings of guilt, frustration, and anxiety Their religion was their life, but they could not fulfill everything their religion demanded. Consequently, some of the religious leaders devised the idea that, if a person could perfectly keep just a few of the laws, God would understand. When even that proved impossible, some narrowed the requirement to one law perfectly kept.

That idea may have been in the mind of the lawyer who tested Jesus with the question, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” (Matt. 22:36). Perhaps he wanted to see which of the many hundreds of laws Jesus believed was the single most important one to keep-the one that would satisfy God even if a person failed to keep the others.

This oppressive and confusing religious system probably contributed to the initial popularity of John the Baptist. He was radically different from the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and priests, and it was obvious that he did not bother to observe most of the religious traditions. He was a breath of fresh air in a stifling, never-ending system of demands and prohibitions. Perhaps in this prophet’s teaching they would find some relief. They did not want another rabbi with another law, but someone who could show them how to be forgiven for those laws they had already broken. They wanted to know the real way of salvation, the real way to please God, the true way of peace and relief from sin. They knew that the Scriptures taught of One who would come not simply to demand but to redeem, not to add to their burdens but to help carry them, not to increase their guilt but to remove it. No doubt it was such expectations as those that caused many people to think John the Baptist might be the Messiah.

The people knew from Ezekiel that someday God was going to come and sprinkle their souls with water, cleanse them from their sin, and replace their hearts of stone with hearts of flesh (Ezek. 36:25–26). They knew the testimony of David, who cried out, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit!” (Ps. 32:1–2). They knew of those truths, and they longed to experience the reality of them.

Nicodemus was one such person. He was a Pharisee and “a ruler of the Jews,” that is, a member of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court. We are not told specifically what his intentions were in coming to Jesus, because his first words were not a question but a testimony. The fact that he came at night suggests he was ashamed of being seen with Jesus. But there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of his words, which showed unusual spiritual insight: “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2). Nicodemus knew that, whatever else Jesus might be, He was a teacher truly sent from God.

Though he does not state it, the question that was on his mind is implied both from his testimony and from Jesus’ reply. The Lord knew Nicodemus’s mind, and He said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (v. 3). Nicodemus wanted to know how to please God, to be forgiven. “How can I be made righteous?” he wondered. “How can I be redeemed and become a child of God? How can I become part of God’s kingdom?” Had he not had a deep, compelling desire to know God’s will, he would not have risked coming to Jesus even at night. Nicodemus was honest enough to admit his sinfulness. He was a Pharisee, a teacher of the law, and a ruler in the Sanhedrin; but he knew in his heart that all of that did not make him right with God.

After Jesus had fed the great multitude near the Sea of Galilee, some of the people who had seen the miracle asked Jesus, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” (John 6:28). The same question troubled them that had troubled Nicodemus: “How can a person get right with God? What must we do to truly please Him?” Like Nicodemus, they had been through all the ceremonies and rituals. They had attended the feasts and offered the required sacrifices. They had tried to keep the law and the traditions. But they knew that something was missing-something crucial that they did not know of, much less had experienced.

Luke tells of another lawyer who asked Jesus, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). He asked the question to test Jesus (v. 25a), and after Jesus gave an answer the man tried “justify himself” (v. 29). But despite his insincerity, he had asked the right question, the question that was on the minds of many Jews who were sincere.

A rich ruler asked Jesus the same question: “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). This man apparently asked sincerely, but he was unwilling to pay the cost. He wanted to keep the wealth of this life more than he wanted to gain the wealth of eternal life, and he went away “very sad” (v. 23). He knew he needed something more than outward obedience to the law, at which he had been diligent since childhood (v. 21). He knew that, with all his devotion and effort to please God, he had no assurance of possessing eternal life. He was seeking the kingdom, but he was not seeking it first (Matt. 6:33).

Others were asking, “What must I be to belong to the kingdom of God? What is the standard for eternal life?” All of those people, at various levels of understanding and sincerity, knew that they had not found what they sought. Many knew that they had not kept even a single law perfectly. If honest, they became more and more convinced that they could not keep even a single law perfectly, and that they were powerless to please God.

It was to answer that need that Jesus came to earth. It was to answer that need that He gave the Beatitudes. He shows simply and directly how sinful man can be made fight with holy God.

The Literary Context

At first glance this beatitude seems out of place, inserted indiscriminately into an otherwise orderly development of truths. Because of its supreme importance, a more strategic place-either at the beginning as the foundation, or at the end as the culmination-might seem more appropriate.

But the sixth beatitude, like every part of God’s Word, is in the right place. It is part of the beautiful and marvelous sequence of truths that are here laid out according to the mind of God. It is the climax of the Beatitudes, the central truth to which the previous five lead and from which the following two flow.

The Meaning

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. (5:8)

The word blessed implies the condition of well-being that results from salvation, the status of one who has a right relation to God. Being accepted by Him is a matter of internal transformation.

Heart translates kardia, from which we get cardiac and similar terms. Throughout Scripture, as well as in many languages and cultures throughout the world, the heart is used metaphorically to represent the inner person, the seat of motives and attitudes, the center of personality. But in Scripture it represents much more than emotion, feelings. It also includes the thinking process and particularly the will. In Proverbs we are told, “As [a man] thinketh in his heart, so is he” (Prov. 23:7, KJV). Jesus asked a group of scribes, “Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?” (Matt. 9:4; cf. Mark 2:8; 7:21). The heart is the control center of mind and will as well as emotion.

In total contrast to the outward, superficial, and hypocritical religion of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus said that it is in the inner man, in the core of his very being, that God requires purity. That was not a new truth, but an old one long forgotten amidst ceremony and tradition. “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life,” the writer of Proverbs had counseled (Prov. 4:23). The problem that caused God to destroy the earth in the Flood was a heart problem. “Then the Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5).

David acknowledged before the Lord, “Behold, Thou dost desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part Thou wilt make me know wisdom”; and then he prayed “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:6, 10). Asaph wrote, “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart!” (Ps. 73:1). Jeremiah declared, “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it? I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds” (Jer. 17:9–10). Evil ways and deeds begin in the heart and mind, which are here used synonymously. Jesus said, “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man” (Matt. 15:19).

God has always been concerned above all else with the inside of man, with the condition of his heart. When the Lord called Saul to be Israel’s first king, “God changed his heart” (1 Sam. 10:9). Until then Saul had been handsome, athletic, and not much more. But the new king soon began to revert to his old heart patterns. He chose to disobey God and to trust in himself. Among other things, he presumed to take for himself the priestly role of offering sacrifice (13:9) and refused to destroy all of the Amalekites and their possessions as God had commanded (15:3–19). Consequently, the Lord took the kingdom from Saul and gave it to David (15:23, 28). Saul’s actions were wrong because his heart rebelled, and it is by our hearts that the Lord judges us (16:7). It was said of David’s leadership over Israel, “He shepherded them according to the integrity of his heart, and guided them with his skillful hands” (Ps. 78:72).

God took the kingdom from Saul because he refused to live by the new heart God had given him. He gave the kingdom to David because David was “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14). David pleased God’s heart because God pleased David’s heart. “I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart,” he sang (Ps. 9:1). His deepest desire was, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (Ps. 19:14). He prayed, “Examine me, O Lord, and try me; test my mind and my heart” (Ps. 26:2). When God told David, “Seek My face,” David’s heart replied, “Thy face, O Lord, I shall seek” (Ps. 27:8).

Once when David was fleeing from Saul he went to Gath, a Philistine city, for help. When he realized that his life was also in danger there, he “acted insanely in their hands, and scribbled on the doors of the gate, and let his saliva run down into his beard” (1 Sam. 21:13). Thinking him to be mad, the Philistines let him go, and he went to hide in the cave of Adullum. He came to his senses and realized how foolish and unfaithful he had been to trust the Philistines for help instead of the Lord. It was there that he wrote Psalm 57, in which he declared, “My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast” (v. 7). He rededicated his heart, his innermost being, single-mindedly to God. David often failed, but his heart was fixed on God. The evidence of his true-hearted commitment to God is found in all the first 175 verses of Psalm 119. The fact that his flesh sometimes overruled his heart is the final admission of verse 176: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek Thy servant.”

Pure translates katharos, a form of the word from which we get catharsis. The basic meaning is to make pure by cleansing from dirt, filth, and contamination. Catharsis is a term used in psychology and counseling for a cleansing of the mind or emotions. The Greek word is related to the Latin castus, from which we get chaste. The related word chasten refers to discipline given in order to cleanse from wrong behavior.

The Greek term was often used of metals that had been refined until all impurities were removed, leaving only the pure metal. In that sense, purity means unmixed, unalloyed, unadulterated. Applied to the heart, the idea is that of pure motive-of single-mindedness, undivided devotion, spiritual integrity, and true righteousness.

Double-mindedness has always been one of the great plagues of the church. We want to serve the Lord and follow the world at the same time. But that, says Jesus, is impossible. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other” (Matt. 6:24). James puts the same truth in another way: “Do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God” (James 4:4). He then gives the solution to the problem: “Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded” (v. 8).

Christians have the right heart motive concerning God. Even though we often fail to be single-minded, it is our deep desire to be so. We confess with Paul, “For that which I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. … I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wishes to do good. … So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin” (Rom. 7:15, 21, 25). Paul’s deepest spiritual desires were pure, although the sin dwelling in his flesh sometimes overrode those desires.

Those who truly belong to God will be motivated to purity. Psalm 119 is the classic illustration of that longing, and Romans 7:15–25 is the Pauline counterpart. The deepest desire of the redeemed is for holiness, even when sin halts the fulfillment of that desire.

Purity of heart is more than sincerity. A motive can be sincere, yet lead to worthless and sinful things. The pagan priests who opposed Elijah demonstrated great sincerity when they lacerated their bodies in order to induce Baal to send fire down to consume their sacrifices (1 Kings 18:28). But their sincerity did not produce the desired results, and it did not enable them to see the wrongness of their paganism-because their sincere trust was in that very paganism. Sincere devotees walk on nails to prove their spiritual power. Others crawl on their knees for hundreds of yards, bleeding and grimacing in pain, to show their devotion to a saint or a shrine. Yet their sincere devotion is sincerely wrong and is completely worthless before God.

The scribes and Pharisees believed they could please God by such superficial practices as tithing “mint and dill and cummin”; but they “neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Matt. 23:23). They were meticulously careful about what they did outwardly but paid no attention to what they were inwardly. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!” Jesus told them, “For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also” (vv. 25–26).

Even genuinely good deeds that do not come from a genuinely good heart are of no spiritual value. Thomas Watson said, “Morality can drown a man as fast as vice,” and, “A vessel may sink with gold or with dung.” Though we may be extremely religious and constantly engaged in doing good things, we cannot please God unless our hearts are right with Him.

The ultimate standard for purity of heart is perfection of heart. In the same sermon in which He gave the Beatitudes Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). One hundred percent purity is God’s standard for the heart.

Man’s tendency is to set the opposite standard. We are inclined to judge ourselves by the worst instead of the best. The Pharisee who prayed in the Temple, thanking God that he was not like other men, considered himself to be righteous simply because he was not a swindler, an adulterer, or a tax-gatherer (Luke 18:11). We are all tempted to feel better about ourselves when we see someone doing a terrible thing that we have never done. The “good” person looks down on the one who seems to be less good than himself, and that person looks down on those worse than he is. Carried to its extreme, that spiral of judgment would go down and down until it reached the most rotten person on earth-and that last person, the worst on earth, would be the standard by which the rest of the world judged itself!

God’s standard for men, however, is Himself. They cannot be fully pleasing to God until they are pure as He is pure, until they are holy as He is holy and perfect as He is perfect. Only those who are pure in heart may enter the kingdom. “Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?” David asks, “and who may stand in His holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart” (Ps. 24:3–4).

It is impurity of heart that separates man from God. “Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear” (Isa. 59:1–2). And just as impurity of heart separates men from God, only purity of heart through Jesus Christ will reconcile men to God.

Basically there are but two kinds of religion-the religion of human achievement and the religion of divine accomplishment. There are many variations of the first kind, which includes every religion but biblical Christianity. Within the religions of human accomplishment are two basic approaches: head religion, which trusts in creeds and religious knowledge, and hand religion, which trusts in good deeds.

The only true religion, however, is heart religion, which is based on God’s implanted purity. By faith in what God has done through His Son, Jesus Christ, “we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7). When God imputes His righteousness to us He imputes His purity to us.

As we look at Scripture we discover six kinds of purity. One may be called primal purity, the kind that exists only in God. That purity is as essential to God as light is to the sun or wetness is to water.

Another form of purity is created purity, the purity that existed in God’s creation before it was corrupted by the Fall. God created the angels in purity and He created man in purity. Tragically, some of the angels and all of mankind fell from that purity.

A third kind of purity is positional purity, the purity we are given the moment we trust in Jesus Christ as Savior. When we trust in Him, God imputes to us Christ’s own purity, Christ’s own righteousness. “To the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness” (Rom. 4:5; cf. Gal. 2:16). From that day the Father sees us just as He sees the Son, perfectly righteous and without blemish (2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:14).

Fourth, imputed purity is not just a statement without substance; with imputed purity God grants actual purity in the new nature of the believer (Rom. 6:4–5; 8:5–11; Col. 3:9–10; 2 Pet. 1:3). In other words, there is no justification without sanctification. Every believer is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). Paul affirms that when a believer sins, it is not caused by the pure new self, but by sin in the flesh (Rom. 7:17, 19–22, 25).

Fifth, there is practical purity. This, of course, is the hard part, the part that does require our supreme effort. Only God possesses or can possess primal purity. Only God can bestow created purity, ultimate purity, positional purity, and actual purity. But practical purity, though it too comes from God, demands our participation in a way that the other kinds of purity do not. That is why Paul implores, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Cor. 7:1). It is why Peter pleads, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’ ” (1 Pet. 1:14–16).

We are not saved just for future heavenly purity but also for present earthly purity. At best it will be gold mixed with iron and clay, a white garment with some black threads. But God wants us now to be as pure as we can be. If purity does not characterize our living, we either do not belong to Christ, or we are disobedient to Him. We will have temptations, but God will always provide a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). We will fall into sin, but “if we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Finally, for believers there will also one day be ultimate purity, the perfected purity that God’s redeemed people will experience when they are glorified in His presence. All sins will be totally and permanently washed away, and “we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

The Way to Holiness

Throughout the history of the church people have suggested various ways to achieve spiritual purity and holiness. Some have suggested monasticism, getting away from the normal cares and distractions of the world and devoting oneself entirely to meditation and prayer. Others claim that holiness is a second work of grace, by which God miraculously eradicates not only sins but the sin nature, allowing a sinless earthly life from that point onward. But neither Scripture nor experience supports either of those views. The problem of sin is not primarily the world around us but the worldliness within us, which we cannot escape by living in isolation from other people.

But God always provides for what He demands, and He has provided ways for us to live purely. First, we must realize that we are unable to live a single holy moment without the Lord’s guidance and power. “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” (Prov. 20:9), the obvious answer to which is “No one.” The Ethiopian cannot change his skin or the leopard its spots (Jer. 13:23). Cleansing begins with a recognition of weakness. Weakness then reaches out for the strength of God.

Second, we must stay in God’s Word. It is impossible to stay in God’s will apart from His Word. Jesus said, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you” (John 15:3).

Third, it is essential to be controlled by and walking in the will and way of the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16 says it clearly: “Walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.”

Fourth, we must pray. We cannot stay in God’s will or understand and obey His Word unless we stay near Him. “With all prayer and petition” we are to “pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18; cf. Luke 18:1; 1 Thess. 5:17). With David we cry, “Create in me a clean heart, O God” (Ps. 51:10).

The Result of Holiness

The great blessing of those who are pure in heart is that they shall see God. The Greek is in the future indicative tense and the middle voice, and a more literal translation is, “They shall be continuously seeing God for themselves.” It is only they (the emphatic autos), the pure in heart, who shall see God. Intimate knowledge of and fellowship with God is reserved for the pure.

When our hearts are purified at salvation we begin to live in the presence of God. We begin to see and to comprehend Him with our new spiritual eyes. Like Moses, who saw God’s glory and asked to see more (Ex. 33:18), the one who is purified by Jesus Christ sees again and again the glory of God.

To see God was the greatest hope of Old Testament saints. Like Moses, David wanted to see more of God. “As the deer pants for the water brooks,” he said, “so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:1). Job rejoiced when he was able to say, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees Thee” (Job 42:5).

Purity of heart cleanses the eyes of the soul so that God becomes visible. One sign of an impure heart is ignorance, because sin obscures the truth (John 3:19–20). Evil and ignorance come in a package. Other signs of an impure heart are self-centeredness (Rev. 3:17), pleasure in sin (2 Tim. 3:4), unbelief (Heb. 3:12), and hatred of purity (Mic. 3:2). Those who belong to God exchange all of those things for integrity and purity.

  1. F. Bullard wrote,

When I in righteousness at last

Thy glorious face shall see;

When all the weary night has passed,

And I awake with Thee,

To view the glories that abide,

Then and only then will I be satisfied.

(Cited in William Hendriksen, The Gospel of Matthew [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1973], p. 278)[2]


5:8 The pure in heart are given the assurance that they shall see God. A pure-hearted person is one whose motives are unmixed, whose thoughts are holy, whose conscience is clean. The expression they shall see God may be understood in several ways. First, the pure in heart see God now through fellowship in the Word and the Spirit. Second, they sometimes have a supernatural appearance, or vision, of the Lord presented to them. Third, they shall see God in the Person of Jesus when He comes again. Fourth, they shall see God in eternity.[3]


8 Commentators are divided on “pure in heart.”

  1. Some take it to mean inner moral purity as opposed to merely external piety or ceremonial cleanness. This is an important theme in Matthew and elsewhere in the Scriptures (e.g., Dt 10:16; 30:6; 1 Sa 15:22; Pss 24:3–4 [to which there is direct allusion here]; 51:6, 10; Isa 1:10–17; Jer 4:4; 7:3–7; 9:25–26; Ro 2:9; 1 Ti 1:5; 2 Ti 2:22, cf. Mt 23:25–28).
  2. Others take it to mean single-mindedness, a heart “free from the tyranny of a divided self” (Tasker; cf. Bonnard). Several of the passages just cited focus on freedom from deceit (Pss 24:4; 51:4–17; cf. Ge 50:5–6; Pr 22:11). This interpretation also prepares the way for Matthew 6:22. The “pure in heart” are thus “the utterly sincere.”

The dichotomy between these two options is a false one; it is impossible to have one without the other. The one who is single-minded in commitment to the kingdom and its righteousness (6:33) will also be inwardly pure. Inward sham, deceit, and moral filth cannot coexist with sincere devotion to Christ. Either way, this beatitude excoriates hypocrisy (see comments at 6:1–18). The pure in heart will see God—now with the eyes of faith and finally in the dazzling brilliance of the beatific vision in whose light no deceit can exist (cf. Heb 12:14; 1 Jn 3:1–3; Rev 21:22–27).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 120). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 198–208). Chicago: Moody Press.

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

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 164–165). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 17 – NOT READY FOR HEAVEN?

My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the Lord.

Psalm 104:34

 

I can safely say on the authority of all that is revealed in the Word of God, that any man or woman on this earth who is bored and turned off by worship is not ready for heaven!

Now, I can almost hear someone saying, “Is Tozer getting away from justification by faith?”

I assure you that Martin Luther never believed in justification by faith more strongly than I do. But nowadays there is a deadly, automatic quality about getting saved.

This bothers me greatly: “Sinner, just put a nickel’s worth of faith in the slot, pull down the lever and take out the little card of salvation.” Tuck it in your wallet and off you go—a justified believer!

But really, my brother or sister, we are brought to God and to faith and to salvation that we might worship. We do not come to God that we might be automatic Christians stamped out with a die!

God has provided His salvation that we might be, individually and personally, vibrant children of God, loving God with all our heart and worshiping Him in the beauty of holiness!

 

Lord, I bow before You this morning as my Lord and King. You are deserving of all my love and praise and worship.[1]


104:33–35 As for himself, the sacred writer is determined to sing forth the excellencies of his God as long as he lives. He prays that his meditation might be sweet to Jehovah in whom he finds his true joy.

As for sinners who spoil God’s creation, he sees a moral fitness in their being banished from the earth. God has already decreed that it shall be so, and thus his prayer is in accord with the divine will.

As for ourselves, we can surely join him in his final doxology:

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Praise the Lord![2]


33–34 The response to the Lord’s presence should be like that of the psalmist: praise (v. 33), devotion (“as long as I live”; cf. 146:2), and concern with pleasing the Lord (v. 34; cf. 19:14). The psalmist prays that the Lord may be pleased with him as God looks at his creation.[3]


104:34 my meditation Meditation in the psalms involves considering Yahweh, and then expressing the results of that process. The psalms portray meditation as a sort of worship (see Psa 1).[4]


104:34 I rejoice in the Lord. The psalmist rejoices in the Lord by rejoicing in the Lord’s creation, in which the Lord Himself also rejoices (v. 31).[5]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 708–709). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 771). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 104:34). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 953). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 17 – VIEW GOD’S WRATH IN THE LIGHT OF HIS HOLINESS

…He that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

JOHN 3:36

The earnest and instructed Christian knows that the wrath of God is a reality, that His anger is as holy as His love, and that between His love and His wrath there is no incompatibility. He further knows (as far as fallen man can know such matters) what the wrath of God is and what it is not.

To understand God’s wrath we must view it in the light of His holiness. God is holy and has made holiness to be the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe. Sin’s temporary presence in the world only accents this. Whatever is holy is healthy; evil is a moral sickness that must end ultimately in death. The formation of the language itself suggests this, the English word holy deriving from the Anglo-Saxon ‘halig,’ ‘hal’ meaning well, whole.

Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure. Wherever the holiness of God confronts unholiness there is conflict.

To preserve His creation God must destroy whatever would destroy it. When He arises to put down destruction and save the world from irreparable moral collapse He is said to be very angry. Every wrathful judgment of God in the history of the world has been a holy act of preservation.

God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys![1]


Christ Received All Authority from the Father

“The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” (3:35–36)

This last point explicitly states what the first four imply. Because of His love for the Son (cf. 5:20; 15:9; 17:23, 26; Matt. 3:17), the Father has given Him supreme authority over all things on earth and in heaven (Matt. 11:27; 28:18; 1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:22; Phil. 2:9–11; Heb. 1:2; 1 Peter 3:22). That supremacy is a clear indicator of the Son’s deity.

John’s affirmation of Jesus’ absolute authority demonstrated his humble attitude, even as his heralding ministry faded into the background. Having fulfilled his mission on this earth, John realized that his work would soon be finished. In fact, not long after this, he was arrested and beheaded by Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee (Matt. 14:3–11).

But before he faded from the scene, John the Baptist gave an invitation and a warning that form a fitting climax, not only to this chapter, but also to his entire ministry. Like Moses (Deut. 11:26–28; 30:15–20), Joshua (Josh. 24:15), Elijah (1 Kings 18:21), and Jesus (John 3:18) before him, he set forth the only two choices available to lost sinners: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

The blessed truth of salvation is that the one who believes in the Son has eternal life as a present possession, not merely as a future hope. Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life” (5:24; cf. 1:12; 3:15–16; 6:47; 1 John 5:10–13).

But on the other hand, the one who does not obey the Son will not see life. The juxtaposition of belief and disobedience is a reminder that the New Testament portrays belief in the gospel as obedience to God, an essential element of saving faith (cf. Acts 6:7; Rom. 1:5; 15:18; 16:26; 2 Thess. 1:8; Heb. 5:9; 1 Peter 1:2; 4:17). The fearful reality is that the wrath of God (His settled, holy displeasure against sin) continually abides on disobedient sinners who refuse to believe in Jesus Christ. Just as eternal life is the present possession of believers, so also is condemnation the present condition of unbelievers. The idea here is not that God will one day condemn sinners for their disobedient unbelief; they are already in a state of condemnation (3:18; 2 Peter 2:9) from which only saving faith in Jesus Christ can deliver them. The ultimate consequence of refusing to believe will be to experience God’s wrath for eternity in the lake of fire (Rev. 20:10–15). But it was to save helpless, doomed sinners from that terrifying fate that God sent His Son to be the Savior of the world (1:29; 3:17; 4:42; Matt. 1:21; Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 John 4:14).

In this way, John the Baptist clearly declared the sovereignty and supremacy of Jesus Christ, emphasizing that He alone is able to save sinful men from the consequences of their disobedience. And what John proclaimed with his lips, he exemplified with his life, actively promoting Jesus’ ministry even at the expense of his own. Thus, the weight of John’s witness can still be felt today—as a warning to unbelievers, that they must repent and follow Christ, and as an example to believers, that they should seek the Savior’s glory rather than their own.[2]


3:36 God has given Christ the power to grant everlasting life to all who believe on Him. This is one of the clearest verses in all the Bible on how a person can be saved. It is simply by believing in the Son. As we read this verse, we should realize that God is speaking. He is making a promise that can never be broken. He says, clearly and distinctly, that anyone who believes in His Son has everlasting life. To accept this promise is not a leap in the dark. It is simply believing what could not possibly be false. Those who do not obey the Son of God shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on them already. From this verse we learn that our eternal destiny depends on what we do with the Son of God. If we receive Him, God gives us eternal life as a free gift. If we reject Him, we will never enjoy everlasting life, and not only so, but God’s wrath already hangs over us, ready to fall at any moment.

Notice that there is nothing in this verse about keeping the law, obeying the Golden Rule, going to church, doing the best we can, or working our way to heaven.[3]


36 Verse 36 underscores a major truth that runs throughout the entire chapter. The destiny of every person is determined by his or her personal response to the Son. Those who put their faith in the Son receive eternal life; those who reject the Son will not see life but will endure the wrath of God (cf. 1 Jn 5:12, “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”). The issue is clearly drawn. Worth noting is the fact that it is disobedience, not disbelief, that John sets in contrast with faith. The Greek apeitheō (GK 578) means “to disobey.” The verb is used regularly in the LXX of disobedience to God. Not to believe is to willfully reject. In Acts 14:2 the NIV translates the same term with “refused to believe.” Saving faith involves obedience as well as believing, a point often overlooked by those for whom correct doctrine tends to eclipse the necessity of a changed life.

Whoever “rejects the Son” (refuses to believe the words he speaks and consequently rejects the obvious implications regarding who he is) “will not see life” (i.e., the eternal life given to those who believe). Instead, God’s wrath remains on him. The wrath of God is not an emotional and vindictive reaction toward individuals. The rejection of divine love carries serious and necessary consequences. As G. Stählin observes, “Where mercy meets with the ungodly will of man rather than faith and gratitude, … love becomes wrath” (TDNT 5:425). That God’s wrath remains on the disobedient indicates that those who have not accepted the Son are already under condemnation (cf. 3:18).[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 132–133). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1482). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 405–406). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 17 – Hatred Blocks Real Worship

Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you … —Matt. 5:23

Outward acts of worship are unacceptable to God as long as we harbor internal sin. They are particularly offensive if we retain a hateful attitude toward a brother and yet attempt to come before God.

Worship is important for most religious people today. They can spend much time in places of worship, offering prayers, giving tithes, and doing all sorts of religious activities. But, as with the scribes and Pharisees, none of it is meaningful if carried out with the wrong attitude.

Presenting an offering at the altar was a familiar scene for Jesus’ listeners. On the Day of Atonement, for example, worshipers would bring animal sacrifices and give them to the priest as sin offerings. But that process must halt if the worshiper were to remember some hatred between himself and a brother. Unresolved conflict has priority over external ceremony and must be settled.

Sin between us and other brethren must be resolved before we can bridge the gap of sin between us and God. The Lord told Israel, “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?… I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle; and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs or goats.… Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good” (Isa. 1:11, 16–17a).

Not to be at peace with someone else and yet to attempt worship of God is a hindrance to genuine fellowship.

ASK YOURSELF
This is a call for worship to matter, and for relationship with God to be taken seriously. More than a Sunday morning verse, it’s a principle demanding conciliatory action in the days prior to the Lord’s day. Is there such a matter occurring in your life situation right now?[1]

The Effect on Our Worship of God

If therefore you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. (5:23–24)

Jesus’ teaching not only affects our view of ourselves by shattering all self-righteousness and showing that we are guilty and worthy of hell, but it also shows how the sins of anger and hatred affect our relationship to God,

Worship was a major concern of the scribes and Pharisees, directly or indirectly the focus of almost everything they did. They spent much time in the synagogues and in the Temple. They made sacrifices, offered prayers, gave tithes, and carried on religious activities of every sort. But it was all heartless external ceremony.

Therefore refers back to Jesus’ point that sin, just as righteousness, is first of all internal. As long as there is internal sin, outward acts of worship are not acceptable to God. Jesus continues to focus on the particular sin of hatred against someone else, a brother in the broadest sense. Reconciliation must precede worship.

Every Jew realized that sin caused a breach in one’s relationship with God, and that the sacrifices and offerings were intended to restore a right relationship with Him. In their reliance on rabbinical tradition and its misinterpretation of the Old Testament, however, they no longer gave much consideration to sins that could not be seen. Although they would not have called such things as hatred and lust good, they nevertheless did not think of them as true sins. But now Jesus said that anger and hatred are every bit as sinful as murder and adultery.

The scene of presenting your offering at the altar was a familiar one to Jews. The Lord may have had in mind here the sacrifice made on the Day of Atonement, when the worshiper brought an animal sacrifice for his sins. When he came to the court of the priests he would stop, because only priests were allowed to enter the altar area. He would then lay his hands on the animal to identify with it and present it to the priest to offer on his behalf. “But do not hand the sacrifice to the priest,” Jesus said, “if you remember that your brother has something against you.” Unresolved conflict has priority and must be settled. Leave your offering there before the altar, and go your way; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering. Settle the breach between you and your brother before you try to settle the breach between you and God. Not to do that is to be a hypocrite by asking for forgiveness without repenting.

That has always been God’s requirement. He had told Israel, “ ‘What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me?’ says the Lord. ‘I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of cattle. And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats … Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; remove the evil of your deeds from My sight. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless; defend the orphan, plead for the widow’ ” (Isa. 1:11, 16–17; cf. 58:5–7). “Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known, then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, ‘We are delivered’ ”? (Jer. 7:9–10). The Jews knew, or should have known, that God demanded they be willing to forsake hatred and be made right with each other before they could be right with Him.

The phrase your brother has something against you could also refer to anger or hatred on the brother’s part. That is, even if we hold nothing against him, if he is angry with or hates us, we should do everything in our power to be reconciled to him. Obviously we cannot change another person’s heart or attitude, but our desire and effort should be to close the breach as much as is possible from our side and to hold no anger ourselves even if the other person does.

Regardless of who is responsible for the break in relationship-and often there is guilt on both sides-we should determine to make a reconciliation before we come before God to worship. True worship is not enhanced by better music, better prayers, better architecture, or even better preaching. True worship is enhanced by better relationships between those who come to worship. Worship may be improved by our staying away from church until we have made things right with those with whom we know our relationship is strained or broken.

When there is animosity or sin of any sort in our heart there cannot be integrity in our worship. Nearly a thousand years before Christ preached the Sermon on the Mount the psalmist had declared, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66:18). Even before that Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams” (1 Sam. 15:22).[2]


5:23, 24 If a person offends another, whether by anger or any other cause, there is no use in his bringing a gift to God. The Lord will not be pleased with it. The offender should first go and make the wrong right. Only then will the gift be acceptable.

Even though these words are written in a Jewish context, that does not mean there is no application today. Paul interprets this concept in relation to the Lord’s Supper (see 1 Cor. 11). God receives no worship from a believer who is not on speaking terms with another.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 116). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 296–298). Chicago: Moody Press.

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

APRIL 17 – THE WRATH OF GOD

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness.

—Romans 1:18

There is a strong tendency among religious teachers these days to disassociate anger from the divine character and to defend God by explaining away the Scriptures that relate it to Him. This is understandable, but in the light of the full revelation of God it is inexcusable….

Whatever is stated clearly but once in the Holy Scriptures may be accepted as sufficiently well established to invite the faith of all believers; and when we discover that the Spirit speaks of the wrath of God about 300 times in the Bible we may as well make up our minds either to accept the doctrine or reject the Scriptures outright….

To understand God’s wrath we must view it in the light of His holiness. God is holy and has made holiness to be the moral condition necessary to the health of His universe….

Since God’s first concern for His universe is its moral health, that is, its holiness, whatever is contrary to this is necessarily under His eternal displeasure….

The holiness of God, the wrath of God and the health of the creation are inseparably united. Not only is it right for God to display anger against sin, but I find it impossible to understand how He could do otherwise. MDP119-122

Lord, deal with me in grace as I fall before You in repentance and worship. Amen. [1]


The Wrath of God

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in ungodliness, (1:18)

As Paul begins to unfold the details of the gospel of God in which His righteousness is revealed (see vv. 16–17), he presents an extended discussion of the condemnation of man that extends through chapter 3 and verse 20. He starts with an unequivocal affirmation of God’s righteous wrath.

The idea of a wrathful God goes against the wishful thinking of fallen human nature and is even a stumbling block to many Christians. Much contemporary evangelism talks only about abundant life in Christ, the joy and blessings of salvation, and the peace with God that faith in Christ brings. All of those benefits do result from true faith, but they are not the whole picture of God’s plan of salvation. The corollary truth of God’s judgment against sin and those who participate in it must also be heard.

For Paul, fear of eternal condemnation was the first motivation he offered for coming to Christ, the first pressure he applied to evil men. He was determined that they understand the reality of being under God’s wrath before he offered them the way of escape from it. That approach makes both logical and theological sense. A person cannot appreciate the wonder of God’s grace until he knows about the perfect demands of God’s law, and he cannot appreciate the fullness of God’s love for him until he knows something about the fierceness of God’s anger against his sinful failure to perfectly obey that law. He cannot appreciate God’s forgiveness until he knows about the eternal consequences of the sins that require a penalty and need forgiving.

Orgē (wrath) refers to a settled, determined indignation, not to the momentary, emotional, and often uncontrolled anger (thumos) to which human beings are prone.

God’s attributes are balanced in divine perfection. If He had no righteous anger and wrath, He would not be God, just as surely as He would not be God without His gracious love. He perfectly hates just as He perfectly loves, perfectly loving righteousness and perfectly hating evil (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1:9). One of the great tragedies of modern Christianity, including much of evangelicalism, is the failure to preach and teach the wrath of God and the condemnation it brings upon all with unforgiven sin. The truncated, sentimental gospel that is frequently presented today falls far short of the gospel that Jesus and the apostle Paul proclaimed.

In glancing through a psalter from the late nineteenth century, I discovered that many of the psalms in that hymnal emphasize the wrath of God, just as much of the book of Psalms itself emphasizes His wrath. It is tragic that few hymns or other Christian songs today reflect that important biblical focus.

Scripture, New Testament as well as Old, consistently emphasizes God’s righteous wrath. Against those who scoff at Him, God “will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury.” The psalmist goes on to admonish, “Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath may soon be kindled” (Ps. 2:5, 12). Asaph wrote, “At Thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both rider and horse were cast into a dead sleep. Thou, even Thou, art to be feared; and who may stand in Thy presence when once Thou art angry?” (Ps. 76:6–7). Another psalmist reminded unfaithful Israel of what God had done to the defiant Egyptians who refused to let His people leave: “He sent upon them His burning anger, fury, and indignation, and trouble, a band of destroying angels. He leveled a path for His anger; He did not spare their soul from death, but gave their life over to the plague, and smote all the first-born in Egypt” (Ps. 78:49–51). Speaking in behalf of Israel, Moses lamented, “For we have been consumed by Thine anger, and by thy wrath we have been dismayed. Thou hast placed our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy presence. For all our days have declined in Thy fury” (Ps. 90:7–9).

The prophets spoke much of God’s wrath. Isaiah declared, “By the fury of the Lord of hosts the land is burned up, and the people are like fuel for the fire” (Isa. 9:19). Jeremiah proclaimed, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Behold, My anger and My wrath will be poured out on this place, on man and on beast and on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground; and it will burn and not be quenched’ ” (Jer. 7:20). Through Ezekiel, God warned His people that “their silver and their gold [would] not be able to deliver them in the day of the wrath of the Lord. They cannot satisfy their appetite, nor can they fill their stomachs, for their iniquity has become an occasion of stumbling” (Ezek. 7:19).

In many well-known ways God expressed His wrath against sinful mankind in past ages. In the days of Noah, He destroyed all mankind in the Flood, except for eight people (Gen. 6–7). Several generations after Noah, He confounded men’s language and scattered them around the earth for trying to build an idolatrous tower to heaven (Gen. 11:1–9). In the days of Abraham, He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, with only Lot and his family escaping (Gen. 18–19). He destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the sea as they vainly pursued the Israelites to bring them back to Egypt (Ex. 14). He poured out His wrath against pagan kings such as Sennacherib (2 Kings 18–19), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4), and Belshazzar (Dan. 5). He even poured out His wrath against some of His own people-against King Nadab for doing “evil in the sight of the Lord, and [walking] in the way of his father and in his sin which he made Israel sin” (1 Kings 15:25–26) and against Aaron and Miriam, Moses’ brother and sister, for questioning Moses’ revelations from Him (Num. 12:1–10).

God’s wrath is just as clearly exhibited in the New Testament, both in reference to what He has already done and to what He will yet do at the end of the age. The gospel of John, which speaks so eloquently of God’s love and graciousness, also speaks powerfully of His anger and wrath. The comforting words “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life,” are followed closely by the warning “He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:16, 36).

Later in his epistle to the Romans, Paul focuses again on God’s wrath, declaring, “God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (9:22). The apostle warned the Corinthians that anyone who did not love the Lord Jesus was to be eternally cursed (1 Cor. 16:22). He said to the Ephesians, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience” (Eph. 5:6). He warned the Colossians that because of “immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry, … the wrath of God will come” (Col. 3:5–6). He assured the persecuted Thessalonian believers that God would one day give them relief and that “when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, [He will deal] out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (2 Thess. 1:7–8).

A disease has to be recognized and identified before seeking a cure means anything. In the same way and for the same reason, Scripture reveals the bad news before the good news. God’s righteous judgment against sin is proclaimed before His gracious forgiveness of sin is offered. A person has no reason to seek salvation from sin if he does not know he is condemned by it. He has no reason to want spiritual life unless he realizes he is spiritually dead.

With the one exception of Jesus Christ, every human being since the Fall has been born condemned, because when Adam and Eve fell, the divine sentence against all sinners was passed. Paul therefore declared to the Romans that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). He reminded the Ephesians: “You were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest” (Eph. 2:1–3).

In the brief scope of one verse (Rom. 1:18), Paul presents six features that characterize God’s wrath: its quality, its time, its source, its extent and nature, and its cause.

The Quality of God’s Wrath

of God (1:18a)

First, the quality of this wrath is seen in the fact that it is divine, it is of God. It is therefore unlike anything we know of in the present world. God’s wrath is not like human anger, which is always tainted by sin. God’s wrath is always and completely righteous. He never loses His temper. The Puritan writer Thomas Watson said, “Is God so infinitely holy? Then see how unlike to God sin is. … No wonder, therefore, that God hates sin, being so unlike to him, nay, so contrary to him; it strikes at his holiness.”

Unable to reconcile the idea of God’s wrath with his own ideas of goodness and righteousness, one liberal theologian made this claim: “We cannot think with full consistency of God in terms of the highest human ideals of personality and yet attribute to Him the rational passion of anger.” But it is foolish, not to mention unbiblical, to measure God by human standards and to discount the idea of His wrath simply because human anger is always flawed by sin.

God’s anger is not capricious, irrational rage but is the only response that a holy God could have toward evil. God could not be holy and not be angry at evil. Holiness cannot tolerate unholiness. “Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, and Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor,” Habakkuk says of the Lord (Hab. 1:13). And as Paul declares, neither can love tolerate unholiness, refusing to “rejoice in unrighteousness” (1 Cor. 13:6).

Jesus twice cleansed the Temple because He was incensed at the money changers and sacrifice sellers who made His “Father’s house a house of merchandise” and “a robber’s den” (John 2:14–16; Matt. 21:12–13). He was furious that His Father’s house was flagrantly dishonored. Speaking in place of the sinful inhabitants of Jerusalem, Jeremiah acknowledged the rightness of God’s punishment of them, saying, “The Lord is righteous; for I have rebelled against His command; hear now, all peoples, and behold my pain; my virgins and my young men have gone into captivity” (Lam. 1:18). In confessing before Joshua that he had kept for himself some booty from Jericho that was to be reserved for the house of the Lord, Achan acknowledged that the punishment he was about to receive was just and righteous (Josh. 7:20–25).

Even in the warped and perverted societies of men, indignation against vice and crime is recognized as an essential element of human goodness. We expect people to be outraged by gross injustice and cruelty. The noted Greek exegete Richard Trench said, “There [can be no] surer and sadder token of an utterly prostrate moral condition than … not being able to be angry with sin-and sinners” (Synonyms of the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983], p. 134). God is perfectly so all the time with a holy fury.

The Timing of God’s Wrath

is revealed (1:18b)

Second, the timing of God’s wrath is seen in the fact that it is revealed, a better rendering being “constantly revealed.” God’s wrath is continually being revealed, perpetually being manifested. Apokaluptō (revealed) has the basic meaning of uncovering, bringing to light, or making known.

God’s wrath has always been revealed to fallen mankind and is repeatedly illustrated throughout Scripture. It was first revealed in the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve trusted the serpent’s word above God’s. Immediately the sentence of death was passed on them and on all their descendants. Even the earth itself was cursed. As already mentioned, God’s wrath was revealed in the Flood, when God drowned the whole human race except for eight souls, in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and in the drowning of Pharaoh’s army. It was revealed in the curse of the law upon every transgression and in the institution of the sacrificial system of the Mosaic covenant. Even the imperfect laws that men make to deter and punish wrongdoers reflect and thereby help to reveal the perfect and righteous wrath of God.

By far the surpassing revelation of God’s wrath was that placed upon His own Son on the cross, when Jesus took to Himself the sin of the world and bore the full divine force of God’s fury as its penalty God hates sin so deeply and requires its penalty so that He allowed His perfect, beloved Son to be put to death as the only means by which fallen mankind might be redeemed from sifts curse.

The British commentator Geoffrey B. Wilson wrote, “God is no idle spectator of world events; He is dynamically active in human affairs. The conviction of sin is constantly punctuated by Divine judgment” (Romans: A Digest of Reformed Comment [London: Banner of Truth], p. 24). The historian J. A. Froude wrote, “One lesson, and only one, history may be said to repeat with distinctness; that the world is built somehow on moral foundations; that, in the long run, it is well with the good; in the long run, it is ill with the wicked” (Short Studies on Great Subjects, vol. 1, “The Science of History” [London: Longmans Green and Co., 1915], p. 21).

We wonder, then, why so many wicked people prosper, seemingly doing evil with utter impunity. But if God’s wrath is delayed, His bowl of wrath is all the while filling up, increasing judgment for increased sin, They are only storing up wrath for the coming day of wrath (Rom. 2:5).

Donald Grey Barnhouse recounts the story of a group of godly farmers in a Midwest community being irritated one Sunday morning by a neighbor’s plowing his field across from their church. Noise from his tractor interrupted the worship service, and, as it turned out, the man had purposely chosen to plow that particular field on Sunday morning in order to make a point. He wrote a letter to the editor of the local paper, asserting that, although he did not respect the Lord or honor the Lord’s Day, he had the highest yield per acre of any farm in the county. He asked the editor how Christians could explain that. With considerable insight and wisdom, the editor printed the letter and followed it with the simple comment, “God does not settle [all] His accounts in the month of October” (Man’s Ruin: Romans 1:1–32 [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1952], p. 220).

The Source of God’s Wrath

from heaven (1:18c)

God’s wrath is rendered from heaven. Despite Satan’s present power as prince of the air and of this world, the earth is ultimately dominated by heaven, the throne of God, from which His wrath is constantly and dynamically manifested in the world of men.

Paul frequently speaks about the wrath, indicating a specific time or type of wrath. Although the nasb rendering does not indicate it, there is a definite article before wrath in Romans 3:5, which should read, “who inflicts the wrath.” In chapter 5 he speaks of our being “saved from the wrath of God through” Christ (v. 9), in chapter 12 of our leaving “room for the wrath of God” (v. 19), and in chapter 13 of believers being in subjection to God “not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake” (v. 5). In his letter to Thessalonica he assures believers that Jesus delivers them “from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10).

Heaven reveals God’s wrath in two ways, through His moral order and through His personal intervention. When God made the world, He built in certain moral as well as physical laws that have since governed its operation. Just as a person falls to the ground when he jumps from a high building, so does he fall into God’s judgment when he deviates from God’s moral law That is built-in wrath. When a person sins, there is a built-in consequence that inexorably works. In this sense God is not specifically intervening, but is letting the law of moral cause and effect work.

The second way in which God reveals His wrath is through His direct and personal intervention. He is not an impersonal cosmic force that set the universe in motion to run its own course. God’s wrath is executed exactly according to His divine will.

Several Hebrew words which convey a highly personal character are used in the Old Testament to describe God’s anger. Ḥārâ is used ninety-one times. It refers to becoming heated, to burning with fury, and is frequently used of God (see, e.g., Gen. 18:30). Ḥārôn is used forty-one times. It refers exclusively to divine anger and means “a burning, fierce wrath” (see, e.g., Ex. 15:7). Qâtsaph, which means bitter, is used thirty-four times, most of which refer to God (see, e.g., Deut. 1:34). The fourth term for wrath is Ḥemâh, which also refers to a venom or poison, is frequently associated with jealousy and is used most often of God (see, e.g., 2 Kings 22:13). David declared that “God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day” (Ps. 7:11). “Indignation” translates zā˒am, which means to foam at the mouth, and is used over twenty times in the Old Testament, often of God’s wrath.

Whether the cause and effect wrath or the personal fury of God is meted out, the wrath originates in heaven.

The Extent and Nature of God’s Wrath

against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, (1:18d)

The fourth and fifth features of God’s wrath concern its extent and its nature.

God’s wrath is universal, being discharged against all who deserve it. No amount of goodwill, giving to the poor, helpfulness to others, or even service to God can exclude a person from the all Paul mentions here. As he later explains more explicitly, “both Jews and Greeks are all under sin, … all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:9, 23). Obviously, some people are morally better than others, but even the most moral and upright person falls far short of God’s standard of perfect righteousness. No one escapes.

Men’s relative goodness compared to God’s perfect standard can be illustrated by a hypothetical attempt to jump from the beach near Los Angeles to Catalina Island, a distance of some twenty-six miles. Some people could not manage to jump at all, many could jump a few feet, and a rare few could jump twenty or twenty-five feet. The longest conceivable jump, however, would cover only the smallest fraction of the distance required. The most moral person has as little chance of achieving God’s righteousness in his own power as the best athlete has of making that jump to Catalina. Everybody falls short.

The second emphasis of this phrase is on the nature of God’s wrath. It is not like the wrath of a madman who strikes out indiscriminately, not caring who is injured or killed. Nor is it like the sin-tainted anger of a person who seeks to avenge a wrong done to him. God’s wrath is reserved for and justly directed at sin. Asebia (ungodliness) and adikia (unrighteousness) are synonyms, the first stressing a faulty personal relationship to God. God is angered because sinful men are His enemies (see Rom. 5:10) and therefore “children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).

Ungodliness refers to lack of reverence for, devotion to, and worship of the true God, a failure that inevitably leads to some form of false worship. Although the details and circumstances are not revealed, Jude reports that Enoch, the righteous seventh-generation descendant of Adam, prophesied about God’s coming “to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 14–15). Four times he uses the term ungodly to describe the focus of God’s wrath upon sinful mankind.

Unrighteousness encompasses the idea of ungodliness but focuses on its result. Sin first attacks God’s majesty and then His law. Men do not act righteously because they are not rightly related to God, who is the only measure and source of righteousness. Ungodliness unavoidably leads to unrighteousness. Because men’s relation to God is wrong, their relation to their fellow men is wrong. Men treat other men the way they do because they treat God the way they do. Man’s enmity with his fellow man originates with his being at enmity with God.

Sin is the only thing God hates. He does not hate poor people or rich people, dumb people or smart people, untalented people or highly skilled people. He only hates the sin that those people, and all others, naturally practice, and sin inevitably brings His wrath.

The Cause of God’s Wrath

who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, (1:18e)

“But how is it,” we ask, “that God can hold everyone responsible for moral and spiritual failure, and be so angry when some people have so much less opportunity than others for hearing the gospel and coming to know God?” The answer is that, because of his sinful disposition, every person is naturally inclined to follow sin and resist God. This phrase could be rendered, “who are constantly attempting to suppress the truth by steadfastly holding to their sin.” Unrighteousness is so much a part of man’s nature that every person has a built-in, natural, compelling desire to suppress and oppose God’s truth.

As Paul declares in the following verse, “That which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (v. 19). His point is that all people, regardless of their relative opportunities to know God’s Word and hear His gospel, have internal, God-given evidence of His existence and nature, but are universally inclined to resist and assault that evidence. No matter how little spiritual light he may have, God guarantees that any person who sincerely seeks Him will find Him. “You will seek me and find Me” He promises, “when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).

But men are not naturally inclined to seek God. That truth was proved conclusively in the earthly ministry of Christ. Even when face-to-face with God incarnate, the Light of the world, “men loved darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed” (John 3:19–20). As David had proclaimed hundreds of years earlier, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they have committed abominable deeds; there is no one who does good” (Ps. 14:1). Sinful men oppose the idea of a holy God because they innately realize that such a God would hold them accountable for the sins they love and do not want to relinquish.

Every person, no matter how isolated from God’s written Word or the clear proclamation of His gospel, has enough divine truth evident both within and around Him (Rom. 1:19–20) to enable him to know and be reconciled to God if his desire is genuine. It is because men refuse to respond to that evidence that they are under God’s wrath and condemnation. “This is the judgment,” Jesus said, “that … men loved the darkness rather than the light” (John 3:19). Thus God is angry with the wicked every day (Psa. 7:11).[2]


1:18 Here we have the answer to the question “Why do men need the gospel?” The answer is that they are lost without it, and that the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against the wickedness of men who suppress the truth in an unrighteous manner and by their unrighteous lives. But how is God’s wrath revealed? One answer is given in the context. God gives men over to uncleanness (1:24), to vile affections (1:26), and to a reprobate mind (1:28). But it is also true that God occasionally breaks through into human history to show His extreme displeasure at man’s sin—for example, the flood (Gen. 7); the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19); and the punishment of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram (Num. 16:32).[3]


18 At the outset it is important to observe the correlation between righteousness and wrath. In parallel statements, both are represented as being “revealed” (apokalyptetai, GK 636, as in v. 17). As previously observed, full salvation in terms of divine righteousness awaits the future, being eschatological in nature; but salvation also belongs to the present and is appropriated by faith. Similarly, wrath is an even more obviously eschatological concept, yet it is viewed here as parallel to the manifestation of righteousness, belonging therefore to the present age. It is “revealed” or “being revealed” (so NIV, reflecting the progressive present tense). This means that the unfolding of history involves a disclosure of the wrath of God against sin, seen in the terrible corruption and perversion of human life. This does not mean that the price of sin is to be reckoned only in terms of the present operation of wrath, for there is a day of judgment awaiting the sinner (2:5). But the divine verdict is already in some measure anticipated in the present. “Paul regards the monstrous degradation of pagan populations, which he is about to describe (vv. 24–27 and 29–32), not as a purely natural consequence of their sin, but as a solemn intervention of God’s justice in the history of mankind, an intervention which he designates by the term paradidonai [GK 4140]—to give over” (Godet, 101).

Paul states that “the wrath of God is being revealed from heaven.” It is difficult to accept Dodd’s assertion, 47–50, that we are mistaken to conclude that God is angry. Dodd notes that Paul never uses the verb “be angry” with God as its subject. He further points out that in the Pauline corpus “the wrath of God” appears elsewhere only in Ephesians 5:6 and Colossians 3:6. Most of the time we encounter the simple “wrath” or “the wrath,” which appears intended, according to Dodd, to describe “an inevitable process of cause and effect in a moral universe.” It is precarious, however, to make much of the fact that God is not directly linked with wrath in every Pauline reference. The context usually makes it clear when the divine wrath is intended. In the passage before us, the words “from heaven” are decisive. As Gustaf Dalman (The Words of Jesus [Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1909], 219) points out, “from heaven” in the Gospels means “from God.” Furthermore, since there is a wrath to come that will inevitably involve God, there is no reason why he should not involve himself in manifesting his wrath in the present. Human objection to the idea of the wrath of God is often molded, sometimes unconsciously, by the human experience of anger as passion or desire for revenge. But this is only a human display of wrath, and one that is corrupted. God’s wrath is not to be thought of as merely or purely an emotion but primarily as his active judgment (cf. 13:4–5, where its juridical character is evident). It is “the necessary response of a perfect and holy God to violations of his will” (Douglas J. Moo, Encountering the Book of Romans [Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 2002], 56).

The object of the divine wrath is twofold—the “godlessness and wickedness” of humanity. Paul explicates the first term in vv. 19–27 and the second in vv. 28–32. “Godlessness” (asebeia, GK 813) means a lack of reverence, an impiety that arrays a person against God, not simply in terms of neglect but also of rebellion. “Wickedness” (adikia, “unrighteousness,” GK 94) means injustice, relating to the immorality that destroys human relationships. The two together point to human failure regarding the commandments of both tables of the Decalogue. As Nygren, 101, puts it, “a wrong relation to God is the ultimate cause of man’s corruption.”

They “suppress the truth by their wickedness” (v. 18). Unrighteousness has a blinding effect not only on its perpetrators but also hinders others from seeing the truth. Presumably the truth referred to here is basically the truth about God (cf. v. 25). Suppression of the truth implies knowledge of the truth, and what this involves is explained next.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (pp. 59–68). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1678). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 47–48). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 17 – Supernatural Darkness

“Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.”

Matthew 27:45

✧✧✧

The darkness over the land while Jesus bore our sin was an indicator that the cross was a place of divine judgment.

The biblical phenomenon of light was not associated with Christ’s death. Instead, as today’s verse says, “Darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour [3:00 p.m.].”

Scripture says little about that darkness. Ancient historical reports mention an unusual, worldwide darkness that seemed to coincide with the date of Christ’s death. Astronomical records indicate that the sun and moon were too far apart that day for a normal solar eclipse. Therefore, the darkness had to be caused by God’s intervention.

But you may still ask, “Why did God intervene like this when Jesus died?” Again, sources outside Scripture provide a reasonable clue. For many years the Jewish rabbis taught that a darkening of the sun meant judgment from God for an especially heinous sin. Many passages in Scripture make the link between darkness and God’s judgment. Jesus spoke several times of divine judgment in terms of “outer darkness,” where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).

In sending darkness over the whole earth for three hours, God presents us with an object lesson concerning His attitude on the day Jesus died. The darkness was God’s sign of judgment against mankind for the gross sin of rejecting and murdering His beloved Son. It is also a sign of God’s reaction to sin as a whole. Darkness is a graphic portrayal of the cross as the focal point of God’s wrath, a place of His immense judgment, where sin was poured out on His Son Jesus, our Savior. This twofold object lesson ought to be a constant, fresh reminder to us of how seriously God views sin and how vital it was that the Lord Jesus die on our behalf.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that He can use aspects of nature to illustrate spiritual truth for our finite minds. ✧ Pray that the Lord will never let you take for granted the awesome seriousness of the events at Calvary.

For Further Study: Read Exodus 10:12–29. How did the plague of darkness differ from the plague of locusts? ✧ What was Pharaoh’s ultimate response to these two plagues? ✧ How does this preview the onlookers’ reaction to seeing darkness at the cross?[1]


Supernatural Darkness

Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. (27:45)

When Jesus was born, the night sky around Bethlehem was filled with supernatural light as “the glory of the Lord shone around” the shepherds in the field (Luke 2:9). John spoke of Jesus as “the light of men” and “the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (John 1:4, 9). Jesus spoke of Himself as “the light of the world” (John 8:12; cf. 12:35–36).

But the first miraculous sign that accompanied Jesus’ death was not glorious light but dread darkness. From the sixth hour (noon), when the sun is at its zenith, supernatural darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.). Jesus’ crucifixion had begun at the third hour, or 9:00 a.m. (Mark 15:25), and when the darkness began He had been on the cross for three hours.

During those first three hours, the silence was broken by Jesus only three times. The first was by His saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34), and a short while later He said to the penitent thief beside Him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (23:43). Shortly after that He said to His mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” and to John, “Behold your mother!” (John 19:26–27).

At the beginning of the second three hours the great darkness fell upon all the land. The Greek (land) can also be translated earth, indicating the entire world. It is therefore not possible from the text to determine how widespread the darkness was. God was equally able, of course, to make the darkness local or universal. Shortly before the Exodus, He caused a great darkness to cover the land of Egypt (Ex. 10:14–15), and some forty years later He caused the sun to “stand still,” probably by temporarily stopping the rotation of the earth (Josh. 10:12–13; cf. 2 Kings 20:9–11).

Several interesting reports in extrabiblical literature suggest that the darkness at Jesus’ crucifixion was worldwide. The early church Father Origen (Against Celsus, 2.33) reported a statement by a Roman historian who mentioned such a darkness. Another church Father, Tertullian, wrote to some pagan acquaintances about an unusual darkness on that day, “which wonder is related in your own annals and preserved in your own archives to this day.” There was also a supposed report from Pilate to Emperor Tiberius that assumed the emperor’s knowledge of a certain widespread darkness, even mentioning that it was from twelve to three in the afternoon.

To describe this darkness Luke used the word ekleipō, which has the literal meaning of failing, or ceasing to exist, and is the term from which eclipse is derived. But a normal astronomical eclipse would have been impossible during the crucifixion, because the sun and moon were far apart on that day Regardless of its extent, therefore, the darkening of the sun was by the supernatural intervention of God. During that three-hour period, Luke explains, the sun was obscured (23:45).

The purpose for the darkness is not explained in the gospels or elsewhere in Scripture, but according to the Babylonian Talmud many rabbis had long taught that darkening of the sun was a judgment of God on the world for an unusually heinous sin. If, indeed, that was God’s intention at the crucifixion, He presented a gigantic object lesson to the world regarding the greatest sin ever committed by fallen mankind.

Some interpreters have suggested the darkness was a means of God’s casting a great veil over the sufferings of Christ, and others that it was an act of divine fatherly sympathy given to cover the nakedness and dishonoring of His Son.

But in light of many scriptural teachings and events, it would seem that the crucifixion darkness was indeed a mark of divine judgment. In speaking of Assyria’s being used by God to punish Israel, Isaiah spoke of “darkness and distress” that would cover the land, when “even the light is darkened by its clouds” (Isa. 5:30). In describing the day of the Lord, the same prophet declared that “the stars of heaven and their constellations will not flash forth their light” and that “the sun will be dark when it rises, and the moon will not shed its light. Thus I will punish the world for its evil,” God said, “and the wicked for their iniquity” (13:10–11).

Also speaking of the day of the Lord, the prophet Joel wrote of “a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Joel 2:2). Amos asked rhetorically, “Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light, even gloom with no brightness in it?” (Amos 5:20). Zephaniah wrote, “Listen, the day of the Lord! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, a day of trouble and distress, a day of destruction and desolation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (Zeph. 1:14–15).

In those Old Testament passages and many others the judgment of God is directly associated with darkness, and similar association is found in the New Testament. Peter declares that God cast the rebellious angels “into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment” (2 Pet. 2:4). In much the same words, Jude speaks of those angels being “kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day” (Jude 6). Jesus Himself frequently spoke of divine judgment in terms of “outer darkness,” where “there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).

The cross was a place of immense divine judgment, where the sins of the world were poured out vicariously on the sinless, perfect Son. It was therefore appropriate that great supernatural darkness express God’s reaction to sin in that act of judgment.[2]


27:45 All the sufferings and indignities which He bore at the hands of men were minor compared to what He now faced. From the sixth hour (noon) until the ninth hour (3:00 p.m.), there was darkness not only over all the land of Palestine but in His holy soul as well. It was during that time that He bore the indescribable curse of our sins. In those three hours were compressed the hell which we deserved, the wrath of God against all our transgressions. We see it only dimly; we simply cannot know what it meant for Him to satisfy all God’s righteous claims against sin. We only know that in those three hours He paid the price, settled the debt, and finished the work necessary for man’s redemption.[3]


45 The darkness that “came over all the land” from noon until 3:00 p.m. (that is what “sixth hour” and “ninth hour” refer to) was a sign of judgment and/or tragedy. The Greek here means “land” rather than “earth,” since the darkness was meant to be a sign relating both to Jesus’ death and to the Jewish people; beyond the borders of Israel, the darkness would lose this significance. Str-B (1:1040–42) gives numerous rabbinic parallels, and Johann Jakob Wettstein an array of Greek and Latin authors. But the most telling background is Amos 8:9–10, and to a lesser extent Exodus 10:21–22. Both passages portray darkness as a sign of judgment, but Amos mentions noon and the turning of religious feasts into mourning, and says, “I will make that time like mourning for an only son” (Am 8:10; see comments at 2:15). The judgment is, therefore, a judgment on the land and its people (cf. Best, Temptation and the Passion, 98–99). But it is also a judgment on Jesus, for out of this darkness comes his cry of desolation (v. 46). The cosmic blackness hints at the deep judgment that was taking place (20:28; 26:26–29; Gal 3:13).

It is futile to argue whether the darkness was caused by an eclipse of three hours (!) or by atmospheric conditions caused by a sirocco or something else, not because it did not happen, but because we do not know how it happened, any more than we know how Jesus walked on the water or multiplied the loaves. The evangelists are interested chiefly in the theological implications that rise out of the historical phenomena.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 27:45). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1309). 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. 646). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.