Daily Archives: April 18, 2017

April 18, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


Apr. 18, 2017 |


Vice President Mike Pence pressed South Korea and Japan for better trade terms even as he affirmed U.S. support for its Asian allies in dealing with North Korea.

Conservative activists and House Republican leaders want to eliminate a trillion-dollar tax break that mostly benefits wealthy filers in Democratic states, a push that could further imperil President Donald Trump’s hopes of winning bipartisan support for a tax overhaul.

French security authorities arrested two men in the southern city of Marseille for planning an attack during the presidential race, Interior Minister Matthias Fekl said.

Emirates has seen U.S. traffic slip following President Donald Trump’s efforts to ban travel from six Muslim-majority countries and restrict electronics on flights from Mideast airports.

Australia will tighten temporary skilled migration visas, scrapping the current 457 program used by almost 100,000 people, as the country’s labor market weakens and anti-immigration sentiment spreads among developed nations.

Ten minutes into his first argument as a justice, Justice Neil Gorsuch suggested that both sides in a case involving federal employees were misreading the key federal law. Gorsuch proved to be an aggressive questioner, one tightly focused on statutory wording and perhaps even willing to start what a fellow justice described as a “revolution” in a given area of law.

Oil dropped to the lowest in more than a week on signs U.S. output is rebounding, undermining OPEC’s efforts to clear a global glut.

Bank of America Corp. posted a 40 percent surge in first-quarter profit, fueled by stronger trading revenue, and added employees for the first time in more than five years as Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan expressed optimism about the U.S. economy.

AP Top Stories

Russia warned Washington against launching a unilateral strike on North Korea, after US Vice President Mike Pence said the era of “strategic patience” with Pyongyang was over.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin said the Trump administration’s timetable for tax reform is set to falter following setbacks in negotiations with Congress over healthcare. Mnuchin told the Financial Times that the target to get tax reforms through Congress and on President Donald Trump’s desk before August was “highly aggressive to not realistic at this point”.

The death toll from the collapse of a massive garbage mound near Sri Lanka’s capital rose to 26 on Sunday, and activists said 20 more people could still be buried underneath the debris.

Vice President Pence called N. Korea’s latest missile test a “provocation,” and Sen. John McCain noted even though it was a failure, the Pyongyang learns something new with every launch.

Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have now legalized medical marijuana. And eight states – including Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska – plus D.C. have passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana. West Virginia, which has passed a medical marijuana bill, is poised to legalize medical weed as early as this week. And with lawmakers in other states moving to put marijuana laws on the books, the legal weed movement is growing.

On his first trip as U.S defense secretary to parts of the Middle East and Africa, Jim Mattis will focus on the fight against Islamic State and articulating President Donald Trump’s policy toward Syria, officials and experts say.

Darknets – the often seamy counterparts of the internet that are accessible only through special programs that help to ensure privacy and anonymity – may be far more resilient to attack than the internet, a new study finds.

Violet Brown spent much of her life cutting sugarcane in the fields around her home in western Jamaica. She attended church regularly, avoids pork and chicken and celebrated her 117th birthday last month. On Saturday, she is believed to have become the world’s oldest living person following the death of Emma Morano of Italy, born Nov. 29, 1899.

Venezuela’s defense minister declared the army’s loyalty to President Nicolas Maduro, who ordered troops into the streets ahead of a major protest by opponents trying to oust him.

In a key moment for the Ukrainian crisis, the UN’s highest court will rule Wednesday on a bid by Kiev to stop Russia allegedly pumping money, arms and troops into the country’s war-torn east.


Visitors to the Russian defense ministry website can now take a “virtual tour” of a new military base in a remote region of the Arctic. Such media openness contrasts markedly with Russia’s traditional military secrecy. However, the tour does not show any new military hardware.

The top court in Arkansas has halted two executions that were due to start a series of seven in 11 days. Their lawyers had argued they were mentally unfit to face execution and were denied proper assessment. But there was a victory for the state when a federal court lifted an order that blocked all seven executions.

Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has criticized as “rude meddling” a joint communique by 11 Latin American countries calling on Venezuela’s government to “guarantee the right to peaceful protest”.


The Internal Revenue Service, the much-feared federal agency, has been ordered by a federal judge in Washington, D.C., to open its records to groups victimized by its obstruction of conservative political activist groups seeking tax-exempt status prior to the 2012 election.

A Muslim man entered a private gathering of Christians in a hotel ballroom in South Dakota, started cursing and livestreaming video on Facebook of the event and then, after he was ushered out, displayed multiple firearms and issued statements the speakers say were a direct threat to their safety.

A new Army Field Manual has been published that concedes the U.S. military dominance in cyberspace is “gradually eroding,” according to Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

The Briefing 04-18-17

Glorifying abortion, Planned Parenthood to honor Hillary Clinton with “Champion of the Century” award

Will free speech survive on America’s college campuses? Latest trial at Wellesley and Pomona colleges

Don’t all jobs matter? The importance of work and dignity in the biblical worldview

The post The Briefing 04-18-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

18 Apr 2017 – Top News

North Korea Is Refusing Communications With China.
This is an interesting development and not a good one. It seems North Korea will not accept China’s offer of a meeting. It sounds like Lil’ Kim is isolating his Country from his closest friend and supporter. China is becoming very troubled over this. I am very troubled over this, as it insinuates a turn for the worse in Kim’s mood and trust in his ally.

SPOTTED: Putin ‘moves military forces’ to North Korea border as world prepares for WAR
Russia has reportedly moved military vehicles towards the city, which is within striking distance of North Korea. The dramatic move, unconfirmed by the Russian government, was spotted by residents in the border city and posted on social media.

Earthquake ROCKS major cities across Pakistan
A HUGE earthquake struck cities across Pakistan in the early hours of Tuesday morning
Panicked residents came out of their homes and started reciting verses from the Quran, according to Dunya News, after the 5.5 magnitude quake struck just after 3am local time (22.03 GMT).

New CRISPR-based diagnostic platform unveiled
A team of scientists has adapted a CRISPR protein that targets RNA (rather than DNA) as a rapid, inexpensive, highly sensitive diagnostic tool with the potential for a transformative effect on research and global public health.

Trump to seek changes in visa program to encourage hiring Americans
Two senior Trump administration officials who briefed reporters at the White House said Trump will also use the “buy American and hire American” order to seek changes in government procurement practices to increase the purchase of American products in federal contracts. Trump is to sign the order when he visits the world headquarters of Snap-On Inc, a tool manufacturer in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The Jewish pyramid of Adullam
Archeologist Dr. Orit Peleg-Barkat of Hebrew University is studying the pyramid and describes the structure’s size as rare and monumental. “The length of the base sides of the pyramid are 10 meters and the height is about 3 meters,” said Dr. Peleg-Barkat. “The pyramid was built near a Jewish settlement from the time of the Second Temple and there is a high probability that it is a Jewish cemetery.” While ancient peoples all over the world have built pyramids, what is the connection to Jews?

Fact Checking Obama’s Phony Legacy
These are not complicated lies, and not based in nuance. The Obama administration misled the American people, and Bashar Assad’s apparent recent sarin gas attack has made this impossible to ignore. Arguably, the Post is not willingly covering Obama’s tarnished legacy. Rather, it has been backed into a corner by world events.

US-led air strikes in Syria kill at least 20 civilians
A war monitor said air strikes, thought to be by planes from a US-led military coalition, killed at least 23 people in two parts of the eastern Syrian province of Deir al-Zor on Monday. There was no immediate comment from the coalition which has said it tries to avoid civilian deaths in its bombing campaigns against Islamic State militants in Syria and neighboring Iraq.

Hamas blames Abbas for Gaza power plant shutdown
Hamas appealed to Ramallah on Monday to lift an onerous fuel tax which it said would force the Gaza power plant to shut down on Tuesday for the third day in a row. Lack of funds has left the Strip’s two million residents with only four to six hours of electricity per day, according to the Gaza Electricity Distribution Company.

North Korea ‘will test missiles weekly’, senior official tells BBC
North Korea will continue to test missiles, a senior official has told the BBC in Pyongyang, despite international condemnation and growing military tensions with the US. “We’ll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis,” Vice-Foreign Minister Han Song-ryol told the BBC’s John Sudworth. He said that an “all-out war” would result if the US took military action.

Australia to introduce stricter rules on working visas
Australia will introduce stricter visa requirements for skilled workers from overseas, the government said. The 457 visa programme is used mainly to hire foreign workers in the restaurant, IT and medical industries – the majority came from India, the UK and China. But PM Malcolm Turnbull said it will be abolished to prioritise the recruitment of Australian nationals.

May to seek snap election for 8 June
UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to call a snap general election on 8 June. She said Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum. Explaining the decision, Mrs May said: “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.” There will be a Commons vote on the proposed election on Wednesday – she will need Parliament’s backing to hold a vote before 2020.

US Deploys Two More Aircraft Carriers Toward Korean Peninsula
According to a report by South Korea’s primary news outlet, Yonhap, the Pentagon has directed a total of three US aircraft carriers toward the Korean Peninsula, citing a South Korean government source. Yonhap reports that in addition to the CVN-70 Carl Vinson…the CVN-76 Ronald Reagan…and the CVN-68 Nimitz carrier group…will enter the Sea of Japan next week. According to the senior government official. the US and South Korea are discussing joint drills, which will include the three aircraft carriers and other ships.

Former FEC Chairwoman Calls for ‘Regulations’ of Political Speech on the Internet
The former Federal Election Commission chairwoman Ann M. Ravel says that political speech must be controlled on social media. She presented her remarks in a speech at UC Berkeley, calling for regulations against “fake news.” Speaking at an event called “Future of Democracy,” Ravel argued the proliferation of “fake news” and political advertising on platforms like Facebook influenced elections. She warned that the lack of disclosure by the creators of these campaigns was becoming a huge problem.

Pence reassures Japan of U.S. resolve on North Korea, to work with China
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence reassured Japan of American commitment to reining in North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions on Tuesday, after warning that U.S. strikes in Syria and Afghanistan showed the strength of its resolve. Pence arrived in Tokyo from South Korea, where he assured leaders of an “iron-clad” alliance with the United States in the face of the reclusive North, which has conducted a series of missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions.

Trump to seek changes in visa program to encourage hiring Americans
U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday will sign an executive order directing federal agencies to recommend changes to a temporary visa program used to bring foreign workers to the United States to fill high-skilled jobs. Two senior Trump administration officials who briefed reporters at the White House said Trump will also use the “buy American and hire American” order to seek changes in government procurement practices to increase the purchase of American products in federal contracts.

Stockman: The Trump Reflation Fantasy Ends On Day 100
“In honor of the Donald’s “Mother of All Bomb” (MOAB) attack on the Hindu Kush mountains Thursday, let me introduce MOAD. I’m referring to the “Mother of All Debt” crises, of course… The opening round is coming when Washington goes into shutdown mode on April 28, which happens to be Day 100 of the Donald’s reign.”

North Korea will carry out ‘more missile tests’ on a weekly basis official tells BBC
A senior North Korean official has stated that his country will continue to test missiles in spite of worldwide condemnation. “We’ll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis,” Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-Ryol told the BBC’s John Sudworth in Pyongyang.

Hawaii Lawmakers Push To Re-Open Fallout Shelters Amid Nuclear War Fears
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 reach the islands.

Despite What They Say, GM’s Inventory Build Is Anything But ‘Normal’
GM says its inventory glut isn’t a sign of the auto industry’s impending implosion but rather a modest build up ahead of planned factory shut downs and retooling efforts later this summer…these facts would seem to paint a slightly different picture.

North Korea accuses US of creating situation for nuclear war
North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador accused the United States on Monday of turning the Korean Peninsula into “the world’s biggest hotspot” and creating “a dangerous situation in which a thermonuclear war may break out at any moment.”

Mary Poppins star Dick Van Dyke slams modern screen violence
Dick Van Dyke, who is currently filming Mary Poppins Returns, which is scheduled for release next year, has warned of his fears over the effects of “scary” video games and films on young children.

Remember the Housing Bubble of 2008? Meet the Car Loan Bubble of 2017

04-17-2017 • https://www.lewrockwell.com

After nearly a decade of being able to borrow money for next to nothing, interest rates are finally beginning to creep higher. Even the relatively small increases seen so far have caused problems in the previously booming automobile industry. The size of the auto loan market has ballooned to a historic 1.1 trillion dollars, and subprime lending has once again become the norm. Teaser offers that allow people to get cars with zero money down and 84-month financing have fueled a wave of irresponsible spending. Americans’ tendency to associate success with having nice things has driven many people who can’t afford to buy a house to get the next best thing — a brand new car.

car loan bubbleCredit: WolfStreet.com

The data released so far in 2017, however, has started to raise questions about how much longer these spending habits can last. There has been a significant drop in new car sales and a sharp increase in the delinquency rates of subprime borrowers. Inventories across the country have started to build up, and if things don’t turn around soon, the excess cars sitting on lots will eventually force prices lower. According to analysts at Morgan Stanley, price declines will also impact the used car market, and some predictions are calling for up to a  50% decline by 2021.

April 18, 2017
WES VERNON — President Trump has let it be known that he’s willing to sit down and talk coalition-speak with some Democrats on the Hill – – presumably some “reasonable” ones…. (more)

April 18, 2017
ALAN KEYES — During the past week or so, President Trump repeatedly set himself at odds with candidate Trump, frankly acknowledging that his campaign rhetoric was out of touch with reality. In every instance, the reversal brought him more into line with the Democrat/RINO left-leaning political culture he made a “huge” show of adamantly opposing during his run for the presidency…. (more)

April 17, 2017
A special report from the Accuracy in Media Center for Investigative Journalism
CLIFF KINCAID — The British Guardian posted a report on April 13 claiming that its sources now admit that the British spy agency GCHQ was digitally wiretapping Trump associates, going back to late 2015. This was presumably when the December 2015 Moscow meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lt. General Michael Flynn took place…. (more)

April 17, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump has been sucked into the abyss of the Washington “establishment” since his inauguration, prominent Republicans and Democrats charged Sunday morning, and whether that’s a positive development depends entirely on one’s political point of view…. (more)

April 17, 2017
NEWSMAX — U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday visited a military base near the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea a day after the North conducted a failed missile launch…. (more)

April 17, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Carter Page, the Trump campaign’s onetime volunteer adviser on Russia, views with amazement how much a Democratic opposition research dossier has been increasingly embraced by the liberal power structure in Washington…. (more)

April 17, 2017
BYRON YORK — By all accounts, Jared Kushner, the husband of President Trump’s favorite daughter, has become an extraordinarily powerful man in the White House. To formally appoint Kushner a senior adviser, with a top security clearance, the president sought and received a Justice Department opinion declaring the White House exempt from federal anti-nepotism laws…. (more)

April 17, 2017

NEWSMAX — United Airlines is changing a company policy and will no longer allow crew members to displace customers already onboard an airplane. The change comes after a passenger, Dr. David Dao, was dragged from a fully-booked United Express flight in Chicago because he refused to give up his seat to make room for crew members…. (more)

April 16, 2017
ALAN KEYES — Happy Easter. Christ is Risen! Alleluia! This Holy Week, I am brought in mind of my Easter reflection from a few years ago, in which I cited a prominent religious spokesman:… (more)

April 16, 2017
CHERYL CHUMLEY — Atheists and progressives will tell you America is a secular nation, built on secular principles, and that it’s the job of the rising generations to make sure politics and religion never do meet. They’re wrong. They say that because they don’t want to submit to a higher authority. But just because the Founding Fathers didn’t want the government to establish a church – – didn’t want the country to become guided by the same type of zealotry that steers nations of Islam, for instance – – doesn’t mean they wanted God separated from governance…. (more)

April 16, 2017
NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump delivered his weekly address Friday, noting the celebrations of Passover and Easter. “America is a nation of believers,” he said. “As families gather in houses of worship across the nation, we are grateful for the tremendous blessings of this nation, our home. We have a beautiful country, an abundant countryside, and an amazing people with a truly bright and wonderful future.”… (more)

April 16, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — As millions of Americans prepare to attend church Easter morning to celebrate Christ’s resurrection and their children are busy counting the treasure left them by the Easter Bunny, it might occur to a few folks to wonder how the most important event in the Bible ever got hooked up with an egg-pushing rabbit…. (more)

April 16, 2017

NEW YORK TIMES — North Korea launched a ballistic missile Sunday morning from near its submarine base in Sinpo on its east coast, but the launch was the latest in a series of failures just after liftoff, according to American and South Korean military officials…. (more)

April 16, 2017
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” Ronald Reagan famously described these as “the nine most terrifying words in the English language.” It may be time to propose a two-word corollary. “Trust us.”… (more)

April 16, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — 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…. (more)

April 15, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — The Epoch Times newspaper is currently running an editorial series called “The Dead End of Communism” that includes a detailed discussion of the diabolical, even Satanic, roots of Karl Marx, the father of communism. Looking at his writings in detail, the authors document how his goal was “to enact a sort of vengeance against heaven.” Contrary to his “progressive” profile, Marx hated humanity and life on earth. His appeal was that he promised a heaven on earth. But it turned out to be hell for those living under it…. (more)

April 15, 2017

NEWSMAX — North Korean leader Kim Jong-un would “willingly” take his poverty-stricken nation to the “brink of war” with the United States – – though he knows he can’t win – – because it’d be an “unimaginable humiliation” to back down, according to a British analyst…. (more)

April 15, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Abandoning his tough talk on China and reversing himself on several other campaign themes, President Trump’s 12th week in office could go down as the moment he showed himself to be another establishment Republican, not the unconventional crockery-smashing raging bull he played on the stump…. (more)

April 15, 2017
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER — The world is agog at Donald Trump’s head-snapping foreign-policy reversal. He runs on a platform of America First. He renounces the role of world policeman. He excoriates parasitic foreigners that (I paraphrase) suck dry our precious bodily fluids – – and these are allies! On April 4, Trump declared: “I don’t want to be the president of the world. I’m the president of the United States. And from now on, it’s going to be America First.”… (more)

April 15, 2017

WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Conservatives were perplexed to learn this week that President Trump had suddenly signaled his support for the Export-Import Bank, an obscure government agency that free-market groups have long cast as Exhibit A for corporate welfare and that candidate Trump had once targeted for extinction…. (more)

April 15, 2017
BOB UNRUH — The powerful public interest legal firm American Center for Law and Justice is declaring war on the “deep state,” comprised of entrenched bureaucrats who apparently are using their position and power to try to undermine the president…. (more)

April 15, 2017
GARTH KANT — A government watchdog group is turning the tables on two key Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee who appear to be trying to block a probe into whether the Obama administration spied on the Trump team…. (more)

April 15, 2017
LEO HOHMANN — A Detroit physician was arrested earlier this week for performing the grisly practice of female genital mutilation on young girls in a first-of-its-kind case prosecuted in America. Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, a Muslim physician and native of western India, performed the procedure, described as “barbaric” by U.S. Justice Department prosecutors, on girls ages 6 to 8…. (more)

April 15, 2017
NATIONAL REVIEW — Abortion advocates around the world and particularly in the United States are increasingly abandoning their professed political and moral adherence to “choice,” and instead adopting an agenda of coercion. Nowhere is this dangerous and calculated shift more evident than in their utter disdain for the freedom and fundamental rights of citizens who disagree with them…. (more)

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


APR. 18, 2017

Income Redistribution Day

Tax returns are due today, reminding all Americans once again of the need for comprehensive tax reform.


“Excessive taxation … will carry reason and reflection to every man’s door, and particularly in the hour of election.” —Thomas Jefferson (1798)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 18

  • Britain’s May seeks snap election to boost Brexit hand (Read More)
  • Trump to seek changes in visa program to encourage hiring Americans (Read More)
  • Trump appointee Gorsuch energetic in first U.S. high court arguments (Read More)
  • Pence Reaffirms U.S.-Japan Alliance Amid North Korea Provocations (Read More)
  • Blackwater Founder Erik Prince Said to Have Advised Trump Team (Read More)
  • Young White America Is Haunted by a Crisis of Despair (Read More)
  • Oil Prices Fall on Saudi Minister’s View of Output Deal (Read More)
  • Facebook Gives Staff Green Light to Protest Trump on May 1 (Read More)
  • In Afghanistan, Battle With Islamic State Grinds On (Read More)
  • Democrats aim to ‘make Trump furious’ in Georgia election (Read More)
  • Opponents seek to annul Turkish vote as Erdogan’s new powers become reality (Read More)
  • Theranos Agrees to Two-Year Ban From Blood Testing (Read More)
  • Facebook murder suspect remains at large as police ask public for help (Read More)
  • Crude Oil Likely to Surge by $10, Citi Says (Read More)
  • Banned at sea: Venezuela’s crude-stained oil tankers (Read More)
  • How to Top the iPhone? For Foxconn, It’s With TVs (Read More)
  • GOP Goes After Trillion-Dollar Democratic State Tax Deduction (Read More)
  • Post Holdings Buys Weetabix in $1.76 Billion Deal (Read More)
  • Profits Parked in the Caribbean Jam U.S. Economic Data (Read More)
  • Arkansas Supreme Court Halts Two Executions Set for Monday Night (Read More)
  • Two held in France planned ‘violent’ attack ahead of elections (Read More)
  • Eleven Celebrities on How They Spend Their Money (Read More)

Top Headlines – 4/18/2017

US defense chief to visit Israel, Saudi Arabia to talk war aims

Abbas: ‘World must intervene to save lives of hunger strikers’

Hamas operative killed in tunnel collapse, Israel on guard

China urges correcting ‘historical injustice’ to allow Palestinian state

Russia says plans a meeting with U.S. and U.N. on Syria in Geneva: agencies

Assad said to be holding Syrian boy in heart-breaking photo under house arrest

Venezuela illegally issued 10,000 passports to Syrians, Iranians, report says

Thousands of migrants rescued in 3 days in Mediterranean

Turkey’s Erdogan declares referendum victory, opponents plan challenge

Turkish Referendum Was on ‘Unlevel Playing Field,’ Critics Say

Erdogan slams criticism of disputed Turkey poll

Turkey says Trump called Erdogan to congratulate on referendum win

Outcome of Turkey vote likely to further cool EU relations

European leaders say vote shows ‘deeply divided’ Turkey

Erdogan’s referendum victory spells the end of Turkey as we know it

Turkey cabinet agrees to extend emergency after referendum

Battling Turkish intimidation, Armenian genocide epic set for big screen

Iran says it will seek ‘no one’s permission’ to build up military

Photos of Iran’s new Qaher F-313 fighter jet prototype emerges

How North Korea’s Existence Depends on China’s Economic Support

US, North Korea tensions put China in a difficult position as peacemaker

Gen. Keane: China Has Taboo Option to Assassinate Kim Jong-un

North Korea ‘will test missiles weekly’, senior official tells BBC

North Korea: ‘Thermonuclear war may break out at any minute’

North Korea accuses US of creating situation for nuclear war

North Korean commandos ready to kidnap Americans, says defector

Pence: US era of strategic patience with North Korea over

White House warns North Korea not to test U.S. resolve, offering Syria and Afghanistan strikes as examples

Pence Talks Tough on North Korea, but US Stops Short of Drawing Red Line

Pentagon announces review of nuclear posture amid North Korea tensions

US Deploys Two More Aircraft Carriers Toward Korean Peninsula: Yonhap

China and Russia dispatch ships to shadow Donald Trump’s ‘armada’ as it approaches North Korean waters

Russia says hopes USA will not act unilaterally against North Korea

Putin calls for more investment given rouble fluctuations

Venezuela’s Maduro seeks to expand armed civilian militias

California judge questions Trump’s sanctuary city order

‘I will protect you from savage globalization!’ Le Pen tells voters ahead of presidential election

It’s France’s Turn to Worry About Election Meddling by Russia

Democrats throw millions, Hollywood punch into Georgia House race

Republicans dismiss ‘liberal activists’ behind angry town hall protests

President calls leading Democratic candidate for Georgia congressional seat ‘super Liberal’

Rumors about whereabouts of Facebook shooting suspect circulate online

10 serious crimes that were published on Facebook

Drones smuggling porn, drugs to inmates around the world

Fears Google Hire could allow employers to see your entire search history

If you think Atlanta traffic is terrible, it just got a whole heck of a lot worse – A section of another interstate buckled due to an underground gas leak

Get ready to watch the first-ever 360-degree livestream of a rocket launch

Asteroid to Fly Safely Past Earth on April 19

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Calama, Chile

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Hihifo, Tonga

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Jarm, Afghanistan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Ozernovskiy, Russia

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 26,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Turriabla volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 13,000ft

No relief in sight as heat wave continues to build across northern India

A new crack in one of Greenland’s largest glaciers has scientists’ attention

More Americans suffering from stress, anxiety and depression, study finds

Wearable sweat sensor could help diagnose disease

How Texas is beating the Supreme Court on abortion

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

An Atlanta Theater Faces Criticism for Gay Versions of Bible Stories

Supreme Court, including Gorsuch, to hear church-state case

Video – Interview with apologist Jackie Alnor as she relates the story of Hank Hanegraaff ‘s takeover of the Christian Research Institute

Worship or Worshiptainment?

Dear Christian Mason – A Resource for Addressing Masonry in Your Local Church

What is the historical evidence that Jesus Christ lived and died?

TBN Pulls Plug on “Shack” Author’s New Book—Sort of . . .

Book Exposes IRS 501c3 Church Scam

Alex Jones’ lawyer says right-wing conspiracy theorist’s bluster is all just an act

An Atlanta Theater Faces Criticism for Gay Versions of Bible Stories

Demon Possessed Hindus Storm Church With Police Help And Attack Christians During Services

Today on ChristianHeadlines

 ‘Dancing with the Stars’ Has Featured Worship Songs in Recent Season
‘Dancing with the Stars’ Has Featured Worship Songs in Recent Season
by Veronica Neffinger
The current season of popular show Dancing With the Stars has featured multiple worship songs to which contestants danced.
Australia: Christians Experiencing Increased Attacks from Muslim Extremists
Australia: Christians Experiencing Increased Attacks from Muslim Extremists
by Veronica Neffinger
Christians in Australia are facing increased persecution and are especially being targeted by Muslim gangs.






Supreme Court Readies for Religious Liberty Showdown
Supreme Court Readies for Religious Liberty Showdown
by Evan Wilt
Oral arguments fast approaching for a prominent church-state funding case.



The Sky is This Summer’s Biggest Attraction
by Sandy Barwick
Hotels are already filling up in the path of a late August, coast-to-coast solar eclipse.
Have Octopuses Outsmarted Darwin?
by Julie Borg
Discovery of invertebrates’ RNA editing ‘demolishes’ evolutionary theory.

Featured Blogs

Heavily Armed Man Gives Chilling Warning To Church Members In South Dakota

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 07:09 AM PDT

An alleged Muslim man entered a private gathering of Christians in a hotel ballroom in South Dakota, started cursing and live streaming video on Facebook…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why Millennials Aren’t Going to Church, and It’s Not Because They Hate Jesus

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:58 AM PDT

Millennials are leaving church at record numbers and they are described as America’s least religious generation. But while they may be highly skeptical of religion,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pastor Unsure If Wife’s Miscarried Baby Is in Heaven, Claims Bible Is Silent

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:52 AM PDT

Pastor Mark Driscoll has said he’s not sure if babies and young children who’ve died are in Heaven, including his own child. Driscoll, pastor of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Isolated People Group Reacts to Hearing About Jesus for the First Time!

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:34 AM PDT

In a world in which technology and communication methods are ever-changing and evolving, there’s a fascinating story about a decades-old film that continues to change lives around…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Children of Goodwin Sr. Give Stunning Testimony During Anderson Cooper Interview

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:30 AM PDT

Beloved father and grandfather Robert Godwin Sr. was senselessly murdered over the Easter weekend after a deranged man, who would later broadcast his actions to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

117 Year Old Baptist Credits God’s Word for Long Life

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:26 AM PDT

Violet Mosses Brown, a church-loving Baptist from Duanvale in Trelawny, Jamaica, became the world’s new oldest person on Saturday and is likely the oldest living Christian…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Will Your Child’s School Silently Promote the LGBT Agenda This Friday?

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:20 AM PDT

(Reported By Larry Tomczak) “And do not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; instead, expose them. For it is shameful even to speak…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

ISIS looking to form an alliance with Al-Qaeda!

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:16 AM PDT

The leader of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is in talks with Al-Qaeda about a possible alliance, Iraq’s Vice President Ayad Allawi said, citing information…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Accused of failing to take precautions to avoid civilian casualties in Syria mosque airstrike

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:13 AM PDT

US authorities failed to take all feasible precautions to avoid civilian casualties in a recent attack on a Syrian mosque, a report from Human Rights…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

One of the Devil’s Favorite Lies to Lull Weary Christians Back to Sleep

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:08 AM PDT

(By Shane Idleman) A parable is a simple story conveying a moral or spiritual lesson. We often don’t like direct confrontation; thus, God uses parables…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mind-reading machine turns thoughts into words…

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:05 AM PDT

A device that can read people’s minds by detecting their brainwaves has been developed in a breakthrough that could eventually enable people with “locked-in syndrome”…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US missile system en route to Korean peninsula

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:02 AM PDT

As the White House works to “maximize pressure” on North Korea, one of the ways it is hoping to turn up the heat is by…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

NATO military drills gather hundreds of troops in Latvia

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 06:00 AM PDT

More than 1,200 troops from 12 countries, including the US and Sweden, are taking part in Latvia’s two-week NATO military drills, dubbed Summer Shield. The…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Could This Be the Biggest Prophetic Sign of the End Times?

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 05:41 AM PDT

What is the No. 1 prophetic sign? What sign, more than any other, points to the soon return of Jesus Christ? While any number of signs…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

More Americans than ever stressed, depressed and anxiety-ridden…

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 07:43 PM PDT

More Americans than ever before are stressed, depressed and anxiety-ridden, and many are unable to get the help they need, a new study suggests. An…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Police announce $50,000 reward for arrest of Facebook killer

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 07:29 PM PDT

Cleveland police announced a $50,000 reward has been posted by Crimestoppers Monday for information leading to the capture of the man suspected of killing a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

End Time Headlines’ Pinterest Account Suspended For Violation of “Offensive Content”

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 07:14 PM PDT

Today I received not one, but fifteen emails today from Pinterest, that were all sent out simultaneously at the same time regarding our Ministry Account…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Royal Navy ‘detects’ & ‘marks’ Russian warships in English Channel

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 06:31 PM PDT

British Type 23 frigate HMS Sutherland “located” and escorted two Russian corvettes, ‘Soobrazitelny’ and ‘Boiky’, while the vessels were passing through English Channel during a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pentagon announces review of nuclear posture amid North Korea tensions

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 04:43 PM PDT

The Pentagon announced Monday it will begin a new review of its nuclear posture at the direction of President Trump, amid rising tensions on the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Are We Living in Matthew 24 Today?

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 01:14 PM PDT

With the threat of North Korean missiles, the detonation of the mother of all bombs and Syria ever in flux, many believers are beginning to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Government Approves Gay-Lifestyle Drug

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 01:10 PM PDT

Scotland has become the first part of the UK to approve a controversial gay lifestyle drug. This week, the Scottish Medicines Consortium approved the routine…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Russia reportedly moving weapons towards North Korean border

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 12:58 PM PDT

Russia has reportedly moved weapons towards Vladivostok, just eight miles from the border with North Korea. The city is within striking distance of Kim Jong-un’s…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Army Called to Streets of Venezuela To Brace For “Mother of all Protests”!

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 12:41 PM PDT

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has ordered the army into the streets as the volatile country braces for what his opponents vow will be the “mother…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

British PM Defends Right to Speak About ‘Faith in Christ’ in midst of Persecution

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 12:33 PM PDT

British Prime Minister Theresa May is praising the role of Christianity and defending the right of people to speak about their faith, even as British…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAY OF LOT: Atlanta Theater Under Fire For Gay Versions of Bible Stories

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 12:26 PM PDT

What if it really was Adam and Steve? That’s what the Out Front Theater Company in Atlanta, which stages shows created only by people who…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mysterious boom and shaking as bright fireball explodes over Australia

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 12:19 PM PDT

A bright fireball exploded in the sunset sky over Queensland, Australia around 18:00 local time (08:00 UTC) on April 16, 2017. The disintegration was accompanied…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WAR DRUMS: Russia warns US against ‘Syria-style’ actions in North Korea

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 12:08 PM PDT

Mike Pence’s statement on the US running out of “strategic patience” towards Pyongyang does not contribute to resolving the crisis, Sergey Lavrov said, voicing hopes…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WAR DRUMS: US Deploying More Aircraft Carriers Toward Korean Peninsula…

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 11:55 AM PDT

A US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is expected to enter the eastern seaboard on June 25 to curb large-scale provocations by North Korea. When he arrives…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

4 Powerful Truths Connected to the Resurrection of Christ

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 11:50 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will show you four powerful truths connected to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This message will not only…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: North Korea warns ‘nuclear war could break out at any moment’

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 11:46 AM PDT

North Korea has warned “nuclear war could break out at any moment” as the country vowed to test missiles WEEKLY. The country’s foreign minister threatened…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Vows To Launch Missiles Weekly!

Posted: 17 Apr 2017 11:41 AM PDT

North Korea will continue to test missiles, a senior official has told the BBC in Pyongyang, despite international condemnation and growing military tensions with the…

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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:


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!


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.”


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).


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.


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.


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.”


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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CultureWatch: The Global Persecution of Christians

There is no other group on the planet subject to so much persecution, suffering and death as Christians. Primarily at the hands of Islam, Christianity is the most abused and persecuted group today, and it seems to be getting worse as we speak.

Daily we see graphic reminders of the war on Christianity, with believers being killed around the world at alarming rates. One organisation working on behalf of the persecuted church, Open Doors, lays out the facts and figures this way:

Each month:
-322 Christians are killed for their faith
-214 churches and Christian properties are destroyed
-772 forms of violence are committed against Christians (such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages)

persecution 24One write-up on this topic also makes for scary reading:

In many parts of the world, Christians gathering to celebrate Christ’s resurrection do so with the knowledge that any day their faith could cost them their lives as it has for thousands of their brothers and sisters….
During the last calendar year, some 90,000 Christians were killed for their faith across the globe, making Christians by far the most persecuted group in the world, according to a study from the Turin-based Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR).
The director of CESNUR, Dr. Massimo Introvigne, told Breitbart News that whereas atheistic communist regimes were the greatest persecutors of Christians in the last century, “Islamic ultra-fundamentalism” has taken its place as the number-one agent of persecution.
The Center’s findings corroborate those of other scholars and human rights groups. According to the 2016 “World Watch List,” for example, published by the Open Doors organization, nine out of the top ten countries where Christians suffer “extreme persecution” had populations that are at least 50 percent Muslim.
Their 2016 report revealed that “Islamic extremism is by far the most significant persecution engine” of Christians in the world today and that “40 of the 50 countries on the World Watch List are affected by this kind of persecution.”
During the year, nearly one-third of the Christians killed for their faith were executed at the hands of Islamic extremists such as the Islamic State or Boko Haram.
While tens of thousands of Christians are killed for their faith, Introvigne said, they are just the tip of the iceberg and much persecution takes place on a daily basis that never makes news. Along with the enormous number of deaths, a great many more Christians—as many as 600 million—were prevented from practicing their faith in 2016.

As you know Coptic Christians in Egypt have especially been targeted of late. Coptic believers in the UK are certainly worried about all this. As one news report states:

Amir Michaeel is a Coptic Christian and like many others he struggles to understand why his faith is such a target overseas. ‘In a way it can be like, because we are not retaliating, we are a weaker target and we are easy prey,’ he said. ‘But at the same time I feel like there is something profoundly difficult about attacking someone who is not retaliating. For someone to turn the other cheek and for you to feel okay to hit them, I feel like it would take something quite inhumane to do something like that.’
There is a general perception that the media, and the West, has in recent years largely ignored attacks on Christians in some parts of the world. Tim Stanley, journalist for the Daily Telegraph, has written on the subject and told Sky News that people are too afraid to call it ‘a war’.
He said: ‘Some Western governments are legitimately worried about appearing to validate the narrative of the Islamists that this is about Islam versus Christianity, so they don’t want to talk about the persecution of Christians and I get that. The problem is that’s exactly what is actually happening. Moreover, I fear that some of that is political correctness.’

Yes, Western nations should be at the forefront of standing up for these persecuted believers. Yet in the West our leaders too often seem far more worried about Muslims having their feelings hurt. We have managed to side against the persecuted while siding with the persecutors.

Thankfully there are some notable exceptions here. Let me single out just one: Coalition frontbencher Michael Sukkar, the Federal member for Deakin. Late last year he released a ‘Grievance Motion on the Global Persecution of Christians’. He said in part:

I rise this evening to speak about a matter of great importance to me and many people in the Australian community and, I hope and believe, to many people throughout our world: that is, the persecution of Christians around the world. We hear much in the media commentariat and elsewhere about the persecution of various groups globally. Often this is warranted, and it is important to recognise that our efforts as Australians and as part of the Western world to fight against these injustices are often informed by the Judaeo-Christian values that underpin the values of our country and our civilisation more broadly.
Yet in our world today, the undeniable reality is that it is those of a Christian faith who are the most persecuted people in the world. This persecution can often be at the hands intolerant majorities of other faiths or militant groups, but it is more often than not state sponsored persecution against Christians that is becoming increasingly widespread. Of even greater concern is that this state sponsored persecution often comes at the hands of governments who receive foreign aid from Australia as well as other Western nominally Christian countries.
One shocking recent example is that of Asia Bibi, a mother of five in Pakistan who has essentially been sentenced to death for the crime of being Christian in a Muslim majority country after a recent sentence hearing on a charge of blasphemy. You may ask: What was her crime? She was alleged to have told colleagues that Jesus would have taken a different viewpoint to Mohammed when she was asked not to drink from the same water supply as the Muslim residents in her village. They believed that she would foul the water supply with her unclean Christian hands. After Asia Bibi allegedly said that Jesus would take a different view, a Muslim replied: ‘How dare you question the prophet, you dirty animal.’ Three other women joined in shouting, ‘It’s true, you’re nothing but a dirty Christian.’
This is sadly just another example of the ongoing persecution and terror that Christians face in Pakistan. Christian women and girls are regularly abducted in Pakistan; some are killed, others are forced to convert and marry; and many never heard from again. This is all occurring at a time when Pakistan is a huge beneficiary of foreign aid funding from a number of Western nations. From Australia alone, Pakistan will receive more than $55 million in aid this year. Other places such as the United States and the United Kingdom give at even higher levels. Clearly, it is a grave concern that Australian taxpayer dollars would go to a country and government that carries out such egregious human rights abuses directed at a particular minority—in this case, Pakistani Christians.
If Pakistani does carry out the execution or refuses to release Bibi, Australia should cut all aid and consider further sanctions, including sporting bans which would necessarily affect the Pakistan cricket team. This would send a strong message to the world that Australia will always stand up for persecuted minorities, not least the Christian communities that the world seems to have turned its back on.

And just a few weeks ago he called on Australia to officially recognise as genocide the Islamic State massacre of Christians in Iraq and Syria. As one news report states:

Mr Sukkar will call for a Coalition-sponsored motion to be put before parliament when it returns in May. The bid to build consensus on the issue comes after Foreign Minister Julie Bishop was approached last year by an ISIS survivor for the government to adopt a genocide declaration against the terrorist group.
Labor’s Treasury spokesman, Chris Bowen, last year put a motion to parliament to recognise the ethnic and religious “cleansing” of Christians by ISIS but it was never put to debate. Mr Sukkar, a Lebanese Christian and MP for Deakin, has now called for the government to put its own motion to the house, following the Scottish parliament’s recognition last week of the mass killings as “genocide”.
“The persecution and attempted genocide of Christians and other minorities in the Middle East has been occurring for centuries,” Mr Sukkar told The Australian. “It has now reached its zenith with the bloodthirsty and barbaric Daesh (ISIS) attempting to wipe all Christians and Yazidis from the Middle East. Sadly, the silence has been deafening from large parts of the Western media and political class to these atrocities.”

Please get involved

There are many things concerned citizens can do about this. If you are a Christian, prayer is vital of course. Letting our leaders know about this and urging them to action is also crucial, and supporting MPs like Sukkar is certainly very important. Another course of action is a new petition being circulated by CitizenGo. Their initiative reads as follows:

Last Sunday two deadly attacks rocked Egypt in two different cities, killing at least 45 Christians. Daesh (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attacks in what has become an everyday occurrence for thousands of Christians worldwide.
Since December, the attacks by ISIS in Egypt have increased and Christians have been killed in their homes, businesses and places of worship. According to experts, the destabilisation of Egypt has become a new target for ISIS.
Speaking in Australia following the attacks, Federal Liberal MP Michael Sukkar told Sky news: “There needs to be a political awakening and movement for people who want to practice their faith in peace.”
He called for the Australian parliament to declare the atrocities committed against Christians around the world as ‘genocide’ and accused the Islamic State radicals of waging a war on Christianity.
Please sign this petition now to support this call to the Australian government:

Signing and sharing this petition is the least we can do for our persecuted brothers and sisters. Please do so now.


[1710 words]

The post The Global Persecution of Christians appeared first on CultureWatch.

April 18, 2017: Verse of the day


Though its effects on earth were delayed (as with the seventh seal; 8:2–5), there was an immediate response in heaven when the seventh angel sounded his trumpet. Expressing exhilaration at what was about to take place, there came loud voices in heaven saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ; and He will reign forever and ever.” That dramatic proclamation is obviously connected to the effects of the seventh trumpet. There is unrestrained joy that the power of Satan is to be forever broken, and Jesus Christ is to reign supreme as King of kings and Lord of lords. With the defeat of the usurper, the question of sovereignty over the world will be forever settled. What Jesus refused to take on Satan’s terms (cf. Luke 4:5–8) He will take on His own terms. Heaven rejoices that the long rebellion of the world against God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ is about to end. The setting up of Christ’s long-awaited kingdom is the apex of redemptive history.

The use of the singular term kingdom of the world instead of the plural “kingdoms” introduces an important truth. All of the world’s diverse national, political, social, cultural, linguistic, and religious groups are in reality one kingdom under one king. That king is known in Scripture by many names and titles, including the accuser (Rev. 12:10), the adversary (1 Pet. 5:8), Beelzebul (Matt. 12:24), Belial (2 Cor. 6:15), the dragon (Rev. 12:3, 7, 9), the “evil one” (John 17:15), the god of this world (2 Cor. 4:4), the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), the roaring lion (1 Pet. 5:8), the ruler of the demons (Mark 3:22), the ruler of this world (John 12:31), the serpent of old (Rev. 12:9; 20:2), the tempter (1 Thess. 3:5), and, most commonly, the devil (Matt. 4:1) and Satan (1 Tim. 5:15). Though God scattered this kingdom at the tower of Babel (Gen. 11:1–9), Satan still rules over the pieces of the once united kingdom. While God ordains human governments for the well-being of man (Rom. 13:1), those same governments refuse to submit to Him or acknowledge His sovereignty (cf. Acts 4:26). They are essentially part of Satan’s kingdom.

Jesus affirmed that Satan, though a usurper and not the rightful king, is the present ruler of the world. In response to those who blasphemously accused Him of being in league with Satan, Jesus asked rhetorically, “If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?” (Matt. 12:26). Three times in John’s gospel Jesus called Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). As he did at Babel, Satan will rule in the future over a united fallen mankind in one visible kingdom under Antichrist’s (the Beast of 13:1–4) leadership.

Satan will not relinquish his kingdom without a struggle. In a desperate and doomed effort to maintain control of the world, God will allow him to overrun it with hordes of demons during the fifth and sixth trumpet judgments (9:1–19). But his efforts will not keep the true King from returning and establishing His earthly kingdom (cf. 19:11–21; 20:1–3, 10). Jesus Christ will return to sit on the throne of His father David (2 Sam. 7:12–16) and take over the whole world from the satanically controlled people who now possess it. This is really the theme of Revelation —the triumph of God over Satan as evil is purged from the world and Christ becomes its holy ruler.

The tense of the verb translated has become is what Greek grammarians refer to as a proleptic aorist. It describes a future event that is so certain that it can be spoken of as if it has already taken place. The perspective of the verb tense looks to a point after the action of the seventh trumpet will have run its course. Though this event is future from the point of chronological progress reached in the series, it is so certain that the verb form used views it as an already accomplished fact (cf. Luke 19:9). The timeless heaven rejoices as if the long-anticipated day when Christ will establish His kingdom had already arrived, although some time on earth must elapse before that actually happens. The phrase the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ emphasizes two realities. Kurios (Lord) usually refers to Jesus throughout the New Testament, while in Revelation it more often refers to God the Father, thus emphasizing their equality of nature. This phrase also describes the kingdom in its broadest sense, looking forward to divine rule over the creation and the new creation. No differentiation is made between the earthly millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom, as, for example, Paul does in 1 Corinthians 15:24–28. At the end of the thousand years, the millennial kingdom will merge with the eternal kingdom, in which Christ will reign forever and ever. Once the reign of Christ begins, it will change form, but never end or be interrupted.

The glorious truth that the Lord Jesus Christ will one day rule the earth permeates the Scriptures. In chapter 15 of Revelation John

saw something [in heaven] like a sea of glass mixed with fire, and those who had been victorious over the beast and his image and the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, holding harps of God. And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying,

“Great and marvelous are Your works,

O Lord God, the Almighty;

Righteous and true are Your ways,

King of the nations!

Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?

For You alone are holy;

For all the nations will come and worship before You,

For Your righteous acts have been revealed.” (vv. 2–4)

That they sang the “song of Moses” (cf. Ex. 15:1–18) indicates that as far back as the Pentateuch Scripture anticipated the moment when the Lord Jesus Christ would become King of the world.

Psalm 2, a messianic passage whose imagery and language permeates this section of Revelation (cf. v. 18; 12:5; 14:1; 16:14; 17:18; 19:15, 19), also predicts the coming earthly reign of Christ:

But as for Me, I have installed My King

Upon Zion, My holy mountain.

I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord:

He said to Me, “You are My Son,

Today I have begotten You.

Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,

And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.

You shall break them with a rod of iron,

You shall shatter them like earthenware.” (vv. 6–9)

The prophets also looked forward to that time when the Messiah would establish His earthly reign. Of that glorious day Isaiah wrote,

Now it will come about that

In the last days

The mountain of the house of the Lord

Will be established as the chief of the mountains,

And will be raised above the hills;

And all the nations will stream to it.

And many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,

To the house of the God of Jacob;

That He may teach us concerning His ways

And that we may walk in His paths.”

For the law will go forth from Zion

And the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. (Isa. 2:2–3)

Daniel wrote concerning that same day,

“You [King Nebuchadnezzar] continued looking until a stone was cut out without hands, and it struck the statue on its feet of iron and clay and crushed them. Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver and the gold were crushed all at the same time and became like chaff from the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away so that not a trace of them was found. But the stone that struck the statue became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.” (Dan. 2:34–35)

“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” (Dan. 2:44–45)

The vaunted empires of world history (the statue) will be shattered by the Messiah’s kingdom (the stone cut out without hands); they will crumble to dust and blow away, but His kingdom will last forever. In another vision, recorded in Daniel chapter 7, Daniel

“kept looking in the night visions,

And behold, with the clouds of heaven

One like a Son of Man was coming,

And He came up to the Ancient of Days

And was presented before Him.

And to Him was given dominion,

Glory and a kingdom,

That all the peoples, nations and men of every language

Might serve Him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion

Which will not pass away;

And His kingdom is one

Which will not be destroyed.” (vv. 13–14)

“ “‘ls;But the saints of the Highest One will receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, for all ages to come.’ … The Ancient of Days came and judgment was passed in favor of the saints of the Highest One, and the time arrived when the saints took possession of the kingdom.” (vv. 18, 22)

Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him. (v. 27)

Looking forward to Messiah’s kingdom Micah wrote,

And it will come about in the last days

That the mountain of the house of the Lord

Will be established as the chief of the mountains.

It will be raised above the hills,

And the peoples will stream to it.

Many nations will come and say,

“Come and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord

And to the house of the God of Jacob,

That He may teach us about His ways

And that we may walk in His paths.”

For from Zion will go forth the law,

Even the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

And He will judge between many peoples

And render decisions for mighty, distant nations.

Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares

And their spears into pruning hooks;

Nation will not lift up sword against nation,

And never again will they train for war. (Mic. 4:1–3)

Summing up a lengthy discussion of the Day of the Lord and the coming of Christ’s earthly kingdom Zechariah wrote, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one” (Zech. 14:9).

When the angel Gabriel announced the birth of Jesus to Mary he told her that He would someday be the great King over the earth: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:31–33).

The monumental moment in redemptive history anticipated in the Old Testament prophecies, in the announcement of Christ’s birth, in the preview of Christ’s second coming glory at the Transfiguration, in Christ’s teaching and miracles, in the covenant promises to Israel, in the promise to believers that they will reign with Christ, in the promise to the twelve disciples that they would judge the twelve tribes of Israel, and in the promise of Jesus that He would return in glory will be imminent. And that will cause all heaven to praise God for the wonder of His sovereign plan that Christ should reig[1]

11:15 The blowing of the seventh trumpet reveals that the Great Tribulation is over and the reign of Christ has begun. The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever![2]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1999). Revelation 1–11 (pp. 310–314). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2368). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

April 18 – Entering the Kingdom

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


There are basically only two kinds of religion in the world: those based on human achievement and those based on divine accomplishment.

Religion comes in many forms. Almost every conceivable belief or behavior has been incorporated into some religious system at some point in time. But really there are only two kinds of religion. One says you can earn your way to Heaven; the other says you must trust in Jesus Christ alone. One is the religion of human achievement; the other is the religion of divine accomplishment.

Those who rely on their achievements tend to compare themselves to others. But that’s a relative, self-justifying standard because you can always find someone worse than yourself on which to base the comparison.

Jesus eliminated all human standards when He said, “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Even the Jewish religious leaders, who were generally thought to be the epitome of righteousness, didn’t qualify according to that standard. In fact, Jesus told the people that their righteousness had to exceed that of the scribes and Pharisees if they wanted to enter Heaven (Matt. 5:20). That must have shocked them, but Jesus wasn’t speaking of conformity to external religious ceremonies. He was calling for pure hearts.

God doesn’t compare you to liars, thieves, cheaters, child abusers, or murderers. He compares you to Himself. His absolute holy character is the standard by which He measures your suitability for Heaven. Apart from Christ, everyone fails that standard because “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). But the glorious truth of salvation is that Jesus Christ came to earth to purify our hearts. He took our sin upon Himself, paid its penalty, then bestowed His own righteousness upon us (Rom. 4:24). He keeps us pure by continually cleansing our sin and empowering us to do His will.

Your faith in Christ—not your personal achievements—is what makes you pure. Let that truth bring joy to your heart and praise to your lips!


Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank the Lord for accomplishing salvation on your behalf and for granting you saving faith. ✧ Pray that your thoughts and actions today will evidence a pure heart.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 24:1–5 and Ezekiel 36:25–29. ✧ Who is acceptable to God? ✧ How does God purify the hearts of His people?[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. 121). 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.


Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.

Matthew 28:20


Do not try to short-circuit God’s plans for your discipleship and spiritual maturity here. If you and I were already prepared for heaven in the moment of our conversion, God would have taken us home instantly!

We must remember that God exists in Himself. His holy nature is such that we cannot comprehend Him with our minds. He is of a substance not shared by any other being. Hence, God can be known only as He reveals Himself!

I have found this to be a fact: Every redeemed human being needs the humility of spirit that can only be brought about by the manifest presence of God.

This mysterious yet gracious Presence is the air of life eternal. It is the music of existence, the poetry of the Christian life. It is the beauty and wonder of being one of Christ’s own—a sinner born again, regenerated, created anew to bring glory to God!

To live surrounded by this sense of God is not only beautiful and desirable, but it is imperative!


Lord, I am so grateful that You have revealed some of Your nature to Your children. But I want to know You even more![1]


“and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (28:20b)

As crucial as are the first four elements for effective fulfillment of the church’s mission, they would be useless without the last, namely, the power that the Lord Jesus Christ offers through His continuing presence with those who belong to Him. Neither the attitudes of availability, worship, and submission, nor faithful obedience to God’s Word would be possible apart from Christ’s own power working in and through us.

Idou (lo) is an interjection frequently used in the New Testament to call attention to something of special importance. Egō eimi (I am) is an emphatic form that might be rendered, “I Myself am,” calling special attention to the fact of Christ’s own presence. Jesus was saying, in effect, “Now pay special attention to what I am about to say, because it is the most important of all. I Myself, your divine, resurrected, living, eternal Lord, am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

A helpful way to keep one’s spiritual life and work in the right perspective and to continually rely on the Lord’s power rather than one’s own is to pray in ways such as these: “Lord, You care more about this matter I am facing than I do, so do what You know is best. Lord, You love this person more than I do and only You can reach into his heart and save him, so help me to witness only as You lead and empower. Lord, You are more concerned about the truth and integrity of Your holy Word than I am, so please energize my heart and mind to be true to the text I am teaching.”

Always literally means “all the days.” For the individual believer that means all the days of his life. But in its fullest meaning for the church at large it means even to the end of the age, that is, until the Lord returns bodily to judge the world and to rule His earthly kingdom. (See Matt. 13:37–50, where Christ uses the phrase “end of the age” three times to designate His second coming.)

Jesus will not visibly return to earth and display Himself before the whole world in His majestic glory and power until the end of the age. But until that time, throughout this present age, He will always be with those who belong to Him, leading them and empowering them to fulfill His Great Commission.

Some years ago, a missionary went to a primitive, pagan society. She became especially burdened for a young wife and eventually was used to win the woman to Christ. Almost as soon as she was saved the woman told the missionary with great sorrow, “I wish you could have come sooner, so my little boy could have been saved.”ll When the missionary asked why it was too late, the mother replied, “Because just a few weeks before you came to us, I offered him as a sacrifice to the gods of our tribe.”[2]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 28:19–20). Chicago: Moody Press.


And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.


To go along with Christ step-by-step and point by point in identical suffering of Roman crucifixion is not possible for any of us, and certainly is not intended by our Lord.

An earnest Christian woman long ago sought help from Henry Suso concerning her spiritual life. She had been imposing austerities upon herself in an effort to feel the sufferings that Christ had felt on the cross. Things were not going so well with her and Suso knew why.

The old saint wrote his spiritual daughter and reminded her that our Lord had not said, “If any man will come after me let him deny himself, and take up MY cross.” He had said, “Let him…take up his cross.” There is a difference of only one small pronoun; but that difference is vast and important.

Crosses are all alike, but no two are identical. Never before nor since has there been a cross experience just like that endured by the Saviour. The whole dreadful work of dying which Christ suffered was something unique in the experience of mankind. It had to be so if the cross was to mean life for the world. The sin-bearing, the darkness, the rejection by the Father were agonies peculiar to the Person of the holy sacrifice. For anyone to claim that experience of Christ would be sacrilege.

Every cross was and is an instrument of death, but no man could die on the cross of another; hence Jesus said, “Let him…take up his cross, and follow me!”[1]

The Conquest

Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. (5:24–25)

All persons who belong to Christ Jesus by faith in Him and His perfect saving work have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

Have crucified the flesh is a strategic statement to grasp, because crucifixion was a means of execution. All but four uses of the term in the New Testament refer to the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Three of the exceptions help in understanding the fourth, which is in the present text.

The first of the three is in the book of Romans, where Paul affirms that at the time of our justification, “our old self was crucified with [Christ]” (6:6). The other two are in Galatians, one before and one after the present text. The apostle says, “I have been crucified with Christ” (2:20), and, near the end of the epistle, asserts that “the world has been crucified to me” (6:14).

In each of those three passages, “crucified” is simply a vivid and dramatic way to say “killed,” or “executed.” In the first two passages Paul is teaching that at salvation his old, sinful, unregenerate self was executed and he was born a new man in Christ Jesus. In the third passage he is saying that the world has been executed and is now dead to him, so that it is no longer his master, holding him in bondage. He is therefore now free to serve the Lord.

Obviously, in none of those passages does Paul mean to imply that the crucifixion analogy carries the idea of total death, in which all influence ceases. Sin was still a reality in his life, and so was the temptation of the world. But there was a sense in which the power of the old self and of the world was broken. Those influences no longer dominated him.

In the text of Galatians 5:24, Paul is saying that the flesh has been executed. But how could that be in light of what he has just said in this chapter about believers having a constant war with the ever-present flesh? In what sense is the flesh killed at conversion?

It cannot be in the actual, complete, present sense or it would contradict the reality of the continual spiritual conflict with the flesh indicated here and in Romans 7:14–25. And it cannot be that Paul has some future sense in mind or he would have used a future verb form, saying, “shall crucify the flesh,” referring to the time of glorification.

The best understanding is to see have crucified as an allusion to the cross of Jesus Christ, which, as a past event, fits the aorist tense used here by Paul. It looks back to the cross, the time at which the death of the flesh was actually accomplished. Yet, because we are still alive on the earth and still possess our humanness, we have not yet entered into the future fullness of that past event.

Meanwhile, the flesh with its passions (or affections) and desires is dead in the sense of no longer reigning over us or of holding us in inescapable bondage. Like a chicken with its head cut off, the flesh has been dealt a death blow, although it continues to flop around the barnyard of earth until the last nerve is stilled.

Because the flesh is defeated forever, and we now live in the realm where Christ reigns over us by His Spirit, we should live according to the Spirit and not the flesh.

Because believers have new life in Jesus Christ, they should also have a new way of life. If we live by the Spirit, and we do, Paul says, let us also walk by the Spirit, as we must. He earnestly prayed that the Colossian Christians would “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work. … As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith” (Col. 1:10; 2:6–7; cf. Eph. 4:1; 1 Thess. 2:12).[2]

5:24 Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh. The verb tense here indicates something that happened decisively in the past. It actually occurred at the time of our conversion. When we repented, there was a sense in which we nailed the old, evil, corrupt nature to the cross with all its affections and lusts. We determined that we would no longer live to cater to our fallen nature, that it would no longer dominate it. Of course, this decision has to be renewed continually in our lives. We must constantly keep the flesh in the place of death.

5:25 If here carries the thought of “since.” Since we have eternal life by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, let us live out the new life by the power of the same Spirit. The law never could give life, and was never intended to be the Christian’s rule of life.[3]

24 Drawing a preliminary conclusion from what has just preceded (vv. 19–23), Paul now reminds the Galatians that being united with Christ by participation in his death is to be done with the living out of the “passions and desires” of the sinful nature. In this way he reinforces these immediately prior words by indicating that those who “belong to Christ Jesus” cannot live lives of libertinism. Using imagery reminiscent of his earlier depiction of living by faith in the person and work of Christ by means of “co-crucifixion” (2:19–21), Paul brings into sharp focus the need for believers to put to death sinful actions, cravings, and desires.

25 Paul draws here a second, hortatory conclusion from the catalog of vices and virtues above: those who claim to live by the Spirit should demonstrate that fact by a lifestyle that is in keeping with the presence and purpose of the Spirit. The wording used for this admonition is “keep in step” with the Spirit (stoicheō, GK, 5123, lit., “in a row”; cf. 4:3, 9). Stoicheō was commonly used to suggest agreement or to be in line with another. Paul has used it elsewhere to indicate walking in another’s footsteps (Ro 4:12) and living according to a standard (Gal 6:16; Php 3:16; cf. Ac 21:24). So here Paul instructs the Galatians to live out their faith in appropriate ways, empowered by the Spirit, following his ethical guidance and direction.[4]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Galatians (pp. 170–171). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1895). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Rapa, R. K. (2008). Galatians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 631–632). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 18 – Bridging the Gap to True Worship

Leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.—Matt. 5:24

No matter who is responsible for a severed relationship—and often both sides bear some guilt—it’s essential to reconcile before going to God in worship. Even if you have nothing against the other person and the fault lies entirely with them, you should do everything possible to settle things. You can’t change another’s heart attitude, but you should desire to close the gap between yourself and the other person and hold no grudge against him or her—then you can enter freely and fully into divine worship.

Better music, more eloquent prayers, or more classic architecture—none of these will enhance true worship. Even better or more biblical preaching will not of itself improve our worship experience. However, a contrite and righteous attitude toward God and our brothers and sisters will enhance genuine worship. Sometimes the drastic measure of staying away from church for a time until a broken or strained relationship is right is the only action that will make our worship God-honoring.

Long before Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, 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). After that the psalmist said, “If I regard wickedness in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66:18). If sin remains unconfessed and relationships broken, there will be no integrity in our worship.

Again, you are responsible only for the condition of your own heart, not another’s. But can you honestly say today that you have made peace in your heart with those who have been at odds with you? Have you forgiven? Have you sought renewed relationship?[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. 117). 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.


O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

—Habakkuk 3:2

God’s wrath is His utter intolerance of whatever degrades and destroys. He hates iniquity as a mother hates the diphtheria or polio that would destroy the life of her child.

God’s wrath is the antisepsis by which moral putrefaction is checked and the health of the creation maintained. When God warns of His impending wrath and exhorts men to repent and avoid it, He puts it in a language they can understand: He tells them to “flee from the wrath to come” (Luke 3:7). He says in effect, “Your life is evil, and because it is evil you are an enemy to the moral health of My creation. I must extirpate whatever would destroy the world I love. Turn from evil before I rise up in wrath against you. I love you, but I hate the sin you love. Separate yourself from your evil ways before I send judgment upon you.”

“O LORD… in wrath remember mercy” (Habbakuk 3:2). MDP122

Lord, I’m grieved to see the evil in the world all around me. Help me to be a light today to lead someone away from Your wrath and into an experience of Your mercy. Amen. [1]

He Appeals to God to Act for His People (3:1, 2)

Habakkuk now prays to the Lord. He had heard of the Lord’s dealings in the past with the enemies of His people; now he asks Him to revive His work by punishing His foes and saving His people.[2]

2 Habakkuk’s “prayer” is oriented to the past as the basis for his appeal for present help (cf. Ex 32:13; Ps 77:11; Ac 4:25–28). The noun “fame” (šēmaʿ; GK 9051) is normally used of secondhand information (e.g., Job 28:22; Na 3:19), suggesting a remoteness from the hearer’s own experience to the persons or events referred to (cf. Job 42:5). The Lord’s “deeds” (pōʿal) envisaged here corroborate this sense of remoteness, being associated with his sovereign power and preeminently with his “work” at the exodus—a primary anchor of Israel’s recollection, faith, and hope (e.g., Nu 23:23; Pss 44:1; 68:28; 77:12; 90:16; 95:9; 111:3), as is the cross to the Christian.

Habakkuk’s appeal for “mercy” (rāḥam) is thus grounded in God’s covenantal commitment to Israel, displayed in the events of the exodus as a whole and sealed at Sinai (cf. Dt 4:31); it is no wishful or manipulative plea for help grounded merely in the desperation of the moment. However, it is also an admission of how far Israel has fallen away from the revelation of God’s character and ways, made “known” at the exodus. Not only do the “deeds” of that epoch represent secondhand knowledge, but the need to “renew” (hîyâ) them implies that their impact is facing extinction. Moreover, the imminence of “wrath” (or “turmoil,” rōgez; cf. v. 7), betrays the presence of sin, which the Lord is committed to judge in his people—a judgment rooted in the covenant no less than “mercy” (e.g., Ex 32:10–12; Dt 6:15; 29:20–28; 31:17; 32:22). This appeal for God’s covenanted “mercy” in the face of present distress and judgment echoes Psalm 77:9, with which this chapter has much in common (see Overview).[3]

3:2 the report about You. A reference back to 1:5–11 and 2:2–20, where the Lord informed Habakkuk of His plans for judging Judah and the Chaldeans. revive Your work. Knowledge of the severity of God’s judgment struck Habakkuk with fear. As though God’s power had not been used in a long time, the prophet asked the Lord to “revive” (lit. “to quicken”), to repeat His mighty saving works on behalf of His people, Israel. In the midst of the years. In the midst of His punishment of Judah at the hand of the Chaldeans, the prophet begged that God would remember mercy.[4]

3:2 I have heard. Habakkuk had heard (perhaps in the temple) of God’s great saving acts, which he recounts in vv. 3–15; see the Song of Moses (Ex. 15:1–21). in wrath remember mercy. A plea that when God judges, he will also be merciful—a classic statement of how God deals with his people.[5]

3:2 to show compassion The term here carries the deeper sense of compassion.[6]

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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1145). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Armerding, C. E. (2008). Habakkuk. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, p. 638). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1726). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Hab 3:2). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

April 18 – God’s Sovereign Departure

“My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Matthew 27:46


God always must turn His back on sin, even if that meant for a short time severing fellowship with His Son.

The Reformer Martin Luther is said to have gained no insight at all when he secluded himself and tried to understand Jesus’ temporary alienation from the Father at Calvary. But in the secrets of divine sovereignty, the God–man was separated from God at Calvary as the Father’s wrath was poured out on the innocent Son, who had become sin for all those who believe in Him.

Forsaken means that a person is abandoned, cast off, deserted; he feels alone and desolate. Jesus must have had all those feelings and more. His cry from the cross could be restated this way: “My God, My God, with whom I have had eternal, unbroken fellowship, why have You deserted Me?” Against that backdrop of uninterrupted intimacy, Jesus’ being forsaken by God becomes an even more crushing experience for Him. Sin did what nothing else had done or could do—it caused Christ’s separation from His Heavenly Father.

Jesus’ separation does not in any sense mean He stopped being God or the Son. It does mean that for a while Jesus ceased to know intimate fellowship with the Father, similar to how a child might for a time cease to have fellowship with his human father.

God had to turn His back on Jesus while the Son was on the cross because God could not look upon sin (Hab. 1:13), even in His own Son. Christ, in going to the cross, took upon Himself “our transgressions … our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5) and became “a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13) and “the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Our fallen minds, like Luther’s, are unable to grasp all the significance of today’s verse. But as our Lord experienced anguish over the separation sin caused, we ought to grieve over how our sins break off the fellowship God wants to have with us.


Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that God would give you the discernment to see the seriousness of sin and the motivation to repent of and shun any besetting sin in your life.

For Further Study: Read John 3:18–20, 36. What do these verses say about the basic seriousness of sin? ✧ What is the only remedy for sin’s evil effects?[1]

Sovereign Departure

And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” And immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink. But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” (27:46–49)

A second miracle occurred at about the ninth hour, or three o’clock in the afternoon, through an inexplicable event that might be called sovereign departure, as somehow God was separated from God.

At that time Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” As Matthew explains, the Hebrew Eli (Mark uses the Aramaic form, “Eloi,” 15:34) means, My God, and lama sabachthani means, Why hast Thou forsaken Me?

Because Jesus was quoting the well-known Psalm 22, there could have been little doubt in the minds of those who were standing there as to what Jesus was saying. They had been taunting Him with His claim to be God’s Son (v. 43), and an appeal for divine help would have been expected. Their saying, “This man is calling for Elijah,” was not conjecture about what He said but was simply an extension of their cruel, cynical mockery.

In this unique and strange miracle, Jesus was crying out in anguish because of the separation He now experienced from His heavenly Father for the first and only time in all of eternity. It is the only time of which we have record that Jesus did not address God as Father. Because the Son had taken sin upon Himself, the Father turned His back. That mystery is so great and imponderable that it is not surprising that Martin Luther is said to have gone into seclusion for a long time trying to understand it and came away as confused as when he began. In some way and by some means, in the secrets of divine sovereignty and omnipotence, the God-Man was separated from God for a brief time at Calvary, as the furious wrath of the Father was poured out on the sinless Son, who in matchless grace became sin for those who believe in Him.

Habakkuk declared of God, “Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, and Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor” (Hab. 1:13). God turned His back when Jesus was on the cross because He could not look upon sin, even-or perhaps especially-in His own Son. Just as Jesus loudly lamented, God the Father had indeed forsaken Him.

Jesus did not die as a martyr to a righteous cause or simply as an innocent man wrongly accused and condemned. Nor, as some suggest, did He die as a heroic gesture against man’s inhumanity to man. The Father could have looked favorably on such selfless deaths as those. But because Jesus died as a substitute sacrifice for the sins of the world, the righteous heavenly Father had to judge Him fully according to that sin.

The Father forsook the Son because the Son took upon Himself “our transgressions, … our iniquities” (Isa. 53:5). Jesus “was delivered up because of our transgression” (Rom. 4:25) and “died for our sins according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3). He “who knew no sin [became] sin on our behalf” (2 Cor. 5:21) and became “a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross” (1 Pet. 2:24), “died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust” (1 Pet. 3:18), and became “the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

Jesus Christ not only bore man’s sin but actually became sin on mares behalf, in order that those who believe in Him might be saved from the penalty of their sin. Jesus came to teach men perfectly about God and to be a perfect example of God’s holiness and righteousness. But, as He Himself declared, the supreme reason for His coming to earth was not to teach or to be an example but “to give His life a ransom for many” (Matt. 20:28).

When Christ was forsaken by the Father, their separation was not one of nature, essence, or substance. Christ did not in any sense or degree cease to exist as God or as a member of the Trinity. He did not cease to be the Son, any more than a child who sins severely against his human father ceases to be his child. But Jesus did for a while cease to know the intimacy of fellowship with His heavenly Father, just as a disobedient child ceases for a while to have intimate, normal, loving fellowship with his human father.

By the incarnation itself there already had been a partial separation. Because Jesus had been separated from His divine glory and from face-to-face communication with the Father, refusing to hold on to those divine privileges for His own sake (Phil 2:6), He prayed to the Father in the presence of His disciples, “Glorify Thou Me together with Thyself, Father, with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5). At the cross His separation from the Father became immeasurably more profound than the humbling incarnation during the thirty-three years of His earthly life.

As already mentioned, the mystery of that separation is far too deep even for the most mature believer to fathom. But God has revealed the basic truth of it for us to accept and to understand to the limit of our ability under the illumination of His Spirit. And nowhere in Scripture can we behold the reality of Jesus’ sacrificial death and the anguish of His separation from His Father more clearly and penetratingly than in His suffering on the cross because of sin. In the midst of being willingly engulfed in our sins and the sins of all men of all time, He writhed in anguish not from the lacerations on His back or the thorns that still pierced His head or the nails that held Him to the cross but from the incomparably painful loss of fellowship with His heavenly Father that His becoming sin for us had brought.

Soon after He cried out to God about being forsaken, “Jesus, knowing that all things had already been accomplished, in order that the Scriptures might be fulfilled, said, ‘I am thirsty’ ” (John 19:28). As John then makes clear (v. 29), it was at that time that immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine, and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.

The one who ran to help Jesus was probably one of the Roman military guards, and by taking a sponge and filling it with sour wine, he hoped temporarily to slake Jesus’ thirst. The sour wine was a cheap wine highly diluted with water that was a common drink for laborers and soldiers. Because it had a high water and low alcohol content, it was especially helpful in quenching thirst. John gives the added detail that the reed was a hyssop branch (John 19:29), which would not have been longer than eighteen inches. In order for such a short branch to reach Jesus’ lips, the horizontal beam of the cross would have had to be rather low to the ground.

Offering the drink to Jesus was perhaps an act of mercy, but it was minimal in its effect and served only to prolong the torture before death brought relief. But the rest of those standing near the cross used that gesture of kindness as another opportunity to carry their mockery of the Lord still further, saying, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.”

It seems incredible that even the pitch darkness of midday did not alarm the wicked crowd. They were so bent on scorning Jesus that even such a momentous phenomenon as the blocking out of the sun did not deter them. Being aware of the many Old Testament associations of unnatural darkness with judgment, it would seem they would at least briefly have considered the possibility that divine judgment was occurring at that very moment. But the single thought now on their minds was to make Jesus’ death painful and humiliating. They had no comprehension of the amazing alienation of the Son from the Father.[2]

27:46 At about 3:00 p.m., He cried out with a loud voice, saying, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” The answer is found in Psalm 22:3, “… You are holy, enthroned in the praises of Israel.” Because God is holy, He cannot overlook sin. On the contrary, He must punish it. The Lord Jesus had no sin of His own, but He took the guilt of our sins upon Himself. When God, as Judge, looked down and saw our sins upon the sinless Substitute, He withdrew from the Son of His love. It was this separation that wrung from the heart of Jesus what Mrs. Browning so beautifully called “Immanuel’s orphaned cry”:

Deserted! God could separate from His

own essence rather;

And Adam’s sins have swept between the

righteous Son and Father:

Yea, once, Immanuel’s orphaned cry

His universe hath shaken—

It went up single, echoless,

“My God, I am forsaken!”

Elizabeth Barrett Browning

27:47, 48 When Jesus cried, “Eli, Eli …,” some of those who stood by said He was calling for Elijah. Whether they actually confused the names or were simply mocking is not clear. One used a long reed to lift a sponge soaked with sour wine to His lips. Judging from Psalm 69:21, this was not intended as an act of mercy but as an added form of suffering.

27:49 The general attitude was to wait and see if Elijah would fulfill the role Jewish tradition assigned to him—coming to the aid of the righteous. But it was not time for Elijah to come (Mal. 4:5); it was time for Jesus to die.[3]

46 The “cry of desolation” raises two important questions.

  1. In what language did Jesus utter it? Almost all recognize that the words echo Psalm 22:1 (for a list of exceptions, see Moo, Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives, 264–65). But among the variant readings of a confused textual history (see Notes), Matthew keeps “Eli, Eli” (NIV, “Eloi, Eloi”), representing a Hebrew original, and Mark “Eloi, Eloi,” representing an Aramaic original. The remaining words, “lama sabachthani,” are Aramaic. Many suggest that Jesus quoted Psalm 22:1 in Hebrew, reverting to the ancient language of Scripture in his hour of utmost agony. Only this, it is argued, accounts for the confusion with “Elijah” in v. 47 and provides a plausible explanation for the rendering “my power” (hē dynamis mou, presupposing Semitic ḥêlî) in the apocryphal Gospel of Peter. In this view Mark, or an early copyist of Mark, has turned Jesus’ words into Aramaic, recognizing that Jesus more commonly spoke Aramaic than Hebrew.

However, though Jesus was probably at least trilingual (Hebrew, Aramaic, Greek—with perhaps some Latin), the overwhelming textual evidence for the rest of the cry supports an Aramaic original. Even Matthew’s Hebraic-sounding Eli may in fact support an Aramaic original, because the Targum (written in Aramaic) to Psalm 22:1 has ʾēlî. Apparently some Aramaic speakers preserved the Hebrew name for God in the same way some English speakers sometimes refer to him as Yahweh. The evidence of the Gospel of Peter is not decisive because “my power” may not rest on a Semitic original but may be an independent periphrasis for God, akin to Matthew 26:64. Moreover, on the lips of a dying man crying out in agony, Eloi could as easily be mistaken for Elijah as Eli (cf. Broadus; Lagrange; Gundry, Use of the Old Testament, 63–66; Moo, Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives, 264–75). Jesus’ cry was most probably in Aramaic; and at least some of the variants stem from the difficulty of transliterating a Semitic language into Greek, and others from the influence of the OT.

  1. What does this psalm quotation signify? A large number of commentators have interpreted the cry against the background of the whole of Psalm 22, which begins with this sense of desolation but ends with the triumphant vindication of the righteous sufferer. The chief difficulty is that though OT texts are frequently cited with their full contexts in mind, they are never cited in such a way that the OT context effectively annuls what the text itself affirms (Bonnard). If the context of Psalm 22 is carried along with the actual reference to Psalm 22:1, the reader of the gospel is to understand that the vindication comes with the resurrection in Matthew 28, not that Jesus’ cry reflects full confidence instead of black despair.

Equally futile is the suggestion of Schweizer and others that these words constitute a more or less standard cry of a pious man dying with the words of a psalm on his lips. But why this psalm when others would be more suitable? Evidence for such a use of Psalm 22 is sparse and late. It is better to take the words at face value: Jesus is conscious of being abandoned by his Father. For one who knew the intimacy of Matthew 11:27, such abandonment must have been agony; and for the same reason, it is inadequate to hypothesize that Jesus felt abandoned but was not truly abandoned (contra Bonnard; Green; McNeile; Senior, Passion Narrative, 298), because “it seems difficult to understand how Jesus, who had lived in the closest possible fellowship with the Father, could have been unaware whether he had, in fact, been abandoned” (Moo, Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives, 274).

If we ask in what ontological sense the Father and the Son are here divided, the answer must be that we do not know because we are not told. If we ask for what purpose they are divided, the ultimate answer must be tied in with Gethsemane, the Last Supper, passion passages such as 1:21; 20:28 (see also 26:26–29, 39–44), and the theological interpretation articulated by Paul (e.g., Ro 3:21–26). In this cry of dereliction, the horror of the world’s sin and the cost of our salvation are revealed, a fact that should be clear from surrounding details: (1) The verb “to save,” used in the preceding verses, has forced us to remember that Jesus came to save his people from their sins (1:21). (2) The darkness covering the land must signal something like the loss of the light of the Father’s presence. (3) The result of Jesus’ death is the tearing of the temple curtain (v. 51), signaling full and free access into the presence of the holy God, which is possible only because sin has been paid for and the judgment of God averted. (4) This verse, cited from Psalm 22, must be read in the light of 27:43, also drawn from Psalm 22 (as we have seen). The mockers cry, “He trusts in God”—meaning, of course, with their sarcastic attempts at irony, precisely the opposite. Jesus’ ostentatious trusting of his Father must be dismissed as a failure or a joke, for look where it has gotten him! But once again, Matthew perceives a deeper irony: Jesus does trust in God, in precisely the same way, though doubtless at a deeper level, than David trusted in God, yet cried out in abandonment. Trusting God and being abandoned are not mutually exclusive—not in David’s experience, and not in Jesus’ experience. Jerome H. Neyrey (Honor and Shame in the Gospel of Matthew [Louisville, Ky.: Westminster, 1998], 152–61) shows that this cry is, in this sense, a true prayer, a mark of piety, cried precisely because Jesus is in the same profound way abandoned, which was God’s purpose all along, as Jesus’ prayers in Gethsemane attest. God’s answer to this cry of desolation, then, is in the utter vindication of vv. 51–54.

In the words of Elizabeth Barrett Browning:

Yea, once, Immanuel’s orphaned cry his universe hath shaken—

It went up single, echoless, “My God, I am forsaken!”

It went up from the Holy’s lips amid his lost creation,

That, of the lost, no son should use those words of desolation!

Browning wrote these lines, of course, as part of her homage to William Cowper. For all his brilliance, Cowper suffered several rounds of suicidal depression. Browning powerfully asserts that Jesus cried, “My God, I am forsaken!” so that for all eternity William Cowper would not have to. Jesus cried, “My God, I am forsaken!” so that for all eternity Don Carson would not have to—“That, of the lost, no son should use those words of desolation!”

47 According to 2 Kings 2:1–12, Elijah did not die but was taken alive to heaven in a whirlwind. Some Jewish tradition, perhaps as old as the first century, held that he would come and rescue the righteous in their distress (cf. TDNT, 2:930–31; Str-B, 4:769–71).

48–49 See comments at v. 34. The allusion is again to Psalm 69:21. What is not clear is whether the offer of a drink is meant as a gesture of mercy or as mockery. The gospel parallels are somewhat ambiguous. The best explanation is that of mockery. Oxos (lit., “vinegar,” GK 3954) probably refers to “wine vinegar” (NIV), sour wine diluted with vinegar drunk by foot soldiers; but this does not make the offer a compassionate act, since its purpose may have been to prolong life and agony, while with false piety the onlookers say they will wait for Elijah to rescue him (v. 49). But if the Father has abandoned Jesus, will Elijah save him? The offer of a drink not only fulfills Scripture but makes the cry of desolation (v. 46) all the bleaker.

It is not clear whether Luke 23:36, where mockery is clearly intended, properly parallels Matthew 27:34 or 27:48–49. John’s gospel (19:28–29) is interested only in the Scripture’s fulfillment, not whether mockery is intended.[4]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 27:45–46). 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, pp. 646–648). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.