Daily Archives: April 19, 2017

April 19, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


Apr. 19, 2017 |


Analysts estimate North Korea may now possess between 10 and 25 nuclear weapons, with launch vehicles, air force jets, troops and artillery scattered across the country, hidden in caves and massed along the border with South Korea. That’s on top of what the U.S. estimates to be one of the world’s largest chemical weapons stockpiles, a biological weapons research program and an active cyberwarfare capability. And with Seoul and its 10 million residents just 35 miles south of the border — well within North Korea’s artillery range — any eruption of hostilities could have devastating human and economic costs.

The absence of a U.S. Trade Representative is delaying the start of NAFTA negotiations with Mexico, a top official from the Latin American nation said. Without the lead U.S. trade negotiator in place, Mexico doesn’t expect the White House to give Congress the 90 days of notice it needs to open formal talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

A long-simmering trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada over lumber is heating up, increasing the cost of building houses and causing American businesses to hunt for supplies in other countries.

Morgan Stanley posted Wall Street’s biggest increase in bond-trading revenue as a turnaround in that business accelerated, pushing return on equity to the highest in two years. Fixed-income revenue almost doubled to $1.71 billion.

AP Top Stories

Prosecutors in seven Massachusetts districts agreed to throw out an estimated 95% of drug convictions that came from drug tests that were falsified by chemist Annie Dookhan.

President Trump is refusing to say whether the U.S. sabotaged North Korea’s launch of ballistic missile that blew up shortly after liftoff Sunday morning. “I don’t want to comment on it,” Trump told “Fox & Friends”.

A New Jersey woman has sued Wells Fargo Bank, saying she was fired for refusing to participate in a scheme to manipulate accounts and sell products that weren’t in customers’ best interest.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday afternoon that President Trump does not plan to release his 2016 tax returns.

Want the world’s best, up-close view of a rocket launch without being right there at the pad? For the first time, cameras will provide live 360-degree video of a rocket heading toward space. NASA will provide the 360 stream Tuesday as an unmanned Atlas rocket blasts off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, with a capsule full of space station supplies

Amid growing tensions in the Korean Peninsula, Japan is contemplating the deployment of its Self-Defense Forces in case North Korea’s missiles land in its territorial waters, according to local reports Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order Tuesday to compel U.S. companies to hire more American workers, but the proposed changes will require congressional action to have any significant impact.

Britain’s delegation to the chemical weapons watchdog says its director has told a meeting that tests indicate that sarin or a similar toxin was used in an April 4 attack in Syria that killed nearly 90 people.

Leaders of 28 countries are set to attend a Chinese summit next month showcasing President Xi Jinping’s signature foreign policy initiative, but few will hail from major Western countries.

Google on Tuesday launched a re-imagined version of its free Earth mapping service, weaving in storytelling and artificial intelligence and freeing it from apps.

In the scorching heat of the Caribbean Sea, workers in scuba suits scrub crude oil by hand from the hull of the Caspian Galaxy, a tanker so filthy it can’t set sail in international waters. The vessel is among many that are constantly contaminated at two major export terminals where they load crude from Venezuela’s state-run oil company, PDVSA. The water here has an oily sheen from leaks in the rusty pipelines under the surface. That means the tankers have to be cleaned before traveling to many foreign ports, which won’t admit crude-stained ships for fear of environmental damage to their harbors, port facilities or other vessels.


China says it is seriously concerned about North Korean nuclear development, in the wake of a BBC interview with a top official from the North. North Korea’s vice-foreign minister told the BBC Pyongyang would continue to test missiles and would launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike if it thought the US was planning an attack.

Physicists have created a fluid with “negative mass”, which accelerates backwards when pushed.

Evacuations from two government-held areas of Syria have resumed, monitors and reports say, days after an attack on a convoy carrying evacuees killed 126 people, many of them children. Some 3,000 people have left the north-western villages of Foah and Kefraya, which have been surrounded by rebels.

The owner of the Holiday Inn and Crowne Plaza hotel brands has disclosed that payment card-stealing malware has struck about 1,200 of its franchisees’ properties. All but one of the locations affected were in the US, with the other being in Puerto Rico. Guests have been warned they could have had money stolen as a consequence. One expert said there might be further hotels affected.

South Korea is starting a trial which could result in banishing its largely worthless coins from the country’s economy. Instead of accepting small change from purchases, customers at selected stores can instead opt to deposit it onto prepaid cards such as transportation cards.


Federal authorities have open investigations into radical Islamic terrorists in all 50 states, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which is warning that the threat of terrorism in the United States has reached an all-time high with radicalized individuals in the country plotting to strike “each and every single day.”

Las Vegas is preparing to be the first city in the nation with vending machines dispensing clean needles in an effort to help combat the spread of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, while also possibly leading some drug users into treatment.

The Briefing 04-19-17

Scraped knees, the Blaine amendment, and separation of church and state today at the US Supreme Court

NYT columnist asks President Carter the most important question: “Am I a Christian?”

The post The Briefing 04-19-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

North Carolina Lawmakers Present Bill Declaring Supreme Court ‘Gay Marriage’ Ruling ‘Null and Void’

Christian News reports:

Four Republican lawmakers in North Carolina recently presented a bill that would declare the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 ruling on “gay marriage” to be “null and void,” but the House speaker has considered it dead and won’t bring it up for a hearing.

Reps. Larry Pittman of Concord, Michael Speciale of New Bern, Carl Ford of Rowan County and Mike Clampitt of Bryson City filed House Bill 780, also known as the “Uphold Historical Marriage Act,” on April 11th.

It notes that the U.S. Constitution does not give power to the federal government to create laws surrounding the institution of marriage, and that the issue is rather reserved to the states. The bill also outlines that the courts have no right to overrule the laws of God.

View article →

Almost as Many Americans Died of Drug Overdoses in 2015 as in ’12 Years in Vietnam’

Breitbart reports:

Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly has largely blamed Latin American drug cartels for the unprecedented 52,000-plus drug overdose deaths in America during 2015 alone, the latest year for which data is available.

During a discussion that George Washington University (GWU) hosted about the threats facing the United States, retired Gen. Kelly noted in his prepared remarks:

It’s the highest number of drug-related deaths our country has ever seen. It’s more deaths than the peak of the AIDS epidemic in 1995. In a single year, we’ve lost nearly as many Americans to drug overdose as we lost in battle in World War I. Almost as many as was lost in 12 years in Vietnam.

And that’s just overdose deaths. That number—as high as it is—says nothing about the long-term health damage to our citizens who survive, to say nothing about the human misery, the families ripped apart, and the extremes of crime and violence inherent in the illegal-drug enterprise.

View article →

Fox News Has Decided Bill O’Reilly Has to Go

The Murdochs have decided Bill O’Reilly’s 21-year run at Fox News will come to an end. According to sources briefed on the discussions, network executives are preparing to announce O’Reilly’s departure before he returns from an Italian vacation on April 24. Now the big questions are how the exit will look and who will replace him.

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7 Revelations from ‘Shattered’: New Book Detailing Hillary Clinton’s Failed Campaign

Obama reportedly urged a reluctant Clinton to concede – As Trump piled up wins in key battleground states, Clinton reportedly remained reluctant to concede the election. However, the book claims that Obama urged Clinton to declare defeat and not to “drag it out.” He allegedly reiterated this position to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta, adding the importance of Clinton conceding with “dignity.”

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We Have Entered A Time When Islamic Terrorists Will Be Specifically Targeting Christians And Churches In America

One Sunday morning you may be sitting there peacefully with your family during what seems like a perfectly normal church service when a team of men dressed in camo comes storming in and starts shooting at people indiscriminately with automatic weapons.  Once upon a time, such a thing would have been absolutely unimaginable in America, but now things have completely changed.  In fact, as you will see below, something like this almost happened a little over a week ago at a hotel in South Dakota where approximately 500 people had gathered for a Christian conference.  This is a time when ministries are going to have to start paying extra attention to security, because Islamic terrorists are going to be specifically targeting Christians and churches. (Read More…)

By 2020 Two-Thirds Of Wild Animals Will Have Been Wiped Out Over A 50 Year Period As Mass Die-Offs Accelerate All Over The Planet

It has been called “the long extinction”.  Our planet is in the process of dying, and as you will see below, this process of death and destruction appears to be accelerating.  According to a report that was put out by the World Wildlife Fund and the Zoological Society of London, the number of wild animals around the globe appears to be decreasing at a rate of about 2 percent a year.  2 percent may not sound like a lot to you, but over 10 years that would mean that 20 percent of all wild animals in the world would be gone.  And according to that same report, it is being projected that the total loss of wildlife during the 50 year period from 1970 to 2020 will be a staggering 67 percent(Read More…)

John Kelly – Getty Images

Federal authorities have open investigations into radical Islamic terrorists in all 50 states, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which is warning that the threat of terrorism in the United States has reached an all time high with radicalized individuals in the country plotting to strike “each and every single day.”

The FBI has “open terrorist investigations in all 50 states,” according to DHS Secretary John Kelly, who disclosed on Tuesday that there have been at least 37 “ISIS-linked plots to attack our country” since 2013, a number that shows no signs of diminishing.

Kelly, in his first wide-ranging public address on the threat of terrorism in America since taking office, warned that America’s borders remain wide-open and that there is evidence terror-linked individuals are exploiting these national security weaknesses and entering the United States.

“We don’t know their intentions,” Kelly said during an address at George Washington University. “We don’t know why they’re here or why they’re coming. We are completely blind to what they’re capable of.”

UK National Union Of Teachers Says LGBTQ Lifestyle Be Promoted To Children Starting At Age 2

Transgender lifestyles and same-sex relationships should be ‘promoted’ to children as young as two to reduce hate crime, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has said.

“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” Romans 1:26,27 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: For starters, it is very appropriate that the acronym for the National Union of Teachers is NUT, these people are out of their mind. But it reveals the global agenda of recruiting children to bolster the ranks of the LGBTQ seeing as recruitment is their only avenue for growth. 

Delegates at the union’s national conference in Cardiff on Monday voted for its members to teach about ‘LGBT+’ issues and lifestyles to toddlers starting from nursery school. Teachers bemoaned a “lack of policies which promote LGBT+ within schools”, which they allege has a “significant negative impact” on the well-being of students and teachers who are homosexual or transgender.

It was revealed last month that primary schools will likely be legally obliged to teach pupils about same-sex couples as part of the mandatory relationships curriculum that is due to begin from 2019.

But the NUT says the amendment to the Children and Social Work Bill doesn’t go far enough, calling for “age-appropriate content” on the subject at an even younger age, and for secondary school pupils to be taught more about safe sex in gay relationships.

Kevin Courtney, NUT General Secretary. Speech to Annual Conference. Cardiff 2017

NUT executive committee member Annette Pryce slammed a “right wing, religious lobby”, which she blamed for having prevented ministers from proposing a more “inclusive” agenda for sex education.

“Generations of young LGBTQ people who have been failed by the system are still not told explicitly in the law that their lives are important too,” Pryce said.

They urged ministers to make proposed sex and relationship education (SRE) “inclusive” to so that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students “are told explicitly in the law that their lives are important too”.

“It is high time that PSHE and SRE – including LGBT+ education – is recognised as an essential part of the school curriculum,” NUT general secretary Kevin Courtney told the conference.

“It is important for a modern forward-thinking society to understand and embrace differences within our communities.

“The alternative is many pupils being isolated, bullied or misinformed and, for many, there is an impact on health and well-being that can last well beyond school years,” he warned.

While teaching sex and relationships is not compulsory for nurseries, it is thought that NUT members working in daycare facilities for two to four-year-olds could introduce it voluntarily.

The Church of England announced that they support the introduction of statutory sex education in schools, and Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has previously said that children should be taught to “revere” and “honour” LGBT people despite the Church’s centuries-old teaching that homosexual acts are a sin.

Chief executive at Christian Concern Andrea Williams, however, argued that teaching sex and relationships education (SRE) to four-year-olds would be “devastating” and risks “robbing them of their innocence”. source

Today’s BIG NINE News Brief from Against Crony Capitalism (4-19-2017)

1. Republicans avoid big loss by forcing runoff in Ga. House race (Washington Post)

2. Key GOP Rep. Jason Chaffetz will not seek re-election (CNBC)

3. GOP divide over Obamacare bill deepens over Easter recess (Washington Examiner)

4. Fox News won’t confirm O’Reilly’s return (Politico)

5. Mnuchin Says Trump Is “Absolutely Not” Trying To Talk Down The Dollar (Reuters)

6. Snap election approved by MPs  (BBC)

7. AG Sessions: 10,000 MS-13 Gang Members in USA; ‘We’re Going After Them’ (CNS News)

8. Tom Brady to miss White House ceremony honoring Patriots (USA Today)

9.The best cell phone in the world, right now. And it’s not an iPhone. (The Verge)

Mid-Day Snapshot

Apr. 19, 2017

The Democrat Went Down in Georgia

They were looking for a House seat to steal. They were in a bind and way behind, and willing to make a deal.

The Foundation

“In reality there is perhaps no one of our natural Passions so hard to subdue as Pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will now and then peek out and show itself.” —Benjamin Franklin (1771)

Top News – 4/19/2017

MUTANT WASPS: New strain of RED-EYED insects created by scientists
Enter the relatively new CRISPR technology, which allows scientists to inject components such as RNA and proteins into an organism with instructions to find, cut and mutate a specific piece of DNA. Then researchers can see how disrupting that DNA affects the organism.

Media vs. reality on Trump’s first 100 days
The president isn’t the only one who disagrees with the major media’s assessment of his administration’s performance to date. A dissenting opinion was offered by author, screenwriter and political analyst Michael Walsh in a Saturday commentary he penned in the New York Post headlined “Trump’s first 100 days have been better than you think.” The article listed areas where Walsh maintained the Trump administration has already made a number of accomplishments or significant progress.

Philippine leader may launch ‘invasion’ of Abu Sayyaf’s island lair
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte warned on Wednesday he might “invade” an island stronghold of the Islamic State-linked Abu Sayyaf to “finish the game” following a thwarted attempt by the group to kidnap tourists on a resort island last week. “All army, navy, will go there. It will be a fight. That’s what they want, I will give it.”

New York State to establish hate crimes task force
The task force, which will identify and investigate hate crimes and discriminatory practices, will be established using $1 million set aside in the new state budget passed earlier this month, The Associated Press reported Tuesday. It will be made up of members of the New York State Police, who will work with the state Division of Human Rights, prosecutors and local school and law enforcement officials

Approaching from the direction of the sun, mountain-sized asteroid 2015 JO25 is flying past Earth today, April 19th, approximately 1.8 million km away. NASA says there is no danger of a collision. This unusually bright space rock is about twice as reflective as the Moon. Amateur astronomers may be able to see it in backyard telescopes as a magnitude 11 speck of light during and after the flyby.

Russian envoy, Foreign Ministry to discuss recognition of J’lem as capital
Russia’s Ambassador to Israel Alexander Shein is expected to meet in the coming days with senior Foreign Ministry officials to discuss the significance of its surprise announcement earlier this month to recognize west Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state. Shein is expected to tell his interlocutors that Moscow now recognizes west Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and that it expects that east Jerusalem will be the capital of a Palestinian state in any future agreement.

Venezuela slams nations for ‘meddling’ over protest call
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Delcy Rodriguez has criticised as “rude meddling” a joint communique by 11 Latin American countries calling on Venezuela’s government to “guarantee the right to peaceful protest”. The 11 countries also condemned the death of six people in anti-government marches this month. The opposition is planning a mass protest for Wednesday.

Syria war: Evacuations resume after deadly bombing
Evacuations from two government-held areas of Syria have resumed, monitors and reports say, days after an attack on a convoy carrying evacuees killed 126 people, many of them children. Some 3,000 people have left the north-western villages of Foah and Kefraya, which have been surrounded by rebels.

FBI Investigating Radical Terrorists in All 50 States as Threats Hit Peak
Federal authorities have open investigations into radical Islamic terrorists in all 50 states, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which is warning that the threat of terrorism in the United States has reached an all time high with radicalized individuals in the country plotting to strike “each and every single day.” The FBI has “open terrorist investigations in all 50 states,” according to DHS Secretary John Kelly…

Russia claims it can wipe out entire US Navy with a single ‘electronic bomb’
RUSSIA has claimed it can disable the entire US Navy in one fell swoop using powerful electronic signal jamming. A news report from the country – where the media is essentially controlled by the state – said the technology could render planes, ships and missiles useless. The newsreader says: “Today, our Russian Electronic Warfare (REW) troops can detect and neutralise any target from a ship’s system and a radar, to a satellite.”

French police find bombs, make arrests over ‘planned presidential election attack’
French police say they have foiled an imminent attack leading up to the presidential election, with the arrest of two men in Marseille on Tuesday. Explosives and multiple weapons were found at the suspects’ flat in the southern port city. The two Frenchmen, one born in 1987 and the other in 1993, had met while sharing a prison cell and were known to police as having converted to radical Islam, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said at a press conference.

U.S. top court to hear key religious rights case involving Missouri church
The U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday will hear a closely watched dispute over supplying taxpayer money to religious entities in which a church accuses Missouri of violating its religious rights by denying it state funds for a playground project. The case, which examines the limits of religious freedom under the U.S. Constitution, is one of the most important before the court in its current term.

China’s Xi restructures military, consolidates control
Chinese President Xi Jinping has announced a military restructure of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) to transform it into a leaner fighting force with improved joint operations capability, state media said. Centered around a new, condensed structure of 84 military units, the reshuffle builds on Xi’s years-long efforts to modernize the PLA with greater emphasis on new capabilities including cyberspace, electronic and information warfare.

Latest ISIS recruit video shows young school-aged boy participating in execution
Islamic State has released a new graphic and disturbing propaganda video, featuring a boy who appears to be about 6 or 7 years old and participating in a double beheading, believed to take place in Raqqa, Syria. In the video, the young boy can be seen wearing camouflaged clothing and a black headscarf as he speaks directly to the camera while he holds two large knives, which he eventually hands off to two Islamic State executioners who each go on to behead a prisoner.

Three People Killed In Fresno Shooting Spree; Shooter Screamed “Allahu Akbar”, Hated “White People”
Three people were killed after a man went on a shooting spree Tuesday in central Fresno, randomly shooting at four white men, killing three, before he was arrested. The 39-year-old suspect, identified as Kori Ali Muhammad, shouted “Allahu Akbar” as police tackled him to the ground after the shootings which were spread over four locations.

Las Vegas, hoping to stem HIV and hepatitis, to get needle vending machines
Las Vegas is preparing to be the first city in the nation with vending machines dispensing clean needles in an effort to help combat the spread of hepatitis B, hepatitis C and HIV, while also possibly leading some drug users into treatment.

Pentagon Considers Shooting Down North Korea Missile Tests
Just when a few hours had passed without any escalation around the Korean Peninsula, The Guardian reports that the US military is considering shooting down North Korean missile tests as a show of strength to Pyongyang according to two sources briefed on the plans.

US Fighter Jets Intercept Two Russian Tactical Bombers 100 Miles Away From Alaska
The U.S. Air Force scrambled two F-22 stealth fighters on Monday night to intercept a pair of Russian nuclear-capable bombers which came as close as 100 miles from Alaska’s Kodiak Island, Fox reports. This was the first time since President Trump took office that Moscow has sent bombers so close to the U.S.

6 times the world was on the edge of nuclear war
As tensions between North Korean and the US heighten fears of a nuclear war, here are the times the world has come perilously close to annihilation only to be saved by smart diplomacy, incompetence or good luck.

New Bill O’Reilly Accuser Says He Called Her “Hot Chocolate” and Leered
Another woman is telling Fox News her story of harassment at the hands of O’Reilly, according to attorney Lisa Bloom.

Conservative Conference Threatened By Heavily-Armed Muslim Man
A conference held on April 9 on Christian and conservative issues in Sioux Falls, South Dakota was threatened by a Muslim man carrying multiple firearms. He attended the conference and posted numerous videos on his Facebook page, including a display of the multiple assault-style rifles, pistols and ammunition he was carrying on his person and in his van.

 Today on ChristianHeadlines

UK PM Theresa May Champions Role of Christianity in British Society
UK PM Theresa May Champions Role of Christianity in British Society
by Veronica Neffinger
The UK’s Prime Minister, Theresa May, stressed in her Easter address the importance of the role Christianity plays in British society.
Family of Man Killed in Facebook Live Video Extends Forgiveness to Murderer
Family of Man Killed in Facebook Live Video Extends Forgiveness to Murderer
by Veronica Neffinger
The family of a man killed in a video live-streamed to Facebook has asked the murderer to turn himself in, but also extended forgiveness to him.

President Trump Addresses Persecution and Religious Freedom in Weekend Message
President Trump Addresses Persecution and Religious Freedom in Weekend Message
by Scott Slayton
President Donald Trump focused on the celebrations of Easter and Passover in his weekly address.

Assad Regime Reportedly Holding Syrian Boy in Viral Video under House Arrest
Assad Regime Reportedly Holding Syrian Boy in Viral Video under House Arrest
by Amanda Casanova
Omran Daqneesh, the Syrian boy who became a symbol for civilian suffering after the photograph of him sitting covered in airstrike debris went viral, is reportedly being held under house arrest by the Bashar Assad regime.

Planned Parenthood to Give Hillary Clinton 'Champion of the Century' Award
Planned Parenthood to Give Hillary Clinton ‘Champion of the Century’ Award
by Veronica Neffinger
Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be given an award from Planned Parenthood at the organization’s centennial gala on May 2, 2017.

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 19

  • As Trump warned N. Korea, ‘armada’ headed to Australia (Read More)
  • Threat of Carrier Heading to Koreas Wasn’t All It Seemed (Read More)
  • Markets Start to Ponder the $13 Trillion Asset Gorilla in the Room (Read More)
  • Investors’ Nightmare Scenario Takes Shape in French Election (Read More)
  • Venezuelan opposition to hold ‘mother of all marches’ against Maduro (Read More)
  • U.S. says Iran complies with nuke deal but orders review on lifting sanctions (Read More)
  • Ryan’s Best Hope to Avoid a Shutdown: Making Friends With Pelosi (Read More)
  • Pence says working with allies to put pressure on North Korea (Read More)
  • Fox News Is Preparing to Cut Ties With Bill O’Reilly (Read More)
  • China gathers state-led consortium for Aramco IPO (Read More)
  • Le Pen Tries to Steer Far-Right Party Into Mainstream (Read More)
  • Ferrari Roars Back in China as Rich Snub Xi’s Austerity Push (Read More)
  • U.S. states considering alternative execution methods face legal hurdles (Read More)
  • Homebuilders Could Be Losers in Early Test of Trump Trade Policy (Read More)
  • Missing Billionaire Has Ties to China’s Military (Read More)
  • China sees higher risk of mass unemployment, pledges more support (Read More)
  • The Life of an Apple Supplier Is Getting Even Tougher (Read More)
  • Barkindo says OPEC, non-OPEC committed to restore market stability (Read More)
  • Insurance Customers Will Have to Get Used to Talking to Machines (Read More)

Top Headlines – 4/19/2017

Russian envoy, Foreign Ministry to discuss recognition of J’lem as capital

Opening of UN files on Holocaust will ‘rewrite chapters of history’

New book says Hitler was an indicted war criminal at death

Israeli economy ranked 3rd most stable in the world for 2016

Hamas blames Abbas for Gaza power plant shutdown

Terrorist arrested after attempting to stab a police officer in Damascus Gate in Jerusalem

Iran shows off new air defense systems, declares ‘Death to Israel’

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

Trump administration says Iran complying with nuclear deal

How Iran enables Syria’s chemical warfare against civilians

Shooting at Mt. Sinai Egyptian monastery kills policeman

Islamic State claims attack on Egypt police checkpoint

Double threat? ISIS and Al Qaeda are in talks to join forces, Iraq’s VP says

US-led air strikes in Syria kill at least 20 civilians

Asma al-Assad is a cheerleader for evil. Her UK citizenship should be revoked

Meet Asma al-Assad, the ‘First Lady of Hell’ and glamorous wife of Syria’s murderous dictator Bashar

As Iraqi Forces Encircle Mosul, ISIS Unleashes New Level Of Brutality On Civilians

UN: Civilians trapped in Mosul could face worst catastrophe in Iraq conflict

Will death penalty be the death knell for EU-Turkey talks? Talk by Erdogan of reinstating capital punishment after his referendum victory has Europeans reeling

UN rights chief alarmed over Burundi militia ‘rape’ song

French authorities arrest two radicals for ‘imminent attack’

Man kills 3 people in shootings in downtown Fresno; officials probe any terror links

Fresno gunman who randomly killed 3 men screamed ‘Allahu Akbar,’ police say

Police Chief: Fresno killings are a hate crime

Fresno shooting rampage: Suspect who shot dead 3 wanted to kill as many people as possible, police say

Getty Center evacuated after bomb threat; LAPD investigating

FBI Investigating Radical Terrorists in All 50 States as Threats Hit Peak

Hawaii Lawmakers Push To Re-Open Fallout Shelters Amid Nuclear War Fears

US Deploys Two More Aircraft Carriers Toward Korean Peninsula: Yonhap

US military considers shooting down North Korea missile tests, sources say

North Korea accuses US of creating situation for nuclear war

How has North Korea managed to build a massive military stockpile?

US, Japan agree China should play larger role on North Korea

Pence reassures Japan of U.S. resolve on North Korea, to work with China

Russian bombers fly near Alaska; Air Force scrambles jets

US to hold UN human rights meeting – after deal with Russia

Germany, Russia, Ukraine, France discuss Ukraine peace deal

Theresa May announces snap general election on June 8 to ‘make a success of Brexit’

New details emerge in theft of Ga. voting machines

Asylum applications in Mexico surge after Trump election win

Trump orders review of visa program to encourage hiring Americans

New Zealand tightens immigration rules in ‘Kiwi-first’ crackdown

White House Pushes Link Between Immigrants and Crime

Teens allegedly plotted to ‘kill everyone’ at their middle school, court documents say

Man accused of Facebook video killing said he ‘just snapped’

US Facebook video killer commits suicide during police chase

Zuckerberg vows work to prevent next ‘Facebook killer’

Facebook Gives Staff Green Light to Join May 1 Political Protests

Malaysia Air Is First Airline to Track Fleet With Satellites

Space debris problem getting worse, say scientists

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Iquitos, Peru

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Ndoi Island, Fiji

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Calama, Chile

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

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Poas volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 12,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 11,000ft

Potentially violent storms, tornadoes to eye southern US Friday to Sunday

Digital Addiction: The addiction that’s ‘worse than alcohol or drug abuse’

Digital Spring Cleaning: Digital Detoxing

Frog snot gives hope for flu cure

Las Vegas, hoping to stem HIV and hepatitis, to get needle vending machines

Why Such Silence in Our Churches? 90% of pastors do not preach or teach about the return of our King, the Lord Jesus

Mike Ratliff – Godly Transformation

Why Did Bondslaves Have Their Ear Pierced?

Smoldering Man Bun Preacher Cody Bobay

‘Bible Answer Man’ Booted From Bott Radio Network After Hank Hanegraaff Joins Orthodox Church

Pastor Preached on Holiness Then Dismissed Ex-Gov. Robert Bentley From First Baptist Church

Abortionist Identifies as a Christian, Believes He’s Promoting ‘Justice’ and ‘Human Dignity’

Former FEC Chairwoman Calls for ‘Regulations’ of Political Speech on the Internet

North Korea may now possess between 10 and 25 nuclear weapons

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 08:19 AM PDT

Three weeks before becoming president, Donald Trump weighed in on the threat of North Korea developing a nuclear warhead capable of reaching the U.S.: “It…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

75-Year-Old Vet Acquitted for Illegally Handing Out Napkin-Sized Flags at VA…

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 08:16 AM PDT

A 75-year-old military veteran was acquitted Tuesday of illegally hanging an American flag on the fence of a Veterans Affairs facility in West Los Angeles…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Horrific Plot Revealed By Teens Regarding Classmates at their middle school

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 08:10 AM PDT

A trio of teens was charged with a violent plot to “kill everyone and anyone” at their Michigan middle school, according to court records. Lapeer…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Leah Remini Warns Of Church of Scientology Destroying People’s Lives

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 07:59 AM PDT

Actress and former Scientologist Leah Remini says the Church of Scientology is out to “destroy people’s lives” if they criticize the controversial religious sect. Remini…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

When God Diverts Your Path!

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 07:51 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will show you how many times in our walk with God the Lord will deliberately allow us to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT: Controversial ‘three-parent baby’ fertility technique takes off in Mexico City

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 07:46 AM PDT

Sitting in his spotless office in the New Hope Fertility Clinic in Mexico City, soft music playing in the hallway in the background, Doctor Alejandro…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Rue 21 Announces It Will Be Closing 400 Stores Nationwide

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 07:40 AM PDT

The retail apocalypse just continues as Teen fashion retailer Rue21 is making it hard to figure out which of its stores are closing. So we’ve…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pence Vows ‘Overwhelming & Effective’ Response to Any North Korean Attack!

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 06:30 AM PDT

US Vice President Mike Pence has issued a fresh warning to North Korea, saying that Washington will counter any potential attack with an “overwhelming and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Las Vegas’ HIV prevention initiatives include installing syringe vending machines

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 06:22 AM PDT

Las Vegas is probably not the first place one thinks of when asked to name a U.S. city that is fast becoming a leader in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Bright Meteor Over Queensland, Australia Shakes Houses, Sounds Like Crack of Thunder

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 06:19 AM PDT

Ther have been reports of a house-shaking thud in Killarney after the meteorite was spotted in our skies last night.  Our sister paper, the Warwick…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Loud and Mysterious Bang Leaves Residents In New South Wales Looking to the Heavens

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 06:13 AM PDT

Lower Clarence residents were looking to the heavens last night after a loud, mysterious bang was heard in Maclean, Townsend, Gulmarrad, Wooli and Ashby shortly…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Wisconsin Police Station Removes ‘Officer’s Prayer’ Amid Pressure From Atheist Group

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 06:07 AM PDT

A police station in Wisconsin has removed a “Police Officer’s Prayer” display after the nation’s largest secular legal organization filed a complaint that argued the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Stephen Baldwin Performs First ‘Spirit-Filled’ Performance as Thief on the Cross

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 06:02 AM PDT

Actor and popular Baldwin brother Stephen Baldwin says that after many years in acting he finally performed his first spirit-filled performance in the new film,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Releases Video Displaying Missiles Striking the United States

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:53 AM PDT

North Korea put on a musical show to mark the birthday of founding father Kim Il Sung, which ended with a mock-up video of missiles…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

French police discover bombs, make arrests over ‘planned presidential election attack’

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:50 AM PDT

French police say they have foiled an imminent attack leading up to the presidential election, with the arrest of two men in Marseille on Tuesday….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Does the Book of Daniel Predict Assad’s Downfall?

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:46 AM PDT

“And Hashem said unto her: Two nations are in thy womb, and two peoples shall be separated from thy bowels; and the one people shall…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists discover strange and worrying crack in one of Greenland’s largest glaciers

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:43 AM PDT

Scientists examining satellite images of one of Greenland’s largest glaciers believe they have found an unexpected new crack in its floating ice shelf that could…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christians remain world’s largest religious group, but they are declining in Europe

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:38 AM PDT

Christians remained the largest religious group in the world in 2015, making up nearly a third (31%) of Earth’s 7.3 billion people, according to a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Beware of This False Gospel Infiltrating the Church

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 08:12 PM PDT

(By F. Dean Hackett) Have you ever been driving and come upon a road sign that said, “Danger Ahead: No access”? Did you look down…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Strong 6.0 Earthquake Strikes Northern Peru, Felt Throughout Region

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 08:04 PM PDT

A 6.0 magnitude earthquake has struck an Amazonian region of northern Peru. There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries, though the quake could…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Strange Trumpet Sounds Heard In Skies Of Roswell, New Mexico

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 07:59 PM PDT

Strange sounds have been recorded from around the world since around 2011 and now the latest has been recorded in New Mexico. What are these…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Dinosaur Eggs with Embryos Inside Discovered in Argentina

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 07:51 PM PDT

Archaeologists in Argentina have announced the discovery of several dinosaur eggs – believed to be nearly 70 million years old and with the remainders of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Legendary giant shipworm discovered in the Philippines for the first time

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 07:48 PM PDT

The centuries-old legend of the giant shipworm has finally been debunked by scientists. The international team of researchers investigated the first living giant shipworm –…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Dangerous’ new trend: Angry mobs of U.S. students shut down speech

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 07:41 PM PDT

Liberal groupthink is nothing new on college campuses, but resorting to violence and intimidation to stifle views contrary to the progressive orthodoxy is a dangerous…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Reports Of Modern Day Miracle as Pack Of Lions Reportedly Saved Christians

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 07:34 PM PDT

The chief of a Christian ministry that works underground because of its outreach into Muslim-dominant communities in the Middle East is reporting a startling claim…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Digital Addictions Now Surpass Alcohol and Drugs

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 07:25 PM PDT

If you can’t seem to resist a scroll through your Facebook or Instagram feed during working hours, or if you feel anxious when you can’t…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

By 2020 Two-Thirds Of Wild Animals Will Have Been Wiped Out Over A 50 Year Period As Mass Die-Offs Accelerate All Over The Planet

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 05:58 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) It has been called “the long extinction”.  Our planet is in the process of dying, and as you will see below,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia claims ‘electronic bomb’ can wipe out entire US Navy…

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 05:51 PM PDT

Russia has claimed it can disable the entire US Navy in one fell swoop using powerful electronic signal jamming. A news report from the country…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea has managed to build a massive military stockpile

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 05:48 PM PDT

From the outside North Korea looks like an impoverished state cut off from the rest of the world. But during its weekend procession, the isolated…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FBI Investigating Radical Terrorists in All 50 States as Threats Hit Peak

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 05:43 PM PDT

Federal authorities have open investigations into radical Islamic terrorists in all 50 states, according to the Department of Homeland Security, which is warning that the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US military considers shooting down North Korea missile tests

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 01:43 PM PDT

The US military is considering shooting down North Korean missile tests as a show of strength to Pyongyang, two sources briefed on the planning have…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pastor and Scientist Now Searching For Jesus’ Descendants

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 01:32 PM PDT

A pastor and scientist have teamed up to find Jesus’ living relatives. Joel Basile, lead pastor of Encounter Road Church in California, and Oxford University…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: At Least 3 people Gunned Down in Downtown Fresno, California

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 01:20 PM PDT

A man has gunned down three people in downtown Fresno on Tuesday before surrendering to authorities, the Fresno Police Department said. The suspect was identified…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Young Professionals Quietly Transforming Muslim-Majority Central Asia for Christ

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 01:15 PM PDT

The growth of Islamic extremism helped make 2016 the worst year ever for Christian persecution. For example, Christians in a predominantly Muslim region of Central…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF NOAH: Will Editing Your Baby’s Genes Be Mandatory?

Posted: 18 Apr 2017 01:11 PM PDT

Designing a baby, or editing the genes of an unborn child, strikes many as risky, unseemly, unnatural, unethical, or likely to lead to a dystopian…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

What is The Gospel?

Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:


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

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Naturalism as Religion

Code: B170419

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

Thanks to the theory of evolution, naturalism is now the dominant religion of modern society. Less than a century and a half ago, Charles Darwin popularized the credo for this secular religion with his book The Origin of Species. Although most of Darwin’s theories about the mechanisms of evolution were discarded long ago, the doctrine of evolution itself has managed to achieve the status of a fundamental article of faith in the popular modern mind. Naturalism has now replaced Christianity as the main religion of the Western world, and evolution has become naturalism’s principal dogma.

Naturalism is the view that every law and every force operating in the universe is natural rather than moral, spiritual, or supernatural. Naturalism is inherently anti-theistic, rejecting the very concept of a personal God. Many assume naturalism therefore has nothing to do with religion. In fact, it is a common misconception that naturalism embodies the very essence of scientific objectivity. Naturalists themselves like to portray their system as a philosophy that stands in opposition to all faith-based world-views, pretending that it is scientifically and intellectually superior precisely because of its supposed non-religious character.

Not so. Religion is exactly the right word to describe naturalism. The entire philosophy is built on a faith-based premise. Its basic presupposition—an a priori rejection of everything supernatural—requires a giant leap of faith. And nearly all its supporting theories must be taken by faith as well.

Consider the dogma of evolution, for example. The notion that natural evolutionary processes can account for the origin of all living species has never been and never will be established as fact. Nor is it “scientific” in any true sense of the word. Science deals with what can be observed and reproduced by experimentation. The origin of life can be neither observed nor reproduced in any laboratory. By definition, then, true science can give us no knowledge whatsoever about where we came from or how we got here. Belief in evolutionary theory is a matter of sheer faith. And dogmatic belief in any naturalistic theory is no more “scientific” than any other kind of religious faith.

Modern naturalism is often promulgated with a missionary zeal that has powerful religious overtones. The popular fish symbol many Christians put on their cars now has a naturalist counterpart: a fish with feet and the word “Darwin” embossed into its side. The Internet has become naturalism’s busiest mission field, where evangelists for the cause aggressively try to deliver benighted souls who still cling to their theistic presuppositions. Judging from the tenor of some of the material I have read seeking to win converts to naturalism, naturalists are often dedicated to their faith with a devout passion that rivals or easily exceeds the fanaticism of any radical religious zealot. Naturalism is clearly as much a religion as any theistic world-view.

The point is further proved by examining the beliefs of those naturalists who claim to be most unfettered by religious beliefs. Take, for example, the case of Carl Sagan, perhaps the best-known scientific celebrity of the past couple of decades. A renowned astronomer and media figure, Sagan was overtly antagonistic to biblical theism. But he became the chief televangelist for the religion of naturalism. He preached a world-view that was based entirely on naturalistic assumptions. Underlying all he taught was the firm conviction that everything in the universe has a natural cause and a natural explanation. That belief—a matter of faith, not a truly scientific observation—governed and shaped every one of his theories about the universe.

Sagan examined the vastness and complexity of the universe and concluded—as he was bound to do, given his starting point—that there is nothing greater than the universe itself. So he borrowed divine attributes such as infinitude, eternality, and omnipotence, and he made them properties of the universe itself.

Sagan’s religion was actually a kind of naturalistic pantheism, and his motto sums it up perfectly. He deified the universe and everything in it—insisting that the cosmos itself is that which was, and is, and is to come (cf. Revelation 4:8). Having examined enough of the cosmos to see evidence of the Creator’s infinite power and majesty, he imputed that omnipotence and glory to creation itself—precisely the error the apostle Paul describes in Romans 1:20-22:

For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools.

Exactly like the idolaters Paul was describing, Sagan put creation in the Creator’s rightful place.

Carl Sagan looked at the universe and saw its greatness and concluded nothing could possibly be greater. His religious presuppositions forced him to deny that the universe was the result of intelligent design. In fact, as a devoted naturalist, he had to deny that it was created at all. Therefore he saw it as eternal and infinite—so it naturally took the place of God in his thinking.

The religious character of the philosophy that shaped Sagan’s world-view is evident in much of what he wrote and said. His novel Contact (made into a major motion picture in 1997) is loaded with religious metaphors and imagery. It’s about the discovery of extraterrestrial life, which occurs in December 1999, at the dawn of a new millennium, when the world is rife with Messianic expectations and apocalyptic fears. In Sagan’s imagination, the discovery of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe becomes the “revelation” that affords a basis for the fusing of science and religion into a world-view that perfectly mirrors Sagan’s own belief system—with the cosmos as God and scientists as the new priesthood.

Although not every naturalist is as explicit in their use of religious language, their worldview is inherently the same. If there is no God, the only way to make sense of creation is to turn the natural into the supernatural. While naturalism cannot explain why people would believe in God, God tells us why people would believe in naturalism.

(Adapted from The Battle for the Beginning.)


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170419
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

The Sketchy Faith Healer

Atlas Obscura shares the fascinating story of John Alexander Dowie, a health and wealth huckster who paved the way for the Benny Hinn’s and Creflo Dollar’s of today. Dowie was not ashamed of his wealth, and he lived in unabashed luxury. “Jesus came to make His people rich,” Dowie preached. Not in the “life to come,” but a “hundredfold now in this time.”

John Alexander Dowie was not America’s first faith healer—but he was the first to get rich doing it. Dowie, a Congregational minister originally from Scotland, discovered his unusual gift in 1876, when he was 29. A small girl dying of diphtheria was miraculously cured after Dowie prayed at her bedside.

A year later he launched his healing ministry. After stints in Australia and California, Dowie moved to Chicago and opened a church near the site of the 1893 World’s Fair. Sadie Cody, who was in town to see her uncle Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West Show at the fair, went to see Dowie about a tumor in her back. After he laid his hands on her, Cody later said, she “felt a new life” inside her. The tumor vanished, and word of Dowie’s seemingly miraculous healing powers spread quickly.

In his lifetime, Dowie claimed to cure scores of serious afflictions, including smallpox, cancer, broken limbs, and blindness, as well as lesser ailments like asthma and arthritis. Medical doctors and mainline Protestant ministers, however, dismissed Dowie as a charlatan, noting that many of the illnesses he claimed to cure were psychosomatic, while the most dramatic healings were obviously staged.

Nonetheless, Dowie’s flock multiplied rapidly, and by 1901 he had amassed enough followers to establish his own version of utopia, a biblical city built from scratch on 10 square miles of farmland 40 miles north of Chicago.

Read more: The Sketchy Faith Healer

‘Bible Answer Man’ Booted From Bott Radio Network After Hank Hanegraaff Joins Orthodox Church

According to Christian Post (a site we do not recommend), Jack Graham of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Texas, will replace the “Bible Answer Man”:

The “Bible Answer Man” radio show program with Hank Hanegraaff has been booted from Bott Radio Network over concerns regarding biblical accuracy, following Hanegraaff’s conversion into the Eastern Orthodox Church.

“We want to make sure that our listeners know that the programming that we have on Bott Radio Network is thoroughly biblical,” said BRN President Richard P. Bott II, a member of Lenexa Baptist Church in Lenexa, Kansas, according to Baptist Press.

BRN had reportedly been broadcasting the “Bible Answer Man” since the 1980s, even before Hanegraaff joined the show in 1989.

“We live in strategic times,” Bott told BP.

View article →

Source: ‘Bible Answer Man’ Booted From Bott Radio Network After Hank Hanegraaff Joins Orthodox Church

Visiting Hank Hanegraaff’s New Greek Orthodox Church

After attending a service at St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church, Jeff Maples of Pulpit & Pen made this observation: A lost person could not walk into this church and walk out a changed man. It was literally a Pagan practice. Like a seance. Pure witchcraft was going on in this place.

Now read about Maples experience during a recent St. Nektarios church service:

One of the biggest complaints against Pulpit & Pen we get consistently is that we somehow don’t “have all our facts,” or are “misrepresenting” someone or something. I received countless emails claiming that I “misrepresented” Greek Orthodoxy in my recent posts regarding Hank Hanegraaff and that I should do more research. Well, what better way to research than to go straight to the source in person? Saturday, April 15, known as Holy Saturday in the Orthodox tradition, I along with a couple of friends went to visit St. Nektarios Greek Orthodox Church in Charlotte, NC–the church that Hanegraaff was recently chrismated in. The service began at 11:30 pm, and was still going strong showing no signs of slowing down when we decided to leave at around 2:00 am. While we hoped to have the opportunity to confront Hanegraaff in person, being that we all had to get up early the next morning to worship the living God on Easter morning, we decided to call it a night early. However, there are quite a few things that we can take away from this experience in this church.

View article →

Source: Visiting Hank Hanegraaff’s New Greek Orthodox Church

April 19, 2017: Verse of the day


24:7, 8 I like to think that the procession has been singing the words of verses 1–6 as they cross the Valley of the Kidron. But now their singing is interrupted by the clarion call of the herald at the head of the parade. He calls out to the watchmen at the gates of Jerusalem: “Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.” A sentry on the wall of the city calls back in loud, impressive tones, “Who is this King of glory?” The answer comes back in clear, stentorian words, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.”

The Believers Bible Commentary

24:7 Heaven is opened to receive Christ in his ascension (Luke 24:51; Heb. 9:24).

The ESV Study Bible

7 It is difficult to be sure of this psalm’s original setting. Some explain it from the perspective of the ark’s return from battle (Craigie, 213–14). Others relate it to David’s bringing of the ark to Jerusalem from Kiriath-Jearim (K&D, 1:334). Weiser, 234–35 posits a cult dramatization of a theophany in the temple. This difficulty raises the question of the referent of “heads,” “gates,” and “doors.” Dahood, 1:152, explains “lift up your heads” as an idiom for rejoicing by the godly (cf. Lk 21:28). Similarly, A. A. Anderson, 1:204–5, proposes that “gates” may be symbolic of the people collectively, as in Isaiah 14:31 (cf. Briggs, 1:216–217). The sense of v. 7 would be: “Rejoice greatly, O you people [who live within the gates]” (cf. Zec 9:9). On the other hand, the psalmist may be literally addressing the gates of the temple to open up. Or since the temple itself was not yet erected in David’s time, the psalmist may be referring to the “ancient doors” of Jerusalem. Regardless of the referent, the point remains that Jerusalem had been a Jebusite city with a long history (cf. K. Kenyon, Royal Cities of the Old Testament [New York: Schocken, 1971], 13–35) and over which Melchizedek ruled in Abraham’s days (Ge 14:18). It became the city of God because God chose to dwell in it. Consequently, both the city and the people were called on to receive with joy and anticipation the Great King. The repetition in v. 9 of the refrain bears out the importance of proper preparation for “the King of glory.” Twice the people ask in antiphonal chorus, “Who is [he] this King of glory?” (vv. 8, 10).

8–10 “The King of glory” is “the Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle” (v. 8) and “The Lord Almighty—he is the King of glory” (v. 10). He is Yahweh (three times, vv. 8, 10), the God of the covenantal people. He brings blessing, victory, and vindication to his people because he is their God and Savior (v. 5). He is the Warrior (see Reflections, p. 733, Yahweh Is the Divine Warrior). The descriptive phrases “strong and mighty” and “mighty in battle” (v. 5) portray him as the Warrior for his people (cf. Ex 15:2–3; Nu 10:35; Dt 10:17; Isa 10:21; Jer 32:18)—coming not to fight against them but for them. He is “Lord Almighty” (ṣebāʾôt, “of hosts”) as he commands both the heavenly beings (89:6–8; 103:20–21; 148:2) and the host of stars and constellations (Isa 40:26; Joel 2:10–11; see Reflections, p. 263, Lord Sabaoth). The Creator-God is the King of Glory and has come down to dwell in the midst of the city of human beings.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

24:7 Lift up your heads The psalmists asks the doors of the temple to open for Yahweh’s entrance. This psalm was most likely used when the ark of the covenant returned from battle (see Num 10:35–36 and note).

The ark of the covenant symbolizes Yahweh’s presence. Israelites used the ark in military campaigns during the conquest of the land (Josh 6:1–21), the period of the judges (Judg 20:27–28; 1 Sam 4:1–11), and in the early days of the monarchy (1 Sam 14:18–23). They eventually housed it in Solomon’s temple (1 Kgs 8:6).

24:8 mighty in war The psalmist portrays Yahweh, the King of glory, as a mighty warrior (Exod 15:3). Throughout the ot, biblical writers portray Yahweh going out to battle with His people (Deut 20:2–4).

Faithlife Study Bible

April 19 – Thinking Biblically

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


The way you think determines the way you behave.

God is concerned about the way you think. That’s why Paul said, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2). In Philippians 4:8 he instructs us to think about that which is true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy.

When Jesus spoke of a pure heart in Matthew 5:8, He was talking about sanctified thinking. The Greek word translated “heart” is kardia, from which we get the word cardiac. While we often relate heart to the emotions (e.g., “He has a broken heart”), the Bible relates it primarily to the intellect (e.g., “Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders,” Matt. 15:19). That’s why you must “watch over your heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23).

In a secondary way, however, heart relates to the will and emotions because they are influenced by the intellect. If you are committed to something, it will affect your will, which in turn will affect your emotions.

The Greek word translated “pure” in Matthew 5:8 means “to cleanse.” In the moral sense it speaks of being free from the filth of sin. It also refers to something that is unmixed, unalloyed, or unadulterated. Spiritual integrity and sincere motives are appropriate applications of its meaning to the Christian life.

Jesus was saying the Kingdom citizen is blessed because he or she has pure thoughts and pure motives that together produce holy living. Someone might claim to be religious and have pure motives, but if his behavior isn’t righteous, his heart isn’t fixed on God. Similarly, you can go to church, carry a Bible, and recite verses, but if your heart isn’t clean, you haven’t met God’s standard.

You must do the will of God from a pure heart (Eph. 6:6). Toward that end, make David’s prayer yours as well: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).


Suggestions for Prayer:  Memorize Psalm 19:14 and make it a part of your daily prayers.

For Further Study: Read the following verses, noting the characteristics of a pure heart: Psalm 9:1; 26:2; 27:8; 28:7; 57:7.[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. 122). 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.


Being justified by his grace…heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Titus 3:7


Let me say this to any of you who are still trying to add up your human merits—look away in faith to the Lord of abundant mercy!

Fixing yourself over and trying to straighten yourself out will never be sufficient—you must come to Jesus as you are!

Our Lord told about two men who went up into the temple to pray. One said, “God, here I am—all fixed up. Every hair is in place!”

The other said, “Oh God, I just crawled in off skid row. Have mercy on me!”

God forgave the skid row bum, but sent the other man away, hardened and unrepentant and unforgiven.

We come to Him just as we are but in humble repentance. When the human spirit comes to God knowing that anything it receives will be out of God’s mercy, then repentance has done its proper work!

God promises to forgive and forget and to take that man into His heart and teach him that all of God’s kindnesses are due to His mercy. What more can a sinner ask?


Dear Lord, You know me as I really am, yet You extended Your great mercy toward me. Thank You for Your divine love and forgiveness.[1]

Remember Your Salvation

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (3:4–7)

As the apostle moves to his third reminder, the transitional conjunction But turns the emphasis from remembering our former condition of lostness to the equally important need to remember our present condition of salvation. Again, Paul lists seven categories (as in both previous points), this time the seven aspects of salvation that are revealed in the single sentence that comprises verses 4–7.

In this short passage Paul sweeps across the glorious truths of salvation, every facet of which is sovereignly initiated and empowered by God alone. There are doctrines here that could be studied and pondered for months without mining all their truth.

We are now radically different from the way we once were, and from the way the unsaved still are, solely because of God’s kindness, His love, His mercy, His washing of regeneration, His renewing by the Holy Spirit, His Son Jesus Christ our Savior, and His grace.

Among other things, remembering our salvation should motivate us to keep in mind that the only reason we are different now is that He saved us. When we are bombarded by our ungodly culture—by ungodly media, ungodly educators, ungodly politicians, ungodly entertainers and sports figures, ungodly books and magazines, ungodly neighbors and co-workers, and even by ungodly friends and relatives—we should focus above all else on the sovereign grace of God, who delivered each one of us from that life purely by His own will and for His own glory and not because of anything desirable or worthy that was in us. It is God “who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), who does not wish “for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9), and who “so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life, … that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:16–17).

Every aspect of salvation is from God and from God alone. First, we should remember that we were saved by the kindness of God our Savior. Chrēstotēs (kindness) connotes genuine goodness and generosity of heart. Our salvation from sin and lostness and death issued wholly from God’s kindness, His loving, benevolent, and entirely gracious concern to draw us to Himself and redeem us from sin forever.

It is God’s nature to be kind to the lost. “Love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return,”

Jesus commanded; “and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35, emphasis added). God is kinder still to His children, those who are saved. In his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul declared, “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–7, emphasis added).

Paul again refers to God as Savior, the central title for both God the Father and for Christ the Son and the theme of this letter (see also 1:3, 4; 2:10, 11, 13; 3:6). Near the beginning of his letter to believers in Rome, the apostle asked rhetorically, “Do you think lightly of the riches of His [God’s] kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4; cf. 11:22). It is the sovereign kindness of God that initiates repentance, the first step in salvation.

Second, we should remember that we were saved by God’s uninfluenced and unearned love for mankind, a phrase that translates the compound Greek noun philanthrōpia, from which the English philanthropy is derived. It is composed of phileō (“to have affection for”) and anthrōpos (“man,” or mankind) and refers to compassion, especially the eagerness to deliver someone from pain, trouble, or danger. It involves more than mere emotion and always finds a way to express itself in some form of helpfulness.

In the last two chapters of Acts, Luke records two instances of unsaved Gentiles showing philanthrōpia. Before Paul boarded ship to be taken as a prisoner to Rome, the centurion “Julius treated Paul with consideration [philanthrōpia] and allowed him to go to his friends and receive care” (Acts 27:3). After the shipwreck off the coast of Malta, Paul and all the others on board managed to safely reach shore, just as God had promised (27:22–26). Luke then reports that “the natives showed us extraordinary kindness [philanthrōpia]; for because of the rain that had set in and because of the cold, they kindled a fire and received us all” (28:2).

The Old Testament speaks often of the Lord’s loving kindness, which never ceases or fails (Lam. 3:22). David declared, “Thou, O Lord, art a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in loving kindness and truth” (Ps. 86:15; cf. 145:8). Another psalmist proclaimed, “He has made His wonders to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and compassionate” (Ps. 111:4).

In the present passage, kindness and love for mankind are virtually synonymous. The two words together, especially in the context of these four verses, reflect the even deeper agapē love that God has for-fallen mankind. The best known and most beloved passage that expresses God’s agapē love is “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Because of God’s great and compassionate love for mankind, He delivers sinners from the oppression and fatal danger of their iniquity.

It was through the incarnation of Jesus Christ that God’s sovereign kindness and love for mankind appeared, at which time His grace also appeared (Titus 2:11). “God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4–6). All believers can exult with Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20; cf. Rev. 1:5).

John Calvin wrote that, although God

testifies his goodness and love to all, yet we know it by faith only, when he declares himself to be our Father in Christ. Before Paul was called to the faith of Christ, he enjoyed innumerable gifts of God, which might have given him a taste of God’s fatherly kindness; he had been educated, from his infancy, in the doctrine of the law; yet he wanders in darkness, so as not to perceive the goodness of God, till the Spirit enlightened his mind, and till Christ came forth as the witness and pledge of the grace of God the Father, from which, but for him, we are all excluded. Thus he means that the kindness of God is not revealed and known but by the light of faith.

Third, we should remember that we did not save ourselves by self-effort or any other means, but that God saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy.

Saved is from sōzō, which, although it is sometimes used in the New Testament of physical, temporal deliverance (see, e.g., Matt. 8:25; John 12:27), is most often used of spiritual salvation. Those words have always been cherished by those who have been saved. Our salvation is the most important and precious thing about us, to which nothing else can begin to compare. Biblical Christianity is a saving religion, and salvation has always been the central theme of Christian songs and hymns.

In the negative sense, salvation relates to our deliverance from the penalty of sin, that is, from divine wrath, spiritual death, and hell. Still again, we are pointed to that beloved text in the gospel of John. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,” the Son Himself declared, “that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved [sōzō] through Him” (John 3:16–17).

In the positive sense, salvation grants us the privilege “to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), to be made “alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:5), to be delivered “from the domain of darkness, and transferred … to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13), and to have “the hope of eternal life” (Titus 1:2).

After Pentecost, “the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47). In words that may have been part of an early church creed, Paul wrote, “It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). The purpose of the incarnation was to accomplish the sacrifice that would save lost sinners, among whom we all were once numbered (Eph. 2:5).

The Savior did not redeem us because of anything that we were, or could ever be, in ourselves. Ephesians 2:8–9 makes it clear: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast” (Eph. 2:8–9). No deeds, even those done in relative righteousness, could have earned or merited our salvation. We made no contribution to God’s sovereign and gracious work of salvation. We did not deserve deliverance from sin and death. We did not deserve to be born again, recreated in the very image of our Lord. We did not deserve to become God’s children and joint heirs with His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. We did not deserve the promise of everlasting life, which we will spend in heaven in the continual presence of God.

We were rather saved according to His mercy. Mercy is from eleos, which refers to the outward manifestation of pity and assumes need on the part of those who receive it and sufficient resources to meet the need on the part of those who show it. In some ways, mercy is similar to grace, which Paul mentions in verse 7. But whereas grace relates to guilt, mercy relates to affliction. Whereas grace relates to the state of the sinner before God the judge, mercy relates to the condition of the sinner in his sin. Whereas grace judicially forgives the offender for his wrongdoing, mercy compassionately helps him recover.

Fourth, we should remember that we were saved by God’s mercifully deciding to grant the washing of regeneration. When we were saved, we were cleansed of our sin, the decay and filth that is produced by spiritual deadness. Speaking of that truth in his letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul explains that we were cleansed “by the washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26). James declares that, “In the exercise of His will He [God] brought us forth by the word of truth, so that we might be, as it were, the first fruits among His creatures” (James 1:18). Peter reminds us that we “have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God”(1 Pet. 1:23).

Palingenesia (regeneration) carries the idea of receiving n new life, of being born again, or born from above. Jesus told the inquiring Nicodemus, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5; cf. Eph. 5:26). In his first letter, the apostle John repeatedly speaks of the marvelous truth of the new birth. We are assured that, “If [we] know that He [Christ] is righteous, [we also] know that everyone also who practices righteousness is born of Him” (1 John 2:29). Conversely, we also are assured that “No one who is born of God practices sin, because His seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God” (3:9; cf. 5:18). We are assured that “everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (4:7) and that “Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (5:1).

Fifth, we should remember that our salvation came through our renewing by the Holy Spirit. This phrase moves to the next logical step: the effect, or result, of regeneration—namely, the new life that emerges from the new birth. In Romans 8:2, Paul reveals that “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.” The Holy Spirit, working through the Word, empowers our new life in Christ. “If any man is in Christ,” the apostle explains in his second letter to the church in Corinth, “he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). That is the Spirit’s work of sanctification (cf. 1 Pet. 1:2). He begins moving the believer up the ladder of glory from one level to the next (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18).

The Father not only saved us through His Holy Spirit, but He poured out His Spirit upon us richly and without measure when we were born again (cf. Acts 2:38–39; 1 Cor. 12:7, 11, 13). The Lord “is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power [of His Holy Spirit] that works within us” (Eph. 3:20). Because of that available power in us, we are commanded to “be filled with the Spirit” (Eph. 5:18). The Holy Spirit gives us spiritual life, sustains our spiritual life, empowers our spiritual life, and guarantees that our spiritual life will become eternal life, because He is the seal, or guarantee, of eternal life (Eph. 1:13–14).

Sixth, in order to prevent feelings of hostility toward the corrupters of our society, we should remember that we were saved only by the substitutionary and atoning sacrifice of God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Savior, which God, by His eternal decree, made efficacious for us before we were even born. His death in our place and for us is the means, and the only means, of our salvation. In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter declared to the assembled Jews that, although Jesus was put to death by their own ungodly leaders, He nevertheless was sovereignly “delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). And the death that He died in God’s plan was a death in which He bore all the sins of all who would ever believe.

The seventh aspect of sovereign salvation is equally from God alone. We should remember that we were saved by God’s grace, as Paul has already alluded to in verse 5. In his second letter to Timothy, the apostle explains in more detail that God “has saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9; cf. Rom. 4:2–8; 9:11; Eph. 2:8–9).

Paul is not here using justified in its narrow, forensic sense of God’s declaring believers righteous based on the merits of Jesus Christ that are applied on their behalf (see, e.g., Rom. 4:6–8; cf. 3:24, 26; Gal. 2:7). He is rather using justified in its broad, more general sense as a synonym for salvation. Even John Calvin, a stickler for the narrow, precise definition of justification, recognized that in this passage it refers to salvation in general. He says, “What does he mean by the word justified? The context seems to demand that its meaning shall be extended further than to the imputation of righteousness.”

Paul used his own life as proof that salvation is based entirely on the gracious merit and work of Christ. “If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more,” he testifies:

[I was] circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless. But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. (Phil. 3:4–9)

Because Jesus paid the price for our sins, they are graciously removed; justice is fully satisfied; and God’s kindness, love, mercy, regeneration, renewing, and grace are therefore enabled to act. Grace gives us what we do not and cannot deserve. We do not deserve to be forgiven, to have our sins removed, to have Christ’s own righteousness imputed to us, to be given heavenly citizenship, to be justified, sanctified, and one day glorified in the very presence of our gracious Savior and Lord. The bottom line is stated in the three words: He saved us!

That divine saving grace provides another amazing benefit to undeserving sinners: By faith they are made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. As Paul declares more fully in his Roman letter, “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him” (Rom. 8:16–17). Peter exults: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven” (1 Pet. 1:3–4).[2]

3:4 The dismal picture of man’s depravity is interrupted by one of the great buts of Scripture. How thankful we can be for these nick-of-time conjunctions that signal God’s marvelous intervention to save man from destroying himself! Someone has called them God’s roadblocks on man’s way to hell.

But when the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared … This occurred when the Lord Jesus appeared to the world over nineteen hundred years ago. In another sense, God’s goodness and lovingkindness appeared to us when we were saved. It was a manifestation of these attributes that He would send His beloved Son to die for a world of rebellious sinners. The word used for lovetoward men is the Greek word from which philanthropy comes; it combines the thoughts of love, graciousness, and compassion. The title God our Savior refers to God the Father—our Savior in the sense that He sent His Son into the world as our Sacrifice for sin. The Lord Jesus is also called God our Savior (2:13) because He paid the necessary penalty in order that we might be pardoned and forgiven.

3:5 He saved us from the guilt and penalty of all our sins—past, present, and future. They were all future when the Savior died, and His death covered them all. But one of the simplest, clearest truths of the gospel is the most difficult for man to receive. It is that salvation is not based on good works; one doesn’t become a Christian by living a Christian life. It is not good people who go to heaven. The consistent testimony of the Bible is that man cannot earn or merit salvation (Eph. 2:9; Rom. 3:20; 4:4, 5; 9:16; 11:6; Gal. 2:16; 3:11). Man cannot save himself by good works; all his righteous deeds are like polluted rags in God’s sight (Isa. 64:6). He cannot become a Christian by living a Christian life for the simple reason that he has no power in himself to live a Christian life. It is not good people who go to heaven; it is sinners who have been saved by God’s grace!

Good works do not earn salvation; they are the result of salvation. Wherever there is true salvation there will also be good works. So we read that God did not save us because of works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy. Salvation is a work of mercy—not justice. Justice demands that the deserved punishment be administered; mercy provides a righteous way by which the punishment is averted.

God saved us by the washing of regeneration. Conversion is really a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17), and here that new creation is presented under the figure of a bath. It is the same figure used by the Lord Jesus when He taught the disciples that there is only one bath of regeneration but many necessary cleansings from defilement (John 13:10). That bath of regeneration has nothing to do with baptism. It is not a bodily cleansing by water, but a moral cleansing by the word of God (John 15:3). Baptism is not even a symbol of this bath; it rather depicts burial with Christ into death (Rom. 6:4).

Our new birth is also spoken of as a renewing of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of God brings about a marvelous transformation—not putting new clothes on the old man, but putting a new man in the clothes! The Holy Spirit is the Agent in regeneration and the word of God is the instrument.

3:6 God poured out the Holy Spirit on us abundantly. Every believer is indwelt by the Spirit from the moment he is born again. The Spirit is sufficient to bring about the glorious renewal referred to. The Spirit is given through Jesus Christ our Savior. Just as the abundance of Pharaoh’s court was mediated to Jacob’s sons through Joseph, so the blessings of God, including the inexpressible blessing of His Spirit, are mediated to us through the Lord Jesus. Jesus is our “Joseph.”

All three Persons of the Blessed Trinity are mentioned in connection with our salvation: God the Father, (v. 4); the Holy Spirit, (v. 5); and God the Son (v. 6).

3:7 The immediate result of our regeneration is that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, God reckons us righteous by an act of amazing grace. And we become heirs of all that God has prepared for those who love Him. Everything that is included in being with Christ and like Him for all eternity is our hope.[3]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1996). Titus (pp. 149–155). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2143–2144). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


And he trembling and astonished said, LORD, what wilt thou have me to do?…

ACTS 9:6

The most harmful mistake we make concerning time is to think that it has somehow a mysterious power to perfect human nature and change the human personality.

We say of a foolish young man, “Time will make him wiser,” or we see a new Christian acting like anything but a Christian and hope that time will someday turn him into a saint.

The truth is that time has no more power to sanctify a man than space has. Indeed, time is only a fiction by which we account for change. It is a transformation, not time, that turns fools into wise men and sinners into saints, Christ bringing it about by means of the changes He works in the heart!

Saul the persecutor became Paul the servant of God, but time did not make the change. Christ wrought the miracle, the same Christ who once changed water into wine. One spiritual experience followed another in fairly rapid succession until the violent Saul became a gentle, God-enamored soul, ready to lay down his life for the faith he once hated. It should be obvious that time had no part in the making of the man of God!

Human nature is not fixed and for this we should thank God day and night! We are still capable of change. We can become something other than what we are. By the power of the gospel the covetous man may become generous, the egotist lowly in his own eyes. The thief may learn to steal no more, the blasphemer to fill his mouth with praises unto God.[1]


“but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.” And the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. And Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. (9:6–8)

The genuineness of Saul’s conversion immediately became evident. From Acts 22:10, we learn that he asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” Saul’s surrender was complete, as he humbly submitted himself to the will of the Lord he had hated. In contrast to the teaching of many today, Saul knew nothing of accepting Christ as Savior, then (Hopefully) making him Lord later. The plain teaching of Scripture is that Jesus is Lord (cf. Rom. 10:9–10), independent of any human response. The question in salvation is not whether Jesus is Lord, but whether we are submissive to His lordship. Saul was, from the moment of his conversion to the end of his life.

In response to Saul’s inquiry, Jesus told him to rise and enter the city of Damascus, and it shall be told you what you must do. Luke notes that the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. This incident was no subjective projection of Saul’s mind but an actual historical occurrence. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. His entry into the city was very different than he had anticipated. Instead of barging in as the conquering hero, the scourge of Christians, he entered helplessly blinded, being led by the hand.

God crushed Saul, bringing him to the point of total consecration. From the ashes of Saul’s old life would arise the noblest and most useful man of God the church has ever known.[2]

9:3–6 His traveling party drew near Damascus. Suddenly a great light shone around him from heaven, causing Saul to fall to the ground. He heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” When Saul inquired, “Who are You, Lord?” he was told, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.”

In order to appreciate Saul’s emotions at this time, it is necessary to remember that he was convinced that Jesus of Nazareth was dead and buried in a Judean grave. Since the leader of the sect had been destroyed, all that was now necessary was to destroy his followers. Then the earth would be free of this scourge.

Now with crushing force, Saul learns that Jesus is not dead at all, but that He has been raised from the dead and has been glorified at the right hand of God in heaven! It was this sight of the glorified Savior that changed the entire direction of his life.

Saul also learned that day that when he had been persecuting the disciples of Jesus, he had been persecuting the Lord Himself. Pain inflicted on the members of the Body on earth was felt by the Head of the Body in heaven.

For Saul it was first doctrine, then duty. First, he was properly instructed as to the Person of Jesus. Then he was sent into Damascus where he would receive his marching orders.[3]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (p. 269). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1609). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

April 19 – Reconciling with Others

Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, so that your opponent may not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last cent.—Matt. 5:25–26

The time for reconciliation with others is always now, just as it is with salvation. Tomorrow may be too late. No excuse is valid to allow bitterness, anger, hatred, or any other sin to keep us separated from another person. Jesus illustrates here that we should make good on any debt or settle any grievance before it is too late and we’re imprisoned.

In the Roman Empire, two opponents at law could settle an issue on the way to court, but not after a judge became involved. To avoid judgment and imprisonment, the guilty person had to pay “the last cent,” or everything owed in debt.

Being thrown into prison and not being able to get out until a debt is paid is Jesus’ analogy to the Father’s punishment. We can’t miss the Son’s teaching here: we must make every effort possible, with no delay, to mend any broken relationship with a brother before we can avoid divine chastening and have a right relationship with God.

We know that because of sin, none of us is ever completely at peace or perfectly related to another. And since it’s impossible to have perfectly right attitudes toward others or God, no worship is ever fully acceptable. All of Jesus’ teachings in this passage and the rest of the Sermon on the Mount show us again the utterly perfect standard of God’s righteousness and the absolute impossibility of our meeting that standard on our own.

There ’s no denying the pain of strained and severed relationships. But there ’s nothing like knowing you’ve done everything you can to make it right. Can you live in the Lord’s peace even if nothing changes?[1]

The Effect on Our Relations with Others

Make friends quickly with your opponent at law while you are with him on the way, in order that your opponent may not deliver you to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you be thrown into prison. Truly I say to you, you shall not come out of there, until you have paid up the last cent. (5:25–26)

These verses are essentially a commentary on the previous two. Using an illustration from the common practice of imprisoning a person for an unpaid debt, Jesus teaches that if someone holds a debt of any sort against us, he is to make it good as soon as possible and before it is too late and he is imprisoned.

The time for reconciliation, just as the time for salvation, is always now. Tomorrow is often too late. We are not to allow bitterness, anger, hatred, or any other sin to keep us separated from other people, whoever they are.

Whereas in verses 23–24 the command for reconciliation is given to the innocent as well as the guilty party, here the focus is strictly on the one who is guilty. Roman law provided that a plaintiff could bring the accused with him to face the judge. The two themselves could settle the matter on the way, but not after the court became involved. If a man had wronged an opponent at law (indicating that the issue was headed for court) he should make friends quickly, that is, settle the account with his opponent before he had to face judgment. The sequence of going from the judge to the officer to prison shows the typical procedure in dealing with a guilty person. To avoid3udgment and prison he had to pay the last cent (a small Roman coin) owed.

This illustration is a picture of sin against another person. Such sin must be resolved to avoid having to face a sentence froin the divine Judge.

The precise penalty to which Jesus alludes is not made clear. Being thrown into prison and not being able to get out of there until the debt is paid is an analogy of God’s punishment. The basic teaching is plain and unmistakable: we are to make every effort, with no delay, to make our relationship right with our brother before our relationship can be right with God and we can avoid chastening.

In the fullest sense, of course, because no one ever fully has right attitudes toward others, no worship is acceptable. Thus everything Jesus teaches in this passage, as in the rest of the Sermon on the Mount, is to show the absolutely perfect standard of God’s righteousness and the absolutely impossible task of our meeting that standard in our own power. He shatters self-righteousness in order to drive us to His righteousness, which alone is acceptable to God.[2]

5:25, 26 It is against a litigious spirit and a reluctance to admit guilt that Jesus warns here. It is better to promptly settle with an accuser rather than run the risk of a court trial. If that happens, we are bound to lose. While there is some disagreement among scholars about the identity of the people in this parable, the point is clear: if you are wrong, be quick to admit it and make things right. If you remain unrepentant, your sin will eventually catch up with you and you will not only have to make full restitution but suffer additional penalties as well. And don’t be in a hurry to go to court. If you do, the law will find you out, and you will pay the last penny.[3]

25–26 Compare Luke 12:57–59, where the contextual application warns impenitent Israel to be reconciled to God before it is too late. Many conclude that Matthew has “ethicized” an originally eschatological saying. But the language of the two pericopes is not close, and it is more realistic to postulate two stories from one itinerant preacher. Explanations for one or two of the changes (e.g., McNeile) are not convincing unless they fit a pattern that justifies all the changes.

Jesus again urges haste (v. 25). Settle matters with the offended adversary while still “with him on the way” to court, not on “the road to life” (Bonnard). In the ancient world, debtors were jailed until the debts were paid. Thus v. 26 is part of the narrative fabric and gives no justification for purgatory, universal restoration, or urgent reconciliation to God. It simply insists on immediate action. Malicious anger is so evil—and God’s judgment so certain (v. 22)—that we must do all in our power to end it (cf. Eph 4:26–27).[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 118). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

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

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

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 183). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.


And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.

—John 1:16

I dare to ask in this context: What have you received of His grace and mercy?

Even though you may still be unconverted and going your own way, you have received much out of the ocean of His fullness. You have received the pulsing life that beats in your bosom. You have received the brilliant mind and brain within the protective covering of your skull. You have received a memory that strings the events you cherish and love as a jeweler strings pearls into a necklace and keeps them for you as long as you live and beyond.

All that you have is out of His grace. Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, who became flesh and dwelt among us, is the open channel through which God moves to provide all the benefits He gives to saints and sinners.

And what about the years, the rest of your existence?

You cannot believe that you have earned it.

You cannot believe that it has something to do with whether you are good or bad.

Confess that it is out of His grace, for the entire universe is the beneficiary of God’s grace and goodness. CES024

Lord, I so often forget how totally dependant I am on Your grace for everything in life. I confess that today, and thank You for Your mercy. Amen. [1]

The Witnesses to the Incarnation

John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. (1:15–16)

In keeping with his purpose in writing his gospel (20:31), John brought in other witnesses to the truth about the divine, preexistent, incarnate Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. He first called on John the Baptist, who also testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ” John’s testimony will be related in more detail beginning in verse 19. Here the apostle John merely summarizes it. John the Baptist, of course, had died long before this gospel was written. But as noted in chapter 2 of this volume, there was still a John the Baptist cult in existence. So as he did in verse 8, the apostle notes John the Baptist’s inferiority to Christ—this time in the Baptist’s own words. In contrast to some of his followers, he understood clearly and accepted gladly his subordinate role.

That John cried out speaks of the bold, public nature of his witness to Jesus; he was “the voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight!’ ” (Matt. 3:3). He was the herald, proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah, and calling people to repent and prepare their hearts to receive Him. Acknowledging Jesus’ preeminence John said of Him, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.” Jesus, the Expected (lit., “coming”) One (Matt. 11:3; Luke 7:19–20; John 6:14) came after John in time; He was born six months later (Luke 1:26) and began His public ministry after John began his. Yet, as John acknowledged, Jesus had a higher rank than he did, for He existed before him. The reference here, as in verses 1 and 2, is to Jesus’ eternal preexistence (cf. 8:58).

Then John called on the testimony of believers, including himself and all who have received the fullness of blessing from the one who is “full of grace and truth” (v. 14). Because in Christ “all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:9), He provides for all His people’s needs (Rom. 5:2; Eph. 4:12–13; Col. 1:28; 2:10; 2 Peter 1:3). That abundant supply will never be exhausted or diminished; grace will continually follow grace in a limitless, never-ending flow (cf. 2 Cor. 12:9; Eph. 2:7).[2]

1:15 John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus was the Son of God. Before the Lord entered upon His public ministry, John had been telling men about Him. When Jesus arrived on the scene, John said, in effect, “This is the One I have been describing to you.” Jesus came after John as far as His birth and ministry were concerned. He was born six months after John and presented Himself to the people of Israel some time after John had been preaching and baptizing. But Jesus was preferred before John. He was greater than John; He was worthy of more honor, the simple reason being that He was before John. He existed from all eternity—the Son of God.

1:16 All who believe on the Lord Jesus receive supplies of spiritual strength out of His fullness. His fullness is so great that He can provide for all Christians in all countries and in all ages. The expression grace for grace probably means “grace upon grace” or “abundant grace.” Here grace means God’s gracious favor which He showers on His beloved children.[3]

15 For the second time in the prologue, the evangelist refers to the ministry of John the Baptist (cf. vv. 6–8). John bore witness to the Word incarnate by crying out (krazō, GK 3189, used here as a technical term for prophetic speech; cf. EDNT 2:313) that Jesus, who came after John in point of time nevertheless took precedence over him, because Jesus existed before John. It was commonly believed in antiquity that “chronological priority meant superiority” (Morris, 108). Some take the last expression (prōtos mou, GK 4755, 1609) to mean “first of me,” i.e., “my superior,” for pro emou (GK 4574, 1847) would be the normal way to say “before me” (cf. Jn 5:7; Ro 16:7; Gal 1:17). In that case John the Baptist would be saying that Jesus had surpassed him because he was superior to him (“he was ever First,” TCNT). In either case the Baptist was proclaiming the absolute superiority of the eternal Word, who entered history as Jesus, God’s one and only Son. The verb tenses in v. 15 are noteworthy (martyrei, “testifies,” GK 3455, present; kekragen, “cries out,” GK 3189, perfect but used with the force of a present) and emphasize that the testimony of the Baptist continues with force into the present time.

16 Following the reference to John the Baptist in v. 15, the evangelist resumes his line of thought from v. 14. The one and only Son is “full of grace” (v. 14), and out of his “fullness” they had all “received one blessing after another.” Not only had they received grace when they came to him in faith, but their experience of the goodness of God was one of continuous blessedness. The NIV rendering of charin anti charitos (“one blessing after another”; lit., “grace instead of grace”) makes clear the progressive blessings that come in the Christian life. Each experience of the grace of God is replaced by the next, like the manna that came fresh every morning. John’s point is that at the heart of new life in Christ is a constant supply of grace. It is interesting that John uses the term “grace” only here in the prologue (vv. 14, 16–17) and no place else. (Contrast the writings of Paul, who uses charis, GK 5921, over one hundred times in his letters.)[4]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (p. 44). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1468). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 373–374). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 19 – The Soldiers’ Saving Response

“Now the centurion, and those who were with him … became very frightened and said, ‘Truly this was the Son of God!’ ”

Matthew 27:54


The testimony of the soldiers after Jesus’ crucifixion demonstrates the sufficiency of His death for all sinners.

Most of the time our daily activities are dictated by the routine responsibilities of our jobs. That’s how it was for the Roman soldiers who stood at the foot of the cross when Jesus gave up His life. They were there simply out of duty, to make sure the crucifixion was carried out properly and without interference.

The soldiers probably had little knowledge of Judaism and had not heard of Jesus before, unless it was by hearsay. Therefore, they really had no idea why the Jewish leaders and most of the crowd were so intent on killing Him. To these anonymous soldiers, Christ’s claims to be the Son of God and a king seemed equally ludicrous and harmless.

The darkness and the earthquake, however, radically changed their attitudes. Their emotional fear produced by those events quickly turned to reverential awe for who Jesus was. They sensed that the natural phenomena had a supernatural origin and suddenly realized that Jesus was indeed the Son of God.

Jesus’ gracious and profound words, spoken from the cross and before Pilate, and His humble, selfless demeanor worked on the soldiers’ hearts. But it was the ministry of the Holy Spirit that ultimately convinced them to confess Christ’s deity.

The declaration “Truly this was the Son of God!” proclaimed by the centurion (see also Mark 15:39) on behalf of himself and his men, was for the soldiers a profession of faith in Christ. Although that testimony was uttered by someone else after Jesus had died, it became in essence His final testimony from the cross. It also offers us compelling proof that His grace can extend to all sinners, even to those who helped put Him to death. In John 12:32 Jesus announced, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.”


Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for someone today who needs salvation—perhaps someone whom you quit praying for because you thought it unlikely they would ever respond to the gospel.

For Further Study: Read Mark 10:17–27. The young man was outwardly a prime candidate for salvation, in contrast to the Roman soldiers. What kept him outside the kingdom? ✧ What do verses 26–27 teach about the nature of salvation?[1]

Saving Faith

Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!” (27:54)

As the title might suggest, a centurion (from the Latin word for 100) was a military officer in charge of 100 men and was therefore of significant rank. This particular officer had been given the responsibility of supervising the three crucifixions. It is likely that he and the other soldiers who were with him keeping guard over Jesus had been in the Praetorium when He was first brought there by the Jewish leaders. They may have been with the cohort of Roman soldiers who accompanied the chief priests and elders to the Garden of Gethsemane to arrest Jesus. They doubtlessly had heard the charges brought against Him by those leaders and had also heard Pilate’s repeated declaration of Jesus’ innocence of any crime against Rome. They may even have overheard the conversation between Pilate and Jesus about His being King of the Jews (John 18:33–37).

Those soldiers probably participated in Jesus’ scourging, in placing the crown of thorns on His head, in taunting Him, and in beating Him with the mock scepter. On Golgotha they had nailed Him to the cross, indifferently gambled for His garments, and jeered at Him while He hung there in agony.

If those men were religious at all, they were idolaters. And if they were from the garrison at Pilate’s headquarters in Caesarea they probably had little knowledge of Judaism and perhaps no previous knowledge at all about Jesus. If they knew anything of Jesus’ teachings or activities it was by hearsay They were at the cross simply because it was their duty to make certain the execution was carried out properly and without interference.

Because Pilate had pronounced Jesus innocent, they knew He was no threat to Rome. But because the governor finally consented to His crucifixion, they had no choice but to carry out the command. To those men Jesus was no more than a bizarre figure who apparently made a foolish and utterly harmless claim to be some sort of religious king. It was obvious when they first saw Jesus that He posed no military or political threat to Rome, and it must have seemed strange to them that the Jewish leaders took Him so seriously. When He was brought before Pilate, He had already been beaten and spit upon, and He looked anything but regal or dangerous. He neither looked nor talked like the many insurrectionists the soldiers had seen and probably helped execute. He not only had no band of fighting men to come to His defense but had no visible followers at all. And because He did not even offer any self-defense, the guards may have thought Him mentally deranged. When He eventually spoke to Pilate, He claimed to rule a kingdom that was not of this world, sounding to them like He was completely out of touch with reality.

The hatred of Jesus by the Jewish leaders and the multitude was obvious enough to the soldiers, but the reason for it was anything but obvious. They had heard the screams of “Crucify, crucify,” but could hardly have had any idea what was behind the intense bitterness. His supposed claim to be the Son of God seemed just as ludicrous and harmless as His claim to be a king.

But as the fourth hour of His crucifixion began, several things happened to change the soldiers’ attitude, and when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, the soldiers became very frightened.

The first thing to unnerve them would have been the sudden darkness. They would not have been aware of the tearing of the Temple veil and probably not the opening of the graves. But they could not escape noticing the earthquake with its violent splitting of rocks, and that was a terrifying experience even for hardened legionnaires. Phobeō (very frightened) is the term from which we get phobia and refers to sheer terror, the absolute panic that causes rapid heartbeat, profuse sweating, and extreme anxiety It is the verb form of the word used by Matthew to describe the disciples’ response to seeing Jesus walk on the water, thinking He was a ghost (14:26). It is also the word used to describe the reaction of Peter, James, and John when they glimpsed Jesus’ divine glory and heard the Father speak directly to them on the Mount of Transfiguration (17:6).

The context and circumstances of the passage clearly indicate, however, that the centurion and his men were frightened of much more than the darkness and earthquake. They sensed that those awesome natural phenomena had a supernatural origin, and their primary fear was not of those events themselves but of the divine power behind them. Their emotional fright soon turned to spiritual, reverential awe, as testified by the fact that they did not run for their lives or try to find a place of safety but rather declared, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

Mark (15:39) tells us that it was the centurion who actually spoke the words, but Matthew makes clear that he spoke for his men as well. All of them suddenly realized that Jesus was not deluded or deranged but was indeed who the Jews had accused Him of claiming to be. As already noted, they had heard their own commander repeatedly affirm Jesus’ innocence, and they may have heard of the warning by Pilate’s wife, who declared Jesus not only to be innocent but righteous (Matt. 27:19). More than that the few words Jesus spoke during His appearances before Pilate and from the cross must have penetrated their pagan, hardened minds. They now knew they stood in the presence of One somehow related to deity.

The soldiers’ fear gives witness to their awareness of sin, and their reverential awe gives witness to their being confronted by God’s holiness and righteousness. And just as Isaiah in his Temple vision (Isa. 6), they suddenly realized they stood under God’s judgment and condemnation.

And I believe the soldiers’ confession of Jesus’ deity gives witness to the possibility of their salvation. Both their fear and their confession were spiritual responses to Christ. From Luke we learn that the centurion, and presumably the other soldiers as well, not only confessed Jesus’ divinity but “began praising God” (23:47).

The deep conviction of the men is seen in their introducing the confession with truly. They proclaimed without reservation or qualification that the Man at whose feet they now stood was indeed the Son of God.

Some scholars maintain that, because of the Greek construction of the text and because of the soldiers’ pagan background, their statement should be rendered, “Truly this was a son of God,” as seen in some modern versions. The linguistic argument is based on what is called an anarthrous construction, meaning the Greek noun does not have a definite article (“the”). Such is the case in the text of Matthew 27:54, where there is no Greek article (the) before Son. Ordinarily in such constructions the indefinite article (“a”) is understood. But it is clear from secular Greek literature, as well as from many other passages in the New Testament, that the anarthrous construction does not always demand the indefinite article.

When Caiaphas commanded Jesus, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God” (Matt. 26:63), he used the definite article (Greek ho) before “Son.” By saying, “I adjure You by the living God,” the high priest had already made obvious that he was talking about the true, biblical God of the Jews, and it goes without saying that their Messiah could only be that God’s Son, not the son of any other god. He was accusing Jesus of claiming to be the Son of Yahweh, the creator, covenant God of Israel revealed in the Old Testament.

The same accusation was made by the Jews before Pilate, except without the definite article. “We have a law,” they said, “and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God” (John 19:7). If Jesus had been claiming to be the Son of any but the true God, the Jews would have considered Him a heretic but not a blasphemer. Not only that, but the Jews believed their God had but one divine Son. It is completely untenable, therefore, to take the Greek phrase huion theou in John 19:7 to mean anything but “the Son of God,” despite the fact that it does not contain the definite article.

The same Greek phrase (without the definite article) was used by the angel who announced to Mary that the child born to her would “be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). And after Jesus walked on the water, a similar phrase (theou huios), also without the definite article, was used by the disciples when they confessed before Jesus, “You are certainly God’s Son” (Matt. 14:33). In both of those anarthrous constructions the idea of the Son, rather than a Son, is indisputable.

It was doubtlessly the very words that the Jewish leaders used to accuse Jesus before Pilate (“He made Himself out to be the Son of God”) that the centurion picked up and used himself. The great difference was that he and his fellow soldiers now believed those words to be true. The declaration “Truly this was the Son of God!” became for them a profession of faith in Christ. I firmly believe with the noted commentator R. C. H. Lenski that “this Gentile, called Longinusin tradition, came to faith beneath the dead Savior’s cross” (The Interpretation of St. Matthew’s Gospel [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1961], p. 1133).

The gracious and profound words of Jesus that they heard, His humble, self-giving demeanor, and His complete lack of anger or vindictiveness all worked in the hearts of the soldiers. But the only way they could have known with such certainty that Jesus was truly God’s Son was through the illumination and conviction of the Holy Spirit.

Even after Peter had spent several years under Jesus’ instruction and had witnessed hundreds and perhaps thousands of divinity-affirming miracles, Jesus made clear to him that it was God the Father, not Peter’s human wisdom and understanding, that inspired his confession that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God (Matt. 16:16–17). Paul assured the Corinthians that “no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

Only God’s Spirit could have inspired the confession of the centurion and his men, and only His Spirit could have inspired them to praise God (Luke 23:47). The gospel writers, not to mention the Holy Spirit who inspired them, would not have left the soldiers’ meaning open to question. Had the soldiers had in mind a son of some unnamed pagan deity, Matthew and the other writers would have made that clear. When Scripture speaks of God in the singular it always refers to the true God, unless the context specifically indicates otherwise. Luke did not speak of the soldiers’ praising their own god or gods, that is, some pagan deity, but rather “praising God,” which could mean only the: true God. However limited their theological understanding may have been at that time, those men truly confessed the true Son of the true God.

The faith of the soldiers is of great significance, and was especially so in the early church. Their testimony was, as it were, Jesus’ own final testimony from the cross. Although given after He had died, that testimony dramatically proclaimed that His grace extends to every sinner, even to those who put him to death. During the very process of His crucifixion, Jesus Christ became the object of the faith of His crucifiers!

His prayer “Father, forgive them” (Luke 23:34) did not go unanswered. First, one of the thieves who had been jeering Christ turned to faith in Him. Now, after He had breathed His last, the men who had beaten, taunted, and crucified Christ turned to Him and were forgiven and saved. Jesus had declared, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). The very men who in unbelief and derision had literally lifted Him from the earth had indeed been drawn to Him in repentance and faith.

A contrasting response to that of the soldiers is seen in that of the crowd of observers around the cross. “And all the multitudes who came together for this spectacle, when they observed what had happened, began to return, beating their breasts” (Luke 23:48).

Like the soldiers, those people were alarmed about the darkness and the earthquake. And also like the soldiers, they realized that those terrifying phenomena were not caused naturally Many of them doubtlessly had heard Jesus preach and seen Him perform miracles. Perhaps some of them had themselves been healed by Him. These people knew much better than the soldiers what Jesus stood for and who He claimed to be. They knew how He had all but banished disease from Palestine and had even raised people from the dead. They remembered that, with the rest of the multitude a few days earlier, they had hailed Jesus as the Messiah. They had heard Jesus’ gracious words from the cross and could not have helped suspecting that God’s hand was in the awesome events they were now observing.

But as they “began to return, beating their breasts” in fear and remorse, they showed no sign of repentance. They were perhaps overwhelmed by a sense of guilt and foreboding about their participation in the execution of an innocent man. Like Judas, they may have wished sincerely that they could somehow undo the terrible wrong they had done. They probably realized that God was expressing disfavor through the darkness and earthquake and that they were the objects of that disfavor. But they made no confession, either of their sin or of Christ’s lordship. They felt sorry for Him, but they did not try to help Him. They knew they were under His judgment, but they did not seek His mercy They neither gave Christ help nor sought help from Him, and instead of turning to Him like the soldiers, they turned away.

It is probable that many people in this crowd eventually returned to Him in faith. A few weeks later, upon hearing Peter’s indictment that “God has made Him both Lord and Christ-this Jesus whom you crucified,” many of his hearers “were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ ” After he explained the way of salvation, many who had been in the crowd beneath the cross became numbered among the 3,000 souls converted at Pentecost (Acts 2:36–41).

But the convictions of most of those who turned away from Jesus at the cross remained shallow, and the seed of the gospel was never able to take root and grow into saving faith. Unlike those whom Paul commended in Corinth, most of those who beat their breasts at Golgotha did not have the sorrow “that is according to the will of God [and that] produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation.” They evidently had only “the sorrow’ of the world [that] produces death” (2 Cor. 7:10).[2]

27:54 The strange convulsions of nature convinced the Roman centurion and his men that Jesus was the Son of God (while there is no definite article in the Greek before Son of God, the word order does make it definite). What did the centurion mean? Was this a full confession of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, or an acknowledgment that Jesus was more than man? We cannot be sure. It does indicate a sense of awe, and a realization that the disturbances of nature were somehow connected with the death of Jesus, and not with the death of those who were crucified with Him.[3]

54 Despite the fact that “Son of God” is one of several major christological titles in Matthew, it also appears in Mark as the climax of the passion (Mk 15:38–39). What is not certain is exactly what the soldiers meant by “Son of God” (cf. Blair, Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew, 60–68). They may have used the term in a Hellenistic sense, “a son of God” referring to a divine being in a pagan sense. But the governor’s soldiers were probably non-Jewish natives of the land (see comments at v. 27). If so, or even if they were Romans who had been assigned to Palestine for some time, they may well have understood “Son of God” in a messianic sense (see comments at 26:63). Certainly the anarthrous noun “Son” can mean “the Son” instead of “a Son” in this construction (cf. Moule, Idiom Book, 116). What the soldiers meant by the expression and what Matthew meant need not be exactly the same thing.

The darkness, the earthquake, and the cry of desolation convinced the soldiers that this was no ordinary execution. The portents terrified them and probably led them to believe that these things testified to heaven’s wrath at the perpetration of such a crime, in which the soldiers had participated. But this confession tells us something more: Jesus as the promised Messiah and unique Son of God is seen most clearly in his passion and death; but again the Jewish religious establishment, mistaking the nature of his messiahship, mocked him with the very title (vv. 41–44) by which the pagans now confessed him (see comments at 8:5–13; 15:21–28).[4]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 27:54). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1310). 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. 651–652). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 19 – Your Two Options

For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.

1 Peter 3:17

You have two options. The first is to do right, even if it results in suffering. You then accept suffering as part of God’s wise and sovereign plan for your life.

The second option is to do wrong, which also will result in suffering. Both options are available according to God’s will. God wills that you suffer for doing right so you will receive spiritual strength and glorify God. But He also wills that you suffer divine chastisement for doing wrong. So do good, and avoid bringing suffering on yourself for all the wrong reasons.[1]

3:17 If a Christian must suffer, which might sometimes be God’s will for him, it should be for doing good. But he should not bring suffering on himself for his own misdeeds; there is no virtue in that.[2]

17 But what if the abusers do not have a change of heart? What about unjust suffering? After all, there is no guarantee that the believer’s integrity under trial will “silence” or stop the offender. In such cases, then, “it is better … to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.” This advice is precisely the same as that given earlier to slaves who encounter abusive masters (2:20–21). Given the alternatives before the believer in such situations, one can either respond by “doing evil”—and suffer the (just) consequences—or respond by doing good—in which case Peter has already said that the offended, like Christ, is to entrust himself “to him who judges justly” (2:23).[3]

3:15–17 Believers should always be ready to provide a rationale for their faith, but they should do so winsomely and righteously. And if they keep a good conscience, any accusations against them will prove groundless, and their accusers will be put to shame. It is sometimes God’s will that Christians suffer for doing good.[4]

3:17 if that should be God’s will. Unjust suffering is within the providence of God and is for the good of His children and His own glory (1:6, 7; 4:19).[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 124). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

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

[3] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 335–336). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2410). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 2247). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.