Daily Archives: April 20, 2017

April 20, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Apr. 20, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week, Trump said Xi told him during a recent summit that “Korea actually used to be a part of China.” The comments sparked outrage in Seoul and became an issue in South Korea’s presidential race, prompting the foreign ministry to seek to verify what Xi actually said.

U.S. Steel will ask a trade agency Thursday to investigate its claims that rival Chinese manufacturers colluded to fix prices to undercut competitors in the American market on the same day President Donald Trump will order a separate Commerce Department probe of steel imports.

Canada’s push to legalize recreational marijuana is rippling beyond its borders as companies move to boost exports of medicinal pot.

Eight countries control land in the Arctic Circle, five have coastlines to defend, the temperature is rising, the ice is melting, the race for newly accessible resources is beginning. And Russia is gaining ground.

GM shut operations in Venezuela after authorities seized the automaker’s plant and took vehicles in the first nationalization of a major company’s facilities in the country in more than two years.

Filings for U.S. unemployment benefits rose last week while total benefit rolls dropped to the lowest in 17 years, indicating the job market remains tight, a Labor Department report showed Thursday. Jobless claims increased by 10,000 to 244,000 (forecast was 240,000) in the week ended April 15.

Wall Street pros have dived headlong into dark pools, exclusive private exchanges where they can trade stocks with each other in secret. Now comes an entrepreneur with a new twist: a dark pool for the masses, especially young investors. Call it a kiddie pool. Ustocktrade provides a bit of adventure — and operates primarily as a philanthropy. All that appeals to one of his target audiences, college students, who make up a fifth of customers. The CEO views inexpensive investing as a way to help clients pay off school loans.

Laurence D. Fink, chief executive officer of BlackRock Inc., said the lackluster growth of the U.S. economy and uncertainty around the Trump administration’s ability to quickly pass key reforms pose a risk to markets. “There are some warning signs that are getting darker.”

American Airlines pilots will be surveyed about reactions to the carrier’s new uniforms after about 100 reported rashes, itching and other symptoms similar to those experienced by hundreds of flight attendants.

Student accommodation offers better returns than offices and residential housing, making it an attractive asset for pension and sovereign wealth funds looking for stable income and higher yields in a low-return world.

AP Top Stories

The calendar may take no notice of April 20, but for marijuana users around the world, it’s an annual day of pot celebration closer to, say, Stoner’s Christmas.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday ordered an investigation into corruption allegations against a senior civil servant related to the use of funds intended for handling a humanitarian crisis in the northeast of the country.

Over the course of just a few days last spring, a river fed by a melting glacier in Canada’s Yukon region completely changed course – an unprecedented event that scientists say is the first case of “river piracy” observed over such short period of time. The culprit? Greenhouse gas-driven climate change.

Egyptian archaeologists have unearthed the tomb of a nobleman from more than 3,000 years ago, the latest in a series of major discoveries of ancient relics that Egypt hopes will revive a tourist business that has been hit by political instability.

North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear program.

With the simple submission of a technical sanctions waiver, oil giant Exxon Mobil created a potential PR headache for the White House. Exxon is seeking a greenlight from the U.S. government to bypass sanctions on Russia and resume doing business with the country’s state-owned oil giant Rosneft.

The United States will counter any North Korean attack with an “overwhelming and effective” response, Vice President Mike Pence vowed Wednesday.

BBC

Prosecutors in the northern Nigeria state of Kaduna have charged a group of 53 people with conspiring to celebrate a gay wedding.

Two court rulings dealt a blow to the US state of Arkansas in its attempt to put to death seven inmates within days.

A Saskatchewan woman has been charged with human smuggling following a months-long cross-border investigation.

At least three people have been killed in Venezuela in protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro.

WND

The U.S. Green Party has put out a briefing paper for party activists instructing them to work with the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Islamists in fighting “Islamophobia” and “oppression in all its forms.”

In nations such as Pakistan, the penalty for “blasphemy” against Islam or its prophet is death. While the sentence has not been imposed in recent years, some people who have been accused of blasphemy have been murdered by Muslim vigilantes before they can get to court. An estimated 65 defendants, lawyers or judges involved in blasphemy cases have been murdered since 1990.

Russia has claimed it can disable the entire US Navy in one fell swoop using powerful electronic signal jamming.


The Briefing 04-20-17

In oral arguments on church-state relations, SCOTUS Justices appear to side with Trinity Lutheran

Parental rights and the role of government: Homeschooling in America and abroad

Are our kids’ toys spying on us? Germany isn’t taking any chances

The post The Briefing 04-20-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 4/20/2017

Lois Lerner: Public Can Never Know What I Did
Embattled ex-IRS executive Lois Lerner was in federal court last week, asking a judge to seal her forthcoming deposition due to the inflammatory nature of her testimony.  Lerner told the judge that if her actions at the IRS were to become public knowledge, she could face death threats from angry Americans – particularly those on the conservative side of the spectrum.

Has Trump found religion in the Oval Office?
He’s also taken other steps to further cultivate a Christian right that helped elect him, granting new levels of access to Christian media and pushing socially conservative positions that don’t appear to come naturally to him.

Trump to Host Abbas May 3 at White House, Seeks ‘Conflict-Ending’ Deal
“They will use the visit to reaffirm the commitment of both the United States and Palestinian leadership to pursuing and ultimately concluding a conflict-ending settlement between the Palestinians and Israel,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Wednesday

Vice President Mike Pence Warns North Korea By Telling Them ‘The Sword Stands Ready’
Vice President Mike Pence warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the US military on Wednesday, promising it would give an ‘overwhelming and effective’ response to any use of conventional or nuclear weapons.

U.S. Green Party goes all in for Islam
The U.S. Green Party has put out a briefing paper for party activists instructing them to work with the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other Islamists in fighting “Islamophobia” and “oppression in all its forms.” The fact that Islam is a religion/political ideology and not a race seems not to stand in the way of the Green Party’s burgeoning alliance with Islam, says Robert Spencer, author of the Jihad Watch blog and several best-selling books about Islam.

May to make election pledge to end EU free movement of people into UK
Prime Minister Theresa May will make a formal pledge ahead of the June 8 election to end European Union free movement of people into Britain, the Daily Mail newspaper reported, citing unidentified party sources. May will also include pledges in her election manifesto to pull out of both the EU single market and European Court of Justice, the newspaper said.

Egypt army says kills 19 Islamic extremists in north Sinai
The Egyptian military says its air force has killed 19 Islamic extremists in the volatile Sinai Peninsula. It says in a statement Thursday that the strikes in northern and central Sinai on “terrorist strongholds” of the local ISIS affiliate also destroyed four vehicles.

Tillerson: An ‘unchecked Iran’ could follow same path as North Korea
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday accused Iran of “alarming ongoing provocations” to destabilize countries in the Middle East and of undermining US interests in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon. “An unchecked Iran has the potential to travel the same path as North Korea and to take the world along with it,” Tillerson told reporters a day after announcing a review of US policy towards Iran, including sanctions against Tehran.

Abbas: I am ready to meet Netanyahu any time under patronage of Trump
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday made several significant statements in favor of a dialogue with Israel and a hastening of the peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in an official interview with Japanese newspaper Ashai Shimbun. “I am ready to meet the prime minister of Israel any time in Washington under the patronage of President Trump,” Abbas declared.

‘With Syria in pieces, it’s time to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan’
Michael Oren says it is time for the world to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel. In contrast to negotiations with the Palestinians, there is no Syria to negotiate with, Deputy Minister for Diplomacy in the Prime Minister’s Office Oren said on Tuesday. “Without Israel there [in the Golan], the region would be jeopardized. ISIS would be on the Kinneret,” he said, adding that other states in the region are glad Israel is on the Golan.

Australia unveils major changes to citizenship process
Australia will make it more difficult to gain citizenship in a major overhaul of its migration process. Aspiring citizens will undergo tougher tests on their English language skills and ability to demonstrate “Australian values”, PM Malcolm Turnbull said. Applicants must also have completed four years as a permanent resident – three years longer than at present.

Venezuela crisis: Three killed at anti-government protests
At least three people have been killed in Venezuela in protests against the government of President Nicolas Maduro. A teenager in the capital Caracas and a woman in San Cristobal, near the Colombian border, were shot dead. A national guardsman was killed south of the capital. Tens of thousands of people rallied to demand new presidential elections and the release of jailed opposition politicians.

Credit card with a fingerprint sensor revealed by Mastercard
A payment card featuring a fingerprint sensor has been unveiled by credit card provider Mastercard. The rollout follows two successful trials in South Africa. The technology works in the same way as it does with mobile phone payments: users must have their finger over the sensor when making a purchase. Security experts have said that while using fingerprints is not foolproof, it is a “sensible” use of biometric technology.

Facebook team working on brain-powered technology
Facebook says it is working on technology to allow us to control computers directly with our brains. It is developing “silent speech” software to allow people to type at a rate of 100 words per minute, it says. The project, in its early stages, will require new technology to detect brainwaves without needing invasive surgery.

CIA, FBI launch manhunt for leaker who gave top-secret documents to WikiLeaks
CBS News has learned that a manhunt is underway for a traitor inside the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA and FBI are conducting a joint investigation into one of the worst security breaches in CIA history, which exposed thousands of top-secret documents that described CIA tools used to penetrate smartphones, smart televisions and computer systems.

Russian bombers again fly near Alaska
For the second consecutive night, Russia flew two long-range bombers off the coast of Alaska on Tuesday, this time coming within 36 miles of the mainland while flying north of the Aleutian Islands, two U.S. officials told Fox News. The two nuclear-capable Tu-95 bombers were spotted by U.S. military radar at 5 p.m. local time. Unlike a similar incident Monday night, this time the U.S. Air Force did not scramble any fighter jets.

Gaza sisters smuggled explosives labeled medicine
Explosive materials used to manufacture explosive devices were found in the belongings of two sisters who entered Israel from the Gaza Strip on Wednesday for the purpose of receiving cancer treatment. According to the Shin Bet, the materials were concealed inside medical supply tubes and identified by the security guards of the Crossings Authority at the Erez Crossing.

North Korea warns of ‘super-mighty preemptive strike’ as U.S. plans next move
North Korean state media warned the United States of a “super-mighty preemptive strike” after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the United States was looking at ways to bring pressure to bear on North Korea over its nuclear programme. U.S. President Donald Trump has taken a hard line with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who has rebuffed admonitions from sole major ally China and proceeded with nuclear and missile programmes in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

May to make election pledge to end EU free movement of people into UK
Prime Minister Theresa May will make a formal pledge ahead of the June 8 election to end European Union free movement of people into Britain, the Daily Mail newspaper reported, citing unidentified party sources. May will also include pledges in her election manifesto to pull out of both the EU single market and European Court of Justice, the newspaper said.

DHS: Almost as Many Americans Died of Drug Overdoses in 2015 as in ’12 Years in Vietnam’
U.S. 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.

Miracle? This time, the lions save the Christians
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 – his rescue from Islamic “militants” by a pride of lions.

Census: More Americans 18-to-34 Now Live With Parents Than With Spouse
Four decades ago, in the mid-1970s, young American adults–in the 18-to-34 age bracket–were far more likely to be married and living with a spouse than living in their parents’ home.

Europe Opens First Concentration Camp Since Hitler, Guess Who This One is for
Chechnya, a region which is located under Russian President Vladimir Putin’s rule but controlled by Muslims, has opened up the very first concentration camp since Adolf Hitler. The detention center is for housing homosexuals.

School-issued computers spy on children in US without parental consent
School-issued computer devices – provided to one-third of school children across the US – collect excessive amounts of highly sensitive personal data on the students without parental consent or even prior notice, a new study finds.

What A War With North Korea Would Probably Look Like
So, if war with North Korea is inevitable given the circumstances, what would such a war look like? Here are some elements I think are most important; elements that make the war almost unwinnable, if winning is even the purpose…


Jimmy Carter Says He Can’t ‘Judge’ Whether or Not Man Is Christian Despite Doubts About Resurrection

Christian News reports:

Former President Jimmy Carter, a professing Christian who teaches Sunday School at a Baptist Church in Georgia, told liberal op-ed columnist Nicholas Kristof that he can’t judge whether or not someone is a Christian despite their doubts about Christ’s virgin birth and resurrection.

In his April 15th piece in the New York Times entitled “President Carter, Am I a Christian?” Kristoff inquired of Carter whether he could be considered a Christian despite his skepticism over some of the biblical account of Christ’s life, including that Jesus physically rose from the grave.

“What about someone like me whose faith is in the Sermon on the Mount, who aspires to follow Jesus’ teachings, but is skeptical that he was born of a virgin, walked on water, multiplied loaves and fishes or had a physical resurrection? Am I a Christian, President Carter?” Kristof asked.

“I do not judge whether someone else is a Christian. Jesus said, ‘Judge not,’” Carter replied. “I try to apply the teachings of Jesus in my own life, often without success.”

View article →


Mid-Day Snapshot

Apr. 20, 2017

No Spin: Killing Bill O’Reilly

This episode publicly exposes the power and influence that advertisers have in regard to who is delivering the news.

The Foundation

“[A] good moral character is the first essential in a man, and that the habits contracted at your age are generally indelible, and your conduct here may stamp your character through life. It is therefore highly important that you should endeavor not only to be learned but virtuous.” —George Washington (1790)



ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 20

  • White House to risk shutdown as Trump searches for ???win??? (Read More)
  • Saudi Minister Wants OPEC Oil-Production Deal Extended, Perhaps for Less Than 6 Months (Read More)
  • Russia denies Read More report think tank drew up plan to sway U.S. election (Read More)
  • Fed’s Kaplan: Three rate rises this year ‘still a good baseline’ (Read More)
  • Ex-Arconic CEO Sent Vague Threat to Hedge-Fund Boss (Read More)
  • Can, kicked: IMF may fund Greek bailout with small amount, for one year (Read More)
  • Hard Dose of Reality Hits Anti-Brexit Campaigners (Read More)
  • Egypt says air strikes kill Islamic State leaders in Sinai (Read More)
  • Bose headphones spy on listeners: lawsuit (Read More)
  • French Industrial Decline Fuels Le Pen’s Rise (Read More)
  • China’s Stocks Refuse to Drop More Than 1% (Read More)
  • China Shakes Up Regulators in Scramble for Stability (Read More)
  • China sees higher risk of mass unemployment, pledges more support (Read More)
  • A Quarter of Millennials Who Live at Home Don’t Work ??? or Study (Read More)
  • Man Group’s Assets Rise to Record on Largest Inflows Since 2011 (Read More)
  • Putin Quietly Detaches Ukraine’s Rebel Zones as U.S. Waffles (Read More)
  • House Speaker Ryan sees long battle over tax reform (Read More)
  • Western Digital, Japan Investors in Toshiba Unit Sale Talks (Read More)
  • The Most Closed-Off Nordic Nation Is Yearning for Immigrants (Read More)
  • Housing Crunch Threatens Reno’s Tech Boom (Read More)
  • White House sidewalk to be closed to public permanently (Read More)
  • Macquarie to Boost U.K. Green Bank After $3 Billion Purchase (Read More)
  • The Biggest Time Suck at the Office Might Be Your Computer  (Read More)

Top Headlines – 4/20/2017

Hosting Abbas on May 3, Trump seeks ‘conflict-ending’ deal

Abbas: I am ready to meet Netanyahu any time under patronage of President Trump

Rehashing Gaza war, leaders do little thinking outside pillbox to avoid next one

Bucking criticism, Netanyahu says 2014 Gaza war was ‘inevitable’

Bereaved parents lash over Gaza war at charged Knesset meeting

Gazan cancer patient caught smuggling explosives into Israel: Shin Bet

Shin Bet: Two sisters from the Gaza Strip arrested after smuggling explosives into Israel

Israeli man lightly hurt in West Bank car-ramming attack

Palestinian anger at Israeli refusal to talk to hunger striking inmates

Palestinian threaten ‘new intifada’ if hunger strikers die

UN envoy: Palestinian leadership must resolve Gaza Strip energy crisis

In landmark ruling, High Court says Tel Aviv mini-markets can open on the Sabbath

NY: Jewish families won’t identify circumcisers who gave babies herpes

UN to recruit Israeli doctors for peacekeeping missions

Commemorating the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising – Poland marks the 74th anniversary of the Jewish revolt against the Nazis

Israeli defense officials: Assad still has chemical weapons

Senior IDF official: US gave Israel 2 hour warning before Syria strikes

US officials: Syria moves planes to Russian base for protection

Syria war: Evacuations resume after deadly bombing

Latest ISIS recruit video shows young school-aged boy participating in execution

Franklin Graham: About 7 Christian Families Remain in Iraq’s Largest Christian Town

Senior IDF officer: US attack on Syria was no turning point

IDF: Russia has overtaken Iran’s dominant position in Syria

Trump orders Iran nuclear deal review despite compliance

Tillerson: Iran complying with nuclear deal but causing trouble elsewhere

Tillerson: Iran’s nuclear quest a ‘grave risk’ to global security

US accuses Iran of ‘alarming provocations’

Erdogan to meet Trump in May, says Turkish minister

Turkey’s Erdogan, once greeted jubilantly, now rejected by nearly half of Turks

Turkey rejects appeals against referendum

UN court rejects Ukraine request to block rebel funding

Russian bombers again fly near Alaska

Russia claims it can wipe out US Navy with single ‘electronic bomb’

UK ‘gave millions in foreign aid’ to North Korean regime now threatening nuclear war

North Korea propaganda video shows missile attack destroying US city

North Korea says ‘don’t mess with us’ as U.S. plans next move

Trump’s threatened ‘armada’ heads away from North Korea

U.S. defense officials may have spoken too soon, but Trump’s missing ‘armada’ finally heading to Korea

Trump Mulls U.S. Military Options for North Korea, All Grim

Pence says to North Korea: ‘The sword stands ready’

Pence: The United States is not seeking negotiations with North Korea

China’s Xi restructures military, consolidates control

Army tests drone-killing lasers as threat grows on the battlefield

National security issues multiply for Trump

Sessions: MS-13 gang could be designated as terrorist organization

U.S. intelligence agencies fear rogue insiders as much as spies these days

Emirates Airlines trims US flights in wake of Trump visa ban

Afghan official: Taliban governor among 14 killed in clashes

UN discovers 17 new mass graves in central Congo

Why should Somalia’s children starve to pay for a debt crisis they didn’t create?

Venezuela slams nations for ‘meddling’ over protest call

Venezuelans flood streets in big demonstration against Maduro government

Venezuelan protester shot in head during violent ‘mother of all marches’

Venezuelan protests against government leave three dead

A youth revolt in France boosts the far right

Le Pen’s FN party calls EU flag ‘oligarchic rag’

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

Berkeley cancels conservative firebrand Ann Coulter’s speech over fears of more violent protests

Obama considered Clinton’s mishandled email scandal ‘political malpractice,’ says new book

White House sends guidance to agencies, readies for government shutdown

She wanted her ex-husband to die with a happy thought; she told him Trump had been impeached

His murder was put on Facebook. But his family’s message of forgiveness could be his legacy.

Facebook wants to read your mind

Facebook Envisions Using Brain Waves to Type Words

Facebook plans ethics board to monitor its brain-computer interface work

Report: School-Issued Computers ‘Spy’ on Children Without Parental Consent

CIA, FBI launch manhunt for leaker who gave top-secret documents to WikiLeaks

America’s insomnia problem is even worse than before the Great Recession

Stocks close lower, Dow posts 2-day drop of more than 200 points

A satellite built by Israeli students launched into space

An asteroid will not destroy Earth today. But let’s consider that for a moment.

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Gisborne, New Zealand

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Naze, Japan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Namie, Japan

Magnitude 4.3 earthquake on the Reykjanes ridge

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 25,000ft

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

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 20,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuadoer erupts to 17,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 13,000ft

California again leads list with 6 of the top 10 most polluted U.S. cities

Death by overwork: Japan’s 100-hour overtime cap sparks anger

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

On Eve of 4/20 Holiday, Congressman Says ‘Marijuana Has Gone Mainstream’

‘Microdosing’ trend has Americans tuning in with psychedelics

First evidence found that LSD produces ‘higher’ level of consciousness, scientists claim

Bill Gates: Terrorists could wipe out 30 million people by weaponising a disease like smallpox

Researchers create red-eyed mutant wasps

Groundbreaking Hunt for Jesus’ Descendants Announced; Experts Analyze Shroud of Turin for DNA

Bill O’Reilly Is Reportedly Being Dumped From Fox News Over Sexual Harassment Allegations

Census: More Americans 18-to-34 Now Live With Parents Than With Spouse

For-profit meditation centers are the new yoga studios

Supreme Court justices show support for church, in Gorsuch’s 1st high-profile case

Anne Graham Lotz: ‘America Is Disintegrating Into Anarchy; Political Correctness Is Rejecting God’

Fred Sanders – How the Real Word Really Became Real Flesh

Free Masonry and the God-Shaped Hole: A Personal Testimony

Kong Hee apologises for ‘unwise decisions’, to begin jail term on Apr 21

Over 150 ‘Queer’ United Methodist Clergy Sign Letter Demanding LGBT Ordination

Only three in ten Germans believe in life after death

Christian Pastor Detained in China for Singing ‘Jesus Loves You’

Authorities Seize General Motors Plant in Venezuela.

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 07:30 AM PDT

General Motors said it has ceased all operations in Venezuela after authorities unexpectedly seized its plant in the city of Valencia. A court in the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Bible Answer Man’ Booted From Radio Network After Joining Orthodox Church

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 07:19 AM PDT

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…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FALLING AWAY – Over 150 Gay UMC Clergy Sign Letter Demanding LGBT Ordination

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 07:12 AM PDT

Nearly 150 United Methodist clergy and clergy candidates have signed onto a letter demanding that the Mainline Protestant denomination recognize LGBT ordination. A group known…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

This 15-Ton Weapon Could Destroy Kim Jong Un’s Underground Nuke Sites

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 07:06 AM PDT

Donald Trump may use a non-nuclear bomb which is BIGGER than the MOAB unleashed on ISIS to destroy Kim Jung-un’s underground nuclear sites. The Massive…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia Holds the “Father of All Bombs” in it’s Arsenal.

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 07:02 AM PDT

Born in Russia in 2007, the “father of all bombs” may be holding a title surpassed by no other. The Russian military says it’s the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Katy Perry Denounces Her Devoutly Christian Upbringing

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:54 AM PDT

Katy Perry, one of the most successful and iconic modern celebrities, recalls with disdain being raised in a strict, evangelical Christian household.  Perry, whose birth…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

President Trump Will Be in Meeting with Pope Francis in May

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:42 AM PDT

Contrary to earlier reports, President Donald Trump will meet with Pope Francis when he travels to Italy next month for meetings with the G7 leaders,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Israel Warns Assad’s Forces Still Have Chemical Weapons

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:39 AM PDT

Israel’s military said on Wednesday it believes Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces still possess several tonnes of chemical weapons, issuing the assessment two weeks after…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump’s ‘armada’ turns toward North Korea as White House defends misleading remarks

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:34 AM PDT

The White House stood by President Donald Trump’s recent talk of a Navy strike force on its way to the Korean peninsula after the USS…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists Looking to use umbilical cord blood from babies to bring restore memory for dementia patients

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:29 AM PDT

Dementia patients have been offered hope that their memory could be repaired after scientists showed that injecting blood from the umbilical cords of human babies…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Should the West Coast Be Concerned With the North Korean Crisis?

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:22 AM PDT

In test blasts, military parades and propaganda videos that show San Francisco and Washington DC in ruins, North Korea has broadcast its intention to be…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia mobilizing troops, helicopters and armoured vehicles to border with N.K as Putin braces for war

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:17 AM PDT

Russia’s president Vladimir Putin is reinforcing his border with North Korea by relocating troops and equipment, according to reports. The move comes as Donald Trump’s…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: North Korea threatens to turn US to ashes with preemptive strike

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:13 AM PDT

North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un has warned the US he is ready to launch a “super-mighty preemptive strike”. State media launched the broadside as the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Henry Gruver’s Incredible Vision Of Russian Submarines Launching Nuclear Missiles At The United States

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:05 AM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) A little more than 30 years ago, God showed Henry Gruver that someday Russian submarines lurking very close to our coastlines would…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Syria moves planes to Russian base for protection

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:43 PM PDT

The Syrian government has relocated the majority of its combat planes to protect them from potential US strikes, two US defense officials told CNN Wednesday….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Bill Gates warns of bioterrorist attack that could wipe out 30 million!

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:35 PM PDT

A bioterrorist attack which could wipe out 30 million people is becoming increasingly likely because it is easier than ever to create and spread deadly pathogens,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: What You Need to Know About the Total Solar Eclipse of 2017

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:28 PM PDT

(Reported By Anthony Yanez) In a few months, millions across the country will experience an astronomical event that no American has ever seen before. NBC4 meteorologist…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Anne Graham Lotz Warns Of America Disintegrating Into Anarchy

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:17 PM PDT

Evangelist Anne Graham Lotz has warned that the United States is “unraveling” and “disintegrating” into anger and anarchy, due in part to its “rejection of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian Pastor Detained in China for Singing ‘Jesus Loves You’

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:13 PM PDT

A Taiwanese Christian pastor was detained for singing the worship song “Jesus Love You” in Zhengzhou, Henan, in China, which officials there have branded as…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Alabama Supreme Court Affirms Suspension of Chief Justice Roy Moore Over ‘Gay Marriage’ Memo

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 05:08 PM PDT

A special panel of the Alabama Supreme Court comprised of randomly-selected retired judges has unanimously affirmed the term-long suspension of Chief Justice Roy Moore, who…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

CIA and FBI launch manhunt for leaker who gave top-secret documents to Wikileaks

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 04:58 PM PDT

CBS News has learned that a manhunt is underway for a traitor inside the Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA and FBI are conducting a joint…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Erdogan’s Enhanced Powers “Terrible News” for Turkish Christians

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 04:53 PM PDT

By weakening Turkey’s democracy, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has ensured the continued erosion of conditions for Christians, Jews and other religious minorities in the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Tillerson warns ‘unchecked Iran’ could follow path of North Korea

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 04:48 PM PDT

The Trump administration is reviewing US policy towards Iran, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced, accusing Tehran of sponsoring terrorism and violence and destabilizing numerous…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Will You Turn Away Family, Friends And Neighbors At Your Door When Disaster Arrives?

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 04:45 PM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) How will you handle all of the people that will show up at your door when a major crisis strikes because they…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: China concerned North Korea will spark nuclear war

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 04:39 PM PDT

China has revealed it is becoming increasingly concerned about North Korea’s nuclear bragging as military tensions continue to mount in the region. North Korea’s vice-foreign…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

SPIN OUT – O’Reilly Gone From Fox News Channel!

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 04:35 PM PDT

Fox News on Wednesday ended its association with Bill O’Reilly, the combative TV host and commentator who has ruled cable-news ratings for nearly two decades…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

If North Korea Launches a Nuclear Missile, There Is a Plan

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 12:53 PM PDT

President Donald Trump has vowed that North Korea will never acquire the ability to launch a nuclear missile. But, if the Hermit Kingdom is somehow…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Future Of Factory Cyborg Workers Coming Sooner Than Thought

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 12:47 PM PDT

The Fourth Industrial Revolution has arrived.  The first was the steam engine-driven Industrial Revolution; the second involved the innovations from Henry Ford’s assembly line.  Third,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Asteroid to Buzz Earth Today

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 12:42 PM PDT

A relatively large near-Earth asteroid discovered nearly three years ago will fly safely past Earth on April 19 at a distance of about 1.1 million…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korean Defector Warns Kim Jong-Un will stop at nothing to nuke US as a Last Stand’

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 12:34 PM PDT

A North Korean defector who witnessed her first public execution aged just seven is convinced despot Kim Jong-Un would launch nuclear weapons against its enemies…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China tests missiles near North Korea, Warns it’s getting troops ‘Battle Ready’

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 12:23 PM PDT

Chinese military leaders have revealed they are testing their latest missile-laden destroyer in waters close to North Korea. Footage released by state media shows navy…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Russian bombers fly near Alaska for the second time

Posted: 19 Apr 2017 10:30 AM PDT

For the second consecutive night, Russia flew two long-range bombers off the coast of Alaska on Tuesday, this time coming within 36 miles of the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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April 20, 2017: Verse of the day

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Who Should Praise God

The final answer that Psalm 150 gives to the questions you or I might have about worship is to tell us who should praise God. The answer is as comprehensive as those given to each of the other questions. First question: Where should we praise God? Answer: Everywhere, in heaven and on earth. Second question: Why should we praise God? Answer: Because of everything God is and for all he has done. Third question: How should we praise God? Answer: With everything we’ve got.

Now at last, question four: Who should praise God? Answer: Everything and everybody. “Everything that has breath,” says the Psalmist.

This is exactly what will happen, according to the Bible. At the moment, we see God insulted, blasphemed, denied, and ignored. We see Christ rejected. But one day “every knee [will] bow,” whether willingly or not (Phil. 2:10). As far as the saints are concerned, the apostle John wrote in Revelation, “Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing:

“To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!” (Rev. 5:13).

What a great choir! What a great song! What a great privilege. It will be ours if we have placed our faith in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who has indeed taken away the sin of those who trust him.

Psalms, An Expositional Commentary by James Montgomery Boice

6 All God’s creation that “has breath” (nešāmâ, GK 5972)—particularly humankind (cf. Isa 2:22)—is summoned to praise the Lord (cf. 148:7–12). The word nešāmâ denotes all living creatures—all endowed with life by the Creator (Ge 1:24–25; 7:21–22) but all distinct from the Creator (cf. Isa 2:22; see Eichrodt, 2:242; TWOT 2:605).

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

April 20 – Becoming Pure in Heart

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

✧✧✧

You have a part to play in becoming pure in heart.

Purifying a heart is the gracious and miraculous work of the Holy Spirit, but there are some things we must do in response to His prompting. First, we must admit we can’t purify our own hearts. Proverbs 20:9 says, “Who can say, ‘I have cleansed my heart, I am pure from my sin’?” The implied answer is, no one!

Next, we must put our faith in Jesus Christ, whose sacrifice on the cross is the basis for our cleansing. Acts 15:9 says that God cleanses hearts on the basis of faith. Of course, our faith must be placed in the right object. First John 1:7 says, “If we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.”

Finally, we must study the Bible and pray. The psalmist said we keep our way pure by keeping it according to God’s Word, which we must treasure in our hearts (Ps. 119:9, 11). As we pray and submit to the Word, the Spirit purifies our lives.

That’s how you acquire and maintain a pure heart. As a result you “shall see God” (Matt. 5:8). That doesn’t mean you’ll see Him with physical eyes, but rather with spiritual ones. You’ll begin to live in His presence and will become increasingly aware of His working in your life. You’ll recognize His power and handiwork in the beauty and intricacy of creation (Ps. 19). You’ll discern His grace and purposes amid trials and will learn to praise Him in all things. You’ll sense His ministry through other Christians and will see His sovereignty in every event of your life. Life takes on a profound and eternal meaning as you share Christ with unbelievers and see Him transform lives.

There’s no greater joy than knowing you are pure before God and that your life is honoring to Him. May that joy be yours today, and may God use you in a powerful way for His glory!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask the Lord for continued grace to live a pure life so others will see Christ in you.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 6:1–8. ✧ Describe Isaiah’s vision of God. ✧ How did Isaiah respond to God’s presence?[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.

F. 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. 123). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

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

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

APRIL 20 – SEEKING AFTER TRUTH

We have received…the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

1 Corinthians 2:12

We live in a mixed-up kind of world in which many people are not at all sure of what they believe or what they ought to believe.

Some churches advertise that way—you do not have to believe anything: “Just be a seeker after truth.” Some actually settle for poetry, siding with Edwin Markham who “saw his bright hand sending signals from the sun.”

I, for one, never had any such signals from God. We have Bibles everywhere and the gospel is preached faithfully. Yet men and women seek God in old altars and tombs—in dark and dusty places, and finally wind up believing that God is sending signals from the sun.

Some folks get mad at me when I say that this kind of “seeking after truth” needs to be exposed. We need to double our efforts in telling the world that God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth.

It must be the Truth of God and the Spirit of God! Far from being an optional luxury in our Christian lives, the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit is a necessity!

 

Dear Lord, I pray that Your truth will go out into all the world with a mighty surge today. I especially pray for this to happen in Islamic, Buddhist, and Hindu nations.[1]


By Inspiration

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (2:12–13)

The process of the Spirit’s transmission of God’s truth is called inspiration. His truth cannot be discovered by man; it can only be received. In order to be received, something must first be offered. God’s truth can be received because is it freely given. The Spirit who is from God, not the spirit of the world (that is, human wisdom) has brought God’s Word—which comprises the things freely given to us by God. The Bible is the Spirit’s vehicle for bringing God’s revelation.

The we’s and the us of verses 12–13 (as in vv. 6–7, 10) do not refer to Christians in general but to Paul himself. God’s Word is for all believers, but was revealed only to the apostles and the other writers of Scripture. Only those men properly can be said to have been inspired. The promise of John 14:26 (“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit … will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you”) is for the benefit of all believers, but was given only to the apostles. Paul and the other writers of Scripture did not record their own ideas and interpretations. They recorded what God gave them and only what He gave them. We have received … that we might know. The Spirit used words that the human writers knew and used, but He selected them and arranged them in precisely the order that He wanted. The Bible, therefore, not only is God’s Word but God’s words.

It is not simply the “Word behind the words” that is from God, as many liberal and neoorthodox interpreters maintain. “All Scripture is inspired by God [lit., ‘God–breathed’]” (2 Tim. 3:16). Scripture means “writings,” and refers specifically to what God’s chosen men wrote by His revelation and inspiration, not to everything they said and wrote. It refers, as Paul explains, to the things freely given to us by God, to the “God–breathed” words they recorded.

When Jesus responded to Satan’s first temptation in the wilderness, He said (quoting from Deut. 8:3), “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). God gave His own Word in His own words. “Every word that proceeds out the mouth of God” is revealed, inspired, and authoritative. Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.[2]


2:12 The we of verse 12 refers to the writers of the NT, although it is equally true of all the Bible writers. Since the apostles and prophets had received the Holy Spirit, He was able to share with them the deep truths of God. That is what the apostle means when he says in this verse: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” Apart from the Spirit who is from God, the apostles could never have received the divine truths of which Paul is speaking and which are preserved for us in the NT.[3]


12 The amazing thing is that such communication is indeed possible! For when one becomes a believer in Jesus, that person receives the Holy Spirit as a gift (see Ac 2:38; Ro 8:9b, 14–15). This is what Paul now reminds the Corinthians of—that believers have “received … the Spirit who is from God.” This reality enables us to understand the foregoing about how, through the cross and resurrection of Christ, the powers of this age are coming to nothing. Those, however, who have not received God’s Spirit—those who are still caught up in the “spirit of the world”—do not understand this “secret wisdom” (v. 7).

With this message, of course, the apostle is able to address on the deepest level possible those among the Corinthians who loved the sophisticated rhetoric and wisdom of the world. If that is the level on which they desire to operate, says Paul, they will miss out on the full meaning of Jesus Christ, the purpose of his coming into the world, the salvation he has to offer, and the many gifts he has to offer. “What God has freely given” is actually a passive participle of the verb charizomai (GK 5919), with God as the expressed agent (called a “divine passive”; cf. NASB, “the things freely given to us by God”). It denotes in the broadest way possible all communication of teachings and gifts from God to us.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 62–63). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1753). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 279). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 20 – A HIGH PRIVILEGE: GOD COUNTS US HIS FRIENDS

And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God…and he was called the Friend of God.

JAMES 2:23

The image of God in man cannot extend to every part of man’s being, for God has attributes which He cannot impart to any of His creatures, however favored.

God is uncreated, self-existent, infinite, sovereign, eternal; these attributes are His alone and by their very definition cannot be shared with another. But there are other attributes which He can impart to His creatures and in some measure share with His redeemed children. Intellect, self-consciousness, love, goodness, holiness, pity, faithfulness—these and certain other attributes are the points where likeness between God and man may be achieved. It is here that the divine-human friendship is experienced!

God, being perfect, has capacity for perfect friendship. Man, being imperfect, can never quite know perfection in anything, least of all in his relationship to the incomprehensible Godhead.

The more perfect our friendship with God becomes the simpler will our lives be. Those formalities that are so necessary to keep a casual friendship alive may be dispensed with when true friends sit in each other’s presence. True friends trust each other.

Unquestionably the highest privilege granted to man on earth is to be admitted into the circle of the friends of God. Nothing is important enough to be allowed to stand in the way of our relation to God. We should see to it that nothing on earth shall separate us from God’s friendship![1]


2:22, 23 It is clear then that Abraham’s faith inspired his works, and by his works his faith was made perfect. True faith and works are inseparable. The first produces the second, and the second evidences the first. In the offering of Isaac we see a practical demonstration of the faith of Abraham. It was the practical fulfillment of the Scripture which said that Abraham was justified by believing. His good works identified him as the friend of God.[2]


21–24 The balance of the passage takes up two illustrations from the OT. The first is Abraham (vv. 21–24), who by offering up Isaac on the altar was justified by this expression of faith. The concept of “justification” here is different from that put forth by Paul at a number of points (although see Ro 2:13). James follows a more traditional use of the concept as found, for instance, in the LXX. In the traditional use of the concept, justification was an affirmation by God based on a person’s righteous actions. In other words, God proclaimed a person just based on his or her actions. But Paul sometimes used the term “justified” to speak of a right standing conferred on the basis of Christ’s work on the cross (Ro 3:24; 5:1).

In Abraham’s action, faith and works coalesced, faith being brought to its mature end by action (v. 22). Thus Genesis 15:6, “Abraham believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness,” spoken years before the offering of Isaac, was brought to full expression. Abraham’s reverence of God found full demonstration by his action of not holding back the most precious Isaac from sacrifice. The result was that Abraham was called God’s friend. Abraham was a man of faith, and that faith was evidenced in Abraham the man of action.[3]


2:23 the Scripture … says. Quoted from Ge 15:6; see notes on Ro 4:1–5. friend of God. Abraham is so called in 2Ch 20:7 and Is 41:8 because of his obedience (Jn 15:14, 15).[4]


2:23 James uses Gen. 15:6 in a way that complements rather than contradicts Paul (Rom. 4:1–9; Gal. 3:6), for he sees it as having been fulfilled (see James 2:22) in Abraham’s offering of Isaac (Genesis 22). James centers on Abraham’s act of obedience while Paul centers on God’s declaration of Abraham’s righteousness. Abraham was called a friend of God, in contrast to those who have no acts of obedience to prove their claims to faith and are therefore seen to be friends of this world (James 4:4).[5]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2229). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Guthrie, G. H. (2006). James. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 240). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Jas 2:23). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2395). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

April 20 – Desire, the Root Sin of Adultery

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery”; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.—Matt. 5:27–28

The seventh commandment protects the sanctity of marriage, and anyone who relies on external righteousness to keep it is prone to break it. Just as anger equals murder, lustful desire equals adultery.

In Jesus’ admonition, “looks” indicates intentional and repeated gazing. Therefore He means purposeful looking that arouses lust. In contemporary terms, it condemns a man who sees an X-rated movie, watches a salacious television show, or visits pornographic websites. It encompasses any thought or action done to arouse sexual desire.

Jesus is not referring to accidental exposure to sexual temptation. It is no sin if a man looks away from a provocative scene. It is the continued look that Christ condemns, because that demonstrates an adulterous heart. And by inference this prohibition would apply to women also, who must not gaze at men or dress in seductive ways to elicit stares.

In earliest redemptive history, Job understood these principles: “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?… If my step has turned from the way, or my heart followed my eyes, or if any spot has stuck to my hands, let me sow and another eat, and let my crops be uprooted” (Job 31:1, 7–8).

If the adulterous heart gives in to temptation, the godly heart will protect itself, praying, “Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Your ways. Establish Your word to Your servant, as that which produces reverence for You” (Ps. 119:37–38; cf. 2 Tim. 2:22).

ASK YOURSELF
What could replace your next lustful thought or glance? Instead of focusing on what God has graciously restricted, what blessings, privileges, and freedoms can capture your attention instead?[1]

The Deed

You have heard that it was said, “You shall not commit adultery.” (5:27)

As with the one relating to the sin of murder (vv. 21–26), this illustration begins with a quotation of one of the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:14). In both of those cases, Jewish tradition was based on the law of Moses, at least superficially.

The sixth commandment protects the sanctity of life and the seventh the sanctity of marriage. Those who rely on external righteousness break both of those commandments, because in their hearts they attack the sanctity of life and the sanctity of marriage, whether they do so outwardly or not. When they are angry or hate, they commit murder. When they lust sexually, they commit adultery. And when they do either of those things, they choose to despise God’s law and God’s name (see Ex. 20:14; Lev. 20:10; Deut. 5:18).

Anger and sexual lust are two of the most powerful influences on mankind. The person who gives them reign will soon find that he is more controlled than in control. Every person has experienced temptation to anger and to sexual sin, and every person has at some time and to some degree given in to those temptations. Because of that fact, every person is guilty before God of murder and of adultery.

Although sexual temptations have been strong since manp’s fall, our day of permissiveness and perversion has brought an increase in those destructive influences that no society in history has had before (see 2 Tim. 3:13). Ours is a day of unbridled indulgence in sexual passion. People propagate, promote, and exploit it through the most powerful and pervasive media ever known to man. It seems to be the almost uninterrupted theme of our society’s entertainment. Even in academic and religious circles we see seminars, books, tapes, and programs of all sorts that promise to improve sexual knowledge, experience, freedom, and enjoyment.

Mass media uses sex to sell its products and to glamorize its programs. Sex crimes are at all-time highs, while infidelity, divorce, and perversion are justified. Marriage, sexual fidelity, and moral purity are scorned, ridiculed, and laughed at. We are preoccupied with sex to a degree perhaps never before seen in a civilized culture.

But the philosophy of sexual hedonism is not new to our day. It was common in New Testament times, and Paul faced it full force in Corinth. His comment “Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food” (1 Cor. 6:13a) expressed the common Greek notion that biological functions are just biological functions and have no moral significance. It was a belief many of the Corinthian believers had reverted to, or had never given up, in order to justify their sexual misconduct. Apparently they were arguing, as do many hedonists today, that sex is simply a biological act, no different morally from eating, drinking, or sleeping. But Paul strongly refutes that idea by going on to say, “God will do away with both of them [that is, food and the stomach]. Yet the body is not for immorality, but for the Lord; and the Lord is for the body” (v. 13b). The body is more than biological, as divine judgment will reveal. For Christians it is a member of Christ, a temple of the Holy Spirit, and belongs to the Lord rather than to us (vv. 15, 19). It is therefore never to be used for any purpose that dishonors the God who made and indwells it. Christians should have but one response to sexual temptation-running away from it (v. 18).

The same philosophy that corrupted Corinth is today engulfing most of western society in a sea of sexual excess and perversion. In its many forms, sexual license is destroying lives physically, morally, mentally, and spiritually. It is destroying marriages, families, and even whole communities.

Throughout history some Christians have reacted to sexual temptations and sins in ways that are unbiblical. Seeing the great power of the sex drive and the great damage its unbridled expression can cause, they have sometimes concluded that sex itself is evil and should be completely condemned and avoided. Commonly referred to today as the Victorian view, that philosophy was prevalent long before the age of Queen Victoria.

Origen (a.d. 185–254), one of the outstanding early church Fathers, was so convicted of his own sinfulness by reading Matthew 5:27–30 that he had himself castrated (The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. James D. Douglas [new edition; Grand Rapids, 1974, 1978], p. 733. Peter Abelard, a twelfth-century French theologian, had lived a godly life for many years. He fell in love with a young woman (Heloise) and caused her to become pregnant. To protect her and to try to rectify the wrong, he married her. Damaging rumors had begun to circulate, however, and, rather than harm Abelard’s career still further, Heloise entered a convent. Her uncle, angry at all that had happened, hired men to break into Abelard’s quarters and castrate him; Abelard then joined the monastery of St.-Denis (New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, p. 3).

But geographical escapism, physical mutilation, or any form of forced celibacy violate God’s purpose (see Heb. 13:4) and are just as unscriptural as sexual immorality. The Lord wants His people to be in the world but not of it (John 17:15–18). And because our bodies belong to Christ and are temples of the Holy Spirit, they are not to be abused in any way. God created sex and gives it as a blessing to those who enjoy it within the bounds of marriage. Anyone who promotes abstinence from marriage on the basis that all sexual expression is evil is “paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (see 1 Tim. 4:1–3). Speaking of the marriage relationship, Paul commands, “Let the husband fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. … Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again lest Satan tempt you because of your lack of self-control” (1 Cor. 7:3, 5). Sexual expression not only is a thrilling privilege but an obligation of marriage.

In the middle of a biblical warning against adultery, husbands are instructed, “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love” (Prov. 5:18–19). The Song of Solomon is devoted to the beauty and wonder of marital love. God has designed and blessed sexual expression within marriage, and to malign or denigrate that proper expression by such practices as castration or forced celibacy is as much of a perversion as fornication, adultery, or homosexuality.

The solution to sexual impurity cannot be external because the cause is not external. Job proclaimed, “If my heart has been enticed by a woman, or I have lurked at my neighbor’s doorway, may my wife grind for another, and let others kneel down over her. For that would be a lustful crime; moreover, it would be an iniquity punishable by judges” (Job 31:9–11). That ancient saint knew that physical infidelity is first of all a matter of the heart, and that lusting is just as sinful in God’s eyes as the act of adultery.

The Mosaic law portrays adultery as one of the most despicable and heinous of sins, punishable by death (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). In strongly opposing adultery, Jewish tradition appeared to be entirely scriptural. When the scribes and Pharisees told Jesus that Moses commanded them to stone the woman caught in the act of adultery, they were correct (John 8:4–5). Had not Jesus forgiven her of her sin she would have deserved stoning.

Throughout the New Testament, prohibitions against sexual immorality are every bit as clear as those of the Old. “Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals” will inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9; cf. Gal. 5:19–21; Rev. 2:22). “Fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4). Regardless of how much a couple may care for each other and be deeply in love, sexual relations outside of marriage are forbidden. In every case, without exception, it is a heinous sin against God.

In its most technical sense, committing adultery (from moichaō) refers to sexual intercourse between a man and woman when one or both of them is married. In both the Old and New Testaments the word relates to sexual intercourse with anyone other than one’s marriage partner. That Jesus here implies that the principle of sexual purity can be seen in a wider sense than adultery (though adultery is His point here) seems clear from the fact that both everyone and a woman are comprehensive terms that could also apply to the unmarried.

The Desire

but I say to you, that everyone who looks on a woman to lust for her has committed adultery with her already in his heart. (5:28)

The pronoun I (egō) is emphatic, indicating that Jesus puts His own word above the authority of revered rabbinic tradition. Looks (from blepō) is a present participle and refers to the continuous process of looking. In this usage, the idea is not that of an incidental or involuntary glance but of intentional and repeated gazing. Pros to (to) used with the infinitive (epithumēsai, lust for) indicates a goal or an action that follows in time the action of the looking. Jesus is therefore speaking of intentional looking with the purpose of lusting. He is speaking of the man who looks so that he may satisfy his evil desire. He is speaking of the man who goes to an X-rated movie, who selects a television program known for its sexual orientation, who goes to a beach known for its scanty swimsuits, or who does any such thing with the expectation and desire of being sexually and sinfully titillated.

Looking at a woman lustfully does not cause a man to commit adultery in his thoughts. He already has committed adultery in his heart. It is not lustful looking that causes the sin in the heart, but the sin in the heart that causes lustful looking. The lustful looking is but the expression of a heart that is already immoral and adulterous. The heart is the soil where the seeds of sin are imbedded and begin to grow.

Jesus is not speaking of unexpected and unavoidable exposure to sexual temptation. When a man happens to see a woman provocatively dressed, Satan will surely try to tempt that man with lustful thoughts. But there is no sin if the temptation is resisted and the gaze is turned elsewhere. It is continuing to look in order to satisfy lustful desires that Jesus condemns, because it evidences a vile, immoral heart.

David was not at fault for seeing Bathsheba bathing. He could not have helped noticing her, because she was in plain view as he walked on the palace roof. His sin was in dwelling on the sight and in willingly succumbing to the temptation. He could have looked away and put the experience out of his mind. The fact that he had her brought to his chambers and committed adultery with her expressed the immoral desire that already existed in his heart (see 2 Sam. 11:1–4).

A popular proverb goes, “Sow a thought and reap an act. Sow an act and reap a habit. Sow a habit and reap a character. Sow a character and reap a destiny.” That process perfectly illustrates Jesus’ main thrust in this passage: No matter where it ends, sin always begins when an evil thought is sown in the mind and heart.

Although Jesus here uses a man as the example, His condemnation of lustful thoughts as well as actions applies equally to women. Women are equally susceptible to lustful looking, and even to inciting men to lust. As Arthur Pink observes,

If lustful looking is so grievous a sin, then those who dress and expose themselves with the desire to be looked at and lusted after … are not less but perhaps more guilty. In this matter it is not only too often the case that men sin but women tempt them to do so. How great then must be the guilt of the great majority of modern misses who deliberately seek to arouse the sexual passions of young men. And how much greater still is the guilt of most of their mothers for allowing them to become lascivious temptresses. (An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974], p. 83)

Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin. … If my step has turned from the way, or my heart followed my eyes, or if any spot has stuck to my hands, let me sow and another eat, and let my crops be uprooted” (Job 31:1, 7–8). Job knew that sin begins in the heart and that he was just as deserving of God’s punishment for looking at a woman lustfully as for committing adultery with her. He therefore determined in advance to guard himself by making a pact with his eyes not to gaze at a woman who might tempt him.

Just as the adulterous heart plans to expose itself to lust-satisfying situations, the godly heart plans to avoid them whenever possible and to flee from them when unavoidable. Just as the adulterous heart panders to itself in advance, so the godly heart protects itself in advance, praying with the psalmist, “Turn away my eyes from looking at vanity, and revive me in Thy ways. Establish Thy word to Thy servant, as that which produces reverence for Thee” (Ps. 119:37–38). Paul exhorted Timothy to “flee from youthful lusts” and to cultivate a “pure heart” (2 Tim. 2:22).

Like Job, therefore, we must make a covenant with our eyes-and with every other part of our bodies, minds, and spirits-to shun lust and pursue purity.[2]


5:27, 28 The Mosaic Law clearly prohibited adultery (Ex. 20:14; Deut. 5:18). A person might be proud that he had never broken this commandment, and yet have his “eyes full of adultery” (2 Pet. 2:14). While outwardly respectable, his mind might be constantly wandering down labyrinths of impurity. So Jesus reminded His disciples that mere abstinence from the physical act was not enough—there must be inward purity. The law forbade the act of adultery; Jesus forbids the desire: Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. E. Stanley Jones caught the import of this verse when he wrote: “If you think or act adultery, you do not satisfy the sex urge; you pour oil on a fire to quench it.” Sin begins in the mind, and if we nourish it, we eventually commit the act.[3]


27–28 The OT command not to commit adultery (Ex 20:14; Dt 5:18) is often treated in Jewish sources not so much as a function of purity as of theft: it was to steal another’s wife (references in Bonnard). Jesus insisted that the seventh commandment points in another direction—toward purity that refuses to lust (v. 28). The tenth commandment had already explicitly made the point; and gynē (GK 1222) here more likely means “woman” than “wife.” “To interpret the law on the side of stringency is not to annul the Law but to change it in accordance with its own intention” (Davies, Setting, 102; cf. Job 31:1; Pr 6:25; 2 Pe 2:14).

Klaus Haacker (“Der Rechtsatz Jesu zum Thema Ehebruch,” BZ 21 [1977]: 113–16) has convincingly argued that the second autēn (“[committed adultery] with her”) is contrary to the common interpretation of this verse. In Greek it is unnecessary, especially if the sin is entirely the man’s. But it is explainable if pros to epithymēsai autēn, commonly understood to mean “with a view to lusting for her,” is translated “so as to get her to lust.” The evidence for this interpretation is strong (see Notes). The man is therefore looking at the woman with a view to enticing her to lust. Thus, so far as his intention goes, he is committing adultery with her, and he makes her an adulteress. This does not weaken the force of Jesus’ teaching. The heart of the matter is still lust and intent.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 119). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 300–304). 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. 184). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 20 – INFINITE MERCY

But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him, and his righteousness unto children’s children.

—Psalm 103:17

There is an old story… about the Jewish rabbi centuries ago who consented to take a weary traveler into his house for a night’s rest.

After they had eaten together, the rabbi said, “You are a very old man, are you not?”

“Yes,” the traveler replied, “I am almost a century old.”

As they talked, the rabbi brought up the matter of religion and asked the visitor about his faith and about his relation to God.

“Oh, I do not believe in God,” the aged man replied. “I am an atheist.”

The rabbi was infuriated. He arose and opened the door and ordered the man from his house.

“I cannot keep an atheist in my house overnight,” he reasoned….

But then the voice of God said, “Son, I have endured him for almost 100 years—don’t you think you could endure him for one night?” …

It was the mercy of God that had endured the atheist for nearly 100 years. ICH054-055

Lord, You have endured and continue to endure so much from Your creation. Your mercy is indeed from everlasting to everlasting. Amen. [1]


103:17, 18 With God’s mercy there is a vivid contrast. It lasts from everlasting to everlasting to those who fear Him. In duration, as in volume, it is limitless. And His righteousness extends to children’s children. There is great comfort in this. Christian parents often feel concern about their children and grandchildren growing up in a world of mounting wickedness. But we can safely entrust our little ones to One whose love is infinite and whose righteousness is sufficient not only for us but for succeeding generations as well. Of course, the promises necessarily have a condition attached. They are valid for those who keep His covenant and remember His commandments to do them. But that is only reasonable.[2]


103:17, 18 the lovingkindness of the Lord. Those who appeal to God’s mercy by proper fear (v. 17) and obedience (v. 18) will overcome the shortness of physical life with eternal life. Lk 1:50 quotes Ps 103:17.[3]


103:17–18 the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting. Cf. 25:6; 100:5. Those who fear him (103:11, 13) are the same as those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments; they are the faithful, who believe the promises and obey the commands (Ex. 19:5; Deut. 7:9; cf. John 14:15, 21; 15:10; Rev. 1:3; 3:8). The covenant of circumcision, which Abraham’s descendants were to “keep,” included the promise that the Lord would be God to both the offspring and their parents. This psalm goes beyond that, however: the faithful expect that God sets his saving love on their children’s children. This is the crowning privilege that God gives to his faithful: though their lives are short and appear almost insignificant, they may still contribute to the future well-being of the people of God by their godly and prayerful parenting and grandparenting. Cf. also Ps. 100:5; 102:28; in Ex. 34:7a God keeps steadfast love for thousands (i.e., thousands of generations; cf. Deut. 7:9) for the faithful (Ex. 20:6).[4]


103:17 everlasting to everlasting God’s loving nature has always characterized Him.

his righteousness The psalmist describes God’s righteousness (tsedaqah) as parallel to His chesed (“steadfast love”) for Israel. See v. 6 and note.

to their children’s children This multi-generational relationship between Yahweh and Israel is a feature of Yahweh’s covenant relationship with His people (see v. 18). Compare 90:16 and 102:28.[5]


103:17 steadfast love … on those who fear him. There is a reciprocal relationship between divine initiative and human response. God first loves His people, then they love Him in return as shown in the faithful obedience of their lives (Rom. 5:8; 1 John 4:10–12).[6]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 706). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 103:17). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1069). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 103:17). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 951). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

April 20 – Compassionate Loyalty

“And many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him.”

Matthew 27:55

✧✧✧

The women who supported Jesus’ ministry all the way to the cross are fine examples of compassionate loyalty.

Caring, consistent loyalty is a wonderful characteristic of godly women. This trait is probably more evident in them than it is in godly men. The women by the cross were the main group of believing eyewitnesses to Jesus’ crucifixion. They also showed incredible loyalty in the face of ridicule and danger. This courage contrasted with the disciples who, except for John, had fled in fear the night before Jesus was crucified.

We saw in a lesson earlier this month that some of the women, including our Lord’s mother, had been watching the crucifixion from the foot of the cross (John 19:25–27). But in today’s verse the women are described as “looking on from a distance.” They had not suddenly become afraid of the Roman soldiers or the Jewish leaders. Neither had they become ashamed of being known as Jesus’ followers. They withdrew because their grief was deep and their hope shattered at the impending death of their Master. The women’s endurance, however, was undaunted.

Throughout His ministry, devoted women such as those at the cross ministered generously to Jesus and the disciples. Luke 8:2–3 says, “Mary who was called Magdalene … Joanna the wife of Chuza … Susanna, and many others … were contributing to their support out of their private means.” It is probable that most of the meals Jesus and the Twelve ate were prepared by faithful women.

The women who followed Jesus set the standard for faithful service and compassionate loyalty that Paul later outlined for godly women: “a reputation for good works … washed the saints’ feet … assisted those in distress, and … devoted herself to every good work” (1 Tim. 5:10). Such self–giving acts of practical service are marks of excellence and spiritual maturity that ought to be evident in the lives of all believers.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Is there a Christian friend to whom you can affirm your loyalty? Pray for an opportunity to serve that person in a practical way.

For Further Study: Read John 13:3–17. How did Jesus demonstrate the theme of today’s study? ✧ What impact did Jesus’ example have on Peter?[1]


Sympathetic Loyalty

And many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him, among whom was Mary Magdalene, along with Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee. (27:55–56)

The reaction of the second group Matthew mentions was especially beautiful. Unlike the soldiers, who went from unbelief to belief, the many women who were there were already believers. Their response to the crucifixion could be described as sympathetic loyalty.

From John’s account we know that some of the women, as well as John, had earlier been at the foot of the cross (John 19:25–27). But perhaps because they could not bear to observe the suffering of their Lord so closely, those women were now looking on from a distance. They were not afraid of the soldiers or the Jewish leaders and had no concern for their own safety or welfare. They were not ashamed of being identified with Jesus. They withdrew because they were devastated at the suffering and death of the one they had loved so dearly Their grief was deep and their hopes seemed shattered, but their courage was undaunted.

Sympathetic loyalty is one of most beautiful and distinguishing characteristics of godly women, generally being more evident in them than in godly men. A spiritual woman has the capacity for incredible loyalty in the face of ridicule and danger. Except for John, the rest of the disciples had fled in fear. Even Peter, who mustered enough courage to follow Jesus as far as the house of Caiaphas, was not to be found at the cross.

The great Bible expositor G. Campbell Morgan described those women as “hopeless, disappointed, bereaved, heartbroken; but the love He had created in those hearts for Himself could not be quenched, even by His dying: could not be overcome, even though they were disappointed; could not be extinguished, even though the light of hope had gone out, and over the sea of their sorrow there was no sighing wind that told of the dawn” (The Gospel According to Matthew [Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1929], p. 318).

We do not know the number of women who were there, but Matthew’s speaking of them as many perhaps would suggest up to a dozen. However many they were, these women were among those who had followed Jesus from Galilee, ministering to Him.

Devoted women had traveled with and served Jesus for a long while. Among the earliest of them were “Mary who was called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward, and Susanna, and many others who were contributing to their [Jesus’ and the disciples’] support out of their private means” (Luke 8:2–3). Throughout His ministry, such women ministered generously and lovingly to Jesus and the Twelve with their financial resources, their talents, and their hospitality. It is probable that many if not most, of the meals they ate were prepared by those faithful women.

Ministering translates diakoneō, which has the basic meaning of serving and is the verb form of the noun from which deacon is derived. Although the feminine form of the term was not used to describe a specific type of ministry until many years later in the early church, if at all (see Rom. 16:1, where “servant” could be translated “deaconess”), those ministering women were, in effect, the first deaconesses.

Throughout the Old Testament, godly women are acclaimed. The psalmist extolled the Lord by declaring that “He makes the barren woman abide in the house as a joyful mother of children. Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 113:9). And even apart from the possible office of deaconess, the role of women in the early church centered in their faithfulness as wives and mothers and in their practical care for fellow believers. The kind of elderly widow Paul declared was worthy of support by the church was one who has “a reputation for good works, … has brought up children, … has shown hospitality to strangers, … washed the saints feet, … assisted those in distress, and … devoted herself to every good work (1 Tim. 5:10: cf. Luke 4:39; 10:40).

Far from being spiritually demeaning, such self-giving acts of practical helpfulness are a mark of womanly excellence and spiritual maturity–a truth Jesus had a very difficult time teaching the disciples (see John 13:3–16).

The ministry of godly women has always been of great significance in the church. Those women by the cross were the primary believing eyewitnesses to Jesus’ crucifixion, and a woman was the first person to see the Lord after His resurrection. Those faithful women certainly would have had a special place of respect and affection in the early church. When the apostles were first preaching the gospel and testifying of their experiences with Jesus, it is hard to imagine that they did not frequently acknowledge the courage and devotion of those women-who remained with the Lord during His time of agony and death, while they, His specially chosen and trained men, had fled and were hiding out in some obscure part of Jerusalem.

Through His direction of Matthew’s pen, the Holy Spiritidentifies some of those godly women by name. The first is Mary Magdalene, the one from whom Jesus had cast out seven demons (Luke 8:2). Magdalene was not part of her family name but simply indicated she was from the town of Magdala, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, just south of Capernaum. She probably was identified in that way because she was unmarried and could not be identified by her husband or sons, as was the common practice in that day.

The second woman mentioned is Mary the mother of James and Joseph. This James was one of the apostles and was commonly referred to as James the Less (Mark 15:40) or James the son of Alphaeus (Matt. 10:3; Acts 1:13) to distinguish him from the other James, who, with Peter and his brother John, constituted the inner circle of the Twelve. John identifies this Mary as the wife of Clopas” (John 19:25), apparently a variant of Alphaeus.

The third woman is identified as Salome by Mark (15:40) but is referred to by Matthew simply as the mother of the sons of Zebedee, in other words, Zebedee’s wife. The sons of Zebedee were James and John (Matt. 4:21) and were nicknamed by Jesus “Sons of Thunder” (Mark 3:17). From John’s gospel we learn that Mary the mother of Jesus was also at the cross (19:26), although she may not have been with the other women at this time.

The first of the three women Matthew mentions was not married, the second was identified by her children, and the third by her husband. The implication seems to be that divine dignity is bestowed on all categories of womanhood. God has a marvelous and blessed role for women He has gifted with singleness, for women who are faithful mothers, and for women who are faithful wives. And perhaps in order not to suggest a secondary rank for the single woman or for the formerly wicked woman, Mary Magdalene is here named first.

Conspicuously absent from the scene at the cross were the Twelve, except for John. Judas had committed suicide, and the other ten were hiding for fear of their lives. During their Lord’s greatest time of need, they had temporarily violated the basic principle of discipleship. “He who does not take his cross and follow after Me,” Jesus said, “is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:38). At this time the disciples not only did not have the courage to risk bearing their own crosses but did not even have the courage to stand with their Lord as He bore His.[2]


The Faithful Women (27:55, 56)

Special mention is made of the women who had faithfully ministered to the Lord, and who had followed Him all the way from Galilee to Jerusalem. Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joses, and Salome, the wife of Zebedee, were there. The fearless devotion of these women stands out with special luster. They remained with Christ when the male disciples ran for their lives![3]


55–56 Along with the soldiers, certain women, generally not highly regarded in Jewish society, watched to the bitter end. They kept their distance, whether through timidity or modesty. Though last at the cross, they were first at the tomb (28:1). Not only do they provide continuity to the narrative, but they prove that God has chosen the lowly and despised things of the world to shame the wise and strong (cf. 1 Co 1:27–31). These women were Galileans who often traveled with the disciples to care for Jesus’ needs out of their own resources (cf. Lk 8:2–3).

Comparison of the lists of names in Matthew, Mark (15:40), and John (19:25) produces these results:

Matthew

 

Mark

 

John

 

Mary Magdalene

 

Mary Magdalene

 

Jesus’ mother

 

Mary the mother of James and Joses

 

Mary the mother of James the younger and Joses

 

Jesus’ mother’s sister

 

Mother of Zebedee’s sons

 

Salome

 

Mary the wife of Clopas

 

Mary Magdalene

 

If we make two assumptions—(1) that John’s second entry is distinguished from his third (i.e., they are not in apposition) and (2) that John’s list of four includes the list of three in Matthew and Mark—then certain things become probable. First, the mother of Zebedee’s sons was called Salome, unless a different woman is here introduced. Second, if Mary the mother of James and Joseph (or Joses) is Jesus’ mother (cf. 13:55), then Jesus’ mother and Mary Magdalene appear on all three lists. That would make Salome Jesus’ mother’s sister—his aunt on his mother’s side. Others suppose that Mary the wife of Clopas is the mother of James and Joses, who are not Jesus’ half brothers. Yet the result still equates Salome and Jesus’ aunt on his mother’s side. Although none of this is certain, it would help explain 20:20.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 27:54–55). 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, p. 652). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 20 – Christ’s Triumph

Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.

1 Peter 3:18

 

It’s incredible to think that One who was perfectly just would die for the unjust. Pilate was correct when he said of Jesus, “I find no guilt in this man” (Luke 23:4). The charges brought against our Lord were fabricated. The witnesses were bribed, and the conviction itself was illegal.

Yet Christ triumphed through such unjust suffering by bringing us to God. And though believers will never suffer as substitutes or redeemers, God may use our Christlike response to unjust suffering to draw others to Himself.

So when the Lord asks us to suffer for His sake, we must realize we are only being asked to endure what He Himself endured so that we can point others to Him.[1]


His Triumphant Sin-Bearing

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, (3:18a)

The conjunctions also and for point Peter’s readers back to the previous passage (3:13–17) and remind them that they ought not to be surprised or discouraged by suffering, since Christ triumphed in His suffering even though He died an excruciating death, and that of the most horrific kind—crucifixion. In contrast, the author of the letter to the Hebrews reminded his readers who suffered that they had “not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood” (12:4). Most believers will not die as martyrs, but even when they do, that death is the wages of their sin (Rom. 6:23). All people die because they are sinful, which makes even a death for righteousness’ sake a just death, in a sense. Man deserves to die; Jesus did not.

Some translations (e.g., kjv, nkjv) of this verse render died as “suffered,” a reading based on variant Greek manuscripts. But the different translations do not change the meaning: Christ suffered in that He died for sins. Sin caused the sinless Christ’s death. This is the supreme example of suffering for righteousness’ sake (v. 18), and He willingly endured it on behalf of sinners (Isa. 53:4–6, 8–12; Matt. 26:26–28; John 1:29; 10:11, 15; Rom. 5:8–11; 8:32; 1 Cor. 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:15, 18–19; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 2:13–16; Col. 1:20–22; 1 Thess. 1:10; 1 Tim. 2:5–6; Heb. 2:9, 17; 7:27; 9:12, 24–28; 10:10; 13:12; 1 John 1:7; 2:2; 4:10; Rev. 1:5; 5:9). Earlier in this letter, Peter asserted that Christ “committed no sin” (2:22). He never had a single thought, word, or action that did not fully please God; rather His behavior in every respect was perfectly holy (Isa. 53:11; Luke 1:35; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; cf. John 5:30; Heb. 1:9).

So Jesus died for sins in that He was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28; cf. Rom. 8:3; Heb. 10:5–10). In the Old Testament economy, God required animal sacrifices to symbolize the need to atone for sin by the death of an innocent substitute (Ex. 29:31–33, 36; Lev. 1:4–5; 8:34; 16:2–16; 17:11; 23:26–27; Num. 15:25; 1 Chron. 6:49); the New Testament presents Christ as that perfect sacrifice who fulfilled all the symbols in the reality of atoning for all sinners who would ever believe (John 3:14–15; Rom. 5:6–11; 1 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 9:11–14, 24, 28; 12:24; 13:11–12).

The phrase once for all translates the word hapax, which means “of perpetual validity, not requiring repetition.” For the Jews so familiar with their sacrificial system, that was a new concept. To atone for sin, they had slaughtered millions of animals over the centuries. During their annual Passover celebration, as many as a quarter million sheep would be sacrificed. But Jesus Christ’s one sacrificial death ended that insufficient parade of animals to the altar and was sufficient for all and for all time (Heb. 1:3; 7:26–27; 9:24–28; 10:10–12), as He took the punishment due the elect and bore it for them, thus fully satisfying God’s righteous judgment.

Thus, in Christ’s substitutionary death, He suffered the just for the unjust. As the perfect offering for sin, He willingly (John 10:15–18) and in accord with the Father’s redemptive purpose from before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23; 4:27–28; 13:27–29; cf. 2 Tim. 1:9; Rev. 13:8) took upon Himself the entire penalty due the unrighteous (2:24). No text says it more concisely than 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Much more can be said about sin and imputation, as is elsewhere (cf. Rom. 3–6), but here Peter directs his statements at the practical, referring to the substitutionary suffering of Jesus as an illustration of how the most extreme affliction and injustice resulted in the singularly supreme triumph of salvation. This should be eminently encouraging to believers who suffer unjustly.

The triumph in Christ’s death is expressed in the phrase that He might bring [believers] to God. The divine tearing of the temple veil from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51) symbolically demonstrated the reality that He had opened the way to God. The heavenly Holy of Holies, the “throne of grace” (Heb. 4:16), was made available for immediate access by all true believers. As royal priests (2:9), all believers are welcomed into God’s presence (Heb. 4:16; 10:19–22).

The verb translated He might bring (prosagō) expresses the specific purpose of Jesus’ actions. It often describes someone’s being introduced or given access to another. In classical Greek the noun form refers to the one making the introduction. In ancient courts certain officials controlled access to the king. They verified someone’s right to see him and then introduced that person to the monarch. Christ now performs that function for believers. Hebrews 6:20 says concerning the inner court of heaven that He “has entered as a forerunner for [believers], having become a high priest forever.” Christ entered to bring the elect into communion with God (cf. Ps. 110:4; Heb. 2:17–18; 3:1–2; 4:14–15; 5:4–6; 7:17, 21–22, 25; 8:1–2, 6; 9:13–14).[2]


3:18 The rest of chapter 3 presents Christ as the classic example of One who suffered for righteousness’ sake, and reminds us that for Him, suffering was the pathway to glory.

Notice the six features of His sufferings: (1) They were expiatory, that is, they freed believing sinners from the punishment of their sins. (2) They were eternally effectual. He died once for all and settled the sin question. The work of redemption was completed. (3) They were substitutionary. The just died for the unjust. “The Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6b). (4) They were reconciling. Through His death we have been brought to God. The sin which caused alienation has been removed. (5) They were violent. His death was by execution. (6) Finally, they were climaxed by resurrection. He was raised from the dead on the third day. The expression made alive by the Spirit means that His resurrection was through the power of the Holy Spirit.[3]


18 Immediately preceding this verse, the writer stresses the Christian response to persecution. Believers are thus to look to their Lord: “For Christ suffered …” (NIV, “died”; paschō,GK 4248, used twelve times in 1 Peter, roughly one-third of all its occurrences in the NT). This suffering, moreover, was vicarious, for the sins of others; it was substitutionary atonement—“the righteous for the unrighteous,” unique and once-for-all (hapax, GK 562) in character (Heb 7:27; 9:28; 10:11–12; cf. Jude 5). This was done, writes Peter, “to bring [prosagō, GK 4642] you to God.” Accessibility to the divine throne, where Peter ends in this parenthetical insertion (3:22), is of critical importance to the readers psychologically if they are enduring considerable hardship in the present cultural context.

That Christ was “put to death [thanatoō, GK 2506] in the body” establishes immediate and crucial identification with the readers. Both share a common existential experience (lit.) “in the flesh”: both suffer. But this is not the end; the story progresses. While Christ was put to death in the flesh, on the one hand, he was also and subsequently “made alive by the Spirit” (zōopoieō pneumati). This flesh-Spirit contrast serves several purposes. At one level, it counters any divorce or dichotomizing of the two that would have typified Hellenistic thinking (cf. 1 Jn 4:2). The scandal of the early church’s preaching was its Christology: Jesus Christ is fully human and fully divine (cf. Col 1:19). At another level, it reminds the audience that, while “the body is weak,” indeed, the Spirit is willing (cf. Mt 26:41). The same Spirit who sanctifies (1:2), grants revelation (1:11), makes us holy (1:15–16), and raised Jesus from the dead (3:18) also quickens the believer. The Spirit helps us transcend our earthly limitations.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 125). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 206–208). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2271–2272). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] 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, p. 338). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.