Daily Archives: April 21, 2017

April 21, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Apr. 21, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump has proposed ending dozens of Environmental Protection Agency programs in his drive to slash its budget, but that’s not stopping his administration from taking credit for those operations in the meantime.

Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni promised to contribute more toward NATO’s defense, responding to a pet peeve of President Donald Trump. Only not quickly.

Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, best known for his bellicose rhetoric against Israel, was disqualified from running in next month’s presidential election, giving a boost to President Hassan Rouhani’s re-election chances.

Pharmaceutical and biotech acquisitions totaled $44 billion last quarter, down 13 percent from a year earlier, and 35 percent below the first quarter of 2015.

Justice Neil Gorsuch took his first major action on the U.S. Supreme Court by casting the deciding vote to let Arkansas begin executing a group of death-row inmates.

With customer traffic sagging, U.S. retail landlords are using their sprawling concrete lots to host events such as carnivals, concerts and food-truck festivals. They’re aiming to lure visitors with experiences that can’t be replicated online — and then get them inside the properties to spend some money.

Subway Restaurants closed hundreds of domestic locations last year, marking the biggest retrenchment in the history of a chain that spent decades saturating America with restaurants.

Two studies by the same group of researchers gave soda drinkers—both diet and regular—a whole new reason to drop the habit entirely. The first, published in the medical journal Stroke, found that consumption of artificially sweetened beverages was associated with a higher risk of stroke and dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The second, published in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, found that higher consumption of sugary beverages was associated with markers for pre-clinical Alzheimer’s disease.

Deutsche Bank AG was hit with the Federal Reserve’s first major fine for failing to ensure traders abide by the Volcker Rule’s ban on risky market bets — and will also pay even more for letting currency desks chat online with competitors, allegedly revealing positions.

AP Top Stories

Syria still possesses chemical weapons, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in Israel on Friday, warning against the banned munitions being used again.

A new ocean debris drift analysis shows missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 is most likely within a proposed expanded search area rejected by Australia and Malaysia in January, the Australian government’s scientific agency said on Friday.

Ann Coulter is rejecting the University of California, Berkeley’s request for her to change the date of a planned speaking appearance at the school to an alternate date in May. The conservative author tweeted Thursday: “I’m speaking at Berkeley on April 27th, as I was invited to do.” Coulter’s comment came hours after university officials reversed an earlier decision to call off the event citing concerns of violence. Officials offered Coulter the alternate date of May 2.

From Capitol Hill to Hippie Hill, marijuana enthusiasts observed their 4/20 holiday Thursday with public smoke-outs, parties and, yes, great deals on weed. Before the clock even hit 4:20 p.m., there were arrests in the nation’s capital, as police took seven people into custody at a demonstration that involved handing out joints to congressional staff members.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Wednesday accused Iran of ‘alarming ongoing provocations’ to destabilize countries in the Middle East as the Trump administration launched a review of its policy toward Tehran.

Hundreds of Israelis gathered on a grassy hill overlooking parliament on Thursday to smoke marijuana in an act of communal defiance of current laws. Sitting in small groups on mats shaded by trees in the Rose Garden just across from the Knesset, participants lit up as the clock struck 4:20 pm for the local version of the traditional worldwide April 20 pro-marijuana events, known as “420” rallies.

Australia plans to tighten its citizenship rules to require higher English language skills, longer residency and evidence of integration such as a job, officials said Thursday.

Exxon Mobil and a Saudi partner plan to build a multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant near the Texas coast, Texas’ governor said Wednesday.

The days of tapping in your PIN at the checkout could be numbered after credit card provider MasterCard unveiled a payment card in South Africa featuring a biometric fingerprint scanner.

BBC

Twenty children have been killed in a minibus crash near the South African capital Pretoria, emergency services have said.

Residents of a village outside Hanoi are holding policemen and officials hostage in a week-long stand-off over a land dispute. Local authorities have fled and residents now control the village. They have built barricades to keep police out and the situation is very tense.

A South Korean man has died from poisoning after eating toads he had mistaken for edible bullfrogs.

A group of Qatari hunters – possibly including members of the ruling family – have been freed 16 months after being kidnapped in Iraq, officials said. The Iraqi interior ministry said “all 26” were in Baghdad and would be handed over to a Qatari envoy.

WND

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.

Officials at Hillsborough County Public Schools in Tampa, Florida are being asked to stop the bullying by a math teacher who is an open advocate for the LGBT lifestyle and has, among other things, banned students from wearing cross necklaces in her classroom.


The Briefing 04-21-17

Money, morality, and the media: Bill O’Reilly out at Fox News amidst accusations of sexual harassment

New York Governor Cuomo mandates insurers cover infertility treatment for singles, same-sex couples

New York’s latest offer of tuition-free college at state schools: A government takeover of higher ed?

Is the Bible’s position on women in ministry sexist? Complementarianism in the New York Times

The post The Briefing 04-21-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 4/21/2017

Greater power, less restraint: Turkey’s new constitution lets Erdoğan call the shots
Among other changes, the referendum approved by Turkish citizens on Sunday grants President Erdoğan the power to elect senior members in his administration and the Supreme Court, do away with the prime ministership and allow him to remain in power until 2029.

Elon Musk on mission to link human brains with computers in four years: report
“If I were to communicate a concept to you, you would essentially engage in consensual telepathy,” Musk said in the interview published on Thursday. bit.ly/2oWJcMw

Trump to order U.S. Treasury to delve into taxes, post-crisis reforms
Mnuchin said earlier on Thursday that Treasury is working on tax reform “day and night” and will soon create a sweeping overhaul.

EU executive to meet Soros amid spat with Hungary over university
The head of the European Union’s executive arm will meet US financier George Soros next Thursday, a spokeswoman said, as part of consultations on a new Hungarian law that has threatened to force the closure of a university he funds. Frans Timmermans and two other commissioners will also meet Soros next week, after Brussels already threatened Hungary with legal action over rights issues and the Soros school.

What is Hezbollah planning for the Third Lebanon War?
In Military Intelligence they call it “Fire-by-Six,” a reference to the dramatic transformation of Hezbollah’s rocket and missile arsenal in the 10 years that have passed since the Second Lebanon War.

POTENT CORONAL HOLE TURNS TOWARD EARTH
A large hole in the sun’s atmosphere is turning toward Earth, and it is spewing a stream of fast-moving solar wind toward our planet.

Liberman: Crucial to place more pressure and sanctions on Iran
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman warmly welcomed his US Counterpart James Mattis on Friday as the first Cabinet Secretary of the Trump administration to visit Israel saying that he hopes to see more sanctions placed on Iran. “There is no doubt that main problem for us and around the world is the axis of evil from North Korea to Tehran to Damascus to Hezbollah in Beirut. No doubt that the main link in this chain is Iran which is trying to undermine stability in all the Middle East, in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and of course against Israel through their proxies.”

PM Netanyahu to warn US Defense Secretary Mattis against Iran base in Syria
Israel’s concern about Iran establishing a permanent base in Syria the day after the civil war there ends will feature prominently when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meets US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Friday, senior diplomatic officials said on Thursday. Netanyahu is expected to meet with Mattis, who arrived in Israel on Thursday for his first visit as defense secretary, at his Jerusalem office following the latter’s meeting earlier in the day with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in Tel Aviv.

Gen. Allen: Syria gassing Israel would be ‘virtually a regime suicide’
The US response to a scenario in which the Syrian regime was “gassing Israelis would result in a situation that he [Bashar Assad] could not even imagine,” and be “virtually regime suicide,” Marine Corps Gen. (ret.) John R. Allen told The Jerusalem Post. Allen, one of the US’s leading voices on security issues, spoke to the Post last week and on Thursday, and discussed whether recent events made a Syrian chemical weapons strike on Israel more or less likely.

Israel-Sinai border crossing re-opens, terror threat remains in place
The Taba border crossing between Israel and Egypt’s Sinai will re-open to Israelis that would like to travel to Egypt’s Sinai, Ofir Gendelman, the Prime Minister’s Arab media spokesman, announced Friday morning. Gendelman also stated that the terror threat remains and Israelis currently vacationing in the area should return.

Colombia landslide kills at least 17 in Manizales
Landslides caused by heavy rain have killed at least 17 people in the city of Manizales, in central Colombia, officials say. The search continues for at least seven others who are missing, they add. Mud and rocks have destroyed several precarious houses built on steep hills. Running water, electricity and gas services have been suspended.

Iran election: Ahmadinejad barred from running
Former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been barred from standing in next month’s election by a government-controlled vetting body, state media report. Mr Ahmadinejad, a vocal critic of the West, served two terms as president between 2005 and 2013. President Hassan Rouhani and leading hardliner Ebrahim Raisi have both been approved by the Guardian Council.

Elon Musk Lays Out Plans to Meld Brains and Computers
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk on Thursday confirmed plans for his newest company, called Neuralink Corp., revealing he will be the chief executive of a startup that aims to merge computers with brains so humans could one day engage in “consensual telepathy.”…Mr. Musk confirmed…that Neuralink aims to implant tiny brain electrodes that first would be used to fight brain conditions but later help humanity avoid subjugation at the hands of intelligent machines.

U.S. Preparing Charges To Arrest Julian Assange
In a stunning new report, CNN has just revealed that, according to anonymous sources at least, that US authorities have prepared charges and will seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for intelligence leaks dating all the way back to 2010.

PARIS SHOOTING Paris shooting leaves one policeman dead and ‘two seriously injured’ as ‘ISIS terrorists armed with AK47s’ open fire on the Champs-Élysée in Paris
A POLICEMAN has died and two are seriously injured after at least one gunman opened fire “with an AK47” in central Paris this evening.

California Issues $1.25BN In Bonds For ‘Bullet Train’ Despite Trump Threat To Withhold Federal Funds
“California can well afford it, and it will make our state a much better place.  I know we’re going up against a very red tide here of opposition. This thing is a long-term project, and one way or another we’re going to get it.”

Nursing Home Owner Pleads Guilty To Spending Medicaid Funds On Strippers, Casinos, Pet Care
Johnnie Mac Sells, 52, the owner of a suburban St. Louis nursing home where 60 residents had to be rescued after food ran out and trash piled up, has pleaded guilty to federal charges for stealing $667,000 from Medicaid and spending it on strippers, gambling and other things.

Missing Tenn. student Elizabeth Thomas found, former teacher Tad Cummins arrested in California
Former Tennessee teacher Tad Cummins, who is accused of kidnapping his 15-year-old student, was arrested in northern California Thursday after more than a month on the run, according to the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation.

MSNBC terrorism analyst nominates Trump property for ‘ISIS suicide bombing’
MSNBC terrorism analyst Malcolm Nance has deleted a tweet that appeared to call for a terrorist attack against Trump Towers in Istanbul. “This is my nominee for the first ISIS suicide bombing of a Trump property,” the former intelligence officer tweeted Tuesday afternoon, according to a screenshot circulated online and highlighted by the Washington Free Beacon.

Caracas on Knife-Edge as Maduro Protesters Erect Barricades
Caracas faced another tense day after massive protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, with barricades of trash and debris in the streets, shuttered businesses and sporadic blossoms of tear gas.


The Real Reason For America’s Looming Retirement Crisis

Did you know that approximately 40 percent of all American workers have absolutely nothing saved for retirement? And did you know that pension funds in the United States are currently underfunded by about six trillion dollars? Social Security is supposed to be the underlying safety net for our entire retirement system, but it is essentially just a massive Ponzi scheme that everyone agrees is heading for a major disaster. Now that the Baby Boomers have started to retire, it is becoming clear that our society simply does not have the resources necessary to keep all of the promises that we have made to them. We are facing a retirement crisis of epic proportions, and by the end of this article you will understand the real reason why we have gotten into this mess. (Read More…)


Why Are So Many Millennials Living With Their Parents Instead Of Getting Married And Starting Their Own Families?

Did you know that the percentage of 18 to 34-year-old Americans that are married and living with a spouse has dropped by more than half since 1975?  Back then, 57 percent of everyone in that age group “lived with a spouse”, but today that number has dropped to just 27 percent.  These numbers come from “the Changing Economics and Demographics of Young Adulthood” report that was just released by the U.S. Census Bureau.  Some are postulating that the reason for this dramatic cultural shift is a phenomenon known as “extended adolescence”, while others fear that large numbers of young men and/or young women are giving up on the concept of marriage altogether. (Read More…)


Facebook team working on ways to read users’ thoughts

And you thought social media was bad now? Just you wait. Who’s ready for the 2024 election?

Read More


Today’s BIG NINE News Brief from Against Crony Capitalism (4-21-2017)

Paris shooting: France enlists elite soldiers to guard election booths in wake of fatal attack on police (ABC – Australia)

Trump to sign ‘financial-related’ executive actions on Friday: Sources (CNBC)

South Korea on heightened alert as North readies for army celebration (From Reuters)

Sources: US prepares charges to seek arrest of WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange (CNN)

Ann Coulter’s Berkeley Speech: Lawyers Blast College for Rescheduling During Finals (Hollywood Reporter)

Diet soda study looks at dementia, heart risks (CBS)

Can mobile phones give you a brain tumor? An Italian court just ruled yes. (Venture Beat)

Confessions of an Analog Music Fan on Record Store Day (From Next Avenue)


FOX IS DEAD: Hardcore Liberal James Murdoch To Turn Fox News Into A ‘Global Brand’ Promoting ‘Progressive Values’

With the ouster of Roger Ailes and now Bill O’Reilly, Rupert Murdoch’s son has overthrown his own network as he moves to reinvent the family company’s profit machine at great risk.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I am not defending Bill O’Reilly’s alleged interactions with his co-workers, but ask yourself this question. Why on earth would Fox News dump O’Reilly, a man who had the most popular cable news show for the past 16 years and made Fox untold hundreds of millions each year? The answer, as we are now finding out, is a simple one. James Murdoch, son of Fox News founder Rupert Murdoch, is a hardcore Liberal whose mission in life is to remove all traces of conservatism from the network. His wife, Kathryn, worked for the Clinton Foundation. Fox News will now become CNN 2.0. Any questions?

After The New York Times wrote about the sexual harassment claims leveled at Fox News anchor Bill O’Reilly and the settlements made by the company and O’Reilly himself, James Murdoch, according to 21st Century Fox sources, kept repeating with horror to his friends and executives: “This is on the front page of The New York Times!”

These sources say James Murdoch’s long-time annoyance if not disgust with Fox News became cold fury after the Times‘ April 1 story — even though several of the O’Reilly settlements had happened when James was CEO of the parent company. This was a similar reaction to what had followed the harassment suit by former anchor Gretchen Carlson against Fox News chief Roger Ailes in July. Every time Fox controversies spilled over into the wider world, James took it personally. “It was somehow against him,” says one person close to the Murdochs.

Fox News is a business he should not be in, he had told people before, despite its major contribution to 21st Century Fox’s bottom line —20 percent of its profits came from Fox News last year, the biggest-earning division in the company. Presumably, he meant the in-your-face world of conservative cable news with its mega personalities. Indeed, James regarded many of the people at Fox News as thuggish Neanderthals and said he was embarrassed to be in the same company with them.

Murdoch Brothers Assure Investors of Fox News’ Future:

Last summer, the Murdoch brothers “assured shareholders” that they were not going to radically change the phenomenally successful business model known as Fox News that their father created, but guess what? They lied. A lot. 

But, likewise, it would be hard to imagine how James could have been regarded with more contempt by many of the people at Fox News. James was rather exhibit No. 1 of the liberal elite entitlement that Fox had so profitably programmed against. “Fox [News] is an important brand, but it needs to develop, and, to some extent, be reformed,” James said when I interviewed him ten years ago in his office as the chief executive of the Murdoch-controlled Sky TV in Britain, whose significantly less-partisan news operation he extolled as a ratings and journalistic model.

He seized his first opportunity for reform in July when, over his father Rupert’s protests and his brother and co-executive Lachlan’s ambivalence, he pushed for the ouster of Ailes, the network’s founder and almost all-powerful executive. When the O’Reilly story hit the Times, he overrode his father and brother again — and, by the same method he had used with Ailes, hiring a Democratic-associated law firm, Paul Weiss, to perform a rubber-stamp investigation. (In neither the Ailes nor O’Reilly investigations were the targets of the investigation interviewed.)

It was, he proudly told friends, a right decision rather than a business decision. The billionaire scion was aligning himself, profits be damned, with a new generation of corporate responsibility. That put him quite directly at odds with his father. It would be quite inconceivable to imagine Rupert sacrificing sure profits for greater good or a better image; indeed, his company had always been a pirate company.

But that really is the larger point — in which Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes were in the end just collateral damage — it isn’t his father’s company anymore.

If the expulsion of Ailes, and, even more dramatically, O’Reilly, mean anything, it means most of all that James is in charge. And, most immediately, this means that Fox News, that constant irritant in James’ view of himself as a progressive and visionary television executive, will begin to change. Virtually overnight.

Kathryn Murdoch Speaks at the first annual EAT Stockholm Food Forum:

James Murdoch’s wife Kathryn is a Far-Left liberal who worked for the Clinton Foundation’s Climate Change program. 

But, likewise, it would be hard to imagine how James could have been regarded with more contempt by many of the people at Fox News.

James was rather exhibit No. 1 of the liberal elite entitlement that Fox had so profitably programmed against.

“Fox News is an important brand, but it needs to develop, and, to some extent, be reformed,” James said when I interviewed him ten years ago in his office as the chief executive of the Murdoch-controlled Sky TV in Britain, whose significantly less-partisan news operation he extolled as a ratings and journalistic model.

He seized his first opportunity for reform in July when, over his father Rupert’s protests and his brother and co-executive Lachlan’s ambivalence, he pushed for the ouster of Ailes, the network’s founder and almost all-powerful executive. When the O’Reilly story hit the Times, he overrode his father and brother again — and, by the same method he had used with Ailes, hiring a Democratic-associated law firm, Paul Weiss, to perform a rubber-stamp investigation. (In neither the Ailes nor O’Reilly investigations were the targets of the investigation interviewed.)

It was, he proudly told friends, a right decision rather than a business decision. The billionaire scion was aligning himself, profits be damned, with a new generation of corporate responsibility. That put him quite directly at odds with his father. It would be quite inconceivable to imagine Rupert sacrificing sure profits for greater good or a better image; indeed, his company had always been a pirate company.

But that really is the larger point — in which Bill O’Reilly and Roger Ailes were in the end just collateral damage — it isn’t his father’s company anymore.

If the expulsion of Ailes, and, even more dramatically, O’Reilly, mean anything, it means most of all that James is in charge.
And, most immediately, this means that Fox News, that constant irritant in James’ view of himself as a progressive and visionary television executive, will begin to change. Virtually overnight. source


April 20, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — As my colleague Roger Aronoff reports, the media are livid that President Donald Trump is dismantling former President Barack Obama’s “climate change” legacy of deindustrialization and federal government control of energy resources. Meanwhile, factions of the U.S. Catholic Church and some Protestants are brainwashing church members into accepting the non-Christian idea that religious faith involves a belief in an Earth Spirit…. (more)

April 20, 2017
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON — Shortly after the 2008 election, President Obama’s soon-to-be chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, infamously declared, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste.” He elaborated: “What I mean by that [is] it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”… (more)

April 20, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — It would be hard for biased, negative news coverage of President Trump to get any worse. “As President Trump approaches the end of his first 100 days in office, he has received by far the most hostile press treatment of any incoming American president, with the broadcast networks punishing him with coverage that has been 89 percent negative,” wrote Rich Noyes and Mike Ciandella, both analysts for Newsbusters.org, a conservative press watchdog…. (more)

April 20, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Arguments in a high-profile religious liberty case caused tempers to flare on both sides of the Supreme Court’s ideological divide Wednesday. The high court waited for several months to hear Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Comer, and did so with a full nine-justice court bolstered by the addition of Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined the court this month…. (more)

April 20, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — The Hillary Clinton campaign was worse than you – – or I – – thought. That’s the message of Jonathan Allen and Amie Parnes’ Shattered: Inside Hillary Clinton’s Doomed Campaign. Doomed in retrospect, mind you; not many of us – – including me – – thought it was doomed at the time…. (more)

April 20, 2017
GEORGE WILL — Three months ago, State Trooper Jonathan Otto, 33, of the Arizona Department of Public Safety pulled over a car that had caught his attention by traveling 104 miles per hour long after midnight, just south of Kingman. He smelled marijuana in the car. It was driven by a man with an adult female wearing only lingerie. Their passenger was a female juvenile whose fake document showed her to be 18. She was, Otto says, “not wearing a whole lot of clothing.”… (more)

April 20, 2017
YAHOO — Bose Corp. spies on its wireless headphone customers by using an app that tracks the music, podcasts and other audio they listen to, and violates their privacy rights by selling the information without permission, a lawsuit charged…. (more)

April 19, 2017

THE AMERICAN SPECTATOR — An article in the Guardian last week provides more confirmation that John Brennan was the American progenitor of political espionage aimed at defeating Donald Trump. One side did collude with foreign powers to tip the election – – Hillary’s…. (more)


April 19, 2017

NEWSMAX — An upstart Democrat in a special election in a conservative Georgia congressional district failed to stave off a runoff election early Wednesday morning. With 95 percent of the vote counted, Jon Ossoff, a 30-year-old former congressional staffer, had 48.6 percent of the vote, according to CNN. That fell below the 50 percent plus one he would have needed to prevent a runoff…. (more)


April 19, 2017
ERICK ERICKSON — Speaking in Texas tonight, Senator Ted Cruz came out swinging for the House Freedom Caucus, noting that the critics of the conservatives who are in the White House are “profoundly damaging our prospects of success.” He also noted, “If we screw all this up, you better believe the American people could elect President Warren.”… (more)

April 19, 2017

THE GUARDIAN — The US military is considering shooting down North Korean missile tests as a show of strength to Pyongyang, two sources briefed on the planning have told the Guardian…. (more)


April 19, 2017
DAVID FRENCH — The first and only time I’ve been jolted awake by air-raid sirens came in Seoul, South Korea, in 2010. I had of course heard tornado-warning sirens before; I grew up in the South, after all. But I’d never heard anything like this. I was sleeping in a tent in the middle of the Yongsan Garrison, taking a break from my night shift during a military exercise called Operation Key Resolve, which was designed to simulate the resumption of hostilities on the Korean peninsula…. (more)

April 18, 2017

NEWSMAX — A man who shot and killed three people at random on the streets of downtown Fresno shouted “Allahu akbar” during his arrest Tuesday and had posted on social media that he disliked white people, authorities said…. (more)


April 18, 2017
NEWSMAX — A new report claims multiple media outlets omitted details in stories about an ongoing lawsuit against President Donald Trump, legal action that is spearheaded by David Brock, an anti-Republican ally of Hillary Clinton…. (more)

April 18, 2017

BRUCE DEITRICK PRICE — The Reading Wars were always chaotic and confusing. Here’s the gist: On the one side, you had earnest, sincere people warning the country about the dangers of non-phonetic approaches (these were usually called Look-Say, Whole Word, sight-words, and other jargon). The warning was always the same. Nobody can learn to read that way. It’s a hoax! Don’t do it! You’re being punked…. (more)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 17, 2017

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


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

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

 


Mid-Day Snapshot

Apr. 21, 2017

Hillary’s Shattered Campaign

A new book reveals the inner workings of Clinton’s campaign, and shows the truth — she was a poor leader.

The Foundation

“The fundamental source of all your errors, sophisms and false reasonings is a total ignorance of the natural rights of mankind. Were you once to become acquainted with these, you could never entertain a thought, that all men are not, by nature, entitled to a parity of privileges.” —Alexander Hamilton (1775)

Featured Blogs

  • Should we sing that song?
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • So, what if Christ hadn’t risen?
  • What do Coptic Christians believe?
  • Spiritual abuse exists in all corners of Christianity, even those that are theologically straight-laced. We do well not to close our eyes to it.
  • Bible backgrounds are important.
  • We need to conduct one of these experiments in the US. I’ll volunteer.
  • This kid needs to listen to some Bing Crosby. That voice can calm down anybody.
  • Lots of free books.

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 21

  • Attack overshadows last campaign day in France (Read More)
  • Paris Gunman Was Questioned by Police in February (Read More)
  • French PM knocks Le Pen, Fillon stance on security after Paris shooting (Read More)
  • Battle zone scenes at Paris Champs Elysees (Read More)
  • In ‘Buy American’ Push, Trump Is Starting in a Hole (Read More)
  • Trump Steel Probe Adds Tinge of Economic Nationalism (Read More)
  • Mnuchin’s Talk of Tax Plan ‘Soon’ Stirs Markets and Skeptics (Read More)
  • Trump, GOP Race to Revive Health Bill, Avoid Government Shutdown (Read More)
  • Farmers Have a Beef With Trump and Big Meat (Read More)
  • Stock futures little changed as French election in focus (Read More)
  • Euro-Area Recovery Broadens With Strongest Growth in Six Years (Read More)
  • Markets Send a Worrying Message About the Economy (Read More)
  • OPEC cut doubts put oil on track for biggest weekly drop in a month (Read More)
  • Trump’s Trade War Will Make Your Dentist Visits Even Costlier (Read More)
  • Gorsuch’s First Big High Court Vote Allows Arkansas Execution (Read More)
  • Exxon Faces Limited Options for Deal With Russian Firm (Read More)
  • Exxon probe is unconstitutional, Republican prosecutors say (Read More)
  • Caracas on Knife-Edge as Maduro Protesters Erect Barricades (Read More)
  • Desperate Malls Turn to Concerts and Food Trucks (Read More)
  • Ann Coulter rejects Berkeley’s bid to reschedule speech (Read More)
  • Publishers Weigh Potential Google Ad-Blocking Feature (Read More)
  • GE revenue falls 1 percent (Read More)
  • Reckitt Benckiser Fails to Grow for First Time Since 1999 (Read More)

Top Headlines – 4/21/2017

Iran chides US over ‘worn out’ accusations about nuclear deal

Trump raps Iran for violating ‘spirit’ of nuclear deal

Tillerson: An ‘unchecked Iran’ could follow same path as North Korea

Ahmadinejad barred from Iran elections as council picks candidates

US defense secretary: ‘Iran continues to threaten Israel’

Nikki Haley urges UN to shift its criticism from Israel to Iran

Netanyahu spokesman: Mideast peace requires ‘acceptance’ of Israel

UN Security Council debates the ‘Palestinian question’

With stories as varied as their accents, survivors ready for Holocaust memorial ceremony

PM to Holocaust survivors: Your story ‘is our story of rebirth’

Ultra-Orthodox MKs seek to bypass Shabbat ruling

Ultra-Orthodox man holds up plane over TV screens

Far-right Israeli activists hold BBQ to taunt hunger striking Palestinians

100 Palestinian Fatah prisoners end hunger strike

Hamas terrorists ‘crawling through the tunnels’

Hezbollah gives reporters grand tour of new Israeli defenses

US defense secretary arrives in Israel for two-day visit to discuss Iran, Lebanon and Syria, as well other regional issues

‘With Syria in pieces, it’s time to recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan’

Gen. Allen: Syria gassing Israel would be ‘virtually a regime suicide’

Syrian photographer puts down camera to rescue child injured in a car bomb

Mattis ‘Confident’ in Advancing US-Egypt Military Relationship

Egypt army says kills 19 Islamic extremists in north Sinai

Saudi ‘should be blacklisted’ over Yemen hospital attacks

Watchdog says Yemen rebel land mines killed, maimed hundreds

Israeli President Calls Persecution of Mideast Christians ‘Stain on Humanity’

Christians Facing Uncertainty After Major Conservative Islamic Victory in Jakarta Elections

North Korea: ‘Super-mighty pre-emptive strike’ will reduce US to ashes

US official: With eye on North Korea, China puts bombers on ‘high alert’

US officials see signs Chinese bombers’ alert status changed, but downplay concern

China turns the screw on North Korea to prevent another nuclear test – Beijing may cut crude oil to Pyongyang, says Chinese expert

US sends nuclear sniffer plane to Korea

North Korea nuclear threat: should California start panicking? Experts say the answer is tricky

Risk of ‘Accidental’ Nuclear War Growing, UN Research Group Says

Sessions ‘amazed’ judge ‘on an island in the Pacific’ halted Trump travel order

MSNBC terrorism analyst nominates Trump property for ‘ISIS suicide bombing’

Policeman and suspected gunman shot dead in Paris ‘terror attack’

Islamic State claims Paris attack that killed policeman

Trump: Paris looks like ‘another’ terror attack

Trump on Paris shooting: ‘It just never ends’

Pence says US will not relent in effort to end terrorism

Paris shooting: Election campaign halts as investigation gathers pace

IMF’s Lagarde: Far-right win in France would cause ‘major disorder’

France concerned over Russian interference in elections amid reports of hacking, fake news

US prosecutors said weighing charges against WikiLeaks, Julian Assange

Deportation overload: Probe says DHS can’t keep up, leaves risky illegals out on the streets

Kelly: Border wall will move forward ‘by the end of the summer’

Caracas on Knife-Edge as Maduro Protesters Erect Barricades

Many Poor Venezuelans Are Too Hungry to Join Antigovernment Protests

Children discovered on brink of starvation in Belarusian orphanages

How Amazon will become the first $1 trillion stock

George Soros Accused Of “Puppeteering” Government In New Lawsuit

Dow jumps 200 points after Mnuchin says tax plan is close

Trump has eliminated $86B in regs

White House pressures GOP leaders on Obamacare showdown next week

Italian court finds link between cell phone use and tumor

Most Millennials Are Finding It Hard to Transition Into Adulthood: Report

SGA passes resolution supporting reparations for black students

Students At Pomona College: Truth Is A “White Supremacist Concept,” “Free Speech” A Tool Of “Bigotry”

Credit card with a fingerprint sensor revealed by Mastercard

New “Brickerbot” malware attacks insecure Wi-Fi networks and smart home gadgets

Tesla Sued Over ‘Dangerously Defective’ Autopilot Software

Flying cars take off on French Riviera

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Kuril’sk, Russia

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Pangai, Tonga

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Muara Siberut, Indonesia

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near La Puerta de San Jose, Argentina

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Severo-Kuril’sk, Russia

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits Southeast of Easter Island

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Drones armed with sensors fly through erupting volcano’s ash clouds

Rare April storm forms – Tropical Storm Arlene becomes first named storm of season

‘We’ve never seen this drought, this disease’: Somali families bury their dead

A tale of two droughts: one killed 260,000 people, the other none. Why?

4/20 explained: Why this is marijuana’s big day

Facing death for being gay, men flee Russia’s Chechnya

Russia Bans Jehovah’s Witnesses, Calling It an Extremist Group

Persecution of Christians is a human rights issue, says Pakistani archbishop

Has Trump found religion in the Oval Office? The president is mentioning God more than ever during his public appearances.

Seth Dunn – Jesus The Legend

Is God About to do Something New?

Marijuana on Religious Grounds? A Cannabis Church Opens in Denver

Hundreds of religious groups call on Congress to keep Johnson Amendment

Ex-Alabama Governor’s Former Church Refutes Claim Bentley Was Expelled Over Affair

San Diego School Board: CAIR To Help Teach Your Kids Sharia Law

Christian Mother Asia Bibi Sentenced to Hang for ‘Insulting Islam’ May Get Final Hearing in June

Russian Supreme Court bans Jehovah’s Witnesses

‘Hunger Games’ Star Claims Gender Can Be ‘Whatever You Want It to Be’

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 07:26 AM PDT

Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg says she rejects the traditional concept of gender, claiming instead that it is a construct that can be “pretty much…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

College Argues that Gospel Message incites “hostility” and “fighting words.”

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:58 AM PDT

A Georgia college has filed a motion to dismiss a First Amendment lawsuit by claiming it removed a Christian student from campus because his discussion…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Muslim Who Threatened Christians in Facebook Live Video Won’t Be Charged

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:46 AM PDT

The Muslim man who went live on his Facebook page with disturbing threats towards attendees of a Christian conference will not face criminal charges. “He…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hell Is the Default Destination – Not Heaven

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:38 AM PDT

(By J.D Greear) Most people assume that as long as they don’t mess things up in their time here on earth, they’ll go to heaven…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Times Up! Feds to seek arrest of Wikileaks Assange…

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:34 AM PDT

US authorities have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, US officials familiar with the matter tell CNN. The Justice Department…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists Claim Discovery Of Tiny Non-Human Species in Indonesia

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:28 AM PDT

ATTENTION: The Views and Expressions claimed in this article does note reflect the beliefs or opinions of End Time Headlines. A tiny human race which…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

How to Discern a False Gospel

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:22 AM PDT

(By Michael Youssef) We hear counterfeit gospels preached across our land every day—in the media, in schools and even in churches. There is a desperate…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

South Korea on heightened alert as North readies for army celebration

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:18 AM PDT

South Korea said on Friday it was on heightened alert ahead of another important anniversary in North Korea, with a large concentration of military hardware…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: Israel May Need to Prepare for Another War With Hamas This Summer

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:14 AM PDT

Israel Construction and Housing Minister Yoav Gallant on Sunday morning, April 16, 2017, said there will be no choice other than to enter another war…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ancient stone carvings confirm comet struck Earth in 10,950 BC…

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:10 AM PDT

Ancient stone carvings confirm that a comet struck the Earth around 11,000BC, a devastating event which wiped out wooly mammoths and sparked the rise of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Tropical Storm Arlene forms in Atlantic…

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 06:04 AM PDT

Hurricane season doesn’t start until June, but a rare April tropical storm has formed in the Atlantic. A weather system morphed into Tropical Storm Arlene…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Feds To Perform Nuke Drill In Manhattan, NY From April 18th thru May 5th

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 05:59 AM PDT

On April 18th thru May 5th, 2017, state, local, and federal organizations alike are planning for Operation Gotham Shield 2017 — a major nuclear detonation…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia flexes muscle From Alaska to Japan…

Posted: 21 Apr 2017 05:54 AM PDT

US defense officials are calling recent sightings of Russian bombers off the Alaskan coast “nothing out of the ordinary” — itself an indication that both…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Is Sunday School Dying a Slow Death?

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 07:09 PM PDT

(By Dale Hudson) Sunday School. Some churches still use this term for their Bible study hour at church. But a large percentage of church leaders…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Florida Teacher Bans Cross Necklaces in Class, Promotes LGBT Day of Silence

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:51 PM PDT

A national religious liberty law firm is threatening to sue a Florida public school district over allegations that a high school math teacher forced Christian…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why Are So Many Millennials Living With Their Parents Instead Of Getting Married And Starting Their Own Families?

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:17 PM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) Did you know that the percentage of 18 to 34-year-old Americans that are married and living with a spouse has dropped by…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Kentucky Governor Signs Bill Authorizing Elective Social Studies Courses on the Bible

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:13 PM PDT

The Republican governor of Kentucky has signed a bill that authorizes the creation of elective social studies courses on the Bible in public schools. House Bill 128…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why Satan Will Do Everything He Can to Keep You From This Daily Habit

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 06:01 PM PDT

(By Brandon D. Smith) Blockbuster superhero movies and the latest iteration of the Star Wars movie franchise show the power of a good story. Grown…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists discover footprint of unknown ancient reptile…

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 05:20 PM PDT

The footprints of a mysterious reptile that lived about 250 million years ago have been identified in fossils from the Pyrenees mountains. Scientists say the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Daily Diet Soda TRIPLES Stroke Risk…

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 05:17 PM PDT

Just one diet drink a day can triple the risk of a deadly stroke, a study suggests. The researchers also found links to dementia described…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Advances Submarine Missile Program

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 05:14 PM PDT

North Korea is making rapid progress on developing submarine-launched ballistic missiles and missile-firing submarines, according to a report by a United Nations panel of experts….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Paris shooting leaves two policemen dead

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 01:44 PM PDT

At least one police officer has been killed and another one injured in a shooting incident in central Paris, French police say. The suspected attacker…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Only 7 Christian Families Remain in Iraq’s Largest Christian Town

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 01:25 PM PDT

Evangelist Franklin Graham spent his Easter weekend touring churches and towns left desecrated and destroyed by the Islamic State terrorist organization in Northern Iraq and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

State of Texas Ordered to Pay $600,000 to Gay Couples

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 01:21 PM PDT

A federal appeals court ordered Texas on Wednesday to pay about $600,000 to cover the legal fees for two same-sex couples who defeated the state’s…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Francis Chan: If You Think a Loving God Wouldn’t Judge, Have You Read the Bible?

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 01:17 PM PDT

As morality becomes more and more subjective, the concept of judgment becomes increasingly offensive. This means that the determination of what is right or wrong…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Teacher Insists Children Must Be Taught Transgenderism, Homosexuality Starting in Nursery School

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 01:10 PM PDT

An organization of teachers in the U.K. has argued that homosexuality and transgenderism should be taught to young children starting in nursery school. Members of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT – Government Now Backs Explicit LGBT Teaching in Schools

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 01:02 PM PDT

A controversial campaign calling for pro-LGBT education throughout Scottish schools has received official backing at Holyrood. The Scottish government has pledged to support the Time…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

House to Unveil New Health Care Bill Over the Weekend

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 12:53 PM PDT

According to reports, Republican leaders in the House of Representatives are “close” to having a deal on a new bill to begin the process of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China may cut crude oil to North Korea to Prevent Further Nuclear Tests

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 12:44 PM PDT

China likely will halt crude oil exports to North Korea should Pyongyang conduct its sixth nuclear test, a prominent Chinese expert told The Nikkei, signaling…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Risk of ‘Accidental’ Nuclear War Growing

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 12:38 PM PDT

The warning comes as the Pentagon begins an extensive review of its nuclear arsenal. On Sept., 26, 1983, shortly after midnight, the Soviet Oko nuclear…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China Places Bombers on ‘High Alert’

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 12:34 PM PDT

The US is seeing evidence that the Chinese military is preparing for a potential North Korea contingency, a US defense official told CNN Thursday. Chinese…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Nuclear Sniffer Plane From America Lands in Japan

Posted: 20 Apr 2017 12:30 PM PDT

The U.S. Air Force dispatched a nuclear sniffer aircraft Thursday to the east of the Korean Peninsula amid the possibility of North Korea’s imminent nuclear…

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?


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


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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

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Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Creation: Believe It or Not, Part 1” Genesis 1:1

Genesis 1:1

Code: B170421

Have you ever believed in evolution? Maybe you still do. It’s almost impossible to avoid indoctrination by this pseudo-scientific religion. Its tentacles have reached into every realm of education and the media.

Today, evolutionary theory is taught as historical fact. Most children are unlikely to be exposed to any alternative view of our origins in school or secular media. And in western countries outside the United States, skepticism regarding Darwin’s theory is almost non-existent. In fact, the expulsion of academics who deny, or even question, evolution is commonplace in colleges and universities.

Christians are likewise vulnerable to the dominant and intimidating sway evolution holds over our culture. Many scholars and preachers choose appeasement and compromise over biblical fidelity—trying to accommodate modern theory and ancient truth.

But John MacArthur argues that there is no way to insert billions of years and natural selection into the Bible’s opening chapter. You either believe Genesis 1, or you don’t. In his sermon, “Creation: Believe It or Not, Part 1,” John compares the biblical account of creation with the evolutionary worldview and finds zero compatibility between the two. Whether you’re a theistic evolutionist, progressive creationist, or hold to any other middle position, you are denying the straightforward biblical narrative found in Genesis 1.

While a literal understanding of Genesis is not essential for salvation, John points out that our view of the creation account has massive ramifications for fundamental Christian truths.

It is also important to all of us because understanding origins in the book of Genesis is foundational to the rest of the Bible. If Genesis, chapter 1 and chapter 2 don’t tell us the truth, then why should we believe anything else in the Bible? If it says in the New Testament that the Creator is our Redeemer, but God is not the Creator, then maybe He’s not the Redeemer either. If it tells us in 2 Peter that God Himself will bring about an instantaneous dissolution of the entire universe as we know it, that God in a moment will uncreate everything, then that has tremendous bearing upon His power to create. The same One who with a word can uncreate the universe is capable of creating it as quickly as He desires.

So what we believe about creation, what we believe about Genesis has implications all the way to the end of Scripture, implications with regard to the veracity and truthfulness of Scripture, implications as to the gospel, and implications as to the end of human history, all wrapped up in how we understand origins in the book of Genesis. The matter of origins then is absolutely critical to all human thinking. It becomes critical to how we conduct our lives as human beings.  Without an understanding of origins, without a right understanding of origins, there is no way to comprehend ourselves. There is no way to understand humanity, as to the purpose of our existence, and as to our destiny.  If we cannot believe what Genesis says about origins, we are lost as to our purpose and our destiny. Whether this world and its life as we know it evolved by chance, without a cause, or was created by God, has immense comprehensive implications for all of human life.

We don’t need to be intimidated by the aura of evolutionary theory. It’s just a false religion masquerading as scientific truth. In “Creation: Believe It or Not, Part 1,” John MacArthur shows us that God can be taken at His Word from the very first chapter.

Click here to listen to “Creation: Believe It or Not, Part 1.”

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170421
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

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

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

Kong Hee is on his way to jail for his “unwise decision” to line his pockets with money that belonged to City Harvest Church (CHC). So Pastor Hee released an apology. Channel News Asia reports:

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee has issued an apology to his church and the public for “unwise decisions” he had made in the past.

In a Facebook post on Wednesday night (Apr 19), Kong said: “I am truly sorry … I am filled with grief and regret over my mistakes and I sincerely ask for your forgiveness.”

For the rest of the story and to read Hee’s apology, visit CNA.

Now this from Churchwatch Central (CWC), a group of “churchwatchers” who have done some excellent reporting on Kong Hee and his leadership’s pilfering of church funds; likewise the church’s ties to the New Apostolic Reformation. CWC and Chris Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith have exposed Kong Hee’s church (here) as “a dangerous cult that threatens the Christian faith and the well-being of citizens of Singapore.”

CHC Management Board reacts to Kong Hee’s sentence

“We pronounce deliverance in Jesus name. Not one night will this fair head spend behind bars.” Prophet Phil Pringle, CHC Advisory Pastor – Photo credit Churchwatch Central

From CHC Management Board, we read Aries Zulkarnain’s media release in which he states:

“We put our trust in God that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

This statement is a paraphrase of Romans 8:28

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Sadly this scripture barely resembles the lives of Kong Hee, or his leadership. However it does reflect the lives of those who have left CHC after clearly questioning CHC’s teachings and practices.

What Zulkarnain quoted is exactly what CHC has not done.

If CHC put their faith in God, why is their founder, and his senior leaders, going to jail?

This is why things have NOT worked out for the good of CHC and why it has NOT worked for the six accused. If “God works for the good of those who love Him,” why are six leaders from CHC  going to jail?

View article →

April 21, 2017: Verse of the day

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Salvation is of the Lord

Romans 9:16

It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.

We are in a section of the Bible in which every sentence has exceptional importance. Because of this, we have been moving very slowly. In the last study we looked at Romans 9:15. In this study we look at verse 16.

Verse 16 can be considered an inference drawn from the truth in verse 15, which is a quotation from the Old Testament. If that is the case, the thought would be: If God has mercy on whom he wills to have mercy and shows compassion to whom he wills to show compassion, then salvation is of God who shows mercy and not of man. That is true enough. But it is probably better to see verse 16 as a statement of the truth behind the quotation. If this is the case, it means that salvation is not of man but of God; therefore, God shows mercy on whom he wills to show mercy and has compassion on whom he wills to have compassion.

This is better, because the chief point of verse 16 is the exclusion of any human role in salvation. The verse says, “It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Or as the King James Version has it, “So then it is not of him that willeth, not of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy.”

Today’s Evangelism

This text has enormous implications for the way we do evangelism. In fact, it is a rebuke of most popular evangelism in our day.

You may recall from our studies of Romans 6 that when I was writing about sanctification in that context, I said that we tend to approach it in either of two wrong ways. Either we introduce a formula: “Follow these three [or four] steps to sound spiritual growth.” Or we recommend an experience: “What you need is the baptism of the Holy Spirit [or meaningful worship or whatever].” I pointed out that neither of these is introduced by Paul. Rather, he bases his approach to sanctification on sound teaching. He tells us that we are to go on in the Christian life for the simple reason that we have become new creatures as the result of God’s work in us, and we cannot go back to what we were.

The situation is exactly the same in most of our current approaches to evangelism. We choose either a formula or a feeling.

The formula represents something we must do: “Give your heart to Jesus,” “Pray the sinner’s prayer,” “Hold up your hand and come forward,” “Fill out this card.” The feeling is something we try to work up in evangelistic services by certain kinds of music, moving stories, and emotional appeals.

Let me say that I do not doubt for a moment that God has sometimes used these methods and that he has sometimes worked through feelings, just as he has also sometimes used quite different things. The problem with these ways of doing evangelism is not that God has not occasionally been gracious enough to use them, but that they distort the truth about salvation by making it something we do or to which we can contribute and thus, to that degree, detract from the glory of God.

Besides, these approaches contradict our text, which says that salvation “does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.”

These approaches are also ineffective, as we would expect them to be, for they have filled our churches with thousands of people who think they are saved because they have made a profession or come forward at a meeting, but who are not born again. In many cases, those who have done these things are not even any longer present in the churches.

The Negative Teaching

Romans 9:16 contains both negative and positive teaching, each of which is meant to be comprehensive. Negatively, we are told that salvation does not come by man’s desire or effort, that is, neither by his will nor by his personal attainments. Positively, we are told that salvation comes from God.

The words desire and effort are meant to include everything of which a human being may be capable, and they thus reduce everyone to the position of being saved by the mercy of God or not saved. The first word concerns volition. The second refers to active exertion. Specifically they deny that we are saved by “seeking God” or “wanting to be saved” or, to run with the other term, by “choosing Jesus,” “surrendering our lives to Jesus,” “taking Jesus into our hearts,” or doing anything else of which we may think ourselves to be capable. It is true that there is a faith to be exercised, a choice to be made, a life to be surrendered, and seeking to be done. But those are the result of God’s working in us according to his mercy, and not the conditions on which he does.

Robert Haldane wrote rightly, “It is true, indeed, that believers both will and run, but this is the effect, not the cause, of the grace of God being vouchsafed to them.”

I know there are objections, some of them scriptural.

“What about John 1:12?” says someone. “Doesn’t that verse say, ‘To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God’?” It does, of course. But the answer to the implied objection—that we become born again as the result of our receiving Jesus—is found in the next verse, which describes those who are saved as “children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (v. 13). That fixes the sequence rightly, just as Paul has expressed it in Romans 8, Ephesians 1 and 2, and elsewhere: first, election; then, rebirth; third, faith accompanied by repentance; and lastly, adoption into the family of God along with other benefits.

Together, John 1:12 and 13 actually teach that “it does not … depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy” (Rom. 9:16).

Another verse that some people will quote is Romans 10:9: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Then they ask, “Doesn’t that teach that we have to give our hearts to Jesus and then confess him as Lord to be saved? Doesn’t it mean that we are the ones who ultimately determine whether or not we will be saved? If we are saved, isn’t it because we want to be saved? If we are lost, isn’t it because we choose to be?”

Well, we know the mouth speaks what is in the heart. Jesus said, “For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matt. 12:34b). So the critical question is: What kind of a heart is it that confesses, “Jesus is Lord”? Is this the new heart, which is given to us by God,—or the old, Adamic heart, which is enmity against God? It cannot be the latter, because the Bible everywhere teaches that the old heart is thoroughly corrupt. Jeremiah wrote, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer. 17:9). Ezekiel called it a “heart of stone” (Ezek. 11:19). Can a stony heart repent of its sin and come to God? Can a heart as wicked as this “choose” Jesus? Impossible! We can no more change our hearts than a leopard can change its spots.

Therefore, if we are to repent and believe the gospel, we must be given a new heart. A “heart of flesh” is Ezekiel’s term for it. This heart is given to us by the new birth. It is this heart only that believes on Jesus.

The Positive Teaching

This brings us to the positive teaching of this verse, namely, that salvation is entirely of God. God has mercy on whom he wills to have mercy, and he shows compassion on whom he wills to show compassion.

I have titled this study “Salvation Is of the Lord,” which comes, as I am sure you realize, from the Old Testament. It is from the story of Jonah, from chapter 2, and I refer to this now because Jonah is a good illustration of our text in Romans, namely, that salvation “does not … depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” The story of Jonah is a story of God’s mercy from beginning to end: mercy to the sailors, mercy to the people of Nineveh, and, above all, mercy to Jonah. Moreover, as far as man’s desire or effort is concerned, not only did Jonah not desire God’s will or strive to do it, he actually willed and tried to do the opposite. He tried to run away from God as deliberately as he could.

Jonah was a prophet, and God came to him with a command to proclaim a message of judgment on Nineveh, the capital of Assyria: “Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me” (Jonah 1:2). We would have expected Jonah to be responsive to such a call at once. Instead, “Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish” (v. 3a). Scholars debate the location of this ancient city, but most believe it was on the far coast of Spain beyond the Rock of Gibraltar. This fits the story, of course, for it means that Jonah was so determined to resist God’s sovereign call that he set out in precisely the opposite direction and for a destination as far away as possible. God said, “Go east.” Jonah went west, as far west as anyone knew to go. If he went farther than that, he would presumably have fallen off the edge of the world, which is, in a sense, what happened to him.

Why did Jonah disobey God? Strangely, at the end of the story, we find him explaining that it was because he suspected that God was going to be merciful to these people (Jonah 4:2)—and he did not want that, because they were the enemies of his people. No one can successfully run away from God, however. So, although Jonah went west instead of east, God went after him and brought him back. The text says that God hurled a great storm after Jonah.

At this point the mariners come into the story, for the judgment on the disobedient prophet affected them, too, and they were soon in as much danger of drowning from the fierce gale as Jonah was. They were pagans, but they had some spiritual perception and understood that the storm was unusually fierce, supernaturally so, in fact; they reasoned that some powerful god was angry with one or more of them. When they drew straws to find out who it was, the lot fell on Jonah.

Jonah understood that God had found him out and was now exposing his disobedience. He confessed what he was doing. But he was still unrepentant. He had that “heart of stone” Ezekiel had written about. So, when the sailors asked what they should do to him to make the sea calm down for them, Jonah replied, “Pick me up and throw me into the sea, and it will become calm. I know that it is my fault that this great storm has come upon you” (v. 12).

I like to point out that Jonah did not know that God had prepared a great fish to swallow him and eventually return him back to land. So, if he was asking to be thrown overboard in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, it meant that he was willing to be drowned. It meant that in his heart he was still unrepentant, for he was saying, “I would rather die than submit to God’s will.”

That is what it means to have a hard heart. It is what every one of us has until God replaces it.

Was Jonah a genuine believer at this point? Good question! I used to say he was. We would expect it of a prophet. If he was, he is an example of how stubbornly disobedient some Christians are with God, at least for a time. Today, however, I am not so sure. It is clear that Jonah was not right with God, and his is more an example of an unregenerate heart than a regenerate one. At any rate, Jonah seems to have experienced what we would call a conversion inside the great fish, which is where the verse “Salvation comes from the Lord” occurs (Jonah 2:9).

What happened inside Jonah while he was inside the fish is the heart of this great story.

Prayer from the Depths

When Jonah was turning his back on God to go to Tarshish, it did not bother him at all that he was abandoning God. But suddenly, when he was thrown overboard to his death and found himself in the position of apparently being abandoned by God, and Jonah actually calls his condition hellish, saying, “From the depths of the grave [that is, from Sheol] I called for help” (Jonah 2:2). As the story shows, God had not abandoned Jonah. But Jonah thought he had, and his despair was the very first step in his conversion.
What Jonah did in that great fish was to pray. God brought him to that point. As he prayed, he discovered that God was using the very depths of his misery to show him mercy.

Jonah’s prayer has four characteristics of all true prayer, and these have bearing on the question of correct biblical evangelism, which is where we started.

1. He was honest. The first thing we notice about Jonah’s prayer is that it was honest. That is, his disobedience had gotten him into a mess, and he acknowledged it. Before we get to this point, when God is working in our lives, we tend to explain away the hard hand of God’s judgments. We tell ourselves that we are only having a temporary setback, that things will get better, that they are not as bad as they seem. But when God begins to get through to us, the first thing that happens is that we admit our misery and desperate circumstances for what they are. Moreover, we admit that God has caused them. This is what Jonah does. You hear it in his prayer.

You hurled me into the deep,
into the very heart of the seas,
and the currents swirled about me;
all your waves and breakers
swept over me.
I said, “I have been banished
from your sight;
yet I will look again
toward your holy temple.”
Jonah 2:3–4

To acknowledge that God was behind his misfortune increased his terror, for it was not the sailors or even mere circumstances he was fighting. It was God. God had summoned Jonah to trial, cast a verdict of “guilty” against his sinful prophet, and sentenced him to death. This is a terror almost beyond words! But, in another sense, the acknowledgement of God’s hand in his misery also provided comfort. For God is merciful, and it is always better to fall into the hands of God, even the angry God, than of men.
It is often in judgment that mercy may be found.

2. He repented. The second characteristic of Jonah’s prayer is a spirit of repentance. We see it in two ways. First, he acknowledged that what had happened to him, while caused by God, was nevertheless his own fault. This is the meaning of verse 8, where Jonah says, “Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” An idol is anything that takes the place of God. So Jonah is confessing that he had rejected God, just as surely as those who literally worship idols. Therefore, he had renounced the source of all mercy.

The second way we know Jonah was genuinely repentant is that he does not ask God for anything. If he had, we might suspect that he was repenting only to get something from God. That is, he would have been treating his repentance as a good work that somehow was supposed to put God in his debt. Salvation does not come that way. Remember: Deserving something and receiving mercy are two entirely different things. Jonah knew now that all he deserved was damnation. Therefore, he was willing to wait upon the mercy of God, if it should come, without demanding anything.

3. He was thankful. “Thankful?” we might ask. “From the belly of a fish? Only a few hours or days away from death? What could Jonah possibly be thankful about?” Well, if we continue to think of his plight in physical terms, there probably is no good answer. But it is vastly different if we think spiritually. True, Jonah had no hope of any bodily deliverance. But he had found the grace of God. His entire prayer shows he had. His word for what he had found is “salvation” (v. 9).

This is the greatest miracle of the book. Not the great fish. Not the storm. The greatest miracle is Jonah’s salvation.

4. He was willing to take his position alongside the ungodly, all of whom need salvation by the mercy of God only. The final characteristic of this prayer is likewise significant. For when Jonah prayed, as he did at the end, “But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you. What I have vowed I will make good” (v. 9, emphasis added), he was promising to do exactly what the pagan mariners had been willing to do, and did do, in the previous chapter. When they saw the power and holiness of Jonah’s God, “They offered a sacrifice to the Lord and made vows to him” (Jonah 1:16). It was right that they should. But here, in the second chapter, Jonah is taking his place alongside of them.

Earlier he had said, “I don’t want to preach to pagans. I am a Jew. I want God to judge the pagans.” But now, after he had discovered how much he deserved God’s judgment himself, he was willing to come to God as the mariners came—as a suppliant seeking mercy.

“Jesus Saves”

I have two final points. The first is a restatement of the truth that salvation is by the mercy of God and is without conditions.

What conditions could there be? Robert Haldane asks that question and answers with a telling paragraph:

Is it faith? Faith is the gift of God. Is it repentance? Christ is exalted as a Prince and a Savior to give repentance. Is it love? God promises to circumcise the heart in order to love him. Are they good works? His people are the workmanship of God created unto good works. Is it perseverance to the end? They are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation. … “Thy people,” saith Jehovah to the Messiah, “shall be willing in the day of thy power.” Thus the believer, in running his race, and working out his salvation, is actuated by God and animated by the consideration of his all-powerful operation in the beginning of his course, of the continuation of his support during its progress, and by the assurances that it shall be effectual in enabling him to overcome all obstacles and to arrive in safety at the termination.

Second, what does this say about the proper way to do evangelism, the point with which I started?

Well, the weaknesses of our contemporary evangelism have been recognized and critiqued by many, among them Walter J. Chantry, Ernest C. Reisinger, and Gordon H. Clark, all of whom have written things that have been helpful to me. As I have read their books, I have found that there is a common bottom line. Evangelism is to teach the Word of God. Not just a certain evangelistic core, or only certain doctrines, or only truths that will move or motivate the ungodly. It is to teach the Bible and to do this as carefully, consistently, and comprehensively as possible, while looking to God (and praying to God) to give new life. Gordon Clark expressed it by saying quite succinctly, “Evangelism is the exposition of the Scripture. God will do the regenerating.”

“Just preach Jesus!” someone says.

Did I hear, “Just preach Jesus”?

Let’s do it. But remember what Jesus means. Jesus means “Salvation is of the Lord,” the very words uttered by Jonah from the belly of the fish. To preach Jesus is to preach a Calvinistic gospel.

Romans, Volume 3: God and History (Romans 9 – 11): An Expositional Commentary

April 21 – The Cushion of Peace

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9).

✧✧✧

God’s peace cushions the soul during difficult times.

I remember reading about what is called “the cushion of the sea.” The ocean surface is often greatly agitated, but as you descend, the water becomes increasingly calm. At its greatest depths, the ocean is virtually still. Oceanographers dredging ocean bottoms have found animal and plant remains that appear to have been undisturbed for hundreds of years.

Similarly, Christians can experience a cushion of peace in their souls regardless of their troubled surroundings. That’s because they belong to God, who is the source of peace; they serve Christ, who is the Prince of Peace; and they are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who is the agent of peace. Galatians 5:22 says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.” When you become a Christian, God grants you the gift of peace.

God is not only the source of perfect peace but also its purest example. Everything He does is marked by peace. First Corinthians 14:33 says He is not a God of confusion but of peace. In Judges 6:24 He is called Jehovah-shalom, which means, “the Lord is peace.” The Trinity is characterized by a total absence of conflict—perfect oneness, perfect righteousness, and absolute harmony. It is impossible for God to be at odds with Himself!

God wants everyone to know that kind of peace. He created the world with peace and sent His Son to offer peace. Someday Christ will return to establish His Kingdom and reign in peace for eternity.

In the meantime, turmoil exists for all who don’t know Christ. They have no cushion for their souls. You, however, have peace with God through the death of Christ Jesus, and as you obey Him, His peace will continually reign in your heart. Don’t ever let sin rob you of that blessed cushion. Only as you experience peace within yourself can you share it with others.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the cushion of peace He has provided amid difficult circumstances. ✧ Ask God to use you as an instrument of His peace today.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 57:15–21, noting how God encourages the repentant and warns the wicked in relation to peace.[1]


Happy Are the Peacemakers

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. (5:9)

The God of peace (Rom. 15:33; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:9) has emphasized that cherished but elusive reality by making peace one of the dominant ideas of His Word. Scripture contains four hundred direct references to peace, and many more indirect ones. The Bible opens with peace in the Garden of Eden and closes with peace in eternity. The spiritual history of mankind can be charted based on the theme of peace. Although the peace on earth in the garden was interrupted when man sinned, at the cross Jesus Christ made peace a reality again, and He becomes the peace of all who place their faith in Him. Peace can now reign in the hearts of those who are His. Someday He will come as Prince of Peace and establish a worldwide kingdom of peace, which will eventuate in ultimate peace, the eternal age of peace.

But one of the most obvious facts of history and of human experience is that peace does not characterize man’s earthly existence. There is no peace now for two reasons: the opposition of Satan and the disobedience of man. The fall of the angels and the fall of man established a world without peace. Satan and man are engaged with the God of peace in a battle for sovereignty.

The scarcity of peace has prompted someone to suggest that “peace is that glorious moment in history when everyone stops to reload.” In 1968 a major newspaper reported that there had been to that date 14,553 known wars since thirty-six years before Christ. Since 1945 there have been some seventy or so wars and nearly two hundred internationally significant outbreaks of violence. Since 1958 nearly one hundred nations have been involved in some form of armed conflict.

Some historians have claimed that the United States has had two generations of peace-one from 1815 to 1846 and the other from 1865 to 1898. But that claim can only be made if you exclude the Indian wars, during which our land was bathed in Indian blood.

With all the avowed and well-intentioned efforts for peace in modern times, few people would claim that the world or any significant part of it is more peaceful now than a hundred years ago. We do not have economic peace, religious peace, racial peace, social peace, family peace, or personal peace. There seems to be no end of marches, sit-ins, rallies, protests, demonstrations, riots, and wars. Disagreement and conflict are the order of the day. No day has had more need of peace than our own.

Nor does the world honor peace as much by its standards and actions as it does by its words. In almost every age of history the greatest heroes have been the greatest warriors. The world lauds the powerful and often exalts the destructive. The model man is not meek but macho. The model hero is not self-giving but self-seeking, not generous but selfish, not gentle but cruel, not submissive but aggressive, not meek but proud.

The popular philosophy of the world, bolstered by the teaching of many psychologists and counselors, is to put self first. But when self is first, peace is last. Self precipitates strife, division, hatred, resentment, and war. It is the great ally of sin and the great enemy of righteousness and, consequently, of peace.

The seventh beatitude calls God’s people to be peacemakers. He has called us to a special mission to help restore the peace lost at the Fall.

The peace of which Christ speaks in this beatitude, and about which the rest of Scripture speaks, is unlike that which the world knows and strives for. God’s peace has nothing to do with politics, armies and navies, forums of nations, or even councils of churches. It has nothing to do with statesmanship, no matter how great, or with arbitration, compromise, negotiated truces, or treaties. God’s peace, the peace of which the Bible speaks, never evades issues; it knows nothing of peace at any price. It does not gloss or hide, rationalize or excuse. It confronts problems and seeks to solve them, and after the problems are solved it builds a bridge between those who were separated by the problems. It often brings its own struggle, pain, hardship, and anguish, because such are often the price of healing. It is not a peace that will be brought by kings, presidents, prime ministers, diplomats, or international humanitarians. It is the inner personal peace that only He can give to the soul of man and that only His children can exemplify.

Four important realities about God’s peace are revealed: its meaning, its Maker, its messengers, and its merit.

The Meaning of Peace: Righteousness and Truth

The essential fact to comprehend is that the peace about which Jesus speaks is more than the absence of conflict and strife; it is the presence of righteousness. Only righteousness can produce the relationship that brings two parties together. Men can stop fighting without righteousness, but they cannot live peaceably without righteousness. Righteousness not only puts an end to harm, but it administers the healing of love.

God’s peace not only stops war but replaces it with the righteousness that brings harmony and true well-being. Peace is a creative, aggressive force for goodness. The Jewish greeting shalom wishes “peace” and expresses the desire that the one who is greeted will have all the righteousness and goodness God can give. The deepest meaning of the term is “God’s highest good to you.”

The most that man’s peace can offer is a truce, the temporary cessation of hostilities. But whether on an international scale or an individual scale, a truce is seldom more than a cold war. Until disagreements and hatreds are resolved, the conflicts merely go underground-where they tend to fester, grow, and break out again. God’s peace, however, not only stops the hostilities but settles the issues and brings the parties together in mutual love and harmony.

James confirms the nature of God’s peace when he writes, “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable” (James 3:17). God’s way to peace is through purity. Peace cannot be attained at the expense of righteousness. Two people cannot be at peace until they recognize and resolve the wrong attitudes and actions that caused the conflict between them, and then bring themselves to God for cleansing. Peace that ignores the cleansing that brings purity is not God’s peace.

The writer of Hebrews links peace with purity when he instructs believers to “pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Peace cannot be divorced from holiness. “Righteousness and peace have kissed each other” is the beautiful expression of the psalmist (Ps. 85:10). Biblically speaking, then, where there is true peace there is righteousness, holiness, and purity. Trying to bring harmony by compromising righteousness forfeits both.

Jesus’ saying “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matt. 10:34) seems to be the antithesis of the seventh beatitude. His meaning, however, was that the peace He came to bring is not peace at any price. There will be opposition before there is harmony; there will be strife before there is peace. To be peacemakers on God’s terms requires being peacemakers on the terms of truth and righteousness-to which the world is in fierce opposition. When believers bring truth to bear on a world that loves falsehood, there will be strife. When believers set God’s standards of righteousness before a world that loves wickedness, there is an inevitable potential for conflict. Yet that is the only way.

Until unrighteousness is changed to righteousness there cannot be godly peace. And the process of resolution is difficult and costly. Truth will produce anger before it produces happiness; righteousness will produce antagonism before it produces harmony. The gospel brings bad feelings before it can bring good feelings. A person who does not first mourn over his own sin will never be satisfied with God’s righteousness. The sword that Christ brings is the sword of His Word, which is the sword of truth and righteousness. Like the surgeon’s scalpel, it must cut before it heals, because peace cannot come where sin remains.

The great enemy of peace is sin. Sin separates men from God and causes disharmony and enmity with Him. And men’s lack of harmony with God causes their lack of harmony with each other. The world is filled with strife and war because it is filled with sin. Peace does not rule the world because the enemy of peace rules the world. Jeremiah tells us that “the heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick [or wicked]” (Jer. 17:9). Peace cannot reign where wickedness reigns. Wicked hearts cannot produce a peaceful society. “ ‘There is no peace for the wicked,’ says the Lord” (Isa. 48:22).

To talk of peace without talking of repentance of sin is to talk foolishly and vainly. The corrupt religious leaders of ancient Israel proclaimed, “Peace, peace,” but there was no peace, because they and the rest of the people were not “ashamed of the abominations they had done” (Jer. 8:11–12).

“From within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man” (Mark 7:21–23). Sinful men cannot create peace, either within themselves or among themselves. Sin can produce nothing but strife and conflict. “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing,” James says. “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy. And the seed whose fruit is righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace” (James 3:16–18).

Regardless of what the circumstances might be, where there is conflict it is because of sin. If you separate the conflicting parties from each other but do not separate them from sin, at best you will succeed only in making a truce. Peacemaking cannot come by circumventing sin, because sin is the source of every conflict.

The bad news of the gospel comes before the good news. Until a person confronts his sin, it makes no sense to offer him a Savior. Until a person faces his false notions, it makes no sense to offer him the truth. Until a person acknowledges his enmity with God, it makes no sense to offer him peace with God.

Believers cannot avoid facing truth, or avoid facing others with the truth, for the sake of harmony. If someone is in serious error about a part of God’s truth, he cannot have a right, peaceful relationship with others until the error is confronted and corrected. Jesus never evaded the issue of wrong doctrine or behavior. He treated the Samaritan woman from Sychar with great love and compassion, but He did not hesitate to confront her godless life. First He confronted her with her immoral living: “You have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband” (John 4:18). Then He corrected her false ideas about worship: “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall you worship the Father. You worship that which you do not know; we worship that which we know, for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:21–22).

The person who is not willing to disrupt and disturb in God’s name cannot be a peacemaker. To come to terms on anything less than God’s truth and righteousness is to settle for a truce-which confirms sinners in their sin and may leave them even further from the kingdom. Those who in the name of love or kindness or compassion try to witness by appeasement and compromise of God’s Word will find that their witness leads away from Him, not to Him. God’s peacemakers will not let a sleeping dog lie if it is opposed to God’s truth; they will not protect the status quo if it is ungodly and unrighteous. They are not willing to make peace at any price. God’s peace comes only in God’s way. Being a peacemaker is essentially the result of a holy life and the call to others to embrace the gospel of holiness.

The Maker of Peace: God

Men are without peace because they are without God, the source of peace. Both the Old and New Testaments are replete with statements of God’s being the God of peace (Lev. 26:6; 1 Kings 2:33; Ps. 29:11; Isa. 9:6; Ezek. 34:25; Rom. 15:33; 1 Cor. 14:33; 2 Thess. 3:16). Since the Fall, the only peace that men have known is the peace they have received as the gift of God. Christ’s coming to earth was the peace of God coming to earth, because only Jesus Christ could remove sin, the great barrier to peace. “But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace” (Eph. 2:13–14).

I once read the story of a couple at a divorce hearing who were arguing back and forth before the judge, accusing each other and refusing to take any blame themselves. Their little four-year-old boy was terribly distressed and confused. Not knowing what else to do, he took his father’s hand and his mother’s hand and kept tugging until he finally pulled the hands of his parents together.

In an infinitely greater way, Christ brings back together God and man, reconciling and bringing peace. “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:19–20).

How could the cross bring peace? At the cross all of man’s hatred and anger was vented against God. On the cross the Son of God was mocked, cursed, spit upon, pierced, reviled, and killed. Jesus’ disciples fled in fear, the sky flashed lightning, the earth shook violently, and the veil of the Temple was torn in two. Yet through that violence God brought peace. God’s greatest righteousness confronted man’s greatest wickedness, and righteousness won. And because righteousness won, peace was won.

In his book Peace Child (Glendale, Calif.: Regal, 1979), Don Richardson tells of his long struggle to bring the gospel to the cannibalistic, headhunting Sawi tribe of Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Try as he would, he could not find a way to make the people understand the gospel message, especially the significance of Christ’s atoning death on the cross.

Sawi villages were constantly fighting among themselves, and because treachery, revenge, and murder were highly honored there seemed no hope of peace. The tribe, however, had a legendary custom that if one village gave a baby boy to another village, peace would prevail between the two villages as long as the child lived. The baby was called a “peace child.”

The missionary seized on that story as an analogy of the reconciling work of Christ. Christ, he said, is God’s divine Peace Child that He has offered to man, and because Christ lives eternally His peace will never end. That analogy was the key that unlocked the gospel for the Sawis. In a miraculous working of the Holy Spirit many of them believed in Christ, and a strong, evangelistic church soon developed-and peace came to the Sawis.

If the Father is the source of peace, and the Son is the manifestation of that peace, then the Holy Spirit is the agent of that peace. One of the most beautiful fruits the Holy Spirit gives to those in whom He resides is the fruit of peace (Gal. 5:22). The God of peace sent the Prince of Peace who sends the Spirit of peace to give the fruit of peace. No wonder the Trinity is called Yahweh Shalom, “The Lord is Peace” (Judg. 6:24).

The God of peace intends peace for His world, and the world that He created in peace He will one day restore to peace. The Prince of Peace will establish His kingdom of peace, for a thousand years on earth and for all eternity in heaven. “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope’ ” (Jer. 29:11). Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The one who does not belong to God through Jesus Christ can neither have peace nor be a peacemaker. God can work peace through us only if He has worked peace in us.

Some of the earth’s most violent weather occurs on the seas. But the deeper one goes the more serene and tranquil the water becomes. Oceanographers report that the deepest parts of the sea are absolutely still. When those areas are dredged they produce remnants of plant and animal life that have remained undisturbed for thousands of years.

That is a picture of the Christian’s peace. The world around him, including his own circumstances, may be in great turmoil and strife, but in his deepest being he has peace that passes understanding. Those who are in the best of circumstances but without God can never find peace, but those in the worst of circumstances but with God need never lack peace.

The Messengers of Peace: Believers

The messengers of peace are believers in Jesus Christ. Only they can be peacemakers. Only those who belong to the Maker of peace can be messengers of peace. Paul tells us that “God has called us to peace” (1 Cor. 7:15) and that “now all these things are from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ, and gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:18). The ministry of reconciliation is the ministry of peacemaking. Those whom God has called to peace He also calls to make peace. “God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were entreating through us” (2 Cor. 5:19–20).

At least four things characterize a peacemaker. First, he is one who himself has made peace with God. The gospel is all about peace. Before we came to Christ we were at war with God. No matter what we may consciously have thought about God, our hearts were against Him. It was “while we were enemies” of God that “we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son” (Rom. 5:10). When we received Christ as Savior and He imputed His righteousness to us, our battle with God ended, and our peace with God began. Because he has made peace with God he can enjoy the peace of God (Phil. 4:7; Col. 3:15). And because he has been given God’s peace he is called to share God’s peace. He is to have his very feet shod with “the gospel of peace” (Eph. 6:15).

Because peace is always corrupted by sin, the peacemaking believer must be a holy believer, a believer whose life is continually cleansed by the Holy Spirit. Sin breaks our fellowship with God, and when fellowship with Him is broken, peace is broken. The disobedient, self-indulgent Christian is not suited to be an ambassador of peace.

Second, a peacemaker leads others to make peace with God. Christians are not an elite corps of those who have spiritually arrived and who look down on the rest of the world. They are a body of sinners cleansed by Jesus Christ and commissioned to carry His gospel of cleansing to the rest of the world.

The Pharisees were the embodiment of what peacemakers are not. They were smug, proud, complacent, and determined to have their own ways and defend their own rights. They had scant interest in making peace with Rome, with the Samaritans, or even with fellow Jews who did not follow their own party line. Consequently they created strife wherever they went. They cooperated with others only when it was to their own advantage, as they did with the Sadducees in opposing Jesus.

The peacemaking spirit is the opposite of that. It is built on humility, sorrow over its own sin, gentleness, hunger for righteousness, mercy, and purity of heart. G. Campbell Morgan commented that peacemaking is the propagated character of the man who, exemplifying all the rest of the beatitudes, thereby brings peace wherever he comes.

The peacemaker is a beggar who has been fed and who is called to help feed others. Having been brought to God, he is to bring others to God. The purpose of the church is to preach “peace through Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:36). To preach Christ is to promote peace. To bring a person to saving knowledge of Jesus Christ is the most peacemaking act a human being can perform. It is beyond what any diplomat or statesman can accomplish.

Third, a peacemaker helps others make peace with others. The moment a person comes to Christ he becomes at peace with God and with the church and becomes himself a peacemaker in the world. A peacemaker builds bridges between men and God and also between men and other men. The second kind of bridge building must begin, of course, between ourselves and others. Jesus said that if we are bringing a gift to God and a brother has something against us, we are to leave our gift at the altar and be reconciled to that brother before we offer the gift to God (Matt. 5:23–24). As far as it is possible, Paul says, “so far as it depends on [us],” we are to “be at peace with all men” (Rom. 12:18). We are even to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, “in order that [we] may be sons of [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:44–45).

By definition a bridge cannot be one-sided. It must extend between two sides or it can never function. Once built, it continues to need support on both sides or it will collapse. So in any relationship our first responsibility is to see that our own side has a solid base. But we also have a responsibility to help the one on the other side build his base well. Both sides must be built on righteousness and truth or the bridge will not stand. God’s peacemakers must first be righteous themselves, and then must be active in helping others become righteous.

The first step in that bridge-building process is often to rebuke others about their sin, which is the supreme barrier to peace. “If your brother sins,” Jesus says, “go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church” (Matt. 18:15–17). That is a difficult thing to do, but obeying that command is no more optional than obeying any of the Lord’s other commands. The fact that taking such action often stirs up controversy and resentment is no excuse for not doing it. If we do so in the way and in the spirit the Lord teaches, the consequences are His responsibility. Not to do so does not preserve peace but through disobedience establishes a truce with sin.

Obviously there is the possibility of a price to pay, but any sacrifice is small in order to obey God. Often confrontation will bring more turmoil instead of less-misunderstanding, hurt feelings, and resentment. But the only way to peace is the way of righteousness. Sin that is not dealt with is sin that will disrupt and destroy peace. Just as any price is worth paying to obey God, any price is worth paying to be rid of sin. “If your right eye makes you stumble,” Jesus said, “tear it out, and throw it from you; … And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matt. 5:29–30). If we are unwilling to help others confront their sin, we will be unable to help them find peace.

Fourth, a peacemaker endeavors to find a point of agreement. God’s truth and righteousness must never be compromised or weakened, but there is hardly a person so ungodly, immoral, rebellious, pagan, or indifferent that we have absolutely no point of agreement with him. Wrong theology, wrong standards, wrong beliefs, and wrong attitudes must be faced and dealt with, but they are not usually the best places to start the process of witnessing or peacemaking.

God’s people are to contend without being contentious, to disagree without being disagreeable, and to confront without being abusive. The peacemaker speaks the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). To start with love is to start toward peace. We begin peacemaking by starting with whatever peaceful point of agreement we can find. Peace helps beget peace. The peacemaker always gives others the benefit of the doubt. He never assumes they will resist the gospel or reject his testimony. When he does meet opposition, he tries to be patient with other people’s blindness and stubbornness just as he knows the Lord was, and continues to be, patient with his own blindness and stubbornness.

God’s most effective peacemakers are often the simplest and least noticed people. They do not try to attract attention to themselves. They seldom win headlines or prizes for their peacemaking, because, by its very nature, true peacemaking is unobtrusive and prefers to go unnoticed. Because they bring righteousness and truth wherever they go, peacemakers are frequently accused of being troublemakers and disturbers of the peace-as Ahab accused Elijah of being (1 Kings 18:17) and the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of being (Luke 23:2, 5). But God knows their hearts, and He honors their work because they are working for His peace in His power. God’s peacemakers are never unfruitful or unrewarded. This is a mark of a true kingdom citizen: he not only hungers for righteousness and holiness in his own life but has a passionate desire to see those virtues in the lives of others.

The Merit Of Peace: Eternal Sonship In The Kingdom

The merit, or result, of peacemaking is eternal blessing as God’s children in God’s kingdom. Peacemakers shall be called sons of God.

Most of us are thankful for our heritage, our ancestors, our parents, and our family name. It is especially gratifying to have been influenced by godly grandparents and to have been raised by godly parents. But the greatest human heritage cannot match the believer’s heritage in Jesus Christ, because we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Nothing compares to being a child of God.

Both huios and teknon are used in the New Testament to speak of believers’ relationship to God. Teknon (child) is a term of tender affection and endearment as well as of relationship (see John 1:12; Eph. 5:8; 1 Pet. 1:14; etc.). Sons, however, is from huios, which expresses the dignity and honor of the relationship of a child to his parents. As God’s peacemakers we are promised the glorious blessing of eternal sonship in His eternal kingdom.

Peacemaking is a hallmark of God’s children. A person who is not a peacemaker either is not a Christian or is a disobedient Christian. The person who is continually disruptive, divisive, and quarrelsome has good reason to doubt his relationship to God altogether. God’s sons-that is, all of His children, both male and female-are peacemakers. Only God determines who His children are, and He has determined that they are the humble, the penitent over sin, the gentle, the seekers of righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, and the peacemakers.

Shall be called is in a continuous future passive tense. Throughout eternity peacemakers will go by the name “children of God.” The passive form indicates that all heaven will call peacemakers sons of God, because God Himself has declared them to be His children.

Jacob loved Benjamin so much that his whole life came to be bound up in the life of that son (Gen. 44:30). Any parent worthy of the name loves his children more than his own life, and immeasurably more than all of his possessions together. God loves His children today as He loved Israel of old, as “the apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8; cf. Ps. 17:8). The Hebrew expression “apple of the eye” referred to the cornea, the most exposed and sensitive part of the eye, the part we are the most careful to protect. That is what God’s children are to Him: those whom He is most sensitive about and most desires to protect. To attack God’s children is to poke a finger in God’s eye. Offense against Christians is offense against God, because they are His very own children.

God puts the tears of His children in a bottle (Ps. 56:8), a figure reflecting the Hebrew custom of placing into a bottle the tears shed over a loved one. God cares for us so much that He stores up His remembrances of our sorrows and afflictions. God’s children matter greatly to Him, and it is no little thing that we can call Him Father.

God’s peacemakers will not always have peace in the world. As Jesus makes clear by the last beatitude, persecution follows peacemaking. In Christ we have forsaken the false peace of the world, and consequently we often will not have peace with the world. But as God’s children we may always have peace even while we are in the world-the peace of God, which the world cannot give and the world cannot take away.[2]


5:9 A blessing is pronounced on the peacemakers: they shall be called sons of God. Notice that the Lord is not speaking about people with a peaceful disposition or those who love peace. He is referring to those who actively intervene to make peace. The natural approach is to watch strife from the sidelines. The divine approach is to take positive action toward creating peace, even if it means taking abuse and invective.

Peacemakers are called sons of God. This is not how they become sons of God—that can only happen by receiving Jesus Christ as Savior (John 1:12). By making peace, believers manifest themselves as sons of God, and God will one day acknowledge them as people who bear the family likeness.[3]


9 Jesus’ concern in this beatitude is not with the peaceful but with the peacemakers. Peace is of constant concern in both Testaments (e.g., Pr 15:1; Isa 52:7; Lk 24:36; Ro 10:15; 12:18; 1 Co 7:15; Eph 2:11–22; Heb 12:14; 1 Pe 3:11). But as some of these and other passages show, the making of peace can itself have messianic overtones. The Promised Son is called the “Prince of Peace” (Isa 9:6); and Isaiah 52:7—“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ ”—linking as it does peace, salvation, and God’s reign, was interpreted messianically in the Judaism of Jesus’ day.

Jesus does not limit the peacemaking to only one kind, and neither will his disciples. In the light of the gospel, Jesus himself is the supreme peacemaker, making peace between God and man, and man and man. Our peacemaking will include the promulgation of that gospel. It must also extend to seeking all kinds of reconciliation. Instead of delighting in division, bitterness, strife, or some petty “divide and conquer” mentality, disciples of Jesus delight to make peace wherever possible. Making peace is not appeasement. The true model is God’s costly peacemaking (Eph 2:15–17; Col 1:20). Those who undertake this work are acknowledged as God’s sons. In the OT, Israel has the title “sons” (Dt 14:1; Hos 1:10; cf. Pss. Sol. 17:30; Wis 2:13–18). Now it belongs to the heirs of the kingdom, who, meek and poor in spirit, loving righteousness yet merciful, are especially equipped for peacemaking and so reflect something of their heavenly Father’s character. “There is no more godlike work to be done in this world than peacemaking” (Broadus). This beatitude must have been shocking to Zealots when Jesus preached it, when political passions were inflamed (Morison).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 124). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 209–218). 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, p. 165). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 21 – SPIRITUAL TESTING

Do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.

Deuteronomy 5:32

 

In the scriptural accounts, there are many examples of men and women being tested, and I think it is plain that the Holy Spirit rarely tells a believer that he is about to be tested.

Abraham was being tested when the Lord asked him to take his only son up into the mountain. He thought he was being ordered. He did not know he was being tested.

Peter was unconsciously tested. Paul was tested and tried. There does come a time when we have heard enough truth and the Holy Spirit says, “Today this disciple is going to be tested.”

The people of Israel in their time of testing came to Kadesh Barnea, and instead of crossing into the promised land, they said, “We will not go over!” God simply let them make their own test, and they flunked it!

Are there any among us who have an honest desire to be Christlike? We should all be aware that every day is a day of testing. Some come to their own Kadesh Barnea and turn back.

What a solemn thought: Many of the persons whom God is testing will flunk the test!

 

Lord, tutor me by Your Spirit and help me successfully “pass” Your times of testing. I can’t do it by myself.[1]


32–33 The narrative, i.e., the recollection by Moses of this stupendous historical event, ends with 5:31, and Moses’ exhortation begins with 5:32. Moses makes it clear that he is not talking about the words or commandments of Moses but the words of Almighty God. God’s covenantal people are not to “turn aside to the right or to the left” (a common expression in Deuteronomy and other historical books—Dt 17:11, 20; 28:14; Jos 1:7; 23:6; 2 Ki 22:2) from those divine expectations. Instead, the Israelites are to live (“walk”; see comment on 10:12–13) in accordance with those requirements and, consequently, enjoy long tenure in the Promised Land.[2]


5:32–33 not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. God’s way is likened to a straight path. See also 2:27; 17:11, 20; 28:14. walk in all the way. See also 8:6; 9:16; 10:12; 11:22; 19:9; 26:17; 28:9; 30:16; 31:29.[3]


5:22 and he added no more. Lit. “and He did not add,” perhaps an idiom meaning that He spoke no more. This would fit the statement in Exodus that the people in their fear asked that God speak no more to them directly but to address them only through Moses (Ex. 20:19).

two tablets of stone. The tablets are mentioned in Ex. 31:18, where they are called the “two tablets of the testimony … written with the finger of God.” In addition, the tablets were inscribed on both sides (Ex. 32:15). These tablets were broken (Ex. 32:19), but new ones were made (Ex. 34:1–4, 27). Called “the testimony,” the tablets were placed in the ark of the testimony (Ex. 25:16; 40:20), also called the “ark of the covenant” (Num. 10:33). The “testimony” refers to the written record attesting the terms of the covenant (Ex. 25:16 note).[4]


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

[2] Grisanti, M. A. (2012). Deuteronomy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Numbers–Ruth (Revised Edition) (Vol. 2, p. 552). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 341). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 262). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 21 – WE DO NOT DESPISE GOD-GIVEN EMOTIONS

But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad….

MATTHEW 9:36

Our emotions are neither to be feared nor despised, for they are a normal part of us as God made us in the first place. Indeed, the full human life would be impossible without them!

A feeling of pity would never arise in the human breast unless aroused by a mental picture of others’ distress, and without the emotional bump to set off the will there would be no act of mercy. That is the way we are constituted and what I am saying here is nothing new. Every mother, every statesman, every leader of men, every preacher of the Word of God knows that a mental picture must be presented to the listener before he can be moved to act, even though it be for his own advantage!

God intended that truth should move us to moral action. The mind receives ideas, mental pictures of things as they are. These excite the feelings and these in turn move the will to act in accordance with the truth. That is the way it should be, and would be had not sin entered and wrought injury to our inner life. Because of sin, the simple sequence of truth-feeling-action may break down in any of its three parts.

The Christian who gazes too long on the carnal pleasures of this world cannot escape a certain feeling of sympathy with them, and that feeling will inevitably lead to behavior that is worldly. To expose our hearts to truth and consistently refuse or neglect to obey the impulses it arouses is to stymie the motions of life within us, and if persisted in, to grieve the Holy Spirit into silence.[1]


Christ’s Divine Compassion

And seeing the multitudes, He felt compassion for them, (9:36a)

Perhaps from the vantage point of a hillside, Jesus looked out over the great mass of people who had been His almost constant followers for many months. They were always there, wherever He went. If He entered a boat to cross the Sea of Galilee, they would either follow in other boats or run around the shore to the other side and meet Him there. They dogged Him from town to town, from house to house, from synagogue to synagogue, and gave Him no rest.

Many people came simply to watch and listen, eager to see and hear what the great miracle worker and teacher would do or say. They had never heard anyone speak the authoritative but gracious words He spoke, and they had never seen anyone perform the marvelous feats that He performed. Many other people, however, came to Him for specific needs in their own lives or in the lives of their loved ones or friends. Most of these came for physical healing or deliverance from demons.

But the divine eyes of Jesus saw infinitely greater need in their lives, a need that far surpassed a withered arm, a bleeding body, a possessed mind, or blind eyes and deaf ears. He sympathized with their physical pains, too, and would have been deeply moved had those been their only afflictions.

But in seeing the multitudes Jesus saw the deepness and pervasiveness of their sin and the desperate plight of their spiritual blindness and lostness. Consequently, He felt compassion for them as only God could feel. He cared for them because He was God incarnate and it is God’s nature to love and to care, for “God is love” (1 John 4:8). Over and over in the gospel record we are told of Jesus’ compassion and love for men. When He withdrew in a boat to be alone after hearing of the death of John the Baptist, the crowd discovered where He went and “followed Him on foot from the cities. And when He went ashore, He saw a great multitude, and felt compassion for them, and healed their sick” (Matt. 14:13–14). After He had healed a great number of people on a mountainside in Galilee, He privately told His disciples, “I feel compassion for the multitude, because they have remained with Me now three days and have nothing to eat; and I do not wish to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way” (15:32). It was not enough that He had healed the lame, the crippled, the blind, the dumb, and many others among them (vv. 30–31). When they were without food, He cared deeply about their hunger.

Splanchna, the noun form of the verb behind felt compassion, literally refers to the intestines, or bowels. In Scripture it is sometimes used literally, as when describing Judas’s death (Acts 1:18). More often, however, it is used figuratively to represent the emotions, much in the way we use the term heart today. The Hebrews, like many other ancient peoples, expressed attitudes and emotions in terms of physiological symptoms, not in abstractions. As most of us know from personal experience, many intense emotions-anxiety, fear, pity, remorse, and so on-can directly, and often immediately, affect the stomach and the digestive tract. Upset stomach, colitis, and ulcers are a few of the common ailments frequently related to emotional trauma. It is not strange, then, that ancient people associated strong emotions with that region of the body. The heart, on the other hand, was associated more with the mind and thinking (see Prov. 16:23; Matt. 15:19; Rom. 10:10; Heb. 4:12). The heart was the source of thought and action, whereas the bowels were the responder, the reactor.

Jesus therefore used the common term of His day to express His deep compassion for the great crowds of people who were suffering. But His care was not merely figurative, because He felt in His own body the symptoms of His deep caring. If our bodies literally ache in pain and nausea when we experience great agony, remorse, or sympathy, we can be sure that the Son of Man felt them even more. Matthew tells us that, in order to fulfill the prophecies of Isaiah, Jesus “Himself took our infirmities, and carried away our diseases” (Matt. 8:17). It was not, of course, that Jesus Himself contracted the diseases or infirmities, but that in sympathy and compassion He physically as well as emotionally suffered with those who came to Him for healing-just as a parent can become physically ill from worry and concern over a child who is desperately sick or in trouble or danger.

When Jesus saw Mary and her friends weeping over the death of her brother Lazarus, “He was deeply moved in spirit, and was troubled,” and He wept with them (John 11:33, 35). The phrase “deeply moved in spirit” carries the idea of physical as well as emotional and spiritual anguish. Jesus Himself was seized with grief as He saw His dear friend grieving; and He burst into tears. He knew that Lazarus would soon be alive again, and His grief was therefore not for the same reason as theirs. But it was the same feeling as theirs and even more intense. After some of the people there wondered aloud why Jesus had not prevented Lazarus’ death, He was again “deeply moved within” (v. 38), a phrase that carries the idea of shuddering, of being physically racked with emotion.

When Jesus was arrested in the Garden, His concern was not for Himself but for His disciples. He said to the soldiers, “If therefore you seek Me, let these go their way” (John 18:8). When He was hanging on the cross, facing death and suffering great physical agony from the crown of thorns and the nails in His hands and feet, His concern was for His mother. “When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing nearby, He said to His mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then He said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ ” (John 19:26–27). In His incalculable compassion He would not give up His spirit until He had provided for His mother.

As He agonized over the rejection by His own people, He did not feel anger or vengeance but the deepest possible remorse for them. In one of the most poignant statements ever uttered, He lamented, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37). Luke reports that when Jesus approached Jerusalem for the last time, “He saw the city and wept over it, saying, ‘If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes’ ” (Luke 19:41–42). As Isaiah had prophesied, Jesus was indeed “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Isa. 53:3).

Jesus not only performed miracles of healings to establish His messianic credentials but also to show God’s infinite love. He demonstrated compassionate power, a kind of power completely foreign to pagans and even to most Jews-who had long ago lost sight of the lovingkindness of the God who had called, guided, protected, and blessed them as His chosen people. The people who witnessed Jesus’ healing touch and heard His healing words must surely have been as astonished by His compassion as they were by His power.

Dr. Paul Brand has spent many years in medical work among lepers. In his book Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, he writes,

[Jesus] reached out His hand and touched the eyes of the blind, the skin of the person with leprosy, and the legs of the cripple. …

I have sometimes wondered why Jesus so frequently touched the people He healed, many of whom must have been unattractive, obviously diseased, unsanitary, smelly. With His power, He easily could have waved a magic wand. … But He chose not to. Jesus’ mission was not chiefly a crusade against disease … but rather a ministry to individual people, some of whom happened to have a disease. He wanted those people, one by one, to feel His love and warmth and His full identification with them. Jesus knew He could not readily demonstrate love to a crowd, for love usually involves touching.

Commenting on two statements about Jesus in the book of Hebrews (“For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses,” 4:15; and “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered,” 5:8), Dr. Brand says,

A stupefying concept: God’s Son learning through His experiences on earth. Before taking on a body, God had no personal experience of physical pain or of the effect of rubbing against needy persons. But God dwelt among us and touched us, and His time spent here allows Him to more fully identify with our pain. (Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980], pp. 140. 146–48)

That sympathetic compassion is unique to Christianity, because it is unique to Christianity’s God. Hinduism is perhaps one of the most cruelly neglectful of all religious systems. Its caste system prohibits anyone from even touching those of an alien caste. Its treatment of the sick and dying is sometimes shocking and barbarous, because providing them help is thought to delay the process of karma and reincarnation. Brahmins, the Hindu priestly class, recognize no responsibility for the care of the afflicted and downtrodden. Islam, whose history runs red with secular and religious bloodshed, cannot be expected to show much pity for those in need. The primary motive behind Buddhist benevolence is that the act may lay up merit

How different were Jesus’ teaching and example. In the parable of the slave who owed an unpayable debt to his king, Jesus illustrated God’s love through the grace of the king, who “felt compassion” on his slave “and released him and forgave him the debt” (Matt. 18:27). When the two blind men sitting by the road just outside of Jericho cried out to Jesus, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” He was “moved with compassion, … touched their eyes,” and restored their sight (20:30, 34). When the leper came to Him, declaring, “If You are willing, You can make me clean,” Jesus again was “moved with compassion,” and He cleansed the man of his tormenting disease (Mark 1:40–41).

G. Campbell Morgan wrote on this passage,

There is no reason in man that God should save; the need is born of His own compassion. No man has any claim upon God. Why, then, should men be cared for? Why should they not become the prey of the ravening wolf, having wandered from the fold? It has been said that the great work of redemption was the outcome of a passion for the righteousness and holiness of God; that Jesus must come and teach and live and suffer and die because God is righteous and holy. I do not so read the story. God could have met every demand of His righteousness and holiness by handing men over to the doom they had brought upon themselves. But deepest in the being of God, holding in its great energising might, both holiness and righteousness, is love and compassion. God said, according to Hosea, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?” It is out of the love which inspired that wail of the Divine heart, that salvation has been provided. (The Gospel According to Matthew [Old Tappan, N.J.: Revell, 1979], pp. 99–100)

The great Puritan writer Thomas Watson said, “We may force our Lord to punish us, but we will never have to force Him to love us.” The God of Scripture is the God of love and compassion. How different are the gods of paganism. The supreme attribute of the ancient Greek gods was apatheia, apathy and indifference. Those supposed deities were supremely unconcerned about the welfare of mankind. Even the nature of the true God had been so distorted by the scribes, Pharisees, and rabbis that most Jews thought of Him primarily as a God of anger, vengeance, and indifference. Jesus brought an entirely new message.

Because the Lord is compassionate, believers who bear His name are also to be compassionate. “To sum up,” Peter says, “let all be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil, or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead” (1 Pet. 3:8–9).

Man’s Lost Conditions

because they were distressed and downcast like sheep without a shepherd. (9:36b)

Jesus’ second motive for ministry was the knowledge of man’s lost condition. He saw the people around Him in the reality of their need. He was moved by their diseases and sickness, and He healed every kind of them (v. 35). But He was moved even more deeply by the needs that most of the multitude did not know they had-to be freed from their bondage to sin. He was not fooled by their religious fronts and their spiritual facades. He saw their hearts, and He knew that inwardly they were distressed and downcast.

Skullō (to be distressed) has the root meaning of flaying or skinning, and the derived meanings of being harassed or severely troubled. It often connoted the ideas of being battered, bruised, mangled, ripped apart, worn out, and exhausted. Jesus saw the multitudes as being inwardly devastated by their sinful and hopeless condition.

Rhiptō (to be downcast) has the basic meaning of being thrown down prostrate and utterly helpless, as from drunkenness or a mortal wound. The Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) uses the word of Sisera as he “was lying dead with a tent peg in his temple” (Judg. 4:22). Jesus saw the downcast multitudes as sheep without a shepherd to protect and care for them. They were helpless and defenseless, spiritually battered, thrown down, and without leadership or supply.

Those who claimed to be their shepherds were the scribes and Pharisees, but it was those very “shepherds” who were largely responsible for the people’s confusion and hopelessness. Their religious leaders gave them no spiritual pastures, nor did they feed them, give them drink, or bind up their wounds. Instead, they were spiritually brutalized by uncaring, unloving leaders who should have been meeting their spiritual needs. Consequently, the people had been left weary, desolate, and forlorn. In 10:6 Jesus calls them “the lost sheep of the house of Israel,” God’s chosen people who had been left to perish.

The scribes and Pharisees offered a religion that added burdens instead of lifting them. They had great concern about their self-made traditions but only superficial and hypocritical concern about the true law of God. And for them, the common people were the object of disdain not compassion, to be exploited not served. The scribes and Pharisees were true descendants of the false shepherds against whom the Lord had railed centuries earlier through Ezekiel: “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them” (Ezek. 34:2–4; cf. Zech. 11:5).

The scribes and Pharisees “tie up heavy loads, and lay them on men’s shoulders,” Jesus said; “but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger” (Matt. 23:4). Worse than that, they “shut off the kingdom of heaven from men,” not entering themselves and not allowing others to enter (v. 13). What an indictment.

Many religious leaders today are still endeavoring to keep people out of the kingdom by distorting and contradicting God’s Word and perverting the way of salvation. They still keep them from the true Shepherd. By telling people they are already saved because “a good God would never condemn anyone to hell,” they lead people to be content with themselves and to see no need for repentance and salvation-thereby shutting tight the gracious door God has provided. Or when people are told they can work their way into God’s favor by avoiding certain sins or by performing certain good deeds or participating in some prescribed ritual, they are likewise deceived and left in their losthess. Those for whom Christ feels compassionate love are spiritually battered, bruised, and thrown down to lie helpless outside the sheepfold God has provided for them in His Son.

Jesus called such false teachers thieves and robbers, strangers from whom people should flee (John 10:1, 5). In his parting words to the Ephesian elders at Miletus, Paul warned, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:28–29).

How wonderfully refreshing it must have been to hear Jesus say, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light” (Matt. 11:28–30). What a contrast those words were from the teaching of the scribes and Pharisees, who added burden upon burden, tradition upon tradition, requirement upon requirement.

Someone has written,

Let me look on the crowd as my Savior did,

Till my eyes with tears grow dim;

Let me view with pity the wandering sheep,

And love them for the love of Him.[2]


9:36 As He gazed on Israel’s multitudes, harassed and helpless, He saw them as sheep without a shepherd. His great heart of compassion went out to them. Oh, that we might know more of that yearning for the spiritual welfare of the lost and dying. How we need to pray constantly:

Let me look on the crowd, as my Savior did,

Till my eyes with tears grow dim;

Let me view with pity the wandering sheep,

And love them for love of Him.[3]


36 Like Yahweh in the OT (cf. Eze 34), Jesus showed compassion on the shepherdless crowds and judgment on the false leaders. The “sheep” Jesus sees are “harassed” (not “fainted” [KJV], which has poor attestation), i.e., bullied, oppressed. In the face of such problems, they are “helpless,” unable to rescue themselves or escape their tormentors. The language here is close to Numbers 27:17 (which could almost make Joshua a “type” of Jesus); but other parallels (e.g., 1 Ki 22:17; 2 Ch 18:16; Isa 53:6; Eze 34:23–24; 37:24) remind us not only of the theme’s rich background but also that the shepherd can refer either to God or to the Davidic Messiah God will send (cf. 2:6; 10:6, 16; 15:24; 25:31–46; 26:31).[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (p. 111). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1237). 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. 275). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 21 – Dealing Radically with Sin

If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell.—Matt. 5:29–30

We must be willing, as Jesus teaches here, to relinquish whatever is necessary to protect us from evil and preserve righteousness. Mutilation will not cleanse our hearts, but Jesus’ figurative words call for dramatic severing of any impulse that could lead to sin (cf. Matt. 18:8–9).

In other words, we must deal radically with sin, as Paul says, “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). If we don’t purpose to carefully control the worldly influences around us, they will control us. Those we can’t control we should not hesitate to discard.

Cutting off harmful influences will not necessarily and automatically turn a corrupt heart into a pure one. But just as external acts of murder or adultery reflect internal hearts of sin, the outward act of fleeing sinful effects reflects the inward attitude that seeks holiness and God’s will rather than human pleasure.

Jesus reminds us again that His standards of righteousness are humanly impossible to attain. We have all been murderers and adulterers in our hearts, and often we don’t realize this because of sin’s subtlety and blinding effect. But the impossibility of measuring up to divine standards points to our need to receive a new heart and turn over our helplessness to His sufficiency.

ASK YOURSELF
How have you practiced this kind of severing in your Christian life? What familiar sins and seductions have proven so injurious in your past, it’s best if they’re just never in the same room with you?[1]

The Deliverance

And if your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off, and throw it from you; for it is better for you that one of the parts of your body perish, than for your whole body to go into hell. (5:29–30)

Here Jesus points the way to deliverance from heart sin. At first His advice seems incongruous with what He has just been saying. If the problem is in the heart, what good is plucking out an eye or cutting off a hand? If the right eye were lost, the left would continue to look lustfully, and if the right hand were cut off, the left would still remain to carry on sinful acts.

Obviously Jesus is speaking figuratively of those things, physical or otherwise, that cause us to be tempted or make us more susceptible to temptation. In Jewish culture, the right eye and right hand represented a person’s best and most precious faculties. The right eye represented one’s best vision, and the right hand one’s best skills. Jesus’ point is that we should be willing to give up whatever is necessary, even the most cherished things we possess, if doing that will help protect us from evil. Nothing is so valuable as to be worth preserving at the expense of righteousness. This strong message is obviously not to be interpreted in a wooden, literal way so that the Lord appears to be advocating mutilation. Mutilation will not cleanse the heart. The intent of these words is simply to call for dramatic severing of the sinful impulses in us which push us to evil action (cf. Matt. 18:8–9).

Skandalizō basically means to cause to fall, but in its substantive form, as here (makes … stumble), it was often used of the bait stick that springs the trap when an animal touches it. Anything that morally or spiritually traps us, that causes us to fall into sin or to stay in sin, should be eliminated quickly and totally. For example, a married person’s falling in love with someone besides his or her spouse is wrong. The relationship may be mutually enjoyable and considered to be rewarding, fulfilling, and beautiful. But it is totally sinful and should be immediately severed. What is a pure and truly beautiful relationship between marriage partners is morally ugly and repulsive to God when it is shared between a man and woman if either or both are married to someone else.

The message of this hyperbolic statement of our Lord is clearly that sin must be dealt with radically. Paul said, “I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). If we do not consciously and purposefully control what is around us, where we go, what we do, what we watch and read, the company we keep, and the conversations we have, then those things will control us. And what we cannot control we should discard without hesitation.

Obviously getting rid of harmful influences will not change a corrupt heart into a pure heart. Outward acts cannot produce inner benefits. But just as the outward act of adultery reflects a heart that is already adulterous, the outward act of forsaking whatever is harmful reflects a heart that hungers and thirsts for righteousness. That outward act is effective protection, because it comes from a heart that seeks to do God’s will instead of its own.

Like Origen, Saint Anthony sought to escape immorality and lust by separating himself from the rest of society. He became a hermit in the Egyptian desert, where he lived in poverty and deprivation for thirty-five years. Yet by his own testimony he was never freed in all that time from the cares and temptations he sought to escape. Because his heart was still in the world he could not escape the world, and he quickly discovered that Satan, the god of this world, had no difficulty finding him in the desert (William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, 2 vols. [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1956], 1:146–47).

Jesus again sets forth the impossible standards of His kingdom righteousness. All people are murderers and adulterers. Many do not realize that they are because of the subtlety of sin and its blinding effect on the mind. Jesus does not suggest that the scribes and Pharisees, or anyone else, could deliver themselves from the propensity to sin. As always, the impossibility that He sets forth has a twofold purpose: to make men and women despair of their own righteousness and to seek His. The Lord’s remedy for a wicked heart is a new heart, and His answer for our helplessness is His sufficiency.

The story is told that during the Civil War a beautiful, highly educated, and popular young woman fell into prostitution. By the time she was twenty-two years old, she was friendless, broken, and lay dying in a hospital in Cincinnati. Just before she died on a cold winter day she wrote a poem lamenting her life. The poem was published in a newspaper the next day and soon drew the sympathetic attention of thousands across the country. The poem ended with the lines:

Fainting, freezing, dying alone,

too wicked for prayer,

Too weak for a moan to be heard

in the streets of the crazy town

Gone mad in the joy

of the snow coming down.

To lie, and to die.

in my terrible woe,

With a bed and a shroud

of the beautiful snow.

Sometime later a verse was added by another pen.

Helpless and frail as the trampled snow,

Sinner despair not, Christ stoopeth low

To rescue the soul that is lost in its sin,

And raise it to life and enjoyment again.

Groaning, bleeding, dying for thee,

The Crucified hung, made a curse on the tree.

His accents of mercy fall soft on thine ear.

Is there mercy for me? Will He heed my prayer?

O God! in the stream that for sinners doth flow,

Wash me and I shall be whiter than snow.

(A. Nainsmith, 1200 Notes, Quotes, and Anecdotes [Chicago: Moody, 1962], p. 184)

Many men and women go to hell forever because of the deception of self-righteous religion. The illusion that sin is only an external issue is damning.[2]


5:29, 30 Maintaining an undefiled thought life demands strict self-discipline. Thus, Jesus taught that if any part of our body causes us to sin, it would be better to lose that member during life rather than to lose one’s soul for eternity. Are we to take Jesus’ words literally? Was He actually advocating self-mutilation? The words are literal to this extent: if it were necessary to lose a member rather than one’s soul, then we should gladly part with the member. Fortunately it is never necessary, since the Holy Spirit empowers the believer to live a holy life. However, there must be cooperation and rigid discipline on the believer’s part.[3]


29–30 The radical treatment of parts of the body that cause one to sin (see Notes) has led some (notoriously Origen) to castrate themselves. But that is not radical enough, since lust is not thereby removed. The “eye” (v. 29) is the member of the body most commonly blamed for leading us astray, especially in sexual sins (cf. Nu 15:39; Pr 21:4; Eze 6:9; 18:12; 20:8; cf. Ecc 11:9); the “right eye” refers to one’s best eye. But why the “right hand” (v. 30) in a context dealing with lust? This may be merely illustrative or a way of saying that even lust is a kind of theft. More likely, it is a euphemism for the male sexual organ (cf. yād, “hand” [GK 3338], most likely used in this way in Isaiah 57:8 [cf. BDB, 4.g]; see Lachs, “Textual Observations,” 108–9).

Cutting off or gouging out the offending part is a way of saying that Jesus’ disciples must deal radically with sin. Imagination is a God-given gift; but if it is fed dirt by the eye, it will be dirty. All sin, not least sexual sin, begins with the imagination. Therefore, what feeds the imagination is of maximum importance in the pursuit of kingdom righteousness (cf. Php 4:8). Not everyone reacts the same way to all objects. But if your eye is causing you to sin, gouge it out, or at very least, don’t look (cf. the sane exposition of Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 88–91)! The alternative is sin and hell—sin’s reward. The point is so fundamental that Jesus doubtless repeated it on numerous occasions (cf. 18:8–9).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 120). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 304–306). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1220–1221). 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. 184–185). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 21 – A BOUNDLESS AND FATHOMLESS FLOOD

And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

—Exodus 33:19

There has been a lot of careless teaching that implies that the Old Testament is a book of severity and law, and the New Testament is a book of tenderness and grace. But do you know that while both the Old Testament and the New Testament declare the mercy of God, the word mercy appears in the Old Testament over four times more often than in the New?…

God’s infinite goodness is taught throughout the entire Bible. Goodness is that in God which desires the happiness of His creatures and that irresistible urge in God to bestow blessedness. The goodness of God takes pleasure in the pleasure of His people. I wish I could teach the children of God to know this. For a long time it has been drummed into us that if we are happy, God is worried about us. We believe He’s never quite pleased if we are happy. But the strict, true teaching of the Word is that God takes pleasure in the pleasure of His people, provided His people take pleasure in God….

“The mercy of God is an ocean divine, a boundless and fathomless flood.” Let us plunge out into the mercy of God and come to know it. AOG077-079, 095

Thank You, Lord, for your mercy, that out of Your goodness You delight in the happiness of Your children. Amen. [1]


33:18–23 Next Moses asked for a sight of God’s glory. God replied by promising to reveal Himself as a God of grace and compassion (see Ex. 34:6, 7). Moses could not see God’s face … and live, but he would be permitted to stand on a rock while God’s glory passed by, and he would see an appearance of God’s back. This is figurative language, of course, since God does not have a body (John 4:24). As Hywel Jones put it, “Moses is to see the afterglow which is a reliable indication of what the full splendor is to be.”

No one can see God’s face and live (v. 20). This means that no one can look upon the unveiled glory of God; He dwells “in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see” (1 Tim. 6:16). In that sense, no one has seen God at any time (1 Jn. 4:12). How then do we explain passages in the Bible where people saw God and did not die? For example, Hagar (Gen. 16:13); Jacob (Gen. 32:30); Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel (Ex. 24:9–11); Gideon (Judg. 6:22, 23); Manoah and his wife (Judg. 13:22); Isaiah (Isa. 6:1); Ezekiel (Ezek. 1:26, cf. 10:20); John (Rev. 1:17).

The answer is that these people saw God as represented by the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes He appeared as the Angel of the Lord (see Judges 6 for a discussion of this doctrine), sometimes as a Man, and once manifested Himself as a Voice (Ex. 24:9–11; cf. Deut. 4:12). The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, has fully declared God (John 1:18). Christ is the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His Person (Heb. 1:3). That is why He could say, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).[2]


19–20 In response to Moses’ request to see God’s “glory,” God says he will “cause all [of his] goodness to pass” before Moses (v. 19). By his “goodness” is meant his whole character and nature. In a later theophany the Lord passed by what may have been the same cleft of the rock (cave) for the discouraged prophet Elijah (1 Ki 19:11).

A further aspect of the revelation of God’s glory is the proclamation of his name. The name of God includes his nature, character, person (Ps 20:1; Lk 24:47; Jn 1:12), doctrine (Ps 22:22; Jn 17:6, 26), and standards of ethical and moral living (Mic 4:5). In this context his name includes his “mercy” (i.e., his “grace”) and his “compassion” (rehem, lit., “womb, bowels,” i.e., deep-seated feelings; GK 8167). Romans 9:15 quotes this verse and applies it to the sovereignty of God. The one restriction of the Lord is that Moses will not be permitted to see the Lord’s face (v. 20). In fact, “no one may see me and live” (v. 20; see Jn 1:18; 6:46; 1 Ti 1:17; 1 Jn 4:12).[3]


33:19 The Lord’s words appear to be a response to Moses’ requests—that the Lord would show him his ways (v. 13) and his glory (v. 18). The description points forward to the event of the Lord’s self-declaration that is to come: “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord’ (see 34:5–6) … I will be gracious … and will show mercy” (see 34:6). Paul cites this in Rom. 9:15 to show that, when God shows mercy, it is because he has chosen to do so.

33:19 God as sovereign works his will in election (Rom. 9:15).[4]


33:19 the name of Yahweh’ Yahweh has already revealed His name to Moses (3:14). In ot theology, the “name” (shem) of God was another way to refer to the person of God Himself (e.g., Isa 24:15; 30:27; Prov 18:10; Psa 75:1).[5]


33:19 my goodness … my name. Though the visible magnificence of this theophany is apparent from the text, the emphasis falls on a revelation to Moses of God’s sovereign, gracious, and compassionate nature (cf. 34:5–7). In Jesus Christ, the glory of the gracious and compassionate God that was withheld even from Moses is displayed to believers through the Spirit (John 1:14; 2 Cor. 3:18).

to whom … on whom. The Lord is sovereign in His purposes of mercy (Rom. 9:14–16). See “Predestination” at Mal. 1:2.[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. 126). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kaiser, W. C., Jr. (2008). Exodus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, pp. 545–546). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 199). 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 (Ex 33:19). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 145). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

April 21 – The Centrality of the Resurrection

“Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.”

Matthew 28:5–6

✧✧✧

The fact of Jesus’ resurrection is the culmination of redemptive history and the essential basis of the Christian faith.

Without the Resurrection, our Christian faith would just be a lot of wishful thinking, no better than human philosophies and speculative religions. In fact, the noted seventeenth–century philosopher John Locke, some of whose ideas were incorporated into the Declaration of Independence, wrote, “Our Saviour’s resurrection is truly of great importance in Christianity, so great that His being or not being the Messiah stands or falls with it.”

From its very early accounts, Scripture has contained the message of resurrection hope. Death has never been the end for the believer, but simply a gateway to eternal life in Heaven. Abraham was ready to sacrifice his only son Isaac because in faith “he considered that God is able to raise men from the dead” (Heb. 11:19). The Lord assured Daniel that believers “will awake … to everlasting life” (Dan. 12:2).

The Resurrection was the focal point of Christ’s teaching to the disciples about His sufferings and death: “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again” (Mark 8:31). It is therefore completely understandable that Matthew and the other three Gospel writers all included an historical account of Jesus’ resurrection in their narratives.

Paul knew that without the Resurrection our salvation could not have been possible. He was also convinced that the truth of the Resurrection must be believed or else salvation cannot be received: “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” (Rom. 10:9).

It’s no wonder that Paul, the other apostles, and every leader in the early church continually proclaimed Christ’s resurrection as the culmination of His ministry. Those men were so captivated by the significance of the Resurrection that they could not help but preach it. And that should be our attitude today.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for the truth of John 11:25, which gives us the hope of resurrection in Jesus’ own words.

For Further Study: Read Acts 2:14–36 or 3:12–26. What is the focal point of Peter’s evangelistic sermons? ✧ How does he prove his theme?[1]


The women were also frightened, but, unlike the soldiers, they received comfort from God’s messenger. Aware of their fright, the angel answered and said to the women, “Do not be afraid.” Perhaps a better translation than answered would be “explained,” because the women, too terrified to speak, had not asked a question.

The soldiers had good reason to be afraid. Not only was the angel’s appearance terrifying in itself but, because they had been charged with protecting the grave, an empty tomb could spell their death. The women, however, had no reason to fear, and the angel’s first words were meant to give them comfort and assurance.

They had not come expecting to find Jesus raised, but in His gracious mercy God overlooked their weak faith and their lack of understanding. Acknowledging their great love, God responded with great love. “I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified;” the angel said to them; “He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said.”

Has risen translates a Greek aorist passive and can also be rendered, “has been raised.” Jesus Himself had power to give up His life and to take it up again (John 10:18). But Scripture makes clear that He also was raised by the power of the Father (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:3) and of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11). The entire Trinity participated in the resurrection of Jesus.

The angel gently reminded the women that Jesus’ resurrection should not surprise them, because it happened just as He said. Luke reports that they then “remembered His words” (24:8).

Next the angel invited the women to come, see the place where He was lying. At this point the women went into the tomb and observed that it was indeed empty. The angel joined them in the tomb and reiterated the same basic message, saying, “Do not be amazed; you are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who has been crucified. He has risen; He is not here; behold, here is the place where they laid Him” (Mark 16:6). Perhaps the message was repeated because the women found it so hard to believe, despite the fact that they now remembered Jesus’ predictions that He would rise on the third day.[2]


28:5, 6 The angel reassured the women that there was nothing for them to fear. The One they sought had risen, as He had promised. “Come, see the place where the Lord lay.” The stone had been rolled away, not to let the Lord out, but to let the women see that He had risen.[3]


5–7 The angel speaks (lit., “answered”; see comments at 11:25) words that allay the women’s fears (cf. Mk 16:5–7; Lk 24:4–8). The empty tomb by itself is capable of several explanations (cf. Jn 20:10–15). This explanatory word of revelation narrows the potential interpretations down to one: Jesus has risen from the dead (v. 6), a truth to be confirmed by personal appearances. In Matthew and Luke, but not in Mark, the fact of Jesus’ resurrection, announced by the angel, is also tied into Jesus’ promises “as he said” (cf. 16:21; 17:23; 20:18–19). This is one of several significant “minor agreements” of Matthew and Luke against Mark in the resurrection narratives. The women are invited to see the place where Jesus lay and commanded to go “quickly” (v. 7, a happy touch) to give his disciples the joyous message. Unlike Mark, Matthew does not explicitly mention Peter.

Jesus had promised to go ahead of his disciples into Galilee (see comments at 26:32); the angel now reminds them of this (v. 7). The present tense proagei (“is going ahead,” GK 4575) cannot mean that Jesus is already on his way, because (1) v. 10 places him still in Jerusalem, and (2) a verb like “go ahead,” if pressed to mean Jesus was actually traveling, “would also seem to presuppose that the disciples also were on the way to Galilee” (Stonehouse, Witness of Matthew, 173). The verb is not a progressive present but a vivid future. As he promised, Jesus will arrive in Galilee before they do and meet them there, contrary to their expectation (see comments at 26:32; 28:10).[4]


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

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

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1311). 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. 658). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 21 – Suffering for Sins

For what the law could not do in that it was weakthrough the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin.

Romans 8:3

When we as believers suffer persecution, criticism, or even death, we are sinners suffering because of the sins of others. Our pain may come from the sins of hatred, anger, envy, or murder.

Christ also suffered for sins, but as the sinless One. First Peter 2:22 says He “committed no sin.” He never thought, said, or did anything evil. Rather, everything He thought, said, and did was perfectly holy. The sins of others placed Him on the cross: of those who mocked Him and those who nailed Him to the cross. He died because of the sins of the whole world.

Today’s verse says that Jesus died “on account of sin.” He suffered as a sin offering because “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). Just as in the Old Testament God required an animal sacrifice to symbolize the need for our atonement for sin, the New Testament presents Christ as the sacrifice who provided not a symbol, but the reality of our eternal atonement for sin.[1]


The Route to Freedom-Substitution

For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, (8:3)

This verse is perhaps the most definitive and succinct statement of the substitutionary atonement to be found in Scripture. It expresses the heart of the gospel message, the wondrous truth that Jesus Christ paid the penalty on behalf of every person who would turn from sin and trust in Him as Lord and Savior.

As in the previous verse, the conjunction for carries the meaning of because and gives an explanation for what has just been stated. Believers are set free from the law of sin and death and are made alive by the law of the Spirit of life because of what Jesus Christ has done for them.

The Law can provoke sin in men and condemn them for it, but it cannot save them from its penalty. “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse,” Paul explained to the Galatians, “for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them’ ” (Gal 3:10). Later in that same chapter he says: “Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law” (3:21). God’s holy law can only set forth the standards of His righteousness and show men how utterly incapable they are in themselves of fulfilling those standards.

Paul has already explained that “this commandment [i.e., the law, v. 9], which was to result in life [if obeyed], proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, deceived me, and through it killed me” (Rom. 7:10–11). When God created man, sin had no place in His creation. But when man fell, the alien power of sin corrupted his very being and condemned him to death, both physical and spiritual. The whole human race was placed under the curse of God. Sin consigned fallen mankind to a divine debtor’s prison, as it were, and the law became his jailer. The law, given as the standard for living under divine blessing and joy, became a killer.

Although it is “holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12), the Law could not save men from sin because it was weak … through the flesh. The sinful corruption of the flesh made the Law powerless to save men. The law cannot make men righteous but can only expose their unrighteousness and condemn them for it. The law cannot make men perfect but can only reveal their great imperfection. As Paul explained in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia, through Jesus Christ “forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and through Him everyone who believes is freed from all things, from which you could not be treed through the Law of Moses” (Acts 13:38–39).

During His incarnation, Jesus was the embodiment of the law of Moses. He alone of all men who have ever lived or will ever live perfectly fulfilled the law of God. “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets,” He said; “I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). During one of His discourses in the Temple, Jesus exposed the sinfulness of the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees, who, by their failure to throw stones at the woman taken in adultery, admitted they were not without sin (John 8:7–9). Later on that same occasion Jesus challenged His enemies to convict Him of any sin, and no one could do so or even tried (v. 46).

Some people, including many professing Christians, believe that they can achieve moral and spiritual perfection by living up to God’s standards by their own power. But James reminds us that “whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10). In other words, even a single sin, no matter how small and no matter when committed, is sufficient to disqualify a person for heaven.

On one occasion a young man came to Jesus and said to Him,

“Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” He said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieved; for he was one who owned much property. (Matt. 19:16–22)

This man was extremely religious. But he demonstrated that, despite his diligence in obeying the commandments, he failed to keep the two greatest commandments-to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and to “ ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments,” Jesus went on to say, “depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37–40). The young man who came to Jesus was self-centered, selfish, and materialistic. His love for himself surpassed his love for God and for his fellow man. Consequently, his meticulous religious living counted for absolutely nothing before God.

God’s law commands righteousness, but it cannot provide the means to achieve that righteousness. Therefore, what the law was unable to do for fallen man, God Himself did. The law can condemn the sinner, but only God can condemn and destroy sin, and that is what He has done on behalf of those who trust in His Son-by His coming to earth in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin.

Jesus said, “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever; and the bread also which I shall give for the life of the world is My flesh” (John 6:51). In His incarnation Jesus was completely a man, fully incarnated. But He was only in the likeness of, in the outward appearance of, sinful flesh. Although Paul does not here specifically mention Jesus’ sinlessness, his phrasing carefully guards that profound truth.

Jesus was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). If He had not been both fully human and fully sinless, He could not have offered an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sins of the world. If Jesus had not Himself been without sin, He not only could not have made a sacrifice for fallen mankind but would have needed to have a sacrifice made on His own behalf. Jesus resisted every temptation of Satan and denied sin any part in His earthly life. Sin was compelled to yield its supremacy in the flesh to the Victor, whereby Jesus Christ became sovereign over sin and its consequence, death.

Those who trust in Christ not only are saved from the penalty of sin but also are able for the first time to fulfill God’s righteous standards. The flesh of a believer is still weak and subject to sin, but the inner person is remade in the image of Christ and has the power through His Spirit to resist and overcome sin. No Christian will be perfected during his earthly life, but he has no excuse for sinning, because he has God’s own power to resist sin. John assures believers that “greater is He [the Holy Spirit] who is in you than he [Satan] who is in the world” (1 John 4:4). As Paul has already declared, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life,” that is, be kept saved and protected from sin’s domination (Rom. 5:10).

Speaking of His impending crucifixion, Jesus said, “Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world shall be cast out” (John 12:31). In other words, by His death on the cross Christ condemned and conquered both sin and Satan. He bore the fury of God’s wrath on all sin, and in doing so broke sin’s power over those whose trust is in His giving of Himself as an offering for sin on their behalf. By trusting in Jesus Christ, those who formerly were children of Satan become children of God, those who were targets of God’s wrath become recipients of His grace. On the cross Jesus broke sin’s power and assigned sin to its final destruction. God “made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). Christ was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28).

Jesus’ teaching, miracles, and sinless life were of great importance in His earthly ministry. But His supreme purpose in coming to earth was to be an offering for sin. Without the sacrifice of Himself for the sins of the world, everything else Jesus did would have left men in their sins, still separated from God.

To teach that men can live a good life by following Jesus’ example is patronizing foolishness. To try to follow Jesus’ perfect example without having His own life and Spirit within us is even more impossible and frustrating than trying to fulfill the Mosaic law. Jesus’ example cannot save us but instead further demonstrates the impossibility of saving ourselves by our own efforts at righteousness.

The only hope men have for salvation from their sin is in their trust in the offering for sin that Christ Himself made at Calvary. And when He became that offering, He took upon Himself the penalty of death for the sins of all mankind. In his commentary on Romans, the nineteenth-century Scottish evangelist Robert Haldane wrote, “We see the Father assume the place of judge against His Son, in order to become the Father of those who were His enemies. The Father condemns the Son of His love, that He may absolve the children of wrath” (Exposition of Romans, p. 324).

Jesus Christ condemned sin in the flesh. Whereas sin once condemned the believer, now Christ his Savior condemns sin, delivering the believer from sires power and penalty. The law condemns sin in the sense of exposing it for what it really is and in the sense of declaring its penalty of death. But the law is unable to condemn sin in the sense of delivering a sinner from his sinfulness or in the sense of overpowering sin and consigning it to its ultimate destruction. Only the Lord Jesus Christ was able to do that, and it is that amazing truth that inspired Paul to exult, “ ‘O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 15:55–57).

The prophet Isaiah eloquently predicted the sacrifice of the incarnate Christ, saying,

Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due? (Isa. 53:4–8)[2]


8:3 The law could never get people to fulfill its sacred requirements, but grace has succeeded where law failed. Let us see how!

The law could not produce holy living because it was weak through the flesh. The trouble was not with the law but with fallen human nature. The law spoke to men who were already sinners and who were without strength to obey. But God intervened by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh. Take careful notice that the Lord Jesus did not come in sinful flesh itself but in “the likeness of” sinful flesh. He did no sin (1 Pet. 2:22), He knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21), and there was no sin in Him (1 Jn. 3:5). But by coming into the world in human form, He resembled sinful humanity. As a sacrifice for sin, Christ condemned sin in the flesh. He died not only for the sins which we commit (1 Pet. 3:18) but also for our sin nature. In other words, He died for what we are just as much as for what we have done. In so doing, He condemned sin in the flesh. Our sin nature is never said to be forgiven; it is condemned. It is the sins that we have committed that are forgiven.[3]


3 But how was this freedom gained? The opening statement here about the powerlessness of the law because of the weakness of the sinful nature to which its commands are addressed is an obvious reminder of the major thrust of ch. 7. The problem is not caused by something intrinsic to the law but is rather the result of the flesh and sin. The law makes demands, and it condemns when those demands are not met, but it cannot overcome sin. This inability of the law necessitated another solution, namely, the personal action of God in Christ. God thus sent “his own Son.” The mission could not be entrusted to anyone else or anyone less than his Son. While the preexistence of the Son is not formally taught here, it is implied (as it is in the gospel of John, where the sending of the Son is often mentioned; cf. e.g., Jn 3:17; 7:33; 17:18; 20:21; also Gal 4:4; 1 Jn 4:14). Taken together, vv. 2–3 can be seen to contain Trinitarian implications and bear a close resemblance to Galatians 4:4–6, where Father, Son, and Spirit are also pictured as involved in the mission of Christ.

The Son was sent “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (en homoiōmati sarkos hamartias, NASB). Paul exercises great care in the choice of words here. He does not say “in sinful flesh,” lest the Son’s sinlessness (cf. 2 Co 5:21) be compromised, nor “in the likeness of flesh,” which would convey a docetic idea and thereby deny the reality of the humanity of Jesus, making it only an appearance of corporeality.

So much for Christ’s person. What about his work? “To be a sin offering” (NIV; NASB, “as an offering for sin”) expresses the purpose of his coming. The proper translation of the phrase peri hamartias (lit., “for sin”) is a matter of some controversy. Since the phrase is used regularly in the LXX for “sin offering,” the NIV’s “sin offering” is a possible rendering (cf. the similar point made in the language of 2 Co 5:21: “made him … to be sin”). But this may not be what Paul intends to say, since he does not surround the expression with sacrificial language. And if it were his intent to stress expiation, we might expect the use of the word “offering” or “sacrifice.” If we translate literally, “for sin,” we can conclude that Paul is simply stating broadly that the mission of Christ was to deal effectively with sin, thereby making possible among his people the type of life presented in the following verse. This includes expiation but also goes beyond it.

Possibly the words “he condemned sin in the flesh” (NASB) are to be correlated with “through the flesh” (NASB; NIV, “by the sinful nature”) at the beginning of the verse, so that what is in view is the judgment of sinful humanity (cf. NIV. “so he condemned sin in sinful man”). However, since “flesh” can be used of Christ apart from any sinful connotation (e.g., Col 1:22), it is also possible to refer the phrase to the corporeality of Jesus (so Schweizer, TDNT 7:133) and in particular his sacrificial death on the cross. Stuhlmacher, 120, observes, “As a result, with the condemnation of Jesus, sin brought God’s judgment upon itself in its most inherent sphere of power, the flesh.” This brings the teaching in line with 6:5–11. The viewpoint is well expressed by Murray, 282:

In that same nature which in all others was dominated and directed by sin, God condemned sin and overthrew its power. Jesus not only blotted out sin’s guilt and brought us nigh to God. He also vanquished sin as power and set us free from its enslaving dominion. And this could not have been done except in the “flesh.” The battle was joined and the triumph secured in that same flesh which in us is the seat and agent of sin.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 126). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (pp. 405–409). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1708–1709). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 129–130). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.