Daily Archives: April 24, 2017

April 24, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Apr. 24, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

Trump’s biggest demand is a Democratic deal-breaker: money for his long-promised border wall with Mexico. Democrats hope he’ll blink to avoid an embarrassing milestone for a new president trying to prove he can govern. A partial shutdown would start on Saturday, Trump’s 100th day in office.

Former President Obama is set to hold the first public event of his post-presidential life in the place where he started his political career. Obama will speak Monday at the University of Chicago, where his presidential library is planned. College students from around the Chicago area are expected to attend. The invitation-only event is being billed as part of his post-presidency goal to “encourage and support the next generation of leaders.”

Afghanistan’s defense minister and the chief of army staff resigned on Monday, three days after more than 140 soldiers were killed in the Taliban’s deadliest assault in 16 years.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has hired President Obama’s former deputy chief of staff Jim Messina for her election campaign, reuniting the winning team behind David Cameron’s unexpected victory two years ago.

The richest people in the U.S. aren’t just getting several years of extra life, they’re also reaping a financial reward for their longevity – courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer. These trends will be crucial as the new administration and Congress consider any changes to Social Security, Medicare, and other programs. Even tweaks to these programs, from the retirement age to benefit formulas, could affect the rich and poor very differently.

A health-care company founded by the world’s richest doctor is struggling to get paid for an $11,000 diagnostic test, the latest challenge to the billionaire’s quest to conquer cancer.

Gold futures fell to the lowest in almost two weeks and bullion mining stocks sank as investors favored riskier assets on expectations that Emmanuel Macron will become France’s next president.

Israeli airstrikes killed an unknown number of Syrian soldiers at a weapons depot in rural Quneitra province, Al Jazeera TV reported.

AP Top Stories

Workers in New Orleans removed the first of four prominent Confederate monuments Monday morning, making the city the latest Southern institution to sever itself from symbols viewed by many as a representation of racism and white supremacy.

North Korea is trying to show strength at home by detaining another U.S. citizen, as overall Chinese pressure on the regime is “working,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said this morning.

Millions across Florida are under moderate or severe drought alert as fires rage across the state’s western coast.

Eight days after the U.S. military dropped its largest ever conventional bomb on suspected Islamic State fighters in eastern Afghanistan, Taliban militants breached an army base in the north of the country and killed scores of local soldiers.

North Korea said on Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a U.S. carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific.

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman issued a royal decree on Saturday restoring financial allowances for civil servants and military personnel that had been cut under austerity measures.

The revered Icelandic language, seen by many as a source of identity and pride, is being undermined by the widespread use of English, both for mass tourism and in the voice-controlled artificial intelligence devices coming into vogue. Linguistics experts, studying the future of a language spoken by fewer than 400,000 people in an increasingly globalized world, wonder if this is the beginning of the end for the Icelandic tongue.

A federal lawsuit was filed recently against the Mercer County, West Virginia Board of Education, challenging a Bible program in the elementary schools. The plaintiffs are the Freedom From Religion Foundation and two parents and their children. The Bible class was listed as an elective, but almost all students enrolled. The complaint alleges that the few who opted out were harassed and discriminated against. One of the plaintiffs in the case had already suffered harassment.

Pope Francis urged governments on Saturday to get migrants and refugees out of holding centers, saying many had become “concentration camps”.

BBC

The world’s first vaccine against malaria will be introduced in three countries – Ghana, Kenya and Malawi – starting in 2018.

Ten people have been killed in Venezuelan pro- and anti-government demonstrations this month so far. Another 11 people died on Friday when a bakery was looted in Caracas.

The recent rise in piracy off the Somali coast has been partially fuelled by drought and famine, a top US army officer has said.

Suspected Maoists have killed 24 policemen in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh, in one of the biggest attacks by the rebels in recent years.

A law which protected Jordan’s rapists from punishment if they married their victims looks set to be scrapped. The law had meant rapists could avoid a jail term in return for marrying their victim for at least three years.

WND

Federal agents arrested a second doctor and his wife Friday in a widening conspiracy involving female genital mutilation and members of a Muslim sect. The arrests are the latest development in the nation’s first female genital mutilation case, which is providing insight into a small, insular Muslim community in Metro Detroit and an illegal procedure performed on young girls.


The Briefing 04-24-17

How should evangelicals respond to Russia’s ban of Jehovah’s Witnesses as “extremist group”?

Why is the atheistic regime in communist China concerned about the reincarnation of the Dalai Lama?

Theology matters: TIME reports Mormon leader is urging more baptisms on behalf of the dead

The post The Briefing 04-24-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 4/24/2017

Trump discusses North Korea tensions with Asian leaders
President Trump talked to leaders of both China and Japan on Monday as tensions on the Korean Peninsula have boiled over and North Korea appears ready for an ICBM launch.

North Korea threatens to sink US aircraft carrier
The North Korean regime threatened a US supercarrier on Sunday, pledging to sink the 100,000 ton behemoth “with a single strike”. The USS Carl Vinson, a Nimitz-class nuclear powered carrier, was ordered to the Korean coast by President Trump after an attempted North Korean ballistic missile test.

‘EU is in trouble’ Diehard eurosceptics clinch HALF the vote in France despite Macron win
EUROPE was today facing a popularity crisis in France despite Emmanuel Macron’s first round election win, with figures showing that half of voters backed openly eurosceptic candidates.

Bill Nye Makes A False Claim About The US Constitution — Again
“So if you’re a politician looking to derail the progress of science, I think you’re not doing your job,” Nye said. And, like last time, he’s 100 percent incorrect.

Report: Anti-Semitic incidents in U.S. up 86 percent in 2017
The civil rights organization said its audit indicated that 541 incidents — including vandalism, harassment and assaults — occurred in the first quarter of the year, a 34 percent increase over 2015, which had a total of 1,266 incidents. Nearly 30 percent of 2016’s incidents occurred in November and December, and the audit included 161 bomb threats against Jewish community centers and other institutions.

In Surprising Shift, Lebanon Seeks Permanent Ceasefire With Israel
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri asked the United Nations Friday for help in forging a permanent cease-fire with Israel. “I urge the U.N. secretary-general to support efforts to secure, as soon as possible, a state of permanent ceasefire. This is long overdue and my government is committed to move this agenda forward,” Hariri said, Reuters reported.

Biden Used False Data to Smear Marine Corps Over Armored Vehicle Request from Iraq
The documents and emails show the Democrat-driven public accounts accusing the Marines of failing to protect their troops by delaying requests for armored vehicles between February 2005 until September 2006 were false and misleading.

Catholic scientists converge in Chicago to ask big questions
Barrow will discuss his views on the origin and evolution of universes, while Berwick will speak on the ideas he and Prof. Noam Chomsky have developed on the beginnings of human language…The Society of Catholic Scientists has several hundred members. These include top researchers in such astrobiology, evolutionary theory and super-string theory.

End the Income Tax
This weekend, President Trump tweeted that a: “Big TAX REFORM AND TAX REDUCTION will be announced [on] Wednesday.” This is great news. However, as we go through the process of improving the tax code, we must encourage our politicians to do two things:

Worldwide Volcano News and Updates:
Volcanoes Today, 24 Apr 2017: Shiveluch volcano, Sinabung, Sabancaya, Bagana, Langila, Manam, Nishino-shima, Kambalny

‘US antisemitic incidents jump 86% at start of 2017
Antisemitic incidents in the United States surged by 34 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, and have jumped 86 percent in the first quarter of 2017, new data released by the Anti-Defamation League on Monday showed. In its annual ‘Audit of Antisemitic Incidents’, the ADL reported that there has been a “massive increase” in the amount of harassment of American Jews, particularly since November, the month of the US presidential election.

Germany is a hotbed of Iranian spy activity that targets Israel
The German Interior Ministry notified a Left Party deputy last week that agents from Iran have been some of the most active spies in the Federal Republic between 2007 and 2017, including assassination attempts on Israel advocates. German authorities conducted criminal investigations into Iran for 22 cases of espionage, while Russia’s illicit spy activity led with 27 cases. China and Turkey both registered 15 spy cases. Syrian agents were involved in 8 espionage operations.

French election: Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen to fight for presidency
Centrist Emmanuel Macron has gone through to the second round of the French election, where he will face far-right leader Marine Le Pen. Mr Macron, a former banker, is seen as a political newcomer – and ran without the backing of an established party. After topping Sunday’s vote, he is now favourite to win the run-off on 7 May.

Article 308: Jordan scraps marriage loophole for rapists
A law which protected rapists from punishment if they married their victims has been scrapped in Jordan. The Jordanian cabinet revoked Article 308 on Sunday, after years of campaigning by women’s activists, as well as Muslim and Christian scholars and others. The law had meant rapists could avoid a jail term in return for marrying their victim for at least three years.

North Korea ‘ready to sink’ US aircraft carrier Vinson
North Korea is “ready to sink” a US aircraft carrier heading for the peninsula, state media have said. A commentary in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper warned that the USS Carl Vinson could be sunk “with a single strike”. A battle group headed by the Vinson is expected off the peninsula this week.

Trump to set new executive orders on environment, energy this week
U.S. President Donald Trump this week will sign new executive orders before he completes his first 100 days in office, including two on energy and the environment, which would make it easier for the United States to develop energy on and offshore, a White House official said on Sunday. “This builds on previous executive actions that have cleared the way for job-creating pipelines, innovations in energy production, and reduced unnecessary burden on energy producers,” the official said on condition of anonymity.

Pope likens refugee centers to ‘concentration camps’
Pope Francis has drawn a rebuke from the American Jewish Committee after he likened European refugee centers to “concentration camps.”

North Korea is said to detain another US citizen
North Korea has detained a US citizen, the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang and a university chancellor said Sunday, raising the number of Americans thought to be held by the secretive nation to three.

Outrage After At Least 5 EU Nations Elect Saudi Arabia On UN Women’s Rights Council
“Saudi discrimination against women is gross and systematic in law and in practice. Every Saudi woman must have a male guardian who makes all critical decisions on her behalf, controlling a woman’s life from her birth until death. Saudi Arabia bans women from driving cars,” he continued. “Why did the UN choose the world’s leading promoter of gender inequality to sit on its gender equality commission?”

How Did NY Gov. Cuomo Make $783,000 From A Book That Sold Only 3,200 Copies?
The New York governor received a total of $783,000 from News Corp.-owned HarperCollins in book sales over the past three years; a number that would translate to royalty payments of nearly $244.69 per copy. On Wednesday, the book was selling on Amazon for $8.45.

Is It Time to Break Up Google?
In just 10 years, the world’s five largest companies by market capitalization have all changed, save for one: Microsoft. Exxon Mobil, General Electric, Citigroup and Shell Oil are out and Apple, Alphabet (the parent company of Google), Amazon and Facebook have taken their place.

UC Berkeley students threaten to sue over Ann Coulter visit
Students at the University of California at Berkeley who invited conservative commentator Ann Coulter to speak on campus are threatening to sue the university if it does not find a proper time and venue for her to speak next week.


Official Harvard Guide: Gender Can ‘Change From Day to Day’

The bastion of liberalism, Harvard University, wants students to believe that a person’s gender is “fluid.”  Fox News Insider has the story:

The office of BGLTQ Student Life at Harvard University has released a guide that says for some people, gender identity can “change from day to day.”

The school-sponsored flier, which was distributed to students on the elite Ivy League campus, said for some “gender is fluid and changing,” and it “can be affirmed and/or expressed in many ways.”

View article →


11 Facts That Prove That The U.S. Economy In 2017 Is In Far Worse Shape Than It Was In 2016

There is much debate about where the U.S. economy is ultimately heading, but what everybody should be able to agree on is that economic conditions are significantly worse this year than they were last year.  It is being projected that U.S. economic growth for the first quarter will be close to zero, thousands of retail stores are closing, factory output is falling, and restaurants and automakers have both fallen on very hard times.  As economic activity has slowed down, commercial and consumer bankruptcies are both rising at rates that we have not seen since the last financial crisis.  Everywhere you look there are echoes of 2008, and yet most people still seem to be in denial about what is happening.  The following are 11 facts that prove that the U.S. economy in 2017 is in far worse shape than it was in 2016… (Read More…)


Mid-Day Snapshot

Apr. 24, 2017

Howard Dean Really Hates ‘Hate Speech’

He and other leftists want to set their own limits for the kind of speech the First Amendment protects.

The Foundation

“Speak seldom, but to important subjects, except such as particularly relate to your constituents, and, in the former case, make yourself perfectly master of the subject.” —George Washington (1787)


Today’s BIG NINE News Brief from Against Crony Capitalism (4-24-2017)

Macron vs. Le Pen — meet the next president of France (CNBC)

Congress returns as Trump pressures Democrats ahead of funding deadline (Reuters)

China Calls for Restraint on North Korea as USS Carl Vinson arrives  (NBC)

Pentagon chief arrives in Afghanistan (The Hill)

Risk Back On as French Vote Ripples Across Markets (Bloomberg)

U.S. Weighs More Aid for Saudis in Yemen to Move Nation Toward Political Solution (The Washington Free Beacon)

Rare copy of Declaration of Independence found in England (CBS)

Democrats, Don’t You Ever Change (Townhall)

Bill Cunningham To Stephanopoulos: “Disconnect Among Real People Who Live In America And Coastal Elites” (Real Clear Politics) “Elites” must always be put in quotes in this context.


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 24

  • French election relief sends Europe soaring (Read More)
  • Gloves off as Le Pen and Macron pitch for final battle (Read More)
  • French Runoff Creates Fresh Political Divisions (Read More)
  • U.S. Government Shutdown May Hinge on Trump’s Demand for Mexico Wall (Read More)
  • Congress returns as Trump pressures Democrats ahead of funding deadline (Read More)
  • The Rich Are Living Longer and Taking More From Taxpayers (Read More)
  • Mattis Pays Surprise Visit to Kabul (Read More)
  • Bomb attack hits U.S. base in eastern Afghanistan (Read More)
  • The Electric Car Revolution Now Faces Its Biggest Test (Read More)
  • States Seek to Blunt Insurers’ Costs in Bid to Shore Up Health Exchanges (Read More)
  • Top Iron Ore Forecaster Says Prices Will Sink Back Below $50 (Read More)
  • Billionaire Doctor’s $11,000 Cancer Test Has Few Takers So Far (Read More)
  • ‘Apartheid Without the Racism’: How China Keeps Rural Folks Down (Read More)
  • German Business Confidence Climbs to Highest Since July 2011 (Read More)
  • Goldman Got Burned by These Debts in Rare Trading Miss (Read More)
  • How a $1.4 Billion ETF Gold Rush Rattled Mining Stocks Around the World (Read More)
  • PPG Again Raises Bid For Akzo Nobel (Read More)
  • Akzo to Consider PPG’s Sweetened $29 Billion Takeover Offer (Read More)
  • IBM Says CEO Pay Is $33 Million. Others Say It Is Far Higher (Read More)
  • U.S., Philippines scale back next month’s military drills, no more ‘war games’ (Read More)
  • Samsung to Issue Galaxy S8 Software Updates After Complaints (Read More)
  • Local, global security firms in race along China’s ‘Silk Road’ (Read More)
  • China clamps down on excess steel as Japan decries Trump ‘protectionism’ (Read More)

Featured Blogs


Top Headlines – 4/24/2017

Rivlin says world must maintain its humanity, as Israel marks Holocaust day

Israel PM issues Holocaust day warning threatening to destroy those who call for the destruction of Israel

Netanyahu: Allies could have saved 4 million Jews if they’d bombed death camps in 1942

The Holocaust: Who are the missing million?

Alone in life, some Holocaust survivors pass with no one to bury them

Germany is a hotbed of Iranian spy activity that targets Israel

Without naming Iran, Trump says threats by regime to destroy Israel musn’t be ignored

Iranian candidate says nuclear deal failed to lift sanctions

Fatah calls for Palestinian ‘Day of Rage’ against Israel

Palestinian officials head to US to prepare for Abbas visit

Israel-China construction deal reportedly bans settlements

UN chief vows to stand up against anti-Israel bias, anti-Semitism

Report: Global antisemitism drops 12%, but surges by 45% on US campuses

French Jews worried over Le Pen’s success in presidential vote’s 1st round

Russian chief rabbi: France’s Jews should leave if Le Pen wins election

Israeli soldier stabbed at Qalandiya checkpoint

Tel Aviv stabber was in Israel on one-day ‘peace’ pass, official says – Israel freezes some permits for Palestinians after 4 hurt in attack

Israel re-opens Sinai crossing, keeps travel warning in place

Pro-Assad militia base targeted in alleged Israel airstrike

Despite chemical attack, UN chief congratulates Assad on Syrian independence day

Civilian casualties from airstrikes grow in Iraq and Syria. But few are ever investigated

Al Qaeda chief urges jihadists to use guerrilla tactics in Syria

Taliban’s surprise attack forced 30 coalition troops to ‘shelter in place’

‘Not enough coffins’ after deadly Taliban attack on Afghanistan army base

Suspected US drone strike kills three al-Qaida operatives in Yemen

Incidents of Piracy on Upswing Off Somalia, Prompting Concern

Outrage After At Least 5 EU Nations Elect Saudi Arabia On UN Women’s Rights Council

American monitor killed in Ukraine when mine hits vehicle

Philippine president says he can be 50 times more brutal than terrorists

Minister: China wants nuclear weapons eliminated in Korea

North Korea detains US citizen as tensions rise

More Venezuelans struggle in US as their country implodes

At least 35 killed in drug violence across Mexico: officials

Sessions: Erroneous tax credits to ‘mostly Mexicans’ could pay for wall

Trump to Insist on Border Wall Funding as Budget Deadline Looms

Trump and his aides take hard line on border wall, as threat of government shutdown looms

Congress returns, aiming to avert government shutdown, pass ObamaCare overhaul

A new era of trust busting to target Google?

Space May Be Next Frontier for Earth’s Crude Oil Giants

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Valparaiso, Chile

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Cipatujah Selatan, Indonesia

Magnitude-3.6 earthquake rattles California coast near Santa Barbara

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

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

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Kambalny volcano in in Russia erupts to 10,000ft

Wildfires rage across Florida, destroying homes and displacing thousands

Dry pattern to worsen drought, brush fires across Florida into May

Bloomberg to world leaders: Ignore Trump on climate

Harvard University LGBT Fact Sheet Claims Gender Can ‘Change Day to Day’

How Facebook is planning to eliminate the revenge porn problem

The Sufficiency of Scripture

Jackie Alnor – Heaven Hopping Televangelists

Phil Pringle – God’s Word confirms that you are a false prophet….

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and 4 leaders surrender at State Courts to start jail terms

Bethel church, city officials defend $500,000 donation

Chris Hill Officially Resigns As Pastor Of Potter’s House Denver And Has Legally Separated From His Wife

Damning Doctrines: The Orthodox Church’s Denial of Christ’s Imputed Righteousness

18 spectacularly wrong predictions from the original “Earth Day”

Muslim Man Who Threatened Christians in Facebook Video Arrested on Terrorism Charge

Muslim Extremists Destroy Pastor’s Farm, Church Building in Eastern Uganda

Christian Missionary Groups Complete 28-Year Project to Create Kurdish Language Bible

Renewed Zika outbreak feared on Texas border

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 06:43 AM PDT

As warmer weather approaches and mosquito seasons take flight, health professionals are warning that a Zika outbreak in the Rio Grande Valley at the southernmost…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

How the Turkish Referendum Fits Into End-Times Prophecies

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 06:35 AM PDT

Is the Turkish Referendum a deal with the devil and a major sign of the end times?  Perhaps, according to sources on the ground, as…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Holocaust Survivor’s Stunning Message About the Power of Forgiveness

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 06:21 AM PDT

A Holocaust survivor who was awarded by the governor of Indiana for her advocacy work and her stunning willingness to forgive her Nazi captors delivered a passionate, must-read…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Pastor Mentored by T.D. Jakes Resigns, Separates from Wife

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 06:17 AM PDT

A pastor formally mentored by Bishop T.D. Jakes has officially resigned, according to a statement released by The Potter’s House of Denver on Facebook. Pastor…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christians to Blame for ‘Virtually All of Our Cultural Problems

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 06:13 AM PDT

Popular conservative Christian columnist Matt Walsh, best known for his work published on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze, says Christians are to blame for the rise…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PLO leader says stability, security, and peace in Mideast dependent on ending Israeli ‘occupation.’

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 06:08 AM PDT

Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said the “state of Palestine” bases its stance on international law and legitimacy, and sees the international community…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PSALM 83 WATCH: Palestinian Jihadist Claims Islamic State Planning to Encircle Israel’s Borders

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 06:02 AM PDT

The Islamic State group is determined to move closer to Israel’s borders, Gaza-based Palestinian jihadist and IS supporter Abu Baker Almaqdesi told Breitbart Jerusalem in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

31% of Americans view Russia as ‘greatest danger’ to US, highest rate in 3 decades

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 05:50 AM PDT

Answering an open-ended question, 31 percent of Americans said Russia currently represents the “greatest danger” to the US, according to a new poll. It is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Orleans begins to take down prominent Confederate monuments

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 05:46 AM PDT

New Orleans began removing the first of four prominent Confederate monuments under the cover of darkness early Monday, the latest Southern institution to sever itself…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Warns North Korea to cease ‘destabilizing actions and rhetoric’

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 05:39 AM PDT

With tensions rising between the US and North Korea, the Pentagon on Sunday called for the isolated communist nation to avoid destabilizing the situation further….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Japan Sees Spike In Nuclear Shelters and Purifiers as North Korea Tension Mounts

Posted: 24 Apr 2017 05:35 AM PDT

Sales of nuclear shelters and radiation-blocking air purifiers have surged in Japan in recent weeks as North Korea has pressed ahead with missile tests in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Earthquake shakes Up Lancaster County in Pennsylvania; no reports of damage

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 04:48 PM PDT

A 2.3 magnitude earthquake shook Lancaster County Sunday afternoon. Lancaster County-Wide Communications was flooded with calls from various parts of the county after the brief…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Implants will unlock some hidden human potential – or do irreparable damage to our existence

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 04:35 PM PDT

Scifi writer Jon Wallace considers whether implants will unlock some hidden human potential – or do irreparable damage to our existence Last month, The Engineer reported on progress…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: Conflict With North Korea Inevitable Warns British Admiral

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 04:28 PM PDT

Kim Jong-un’s campaign to develop a nuclear missile to strike the East Coast of the US is driving the two powers towards an inevitable conflict,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Man Who Identifies as Woman Sues State of Idaho Over Refusal to Change Birth Certificate

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 04:23 PM PDT

A man who identifies as a woman has filed a lawsuit against the state of Idaho over its refusal to change his birth certificate from…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

11 Facts That Prove That The U.S. Economy In 2017 Is In Far Worse Shape Than It Was In 2016

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 04:17 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) There is much debate about where the U.S. economy is ultimately heading, but what everybody should be able to agree on…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Twin earthquakes shake western Turkey

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 04:13 PM PDT

Two mid-size earthquakes, 200 km away and 1 hour apart, shook western Turkey causing widespread anxiety. Some 100 km away from the closest shock, In…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Socially Accepted But Immoral Lifestyles’ In The Church Will Be Exposed And ‘Judgment Starts Now’

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 04:08 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) Judgment begins in the House of God, and those that are playing around with sin need to stop before it is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Americans Drowning in Trillion Dollars of Credit Card Debt

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 04:03 PM PDT

Rising credit card interest rates are pushing Americans deeper into a long-term debt trap. Americans now owe $1 trillion in credit card debt, with an…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Significant earthquake swarm happening near the coast of Valparaiso, Chile

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 03:58 PM PDT

A series of moderate to strong earthquakes were registered near the coast of Valparaiso, Chile on April 22 and 23, 2017. EMSC is reporting at…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

3.7 magnitude earthquake strikes Colorado with tremors felt 200 miles away

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 03:55 PM PDT

A 3.7 magnitude earthquake struck northwestern Colorado late Saturday morning at 11:48 a.m. MDT. The rumbling sounded like an explosion. Everything was rattling even 200…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Most First-Time Visitors Decide if They’ll Return to Your Church in the First 10 Minutes

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 03:49 PM PDT

(By Carey Nieuwhof) It’s hard to believe, but according to people who study these things, first-time guests to your church make up their minds whether…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

65 Test Positive for TB at Texas Border Senior Center

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 03:44 PM PDT

An uncomfortably high number of positive tests results for tuberculosis came back to a west Texas border senior day care center, putting city health officials…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Harvard Guide Says Gender Can ‘Change From Day to Day’

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 10:38 AM PDT

The office of BGLTQ Student Life at Harvard University has released a guide that says for some people, gender identity can “change from day to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Muslim Man Charged After Revealing Guns Outside Christian Conference

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 10:31 AM PDT

It now appears that charges have been made! On April 21 South Dakota State Attorney General Marty Jackley announced charges of terrorism threats against Ehab…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

France Begins Historic Presidential Vote In Test For Populism!

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 10:20 AM PDT

Amid heightened security, French voters began casting ballots for their next president Sunday in a first-round poll that’s being seen as a litmus test for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea warns ‘GREAT WAR’ coming as US strike force just Days away

Posted: 23 Apr 2017 10:15 AM PDT

North Korea has promised a “great war” is coming as the US’s aircraft carrier-led strike force closes in on Kim Jong-un. The tyrant continues to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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Three Keys to Abide in Christ

“Abide in me, and I in you.” (John 15:4)

Christianity is about far more than holding right beliefs or adopting right behaviors. At salvation, we enter into a union with God that changes our legal status. We have right standing with God now. We have a righteousness that comes by faith, and that faith justifies us (Philippians 3:7-9; Romans 3:21-26, 5:1).

But we have more. We also have communion with God. We have access to a life-giving, soul-thrilling, joy-producing communion with God through Christ (1 John 1:3; John 15:11). The Christian faith is about union and communion with Jesus.

Union with Christ without communion with Christ is joyless Christianity.


Union with Christ without communion with Christ is joyless Christianity.
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Our hearts should desire this intimate relationship. We should long for this fellowship with God. David reflects this posture when he prays, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water” (Psalm 63:1). David earnestly seeks God. His soul thirsts for God. There is desperation. There is urgency. Oh, to have a heart that echoes his!

Do we seek God like this? Do we desire God in this manner? Is there any part of David’s cry that you recognize in your heart?

Jesus Invites You to Abide

In John’s Gospel, Jesus teaches his disciples about this communion. He informs them that he has already made them clean (John 15:3), and has pronounced them clean during the upper room foot washing (John 13:10-11). This ceremony wasn’t pointing to Jesus’ hyper-aversion to dirty feet; it was a symbolic display of his incarnation, atoning sacrifice, resurrection, and ascension. This is why he declared them clean, with the exception of Judas (a clear indication dirty feet was not the idea).

Jesus says this hours before going to the cross to bear their sins and make them clean. So Jesus’ declaration in John 15:3 is a statement of legal status.

He follows this with the command “abide in me, and I in you” (John 15:4). To “abide” is a verb. It is active. Abiding in Christ is not a feeling or a belief, but something we do. It means to “remain” or “stay” and entails far more than the idea of continued belief in the Savior.

John 15:5 further illustrates this abiding relationship with a parallel relationship of a vine and a branch. We (the branches) are to be connected to him (the Vine) for our life and sustenance. Only in him can we bear fruit.

What the Saints Say

But how? What does it look like to abide in Christ daily? A few descriptions from other godly saints help us get a picture:

John Piper

John Piper says, “Hour-by-hour abiding in Jesus means hour-by-hour trusting him to meet all your needs and be all our treasure.[1]

J.C. Ryle

J.C. Ryle explains, “To abide in Christ means to keep up a habit of constant close communion with Him–to be always leaning on Him, resting on Him, pouring out our hearts to Him, and using Him as our Fountain of life and strength, as our chief Companion and best Friend. To have His words abiding in us, is to keep His sayings and precepts continually before our memories and minds, and to make them the guide of our actions and the rule of our daily conduct and behavior.”[2]

John Owen

John Owen exhorts, “Would a soul continually eye His everlasting tenderness and compassion, His thoughts of kindness that have been from of old, His present gracious acceptance, it could not bear an hour’s absence from Him; whereas now, perhaps, it cannot watch with Him one hour.”[3]

Three Keys to Abiding

Abiding has a continual, hour-by-hour nature to it, a constant looking to Jesus through the Scriptures. If we could avoid gospel-amnesia and remember his grace, we could barely stand an hour’s absence from him. These saints give incredible definitions to help us grasp abiding in Christ. Here’s mine:

To abide in Christ daily requires dependence upon the Holy Spirit in which we do three things:

  • Walk by faith
  • Spend focused time
  • Engage in intentional actions

We daily preach the gospel to ourselves (walk by faith); plan to abide throughout our days (focused time); and read Scripture, pray, live in community with others, and fight sin (intentional actions). We do this as we live dependent upon the Holy Spirit to bring us closer to Christ.

To be “in Christ” means to have a new legal standing and a new relational orientation. We do not solely want to be made right with God—we want to be with God. We are new creations in Christ, freed from sin and worldly pursuits to abide in him. And he gives us what we need to pursue this by giving us himself.

Are you eager to say with David, “Earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you?” May the Holy Spirit spark in us a want for more of Christ. May we yearn with holy urgency to know the depths and riches of the love of Christ, grasped through abiding.

[1] John Piper sermon “The New Commandment of Christ” http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-new-commandment-of-christ-love-one-another-as-i-have-loved-you [2] Ryle, John Charles. Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: St. John, Volume 3. p.104 [3] Owen, John. The Works of John Owen, Volume 2. p.32

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Dethroning the Judge

Code: B170424

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

Evolution was introduced as an atheistic alternative to the biblical view of creation. According to evolution, man created God rather than vice versa. The evolutionists’ ultimate agenda is to eliminate faith in God altogether and thereby do away with moral accountability.

Intuition suggests a series of questions to the human mind when we contemplate our origin: Who is in control of the universe? Is there Someone who is sovereign—a Lawgiver? Is there a universal Judge? Is there a transcendent moral standard to live by? Is there Someone to whom we will be accountable? Will there be a final assessment of how we live our lives? Will there be any final judgment?

Those are the very questions evolution was invented to avoid.

Evolution was devised to explain away the God of the Bible—not because evolutionists really believed a Creator was unnecessary to explain how things began, but because they did not want the God of Scripture as their Judge. Marvin L. Lubenow writes,

The real issue in the creation/evolution debate is not the existence of God. The real issue is the nature of God. To think of evolution as basically atheistic is to misunderstand the uniqueness of evolution. Evolution was not designed as a general attack against theism. It was designed as a specific attack against the God of the Bible, and the God of the Bible is clearly revealed through the doctrine of creation. Obviously, if a person is an atheist, it would be normal for him to also be an evolutionist. But evolution is as comfortable with theism as it is with atheism. An evolutionist is perfectly free to choose any god he wishes, as long as it is not the God of the Bible. The gods allowed by evolution are private, subjective, and artificial. They bother no one and make no absolute ethical demands. However, the God of the Bible is the Creator, Sustainer, Savior, and Judge. All are responsible to him. He has an agenda that conflicts with that of sinful humans. For man to be created in the image of God is very awesome. For God to be created in the image of man is very comfortable. [1]

To put it simply, evolution was invented in order to eliminate the God of Genesis and thereby to oust the Lawgiver and obliterate the inviolability of His law. Evolution is simply the latest means our fallen race has devised in order to suppress our innate knowledge and the biblical testimony that there is a God and that we are accountable to Him (cf. Romans 1:28). By embracing evolution, modern society aims to do away with morality, responsibility, and guilt. Society has embraced evolution with such enthusiasm because people imagine that it eliminates the Judge and leaves them free to do whatever they want without guilt and without consequences.

It’s important to remember that evolutionary theories (e.g., favorable mutation, millions of years) did not arise from honest scientific inquiry—evolution is science with an agenda. Evolution began and continues in rebellion against the Creator, ignoring the Lawgiver and dethroning the Judge. Even its science is afloat on a sea of irrationality, supported only by the murky depths of contradiction and speculation.

Many professing and influential Christians are ignoring that evidence these days—i.e., the origins of evolution—when they encourage us to harmonize evolutionary theory with the Bible. Why surrender the ground to unlawful rebels? Why dialogue with the enemy about this? Why give the interloper a voice?

There are far too many who claim Christ’s name but are not delighted with His law; they are not content to meditate on God’s Word day and night. Rather, they are intimidated by the counsel of the wicked (evolutionary theory), are attracted to the way of sinners (desire for relevance and academic credibility), and are longing for the seat of scoffers (positions of respect and influence). Try as they may, there’s no dethroning the Judge; they’ll meet Him one day.

(Adapted from The Battle for the Beginning.)

 


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How feminism undermines a woman’s ability to attract a husband

WINTERY KNIGHT

Painting: "Courtship", by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888) Painting: “Courtship”, by Edmund Blair Leighton (1888)

A while back, Duane Caldwell mentioned this article from Life Site News in the comments of this blog post.

It says:

Fewer young men in the US want to get married than ever, while the desire for marriage is rising among young women, according to the Pew Research Center.

Pew recently found that the number of women 18-34 saying that having a successful marriage is one of the most important things rose from 28 percent to 37 percent since 1997. The number of young adult men saying the same thing dropped from 35 percent to 29 percent in the same time.

Pew’s findings have caught the attention of one US writer who maintains that feminism, deeply entrenched in every segment of the culture, has created an environment in which young men find it more beneficial to simply opt out of couple-dom entirely.

Suzanne…

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April 24, 2017: Verse of the day

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His Perfect Person

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (4:15)

At the end of verse 14 our great High Priest is again identified as Jesus, the Son of God. Here together are His human name, Jesus, and His divine title, Son of God. These two parts of His nature are also reflected in verse 15.

Jesus’ Humanity

Most people seem to think of God as being far removed from human life and concerns. Jesus was the very Son of God, yet His divinity did not prevent Him from experiencing our feelings, our emotions, our temptations, our pain. God became man, He became Jesus, to share triumphantly the temptation and the testing and the suffering of men, in order that He might be a sympathetic and understanding High Priest.

When we are troubled or hurt or despondent or strongly tempted, we want to share our feelings and needs with someone who understands. Jesus can sympathize with our weaknesses. The phrase “No one understands like Jesus” in the well-known hymn is not only beautiful and encouraging but absolutely true. Our great High Priest not only is perfectly merciful and faithful but also perfectly understanding. He has an unequaled capacity for sympathizing with us in every danger, in every trial, in every situation that comes our way, because He has been through it all Himself. At the tomb of Lazarus Jesus’ body shook in grief. In the Garden of Gethsemane, just before His arrest, He sweat drops of blood. He experienced every kind of temptation and testing, every kind of vicissitude, every kind of circumstance that any person will ever face. And He is at the right hand of the Father right now interceding for us.

Jesus not only had all the feelings of love, concern, disappointment, grief, and frustration that we have, but He had much greater love, infinitely more sensitive concerns, infinitely higher standards of righteousness, and perfect awareness of the evil and dangers of sin. Contrary, therefore, to what we are inclined to think, His divinity made His temptations and trials immeasurably harder for Him to endure than ours are for us.

Let me give an illustration to help explain how this can be true. We experience pain when we are injured, sometimes extreme pain. But if it becomes too severe, we will develop a temporary numbness, or we may even faint or go into shock. I remember that when I was thrown out of the car and skidded on my back on the highway, I felt pain for awhile and then felt nothing. Our bodies have ways of turning off pain when it becomes too much to endure. People vary a great deal in their pain thresholds, but we all have a breaking point. In other words, the amount of pain we can endure is not limitless. We can conclude, therefore, that there is a degree of pain we will never experience, because our bodies will turn off our sensitivity in one way or another—perhaps even by death—before we reach that point.

A similar principle operates in temptation. There is a degree of temptation that we may never experience simply because, no matter what our spirituality, we will succumb before we reach it. But Jesus Christ had no such limitation. Since He was sinless, He took the full extent of all that Satan could throw at Him. He had no shock system, no weakness limit, to turn off temptation at a certain point. Since He never succumbed, He experienced every temptation to the maximum. And He experienced it as a man, as a human being. In every way He was tempted as we are, and more. The only difference was that He never sinned. Therefore, when we come to Jesus Christ we can remember that He knows everything we know, and a great deal that we do not know, about temptation, and testing, and pain. We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses.

This truth was especially amazing and unbelievable to Jews. They knew that God was holy, righteous, sinless, perfect, omnipotent. They knew His divine attributes and nature and could not comprehend His experiencing pain, much less temptation. Not only this, but under the Old Covenant God’s dealings with His people were more indirect, more distant. Except for special and rare instances, even faithful believers did not experience His closeness and intimacy in the way that all believers now can. Jews believed that God was incapable of sharing the feelings of men. He was too distant, too far removed in nature from man, to be able to identify with our feelings and temptations and problems.

If comprehending God’s sympathy was hard for Jews, it was even harder for most Gentiles of that day. The Stoics, whose philosophy dominated much Greek and Roman culture in New Testament times, believed that God’s primary attribute was apathy. Some believed that He was without feeling or emotions of any sort. The Epicureans claimed that the gods live intermundia, between the physical and spiritual worlds. They did not participate in either world, and so could hardly be expected to understand the feelings, problems, and needs of mortals. They were completely detached from mankind.

The idea that God could and would identify with men in their trials and temptations was revolutionary to Jew and Gentile alike. But the writer of Hebrews is saying that we have a God not only “who is there” but one “who has been here.”

Weaknesses does not refer directly to sin, but to feebleness or infirmity. It refers to all the natural limitations of humanity, which, however, include liability to sin. Jesus knew firsthand the drive of human nature toward sin. His humanity was His battleground. It is here that Jesus faced and fought sin. He was victorious, but not without the most intense temptation, grief, and anguish.

In all of this struggle, however, Jesus was without sin (chōris hamartia). He was completely apart from, separated from, sin. These two Greek words express the absolute absence of sin. Though He was mercilessly tempted to sin, not the slightest taint of it ever entered His mind or was expressed in His words or actions.

Some may wonder how Jesus can completely identify with us if He did not actually sin as we do. It was Jesus’ facing sin with His perfect righteousness and truth, however, that qualifies Him. Merely experiencing something does not give us understanding of it. A person can have many successful operations without understanding the least bit about surgery. On the other hand, a doctor may perform thousands of complicated and successful operations without ever having had the surgery himself. It is his knowledge of the disease or disorder and his surgical skill in treating it that qualifies him, not his having had the disease. He has great experience with the disease—much greater experience with it than any of his patients—having confronted it in all of its manifestations. Jesus never sinned, but He understands sin better than any man. He has seen it more clearly and fought it more diligently than any of us could ever be able to do.

Sinlessness alone can properly estimate sin. Jesus Christ did not sin, could not sin, had no capacity to sin. Yet His temptations were all the more terrible because He would not fall and endured them to the extreme. His sinlessness increased His sensitivity to sin. “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Heb. 12:3–4). If you want to talk to someone who knows what sin is about, talk to Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ knows sin, and He knows and understands our weakness. Whatever Satan brings our way, there is victory in Jesus Christ. He understands; He has been here.

Dr. John Wilson often told the following story. Booth Tucker was conducting evangelistic meetings in the great Salvation Army Citadel in Chicago. One night, after he had preached on the sympathy of Jesus, a man came forward and asked Mr. Tucker how he could talk about a loving, understanding, sympathetic God. “If your wife had just died, like mine has,” the man said, “and your babies were crying for their mother who would never come back, you wouldn’t be saying what you’re saying.”

A few days later Mr. Tucker’s wife was killed in a train wreck. Her body was brought to Chicago and carried to the Citadel for the funeral. After the service the bereaved preacher looked down into the silent face of his wife and then turned to those who were attending. “The other day when I was here,” he said, “a man told me that, if my wife had just died and my children were crying for their mother, I would not be able to say that Christ was understanding and sympathetic, or that He was sufficient for every need. If that man is here, I want to tell him that Christ is sufficient. My heart is broken, it is crushed, but it has a song, and Christ put it there. I want to tell that man that Jesus Christ speaks comfort to me today.” The man was there, and he came and knelt beside the casket while Booth Tucker introduced him to Jesus Christ.

We have a sympathetic High Priest, whose priesthood is perfect and whose Person is perfect.[1]


4:15 Then too we must consider His experience. No one can truly sympathize with someone else unless he has been through a similar experience himself. As Man our Lord has shared our experiences and can therefore understand the testings which we endure. (He cannot sympathize with our wrongdoing because He never experienced it.)

In every pang that rends the heart,

The Man of Sorrows has a part.

He was tempted in every respect as we are, yet without sin. The Scriptures guard the sinless perfection of the Lord Jesus with jealous care, and we should too. He knew no sin (2 Cor. 5:21), He committed no sin (1 Pet. 2:22), and there is no sin in Him (1 Jn. 3:5).

It was impossible for Him to sin, either as God or as Man. As the perfect Man, He could do nothing of His own accord; He was absolutely obedient to the Father (John 5:19), and certainly the Father would never lead Him to sin.

To argue that His temptation was not meaningful if He could not sin is fallacious. One purpose of the temptation was to demonstrate conclusively that He could not sin.

If you put gold to the test, the test is not less valid because the gold is pure. If there were impurity, the test would show it up. Similarly it is wrong to argue that if He could not sin, He was not perfectly human. Sin is not an essential element in humanity; rather it is a foreign intruder. Our humanity has been marred by sin; His is perfect humanity.

If Jesus could have sinned as a Man on earth, what is to prevent His sinning as a Man in heaven? He did not leave His humanity behind when He ascended to the Father’s right hand. He was impeccable on earth and He is impeccable in heaven.[2]


15 But can such a great high priest in heaven also care about our human concerns? As we have seen in ch. 2, his greatness derives paradoxically from the fact that he has shared our human condition to the full, including its “weaknesses.” As we noted at 2:18, those weaknesses include the experience of being “tested” or “tempted”; both are valid meanings of the verb peirazō (GK 4279), but the further comment here that Jesus remained “without sin” suggests the author is thinking particularly of “temptation” to do wrong. It is part of being truly human to feel the attraction of that which is wrong, but the uniqueness of Jesus is shown in that he knew the power of temptation without giving way to it. While there is never any doubt of Jesus’ full humanity, the NT writers express in a variety of ways the belief that he never actually sinned (7:26; Jn 8:46; 2 Co 5:21; 1 Pe 2:22; 1 Jn 3:5; etc.). Peterson, 188–90, usefully discusses how sinlessness is compatible with fully sharing our human condition. “In every way, just as we are” is a very comprehensive statement, covering both the hard circumstances of Jesus’ life and death and his experience of temptation throughout that period; our modern circumstances may be very different, but in principle we are assured Jesus has been here before. There is a great difference between an omniscient but detached awareness of what human beings face and a personal experience of the power of temptation. Only Jesus can “empathize” (TNIV) with us in that way.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 111–114). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2169–2170). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 72–73). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 24 – Christ Is Our Peace

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

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Christ’s atonement made it possible for man to be at peace with God.

After World War II the United Nations was created to promote world peace. But since its inception in 1945 there has not been a single day of global peace. That’s a sad commentary on man’s inability to make peace. In fact, someone once quipped that Washington D.C., has so many peace monuments because they build one after every war!

It hasn’t always been that way. Prior to the fall of man, peace reigned on the earth because all creation was in perfect harmony with its Creator. But sin interrupted peace by alienating man from God and bringing a curse upon the earth. Man couldn’t know true peace because he had no peace in his heart. That’s why Jesus came to die.

I once read a story about a couple at a divorce hearing whose conflict couldn’t be resolved. They had a four-year-old boy who became distressed and teary-eyed over what was happening. While the couple was arguing, the boy reached for his father’s hand and his mother’s hand and pulled until he joined them.

In a sense that’s what Christ did. He provided the righteousness that allows man and God to join hands. Romans 5:1 says that those who are “justified by faith … have peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:20 says that God reconciled all things to Himself through the blood of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross.

Yet on the surface, the scene at the cross wasn’t peaceful at all. Pain, sorrow, humiliation, hatred, mockery, darkness, and death were oppressively pervasive. But through it all Christ was doing what He alone could do: making peace between man and God. He paid the supreme price to give us that precious gift.

In the future Jesus will return as Prince of Peace to establish a Kingdom that will usher us into an eternal age of peace. In the meantime He reigns over the hearts of all who love Him. Let His peace reign in your heart today!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the peace of heart that comes from knowing Christ.

For Further Study: Read Philippians 4:6–9. What must a person do to know God’s 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. 127). 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 24 – CONFESSING OUR LOVE

He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love.

Song of Solomon 2:4

Consider with me the appealing Old Testament story of the beautiful young woman in the Song of Solomon. Deeply in love with the young shepherd, she is also actively sought out by the king, who demands her favor. She remains loyal to the simple shepherd, who gathers lilies and comes to seek her and calls to her through the lattice.

In many ways, this is a beautiful picture of the Lord Jesus, of His love and care for His Bride, the Church. In the scriptural account, she does turn her loved one away with simple excuses. But condemned in heart, she rises to go out and search for him. As she seeks, she is asked: “What is he above others that you should seek him?” (see 5:9).

“Oh, he is altogether lovely,” she replies. “He came and called for me, and I had not the heart to go!” (see 5:16).

But at last she is able to confess, “I have found him whom my soul loveth!” (3:4).

He had been grieved but He was not far away. So it is with our Beloved—He is very near to us and He awaits our seeking!

Lord, You are “altogether lovely.” Thank You for pursuing the human race even in our state of unloveliness.[1]


4 The movement towards consummation intensifies. He has brought her to the “house of wine,” another identification of love with alcohol (and the vineyard of the previous vignette). The “banner” is a military standard that signals the identity of an encampment. Pope, 2, glosses, “His intent toward me Love.” The unmistakable design of the boy when he brought her to the house of wine, she says, was concupiscence. A literal banquet hall is as unnecessary to postulate as the houses of 1:16–17; perhaps the “wine-house” is part of the fantasy.[2]


2:4 banquet hall. The scene continues in the outdoors. This “house of wine” symbolizes the vineyard, just as the beams and rafters of 1:17 refer to the forest. his banner. As a military flag indicates location or possession, so Solomon’s love flew over his beloved one (cf. Nu 1:52; Ps 20:5).[3]


2:4 banqueting house (ESV footnote, “house of wine”). This is the only occurrence of this phrase in the OT (although there are similar expressions in Est. 7:8; Eccles. 7:2; Jer. 16:8). The exact location of this house is not critical. Rather, it is a place where wine is drunk and thus a place of love (see note on Song 1:2). This Hebrew term for banner is used elsewhere in the OT only in Numbers (Num. 2:2), where it is a standard flown at camps and carried into battle. Its use here would thus seem to indicate a public display of the lovers’ identity, namely, that they belong to and are committed to each other.[4]


2:4 the house of the wine The Hebrew phrase used here, beth hayyayin (meaning “the house of wine”), may describe a vineyard where grapes for wine are grown, or a banquet room in a palace (Esth 7:8).

his intention Banners were used for military purposes. Each unit would gather under their banner (Song 6:4; Num 1:52), which represented the army and often included the name or image of a deity (Exod 17:15). Here, the man’s banner represents a declaration of his love.[5]


2:4 banqueting house. Lit. “house of wine” (text note). The setting is outdoors (1:12 note). The lover’s “house” to this point has been the forest (1:16, 17). Now they move to a different “house,” namely, the young man’s vineyard, his “house” of wine. The expression continues the royal imagery from 1:4, 12 (the shepherd is a king) and the comparison of love and wine from 1:2.

his banner. An emblem typically used to mark out one tribe from another (Num. 2:3, 10, 18, 25). Banners were also used to muster troops for battle. It has been suggested that the word is used here for something like a sign for an inn. The young man is unabashedly advertising his love for the young woman.[6]


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

[2] Schwab, G. M. (2008). Song of Songs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, pp. 385–386). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1218). 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 (So 2:4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1099). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 24 – LETTING THE WILL BE THE MASTER OF THE HEART

If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.

COLOSSIANS 3:1

Because the will is master of the heart, it is important to realize that the root of all evil in human nature is the corruption of the will!

The thoughts and intents of the heart are wrong and as a consequence the whole life is wrong. Repentance is primarily a change of moral purpose, a sudden and often violent reversal of the soul’s direction.

The prodigal son took his first step upward from the pigsty when he said, “I will arise and go to my father.” As he had once willed to leave his father’s house, now he willed to return.

To love God with all our heart we must first of all will to do so. We should repent our lack of love and determine from this moment on to make God the object of our devotion. We should read the Scriptures devotionally and set our affections on things above and aim our hearts toward Christ and heavenly things!

If we do these things we may be sure that we shall experience a wonderful change in our whole inward life. Our emotions will become disciplined and directed. We shall begin to taste the “piercing sweetness” of the love of Christ. The whole life, like a delicate instrument, will be tuned to sing the praises of Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood![1]


The Reminder

If then you have been raised up with Christ (3:1a)

If denotes reality, as in 2:20, and is better translated “since.” Believers having been raised up with Christ is not in doubt. The verb actually means “to be co-resurrected.” It is an accomplished fact.  Believers spiritually are entered into Christ’s death and resurrection at the moment of their salvation. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” In that verse, the apostle shows the union of the believer with the Lord, so that they have a shared life. Romans 6:3–4 teaches the same truth: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

The “baptism” here is not into water, but an immersing into the Savior’s death and resurrection. Through their union with Christ, believers have died, have been buried, and have risen with Him. By saving faith they have entered into a new dimension. They possess divine and eternal life, which is not merely endless existence, but a heavenly quality of life brought to them by the indwelling Lord. They are thus alive in Christ to the realities of the divine realm.

Consequently, Christians have an obligation to live consistently with those realities. Paul delineates the specifics of that obligation in Romans 6:11–19:

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

This new life is real and powerful, but so is remaining sin. Though it no longer is our master, it can still overpower us if we are not presenting ourselves to God as servants of righteousness. (For a fuller  treatment of this rich teaching, see my comments on Romans 6–8 in Romans 1–8, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1991].)

Spirituality, as Paul says in Philippians 2:12, is working that inner life out, the process of living the reality of our union with Christ. In Him we have all the resources necessary for living the Christian life (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3). Paul emphasizes the centrality of Christ throughout Colossians 3:1–4. By using such phrases as with Christ (3:1); where Christ (3:1); with Christ (3:3); when Christ (3:4); and with Him (3:4), he stresses again Christ’s total sufficiency (cf. 2:10). Unfortunately, many Christians fail to understand and pursue the fullness of Christ. Consequently, because of not knowing what Scripture says, or not applying it properly, they are intimidated into thinking they need something more than Him alone to live the Christian life. They fall prey to false philosophy, legalism, mysticism, or asceticism.

Paul reminds the Colossians that they have risen with Christ. This is the path to holiness, not self-denial, angelic experience, or ceremony. They are no longer living the old life they lived before their salvation, but possess the eternal life of Christ and have been raised to live on another plane. They must not be ignorant or forgetful of who they are and how they are to live. All sinful passion is controlled and conquered by the power of the indwelling Christ and our union with Him.

The Responsibility

keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (3:1b, 2)

The present tense of zēteō (keep seeking) indicates continuous action. Preoccupation with the eternal realities that are ours in Christ is to be the pattern of the believer’s life. Jesus put it this way: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Paul is not advocating a form of mysticism. Rather, he desires that the Colossians’ preoccupation with heaven govern their earthly responses. To be preoccupied with heaven is to be preoccupied with the One who reigns there and His purposes, plans, provisions, and power. It is also to view the things, people, and events of this world through His eyes and with an eternal perspective.

The things above refers to the heavenly realm and hones in on the spiritual values that characterize Christ, such as tenderness, kindness, meekness, patience, wisdom, forgiveness, strength, purity, and love.

When believers focus on the realities of heaven, they can then truly enjoy the world their heavenly Father has created. As the writer of the hymn “I Am His, and He Is Mine” expressed it,

Heav’n above is softer blue

Earth around is sweeter green!

Something lives in every hue

Christless eyes have never seen:

Birds with gladder songs o’erflow

Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know,

I am His, and He is mine.

When Christians begin to live in the heavenlies, when they commit themselves to the riches of “the Jerusalem above” (Gal. 4:26), they will live out their heavenly values in this world to the glory of God.

In 3:2, Paul gives instruction on how to seek the things above. He says, Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Set your mind is from phroneō and could simply be translated, “think,” or more thoroughly, “have this inner disposition.” Once again, the present tense indicates continuous action. Lightfoot paraphrases Paul’s thought: “You must not only seek heaven, you must also think heaven” (St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon [1879; reprint, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959], p. 209; italics in the original). The believer’s whole disposition should orient itself toward heaven, where Christ is, just as a compass needle orients itself toward the north.

Obviously, the thoughts of heaven that are to fill the believer’s mind must derive from Scripture. The Bible is the only reliable source of knowledge about the character of God and the values of heaven. Paul describes that preoccupation as being “transformed by the renewing of [your] mind” (Rom. 12:2). In it we learn the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy things our minds are to dwell on (cf. Phil. 4:8).

Such heavenly values dominating the mind produce godly behavior. Sin will be conquered and humility, a sacrificial spirit, and assurance will result.

The Resource

where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (3:1c)

The believer’s resource is none other than the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge: the risen and glorified Christ, seated at the right hand of God in the place of honor and majesty. The Bible speaks often of Christ’s exalted position. Psalm 110:1 says, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.’ ” Jesus told the accusers at His trial that “from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter told the crowd that Jesus had been “exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33). Peter and the other apostles described Jesus to the Sanhedrin as “the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior” (Acts 5:31). As he was being martyred, Stephen cried out, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). Paul describes Jesus as He “who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34), because God “raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20). The writer of Hebrews says of Christ, “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). Because of that, “we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1). He is the One “who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Pet. 3:22).

Because of Christ’s coronation and exaltation to the Father’s right hand, He is the fountain of blessing for His people. Jesus told the disciples, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13–14; cf. 15:16; 16:23–24, 26). Believers can be assured that what they seek is there, “for as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes” (2 Cor. 1:20).[2]


3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. The If of this verse does not express any doubt in the mind of the Apostle Paul. It is what has been called the “If” of argument, and may be translated since: “Since then you were raised together with Christ.…

As mentioned in chapter 2, the believer is seen as having died with Christ, having been buried with Him, and having risen with Him from among the dead. The spiritual meaning of all this is that we have said goodbye to the former way of life, and have entered upon a completely new type of life, that is, the life of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Because we have been raised with Christ, we should seek those things which are above. We are still on earth, but we should be cultivating heavenly ways.

3:2 The Christian should not be earth-bound in his outlook. He should view things not as they appear to the natural eye but in reference to their importance to God and to eternity. Vincent suggests that “seek” in verse 1 marks the practical striving and that set your mind in verse 2 describes the inward impulse and disposition. The expression set your mind is the same as that in Philippians 3:19: “who set their mind on earthly things.” A. T. Robertson writes: “The baptized life means that the Christian is seeking heaven and is thinking heaven. His feet are upon the earth, but his head is with the stars. He is living like a citizen of heaven here on earth.”

During World War II, a young Christian enthusiastically reported to a mature servant of Christ, “I understand our bombers were over the enemy’s cities again last night.” To this, the older believer replied, “I did not know that the church of God had bombers.” He obviously was looking at things from the divine standpoint, rather than taking pleasure in the destruction of women and children.

F. B. Hole explains our position clearly:

The counterpart to our identification with Christ in His death is our identification with Him in His resurrection. The effect of the first is to disconnect us from man’s world, man’s religion, man’s wisdom. The effect of the other is to put us into touch with God’s world and with all that is there. The first four verses of chapter 3 unfold the blessedness into which we are introduced.[3]


1 Having reminded the Colossians that they have died with Christ (2:20; cf. 2:12), Paul now reiterates that they have been “raised with Christ” (cf. 2:12). Unlike Christ, they have not been raised bodily. Nevertheless, Paul insists that they have been raised (synēgerthēte, GK 5283, is a liquid aorist passive compound verb [second person plural]) spiritually with Christ by God. Their baptisms served as vivid, tangible reminders of this vital theological principle. If they truly have been raised with Christ via conversion as imaged in baptism, then they should seek “the things above.” They should not devote their attention to the earthly things that characterized the “philosophy”; conversely, they should quest after (“set [their] hearts on”) heavenly things. (“The things above” is synonymous with heaven [so, rightly, Lincoln, 637].)

Why does Paul counsel the Colossians to keep seeking the things above? Is this not dangerous advice with which the promoters of the “philosophy” would agree? Paul does not employ such spatial imagery to affirm the “philosophy” or to encourage visionary activity among the assembly; rather, he commands the Colossians to pursue the things of heaven precisely because this is where Christ is. He is not one among a panoply of heavenly dignitaries; Christ occupies a place of primacy and sovereignty. The resurrected Christ is the ascended Christ who is “seated at the right hand of God.” This depiction of Christ’s session is drawn from Psalm 110:1 (cf. Ro 8:34; Eph 1:20). (To take this metaphoric description literally is a misconstrual of the text.) In enjoining the church to seek the things above and thereby Christ, Paul is encouraging them “to give Christ [who reigns as Lord] an allegiance that takes precedence over all earthly loyalties. His ends are to be their ends; and it follows that the means by which those ends are attained must be his means” (Caird, 202).[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 125–128). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2007). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 322). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 24 – Jesus on Genuine Truthfulness

But let your statement be, “Yes, yes” or “No, no”; anything beyond these is of evil.—Matt. 5:37

Keeping your word is the mark of a genuine worshiper and demonstrates that you, as a child of God, hate lies. Everything in God’s kingdom is sacred and all truth is His truth, so truth has no degrees or shades. Thus even what seems to be the most minor false statement dishonors God’s name.

The Lord has never had any standard other than absolute truthfulness. He wants every one of us to possess “truth in the innermost being” (Ps. 51:6). And it follows that “lying lips are an abomination to the Lord” (Prov. 12:22; cf. 6:16–17; Ps. 58:3–4).

Because God has the ultimate criterion of complete truthfulness, even our most routine conversations should be truthful and dependable in every detail. Our everyday talk ought to be plain and straightforward, uncluttered by qualifiers, exaggerations, or hedges on the truth. Our word must be as good as our bond or as any vow or oath we ever make. James’s admonishment agrees with Jesus’ teaching, “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment” (James 5:12).

ASK YOURSELF
Truth and honesty will never be your default setting until you pursue it deliberately—spending your words carefully and keeping your word completely. In what particular areas of your life is it hardest for you to keep your promises?[1]

God’s absolute, unchanging standard is truth and sincerity in everything. Not only should oaths be totally truthful and dependable, but even the most routine conversations should be truthful in every detail. Let your statement be, “Yes, yes” or “No, no”; anything beyond these is of evil. Statement is from logos, the basic meaning of which is simply “word.” Every normal word in the course of daily speech should be a truthful word, unadorned and unqualified in regard to its truthfulness. A person’s words, message, or speech (as logos is used in Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 2:1; 4:19; and Titus 2:8) should be as good as his bond and as good as his oath or vow. “But above all, my brethren,” James counsels, “do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; so that you may not fall under judgment” (James 5:12).

God is a holy God, His kingdom is a holy kingdom, and the people of His kingdom are to be a holy people. His righteousness is to be their righteousness, and anything less than His righteousness, including anything less than absolute truth, is unacceptable to Him, because it is of evil. So our Lord shatters the fragile glass of their hypocritical oaths, which they used to cover lies.[2]


5:37 For the Christian, an oath is unnecessary. His Yes should mean Yes, and his No should mean No. To use stronger language is to admit that Satan—the evil one—rules our lives. There are no circumstances under which it is proper for a Christian to lie.

This passage also forbids any shading of the truth or deception. It does not, however, forbid taking an oath in a court of law. Jesus Himself testified under oath before the High Priest (Matt. 26:63ff). Paul also used an oath to call God as his witness that what he was writing was true (2 Cor. 1:23; Gal. 1:20).[3]


37 The Greek might more plausibly be translated “But let your word be, ‘Yes, Yes; No, No.’ ” The doubling has raised questions. According to some rabbinic opinion, a doubled “yes” or “no” constitutes an oath; Broadus suggests this is an appropriate way to strengthen an assertion. This sounds like casuistry every bit as tortuous as that which Jesus condemns. The doubling is probably no more than preacher’s rhetoric, the point made clear by the NIV (cf. Jas 5:12). Tou ponērou could be rendered either “of evil” or “of the evil one” (“the father of lies,” Jn 8:44). The same ambiguity recurs at 5:39; 6:13; 13:38.

Many groups (e.g., Anabaptists, Jehovah’s Witnesses) have understood these verses absolutely literally and have therefore refused even to take court oaths. Their zeal to conform to Scripture is commendable, but they have probably not interpreted the text very well.

  1. The contextual purpose of this passage is to stress the true direction in which the OT points—namely, the importance of truthfulness. Where oaths are not being used evasively and truthfulness is not being threatened, it is not immediately obvious they require such unqualified abolition.
  2. In the Scriptures God himself “swears” (e.g., Ge 9:9–11; Lk 1:72–75; cf. Ps 16:10 and Ac 2:27–31), not because he sometimes lies, but in order to help people believe (Heb 6:17). The earliest Christians still took oaths, if we may judge from Paul’s example (Ro 1:9; 2 Co 1:23; 1 Th 2:5, 10; cf. Php 1:8), for much the same reason. Jesus himself testified under oath (26:63–64).
  3. Again we need to remember the antithetical nature of Jesus’ preaching (see comments at vv. 27–30; 6:5–8).

It must be frankly admitted that here Jesus formally contravenes OT law. What it permits or commands (Dt 6:13), he forbids. But if his interpretation of the direction in which the law points is authoritative, then his teaching fulfills it.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 123). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (p. 326). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1222). 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. 187–188). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 24 – GRACE ABOUNDS

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.

—Romans 5:20

Grace is God’s goodness, the kindness of God’s heart, the good will, the cordial benevolence. It is what God is like. God is like that all the time. You’ll never run into a stratum in God that is hard. You’ll always find God gracious, at all times and toward all peoples forever. You’ll never run into any meanness in God, never any resentment or rancor or ill will, for there is none there. God has no ill will toward any being. God is a God of utter kindness and cordiality and good will and benevolence. And yet all of these work in perfect harmony with God’s justice and God’s judgment. I believe in hell and I believe in judgment. But I also believe that there are those whom God must reject because of their impenitence, yet there will be grace. God will still feel gracious toward all of His universe. He is God and He can’t do anything else….

What God is, God is! When Scripture says grace does “much more abound,” it means not that grace does much more abound than anything else in God but much more than anything in us. No matter how much sin a man has done, literally and truly grace abounds unto that man. AOG103-105

Lord, I am so horribly rebellious and sinful in the light of Your perfect holiness. Thank You that where sin abounds, Your grace abounds even more! Amen. [1]


As Paul explains more fully in chapter 7, the energizing force behind man’s sin is the Law, which came in that the transgression might increase. Knowing that he would be charged with being antinomian and with speaking evil of something God Himself had divinely revealed through Moses, Paul states unequivocally that “the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Rom. 7:12). Nevertheless, God’s own Law had the effect of causing man’s transgression to increase.

It should be noted here that God’s law-ceremonial, moral, or spiritual-has never been a means of salvation during any age or dispensation. The divinely-ordained place it had in God’s plan was temporary. As the biblical scholar F. F. Bruce has stated, “The law has no permanent significance in the history of redemption” (The Letter of Paul to the Romans [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985], p. 121). Paul has already declared that Abraham was justified by God solely on the basis of his faith-completely apart from any good works he accomplished and several years before he was circumcised and many centuries before the law was given (4:1–13).

The Law was a corollary element in God’s plan of redemption, serving a temporary purpose that was never in itself redemptive. Disobedience to the law has never damned a soul to hell, and obedience to the law has never brought a soul to God. Sin and its condemnation were in the world long before the law, and so was the way of escape from sin and condemnation.

God gave the Law through Moses as a pattern for righteousness but not as a means of righteousness. The law has no power to produce righteousness, but for the person who belongs to God and sincerely desires to do His will, it is a guide to righteous living.

The law identifies particular transgressions, so that those acts can more easily be seen as sinful and thereby cause men to see themselves more easily as sinners. For that reason the Law also has power to incite men to unrighteousness, not because the Law is evil but because men are evil.

The person who reads a sign in the park that forbids the picking of flowers and then proceeds to pick one demonstrates his natural, reflexive rebellion against authority. There is nothing wrong with the sign; its message is perfectly legitimate and good. But because it places a restriction on people’s freedom to do as they please, it causes resentment and has the effect of leading some people to do what they otherwise might not even think of doing.

The Law is therefore a corollary both to righteousness and to unrighteousness. For the lawless person it stimulates him to the disobedience and unrighteousness he already is inclined to do. For the person who trusts in God, the law stimulates obedience anti righteousness.

Again focusing on the truth that Christ’s one act of redemption is far greater than Adam’s one act of condemnation, Paul exults, But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more. God’s grace not only surpasses Adam’s one sin but all the sins of mankind.[2]


5:20 What Paul has been saying would come as a jolt to the Jewish objector who felt that everything revolved around the law. Now this objector learns that sin and salvation center not in the law but in two federal heads. That being the case, he might be tempted to ask, “Why then was the law given?” The apostle answers, The law entered that the offense might abound. It did not originate sin, but it revealed sin as an offense against God. It did not save from sin but revealed sin in all its awful character.

But God’s grace proves to be greater than all man’s sin. Where sin abounded, God’s grace at Calvary abounded much more![3]


20 At the conclusion of the chapter, Adam as a figure fades from view. Yet his influence is still present in the mention of sin and death. Paul now introduces another factor—the Mosaic law—to show its bearing on the great issues of sin and righteousness. There is scarcely a subject treated by Paul in Romans that does not call for some consideration of the law. The closest affinity to the thought in v. 20 is found in 3:20: “through the law we become conscious of sin.” Also, ch. 7 traces the relationship between the law and sin in rather elaborate fashion.

The apostle is not maintaining that the purpose of the giving of the law is exclusively “so that the trespass might increase,” because he makes room for the law as a revelation of the will of God and therefore a positive benefit (7:12). The law also serves to restrain evil in the world (implied in 6:15; stated in 1 Ti 1:9–11). Paul uses the unusual verb pareiserchomai (GK 4209) at the beginning of v. 20 (“added”; NASB, “came in”). It has the idea of “slipping in between” (cf. its use in Gal 2:4), as though to say that the law had a limited and temporary role to perform. Similar language is used in Galatians 3:19 (“added”), where the law is regarded as something temporary, designed to disclose the “trespass” aspect of sin and prepare the way for the coming of Christ by demonstrating the dire need for his saving work. Stuhlmacher, 88, writes, “Just as it did between Abraham and Christ (cf. Gal. 3:19ff.), so too the law also ‘came in between’ Adam and Christ (at Sinai).” The function of the law to increase trespass was not recognized in rabbinic Judaism (cf. H.-J. Schoeps, Paul [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1961], 174). From the Sermon on the Mount, however, it appears that Jesus sought to apply the law in just this way, i.e., to awaken a sense of sin in those who fancied they were keeping the law tolerably well but who had underestimated its searching demands and the sinfulness of their own hearts. The law thus finally leads to an understanding of the necessity of grace: “If it had looked as if the law worked hand in hand with sin, it is now made clear that it works hand in hand with grace” (Nygren, 227).

The bad news of this negative influence of the law is countered by good news announced with the words, “grace increased all the more.” The apostle waxes almost ecstatic as he revels in the superlative excellence of the divine overruling that makes sin ultimately serve a gracious purpose. The statement is akin to Paul’s repeated “how much more” argument (cf. vv. 15, 17). The saving grace of God far exceeds the damning sin of Adam’s offspring.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (pp. 308–309). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1699–1700). 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. 100–101). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 24 – The Resurrection: A Belief that Matters

“How do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?”

1 Corinthians 15:12

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Without the truth of bodily resurrection, the Christian faith would not make sense.

Even though Paul and the other apostles made the resurrection of Christ and His followers from the dead a central part of the gospel message, some new Gentile converts (the Corinthians especially) had difficulty accepting the idea of bodily resurrection. That struggle resulted mainly from the effects of Greek dualism, which viewed the spiritual as inherently good and the physical as inherently bad. Under that belief, a physical resurrection was considered quite repulsive.

The only way for the doubting Gentiles to accommodate their dualism was to say that Jesus was divine but not truly human. Therefore, He only appeared to die, and His appearances between the crucifixion and ascension were manifestations that merely seemed to be bodily. But Paul knew that was bad doctrine. He wrote to the Romans, “Concerning His Son … born of the seed of David according to the flesh … declared with power to be the Son of God by the resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:3–4).

To deny the actual, bodily resurrection of Christ creates some very significant doctrinal problems. Without His resurrection, the gospel is an empty message that doesn’t make sense. Without the Resurrection, Jesus could not have conquered sin and death, and thus we could not have followed in that victory either.

Without physical resurrection, a life of faith centered on the Lord Jesus is worthless. A dead savior cannot provide any kind of life. If the dead do not rise bodily, Christ did not rise, and neither will we. If all that were true, we could not do much more than conclude with Isaiah’s Servant, “I have spent My strength for nothing and vanity” (49:4). But the glorious reality is that we can affirm with Job, “I know that my Redeemer lives, and … .without my flesh [after death] I shall see God” (Job 19:25–26).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that the truth of the Resurrection makes our theology credible and the gospel powerful.

For Further Study: Sometimes Jesus’ closest followers have doubts about the Resurrection. Read John 20:19–29. How did Jesus prove to the disciples that it was really Him? ✧ What else did Jesus implicitly appeal to when He confronted Thomas’s doubts?[1]


His first argument is simple and logical: Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? The construction here (ei with the indicative) implies a condition that is true. The Corinthians believed in Christ’s resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1, 11) and that He was presently alive (emphasized by the perfect tense of egeirō, has been raised). How then could they logically deny the general truth of resurrection? If Christ has been raised, resurrection obviously is possible.[2]


15:12 In verses 12–19, Paul lists the consequences of the denial of bodily resurrection. First of all, it would mean that Christ Himself has not risen. Paul’s logic here is unanswerable. Some were saying that there is no such thing as bodily resurrection. All right, Paul says, if that is the case, then Christ has not risen. Are you Corinthians willing to admit this? Of course they were not. In order to prove the possibility of any fact, all you have to do is to demonstrate that it has already taken place once. To prove the fact of bodily resurrection, Paul is willing to base his case upon the simple fact that Christ has already been raised from the dead.[3]


12 Having established historically the truth of the resurrection of Christ and the fact that this is the tradition that all the apostles endorsed and were preaching, Paul is now ready to move to the next step in his argument. He shows how wrong that element in the Corinthian church is who say, “There is no resurrection of the dead.” As noted above, these erroneous people were not denying the resurrection of Christ per se, only the future resurrection of believers. But as Paul will soon point out, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t believe in the resurrection of Christ and deny the eventual resurrection of believers, for resurrection is a single package.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (p. 409). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1804–1805). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 394). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 24 – A Real Death

Being put to death in the flesh.

1 Peter 3:18

Today’s verse indicates that Jesus Christ’s physical life ceased. Some dispute the resurrection of Christ from the dead by claiming that He never died but only fainted. Supposedly He was revived by the coolness of His tomb, got up, and walked out. But Peter is clear: Jesus was dead—the victim of a judicial murder.

Christ’s Roman executioners made sure He was dead. They broke the legs of the thieves crucified alongside Him to hasten their deaths. (A victim of crucifixion could postpone death as long as he could elevate himself on his legs.) However, they didn’t bother to break Christ’s legs since they could see He was already dead. To verify His death, they pierced His side, out of which came a flow of blood and water—only blood, not water, would have come out if Jesus had been alive (John 19:31–37). Christ was surely dead. And that means His resurrection was real.[1]


Some critics have disputed Christ’s resurrection from the dead by claiming He never died in the first place. According to such skeptical reasoning, He merely fainted into a semi-coma on the cross, was revived in the coolness of the tomb, unwrapped Himself, and walked out. But the phrase having been put to death in the flesh leaves no doubt that on the cross Jesus’ physical life ceased. To hasten the deaths of the two thieves at Calvary crucified on either side of Christ, the Roman executioners broke their legs (John 19:31–32). (Crucifixion victims postponed their deaths as long as possible by pushing themselves up on their legs, which allowed them to gasp for another breath.) However, the soldiers did not bother to break Christ’s legs because they could see He was already dead. Confirming that reality, one of them pierced His side with a spear, causing blood and water to flow out, a physiological sign He was certainly dead (19:33–37).

The phrase made alive in the spirit is a reference to Jesus’ eternal inner person. The Greek text omits the definite article, which suggests Peter was not referring to the Holy Spirit, but that the Lord was spiritually alive, contrasting the condition of Christ’s flesh (body) with that of His spirit. His eternal spirit has always been alive, although His earthly body was then dead; but three days later His body was resurrected in a transformed and eternal state.

Some interpreters think the aforementioned phrase describes Jesus’ resurrection. But if the apostle had intended to make such a reference he would have used an expression such as, “He was put to death in the flesh but made alive in the flesh.” The resurrection was not merely a spiritual reality—it was physical (cf. Luke 24:39; John 20:20, 27). Thus Peter’s point here must be that though Jesus’ body was dead, He remained alive in His spirit (cf. Luke 23:46).

Although Christ is the One who is eternal life itself (1 John 5:20), He did experience a kind of spiritual death—defined not as cessation of existence but an experience of separation from God. While on the cross, Jesus was fully conscious as He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). That utterance reflected His temporary and humanly incomprehensible sense of alienation from the Father while God’s full wrath and the burden of sinners’ iniquities were placed on Him and judged (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:10–13; Heb. 9:28). For that brief time, Christ’s experience paralleled the condition of unbelievers who live, paradoxically, in spiritual death (separation from God) in this life and face divine judgment in physical death (cf. Dan. 12:2; Matt. 25:41, 46; Mark 9:43–48; John 3:36; Rev. 20:15). In His death for sin and resurrection to eternal glory, Christ conquered death; however, unregenerate sinners die their own deaths for their unrepented sins and go to eternal shame and punishment.[2]


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

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


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

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


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 129). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 208–209). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

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

[4] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 338). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.