Daily Archives: April 26, 2017

April 26, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Apr. 26, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump’s call to slash the corporate tax rate to 15 percent — a number that many economists say would boost the deficit so much that the cut would be short-lived — may be less about policy and more about deal-making.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin confirmed the administration plans to propose a corporate tax rate reduction to 15 percent and said lawmakers are broadly in agreement over tax reform, citing a “very successful meeting” on Tuesday evening.

Even as the Trump administration jousts with Canada over its latest trade dispute, it might want to keep a closer eye on Mexico, America’s No. 1 one dairy importer. Its southern neighbor, which figures prominently in the U.S. government’s crime and immigration rhetoric, spent almost twice as much money as Canada did on U.S. dairy in 2016. That’s $1.2 billion.

Russia is still trying to undermine Montenegro’s NATO membership with continued cyber attacks after last year’s failed coup attempt, but no one can stop the tiny Balkan nation from joining as early as next month, the country’s defense minister said.

Burundi’s political crisis, which has left at least 720 people dead over the past two years, is easing with the number of arrests declining, according to the country’s state-run human-rights agency.

The U.S. Navy flotilla sailing toward the Korean peninsula to deter Kim Jong Un’s regime lacks a key capability: It can’t shoot down ballistic missiles.

America’s working class is falling further behind. The rich-poor gap — the difference in annual income between households in the top 20 percent and those in the bottom 20 percent — ballooned by $29,200 to $189,600 between 2010 and 2015, based on Bloomberg calculations using U.S. Census Bureau data. Computers and robots are taking over many types of tasks, shoving aside some workers while boosting the productivity of specialized employees, contributing to the gap.

Boeing Co.’s sales slumped as the U.S. planemaker delivered the fewest jetliners in three years, ahead of the impending debut of a new version of the company’s best-selling plane.

Walt Disney’s ESPN network will cut about 100 staffers this week as the leader in sports TV copes with rising programming costs and an eroding subscriber base.

Burger King is losing ground to McDonald’s Corp. in the hard-fought battle for U.S. fast-food customers.

Researchers at U.S. antivirus firm McAfee say the cyberattacks that have hit Saudi Arabia over the past few months are continuing, revealing new details about an unusually disruptive campaign.

AP Top Stories

A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel coming near it in the Persian Gulf, an American official said on Wednesday, the latest tense naval encounter between the two countries.

Two conservative groups filed a lawsuit against the University of California at Berkeley claiming that a decision to cancel an appearance by the firebrand pundit Ann Coulter violated their right to free speech.

China launched its first domestically built aircraft carrier on Wednesday amid rising tension over North Korea and worries about Beijing’s assertiveness in the South China Sea.

Venezuelan protesters planned a new march against President Nicolas Maduro, defying his government despite the deaths of more than 25 people in an increasingly violent political crisis.

A report released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center showed the number of immigrants in the country illegally fell to 11 million in 2015 from six years earlier.

Turkish warplanes killed more than two dozen Kurdish fighters Tuesday in strikes in Syria and Iraq, where the Kurds are key players in the battle against the Islamic State group.

The United States slammed South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir on Tuesday for the African state’s “man-made” famine and ongoing conflict, urging him to fulfill a month-old pledge of a unilateral truce by ordering his troops back to their barracks.

Retail banking giant Wells Fargo has fixed problems in its 2015 bankruptcy plan and will now be allowed to open new international branches, US banking regulators said Monday.

Iraqi forces are using siege and stealth tactics to drive Islamic State militants out of Mosul’s Old City, an Iraqi general said, as his forces sought to minimize casualties among hundreds of thousands of people trapped in the cramped, historic neighborhood.

BBC

France says it has evidence showing the Syrian air force “undoubtedly” dropped bombs containing the nerve agent Sarin on a rebel-held town last month.

Police have arrested 1,000 people suspected of being part of a movement blamed for the failed 2016 coup. Another 2,200 were being sought as authorities targeted what they said was a secret structure within Turkey’s police force.

A Chinese court has convicted American businesswoman Sandy Phan-Gillis for spying and ordered her deportation.

WND

Google, the Internet giant, is responding to growing pressure to make sure the top answers it provides to people’s search queries are accurate and do not contribute to the spread of misinformation, conspiracy theories, hoaxes and offensive content on the Web.

North Korea conducted a big live-fire exercise on Tuesday to mark the foundation of its military as a U.S. submarine docked in South Korea in a show of force amid growing concern over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

The founder of online encyclopedia Wikipedia has announced plans for a crowd-funded news website offering stories by journalists and volunteers working together, an initiative he hopes will counter the spread of fake news.


The Briefing 04-26-17

Two candidates, two worldviews, two futures: Why the French presidential election matters

When socialism becomes fascism: Political unrest compounds economic disaster unfolding in Venezuela

Is the March for Science “apolitical”? The important difference between Science and Scientism

Ideas have consequences: Communism, atheism, and the dark history of East Germany

The post The Briefing 04-26-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 4/26/2017

US to launch Minuteman III ICBM to show ‘nuclear capabilities’ amid N. Korea tensions
An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) will be launched from a US Air Force base in California Wednesday to ensure its “effectiveness, readiness and accuracy,” and demonstrate “national nuclear capabilities,” according to the US military.

Brexit begins: EU deletes Britain from maps of Europe as it launches flagship social drive
The UK was conspicuously greyed out as a non-EU country in material the EU Commission has produced to advertise the launch of its keystone Pillar of Social Rights.

Cyber attack aimed at over 120 Israeli targets thwarted
The attack behaved in the same manner as a previous cyber attack carried out by OILRIG, one of the most active hacking organizations sponsored by the Iranian government.

North Korea threat: Experts paint dark picture of what fallout of pre-emptive strike may look like
Former CIA analyst Bruce Klingner told Newsweek that Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, would likely hit back with an artillery barrage in the event of a pre-emptive strike by the U.S. or an ally.

Bible Codes: Trump Will Help Israel Defeat Ancient Enemy Amalek in Syria
He prefaced his findings in the Bible by noting that in previous charts, US President Donald Trump was linked to Cyrus the Great, the Persian king who enabled the Jews to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. Trump’s role in Syria, the rabbi emphasized, “is clearly a result of this spiritual connection with Israel.”

Government Employee Salaries Outpace Private-Sector Salaries by Double Digits for Similar Work
Government employees earn roughly 17 percent more in total compensation than private-sector workers in similar jobs, according to a report from the Congressional Budget Office. Including both wages and benefits, the budget office compared the total compensation of similar workers who work for the federal government and those working in the private sector.

Environmentalists Are Dead Wrong
In 1970, when Earth Day was conceived, the late George Wald, a Nobel laureate biology professor at Harvard University, predicted, “Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.” Also in 1970, Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford University biologist and best-selling author of “The Population Bomb,” declared that the world’s population would soon outstrip food supplies.

Gardner Rips CNN’s ‘Stupid’ Questions About North Korea Briefing: No Wonder Americans Are ‘Pissed’ at Washington
Sen. Cory Gardner (R., Colo.) ripped CNN host Brooke Baldwin for relaying “stupid” questions Tuesday about senators receiving a briefing at the White House on North Korea, saying that such preoccupations are why the American people are “pissed” at Washington.

Israeli NGOs after German FM meeting: We don’t take orders from Netanyahu
Left-wing Israel groups pledged to defy Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to continue their battle against the “occupation” after they met on Tuesday night in Herzliya with German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel. “Civil society will not take orders or succumb to pressure. We will go on opposing the injustices of the occupation until it becomes a thing of the past,” three Left-wing groups B’Tselem, Peace Now and Breaking the Silence said in a statement.

China launches aircraft carrier, boosting military presence
China has launched a new aircraft carrier in the latest sign of its growing military strength. It is the country’s second aircraft carrier, after the Liaoning, and the first to be made domestically. The as-yet unnamed ship was transferred into the water in the north-eastern port of Dalian, state media said. It will reportedly be operational by 2020.

North Korea tensions: US installs missile defence system in S Korea
The US military has started installing a controversial missile defence system at a site in South Korea, amid high tensions over neighbouring North Korea’s nuclear and missile ambitions. The Thaad system is designed to protect against threats from North Korea. Hundreds of local residents protested against the deployment, as vehicles carrying equipment arrived at the site in the south of the country.

Turkey arrests 1,000 in raids targeting Gulen suspects
Police have arrested more than 1,000 people in an operation across Turkey against a movement blamed for last summer’s failed coup. Raids were continuing as authorities targeted what was described as a secret structure within Turkey’s police force. Turkey says a movement loyal to US-based Islamic cleric Fethullah Gulen organised the July 2016 plot to bring down President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Turkey air strikes on Kurds in Syria and Iraq spark US concern
The US has expressed “deep concern” at Turkish air strikes that killed about two dozen Kurdish fighters in Syria and Iraq. The US-backed Popular Protection Units (YPG), fighting against IS, said their positions were hit multiple times. Turkey regards the YPG as linked to outlawed Kurdish separatists. Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, friendly to Turkey, also reportedly suffered fatalities.

Judge cites Trump’s comment in ‘sanctuary city’ rulingFor the third time in two months, a federal judge has knocked down an immigration order by President Donald Trump and used Trump’s own language against him. In a ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge William Orrick quoted Trump to support his decision to block the president’s order to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration officials.

U.S. Air Force to launch test missile off Central California coast
An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile will be launched Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base to test the weapon’s effectiveness, accuracy and readiness, according to the Air Force Global Strike Command. The Minuteman III missile test launch will occur between 12:01 and 6:01 a.m. from the north end of the base near Lompoc, according to Vandenberg’s 30th Space Wing.

‘Superbug’ fungus new menace in US hospitals, mostly NY, NJ
A ‘superbug’ fungus is emerging as a new menace in U.S. hospitals, mostly in New York and New Jersey. First identified in Japan in 2009, the fungus has spread to more than a dozen countries around the globe…The fungus called Candida auris is a harmful form of yeast. Scientists say it can be hard to identify with standard lab tests. U.S. health officials sounded alarms last year because two of the three kinds of commonly used antifungal drugs have little effect.

South Korea Sees Thaad Missile Defense System Ready This Year
South Korea said a U.S. missile defense system being installed on its soil has been partly deployed and should be operational by the end of the year, as tensions mount over North Korea’s nuclear program. The defense ministry gave the update on the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, known as Thaad, in a text message on Wednesday.

Turkey air strikes on Kurds in Syria and Iraq spark US concern
The US has expressed “deep concern” at Turkish air strikes that killed about two dozen Kurdish fighters in Syria and Iraq. The US-backed Popular Protection Units (YPG), fighting against IS, said their positions were hit multiple times.

US To Test Fire ICBM Tonight That Can Reach North Korea
“The Simulated Electronic Launch of a Minuteman III ICBM is a signal to the American people, our allies, and our adversaries that our ICBM capability is safe, secure, lethal and ready.”

San Francisco Judge Blocks Trump’s Sanctuary City Order
To our complete ‘shock,’ a federal judge in San Francisco, U.S. District Judge William Orrick, has blocked Trump’s Executive Order intended to withhold funding from communities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.

Somehow The US Has Killed 70k ISIS Fighters – Twice As Many As It Says Exist
In its most recent published numbers, the Pentagon claims to have killed over 70,000 militants since June 2014 while only killing a mere 229 civilians. That’s an alleged hit rate of over 99 percent.

Mexican leftist’s party could win key state vote -poll
Mexico’s ruling party could be defeated by the candidate of leftist leader Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in a June state election seen as a litmus test for next year’s presidential race, a newspaper poll showed on Tuesday.


Robert Jeffress: Gandhi Going to Hell; Jimmy Carter May Be Leading People to Hell

Megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress has argued that Indian spiritual leader Mahatma Gandhi is going to hell for not being a Christian, and suggested that former President Jimmy Carter may be leading others to hell for suggesting otherwise.

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Science Is Not God, So Why Do So Many People Keep Trying To Turn It Into A Religion?

This article is likely to get a lot of people out there quite angry.  In our world today, many have become convinced that science has all of the answers to humanity’s most important questions, and those that question the high priests of this new religion (scientists) are often accused of a form of “blasphemy”.  We saw this clearly on display last Saturday when protesters gathered in Washington D.C. and in about 600 other cities worldwide for “the March for Science”.   Those of us that are skeptical and that don’t necessarily buy into the scientific orthodoxy of the day were accused of “ignoring facts” and being “climate deniers” by various speakers at these protests.  But of course the truth is that scientific theories have always been in flux all throughout history, and this will continue to be the case as time moves forward. (Read More…)


Mid-Day Snapshot

Apr. 26, 2017

Obama Lackey Blocks Trump … or Does He?

Tuesday’s sensationalized judicial “bombshell” doesn’t actually change anything.

The Foundation

“[T]he true key for the construction of everything doubtful in a law is the intention of the law-makers. This is most safely gathered from the words, but may be sought also in extraneous circumstances provided they do not contradict the express words of the law.” —Thomas Jefferson (1808)


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 26

  • Futures flat as Trump tax plan awaited (Read More)
  • Trump’s 15% Tax Plan May Just Be His Opening Gambit (Read More)
  • Budget Director, After Health-Law Missteps, Preps for Spending Battle (Read More)
  • 100 Days: Trump’s victories dimmed by misfires (Read More)
  • White House Intervened to Toughen Letter on Iran Nuclear Deal (Read More)
  • Trump Changing Tactics on Tax After Health-Care Failure (Read More)
  • Is Justin Trudeau the Anti-Trump? (Read More)
  • Oil prices slip on bulging U.S. crude stockpiles, ample supplies (Read More)
  • Congress moves closer to avert shutdown (Read More)
  • Hungarian opposition struggles to build on anti-Orban sentiment (Read More)
  • FCC Chief Poised to Roil Capital With Net Neutrality Rollback (Read More)
  • Currency Moves Suggest U.K. Data Seen Before Release (Read More)
  • America’s Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Replaced by Robots (Read More)
  • China’s biggest property markets still hot, prices may rebound if curbs lifted (Read More)
  • French intelligence says Assad forces carried out sarin attack (Read More)
  • America’s $1.2 Billion Mexico Milk Trade Is Now at Risk (Read More)
  • Express Scripts Faces a Future Without Its Biggest Customer (Read More)
  • Europe’s Car Makers See Light at the End of the Tunnel (Read More)
  • South Korea court says Uber violated transport law, latest setback for U.S. firm (Read More)
  • Tesla Restores Auto-Brakes Amid Consumer Reports Downgrade (Read More)
  • Turkey says detains 1,000 ‘secret imams’ in police purge (Read More)
  • China seeks to cement globalization credentials at Silk Road summit (Read More)
  • Climate Evangelists Are Taking Over Your Local Weather Forecast (Read More)
  • Syrian refugees must buy travel papers – from Assad (Read More)
  • EU Ankara negotiator calls for suspension of Turkey accession talks (Read More)

Featured Blogs


Top Headlines – 4/26/2017

In Israel, international law grapples with 21st century war

US envoy Haley: ‘It’s a new day for Israel at the UN – the world body must replace an anti-Israel obsession with a focus on dangers of Iran’

Obama administration dialed back counterproliferation efforts to secure Iran deal

Navy destroyer has close encounter with Iran vessel in Persian Gulf

Top IDF officer: North Korea tensions could impact Israel’s security

Holocaust Remembrance Day 2017 – The Hatred Is Mainstream Again

Trump: Those who deny Holocaust are accomplice to evil

Trump During Holocaust Remembrance Speech: ‘We Will Confront Anti-Semitism’

EU delegations promises to ‘make sure that Jews feel totally safe in Europe’

Palestinians say UK refuses request for apology over Balfour Declaration

Israel’s Netanyahu scraps talks with German minister over rights groups

German foreign minister calls Netanyahu ultimatum ‘regrettable’

Stolen Second Temple period antiquities recovered in Samaria

Israeli Sharia court system appoints first-ever female judge

Tel Aviv Terror Attack Prompts Israeli Government to Suspend Palestinian Entry Permits

Suicide bomber kills 4 Bedouin in Egypt’s Sinai

Senior officer: 100 Hezbollah missiles were destroyed in Syria

Turkey air strikes on Kurds in Syria and Iraq spark US concern

Trump advisers: US seeks to fight ISIS and oust Syria’s Assad

IS ‘executes’ at least 15 civilians in Mosul – officials

Wild Boars Kill Three ISIS Members In Raid

Lions Reportedly Save Pastor and His Friends from Attack by Islamic Extremists

Meeting an organ trafficker who preys on Syrian refugees

U.S. moves THAAD anti-missile to South Korean site, sparking protests

US To Test Fire ICBM Tonight That Can Reach North Korea

China launches 2nd aircraft carrier

‘Full-scale terror attack drill’ will take place Wednesday across DC region

U.S. judge blocks Trump order to restrict funding for ‘sanctuary cities’

Sessions: DoJ Has Sent a Letter to 10 ‘Sanctuary Cities’ in Possible Violation of Immigration Law

Mayors grapple with ‘sanctuary’ label after Sessions meeting

‘The Five’ on Ann Coulter at UC Berkeley: Riots ‘a step toward chaos and anarchy’

Anti-Coulter Safety Threats Illustrate ‘Sharia Law for Snowflakes’

UC Berkeley riots: Violence looms as mayor questioned over ties to extremist group

The biggest story of Trump’s first 100 days? His survival

First 100 days: Trump team touts number of Obama rules they killed

Assange: CIA Director Declares War on Free Speech

Flying cars are (still) coming: Should we believe the hype?

Flying taxis will be cheaper than driving a car, says Uber

Sound of invasion – Digital devices could be hacked by sound waves, researchers say

A Thai man hanged his infant daughter on Facebook Live – then hanged himself, reports say

Man-Made Space Junk Puts Astronauts, Operational Spacecraft in Serious Danger

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 25,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 17,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 11,000ft

Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea erupts to 10,000ft

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Pangai, Tonga

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Scott Island Bank, Antarctica

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Tobelo, Indonesia

2 years later: Thousands of Nepal earthquake victims remain homeless, vulnerable to flooding

Flooding submerges roads in Raleigh, North Carolina, as 8 inches of rain deluge the city

Heavy rain won’t lessen Calif. wildfires – it will fuel them

Al Gore’s New Group Demands $15 Trillion To Fight Global Warming

Warm weather to resurrect Zika fears across the US

‘Superbug’ fungus new menace in US hospitals, mostly NY, NJ

Predicting people’s ‘brain age’ could help to spot who is at risk of early death

Scientists Create Artificial Womb That Could Help Prematurely Born Babies

DNC Chair Calls for Abortion Rights Litmus Test for Democrats

Why Abortion Is a Progressive Economic Issue

Religious groups want Trump’s DOJ to end case on ObamaCare contraceptive mandate

Wesleyan University to Spend $220K Per Year on Queer, Transgender Student Center

Jim Baumgaertel – The Evangelical Subculture

Hillsong Church Going Ecumenical With Rome

Pastor John Gray Prepared for TV Series Backlash – The Book of John Gray

Former Baptist Pastor Kenneth Adkins Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison for Child Molestation

Assisted Suicide Activists Push Canada to Euthanize Mentally Ill Patients

FEDS Begin Nuclear Response Drills at MetLife Stadium in Northern New Jersey.

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 07:57 AM PDT

Federal authorities are running nuclear response drills at MetLife Stadium in northern New Jersey. Homeland Security and FEMA are conducting Operation Gotham Shield.  The purpose…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Prepares For War With ‘Largest Ever’ Live-Fire Artillery Drills

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 07:53 AM PDT

Kim Jong-Un’s army readied for war as they fired rockets and torpedoes at mock enemy warships during North Korea‘s ‘largest ever’ live-fire artillery drills on…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Massive National Day of Prayer Gathering in South Africa Draws Over 700,000 People

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 07:49 AM PDT

Police estimate that 700,000 people showed up to the National Day of Prayer event organized by Angus Buchan in South Africa. On April 22, 2017,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Floods displace 17,000 after 15 inches of rain in 24 hours in the Dominican Republic

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 07:43 AM PDT

Flooding has caused major problems in at least 5 provinces in the Dominican Republic after staggering amounts of rainfall over the last few days. According…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Seattle Breaks 122-Year-Old Record For Rain

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 07:38 AM PDT

The wet just won’t quit.  Seattle has soaked up 44.67 inches of rain since October 1, according to the National Weather Service. That makes this…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: US test-fires ICBM traveling 4,000 miles to South Pacific

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 07:28 AM PDT

The U.S. Air Force test-fired an intercontinental ballistic missile which traveled over 4,000 miles before splashing down in the South Pacific after launching early Wednesday…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

World’s Largest Jesus Christ Statue to Be Built in Most Populous Muslim Nation

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 07:23 AM PDT

Authorities in the Papua region of Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, are reportedly planning to build the world’s largest statue of Jesus Christ,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Prayer at Michigan Town Hall Gathering Drowned Out With Shouts of ‘Separation of Church and State’

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 07:19 AM PDT

A number of liberal activists wearing pink hats like those donned at the Washington Women’s March recently shouted down a prayer delivered at a town…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Third of Europeans ready to dump cash ahead of digital future

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 06:30 AM PDT

Over a third of Europeans would be happy to abandon cash and rely on electronic payments if they could, according to a study by ING…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US and South Korea conduct powerful military drills amid rising tensions with North Korea

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 06:25 AM PDT

The US and South Korean militaries have taken part in a combined firing drill as part of joint exercises amid increased tensions with Pyongyang. It…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: US to launch Minuteman III ICBM As Warning to North Korea

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 06:20 AM PDT

An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) will be launched from a US Air Force base in California Wednesday to ensure its “effectiveness, readiness and accuracy,”…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Atheists Attempting to End Decades Old West Virginia Bible Program

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 06:16 AM PDT

A weekly Bible class offered in the public schools of Mercer County, West Virginia is a decades-old tradition. It’s offered during the school day –…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China Gripped by Spiritual Revival as ‘Hundreds of Millions Turn to Religion and Faith’

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 06:09 AM PDT

Forty-one years after China’s Cultural Revolution snuffed out all forms of religious expression, hundreds of millions of Chinese people are flocking to religions like Christianity….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

MRI scans ‘predict brain age’ could detect risk of early death ..

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 05:59 AM PDT

Doctors could soon determine if you are at risk of dying young using an MRI scan. The scans could also be used to spot those…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Navy fires warning flare at Iran vessel…

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 05:54 AM PDT

A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel coming near it in the Persian Gulf, an American official…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Computers ‘could soon delete thoughts without your knowledge’…

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 05:49 AM PDT

“Thou canst not touch the freedom of my mind,” wrote the playwright John Milton in 1634. But, nearly 400 years later, technological advances in machines…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why is the Google Founder Secretly Building Massive Airship?

Posted: 26 Apr 2017 05:46 AM PDT

Larry Page has his flying cars. Sergey Brin shall have an airship. Brin, the Google co-founder, has secretly been building a massive airship inside of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China Launches First Domestically-Built Aircraft Carrier…

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 07:08 PM PDT

DChina launched its second aircraft carrier Wednesday morning in northeast China’s Dalian shipyard in Liaoning Province. The new carrier, the first domestically-built one, was transferred…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Military Deploys THAAD Anti-Missile Complex to South Korea

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 05:39 PM PDT

The US military has moved elements of the THAAD anti-missile complex to its deployment site in South Korea, causing anger and discontent among the locals,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Judge Blocks Trump Sanctuary Funding Order

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 05:15 PM PDT

A federal judge on Tuesday blocked any attempt by the Trump administration to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Google steps up efforts to root out Fake News’

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 12:44 PM PDT

Google is making changes to its search algorithm to promote more authoritative content and demote “low quality” content such as Holocaust denials. The Internet giant…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists Create ‘Artificial Womb’…

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 12:35 PM PDT

Extremely premature babies could be kept alive in future using an “artificial womb” that scientists plan to test in humans after a successful study involving…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Clock Is Ticking on America’s Debt Bomb and It’s About to Speed Up

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 12:29 PM PDT

The Federal Reserve is getting ready to raise its target interest rate after allowing it to sit at historically low levels for years.  With $20…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Shake off the Spirit of Python Into the Fire

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 10:54 AM PDT

(By Christy Johnston) Have you felt as though you have been easily distracted from your purpose and vision? Have you felt worn out and beaten…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Catholics Outraged Kim Kardashain Portraying Herself as the Virgin Mary

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 10:47 AM PDT

Many Roman Catholics have been speaking out against reality TV star Kim Kardashian presenting herself as the Virgin Mary in images promoting marijuana. Kardashian posted…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mother and Toddler Both Diagnosed With Cancer Need Your Prayers

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 10:39 AM PDT

Wearing chunky pearls and pink and white stripes, 17-month old London Wilson is back at the Aflac Cancer Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Air Force to launch test missile off California coast…

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 10:30 AM PDT

An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile will be launched Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base to test the weapon’s effectiveness, accuracy and readiness, according to the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Turkish Jets Bomb US-backed forces in Iraq and Syria

Posted: 25 Apr 2017 10:21 AM PDT

More than a dozen U.S.-backed Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish fighters were killed in a series of airstrikes carried out by Turkish jets, two American defense…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
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April 26, 2017: Verse of the day

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8 “The lion has roared” sounds an alarm. There is indeed cause for fear, though not from any lion or blast of a trumpet; it is Yahweh’s voice through his prophet that should strike fear in people’s hearts. Yahweh is no longer stalking quietly (cf. v. 4)—he has pounced! He has spoken, and no one can contravene his word. So Amos pronounces judgment on the people. For a possible connection with 1:2, see comments on 1:2.

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

3:8 who can but prophesy. Just as a lion’s voice evokes fear, so the voice of the Lord compels the prophets to proclaim His word (Deut. 18:18; cf. 1 Cor. 9:16).

The Reformation Study Bible

April 26 – Paying the Price of Righteousness

“Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness” (Matt. 5:10).

✧✧✧

There is a price to pay for being a Kingdom citizen.

Unlike many today who try to make the gospel palatable for reluctant sinners, Jesus made it clear that following Him had its price. Rather than acceptance, fame, prestige, and prosperity, you can expect rejection and persecution. That’s not a popular approach to evangelism, but it’s honest. Also, it ensures that no one will try to enter the Kingdom on the wrong basis.

Jesus wanted His hearers to count the cost of discipleship. He knew that many of them would be disowned by their families and excommunicated from the Jewish synagogues. Many would suffer persecution or martyrdom at the hands of the Roman government. They needed to count the cost!

Persecution did come to those early Christians. The Emperor Nero smeared many of them with pitch, crucified them, and then burned them to light his garden parties. He condemned Christians for refusing to worship him as a god and blamed them for the burning of Rome in a.d. 64. Christians were also accused of cannibalism because Jesus said, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him” (John 6:56). They were also said to be revolutionaries because they believed that God would one day destroy the earth.

The world’s animosity toward Christians hasn’t changed. You might not face the severe persecutions the first-century believers faced, but you will be persecuted (Phil. 1:29). Even new Christians often face difficulties. If they refuse to join their former friends in sinful activities, they might be rejected. If they work for a dishonest boss who expects them to participate in or condone his evil practices, they might be fired or have to quit their jobs. That might bring extreme financial hardship to their families.

God won’t always shield you from persecution, but He will honor your integrity and give you strength to endure any trial that comes your way. Praise Him for His all-sufficient grace!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for those you know who are suffering hardship for Christ’s sake. ✧ Ask God for the wisdom and strength to face persecution with integrity and unwavering faith.

For Further Study: Read James 1:2–4 and 1 Peter 5:10. ✧ What purpose does suffering serve? ✧ How should you respond to suffering?[1]


The Persecution

Those who have been persecuted are the citizens of the kingdom, those who live out the previous seven beatitudes. To the degree that they fulfill the first seven they may experience the eighth.

“All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). Before writing those words Paul had just mentioned some of his own “persecutions, and suffering, such as happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra” (v. 11). As one who lived the kingdom life he had been persecuted, and all others who live the kingdom life can expect similar treatment. What was true in ancient Israel is true today and will remain true until the Lord returns. “As at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so it is now also” (Gal. 4:29).

Imagine a man who accepted a new job in which he had to work with especially profane people. When at the end of the first day his wife asked him how he had managed, he said, “Terrific! They never guessed I was a Christian.” As long as people have no reason to believe that we are Christians, at least obedient and righteous Christians, we need not worry about persecution. But as we manifest the standards of Christ we will share the reproach of Christ. Those born only of the flesh will persecute those born of the Spirit.

To live for Christ is to live in opposition to Satan in his world and in his system. Christlikeness in us will produce the same results as Christlikeness did in the apostles, in the rest of the early church, and in believers throughout history. Christ living in His people today produces the same reaction from the world that Christ Himself produced when He lived on earth as a man.

Righteousness is confrontational, and even when it is not preached in so many words, it confronts wickedness by its very contrast. Abel did not preach to Cain, but Abel’s righteous life, typified by his proper sacrifice to the Lord, was a constant rebuke to his wicked brother-who in a rage finally slew him. When Moses chose to identify with his own despised Hebrew people rather than compromise himself in the pleasures of pagan Egyptian society, he paid a great price. But he considered “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11:26).

The Puritan writer Thomas Watson said of Christians: “Though they be never so meek, merciful, pure in heart, their piety will not shield them from sufferings. They must hang their harp on the willows and take the cross. The way to heaven is by way of thorns and blood. … Set it down as a maxim, if you will follow Christ you must see the swords and staves” (The Beatitudes [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1971], pp. 259–60).

Savonarola was one of the greatest reformers in the history of the church. In his powerful condemnation of personal sin and ecclesiastical corruption, that Italian preacher paved the way for the Protestant Reformation, which began a few years after his death. “His preaching was a voice of thunder,” writes one biographer, “and his denunciation of sin was so terrible that the people who listened to him went about the streets half-dazed, bewildered and speechless. His congregations were so often in tears that the whole building resounded with their sobs and their weeping.” But the people and the church could not long abide such a witness, and for preaching uncompromised righteousness Savonarola was convicted of “heresy,” he was hanged, and his body was burned.

Persecution is one of the surest and most tangible evidences of salvation. Persecution is not incidental to faithful Christian living but is certain evidence of it. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians by sending them Timothy, “so that no man may be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know” (1 Thess. 3:3–4). Suffering persecution is part of the normal Christian life (cf. Rom. 8:16–17). And if we never experience ridicule, criticism, or rejection because of our faith, we have reason to examine the genuineness of it. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake,” Paul says, “not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Phil. 1:29–30). Persecution for Christ’s sake is a sign of our own salvation just as it is a sign of damnation for those who do the persecuting (v. 28).

Whether Christians live in a relatively protected and tolerant society or whether they live under a godless, totalitarian regime, the world will find ways to persecute Christ’s church. To live a redeemed life to its fullest is to invite and to expect resentment and reaction from the world.

The fact that many professed believers are popular and praised by the world does not indicate that the world has raised its standards but that many who call themselves by Christ’s name have lowered theirs. As the time for Christ’s appearing grows closer we can expect opposition from the world to increase, not decrease. When Christians are not persecuted in some way by society it means that they are reflecting rather than confronting that society. And when we please the world we can be sure that we grieve the Lord (cf. James 4:4; 1 John 2:15–17).

When (hotan) can also mean whenever. The idea conveyed in the term is not that believers will be in a constant state of opposition, ridicule, or persecution, but that, whenever those things come to us because of our faith, we should not be surprised or resentful. Jesus was not constantly opposed and ridiculed, nor were the apostles. There were times of peace and even popularity. But every faithful believer will at times have some resistance and ridicule from the world, while others, for God’s own purposes, will endure more extreme suffering. But whenever and however affliction comes to the child of God, his heavenly Father will be there with him to encourage and to bless. Our responsibility is not to seek out persecution, but to be willing to endure whatever trouble our faithfulness to Jesus Christ may bring, and to see it as a confirmation of true salvation.

The way to avoid persecution is obvious and easy. To live like the world, or at least to “live and let live,” will cost us nothing. To mimic the world’s standards, or never to criticize them, will cost us nothing. To keep quiet about the gospel, especially the truth that apart from its saving power men remain in their sins and are destined for hell, will cost us nothing. To go along with the world, to laugh at its jokes, to enjoy its entertainment, to smile when it mocks God and takes His name in vain, and to be ashamed to take a stand for Christ will not bring persecution. Those are the habits of sham Christians.

Jesus does not take faithlessness lightly. “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him will the Son of Man be ashamed when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels” (Luke 9:26). If we are ashamed of Christ, He will be ashamed of us. Christ also warned, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their fathers used to treat the false prophets” (Luke 6:26). To be popular with everyone is either to have compromised the faith or not to have true faith at all.

Though it was early in His ministry, by the time Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount He had already faced opposition. After He healed the man on the Sabbath, “the Pharisees went out and immediately began taking counsel with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him” (Mark 3:6). We learn from Luke that they were actually hoping Jesus would heal on the Sabbath “in order that they might find reason to accuse Him” (Luke 6:7). They already hated His teaching and wanted Him to commit an act serious enough to warrant His arrest.

Our Lord made it clear from His earliest teaching, and His opponents made it clear from their earliest reactions, that following Him was costly. Those who entered His kingdom would suffer for Him before they would reign with Him. That is the hard honesty that every preacher, evangelist, and witness of Christ should exemplify. We do the Lord no honor and those to whom we witness no benefit by hiding or minimizing the cost of following Him.

The cost of discipleship is billed to believers in many different ways. A Christian stonemason in Ephesus in Paul’s day might have been asked to help build a pagan temple or shrine. Because he could not do that in good conscience, his faith would cost him the work and possibly his job and career. A believer today might be expected to hedge on the quality of his work in order to increase company profits. To follow His conscience in obedience to the Lord could also cost his job or at least a promotion. A Christian housewife who refuses to listen to gossip or to laugh at the crude jokes of her neighbors may find herself ostracized. Some costs will be known in advance and some will surprise us. Some costs will be great and some will be slight. But by the Lord’s and the apostles’ repeated promises, faithfulness always has a cost, which true Christians are willing to pay (contrast Matt. 13:20–21).

The second-century Christian leader Tertullian was once approached by a man who said, “I have come to Christ, but I don’t know what to do. I have a job that I don’t think is consistent with what Scripture teaches. What can I do? I must live.” To that Tertullian replied, “Must you?” Loyalty to Christ is the Christian’s only true choice. To be prepared for kingdom life is to be prepared for loneliness, misunderstanding, ridicule, rejection, and unfair treatment of every sort.

In the early days of the church the price paid was often the ultimate. To choose Christ might mean choosing death by stoning, by being covered with pitch and used as a human torch for Nero, or by being wrapped in animal skins and thrown to vicious hunting dogs. To choose Christ could mean torture by any number of excessively cruel and painful ways. That was the very thing Christ had in mind when He identified His followers as those willing to bear their crosses. That has no reference to mystical devotion, but is a call to be ready to die, if need be, for the cause of the Lord (see Matt. 10:35–39; 16:24–25).

In resentment against the gospel the Romans invented charges against Christians, such as accusing them of being cannibals because in the Lord’s Supper they spoke of eating Jesus’ body and drinking His blood. They accused them of having sexual orgies at their love feasts and even of setting fire to Rome. They branded believers as revolutionaries because they called Jesus Lord and King and spoke of God’s destroying the earth by fire.

By the end of the first century, Rome had expanded almost to the outer limits of the known world, and unity became more and more of a problem. Because only the emperor personified the entire empire, the caesars came to be deified, and their worship was demanded as a unifying and cohesive influence. It became compulsory to give a verbal oath of allegiance to caesar once a year, for which a person would be given a verifying certificate, called a libellus. After publicly proclaiming, “Caesar is Lord,” the person was free to worship any other gods he chose. Because faithful Christians refused to declare such an allegiance to anyone but Christ, they were considered traitors-for which they suffered confiscation of property, loss of work, imprisonment, and often death. One Roman poet spoke of them as “the panting, huddling flock whose only crime was Christ.”

In the last beatitude Jesus speaks of three specific types of affliction endured for Christ’s sake: physical persecution, verbal insult, and false accusation.

Physical Persecution

First, Jesus says, we can expect physical persecution. Have been persecuted (v. 10), persecute (v. 11), and persecuted (v. 12) are from diōkō, which has the basic meaning of chasing, driving away, or pursuing. From that meaning developed the connotations of physical persecution, harassment, abuse, and other unjust treatment.

All of the other beatitudes have to do with inner qualities, attitudes, and spiritual character. The eighth beatitude speaks of external things that happen to believers, but the teaching behind these results also has to do with attitude. The believer who has the qualities required in the previous beatitudes will also have the quality of willingness to face persecution for the sake of righteousness. He will have the attitude of self-sacrifice for the sake of Christ. It is the lack of fear and shame and the presence of courage and boldness that says, “I will be in this world what Christ would have me be. I will say in this world what Christ will have me say. Whatever it costs, I will be and say those things.”

The Greek verb is a passive perfect participle, and could be translated “allow themselves to be persecuted.” The perfect form indicates continuousness, in this case a continuous willingness to endure persecution if it is the price of godly living. This beatitude speaks of a constant attitude of accepting whatever faithfulness to Christ may bring.

It is in the demands of this beatitude that many Christians break down in their obedience to the Lord, because here is where the genuineness of their response to the other beatitudes is most strongly tested. It is here where we are most tempted to compromise the righteousness we have hungered and thirsted for. It is here where we find it convenient to lower God’s standards to accommodate the world and thereby avoid conflicts and problems that we know obedience will bring.

But God does not want His gospel altered under pretense of its being less demanding, less righteous, or less truthful than it is. He does not want witnesses who lead the unsaved into thinking that the Christ life costs nothing. A synthetic gospel, a man-made seed, produces no real fruit.[2]


5:10 The next beatitude deals with those who are persecuted, not for their own wrongdoings, but for righteousness’ sake. The kingdom of heaven is promised to those believers who suffer for doing right. Their integrity condemns the ungodly world and brings out its hostility. People hate a righteous life because it exposes their own unrighteousness.[3]


10 It is no accident that Jesus should pass from peacemaking to persecution, for the world enjoys its cherished hates and prejudices so much that the peacemaker is not always welcome. Opposition is a normal mark of being a disciple of Jesus, as normal as hungering for righteousness or being merciful (see Jn 15:18–25; Ac 14:22; 2 Ti 3:12; 1 Pe 4:13–14; cf. the woe in Lk 6:26). Lachs (“Textual Observations,” 101–3) cannot believe Christians were ever persecuted because of righteousness; so he repoints an alleged underlying Hebrew text to read “because of the righteous One”—a reference to Jesus. But he underestimates how offensive genuine righteousness, “proper conduct before God” (Przybylski, Righteousness in Matthew, 99), really is (cf. Isa 51:7). The reward of these persecuted people is the same as the reward of the poor in spirit—namely, the kingdom of heaven, which terminates the inclusio (see comments at v. 3).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 129). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 220–224). 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 26 – THE WALK OF FAITH

Enoch walked with God…for God took him.

Genesis 5:24

There are spiritual lessons for every Christian believer in the life of godly Enoch, seventh generation from Adam through Adam’s third son, Seth.

We are impressed that he could resist the devil and find fellowship with his Creator God, for he lived in a worldly society headed for destruction.

Enoch’s daily walk was a walk of faith, a walk of fellowship with God. The Scriptures are trying to assure us that if Enoch could live and walk with God by faith in the midst of his sinful generation, we likewise should be able to follow his example because the human race is the same and God is the same!

Beyond that, Enoch reminds us that the quality and boldness of our faith will be the measure of our preparation for the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. We walk by faith as Enoch did, and although it is now twenty centuries after Christ’s sojourn on earth, we hold firmly to the New Testament promise that our risen Lord will return to earth again!

Lord, the example of Your servant Enoch is a reminder to me that it is possible to be godly in the midst of a perverse generation. Help me to remain faithful to You and Your ways, O Lord.[1]


5:24 walked with God … was not, for God took him. Enoch is the only break in the chapter from the incessant comment, “and he died.” Cf. 4:17, 18; 1Ch 1:3; Lk 3:37; Heb 11:5; Jude 14. Only one other man is said to have enjoyed this intimacy of relationship in walking with God, Noah (6:9). Enoch experienced being taken to heaven alive by God, as did Elijah later (2Ki 2:1–12).[2]


5:24 Enoch’s walk with God makes him an early example of faith (Heb. 11:5–6), and his being taken by God without dying anticipates the eternal resurrection life that Christ gives (Rom. 8:11).[3]


5:24 he was no more The writer omits the typical formulaic ending referring to the death of the individual (see note on Gen 5:3–31), suggesting that Enoch did not experience a normal death. The nt also asserts that Enoch did not die (Heb 11:5).

took him Similar language appears in the description of Elijah’s departure from earth in God’s fiery chariot (2 Kgs 2:1, 5, 9–11).[4]


5:24 was not, for God took him. Of all the saints recorded in the OT, only Enoch and Elijah did not experience physical death (2 Kin. 2:1–12; Heb. 11:5).[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ge 5:24). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 60). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ge 5:24). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 22). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

APRIL 26 – TODAY, ASK GOD TO REMOVE EVERY FALSE TRUST

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

JEREMIAH 17:9

Many of us have become extremely skillful in arranging our lives so as to admit the truth of Christianity without being embarrassed by its implications.

We arrange things so that we can get on well enough without divine aid, while at the same time ostensibly seeking it!

We boast in the Lord but watch carefully that we never get caught depending on Him!

To many, Christ is little more than an idea, or at best an ideal: He is not a fact! They talk as if He were real and act as if He were not.

We can prove our faith by our committal to it—and in no other way!

Any belief that does not command the one who holds it is not a real belief: it is a pseudo belief only. And it might shock some of us profoundly if we were brought suddenly face-to-face with our beliefs and forced to test them in the fires of practical living!

What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now as they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God!

Today is the best time to invite God to remove every false trust, to disengage our hearts from all secret hiding places, and to bring us out into the open where we can discover for ourselves whether we actually trust Him. This is a harsh cure, but it is a sure one![1]


17:9 heart. A metaphor for the human will and emotions (cf. vv. 5–7). deceitful. Tortuous, uneven, and crooked like a bad road. desperately sick. Medically incurable (15:18; 30:12, 15; Job 34:6; Isa. 17:11; Mic. 1:9). who can understand it? A rhetorical question expecting a negative answer. However, this strongly negative assessment of the human heart is not intended as a description of the heart of a believer under the new covenant, where God promises to write his law on people’s hearts (Jer. 31:33; 32:40; cf. Ezek. 36:26; Rom. 5:5; 6:17; Heb. 10:22; 1 John 3:21).[2]


17:9 The heart is deceitful more than anything else Refers to human thoughts and feelings. The Hebrew term for the heart metaphorically refers to a person’s inner life—the will, thoughts, motivations, and emotions. This is a different understanding than “heart” in modern Western thinking, which primarily indicates the seat of emotions.

Who can understand it? Only Yahweh understands the thoughts and motivations of His creation (Jer 17:10).[3]


17:9 The heart. In the OT, the “heart” is more than the seat of emotion. It represents the basis of character, including the mind and the will (4:19; Prov. 4:23; 16:23). See theological note “Free Will.”

free will

Every choice that we make in life we make for some reason. Our decisions are based upon what seems good for us at the moment, all things considered. We do some things out of intense desire. We do other things with no awareness of desire at all. Yet the desire is there or we wouldn’t choose to do them. This is the very essence of free will—to choose according to our desires.

Jonathan Edwards, in his work The Freedom of the Will, defines the will as “that by which the mind chooses.” There can be no doubt that human beings do indeed make choices. I am choosing to write; you are choosing to read. I will to write, and writing is set in motion. When the idea of freedom is added, however, the issue becomes terribly complicated. We have to ask, freedom to do what? Even the most ardent Calvinist would not deny that the will is free to choose whatever it desires. Even the most ardent Arminian would agree that the will is not free to choose what it does not desire.

With regard to salvation, the question then becomes, what do human beings desire? The Arminian believes that some desire to repent and be saved. Others desire to flee from God and thus reap eternal damnation. Why different people have different desires is never made clear by the Arminian. The Calvinist holds that all human beings desire to flee from God unless and until the Holy Spirit performs a work of regeneration. That regeneration changes our desires so that we will freely repent and be saved.

It is important to note that even the unregenerate are never forced against their will. Their wills are changed without their permission, but they are always free to choose as they will. Thus we are indeed free to do as we will. We are not free, however, to choose or select our nature. One cannot simply declare, “Henceforth I will desire only the good” anymore than Christ could have declared, “Henceforth I will desire only evil.” This is where our freedom stops.

The Fall left the human will intact insofar as we still have the faculty of choosing. Our minds have been darkened by sin and our desires bound by wicked impulses. But we can still think, choose, and act. Yet something terrible has happened to us. We have lost all desire for God. The thoughts and desires of our heart are only evil continuously. The freedom of our will is a curse. Because we can still choose according to our desires, we choose to sin and thus we become accountable to the judgment of God.

Augustine said that we still have free will, but we have lost our liberty. The royal liberty of which the Bible speaks is the freedom or power to choose Christ as our own. But until our heart is changed by the Holy Spirit, we have no desire for Christ. Without that desire we never will choose Him. God must awaken our soul and give us a desire for Christ before we will ever be inclined to choose Him.

Edwards said that as fallen human beings we retain our natural freedom (the power to act according to our desires) but lose moral freedom. Moral freedom includes the disposition, inclination, and desire of the soul toward righteousness. It is this inclination that was lost in the Fall.

Every choice I make is determined by something. There is a reason for it, a desire behind it. This sounds like determinism. By no means! Determinism teaches that our actions are completely controlled by something external to us, making us do what we don’t want to do. That is coercion and is opposed to freedom.

How can our choices be determined but not coerced? Because they are determined by something within—by what we are and by what we desire. They are determined by ourselves. This is self-determination, which is the very essence of freedom.

To be sure, for us to choose Christ, God must change our heart. That is precisely what He does. He changes our heart for us. He gives us a desire for Himself that we otherwise would not have. Then we choose Him out of the desire that is within us. We freely choose Him because we want to choose Him. That is the wonder of His grace.[4]

 


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

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 1405–1406). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Je 17:9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (pp. 1292–1293). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

April 26 – Jesus and Non-retaliation: Dignity

Whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.—Matt. 5:39b

God has created every human being in His image, and therefore He demands that we treat one another with basic respect, dignity, and consideration. But in a sinful world, this will not always happen, so believers can expect to suffer persecution simply because of their basic testimony (cf. Matt. 10:16–23; John 15:18–16:3). This leaves one inevitable issue to deal with: how should Christians respond to ridicule, insult, or physical abuse.

The Lord Jesus, of course, is the perfect example of how to behave when personally attacked. When the Jewish leaders and Roman soldiers physically abused Him and mocked Him prior to His crucifixion, He did not react in words or actions (Matt. 26:67–68). As Jesus hung from the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Peter summarizes well how we should respond in view of Christ’s example:

When you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. (1 Peter 2:20–23)

ASK YOURSELF
When have you succeeded in practicing this kind of self-control and restraint? What happened as a result? Even if it left you feeling misunderstood and stepped upon, what value did you experience from obeying what Jesus has commanded?[1]

Dignity

but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also. (5:39b)

As human beings we have the right to be treated with basic dignity, respect, and consideration. Because every person is created in His image, God demands that we treat one another with respect. But he knows that we will not always be so treated. Often for the very reason that we belong to God and go by the name of His Son, we will be mistreated, ridiculed, and held in contempt (see Matt. 10:16–23; John 15:18—16:3; 1 Pet. 2:20–21; 3:13–17; 4:12–19; cf. 2 Tim. 3:12). It is the way we react to mistreatment and insult that Jesus is talking about here.

Among Jews, a slap or other striking in the face was among the most demeaning and contemptuous of acts (cf. Matt. 26:67–68; Mark 14:65; John 18:22). To strike someone elsewhere on the body might cause more physical harm, but a slap in the face was an attack on one’s honor and was considered to be a terrible indignity. It was to be treated with disdain, as being less than a human. Even a slave would rather have been stuck across the back with a whip than be slapped in the face by his master’s hand.

To strike someone on the right cheek would then be a vicious angry reaction, indicating an act of insult. Yet when we are insulted, maligned, and treated with contempt-literally or figuratively struck on the cheek by someone-we are to turn to him the other also. But Jesus’ point pertains more to what we are not to do than what we are to do. Turning the other cheek symbolizes the nonavenging, nonretaliatory, humble, and gentle spirit that is to characterize kingdom citizens (cf. vv. 3, 5).

Jesus strongly resisted evil that was directed against others, especially His Father-as when He cleansed the Temple of those who defiled His Father’s house. But He did not resist by personal vengeance any evil directed at Himself. When the leaders of the Sanhedrin, and later the soldiers, physically abused Him and mocked Him, He did not retaliate either in words or in actions (Matt. 26:67–68). As Isaiah had predicted of Him, Christ gave His back to those who struck Him and His cheeks to those who plucked out His beard (Isa. 50:6). As Jesus hung from the cross, He prayed, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Peter sums up our Lord’s example: “But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:20–23).

When someone attacks our right to dignity, we too are not to defend that right by retaliation. We are to leave the protection and defense of our dignity in God’s hands, knowing that one day we will live and reign with him in His kingdom in great glory.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 125). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (p. 333). Chicago: Moody Press.

APRIL 26 – AMAZING GRACE

That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

—Ephesians 2:7

For us who stand under the disapproval of God, who by sin lie under sentence of God’s eternal, everlasting displeasure and banishment, grace is an incomprehensibly immense and overwhelming plenitude of kindness and goodness. If we could only remember it, we wouldn’t have to be played with and entertained so much. If we could only remember the grace of God toward us who have nothing but demerit, we would be overwhelmed by this incomprehensibly immense attribute, so vast, so huge, that nobody can ever grasp it or hope to understand it.

Would God have put up with us this long if He had only a limited amount of grace? If He had only a limited amount of anything, He wouldn’t be God….

God’s immensity, God’s infinitude must mean that the grace of God must always be immeasurably full. We sing “Amazing Grace”—why, of course it’s amazing! How can we comprehend the fullness of the grace of God? AOG105-106

Lord, how amazing it is that Your grace extends infinitely beyond the depths of my sin. May I remember that as I go about my day. Amen. [1]


The phrase in order that indicates that the purpose of our being exalted to the supernatural sphere of God’s preserve and power is that we may forever be blessed. But it is not only for our benefit and glory. God’s greater purpose in salvation is for His own sake, in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. That, too, is obviously for our benefit, but it is first of all for God’s, because it displays for all eternity the surpassing riches of His grace (cf. 3:10). Through His endless kindness toward us in Christ Jesus the Father glorifies Himself even as He blesses us. From the moment of salvation throughout the ages to come we never stop receiving the grace and kindness of God. The ages to come is different from the age to come in 1:21 and refers to eternity. He glorifies Himself by eternally blessing us with “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3) and by bestowing on us His endless and limitless grace and kindness. The whole of heaven will glorify Him because of what He has done for us (Rev. 7:10–12).[2]


2:7 This miracle of transforming grace will be the subject of eternal revelation. Throughout the endless ages God will be unveiling to the heavenly throng what it cost Him to send His Son to this jungle of sin, and what it cost the Lord Jesus to bear our sins at the cross. It is a subject that will never be exhausted. Again Paul builds words upon words to suggest something of its immensity:

His kindness toward us

His grace in His kindness toward us

The riches of His grace in His kindness toward us

The exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us

Now it follows that if God will be disclosing this throughout eternity, then we will be learning forever and ever. Heaven will be our school. God will be the Teacher. His grace will be the subject. We will be the students. And the school term will be eternity.

This should deliver us from the idea that we will know everything when we get to heaven. Only God knows everything, and we will never be equal with Him.

It also raises the interesting question: How much will we know when we get to heaven? And it suggests the possibility that we can prepare for the heavenly university by majoring in the Bible right now.[3]


7 Using the conjunction hina (“in order that”), Paul supplies the purpose for God’s loving actions of bringing to life, raising, and seating believers with Christ in the heavenly realms: that in the ages to come God might display the surpassing riches of his grace shown to us in Christ. Paul’s verb for “show” (endeiknymi, GK 1892) has the sense of causing something to be known (cf. BDAG, 331). It often bears the connotation of “demonstrate” (e.g., Ro 9:22, where God demonstrates his wrath). Here with the middle voice Paul captures a godly motivation: for his own benefit God exhibits his grace. This divine display will shine forth “in the coming ages.”

Note the intriguing plural “ages.” Paul referred to this present age in v. 2: unbelievers live according to the world system of this present age (see commentary). In 1:21 Paul wrote as though there were only two ages—the present age and the one to come. Jesus promised to be with his followers until the end of the age (Mt 28:20). But after this age, will there be multiple ages to come? I find no evidence elsewhere to confirm this. Paul speaks of Christians as the ones “on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Co 10:11). Paul also refers to multiple ages in the past in Ephesians 3:9 and Colossians 1:26 (cf. Heb 9:26). This is made more complicated by Paul’s evident realized eschatology that we’ve seen in this letter (paralleling 2 Co 5:17, where the new age has already begun). So there were ages (eras, or epochs) in the past, but the present age has overlapped with this one in a true sense. We are better off not to expect these various texts to reveal a systematic chronology but to leave the basic two-age scenario intact. Perhaps “ages” only suggests that in the remaining years of this age and the one to come God’s display of his grace will unfold in successive phases as it becomes progressively known and understood.

God will put on display the “incomparable” (the Greek adjective here is related to the noun from which we get the word “hyperbole”) riches of his grace (cf. 1:7). In a classic understatement, Paul says that grace materializes as “kindness” (chrēstotēs, GK 5983), “the quality of being helpful or beneficial, goodness, kindness, generosity” (BDAG, 1090). All of these descriptors fit the action of what God’s grace secured “in Christ” (either his grace in the corporate Christ—those in Christ—or his grace anchored in Christ). And throughout the aeons to come this surpassing grace that resulted in God’s generosity to us will be on display for all to see, admire, and celebrate.[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. (1986). Ephesians (p. 60). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1918). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 69). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 26 – The Resurrection: Motive for Salvation

“What will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?”

1 Corinthians 15:29

✧✧✧

The fact of the Resurrection often is a powerful testimony to draw people to saving faith in Christ.

The apostle Paul knew that believers who face death with joy and hope can present powerful testimonies to unbelievers. The prospect of life in Heaven and a reunion with loved ones is a strong motive for people to hear and receive the gospel. When believers die, their spirits go immediately to be with the Lord. And one day in the future their glorified bodies will rejoin their spirits, and Christians will worship and enjoy God for all eternity.

First Corinthians 15:29 uses the term “baptized” to refer to those who were testifying that they were Christians. Although the mere act of baptism does not save a person, anyone who is an obedient Christian will be baptized. In Paul’s day, the church assumed that any believer would have been baptized, and people were not baptized unless the church was confident their profession of faith was genuine.

“The dead” in 1 Corinthians 15:29 could also include believers, those who have died and whose lives were persuasive testimonies to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. People were being saved (baptized) in Corinth because of (“for”) the faithful witness of deceased believers.

The Resurrection is still a powerful incentive to salvation. In my years as a pastor I have seen people come to Christ after the death of a believing spouse or parent. Those husbands and wives, sons and daughters could not bear the thought of never seeing their loved one again. Those converted survivors were unknowingly touched and changed by the reunion hope that already sustains believers. That hope, based on the promise of resurrection, upheld David after the death of his infant son: “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:23).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord’s forgiveness for times when your testimony has been weak and the resurrection hope in your life has not been evident.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 22:23–33. What did the Sadducees’ hypothetical story demonstrate about their belief concerning resurrection? ✧ How important was the doctrine of resurrection to Jesus? ✧ To what did He appeal in correcting the Sadducees?[1]


An Incentive for Salvation

Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? (15:29)

This verse is one of the most difficult in all of Scripture, and has many legitimate possible interpretations; it has also, however, been used to support many strange and heretical ideas. The careful and honest interpreter may survey the several dozen interpretations offered and still not be dogmatic about what it means. But we can be dogmatic, from the clear teaching of other parts of Scripture, about some of the things it does not mean. As to what this verse does mean, we can only guess, since history has locked it into obscurity.

We can be sure, for example, that it does not teach vicarious, or proxy, baptism for the dead, as claimed by ancient gnostic heretics such as Marcion and by the Mormon church today. Paul did not teach that a person who has died can be saved, or helped in any way, by another person’s being baptized in his behalf. Baptismal regeneration, the idea that one is saved by being baptized, or that baptism is in some way necessary for salvation, is unscriptural. The idea of vicarious baptismal regeneration is still further removed from biblical truth. If a person cannot save himself by being baptized, he certainly cannot save anyone else through that act. Salvation is by personal faith in Jesus Christ alone. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8; cf. Rom. 3:28; etc.). That is the repeated and consistent teaching of both the Old and New Testaments. Quoting from Genesis 15:6, Paul says, “For what does the Scripture say? ‘And Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness’ ” (Rom. 4:3). The only way any person has ever come to God is by personal faith.

If one person’s faith cannot save another, then certainly one person’s baptism cannot save another. Baptism is simply an act of obedient faith that proclaims identity with Christ (Rom. 6:3–4). No one is saved by baptism—not even living persons, much less dead ones. “It is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Heb. 9:27). Death ends all opportunity for salvation and for spiritual help of any sort.

In the New Testament baptism is closely associated with salvation, of which it is an outward testimony. Although a person does not have to be baptized to be a Christian, he has to be baptized to be an obedient Christian—with the obvious exception of a believer who has no opportunity to be baptized before death. Baptism is an integral part of Christ’s Great Commission (Matt. 28:19). In the early church a person who was saved was assumed to have been baptized; and a person was not baptized unless the church was satisfied he was saved. To ask, then, if a person was baptized, was equivalent to asking if he was saved.

If we assume that Paul was using the term baptized in that sense, then those … who are baptized could refer to those who were giving testimony that they were Christians. In other words, he was simply referring to believers under the title of those who are baptized, not to some special act of baptism. The dead could also refer to Christians, to deceased believers whose lives were a persuasive testimony leading to the salvation of the baptized. This seems to be a reasonable view that does no injustice to the text or context.

The Greek huper, translated for in verse 29, has a dozen or more meanings, and shades of meaning—including “for,” “above,” “about,” “across,” “beyond,” “on behalf of,” “instead of,” “because of,” and “in reference to”—depending on grammatical structure and context. Although for is a perfectly legitimate translation here, in light of the context and of Paul’s clear teaching elsewhere, “because of” could also be a proper rendering.

In light of that reasoning and interpretation, we could guess that Paul may have simply been saying that people were being saved (baptism being the sign) because of the exemplary lives and witness of faithful believers who had died. Whether this is the right interpretation of this verse we cannot be certain, but we can be certain that people often come to salvation because of the testimony of those whom they desire to emulate.

Some years ago a young man in our church was told by his doctors that he had only a short time to live. His response was not one of regret or bitterness but of joy at the prospect of soon being with his Savior. Because of his confident faith and contentment in face of death, one person I know of, and perhaps more, came to a saving knowledge of Christ.

During the Finnish–Russian war seven captured Russian soldiers were sentenced to death by the Finnish army. The evening before they were to be shot, one of the soldiers began singing “Safe in the Arms of Jesus.” Asked why he was singing such a song, he answered tearfully that he had heard it sung by a group of Salvation Army “soldiers” just three weeks earlier. As a boy he had heard his mother talk and sing of Jesus many times, but would not accept her Savior. The previous night, as he lay contemplating his execution, he had a vision of his mother’s face, which reminded him of the hymn he had recently heard. The words of the song and verses from the Bible that he had heard long ago came to his mind. He testified before his fellow prisoners and his captors that he had prayed for Christ to forgive his sins and cleanse his soul and make him ready to stand before God. All the men, prisoners and guards alike, were deeply moved, and most spent the night praying, weeping, talking about spiritual things, and singing hymns. In the morning, just before the seven were shot, they asked to be able to sing once more “Safe in the Arms of Jesus,” which they were allowed to do.

At least one other of the Russian soldiers had confessed Christ during the night. In addition, the Finnish officer in charge said, “`What happened in the hearts of the others I don’t know, but … I was a new man from that hour. I had met Christ in one of His loveliest and youngest disciples, and I had seen enough to realize that I too could be His.”

It may be that the first seeds of faith were planted in Paul’s own heart by the testimony of Stephen, whose death the young Paul (then Saul) witnessed and whose confident and loving dying testimony he heard (Acts 7:59—8:1).

In 1 Corinthians 15:29 Paul may be affirming the truth that Christians who face death with joy and hope are a powerful testimony. The prospect of eternal life, of resurrection life, of reunion with loved ones, is a strong motive for people to listen to and accept the gospel. Resurrection is one of the greatest assurances that God gives to those who trust in His Son. For those who believe in Jesus Christ, the grave is not the end. At death our spirits are not absorbed back into some cosmic divine mind. When we die we will go immediately to be with the Lord—as an individual, personal being. Not only that, but one day our glorified bodies will rejoin our spirits, and we will live as whole, completed human beings throughout all of eternity with all who have loved and worshiped God.

Another way in which the believing dead are used as a means of salvation is through the hope of reunion. Many believers have been drawn to the Savior because of a strong desire to be united with a loved one who has gone to be with the Lord. I have never led a funeral service in which I did not make such an appeal. I have seen a husband who would not come to Christ until his wife died. Because he could not bear the thought of not seeing her again, committing his own life and eternity into the hands of the One he knew was her Lord was made more attractive. I have seen children come to Christ after their mother’s death, motivated in part by the desire one day to be united with her. What her pleading and praying could not do, her death accomplished.

It is also true, of course, that the resurrection holds out great reunion hope for those who already are believers. The hope that sustained David after the death of his infant son was that, though “he will not return to me,” “I shall go to him” (2 Sam. 12:23). David knew that one day he and his son would be reunited.

Perhaps confused by some of the same pagan philosophy that plagued the Corinthian church, the Thessalonian believers were concerned because they thought their believing loved ones and friends who had died somehow had no prospect of a future life. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep,” Paul wrote them, “that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thess. 4:13–14). “Like you,” He was assuring them, “they will be resurrected, and you will all be reunited by the Lord when He returns.”

If there is no resurrection, no hope of a future life, Paul asked, why are people coming to Christ because of the testimony of believers who have died? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they [many present Christians] baptized for [become believers because of the testimony of] them [deceased faithful believers]?[2]


15:29 Verse 29 is perhaps one of the most difficult and obscure verses in all the Bible. Many explanations have been offered as to its meaning. For instance, it is contended by some that living believers may be baptized for those who have died without having undergone this rite. Such a meaning is quite foreign to the Scriptures. It is based on a single verse and must be rejected, not having the collective support of other Scripture. Others believe that baptism for the dead means that in baptism we reckon ourselves to have died. This is a possible meaning, but it does not fit in too well with the context.

The interpretation which seems to suit the context best is this: At the time Paul wrote, there was fierce persecution against those who took a public stand for Christ. This persecution was especially vicious at the time of their baptism. It often happened that those who publicly proclaimed their faith in Christ in the waters of baptism were martyred shortly thereafter. But did this stop others from being saved and from taking their place in baptism? Not at all. It seemed as though there were always new replacements coming along to fill up the ranks of those who had been martyred. As they stepped into the waters of baptism, in a very real sense they were being baptized for, or in the place of (Gk. huper) the dead. Hence the dead here refers to those who died as a result of their bold witness for Christ. Now the apostle’s argument here is that it would be foolish to be thus baptized to fill up the ranks of those who had died if there is no such thing as resurrection from the dead. It would be like sending replacement troops to fill up the ranks of an army that is fighting a lost cause. It would be like fighting on in a hopeless situation. If the dead do not rise at all, why then are they baptized for the dead?[3]


29 It seems on the surface as though Paul is using an ad hominem argument here to get a point across. In Corinth people were being baptized “for the dead” (hyper tōn nekrōn), and Paul points out the logical inconsistency between that baptism and the doctrine of the resurrection. If the dead will never come back to any sort of life again, then why baptize on their behalf?

But several problems emerge with this interpretation. Let me first observe that we should admit that we will probably never know precisely what this phrase means. If it does refer to some vicarious baptism, we have no idea what this practice might have involved, since this is the only first-century reference to it anywhere in Christian literature. Second, if some such baptism was happening in Corinth, was it being practiced by the same people who insisted that “there is no resurrection of the dead”? If not, then the argument would hold no more weight for these “heretics” than the fact that the doctrine of the resurrection is an apostolic doctrine. Third, it seems unusual for Paul not to make any other comment about such a practice since elsewhere for him baptism is the sign of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through faith; this baptism here, however, involves no faith on the part of the dead person. Nowhere in the NT is there a sense that the faith of a particular person can reach back to cover previous generations. (There is, of course, in 7:14 a sense of faith’s reaching forward to cover one’s children.)

With this in mind, it makes more sense to say that the word nekros (“dead,” GK 3738) probably has a more spiritual meaning rather than a physical meaning. We do know that in Paul’s theology of baptism the water symbolized a person’s dying to sin and rising again to a new life (see Ro 6:3–4; Col 2:12–13). Moreover, in Romans 8:10 Paul relates the deadness of a sinner to the body: “But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” As Garland, 719, says, “Baptism assumes death and resurrection. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then baptism becomes a pointless rite that falsely represents something that will not happen. The dead will not rise.” If this theology underlies v. 29, it explains why Paul makes no further comment on the practice.

But if this interpretation is adopted, what about the preposition hyper (“for,” “in behalf of”), which Paul never uses elsewhere in his doctrine of baptism? We should note that prepositions in Hellenistic Greek were rather slippery words that often had a host of nuances. Note how the expression “for whom Christ died” uses hyper in Romans 14:15 but dia in 1 Corinthians 8:11. Hyper here may mean no more than that believers are being baptized because they realize they are dead in sin and are being raised to a new life in Christ.

If what Paul is reflecting here is his developing theology of baptism, this would be an added element for the Corinthians to think about. They had, after all, sought baptism at one point. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then what is the meaning of their baptism? If baptism symbolizes the death of the believer’s body to sin and the emergence of a new bodily life in Christ, this symbolism has no meaning apart from a doctrine of the resurrection of the dead.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 424–427). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1807). 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, pp. 398–399). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 26 – Proclaiming Victory

He went and preached to the spirits in prison.

1 Peter 3:19

 

Christ went to preach a triumphant sermon before His resurrection Sunday morning. The term for “preached” in today’s verse refers to making a proclamation or announcing a triumph. In ancient times, a herald would precede generals and kings in the celebration of military victories, announcing to all the victories that were won in battle.

That’s what Jesus went to do—not to preach the gospel but to announce His triumph over sin, death, hell, demons, and Satan. He didn’t go to win souls but to proclaim victory over the enemy. In spite of the unjust suffering they subjected Him to, He could declare ultimate victory over sin and death for you and me.[1]


In which also refers to what occurred with His living spirit while His dead physical body lay in the tomb (concerning His burial, see Matt. 27:57–60; John 19:38–42). He went (poreuomai) denotes going from one place to another (see also v. 22, where the word is used concerning the ascension). When the text says Christ made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, it is indicating that He purposefully went to an actual place to make a triumphant announcement to captive beings before He arose on the third day.[2]


3:19 Verses 19, 20 constitute one of the most puzzling and intriguing texts in the NT. It has been made the pretext for such unbiblical doctrines as purgatory on the one hand and universal salvation on the other. However, among evangelical Christians, there are two commonly accepted interpretations.

According to the first, Christ went to Hades in spirit between His death and resurrection, and proclaimed the triumph of His mighty work on the cross. There is disagreement among proponents of this view as to whether the spirits in prison were believers, unbelievers, or both. But there is fairly general agreement that the Lord Jesus did not preach the gospel to them. That would involve the doctrine of a second chance which is nowhere taught in the Bible. Those who hold this view often link this passage with Ephesians 4:9 where the Lord is described as descending “into the lower parts of the earth.” They cite this as added proof that He went to Hades in the disembodied state and heralded His victory at Calvary. They also cite the words of the Apostles’ Creed—“descended into hell.”

The second interpretation is that Peter is describing what happened in the days of Noah. It was the spirit of Christ who preached through Noah to the unbelieving generation before the flood. They were not disembodied spirits at that time, but living men and women who rejected the warnings of Noah and were destroyed by the flood. So now they are spirits in the prison of Hades.

This second view best fits the context and has the least difficulties connected with it. Let us examine the passage phrase by phrase.

By whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison. The relative pronoun whom obviously refers back to Spirit at the end of verse 18. We understand this to mean the Holy Spirit. In 1:11 of this Letter the “Spirit of Christ,” that is, the Holy Spirit, is described as speaking through the prophets of the OT. And in Genesis 6:3, God speaks of His Spirit, that is, the Holy Spirit, as nearing the limit of endurance with the antediluvians.

He went and preached. As already mentioned, it was Christ who preached, but he preached through Noah. In 2 Peter 2:5, Noah is described as a “preacher of righteousness.” It is the same root word used here of Christ’s preaching.

To the spirits now in prison. These were the people to whom Noah preached—living men and women who heard the warning of an impending flood and the promise of salvation in the ark. They rejected the message and were drowned in the deluge. They are now disembodied spirits in prison, awaiting the final judgment.

So the verse may be amplified as follows: “by whom (the Holy Spirit) He (Christ) went and preached (through Noah) to the spirits now in prison (Hades).”

But what right do we have to assume that the spirits in prison were the living men in Noah’s day? The answer is found in the following verse.[3]


3:19 made proclamation. Between Christ’s death and resurrection, His living spirit went to the demon spirits bound in the abyss and proclaimed that, in spite of His death, He had triumphed over them (see notes on Col 2:14, 15). spirits now in prison. This refers to fallen angels (demons), who were permanently bound because of heinous wickedness. The demons who are not so bound resist such a sentence (cf. Lk 8:31). In the end, they will all be sent to the eternal lake of fire (Mt 25:41; Rev 20:10).[4]


3:19 spirits in prison. There is much debate about the identity of these spirits. The Greek term pneuma (“spirit”), in either singular or plural, can mean either human spirits or angels, depending on the context (cf. Num. 16:22; 27:16; Acts 7:59; Heb. 12:23; etc.). Among the three most common interpretations, the first two fit best with the rest of Scripture and with historic orthodox Christian doctrine. These are:

(1) The first interpretation understands “spirits” (Gk. pneumasin, plural) as referring to the unsaved (human spirits) of Noah’s day. Christ, “in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18), proclaimed the gospel “in the days of Noah” (v. 20) through Noah. The unbelievers who heard Christ’s preaching “did not obey … in the days of Noah” (v. 20) and are now suffering judgment (they are “spirits in prison,” v. 19). Several reasons support this view: (a) Peter calls Noah a “herald of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5), where “herald” represents Greek kēryx, “preacher,” which corresponds to the noun kēryssō, “proclaim,” in 1 Pet. 3:19. (b) Peter says the “Spirit of Christ” was speaking through the OT prophets (1:11); thus Christ could have been speaking through Noah as an OT prophet. (c) The context indicates that Christ was preaching through Noah, who was in a persecuted minority, and God saved Noah, which is similar to the situation in Peter’s time: Christ is now preaching the gospel through Peter and his readers (v. 15) to a persecuted minority, and God will save them.

(2) In the second interpretation, the spirits are the fallen angels who were cast into hell to await the final judgment. Reasons supporting this view include: (a) Some interpreters say that the “sons of God” in Gen. 6:2–4 are angels (see note on Gen. 6:1–2) who sinned by cohabiting with human women “when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah” (1 Pet. 3:20). (b) Almost without exception in the NT, “spirits” (plural) refers to supernatural beings rather than people (e.g., Matt. 8:16; 10:1; Mark 1:27; 5:13; 6:7; Luke 4:36; 6:18; 7:21; 8:2; 10:20; 11:26; Acts 5:16; 8:7; 19:12, 13; 1 Tim. 4:1; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 16:13–14; cf. Heb. 1:7). (c) The word “prison” is not used elsewhere in Scripture as a place of punishment after death for human beings, while it is used for Satan (Rev. 20:7) and other fallen angels (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). In this case the message that Christ proclaimed is almost certainly one of triumph, after having been “put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18).

(3) In a third view, some have advocated the idea that Christ offered a second chance of salvation to those in hell. This interpretation, however, is in direct contradiction with other Scripture (cf. Luke 16:26; Heb. 9:27) and with the rest of 1 Peter and therefore must be rejected on biblical and theological grounds, leaving either of the first two views as the most likely interpretation.[5]


3:19 proclaimed to the spirits in prison. Five main interpretations of vv. 19, 20 may be mentioned: (1) The “spirits in prison” are the people to whom Christ preached during His earthly ministry, for His work involved proclaiming liberty to the captives (Luke 4:16–21). (2) Christ by the Holy Spirit preached through Noah (2 Pet. 2:5) to the people before the flood (Gen. 6–8). Noah called them to repentance, but they disobeyed and are now imprisoned. The point of Peter’s argument would then be that as God vindicated Noah then by sending the judgment Noah proclaimed, He will vindicate Christians when He judges the world according to the Christian proclamation. (3) Christ preached in the short interval between His death and resurrection during a “descent into hell.” It is said that Christ announced His victory to the spirits of Noah’s wicked contemporaries confined in the realm of the dead. (4) A similar idea is that during the same interval Christ proclaimed His victory to fallen angels, often identified with the “sons of God” of Gen. 6:2, 4 (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1), in their place of confinement. (5) Christ proclaimed His victory to fallen angels after the resurrection, at the time of His ascension into heaven. The point of the last three interpretations is that just as Jesus was vindicated, so will Christians be vindicated. See Introduction: History of Interpretation.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 131). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

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

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

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Pe 3:19). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 2410–2411). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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