Daily Archives: May 1, 2017

May 1, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


May 1, 2017 |


Vice President Mike Pence said he hopes Congress can pass legislation to replace Obamacare by the end of the year, a far longer timetable than President Donald Trump has envisioned.

U.S. House and Senate negotiators reached a bipartisan deal on a $1.1 trillion spending bill that largely tracks with Democratic priorities and rejects most of President Donald Trump’s wish list, including money to begin building a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Sunday his country may take further action against Kurdish militants in Iraq and Syria, as U.S.-backed forces in Syria closed in on the last neighborhoods of a former stronghold of the Islamic State group.

Japan’s 2.8 percent unemployment rate is the lowest since 1994 but most of the hiring over the past decade or so has been for temporary, often part-time positions, known as non-regular. A shift back toward permanent hiring could help sluggish consumer spending pick up. Economists say a decades-long move toward non-regular jobs is partly to blame for weak consumer demand. Non-regular workers now make up more than a third of the workforce. Many work part time, and all on average receive less pay, few benefits, little training and no real job security.

U.K. Home Secretary Amber Rudd warned Facebook, Alphabets Google, and Twitter to improve monitoring of extremist and hate content after a panel of lawmakers urged her to consider making the hosting of such material a crime.

The U.S. Supreme Court let stand a California law that bans licensed therapists from working with children to change their sexual orientation from gay to straight, rejecting an appeal that said the measure violates religious rights.

America’s factories expanded less than forecast in April as measures of orders and employment pulled back, Institute for Supply Management data showed on Monday.

Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies launched a sensitive mission for the U.S. military and landed the rocket’s booster on land, marking the company’s fifth successful mission of 2017.

U.S. consumer spending stalled in March while inflation slowed to below the Federal Reserve’s target, showing the biggest part of the economy might take more time to gain momentum after a tepid start to the year.

China’s official factory gauge declined on lower commodity prices, clouding the outlook for sustaining the past two quarters’ acceleration in economic growth.

Turkey passed two new decrees Saturday – one that expelled more than 4,000 civil servants and another that banned television dating programs.

AP Top Stories

Immigrant and union groups will march in cities across the United States to mark May Day and protest against President Donald Trump’s efforts to boost deportations.

An American woman held for more than two years by China has been deported to the United States after being convicted of espionage, the US State Department confirmed on Sunday.

The U.S. Marine Corps has returned to Helmand, the restive province in southern Afghanistan where it fought years of bloody battles with the Taliban, to help train Afghan forces.

Two U.S. special operations forces soldiers killed in eastern Afghanistan on Wednesday may have been struck by friendly fire in an operation targeting the emir of Islamic State militants in Afghanistan, the Pentagon said on Friday.

Libya has seized two foreign-flagged oil tankers and detained their crews for allegedly smuggling fuel after an hours-long gun battle off the west coast, authorities said.

Mexico’s Congress has approved the legalization of medicinal cannabis.

A suburban Philadelphia pastor accused of sexually assaulting and impregnating a teenager has pleaded guilty and been sentenced to three to six years in prison after a judge rejected an earlier plea agreement as too lenient.

U.S. consumers cut back sharply on buying durable goods such as autos in March, leaving overall spending unchanged for a second straight month. A slowdown by consumers was a major reason overall economic growth slowed so sharply over the winter.


Japan has dispatched its biggest warship, in the first such operation since it passed controversial laws expanding the role of its military.

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has ordered a 60% increase in the country’s minimum wage, effective from Monday. Including food subsidies, the worst-paid workers will now take home about 200,000 bolivars a month – less than $50 at the black market rate.

The ancient city of Hatra in Iraq appears to have suffered less damage during the time it was held by so-called Islamic State than first feared. Militants captured the Unesco World Heritage site in 2014 but were driven out last week by pro-government forces.

Pope Francis has celebrated Mass in Cairo for about 15,000 believers on the final day of his visit to Egypt.


An international group defiantly opposed to the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests Sunday ordained its first woman Catholic priest in the 46 counties that make up the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte.

An expert on ancient Roman coins say he has identified those that cover the eyes of the Man of the Shroud, providing more evidence that the ancient burial cloth could have been used to cover the body of Jesus.

According to reports from the health commissioner’s office, there are now 30 cases of children in Hennepin County who have been diagnosed with measles, and 28 of them are Somali children who have not been vaccinated. All of the cases involve children 5 years of age and younger.

The Briefing 05-01-17

Can a secular West recognize theologically motivated terrorism? Terror suspects arrested in London

Britain’s Prime Minster has called for a snap election: Why it matters and what to watch for

Tim Farron, religious conviction, and the gatekeepers of secular doctrine

How one UK divorce law led to an entire generation of women, now in their 50’s, who never married

The post The Briefing 05-01-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 04/29/2017

IRS Investigators Raid Texas Office of Prosperity Preacher Benny Hinn   Apr 27, 2017 11:13 am

GRAPEVINE, Texas — Federal investigators raided the Texas office of prosperity preacher Benny Hinn after obtaining a warrant on Wednesday. U.S. Postal Service inspectors and IRS criminal investigators were seen carrying boxes out of the Grapevine facility throughout the day. “It looked like a big raid: people everywhere, police people everywhere out there, and…

Continue reading the story

Woman Who Identifies as Man Sues Catholic Hospital for Disallowing Uterus Removal at Facility   Apr 24, 2017 06:26 pm

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — A California woman who identifies as a man has filed a lawsuit against a Catholic hospital and its parent company for prohibiting her surgeon from performing a sex change-related hysterectomy at the facility because of the organization’s religious convictions. The 35-year-old woman, who goes by the name Evan Minton, had been scheduled to…

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Republican Congressmen Urge Trump to Issue Executive Order Protecting Religious Liberty   Apr 26, 2017 05:23 pm

WASHINGTON — Over 50 members of the U.S. House of Representatives have signed a letter urging President Trump to issue an executive order protecting the religious liberty rights of Americans nationwide. “We write to express our encouragement and support for prompt executive action ensuring religious liberty protections for all Americans and look forward to…

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Wisconsin Man Accused of Sexually Abusing Five Girls, Aborting Child of One Impregnated   Apr 24, 2017 11:33 am

CRANDON, Wisc. — A Wisconsin man has been arrested on charges that he sexually abused several young girls over a period of six years and performed an abortion on one of them after impregnating her. Matthew Christenson, 33, of Crandon is accused of molesting five girls, ages 12-17, in January 2010, December 2012, August 2015 and April 2016. Some of the girls are…

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Muslim Man Brandishes Guns Outside of Christian Event on Facebook Live, Threatens ‘Be Scared’   Apr 24, 2017 03:30 pm

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A felony terror charge has been filed against a Muslim man who recently recorded himself on Facebook Live brandishing numerous guns outside of a Christian event and warning viewers in a profanity-laden denouncement to be “scared” and “terrified.” Ehab Abdulmutta Jaber, 45, has been charged with one count of making terrorist threats after he…

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Prayer at Michigan Town Hall Gathering Drowned Out With Shouts of ‘Separation of Church and State’   Apr 25, 2017 11:48 am

GAYLORD, Mich. — 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 hall gathering in Michigan, chanting repeatedly, “Separation of Church and State!” The incident occurred last Thursday in Gaylord during a meeting held by Republican Rep. Jack Bergman. Derek…

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UK Student Expelled Over Facebook Post Citing Biblical Law on Homosexuality Granted Judicial Review   Apr 27, 2017 09:55 am

SOUTH YORKSHIRE, U.K. — A student at a prominent university in the United Kingdom who was expelled over a post on his personal Facebook page that outlined the biblical stance on homosexuality has been granted the right to challenge his expulsion in court. Deputy High Court Judge James Lewis opined on Wednesday that Felix Ngole’s expulsion from the University…

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Assistant Principal Put on Leave After Attack on Free Speech of Teens With Abortion Abolition Message   Apr 28, 2017 12:21 pm

DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. (NBC 10) — An assistant principal at Downingtown STEM Academy in Chester County has been placed on administrative leave after a video surfaced of him yelling at pro-life teenagers last Friday. The video, posted on YouTube by one of the teens, showed a heated verbal exchange between Dr. Zach Ruffs and a 16-year-old protesting the “holocaust of…

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Man Who Identifies as Woman Sues State of Idaho Over Refusal to Change Birth Certificate   Apr 22, 2017 06:55 pm

BOISE, Idaho — A man who identifies as a woman has filed a lawsuit against the state of Idaho over its refusal to change his birth certificate from male to female. The 28-year-old man, who is only being identified as F.V., was born in Idaho but now lives in Hawaii. According to the complaint filed on Tuesday, F.V. has had his name changed on his driver’s license,…

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Photo of Seminary Professors Posing as Gangster Rappers Stirs Controversy   Apr 27, 2017 07:12 pm

FORT WORTH, Texas — Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS) has issued a public apology over a photo featuring five seminary staffers posing as gangster rappers after the image stirred controversy on social media. The men in the photo, all being from the seminary’s School of Preaching, had posed as a parting gift for Assistant Professor Vern…

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A filament of magnetism on the sun exploded yesterday (April 30th), hurling a CME into space. NOAA analysts say the cloud could deliver a glancing blow to Earth’s magnetic field on May 3rd with a 40% chance of ensuing minor geomagnetic storms.

Long-term fate of tropical forests may not be so dire
“The implications of the change still need to be worked out, but what we can say is that the forest responds to changes in rainfall quite differently than what has been a common assumption for a long time,” said Townsend. Going forward, the authors hope the findings will set the record straight for educators and scientists.

Africa: No One Is Left Behind
Rome -In the context of global development, ‘no one is left behind’ brings with it a powerful message. It emphasizes progress- one that is inclusive, fair, integrated and empowering. The phrase ‘No one is left behind’ is mentioned some five times in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that was adopted by all governments at the United Nations in 2015. The Agenda is a plan of action for people, planet, peace and prosperity. It has globally agreed 17 Sustainable Development Goals and 169 ambitious targets,

Macron PLUMMETS in the polls as Marine Le Pen enjoys boost a WEEK AWAY from election vote
Recent moves by Ms Le Pen to appeal to a wider audience seem to be working as she has removed herself as the leader of the Front National party, and rebranded her campaign with the new motto “Choose France”.

North Korea threatens Israel with ‘merciless, thousand-fold punishment’
North Korea is determined to beat President Trump and the US, and that means beating America’s allies, too. At the top of that list for the North Koreans are two countries: Japan and Israel. Japan is obvious. Israel, less so.

Pope Francis arrives in Cairo seeking to mend ties with Islam
“Pope of Peace in Egypt of Peace,” read posters plastered along the road leading from the airport to central Cairo, showing a smiling pope, his hand raised above the Christian cross and the Crescent moon of Islam.

Danon: US likely to support Israel’s seat on UN Security Council
In a move that could significantly bolster Israel’s historic bid to join the United Nations Security Council, the US is likely to “actively support” Israel’s candidacy against Germany and Belgium, UN Ambassador Danny Danon said.

Rothschild Foundation Investing $27 Million in Caesarea’s Hidden Treasures
Among the archaeological discoveries that have been exposed and can now be visited by the public is the altar of a temple built by King Herod some 2,000 years ago in honor of Emperor Augustus and the goddess Roma, mentioned in the writings of Josephus Flavius – alongside the synagogue of Caesarea.

Trump invites controversial Philippines leader Duterte to White House
President Trump has invited Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte to Washington to “to discuss the importance of the the United States-Philippines alliance,” the White House said late Saturday. The administration’s statement did not mention a timetable for a possible visit by Duterte…

Iraqi Commander Expects Complete Capture of Mosul in ‘3 Weeks at Most’
An Iraqi commander predicted that the embattled city of Mosul will be completely captured from the ISIS terrorists by May. The army’s chief of staff, Lieutenant General Othman al-Ghanmi expected the success despite resistance from militants in the densely populated Old City district.

Support for two-state solution slipping – among Arabs?
Just half of Israeli Arabs say they back establishment of Palestinian state – and just 4% say they’d ever want to live in such a state.

Palestinians see Abbas’s weakness ahead of Trump meeting
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will be meeting with US President Donald Trump Wednesday following a fresh declaration of intent by the latter to forge a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. With the expansion of settlements eroding hopes for statehood, Abbas would like to see Trump come to the rescue by pressing for a complete settlement freeze and ensuring that the terms of reference for restarting peace talks are based on land for peace.

Israel, Palestinians battle for votes over Jerusalem resolution at UNESCO
Israel is battling to prevent a public-relations victory for the Palestinians at the UNESCO Executive Board in Paris, which is expected to disavow Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem on Independence Day. Such a vote would provide Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas a boost when he meets with US President Donald Trump at the White House just one day later.

Danon: US likely to support Israel’s seat on UN Security Council
In a move that could significantly bolster Israel’s historic bid to join the United Nations Security Council, the US is likely to “actively support” Israel’s candidacy against Germany and Belgium, UN Ambassador Danny Danon said. Danon…told The Jerusalem Post…while there is still a year to go before the General Assembly will vote…he is already raising the issue with different leaders and has discussed it with US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.

Japan sends biggest warship to protect US supply vessel
Japan has dispatched its biggest warship, in the first such operation since it passed controversial laws expanding the role of its military. The helicopter carrier Izumo is escorting a US supply vessel within Japanese waters. The US ship is heading to refuel the naval fleet in the region, including the Carl Vinson aircraft carrier group. North Korea has threatened to sink the Carl Vinson and a US submarine, amid rising tensions in the region.

Syria war: IS driven back in Tabqa, US-backed fighters say
US-backed Syrian fighters say they have made more gains in their battle with Islamic State (IS) militants for the strategic city of Tabqa. Amid fierce street fighting, allied Kurdish and Arab militias known as the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) say they have captured six more districts. They are supported by elite US forces and air strikes by a US-led coalition.

Leaked document reveals Facebook conducted research to target emotionally vulnerable and insecure youth
FACEBOOK has come under fire over revelations it is targeting potentially vulnerable youths who “need a confidence boost” to facilitate predatory advertising practices. The allegation was revealed this morning by The Australian which obtained internal documents from the social media giant which reportedly show how Facebook can exploit the moods and insecurities of teenagers using the platform for the potential benefit of advertisers.

Russia’s Military Buildup in Arctic Has U.S. Watching Closely
An RPG whistles towards its target, exploding in a ball of fire just as a group of soldiers zip past on skis, bullets flying from their white rifles. It was all part of a training exercise by Russia’s 80th Motor Rifle Arctic Brigade…Russia has launched the biggest military build-up in the Arctic since the fall of the USSR — bolstering its fleet of nuclear-fueled icebreakers, reopening abandoned Soviet military bases and building a string of new ones.

Monster snowstorm in Colorado forces postponement of climate change & global warming rally
A mid-spring snowstorm in Colorado over the weekend postponed a rally that sought to bring attention “climate change” and “global warming,” as well as protest President Donald Trump’s climate policies. A march slated to take place in Colorado Springs on Saturday had to be cancelled after weather forecasters predicted heavy snowfall and blizzard-like conditions.

Congress Reaches Deal To Keep Government Open Through September
One of the biggest political overhangs facing the market may have just been removed, when moments ago AP and other newswires reported that House Democrats and Republicans are said to have reached a $1 trillion spending deal to keep the government – which is currently operating thanks to a last minute one-week stopgap measure enacted on Friday – open until October 1.

North Korea Threatens To Sink “Doomed” US Nuclear Submarine
“Whether it’s a nuclear aircraft carrier or a nuclear submarine, they will be turned into a mass of scrap metal in front of our invincible military power centered on the self-defense nuclear deterrence.”

The Real Reason for Attacking NK 
….Is it just a coincidence that Iran and North Korea, cast in the same light as insane warmongers are also two of three remaining nations that do not belong to the Rothscchild family of central banks where debt servitude keeps nations in bondage to the banksters from Brussels? First There Were Seven, Then There Were Three, Then There Will Be the New World Order.

The Sorcerers
In the end Barack Obama is a false god, the visible manifestation of the Progressive belief that Man is the measure of all things. False gods do not like to be contradicted.

Contagion Fears Rise In Aftermath Of Home Capital Group Collapse
“The probability has gone from infinitesimal to possible — unlikely, but possible,” said Hall, chief investment officer of the Calgary-based money manager, in an interview Saturday. “If depositors or bondholders start to lose faith in their banks, well then that becomes systemic.”

Ten reasons millennials are backing away from God and Christianity

In fact, the Pew Research Center documents that millennials are the least outwardly religious American generation, where “one in four are unaffiliated with any religion, far more than the share of older adults when they were ages 18 to 29.”

Just over 60 percent of millennials say that Christianity is “judgmental,” and 64 percent say that “anti-gay” best describes most churches today.

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Cryogenically frozen brains will be ‘woken up’ and transplanted in donor bodies within three years, claims surgeon

According Sarah Knapton of The Telegraph, there are hundreds of people who have paid big bucks to have their brains frozen upon death in the hope of being transplanted into a donor body in the future.  “The head transplant gives us the first insight into whether there is an afterlife, a heaven, a hearafter,” says Professor Sergio Canavero, Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, the group that will soon attempt the first human head resurrection.  Knapton writes:

People who have had their brains cryogenically frozen could be ‘woken up’ within three years, a pioneering Italian surgeon has claimed.

Professor Sergio Canavero, Director of the Turin Advanced Neuromodulation Group, is aiming to carry out the first human head transplant within 10 months and then wants to begin trials on brain transplants.

If the procedures are successful, he believes that frozen brains could be thawed and inserted into a donor body.

View article →

11 Reasons Why U.S. Economic Growth Is The Worst That It Has Been In 3 Years

Those that were predicting that the U.S. economy would be flying high by now have been proven wrong.  U.S. GDP grew at the worst rate in three years during the first quarter of 2017, and many are wondering if this is the beginning of a major economic slowdown.  Of course when we are dealing with the official numbers that the federal government puts out, it is important to acknowledge that they are highly manipulated.  There are many that have correctly pointed out to me that if the numbers were not being doctored that they would show that we are still in a recession.  In fact, John Williams of shadowstats.com has shown that if honest numbers were being used that U.S. GDP growth would have been consistently negative going all the way back to 2005.  So I definitely don’t have any argument with those that claim that we are actually in a recession right now.  But even if we take the official numbers that the federal government puts out at face value, they are definitely very ugly(Read More…)

Featured Blogs

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 01

  • Congress Inks Spending Deal That Jettisons Trump Priorities (Read More)
  • Trump Pushes for Vote on Health Bill but Hurdles Remain (Read More)
  • Apple’s Cash Hoard Set to Top $250 Billion (Read More)
  • Hamas to soften stance on Israel, Muslim Brotherhood in policy document (Read More)
  • UPS Tries a New Twist on Surge Pricing (Read More)
  • How Does Trump’s Tax Plan Help the Middle Class? ‘Honestly, We Don’t Know’ (Read More)
  • French voters skeptical Macron, Le Pen have answers on key issues (Read More)
  • Trump Leaves Open Possibility of Military Action Against North Korea (Read More)
  • U.S.-backed militias oust Islamic State from Syria’s Tabqa old city (Read More)
  • Puerto Rico Bondholders Reject Island’s Restructuring Offer (Read More)
  • Hackers Ran Through Holes in Swift’s Network (Read More)
  • Buffett’s $86 Billion Cash Pile Has Some Dreaming of a Huge Deal (Read More)
  • Twitter Teams Up With Bloomberg for Streaming News (Read More)
  • Oil’s Big American Glut Is Resting Elsewhere (Read More)
  • China Crackdown to Be Intensified After Xi Meeting, Nomura Says (Read More)
  • U.S. Tech’s Giant Money Machine Is On Full Display This Week (Read More)
  • Wall Street Wellness Programs Are Being Used to Drive Sales (Read More)
  • Bond Traders’ Inflation Bets Have New Life, Just in Time for Fed (Read More)
  • At least 27 hurt in turbulence on Aeroflot Moscow-Bangkok flight (Read More)

This ‘n’ That

  • Sounds like there was quite a show at Benny Hinn’s offices this week.
  • I hadn’t heard anything about this, but I simply cannot comprehend why anybody would think that producing such a horrific show would be a good idea.
  • Great thoughts on our weakness and God’s strength.
  • Well, Cedarville University is certainly blazing their own trail with this move.
  • Last week, I shared an article about abusive churches and noted that “spiritual abuse exists in all corners of Christianity, even those that are straight-laced.” I think this article is even more eye-opening than the one I shared last Friday.
  • I don’t know anything about this, but if I were in the area, I would want to attend.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable (or maybe it’s a weekly dose of fantastic). Thanks to reader Mike for this one!
  • I’m interested in reading this book. Looks like it’s another one to add to my wishlist!
  • This wolf got off too easy, but at least it’s something.
  • Sigh. Just because you call yourself a bishop doesn’t mean you are one.
  • Hmm. I’ll say this, science and scientific advancements are always fascinating, even if I’m not quite sure how I feel about them.
  • So…um…nobody is actually surprised by this, are they?
  • I’m always edified by Jerry Wragg’s teaching. Here he speaks about identifying your place in the Body:

Top Headlines – 5/1/2017

Bill in Congress would pressure Palestinian gov’t to cut off terror-tied payments

New Hamas chief to be announced soon: officials

President Abbas meets with Jordan King before Trump meeting

Trump aide, accused of ties to anti-Semitic group, to leave White House

Israel blames Germany for EU support of UNESCO anti-Israel resolution

Mexican diplomat to be honored for challenging UNESCO Jerusalem vote

Israel Marks Memorial Day With Siren To Remember 23,544 Fallen

Bullet fired at Milwaukee Jewish elementary school

London terror plots: Anti-terror cops tracking ‘two imminent ISIS terror attacks’ after foiling knife plot

ISIS weapons being captured by Canadian woman working to disarm terrorists

Problems faced by Egypt’s Coptic Christians run far deeper than Isis attacks

US-led strikes against ISIS have killed at least 352 civilians, Pentagon says

U.S.-backed militias claim big advance against IS in Syria’s Tabqa

Turkey threatens further strikes on US-allied Syrian Kurds

The US is trying to stop two of its allies in Syria from mauling each other

Iranian who ran TV network shot dead in Turkey

Merkel to press Saudi Arabia on refugees, rights

Merkel won’t wear headscarf in Saudi Arabia

Amid immigration setbacks, one Trump strategy seems to be working: Fear

1 in 8 children in California schools have an undocumented parent

North Korea crisis: Pope urges international mediation

McMaster says US must be prepared for military operations in North Korea

White House says invitation to Filipino leader is mostly about North Korea

Donald Trump blames constitution for chaos of his first 100 days

Trump administration still considering how to make it easier to sue the media, Priebus says

Tens of Thousands Expected in May Day Protests Across U.S.

Congress reaches agreement on $1T measure to fund government until October

Grudging Public Support for Euro Could Hold It Together

Venezuela’s Maduro hikes minimum wage amid rising protests

Pope to Venezuela: avoid more violence, respect human rights

Facebook ‘must pay to police internet’ or face fines: UK parliament

SpaceX postpones classified US military launch

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Shizunai, Japan

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Chivay, Peru

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Raoul Island, New Zealand

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Padangsidempuan, Indonesia

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kimbe, Papua New Guinea

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 30,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 12,000ft

At least 13 dead, 2 missing after tornadoes, flooding hit South and Midwest

Central US: More rivers to swell to major or record flood stage this week

Blizzard conditions shut down I-70 in western Kansas

Times columnist blasted by ‘nasty left’ for climate change piece

Ten reasons millennials are backing away from God and Christianity

Rebel Catholic group defies church, ordains woman priest in NC

Glenn Beck’s Mormonized Rant Against Christianity

The Heart of the Hanegraaff Hubbub: Dethroning the God of Your Personal Experiences

Reps for Prosperity Preacher Benny Hinn Confirm Govt ‘Reviewing Certain Operations’ Following Raid

Kat Kerr Releases Lightning to Destroy Cancer & Poverty

Why Joel Osteen is the Perfect Pastor for Our Times

The Shack’s Universal Papa

The Catholic Church…has become one of Islam’s loudest boosters’

Freaky moment crucified Jesus statue moves its head during Good Friday Mass

Methodist Court Ruling a Blow for First Openly Lesbian Bishop

Wendy Davis: Notion That Human Life Begins at Conception is “Absurd”

Planned Parenthood Doc Who Wanted Lamborghini for Selling Aborted Babies Caught Selling Baby Parts Again

In China, Unregistered Churches Are Driving a Religious Revolution

New Evidence Reveals Alleged “Burial Cloth of Jesus” Dates to 1st Century

Posted: 01 May 2017 06:02 AM PDT

An expert on ancient Roman coins say he has identified those that cover the eyes of the Man of the Shroud, providing more evidence that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Persecution in Iran Resulting in Explosion of Church Growth!

Posted: 01 May 2017 05:50 AM PDT

The irony is stark: One of the worst countries in the world for Christians to be living in is also the country where the Church…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Will Christians Affirm Transhumanism?

Posted: 01 May 2017 05:46 AM PDT

Move over Fitbits and Apple Watches. Technology is coming with radical implications for our physical bodies this century. “The next frontier, the next real step-change…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Archeologists Discover Ancient image of Virgin Mary

Posted: 01 May 2017 05:37 AM PDT

Archaeologists may have accidentally discovered the oldest surviving image of the Virgin Mary. Biblical scholars say a wall painting recovered from the site of one…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Florida Teacher Accused of Promoting Homosexual Advocacy in Math Classroom

Posted: 01 May 2017 05:33 AM PDT

A religious liberties organization has submitted a letter of complaint to a school district in Florida after being contacted by parents who say that their…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FINAL WARNING? Trump Warns North Korea Not to Conduct Another Nuclear Test

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 07:16 PM PDT

President Trump is warning North Korea not to conduct another nuclear test, saying “we’ll see” if such a step would trigger a U.S. military response. Trump,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Japan deploys warship to protect US vessel

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 06:39 PM PDT

Japan has reportedly deployed a helicopter carrier and authorized it to use weapons, if necessary, to escort and protect a US supply vessel. The mission,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Eerily Accurate 1968 Prophecy From A 90-Year-Old Woman In Norway Is Being Fulfilled Right Before Our Eyes

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 06:33 PM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) In 1968, a 90-year-old woman in Norway was given an incredible glimpse into the future. She was shown what life would be…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

It Is Becoming Illegal To Be Homeless In America As Houston, Dallas And Dozens Of Other Cities Pass Draconian Laws

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 06:30 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) Should we make homelessness against the law and simply throw all homeless people into prison so that we don’t have to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

After Losing Their Homes and Crops to Devastating Peru Floods, Victims Ask for Bibles

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 06:24 PM PDT

Since December last year, the South American nation of Peru has been battered by devastating floods and mudslides amid heavy rains caused by the sudden…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Jordan Tells Israel: Withdraw And You’ll Get “Security”

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 06:20 PM PDT

Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi on Saturday said Arab countries would provide security for Israel if it withdraws from Judea and Samaria. Safadi’s comments came…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

LYING SIGNS AND WONDERS: Statue of Jesus Moves Head During Friday Mass

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 06:15 PM PDT

Churchgoers have hailed a ‘miracle’ after a statue of Jesus moved its head during mass. Footage apparently recorded by a member of the congregation shows the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Thousands expected to hit the streets for May Day protests

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 06:08 PM PDT

Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators are expected to take to the streets Monday in massive May Day events across the USA mostly protesting the policies of President Trump….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

False Prophet Who Predicted Trump Victory Claims World War 3 Will Begin on This Date

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 06:06 PM PDT

An alleged “clairvoyant” who claimed to have predicted the electoral victory of U.S. President Donald Trump last year has now come up with a new…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russian Man Caught Playing Pokemon in Church Could be Sentenced to Prison for ‘Inciting Religious Hatred’

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 02:35 PM PDT

Prosecutors in Russia have asked for a punishment of three and a half years in jail for a blogger who played the game “Pokemon Go”…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Claims His First 100 Days ‘Most Successful in Our Country’s History’

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 02:29 PM PDT

President Donald Trump, who hosted a rally in Pennsylvania Saturday, skipping the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, said his first 100 days in the White…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Maverick Archaeologist Warns Of Potential “Killer Comet” In 2030

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 02:22 PM PDT

A twenty-mile wide piece of a huge comet could strike the Earth, potentially threatening ‘all life on Earth’, as soon as 2030, a maverick archaeologist…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

1 in 8 children in California schools have an undocumented parent

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 02:17 PM PDT

Posing significant challenges for educators, about 1 in 8 students in California schools has at least one parent who is undocumented, according to a new…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

More than 65,500 Earthquakes Have Struck Central Italy in 9 months

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 02:01 PM PDT

More than 65,500 earthquakes have hit Central Italy within nine months. And it is not close to stop: 100 and 150 tremors shake the region…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Approves Possible $440 Million Arms Sale To Israel

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 01:53 PM PDT

The State Department approved a “Possible Foreign Military Sale” to Israel, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency press release published on Friday. The agency…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Bill Nye Suggests We Should Penalize People For Having ‘Extra Kids’

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 01:40 PM PDT

(Reported By Todd Starnes) you won’t believe what Bill Nye, the Science Guy just said! These days Mr. Nye hosts a series on Netflix – Bill…

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Church stops mom breastfeeding her baby during services

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 01:33 PM PDT

A Northern Virginia mom who said her church stopped her from breastfeeding her baby may seek legal action. Virginia’s law, which went into effect in…

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Could the Antichrist Arise From the 8th Kingdom?

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 01:30 PM PDT

(By Perry Stone) Among the writings of the Old Testament prophets, Moses is named in Scripture 768 times, while Abram or Abraham’s name is mentioned…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Daughter of Facebook Murder Victim Shares How Souls Are Turning to Christ Because of Family’s Forgiveness!

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 01:27 PM PDT

The daughter of the man whose murder was posted on Facebook is sharing how people are getting saved as a result of her family’s message…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Turkey bans TV dating shows with emergency decree

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 01:23 PM PDT

Turkey has banned radio and TV dating programs with a decree made possible by the country’s state of emergency. A new clause has been added…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea threatens to sink US nuclear submarine in South Korea

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 01:17 PM PDT

North Korea has promised to sink a US submarine currently deployed in South Korean waters if the Americans take provocative action. The statement comes shortly…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Severe Storms Strike Midwest – At Least 6 Dead and Many Injured

Posted: 30 Apr 2017 01:14 PM PDT

A severe storm system bringing flash flooding and tornadoes pushed east Sunday after leaving a trail of destruction across East Texas, killing at least four…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Top Headlines – 4/29/2017

North Korea test-fires ballistic missile
North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile early on Saturday (local time) from a region north of its capital, Pyongyang, Reuters reported, citing the South Korean Yonhap news agency.According to the report, the test appeared to have failed.

Very strong M6.8 earthquake hits Philippines, tsunami warnings issued
A very strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.8 (downgraded from M7.2) hit near the coast of Mindanao, Philippines at 20:23 UTC on April 28, 2017 (04:23 local time on April 29). The agency is reporting a depth of 41.7 km (25.9 miles). PHIVOLCS is reporting M7.2 at a depth of 87 km (54 miles). (EMSC, GFZ Potsdam). Tsunami warnings have been issued.

Tillerson to UN: Act before North Korea does
“Failing to act now on the most pressing security issue in the world may bring catastrophic consequences,” Tillerson told the Security Council, according to AFP. “The threat of a North Korean nuclear attack on Seoul or Tokyo is real, and it is likely only a matter of time before North Korea develops the capability to strike the U.S. mainland,” he warned.

Russia’s Lavrov says ready to cooperate with U.S. on Syria: agencies
Moscow is ready to cooperate with the United States on settling the Syrian crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday, Russian news agencies reported. Russian authorities reiterate periodically that they stand ready to renew cooperation with Washington on Syria and, more globally, on fighting terrorism.

Quran blamed in new U.S. disease outbreak
Muslim communities often prove difficult to convince that vaccinations are appropriate for their children. “The case against vaccinations is first an Islamic one,” he said, citing a 2011 article by Dr. Majid Katme, spokesman for the Islamic Medical Association in the United Kingdom.

Trump Will Recognize Undivided Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital – But Won’t Overturn Embassy Veto in May
The biannual veto of the Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995 is due for renewal in May. Since the bill was first passed, every US president has signed a waiver at six-month intervals delaying the legislation’s enactment. The May deadline will mark the first time the bill has come up for consideration under President Trump.

US approves possible $440 million arms sale to Israel
The US State Department approved a “Possible Foreign Military Sale” to Israel, according to a Defense Security Cooperation Agency press release on Friday. The DSCA said that the Israeli government requested to purchase 13 76mm naval guns, as well as a variety of naval maintenance materials and tools, US Government and engineering technical, logistics and support services, operations and maintenance training, and other related supplies and services. The estimated cost of such a deal is $440 million.

President Trump proclaims May ‘Jewish American Heritage Month’
President Donald Trump proclaimed May as Jewish American Heritage Month in a press release Friday. “During Jewish American Heritage Month, we celebrate our Nation’s strong American Jewish heritage, rooted in the ancient faith and traditions of the Jewish people,” Trump said. Trump mentioned that the Jewish people have left “an indelible mark on American culture” through an ethical code and “tikkun olam” or repairing the world.

North Korea crisis: North in another ‘failed’ missile launch
North Korea has test-fired another ballistic missile, South Korean and US military officials say. The missile exploded shortly after take-off, they said – the second failed launch in the past fortnight. US President Donald Trump accused North Korea of showing “disrespect” towards China and its president.

Brexit: EU holds summit without UK to formalise strategy
European Union leaders are meeting in Brussels to discuss a joint strategy for negotiations with the UK over Brexit. Twenty-seven countries will be present, but the UK will not take part. The EU will insist that progress must be made in talks on separating the UK from the EU, before any discussions can begin about future trade relations.

Brazil: Violence erupts in Rio after general strike
Violence has erupted in Brazil at the end of the country’s first general strike in more than 20 years. Buses and cars have been set on fire in Rio de Janeiro’s city centre. Road blocks set up by activists were also ablaze and shops were vandalised. For most of the day the strike had been largely peaceful. Many people stayed at home and shops, schools and banks remained closed across the country.

US warship approaches North Korea after Kim Jong Un carries out another failed missile test
A US warship is heading towards North Korea after Kim Jong Un carried out yet another failed missile launch. The USS Carl Vinson, US super aircraft carrier, was spotted sailing north offshore Nagasaki, Japan on Saturday local time, in a show of force after North Korea’s latest test-fire flop.

‘Apartheid’ furor on the rise against Israel
Labeling Israel’s treatment of Palestinians as “apartheid” is like flinging a burning match into spilled gasoline—so combustible are the passions on both sides. Rima Khalaf did just that when a report commissioned by her UN agency at the request of 18 Arab member states accused Israel of having established an apartheid regime designed to dominate the Palestinian people as a whole.

Russia’s Lavrov says ready to cooperate with U.S. on Syria: agencies
Moscow is ready to cooperate with the United States on settling the Syrian crisis, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday…Russian authorities reiterate periodically that they stand ready to renew cooperation with Washington on Syria and, more globally, on fighting terrorism. Relations between the two countries, however, are seen reaching another low after U.S. fired missiles at Syria…for its suspected use of poison gas earlier in April.

Government Shutdown Averted For 7 Days: Senate Passes Stopgap Spending Bill
One hour after the House of Representative passed the a stopgap spending bill in a 382-30 vote, moments ago the US Senate likewise voted the measure through; the bill which gives the government a week before this specatcle has to be repeated again unless a full spending bill is enacted, now goes to Trump for signing later today.

US GDP Collapses To 0.7%, Lowest In Three Years; Worst Personal Spending Since 2009
The Atlanta Fed was right once again, and slashing its forecast over the past 3 months today the BEA confirmed that in the first quarter US economic growth tumbled to just 0.7%, below the 1.0% expected, and the lowest print in three years going back all the way to Q1 2014.

United Nations To Trump: Repeal Of ObamaCare Against ‘Global Law’!
The United Nations has sent a letter to President Trump stating that if he repeals ObamaCare that it could be breaking ‘Global Law’!  Oh Hell No! There is no ‘Global Law’ and the United Nations is out of their minds!

Trump Will Overturn Obama’s Arctic Drilling Ban
President Donald Trump will sign an executive order Friday rescinding an Obama-era policy keeping most of the Arctic seas off-limits to drilling and asking the Department of the Interior to review the current five-year offshore leasing plan.

Trump Will Review Obama’s Locking Up Of Huge Swaths Of Ocean
….“We are reversing those and putting those into review,” Zinke told reporters Thursday evening. The move is significant and comes after fisherman challenged the legality of a 3.1 million acre marine national monument the Obama administration created off New England’s coast.

BREAKING: Judge Who Donated $300K to Obama Blocks Trump’s Order to Block Funding To Lawless Sanctuary Cities
U.S. District Judge William Orrick from San Francisco, which is a hotbed of leftist nonsense, has gone ahead and blocked an overall enforcement of the President’s executive order “barring federal funds” from illegal sanctuary cities.

Top Headlines – 4/29/2017

Israeli ambassador speaks of fresh Palestine peace initiative

Liberman: Ties between Israel, Arab states ‘more crucial for them than us’

Mahmoud Abbas Goes to Washington: What Is at Stake?

Eyeing his trip to Trump, Abbas takes on Hamas, reins in hunger-strike protests

Israel explores construction of aid train to Gaza

On Israel’s 69th birthday, population reaches 8.68 million

50 years later, 3 soldiers reenact, remember their iconic Six-Day war photo

Fed up with Shabbat laws, secular Israelis fund bus service to the beach

A US government body on religious freedom is accused of going easy on Israel

Pope says religious leaders must unite to defeat “barbarity”

Obama’s Iran deal absolves dangerous potential terrorists

Iran in Syria: A Gathering Storm? The mullahs want to target the “Little Satan” from across the border

US troops deploy along Syria-Turkish border

Russian Amb: ‘Syria responsible for protecting sovereignty’

ISIS claims responsibility for Baghdad bomb that kills 4

2 Army Rangers may have been killed by friendly fire in Afghanistan

Turkey blocks access to Wikipedia

Ayaan Hirsi Ali: No glossing over female genital mutilation

German lawmakers okay burqa ban for public servants

New ‘Cold’ War? Russia touts Arctic military base, as US struggles to catch up

Russia says use of force on North Korea would be ‘completely unacceptable’

North Korea ‘tests ballistic missile’ amid reports Pyongyang stating war ‘imminent’

North Korea test-fires ballistic missile in defiance of world pressure

North Korea displays military prowess with failed missile launch

N. Korean missile test fails hours after UN meeting on nukes

Trump: North Korea ‘disrespected’ China with missile test

U.S. wants more U.N. sanctions over North Korea’s nuclear arms, warns time is short

U.S. Presses for Tougher Global Action on North Korea

France: Security Council ‘mobilized’ on N. Korea

Tokyo subway temporarily closed over N. Korea

Trump to NRA: ‘Eight-Year Assault’ on Gun Rights Is Over

What the Press Still Doesn’t Get About Trump

House passes stopgap spending bill to avert government shutdown

Democrats seeking revenge prepare to mark 100 days of ‘resistance’

Dow’s rally from election to Trump’s first 100 days is a postwar record

Brexit: EU holds summit without UK to formalise strategy

Violence mars Brazil’s anti-austerity general strike

Trump to order a study on abuses of U.S. trade agreements

US NSA spy agency halts controversial email sweep

British military interested in ‘Iron Man’ flying suit

Walt Disney World plans to deploy driverless shuttles in Florida

Elon Musk: Self-driving Teslas will go between LA and NYC by the end of the year

First direct London-China train completes 12,000 km run

6.8 magnitude earthquake hits near Burias, Philippines

5.9 magnitude earthquake hits near Valparaiso, Chile

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Valparaiso, Chile

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Valparaiso, Chile

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Valparaiso, Chile

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Valparaiso, Chile

Strong quake off Philippines damages buildings – Tsunami warning lifted after two hours; at least two people wounded

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 25,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 25,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 13,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 13,000ft

Sakurajima volcan on Japan erupts to 12,000ft

Reports: Severe storms spark flooding from Oklahoma to Ohio

State of emergency declared after flooding in parts of North Carolina

Gov. Jerry Brown keeps Oroville Dam repair costs hidden, state lawmakers say

Mystery Illness Kills 11 in Liberia One Year After End of Ebola Outbreak

Malaria, wiped out in U.S., still plagues American travelers

Measles Outbreak in Minnesota Within Somali Community Spreads Through State

Anti-vaxxers “targeted” Minnesota’s Somali community. Now they have a measles outbreak

Anti-vaccine groups step up outreach to Minnesota Somali families over measles outbreak

4 Pro-life Victories in Trump’s First 100 Days

Let’s penalize people for having ‘extra kids’ — Bill Nye’s outrageous idea

Electing Lesbian Bishop Violates Church Law, United Methodist High Court Rules

Top News  – 4/30/2017

Israel blames Germany for EU support of UNESCO anti-Israel resolution
Israel is angry at Germany for the anticipated European support for the resolution attacking Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem, which UNESCO’s Executive Board in Paris is scheduled to approve this Tuesday, diplomatic sources told The Jerusalem Post. The behind-the-scenes conflict preceded the public argument between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel over his meeting with the left-wing group Breaking the Silence during his visit to Israel last week.

North Korea threatens Israel with ‘merciless, thousand-fold punishment’
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hurt the “dignity of the supreme leadership” of North Korea…The comment was in reaction to Israeli remarks on how the Jewish State is affected by North Korean tension with the United States. In an interview with Hebrew news site Walla this week, the hawkish Liberman stated that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un is a madman and that together with the leaders of Iran and Syria was part of an “insane and radical” gang that was bent on undermining international stability.

North Korea crisis: Pope urges international mediation
Pope Francis has called for international mediation to ease rising tensions between the US and North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear activity. The pontiff suggested that Norway, for example, was “always ready to help”. He warned the crisis risked sparking a devastating war in which “a good part of humanity” would be destroyed.

Syrian Army refutes reports of IAF strike near Quneitra
Explosions were heard at a base housing the 90th brigade of the Syrian Army in southern Quneitra Saturday evening, Sky News Arabia reported. Initially, the explosions were attributed to an Israeli attack and local media reported seeing Israel Air Force (IAF) planes circling the area. However, Syrian military sources subsequently denied the reports on the Al-Miyadin network, which is affiliated with Hezbollah.

Five killed in Texas tornadoes; rains, winds lash US midsection: media
Tornadoes killed five people east of Dallas in Texas, local media reported on Saturday, as heavy rains and damaging winds struck a broad swath of the U.S. heartland. At least three tornadoes were confirmed by the National Weather Service in nearby Canton, with about 50 people being treated for related injuries at area hospitals, news outlets reported, citing hospital officials.

UK PM May braces for difficult Brexit talks after EU adopts tough stance
British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Sunday divorce talks with the European Union would be difficult, responding to the tough stance taken by EU leaders over the upcoming Brexit negotiations. EU leaders endorsed stiff divorce terms for Britain on Saturday and warned Britons to have “no illusions” about swiftly securing a new relationship to keep their access to EU markets.

U.S.-backed militias claim big advance against IS in Syria’s Tabqa
U.S.-backed militias said on Sunday they had made a big advance in Tabqa, a strategically vital town controlling Syria’s largest dam, in their campaign to drive Islamic State from its stronghold of Raqqa, 40km (25 miles) downstream. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a group of Kurdish and Arab militias, will wait to assault Raqqa until it seizes Tabqa, its military officials have previously said, but it had made only slow progress since besieging the town early this month.

South Korea already working on reducing trade surplus with U.S.: finance minister
South Korea’s finance minister said on Sunday the government was already working on downsizing its trade surplus with the United States, a reference to U.S. President Donald Trump’s comments Thursday that Washington will renegotiate or scrap the free trade pact the two countries have. Finance Minister Yoo Il-ho added in televised comments he did not expect the free trade agreement will be terminated. It has been in effect since 2012.

The North Korean nuclear threat, explained (video)
Why experts are urging Trump to act now while he still can.

Iranian cargo planes land in Damascus hours before ‘Israeli strike’ on airport
Four cargo planes originating from Iran landed at an airport outside Damascus just hours before Syria accused Israel of attacking a military compound nearby

Furious Bank Run Leaves Canada’s Largest Alternative Mortgage Lender On Edge Of Collapse
“When you have a run on the bank, people get spooked and they sell and ask questions later,” said a Bay Street investment banker. “It’s investor psychology that takes over.”

Erdogan Blocks Wikipedia, Bans TV Dating Shows, Purges Another 4,000 Public Officials
Two weeks after winning the Turkish constitutional referendum by a modest but decisive margin, president – or perhaps it is now despot – Erdogan decided to take his newly decreed powers for a spin and overnight in rapid succession surprised foreign observers when Turkey decreed that it would ban TV dating shows, fire an additional 4,000 public officials and also ban Wikipedia.

Far-right candidate bedeviled by France’s Nazi history
The horrors of the World War II Nazi death camps moved front and center in France’s presidential campaign on Friday, nine days before the election, reawakening the anti-Semitic stigma that has clung to the party of far-right candidate Marine Le Pen and that she has spent more than six years trying to erase.

New website offers US women help to perform their own abortions
Fearful that Donald Trump’s presidency poses a once-in-a-generation threat to US reproductive rights, an international advocacy group this week is unveiling what is sure to be a controversial response: a web portal dedicated to helping US women terminate their own pregnancies with abortion-inducing drugs they have obtained outside of a medical setting.

After pushing vaccines for depopulation, Bill Gates now warns that bioterrorism might kill 30 million more
… the not-so-hidden agenda that lies behind the Gates Foundation is often glossed over, especially by the mainstream media. Gates and his foundation have consistently come under fire for their aspirations of depopulation, and now the same man who essentially has made it a goal to eliminate humans is lecturing the rest of us about bioterrorism?

Court Lets Trump ‘Pause’ Lawsuit On Obama’s Climate Plan
A federal court agreed Friday to President Donald Trump’s request to pause litigation over the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan (CPP). The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ decision makes it easier for the Trump administration to repeal CPP, which was intended to limit carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants to slow global warming.

Trump Declares ‘Eight-Year Assault on Second Amendment’ Over
On Friday, President Trump delivered a speech to the National Rifle Association at its 2017 Leadership Forum in Atlanta. This marks the first time a sitting president has done so since Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Top Headlines – 4/30/2017

Egypt urges US to play ‘active’ Mideast peace role

Shaked: Failure to secure US Embassy move a ‘great missed opportunity’

President Trump proclaims May ‘Jewish American Heritage Month’

UNESCO trying to impose a fake history

US approves possible $440 million arms sale to Israel

Housing minister announces construction plans for 15,000 homes beyond Green Line

Israel announces West Bank, Gaza closure ahead of Independence Day

What is the likelihood of war as Israel marks 69 years of independence?

Hezbollah Plays Up Efforts To Oppose Israel

Le Pen’s choice of PM noted critic of Israel

Le Pen says she abhors Holocaust denial after party successor quits

Pope repeats refugee ‘concentration camps’ remarks

Syrian military sources deny reports Israel struck Quneitra

Russia’s Lavrov says ready to cooperate with U.S. on Syria: agencies

Tensions rise between Turkey, US along Syrian border

Turkish military says kills 14 Kurdish militants in northern Iraq

Pentagon reports blast kills US service member outside Mosul

Soldier killed by explosive device is third US combat death this week in Iraq and Afghanistan

Italy fears Isis fighters slip into Europe posing as injured Libyans

Australia probing video of 8-year-old jihadi making threats

Turkish authorities expel more than 3,900 from civil service in latest purge

The coming US crackdown on Iran

Thousands of Russians Present Letters of Protest in Demonstrations

Moscow demonstrators want to tell Putin: Don’t run again

N. Korea threatens Israel after Liberman calls Kim a madman

North Korea threatens Israel with ‘merciless, thousand-fold punishment’

Trump says China pressuring North Korea on missile, nukes

Japanese PM Abe says North Korean missile launch a grave threat to Japan

Japan, Philippines Urge U.S., North Korea to Avoid War Brink

Philippine leader says N. Korea’s Kim “wants to end the world”, urges U.S. restraint

U.S. Push for Tougher North Korea Approach Faces Resistance

Tillerson to UN: Act before North Korea does

Pope warns of broad destruction if Korean tensions escalate

Trump invites Philippines’ president to US in ‘friendly’ call – White House says Duterte, which promotes the extrajudicial killing of drug users, is fighting a ‘scourge that affects many countries’

In Harrisburg, Trump touts his first 100 days, boasts the fight is ‘just beginning’

Trump says his first 100 days ‘just about most successful’ in US history

Trump Touts Achievements, Maintains Media Rage in 100-Day Rally

Newt Gingrich: Trump vs. the swamp, Round III — Democrats turn to bureaucrats to stop POTUS

Trump: ‘Illegal Immigration Down by Unprecedented 73%’

Armed Nazis Descend On Tiny Kentucky Town

Kentucky machete attack: Suspect asked campus victims about their politics, student says

After turbulent protests, Brazil cleans up littered streets

NSA Abandons Controversial Surveillance Technique

Netflix Hacker Also Claims Theft From ABC, Fox, IFC, National Geographic

Google and Facebook duped in huge ‘scam’

Bill Gates could be the world’s first trillionaire, but Jeff Bezos is hot on his heels

Panic Bank Run Leaves Canada’s Largest Alternative Mortgage Lender On Edge Of Collapse

Britain Gears up For Negotiations of a “Lifetime” After EU Outlines Brexit Stance

MIT researchers create a robot that can 3-D print a building in hours

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Nishinoomote, Japan

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Tambakrejo, Indonesia

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Itbayat, Philippines

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Kalemie, Democratic Republic of the Congo

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near La Cumbre, Colombia

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Talkeetna, Alaska

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits South of Africa

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Agrihan, Northern Mariana Islands

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kirakira, Solomon Islands

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Nishinoomote, Japan

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 25,000ft

Ruiz volcano in Colombia erupts to 20,000ft

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

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 12,000ft

Latest Totals: Storm Dumps Over Foot Of Snow Near Denver

Texas severe weather: At least 5 killed, dozens injured after tornadoes rip through state

Ethiopia drought creates food crisis for 7.7 million

Climate March: Tens of thousands protest Trump climate policies, demand environmental action

EPA Purges Pages That Highlight Climate Change From Its Website

New website offers US women help to perform their own abortions

Philippine President Claims N. Korea’s Kim “wants to end the world”

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 07:38 AM PDT

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday urged the United States to show restraint after North Korea’s latest missile test and to avoid playing into the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia unveils new remote-controlled robot tank with 30mm automatic gun and six missiles

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 07:32 AM PDT

The Russian army has been putting one of the world’s biggest military robots through its paces, acting as a further reminder of Russia’s increasing military strength….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US warship approaches North Korea after another failed missile test

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 07:10 AM PDT

A US warship is heading towards North Korea after Kim Jong Un carried out yet another failed missile launch. The USS Carl Vinson, US super aircraft…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: Tokyo Closes Subway Over North Korea Fears…

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 07:00 AM PDT

One of Tokyo’s major subways systems says it shut down all lines for 10 minutes early Saturday after receiving warning of a North Korean missile…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

French amphibious carrier visits Japan ahead of Pacific show of power

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 06:54 AM PDT

As tension spikes on the Korean peninsula, a French amphibious assault carrier sailed into Japan’s naval base of Sasebo on Saturday ahead of drills that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia backs China’s call to stop N. Korea nuke tests in exchange for halt in US-S. Korea drills

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 06:43 AM PDT

Russia has supported a Chinese initiative in the UNSC intended to stabilize the situation on the Korean peninsula. It calls on the North to refrain…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Sec. Tillerson Warns UN Security Council: ‘Act Before North Korea Does’

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 06:47 PM PDT

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Friday for tougher sanctions — aimed mainly at China and other countries that continue to trade with North Korea…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: US Troops Deployed To Syria-Turkish Border

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 06:42 PM PDT

U.S. armored vehicles are deploying in areas in northern Syria along the tense border with Turkey, a few days after a Turkish airstrike that killed…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Rare Quadruple Rainbows Appear on the Isle of Terschelling, Netherlands

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 06:19 PM PDT

It’s a treat to see a rainbow painting the sky, and seeing a double rainbow always gets our attention, but how many of us have…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT: New Bill Would Ban Conversion Therapy For LGBTQ People Nationwide

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 06:12 PM PDT

Democratic lawmakers this week introduced a bill that would ban the practice of “conversion therapy,” treatments that historically have targeted the LGBT community and claim…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ring of Fire Heating Up! 37 Volcanic Eruptions and Increased Seismic Activity Happening Now!

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 06:05 PM PDT

The Ring of Fire is heating up with 37 volcanoes are currently being reported erupting and others showing signs of increased seismic unrest as well….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Student told to stop reading Bible before class

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 05:56 PM PDT

A Northern Arizona University student was recently asked to stop reading his Bible prior to the start of one of his classes, according to audio…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

British Military May Have Just Created ‘Iron Man’ Flying Suit

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 05:50 PM PDT

lying soldiers have been historically confined to science fiction or comic books, but a British inventor may be about to change the course of warfare. Richard…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: North Korea Defiant! Is War Now ‘Imminent’?

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 05:45 PM PDT

North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile in the early hours of Saturday morning, reports in South Korea said, amid rising military tensions with the US….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Doctor Preps Human Head Transplant… First Ever

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 05:41 PM PDT

Italian neurosurgeon Sergio Canavero will undertake the first human head transplant later this year in China, the doctor told German magazine Ooom in an article published Thursday….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: North Korea fires ballistic missile

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 02:33 PM PDT

North Korea has launched a ballistic missile from an area north of the country’s capital, Pyongyang, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: A Powerful 7.2 Earthquake has Struck the Philippines

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 01:46 PM PDT

We are receiving reports from the USGS that a Powerful magnitude 7.2 Earthquake that has struck the region of Balangonan in the Philippines. At this…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

U.S. Economy Reports Slowest Growth in 3 years For First Quarter

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 11:08 AM PDT

The government’s official scorecard for the U.S. economy in the first quarter pointed to the weakest growth in three years, but the slowdown appeared tied…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Program Glorifying False Gods Marked Most Politically Relevant Show on TV

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 11:01 AM PDT

A storm is brewing in Starz’s gritty new series “American Gods,” as deities old and new gear up for a battle that reverberates with topical…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Wait Until You Hear Why This Pentecostal Megachurch Pastor is Burning Bibles!

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 10:52 AM PDT

A Pentecostal pastor in Uganda’s capital has reportedly torched thousands of Bibles because they were “fake” and “demonic.” Pastor Aloysius Bugingo of the House of Prayer…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Did Pope Francis Just Make Another Move for One World Religion?

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 10:44 AM PDT

Pope Francis arrived in Cairo on Friday hoping to mend ties with Muslim leaders, just as Egypt’s ancient Christian community faces unprecedented pressure from Islamic State militants…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US threatens N. Korea with more sanctions and suspension of diplomatic talks

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 10:41 AM PDT

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, speaking before the UN Security Council, has threatened to suspend diplomatic relations and impose additional sanctions affecting third parties…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Apple Picking Robots Could Replace Workers Leaving Many Concerned.

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 10:35 AM PDT

Harvesting Washington state’s vast fruit orchards each year requires thousands of farmworkers, and many of them work illegally in the United States. That system eventually…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Talks Underway For New Conservative Network To Replace Fox News

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 10:28 AM PDT

On the heels of major shakeups at the Fox News Network, an alternative conservative network is being actively discussed amongst conservative fat cats. A well-placed source…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

CIA implanted microphones into cats to spy on Russia

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 10:24 AM PDT

CIA spooks tried to spy on Soviet Russia using CATS implanted with microphones under their skin. Declassified docs show how spy chiefs praised “pioneering” scientists…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Over 40,000 Groups Will Gather For Prayer Next Week

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 10:17 AM PDT

The annual National Day of Prayer will be observed next week with 40,000 events being held nationwide to pray for the country. Dion Elmore, chief…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Benny Hinn Reveals Feds Investigating ‘Certain Operations of Church’ After Raid

Posted: 28 Apr 2017 10:13 AM PDT

A day after criminal investigators from the IRS and inspectors from the U.S. Postal Service executed a closely guarded raid on the offices of his…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Powerful Super Storm Stretches From New York to the Texas Panhandle

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 06:18 PM PDT

This is what a superstorm looks like! A very large, powerful storm system is forming over the United States stretching from New York all the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Joint US-S. Korea naval drills start in Sea of Japan amid tensions around Korean peninsula

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 06:09 PM PDT

The US kicked off joint naval exercises with South Korea as the US aircraft carrier group led by the USS Carl Vinson entered the Sea…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

11 Reasons Why U.S. Economic Growth Is The Worst That It Has Been In 3 Years

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 06:04 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) Those that were predicting that the U.S. economy would be flying high by now have been proven wrong.  U.S. GDP grew…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Violent Persecution of Christians Rising in India – Attack Recorded Every 40 Hours

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 06:00 PM PDT

A new report says that violent attacks on the Christian minority in India are increasing at an alarming rate, as the emboldened members of groups…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Is ISIS a Reenactment of Biblical War Between Israel and the Amalekites?

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 05:53 PM PDT

Some military analysts have suggested that the war against the Islamic State terror group, particularly in its attacks on Egypt, is a reenactment of an…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian University Students Call School’s Biblical Views on Sex, Gender Identity ‘UnChrist-Like’

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 05:45 PM PDT

A student club at Seattle Pacific University recently protested against the Christian university because it adheres to biblical views on human sexuality and gender identity….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Daily Benefits of the Lord!

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 05:42 PM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will discuss several of the many benefits of the Lord that he desires his children to walk in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Bomb Shelters in the UK Mapped Out Amid Fears Of Coming War

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 02:01 PM PDT

Fears of World War 3 are gripping the world at the moment, with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un squaring up to American President Donald Trump….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: UMC Rules Against LGBT Bishops As Clergy

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 01:54 PM PDT

The United Methodist Church Judicial Council ruled lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual members could not be consecrated as clergy. The ruling came after married lesbian…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

City Council Unanimously Votes to Remove Bench That Features ‘God’ Quote From State Founder

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 01:50 PM PDT

A city council in Pennsylvania has unanimously voted to remove a park bench that was meant to honor veterans due to objection from an atheist…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: North Korea says Trump has pushed peninsula to ‘brink of nuclear war’

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 01:46 PM PDT

Nort Korea has warned it is “on the brink of nuclear war” with the US after Donald Trump ordered the deployment of new American weaponry…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Canada Reports Countrywide Internet, TV, Phone Outage

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 01:41 PM PDT

Tens of thousands of Canadian clients of Shaw are suffering what appears to be a nationwide loss of internet, cable and phone services. According to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Arab News Agencies Report Israel Attacking Syrian Army Base

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 01:33 PM PDT

Arabs across social media reported that the IDF had attacked an army base of Syrian President Bashar Assad overnight Saturday.  The reports have yet to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Threatens Israel With “Merciless, Thousand-Fold Punishment”

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 01:29 PM PDT

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman hurt the “dignity of the supreme leadership” of North Korea, state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Saturday. The comment…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Measles outbreak among Somali refugees stretches Minneapolis health system…

Posted: 29 Apr 2017 09:05 AM PDT

An outbreak of measles is sweeping through a community of Somali refugees in Minnesota and the growing number of cases may be starting to test…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

What is The Gospel?

Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
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A Challenge to Those Who Are Grieving

Video Notes:

There are two sides to weeping with those who weep. The first is that there must be brothers and sisters in Christ who are ready to listen, ready to sit with the one who grieves and identify with their sorrow. But if this is to happen, the one who grieves must be ready to allow some brothers or sisters into their own sorrow.

Here is a difficult challenge to those who are grieving a loss: It is very easy to put on a “brave front,” and to say that you don’t want any sadness, to tell others that you only want to focus on the celebration of a loved one’s life, and then to determine that you will only do your weeping on your own. That’s not what we find in Lamentations.

God calls your brothers and sisters to weep with you. With whom will you share your weeping? Who will you allow, by the grace of God, to share in your sorrow and loss?

The body of Christ is part of God’s provision for you. They are given the privilege and calling to listen, so allow others into your grief, your sorrow, and your loss.

Taken from Pastor Colin’s sermon “Tears and Talk.”


The post A Challenge to Those Who Are Grieving appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.


“You were a mistake.” “You are good for nothing.” “You are one big disappointment.” These unkind, hurtful comments are spoken so that the person receiving them feels a sense of shame. The experience of shame comes as a result of thinking that one is a failure. In other words, the message is conveyed that there is something inherently wrong with the person and that he or she will never be able to meet the standards that others expect. This means that the person is, by nature, inadequate. Continue reading

3 Ways We Judge Wrongly

Jesus instructed His disciples to judge righteous judgment (Judge 7:24), but He also said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged” (Matt. 7:1). Is this a contradiction? No. We are called to use biblical truth and wisdom to discern rightly, but foolish when we make judgments based on  appearance or only one side of a story. We are called to maintain a balance of grace and truth, but avoid a judgmental attitude. This bad attitude is, as Matt Mitchell defines it, “a heart disposition meant to be condemnatory and censorious.

So, where do we go wrong? When does judging become sinful? Mitchell explains three ways.

  1. Rush to Judgment – To form a conclusion about a person based upon hearsay, without going to him to hear the other side, is utterly foolish and destructive. It is folly and shame to answer before listening, to rush to judgment about another person without loving them enough to take the initiative to start a conversation (Proverbs 18:13). Instead we should believe the best about the other person, rather than assume the worst.
  2. Prideful Judgment – The deeper problem behind and beneath judgmentalism is pride. Pride is the elevation of oneself not only above other people, but above God’s law (James 4:11). But there “is only one Lawgiver and Judge,” and it’s not us. When we rush to judgment, we play God; “we act as if we are omniscient when we are not.”
  3. Unloving Judgment – “The opposite virtue is called charitable judgment. “Charity” is the old word for love (1 Cor. 13:4-8), which compels us to believe the best about another person. Therefore, Mitchell counsels us well with these words: “If you and I are loving people with this kind of charity, we won’t sinfully judge or gossip about people. We won’t delight in the evil that we hear has befallen someone else. We won’t believe the worst about others. We will always hope for something better. Love is tenacious. Love does not pretend that all is well and sweep things under the carpet, but it does hang onto hope for others and believe the best.”

Instead of sinfully judging others and then tearing them apart through gossip, we should put on love, which bonds everything together perfectly in harmony (Col. 3:14).

As we continue to work through the book, Resisting Gossip, please consider reading and growing along with us. Previous posts include: The Best Definition of Gossip and 5 Types of Gossiping People.

Source:  3 Ways We Judge Wrongly

To Christians Who Suffer

The Reformed Reader

Some Christians suffer more than others.  God, in his mysterious sovereignty, has given some of his children a more difficult lot and heavier load than others.  Depression, chronic illness, handicaps, intense family conflict, mental illness, and other trials are the hard lot of some Christians.

Abraham Kuyper reminds us that St. Paul had a very difficult lot as well.  The apostle called it a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7).  Kuyper says it was a trial that felt “as though a demon assaulted [Paul] and beat him with fists.” The thorn was given to Paul so that he might stay humble and also experience the sweetness of God’s grace.  Kuyper notes that Christians who suffer should remember from Paul’s experience that God’s fatherly plan for us in suffering is a gracious one.  This way we won’t despair when our prayers for relief are not answered in the affirmative.


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The Exegetical Errors of the Day-Age Theory

Genesis 1:1-5

Code: B170501

When is a day not a day? That question lies at the heart of a pivotal and long-standing argument against the literal interpretation of the creation account in Genesis 1, commonly known as the Day-Age theory.

Day-Age proponents attempt to read incalculable stretches of time into the white spaces of Genesis 1, starting with the biblical account of God’s activity on that first day of creation:

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters. Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light. God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day. (Genesis 1:1–5)

Defining “Day”

The first day of creation defines what the Bible means by the word day throughout the context of the first chapter of Genesis. Those who believe the days of creation were long ages invariably make much of the fact that the sun was not created until the fourth day, and on this basis they argue that the days could not have been solar, twenty–four–hour days. The word day, they point out, is used elsewhere in Scripture to speak of long or indeterminate periods of time.

For example, “the day of the Lord” is an expression used throughout Scripture to signify an eschatological era in which God pours out His wrath upon the earth. Moreover, 2 Peter 3:8 says, “With the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.” Thus old–earth creationists argue that the days of creation might well have been long eras that roughly correspond to modern geological theories about the so–called Precambrian, Paleozoic, Mesozoic, Tertiary, and Quaternary eras.

The problem with this view is that nothing in the passage itself suggests that the days were long epochs. The days are defined in Genesis 1:5: “God called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day.” Night and day, evening and morning are demarcated by rhythmic phases of light and darkness from the very beginning. The very same expression, “there was evening and there was morning, a [nth] day” is employed for each of the six days of creation (vv. 8, 13, 19, 23, 31), underscoring the fact that the days were the same and that they had clearly defined boundaries.

The only cadence of light and darkness defined anywhere in this context is the day–night cycle that (after day four) is governed by the sun and moon (Genesis 1:18). There is no reason to believe the rhythm was greatly altered on day four. That means the duration of “the evening and the morning” on the first day of creation was the same as the evening and morning of any solar day.

Indeed, the word day is sometimes used figuratively in Scripture to speak of an indeterminate period of time (“the day of your gladness”—Numbers 10:10). But throughout Scripture, wherever the word is modified by a number (“He was raised on the third day”—1 Corinthians 15:4), the clear reference is to a normal solar day.

Nothing in Scripture itself permits the view that the days of creation were anything other than literal twenty–four–hour days. Only extrabiblical influences—such as the theories of modern science, the views of higher criticism, or other attacks against the historicity of Scripture—would lead anyone to interpret the days of Genesis 1 as long epochs. In effect, old–earth creationists have subjugated Scripture to certain theories currently popular in big bang cosmology. Cosmological theories have been imposed on Scripture as an interpretive grid and allowed to redefine the length of the creation days.

Such an approach is not evangelical, and because it compromises the authority of Scripture at the start, it will inevitably move people away from an evangelical understanding of Scripture, no matter how tenaciously the proponents of the view attempt to hold to evangelical doctrine. To accommodate our understanding of Scripture to secular and scientific theory is to undermine biblical authority.

An Augustinian Problem?

Hugh Ross and other old–earth creationists respond to this argument by pointing out that Augustine and certain other church fathers interpreted the days of creation nonliterally. “Their scriptural views cannot be said to have been shaped to accommodate secular opinion,” Ross claims. [1]

Indeed, Augustine did take a nonliteral view of the six days of creation. He wrote, “What kind of days these were it is extremely difficult, or perhaps impossible for us to conceive, and how much more to say!” [2]

But what Ross doesn’t tell his readers is that Augustine and those who shared his views were arguing that God created the entire universe instantly, in a less than a nanosecond—indeed, outside the realm of time completely. Far from agreeing with Ross and modern science that creation was spread over billions of years, Augustine and others who shared his view went the opposite direction and foreshortened the time of creation to a single instant.

They did this because they had been influenced by Greek philosophy to believe that a God who transcends time and space could not create in the realm of time. So they collapsed the six days to a single instant. Augustine wrote, “Assuredly the world was made, not in time, but simultaneously with time.” [3] That was precisely what Augustine’s study of the works of secular philosophers had taught him. In other words, his views on this question were, after all, an accommodation to secular opinion. (And such opinions did eventually erode the early church’s commitment to the authority of Scripture.)

However, Augustine opposed the notion of an ancient earth as vigorously as any modern evangelical critic of old–earthism. He included an entire chapter in The City of God titled, “Of the Falseness of the History Which Allots Many Thousand Years to the World’s Past.” His criticism of those who believed the earth is ancient was straightforward:

They say what they think, not what they know. They are deceived, too, by those highly mendacious documents which profess to give the history of many thousand years, though, reckoning by the sacred writings, we find that not 6,000 years have yet passed. [4]

Sowing Confusion into Scripture’s Clarity

Indeed, nothing in Scripture itself would ever lead anyone to think that the world is billions of years old or that the days of creation were long eras. Instead, by defining the days of creation according to the light cycle that separates day from night, Scripture states as explicitly as possible that the days of creation were equal in length to normal solar days. And part of the wonder of creation is the ease and speed with which God formed something so unimaginably vast, complex, intricate, and beautiful. The emphasis is not, as Hugh Ross suggests, on “time and attention to detail.” [5]Rather, what the biblical account aims to stress is the infinite majesty and power of the Almighty One who accomplished so much, so perfectly, in so short a time, with nothing more than His word.

Old–earth creationism diminishes the biblical emphasis on creation by divine fiat, setting up a scenario where God tinkers with creation over long epochs until the world is finally ready to be inhabited by humans made in His image. This is quite contrary to what Genesis teaches.

That is not to suggest, as Augustine did, that everything was created in an instant. According to Scripture, there is a progression to God’s creative work. He did it over six days’ time and rested on the seventh day. This is not because He needed that much time to create, and certainly not because He needed the rest. But He thereby gave a pattern for the cycle of work and rest He deemed right for humanity to live by. This established the measure of a week, which to this day is reflected in the calendar by which the entire world measures time.

The specificity of Genesis 1:1-5 is undeniable. God’s people must not surrender the details of the creation narrative to be redefined or reinterpreted by those whose agenda is to dethrone God. We must hold to the clear testimony of Scripture and the authority of God’s Word against all assaults. And we must not be intimidated into modifying our view or the Bible to accommodate and appease an aggressively secular society or its “scientific” standard.

(Adapted from The Battle for the Beginning.)


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170501
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Can a Professing Christian Who Has Turned Away from Christ Be Saved?

I believe that once a person is authentically redeemed, is truly in Christ, that person will never be lost to Christ. That person has what we call eternal security—not because of the person’s innate ability to persevere, but I believe that God promises to preserve His own and that we have the benefit of our Great High Priest who intercedes for us every day. Now, at the same time, Christians are capable of gross and heinous sin. They’re capable of very serious falls away from Christ. They’re capable of the worst kind of denial and betrayal of our Lord.

Consider, for example, Exhibit A—the apostle Peter, who denied Jesus with cursing. He was so emphatic that he uttered profanities to underscore the fact that he never knew Jesus. If you talk about somebody who didn’t seem to want to repent and who had turned away from Jesus, Saint Peter is your classic example. Yet his fellow disciple Judas also betrayed Jesus and turned away from Him, and of course, both of the betrayals were predicted by Jesus at the Last Supper. When Jesus spoke of Judas, He said, “What you have to do, do quickly. Go.” And He dismissed him to his treachery. He mentioned in the Scripture that Judas was a son of perdition from the beginning. I think it’s clear in Jesus’ High Priestly prayer that He understood Judas was never a Christian. So Judas’s betrayal was not the case of a Christian turning on Christ.

When He announced to Peter that Peter would also betray Him, He said to him, “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked for you. He would have you and sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you so that your faith should not fail; and when you turn, strengthen the brethren.” And then Peter says, “Oh no, Lord, not me. I’ll never betray you.” Then, of course, he did. But notice that when Jesus predicted it, He said, “When you turn”—not, “If you turn” but “When you turn, strengthen the brethren.” Because Jesus had prayed as He did in His High Priestly prayer, no one would be able to snatch His people out of His hand.

The New Testament promises that He who has begun a good work in you will perfect it to the end (Phil. 1:6). I know there are many Christians who believe that a true Christian can lose his or her salvation. I don’t. I’d say with the apostle John, “Those who went out from us were never really with us.” I think a Christian can have a gross and serious fall but not a full and final fall—that he or she will be restored even as David realized his sin, as the Prodigal Son came to himself, as Peter ultimately repented.

“Is there salvation for a Christian who has turned away from Christ and does not seem to want to repent?” and other questions can be found in our Questions Answered section.

May 1, 2017: Verse of the day


55:6, 7 The pathway of blessing lies in seeking the Lord and in forsaking sin. Those who thus return to the Lord will find Him full of mercy and pardon.[1]

6–7 The call of vv. 1–3 is echoed here, but with a stronger moral emphasis. Earlier the folly of self-willed waywardness was stressed, while here it is its wickedness. Verse 6 implies both a promise and a warning. There is urgency in this call, for the time is not unlimited (cf. 61:2). Both in his lifestyle and the attitudes that lie behind it, the sinner is wrong, so repentance must touch the inner man as well as the outward deeds (cf. Mt 5:21–22, 27–28). The call here is not simply uttered to the people as a group, as in ch. 54, but to the individual (“wicked” and “evil man” are singular). The promise of God’s pardon is assured (cf. 1:16–20; 44:22; et al.).[2]

55:6, 7 Here is one of the clearest OT invitations to salvation now and kingdom blessing later. It gives an excellent example of how people were saved during the OT period. Salvation grace and mercy were available to the soul that was willing to 1) seek the Lord (Dt 4:29; 2Ch 15:4) and 2) call on Him while He is still available (65:1; Ps 32:6; Pr 8:17; Mt 25:1–13; Jn 7:34; 8:21; 2Co 6:2; Heb 2:3; 3:13, 15). Such true seeking in faith is accompanied by repentance, which is described as forsaking ways and thoughts and turning from sinful living to the Lord. A sinner must come, believing in God, recognizing his sin and desiring forgiveness and deliverance from that sin. At the same time he must recognize his own inability to be righteous or to satisfy God and cast himself on God’s mercy. It is then that he receives a complete pardon. His sin has been covered by the substitution of the Messiah in his place (chap. 53). This OT pattern of salvation is illustrated in Lk 18:9–14.

55:7 forsake. An integral part of seeking the Lord (v. 6) is a turning from sin (1:16).[3]

55:6 Seek the Lord while he may be found. Since this is God’s offer, he is free to withdraw it; therefore people should not be foolish and delay (cf. Ps. 32:6). The offer of salvation should never be despised or rejected, for the opportunity may end at any moment.[4]

55:6 Seek the Lord while he may be found. The offer of salvation is not permanently open; it is necessary to respond to God’s gracious invitation while one may do so.

55:7 wicked … unrighteous. God requires living faith, which is demonstrated in repentance and change of behavior (James 2:18; 1 John 1:3–5).

compassion … abundantly pardon. The prophet repeats the invitation of 1:18 with great boldness and directness.[5]

[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 982). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Grogan, G. W. (2008). Isaiah. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, p. 813). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 55:6–7). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1341). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1228). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

May 1 – The Master’s Men

“The names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him” (Matt. 10:2–4).


God uses unqualified people to accomplish His purposes.

We live in a qualification-conscious society. Almost everything you do requires you to meet someone else’s standards. You must qualify to purchase a home, buy a car, get a credit card, or attend college. In the job market, the most difficult jobs require people with the highest possible qualifications.

Ironically, God uses unqualified people to accomplish the world’s most important task: advancing the Kingdom of God. It has always been that way. Adam and Eve plunged the human race into sin. Lot got drunk and committed incest with his own daughters. Abraham doubted God and committed adultery. Jacob deceived his father. Moses was a murderer. David was too, as well as an adulterer. Jonah got upset when God showed mercy to Nineveh. Elijah withstood 850 false priests and prophets, yet fled in terror from one woman—Jezebel. Paul (Saul) murdered Christians. And the list goes on and on.

The fact is, no one is fully qualified to do God’s work. That’s why He uses unqualified people. Perhaps that truth is most clearly illustrated in the twelve disciples, who had numerous human frailties, different temperaments, different skills, and diverse backgrounds, and yet Christ used them to change the world.

This month you will meet the disciples one by one. As you do, I want you to see that they were common men with a very uncommon calling. I also want you to observe the training process Jesus put them through, because it serves as a pattern for our discipleship as well.

I pray that you will be challenged by their strengths and encouraged by the way God used them despite their weaknesses and failures. He will use you too as you continue yielding your life to Him.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Memorize Luke 6:40. Ask God to make you more like Christ.

For Further Study: Read 2 Timothy 1:3–5, noting the weaknesses Timothy may have struggled with, and how Paul encouraged him. How might Paul’s words apply to you?[1]

The Master’s Men—Part 1: Peter: A Lesson in Leadership

Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, (10:2a)

In his book Quiet Talks on Service, S. D. Gordon gives an imaginary account of Jesus’ return to heaven after His ascension. As the angel Gabriel greets Jesus he asks, “Master, You died for the world, did You not?” to which the Lord replies, “Yes.” “You must have suffered much,” the angel says; and again Jesus answers, “Yes.” “Do they all know that you died for them?” Gabriel continues. “No. Only a few in Palestine know about it so far,” Jesus says. “Well, then, what is Your plan for telling the rest of the world that You shed Your blood for them?” Jesus responds, “Well, I asked Peter and James and John and Andrew and a few others if they would make it the business of their lives to tell others. And then the ones that they tell could tell others, and they in turn could tell still others, and finally it would reach the farthest corner of the earth and all would know the thrill and power of the gospel.” “But suppose Peter fails? And suppose after a while John just doesn’t tell anyone? And what if James and Andrew are ashamed or afraid? Then what?” Gabriel asks. “I have no other plans,” Jesus is said to have answered; “I am counting entirely on them” (cited in Herbert Lockyer, All the Apostles of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972], p. 31).

Though it is a fantasy, that story dramatizes a great truth about the gospel. The only plan the Lord has for reaching the world is for those who know Him to witness about Him to others. The life-changing power of the gospel is in the atoning death of Jesus Christ and can be applied in a life only through the convicting and recreative work of the Holy Spirit. But the declaration of the gospel is in the hands of those who have already experienced the new life and are willing to tell of it to others.

Society routinely sets standards of qualification for a myriad of enterprises. Businesses establish qualifications for their employees, and the more responsible the job, the higher the qualifications. Advertisements for jobs often list requirements such as self-motivation, ability to work under pressure, minimum typing speed, several years’ work experience, and willingness to travel. A person must also qualify in order to buy a house or car, get a credit card, enroll in college, or receive a driver’s license.

Scripture makes clear that God’s standards for His people, especially for the leaders who are to model those standards for His people, are extremely high (1 Tim. 3:1–12; Titus 1:6–9; 2 Pet. 3:14). The standard for every believer, in fact, is nothing less than perfection: “You are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus says (Matt. 5:48) Yet Scripture makes equally clear that no person in himself can meet the least of God’s standards. Even after he became an apostle, Paul confessed of himself: “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh” (Rom. 7:18). In the same epistle he says of mankind in general, “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” (3:10–12).

The greatness of God’s grace is seen in His choosing the undeserving to be His people and the unqualified to do His work. It should be a marvelous encouragement to every believer to know that, just as Elijah (James 5:17), the apostles had a nature like ours. Because there was no other way, God chose to bestow sanctifying grace on those who believe in His Son and by His own power to transform them into men and women of great usefulness.

We are tempted to become discouraged and disheartened when our spiritual life and witness suffer because of our sins and failures. Satan attempts to convince us that those shortcomings render us useless to God; but His use of the apostles testifies to the opposite. They did not lead the church in turning the world upside down because they were extraordinarily talented or naturally gifted, but because-in spite of their human limitations and failures-they surrendered themselves to God, whose power is perfected in man’s weakness (2 Cor. 12:9).

That has always been God’s way, since He has never had anything but imperfect and sinful men through whom to work. Soon after God delivered Noah and his family through the Flood, Noah became drunk and acted indecently. Abraham, the father of the faithful, doubted God, lied about his wife, and committed adultery with her maid. Isaac told a similar lie about his wife when he thought his life was in danger. Jacob took advantage of his brother Esau’s weakness and extorted the birthright from him. Moses was a murderer, and in pride he struck the rock instead of speaking to it as God had instructed. His brother, Aaron, the first high priest, led Israel in erecting and worshiping the golden calf at the very time Moses was on Mount Sinai receiving the law from God. Joshua disobeyed the Lord by making a treaty with the Gibeonites instead of destroying them. Gideon had little confidence in himself and even less in God’s plan and power. Samson was repeatedly beguiled by Delilah because of his great lust for her. David committed adultery and murder, was an almost total failure as a father, and was not allowed to build the Temple because he was a man of blood. Elijah stood fearlessly before 850 false prophets but cowered before one woman, Jezebel. Ezekiel was brash, crusty, and quick to speak his mind. Jonah defied God’s call to preach to the Ninevites and resented His grace when they were converted through his preaching.

Apart from the brief ministry of His own Son, the history of God’s work on earth is the history of His using the unqualified. The twelve disciples who became apostles were no exception. Even from the human standpoint they had few characteristics or abilities that qualified them for leadership and service. Yet God used those men, just as He did Noah, Abraham, and the others, in marvelous ways to do His work.

Writing to the factious, worldly Corinthians, Paul insisted that neither he nor Apollos were anything in themselves. “What then is Apollos?” he asks. “And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth” (1 Cor. 3:5–7).

The New Testament does not teach Christian leaders to follow the individual methods or styles of the apostles. It does not explain their methods or give details of their specific strategies for evangelism or other ministry. The focus of apostolic power in the New Testament is always on the Lord. As with the lowliest believer, the apostles’ power and effectiveness were exclusively the work of the Holy Spirit.

The story is told that after a famous artist finished his painting of the Last Supper he asked a friend to comment on the work. When the friend remarked that the cups were the most magnificent parts of the entire painting, the artist was dumbfounded. He picked up his brush and painted over every cup, explaining, “I failed. I wanted you to see Christ, but you only noticed the cups.” It is a wonderful thing to be a vessel fit for the Master’s use, but the vessel is not the source of spiritual power and should never be the focus of attention.

Emphasizing the methods and practices of famous and visibly successful Christian leaders inevitably weakens the church, and at no time in history has that misguided emphasis been more dominant than it is in much of the church today. When men are elevated, Christ is lowered; and when men’s power and resources are relied on, Christ’s work is weakened.

Someone has commented that a great writer can take a worthless piece of paper, write a poem on it and instantly make it extremely valuable. A famous artist can take a piece of canvas worth fifty cents and by painting a picture on it make it priceless. A wealthy man can sign his name to a worthless piece of paper and make it worth a million dollars. In an infinitely greater way Jesus Christ can take a worthless, corrupted, and repulsive life and transform it into a righteous child of God and a useful worker in His kingdom.

A church in Strasbourg, France, was severely damaged by bombs during World War II. Although a beloved statue of Christ had survived, a ceiling beam had fallen across the arms and broken them off. A local sculptor offered to restore the statue without charge, but the townspeople decided to leave it as it was. Without hands it would be a continuing reminder to them that God does His work through His people. His earthly hands.

Jesus Christ chooses human hands-and minds and arms and feet-as the instruments of His eternal work of redemption. Those who are not offended by His demands for discipleship and who, like the apostles, give their imperfect and flawed lives to Him as living sacrifices (Rom. 12:1), become His means for drawing all men to Himself.

Jesus did not intend to proclaim the kingdom alone. His own ministry lasted but three years and did not even extend to all of Palestine. From the earliest part of His ministry He began training the twelve who would continue His work It was in this training of the twelve that the Lord began the process Paul later admonished Timothy to follow: “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also” (2 Tim. 2:2).

Jesus chose only twelve men to be His apostles, a seemingly insignificant number for the task ahead. They would be pitted not only against the evil, unbelieving system of the world but against Satan and his demon system.

History is full of amazing exploits by a few men against great odds. Sometimes the few have been victorious, and often they have gone down in tragic defeat. In either case they are remembered and admired for their courage. Against supernatural enemies, however, man can never be successful in his own power, no matter how great his courage. On the other hand, when God empowers His people, no obstacle or enemy can withstand them.

Shamgar, a judge of Israel, killed 600 men with an ox goad. With only 300 men filtered from an original force of 32,000, Gideon, another judge, routed an uncountable number of Midianites and Amalekites, whom the Lord caused to slaughter each other in panic. Still another judge, Samson, slaughtered 1,000 Philistines with only the jawbone of a donkey as a weapon. Jonathan and his armor bearer, who was probably only a boy, killed twenty armed Philistines who were waiting for them at the top of a hill; and that victory led to the defeat of the entire Philistine army by Israelites armed only with farm implements. In one day Elijah singlehandedly slaughtered 850 pagan prophets on Mount Carmel.

The Lord can display His divine power through a handful of men, or even one man, just as surely as through a multitude-so the small number of the apostles was no hindrance to the work of the gospel.

Henry Drummond, the Scottish author and evangelist who wrote the well-known booklet The Greatest Thing in the World, was once invited to speak to an exclusive men’s club in London. He began his talk with a provocative analogy that those men easily understood: “Gentlemen, the entrance fee into the kingdom of heaven is nothing; however, the annual subscription is everything.”

Because Jesus Christ paid the total price for salvation, it costs nothing to become His disciple. But to follow Him as a faithful disciple costs everything we have. We are not only saved by Christ’s blood but are bought with it and therefore belong totally to Him (1 Cor. 6:19–20; 7:23).

The twelve men Jesus called as disciples and transformed into apostles were willing to pay everything. They turned their backs on their occupations, their life-styles, their homes, their own plans and aspirations. They committed themselves totally to following Jesus Christ, wherever that would lead and whatever that would cost.

They were a committed few among the unbelieving many. From early in His ministry, and especially after He began performing miracles, Jesus never lacked for an audience. The multitudes followed Him wherever He went, so much so that He often had difficulty being alone by Himself or with the twelve. The crowds were attracted by the ring of authority in His voice, by the uniqueness of His message, by the wonder of His miracles, and by His concern for common people and for the sick, diseased, and sinful.

In the broadest sense they were disciples (mathētēs), which has the root meaning of follower or learner. But that term does not necessarily carry the idea of commitment, as is clear from several gospel accounts. The morning after Jesus fed the five thousand (plus women and children), many of the people who were fed followed Him back to Capernaum. When He saw them, Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves, and were filled” (John 6:26). A short while later He said to the same group, “You have seen Me, and yet do not believe” (v. 36). Among this crowd were “many … of His disciples” (v. 60) who were disturbed when they heard Jesus say, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (vv. 54). After Jesus further explained what He meant, they were even more offended, and “as a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore” (v. 66). Those disciples were only observers and hearers who had no desire to trust and follow the Lord.

Those disciples accepted Jesus as a great teacher and wonder worker, but only on the physical level. They were quite willing for Him to heal their bodies and fill their stomachs, but they did not want Him to cleanse their sins, recreate their hearts, and transform their lives. They gladly came to Him for the “food which perishes,” but they had no appetite for “the food which endures to eternal life” (John 6:27).

Jesus’ teaching was not “difficult” (v. 60) because it was hard to understand but because it was hard to accept. The people knew that Jesus was not talking of eating and drinking His physical body and blood but of accepting everything that He was, said, and did. His statement was difficult for them to accept for the very reason that they did understand it.

As in Jesus’ time and throughout history, false disciples today are willing to accept whatever of the gospel fits their personal inclinations and life-styles. They are willing to be identified as Christians, belong to a church, be active in its work, and give money to its support. But they have no intention of giving themselves to Jesus Christ as Lord and Master. When such a demand is made of them, or even suggested, they vanish as quickly and permanently as those disciples at Capernaum.

Jesus’ difficult teachings offended them and caused them “to stumble” (John 6:61). “Stumble” translates skandalizō, which means to put up a snare or stumbling block, and is the term from which we get scandal. The original meaning pertained to a trap held up by a stick. When an animal grabbed food that was attached to the stick, the stick would fall, causing the trap to capture or kill the animal. The offended disciples at Capernaum understood clearly that to accept Christ’s demand to eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to receive eternal life meant to give up their old life-which they would not relinquish even for heaven. Consequently, they had nothing more to do with Jesus.

After the crowd left, Jesus asked the disciples, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” (v. 67). He “knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him” (v. 64), but He wanted to make sure that the twelve realized in their own minds the cost of true discipleship. Peter replied for the group, saying, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. And we have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God” (vv. 68–69)

Except for Judas, the twelve decided to eat Christ’s flesh and drink His blood, whatever the cost. They had no idea of the particulars of the cost, but they placed themselves in the Lord’s hands, confident that in Him and only in Him, was eternal life and everything else of any value.

The twelve men Jesus chose as His apostles had in their hands the full responsibility for initially taking the gospel to the rest of the world. The church was “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone” (Eph. 2:20). Jesus promised them, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:26). Through the Holy Spirit the apostles received God’s divine revelation and were the ones responsible for writing most of the New Testament. It was therefore to “the apostles’ teaching” to which the true and faithful church has always devoted itself, beginning in Jerusalem immediately after Pentecost (Acts 2:42). Through them the doctrine of the New Covenant was established, explained, and proclaimed.

The apostles not only were the channels of Christian theology and evangelism but were also the first examples of godly, virtuous living for the church to follow God confirmed their authority as true apostles “by signs and wonders and miracles” (2 Cor. 12:12); and as “His holy apostles” (Eph. 3:5) they received, taught, recorded, and exemplified the gospel of Jesus Christ.

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the third phase of the disciples’ training under Jesus was what might be called their internship, which began immediately after their conversion and calling and preceded their final commissioning and sending after His ascension (Acts 1:8). It is this third phase of training that occupies Matthew in chapter 10. By this time the disciples had been under Jesus’ instruction for perhaps eighteen months, but they had not participated directly in the ministry. Until now they had only been observers and learners. Now they began to have direct involvement as the Lord sent them out two by two (see Mark 6:7) to try their wings in the work for which He had given them authority.

The apostles were essential for the future of the Christian faith, because they were the only ones called and empowered to build the foundation of God’s only plan for telling the world of redemption through His Son. It was time for them to be more than mere hearers and observers, so they were given “authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every kind of disease and every kind of sickness” (10:1). But their first responsibility was to “preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand’ ” (v. 7), for which message their miraculous works would be divine authenticating signs. As Nicodemus acknowledged regarding Jesus, “Rabbi, we know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him” (John 3:2).

“How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” asks the writer of Hebrews. “After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3–4). The Lord Jesus Christ was the first preacher of the gospel, and the apostles (“those who heard”) confirmed what He preached, and God the Father confirmed their testimony by the divinely empowered “signs and wonders … various miracles and … gifts of the Holy Spirit” that accompanied their preaching. The word of the apostles was miraculously attested as they laid down the foundation for the church.

The apostles were ordinary men. As far as we know, the only one who was materially prosperous was Matthew, who gained his wealth by legally but unethically extorting taxes for Rome. None of the twelve was highly educated or had prominent social, political, or religious status. Details about some of them remain unknown to us today, except for their names, because neither Scripture nor secular history has much to say about them.

Yet there has never been a task in the history of the world equal to that of those common men whom the Lord chose to be His first agents of ministry in setting in motion the advancement of the kingdom of God on earth. They had the monumental assignment of finishing the foundation work of the church that the Lord Himself had begun. Luke mentions this transition of responsibility in the introductory words of Acts: “The first account [i. e., the gospel of Luke] I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (1:1–3).

A number of truths about the apostles can be learned simply from the scriptural listings of their names. First of all, in the four New Testament lists of the apostles (Matt. 10:2–4; Mark 3:16–19; Luke 6:14–16; and Acts 1:13; cf. v. 26), Peter is always named first. In Matthew 10:2 the first does not refer to the order of selection, because Jesus called Andrew, Peter’s brother, before He called Peter (John 1:40–42). In this context, prōtos (first) indicates foremost in rank. The apostles were equal in their divine commission, authority, and power; and one day they will sit on equal thrones as they judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28). But in terms of function, Peter was the first, the foremost member of the twelve. Prōtos is used with the same meaning in 1 Timothy 1:15, where Paul speaks of himself as the “foremost of all” sinners. In Revelation 1:17, Christ speaks of Himself as “the first [prōtos] and the last.” No group can function properly without a leader, and Peter was the leading member of the twelve from the beginning.

Second, all four lists of the apostles are divided into the same three subgroups. The first group includes Peter, Andrew, James, and John; the second includes Philip, Bartholomew, Thomas, and Matthew; and the third includes James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot. The names are in different orders within the groups, but they always include the same four names, and the first name in each group is always the same, suggesting that each group had its own identity and leader. The first group includes those Jesus called first (though not in the individual order), the second includes those He called next, and the third group those He called last.

We know a great deal about the men in the first group, much less about those in the second, and almost nothing about those in the third-except for Judas, who betrayed Jesus, committed suicide, and was replaced by Matthias just before Pentecost (Acts 1:26). There is not only a decreasing amount of information about the members of each group but also a decreasing intimacy with Jesus. The first four constituted Jesus’ inner circle of disciples; and of those four, Peter, James, and John were especially close to Him. Little is said about His direct instruction or work with the second group, and almost nothing about close contact with the third. He loved all the apostles equally, empowered them equally, and promised them equal glory; but because of the physical limitations common to all men, He was not able to give them equal attention. It is impossible for any leader to be equally close to everyone with whom he works. By necessity he will spend more time with and place more responsibility on certain people who are particularly capable and trustworthy.

The first group included two sets of brothers, Peter and Andrew and James and John, all of whom were fishermen. Matthew was a tax collector, but we know nothing of the occupations of any of the other seven. The two sets of brothers were acquainted even before Jesus called them, because they fished near each other on the Sea of Galilee (see Matt. 4:18–21).

The temperaments of the apostles about whom we know the most were very much different. Peter, for example, was impulsive, a natural leader, and a man of action. Almost invariably he was the first to react to something that was said or done by saying or doing something himself. John, on the other hand, appears to have become quiet and pensive under Christ’s tutelage. In the first twelve chapters of Acts we read of Peter and John working closely together during the early days of the church. It must have been a helpful learning experience for both of them, with Peter anxious to charge ahead and John wanting to think things over first. Peter did all the preaching. Men of equal status and office and even of similar giftedness may have different functions relative to the uniqueness of their gifts.

Thomas was clearly the most skeptical of the twelve (John 20:25), and Simon the Zealot’s very name indicates he was a radical Jewish revolutionary, dedicated to driving out the Roman oppressor. Before he met Christ he doubtlessly would have willingly plunged a knife into the heart of Matthew, a traitorous collaborator with Rome.

Simon Peter

The first, Simon, who is called Peter, (10:2a)

All of the twelve, including Judas, were integral parts of the Lord’s plan. But Peter was by far the central figure, both during the three years of Jesus’ earthly ministry and during the early years of the church after Pentecost. Jesus spent more time with Peter than with any of the others, partly because Peter was constantly at the Lord’s side. He was never far from Jesus and was continually asking Him questions, giving advice, and even giving commands. Apart from that of Jesus, no name is mentioned more often in the New Testament than Peter’s. No other person speaks as often or is spoken to as often. No disciple was reproved as often or as severely as Peter, and only he was presumptuous enough to reprove the Lord. No other disciple so boldly confessed Christ or so boldly denied Him. No other disciple was so praised and blessed by Jesus, and yet no other did He call Satan.

How could Jesus take such an ambivalent, inconsistent, and self-centered man and make him into the first-the prōtos-of the apostles? From the gospel record we can discern at least three instructive elements that were instrumental in the Lord’s preparation of Peter: the right raw material, the right experience, and the right lessons.

The Right Raw Material

Peter had the right raw material from which Jesus could fashion the sort of leader He intended Peter to be. Peter was a big beginning; he had potential. But while he was in control of his own life, his beginnings never got further than that and his potential was not always easy to see.

But one of Peter’s qualifications for leadership is seen in his continually asking questions of Jesus. He always wanted to know the what, when, where, and why of everything the Lord said and did. Many of his questions were superficial and immature, but they reflected a genuine concern about Jesus and His work. A person who does not ask questions has little chance for success as a leader, because he has no desire or willingness to inquire about what he does not understand. When the other disciples failed to understand something, they appear to have been more likely to keep quiet or simply discuss their doubts and questions among themselves. Peter, on the other hand, was never reluctant to ask Jesus about whatever was on his mind.

When Peter did not understand what Jesus meant when He said that it is “not what enters into the mouth [that] defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth,” he asked, “Explain the parable to us” (Matt. 15:11, 15). When he was concerned about the reward he and his fellow disciples would get for leaving all and following Jesus, he did not hesitate asking about it (Matt. 19:27). Peter wondered about the fig tree that Jesus caused to wither (Mark 11:21) and, with James, John, and Andrew he asked Jesus to explain when and how the Temple would be destroyed (Mark 13:4). After Peter was told that he would be a martyr for the Lord, he asked about John’s fate: “Lord, and what about this man?” (John 21:21). Peter’s questions seldom received the answer he expected, because they usually were self-centered or completely missed the primary truth Jesus was explaining. But the Lord used even his poor questions to patiently train him in leadership. Peter’s questions, immature as many of them were, gave the Lord an opportunity to help him grow.

Second, Peter showed initiative, another necessary ingredient of leadership. Just as he was usually the first to ask Jesus questions, he was also usually the first to respond to questions Jesus asked. When the Lord asked the disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter immediately replied, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:15–16). When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. “Peter therefore having a sword, drew it, and struck the high priest’s slave, and cut off his right ear” (John 18:10). Even though his actions were often misguided, Peter was ready to respond in what he thought was Christ’s behalf.

Third, Peter positioned himself in the middle of the activity. He was a natural participant, never content to be on the sidelines. He stayed as close to Jesus as possible and wanted to be a part of everything that happened. Even when he denied the Lord, he was at least as near to Jesus as he could be, whereas all the other disciples were nowhere to be found. When they were told of Jesus’ resurrection, Peter reached the tomb after John only because John was a better runner (John 20:4). Peter was always there.

The bold fisherman was a native of Bethsaida and later moved to Capernaum, where he and his father, John (or Jonas), and brother, Andrew carried on their trade. Because he had a mother-in-law, we know that Peter was married when Jesus called him (Matt. 8:14), and from Paul’s comments in 1 Corinthians 9:5, it is likely that Peter’s wife traveled with him throughout his apostolic ministry.

Even Peter’s names give insight into his character. He was given the common name Simon by his parents, but Jesus changed his name to Peter (Cephas in Aramaic) which means stone (Matt. 16:18). By nature Peter was vacillating and unstable, and when the Lord named him Peter, the other disciples doubtlessly had great reservations about the appropriateness of his new name. But the new name was perhaps a gentle and encouraging reminder to Simon of the kind of man Jesus called him to become.

Peter is usually referred to as Simon when the purpose is simply to identify him or something related to him-such as his house or mother-in-law (Mark 1:29–30), his boat (Luke 5:3), or his fishing partners (Luke 5:10). He is also referred to as Simon whenever he is reprimanded for sin or displays special weakness, as when he questioned Jesus’ advice to go “out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch” (Luke 5:4). When Jesus came back from prayer in the garden and found the disciples sleeping, He said, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?” (Mark 14:37). After the resurrection Peter disobediently returned to his fishing, and when the Lord confronted him three times about his faithfulness, each time He addressed him as Simon (John 21:15–17). He used his old name to point out that he was acting like his old self.

In John’s gospel Peter is called by both names together (Simon Peter) some seventeen times. Perhaps because John knew Peter so well he used the two names to depict both the old and the new characteristics of his friend, which were often intermixed and difficult to distinguish.

The Right Experiences

A second element in preparing for leadership is having right experiences. The Lord brought into Peter’s life all the experiences necessary to develop his leadership ability.

First of all, Jesus gave Peter wondrous revelations. When Peter first confessed that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” Jesus explained to him. “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 16:16–17). When many of Jesus’ followers forsook Him because of His teaching about the cost of discipleship, using the figure of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, the Lord asked the twelve, “You do not want to go away also, do you?” Peter’s response on that occasion seems also to have been inspired of God as he said. “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.” (John 6:66–68).

Jesus was transforming Peter by letting him know that God wanted to use his mouth to proclaim the great delivering truth of the gospel. One day he would stand up boldly and say, “Men of Judea, and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give heed to my words” (Acts 2:14). And one day he would take a pen and write God’s revelation in the form of two New Testament epistles.

Second, Peter was given great honor and reward. After Jesus explained to Peter that the truth of his confession was revealed to him by the Father, He said. “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades shall not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:18). The lord used Peter to preach the great sermon at Pentecost to tire Jews assembled there from all over the world, and He used Peter to bring the gospel to Cornelius, the first Gentile convert. Peter unlocked the doors of the gospel to both the Jews and the Gentiles.

All of the apostles opened the door to the kingdom as they, preached the gospel of salvation, and every time any man of God preaches Christ he, too, unlocks those kingdom doors to let men in.

Third, Peter experienced great rebuke. A short while after Jesus honored Peter by the declaration just mentioned above, Peter himself proved that our Lord’s reference could not have been to him, since he was then anything but a solid foundation on which Christ could build His church. Perhaps feeling proud and overconfident as the leading disciple, he demonstrated that his mouth could be used by Satan as well as by God. When the Lord “began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day, … Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, ‘God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You’ ” But his severe rebuke of Jesus brought an even more severe rebuke from Jesus: “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” (Matt. 16:21–23).

A great danger of leadership is not knowing its limits. Many dictators and demagogues were once capable public servants, but great honor and power caused them to believe the right of leadership lay in themselves rather than in their privileged office. When Peter began elevating his own position and understanding, he found himself serving Satan rather than God. Great potential for being used by God also brings great potential for being used by Satan.

Fourth, Peter experienced what might be called great rejection, not by Jesus but of Him. Peter’s extreme self-confidence again caused him to fail Jesus exactly at the point where he thought he was strongest. Just as confidence in his own wisdom resulted in his rebuke by Jesus, his confidence in his own dependability resulted in his rejection of Jesus. When Jesus predicted that all the disciples would fall away when He was arrested, Peter again contradicted Him, asserting, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away” When Jesus went on to say that Peter’s falling away would occur that very night and would, in fact, happen three times, Peter protested even more strongly: “Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You.” Following his lead, “all the disciples said the same thing too.” Jesus, of course, again proved right and Peter again proved wrong. While he warmed himself in the courtyard of the high priest, Peter not only denied the Lord three times, but progressively denied Him more vehemently (Matt. 26:31–35, 69–75).

Fifth, Peter experienced a great recommissioning. When Jesus confronted him with the lack of love, Peter assured the Lord three times that he did indeed love Him, and Jesus three times reinstated him and charged him to care for His flock. Jesus had not given up on Peter. He reassured His faltering disciple that his calling still stood and commanded him again just as He had in the beginning, “Follow Me!” (John 21:15–19).

The Right Attitudes

A third element in Jesus’ training of Peter was teaching him the principles of godly leadership. First of all, because leaders can easily become domineering, they have a special need to learn submission. When the Capernaum tax collectors demanded a two-drachma Temple tax from Jesus, He commanded Peter to go and catch a fish, in whose mouth would be a stater, exactly enough to pay the tax for both Jesus and Peter (Matt. 17:24–27). From that experience Peter learned a lesson not only in submitting to Jesus but to human authorities. In his first letter he wrote, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. … Honor all men; love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king” (1 Pet. 2:13–15, 17).

Second, Peter needed to learn restraint, of which he needed a double portion. As already mentioned, when the Roman soldiers came with the officers of the chief priests and the Pharisees to arrest Jesus in the garden, Peter drew his sword and began to fight-even though the Roman cohort alone may have numbered 500 or more men. Jesus told Peter to put away his sword and to let God’s divine plan take its course (John 18:10–11).

Third, Peter needed to learn humility; and again he needed a double portion. Only a few hours after he proudly boasted, “Even though all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away,” Peter denied the Lord three times-although he was in little, if any, danger (Matt. 26:33, 69–75). But he eventually learned his lesson, and many years later wrote, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet. 5:5).

Fourth, Peter needed to learn to sacrifice, and Jesus promised him, “ ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself, and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’ ” (John 21:18–19). When Peter became concerned that John might not have to pay such a costly sacrifice, Jesus told him sternly, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (vv. 21–22). For the second time on this occasion Jesus commanded Peter to follow Him, this time using the emphatic su (“you”).

That was the last time Jesus had to command Peter to follow Him. From then on, Peter obeyed whatever the cost. He even learned to rejoice in his suffering for Christ, and wrote, “To the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. … If anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not feel ashamed, but in that name let him glorify God. … Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right” (1 Pet. 4:13–14, 16, 19).

Fifth, Peter needed to learn love. It was lack of genuine love that caused Peter to deny His Lord, and it was about that love that Jesus pressed him three times. The Holy Spirit led Peter and John to minister together in the early years of the church, and Peter no doubt learned many lessons in true love from the great apostle of love.

Jesus’ washing the disciples’ feet not only was an example of humility but of the source of humility-love. Service to others, no matter how costly or demeaning, is neither humble nor godly if done from any motive but love (cf. 1 Cor. 13:3). Peter records the lesson he learned: “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Pet. 4:8)

Sixth, Peter needed to learn courage. Because Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s suffering pointed to great sacrifice, it also pointed to need of great courage. When Peter was brought before the high priest and the Sanhedrin, or Council, for preaching the gospel, he was no longer the fearful coward he had been in the high priest’s courtyard the night of Jesus’ arrest. Now confident in his Lord rather than in himself, he stood boldly and declared, “Let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead-by this name this man [the one Peter had healed in Solomon’s portico] stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the very corner stone” (Acts 4:10–11; cf. 3:1–8). When the Council again charged Peter and John not to continue preaching, the apostles replied, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking what we have seen and heard” (v. 19–20). At the subsequent prayer meeting in Jerusalem they prayed for continued boldness; and “when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak the word of God with boldness” (v. 31).

Peter often learned his lessons slowly, but he learned them well. He took the initiative to seek someone to replace Judas among the apostles (Acts 1:15–17), became the first spokesman of the church at Pentecost (2:14), was the first to defend the gospel before the Sanhednn (4:8), was the first to enact church discipline (in dealing with the deceit of Ananias and Sapphira, 5:3–9), confronted Simon the magician when he attempted to pervert God’s power to his own advantage (8:18–23), healed Aeneas and raised Dorcas from the dead (9:34, 40), was the first to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10), and wrote two marvelous epistles in which he humbly included all the lessons Jesus had patiently taught him.

Peter was a man God touched with His grace in a special way. As a “wandering heart” that God finally captured and claimed for Himself, Peter would have sung joyfully the words of Robert Robinson’s beloved hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”:

O to grace how great a debtor

Daily I’m constrained to be!

Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,

Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,

Prone to leave the God I love;

Take my heart, O take and seal it,

Seal it for Thy courts above.

Tradition reports that Peter died a cruel death. And before he himself was crucified, he is said to have been forced to witness the crucifixion of his wife. In his Ecclesiastical History, the early church Father Eusebius writes that Peter stood at the foot of his wife’s cross and kept repeating to her, “Remember the Lord. Remember the Lord.” After she died, it is said he pleaded to be crucified upside down, because he was unworthy to die as his Lord had died.

Peter’s life can be summed up in the last words of his second epistle: “Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. To Him be glory, both now and forever. Amen” (2 Pet. 3:18).


The Master’s Men—Part 2: Andrew, James the son of Zebedee, John





and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; (10:2b)

Along with Peter, the leading disciple (the foremost, or “first,” v. 10:2a), these three men composed Jesus’ inner circle of four. Like Peter, they do not appear on the surface to be ideal candidates for becoming apostles and the foundation of the church. Yet from the accounts of these men both in the gospels and the rest of the New Testament, we learn that God is able to use in His service any kind of person who submits to the lordship of Jesus Christ.

The apostles, and especially these four who are the best known of them, are often looked on as “stained glass saints.” They have been frequently portrayed with halos above their heads and benign expressions on their faces. Not only children but cathedrals, chapels, cities, and towns are named after them. Their names are often preceded by Saint, adding to the notion that they were on a completely different plane of spiritual existence from other human beings, including other Christians.

But although they had an uncommon calling, the apostles were common men, much like the rest of us. They were saints only in the sense that every believer is a saint, made holy unto God through the imparted righteousness of Jesus Christ and awaiting the full perfection of sainthood in heaven (Rom. 1:7; 1 Cor. 1:2; Phil. 3:12–14; Heb. 11:40; Jude 14). Until then, they, like all saints, had to live with the weakness of their humanness.


Andrew was Peter’s brother, and his name means “manly.” Like his brother, he was a native of Bethsaida (John 1:44) and was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. Even before he met Jesus, Andrew was a godly, dedicated Jew He and John were disciples of John the Baptist, and when that prophet declared of Jesus, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” they left the Baptist and began to follow Jesus (John 1:36–37). Andrew then “found first his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ)” (v. 41). Peter and Andrew lived together (Mark 1:29) and doubtlessly shared everything with each other. It was therefore compelling for Andrew to share with Peter the most important discovery of his life.

Subsequent to his confession of Jesus as the Messiah, however, Andrew had returned to his fishing. A while later, as Jesus was “walking by the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them, ‘Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men’ ” (Matt. 4:18–19). It was at this time that Jesus actually called the two men into discipleship training, and from that point on these two brothers, along with the other two brothers, James and John, became Jesus’ most intimate friends. But though he was greatly respected by his fellow disciples and is always spoken of favorably in the few accounts in which he is mentioned, Andrew was apparently never quite as close to the Lord as the other three and is usually referred to as Peter’s brother.

In the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) Andrew is not mentioned except in the lists of the twelve disciples. And in only three accounts in John’s gospel do we find any information about him more than his name.

First, John tells us of Andrew’s previous discipleship to John the Baptist, his confession of Jesus as the Messiah, and his reporting to Peter his discovery and introducing him to the Lord (John 1:37–42). From his first encounter with Jesus, Andrew demonstrated an eagerness to introduce others to His Lord, and the desire to witness characterized his entire ministry.

Second, John tells us of Andrew’s involvement in Jesus’ feeding the five thousand on the far side of the Sea of Galilee. When Philip expressed bewilderment at Jesus’ question, “ ‘Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?’ … Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to Him, ‘There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?’ ” (John 6:5–9). He, too, was puzzled about Jesus’ question, but he did as much as he could in response to it and located some food. The barley loaves were rather small, much like biscuits or large crackers, and were otten eaten with fish preserved by pickling so that they could be carried to work as a lunch or on trips away from home. Andrew’s bringing the boy to Jesus suggests that he believed his Master could somehow make more of this small amount of food.

Third, John depicts Andrew bringing others to the Lord. When some God-fearing Gentiles came to Philip asking to see Jesus, “Philip came and told Andrew; Andrew anti Philip came, and they told Jesus” (John 12:20–22). Although Philip himself was one of the twelve, he apparently felt less than comfortable approaching Jesus alone and asked Andrew to accompany him.

From these three accounts we can discern several insights into the character of Andrew. First of all we see his openness and lack of prejudice. He knew that the disciples’ first priority, but not their only task, was to take the gospel to their fellow Jews, “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6). But he also must have known that the person to whom Jesus Himself first revealed His messiahship was a half-breed Samaritan woman, who trusted in Him and, like Andrew immediately began telling others of Him (John 4:25–29, 40–42).

Andrew was also characterized by simple but strong faith. We do not know what was in his mind when he brought the boy with the loaves and fish to Jesus, but he obviously believed Jesus could make use of the boy and his food. He had seen Jesus make wine, and he probably saw no reason why He could not multiply food as well.

Andrew also appears to have been humble. Throughout his ministry he was known primarily as Peter’s brother, and he was never as intimate with Jesus or used by Him as publicly or dramatically as was his brother And though he was part of the inner circle, Andrew seemed always to be in the shadow of Peter, James, and John. Yet there is no indication that he ever resented his position or function. He was content simply to belong to and serve Jesus, and no doubt to the end of his life was in awe of the fact that he was called to be an apostle at all. He cared more for his Lord and His work than he did for his own welfare or advantage, and he willingly sacrificed his own interests and comfort for the sake of others coming to the Lord He showed nothing of the self-will and self-interest seen at times in Peter, James, and John.

Andrew is the model for all Christians who labor quietly in humble places and positions. He did not try to please men but God, and had no interest in building a reputation for himself. He would gladly have taken for himself Christina Rossetti’s words:

Give me the lowest place;

Not that I dare ask for that lowest place,

But Thou hast died that I might live

And share Thy glory by Thy side.

Give me the lowest place;

Or if for me the lowest place is too high,

Then make one more low

Where I may sit and see my God and love Him so.

(Cited in Herbert Lockyer, All the Apostles of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972], p. 54.)

Andrew was that rare person who is willing to take second place, who is perfectly content to be in support of the more noticeable and acclaimed ministry of others, if that is where God wants him to be. He does not mind being hidden, so long as the Lord’s work is done. Here is the person that all leaders depend on and who are the backbone of every ministry. The cause of Christ is greatly dependent on the self-forgetting souls who are satisfied to occupy a small sphere in an obscure place, free from self-seeking ambition. Andrew was told that one day he would sit on one of the apostolic thrones and judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28). But for him that unique honor was not cause for boasting but for humble awe and wonder.

The Scotsman Daniel McLean wrote of Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland:

Gathering together the traces of character found in Scripture [about Andrew], we find neither the writer of an Epistle, nor the founder of a Church, nor a leading figure in the Apostolic Age, but simply … an intimate disciple of Jesus Christ, ever anxious that others should know the spring of spiritual joy and share the blessing he so highly prized. A man of very moderate endowment, who scarcely redeemed his early promise, simple minded and sympathetic, without either dramatic power or heroic spirit, yet with that clinging confidence in Christ that brought him into that inner circle of the Twelve; a man of deep religious feeling with little power of expression, magnetic more than electric, better suited for the quiet walks of life than the stirring thoroughfares. Andrew is the apostle of the private life-the disciple of the hearth. (Cited in Lockyer, All the Apostles, pp. 55–56)

God uses people like Andrew, and only He can calculate their effectiveness. Sometimes it takes an Andrew to reach a Peter. An obscure Methodist preacher of the eighteenth century named Thomas Mitchell was an Andrew His obituary read, “Thomas Mitchell, an old soldier of Jesus Christ, a man of slender abilities as a preacher, and who enjoyed only a very defective education.” Yet one of his friends wrote of him: “His earnest and loving work caused him to lead many people to Christ.” Though a man of “slender abilities” and “defective education,” he was nevertheless God’s means of bringing to Christ the great preacher Thomas Olivers.

Thomas Mitchell went to a little village in Lincolnshire, where he arose each morning at five o’clock to preach in the open air, as John Wesley often did. His preaching was so fiery that he was arrested and attacked by a mob as he was taken to the public house for a hearing before the village curate. The crowd convinced the curate to let them throw Mitchell into a filthy, slimy pond. Each time he managed to crawl out, the mob threw him back in. He was then painted from head to foot with white paint and taken again to the public house. After a long debate about what to do with him, they decided to drown him. He was thrown into a small lake outside the town, and each time he came to the surface, a man with a long pole would push him under again. Eventually he was taken out, more dead than alive. He was tirelessly cared for by a godly old lady of the village, but when the mob found out that he was recovering, they threatened to rend him limb from limb unless he promised never to preach again. He refused to make such a promise but somehow managed to escape the threatened punishment. He later wrote of the incident, “All the time God kept me in perfect peace and I was able to pray for my enemies.” For the rest of his life he continued to minister in obscure faithfulness. But by God’s standards and in God’s power, he was far from being “a man of slender abilities.” So was Andrew.

James the Son of Zebedee

The third man named in Matthew’s list of the first four disciples is James the son of Zebedee. In the gospel accounts, James never appears apart from his brother John, and during the three years of training under Jesus they were inseparable. Because James is always mentioned first, he was probably the older and more dynamic of the two. The brothers were fishing partners with their father, Zebedee, who was apparently fairly well-to-do, because he employed hired servants in his business (Mark 1:20).

Because so little is said of him, James appears in the gospels more as a silhouette than a detailed portrait. Jesus referred to James and John as “Boanerges, which means, ‘Sons of Thunder’ ” (Mark 3:17), and from that descriptive name alone we can assume James was passionate, zealous, fervent, and aggressive.

As Passion Week approached, Jesus sent several disciples ahead to make arrangements for lodging. Because they were traveling from Galilee, they would need to spend a night in Samaria on the way to Jerusalem. Jews and Samaritans had great religious and racial animosity for one another, and when the Samaritans refused to give accommodations to Jesus “because He was journeying with His face toward Jerusalem,” James and John said to Him, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” (Luke 9:52–54). The two brothers may have believed that the repentant Samaritan woman at Sychar and the others there who had trusted in Jesus as the Messiah were barely worthy of salvation (see John 4:25–42). But a Samaritan who refused even to provide the Lord a night’s lodging was, in their view worthy only of instant execution. At that point James and John were hateful and intolerant, and their volatile and vengeful temperaments clouded over what they had heard Jesus teach and seen Him do. He therefore “turned and rebuked them, [and said, ‘You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them’]” (Luke 9:55–56).

James had much zeal but little sensitivity. In his resentment of the Samaritans’ rejection of Jesus he reflected a commendable commitment. It is good for God’s people to become incensed when He is dishonored and vilified (cf. Ps. 69:9; John 2:13–17). Jesus Himself was angered when His Father’s house was profaned (Matt. 21:12–13) and when hardness of heart made His opponents criticize even His healing the diseased and afflicted on the Sabbath (Luke 13:15–16). But Jesus did not return evil for evil (1 Pet. 2:23), and He forbids His followers to do so (Matt. 5:38–42).

When the mother of James and John, doubtlessly at their urging, asked Jesus to grant them seats on either side of His throne in the kingdom, the Lord asked them, “Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” Without hesitation they replied confidently, “We are able” (Matt. 20:21–22). Whether they instigated their mother’s request or not, they obviously thought it was perfectly appropriate. They had no reservations about their deserving the honor or their ability to meet any demands it might make of them.

From a human standpoint James and John displayed more natural reliability than Peter. They were not as vacillating and were not given to compromise or equivocation. But they were brazenly ambitious. The two who vengefully wanted to call down fire on the Samaritans are now seen also as self-serving place seekers, stalking the Lord for His patronage-unashamed of using their mother to gain their personal ends and oblivious of the fact that they were demeaning Christ and His kingdom.

When Herod wanted to attack and destroy the infant church, he singled out James for arrest and execution. The fact that he chose James first suggests that this apostle may have been more publicly noticeable and Influential than even Peter or John It was only after he saw that the murder of James pleased the Jews that Herod “proceeded to arrest Peter also” (Acts 12:1–3). At least in the king’s eyes, James seemed to be the most dangerous. He was probably thunderous and unrelenting in his ministry, and because of it became the first apostolic martyr.

Zeal is a great virtue, and the Lord needs those who are fearlessly aggressive. But zeal is also prone to be brash, loveless, insensitive, and lacking in wisdom. Insensitivity can destroy a ministry, and James had to learn to bridle his ambition and to love.

Some pastors who are orthodox in doctrine and morally upstanding are utterly insensitive to their congregations and their own families. The nineteenth-century writer Henrik Ibsen told of a Norwegian pastor who diligently followed the motto “All or nothing.” He was stern and uncompromising in everything he said and did. He zealously wanted to advance the kingdom of Christ, but he had no regard for the feelings of fellow believers. He wanted to uphold God’s standards of truth and holiness, but he was blind to His standards of love and kindness.

He was especially hard on his own family. When his little girl became seriously ill, he refused to take her out of the cold Norwegian climate to a warmer place, even though the doctor warned that not to do so would cost her life. The pastor responded with his usual “All or nothing,” and the girl soon died. Because the mother had found no love in her husband, her life had been completely centered in her little daughter. When the daughter died, the mother was so distraught and shattered that she would sit for hours fondling the clothes of her baby girl, trying to feed her starved heart with the empty garments. After a few days her husband took the clothes away and gave them to a poor woman on the street. The wife had hidden one little bonnet as a last reminder, but her husband soon found that and gave it away-after giving the grieving mother a lecture on “All or nothing.” In a few months the mother also died, a victim more of her husband’s misguided zeal than of her daughter’s untimely death.

The great evangelist Billy Sunday saw thousands of souls converted to Jesus Christ, but every one of his children died in unbelief, because he had had no time for them Zeal without love is cruel and destructive. A person with flaming passion and enthusiasm for the Lord’s work but who tends to be intolerant and impatient is doubtlessly more usable than a lukewarm, uncommitted, and compromising person, who the Lord said is fit only to be spat out of His mouth (Rev. 3:16). But intolerance and insensitivity are a tragic barrier to effective ministry and are never justified. Without love, the most dynamic and dedicated zeal-even in the Lord’s own work-is nothing (1 Cor. 13:1–3).

Jesus bridled James’s zeal and channeled His servant’s energy into fruitful ministry. James and John did indeed drink their Master’s cup, as He had predicted (Matt. 20:23). For John the cup was a long life of rejection and a death in exile. For James it was a short bright flame that brought martyrdom.

An ancient Roman coin depicted an ox facing both an altar and a plow with the inscription “Ready for either.” That should be the attitude of every believer. James gave his life for the Lord as a brief and dying sacrifice, whereas John gave his as a long and living sacrifice of service.


The last disciple mentioned in the first group is John, the brother of James. Unlike Andrew and James, John is one of the most prominent disciples in the New Testament. He not only figures prominently in the gospel accounts but wrote one of the gospels himself, as well as three epistles and the book of Revelation.

Because of his eventual gentleness and self-effacing attitude, we are sometimes inclined to think of John as being naturally retiring and mild mannered, perhaps even somewhat effeminate. But in his early years he was fully as much a “Son of Thunder” as James. He joined his brother in wanting to call down fire on the unbelieving Samaritans and in seeking a position next to the Lord in the kingdom. Like James, he was naturally intolerant, ambitious, zealous, and explosive, though perhaps not as much so.

It is interesting that the only time John is mentioned alone in the gospels is in an unfavorable light. On one occasion he came to Jesus and reported, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to hinder him because he was not following us” (Mark 9:38). John appears prejudiced and sectarian, and he did not look favorably on those who were not affiliated with his own group, even if they were faithfully doing the Lord’s work.

Christians are justified in breaking fellowship with fellow believers who teach false doctrine and persist in immoral living; in fact are commanded to do so (Rom. 16:17–18; 1 Cor. 5:9–11; Gal. 1:8; 2 Thess. 3:6, 14). But exclusivism or sectarianism based on form, culture, status, race, color, wealth, appearance, or any other such superficiality is anathema to the Lord, in whom “there is neither Jew nor Greek … slave nor free man … male nor female; for [we] are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Throughout his life, John remained uncompromising in doctrine and in standards of morality, but the Holy Spirit developed in him an unparalleled capacity for love, so much so that he is often called the apostle of love. It is apparent from his epistles that: he did not slip into the foolish and tolerant sentimentality that often masquerades as love. During the rest of his life, which lasted until near the turn of the second century, he lost none of his intolerance for falsehood and immorality. Love without certain standards or strong convictions is as much a spiritual disaster as zeal without sensitivity. The Lord knew that, as far as the human author was concerned, the apostle who became the most powerful advocate of love would have to be a man who was also uncompromising of truth. Otherwise his love would take him down the road of destructive sentimentalism that is traveled by so many in the name of Christ.

In his five New Testament books John uses forms of the word love eighty times and witness or its synonyms some seventy times. He was always a witness to the truth and ever a teacher of love. Truth guarded his love, and love surrounded his truth.

John was also a discoverer, a seeker for truth. He was the first to recognize the Lord on the shore of Galilee and was the first disciple to see the risen Christ. It was to him that the Lord entrusted the revelation of future events in the Apocalypse. John did not lean on Jesus’ breast (John 13:23) because of maudlin sentimentality but because he had an insatiable hunger for Christ’s truth and fellowship. He wanted to gather every word that came from his Master’s lips and to bask continually in the warmth of His love.

That John’s love was controlled by God’s truth is nowhere seen more clearly than in his three epistles, in which his exhortations for love are always balanced by commands for truth and righteousness. He denounced the antichrist and those who sided with him. He rebuked the unloving and the disobedient. It was John that Jesus inspired to record His most sobering distinction between the saved and the unsaved, declaring that the one is the child of God and the other the child of Satan (John 8:41–44). Again and again John appealed to various witnesses to the truth he taught. He spoke of the witness of John the Baptist (John 1:7–8; 3:26), the witness of the miracles (John 5:36), the witness of the apostles (15:27), the witness of the Father (5:37), of the Son (18:37), and of the Holy Spirit and the water and blood (1 John 5:8).

But throughout his teaching John’s heart of love and compassion is revealed, and the reflection of his great capacity not only to teach but to exemplify love is manifest. People who love greatly can also be loved greatly, because they are eager to receive it as well as give it. John continually took in the love of Christ and continually gave it out. He so identified with Christ’s love that he referred to himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved (John 13:23; 19:26; 20:2; 21:7, 20). John could claim no greater honor for himself than being the apostle whom Jesus loved.

Tradition tells us that John did not leave the city of Jerusalem until Mary the mother of Jesus died, because the Lord had entrusted her into his care (John 19:26). The Lord said to Peter, “Tend My sheep” (John 21:17); but to John He said, in effect, “Take care of My mother.” John had a special love that Jesus knew would lead this disciple to treat Mary as his own mother.

John’s teaching on love might be summarized in ten truths that run through his writings. He taught that God is a God of love (1 John 4:8, 16), that God loves His Son (John 3:35; 5:20) and is loved by His Son (14:31), that God loved the disciples (16:27; 17:23), that God loves all men (3:16), that Christ loved the disciples (13:34), that He loves all believers (1 John 3:1), that He expects all men to love Him (John 14:15, 21), that believers in Him should love one another (13:34; 1 John 4:11, 21), and that love fulfills all the commandments (14:23; 1 John 5:3).

From the lives of these three men, as from the lives of the other disciples, it becomes obvious that the Lord uses a variety of people. Andrew was humble, gentle, and inconspicuous. He saw the individual more than the crowd. He was not a dynamic evangelist, but he continually brought people to Jesus Christ. James, like Peter, was dynamic, bold, and a natural leader. He initiated, took charge, and moved ahead; but he could also be self-willed, self-assured, prejudiced, and ambitious. John was also a son of thunder, but of a milder sort. He was a truth seeker who was sensitive to those to whom he taught the truth.

Jesus transformed all three into effective fishers of men and foundation layers of His church, and all three suffered for their faithfulness. Tradition says that Andrew led the wife of a provincial governor to Christ and that when she refused to recant her faith the governor had Andrew crucified on an X-shaped cross-which subsequently became his symbol in church lore. He is said to have hung on the cross in agony for two days, preaching the gospel to those who passed by for as long as he was able.

According to tradition, when James had been sentenced to death and was about to be beheaded, the Roman soldier who guarded him was so impressed with his courage and constancy of spirit that he knelt at the apostle’s feet, begging forgiveness for the rough treatment he had given him and for his part in the execution. James is said to have lifted the man up, embraced and kissed him, and said, “Peace, my son. Peace to you and the pardon of your faults.” The soldier is said to have been so moved by James’s compassion that he publicly confessed Christ and was beheaded alongside the apostle.

Scripture reports that John was banished to the small and barren Isle of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, off the west coast of Asia Minor. He died about a.d. 98, during the reign of Emperor Trajan. Some sources suggest that those who knew him well said their reminder of John was the echo of a constant phrase that was on his lips: “My little children, love one another” (cf. 1 John 3:13, 14; 4:7, 11, 20–21).

These were three men with ordinary temperaments, ordinary strengths and weaknesses, and ordinary struggles. Yet in the power of Christ they were transformed into men that turned the world upside down. It was not what they were in themselves but what they were sovereignly and willingly made to become that rendered them such powerful instruments in the Master’s hands. The fishermen of Galilee became fishers of men on a vast scale, and in God’s power they gathered thousands of souls into the church and played a vital part in the salvation of millions more. Through the testimony of their lives and writings, those fishermen are still casting their nets into the sea of mankind and bringing multitudes into the kingdom.


The Master’s Men—Part 3: Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael)





Philip and Bartholomew; (10:3a)

The second group of four disciples begins with Philip, as it does in the other listings (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13), probably indicating he was its leader. This Philip is not to be confused with the deacon who became a prominent evangelist in the early days of the church (see Acts 6:5; 8:4–13, 26–40).

All of the twelve were Jews, but many used both Greek and Jewish names. It is not known what this disciple’s Jewish name was, because Philip (a Greek name meaning “lover of homes”) is the only name used of him in the New Testament. It was possibly due to his name that the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus came to Philip first (John 12:20–21).

Philip’s hometown was the northern Galilee town of Bethsaida, where Peter and Andrew also lived. Because they were all God-fearing Jews and probably were all fishermen (see John 21:2–3), it seems certain that Peter, Andrew, Philip and Bartholomew not only were acquaintances but were close friends even before Jesus called them.

As with Andrew, the first three gospels make no mention of Philip except in listings of the apostles, and all that is revealed about him is found in the fourth gospel.

It can be surmised from John’s account that Philip was already a devout man. The day after Jesus called Peter and Andrew, “He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me’ ” (John 1:43). Although John, Andrew, and Peter had taken up with Jesus as soon as they realized He was the Messiah (vv. 35–42), Philip was the first person to whom the Lord expressly said, “Follow Me.”

God had already given Philip a seeking heart. Salvation is always on the sovereign Lord’s initiative, and no one comes to Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws him (John 6:44, 65). But God planted the desire in Philip’s heart to find the Messiah even before Jesus called him. Philip therefore said to Nathanael (or Bartholomew), “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (1:45). From the perspective of divine sovereignty, the Lord found Philip, but from the perspective of human understanding and volition, Philip had found the Lord. Both the divine and human wills will be in accord when salvation takes place. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and it is those who truly seek Him who find Him (Luke 7:7–8; cf. Jer. 29:13). God seeks and finds the hearts of those who genuinely seek Him.

From his comments to Nathanael, it seems that Philip must have been diligently studying the Scriptures to learn God’s will and plan. God’s promised Messiah was central on his mind, and when he was introduced to the Messiah, he immediately acknowledged and accepted Him. Using His written Word, God had prepared Philip’s heart. From the scriptural record we know of no human agent who was instrumental in Philip’s calling or commitment. Jesus simply walked up to Him and said, “Follow Me.” Philip’s heart and eyes and ears were spiritually attuned, and when he heard Jesus’ call he knew it was from God. We can only imagine the excitement and joy that filled his soul at that moment.

The genuineness of Philip’s faith is seen not only in the fact the he immediately recognized and accepted the Messiah but in the reality that he also promptly began to serve Christ by telling others of Him. As soon as Jesus called him, Philip found Nathanael and told him he had found the Messiah.

One of the certain marks of genuine conversion is the desire to tell others of the Savior. The new believer who is baptized as a public testimony of his new relationship to Jesus Christ often has a spontaneous desire to use that occasion to witness for the Lord. The believer who has not left his first love for the Lord inevitably has a loving desire to witness to those who do not know Him.

Because Philip already cared about his friend Nathanael, it was natural to communicate to him the most profound and joyous discovery of his life. In every listing of the twelve, Philip and Nathanael are together, and it is likely they had been close friends for many years before they met Jesus.

Second, we learn from John’s gospel that Philip had a practical, analytical mind. When Jesus faced the great crowd of people who had followed Him to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, He knew they were tired and hungry and that few of them had made provision for eating. He therefore “said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?’ ” (John 6:5). Philip had seen Jesus perform many miracles, including the turning of water into wine (John 2:1–11), but at this time his only thoughts were of the practical problems involved in Jesus’ suggestion. In addition to the 5,000 men (6:10), it is not unrealistic to assume that there were an equal number of women and several times that many children.

Judging from Philip’s response, it may have been that he was normally in charge of getting food for Jesus and his fellow disciples, just as Judas was in charge of the group’s money. He therefore would have known how much food they usually ate and how much it cost. But Jesus had a special purpose in asking Philip about the food. “And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself! knew what He was intending to do” (v. 6). If Jesus had asked about buying food only for the thirteen men in their own group, the answer would have been simple and practical, and Philip could quickly have given the answer. But he should have realized that, in His asking about feeding the entire multitude, Jesus’ question went far beyond the practical and implied the impossible.

But Philip took the question at its practical face value and immediately began to calculate an answer based on his own experience. Making a rough estimate, he concluded that “two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little” (v. 7). A denarii represented the daily wage of an average Palestinian worker, and even if two hundred of them were collacted from the crowd or taken from the disciples’ treasury, that amount could not buy enough bread even to give the multitude a snack.

Philip’s response was sincere, but it revealed a lack of consideration for Jesus’ supernatural provision. He was face to face with the Son of God, but he could see no further than the practical, physical dilemma. There was no prospect of a solution from the human standpoint, and that is all he considered. He was so engrossed in the material situation that he completely lost sight of God’s power.

It has been noted that the supreme essential of a great leader is a sense of the possible. Like most people, however-including perhaps most believers-Philip only had a sense of the impossible. He did not yet understand that “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26; cf. Mark 9:23).

It would seem that, after having seen Jesus perform so many miracles, Philip’s immediate response would have been, “Lord, You made the water into wine, stilled the storm, and have healed every kind of disease. Why bother trying to buy so much food when all You have to do is say the word and create the food necessary to feed all these people?”

Philip failed Jesus’ test of faith because he was too taken up with his own understanding and abilities. He was methodical and full of practical common sense; but those virtues, helpful as they often are, can be an obstacle to the immeasurably greater virtue of trusting God for what is impractical. Facts and figures are a poor substitute for faith.

Third, we learn from John’s gospel that Philip was not forceful and was inclined to be indecisive. Although he was not a member of the inner circle, Philip had access to Jesus on his own. But when “certain Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast … came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus,’ ” Philip decided to take them first to Andrew (12:20–22).

Philip knew that Jesus healed the Gentile centurion’s servant and accepted the half-Gentile Samaritans who came to Him for salvation, yet he seems to have been uncertain about whether it was proper to introduce these Gentiles to the Lord. He may have been thinking of the temporary instruction Jesus gave when He first sent the disciples out on their own: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5–6). Natural Jewish prejudice made that an easy command to obey, and Philip may have thought the restriction was still in effect. But he did not ignore the Greeks’ request and at least made the effort to consult Andrew.

Fourth, we discover from John’s gospel that Philip lacked spiritual perception This deficiency was evident in his failing Jesus’ test in regard to feeding the multitude, and it was even more pronounced when, almost three years later, he said to Jesus at the Last Supper, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:8). It must have grieved Jesus deeply to hear such a question, and He replied, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves” (vv. 9–11).

After three years of learning at Jesus’ feet, Philip’s spiritual perception still seemed almost nil. Neither Jesus’ words nor His works had brought Philip to the understanding that Jesus and His Father were one. After gazing for three years into the only face of God men will ever see, he still did not comprehend who he was seeing. He had missed the main truth of Jesus’ teaching, that He was God incarnate.

Yet the Lord used that man of limited vision and trust. Philip was slow to understand and slow to trust. He was more at home with physical facts than with spiritual truth. Yet, along with the other apostles, Jesus assured him of a throne from which he would judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28) Philip was pessimistic, insecure, analytical, and slow to learn; but tradition tells us that he ultimately gave his life as a martyr for the Lord he so often disappointed and who so patiently taught and retaught him. It is reported that he was stripped naked, hung upside down by his feet, and pierced with sharp stakes in his ankles and thighs, causing him slowly to bleed to death. He is said to have asked not to be shrouded with linen after he was dead, because he felt unworthy to be buried as was his Lord.

Bartholomew (Nathanael)

Bartholomew means “son [Aramaic, bar] of Tolmai.” He was much different from Philip, his close friend and companion with whom he is always paired in the New testament. The first three gospels refer to him only as Bartholomew but John always as Nathanael, which may have been his first name. The short account of John 1:45–51 is the only place this apostle is mentioned in the New Testament outside the four listings of the twelve.

Bartholomew came from Cana of Galilee and was brought to the Lord by his friend Philip. As soon as Philip discovered Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, he “found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’ ” (John 1:45).

Philip’s words imply that, like himself, Nathanael was a student of Scripture, a seeker after divine truth and well acquainted with the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. A further implication seems to be that these two men were partners in Scripture study, having examined the Old Testament together for many years. In any case, it is clear from Philip’s statement that he knew Nathanael would immediately know whom he was talking about. They both hungered for God’s truth and earnestly sought the coming of the anticipated Messiah.

But Nathanael was affected by prejudice. Instead of judging Jesus by what He said and did, Nathanael stumbled over the fact that He was from Nazareth, a town with a notably unsavory reputation. It was an unrefined, rowdy place that hosted many foreign travelers. Nathanael’s question, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (v. 46), was probably a common expression of derision among the Jews of Galilee.

Prejudice is an unwarranted generalization based on feelings of superiority, and it can be a powerful obstacle to the truth. Herbert Lockyer points out that in his allegory The Holy War, John Bunyan depicts Christ (called Emmanuel) invading and holding the life of a person (represented as the town Mansoul). During the course of the siege on Mansoul, Emmanuel’s forces attack Eargate. But Diabolus (Satan) sets up a formidable guard called “Old Mr. Prejudice, an angry and ill-conditioned fellow who has under his power sixty deaf men” (All the Apostles of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972], p. 60).

The nature of prejudice is to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to any truth that does not fit its preconceived and cherished ideas. Consequently, it is a common and powerful weapon of Satan By appealing to various prejudices he often succeeds in getting a person to reject the gospel even before learning what it is really about. The prejudices of their man-made traditions blinded many Jews to the true teaching of their Scriptures and thereby led them to reject Jesus as the Messiah-despite His clear demonstrations of divine power and fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

Fortunately, Nathanael’s prejudice was tempered by his genuine desire to know God’s truth. He agreed to Philip’s suggestion (“Come and see”) and went to meet Jesus for himself (v. 46b-47a).

From the mouth of Jesus we learn still other characteristics of Nathanael. As Nathanael approached, Jesus said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (v. 47b). Alēthōs (“indeed”) was a word of strong affirmation by which Jesus declared Nathanael to be the kind of man God intended His chosen people to be. He was a Jew in the truest spiritual sense, “a Jew who is one inwardly, … [whose] praise is not from men, but from God” (Rom. 2:29). He was not merely a physical descendant of Abraham but, more important, a Jew in the true covenant with God, a spiritual descendant, a child of promise (see Rom. 9:6–8).

Not only was Nathanael a genuine, spiritualual but he was, by the Lord’s own testimony, a man “in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47c). He was a genuine Jew and a genuine person. He had no deceit or duplicity, no hypocrisy or phoniness. That characteristic alone set him far apart from most of his countrymen, especially the self-righteous and hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, whose very names Jesus used as synonyms for religious and moral hypocrisy (Matt. 23:13–15, 23, 25, 27).

Nathanael had reflected the common prejudice of the time, but his heart was right and won out over his head. His prejudice was not strong and it quickly withered in the light of truth. What an astoundingly wonderful commendation to be described by the Lord Himself as “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

Nathanael’s response to Jesus’ commendation reflected its appropriateness. He did not swell up with pride at the compliment but wondered how Jesus could speak with such certainty about the inner life of a person He had never met. “How do You know me?” he asked (John 1:48). “How do You know what I am really like on the inside?” he was asking. “How do You know that I truly seek to follow God and that my life is not hypocritical?” Because of his genuine humility, Nathanael may have been inclined to doubt Jesus’ judgment and think His comments were mere flattery.

But Jesus’ next words removed any doubts Nathanael may have had. When Jesus said, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Nathanael knew he stood in the presence of omniscience He declared, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (vv. 48b-49).

Because fig trees of that region could become quite large, they were often planted near a house to provide shade, comfort, and a place of retreat from household activities. Nathanael must have been meditating and praying in the shade of such a tree before Philip came to him.

In any case, Jesus not only saw where Nathanael was sitting but knew what he was thinking. “I saw you in your secret place of retreat,” Jesus said, in effect, “and I even saw what was in your heart.” Nathanael’s prayers were answered and his searching for the Messiah was over. Because his heart was divinely prepared to seek the Messiah, he immediately acknowledged Him when they met, just as the godly Simeon and Anna recognized even the infant Jesus as the: Son of God (Luke 2:25–38).

Jesus continued His attestation of Nathanael’s faith. “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe?” (John 1:50), is better translated as a statement of fact (as in the NIV). Both Jesus and Nathanael knew it was the manifestation of omniscience that convinced Nathanael of Jesus’ messiahship. Because of Nathanael’s faith, Jesus went on to say, “ ‘You shall see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man’ ” (vv. 50b-51). This demonstration of Jesus’ omniscience would come to seem small to Nathanael in comparison to the wonders of divine power he would soon begin to witness.

It may be that Nathanael came to understand Jesus’ glory as well as any of the other apostles. We know nothing else of the man than what is found in that one brief account. But it seems reasonable to assume that he was among the most dependable and teachable of the twelve. There is no record of his questioning Jesus or arguing with Him or even misunderstanding Him.

The New Testament says nothing of his ministry or his death, and even tradition has little to offer about him. But it is apparent from the Lord’s own words that, like David, Nathanael was a man after God’s own heart.


The Master’s Men—Part 4: Thomas, Matthew





Thomas and Matthew the tax-gatherer; (10:3b)

As in the other lists of disciples, these two men are in the second group of four, although the order of their names varies (see Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13).


Probably since the first century, Thomns has been known primarily, if not almost exclusively, for his doubt; and “doubting Thomas” has long been an epithet for skeptics. But a careful look at the gospel accounts reveals this disciple was a man of great faith and dedication.

As with several other apostles, all that is known of him besides his name is found in John’s gospel. While Jesus was ministering on the other side of the Jordan River near Jericho, the report came that Lazarus had died. On hearing the news, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him” (John 11:15). Even after witnessing so many miracles, including the raising of the dead, the twelve were still lacking in faith, and Jesus determined to perform this last great miracle for their benefit. He had already decided to go back to Judea, despite reminders by the disciples that it would cost His life (vv. 7–8). Because Bethany was a near suburb of Jerusalem, for Jesus to go there was almost as dangerous as His going into Jerusalem. Fully realizing the danger for all of them, “Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him’ ” (v. 16).

Thomas, and doubtlessly the other disciples as well, believed that, because of the hostility of the Jewish establishment, going to Jerusalem would be virtual suicide. But he took the initiative to encourage the twelve to go with Jesus and suffer the consequences with Him. He was obviously pessimistic about the outcome of the trip, but the pessimism makes his act all the more courageous. As a pessimist, he expected the worst possible consequences; yet he was willing to go. An optimist would have needed less courage, because he would have expected less danger. Thomas was willing to pay the ultimate price for the sake of His Lord.

Such unreserved willingness to die for Christ was hardly the mark of a doubter. Thomas was willing to die for Christ because he totally believed in Him. Thomas was perhaps equalled only by John in his utter and unwavering devotion to Jesus. He had such an intense love for the Lord that he could not endure existence without Him. If Jesus was determined to go to jerusalem and certain death, so was Thomas, because the alternative of living without Him was unthinkable.

Herbert Lockyet has commented: “Like those brave knights in attendance upon the blind King John of Bohemia who rode into the battle of Crécy with their bridles intertwined with that of their master, resolved to share his fate, whatever it might be … so Thomas, come life, come death, was resolved not to forsake his Lord, seeing he was bound to Him by a deep and enthusiastic love” (All the Apostles of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972], p. 178)

Thomas had no illusions. He saw the jaws of death and did not flinch. He would rather face death than face disloyalty to Christ.

In the Upper Room following the Last Supper, Jesus urged the disciples not to be troubled in heart and assured them that He was going to prepare a heavenly place for them and would come again and receive them to Himself, in order that they might forever be with Him. He then said, “And you know the way where I am going” (John 14:1–4). Puzzled at this, Thomas asked, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” (v. 5).

Only a few days earlier Thomas had declared his determination to die with Christ if necessary. His devotion to Christ was unqualified, but like the other disciples he had almost no understanding of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, for which his Master had been preparing him for three years. Thomas had little comprehension of what Jesus had just said, apparently assuming Jesus was only talking about taking a long journey to a distant country. He was bewildered, saddened, and anxious. Again the disciple’s pessimism and also his love are revealed. His pessimism made him fear that he might somehow be permanently separated from his Lord, and his love for his Lord made that fear unbearable. Understanding Thomas’s heart as well as his words, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (v. 6). “If you know Me,” Jesus was saying, “you know the way. And if you are in Me, you are in the way. Your only concern is to be with Me, and I will take you wherever I go.”

The third text in which John tells us about Thomas is by far the best known. When Jesus was crucified and buried, all of Thomas’s worst fears had seemed to come true. Jesus had been killed, but the disciples were spared. Their Master was gone, and they were left alone, leaderless and helpless. For Thomas it was worse than death, which he had been perfectly willing to accept. He felt forsaken, rejected, and probably even betrayed. From his perspective, his worst pessimism had been vindicated. Jesus’ promises had been empty-sincere and well meaning, no doubt, but nevertheless empty. Because he loved Jesus so much, the feeling of rejection was all the more deep and painful. The deepest hurt is potentiated by the greatest love.

When the other disciples told Thomas they had seen the Lord, he probably felt like salt had been poured into his wounds. He was in no mood for fantasies about His departed Lord. It was unbearably painful trying to adjust to Jesus’ death, and he had no desire to be shattered by more false hopes. When Thomas heard that Jesus was raised from the dead and alive, he declared, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

A person who is depressed, especially if he is naturally pessimistic, is hard to convince that anything will ever be right again. Because he is convinced his plight is permanent, the idea of improvement not only seems unrealistic but can be very irritating. To the person confirmed in hopelessness, even the idea of hope can be an offense.

But Thomas’s attitude was basically no different from that of the other disciples. They, too, were incredulous when first told of Jesus’ resurrection. When Peter and John ran to the tomb and found it empty as Mary had said, “as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). Even with evidence of the resurrection, they did not search for a risen Lord but went back home (v. 10). When Christ appeared to the ten disciples (Judas was dead, and Thomas was elsewhere), who huddled behind closed doors “for fear of the Jews,” they were not certain that it was the flesh and blood Jesus until after He “showed them both His hands and His side” (vv. 19–20). Nor had the two disciples to whom Jesus appeared on the Emmaus road believed the reports of His resurrection (Luke 24:21–24). None of the disciples believed Jesus was alive until they saw Him in person.

Because they all doubted His promise to rise on the third day, Jesus allowed Thomas to remain in his doubt for another eight days. When He then appeared again to the disciples, He singled out this dear soul who loved him enough to die for Him and who was now utterly shattered in spirit. “Reach here your finger, and see My hands,” He said to Thomas, “and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:26–27). In one of the greatest confessions ever made, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Now all doubt was gone and he knew with full certainty that Jesus was God, that Jesus was Lord, and that Jesus was alive! The Lord then gently rebuked Thomas, saying, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (vv. 28–29). But His rebuke was fully as much of the other disciples as of Thomas, because his doubt, though openly declared, had been no greater than theirs.

If Jesus is not God and is not alive, the gospel is a foolish and futile deception, the furthest thing from good news. “If Christ has not been raised,” Paul told the Corinthian skeptics, “your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins … If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:17, 19).

Tradition holds that Thomas preached as far away as India, and the Mar Thoma Church, which still exists in southwest India and bears his name, traces its origin to him. He is said to have had died from a spear being thrust through him, a fitting death for the one who insisted on placing his hand in the spear wound of his Lord.)


Because he wrote the first gospel, Matthew is one of the best known apostles. But the New Testament reveals very few details of his life or ministry.

Before his conversion and call to discipleship, Matthew collected taxes for Rome (Matt. 9:9). It was not an occupation to be proud of, and one would think he would have wanted to dissociate himself from the stigma as much as possible. Yet when he wrote the gospel some thirty years later, he still referred to himself as the tax-gatherer.

As discussed previously in more detail (see chap. 6), tax-gatherers were considered traitors, the most hated members of Jewish society. They were often more despised than the occupying rulers and soldiers, because they betrayed and financially oppressed their own people. They were legal extortioners who extracted as much money as they could from both citizen and foreigner with the full authority and protection of Rome.

They were so despicable and vile that the Jewish Talmud said, “It is righteous to lie and deceive a tax collector.” Tax collectors were not permitted to testify in Jewish courts, because they were notorious liars and accepted bribes as a normal part of life. They were cut off from the rest of Jewish life and were forbidden to worship in the Temple or even in a synagogue. In Jesus’ parable, the tax collector who came to the Temple to pray stood “some distance away” (Luke 18:13) not only because he felt unworthy but because he was not allowed to enter.

Matthew was hardly proud of what he had been, but he seems to have cherished the description as a reminder of his own great unworthiness and of Christ’s great grace He saw himself as the vilest sinner, saved only by the incomparable mercy of his Lord.

Even from the little information given about him, it is evident Matthew was a man of faith. When he got up from his tax table and began to follow Jesus, he burned his bridges behind him. Tax collecting was a lucrative occupation, and many opportunists were doubtlessly eager to take Matthew’s place. And once he forsook his privileged position, the Roman officials would not have granted it to him again. The disciples who were fishermen could always return to fishing, as many of them did after the crucifixion; but there could be no returning to tax collecting for Matthew.

In the eyes of the scribes and Pharisees, Matthew’s leaving his tax office to follow Jesus did little to elevate his standing. Casting his lot with Jesus did not increase Matthew’s popularity, but it greatly increased his danger. There is little doubt that Matthew faced something of the true cost of discipleship before any of the other apostles.

Matthew was not only faithful but humble. In his own gospel (and even in the other three) he is faceless and absolutely voiceless during his time of training under Jesus. He asks no questions and makes no comments. He appears directly in no narrative. Only from Mark (2:15) and Luke (5:29) do we learn that the banquet Jesus ate with “tax-gatherers and sinners” was in Matthew’s house. In his own account, the fact that he was responsible for it is only implied (Matt. 9:10). He was eager and overjoyed for his friends and former associates to meet Jesus, but he calls no attention to his own role in the banquet.

It may be that his humility was born out of his overwhelming sense of sinfulness. He saw God’s grace as so superabundant that he felt unworthy to say a word. He was the silent disciple, until the Holy Spirit led him to pick up his pen and write the opening book of the New Testament-twenty-eight powerful chapters on the majesty, might, and glory of the King of kings.

The fact that Matthew is also referred to as Levi indicates his Jewish heritage. We have no idea what his biblical training may have been, but Matthew quotes the Old Testament more often than the other three gospel writers combined-and quotes from all three parts of it (the law, the prophets, and the writings, or Hagiographa). Since it is highly unlikely he studied Scripture while he was a tax collector, he gained his biblical knowledge either in his youth or after he became an apostle.

Matthew had a loving heart for the lost. As soon as he was saved his first concern was to tell others of that great news and invite them to share in it. He was ashamed of his own previous life of sin; but he was not ashamed to be seen eating with his former associates who were despised by society and living under God’s judgment, because they needed the Savior just as he had.

He sensed personal sinfulness as perhaps none of his fellow disciples did, because he had been greedily and unashamedly involved in extortion, deception, graft, and probably blasphemy and every form of immorality. But now, like the woman taken in adultery, because he was forgiven much, he loved much (see Luke 7:42–43, 47). The genuineness of his love for the Lord is proved in his concern for the salvation of his friends.

God took that outcast sinner and transformed him into a man of great faith, humility, and compassion. He turned him from a man who extorted to one who gave, from one who destroyed lives to one who brought the way of eternal life.


The Master’s Men—Part 5: James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus (Judas the son of James), Simon the Zealot





James the son Alphaneus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, (10:3c-4a)

These men are the first three in the third group of four apostles and are the least known of the twelve. Most of what we know of them is inferred from their names or descriptive identities or is gleaned from church tradition. Except for one short question posed to Jesus by Thaddaeus, the Bible tells us nothing about their individual characters, personalities, abilities, or accomplishments, either during their three years of training under Jesus or during their ministry in the early church.

James the Son of Alphaeus

The first-named of these unknown apostles is James, who is distinguished from the other apostle James (the son of Zebedee, v. 2) and from James the half brother of Jesus by being identified as the son of Alphaeus. In Mark 15:40 he is referred to as “the Less.” Mikros (“less”) can also mean smaller or younger. Used in the sense of smaller, the name may have been another means of distinguishing him from James the son of Zebedee, who was clearly larger in influence and position and possibly also in physical stature. In the sense of younger, it may have indicated his youthfulness in comparison to the other James.

As just mentioned, this James was considerably less than James the son of Zebedee in the realm of influence. He may have had outstanding traits such as boldness or courage, but, if so, he would likely have been called “the Bold” or something similar, rather than “the Less.” He could have been older than the other James; but if that were true, he would probably have been called “the Elder,” since that description would have been less confusing and more respectful of his age. It is also possible, of course, that he was smaller in stature. But the most probable meaning of “the Less” would seem to be that of youthfulness, coupled with that of his subordinate position in leadership.

Because Matthew’s father was also named Alphaeus (spelled Alpheus in Mark 2:14), James and Matthew may have been brothers. Or this James may have been a cousin of Jesus. Clopas was a form of Alphaeus, and if Jesus’ “mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas” (John 19:25), was James’s mother, he would have been Jesus’ first cousin. That possibility is also supported by Mark 15:40, which tells us that the mother of James the Less was named Mary. It is possible that he was both Matthew’s brother and Jesus’ cousin. In either case or both, this James’s low profile testifies to his humility, since there is no indication that he tried to take personal advantage of any such relationship.

James was not distinguished as a gifted leader, either before or after his calling and training. We can assume he faithfully fulfilled the Lord’s work during his ministry, and we know that he will one day sit on a heavenly throne and join the other twelve in judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28). But his apostleship had no relationship to outstanding ability or achievement. He was an unextraordinary man, used in unextraordinary ways to help fulfill the extraordinary task of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.

After 2,000 years, James the son of Alphaeus remains obscure. We do not know a single word he spoke or a single thing he did. The early church Fathers claimed that he preached in Persia (modern Iran) and was crucified there as a martyr for the gospel. If that is true, one can only wonder what would have happened to that country and to world history had those people responded favorably to the gospel.

Thaddaeus (Judas the Son of James)

The second apostle listed in the third group is Thaddaeus. Based on less reliable Greek manuscripts, the Authorized text reads, “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus.” From Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 we learn that he was also called Judas the son of James. It is likely that Judas was his original name and that Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus were descriptive names, somewhat like nicknames, added by his family or friends.

Thaddaeus comes from the Hebrew word shad, which refers to a female breast. The name means “breast child,” and was probably a common colloquialism for the youngest child of a family, the permanent “baby” of the family who was the last to be nursed by his mother.

Although the name Lebbaeus is not found in what are considered the superior Greek manuscripts, and is therefore not in most modern translations, it may well have been one of this apostle’s names. It is based on the Hebrew leb (“heart”) and means “heart child,” which suggests he was known for his generosity, love, and courage.

On the night before His arrest and trial, Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21). At that time Thaddaeus spoke his only words recorded in Scripture: “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ ” (v. 22).

Judas (Thaddaeus) obviously was thinking only of outward, visible disclosure, and he wondered how Jesus could manifest Himself to those who loved Him without also manifesting Himself to everyone else. Like most Jews of his day, he was looking for Christ to establish an earthly kingdom. How, he wondered, could the Messiah sit on the throne of David and rule the entire earth without manifesting Himself to His subjects? Thaddaeus may also have wondered why Jesus would disclose Himself to a small group of insignificant men and not to the great religious leaders in Jerusalem and the powerful political leaders in Rome.

Jesus did not rebuke Thaddaeus for his misunderstanding, which he sincerely and humbly expressed. In light of common Jewish expectations, the question was appropriate and insightful, and it gave Jesus the opportunity to further explain what He meant. He proceeded to reiterate what He had just said and added the negative side of the truth: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:23–24). Christ was not at that time establishing His earthly kingdom, and the disclosure He was then making was of His divinity and authority as spiritual Lord and Savior. That disclosure can only be recognized by those who trust and love Him, and the genuineness of such trust and love is evidenced by obedience to His Word Manifestation is limited to reception.

A radio or television broadcast can have a great range, reaching virtually the entire globe by use of satellites. But its programs are only “disclosed” to those who have proper receivers. The rest of the world has no awareness of the broadcast, although its electronic waves completely surround them.

Henry David Thoreau once observed that “it takes two people to speak the truth, the one who says it and the one who hears it.” Those who will not listen to the gospel cannot hear it, no matter how clearly and forcefully it may be proclaimed. Jesus Christ was God incarnate, yet “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:10–11). During His three years of ministry, countless thousands of people-mostly God’s chosen people, the Jews-saw and heard Jesus. Yet only a few had more than passing interest in who He really was or in what He said. The god of this world so blinded their minds that when they looked they could not see (2 Cor. 4:4).

Someone has commented that if you tore a beautiful hymn out of a hymnal and threw it down on the sidewalk, you could expect many different reactions from those who saw it. A dog would sniff at it and then go his way. A street cleaner would pick it up and throw it in the trash. A greedy person might pick it up expecting to find a valuable document of some sort. An English teacher might read it and admire its literary quality. But a spiritually-minded believer who picked it up and read it would have his soul blessed. The content would have been the same for all those who came in contact with it, but its meaning and value could only be understood by a person receptive to its godly truth.

Only those whose hearts are purified by love and who walk in obedience to God’s Word can perceive Christ’s truth, beauty, and glory. Thaddaeus was such a person.

Tradition holds that Thaddaeus was specially blessed with the gift of healing and that through him the Lord healed many hundreds of people in Syria. He is said to have healed the king of that country and won him to the Lord. The supposed conversion threw the land into such turmoil that the king’s unbelieving nephew had Thaddaeus bludgeoned to death with a club, which became the symbol for that apostle.

Simon the Zealot

The third name in the third group is Simon the Zealot. The King James version’s “Simon the Canaanite” is based on an unfortunate transliteration of kananaios, which was derived from the Hebrew qanna, meaning “jealous” or “zealous.” It is the equivalent of the Greek zēlōtēs (“zealot”), a description Luke uses of this Simon (Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13).

Zealot may have signified his membership in the radical party of Zealots whose members were determined to throw off the yoke of Rome by force. The Zealots developed during the Maccabean period, when the Jews, under Judas Maccabaeus, revolted against their Greek conquerors. During the time of Christ, another Judas (a common Jewish name of that period) was the outstanding Zealot leader.

The Zealots were one of four dominant religious parties in Judah (along with the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes) but were for the most part motivated more by politics than religion. They were primarily guerrilla fighters who made surprise attacks on Roman posts and patrols and then escaped to the hills or mountains. Sometimes they resorted to terrorism, and the Jewish historian Josephus called them sicarii (Latin, “daggermen”) because of their frequent assassinations. The heroic defenders of the great Herodian fortress at Masada were Jewish Zealots led by Eleazar. When that brave group fell to Flavius Silva in a.d. 72 after a seven-month siege, the Zealots disappeared from history.

If Simon was that sort of Zealot, he was a man of intense dedication and perhaps violent passion. His always being listed next to Judas Iscariot may suggest that those men were somewhat two of a kind, whose primary concern about the Messiah was earthly and material rather than spiritual. But whatever motivations they may originally have had in common soon vanished, as Judas became more confirmed in his rejection of Jesus and Simon more confirmed in his devotion to Him.

Apparently throughout their ministries, James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot remained unknown even to most of the church. But they joined the ranks of the unnamed Old Testament saints who “experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. And all these … gained approval through their faith” (Heb. 11:36–39).


The Master’s Men—Part 6: Judas





and Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him. (10:4b)

Among the twelve apostles, one stands out against the backdrop of the others as a lonely, tragic misfit, the epitome of human disaster. He is the vilest, most wicked man in Scripture. In the lists of apostles he is always named last and, with the exception of Acts 1:13, is always identified as Jesus’ betrayer. For 2,000 years the name Judas Iscariot has been a byword for treachery.

Forty verses in the New Testament mention the betrayal of Jesus, and each of them is a reminder of Judas’s incredible sin. After the description of his death and his replacement among the twelve in Acts 1, his name is never again mentioned in Scripture. In Dante’s Inferno Judas occupies the lowest level of hell, which he shares with Lucifer, Satan himself.

His Name

Judas was a common name in New Testament times and was a second name for one of the other apostles, Thaddaeus. It is a personalized form of Judah, the southern kingdom during the Jewish monarchy and the Roman province of Judea during the time of Christ. Some scholars believe the name means “Yahweh (or Jehovah) leads,” and others believe it refers to one who is the object of praise. With either meaning, it was a tragic misnomer in the case of Judas Iscariot. No human being has ever been less directed by the Lord or less worthy of praise.

Iscariot means “man of Kerioth,” a small town in Judea, about twenty-three miles south of Jerusalem and some seven miles from Hebron. Judas is the only apostle whose name includes a geographical identification, possibly because he was the only Judean among the twelve. All the others, including Jesus, were from Galilee in the north. Judean Jews generally felt superior to the Jews of Galilee; and although Judas himself was from a rural village, he probably did not fit well into the apostolic band.

His Call

Judas is always listed among the twelve apostles, but his specific call is not recorded in the gospels. He first appears in Matthew’s listing, with no indication as to where or how Jesus called him. Obviously he was attracted to Jesus, and he stayed with Him until the end of His ministry, far past the time when many of the other false disciples had left Him (see John 6:66).

There is no evidence that Judas ever had a spiritual interest in Jesus. It is likely that, from the beginning, he expected Jesus to become a powerful religious and political leader and wanted to use the association with Him for selfish reasons. He recognized Jesus’ obvious miracle-working power as well as His great influence over the multitudes. But he was not interested in the coming of the kingdom for Christ’s sake, or even for the sake of his fellow Jews, but only for the sake of whatever personal gain he might derive from being in the Messiah’s inner circle of leadership. Although he was motivated totally by selfishness, he nevertheless followed the Lord in a half-hearted way-until he was finally convinced that Jesus’ plans for the kingdom were diametrically opposed to his own.

Christ chose Judas intentionally and specifically, “for Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him” (John 6:64). Although the disciples did not at the time understand what He meant, Jesus alluded to His betrayal a year or more before it occurred. “Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve, and yet one of you is a devil?” Jesus told them soon after the false disciples at Capernaum turned away from Him. John explains that “He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him” (vv. 70–71).

David predicted Christ’s betrayal a thousand years before the fact. “Even my close friend, in whom I trusted, who ate my bread,” he wrote, “has lifted up his heel against me” (Ps. 41:9; cf. 55:12–15, 20–21). Although that passage primarily referred to David, its greater significance applied to Jesus Christ, as He Himself declared (John 13:18).

Zechariah even predicted the exact price of betrayal. “And I said to them, ‘If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!’ So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the Lord said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.’ So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord” (Zech. 11:12–13). At the Lord’s command, the prophet had shepherded the Lord’s people (vv. 4–11), and the wages they paid Zechariah represented the “magnificent price” at which their descendants would value the Messiah Himself.

In His high priestly prayer, Jesus said to His Father, speaking of the twelve, “While I was with them, I was keeping them in Thy name which Thou hast given Me; and I guarded them, and not one of them perished but the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” (John 17:12). Luther translated “son of perdition” as “lost child,” that is, a child whose nature and intention is to be continually wayward and lost. Jesus lost none of the twelve except the one who was confirmed in his sin and refused to be saved. He chose Judas in order to fulfill Scripture, knowing that Judas would reject that choice.

At the Last Supper Jesus said, “Behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Me on the table. For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!” (Luke 22:21–22). Although our finite human minds cannot understand it, God had predetermined the betrayal, though, at the same time, Judas was held fully responsible for it, because it was by his own choice.

In Judas’s rejection of Christ there is the same apparent paradox of divine sovereignty and human will that exists in the process of salvation. Although a person must receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior with an act of his will (John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 1:16), every believer who does so was chosen to be saved even before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4; cf. Acts 13:48). In the same way, Judas had the opportunity to accept or reject Christ in regard to salvation, although Christ planned from the beginning for the disbelief and rejection that would characterize this disciple. Those seemingly conflicting truths-just as others found in Scripture-are resolved only in the mind of God. The Bible is clear that Jesus extended to Judas the opportunity for salvation to the extent that his unbelief was his own choice and fault (cf. Matt. 23:37; John 5:40). Judas chose to reject and betray Christ. That is why Christ did not label him as a victim of sovereign decree but “a devil” (John 6:70) and made clear that he did what he did not because God made him do it but rather Satan (John 13:27).

God also predetermined Judas’s successor among the twelve from the beginning. Just before Pentecost, the Holy Spirit led Peter to explain to the apostles who remained, “It is therefore necessary that of the men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us-begnning with the baptism of John, until the day that He was taken up from us-one of these should become a witness with us of His resurrection” (Acts 1:21–22). Out of the disciples who met that qualification, the eleven then chose “two men, Joseph called Barsabbas (who was also called Justus), and Matthias. And they prayed, and said, ‘Thou, Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two Thou hast chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they drew lots for them, and the lot fell to Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (vv. 23–26). Both God’s sovereign, predetermined choice and the human choice of the apostles were involved in the selection of Matthias.

A few days later, on the day of Pentecost, Peter said to the crowd in Jerusalem, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know-this Man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (2:22–23). God sovereignly predetermined Jesus’ crucifixion, but the unbelieving Jews were responsible for sending Him to the cross. It was God’s predetermined will to send His Son to die, and it was rebellious man’s determined will to put Him to death.

His Character

Judas’s outward personality must have been commendable or at least acceptable. Before the actual betrayal, none of the other disciples accused Judas of any wrongdoing or criticized him for any deficiency. When after three years of training them Jesus predicted that one of the twelve would betray Him, the other eleven had no idea who it might be. At first, “being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, ‘Surely not I, Lord?’ ” (Matt. 26:22). Then “they began to discuss among themselves which one of them it might be who was going to do this thing.” But they soon lost sight of the betrayal and began to discuss not who was the worst among them but rather “which one of them was regarded to be greatest” (Luke 22:23–24). In any case, Judas was no more suspect than any of the others. In answer to John’s question “Lord, who is it?” Jesus replied, “That is the one for whom I shall dip the morsel and give it to him” (John 13:25–26). Jesus then gave the morsel to Judas, saying, “What you do, do quickly.” Still the others had no idea the traitor was Judas. “No one of those reclining at the table knew for what purpose He had said this to him,” that is, to Judas (vv. 27–28).

Because he was never suspected by the other disciples, Judas must have been a remarkable hypocrite. He had even been selected treasurer of the group and was perfectly trusted (John 13:29). It is probable that, like most of the other disciples, he had led a respectable, religious life before Jesus called him. Perhaps he had not been an extortioner and traitor to his own people like Matthew or a hot-blooded revolutionary and possible assassin like Simon the Zealot, although his coming from Kerioth of Judea might have obscured his background to the other disciples, who were Galileans.

Judas apparently guarded what he said. His only recorded words were spoken near the end of Jesus’ ministry, when he objected to Mary’s anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive ointment. “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii, and given to poor people?” he asked (John 12:5). “Now he said this,” John explains, “not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it” (v. 6). Under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration, John was given that insight which he recorded when writing the gospel decades later; but at the time of the incident he had no awareness of Judas’s ulterior motive.

Judas was no more naturally sinful than any other person ever born. He was made of the same stuff as the other apostles, with no less common goodness and no more innate sinfulness. But the same sun that melts the wax hardens the clay, and Judas’s choice not to trust in Jesus became more and more hardened and fixed as he continued to resist the Lord’s love and Word.

Judas was probably one of the youngest disciples and likely an outwardly devout and patriotic Jew Though not as radical as Simon the Zealot, he was anxious for the Roman yoke to be thrown off and expected Jesus to usher in the messianic kingdom that would accomplish that. Rome would be overthrown, and God’s people would be reestablished in peace and prosperity.

But Judas was first of all a materialist, as his stealing bears witness. He wanted the earthly benefits of a restored Jewish kingdom but had no interest in personal righteousness or regeneration. He was perfectly satisfied with himself and came to Jesus solely for material advantage, not for spiritual blessing. Jesus gave him every opportunity to renounce his self-life and seek God’s forgiveness and salvation, but Judas refused. The Lord gave the parables of the unjust sinward and the wedding garments, but Judas did not apply the truths to himself. The Lord taught much about the dangers of greed and love of money and even warned the twelve that one of them was a devil, but Judas would not listen. He did not argue with Christ, as Peter and some of the others did and, in fact, probably openly acted as if he agreed with Him. But the response of his heart was continual rejection. Jesus chose Judas because the betrayal was in God’s plan and was prophesied in the Old Testament; yet Jesus gave Judas every opportunity not to fulfill that prophecy.

Judas was in the third group of four disciples-with James the son of Alphaeus, Thaddaeus, and Simon the Zealot-indicating he was among the disciples who were least intimate with Jesus. It is likely he was on the fringe even of his own subgroup, participating no more than necessary, and that from the sidelines. It is doubtful he was close to any of the others. He was thought to be honest, but he developed no close friendships or intimate relationships. He was a loner.

In the Orient, a host would always offer an honored guest the first sop, which consisted of a morsel of bread dipped in a syrup-like mixture of fruit and nuts. At the Last Supper Jesus offered the first sop to Judas. Yet at the very moment the Lord extended special honor to Judas, “Satan then entered into him” (John 13:27). To the very end Jesus loved Judas, but he would have none of what He offered him.

His Progressive Rejection

Judas did not begin his discipleship intending to betray Jesus. He was in full sympathy with what he thought was Jesus’ purpose and plan and was ready to support Him. After each miracle Judas may have expected Jesus to announce His kingship and begin a campaign against Rome, whose vast army, great as it was, would have been no match for Jesus’ supernatural power. Judas kept hanging on and hanging on, expecting Jesus to fulfill his dreams of defeating the despised oppressor. Like a gambler who thinks every loss puts him that much closer to winning, Judas perhaps thought that every failure of Jesus to use His power against Rome brought that ultimate and inevitable goal a bit closer.

For three years Judas hoped, and at the triumphal entry into Jerusalem he must have thought the time had finally come. Obviously, Judas reasoned, Jesus had been building up to a grand climax, waiting for the crowds to fully recognize His messiahship and His right to the throne of David. He would ascend His throne by popular demand, and the Lion of Judah would at Last expel and destroy the eagle of Rome.

But when Jesus rejected the crowd’s crown and instead began to teach even more earnestly about His imminent arrest and death, it was Judas’s hopes and expectations that were expelled and destroyed. He was devastated that Jesus could build up to such a perfect opportunity and intentionally let it slip through His hands. He must have thought Jesus mad to willingly allow Himself to be mistreated and even killed, when with one word He could destroy any opponent. Now he knew beyond doubt that, whatever Jesus intended to do, it had no relationship to his own motives and plans.

Judas started at the same place as the other disciples. But they trusted in Jesus and were saved, and as they surrendered more and more to His control, they grew away from their old ways. They, too, were sinful, worldly, selfish, unloving, and materialistic. But they submitted to Jesus, and He changed them. Judas, however, never advanced beyond crass materialism. He refused to trust Jesus anti more and more resisted His lordship. Eventually he was confirmed in his own way to the point that he permanently closed the door to God’s grace. Like Faust, he irretrievably sold his soul to the devil.

When Jesus turned His back on the crown offered by the multitude, Judas turned his back on Jesus. He could no longer restrain his vile, wretched motives for self-glory and gain. He had given a glimpse of his true self when he showed more concern for the money “wasted” on perfume to anoint Jesus than concern for the Lord’s imminent arrest and death, which the disciples by now knew awaited Him in Jerusalem (John 1l:16).

Judas’s fascination with Jesus had turned first to disappointment and finally to hatred. He had never loved Jesus but only sought to use Him. He had never loved his fellow disciples but rather stole for himself from what small resources they had. Now he turned completely against them.

On the last night Jesus was together with the disciples, He washed their feet with His own hands, to teach them humility and service. As He began He said, “You are clean, but not all of you,” referring to Judas (John 13:10–11). After the object lesson He gave another warning that Judas could have heeded: “I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me’ ” (John 13:18). Jesus grieved over Judas, being unwilling that even this vile man should perish (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9). As the time for the betrayal came closer, Jesus “became troubled in spirit, and testified, and said, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, that one of you will betray Me’ ” (v. 21). He did not grieve over the loss of His own life, which He willingly laid down. He grieved over the spiritual death of Judas and, it seems, made one last appeal before it became forever too late. He knew Judas’s unbelief, greed, ingratitude, treachery, duplicity, hypocrisy, and hatred. Still He loved him. The death He was about to die was as much for Judas’s sin as for the sins of any person ever born, and it was for Judas that the Lord grieved as only He can grieve. He lamented over Judas in the same way He had lamented over Jerusalem: “How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling” (Matt. 23:37).

Throughout church history, in the name of love and compassion, some people have tried to attribute a good motive to Judas’s betrayal or at least to minimize its evil. But such an attempt flies in the face of Scripture, including Jesus’ own specific words. The Lord called Judas a devil and the son of perdition. To make Judas appear better than that is to make God a liar. Every unsaved person is under Satan’s control and serves Satan’s will. But when Judas accepted the morsel from Jesus’ hands without repentance or regret, Satan took possession of him in a way that is frightening to contemplate (John 13:27).

His Betrayal

Judas did not betray Jesus in a sudden fit of anger. We are not told when the idea first came to him, but apparently the incident of Mary’s anointing Jesus with the perfume prompted him to pursue it. It was right after this that “one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests, and said, ‘What are you willing to give me to deliver Him up to you?’ ” After accepting the thirty pieces of silver, “from then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Him” (Matt. 26:14–16). Luke adds that he sought “a good opportunity to betray Him to them apart from the multitude” (22:6). Judas was a coward, and at that time he assumed the crowds who acclaimed Jesus during the triumphal entry would remain loyal to Him. He wanted no one to know of his treachery, certainly not a hostile multitude. Like the chief priests and scribes who paid him, he was “afraid of the people” (Luke 22:2).

It is difficult to determine the equivalent modern buying power of the thirty pieces of silver Judas received, especially since the specific silver coin is not identified. But at the most generous reckoning, it was a trifling sum for betraying any person to his death, much less the Son of God. The relatively small amount suggests that, in his greed and hatred, Judas was willing to settle for any price. It also suggests the disdain the chief priests and scribes had for Judas. Their hatred for Jesus was public and well known; but Judas was one of Jesus’ disciples and friends, and the Jewish leaders doubtlessly had contempt for his treachery even though they used it to their own ends. The small price further suggests the low value all of them placed on Jesus’ life.

So that His enemies could recognize Jesus in the darkness of Gethsemane, Judas “had given them a signal, saying, ‘Whomever I shall kiss, He is the one’ ” (Mark 14:44). His contempt for Jesus was such that he used that cherished mark of love and friendship as his sign of betrayal.

Judas not only profaned the Passover by receiving blood money but he also profaned Gethsemane, the private place of worship and solace that He knew Jesus loved. “Judas then, having received the Roman cohort, and officers from the chief priests and the Pharisees, came there with lanterns and torches and weapons” (John 18:3). Unaware that Jesus knew of his wicked plan, Judas thought to deceive Him by the kiss, reigning love and loyalty. But Jesus already knew the soldiers were coming and “went forth, and said to them, ‘Whom do you seek?’ ” (v. 4). When they said, “Jesus the Nazarene,” He replied, “I am He” (v. 5). As if to reinforce his hateful determination to betray Jesus, Judas proceeded to kiss Him, although it was no longer necessary to identify Him. His supreme act of hypocrisy was to pretend love for Jesus while giving Him over to His enemies. The Greek text of Matthew 26:49 uses an intensive form that suggests Judas kissed Jesus fervently and repeatedly. Yet even in face of this diabolical sham, Jesus called Judas “friend” as He told him, “Do what you have come for” (v. 50). Jesus’ love extended even beyond Judas’s point of no return.

The degree of Judas’s betrayal was unique but not its nature. Through Ezekiel, God rebuked His people for profaning Him “for handfuls of barley and fragments of bread” (Ezek. 13:19), and through Amos He charged them with selling “the righteous for money and the needy for a pair of sandals” (Amos 2:6). Still today men and women will sell out the Lord for whatever they think is worth more.

It may not be for silver,

It may not be for gold;

But yet by tens of thousands,

The Prince of life is sold.

Sold for a godless friendship;

Sold for a selfish aim;

Sold for a fleeting trifle;

Sold for an empty name.

Sold in the mart of science;

Sold in the seat of power.

Sold at the shrine of fortune;

Sold in pleasure’s hour.

Sold for your awful bargain,

None but God’s eye can see.

Ponder my soul the question,

How shall He be sold by thee?

Sold, O God. What a moment

Stilled his conscience’s voice?

Sold, unto weeping angels

Record the fatal choice.

Sold, but the price accepted

To a living coal shall turn;

With the pangs of a late repentance

Deep in a soul to burn.

(Author unknown. Cited in Herbert Lockyer, All the Apostles of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972], p. 110.)

Judas sold Jesus for greed. He was malicious, vengeful, ambitious, and hateful of everything good and righteous. But above all, he was avaricious.

No man could be more like the devil than a perverted apostle. And for the same reason, every false teacher who holds the name of Christ stands in special guilt and is worthy of special disdain.

His Death

“When lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin,” James says, “and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death” (James 1:15). Judas’s sin caused him to sell out Christ, his fellow apostles, and his own soul. When Jesus had been found guilty by the mock trial in the Sanhedrin and was turned over to Pilate, Judas “felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, ‘I have sinned by betraying innocent blood’ ” (Matt. 27:3–4). But remorse is not repentance. Judas regretted what he had done and recognized something of its horrible sinfulness. But he did not have a change of mind, and he did not ask God to change his heart. He knew he could not undo the damage he had done, but he tried to mollify his conscience by returning the money he had been paid for his wickedness. Because he lived only on the material level, he somehow thought he could resolve his problem by the physical act of giving back the blood money. Then his unforgiven heart turned from vengeance against Christ to vengeance against himself, and he “went away and hanged himself” (v. 5). That did not end the misery of his conscience, however, for his guilt and anguish will last through all eternity.

Apparently Judas failed in his hanging attempt, and Luke reports the consummation of his death. It may have been that the branch to which the rope was tied broke and he fell over a precipice or down a hill, “and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his bowels gushed out” (Acts 1:18).

Although they had no compunction about making false charges against Jesus and of unlawfully condemning Him to death, the chief priests’ consciences would not let them put the thirty pieces of silver back into the Temple treasury after Judas threw the money at their feet, “since it is the price of blood” (Matt. 27:6). In perfect fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy (Zech. 11:12–13), “they counseled together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day” (Matt. 27:7–8).

God overruled the wickedness of Jesus’ betrayer and executioners and used it to fulfill His own Word. Even those who bitterly opposed the Lord’s will found themselves unwittingly fulfilling His Word.

Lessons Learned from the Life of Judas

Even wickedness and tragedy can teach valuable lessons, and there is great profit from studying the life of Judas. First of all he is the world’s greatest example of lost opportunity. Judas was among the original twelve men Jesus called to be His apostles, His gospel ambassadors to the world. He lived and talked and ministered with Jesus for three years, hearing God’s Word from the mouth of His own Son and seeing God’s power manifested as never before on earth. No human being has every heard a more complete and perfect declaration of the gospel or seen more perfect obedience to it. Judas heard the perfect gospel and saw the perfect life. To none of the apostles did Jesus give more specific warning about sin-and more repeated opportunity to repent of it and to believe-than He did to Judas. Yet Judas turned his back on grace incarnate.

Today many people have heard the gospel clearly and seen genuine though imperfect examples of its transforming power. Yet they, too, reject it and, like Judas, choose instead to stay in the way that leads to destruction.

Second, Judas’s life provides the world’s greatest example of wasted privilege. He lusted for temporary material possessions and riches when he could have inherited the universe forever. It is a tragically foolish bargain to exchange the riches of God’s kingdom for the pittances the world can offer.

Third, Judas’s life serves as the clearest illustration of love of money being the root of all kinds of evil (see 1 Tim. 6:10). In the unbelievable extreme of greed, he loved money so much that he sold the Son of God for a trifling amount of it.

Fourth, Judas’s life is the supreme object in history of the forbearing, patient love of God. Only God could have known the utter evil of Judas’s heart from the beginning and yet never have withdrawn His offer of grace. At the Last Supper Christ presented Judas the dipped morsel as a gesture of love and honor; and even as He was being betrayed by the kiss, He called Judas “friend.”

The life of Judas provided an essential qualification in preparing Christ for His high priestly role. Judas’s betrayal brought great anguish to Jesus’ heart, and through that and other such torment the Son of God was perfected through His suffering (Heb. 2:10). Christ can understand and sympathize with our suffenngs partly because Judas helped make Christ’s own suffering complete.

Judas was the consummate hypocrite of all time, the supreme illustration of an ungodly life that hides behind Christ while he serves Satan.

Someone has well said,

Still as of old,

Man by himself is priced.

For thirty pieces of silver

Judas sold himself, not Christ.

(Author unknown)[2]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 134). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 141–153). Chicago: Moody Press.


Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.

Ephesians 6:10

Too many of us object, perhaps unconsciously, to the rather evident fact that the maintenance of the devotional mood is indispensable to success in the Christian life.

And what is the devotional mood?

It is nothing else than constant awareness of God’s enfolding presence, the holding of inward conversations with Christ and private worship of God in spirit and in truth!

To establish our hearts in the devotional mood, we must abide in Christ, walk in the Spirit, pray without ceasing and meditate in the Word of God day and night. Of course, this implies separation from the world and obedience to the will of God, as we are able to understand it.

No matter how we may argue, true holiness and spiritual power are not qualities that can be once received and thereafter forgotten, as one might wind a clock or take a vitamin pill. Every advance in the spiritual life must be made against the determined resistance of the world, the flesh and the devil!

Dear Lord, thank You for watching over me and my loved ones last night. I look forward to spending time with You throughout the course of this day.[1]

The Preparation: Strength in the Lord

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. (6:10)

Basic to the effective Christian life is preparation. The unprepared believer becomes the defeated believer who seeks to serve the Lord in his own wisdom and power. The strength of the Christian life is dependence on God, being strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might. Any other strength proves to be impotent.

The cardinal reality presented in the book of Ephesians is that, as believers, we are in Christ and are one with Him. His life is our life, His power our power, His truth our truth, His way our way, and, as Paul goes on to say here, His strength is our strength.

The Lord’s strength is always more than sufficient for the battle. When Jesus told the church at Philadelphia, “I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name” (Rev. 3:8), He was affirming that even a little power was enough to preserve them, because it was the Lord’s supernatural power. Our own strength is never strong enough to oppose Satan, but when we are strong in the Lord, even a little of His strength is sufficient to win any battle. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me,” Paul said (Phil. 4:13). It is not the amount of the strength we have that is important—only its source.

In the ultimate sense, the church’s battles with Satan are already won. In his crucifixion and resurrection Jesus destroyed Satan and his power of sin and death (Rom. 5:18–21; 1 Cor. 15:56–57; Heb. 2:14). Trust in Jesus Christ initiates a person into that victory. To the extent that a Christian is strong in the Lord, his victory over the worst that Satan has to offer is guaranteed. We are in a war—a fierce and terrible war—but we have no reason to be afraid if we are on the Lord’s side. Appropriation of that strength comes through the means of grace—prayer, knowledge of and obedience to the Word, and faith in the promises of God.

After several years of ministry, Timothy became fearful and timid. He faced stronger temptations than he had expected and considerably more opposition. Paul wrote to him, “I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord. … You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 1:6–8; 2:1).[2]

6:10 Paul is coming to the close of his Epistle. Addressing all the family of God, he makes a stirring appeal to them as soldiers of Christ. Every true child of God soon learns that the Christian life is a warfare. The hosts of Satan are committed to hinder and obstruct the work of Christ and to knock the individual soldier out of combat. The more effective a believer is for the Lord, the more he will experience the savage attacks of the enemy: the devil does not waste his ammunition on nominal Christians. In our own strength we are no match for the devil. So the first preparatory command is that we should be continually strengthened in the Lord and in the boundless resources of His might. God’s best soldiers are those who are conscious of their own weakness and ineffectiveness, and who rely solely on Him. “God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty” (1 Cor. 1:27b). Our weakness commends itself to the power of His might.[3]

10 Paul introduces his final point with a customary “finally” (tou loipou; cf. Gal 6:17; Php 3:1; 1 Th 4:1). Returning to the language of power employed earlier in his prayers for his readers (1:19; 3:16, 20), Paul urges them to be strengthened continually (present, probably passive, imperative verbal form). The verb endynamoō (GK 1904; “strengthen”; NIV, “be strong”) is a favorite of Paul (six out of its seven uses in the NT are Paul’s) and one he often uses to describe God’s empowerment for his own ministry and for surviving hardship (Php 4:13; 1 Ti 1:12; 2 Ti 2:1; 4:17). In the same way, the church needs to appropriate God’s empowerment to fortify it for the spiritual ordeals it encounters. The call to “be strong” is natural in calling soldiers to battle (recall Jos 1:6–7, 9). To this appeal, Paul appends two prepositional phrases. First, they must be strengthened “in the Lord.” This comes as no surprise: only in union with Christ do the church and believers within it find the power to live the life to which God has called them. No human power alone can resist the devil’s designs. Second, and redundantly, they need to be strengthened “through the power of his [the Lord’s] strength” (en tō kratei tēs ischyos autou; NIV, “in his mighty power”). Paul first used the terms in this phrase in 1:19, where he told his readers of the “mighty strength” available to them in Christ. The capacity to fight spiritual battles lies in appropriating God’s strength. We are strong as we allow ourselves to be continually strengthened by God.[4]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 337). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1951). 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, pp. 162–163). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.