Daily Archives: May 10, 2017

May 10, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


May 10, 2017 |


President Donald Trump will meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov at the White House on Wednesday, the day after firing the FBI director who had been leading an investigation into possible Trump campaign ties to Russian officials.

South Africa has fined 21 companies and plans to penalize more for failing to comply with laws that compel them to employ more black citizens to help reduce inequality more than two decades after the end of white-minority rule, Labor Minister Mildred Oliphant said. Whites, who comprise about 8 percent of the population, hold more than 68 percent of top management positions while blacks, who make up more than four-fifths of citizens, have 14 percent.

AP Top Stories

North Korea could be planning an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) strike on the US with two satellites already orbiting above the Earth, an expert has claimed.

Poised to decide whether to surge U.S. troops into Afghanistan, President Trump aims to “fully eliminate” threats to U.S. and allied interests around the world, the White House said Tuesday.

The Environmental Protection Agency is challenging reports that several members from a major scientific review board were dismissed to make room for representatives from the fossil fuel industry.

Almost one in three newly approved drugs in the United States turns out to have a safety issue after it is allowed on the market, US researchers said Tuesday.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate committee that oversees the FBI, said publicly this week that the government paid $900,000 to break into the locked iPhone of a gunman in the San Bernardino, California, shootings.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that “nobody” is being excluded from his conference’s meetings on health care after Democrats and even some members of his own party criticized him for assembling a working group on the issue consisting of 13 men and no women.

Iraqi forces are making swift progress in west Mosul, officers said Tuesday, retaking several neighborhoods on their way to a final showdown with jihadists in the Old City.

Video posted on Twitter captured a chaotic scene at a Spirit Airlines terminal at the airport as angry travelers yelled at staff while police officers tried to restore order.

Russia put its massive military on full display in a Moscow parade on Tuesday, an annual event commemorating the end of World War II in Europe. Nominally meant for a Russian audience, the Kremlin is hoping the parade chock full of high-end military tech will wow rivals in the West who are watching, too.

The Mexican army says its fight against surging opium production that feeds U.S demand is increasingly complicated by the rise of smaller gangs disputing wild, ungoverned lands planted with ever-stronger poppy strains.

Europe’s top physics lab CERN launched its newest particle accelerator on Tuesday, billed as a key step towards future experiments that could unlock the universe’s greatest mysteries. The Linac 4 accelerator will by 2021 be connected to CERN’s Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the world’s most powerful proton smasher.

The United States watched Russians hack France’s computer networks during the election and tipped off French officials before it became public, a U.S. cyber official told the Senate.

Freshman economics students will tell you that something is only “worth” whatever other people are willing to pay for it. In the case of Apple Inc, that means the company is now valued at $800 billion, a new all-time high for the company. But according to analysts, Apple could be on track to break $1 trillion if it plays its cards right.

Syria’s military launched a new assault Tuesday aimed at reasserting its authority in the east of the country, battling U.S.-backed opposition fighters in the remote desert near the borders with Iraq and Jordan. The government forces’ ultimate goal is to insert itself in the fight against the Islamic State group in the oil-rich region.

Shares of gun makers surged on Tuesday after Sturm Ruger quarterly results suggested demand is recovering following a steep sales drop after the election of Donald Trump as president.


South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in has been sworn in, vowing to address the economy and relations with the North in his first speech as president. He said that he would even be willing to visit Pyongyang under the right circumstances.

There has been a sharp rise in infant mortality and maternal death rates in Venezuela. The number of women dying in childbirth was up by 65%, while child deaths were up 30%.

A leading South African university says it is investigating Nazi-inspired posters that have appeared on campus notice boards.

A resurgence of a cholera outbreak in war-torn Yemen is believed to have killed 34 people in the past two weeks. The World Health Organization says 2,022 suspected cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhea (AWD) were reported between 27 April and 7 May.

Dutch police are searching for two suspects after a drugs laboratory was found with a large stash of pills favored by jihadists.


The infamous hacktivist group Anonymous has released a chilling new video — urging people across the globe to “prepare” for World War 3 — as the US and North Korea continue to move “strategic pieces into place” for battle.

Texas has become the 11th state officially to join an effort to limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government by amending the U.S. Constitution.

For now, members of the Fordham community will not “Eat Mor Chikin.” Following push back from clubs and independent students over LGBTQ issues and menu offerings, the university has opted to decline an Aramark proposal to install a Chick-Fil-A in the Ram Cafe.

Top News – 5/10/201

Where Black is White and White is Black
Jews can no longer call Jerusalem home or even the capital of the State of Israel, as it has been officially declared as Occupied Palestinian Lands by the United Nations. Soon all the ancient Jewish holy sites in Israel might be under the auspices of the Jordanian WAQF and the Palestinian Authority. Isn’t that the goal of hate though – to manipulate reality? The UN has succeeded in providing quite a platform for that. Even the cities that Christians call holy are now effectively converted to Islam.

Iran Tests The Trump Administration
After its 100 days of restraint and hiatus in its anti-U.S. threats and incitement following U.S. President Donald Trump’s inauguration,[1] the Iranian regime has begun to cautiously change its direction. Iranian spokesmen from the ideological camp are taking a more aggressive tone towards the U.S.,

Netanyahu: Every country should move their Embassy to Jerusalem
“Israel’s stance is that all the embassies belong in Israel’s capital of Jerusalem, and the US Embassy should be one of the first to move.”

81 Percent Of Americans Are ‘Concerned About Declining Moral Behavior In Our Nation’
Could it be possible that Americans are more concerned about declining standards of morality than most of us initially thought? A very surprising new survey conducted by LifeWay Research has discovered that a whopping 81 percent of Americans agree with this statement: “I am concerned about declining moral behavior in our nation.”

Macron presides over quickening collapse of French politics
The disintegration of France’s political landscape following the presidential election victory of Emmanuel Macron is picking up speed by the day.

When the sun blasts a coronal mass ejection (CME) into space, the event is usually announced by the bright flash of a solar flare or the collapse of a towering magnetic filament. But not always. Sometimes CMEs slowly materialize on their own without an instigating explosion. These are called “stealth CMEs,” and one of them is heading for Earth now.

No tsunami threat to Hawaii after 6.8 quake shakes Vanuatu
A large earthquake has struck near Vanuatu, but there’s no tsunami threat to Hawaii, according to the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center.

Dublin votes to fly Palestinian flag above city hall to support founding of state
The Dublin City Council voted to fly the Palestinian flag above City Hall in a show of support for Palestinian statehood. Forty-two councilmen in the Irish capital voted in favor of the motion, 11 voted against and seven abstained on Monday evening. The flag reportedly was raised over City Hall and will remain there until the end of the month.

Venezuela sees sharp rise in infant and maternal mortality
There has been a sharp rise in infant mortality and maternal death rates in Venezuela. In the first figures released for two years, the Health Ministry said the number of women dying in childbirth was up by 65%, while child deaths were up 30%. There has also been a jump in illnesses such as malaria and diphtheria.

Syria war: US to arm Kurds in battle for Raqqa
US President Donald Trump has approved supplying weapons to Kurdish forces fighting so-called Islamic State (IS) in Syria, the Pentagon says. Kurdish elements of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) would be equipped to help drive IS from its stronghold, Raqqa, a spokeswoman said. The US was “keenly aware” of Turkey’s concerns about such a move, she added.

Yemen war: Surge in cholera outbreak kills 34 – WHO
A resurgence of a cholera outbreak in war-torn Yemen is believed to have killed 34 people in the past two weeks. The World Health Organisation says 2,022 suspected cases of cholera and acute watery diarrhoea (AWD) were reported between 27 April and 7 May. Some 26,000 people have now been affected since October by the outbreak, which subsided over the winter.

Mexico was second deadliest country in 2016
It was the second deadliest conflict in the world last year, but it hardly registered in the international headlines. As Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan dominated the news agenda, Mexico’s drug wars claimed 23,000 lives during 2016 — second only to Syria, where 50,000 people died as a result of the civil war.

Will tiny drones become a must-have for soldiers?
Aerovironment, a drone supplier for the U.S. military, has introduced a tiny drone that’s designed to be worn on a soldier’s uniform. The Snipe, which weighs about as much as a baseball, can be launched from the palm of one’s hand. It’s designed for close-range surveillance and reconnaissance. The Snipe has no weapons built in. Its value is in providing aerial video, so soldiers have a better understanding of their surroundings.

IMF on board for Greek bailout: Slovak finance minister
It looks like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will take part in the financing of Greece’s third bailout, Slovakia’s finance minister Peter Kazimir said at the EBRD’s annual meeting in Nicosia on Wednesday. “It seems to me that yes, finally (the IMF will provide funding to Greece). We have to congratulate Christine Lagarde that she managed to convince the IMF,” he said. “This amount is not important, (but) it is really symbolic. Technically the IMF must be on board,” he added.

U.S. criticizes Russian build-up near Baltic states
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Tuesday criticized what he called a destabilizing Russian military build-up near Baltic states and officials suggested the United States could deploy Patriot missiles in the region for NATO exercises in the summer. U.S. allies are jittery ahead of war games by Russia and Belarus in September that could involve up to 100,000 troops and include nuclear weapons training — the biggest such exercise since 2013.

“Serious Situation” After Tunnel Collapse At WA Nuclear Facility; Evacuation Ordered, No-Fly Zone In Place
The U.S. Department of Energy activated the Emergency Operations Center Tuesday due to a tunnel collapse at the Hanford nuclear site.

President Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey
“You are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately. While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

Germany eyes new North Korea sanctions: government sources
Germany will tighten economic sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear program in line with a U.N. resolution passed in November and subsequent EU regulations, German government officials said on Tuesday.

College Destroys Books After Digitization, Sparking Fears of 1984-Style Censor
California universities were caught removing and even destroying library books after digitizing them, a process critics warn leads to 1984-style censorship in which only “corrected” copies of books remain.

Anonymous warns world to ‘prepare’ for World War 3
The infamous hacktivist group Anonymous has released a chilling new video — urging people across the globe to “prepare” for World War 3 — as the US and North Korea continue to move “strategic pieces into place” for battle.

N.Y. BUSTED For Promoting And Covering Up Student Lessons Centered On Sympathizing With Islamic Terror!
Your kids are being indoctrinated, right under your nose, and it’s being done in public schools and government/public ran programs. In this particular case, New York has been feeding ground to teaching children how to sympathize with Islamic terrorists.

Jewish News Service Report: Iran Gave Terrorist Group Hezbollah $400 Million in cash received from Obama
The last three Democrat Presidents have been terrible for the US and great for Iran. Jimmy Carter allowed the overthrow of the Iranian government in 1979 by holding the Iranian army back from launching a military coup. Carter’s mismanagement ultimately led to Iran’s terrorist state which is responsible for thousands of murders and terrorist actions since coming to power.

The Briefing 05-10-17

Making sense of the unexpected firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Trump

What will South Korea’s election of Moon Jae-In as President mean for the region—and the globe?

Cohabitation story #1: Among younger Americans, it’s complicated

Cohabitation story #2: Among older Americans, it’s even more complicated

The post The Briefing 05-10-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

81 Percent Of Americans Are ‘Concerned About Declining Moral Behavior In Our Nation’

Could it be possible that Americans are more concerned about declining standards of morality than most of us initially thought? A very surprising new survey conducted by LifeWay Research has discovered that a whopping 81 percent of Americans agree with this statement: “I am concerned about declining moral behavior in our nation.” If you follow my work on a regular basis, you already know that moral decay is a theme that I keep coming back to time after time. To me it is quite obvious that moral behavior is deteriorating all around us, but I had no idea that so many other Americans were deeply concerned about the exact same thing. (Read More…)

Baltimore Has Become A Rotting, Decaying War Zone As A Raging Opioid Epidemic Eats Away At The City Like Cancer

It is hard to believe that Baltimore was once one of the greatest cities in the entire world.  Unlike nearby Washington D.C., Baltimore is a blue collar city that is home to some of the hardest working people in America.  When I was in high school, my brother and I were huge fans of the Baltimore Orioles, and once in a while our parents would drive us from our home in Virginia all the way up to Baltimore to see them play.  As an adult, I spent a number of years living near D.C., and I would take frequent trips up to Baltimore.  To say that the city is in a state of decline would be a major understatement.  Everywhere you look there are abandoned buildings and homes, and as you drive through some of the worst areas you can actually see drug addicts just lying in the streets.  Just like so many other communities all over this country, decades of liberal policies have taken a brutal toll, and now the city is just a rotting, decaying shell of the glorious metropolis that it once was. (Read More…)

Thousands Flee Chicago For Safer Areas Of The Country As America’s Third Largest City Becomes A Gang-Infested Wasteland

Did you know that the number of murders increased by almost 60 percent in the city of Chicago last year?  And as you will see below, this year gang violence in the Windy City has risen to a new level of viciousness.  A staggering 9.5 million people live in the Chicago metropolitan area, and it was once known primarily for great pizza, bitter cold and some of the best sports fans on the entire planet.  But now the number one thing that comes to mind for many when they think about the city of Chicago is gang violence.  As it becomes clear that things are not going to turn around any time soon, thousands of residents are leaving the city for safer areas of the nation.  In fact, Cook County lost more people than any other county in America last year by a very wide margin. (Read More…)

For The First Time, You Can Track Every Dollar The Government Spends

This is great.

Read More

Fake News Media Hid The Fact That Mexico Was World’s Second Deadliest City With 23,000 Murders In 2016

It was the second deadliest conflict in the world last year, but it hardly registered in the headlines of the liberal fake news media

EDITOR’S NOTE: When Donald Trump ran for president, he took enormous amounts of heat from the fake news media for his stand on wanting to build a wall to protect us from all the violence in Mexico. But as we are now seeing, President Trump was, as usual, very correct on the issue. If your country bordered on the second-most violent country on the face of the earth, and you didn’t want to build a wall to protect your citizens, you would be not only a disgrace but a traitor as well.

As Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan dominated the news agenda, Mexico’s drug wars claimed 23,000 lives during 2016 — second only to Syria, where 50,000 people died as a result of the civil war. “This is all the more surprising, considering that the conflict deaths [in Mexico] are nearly all attributable to small arms,” said John Chipman, chief executive and director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which issued its annual survey of armed conflict on Tuesday. “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan claimed 17,000 and 16,000 lives respectively in 2016, although in lethality they were surpassed by conflicts in Mexico and Central America, which have received much less attention from the media and the international community,” said Anastasia Voronkova, the editor of the survey.

Why the Violence in Mexico is Getting Worse

In comparison, there were 17,000 conflict deaths in Mexico in 2015 and 15,000 in 2014 according to the IISS. Rising death toll Voronkova said the number of homicides rose in 22 of Mexico’s 32 states during 2016 and the rivalries between cartels increased in violence.

“It is noteworthy that the largest rises in fatalities were registered in states that were key battlegrounds for control between competing, increasingly fragmented cartels,” she said. “The violence grew worse as the cartels expanded the territorial reach of their campaigns, seeking to ‘cleanse’ areas of rivals in their efforts to secure a monopoly on drug-trafficking routes and other criminal assets.”

Mexican drug cartels take in between $19 billion and $29 billion annually from US drug sales, according to the Department of Homeland Security. Rivalries between the cartels wreak havoc on the lives of civilians who have nothing to do with narcotics. Bystanders, people who refused to join cartels, migrants, journalists and government officials have all been killed.

Jacob Parakilas, assistant head of the US and the Americas Programme at London-based think tank Chatham House, said part of the reason for the relative lack of attention paid to Mexico in the international media is “it’s not a war in the political sense of the word. The participants largely don’t have a political objective. They’re not trying to create a breakaway state. It doesn’t come with the same visuals. There are no air strikes.

Trump promises to build the wall to protect America:

“Also this has been going on since the beginning of the modern drug trade in the Americas. It’s not news in that sense. And Mexico is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a journalist. They are intentionally targeted in Mexico, which puts a dampener on the ability to report on this.” source

Obama Refers To Himself 216 Times In $3 Million Dollar Speech At Global Food Innovation Summit

If the organizers of the Global Food Innovation Summit paid Barack Obama a reported $3,000,000 to talk about himself, then they definitely got their money’s worth.

“I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.” Isaiah 14:14 (KJV)

During his roughly 100-minute remarks in Milan, Italy, the former U.S. president talked about himself 216 times, according to a count by The American Mirror. Obama said “I” 168 times, “me” or “my” 40 times, and said “we,” “us” or “our” referring to his family 8 times.

“I have joked before that although I don’t have the good fortune of having Italian ancestry, I do have a name that ends in a vowel,” Obama said towards the beginning of his remarks.

After speaking for about 10 minutes, Obama moved to a conversation with his former chef Sam Kass.

When asked how life is after the White House, Obama continued to focus on himself.

“It is true that I’m not living in the White House anymore,” Obama said. “I am actually enjoying being in my own house. I have been fighting Michelle to get more closet space. “I have been trying to figure out how the coffee maker works,” he added.

Obama said he is working to build “an effective network of global activists.” “You notice I have a lot of grey hair now,” Obama said. “People always ask me, ‘Oh, Mr. President, we need you and we want you involved.’

“And I’m happy to get involved, but the greatest thing I think I can give is to make sure that somebody who is 20 years old, 21, 25, who are ready to make their mark on the world that I can help them so that they can take it to the next level.”

Obama was asked how he changed in office and he remarked, “I think the people who know me best would say that I have not changed much.

“One of the dangers of being in the public eye, being in the spotlight, being in positions of power is how it will change your soul.”

He added, “That you start believing your own hype. You start believing that you deserve all the attention. I actually found that I became more humble the longer I was in office.” The UK Express reports Obama was paid $3 million for his appearance. source

Democrats Wanted Comey Fired — Until Tuesday

Jim Stinson of LifeZette reminds us that it wasn’t all that long ago that liberals were demanding James Comey’s resignation — before turning it against Trump. He writes:

Few Democrats suffered such severe political whiplash over the firing of FBI Director James Comey as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

Over the course of just a few months, Schumer has shifted wildly on the FBI director. The Democratic leader heaped praise on Comey for decisions that benefitted Democrats and tried to damn Comey for decisions that hurt Democrats. On Tuesday, Schumer suggested the decision to fire Comey was indicative of a “cover-up.”

View article →

Mid-Day Snapshot

May 10, 2017

Clinton Cans Comey — Finally

At long last, Hillary Clinton and her Democrat legions got what they pleaded for last year — FBI Director James Comey, fired!

The Foundation

“Men of energy of character must have enemies; because there are two sides to every question, and taking one with decision, and acting on it with effect, those who take the other will of course be hostile in proportion as they feel that effect.” —Thomas Jefferson (1817)

ZeroHedge Top Stories This Week: May 10

  • Trump fires FBI chief Comey, setting off political storm (Read More)
  • Comey Firing Upends Russia Probes (Read More)
  • White House Says Decision Stemmed From Comey’s Handling of Clinton Email Probe (Read More)
  • Comey Ouster Threatens to Backfire on Troubled Trump White House (Read More)
  • Comey’s Deserved Dismissal (Read More)
  • GOP baffled by timing; WH braces for independent probe (Read More)
  • After Ouster at FBI, Small Group of GOP Senators Holds Sway Over Next Steps (Read More)
  • U.S. Commerce’s Ross says 3 percent GDP growth not achievable this year (Read More)
  • Trump’s New Tax Plan Is a Mystery for the Middle Class (Read More)
  • Barclays chief apologises to shareholders for trying to indentify whistleblower (Read More)
  • Warren Pushes Administration on Plan to Break Up Megabanks (Read More)
  • New South Korea president vows to address North Korea, broader tensions ‘urgently’ (Read More)
  • Toyota forecasts 20 pct profit drop on higher U.S. sales cost, yen gain (Read More)
  • A Trump supporter, and his cab, play unexpected role in escape to Canada (Read More)
  • Cheap Robots Are Helping Small Businesses Survive (Read More)
  • New Wall Street Watchdog Sidesteps Ethics Scrutiny (Read More)
  • Big Tech Companies Could Face More Rules in the EU (Read More)
  • Amazon trounces rivals in battle of the shopping ‘bots’ (Read More)
  • Disney’s ESPN Looks to an Online Future, as Cable Subscribers Decline (Read More)
  • JPMorgan Tells Banks to Partner Up as U.S. Deposit Drain Looms (Read More)
  • Deadline Looms for GOP’s Effort to Undo Obama Rules (Read More)
  • French Insurer AXA to List U.S. Unit (Read More)

Featured Blogs

Top Headlines – 5/10/2017

Erdogan warns against moving US embassy to Jerusalem and lashes ‘racist’ Israel, calls for Muslims to flood Temple Mount

Turkish President: We will protect against the Judaization of Jerusalem

Rivlin on Erdogan’s remarks: ‘We will continue to ensure freedom of religion for all religions and believers’

After Erdogan rant, Israel questions Turkish ambassador

Press freedom under attack around world, Israel middle of the pack

Abbas says he is ready to meet Netanyahu under Trump’s patronage

Ex-UN chief: Israeli-Palestinian peace impossible with current leaders

Venezuelan Jews flee impoverished state to Israel

Top EU official supports freedom of religion amid calls against Jewish rituals in Europe

On US tour, Israeli paratroopers to re-create iconic photo from Six-Day War

New virtual goggles assist IDF in tunnel combat

Fighting the ‘Patriarchal Deal’ Between the State of Israel and the Bedouin

Moscow Official: Israel Has Promised to Do Everything Possible to Avoid Harming Russian Troops in Syria

ISIS video shows beheading of alleged Russian spy

Russia denies one of its servicemen executed in Syria by ISIS

Navy SEAL Dies Defending Iraqi Christian Town from ISIS

Trump administration approves providing heavier weapons to Syria’s Kurds, despite Turkish objections

Qatar says Syria “de-escalation” plan not an alternative to political transition

Al Shabaab militants attack Somali army base, killing several soldiers

Afghan official: Bomb at religious school kills chief cleric

Taliban fight: US may send 3,000 more troops to Afghanistan

Iran to Launch Two New Satellites, Likely Cover for Illicit ICBM Program

Russia showcases Arctic hardware in Red Square military parade

North Korea insults: Pyongyang’s putdowns target Obama, Clinton, Kerry

North Korea ‘not afraid’ as it plans new nuclear test, says ambassador in UK

China says it has tested guided missile close to Korean peninsula

South Korea’s liberal presidential candidate declared victor

Tensions Rise As US Announces Military Drills Near Embattled Venezuela

Anonymous warns world to ‘prepare’ for World War 3

Illegal immigration across southwest border down 70 percent under Trump

Top Honduran Official Predicts Exodus After Texas Enacts Anti-Sanctuary City Law

President Trump’s lawyers on revised travel ban repeatedly asked about campaign promises

Chicago logs its 200th homicide of the year: ‘This has to stop’

Russia Election Hacking: Countries Where the Kremlin Has Allegedly Sought to Sway Votes

Trump preparing certified letter attesting to no Russia ties

Trump may meet top Russian diplomat in White House, says US official

Trump abruptly axes FBI’s Comey in midst of Russia probe

Democrats: Comey firing ‘Nixonian’

Former US Attorney: ‘Out Of Control’ Comey ‘Acted Like He Was Attorney General’

FBI Admits That James Comey Misled Congress About Huma Abedin’s Email Habits

Krauthammer: ‘Highly Implausible’ To Claim Comey Was Fired for How He Handled Clinton Investigation

Cummings wants ’emergency hearings’ over Comey firing

After Comey dismissal, Democrats call for special prosecutor on Russia probe

Grand jury subpoenas issued in FBI’s Russia investigation

FBI chief known for judgment calls is done in by turmoil

10 Major FBI Scandals on Comey’s Watch

Ninth Circuit: Critics want to split up ‘nutty’ court that will hear Trump’s travel ban

Obama: ‘You get the politicians you deserve’

Why Liberals Aren’t as Tolerant as They Think

Passengers get rowdy at Florida airport after 9 Spirit Airlines flights canceled

Airlines told to ‘be prepared’ for expanded electronics ban

Bomb threat causes panic on Saudi airliner

Will tiny drones become a must-have for soldiers?

Pint-Size Satellites Promise Spy-Quality Images—Cheap

6.8 magnitude earthquake hits near Port-Olry, Vanuatu

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Adak, Alaska

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Hirara, Japan

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Yigo Village, Guam

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Guazacapan, Guatemala

5.1 mangitude earthquake hits near Pangai, Tonga

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Opotiki, New Zealand

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Luganville, Vanuatu

Turrialba volcano in Cost Rica erupts to 13,000ft

Sangeang volcano in Indonesia erupts to 12,000ft

Karangetang volcano in Indonesia erupts to 12,000ft

Tropical Cyclone Donna and Ella ‘bookend’ Fiji

Adrian becomes earliest tropical storm on record in eastern Pacific

Tennis ball-sized hail in Denver shatters windows, damages homes

Temperature drop destroys crops in Michigan

Hundreds evacuated along Florida-Georgia border as wildfire spreads

Florida wildfire captured from space using GOES-16 satellite

Tunnel with nuclear waste collapses in Washington state

White House postpones meeting to decide on participation in Paris climate pact

Laws to tackle climate change exceed 1,200 worldwide – study

A fool’s errand: Al Gore’s $15 trillion carbon tax

EU urges US not to cut U.N. funds, stay committed to climate deal

Obamacare Premiums Rise as Insurers Fret Over Law’s Shaky Future

Obamacare Taxes Aren’t Necessarily Going Away: GOP Senators

The Right Should Blame Trump’s Anti-Vaxxer Pals, Not Islam, for a Measles Outbreak in Minnesota

Two children die, 12 fall ill after measles injection in Bihar

Hindu nationalists promise ‘superior’ Indian babies

Iowa Supreme Court blocks portion of pro-life measure that bans abortions after 20 weeks

Democrats Stumble Into Abortion Rift

Democratic bid for post-Trump win in Omaha ensnared in abortion debate

Oregon may allow drivers to choose nonbinary, rather than male or female, for licenses

Target Doubles Down On ‘Gay’ Pride Despite Losses In Bathroom War

Josh McDowell: Prepare Your Kids to Face Porn’s Dangers by Age 5

Joel McDurmon – Churches worse than infidels

Denny Burk – It is not “character assassination” for the church to be the church

Beth Moore Teams Up With Prosperity Preachers at Hillsong Conference

Benny Hinn’s claims to being an Apostle

Leaving the NAR Church: Kara’s story

Largest church in the world losing members after pastor embezzled 12 million

City Harvest Church case to be heard by five-judge panel on Aug 1

Top Vatican Astronomer Challenges Stephen Hawking’s Atheistic Beliefs

Posted: 10 May 2017 08:20 AM PDT

Brother Guy Consolmagno, a Jesuit priest and director of the Vatican Observatory, has challenged physicist Stephen Hawking’s atheistic beliefs, and argued that while God’s workings…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Experts Claim ‘Faith-Based Film’ Label Needs To Go

Posted: 10 May 2017 08:12 AM PDT

Some big players in the faith-based film industry want to get rid of that exact term: “faith-based film.” Producer Mark Joseph, whose credits include “The…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Franklin Graham Warns Of “Islamic Domination”

Posted: 10 May 2017 08:04 AM PDT

The world’s most populous Islamic country took another lurch backwards Tuesday when a court sentenced the capital city’s first Christian governor in half a century…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

A Troubling Trend Among Pentecostal Pastors

Posted: 10 May 2017 07:53 AM PDT

(By Shane Idleman) A few years back, I listened in astonishment as some prominent “Christian” leaders talked about replacing “preaching” with “having a conversation.”  At first, I…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Colorado Christians Repent for Being First State to Embrace Abortion

Posted: 10 May 2017 06:25 AM PDT

Fifty years ago, Colorado became the first state to legalize abortion, six years before Roe v. Wade made it legal nationwide. Like most states at…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Embassy will stay in Tel Aviv and Not Be Moved To Jerusalem

Posted: 10 May 2017 06:21 AM PDT

Senior US sources said US President Donald Trump has already decided to extend the order which prevents the US Embassy in Israel from being transferred…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New ‘Gray Death’ Drug Can kill With a Single Dose

Posted: 10 May 2017 06:16 AM PDT

A lethal new drug dubbed “gray death” by authorities that is dangerous to even touch with gloves is being eyed in overdose cases across Georgia,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

15 dead after intense thunderstorms hit Bihar, India

Posted: 10 May 2017 06:11 AM PDT

At least 15 people have been killed, including 7 due to lightning, after intense thunderstorms accompanied by heavy pre-monsoon rains hit the Indian state of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

81 Percent Of Americans Are ‘Concerned About Declining Moral Behavior In Our Nation’

Posted: 10 May 2017 06:06 AM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) Could it be possible that Americans are more concerned about declining standards of morality than most of us initially thought? A very…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

West Virginia Just Received 433 Pain Pills for Every Man, Woman and Child in the state

Posted: 10 May 2017 06:02 AM PDT

A congressional committee is investigating why America’s largest prescription drug distributors shipped an outrageous number of pain pills to West Virginia. That state is one…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

N.K Ambassador Warns ‘If the U.S. Moves an Inch’ North Korea Will Strike

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:54 AM PDT

In his first-ever interview with the British media, North Korea’s new ambassador to the United Kingdom waited no time to ratchet up the pressure in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Fordham University Rejects Opening ‘Anti-LGBT’ Chick-fil-A on Campus

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:48 AM PDT

Last month TruthRevolt reported that LGBT students at the Catholic institution Fordham University voiced complaints about plans to open a Chick-fil-A on campus, citing that the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ibuprofen taken for ONE DAY increases your risk of heart attack by Half

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:44 AM PDT

Taking common painkillers can raise heart attack risk by half after just one day, a major study warns. Experts looked at nearly 450,000 adults given…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

LA declares public schools ‘sanctuaries’…

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:39 AM PDT

The Los Angeles Unified school board on Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution aimed at making LAUSD campuses safer for immigrant students and their families who…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Celebrities Melt Down Over Comey Firing: ‘Full Blown Constitutional Crisis’

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:29 AM PDT

Hollywood celebrities reacted with shock and anger Tuesday following the White House’s announcement that President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Comey, who was…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

School Cancels Mother’s Day; Will Celebrate ‘Diversity’ Instead

Posted: 09 May 2017 05:12 PM PDT

It’s a tradition for elementary school students to spend time making Mother’s Day cards in their classrooms before the holiday rolls around. But that won’t…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: Inside Edition Airs Segment On How To Prepare for a Nuclear Blast

Posted: 09 May 2017 03:27 PM PDT

The world is on edge as North Korea threatens America with a nuclear attack, and many are imagining the unthinkable. If you are half-a-mile from the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

YOU’RE FIRED! President Trump Cans FBI Director Comey!

Posted: 09 May 2017 03:15 PM PDT

President Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey, according to the White House. “Today, President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Approves Heavier Weapons for Syrian Kurds to Defeat ISIS

Posted: 09 May 2017 01:24 PM PDT

The Trump administration will provide heavier weapons to Syria’s Kurds as they and their allies move closer to an attack on the key Islamic State…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Defiant North Korea Preparing Next Nuclear Test

Posted: 09 May 2017 01:19 PM PDT

North Korea’s ambassador to the UK has told Sky News his country will go ahead with its sixth nuclear test at the time and place…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DAYS OF LOT: Josh McDowell Warns Of Children Facing Porn’s Dangers by Age 5

Posted: 09 May 2017 01:16 PM PDT

An esteemed Christian apologist is using his platform and influence to combat the pornography scourge and is warning parents to prepare their kids to face…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: China tests new missile near Korean peninsula

Posted: 09 May 2017 10:40 AM PDT

Beijing has tested a new missile close to the Korean peninsula amid heightened tensions in the region, after North Korea, South Korea, and the US…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Emergency declared at Hanford nuclear waste site after tunnel collapse

Posted: 09 May 2017 09:40 AM PDT

The US Department of Energy has declared an emergency at the Hanford, Washington nuclear waste storage site, after a tunnel used to store contaminated materials…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Have We Just Witnessed The End of a Christian Europe?

Posted: 09 May 2017 09:05 AM PDT

(Reported By Bob Eschliman) In 732 a relatively small army of French Christians led by Charles Martel defeated an invading Muslim army in the Battle…

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

Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer

This post was originally posted on: https://truth4freedom.wordpress.com

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

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

— Augustine

This blog is an aggregator of news and information that we believe will provide articles that will keep people informed about current trends, current events, discussions and movements taking place within our church and culture.

In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107,material here is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.

A headline link on this blog post doesn’t necessarily mean that there is agreement or approval with all the views and opinions expressed within the headline linked article. Caution is also warranted with regards to the advertisements and links that are embedded within the headline linked article.

*Please note that the preceding blog post content is formed by my personal conviction, values, worldview and opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

Heretics & NAR Apostles speaking at Australian Lutheran Conference and infiltrating Lutheran Churches?

This article will expose the teachings of the Lutheran Renewal Conference that was put on last year (2016) by Edgar Mayer. It will first introduce people to the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and its teachings and then demonstrate how this conference was used to convert Christians to the NAR and use them to infiltrate Australian Lutheran Churches. (We will also be publishing Chris Rosebrough’s coverage of this conference in another article.)

After the introduction, we will briefly expose the man who is leading the Lutheran Renewal cult – Edgar Mayer – in denying the Christian faith and the Lutheran expression of that faith. Then we will provide each session of the conference from YouTube with some key quotes from sessions at the bottom of each video.

(Please note – these men may come across loving, encouraging and equipping believers to love Christ and unite churches in love. However, they follow the same…

View original post 2,546 more words

It is not ‘character assassination’ for the church to be the church

Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, contends “for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” In this piece, he takes on “Progressive Christians” and deals with their propensity to erase 2,000-years of Church history in an effort to see that the Church becomes more inclusive, more relevant, more open-minded.  In other words, PC’s are “re-imagining” Christianity to look less like historic orthodox Christianity and more like the world. Burk writes:

Photo credit: RightNow Media

Last night, Jonathan Merritt penned an article for Religion News Service excoriating Christians who have distanced themselves from Jen Hatmaker. He writes:

Hatmaker’s original sin is that she broke ranks with the evangelical powers-that-be on same-sex relationships. In an interview with me last October, Hatmaker stated that if she found out one of her children were gay, she would love that child just the same. If an LGBT friend of Hatmaker’s got married, she said she would attend the wedding. And Hatmaker said she believed LGBT relationships could be holy.

View article →

Source: It is not ‘character assassination’ for the church to be the church

Benny Hinn’s claims to being an Apostle.

Benny Hinn claims he is an “Apostolic Leader” and an “Apostle” on his website:

“One of Benny Hinn’s greatest ministries has been as mentor and apostle for a growing army of Christian leaders.”

This is why back in the 80s and 90s, Benny Hinn was claiming that God would strike people dead if people questioned him and other “men of God” like Paul Crouch.


According to NAR Leader, C. Peter Wagner, greater amounts of spiritual authority are delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals, that is, Apostles:

“In my judgment, views of leadership and leadership authority constitute the most radical of the nine changes from traditional Christianity.  Here is the main difference: The amount of spiritual authority delegated by the Holy Spirit to individuals.  I have attempted to use each word in that statement advisedly.” [Source]

You can see Benny Hinn wielding this delegated ‘spiritual authority’ and his so-called ‘apostolic authority’ in…

View original post 1,304 more words

What Does It Mean to Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness?

Hunger and thirst are frequent human urges. It’s immensely satisfying to eat a meal when starving or to drink of water when parched. Hunger is often used to convey a consuming desire, like a young and inexperienced sports team hungry for a win, or an individual who, after a string of failures, is hungry for success.

The Bible often uses hunger and thirst to exemplify powerful desires:

“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!…Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare.” (Isaiah 55:1-2)

Jesus used these references in the Sermon on the Mount to communicate a blessed appetite for a particular pursuit: righteousness.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

More Than Morality?

Yet, the idea of righteousness being an intense desire raises questions. This is much different than how we usually think of it. The definition of righteous in modern times is,

  1. Characterized by uprightness or morality
  2. Morally right or justifiable
  3. Acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous

A life pursuing these qualities, without the proper motivation, sounds a little more Pharisaical than is comfortable. Upright, moral behavior is only righteous if it comes from a righteous heart, which is what Jesus regularly taught the Pharisees and anyone else who would listen.

But the biblical definition of righteous is more nuanced than the dictionary’s interpretation: Righteousness is more than observing the law and far deeper than checking commandments off your list of “right things to do.” So what exactly is righteousness?

Righteousness Is Imputed

Christians know that salvation is through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and that when by faith we receive Jesus’s sacrificial death and resurrection nothing that we do or don’t do can change our status with God. This is the gospel, the very good news that Christians share with the world. 

Furthermore, we’re told in Romans 1:17 that righteousness is achieved by faith alone: “For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written, ‘The righteous will live by faith.’” 

That means that Jesus offers us his righteousness, like putting a beautiful coat over our sin. Through faith, God sees us in Jesus’ righteous coat and not in our old, ratty, sinful attire. It all happens by faith alone, which still amazes me. It is the gospel truth that Jesus’ perfect life is available to all those who realize they need it.

Colin Smith writes this of righteousness in Momentum:

People who come to Christ in penitent faith realize that they don’t have what it takes before God. That is why we come, and when we do, we receive the marvelous gift of Christ’s perfect righteousness, draped over us and counted by God as if it were our own…The righteousness of Christ is a gift to be treasured, not a virtue to be sought.

So why hunger and thirst for righteousness if we already have it by faith? How can we hunger for something we’ve already been given?

Righteousness Is Pursued

This is a major challenge of the Christian life. We are saved by faith alone, yet we are called to grow, to mature, to live a more upright, more righteous, life. We want to live a life that is attractive to those who don’t know they need the astounding truth of the gospel. We also live with the constant tension of the sinful world and our sinful desires dragging us away from true righteousness.

I can be starving for righteousness, follow Jesus’ lead, and feel immensely satisfied, but then a few hours later, say around dinner time, I might be earnestly desiring…dinner. My hunger for righteousness apparently comes and goes, and sometimes my hunger for worldly things takes over. It’s frustrating.

Colin Smith, again from Momentum, speaks to this:

The difference between the righteousness that Christ gives us and the righteousness to which He calls us is important to grasp…to all who are in Christ, God gives His Holy Spirit, who renews our hearts and creates within us a new and deep desire to live in a way that is pleasing to Him. Christ’s people hunger and thirst for righteousness, because while we know that we are forgiven and accepted before God on the basis of all that Christ is and all that He has done, we also know how far we are from all that Christ calls us to be. (Emphasis mine)

Empowered Righteousness

There is tension in the knowledge that we are righteous by faith in God’s eyes, but that we do not live a completely upright life. One day, when Jesus comes again, he will close the gap between his righteousness and our unrighteous lives. Until then, we exist in the guarantee that we are righteous in God’s eyes and that his Holy Spirit dwells in us, empowering us to pursue righteousness, by the strength he provides.

Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

The post What Does It Mean to Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness? appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

Largest church in the world losing members after pastor embezzled 12 million

People who are barely making a living are no longer giving their hard earned money to fund a lavish lifestyle for shyster pastors, claims Cheryl Preston in a report over at blasting news. “Christians are walking away from mega-churches because of the false doctrine of the prosperity gospel — they are not however walking away from Christ.” Preston writes:

For decades, the Yoido Full Gospel Church in South Korea has been considered the biggest mega-church in the world. In 2014 however, the pastor Yong Gi Cho was convicted of embezzling 12 million dollars from the church. He was given a suspended sentence and has since retired. According to an MSN article by Matthew Bell, PRI’s The world, church membership has been declining ever since. This is not an isolated example because Christians all over the world, are leaving churches, but not their faith in #Christ. The false doctrine of the prosperity gospel is one major reason…

View article →

Source: Largest church in the world losing members after pastor embezzled 12 million

May 10, 2017: Verse of the day


Christ’s Indwelling

so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; (3:17a)

So that translates hina, a Greek word used to introduce purpose clauses. The purpose of our being “strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” is that Christ may dwell in [our] hearts through faith.

The proper order seems to be reversed, because every believer at salvation is indwelt by Christ (2 Cor. 13:5; Col. 1:27) and cannot have “the Holy Spirit in the inner man” until he has received Christ as Savior (Rom. 8:9, 11; 1 Cor. 3:16; 6:19). Paul has already made clear that all believers are in Christ (1, 3, 10, 12; 2:6, 10, 13). He is therefore not here referring to Christ’s indwelling believers in salvation but in sanctification.

Katoikeō (dwell) is a compound word, formed from kata (down) and oikeō (to inhabit a house), In the context of this passage the connotation is not simply that of being inside the house of our hearts but of being at home there, settled down as a family member. Christ cannot be “at home” in our hearts until our inner person submits to the strengthening of His Spirit. Until the Spirit controls our lives, Jesus Christ cannot be comfortable there, but only stays like a tolerated visitor. Paul’s teaching here does not relate to the fact of Jesus’ presence in the hearts of believers but to the quality of His presence.

When the Lord came with two angels to visit them, Abraham and Sarah immediately made preparations to entertain their guests in the best possible way. From the rest of the passage (Gen. 18) it is evident that Abraham and Sarah knew they were hosting the Lord Himself. It is also evident that the Lord felt at home with Abraham and Sarah. It seems significant that when, a short while later, the Lord warned Lot to take his family and flee for their lives, He did not go Himself but only sent the two angels (19:1). Lot was a believer, but the Lord did not feel at home in Lot’s house as He did in Abraham’s tent.

In his booklet My Heart Christ’s Home, Robert Munger pictures the Christian life as a house, through which Jesus goes from room to room. In the library, which is the mind, Jesus finds trash and all sorts of worthless things, which He proceeds to throw out and replace with His Word. In the dining room of appetite He finds many sinful desires listed on a worldly menu. In the place of such things as prestige, materialism, and lust He puts humility, meekness, love, and all the other virtues for which believers are to hunger and thirst. He goes through the living room of fellowship, where He finds many worldly companions and activities, through the workshop, where only toys are being made, into the closet, where hidden sins are kept, and so on through the entire house. Only when He had cleaned every room, closet, and corner of sin and foolishness could He settle down and be at home.

Jesus enters the house of our hearts the moment He saves us, but He cannot live there in comfort and satisfaction until it is cleansed of sin and filled with His will. God is gracious beyond comprehension and infinitely patient. He continues to love those of His children who insist on spurning His will. But He cannot be happy or satisfied in such a heart. He cannot be fully at home until He is allowed to dwell in our hearts through the continuing faith that trusts Him to exercise His lordship over every aspect of our lives. We practice as well as receive His presence by faith.

How awesome and wonderful that the almighty and holy God wants to live in our hearts, be at home there, and rule there! Yet Jesus said, “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” (John 14:23).

Love’s Abundance

and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, (3:17b–19a)

Being made strong inwardly by God’s Spirit leads to Christ’s being at home in our hearts, which leads to love that is incomprehensible. The result of our yielding to the Spirit’s power and submitting to Christ’s lordship in our hearts is love. When Christ settles down in our lives He begins to display His own love in us and through us. When He freely indwell-s our hearts, we become rooted and grounded in love, that is, settled on a strong foundation of love.

“A new commandment I give to you,”Jesus said, “that you love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Peter wrote, “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Pet. 1:22). It is God’s supreme desire that His children sincerely and fully love each other, just as He loves us. Love is the first fruit of the Spirit, of which joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self–control are essentially subcategories (Gal. 5:22–23).

Love is an attitude of selflessness. Biblical agapē love is a matter of the will and not a matter of feeling or emotion, though deep feelings and emotions almost always accompany love. God’s loving the world was not a matter simply of feeling; it resulted in His sending His only Son to redeem the world (John 3:16). Love is self-less giving, always self-less and always giving. It is the very nature and substance of love to deny self and to give to others. Jesus did not say, “Greater love has no one than to have warm feelings for his friends,” but rather, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

In obeying the Father’s loving will to redeem the world,Jesus willingly and lovingly gave Himself to accomplish that redemption. “Although He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond–servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:6–8). That is love in its most perfect form, and it is this divine attitude of self–sacrificing love that every believer should have in himself (v. 5).

We can only have such love when Christ is free to work His own love through us. We cannot fulfill any of Christ’s commands without Christ Himself, least of all His command to love. We can only love as Christ loves when He has free reign in our hearts. “By this,”John says, “the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has beheld God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. … We love, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:9–12, 19).

When the Spirit empowers our lives and Christ is obeyed as the Lord of our hearts, our sins and weaknesses are dealt with and we find ourselves wanting to serve others, wanting to sacrifice for them and serve them—because Christ’s loving nature has truly become our own. Loving is the supernatural attitude of the Christian, because love is the nature of Christ. When a Christian does not love he has to do so intentionally and with effort—just as he must do to hold his breath. To become habitually unloving he must habitually resist Christ as the Lord of his heart. To continue the analogy to breathing, when Christ has his proper place in our hearts, we do not have to be told to love—just as we do not have to be told to breathe. Eventually it must happen, because loving is as natural to the spiritual person as breathing is to the natural person.

Though it is unnatural for the Christian to be unloving, it is still possible to be disobedient in regard to love. Just as loving is determined by the will and not by circumstances or other people, so is not loving. If a husband fails in his love for his wife, or she for him, it is never because of the other person, regardless of what the other person may have done. You do not fall either into or out of agapē love, because it is controlled by the will. Romantic love can be beautiful and meaningful, and we find many favorable accounts of it in Scripture. But it is agapē love that God commands husbands and wives to have for each other (Eph. 5:25, 28, 33; Titus 2:4)—the love that each person controls by his own act of will. Strained relations between husbands and wives, between fellow workers, between brothers and sisters, or between any others is never a matter of incompatibility or personality conflict but is always a matter of sin.

The principle applies to everyone with whom the Christian has contact, especially his fellow Christians. Loving others is an act of obedience, and not loving them is an act of disobedience. “If someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (1 John 4:20–21). In the deepest sense, love is the only commandment of God. ‘The greatest commandment, Jesus said, is to love God with all our heart, soul, and mind; and the second greatest is to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matt. 22:37–39). And “he who loves his neighbor,” Paul said, “has fulfilled the law. For this, ‘You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom. 13:8–10).

The absence of love is the presence of sin. The absence of love has nothing at all to do with what is happening to us, but everything to do with what is happening in us. Sin and love are enemies, because sin and God are enemies. They cannot coexist. Where one is, the other is not. The loveless life is the ungodly life; and the godly life is the serving, caring, tenderhearted, affectionate, self–giving, self–sacrificing life of Christ’s love working through the believer.

When we are rooted and grounded in love, we then become able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth of love. We cannot comprehend the fulness of love unless we are totally immersed in love, unless it is the very root and ground of our being. When someone asked the famed jazz trumpeter Louis Armstrong to explain jazz, he replied, “Man, if I’ve got to explain it, you ain’t got it.” In some ways that simplistic idea applies to love. It cannot truly be understood and comprehended until it is experienced. Yet the experience and working of love that Paul is talking about in this passage is not emotional or subjective. It is not nice feelings or warm sentiments that bring such comprehension, but the actual working of God’s Spirit and God’s Son in our lives to produce a love that is pure and sincere, self-less and serving. To be rooted and grounded in love requires being rooted and grounded in God. When we are saved, God’s love is “poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). It is the Lord Himself who directs our “hearts into the love of God and into the steadfastness of Christ” (2 Thess. 3:5).

Love is available to every Christian because Christ is available to every Christian. Paul prays that we will become able to comprehend with all the saints. Love is not simply for the even–tempered Christian or the naturally pleasant and agreeable Christian. Nor is it for some supposed special class of Christians who have an inside spiritual track. It is for, and commanded of, every Christian—all the saints.

Comprehension of love comes from being continually immersed in the things of God, especially His Word. “Thy words were found and I ate them,” Jeremiah declared, “and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart; for I have been called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts” (Jer. 15:16). Job testified, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12), and the psalmist tells us that the delight of the righteous person “is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:2; cf. 19:9b–10; 119:167; etc.).

To comprehend … what is the breadth and length and height and depth of love is to understand it in its fullness. Love goes in every direction and to the greatest distance. It goes wherever it is needed for as long as it is needed. The early church Father Jerome said that the love of Christ reaches up to the holy angels and down to those in hell. Its length covers the men on the upward way and its breadth reaches those drifting away on evil paths.

I do not think that breadth and length and height and depth represent four specific types or categories of love but simply suggest its vastness and completeness. In whatever spiritual direction we look we can see God’s love. We can see love’s breadth reflected in God’s acceptance of Gentile and Jew equally in Christ (Eph. 2:11–18). We can see love’s length in God’s choosing us before the foundation of the world (1:4–5) for a salvation that will last through all eternity. We can see love’s height in God’s having “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (1:3) and in His raising us up and seating us “with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (2:6). We can see love’s depth in God’s reaching down to the lowest levels of depravity to redeem those who are dead in trespasses and sins (2:1–3). God’s love can reach any person in any sin, and it stretches from eternity past to eternity future. It takes us into the very presence of God and sits us on His throne.

In what may at first seems a self–contradiction, Paul says that to know the love of Christ … surpasses knowledge. Knowing Christ’s love takes us beyond human knowledge, because it is from an infinitely higher source. Paul is not speaking here of our knowing the love we are to have for Christ but the love of Christ, His very own love that He must place in our hearts before we can love Him or anyone else. We are commanded to love because we are given love. God always gives before He commands anything in return, and love is one of Christ’s greatest gifts to His church. Throughout John 14–16 Jesus promises to give love, joy, peace, power, and comfort without measure to those who belong to Him.

The world cannot comprehend the great love that Christ gives because it cannot understand Christ. Worldly love is based on attraction and therefore lasts only as long as the attraction. Christ’s love is based on His own nature and therefore lasts forever. Worldly love lasts until it is offended or rebuffed. Christ’s love lasts despite every offense and every rebuff. Worldly love loves for what it can get. Christ’s love loves for what it can give. What is incomprehensible to the world is to be normal living for the child of God.[1]

17 Either this verse expresses what Paul means by being strengthened “in your inner being,” or it specifies a further and additional request. Probably the first makes more sense of the grammar here; there is no connecting conjunction. So Christ’s indwelling of their hearts further elaborates what Paul wishes God to grant to them: inner strength emanates from the indwelling Christ. In 1:18, we saw that “heart” (kardia, GK 2840) represents the hub of a person’s being, the foundation of understanding and will, the center of one’s personality. It is equivalent to “inner being” in 3:16. Paul prays that Christ may dwell there. “Dwell” (katoikeō, GK 2997; cf. BDAG, 534) can refer to a literal place to inhabit or settle, or it can be used metaphorically (see Col 1:19; 2:9, where the fullness of deity dwells in Christ). Paul prays that Christ (his values and virtues) would take up permanent residence in the center of his readers’ beings. But if the readers are already believers, surely Christ already inhabits their hearts. Probably Paul’s prayer seeks to reinforce that reality for the readers’ benefit. He prays not that they become Christians, but that God would grant them more and more inner spiritual strength, which comes from yielding to Christ’s presence within them. So strength in the inner person implies that Christ increasingly governs the course of a person’s life, or, in Schnackenburg’s words, 149, “Christ is ever more effective in us.”

How can this happen? Paul expresses the means in very unequivocal terms: “through faith.” As Christ does not barge into a person’s life to begin with, neither does he usurp the “control center” of a person’s being. This Christ-centered inner-directedness requires a trust in God, not the following of one’s own inclinations. Paul summarized the point earlier: “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God” (Gal 2:20). Inner spiritual strength results from a personal submission to the transforming work of God’s Spirit (cf. Ro 12:1–2).

Two perfect passive adverbial participles express the purpose or result of Christ’s indwelling of believers: they become “rooted and established in love” (“in love” modifying both participles). The passive voices indicate that God accomplishes this work; the perfect tenses emphasize its ongoing state of affairs: love is the soil in which and the foundation on which they function as Christians. Paul combines two metaphors—from botany and architecture (which he does elsewhere; see 1 Co 3:9; Col 2:7). The point is clear: he desires that their roots go deeply into God’s love, that their lives become built on the foundation of God’s love. They already love one another (1:15) as a response to God’s love for them (2:4; cf. 5:2, 25), but Paul longs for God’s love to be the hallmark of Christ’s presence among and within them (and so its repetition; see 3:18–19; 4:2, 15–16; 5:2, 25, 28, 33; 6:23–24).[2]

3:17 The second step is that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. This is the result of the Spirit’s invigoration: we are strengthened in order that Christ may dwell in our hearts. Actually, the Lord Jesus takes up His personal residence in a believer at the time of conversion (John 14:23; Rev. 3:20). But that is not the subject of this prayer. Here it is not a question of His being in the believer, but rather of His feeling at home there! He is a permanent Resident in every saved person, but this is a request that He might have full access to every room and closet; that He might not be grieved by sinful words, thoughts, motives, and deeds; that He might enjoy unbroken fellowship with the believer. The Christian heart thus becomes the home of Christ, the place where He loves to be—like the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus in Bethany. The heart, of course, means the center of the spiritual life; it controls every aspect of behavior. In effect, the apostle prays that the lordship of Christ might extend to the books we read, the work we do, the food we eat, the money we spend, the words we speak—in short, the minutest details of our lives.

The more we are strengthened by the Holy Spirit, the more we will be like the Lord Jesus Himself. And the more we are like Him, the more He will “settle down and feel completely at home in our hearts” (KSW).

We enter into the enjoyment of His indwelling through faith. This involves constant dependence on Him, constant surrender to Him, and constant recognition of His “at home-ness.” It is through faith that we “practice His presence,” as Brother Lawrence quaintly put it.

Up to this point Paul’s prayer has involved each member of the Trinity. The Father is asked (v. 14) to strengthen the believers through His Spirit (v. 16) that Christ might be completely at home in their hearts (v. 17). One of the great privileges of prayer is that we can engage the eternal Godhead to work in behalf of others and ourselves.

The result of Christ’s unrestricted access is that the Christian becomes rooted and grounded in love. Here Paul borrows words from the worlds of botany and building. The root of a plant provides nourishment and support. The groundwork of a building is the foundation on which it rests. As Scroggie says, “Love is the soil in which our life must have its roots; and it is the rock upon which our faith must ever rest.” To be rooted and grounded in love is to be established in love as a way of life. The life of love is a life of kindness, selflessness, brokenness, and meekness. It is the life of Christ finding expression in the believer (see 1 Cor. 13:4–7).[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 106–111). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] 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. 98–99). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1930). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 10 – Building a Leader: The Right Results (Peter)

The twelve apostles included “Simon, who is called Peter” (Matt. 10:2).


God knows how to get results.

God makes leaders by taking people with the right raw material, putting them through the right experiences, and teaching them the right lessons. That’s how He trained Peter, and the results were astonishing. In the first twelve chapters of Acts we see Peter initiating the move to replace Judas with Matthias, preaching powerfully on the Day of Pentecost, healing a lame man, standing up to the Jewish authorities, confronting Ananias and Sapphira, dealing with Simon the magician, healing Aeneas, raising Dorcas from the dead, and taking the gospel to the Gentiles. In addition, he wrote two epistles that pass on to us all the lessons he learned from Jesus. What a leader!

Peter was as much a model of spiritual leadership in death as he was in life. Jesus told him he would be crucified for God’s glory, and early church tradition tells us that Peter was in fact crucified. But before putting him to death, his executioners forced him to watch the crucifixion of his wife. As he stood at the foot of her cross, he encouraging her by saying over and over, “Remember the Lord, remember the Lord.” When it was time for his own crucifixion, he requested that he be crucified upside-down because he felt unworthy to die as his Lord had died. His request was granted.

Just as God transformed Peter from a brash and impulsive fisherman into a powerful instrument for His glory, so He can transform everyone who is yielded to Him.

You will never be an apostle, but you can have the same depth of character and can know the same joy of serving Christ that Peter knew. There’s no higher calling in the world than to be an instrument of God’s grace. Peter was faithful to that calling. May you be faithful too!


Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for the assurance that He will perfect the work He has begun in you (Phil. 1:6). ✧ Ask Him to use the experiences you have today as instruments that shape you more into the image of Christ.

For Further Study: Read John 21:18–23. ✧ How did Jesus describe Peter’s death? ✧ What was Peter’s reaction to Christ’s announcement? ✧ What misunderstanding was generated by their conversation?[1]

10:2 the names of the twelve apostles. The 12 are always listed in a similar order (cf. Mk 3:16–19; Lk 6:13–16; Ac 1:13). Peter is always named first. The list contains 3 groups of 4. The 3 subgroups are always listed in the same order, and the first name in each subgroup is always the same, though there is some variation in the order within the subgroups—but Judas Iscariot is always named last. Peter … Andrew … James … John. The first subgroup of 4 are the most familiar to us. These two sets of brothers, all fishermen, represent an inner circle of disciples often seen closest to Jesus (see note on 17:1).[2]

10:2 Apostles (plural of Gk. apostolos; used only here in Matthew; see note on Rom. 1:1) describes those commissioned to be Jesus’ special representatives, while “disciples” (Matt. 10:1) was also used more broadly to refer to anyone who believed in Jesus. Peter heads all the lists of the Twelve (cf. Mark 3:16–19; Luke 6:13–16; Acts 1:13) and serves as their spokesman. Peter, along with James and John, made up Jesus’ inner circle.[3]

10:2 apostles. The Gk. word apostolos designates an authorized representative or emissary whose word has the authority of the sender (cf. 2 Cor. 8:23, where it is translated “messengers,” and 2 Cor. 1:1 note). Here the Twelve receive authority to do exactly what Jesus has been doing (vv. 7, 8).[4]

10:2 In the early church an “apostle” (apostolos, Gk.) is a representative of the authority of the risen Lord. The term describes the function of the Twelve (cf. Mark 3:14–19; Luke 6:13–16; John 1:40–49) who are sent out by Jesus. The Twelve made up the body of authoritative leaders in the church. James, the brother of Jesus (Gal. 1:19), Silvanus (1 Thess. 1:1), Andronicus and Junia (Rom. 16:7), Barnabas and Paul (Acts 14:4, 14), and others are designated “apostles,” though not in the same technical sense that the Twelve are. Peter specifies that an apostle must be an eyewitness of Jesus’ life and activity from the time of His baptism to the resurrection/ascension (Acts 1:22).[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 143). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mt 10:2). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1839). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1687). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[5] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Mt 10:2). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light….

JOHN 12:36

One of the marks of our modern time is the fact that many are guilty of merely “nibbling” at the truth of the Christian gospel.

If the cross of Jesus Christ means what it should to us and we know that we must carry it and die on it and then rise and live above it, we will have a constant desire to advance and gain spiritual ground!

The nervous people who want to put on the brakes, who feel the necessity for restraint in matters of spiritual desire and yearning for perfection, often use the expression, “Let’s not get fanatical about this.”

I can only ask: Is it fanaticism to want to go on until you can perfectly love God and perfectly praise Him?

Is it fanatical to find divine joy leaping up within your heart? Is it fanatical to find the willingness within your heart to say, “Yes, Lord! Yes, Lord!” and thus live daily in the will of God so that you are living in heaven while you are living on the earth?

If this is fanaticism, then it is the fanaticism of the Old Testament patriarchs and the Law; it is the fanaticism of the psalmist and of the prophets and the New Testament writers, as well![1]

36 The verb tenses here are instructive: “put your trust” (πιστεύετε, pisteuete, GK 4409; present tense, suggesting a continuous belief) in the light so that “you may become” (γένησθε genēsthe, GK 1181; aorist tense, suggesting a specific point in time) sons of light.[2]

12:36 Again the Lord Jesus warned His listeners to believe on Him while there was still opportunity. By doing so, they would become sons of light. They would be assured of direction through life and into eternity. After speaking these words, the Lord departed from the people and remained in obscurity for a while.[3]

12:36 believe in the light Refers to Jesus as the light of the world (1:4; 8:12).

become sons of light They are united with Jesus in His cause and empowered by Him.[4]

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

[2] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 539). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1539). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jn 12:36). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.


Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves.

2 Corinthians 13:5

Preaching from the pulpit about the Christian “deeper life” does not automatically produce a deeper-life church and congregation. The profession of men and women that they believe in “the deeper Christian life” is no assurance that their fellowship is actually a deeper-life church.

The deeper spiritual life many people say they want is not a message; it is not a sermon; it is not a profession.

I am a pastor and I think I major in telling the truth. It is true that it is about time we stop coddling and apologizing for congregations that have reputations for being deeper-life churches.

The deeper spiritual life is not something just to be talked about. It is a quiet enjoyment of daily blessing and peace and victory that is lived day by day, beyond empty profession and without any two-faced circumstances!

Lord, with Christ living in me, I have the Source of joy and victorious living. Thank You for Your promise of daily blessing and peace. I want more of You, Lord.[1]

Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! (13:5a)

The Corinthians, prompted by the evil insinuations of the false apostles, had demanded proof of Paul’s apostleship. He reluctantly defended himself, not for his own sake, but for the Lord’s, and so the Corinthians would not be cut off from the truth he preached to them. But in this passage, he turned the tables on his accusers and challenged them to test and examine themselves. The Greek text places the pronouns before the verbs for emphasis and literally reads, “Yourselves test to see if you are in the faith; yourselves examine.” Instead of arrogantly and foolishly challenging the genuineness of Paul’s relationship to the Lord, the Corinthians needed to examine the genuineness of their own salvation. The familiar New Testament terms peirazō (test) and dokimazō (examine) are used here as synonyms. They convey the idea of putting something to the test to determine its genuineness. The test was to see if the Corinthians were in the faith. Pistis (faith) refers here not to the subjective element of belief but to the objective body of Christian truth —the Christian faith.

Paul’s call for self-examination was not a new concept. Job cried out to God, “How many are my iniquities and sins? Make known to me my rebellion and my sin” (Job 13:23; cf. 31:4–6). In Psalm 17:3 David declared, “You have tried my heart.… You have tested me and You find nothing.” “Examine me, O Lord, and try me;” he pleaded in Psalm 26:2. “Test my mind and my heart.” In perhaps the most familiar Old Testament example of self-examination David prayed, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way” (Ps. 139:23–24). In Lamentations 3:40 Jeremiah exhorted his fellow Israelites, “Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord,” while the Lord’s challenge to Israel was, “Consider your ways!” (Hag. 1:5, 7). Describing the self-examination that is a prerequisite for participating in the Lord’s Supper, Paul wrote, “A man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.… But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:28, 31).

Like Paul, the writer of Hebrews understood well the danger of self-deception. Some of the people he addressed in his epistle were intellectually convinced of the truth of the gospel but uncommitted to Christ. He called them to examine the danger of that position in a series of warning passages, which show clearly the great risk of being in the church, but not in Christ.

The first of those warnings is in Hebrews 2:1–3:

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard.

The phrase, “for this reason” points the reader back to the majesty and glory of Jesus Christ in expressed in chapter 1. He is revealed as the “heir of all things” (v. 2), the One who “made the world” (v. 2), “the radiance of [God’s] glory and the exact representation of His nature” (v. 3), and the One who “upholds all things by the word of His power” (v. 3). After making “purification of sins” on the cross, Christ rose from the dead and ascended to “the right hand of the Majesty on high” (v. 3). Jesus Christ is superior to the angels (vv. 4–7), since He is God (v. 8), the supreme Ruler of the universe (v. 13), and will judge those who fail to come all the way to faith in Him.

The writer also noted a second reason not to reject the gospel, reminding his readers, “If the word spoken through angels [the Old Testament; cf. Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19] proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?” (Heb. 2:2–3). The Law was given through Moses, but the gospel through Jesus Christ (John 1:17). If those who rejected the Old Testament Law did not escape punishment, how will those who reject the gospel?

Finally, the writer warned his readers that they were accountable because the gospel they had heard “was at the first spoken through the Lord,” then “confirmed to [them] by those who heard [the apostles], God also testifying 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). They could not plead ignorance, having seen the gospel verified by supernatural signs.

Because of the majesty of Christ, the example of what happened to those who rejected the Old Testament Law, and the powerful, miracle-attested preaching of the apostles, those who reject the gospel are without excuse.

A second warning passage comes in Hebrews 3:6–4:2, 6–12:

Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw My works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with this generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways’; as I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, while it is said, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.” For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief. Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard.… Therefore, since it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly had good news preached to them failed to enter because of disobedience, He again fixes a certain day, “Today,” saying through David after so long a time just as has been said before, “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts.” For if Joshua had given them rest, He would not have spoken of another day after that. So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God. For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

The writer reminded his largely Jewish audience of one of the most tragic events in their history. He quoted from Psalm 95, which describes Israel’s unbelief and rebellion in the wilderness after God delivered them from Egypt. Even though they saw His miraculous works on their behalf, many still refused to believe. As a result, God sentenced the unbelieving rebels, who “always [went] astray in their heart, and … did not know [His] ways,” to die in the wilderness and never enter the Promised Land (cf. 1 Cor. 10:1–5). They symbolize those who come near but, because of their sin and unbelief, never enter into the final rest of salvation.

Based on their sobering example, the writer of Hebrews warned his readers, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:12–13), and “Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me” (v. 15). His great “fear” was that “while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of [his readers] may seem to have come short of it” (4:1). Those in the church “have had good news preached to [them], just as [the Israelites in the wilderness] also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard” (v. 2). Hearing the gospel but not coming to faith merely increases a person’s condemnation. Those who are outwardly involved in the church but who through disobedience, love of sin, and unbelief fail to embrace Christ will not enter the eternal rest of heaven. The longer they are exposed to the gospel without committing themselves to it, the harder their hearts will become. “Therefore,” the writer of Hebrews urged his readers, “let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (v. 11).

Perhaps the most familiar of the warning passages in Hebrews is found in 6:4–9:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.

In 6:1 the writer addressed those who were sitting on the fence, who had becoming superficially involved in the church but had not come to faith in Christ. He exhorted them, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity [salvation], not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.” They needed to move beyond the incomplete Old Testament teaching about the coming Messiah, repentance, and faith in God to embrace the fullness of the New Testament gospel of Jesus Christ.

Though they were not saved, they had experienced significant spiritual opportunity. They had been “enlightened” (understood the gospel intellectually), had “tasted of the heavenly gift” (experienced some of the nonsalvation benefits Christ brought; i.e., healing, deliverance from demons), been “made partakers of the Holy Spirit” (either through seeing His miraculous gifts operating in the church or experiencing His convicting of sin, which can be resisted; cf. Acts 7:51), and “tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come” (the miraculous gifts referred to in Heb. 2:4). It should be noted that none of those terms refer anywhere in Scripture to salvation.

These uncommitted people were in a disastrous position. If, after experiencing all of those spiritual benefits, they were to “[fall] away, it [would be] impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” Because they reject the gospel despite having a full understanding of it, such apostates are unredeemable; there is no further revelation to give them. They have rejected with full light.

Using a simple agricultural illustration in verses 7 and 8, the writer pointed out that there are ultimately only two kinds of people in the church. Similar to Jesus’ parable of the sower (Matt. 13:18–23), they are represented by two different types of soil. When the rain, symbolizing the gospel, falls on the good soil (representing true believers), it “brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, [and] receives a blessing from God” (Heb. 6:7). On the other hand, the worthless ground (representing those who hear and understand the gospel but reject it) “yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned” (v. 8).

Hebrews 10:26–31 reiterates the danger facing those who understand the gospel but remain uncommitted to Christ as Lord:

For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge His people.” It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Those who refuse to repent and confess Jesus as Lord will die in their sins despite their knowledge of the gospel. There is no other Savior than Jesus Christ and no other sacrifice for sins. “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).

Those who reject Christ face “a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.” The reference, taken from Isaiah 26:11, is to God’s eternal destruction of His enemies in hell (cf. Matt. 5:22; 18:9; Mark 9:43; Rev. 19:20; 20:14–15; 21:8). If those who broke the Mosaic Law were put to death without mercy, the writer asks, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” The sobering reality is that the greater people’s exposure to the gospel, the more severe their punishment will be if they reject it. To allow them to continue unchallenged in their rejection of the gospel only increases their condemnation. The church, knowing “it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God,” must call them to repentance. It should be remembered by unbelievers that sitting under the preaching of the gospel is high-risk behavior, because rejection intensifies eternal punishment.

A final warning from the writer of Hebrews comes in 10:38–39: “But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.” The righteous, who “live by faith,” are the opposite of apostates, who are devoid of faith. Those who associate themselves outwardly with the church, give intellectual assent to the gospel, yet “shrink back” from a full commitment to Jesus Christ face the terrifying reality of “destruction”—eternal punishment in hell. But the righteous will experience the “preserving of [their] soul” for eternal bliss in heaven (cf. Col. 1:5; 1 Peter 1:4).

Before the storm of divine judgment bursts upon them, people need to examine the foundation of their spiritual life. Only what is built on the bedrock of true saving faith in Jesus Christ will survive (cf. Matt. 7:24–27).[2]

  1. Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith; test yourselves. Or do you not know that Jesus Christ is within you? Unless perhaps you fail the test.
  2. “Examine yourselves to see whether you are living in the faith; test yourselves.” Paul continues with the subject of the preceding verses (vv. 2–4): he stresses self-examination of one’s spiritual life and daily conduct. The last phrase in verse 4, “to serve you,” forms the bridge between the preceding and the present text.

With two imperative verbs, “examine” and “test,” the apostle emphatically instructs his readers to undertake the crucial task of introspection. In the Greek, moreover, the personal pronoun yourselves precedes both imperatives for emphasis and is part of the commands. Paul, then, turns the matter on its head with respect to the Corinthians. They questioned whether Christ speaks through him, but he tells them to examine their own hearts to see whether Christ is living within them. They desire to find out whether Paul’s credentials are genuine. But Paul matches this inquiry with an injunction for them to see if their own lives are authentic. He wants the readers to clean their spiritual houses before he arrives in Corinth, so that both they and he can enjoy peaceful and edifying relations.

Paul asks whether the readers are in the faith and indicates his confidence that they indeed are believers. The expression in the faith appears four times in the Greek text of the New Testament epistolary (1 Cor. 16:13; 2 Cor. 13:5; Titus 1:13; 2 Peter 1:5). Paul is not referring to objective faith that is rooted in doctrine but to subjective trust in Jesus Christ. He has in mind the living faith of a believer who faithfully walks in the footsteps of the Lord and communes with him in prayer.

True faith is active and constantly forces Christians to test themselves to see whether Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit lives in their hearts. True faith testifies to intimate fellowship with the Father and his Son (1 John 1:3).

  1. “Or do you not know that Jesus Christ is within you? Unless perhaps you fail the test.” The question Paul asks the Corinthians is rhetorical, and from them he expects an affirmative answer. The first word (“or”) links the question to the preceding two clauses with imperative verbs. Having obeyed the commands, the readers are now asked to respond to the query whether Jesus Christ is living within them. We may call this question “a direct appeal to the consciousness of [Paul’s] readers.” If they know that the Lord lives and dwells within their hearts, they consequently want to exalt him, do his will, and forsake evil.

The phrase Jesus Christ within you probably is a saying that originated with Jesus, who in his farewell discourse said to his disciples, “You will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you” (John 14:20). Because the words appear more than once in Paul’s epistles, we surmise that this phrase was a current saying in the early Christian church. No doubt Paul cites it here as a well-known formula.

Paul makes a last comment, a declarative clause that borders on a rhetorical question requiring a negative response. His emphasis in this paragraph is on testing; for the Corinthians, he poses the possibility of failing the test. He knows that they are able to pass it, yet he wants them to contemplate the consequences of failure. Failure leads to hardening of the heart, and hardening of the heart to spiritual death.

Practical Considerations in 13:5

Churches with roots in the Reformation exhort their members to prepare themselves spiritually before coming to the communion table. They follow Paul’s instruction not to come to the table in an unworthy manner but to examine themselves before they eat the bread and drink of the cup. If they fail to come prepared, they invoke God’s judgment upon themselves (1 Cor. 11:27–29).

We should not only prepare ourselves before celebrating the Lord’s Supper, but also continually test our actions, words, and inclinations (compare Gal. 6:5). Human weakness, however, often causes us to underestimate the danger of failing to test ourselves. If failure occurs, our laxity turns into backsliding. Backsliding is characterized by failing to pray, to obey the message of Scripture, to worship, and to associate with fellow believers on the Lord’s Day. It is a sad commentary on the church when corporate responsibility for oversight is lacking (Heb. 3:12–13; 4:1, 11; James 5:19–20). As a consequence, countless Christians gradually drift away from the Lord and, after some time passes, they no longer have fellowship with him. Every believer must give an answer to the question whether he or she is in the faith.

If I ask the question, “What does it mean to me to be in the faith?” I answer:

I belong to Jesus Christ in this life and in the life to come;

I dedicate my whole being to him as his faithful servant;

I present my heart to him promptly and sincerely;

I oppose sin and the works of the evil one;

I long to be eternally with Jesus.[3]

5 Rather than “demanding proof” (dokimē, GK 1509) that Christ was speaking through Paul (v. 3), the Corinthians ought to be examining and “testing” (dokimazō, GK 1507) their own selves to find out whether they were continuing true to the faith. The repeated heautous (“yourselves”) is in each case emphatic by position. Then Paul asks in effect, “Don’t you know yourselves [heautous] sufficiently well to recognize that Christ Jesus lives within each of you [cf. Ro 8:9–10] and in your midst [cf. 2 Co 12:3] and that therefore you must continue true to the faith as it is embodied in me and my gospel?” Although he adds as an ironical aside or hypothetical modification (see BDF, para. 376), “unless, of course, you fail the test [adokimoi, GK 99],” he does not believe the Corinthians are counterfeit and knows that they are unlikely to form such a conclusion about themselves. Yet we must allow, with J. M. Gundry-Volf (see note at 6:1), a possible allusion in this parenthetical aside to some Corinthians who needed to be exposed as falsely professing Christians.[4]

13:5 This verse connects with the first part of verse 3 as follows: “Since you seek a proof of Christ speaking in me … examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.” They themselves were the proof of his apostleship. It was through him that they were led to the Savior. If they wanted to see his credentials, they should look at themselves.

Verse 5 is often misused to teach that we should look within ourselves for assurance of salvation, but this could lead to discouragement and doubt. Assurance of salvation comes first and foremost through the word of God. The moment we trust Christ we can know on the authority of the Bible that we have been born again. As time goes on, we do find other evidences of the new life—a new love for holiness, a new hatred of sin, love of the brethren, practical righteousness, obedience, and separation from the world.

But Paul is not telling the Corinthians to engage in self-examination as a proof of their salvation. Rather he is asking them to find in their salvation a proof of his apostleship.

There were only two possibilities: either Jesus Christ was in them, or they were disqualified, spurious. The word translated disqualified was used to describe metals which, when tested, were found to be false. So the Corinthians were either true believers, or they were disqualified by failure to pass the test.[5]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 460–465). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 19, pp. 450–451). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Harris, M. J. (2008). 2 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 541–542). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1869). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 10 – Wrong Reason for Prayer

When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.—Matt. 6:5

Over the centuries, various questionable practices and attitudes have affected the prayer life of God’s people—ritualization, prescription prayers, limitations of time and place, the love of long prayers, and meaningless repetitions. But the worst fault was when God’s people prayed mainly to be noticed by others, especially by fellow Jews. This fault was inherently sinful because it originated from and helped intensify pride. Such an evil, self-glorifying motive was and is the ultimate perversion of God’s gift of prayer, which is intended to glorify Him (cf. John 14:13) and express our dependence on His grace.

Prayer that focuses on self is always hypocritical; it stands in sharp contrast to true prayer, which focuses on God. Hypocrites are simply actors, persons playing a role, as the Greeks did on stage with their large masks. What such persons do and say is seldom sincere, but merely designed to create an image.

The scribes and Pharisees’ prayers served the same purpose as so many of their activities—to draw praise and honor to themselves. This is the type of righteousness that has no place in the kingdom of God (cf. Matt. 5:20).

The more sacred something is, such as prayer, the more Satan wants to profane it. And one way to do that is to inject pride and self-centeredness into prayer—to get believers to pray as the Pharisees did. So if you pray to be impressive to fellow believers, you are praying for the wrong reason.

What should be the tone and purpose of public prayer? Should it be any different from your private interactions with God? What could you do to help make sure you’re addressing God and not your audience?[1]

The Audience of Prayer

The False Audience: Other Men

And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. (6:5)

No religion has ever had a higher standard and priority for prayer than Judaism. As God’s chosen people the Jews were the recipients of His written Word, “entrusted with the oracles of God” (Rom. 3:2). God spoke directly to Abraham and to many of his descendants, and they had spoken directly to Him. No other people, as a race or as a nation, has ever been so favored by God or had such direct communication with Him. Of all people, they should have known how to pray. But they did not. Like every other aspect of their religious life, their praying had been corrupted and perverted by rabbinic tradition. Most Jews were completely confused about how to pray as God wanted.

William Barclay, in a most helpful discussion of this passage in The Gospel of Matthew ([Philadelphia: Westminster, 1958], 1:191), points out that over the years a number of faults had crept into Jewish prayer life. For one thing, prayer had become ritualized. The wording and forms of prayers were set, and were then simply read or repeated from memory. Such prayers could be given with almost no attention being paid to what was said. They were a routine, semiconscious religious exercise.

A faithful Jew would repeat the Shema early in the morning and again at night. That prayer, which began, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,” was a composite of selected phrases from Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13–21 and Numbers 15:37–41. Often an abbreviated version (Deut. 6:4 only) was used.

Another formalized prayer Barclay refers to was the Shemonēh ˓esray, (“The Eighteen”), which embodied eighteen prayers for various occasions. Faithful Jews prayed all eighteen each morning, afternoon, and evening. It, too, had an abbreviated version.

Both the Shema and the Shemonēh ˓esray were to be said every day, regardless of where one might be or what one was doing. Wherever one was-whether at home, in the field, at work, on a journey, in the synagogue, or visiting friends-at the appointed time the devout Jew stopped what he was doing and offered the appropriate prayer. The most common times were at the third, sixth, and ninth hours (9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 3:00 p.m., according to the Palestinian mode of time).

The ritual prayers could be given with three basic attitudes: sincerity, indifference, or pride. Those Jews whose hearts were right used the times of prayer to worship and glorify God. They thought about the words and sincerely believed what they prayed. Others went through the words perfunctorily, mumbling the syllables as fast as possible in order to finish. Others, such as the scribes and Pharisees, recited the prayers meticulously, making sure to enunciate every word and syllable properly. Three times a day they had a ready-made opportunity to parade their piosity.

A second fault that had crept into Jewish prayer life was the development of prescribed prayers for every object and every occasion. There were prayers for light, darkness, fire, rain, the new moon, traveling, good news, bad news, and so on. No doubt the original intent was to bring every aspect of life into the presence of God; but by making the prayers prescribed and formalized that purpose was undermined.

A third fault, already mentioned, was the practice of limiting prayer to specific times and occasions. Prayer was offered when the given time came or situation arose, with no relation to genuine desire or need. As with prescribed wording, prescribed times did not prevent true prayer from being offered. Many faithful Jews like Daniel (Dan. 6:10) used those times as reminders to open their hearts to the Lord. Even in the early church, because most Christians were Jews and still worshiped at the Temple and in the synagogues, the traditional hours of prayer were often observed (see Acts 3:1; cf. 10:3, 30).

A fourth fault was in esteeming long prayers, believing that a prayer’s sanctity and effectiveness were in direct proportion to its length. Jesus warned of the scribes who, “for appearance’s sake offer long prayers” (Mark 12:40). A long prayer, of course, is not necessarily an insincere prayer. But a long public prayer lends itself to pretense, repetition, rote, and many other such dangers. The fault is in praying “for appearance’s sake,” to impress others with our religiosity.

Ancient rabbis maintained that the longer the prayer, the more likely it would be heard and heeded by God. Verbosity was confused with meaning, and length was confused with sincerity.

A fifth fault, singled out by Jesus in Matthew 6:7, was that of meaningless repetitions, patterned after those of pagan religions. In their contest with Elijah on Mt. Carmel, the pagan prophets “called on the name of Baal from morning until noon saying, ‘O Baal, answer us,’ ” and they “raved until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice” (1 Kings 18:26, 29). Hour after hour they repeated the same phrase, trying by the very quantity of their words to make their god hear and respond.

Through the centuries the Jews had been influenced by such pagan practices. They often added adjective after adjective before God’s name in their prayers, apparently trying to outdo one another in mentioning His divine attributes.

By far the worst fault, however, was that of wanting to be seen and heard by other people, especially their fellow Jews. Most of the other faults were not necessarily wrong in themselves, but were carried to extremes and used in meaningless ways. But this fault was intrinsically evil, because it both came from and was intended to satisfy pride. Whatever form the prayer may have taken, the motive was sinful self-glory, the ultimate perversion of this sacred means of glorifying God (John 14:13).

It is that despicable fault that Jesus zeroes in on. And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites. Prayer that focuses on self is always hypocritical, because, by definition, the focus of every prayer should be on God. As mentioned in the last chapter, the term hypocrite originally referred to actors who used large masks to portray the roles they were playing. Hypocrites are actors, pretenders, persons who play a role. What they say and do does not represent what they themselves feel or believe but only the image they hope to create.

The hypocritical scribes and Pharisees prayed for the same purpose they did everything else-to attract attention and bring honor to themselves. That was the essence of their “righteousness,” which Jesus said had no part in His kingdom (5:20).

An old commentator observed that the greatest danger to religion is that the old self simply becomes religious. The hypocrites of whom Jesus speaks had convinced themselves that by performing certain religious acts, including various types of prayer, they became acceptable to God. People today still deceive themselves into thinking they are Christians, when all they have done is dress their old nature in religious trappings.

Nothing is so sacred that Satan will not invade it. In fact, the more sacred something is, the more he desires to profane it. Surely few things please him more than to come between believers and their Lord in the sacred intimacy of prayer. Sin will follow us into the very presence of God; and no sin is more powerful or destructive than pride. In those moments when we would come before the Lord in worship and purity of heart, we may be tempted to worship ourselves.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones writes,

We tend to think of sin as we see it in rags and in the gutters of life. We look at a drunkard, poor fellow, and we say, there is sin. But that is not the essence of sin. To have a real picture and a true understanding of sin, you must look at some great saint, some unusually devout and devoted man, look at him there on his knees in the very presence of God. Even there self is intruding itself, and the temptation is for him to think about himself, to think pleasantly and pleasurably about himself and to really be worshiping himself rather than God. That, not the other, is the true picture of sin. The other is sin, of course, but there you do not see it at its acme, you do not see it in its essence. Or to put it in another form, if you really want to understand something about the nature of Satan and his activities, the thing to do is not to go to the dregs or the gutters of life. If you really want to know something about Satan, go away to that wilderness where our Lord spent forty days and forty nights. That’s the true picture of Satan, where you see him tempting the very Son of God. (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977], 2:22–23)

From what we know in the scriptural record, Jesus’ two most intense times of spiritual opposition were during His forty days of solitude in the wilderness and during His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night He was betrayed and arrested. On both occasions He was alone praying to His Father. It was in the most private and holy place of communion that Satan presented his strongest temptations before the Son of God.

The hypocrites loved to stand and pray. Standing was a normal position for prayer among the Jews. In the Old Testament we see God’s faithful praying while kneeling, while lying prostrate, and while standing. In New Testament times standing was the most common position and did not necessarily indicate a desire to be noticed.

The synagogues were the most appropriate and likely places for public prayers to be offered. It was the place where Jews worshiped most often, especially those who lived great distances from the Temple. The synagogue was the local place of assembly, not only for worship but for various civic and social gatherings. If done sincerely, prayer at any of those functions was appropriate.

The street corners were also a normal place for prayer, because devout Jews would stop wherever they were at the appointed hour for prayer, even if they were walking down the street or visiting at the corner. But the word used here for street is not the same as that in verse 2, which refers to a narrow street (rhumē). The word used here (plateia) refers to a wide, major street, and therefore to a major street corner, where a crowd was most likely to be. The implied fault here is that the hypocrites loved to pray where they would have the largest audience. There was nothing wrong with praying at a major intersection if that was where you happened to be at the time for prayer. But something was very much wrong if you planned to be there at prayer time for the specific purpose of praying where the most people could see you.

The real evil of those hypocritical worshipers, whether in the synagogues or on the street corners, was the desire to display themselves in order to be seen of men. It was not wrong to pray in those places, but they happened to afford the largest audiences, and were therefore the places where the hypocrites preferred to pray.

As always, the sin began in the heart. It was pride, the desire to exalt themselves before their fellow Jews, that was the root of the sin. Like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable, those hypocrites ended up praying to themselves (see Luke 18:11) and before other people. God had no part.

Some overly reactionary believers have used these warnings of Jesus as a reason to renounce all public prayer. But the Lord taught no such thing. He Himself often prayed in the presence of His disciples (Luke 11:1) and in public, as when He blessed food before feeding the multitudes (Matt. 14:19). Scripture records many public prayers that were entirely appropriate and sincere. At the dedication of the Temple, Solomon prayed an extended, detailed prayer before all the priests, Levites, and leaders of Israel (2 Chron. 6:1–42; cf. 5:2–7). When, under Ezra’s leadership, the covenant was renewed after the Exile, a group of eight Levites offered a heartfelt, moving prayer of repentance before all the people (Neh. 9:5–38). After Peter and John were arrested, questioned, and then released by the Sanhedrin shortly after Pentecost, the whole group of their companions rejoiced and “lifted their voices to God with one accord” (Acts 4:24).

But the public prayers of the typical scribe or Pharisee were ritualistic, mechanical, inordinately long, repetitious, and above all ostentatious. Like the hypocrites who gave for the sake of men’s praise (Matt. 6:2), those who prayed for the sake of men’s praise also had their reward in full. They were concerned only about the reward men could give, and that is all the reward they received.[2]

5 Again Jesus assumes that his disciples will pray, but he forbids the prayers of “hypocrites” (see comments at v. 2). Prayer had a prominent place in Jewish life and led to countless rabbinic decisions (cf. m. Ber.). In synagogue worship, someone from the congregation might be asked to pray publicly, standing in front of the ark. And at certain times prayers could be offered in the streets (m. Taʿan. 2:1–2; see comments at v. 2). But the location was not the critical factor. Neither is the “standing” posture in itself significant. In the Bible people pray prostrate (Nu 16:22; Jos 5:14; Da 8:17; Mt 26:39; Rev 11:16), kneeling (2 Ch 6:13; Da 6:10; Lk 22:41, Ac 7:60; 9:40; 20:36; 21:5), sitting (2 Sa 7:18), and standing (1 Sa 1:26; Mk 11:25; Lk 18:11, 13). Again it is the motive that is crucial—“to be seen by men.” And again there is the same reward (cf. Mt 6:2 and 5).[3]

6:5 Next Jesus warns His disciples against hypocrisy when they pray. They should not purposely position themselves in public areas so that others will see them praying and be impressed by their piety. If the love for prominence is the only motive in prayer, then, Jesus declares, the prominence gained is the only reward.[4]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 139). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 362–366). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 199). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1224). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

—Psalm 104:24

You may find this hard to believe, but God is just as far above an archangel as he is above a caterpillar. You know what a caterpillar is—it’s a little worm the size of your finger, with a fur coat. And of course, it’s not a very high-class thing. It’s never been out in society. It doesn’t amount to much—it’s just a worm. And you have to watch it very carefully to know whether it’s traveling west or east, because it looks the same all the way around. That’s a caterpillar.

An archangel, on the other hand, is that holy creature that we see beside the sea of God, in the presence of God’s throne. That mighty creature is a little higher than the angels, just as man was made for a time a little lower. That being can look upon the face of God with unveiled countenance. This is the archangel. It never was in sin, and no one knows how vast it might be. And yet God is just as far above that archangel as He is above the caterpillar.

Why? Because both the archangel and the caterpillar are creatures. And God is the uncreated One who had no beginning, the self-existent One who was never created, but who was simply God, who made all things. AOGII036-037

Lord, how awesome it is that You are infinitely far above me and yet You love me! I worship Your majesty and rest in Your love. Amen. [1]

104:24 wisdom The Hebrew word used here, chokhmah—meaning “skill,” “experience,” and “shrewdness”—is often used of human wisdom. Yahweh’s chokhmah is marked by His insight and foresight.[2]

104:24 In wisdom. See notes on Prov. 8:22–31. The divine answer to Job (Job 38–41) contains many examples of God’s wisdom in creation.[3]

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

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 104:24). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 953). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

May 10 – Trials’ Lessons: True Comfort

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort; who comforts us in all our affliction so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

2 Corinthians 1:3–4


God entrusts comfort to us, often through trials, so that we may comfort others.

The nation of Ireland is nicknamed the “Emerald Isle” for good reason—it contains some of the greenest countryside of any location on earth. In visiting there I have noticed that abundant mist and fog, which often shroud the rolling landscape, help produce the rich green grass and trees. That phenomenon is much like the Christian life. Many times when our life is obscured by the sufferings and sorrows of trials, it has a refreshing beauty of soul that is not always readily seen. As the apostle Paul’s life demonstrates, sensitive and merciful hearts are the products of great trials.

Difficulties beset us so that God might bestow much comfort on us. But such comfort is not merely for our own benefit. The Lord entrusts His comfort to us that we might share it with others, as verse 4 of today’s passage indicates. And He comforts us in direct proportion to the number of trials we endure, which means the more we suffer, the more God comforts us; and the more He comforts us, the more we can comfort others who are hurting.

When we do experience real comfort in the wake of a trial, perhaps the most precious result is the sense of Christian partnership we feel. If God’s comfort helps us to comfort others, then it’s clear that other believers are positively affected by what we learn from our trials. The entire process lifts us beyond ourselves and shows us that as part of a local fellowship or the greater Body of Christ we are not alone and do not have to undergo various trials in a vacuum.

The comfort we receive and the sense of partnership that results is a great incentive for any of us to be encouraged through trials and sufferings, knowing that such experiences enable us to minister as integral parts of the Body of Christ (see 1 Cor. 12:26; 2 Cor. 1:6–7).


Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His unlimited supply of comfort.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 40:1; 49:13; 51:3; 61:2. What promise does each verse have in common?[1]

The Person of Comfort

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, (1:3)

After the salutation Paul began the body of his epistle with the affirmation that God is to be blessed. Eulogētos (blessed) is the root of the English word “eulogy” and literally means, “to speak well of.” The Old Testament frequently refers to God as the “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” (e.g., Ex. 3:6, 15, 16; 4:5; 1 Kings 18:36; 1 Chron. 29:18; 2 Chron. 30:6). But the New Testament identifies Him as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 11:31; Rom. 15:6; Eph. 1:3, 17; 1 Peter 1:3), since “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Heb. 1:1–2).

Unlike Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the Old Testament prophets, Jesus Christ is the same essence as the Father; “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus shocked and outraged the Jewish authorities by boldly declaring, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). To His equally obtuse disciples Jesus stated plainly, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Paul wrote to the Philippians that Jesus “existed in the form of God” (Phil. 2:6), and to the Colossians, “He is the image of the invisible God” (Col. 1:15) and, “In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (Col. 2:9). The New Testament teaching that Jesus is God in human flesh is the central truth of the gospel (cf. John 1:1; 5:17–18; 8:58; 20:28; Rom. 9:5; Titus 2:13; Heb. 1:8; 2 Peter 1:1; 1 John 5:20), and those who reject it cannot be saved (John 8:24).

Some may wonder why, since they are fully equal, the Father is referred to as the God … of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Mark 15:34; John 20:17). In His deity Jesus is fully equal to the Father, but in His humanity He submitted to Him. Paul’s statement reflects Jesus’ submission to the Father during the Incarnation (cf. John 14:28), when He voluntarily gave up the independent use of His divine attributes (Phil. 2:6–7; cf. Matt. 24:36).

The title Lord Jesus Christ summarizes all of His redemptive work. Lord describes His sovereign deity; Jesus (the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew name Yeshua; “God saves”) describes His saving death and resurrection; Christ (“anointed one”) describes Him as the King who will defeat God’s enemies and rule over the redeemed earth and the eternal state.

Paul further described God using two Old Testament titles. He is the Father of mercies to those who seek Him. Faced with a choice of punishments, David said to Gad, “Let us now fall into the hand of the Lord for His mercies are great” (2 Sam. 24:14). In Psalm 86:15 he wrote, “But You, O Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness and truth.” “The Lord is compassionate and gracious,” he added in Psalm 103:8, “slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.” Later in that same psalm David further praised God’s mercy, compassion, and lovingkindness: “Just as a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him.… The lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him” (vv. 13, 17). The prophet Micah described God’s mercy and compassion in forgiving sins:

Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. (Mic. 7:18–19)

The New Testament also reveals God’s mercy. Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, spoke of “the tender mercy of our God, with which the Sunrise from on high will visit us” (Luke 1:78). To the Romans Paul wrote, “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship” (Rom. 12:1). Later in that epistle he declared that “the Gentiles [would] glorify God for His mercy (Rom. 15:9). In Ephesians 2:4 he described God as “being rich in mercy.” It was “His great mercy [that] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3).

The Old Testament also reveals God to be the God of all comfort. In Isaiah God said of suffering Israel, “ ‘Comfort, O comfort My people,’ says your God” (Isa. 40:1). In Isaiah 49:13 the prophet exulted, “Shout for joy, O heavens! And rejoice, O earth! Break forth into joyful shouting, O mountains! For the Lord has comforted His people and will have compassion on His afflicted.” “Indeed,” he confidently asserts, “the Lord will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and sound of a melody” (Isa. 51:3; cf. 52:9; 66:13).

In the New Testament Jesus promised, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). To the Thessalonians Paul wrote, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word” (2 Thess. 2:16–17).

Paul had experienced much pain, suffering, and heartbreak, particularly because of the false teachers at Corinth. They slandered his character to discredit him in the minds of the people and, even more painful to the apostle, sought to deceive the Corinthian church with lies about the gospel. But in God’s merciful comforting of him he received the strength he needed to carry on. For that Paul was deeply grateful and blessed God.

The Promise of Comfort

who comforts us in all our affliction (1:4a)

God comforts His people not only because He is by nature a merciful comforter but also because He has promised to comfort them. The Lord is a “friend [who] loves at all times” (Prov. 17:17); “a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Prov. 18:24), who promised, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5; cf. Deut. 31:6, 8; Ps. 37:28; Isa. 41:10).

The apostle Paul knew this blessed truth not only by divine revelation but also from his experience. Later in this epistle he wrote, “But God, who comforts the depressed, comforted us by the coming of Titus” (2 Cor. 7:6). In Romans 8:31–39 he wrote,

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For your sake we are being put to death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Having paid the ultimate price to redeem believers, the death of His Son, God will be with them to love, strengthen, protect, and comfort them in every extremity. Paul previously had reminded the Corinthians, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). To the Philippians he wrote, “He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). It is God’s sovereign plan to be with His children and comfort them.

Affliction translates the Greek word thlipsis, which literally means, “pressure.” Throughout all the stress, persecution, and trials he experienced in his turbulent life, Paul experienced God’s comforting, strengthening presence. The apostle’s life was thus an amazing juxtaposition of affliction and comfort, a seeming paradox he expressed later in this letter:

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves; we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. (4:7–11)

Because God constantly comforted and protected him, Paul was indestructible until the time came in God’s sovereign plan for him to die. Though his enemies repeatedly tried to kill him (cf. Acts 9:23; 14:19; 20:3; 21:30–31; 23:12–13), they were unsuccessful, because “there is no wisdom and no understanding and no counsel against the Lord” (Prov. 21:30). The promise to all believers is that God will faithfully sustain and strengthen them as long as they are obedient to His will, until His appointed time to bring them to Himself.[2]

  1. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.
  2. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

After the initial greeting, Paul bursts out in joyful praise with a Jewish benediction: blessed be the God. This is a liturgical formula frequently uttered by God’s people in worshipful praise and prayer. Doxologies in the five books in the Psalter, for instance, direct praises to God (Ps. 41:13 [40:14]; 72:19 [71:18]; 89:52 [88:53]; 106:48 [105:48]; 150:6). Paul voices a blessing or a eulogy that is identical to any Jewish benediction addressed to God (compare Luke 1:68). In nearly all his epistles, he utters praises and thanksgiving directed to God on behalf of the addressees. In verse 3, Paul expresses a benediction in which he urges the people to praise and to thank God (see Rom. 1:25; 9:5; 2 Cor. 11:31; Eph. 1:3; and 1 Peter 1:3). The expression blessed be the God is in the passive voice; the passive connotes that the agent, the Christian community, together with Paul, blesses God the Father.

Paul links the Christian formula of our Lord Jesus Christ to the nouns God and Father. R. C. H. Lenski interprets this correlation as follows: “For Jesus in his human nature God is God, and for Jesus in his deity God is his Father; his God since the incarnation, his Father from all eternity.”11 Moreover, through Jesus Christ all believers may freely address God as God and Father. On Easter Sunday Jesus instructed Mary Magdalene to tell the disciples: “I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God” (John 20:17). Amplifying a familiar Jewish blessing with a Christian formula, Paul invites the recipients of his epistle to join him in praising God the Father.

  1. “The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.” The two nouns God and Father are now reversed and supplied with descriptive modifiers. With the phrases Father of compassion and God of all comfort, Paul alludes to the Scriptures (Ps. 103:13, 17; Isa. 51:12; 66:13) and to a Jewish liturgical prayer, Ahabah Rabbah, offered in synagogue worship services. He stresses the love of the Father, who, by granting mercy to his erring children, sets them free.

Compassion is God’s love that seeks out, extends to, and transforms the sinner. Out of compassion flows God’s comforting love. God has tender love for those who are hurting and he comforts them in their hour of need. Notice that Paul writes “the God of all comfort.” This means that God is always ready to comfort those people who call on him. Whatever the hardships may be, God proves to be near to his saints and reassures them with his all-encompassing support (compare Rom. 15:5; 1 Cor. 10:13).

A last remark: The two phrases the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort fittingly introduce Paul’s discussion on comfort, trouble, hardship, and deliverance (vv. 4–11).

  1. He comforts us in all our affliction to enable us to comfort those in any kind of affliction through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
  2. “He comforts us in all our affliction.” Paul notes that the God of all comfort continually comforts him and all others who are suffering. Paul uses the first person plural pronoun three times in this verse. Does he employ the pronoun editorially? Is he referring to himself and his co-workers, including the recipients of this epistle? Although scholars present arguments that support either position, the immediate context is determinative. It points to Paul’s sufferings in the province of Asia (1:8–9; compare also 11:23–29). Thus we assume that the apostle is speaking primarily about himself. Nonetheless, we surmise that at times the Corinthian believers, like those in Macedonia, especially Thessalonica, faced suffering for the sake of Christ (see 8:2; 1 Thess. 2:14; 3:3). Following Jesus Christ inevitably elicits suffering for him in some form or other. A more inclusive use of the personal pronoun, therefore, cannot be ruled out. And this fact is evident from the second part of this verse.
  3. “To enable us to comfort those in any kind of affliction.” If anyone could empathize with Christians who had to endure affliction, it was Paul himself. He had experienced and continued to experience hardships because of his calling to proclaim Christ Jesus. He and Barnabas strengthened the churches of Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch and instructed the Christians to remain true to Christ. They said, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).

With the words in any kind of, which translate the Greek pas (all), Paul uses an expression that covers any and every affliction the Corinthians may encounter. He is able to testify that affliction produces perseverance, character, and hope (Rom. 5:3). He has learned that allowing affliction in the lives of believers is part of God’s design to save sinners. Paul knows that God not only comforts and sustains him in his distress, but also gives him both the ability and the task to comfort others who suffer hardship.

  1. “Through the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” In the last part of this verse Paul draws a parallel with the love of God. That is, as recipients of God’s love we are obliged to lose our fellow men. Similarly, the comfort we receive in our affliction must be extended in turn to fellow believers who also endure difficulties. By being encouragers we are able to help effectively those around us when we ourselves have been recipients of God’s comforting care. This text, then, speaks of the corporate responsibility we have toward our fellow men.[3]

1:3 From verse 3 through verse 11, the apostle bursts forth into thanksgiving for the comfort that has come to him in the midst of his distress and affliction. Undoubtedly, the comfort was the good news which Titus had brought to him in Macedonia. The apostle then goes on to show that whether he is afflicted or comforted, all turns out for the eventual good of the believers to whom he ministers. The thanksgiving is addressed to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is the full title of God in the NT. No longer is He addressed as the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, or the God of Jacob. Now He is the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. This name, incidentally, implies the great truth that the Lord Jesus is both God and Man. God is the God of our Lord Jesus Christ; this refers to His relation to Jesus, the Son of Man. But God is also the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; this refers to His relationship to Christ, the Son of God. In addition, God is described as the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. It is from Him that all mercies and comforts flow.

1:4 In all Paul’s afflictions, he was conscious of God’s comforting presence. Here he gives one of the many reasons why God comforted him. It was so that he in turn might be able to comfort others with the very same comfort with which he was comforted by God. To us, the word “comfort” usually means consolation in time of sorrow. But as it is used in the NT, it has a wider meaning. It refers to the encouragement and exhortation that come to us from one who is beside us in time of need. There is a practical lesson in this verse for us all. We should remember when we are comforted that we should seek to pass on this comfort to others. We should not avoid the sick room or the house of death, but rather fly to the side of any who are in need of our encouragement. We are not comforted to be comfortable but to be comforters.[4]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 18–22). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 19, pp. 41–43). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1820). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 10 – Maximum Effort

I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.

Philippians 3:12

Spiritual growth is not an intermittent exercise—it should be all consuming. In fact, the Greek word for “press on” was used to describe a sprinter and speaks of an aggressive, energetic endeavor. Paul was running with all his might, straining every spiritual muscle to win the prize (cf. 1 Cor. 9:24–27). He also said we’re to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12)

This perspective was not limited to Paul. The author of Hebrews wrote, “Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us” (Heb. 12:1).

Our lifelong pursuit is to be like Christ. Running that race takes maximum effort using the means of grace God has provided for us.[1]

Pursuing the Prize Requires a Maximum Effort

but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. (3:12b)

True believers will not pursue the prize of spiritual perfection until they recognize the need to improve their condition, but awareness of the need is not enough; there must also be a diligent pursuit. I press on means “to run” or “follow after.” It speaks of an aggressive, energetic endeavor. Paul pursued the spiritual prize with all his might, straining every spiritual muscle as he ran to win (1 Cor. 9:24).

The “let go and let God” mentality was foreign to Paul. He was totally dependent on God’s power working in his life (2 Cor. 12:9; Col. 1:29). Yet he also described the Christian life as “labor and striving” (Col. 1:29), and “the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12; cf. 2 Tim. 4:7). He taught that “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22), and repeatedly stressed the inevitability of suffering in the Christian life (e.g., Rom. 8:17; 1 Thess. 3:4; 2 Tim. 1:8; 3:12).

The somewhat enigmatic phrase so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus states the goal of Paul’s strenuous efforts. The verb translated I may lay hold of; I was laid hold of could be translated “to overtake,” “seize,” or “catch.” Paul was running spiritually to catch the very thing for which Christ Jesus had come after him. In other words, Paul’s goal in life was consistent with Christ’s goal in saving him.

What was Christ’s goal in saving Paul? The apostle stated it in Romans 8:29: “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren.” God chose Paul, as He did all believers, to make him like Jesus Christ. That purpose for which God saved us is also the purpose for which we live. “It was for this He called you through our gospel,” wrote Paul to the Thessalonians, “that you may gain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 2:14). The Christian life is a life-long pursuit of Christlikeness. That was the Lord’s goal in saving Paul and was his goal in response.[2]

Following the Living Christ

Philippians 3:12

Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

I am not sure what humorist it was who first defined an ideal as “something that everyone is expected to honor but nobody is expected to attain,” but many people think of Christian discipleship in this way. That is unfortunate. The goals of discipleship are not unattainable ideals, and the Bible does not allow us to escape the demands of Christian discipleship by the excuse that the standards of that calling are too high.

Our study of Philippians has already brought us to two verses that were an expression of Paul’s great and lifelong desire to know Jesus Christ. He wrote of his desire to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (3:10). Paul lived this desire. But as he wrote these words the great apostle must have realized that there would be some among his readers at Philippi, as there are today also, who would dismiss them as something that no Christian could possibly be expected to accomplish. They would admit that the ideal was a good one, but they would call it totally unpractical.

Paul does not allow this kind of thinking to continue. He immediately adds that although even he has not realized the goal in its entirety, he is still trying; and we must understand him to imply that his readers should be trying also. He writes, “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12).

Paul’s confession is not only a statement of the demands of Christian discipleship; it is also an announcement of the principles by which this calling should be realized. First, Paul acknowledges that he was called by Christ Jesus. Second, he notes that God had a purpose in calling him. Third, he acknowledges that this puts an obligation on himself—the obligation to follow after Jesus. If you and I are to be disciples, these principles must also be a part of our goals and Christian understanding.

The God of Beginnings

It is very important to recognize that all discipleship begins with God’s call or, as Paul says, with being taken hold of by Christ Jesus. God’s call must be foremost, for nothing can take place spiritually in a person’s life until this happens. Actually, it involves the creation of spiritual life. It would be foolish for a person to enter a funeral home to encourage the corpses to lead an upright life. If the words were to have any purpose, the corpses would first have to be made alive. In the same way, the call to discipleship must begin with the power of God to make a spiritually dead person alive, for only then are the standards of that calling significant.

This is what the new birth means. Before conversion God says that a person is dead in his trespasses and sins. The person is alive physically and intellectually, but he is not alive spiritually. Thus, he cannot respond to spiritual stimuli. While he is in this state the Word of God is a hidden book to him, and the gospel of Jesus Christ is nonsense. Then God touches his life. God’s touch brings life out of death, the life of the spirit, and the person then believes in Jesus Christ and begins to understand the Bible. This is what it means to be taken hold of by God. This must happen first before there can be any true discipleship. Jesus said, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last” (John 15:16).

We find examples of this throughout the Bible. Abraham was taken hold of by God. Did Abraham choose God? Oh, no! He was perfectly satisfied where he was in the Mesopotamian river valley in a pagan culture, but God called him and sent him on his way to Palestine.

Moses was taken hold of by God when he was still a baby floating in the Nile in a basket. God said, “I am going to deliver my people from Egypt, and I am going to do it by means of this baby. I am going to protect him from Pharaoh. I am going to give him the best of this world’s training and education, and I am going to do many miracles through him.” God did these things through Moses.

There is also the story of David. God put his stamp on the future King David when David was still out protecting the sheep. God sent the prophet Samuel to David’s home to anoint one of the sons in the family of the future king. The father brought out all his sons in order, except David. Samuel looked at the boys and thought how good a king the oldest son, Eliab, would make. But before Samuel could anoint him God indicated that he was not the one. Next came Abinadab, who was not the future king either. Then there was Shammah, and so on until seven of Jesse’s sons were presented. “But Samuel said to him, ‘The Lord has not chosen these.’ So he asked Jesse, ‘Are these all the sons you have?’ ‘There is still the youngest,’ Jesse answered, ‘but he is tending the sheep.’ Samuel said, ‘Send for him; we will not sit down until he arrives.’ So he sent and had him brought in. He was ruddy, with a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the Lord said, ‘Rise and anoint him; he is the one.’ So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power” (1 Sam. 16:10–13). Once again, it was God who took hold of David.

We come to the New Testament, and we find that God chose John the Baptist before he was born. Jesus called his disciples while they were still fishermen. God called Paul when he was in the process of persecuting Christians. In every case the call of God was primary. This has always been the foundation stone of true discipleship.

Are you also one of God’s children? Has he picked you up and made you his? Has he given you spiritual life so you can now understand his love, grace, and other biblical doctrines? Or are you just pretending Christianity? If you are only pretending, then you must begin where the others have begun. You must begin by acknowledging God’s call to you in Christ Jesus and your need for him, and you must commit yourself to him.

God’s Purpose

The second step in becoming an effective disciple of Jesus Christ is to be aware of the purpose for which he has called you. Paul says, “I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (Phil. 3:12). What is that thing for which the apostle Paul and we as Christians have been taken hold of?

The answer is spelled out in Romans 8:28–29. Most Christians know the first of these verses, as we noted earlier in chapter 5. It says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” It says that God has a purpose in saving us. But not many Christians know the verse that follows this, in spite of the fact that it goes on to tell what the purpose is. “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” What was God’s purpose in saving you? His purpose was that you might be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. If you are a Christian, God saved you to make you as holy, pure, gracious, and loving as Jesus.

At this point I can almost hear someone saying, “Well, if that is the case, I’ll just wait for God to do it. I’ll enjoy that holiness in heaven.” But this is not the way Paul means it. Paul had a great sense of the present demands of discipleship. Everything he mentions in this chapter has to do with the Christian’s present conduct.

When Paul speaks of knowing Jesus Christ, in verse 10, he is speaking of knowing him now. He wants to experience Christ even in the midst of life’s sufferings. When he speaks of attaining to the resurrection from the dead, in verse 11, he is speaking of a spiritual resurrection now. It is the attainment of a kind of life so filled with Christ that those who do not know him will regard it as the life of eternity. In verses 13 and 14 Paul speaks of a present striving for the best that God has for him now. Our present text is similar. Paul is saying that he wishes to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ now.

This should be your desire also. It should be. If it is not, it will become your desire more and more as you begin to realize that this was God’s greatest purpose in calling you to faith in the Lord Jesus.

Following Christ

The first two of these points now lead to a very practical conclusion, for Paul writes that because God has called him and because he has done so for a purpose, he himself must determine to follow after Jesus. This means that God’s calling always puts an obligation on his children.

This is personal. Discipleship is always personal. Remember how it was with Peter. Peter frequently avoided personal contact with Jesus by speaking impetuously and often on behalf of the Twelve. But when Jesus came to recommission him after Peter’s denial there was no escaping a personal response. Jesus asked a very simple question, “Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?” Peter had to answer for himself, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” It happened three times, and each time Peter answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” At this point Peter’s mind turned to someone else. He noticed John, the beloved disciple, standing nearby and asked Jesus about him: “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:15–22). Discipleship can never be conditioned upon God’s plans for some other Christian. Christ’s call is always the personal one to “Follow me.”

It is also true that discipleship is costly. In fact, it costs a person his all. There are always Christians who think that they can be Christ’s disciples piecemeal. They think that they can follow him an inch at a time after first assuring themselves that there is no danger and that following him also conforms to their own plans for themselves and their future. But this is not discipleship at all. Discipleship means abandoning your sin, your past, your own conception of yourself, your plans for your own future, even at times your friends or your family, if that is God’s will for you, and following Jesus.

You may be saying, “But isn’t that hard? To give up the things I treasure?” Well, it is true that it is hard sometimes. But it is also true that there is a far greater sense in which we really never give anything up in the service of our Lord. We give things up, but Christ gives us more. And even the things we surrender are so arranged by God that they work for our spiritual well-being.

Peter learned this once in his life in a conversation that he had with Jesus. Mark tells us that just before Christ’s final journey to Jerusalem there was a point when Peter was bragging as usual, in this case reminding the Lord of his sacrifices in order to serve him. He said, “We have left everything to follow you!” (Mark 10:28). In other words, Peter was reminding the Lord that he was an ideal disciple and that his discipleship had proved costly. What nonsense this was! Peter had left hardly anything. He had certainly not left behind his own idea of what Christ’s ministry was to be, for he was constantly trying to tell Jesus how to go about it. His claim was presumptuous and egotistical. Jesus had this answer for Peter. He said, “I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life” (Mark 10:29–30). Jesus was teaching that the disciple suffers no loss for which God will not abundantly compensate.

In one of his most popular works the American novelist and writer Mark Twain told the story of a prince and a pauper. The two boys came from entirely different circumstances, but they looked alike. One day, when chance had accidentally thrown them together, they decided to put on each other’s clothes. The prince donned the pauper’s rags. The poor boy put on the rich one’s finery. Unfortunately (or fortunately, as it eventually turned out), the boys were then separated. The pauper was mistaken for the prince and taken to live in the palace, while the prince was turned back to the poor streets of London where he suffered great indignities before he eventually regained his rightful place and the throne.

In the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ took on our poverty, while we have been clothed in his finery. The Bible says, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). He became poor as we were so that we might be clothed in his righteousness. He endured suffering and death that we might become like him—sons of God and coheirs with him of God’s glory.

It is true that the paupers must give up their rags, but there is no comparison between our rags and God’s glory. Jesus has told us that there is nothing given up in this life that is not replaced a hundredfold by spiritual treasure, not only in this world but in eternity also.

Years ago the son of a wealthy American family graduated from Yale University and decided to go out to China as a missionary for Jesus Christ. His name was William Borden. Many of his friends thought him foolish to give up so much of this world’s goods and his future to go there. But Borden loved the Lord Jesus Christ, and he wished to serve him. After only a short time on the field, and before he even reached China, Borden contracted a fatal disease and died. He had given up everything to follow Jesus. But at his bedside his friends found a note that he had written as he lay dying: “No reserve, no retreat, and no regrets.” Borden had given up everything, but he had found a treasure that was beyond words.

Perhaps there is something that God has been asking you to lay aside in order that you might be a more effective witness for him. I do not know what it is. The thing that is a hindrance for one disciple is often entirely different for another. But whatever it is, you know it. At this point in your life, for you it is the touchstone of your discipleship. Will you cast it aside to follow Jesus? If you do, you will grow in your Christian discipleship, and God will bring great blessing into your life and through you also into the lives of others.[3]

  1. Paul’s intense yearning and striving for spiritual perfection is expressed now under the symbolism of the familiar foot-race. In order to grasp the apostle’s meaning the underlying figure must be borne in mind at every point. Picture then the ancient Greek stadium with its course for foot-races and tiers of seats for the spectators. At Athens the length of the course was one-eighth of an old Roman mile; hence, about 607 feet in our measurement. The one at Ephesus was somewhat longer. The purpose of the race was to reach the goal opposite the entrance, or to run up and back, and this once or even twice. Near the entrance the contestants, stripped for the race, have been assigned their places on a stone threshold. In fact, several of the old stadia show what is left of rows of stone blocks at either end of the track. These blocks contain grooves to give the sprinter’s feet a firm hold for a quick take-off. Here the contestants stand, body bent forward, one hand lightly touching the threshold, awaiting the signal: the letting down of a cord that has been stretched in front of them. At the signal they leap forward.

When the question is asked, “Will this contestant succeed?” the answer is, “Much will depend on his frame of mind.” If he tells himself, “I’m a sure winner, no matter what I do,” he will probably undergo the experience of the hare, in the fable, The Hare and the Tortoise. While the tortoise was plodding steadily on, the hare took a nap, and on awakening discovered, too late, that his opponent had already reached the goal!

The same holds in the spiritual race. Here, too, much depends on the frame of mind. Paul completely rejects the idea that even now the race is as good as won. Says he, Not that I have already gotten hold or have already been made perfect. Paul was a firm believer in the doctrine of election “before the foundation of the world” (Eph. 1:4), and accordingly also, as has been pointed out, in the possibility of assurance of salvation. But not in election apart from human responsibility, in salvation apart from human effort, or in assurance without constant recourse to the promises. Even though he had already sacrificed everything in his service for the Lord, he is certain of one thing, namely, that he has not yet completely gotten hold of the spiritual and moral resurrection that lifts one out from among those who are dead in sin; in other words, he is sure that he has not yet been made perfect. In principle, yes! But in full measure, no! Far from it! The struggle against sin, fear, and doubt is not yet over. The fact, moreover, that believers do not attain this perfection in the present life is the teaching of Scripture throughout (Ps. 51:1–5; Matt. 6:12; 26:75; Luke 18:13; Rom. 7:14–24; James 3:2; 1 John 1:8). Paul continues, placing the positive over against the negative, as he often does, but I am pressing on (to see) if I can also lay hold on that for which I was laid hold on by Christ Jesus. Paul is pursuing with the purpose of overtaking and laying hold on. Has he not been laid hold on by Christ Jesus? When Paul was on his way to Damascus had not the exalted Lord and Savior commissioned him to a definite task? See Acts 9:1–19, especially verse 15; also 22:15, 21; 26:15–18. Encouraged and enabled by this very fact, namely, that it was Christ Jesus who has laid a firm hold on him, so as to possess him completely, the apostle is now pressing on in hot pursuit of the objective assigned to him. Cf. Phil. 2:12, 13; 4:13; 2 Thess. 2:13. He continues,[4]

3:12 The apostle did not consider that he was already perfected. Perfected refers not to the resurrection in the previous verse, but to the whole subject of conformity to Christ. He had no idea that it was possible to achieve a state of sinlessness or to arrive at a condition in life where no further progress could be achieved. He realized that “satisfaction is the grave of progress.”

Thus he pressed on in order that the purpose for which the Lord Jesus had saved him might be fulfilled in him. The apostle had been apprehended by Christ Jesus on the road to Damascus. What was the purpose of this momentous meeting? It was that Paul might from then on be a pattern-saint, that God might show through him what Christ can do in a human life. He was not yet perfectly conformed to Christ. The process was still going on, and Paul was deeply exercised that this work of God’s grace might continue and deepen.[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 147). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 245–246). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Boice, J. M. (2000). Philippians: an expositional commentary (pp. 190–195). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, pp. 170–172). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1975). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.