Daily Archives: May 11, 2017

May 11, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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May 11, 2017 |

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Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to boost Britain’s defense budget with above-inflation increases on top of meeting NATO’s target, making security one of the focal points of her election campaign.

Venezuela’s collapsing economy is taking a toll on its population’s health, with more children and women dying and various diseases skyrocketing amid persistent shortages of everything from medicine to drinking water.

Aetna will leave the few remaining states where it had been selling Obamacare plans next year, making it the latest health insurer to pull out of the health law as Republicans attack the program as failing and work to dismantle it.

Nigeria – On days when Dayo Fabajo’s bosses can’t afford to pay the 1,250 naira ($4) wage she earns for a 12-hour shift packing biscuits, they send her home early. Sometimes on her way out, she walks past pockets of stragglers lingering at the factory gates, a glaring reminder she’s easily replaceable.

Turkey objected strongly to U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to arm Kurdish forces in Syria, calling the plan unacceptable and amounting to support for terrorists.

President Moon Jae-in told his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping that he’s aware of Beijing’s concerns over a U.S. missile shield installed on South Korean territory and will work to resolve the problem.

U.S. prosecutors are investigating one of Wall Street’s darkest markets, focusing on hedge funds suspected of inflating the value of debt securities in their portfolios to juice the fees they collect. Having prosecuted traders who lied to customers about bond prices, the government is now scrutinizing hedge funds that allegedly solicited bogus price quotes from brokers, according to three people familiar with the matter who asked not to be identified.

A decline in U.S. jobless-benefit rolls to a 28-year low adds to signs of a tight labor market, as initial unemployment claims also remained subdued. Initial jobless claims decreased by 2,000 to 236,000 (forecast was 245,000).

AP Top Stories

One of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2014 and who had the opportunity to be released on Saturday chose to stay with her husband, the spokesman for Nigeria’s president said Tuesday.

The Dakota Access pipeline has suffered its first leak, outraging indigenous groups who have long warned that the project poses a threat to the environment.

A statue of Confederate president Jefferson Davis was dismantled in New Orleans early on Thursday, the second of four monuments slated to be taken down by the city where critics say the displays glorify the era of slavery in the U.S. south.

Vermont lawmakers on Wednesday approved a measure to legalize recreational use of marijuana, which if not vetoed by the governor would make the state the ninth to legalize the drug and the first to do so by legislation rather than ballot initiative.

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.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov came to Washington this week riding a wave of Russian diplomatic activity to strengthen the Kremlin’s position in Syria, Ukraine, North Korea, and across the wider European continent. The visit is both a surprise and a warning – indicating that U.S.-Russia bilateral consultations are ripening and will likely culminate in a summit this summer between President Donald Trump and his Russian counterpart, President Vladimir Putin.

U.S.-backed Syrian militias said they fully seized the town of Tabqa and Syria’s largest dam from Islamic State on Wednesday, a major objective as they prepare to launch an assault on Raqqa, the jihadists’ biggest urban stronghold.

BBC

Iraqi security forces are only days away from completing the operation to recapture Mosul from so-called Islamic State, the army’s chief of staff said.

The 3,700-year-old burial chamber of a pharaoh’s daughter is believed to have been found near the remains of a recently discovered pyramid in Egypt. Inside the box were four canopic jars filled with the organs of the deceased, likely a daughter of King Emnikamaw.

India’s Supreme Court has formally opened hearings into a number of petitions challenging the controversial practice of instant divorce in Islam. The court said it would examine whether the practice known as “triple talaq” was fundamental to the religion.

Venezuelans angry with the government of President Nicolas Maduro have been taking to the streets almost daily since the beginning of April. Despite dozens of people being killed in protest-related violence, the demonstrations show little sign of abating. There’s no freedom of expression here in Venezuela. There’s no freedom of any kind. On top of that you have shortages of medicines, of goods.

WND

More families and churches are breaking ties with the Girl Scouts because of its connection to the abortion chain Planned Parenthood.

The Baldwin County Public School System has issued a warning to parents about a game that encourages players to harm themselves and potentially commit suicide. the player signs up to follow an administrator’s tasks over the course of 50 days, which can include anything from cutting yourself to listening to a song. The player wins when they complete the final task, committing suicide, on the 50th day. Teenagers supposedly “tag” each other and challenge them to play. The student then downloads the Blue Whale app, which hacks into their personal information and cannot be deleted. The app originators then threaten the teenagers with harm to their families or releasing of personal information until they kill themselves. (unproven but be aware)


The Briefing 05-11-17

Cognitive dissonance in the NYT: Defending a woman’s right to abortion & the disabled’s right to life

Scouting story #1: If Boy Scouts admit girls who identity as girls, does “Boy” mean anything anymore?

Scouting story #2: As Girl Scouts march ideologically leftward, many Christian groups are cutting ties

The post The Briefing 05-11-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 5/11/201

End-of-Days Prophecy Describes Erdogan Leading Ishmael to Final War for Jerusalem
This week, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan established himself as a leader in the End-of-Days by calling for the Islam to unite for Jerusalem. Erdogan’s perplexing statement could be the cry that rallies the world of Ishmael for the prophesied third and final battle of Jerusalem preceding the Messiah.

ISIS claims to behead Russian intelligence officer in Syria
DUBAI – Islamic State has issued a video showing the beheading of what it described as a Russian intelligence officer captured in Syria, the US-based SITE monitoring website reported on Tuesday. The Russian Defense Ministry and the FSB security service were not immediately available for comment.

Eight killed when magnitude 5.5 earthquake hits China’s northwest
Eight people were killed when an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.5 struck in China’s northwest Xinjiang region on Thursday, the official Xinhua news agency said, with photographs online also showing damaged buildings.

Austria on the edge: Government set to COLLAPSE – and it could cause an EU nightmare
AUSTRIA’S government is on the verge of collapse due to a shock resignation, opening the door to the far-right Freedom Party. And the crisis could a huge headache for Brussels as the anti-EU Freedom Party is currently leading in the polls.

U.S. Military to Move ‘Very Quickly’ in Arming Syrian Kurds Despite Turkish Opposition
The U.S. military will move forward “very quickly” with plans to distribute weapons and ammunition to Kurdish YPG fighters battling the Islamic State in Syria despite opposition from NATO ally Turkey, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.

Trump Admin Still Considering Moving U.S Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem
Trump administration sources confirmed to the Free Beacon that the embassy move is still under consideration, but that the process is in its infant stages.

As Modi visit approaches, Israel and India seem closer than ever
As Israel has emerged recently on the world stage, its foreign relationships have blossomed…Yet, while all these are important, there is another event that may be even more important in the long run – the visit by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Israel in July. The prime minister is, significantly, visiting only Israel and skipping the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And his visit follows the visit to Israel last January by Indian Foreign Minister Shushma Swaraj.

IS conflict: Syrian force ‘takes town of Tabqa and dam’
An alliance of Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters has announced it has taken a strategically important town from so-called Islamic State (IS). The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) said they had “completely liberated” the town and its nearby dam, which are 40km (25 miles) west of IS-stronghold Raqqa. It comes a day after the US said it was going to arm members of the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) who are fighting for the SDF.

Austria convicts asylum seeker of Syria war crimes
An asylum seeker has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a court in Austria after being found guilty of killing 20 people in Syria. The 27-year-old man was accused of shooting unarmed or wounded soldiers following a battle in the city of Homs. The man, who has not been named, had denied the charges. He was arrested in western Austria in June.

Aetna Is Latest Health Insurer to Quit Obamacare Markets
Aetna Inc. will leave the few remaining states where it had been selling Obamacare plans next year, making it the latest health insurer to pull out of the health law as Republicans attack the program as failing and work to dismantle it. While…the decision affects just Delaware and Nebraska. The Hartford, Connecticut-based insurer already said last year it would pull out of 11 states, and in the last month announced plans to exit Iowa and Virginia.

Emotion reading technology claims to spot criminals before they act
Emotion reading technology could soon be used by police after a Russian firm created a tool that can identify people in a crowd and tell if they are angry, stressed or nervous. The software, created by NTechLab, can monitor citizens for suspicious behaviour by tracking identity, age, gender and current emotional state. It could be used to pre-emptively stop criminals and potential terrorists.

Nasa unveils plans for a YEAR-LONG mission to the moon in preparation for the journey to Mars
Mars has become the next giant leap for mankind’s exploration of space. But before humans get to the red planet, astronauts will take a series of small steps by returning to the moon for a year-long mission. Details of a the mission in lunar orbit have been unveiled as part of a timeline of events leading to missions to Mars in the 2030s.

Netanyahu wary of Trump’s interest in solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is concerned about President Trump’s growing interest in the Israeli Palestinian conflict and his desire to reach the “ultimate peace deal” at any cost, according to senior ministers close to Netanyahu. Netanyahu’s concern primarily stems from the fact that unlike Obama’s tenure, Netanyahu has no “brakes” in the Congress against Trump; Democrats will support any diplomatic move, as will Republicans.

Israel asks US to nullify UNSC settlement resolution
The Israeli Foreign Ministry appealed this week to US Envoy to the UN Nikki Haley to nullify Security Council Resolution 2334 which calls for an end to settlement construction while simultaneously declaring them illegal, both in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem. The issue was just one in a series of requests made to Haley, in an effort to garner American support in implementing a number of changes vis-a-vis the world body’s treatment of Israel.

South Korea’s new leader discusses North Korea, defense system with China’s Xi
South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in told Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Thursday that North Korea must cease making provocations before tensions over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in the South can be resolved, officials said. Moon came to power with a promise to review the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which is opposed by China…

North Korean university draws U.S. evangelicals despite risks
Like many other Americans who came to teach at the foreign-funded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), Kim Hak Song was a Christian missionary who raised money from a church to come to North Korea…The university, which is open about its Christian affiliation, says its sole mission is to help North Korea’s future elite learn the skills to modernize the isolated country and engage with the outside world.

Obama’s Former Defense Secretary: Yeah, We Lied To The Israelis That We’d Stop Iran from Going Nuclear 
In a prolix profile in The New York Times of Barack Obama’s deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, a startling admission comes from Obama’s former Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta; he states that Obama was lying when he said he was serious about preventing Iran from getting nuclear weapons.

James Comey Releases Farewell Letter, After Calling Trump “Crazy”
“I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all. I’m not going to spend time on the decision or the way it was executed. I hope you won’t either. It is done, and I will be fine, although I will miss you and the mission deeply.”

Connecticut State Capital Prepares For Bankruptcy Amid Collapse In Hedge Fund Revenue
Facing a dire fiscal situation, Hartfort, the capital of Connecticut is taking steps toward bankruptcy, soliciting proposals from law firms that specialize in Chapter 9, according to the Courant. It adds that the city is reviewing several firms and could hire an attorney as early as this week.

Experts Foresee Growing Friction Between Trump, S. Korea’s New President
New worries about the state of the U.S.-South Korean alliance are emerging after the swearing-in of liberal Moon Jae-in, whose conciliatory position toward North Korea is markedly different from that of the Trump administration, say analysts who …

Pro-Nazi Soldiers in German Army Raise Alarm
It started with an investigation into a suspected terrorist plot by an army soldier aimed at top government officials. But it quickly uncovered a larger problem.

U.S. government posts $182 billion surplus in April
The U.S. government had a $182 billion budget surplus in April, confounding market expectations for a deficit, according to Treasury Department data released on Wednesday. The budget surplus was $106 billion in April 2016, according to Treasury’s monthly budget statement.


Mark Zuckerberg, The Rock, Katy Perry And Oprah Winfrey Are All Thinking Of Running For President

Donald Trump has proven that you don’t have to be a career politician to successfully run for president, and so now a number of top celebrities are actually seriously thinking about running against him in 2020.  Unless Hillary Clinton runs again, the Democrats really don’t have an obvious choice, and so this next election cycle presents a unique opportunity for outsider candidates that may want to test the political waters.  In politics, timing is everything, and for celebrities at the peak of their popularity the 2020 election may be their best and only shot at the highest office in the land. (Read More…)


Hypocrite: Obama goes to “climate change speech” in Italy, stays in $20k/night villa, takes private jet, has 14 car convoy, 300 cops. Carbon footprint? More than you or me in a year?

Worth posting again.

This is Obama “living rich.”

It’s one thing if one makes one’s money in private industry where one must negotiate the whims of the market (at least to some degree) on the way to riches. (Hell, if one inherited money at least one is spending one’s own money.) It is quite another for someone to make one’s bones as a politician like Obama has.

Read More


The President’s Pastor: Paula White Has Connections and Power. But Where Does She Get Her Money?

Jillian Kay Melchior has written a exposé on prosperity preacher Paula White for Heatstreet. Pastrix Paula is known for many things, but most recently she is known as President Donald Trump’s friend, close confident and his “pastor.” Melchoir gives us a glimpse into this wolf in sheep’s clothing’s early life and her rags to riches story. One thing we learn is how the girl who grew up in a trailer park managed to become a multi-millionaire….and chair of the president’s Evangelical Advisory Council. Melchior writes:

Donald Trump & Paula White. Photo credit: Christian Today

The most politically influential Christian in America is a controversial Florida preacher many evangelical Republicans may never have heard of: Paula White, a Florida televangelist.

“Inside this little blond Barbie package is a pit bull!” White recently said of herself. And that pit bull, who has known Donald Trump for about 15 years, is now chair of the president’s Evangelical Advisory Council—a powerful board of Christian leaders advising the administration on everything from political appointments and judiciary nominees to legislative priorities.

White has led prayers at both the Republican National Convention and the inauguration. When Trump met in February with prominent conservatives to discuss appointing Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, White sat at the president’s immediate right. She also opened a Rose Garden ceremony last week and stood behind the president as he signed an executive order on religious liberty.

View article →

Competing Worldviews Influence Today’s Christians

“What stood out most to us was how stark the shift was between the Boomer and Gen-Xer generations,” Hempell remarks. “We expected Millennials to be most influenced by other worldviews, but the most dramatic increase in support for these ideals occurs with the generation before them. It’s no surprise, then, that the impact we see today in our social fabric is so pervasive, given that these ideas have been taking root for two generations.

We live in a world of competing ideas and worldviews. In an increasingly globalized and interconnected world, Christians are more aware of (and influenced by) disparate views than ever. But just how much have other worldviews crept into Christians’ perspectives? Barna’s research shows that only 17 percent of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview1. So, if Christians are open to nonbiblical perspectives, what are they believing?

In partnership with Summit Ministries, Barna conducted a study among practicing Christians in America to gauge how much the tenets of other key worldviews—including new spirituality, secularism, postmodernism and Marxism—have influenced Christians’ beliefs about the way the world is and how it ought to be. Barna’s new research found strong agreement with ideas unique to nonbiblical worldviews among practicing Christians. This widespread influence upon Christian thinking is evident not only among competing worldviews, but even among competing religions; for example, nearly four in 10 (38%) practicing Christians are sympathetic to some Muslim teachings (an aspect of the study Barna will explore elsewhere).

Here are a few notable findings among practicing Christians:

  • 61% agree with ideas rooted in New Spirituality.
  • 54% resonate with postmodernist views.
  • 36% accept ideas associated with Marxism.
  • 29% believe ideas based on secularism.

Before diving into the four worldviews, and as illustrated in the charts below, there are a few key demographic themes that emerge from the data. First, Millennials and Gen-Xers, who came of age in a less Christianized context, are, in some cases, up to eight times more likely to accept these views than Boomers and Elders. The same is true of gender; males are generally more open to these worldviews than women, often at a 2:1 ratio. Another trend is that Americans who live in cities, often melting pots of ideas and cultures, are more accepting of these views than those in either suburban or rural areas. And finally, when looking at ethnicity, Americans of color are, in about half of the cases, more likely than white Americans to embrace these worldviews….

“This research really crystalizes what Barna has been tracking in our country as an ongoing shift away from Christianity as the basis for a shared worldview. We have observed and reported on increasing pluralism, relativism and moral decline among Americans and even in the Church. Nevertheless, it is striking how pervasive some of these beliefs are among people who are actively engaged in the Christian faith,” Brooke Hempell, senior vice president of research for Barna, says.

“What stood out most to us was how stark the shift was between the Boomer and Gen-Xer generations,” Hempell remarks. “We expected Millennials to be most influenced by other worldviews, but the most dramatic increase in support for these ideals occurs with the generation before them. It’s no surprise, then, that the impact we see today in our social fabric is so pervasive, given that these ideas have been taking root for two generations.

Read More


Mid-Day Snapshot

May 11, 2017

Five Observations on Comey’s Firing

The controversy is all about politics, and it’s only really just beginning. Here’s a recap of the last 24 hours.

The Foundation

“Stability in government is essential to national character and to the advantages annexed to it, as well as to that repose and confidence in the minds of the people, which are among the chief blessings of civil society.” —James Madison (1788)


 Featured Blogs


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 11

  • After Comey, Russia Probe Escalates (Read More)
  • Comey Firing Distracts Trump White House, Risking His Agenda (Read More)
  • Trump wanted to preview Comey’s Senate testimony (Read More)
  • Traders Ask What Will Rouse Markets When Trump and Twitter Can’t (Read More)
  • EU Raises Growth Forecasts but Cites Threats From Brexit, Trump (Read More)
  • Oil bounces, world stocks hold near all-time highs (Read More)
  • McCain, Sasse to Vote Against Trump Trade Nominee (Read More)
  • Acting FBI Head to Testify Before Congress (Read More)
  • Aetna to Pull Out of Current Affordable Care Act Exchanges (Read More)
  • In Trump’s shadow, Fed official says trade barriers a ‘dead end’ (Read More)
  • Emirates Airline Battered by Trump Travel Ban (Read More)
  • Uber deemed transport service by EU top court adviser (Read More)
  • Money from Chinese State Giants Helped Fund Aluminum Stockpile (Read More)
  • Germany’s Schaeuble calls for euro zone parliament: La Repubblica (Read More)
  • The Secretive Firm Set to Expand in Retail Options: Two Sigma Securities (Read More)
  • Wells Fargo management expected to woo shareholders with new cost cuts (Read More)
  • Number of Illegal Cuban Immigrants Caught by Coast Guard Drops to Zero in April (Read More)
  • AIG plans to name Brian Duperreault CEO (Read More)
  • Student Loans Just Got More Expensive (Read More)
  • China April vehicle sales notch steepest fall in 20-months on tax hike (Read More)
  • Highest-Paid Women in America Reap Rewards of Technology Boom (Read More)
  • The Volcker Rule: How Trump’s New Regulator May Unleash Big Banks (Read More)
  • EU Passports for Sale in Sunny Cyprus Lure Rich Russians’ Cash (Read More)
  • “Ice age” looms for China’s outbound investment (Read More)
  • Tesla starts taking orders for premium solar roofs (Read More)

Top Headlines – 5/11/2017

The King of Saudi Arabia invites Mahmoud Abbas to participate in the summit of the Arab leaders with Trump

In DC, Israeli justice minister speaks out against Trump’s peace push

Archbishop of Canterbury to pray for Trump on Mideast peace

Netanyahu: Every country should move their Embassy to Jerusalem

Israel asks US to nullify UNSC settlement resolution

Son of Ethiopian immigrants travels to Ukraine to advocate Jews there move to Israel

How the Six Day War changed American Jews

German officials: Increase in US Jews seeking citizenship since election

Less than half of East Europeans would accept Jews in their family, Pew finds

New Watchdog Report: 2016 ‘Worst Year on Record for Antisemitism in Canada,’ With Spikes in Holocaust Denial and On-Campus Hate Incidents

China’s tech money heads for Israel as U.S. welcome wanes

Few takers for Israel’s new gas exploration tenders

Hamas assures critics Israel’s destruction still its goal

Report: ISIS fighters killed 10 Bedouin tribesmen in northern Sinai

IS conflict: Syrian force ‘takes town of Tabqa and dam’

Trump, after meeting Russian FM, says ‘horrible killing in Syria must stop’

Trump OKs arms for Syrian Kurds, despite Turkish objections

Turkey’s Erdogan wants US to reverse decision to arm Syrian Kurds, says America should support ally, not ‘terror’ group

Minister: Turkey warned Wikipedia over content, demands it open office

Top leader: Iran will ‘slap’ anyone causing election unrest

Experts Foresee Growing Friction Between Trump, S. Korea’s New President

North Korean Defector Says War With US ‘Unavoidable’ Amid End Times Warning

U.S. to Boost Surveillance For Russian Exercise

US criticises Russian build-up near Baltic states

High tensions as Russian diplomat visits Washington

With Awkward Timing, Trump Meets Top Russian Official

Comey sought more resources for Russia probe days before he was fired by President Trump, officials say

Russia probe: Senate requests Trump documents from agency that monitors money laundering

John McCain on Comey firing: ‘There will be more shoes to drop’

Comey tossed ‘stick of dynamite’ into the DOJ, says White House

James Comey Releases Farewell Letter, After Calling Trump “Crazy”

Sacked FBI chief: President can fire me for any reason, or no reason

Trump defends Comey firing, says both parties will thank him

Paul: Dems Pushing a ‘Huge Myth’ About Trump Collusion With Russia

Democrats once blamed Comey; now they’re defending him

Maxine Waters Thinks It Would’ve Been Fine for Hillary to Fire Comey, But Doesn’t Support Trump Firing Him

‘Work for WikiLeaks’: Assange offers Comey job as Snowden condemns White House

Democrats talk of an ‘impeachment clock’ for Trump

U.S. government posts $182 billion surplus in April

Baby deaths soar in Venezuela crisis

Rising use of military tribunals alarms Venezuela activists

Far fewer refugees entering US despite travel ban setbacks

Report: Mexico was second deadliest country in 2016

Twilight Zone: Mexicans Are Upset About Immigrants Bringing Crime To Their City

Emotion reading technology claims to spot criminals before they act

U.S. likely to expand airline laptop ban to Europe: government officials

Microsoft CEO: tech sector needs to prevent ‘1984’ future

MIT’s new robot can transfer its knowledge to other robots

Delivery drone sets U.S. record by flying a package 97 miles

NASA’s Mars Plan May Include Yearlong Mission to the Moon

6.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.9 magnitude earthquake hits near Tanaga Volcano, Alaska

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Murghob, Tajikistan

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Indian Ocean Triple Junction

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Tel’mankend, Azerbaijan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Tanaga Volcano, Alaska

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Murghob, Tajikistan

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 18,000ft

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

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Obama Uses Private Jet, 14 Car Convoy to Get to European Climate Change Speech

Snakebites on increase in Georgia in 2017

Vermont lawmakers become first to approve legal pot

Chile starts selling cannabis medicines at some pharmacies

433 Pain Pills for Every Man, Woman and Child in West Virginia

HIV life expectancy ‘near normal’ thanks to new drugs

Minnesota Health Officials Seek $5 Million for Measles Outbreak

Aetna to Completely Pull Out of ObamaCare Exchanges by 2018

International furor erupts over embryo jewelry business

Oregon Considers Allowing Transgender Individuals to Identify as ‘X’ on Driver’s Licenses

Transgender cadets at military academies can graduate but not serve

IDF’s top lawyer comes out of closet

Prosecutors seek caning for gay couple in Indonesia’s Aceh

Knox County judge grants woman rights of ‘husband’ in Tennessee’s first same-sex divorce

Many Practicing Christians Agree with Marxism (and Other Competing Worldviews)

Mike Ratliff – Walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh

The President’s Pastor: Paula White Has Connections and Power. But Where Does She Get Her Money?

Furtick Keeps Demonstrating He is Unqualified

Absolutely Bizarre “Sermon” Promo Video from Life.Church

Teach us to pray: “Grab some masking tape, make a circle…”

Survey: 61 Percent of Practicing Christians Agree With Some ‘New Spirituality’ Beliefs

White House Says Trump will ‘Fully Eliminate’ Global Threats to U.S. and Allies

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:51 AM PDT

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,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Would You Let Your Company Chip You?

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:44 AM PDT

Remember scenes from movies like Mission Impossible or Minority Report where people are subjected to microchip implants?  Well, it’s not just in the movies anymore–it’s…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Church Bans ‘Non-Christian’ Yoga for Focus on Oneself Instead of God

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:32 AM PDT

An Anglican church in Wales might face boycott from some in the community after it banned “non-Christian” yoga from the premises. St. David’s Church in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

As Doomsday Clock Edges to Armageddon, Stephen Hawking Says Humanity Has 100 Years

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:24 AM PDT

The dreaded Doomsday Clock now stands at a perilous two-and-a-half minutes to midnight, and world-famous physicist Stephen Hawking has cut mankind’s lead time to disaster…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Aetna to Completely Pull Out of ObamaCare Exchanges by 2018

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:18 AM PDT

Health insurance company Aetna (AET) announced Wednesday it will completely withdraw from the ObamaCare marketplace in 2018, a decision Health and Human Services Secretary Tom…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

5-year-old brings loaded gun to North Carolina elementary school

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:11 AM PDT

A handgun found in a restroom at an elementary school in the Lake Wylie area of Mecklenburg County was brought in by a 5-year-old, officials…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Kirk Cameron Says Bible Is ‘More Powerful Than Any Book on Harry Potter’s Shelf’

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:08 AM PDT

Actor and producer Kirk Cameron is delighted by the success of National Bible Bee which premiered on Apr. 4 on Facebook Live. The game show…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Puerto Rico’s Bankruptcy Fight Is About to Plunge Into the Unknown

Posted: 11 May 2017 06:34 AM PDT

Dealing with Puerto Rico’s crushing debt has started to resemble a circular firing squad. Simply put, the bankrupt island can’t pay everything it owes, so…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christians Leaving the Girl Scouts Over Its Connection to Planned Parenthood

Posted: 11 May 2017 06:25 AM PDT

More families and churches are breaking ties with the Girl Scouts because of its connection to the abortion chain Planned Parenthood. This month, the Catholic…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

What Feel-Good Preachers Get Wrong on Sundays

Posted: 11 May 2017 06:17 AM PDT

(By Shane Idleman) “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Comey Sought to expand Trump-Russia probe of former campaign officials

Posted: 11 May 2017 06:06 AM PDT

The FBI-led probe into whether Russian influence operations helped put Donald Trump in the White House is on a knife’s edge and could easily veer…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

5.5 Earthquake kills 8 in China, Following 6.5 Earthquake In South Sandwich Islands

Posted: 11 May 2017 06:02 AM PDT

according to reports, A‍t least eight people were killed and dozens injured after a 5.5-magnitude earthquake struck China’s northwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region on May…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mother Reunited with Daughter 52 Years Later – Prayed Every Day!

Posted: 11 May 2017 05:53 AM PDT

Donna Pavey could not believe one of her biggest prayers was about to come true before her very eyes. “I can’t wait,” said Pavey. “Oh…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Geologist Denied Samples from Grand Canyon Because of His Faith

Posted: 11 May 2017 05:48 AM PDT

Dr. Andrew Snelling is a highly learned and experienced geologist. He’s published numerous peer-reviewed materials, has had years of experience in various labs and has…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Philippines moves troops, supplies to disputed S. China Sea island claimed by Beijing

Posted: 11 May 2017 05:44 AM PDT

The Philippines has begun moving troops and equipment to a disputed island in the South China Sea which is claimed by both Manila and Beijing,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

25 great white sharks spotted off Southern California coast

Posted: 11 May 2017 05:41 AM PDT

“You are paddleboarding next to approximately 15 great white sharks,” is not something you want to hear when you’re enjoying a day at the beach….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Black student group at UC Santa Cruz threatens more campus takeovers if additional demands not met

Posted: 11 May 2017 05:38 AM PDT

University of California Santa Cruz administrators recently agreed to meet to all four demands lodged by a black student group who commandeered a campus building…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Confederate Monument Removed in New Orleans after 106 years

Posted: 11 May 2017 05:36 AM PDT

A large police presence, as well as large cranes and heavy equipment, were all part of the removal of the monument to former Confederate President…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US and Israel to Conduct Joint Air Force Drill Over Arava Desert

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:52 PM PDT

Israeli and American air force pilots will participate in a joint exercise this week over the Arava desert, north of Eilat. Several U.S. Air Force…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

HOUSE DIVIDED: Momentum Gaining Among Democrats For Trump Impeachment

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:32 PM PDT

Democratic leaders aren’t calling for the impeachment of President Donald Trump. But they’re getting closer. To one Democratic congressman, the president’s decision to fire FBI…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China May Shut Down Bridge to North Korea

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:22 PM PDT

China is looking into shutting down a major bridge that connects the Chinese city of Dandong to North Korea. A Chinese diplomatic source who spoke…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Deep 6.8 magnitude earthquake strikes cyclone-affected Vanuatu

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:15 PM PDT

An earthquake with a magnitude of 6.8 struck north of the South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu, the US Geological Survey (USGS) said. The quake was…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: North Korean Defector War is Now ‘Unavoidable’

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:11 PM PDT

A North Korean defector has called on President Donald Trump to help topple Kim Jong-un‘s regime by force. Song Byeok, who worked as a propaganda…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: China Amasses Anti-Warship Missiles as WW3 tensions Continue

Posted: 10 May 2017 05:05 PM PDT

China has built an arsenal of new anti-ship missiles amid continuing World War 3 fears, satellite images of a military base has revealed. Sino-US tensions…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Only 37 Percent Of Evangelical Christians Believe That Going To A Strip Club Without Your Spouse Is Cheating

Posted: 10 May 2017 04:50 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) If a husband goes to a strip club without his wife and spends hours watching other women dance around naked, would…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mark Zuckerberg, The Rock, Katy Perry And Oprah Winfrey Are All Thinking Of Running For President

Posted: 10 May 2017 02:21 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) Donald Trump has proven that you don’t have to be a career politician to successfully run for president, and so now…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

A Broken Heart Attracts the Presence of God!

Posted: 10 May 2017 02:08 PM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we discuss how the Lord is attracted to a broken heart and a contrite Spirit. We will show you…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

10 Sad Reasons Many Christians Don’t Gather for Prayer

Posted: 10 May 2017 01:58 PM PDT

(By Kevin Senapatiratne) Most pastors tell me the most important meeting of the church is the prayer meeting. They also tell me it is the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Elderly couple married for 62 years die together while holding hands

Posted: 10 May 2017 01:49 PM PDT

An elderly couple married for more than 60 years died within two hours of each other, while holding hands.  Delma and Tom Ledbetter, from Lake Jackson,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Is a Global Cashless Society On The Horizon?

Posted: 10 May 2017 01:35 PM PDT

Will cash soon be obsolete? The cashless society may soon arrive. The days of the paper dollar, the age in which people used quarters and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Chicago inmates can now order pizza directly to their cells

Posted: 10 May 2017 01:32 PM PDT

Inmates in the Cook County Jail can now order pizza delivered directly to their cells. The medium-security prison has allowed pre-trial detainees to use their…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Satanic Message, Upside Down Crosses Found at Spanish Church

Posted: 10 May 2017 11:02 AM PDT

Spanish police are reportedly investigating a case of satanic vandalism after a priest found the number 666 and upside down crosses at a Spanish church…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FALLING AWAY: 61% of Practicing Christians Agree With Some ‘New Spirituality’ Beliefs

Posted: 10 May 2017 10:58 AM PDT

A new survey reveals the scope of influence of non-Christian belief systems on the mindsets of practicing Christians, with large percentages of them agreeing with…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) Making Serious Consideration To Run for President!

Posted: 10 May 2017 10:49 AM PDT

No one gets up earlier than Dwayne Johnson. Or goes to bed later. Or is more awake during the hours in between. No one in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Comey sought more resources for Russia probe days before being fired

Posted: 10 May 2017 10:40 AM PDT

Last week, then-FBI Director James B. Comey requested more resources from the Justice Department for his bureau’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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


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May 11, 2017: Verse of the day

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Cleansed

but if we walk in the Light as He Himself is in the Light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. (1:7)

Walk is used throughout the New Testament, especially in Paul’s letters, to describe the effect, not of justification, but of sanctification. Salvation is not only a change in one’s legal status as divine righteousness is credited to one’s account, but a change in behavior as actual righteousness is given to believers by the very indwelling presence of God’s Spirit. Daily living of the Christian life is a Spirit-enabled walk (John 8:12; 12:35; Rom. 6:4; 8:4; 1 Cor. 7:17; 2 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 5:16, 25; Eph. 2:10; 4:1; 5:8; Col. 1:10; 1 Thess. 4:1). The verb is a present subjunctive, expressing continuous action that is nevertheless hypothetical because it applies only to some people.

Those who walk in the Light do so because the power of God has regenerated them. As “new creature[s]” for whom “new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17), they will behave in a way that reflects the power of God’s righteous life in them, just as God Himself is in the Light (see the discussion of 1:5 in the previous chapter of this volume). The general pattern of their day-to-day actions and attitudes will be godlike. Such walkers will experience fellowship with one another (1:3, 7; Acts 2:42; cf. Col. 1:12; Phil. 2:17–18), which derives from their union with the triune God (1:6; 1 Cor. 1:9; 6:17; 12:6, 13). All true Christians live and walk in the Light (i.e., the life of God) and the communion of the saints.

To all who walk in the Light, God grants His grace so that throughout their lives the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses them from all sin. This is not to say that Christians no longer struggle with sin, for no one will ever be totally free in this life from the unredeemed humanness of their flesh (Matt. 26:41; Rom. 7:18–24; Gal. 5:17; cf. Rom. 13:14). However, because the blood of Jesus Christ continually cleanses away every impurity, sin can never change a believer’s standing before God (cf. Rom. 8:33–39). The term blood is often used in the New Testament as a dramatic and graphic way to represent Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross (cf. Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:25; 5:9; Eph. 1:7; Heb. 9:12; 10:19), by which He “released us from our sins by His blood” (Rev. 1:5; cf. Col. 1:20–22; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:17; Rev. 5:9).

The salvation cleansing John described encompasses all the sinner’s transgressions, past and future, and depends on no condition but God’s sovereign grace in response to saving faith. John is unmistakably in agreement with the Spirit-inspired teaching of Paul that the redeemed enjoy complete, unalterable, and unrepeatable forgiveness (cf. 1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Cor. 5:18–19; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Heb. 10:10).[1]


The First Denial (vv. 6–7)

John’s definition of God as light is followed by a denial of three false claims in which the reader is probably right in hearing an echo of the erroneous teachings of the Gnostics. These men claimed to have entered into a higher fellowship with God than was known by most other Christians. They professed great things, but there was a flaw in their profession. They claimed to know God; but even as they made their claims, they showed by their actions that they failed to take sin, which is opposed to the nature of God, seriously. Their religion consisted from the ethical standpoint of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “easy grace.” They claimed fellowship with God, but the fellowship was not costly. They separated religion and ethics. Consequently, they claimed the highest privileges while living precisely as they pleased. In answering their views John denies three of their claims, while on each occasion also pointing to the divine remedy for sin for all who will avail themselves of it.

The outline for this section is apparent from John’s threefold repetition of the phrase “If we claim” in verses 6, 8, and 10. In each case it introduces one of the false claims. This is followed by John’s denial of the teaching (“we lie,” “we deceive ourselves,” “we make him out to be a liar” ) and, finally, by a correct affirmation. In the third case the affirmation takes a different and slightly expanded form as a result of which it has been set apart at the beginning of chapter 2. It will be considered by itself in the next section of the present study.

The first false claim is a common one; namely, that a person can have fellowship with God at the same time that his life is characterized by unrighteousness. John expresses it as the claim to have “fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness.” Here, to “walk in the darkness” means to sin habitually, the contrast being, not a sinless life (for John teaches that everyone sins, v. 8), but a progressive growth in godliness. The present tense indicates a continual practice of that which is opposed to God. Naturally the Gnostic teaching is in view as John denies this erroneous assertion. But we must not miss the fact that his rebuke applies to anyone who claims to know God while at the same time treats either sin or the need for establishing and maintaining a moral life lightly. As Bruce says,

It may well be that the false teachers against whom John puts his readers on their guard were wide open to criticism in this respect, but it is equally necessary for those who adhere to the apostolic teaching and fellowship to be reminded that orthodoxy of doctrine is no substitute for righteousness of life. “Truth in the inward being” (Ps. 51:6) is what God desires in his people, and where that is present, it will manifest itself in all the ways of life.

The contrast to a claim to fellowship with God while actually walking in darkness is an actual walking in the light, which is of necessity accompanied by the reality of Christian fellowship and continual and repeated cleansing from present sin. The fact that John speaks of cleansing from sin, using the present tense of the verb, indicates that he does not understand “walking in the light” to mean perfection. Rather, he means a genuine and continuous pursuit of holiness out of which increased fellowship with other Christians and confession of sin will come. It is this that must characterize all who know God.

The two results of walking in the light deserve special notice. First, since John has already said that one who claims fellowship with God while actually walking in darkness lies, we might, in verse 7, expect John to reply that the one who walks in the light has fellowship with God. This would be true, of course. But John, in a somewhat condensed form of writing, skips over this to show that it also means that he will have fellowship with other believers. Indeed, it is in fellowship with one another on the horizontal dimension that our fellowship with God on the vertical dimension is demonstrated. Did the Gnostics claim fellowship with God? Then how did they see their way clear to separate from other believers, as they had done? Why did they not maintain the fellowship? The same critique applies to those who in the name of a better or purer fellowship with God break Christian fellowship today.

Second, John says that the one walking in the light will find the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ available to him for continued cleansing. At first glance this seems a contradiction. For why does the one who already walks in the light need cleansing? Is he not already cleansed? Or, on the other hand, if he is being cleansed from sin, does this not imply that he was walking in the darkness previously? The contradiction is only superficial, for John is merely saying that one who walks in fellowship with God will find forgiveness for any sin that might enter his life. In fact, such forgiveness is already provided for by the sacrifice of Christ. This is not said to encourage sin, as some might think (“Let us do evil that good may result,” Rom. 3:8), but to encourage holiness.[2]


6–7 The first test in the first series of tests builds directly on the statement that “God is light.” The Greek word koinōnia (“fellowship”) is used again, suggesting that two parties “have something in common” (Marshall, 105). This being the case, if anyone walks in darkness, then that person cannot be in fellowship with the God in whom “there is no darkness at all” (1:5). Those who claim to have fellowship with God but “walk in darkness” are therefore liars who cannot be members of John’s group because they do not enjoy the same fellowship with God that John does (1:3). The positive converse is stated as a second test at verse 7: If someone “walks in the light,” then that person has fellowship with God and John because, again, God is “in the light.”

These two tests follow a pattern that will continue throughout 1 John. First, all the tests John offers are objective and observable, designed to reveal a person’s true intentions apart from verbal claims. Deeds are the test for words, and while words can be false John seems to believe that a person’s actions reveal his or her true nature. Second, many of John’s tests follow the “if … [but] … then” pattern evident here, giving them an absolute quality consistent with his dualistic stance. This presentation effectively eliminates any gray area, for a single premise (“if”) always leads to a single conclusion (“then”), irrespective of any contingent circumstances (“but”). Here, “if” one claims to have fellowship with God “but” walks in the darkness, “then” he is a liar; on the other hand, “if” one walks in the light, “then” her sins are forgiven, granting fellowship with God. There are no exceptions.

What does it mean, then, to “walk in the light” or to “walk in the darkness”? Since vv. 8–10 stress the need to acknowledge sin, it is reasonable to understand vv. 6–7 in ethical terms. Marshall, 110, observes that “to live in the darkness means to live without the benefit of divine illumination and guidance and so to live in sin.” Similarly, Brown, 230–31, is surprised that “the first overt attack on dangerous ideas [in 1 John] is in the moral sphere. One might have expected the author to begin with the Christological errors that are so much on his mind.” It may be, however, that Brown’s expectation is more accurate than his conclusion. While vv. 8–10 clearly address the problem of sin, “walking in the darkness” is not typically used in this way in the fourth gospel. In John 8:12, for example, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” During his final public appeal in Jerusalem, Jesus urges the Jews to believe in him and “walk while you have the light, before darkness overtakes you. The man who walks in the dark does not know where he is going” (Jn 12:35; cf. 11:9–10). Each time Jesus refers to “walking in darkness,” he does so in the context of a claim that God’s “light” is available, and 1 John 1:5–7 also explicitly contrasts “walking in the darkness” with the claim that “God is light.” These texts suggest that “walking in the darkness” refers to a failure to accept the revelation of God through Jesus. To “walk in the light” presumably means to accept John’s teaching about Jesus, which is why he and such people “have fellowship with one another.” This fellowship is based on a common experience of forgiveness of sins, which in John’s view only true Christians enjoy.

The question remains as to whom John wishes to distinguish with this first set of tests (1 Jn 1:5–10). Many scholars believe that his remarks are aimed at the Antichrists, whose life and doctrines indicate that they “walk in the darkness.” Most who hold this position detect echoes of the Antichrists’ teaching in the tests John offers, suggesting that they used slogans, such as “we have communion with him” (v. 6) and “we do not have sin” (v. 8), which John wishes to refute (so Marshall, 110–13; Brown, 231–32; Culpepper, 16–18; Johnson, 29–32; Rensberger, 49–50). While this is certainly the case later on in the letter (2:22; 4:1–3), there is no way to tell whether or not the Antichrists advocated the doctrines mentioned here. It is clear that they did not share John’s view of the human nature of Jesus, but this belief would not inherently lead to the conclusion that Christians have no sin or that people who “walk in the darkness” can have communion with God.

On the other hand, John states on numerous occasions that “the world” is guilty of unrepentant sin and that those who are of the world, particularly the Jews, have serious misconceptions about their relationship with God. The world does not recognize Jesus (Jn 1:10; 12:47–49; 14:31; 17:25) and rejects him because his “light” exposes their evil deeds (Jn 3:19–20; 7:7; 16:8–11), and the Jews, who “do not have the love of God in [their] hearts” (Jn 5:42), have misunderstood Jesus and thereby rejected God (cf. Jn 1:5, 11; 5:39–47; 6:26, 36; 7:28–29; 8:14–15; 10:25–26, 34–38). The Jews, in fact, continue to cling to the false notion that salvation may be found in the Scriptures, Moses, and their lineage from Abraham, even after witnessing Jesus’ signs (Jn 5:39, 45–46; 6:32–33; 8:31–44). It seems more likely that John is speaking of these people rather than the Antichrists when he refers to those who “walk in the darkness.” Christians can easily distinguish themselves from such people on the basis of their faith in Jesus. Those who do not have faith—the world and the Jews—cannot be in good fellowship with God because their sins are not cleansed by Jesus’ blood.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 36–37). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2004). The Epistles of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 30–32). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 430–432). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 11 – Leading Others to Christ (Andrew)

The twelve apostles included “Andrew” (Matt. 10:2).

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Leading others to Christ should be a top priority in your life.

Andrew was Peter’s brother and a native of Bethsaida of Galilee. From the very start we see him leading people to Christ—beginning with his own brother.

The Gospel of John records his first encounter with Jesus: “John [the Baptist] was standing, and two of his disciples [Andrew and John], and he looked upon Jesus as He walked, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God!’ And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. … One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He found first his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah’ (which translated means Christ). He brought him to Jesus” (John 1:35–37, 40–42). Later Jesus called both Andrew and Peter to become His disciples, and they immediately left their fishing nets to follow Him (Matt. 4:20).

Our next glimpse of Andrew is in John 6:8–9. It was late in the day, and thousands of people who were following Jesus were beginning to get hungry, but there wasn’t enough food to feed them. Then Andrew brought to Jesus a young boy with five barley loaves and two fish. From that small lunch Jesus created enough food to feed the entire crowd!

Andrew also appears in John 12:20–22, which tells of some Greeks who were traveling to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover feast. They came to Philip and requested to see Jesus. Philip took them to Andrew, who apparently took them to Jesus.

Andrew didn’t always know how Jesus would deal with a particular person or situation, but he kept right on bringing them to Him anyway. That’s a characteristic every believer should have. Your spiritual gifts might differ from others, but your common goal is to make disciples (Matt. 28:19–20), and that begins with leading sinners to Christ. Make that your priority today!

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Suggestions for Prayer:  When was the last time you told an unbeliever about Jesus? Pray for an opportunity to do so soon.

For Further Study: Do you know how to present the gospel clearly and accurately? As a review read Romans 3:19–28, 1 Corinthians 15:1–8, Ephesians 2:8–10, and Titus 3:4–7.[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]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 144). 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.

MAY 11 – HUMAN SUFFERING: LEARN WHAT GOD SAYS ABOUT IT

For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

HEBREWS 2:18

Anything that gets as much space as the doctrine of human suffering gets in the Scriptures should certainly receive careful, reverent attention from children of the new creation.

We cannot afford to neglect it, for whether we understand it or not we are going to experience some suffering.

From the first cold shock that brings a howl of protest from the newborn infant, down to the last anguished gasp of the aged man, pain and suffering dog our footsteps as we journey here below. It will pay us to learn what God says about it so that we may know how to act and what to expect when it comes.

Because suffering is a real part of human life, Christ Himself took part in the same and learned obedience by the things which He suffered.

It should be said that there is a kind of suffering which profits no one: it is the bitter and defiant suffering of the lost. The man out of Christ may endure any degree of affliction without being any the wiser or the better for it.

There is a common suffering which we must share with all the sons of men—loss, bereavement, heartaches, disappointments, partings, betrayals and griefs of a thousand sorts.

But there is such a thing as consecrated griefs, sorrows that may be common to everyone but which take on a special character when accepted intelligently and offered to God in loving submission.[1]

  1. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

That Jesus’ humanity is genuine can be demonstrated, says the author of Hebrews, by the fact that Christ was tempted. He personally experienced the power of sin when Satan confronted him and when the weaknesses of our human nature became evident. Jesus experienced hunger when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, thirst when he asked the woman at Jacob’s well for water, weariness when he slept while the storm raged on the Sea of Galilee, and sorrow when he wept at the grave of Lazarus.

As high priest, through his sacrificial work, Jesus removed the curse of God that rested on man. Because of the forgiveness of sin, God’s love flows freely to the redeemed, and Jesus stands ready to help. Those who are being tempted may experience the active support of Jesus. They can expect nothing short of perfect understanding from Jesus, because he himself suffered when he was tempted.

Of course, Jesus did not share with us the experience of sin; instead, because of his sinlessness, Jesus fully experienced the intensity of temptation. He is able and willing to help us oppose the power of sin and temptation. As he said to the sinful woman in the house of Simon the Pharisee, “Your sins are forgiven.… Go in peace” (Luke 7:48, 50), so also Jesus shows his mercy, peace, and love to us. He is our sympathetic High Priest.[2]

18 This verse underlines the assertion that Jesus can be a “merciful” high priest because he (unlike the angels) has shared and therefore understands our human weakness. In the NT it is always difficult to know whether peirazō (GK 4279) should be translated “tempt” or “test”; both senses are inherent in the verb, and both apply to the experience of Jesus, “tested” by his Father and “tempted” by Satan (Mt 4:1–11); his passion was the supreme “test” (12:2–3). In Hebrews the verb is used of the Israelites “testing” of God (3:9) and of God’s “testing” of Abraham (11:17); but in 4:15, where it is used again specifically of Jesus, the qualification, “yet without sin,” suggests temptation to do wrong. That Jesus shared our experience of temptation, though without succumbing to it, is one of the most profound indications of his real humanity—and our assurance of his understanding and effective help when we are tempted.[3] 2:18 The fourth blessing is help for the tempted. Because He Himself has suffered and has been tempted, He is able to aid those who are going through temptation. He can help others going through it because He has been there Himself.

Here again we must add a word of qualification. The Lord Jesus was tempted from without, but never from within. The temptation in the wilderness shows Him being tempted from without. Satan appeared to Him and sought to appeal to Him by external stimuli. But the Savior could never be tempted to sin by lusts and passions within, for there was no sin in Him and nothing to respond to sin. He suffered, being tempted. Whereas it pains us to resist temptation, it pained Him to be tempted.[4]


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

[2] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, p. 78). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 57). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2164). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

MAY 11 – CONFESS CHRIST’S LORDSHIP

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.

Colossians 2:6

I think it is a completely wrong concept in Christian circles to look upon Jesus as a kind of divine nurse to whom we can go when sin has made us sick, and after He has helped us, to say, “Good-bye, Jesus”—and go on our own way.

Suppose I go into a hospital in need of a blood transfusion. After the staff has ministered to me and given their services, do I just slip out with a cheery “good-bye”—as though I owe them nothing and it was kind of them to help me in my time of need?

That may sound far-out to you, but it draws a picture of attitudes among us today.

But the Bible never in any way gives us such a concept of salvation. Nowhere are we ever led to believe that we can use Jesus as a Savior and not own Him as our Lord. He is the Lord and as the Lord He saves us, because He has all of the offices of Savior, Christ, High Priest, and Wisdom and Righteousness and Sanctification and Redemption!

He is all of these—and all of these are embodied in Him as Christ, the Lord!

Father, You are my Savior and my Lord. My debt to You is huge! I owe You my life.[1]


Therefore builds the concluding exhortation on what Paul has said in verses 2–5. The Colossians have received Christ Jesus the Lord, they have settled convictions about His deity and sufficiency, and are standing firm against the attacks of false teachers, so they must continue to walk in Him. The familiar term walk refers to daily conduct. In this context it means primarily to continue believing the truth about Christ, not allowing their Christology to waver.

In broader terms, however, walking in Christ means living in union with Him. It means to maintain a lifestyle patterned after His. “The one who says he abides in Him,” the apostle John writes, “ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). When faced with the dilemmas that confront Christians in their daily lives, the guideline should be, “What would Jesus do in this situation?” The hymn “O to Be Like Thee” expresses what should be the desire of every Christian:

O to be like Thee!

Blessed Redeemer, this is my constant longing and prayer;

Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,

Jesus Thy perfect likeness to wear.

O to be like Thee!

O to be like Thee, Blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!

Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;

Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.[2]


6 The hōs oun (NIV, “so then”; NASB, “therefore as”) with which v. 6 begins marks a transition in Colossians. At this point, Paul moves from applauding the assembly to admonishing them in the(ir) faith. The apostle offers the fellowship warning and teaching, lest they be shifted from the gospel and stunted in their spiritual growth (cf. 1:23, 28). Paul’s instruction is predicated on the congregation’s reception of “Christ Jesus as Lord.” At a point in the past (the verb is a second aorist), the Colossians received Christ. Paul employs the verb paralambanō (“take” or “receive,” GK 4161) both here and elsewhere to refer to the oral transmission and subsequent reception of the gospel tradition, replete with both doctrinal and ethical instruction (see, e.g., 1 Co 11:23; 1 Co 15:1, 3; Gal 1:9; Php 4:9; 1 Th 2:13; 4:1; 2 Th 3:6). In contradistinction to the “philosophy,” Paul propounds that the traditions they had received were divine, not human, in origin or orientation (2:8; cf. Mk 7:4, 8; 1 Co 11:2; 2 Th 2:15; 3:6). The instruction that had been passed on to them and was subsequently received by them centered on the person Jesus, who is further depicted here as both “Christ” and “Lord.” The Colossians’ life in faith began with their reception and confession of Jesus Christ as Lord (cf. Ro 10:9; 1 Co 12:3; Php 2:11) and their baptism in him (Col 2:12; cf. Ro 6:3–5; Gal 3:27). It is “in him” (the Greek sentence structure emphasizes this prepositional phrase), the one in whom the gospel is grounded and on whom their faith is founded, that the Colossians are commanded to walk (NIV, “live”; cf. 1:10). They are not to live in him periodically in fits and starts but continuously, as indicated by the present active imperative verb peripateō (“walk” or “live,” GK 4344). Because the Colossians have received Christ as Lord and presently dwell in him (the so-called “Pauline indicative”), Paul calls the congregation to walk in him (the so-called “Pauline imperative”). (On the indicative/imperative pattern in Paul, see Michael Parsons, “Being Precedes Act: Indicative and Imperative in Paul’s Writing,” EvQ 88 [1988]: 99–127.) Their standing in and service of Christ are meant to be congruent and complementary.[3]


2:6 Now he encourages them to go on in the same way in which they had originally begun, that is, by faith. As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him. The emphasis here seems to be on the word Lord. In other words, they had acknowledged that in Him there was complete sufficiency. He was enough, not only for salvation, but for the whole of their Christian life. Now Paul urges the saints to go on acknowledging the lordship of Christ. They should not stray from Him by accepting the teachings of men, however convincing they may sound. The word walk is one that is often used of the Christian life. It speaks of action and progress. You cannot walk and remain in the same place. So it is in the Christian life; we are either going forward or backward.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (p. 91). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 309). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2001). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 11 – What about Public Prayer?

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. 6:5b

In Jesus’ time, the synagogues were the likeliest and most appropriate places for sincere public praying. Devout Jews also offered many prayers on street corners, if that’s where they were at the appointed hour of prayer. But the word Jesus uses here indicates a major street, and therefore a major street corner where a bigger crowd would likely be. By inference the hypocrites were at fault for wanting to pray before the biggest possible audience. No location is intrinsically forbidden as a place of prayer. But it’s not right to consistently choose such a spot just to attract the largest audience.

As with anything tainted by human ambition and pride, the sin of praying in the wrong place begins in the heart. Like the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable (cf. Luke 18:11), the hypocrites He mentions here prayed primarily to themselves and before others, not to God—and He wants no part in that.

Some Christians have thought Jesus’ warnings here rule out all forms of public prayer. But to do so was not our Lord’s intention. He prayed many times with His apostles (e.g., Luke 11:1) and in the midst of much larger crowds (e.g., Matt. 14:19). The early church rejoiced and “lifted their voices to God with one accord” (Acts 4:24) after the Jewish leaders released Peter and John. Public praying also is available to us, whether in church, Sunday school, or any smaller meeting of fellow believers.

ASK YOURSELF
What reward do those who perform their religious practices for show actually receive? And why isn’t this enough to really satisfy—even when it’s paid “in full”?[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]


  1. Also, whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to say their prayers standing up in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by the people. The reference here is to prayer in general, including thanksgiving, praise, adoration, confession of sin, personal petition, intercession for the needs of others, etc. Among the Jews, though prayers were always appropriate, there were set times for prayer, when the pious were expected to attend to their devotions. Thus, there were morning, afternoon, and evening prayers (Ps. 55:17; Dan. 6:10; Acts 3:1). According to Josephus (Antiquities XIV.65) sacrifices, including prayers, were offered in the temple “twice a day, in the early morning and at the ninth hour.” There was also a sunset service. Naturally, if one were living or staying in or near Jerusalem and could get to the temple in time, that would seem to the devout Israelite to be the best place to pray (Luke 18:9, 10; Acts 3:1). Otherwise, the synagogue would do, or even the street.

Now Scripture nowhere condemns public prayer (2 Chron. 6:14–42; Neh. 9; Acts 4:24–31), nor individual prayer offered in a public place. Neither the Pharisee nor the publican sinned by praying in the temple (Luke 18:9, 10). What the Lord condemns here is ostentatious praying, that is, having one’s private (?) devotions in the most public place, with the intention of being seen and honored by the people. That was, however, exactly what the hypocrites were in the habit of doing. When the Pharisee of Christ’s famous parable (Luke 18:9–14) entered the temple, he took care not to be standing in some corner or at a considerable distance from the front, like the publican. He stood up in front, in full view of everyone who might be present. What happened in the temple took place also in the synagogue. And even at the street corners! Note: here not alleys or alleyways as in 6:2, but the corners of the busiest streets. Did the hypocrites just happen to reach the most conspicuous place at exactly the right moment? However that may be, their motive and purpose was “to be seen by the people” and to be admired by them. It is this that Jesus condemns.—From this it appears clearly that in the teaching of Jesus it is the inner disposition that counts. It is the heart truly and humbly devoted to God upon which the divine approval rests (John 4:24).

As to the hypocrites and their vain display, Jesus repeats the words spoken just a moment ago (see on verse 2): I solemnly declare to you, they have already received their reward in full.

The negative condemnation of the wrong practice is followed by the positive exhortation to follow the right practice, just as in verses 2 and 3 in connection with giving to charity, and in verses 16–18 in connection with fasting. From start to finish the sermon is arranged in a very orderly, systematic, and logical manner.[3]


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).[4]


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.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 140). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

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

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 321–322). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

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

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

MAY 11 – GOD HAS NO ORIGIN

Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth: and the heavens are the work of thy hands.

—Psalm 102:25

God is self-existent selfhood. Novation, the church father, said, “God has no origin.” Just those four words, “God has no origin,” would be an education to the average person. Origin, you see, is a creature word. Everything came from somewhere. One of the questions that every child asks is, “Where did I come from?”…

Everything has an origin. When you hear a bird sing, you know that once that bird was packed in a tiny little egg. It came from somewhere; it came from an egg. Where did the egg come from? It came from another little bird. And that bird came from another little egg, and that egg came from another bird, and so on, back, back, back to the heart of God, when God said, “Let the heavens bring forth, let the earth bring forth, let the dry land appear,” as it says in Genesis 1.

Origin is a creature word. The trees had an origin, space had an origin, the mountains, the seas—all things have an origin. But when you come back to God, you come back to the One who has no origin. He is the Cause of all things, the uncaused Cause. AOGII021

I worship You today, Lord, as the great Creator, the uncaused Cause behind my very existence. Amen. [1]


102:25 This verse emphasizes that Yahweh is the one who rightfully reigns over everything, for He created it.[2]


102:25 Of old. God existed before His work of creation. The author of Hebrews applies vv. 25–27 to Christ (Heb. 1:10–12). There the argument is that however great the angels are considered, they are created and not eternal. But Christ, the second person of the Trinity, exists through all eternity.[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 102:25). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 950). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

MAY 11 – CONCENTRATE

I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead.

Philippians 3:13

An athlete running a race must fix his eyes on something ahead of himself. He can’t watch his feet or he’ll fall on his face. He can’t be distracted by the other runners. He must focus on the goal straight ahead.

Paul’s remarkable concentration was the result of two things. First, he chose to forget “those things which are behind.” That includes both good and bad things. It means we should not dwell on past virtuous deeds and achievements any more than we should think about past sins and failures. Unfortunately, many Christians are so distracted by the past that they don’t make any current progress.

Instead of looking at the past, Paul focused on the future. “Reaching forward” pictures a runner stretching every muscle to reach the goal. To do that he has to eliminate the distractions and concentrate only on the goal ahead. Do you have that kind of concentration in your desire to become like Christ?[1]


Pursuing the Prize Requires a Focused Concentration

Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, (3:13)

A maximum effort without focused concentration is useless. Every athlete knows that runners in a race must fix their eyes ahead of them; those who watch the crowd or their own feet are likely to trip and fall. To make a maximum effort in any athletic endeavor requires the participants to concentrate on a point straight ahead.

Paul addresses the Philippians with the gentle, intimate, affectionate term brethren to move their hearts away from the Judaizers and toward him. For the third time in this passage, Paul adds the disclaimer I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet. The apostle’s intent is polemical. He is directing his argument at those who were teaching error, and he wants to make the truth abundantly clear. Despite the false teachers’ claims to the contrary, spiritual perfection is not attainable in this life.

Though Paul had not achieved spiritual perfection, he had that blessed discontent that motivated him to pursue it. In fact, it had become the one pursuit of his life, expressed in the phrase but one thing I do. I do is not in the Greek text, but was added by the translators because it is implied. In the Greek text Paul communicates his single-mindedness in a staccato, brief, impassioned, almost abrupt manner. The apostle’s focus on his goal was total, his level of concentration acute.

It is such singularly focused people who succeed in athletics and in other pursuits of life. Many people dabble in much, but succeed at nothing. Despite all the energy they expend, they accomplish little. Their lives are full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. James called them “double-minded … unstable in all [their] ways” (James 1:8). To avoid such lack of focus the psalmist prayed, “Unite my heart to fear Your name” (Ps. 86:11), and Solomon counseled, “Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Watch the path of your feet and all your ways will be established. Do not turn to the right nor to the left” (Prov. 4:25–27). When believers have one driving compulsion, to be like Christ, they will move toward spiritual perfection.

Such concentration possesses both a negative and a positive aspect. Negatively, Paul maintained his focus by forgetting what lies behind. A runner who looks back risks being passed. Nor does a runner’s performance in past races guarantee success or failure in present or future races. The past is not relevant; what matters is making the maximum effort in the present so as to sustain momentum in the future. Perfectionists and legalists look to their past achievements to validate their supposed spiritual status. The Judaizers sought to ensnare the Galatians in the past, prompting Paul to write, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how is it that you turn back again to the weak and worthless elemental things, to which you desire to be enslaved all over again?” (Gal. 4:9).

Paul made a break with everything in his past, both good and bad. Religious achievements, virtuous deeds, great successes in ministry, as well as sins, missed opportunities, and disasters must all be forgotten. They do not control the present or the future. Believers cannot live on past victories, nor should they be debilitated by the guilt of past sins.

Churches are full of spiritual cripples, paralyzed by the grudges, bitterness, sins, and tragedies of the past. Others try to survive in the present by reliving past successes. They must break with that past if they are to pursue the spiritual prize. God is interested in what believers do now and in the future. “No one,” declared Jesus, “after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62). The clearest vision belongs to those who forget the past.

Positively, Paul maintained his focus by reaching forward to what lies ahead. Reaching forward translates a participial form of the verb epekteinō, a compound verb made up of two prepositions added to the verb teinō (“to stretch”). It describes stretching a muscle to its limit, and pictures a runner straining every muscle to reach the finish line.

As already noted, the goal on which believers must focus is being like Jesus Christ. It was also the goal of Paul’s ministry to “present every man complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28). He also expressed that goal to the Ephesians:

And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ. As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. (Eph. 4:11–14)

To the Galatians Paul wrote that he was “in labor until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19). He exhorted the Corinthians to “be made complete” (2 Cor. 13:11), and his coworker Epaphras prayed that the Colossians would “stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God” (Col. 4:12). Pursuing Christlikeness here and now, until we are made like Him in glory, defines the progress of the Christian life and the target of ministry.[2]


Striving for the Living Christ

Philippians 3:13–14

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Several years ago an Englishman named C. Northcote Parkinson wrote a humorous book on the functioning of corporations called Parkinson’s Law. One chapter in the book set about to analyze the disease that has affected a corporation in which, according to Parkinson, “the higher officials are plodding and dull, those less senior are active only in intrigue against each other, and the junior men are frustrated or frivolous.” The disease goes through stages, he says, from the point at which a person appears in the organization’s hierarchy who combines in himself “a high concentration of incompetence and jealousy,” to the point at which the whole corporation is characterized by smugness and apathy. At this point little is attempted and nothing is achieved. Parkinson calls the disease injelititis, and he defines it as induced inferiority or paralysis. In our terms it is complacency or the absence of the urge to shoot high.

I wondered as I read the book if something of the sort is not found in the lives of many Christians. In this case, of course, it would be a spiritual smugness or spiritual apathy. It would be seen most clearly in complacency regarding spiritual things. I think spiritual injelititis is found widely. It may be found in you. Have you lost your vision for God’s future blessing on your life? Or have you ceased to work hard in his service? If so, you have caught the disease, and the words of our text would be a rousing challenge to your apathy.

Paul writes about his goals, setting himself as an example: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14). Paul was not complacent, and we shouldn’t be either. Instead of smugness Paul knew a sanctified ambition, and he threw himself eagerly into the race that God had set before him.

Paul says that he had learned to press ahead in three ways. First, he forgets those things that are behind. Second, he looks forward to those things that are ahead. Third, he presses on toward the mark of the prize of God’s calling. In Paul’s mind there was a sanctified forgetting, a sanctified looking ahead, and a sanctified striving for that to which God had called him.

Forgetting the Past

In the first place, Paul says that he forgets those things that are behind. What are they? Well, he certainly did not forget his knowledge of the Bible and Christian doctrine; the letter he had just written proves that. Some of the greatest truths of the Christian faith are given in this very chapter. Moreover, he certainly did not forget God’s grace and God’s great mercies, because he has been talking about them throughout the letter. He knew that all he had to value in his life came through the grace of God manifested in Jesus Christ.

What is the nature of this forgetting then? It is the kind of forgetting that occurs when we cease to let things that are in the past overshadow the present, that lets the past be past, both the good and the bad, and that constantly looks forward to the work that God still has for us.

There is an illustration of the opposite of this attitude in the Old Testament. When God led the people of Israel out of Egypt toward the Promised Land, he provided everything that they needed for their journey. They had shade by day and light by night. They had water to drink and manna to eat. The time came, however, when the people ceased to look forward to the land that God was giving them and instead looked back to their life in Egypt. They said, “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost—also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic. But now we have lost our appetite; we never see anything but this manna!” (Num. 11:5–6). The people of Israel began to hunger for these things, and God taught them a great lesson by giving them the things they asked for. He gave them quail until they grew sick of it. The point of the illustration, however, is that they began to look back and failed to trust God for their present and future blessings.

This does not mean, of course, that we are not to be thankful for past blessings. If we had been among the people of Israel when they were in Egypt and we had been able to buy the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic, it would have been quite proper to thank God for them, especially if we had been slaves. It would have been proper to remember years later how gracious God had been. But it would have been entirely wrong to long for these things after God had begun to lead us into new paths and had set new and greater blessings before us.

Unfortunately there are many leeks-and-garlic Christians among us. You are one if you are constantly looking to the past. If your Christian testimony is entirely taken up with what God did for you thirty or forty years ago, or if you are constantly talking about the good old days when God’s blessing on your life seemed great, then you are looking to the past. You can never do that and move forward. One of my good friends describes old age as the point in life when a person ceases to look forward and always looks backward. If that is accurate, then there are certainly a lot of old Christians—and I do not mean in terms of their years. They are living a leeks-and-garlic type of Christianity, and Paul warns against it. He would say, “Look! Past blessings are fine. We have received them from God’s hands, and we should be thankful for them. We rejoice in everything that he has done in our lives. But now we must let those things lie in the past and move forward.” There can be no progress without this proper forgetting.

Reaching Forward

The second thing that Paul claims to have done is to have fixed his gaze on the many things that God would yet be doing. He speaks of himself as “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Phil. 3:13). Someone once asked David Livingstone when he was back in England briefly after having worked for many years in Africa, “Well, Dr. Livingstone, where are you ready to go now?” Livingstone answered, “I am ready to go anywhere, provided it be forward.” That is what Paul would have said. Paul’s sense of the Lord’s leading was always linked to his awareness of open doors. Paul expected the Lord to open doors, and when he did, Paul went through them instantly. Through those doors Paul was constantly striving toward those things that were ahead.

It is precisely at this point that these verses are often misunderstood. When verse 14 speaks of the “goal” and the “prize” of God’s high calling, most readers think of a prize received in heaven, and then interpret verse 13 as a description of Paul’s striving for a heavenly reward. This is not the true meaning of the verses. It is true that the prize is probably a prize received in heaven. But the prize is achieved, as in a long race, not by pressing toward the prize itself but by pressing on to one mark after another along the racecourse of the Christian life. Actually, Paul says that he is striving to achieve this aspect of his calling.

This is evident in the text in two ways. First, verse 14 speaks of the “heavenward” calling of God in Christ Jesus. This throws the emphasis of the verse upon the ascent. Second, Paul mentions God’s “call.” In the New Testament when this word is used of a Christian it almost always refers to God’s calling to be conformed day by day to the image of Jesus Christ. That, too, is a reference to the present.

Do we run our race like that as Christians? We can err in two ways in the running of the Christian life. We can err by looking only at the past; this is sin, for it is a lack of faith in God’s future blessing. But we can also err by looking only at so distant a future that we miss the more immediate blessings that God has in store for this life.

Instead of either of these, we should run our race striving toward each new task before us. We should awake in the morning to say, “Lord, here is a new day that you have given me. I know that there are new things to be done and new lessons to be learned. Help me to use this day as well as I possibly can—to raise my children properly, to do well at my job, to help my neighbor.” And when we go to bed that night we can pray, “Lord, I have not done anything today as well as I should have, and I missed many of your blessings. But thank you for being with me. Help me now to place today’s experiences behind and rest well so that I may serve you better tomorrow.” God will do it, for he is anxious to lead us onward in our experience and our service for him.

Spiritual Battles

There is a third point to Paul’s statement in these verses. The life Paul wishes to live involves not only a forgetting of the past and looking forward to the things that lie ahead. It also involves a striving for these things. This involves perseverance, discipline, and concentration. Do you concentrate on the Christian life, or is your mind filled with the things of this world? Do you fix your mind on the things God has for you, or do the temporary, passing, and insignificant things of this world crowd out the lasting, eternal things?

If we are really to engage in that great struggle for God’s best that Paul is speaking about, we must also be prepared for vigorous spiritual conflict. For our striving is not only against ourselves or our circumstances but against the spiritual forces of this world that seek to hinder us. Paul calls them principalities and powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world.

Satan’s attacks are directed against Jesus Christ, and he does not care much about a believer who is far away from his Lord. If you want an easy time as a Christian, all you have to do is to get far away from Jesus Christ—move away to the periphery of the battle. Satan is not going to bother you much out there because that is where he wants you. However, if you draw close to the Lord, as Paul wished to do, and join with him in the battle, then Satan’s arrows will start coming at you too. The battle will be hard and you will find it necessary to use God’s weapons for the conflict.

All too often Christians arm themselves with the weapons of the world instead of with God’s armor. In Ephesians 6 Paul speaks of God’s weapons as truth, righteousness, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God. But how often do believers prefer the world’s armor: wisdom, self-confidence, financial security, success, and popularity! This is not the armor that God has prepared for his warriors.

The first part is truth, for Paul writes, “Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist” (Eph. 6:14). Pilate asked Jesus about the truth, but he did not wait for an answer. If he had, he would have learned that Christ is the truth and that God’s Word is truth (John 14:6; 17:17). If we are to stand fast as Christians, we must first be armed with the truth about Christ and with the great, energizing principles of God’s Word.

We are also to have on the breastplate of righteousness. This is not the righteousness with which we are clothed by God when we believe in Jesus Christ. It is not the divine righteousness that Paul is talking about here. If we are believers in Christ, we already have that righteousness and there is no need to admonish the Christian to put it on. The righteousness mentioned here is a practical righteousness that is meant to characterize the life of the individual. Christians are to live holy lives and must not allow their conduct to damage their testimony.

Then too we are to have our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. This means that we are to have mastered the heart of the gospel of God’s grace to humans in Jesus Christ and to be ready to explain it to others. In the same way, Peter admonished his readers to “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15).

We are also to take the shield of faith. This is not the faith we exercised in believing in Jesus Christ originally, but a present faith that does not doubt in the midst of God’s current dealing with us. Does it seem to you that events have turned against you? Do you see what appear to be uncontrollable setbacks in your work or in your relationships to other people? That is where the shield of faith must be raised against all attacks of Satan. You must learn to say of God as Job did, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15).

There is also the helmet of salvation. How wonderful to know that the center of our being is protected by the great and eternal salvation that God has worked out for us!

Finally, we are to take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. A special Greek word is used for the term “word” in verse 17. It gives the verse a slightly different meaning from the previous admonition in verse 14 to be armed with the truth. This word is not the normal Greek noun logos, which refers to the Word of God in its entirety. It is the more restrictive word hrema, which really means “a saying.” Paul is saying that we are to be armed with specific sayings of Scripture, specific verses, and that we are to be able to draw on them in every circumstance and in every spiritual engagement.

As we engage in the battles of the Christian life that result from our striving for the victories that God sets before us, we can take confidence in the fact that the victory of Jesus Christ has already guaranteed the outcome. By his death and resurrection Jesus Christ decisively defeated Satan and the forces of darkness, and we now advance under his banner to enforce his conquest. We are to wear his weapons. As we go we are to echo Paul’s challenge: “Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13–14).[3]


  1. Brothers, I do not count myself yet to have laid hold. This is no superfluous repetition of a confession of imperfection. On the contrary, something is added now. The very word that introduces the sentence—namely, brothers, a word of endearment and also in this case of deep concern (see on 1:12)—shows that the apostle is deeply moved. Far more clearly than before, he is now intimating that the church at Philippi is being vexed by people who imagine that they have laid hold on perfection. These errorists probably based this claim on the fact that, as they saw it, they had not only accepted Jesus as their Savior but were also scrupulous in their adherence to Judaistic rites (see above, on verses 1–3). The apostle summarily rejects their claims by saying, as it were, “Such has not been my experience. Legal rectitude, slavery to outworn ordinances, hindered me instead of helping me. Moreover, as a believer in Christ alone, I for one am still far removed from the goal of spiritual perfection. Whatever any one else may claim, I have not yet laid hold on it.”

This, however, does not mean that Paul is indolent or despairing. On the contrary, he refuses to acquiesce in sin. As a runner in the race he stresses his exertion.

  1. Exertion

Paul writes, But one thing (I do). The runner in the race practises persistent concentration on one, and only one, objective, namely, to press on toward the goal for the prize. He permits nothing to divert him from his course. His aim is definite, well-defined.

So it is also with Paul. On reading his epistles one is amazed by this unity of purpose which characterizes the apostle’s entire life after conversion. Paul aimed at gaining Christ and perfection in him, a perfection not only of uninterruptible assurance but also of loving consecration: “Teach me to love thee as thy angels love, one holy passion filling all my frame.”

“Lord Jesus, I long to be perfectly whole;

I want thee forever to live in my soul,

Break down every idol, cast out every foe,

Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Whiter than snow, yes, whiter than snow;

Now wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

(J. Nicholson)

Such concentration is absolutely necessary. In everyday life distractions are often disastrous. Excitement about an impending trip to Asia distracts a motorist. The result: a serious accident. Similarly, in the spiritual realm worldly cares, the false glamor of wealth, and all kinds of evil desires enter in to choke the word of the gospel (Mark 4:19). Over-emphasis on sports, clothes, physical charm, etc., prevents the runner from reaching the spiritual goal. Real, undivided concentration is a matter of ceaseless effort on man’s part. It is at the same time the product of the operation of grace in the heart. It is the answer to the prayer, “Unite my heart to fear thy name” (Ps. 86:11).

Such concentration presents its requirements. The first is mental obliteration of that part of the course which the runner has already covered. Paul says, forgetting what lies behind (me). The runner does not look back. He knows that if he does, he will lose his speed, his direction, and finally the race itself. Looking back while running ahead is always very dangerous.

So it is also spiritually. Here too looking back is forbidden. Remember Lot’s wife (Luke 17:32). Now when Paul says that he forgets what lies behind, he refers to a type of forgetting which is no mere, passive oblivion. It is active obliteration, so that when any thought of merits, piled up in the past, would occur to Paul, he immediately banished it from his mind. This is not Nirvana. It is not the state resulting from drinking the waters of Lethe. It is a constant, deliberate discarding of any thought of past attainments.

The second indispensable requisite of effective concentration is unwavering progression. Hence, Paul continues, and eagerly straining forward to what lies ahead. The verb used in the original is very graphic. It pictures the runner straining every nerve and muscle as he keeps on running with all his might toward the goal, his hand stretched out as if to grasp it.

No less necessary is unwavering progression in the spiritual sphere. But if it be true that Paul on this side of the grave never reaches ethical-spiritual perfection—the perfection of condition, that is, holy living, and of constant, never-interrupted, full assurance of his state—, then why strive so eagerly for it? Is not the apostle foolish when he strives with such constancy and ardor to reach a goal which he knows he cannot fully attain in this life? The answer is twofold:

  1. Although a person cannot actually reach this objective here and now, he can, indeed, make progress toward it. This matter of ethical-spiritual perfection is by no means an all-or-nothing proposition. As Paul himself teaches everywhere, there is such a thing as making progress in sanctification. The line of progress may indeed be zig-zag, but this does not rule out the possibility of real progress. In fact, such advancement, such gradual development when the seed of true religion has been implanted in the heart, must be considered normal (Mark 4:28; Phil. 1:6, 9, 26; 4:17; then Eph. 4:12, 13; Col. 1:9–11; 1 Thess. 3:12; 4:1, 10; 2 Thess. 1:3; 1 Tim. 4:15; 2 Tim. 2:1).
  2. Such spiritual perfection in Christ, considered as God’s gracious gift, is actually granted only to those who strive for it! The prize is given to those who press on toward the goal (verse 14; cf. 2 Tim. 4:7, 8).

Concentration, obliteration, progression, accordingly, are the key-words of that spiritual exertion which results in perfection. It is by these means that one presses on toward the goal.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 148). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 246–248). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Boice, J. M. (2000). Philippians: an expositional commentary (pp. 196–201). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, pp. 172–174). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.