Daily Archives: May 12, 2017

May 12, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


May 12, 2017 |


The U.S. reached agreement with China to promote market access for American natural gas, financial services and beef that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said was part of a broader effort to begin reshaping the trade relationship between the world’s two largest economies.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions directed federal prosecutors to seek more serious charges against most suspects, a move he said would end “inconsistent” policies of the Justice Department.

Nigeria’s lawmakers approved to boost spending by 21 percent this year to help the West African economy recover from its worst slump in 25 years.

Russia is seeking to convince the U.S. to accept an Iranian role in a plan for foreign troops to police safe zones in Syria as a step toward ending the six-year war.

Saudi Arabia is preparing to cement ties with President Donald Trump by committing to unprecedented investments in the U.S. The kingdom’s sovereign wealth fund is set to announce plans to deploy as much as $40 billion into U.S. infrastructure.

A pickup in U.S. retail sales last month adds to signs of steady consumer spending that will help propel the economy after a first-quarter slowdown, Commerce Department data showed Friday.

A NASA working group has concluded after a two-month review that sending astronauts on the first flight of its massive new rocket wouldn’t be feasible due to the immense costs of safely accommodating a crew on the planned 2019 mission, the first step in America’s return to human space exploration.

AP Top Stories

Hamas has arrested the suspected murderer of one of its key military commanders in Gaza, the Palestinian Islamist movement’s leader said Thursday, while maintaining Israel was behind the March assassination.

Jakarta’s once hugely popular governor is being held in a simple room at a high-security detention center, his only comforts a Bible and visitors twice a week. It’s a grim new life following his conviction for insulting Islam in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

School officials never told the mother of an 8-year-old Ohio boy who killed himself that another student had thrown him against the wall two days earlier and knocked him unconscious in an attack recorded by a surveillance video, attorneys for the boy’s mother said Thursday. The 8-year-old hanged himself with a necktie in the bedroom of his Cincinnati home on Jan. 26. School officials called the boy’s mother the day her son was bullied and said he had fainted.

Jihadists preparing for a desperate last stand in Mosul are booby-trapping homes with civilians inside and welding doors shut on starving families to prevent the population from fleeing, residents say. Iraqi forces are closing in fast on the Old City and its narrow streets, where the Islamic State group is expected to focus its significantly depleted military capabilities.

The 82 girls freed by Boko Haram on Saturday after being held captive for three years are still waiting to be reunited with their families, while all the girls found last year will be heading back to school in September, Nigerian officials said.

North Korea has said it has the right to “ruthlessly punish” American citizens it has detained for alleged crimes against the government.

Tens of thousands of Catholic faithful awaited the arrival of Pope Francis in Fatima with rising excitement Friday as the pontiff took off from Rome en route to the Portuguese holy site.

TRAPPIST-1 is a planetary system over 40 light years away from Earth, and the discovery of seven Earth-sized exoplanets orbiting their star was announced in February. Three of the stars are within the habitable zone of the star, making them and the system as a whole a very exciting place for space exploration, particularly the search for life as we know it. Scientists also said at the time that the system was very unstable, and that the intersecting orbits of its planets would likely smash them into each other in less than a million years.

Former U.S. Representative Corrine Brown of Florida was found guilty in federal court on Thursday of fraud for helping to raise $800,000 for a bogus charity and using the funds for concerts and golf, U.S. Justice Department officials said. Her sentencing date has not been set.

SpaceX is gearing up for its next big step forward in spaceflight: launching the Falcon Heavy. The heavy-lift launch vehicle will use three Falcon 9 cores bolted together-two first stages that have already been launched, landed and recovered, as well as a shiny new core stage that will sit in the center of the two used boosters.


The US and China have reached a 10-point trade deal that opens the Chinese market to US credit rating agencies and credit card companies.

A woman missing for six nights in the Montana wilderness with nothing but her dog and a sweater was found by search crews. Apart from being hungry and tired, she was not injured and asked rescuers if she could hike back with them.

Brazil has declared an end to a national emergency over the Zika virus after a sharp 95% decrease in cases.

German schools can now play the Bee Gees hit Stayin’ Alive without charge to help children learn emergency heart massage.


A vast majority of Americans who call themselves Christians do not hold a biblical worldview, a new study by the Barna Group finds. Only 17 percent do, the survey showed.

Sikhs for Liberty, a group of Sikhs in Virginia, has created a new political organization to emphasize their support for the U.S. Constitution, partly because the media has often portrayed Sikhs as sidekicks for separatist Islamic groups in the United States.

From coast to coast, parents are rebelling against what they describe as Islamic indoctrination of their children in public schools.

The Briefing 05-12-17

We can’t escape nature: Tennessee judge grants lesbian rights of “husband” in same-sex divorce

Will the US military ever be able to write transgender policy that satisfies gender revolutionaries?

Historically, LGBT activists were against the US Census collecting LGBT data. Why are they for it now?

How the American Civil Liberties Union is standing against the civil liberties of Americans

The scouting story continues: Mormon Church severs ties with Boy Scouts of America

The post The Briefing 05-12-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

Top Headlines – 5/12/2017

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.

May 11, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — Nobody does it better than President Donald Trump. That is, drive the media crazy. And the Washington Post has gone nuts in reacting to the firing of FBI Director James Comey…. (more)

May 11, 2017
BYRON YORK — Here’s what I have been able to glean so far about the decision to fire FBI Director James Comey: During the transition, there were members of the Trump team involved with justice and law enforcement issues who felt Comey should be fired. They believed Comey had badly screwed up the Hillary Clinton investigation – – first to Trump’s detriment, on July 5, when he essentially laid out an indictment of Clinton but concluded by saying no charges would be brought, and later to Trump’s benefit, on Oct. 28, just 11 days before the election, when he re-opened the Clinton investigation…. (more)

May 11, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — He’s a slimmer, balder, bespectacled version of Jimmy Stewart and just two weeks after going to Washington, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has already helped President Trump fire FBI Director James Comey…. (more)

May 11, 2017
MICHAEL BARONE — Why did President Trump fire FBI Director James Comey now? The answer, as my Washington Examiner colleague Byron York has argued, is that he waited until after his impeccably apolitical Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was in place as Comey’s direct superior…. (more)

May 11, 2017
NEWSMAX — Fired FBI Director James Comey urged his former colleagues at the bureau to continue “upholding the Constitution” in a resignation letter released Wednesday night…. (more)

May 11, 2017
GARTH KANT — White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders vigorously defended President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, saying Hillary Clinton would have fired him “immediately” if she had been elected president…. (more)

May 11, 2017
JOE KOVACS — Perhaps “draining the swamp” needs to begin with certain personnel at the White House. Internet news powerhouse Matt Drudge is now claiming advisers to President Donald Trump who are leaking information to news media are “deliberately sabotaging” his presidency…. (more)

May 11, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Democrats are threatening to use every trick in the book to push Republicans to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate President Trump’s ties to Russia, after Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey…. (more)

May 11, 2017
NEWSMAX — The U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee issued a subpoena on Wednesday demanding documents related to Russia from President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn, ramping up its monthslong investigation of Moscow’s alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election…. (more)

May 11, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Thanks to Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy, the healthcare policy pronouncements of late night comic Jimmy Kimmel are back in the headlines. This is terrible news, because Kimmel’s statements represent everything that is wrong about this nation’s healthcare debate…. (more)

May 11, 2017
BRYAN FISCHER — God, science, and the Bible agree: there are just two genders: male and female. We’re told quite explicitly in Genesis 1:27 “male and female he created them.” Biological science confirms this. If a child is conceived with an X+Y combination of genes, he is a boy from the moment of conception and will be a male until the day he dies. If a child is conceived with an X+X combination, she is a girl from the moment of conception and will be a female until the day she dies…. (more)

May 11, 2017
BOB UNRUH — The F-bombing “gay” dean of student life in the Downingtown, Pennsylvania, school district has resigned from his post, according to an announcement delivered Thursday to WND by school officials…. (more)

May 11, 2017
NEWSMAX — The Mormon Church said Thursday it would pull nearly 185,000 older youths out of the Boy Scouts beginning Jan. 1 to start its own programs for them…. (more)

May 11, 2017
NEW YORK TIMES — Pushing back against implications that it actively helped the Nazi regime, The Associated Press defended its reporting from Nazi Germany during the 1930s and ’40s on Wednesday, publishing a lengthy review that detailed its fraught relationship with the regime…. (more)

May 10, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — President Trump unexpectedly fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, after a finding by the Justice Department that he mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails last year…. (more)

May 9, 2017
GRABIEN — News just broke that President Trump is dismissing the director of the FBI, James Comey. Comey will inevitably be remembered for the controversial role he played in the 2016 presidential election, where his agency conducted surveillance of the Trump campaign as well as investigated the Clinton camp for mishandling classified materials, giving both sides arguments for how the FBI ultimately swayed the vote…. (more)

May 9, 2017
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — Jim Comey has been a good friend to me over the years. I have disagreed strenuously with a number of decisions he made in connection with the Hillary Clinton investigation – – with his rationales and with the fact that he was presuming to exercise authority that was not his to exercise…. (more)

May 9, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — A member of the Senate Republican healthcare working group is working to build support for an alternative to the House-passed Obamacare repeal bill, one that allows for cross-state insurance purchases, and includes medical malpractice reform, health savings accounts and the expansion of association health plans…. (more)

May 9, 2017
NEWSMAX — A lot of people were impressed with former President Barack Obama’s acceptance speech as he received the Profiles in Courage Award on Sunday night, but conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer was not among them…. (more)

May 9, 2017
NEWSMAX — The dossier on then presidential candidate Donald Trump that contained scandalous allegations of purported ties to Russia could not be verified by the U.S. intelligence community, America’s former intelligence chief said Monday…. (more)

May 9, 2017
LEO HOHMANN — Mohamed Elibiary is at it again. The Egyptian-born Muslim Brotherhood operative and former senior adviser to President Obama on Homeland Security matters is no stranger to controversy…. (more)

May 9, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — The White House announced President Trump’s intention Monday to nominate a slate of 10 conservatives to the federal judiciary, building on his successful nomination of Supreme Court Justice Neil M. Gorsuch in his biggest push yet to reshape the federal courts…. (more)

May 9, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — The California government may soon employ openly Communist people in its ranks. The state assembly passed a bill Monday that would repeal a policy that had made being a member of the Communist Party a fireable offense. The legislation was supported along party lines with most Republicans opposing it while Democrats mainly favored the policy…. (more)

May 8, 2017
ALAN KEYES — The famous English historian Edward Gibbon took the view that the rise of Christianity played a critically important role in the fall of both the Western and Eastern divisions of the Roman Empire. Christianity’s rise among the common folk of the Empire and its elites encouraged the depreciation of pagan piety…. (more)

May 8, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — After chants of “Lock Her Up,” a peaceful pro-Trump protester was harassed, assaulted, and then arrested at the People’s Climate March in Washington, D.C. on April 29. Police told me to back off as I recorded their rough treatment of Rita Solon, a local resident, who was simply holding a “Make America Great Again” banner and walking back and forth…. (more)

This morning [Thursday], on behalf of President Donald Trump, it was humbling to join people of faith from across the world at the first-ever World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians.

There, I reaffirmed the President’s commitment to defending Christians and, frankly, all who suffer for their beliefs across the wider world.  America was and is and ever will be that shining city on a hill where men and women of faith throughout our history have been able to walk and openly worship their faith in God to the glory of God.

The faith of those gathered at the World Summit inspired and humbled me. The reality is, across the wider world, the Christian faith is under siege.  Throughout the world, no people of faith today face greater hostility or hatred than the followers of Christ.  In more than 100 countries spread to every corner of the globe –- from Iran to Eritrea, Nigeria to North Korea –- over 215 million Christians confront intimidation, imprisonment, forced conversion, abuse, assault, or worse, for holding to the truths of the Gospel.  And nowhere is this onslaught against our faith more evident than in the very ancient land where Christianity was born.

Donald Trump welcomes Mahmoud Abbas to White House in Washington , May 3, 2017. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has crossed the Rubicon and voiced “unprecedented” readiness to reach a peace deal with Israel, sources close to the efforts to renew talks between Israel and the Palestinians have told The Jerusalem Post.

Abbas, according to the sources, made this clear to President Donald Trump during their meeting at the White House last week. The president plans to use his trip to Israel later this month to receive assurances from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that he, too, is committed to a peace agreement.

Since his meeting with Trump last week, Abbas has changed his rhetoric, issuing a number of statements meant to reflect flexibility on previous demands. He has, for example, said that he would renew the talks under Trump’s auspices without preconditions. In the past, he had said he would not negotiate with Netanyahu without a freeze to settlement construction.

What is likely the REAL deal with Russia, Trump, Hillary, the election, and a desperate Democratic Party

We’ll see how this plays out. My bet is that it won’t the way many Dems and allies hope. Of course one can ALWAYS be wrong.

I have no doubt that Russia doesn’t like Clinton. Almost everyone knows this. Clinton wanted to prop up the Ukraine and to demonize Russia for reacquiring (invading) The Crimea. (After a vote by the people of The Crimea to rejoin Russia. Crimea only became part of The Ukraine during the Khrushchev years.

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Many ‘practicing Christians’ agree with aspects of Marxism

Many “practicing Christians” agree with aspects of Marxism, according to a new study from the Barna Group, an evangelical research firm headquartered in Ventura, California.

Barna reported Tuesday that 36 percent of practicing Christians — defined as those “who go to church at least monthly and consider their faith very important in their life” — aligned with at least one aspect of Marxist ideology.

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Mid-Day Snapshot

May 12, 2017

Trump’s Statements Add Fuel to Controversy

His contradiction of his staff and vice president on the Comey firing don’t help dispel or quell the MSM conspiracy narrative.

The Foundation

“There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily.” —George Washington (1795)

Fake News Media Silent As Christians In The Middle East Being Driven Out By Islamic Terrorism

Like the Jews before them, Christians are fleeing the Middle East, emptying what was once one of the world’s most-diverse regions of its ancient religions.

“They shall put you out of the synagogues: yea, the time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God service.” John 16:2 (KJV)

They’re being driven away not only by Islamic State, but by governments the U.S. counts as allies in the fight against extremism. When suicide bomb attacks ripped through two separate Palm Sunday services in Egypt last month, parishioners responded with rage at Islamic State, which claimed the blasts, and at Egyptian state security.

Government forces assigned to the Mar Girgis church in Tanta, north of Cairo, neglected to fix a faulty metal detector at the entrance after church guards found a bomb on the grounds just a week before. The double bombing killed at least 45 people, and came despite promises from the Egyptian government to protect its Christian minority.

As congregants of the Tanta church swept the grounds of debris and scrubbed blood from the walls, a parishioner waved his national identity card: “This ID says whether we are Muslim or Christian. So how did that suicide bomber get into my church? If this identification isn’t for my protection, it’s used for my discrimination.”

The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians

The most persecuted and victimized people in the world today are Christians in the Middle East. The perpetrators of the widespread destruction of that region’s Christian community? Islamists. Middle East expert Raymond Ibrahim lays out the grim details.

By 2025, Christians are expected to represent just over 3% of the Mideast’s population, down from 4.2% in 2010, according to Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Hamilton, Mass. A century before, in 1910, the figure was 13.6%. The accelerating decline stems mostly from emigration, Mr. Johnson says, though higher Muslim birthrates also contribute.

The exodus leaves the Middle East overwhelmingly dominated by Islam, whose rival sects often clash, raising the prospect that radicalism in the region will deepen. Conflicts between Sunni and Shiite Muslims have erupted across the Middle East, squeezing out Christians in places such as Iraq and Syria and forcing them to carve out new lives abroad, in Europe, the U.S. and elsewhere.

“The disappearance of such minorities sets the stage for more radical groups to dominate in society,” said Mr. Johnson of the loss of Christians and Jews in the Middle East. “Religious minorities, at the very least, have a moderating effect.”

Ahmed Abu Zeid, Egypt’s foreign ministry spokesman, denied the government discriminates against Christians. “The presidency has been keen since day one to treat the Egyptian society as one nation, and one fabric,” he said, adding that the government is doing all it could to protect the minority and fight terror.

President Donald Trump expressed his confidence in President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi’s commitment to protecting his Egyptian population in a call between the leaders last month.

Christian activists in Egypt say Washington’s ally in the war on terror has long discriminated against the minority, with recurring bouts of mob violence directed against Christians by their Muslim neighbors often leading to no arrests or charges in the courts. Christians have been barred from some government jobs, such as the state intelligence services, and laws make it virtually impossible to build or restore churches.

The exodus of Christians from the Mideast started about a century ago, with many heading to the U.S. for jobs as America opened its doors to migrants. Later waves stemmed from conflict, such as Lebanon’s civil war, and from fresh economic hardship, such as the U.S.-led sanctions in the 1990s that hobbled Iraq.

At the start of the 21st century, as wars waned, the oil business flourished in the Gulf region and a financial crisis hit the West, the Christian outflow ebbed.

Then in 2011, the outlook darkened dramatically. What started as hopeful revolutions across the Mideast largely degenerated into strife, civil war and the rise of extremist groups.

The outbreak of Syria’s multisided civil war in 2011 prompted about half of the country’s Christian population of 2.5 million to flee the country, according to Christian charities monitoring the flow. Many escaped to neighboring Lebanon, an anomaly in the region with Christians wielding political power and worshiping freely.

Widow’s Joy: He Didn’t Deny Christ When Beheaded

In Iraq, the instability that started in 2003, when a U.S. invasion toppled Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, deepened more than a decade later when Islamic State took over about one-quarter of the country. Iraqi church officials and the religion’s political representatives say only one-fifth of the country’s Christians remain of the approximately 1.5 million before 2003, according to estimates based on church attendance and voter rolls that identify religion.

Even though Iraqi forces have gained the upper hand over Islamic State, the country’s Christians show no sign of returning to homes they fled.

In northern Iraq, blue and white charter buses crisscross neighborhoods of recently liberated Mosul, returning Muslim families displaced by Islamic State. They drive through Christian areas without stopping. For the first time in nearly two millennia, Iraq’s second-largest city, once a melting pot of ancient religions, lacks a Christian population to speak of.

The Al-Aswad family, a clan of masons who built the city’s houses, churches and mosques and trace their lineage back to the 19th century, vow never to return. They’ve opted to live in the rat-infested refugee camps of Erbil in northern Iraq, where they await updates on their asylum application to Australia.

A Christian charity has given them a small apartment until June, at which point they will have to return to the refugee camps to live in a converted cargo shipping container.

“We call it the cemetery,” said Raghd Al-Aswad, describing how the cargo containers are covered with dark blue tarps to protect against the rain. “It looks like dead bodies stacked side by side with a giant hospital sheet on top of them.”  source

Debating the Rapture in the Scriptures

One of the hottest debate topics among biblical scholars and students is over what is referred to as the rapture of the church in the final days of this world. A few Christians actually believe the rapture is a human imagination not even mentioned in the Bible, but most Christians believe the church will be raptured; some just disagree over the timing of it.

It certainly does appear that we might be drawing closer to the final days as we see a world in economic, social and military chaos. And Jesus warned us to be looking for the signs of the season pointing to His return. So how does the rapture of the true church fit into the final days before the Lord’s return?

Joining us is Dr. Andy Woods, a biblical scholar who has studied prophecy at length and written The Coming Middle East Meltdown detailing things to look for as we anticipate the return of our Lord and Savior. We also discuss Kingdom Now theology as well as Replacement theology as well as the importance of Israel as the Day of the Lord draws near.

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Is Bigger Always Better?

We have been blessed in so many ways in America. But our sinful, selfish nature always drives us to want more and more things of this world. Want more money? Just have enough faith and boldness to declare it from God. Want a bigger church? Use clever man-made marketing schemes, entertainment methods, and minimize sin and the gospel’s demand of holy living; then watch the church grow in numbers.

Is our obsession with “bigger is better” undermining the gospel message and leading people away from God? Pastor Gary Gilley joins us to discuss prosperity preaching and the church growth movement. Are we giving people what they want or what they need? Both? What did the disciples do?

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“You Might be a Racist if…”

This morning we cover several interesting news stories including a new college movement that says demanding students or workers show up on time might be racist oriented. We also discuss the IRS investigation into Benny Hinn and look at several of Hinn’s outlandish teachings and “prophecies” over the past couple decades.

In our first segment Robert Meyer of Renew America joins us to discuss the condition of religious freedom for Christians in America and dissects President Trump’s announcement attacking The Johnson Amendment, aimed at restricting political commentary from the pulpit.

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The Next Generation that Will Lead the Church

Once Joshua died the nation of Israel began a steady decline that got so bad they eventually started worshiping a false god who actually required child sacrifice along with other things that God calls abominations.

In America we have seen a steady decline in the study and application of God’s Word and a growing number of churches that look more like social clubs instead of gatherings to worship God and equip one another for the works of the Holy Spirit. And in the next decade or so the current group of younger people called “millenials” will be leading our churches and our nation.

Dave Wager works with younger people as Director of Silver Birch Ranch and Nicolet Bible Institute, and joins us this morning for a frank discussion on the world view of Millenials and how we as their elders have shaped their beliefs and views. Jeff Strommen of HopeNet 360 and co-host of HopeNet Radio gives us the Millennial perspective today.

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Skeptics & Scoffers

God’s Word warns us of a couple very important things: first, that Jesus is returning one day to judge all men and establish His everlasting Kingdom; and second, there will be those who mock and doubt His return, believing mankind can work out all our own problems.

But the warning signs of His return are all around us for those who have eyes to see: other than wars and rumors of wars, Israel is once again a nation; the whole world led by the United Nations is opposing Israel; radical Islam is vowing to destroy Israel; and regimes in North Korea, China, Russia, Iran and Syria have the chemical and nuclear weapons to plunge the world into the final great war before the Lord returns. Today’s guest, Gary Kah, has studied biblical prophecy, globalism and the coming one world government for several decades.

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Franklin Graham Addresses Christian Persecution Summit: 'The Persecution of One Christian Affects Us All'
Franklin Graham Addresses Christian Persecution Summit: ‘The Persecution of One Christian Affects Us All’
by Veronica Neffinger
Franklin Graham spoke at the summit, giving a moving summary of the suffering faced by Christians around the world.
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Top Headlines – 5/12/2017

‘Abbas has decided to sign peace deal with Israel’

Abbas, in meeting with Putin, says Moscow must be part of peace process

Palestinian leader hails Trump’s Mideast peace efforts

Netanyahu wary of Trump’s interest in solving Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Israel denies reports of Trump decision against US embassy move

Imam accused in Denmark of calling for murder of Jews

PA official says negotiations to end prisoners’ hunger strike likely

Danon: ‘The Palestinian Authority has transferred $130 million to terrorist salaries’

Hezbollah blames Israel for ‘propaganda attack’ during Nasrallah’s speach

Hezbollah leader Nasrallah says Israel knows that any future confrontation ‘could be inside occupied Palestinian territories’

Nasrallah says Hezbollah ‘ready to guarantee a settlement’ agreement for Sunni jihadists to evacuate northeast Lebanese border region with Syria

Nasrallah mocks ‘weak’ Israel

Nasrallah says Syrian government’s allies – Moscow, Tehran, and Hezbollah – are now ‘in harmony’ more than ever

Top US army general aligns with Israeli concern over Iran and its proxies

In US meetings, Israeli minister tries to keep Iran out of south Syria

Turkey’s Erdogan says US visit to herald new beginning in relationship

North Korea sends protest to US Congress over sanctions

North Korea demands that the U.S. hand over would-be assassins of Kim Jong Un

N.Korea claims sovereign right to ruthlessly punish Americans

CIA to focus on North Korean threat with new mission center

CIA director warns of Venezuela weapons transfers

Krauthammer: Comey Firing Has Sent the Press ‘Over the Edge’

Comey firing could spur new review of Clinton case, immunity deals, ex-agent says

Comey reportedly refused to pledge loyalty to Trump – White House denies the account

Trump: I was going to fire that ‘showboat’ no matter what

Democrats slam brakes on Washington business after Comey’s firing, suggest impeachment

Trump creates voter fraud commission that critics call a ‘sham’

More states follow Trump’s assault on ‘sanctuary cities’

Deportation fears stop some LA County immigrants from applying for EBT program

ICE announces largest anti-gang crackdown in agency history

One More Judge Agrees Donald Trump’s Travel Ban Is Likely Unconstitutional

China’s $246 Billion Foreign Buying Spree Is Unraveling

China tests ‘Lunar Palace’ as it eyes moon mission

Seattle-area hit by small earthquake swarm

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Raoul Island, New Zealand

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

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

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

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Kodiak Station, Alaska

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Buala, Solomon Islands

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

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

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Askale, Turkey

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 43,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 13,000ft

Tillerson, at Arctic meeting, signs document affirming need for action on climate change

Tillerson says US won’t be rushed on climate change policies

Texas lawmakers spar over ‘anti-vaccine measure’

Doctor seeks to ease vaccine fears in Somali-American community amid Minnesota measles outbreak

Hepatitis C nearly triples in US in 5 years

Argentina’s first transgender police chief on duty

Mormon Church Ending Boy Scouts Programs for Older Teens; 180,000 Boys Affected

Faith-Based Film Filled With F-Bombs

Russian found guilty of inciting religious hatred – for playing ‘Pokemon Go’ in church

Keith Giles – Debunking the Myth that the Father turned away from Jesus on the Cross

Popular Charismatic Worship Artist, Kari Jobe, Teaching Dangerous Theology

Jennifer LeClaire’s Hypocritical Goofy Prophetic Pimping

Have You Broken Free of Beth Moore?

Church bans yoga because it is ‘non-Christian’ – and villagers threaten a boycott

Many Practicing Christians Agree with Marxism…..

Christianity Is Flourishing in Eastern Europe Decades After Fall of Atheistic Communism

PROPHETIC UPDATE: Latest Regarding Israel, Trump and Mideast Peace

Posted: 12 May 2017 08:24 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we discuss the latest developments regarding the president of the United States and his planned visit to Israel, The…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Fresno Becomes Largest California city to Approve Display of “In God We Trust” in City Hall.

Posted: 12 May 2017 08:20 AM PDT

Fresno has just become the largest California city so far to approve a  display of the words “In God We Trust” in its city hall….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Israeli Research Reveals that Men are Men and Women are Women

Posted: 12 May 2017 08:14 AM PDT

A new study by Israeli researchers found that a man cannot become a woman by simply “identifying” as one and vice versa.  Geneticists from Israel’s…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Self-Marriage’ Movement Growing Relationship Trend Across Country

Posted: 12 May 2017 08:05 AM PDT

A “self-marriage” movement is growing across the country. They’re part of a growing relationship trend called sologamy. Erika Anderson, a 37-year-old from Brooklyn, New York,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Abbas Says Russia must be part of “Peace Process”

Posted: 12 May 2017 07:58 AM PDT

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas met with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Sochi resort in Western Russia on Thursday, and said that solving the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hospital computers across England shut down by cyberattack, Hackers demand ransom

Posted: 12 May 2017 07:54 AM PDT

Hospitals across England have reportedly been hit by a large-scale cyberattack. Some are having to divert emergency patients, with doctors reporting messages demanding money. The…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Warns “Comey better hope there are no tapes of our conversations’ Before leaking to press”

Posted: 12 May 2017 06:34 AM PDT

US President Donald Trump has tweeted that recently fired FBI Director James Comey had better hope there are no tapes of their conversations “before he…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PSALM 83 WATCH: Hezbollah warns future war would be on Israeli territory

Posted: 12 May 2017 06:30 AM PDT

Lebanese Hezbollah said on Thursday that any future conflict between the Shi’ite group and Israel could take place inside Israeli territory, as tensions rise between…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

High School Confiscates Yearbooks Over Pro-Trump Quotes

Posted: 12 May 2017 06:24 AM PDT

All of the yearbooks that had been distributed at the Richmond Early College High School near Rockingham have been taken back by the school after…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Argentina Welcomes First Transgender Police Chief

Posted: 12 May 2017 06:18 AM PDT

Analia Pasantino served in Argentina’s federal police as a man for 20 years, then she came out as a transgender woman and was forced to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

70,000 Bees Found in Man’s Bedroom Wall

Posted: 12 May 2017 06:14 AM PDT

Thousands upon thousands of bees were found living in the walls of a former NYPD detective’s home on Long Island. The former detective, Anthony Planakis,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Strong 6.2 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Off Coast of El Salvador

Posted: 12 May 2017 06:08 AM PDT

The U.S. Geological Survey says a strong earthquake has struck off the coast of El Salvador. The quake, with a preliminary magnitude of 6.2, struck…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Detroit School to Hold ‘Muslim Girls Only’ Prom…

Posted: 12 May 2017 05:56 AM PDT

Segregation is all the rage these days. Under the banner of “social justice,” more and more schools are dividing their students into increasingly niche groups…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russian fighter jet comes with 20 feet of US Navy aircraft…

Posted: 12 May 2017 05:53 AM PDT

A Russian fighter jet flew dangerously close to a U.S. Navy reconnaissance aircraft flying in the Black Sea on Tuesday — the incident coming a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists Left Baffled From Cosmic Radio Signal From Outer Space

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:41 PM PDT

Scientists have been left mystified by a radio signal sent from outer Space. The “fast radio burst” came from outside our own galaxy – but experts…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Do These 3 Comets Warn Us of Impending Judgment?

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:34 PM PDT

ATTENTION: The following report does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of end Time Headlines  (By Ron Allen) We have previously written about the role…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

United Methodist Minister Facing Possible Discipline for Officiating Same-Sex Ceremony

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:26 PM PDT

A campus minister at the University of Iowa is facing possible censure from United Methodist leadership for officiating a same-sex ceremony for another female clergy…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hepatitis C nearly triples in US in 5 years…

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:15 PM PDT

The number of hepatitis C infections have nearly tripled in the United States in the last five years, particularly among people in their 20s, researchers…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Abbas Agrees To Sign “Peace Deal” with Israel!

Posted: 11 May 2017 07:08 PM PDT

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has crossed the Rubicon and voiced “unprecedented” readiness to reach a peace deal with Israel, sources close to the efforts…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: President Trump to Announce Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks During Israel Visit

Posted: 11 May 2017 04:18 PM PDT

The London-based Arabic daily newspaper Al-Hayat reported Wednesday that President Donald Trump will announce the resumption of direct peace negotiations between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

OOPS! Military Code-Breaking Computer Project Accidentally Shown To Entire Internet

Posted: 11 May 2017 04:07 PM PDT

In early December 2016, Adam was doing what he’s always doing, somewhere between hobby and profession: looking for things that are on the internet that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mysterious Carcass Raising Confusion in Indonesia

Posted: 11 May 2017 01:12 PM PDT

Is it a giant squid or a regular sized whale? That’s the question causing considerable confusion for investigators examining an enormous 22-meter (71ft) carcass which…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Matt Drudge Warns Trump insiders ‘Deliberately Sabotaging Presidency’

Posted: 11 May 2017 01:01 PM PDT

Perhaps “draining the swamp” needs to begin with certain personnel at the White House. Internet news powerhouse Matt Drudge is now claiming advisers to President…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New “Faith-Based” Film Filled With F-Bombs

Posted: 11 May 2017 12:54 PM PDT

‘Generational Sins’ features expletives and references to child abuse and alcoholism: “We live in an R-rated world, and covering up the darkness won’t bring it…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Researchers Develop Way To Print “Bionic Skin”

Posted: 11 May 2017 12:43 PM PDT

Researchers at the University of Minnesota say they’ve developed a way to make “bionic skin,” technology that could allow robots to feel their environments and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Earthquake Swarm Rattling Residents in Seattle

Posted: 11 May 2017 12:38 PM PDT

After two earthquakes early Thursday, part of a swarm of minor quakes that have struck the Kitsap Peninsula, another earthquake was detected at 10:56 a.m….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Facebook Blocks Video Of Thailand King At Government’s Request

Posted: 11 May 2017 12:32 PM PDT

Facebook is banning people from seeing a video of Thailand’s King wearing a crop top. The controversial video shows the newly-crowned monarch walking in a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Facebook Shutting Down Atheist and Ex-Muslim Groups

Posted: 11 May 2017 12:27 PM PDT

Yesterday, Facebook restricted and then shut down the public pages of Ex-Muslims of North America (24k followers) and Atheist Republic (1,6 million followers) –groups that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Unborn Baby Flashes Bizarre ‘Devil Horns’ Rock-‘n’-Roll Sign in Ultrasound Scan

Posted: 11 May 2017 12:21 PM PDT

A married couple have been shocked to see their unborn baby flashing the rock ‘n’ roll devil horn sign in an ultrasound. Jared and Makelle…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian Bakers Fined for Refusing to Make ‘Support Gay Marriage’ Cake Get BIG Surprise

Posted: 11 May 2017 10:47 AM PDT

Something quite surprising has happened to Christian bakers in Northern Ireland who were found guilty of discrimination for declining to make a cake that included the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

What is The Gospel?

Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:


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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Creation, Theology, and the End of the Universe” Genesis 1:1-2:3

Genesis 1:1-2:3

Code: B170512

If God wanted to communicate that He created everything in six literal and consecutive days, how could He say it more clearly than He does in Genesis 1? That’s a question that every theistic evolutionist, progressive creationist, and gap theorist needs to ask himself. To suggest that the Bible’s opening chapter means anything other than what it plainly states is to effectively argue that God needs help in explaining Himself.

And to argue that our view of creation is not an essential Christian doctrine is to misrepresent what’s at stake in this debate—the inerrancy, authority, and clarity of Scripture. Nothing Scripture says has ever been corrected by scientific discovery, government policy, or secular ideology. If we truly hold to sola Scriptura—Scripture alone—we can never allow external beliefs to be imposed upon the Author’s message or intent.

Tragically, many Reformed theologians—who have enshrined sola Scriptura in their doctrine statements—have allowed their seminaries and churches to be infiltrated by compromised views of Genesis 1. Generally, they shudder at the thought of losing academic credibility and being sneered at by the gatekeepers of higher learning. The first casualty of that compromise is almost always a literal interpretation of the Bible’s first chapter.

But John MacArthur argues that there is no middle ground when it comes to Genesis 1. In his sermon “Creation, Theology and the End of the Universe,” John points out that you either believe Genesis 1 or you don’t. He explains why “every self-respecting Calvinist must be a six-day creationist.”

Whoever created the universe and all that is in it understands how it works. He understands how it works perfectly—accurately. And since He created it, He is not waiting for scientific advances to comprehend it. He is not waiting for somebody to discover a system and inform Him about how it works. Since the Creator designed it and sustains it and will one day bring it to an end, He understands it. . . . And if He wrote a book it would reflect that perfect knowledge.

“Creation, Theology and the End of the Universe” is a robust defense of the biblical creation account. And it throws down the gauntlet before any professing Christian who thinks the first three chapters of Genesis represent anything other than a straightforward narrative of creation and the fall.

Not only does John clearly explain how everything began, He also points us forward to how everything will end. Our understanding of history inevitably informs how we interpret the future. And John points out that those who tamper with the beginning invariably alter the ending as well.

If we are true sola Scriptura people, then our faith and understanding must be informed, shaped, and driven by Scripture. To that end, “Creation, Theology and the End of the Universe” is a stirring call—in the spirit of the Reformers—back to a true biblical worldview.

Click here to listen to “Creation, Theology & the End of the Universe.”


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170512
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

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

How Bono And the Emergent Church Are Leading Millions Away From Biblical Christianity

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

Have you been fooled by this rocker, who talks about his love for Jesus, but in reality shows his love for Satan during his performances?


“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14 (KJV)

This article will show you that not only is Bono not a Christian, but he is from the dark side.

When I was drawn by the Lord in 1983, it was a powerful and supernatural event. I had searched for the truth about God for most of my life. On that unforgettable…

View original post 2,056 more words

May 12, 2017: Verse of the day


118:8–9 The Lord Is a Sure Refuge. The experiences of God’s help show that it is better to take refuge in the Lord (see note on 31:1–2; cf. 62:8) than to trust in man, particularly in princes (i.e., in merely human power, which the enemies of118:7 seem to trust in; cf. 146:3).

ESV Study Bible

8–9 In hymnic celebration the individual worshiper confesses his confidence in the Lord (cf. 116:11; 146:3) rather than in humankind. The mention of “man” (ʾādām) in parallelism with “princes” (nedîbîm) is an example of merismus (cf. 146:3), a literary manner of including all humankind, both lowly and exalted. The psalmist has learned from experience and hereby encourages the congregation that confidence in the Lord (ḥāsâ, “to take refuge” [twice], vv. 8–9) is far superior to relying (bāṭaḥ; NIV, “to trust”; cf. 78:22) on flesh and blood (cf. 33:16–19).

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

May 12 – Playing Second Fiddle (Andrew)

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


Andrew is a picture of all believers who humbly minister behind the scenes.

It’s been said that no one likes playing second fiddle, but that wasn’t Andrew’s perspective at all. Growing up in the shadow of an aggressive, outspoken brother like Peter would be a challenge for anyone. Even in the Biblical record Andrew is known as “Simon Peter’s brother” (e.g., John 1:40). Yet when Andrew met Jesus, his first response was to tell Peter, knowing full well that once Peter became a disciple he probably would run the group. But Andrew was a truly humble man who was more concerned about bringing people to Christ than about who was in charge.

Andrew’s faith and openness prompted him to take advantage of every opportunity to lead others to Christ. He knew that the Lord’s primary mission was to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:6), but he led Gentiles as well as Jewish people to Christ (John 12:20–22). He had seen Jesus change water into wine at the wedding in Cana (John 2:1–11), so he knew Jesus could do much with very little. That must have been on his mind when he brought the boy with five barley loaves and two fish to Jesus, knowing it would take a miracle to feed the huge crowd with such a small offering (John 6:8–9).

Tradition tells us that just prior to his death, Andrew preached in a province in which the governor’s wife heard the gospel and was saved. The governor demanded that she reject Christ, but she refused. In anger he had Andrew crucified on an X-shaped cross, on which Andrew hung for two days before dying. Even then his courage didn’t fail. He preached the gospel from that cross—still trying to bring others to Christ.

Andrew symbolizes all those humble, faithful, and courageous Christians who labor behind the scenes. They’re the backbone of every ministry and the ones on whom every leader depends. You might never be a prominent leader like Peter, but you can be a faithful, courageous servant like Andrew.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank the Lord for all the humble, faithful servants in your church. ✧ Ask Him to teach you greater openness and courage so you can serve Him more effectively.

For Further Study: Read Philippians 2:25–30, noting how Epaphroditus ministered to Paul.[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. 145). 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.


For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh….

2 JOHN 1:7

Deception has always been an effective weapon and is deadliest when used in the field of religion.

Our Lord warned against this when He said, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” These words have been turned into a proverb known around the world, and still we continue to be taken in by the wolves. There was a time, even in the twentieth century, when a Christian knew, or at least could know, where he stood. The words of Christ were taken seriously. A man either was or was not a believer in New Testament doctrine. Clear, sharp categories existed. Black stood in sharp contrast to white; light was separated from darkness; it was possible to distinguish right from wrong, truth from error, a true believer from an unbeliever. Christians knew that they must forsake the world, and there was for the most part remarkable agreement about what was meant by the world. It was that simple. The whole religious picture has changed. Without denying a single doctrine of the faith, multitudes of Christians have nevertheless forsaken the faith. Anyone who makes a claim to having “accepted Christ” is admitted at once into the goodly fellowship of the prophets and the glorious company of the apostles regardless of the worldliness of his life or the vagueness of his doctrinal beliefs. We can only insist that the way of the cross is still a narrow way![1]

Being Loyal to the Truth

For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. (7–8)

Biblical love does not imply a naïve, uncritical, undiscerning acceptance of anyone who claims to represent Jesus Christ. Thus, having stressed the importance of love, John immediately set limits on it. Believers cannot, in the name of love, embrace any of the many deceivers who have gone out into the world. Followers of the true Christ cannot love antichrists; those who are committed to biblical truth cannot have fellowship with those who pervert it (cf. 2 Cor. 6:14–15). Deceivers translates the plural form of planos, which literally means “a wanderer” (the English word “planet” derives from it). In this case, it refers to those who wander from the truth of Scripture; who corrupt it; who lead others astray from it; who are impostors (Paul called such people “false brethren” in 2 Cor. 11:26 and Gal. 2:4; cf. Jude’s description of them as “wandering stars” headed for the “black darkness” of eternal judgment [v. 13]).

These wolves in sheep’s clothing (Matt. 7:15) become especially dangerous when they infiltrate the church; hence the New Testament is full of warnings about them. In the Olivet Discourse Jesus predicted that in the end times “false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matt. 24:24). Paul called them “savage wolves” (Acts 20:29); “false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ” (2 Cor. 11:13); servants of Satan who, like their wicked master (v. 14), “disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds” (v. 15). The apostle told Timothy that “the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1). In his first letter John pleaded with his readers,

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:1–3)

Jude vividly and extensively denounced these deceivers as

certain persons [who] have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.… Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (Jude 4, 11–15; cf. Peter’s similar denunciation of them in 2 Peter 2:1–21)

Everywhere the true gospel goes, Satan’s emissaries are sure to follow. They preach a false, satanic gospel and thereby pervert the true gospel message and pollute the church. Paul warned the Galatians against them in the strongest possible terms:

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Gal. 1:6–9)

John defined the particular false teachers in his sights as those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. There are many ways to undermine the gospel, such as by denying the deity of Jesus Christ, or that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone. But these heretics denied the true humanity of Jesus Christ, refusing to acknowledge that He was God who had become fully human. They were forerunners of the dangerous second-century heresy known as Gnosticism, which posed one of the gravest threats to the early church. (For further information on the heresy against which John wrote, see the Introduction to 1 John in this volume.)

John countered the false teachers’ diverse attacks on the person of Jesus Christ by stressing the truth about Him in his epistles. In 1 John 1:3 he identified Jesus Christ as God the Son (cf. 3:23; 2 John 3); in 2:1 he presented Him as the believers’ Advocate with the Father, whose death propitiated God’s wrath against their sin (v. 2; cf. 1:7; 4:9–10); in 2:22–23 he declared that those who deny that Jesus is the Christ do not know God; in 3:8 he pointed out that Jesus has destroyed the works of Satan; in 4:14 he affirmed that the Father sent the Son into the world as Savior, and reiterated in verse 15 that only those who confess Jesus as the Son of God know the Father (cf. 2 John 9); and in 5:9–13 John wrote that only those who believe the divine revelation about Jesus Christ have eternal life.

To deny the biblical truth that in Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, God became fully human is to propagate demon doctrine. Anyone who does so is a deceiver and an antichrist (cf. 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3). To teach, as these heretics did, that Jesus’ humanity was merely an illusion is to strike a blow at the heart of the gospel. If Jesus were not the God-man, fully human as well as fully divine, He could not have died as the substitute for men.

Knowing the serious threat the false teachers posed, John warned his readers, Watch yourselves. The church must be vigilant, discerning, even suspicious, because what is at stake is so vital. Having labored in the lives of this lady and her children, John wanted to see the full fruit of that effort; he did not want them to lose what they together had accomplished. Paul expressed a similar concern for the Corinthians:

I wish that you would bear with me in a little foolishness; but indeed you are bearing with me. For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin. But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully. (2 Cor. 11:1–4)

Like every faithful pastor, John and Paul were concerned that those under their care not lose ground spiritually. It was that concern that prompted Paul to sharply rebuke the Galatians for dabbling in false doctrine:

You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? (Gal. 3:1–3)

The church today has a legacy that has been handed down to it, a heritage that must be preserved at all costs. Men of God throughout history have preached, taught, and defended the true gospel, often at great cost of time, effort, and persecution—even to the point of death. As his life drew to a close, Paul repeatedly exhorted Timothy to protect the truth that had been handed down to him: “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you” (1 Tim. 6:20); “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus. Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Tim. 1:13–14); “You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them” (2 Tim. 3:14; cf. 2 Thess. 2:15).

But those who, influenced by false teachers, slip backwards risk far more than undoing the labor of faithful shepherds. The tragic consequences of their spiritual regression will include failing to receive a full reward. The Bible teaches that believers will be rewarded in heaven for their service in this life (e.g., Matt. 5:12; 10:41–42; Luke 6:35; 1 Cor. 3:10–15; 4:3–5; 2 Cor. 5:10; Col. 3:24; Rev. 22:12). While salvation cannot be lost (cf. John 6:37–40; Rom. 5:1; 8:1, 28–39; Heb. 7:25; 1 Peter 1:4), unfaithful believers may forfeit some of the reward that faithfulness to the truth would have gained them. John did not want to see that happen to those whom he loved and labored among. Paul had the same concern in mind when he warned the Colossians, “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind” (Col. 2:18).

Believers must be discerning and decisively reject deceiving false teachers, no matter how loudly they clamor for love and tolerance. Loyalty to the truth, written and incarnate, demands it, and the consequences of not doing so—both now and in eternity—are sufficient reason to be faithful.[2]

  1. Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world. Any such person is the deceiver, and the antichrist. 8. Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.
  2. “Many deceivers … have gone out into the world.” The translators of the New International Version have omitted the word because which stands at the beginning of the sentence in Greek. Apart from minor variations, this sentence resembles 1 John 4:1, “Because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” John calls these false prophets deceivers, for they are filled with a spirit of deception and seek the spiritual destruction of Christians. There are many deceivers. We assume that formerly they were part of the Christian community. They left the church (see 1 John 2:19) to make the world the domain for their pernicious doctrines. And in the world they try to persuade the Christians to accept their views.
  3. “Who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.” Note that John mentions the full name of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, to remind his readers of his human and divine nature. These deceivers continue to proclaim their opposition to the teaching that Jesus Christ came in the flesh.

Already in his first epistle, John warns the readers to test the spirits: “Every spirit [teaching] that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God” (4:2–3). Even though there is similarity between this passage and that of 2 John 7, the difference in the verb forms has come (1 John 4:2) and as coming (2 John 7) is obvious. The one verb is in the past tense, the other in the present. Is there a difference in meaning? Hardly. The past tense describes Jesus’ earthly ministry, and the present tense is a descriptive term about Christ. In the New Testament, the expression the one who is coming is a messianic designation (e.g., Matt. 11:2; John 1:15, 27; 12:13; Rev. 1:4). Thus, John applies the present tense of the participle coming to Jesus Christ as a testimony to anyone who denies this truth.

  1. “Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.” John is not afraid to give the false teacher names. Here he calls him not only the deceiver, but also the antichrist—that is, the person who comes in the place of Christ (compare 1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3). At the beginning of this verse (v. 7), John refers to many deceivers; therefore we should understand the appellation the antichrist as a collective name.
  2. “Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for.” In these words we hear an echo of Jesus’ discourse on the signs of the end of the age. Jesus begins his teaching with the warning, “Watch out that no one deceives you” (Mark 13:5; also see vv. 9, 23, 33). Similarly, John tells the readers to keep their eyes on their spiritual possessions so that they will not lose them. He no longer requests them to do something. Instead he gives them a command.

We have three different translations for verse 8. Here they are with the variations in italics:

  1. that we [do] not lose those things we have worked for, but that we receive a full reward (NKJV; and see KJV).
  2. so that you may not lose all that we worked for, but receive your reward in full (NEB; also see NASB, ASV, RV, GNB, and JB).
  3. that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully (NIV; and see NAB, RSV, MLB, and Moffatt).

The better Greek manuscripts have the reading you in place of “we.” Translators therefore favor either the second or the third reading. The difference between these two readings is the phrase we worked for over against “you worked for.” Although translators are about equally divided on this point, the more difficult reading is “we worked for” and is to be preferred.

What is the meaning of the phrase rewarded fully? It does not mean salvation which, because it is a gift, cannot be earned (Eph. 2:8–9). We merit a reward for faithfulness, obedience, and diligence. Nevertheless, a reward is also a gift of God and therefore “one further token of the free grace of God.” Scripture teaches that a worker in God’s kingdom receives his full reward (compare Matt. 20:8; John 4:36; and see James 5:4).[3]

7 The hoti that opens this verse is omitted by the NIV, perhaps because its significance is unclear (cf. Grayston, 154). It may be that the word has a mild causal force, indicating that believers must hold to the command “because many deceivers … have gone out” (so Marshall, 69; Brown, 668; Culpepper, 121). It is also possible that hoti here introduces an eschatological community slogan used proverbially to stress the danger of the situation. Similar language appears at Matthew 24:24, where Jesus warns that in the last days false christs and false prophets will “deceive [planaō, GK 4414] even the elect [eklektos]”—the same term John uses to refer to believers at 2 John 1 and 13. The notion that the Antichrists are “deceivers” who have “gone out” closely parallels Revelation 20:8, which describes Satan leaving the pit as he “goes out to deceive the nations.” Revelation 12:9 and 20:10 both refer to the devil as ho planōn, “the deceiver.” In conjunction with the term “Antichrist,” which itself seems to be drawn from a community slogan of unknown origin (see comment at 1 Jn 2:18), the phrase “many deceivers have gone out into the world” is probably John’s adaptation of a familiar eschatological creed. As with the creed cited at 1 John 2:18, John has shifted the tense of the statement to apply it to the immediate situation, so that the future exeleusontai (“deceivers will go out”) has become the aorist exēlthon (“deceivers have gone out”; both are forms of exerchomai, GK 2002).

The adaptation of a familiar creed to the Antichrist crisis allows John to portray the danger of the situation in absolute eschatological terms. Just as the believers were clearly warned about the coming of the Antichrist (1 Jn 2:18), they have also heard that deceivers will come in the last days. Both prophecies have, in John’s view, been partially fulfilled with the appearance of the Antichrists. As in 1 John, an “Antichrist” is a person who promotes a doctrine of Christ that differs from that taught by John (see Introduction), specifically refusing to confess “Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.”

The wording of this christological confession at v. 7 differs somewhat from that at 1 John 4:2. In the latter verse, John says that every teacher who truly comes from God will support the confession “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” In the Greek, “has come” is elēlythota (GK 2262), a perfect tense participle. At 2 John 7, however, John shifts to the present tense participle erchomenon, which gives the reading indicated by the NIV—“Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh.” The potential significance of this shift is the topic of considerable debate. Dodd, 149, notes that the most natural implication is that the Antichrists denied that “Christ is coming,” i.e., they denied the second coming of Christ. From this perspective, the confession parallels the community slogan about the coming of the Antichrist cited at 1 John 2:18. Some scholars, however, see the present tense as an emphasis on “the timeless character of the event” of the incarnation (so Bultmann, 112; Barker, 364). Stott, 212, notes that Jesus’ “two natures, manhood and Godhead, were united already at his birth, never to be divided. The combination of the present and perfect tenses (in 1 Jn. 4:2 and here) emphasizes this permanent union of [two] natures in the one person.” Marshall, 70–71, who takes this position, suggests that John may be countering the Gnostic doctrine that the “Christ” was a heavenly power that descended on the human Jesus at baptism, used his body for several years, and then returned to heaven just before Jesus’ death on the cross. A third group of scholars regard the shift in tense from 1 John 4:2 to 2 John 7 as insignificant. Since John is generally concerned to demonstrate that the incarnation was a real historical event of the past, the two verses are seen as alternative wordings of the same christological creed (so Brown, 670; Culpepper, 122; Rensberger, 153–54). From this perspective, the two verses are virtually synonymous.

All three positions are reasonable, and it is difficult to ascertain which most accurately represents John’s thinking. The first position, that the Antichrists denied the second coming, is supported by the grammar of the verse and by the fact that the parallel slogan about the Antichrist in 1 John 2:18 seems clearly to imply a future event (see comment there). Just as the readers have heard that “Antichrist is coming,” they have heard that “Jesus Christ is coming [again] in the flesh.” This position is generally rejected for lack of evidence that a denial of the parousia [second coming] presented a problem in the early church or to the readers of John’s letters in particular (so Smalley, 329; Stott, 212). Such an argument, however, begs the question, for if v. 7 indeed refers to the Antichrists’ denial of the second coming, the verse itself would become evidence for such a “problem.” Further, Paul warns the Thessalonians about those who teach that “the day of the Lord has already come” (2 Th 2:1–2), apparently denying a future parousia on the basis that Christ has already returned to the church in the form of some spiritual experience. It is very possible that the Antichrists used a similar line of reasoning to argue that Christ “comes” in the form of the Paraclete, so that the experience of the incarnate Jesus was not radically different from the experience of all Christians (see Introduction; comment at 1 Jn 5:6).

The second position—that John wishes to emphasize the continuing reality of the incarnation—would seem to be counterproductive to his argument. The Antichrists have degraded Jesus’ humanity by overemphasizing his spiritual nature (see Introduction), and it is this very point that John wishes to counter. It is unclear how he could do this by spiritualizing the human nature of Jesus to the point that “in the flesh” refers to the present state of Christ’s existence in heaven. Such a statement would support the position of the Antichrists, who would say that Christ’s past earthly state was no different from his present divine state.

The difficulties associated with these first two solutions make the third position most attractive. While the participle erchomenon is present tense (“is coming”), its force here is primarily substantive, characterizing Jesus as “the one coming in flesh,” the very point the Antichrists would deny. Rather than highlighting Jesus’ continuing deity, John is stressing his past humanity, the fact that he lived and acted as a real human being in human history. Verse 7 may therefore be paraphrased, “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, who do not confess that Jesus [the human being] is the divine Christ who came to earth in physical flesh.” The verse is therefore parallel in thought, if not in wording, to 1 John 4:2.[4]

7 This brings us to the test of doctrine. The great question is: “Did God really become Man in the Person of Jesus Christ?” The answer is a resounding “Yes!” The Gnostics believed that the divine Christ came upon Jesus of Nazareth for a period of time. But John insists that Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be God.[5]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 231–235). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 380–381). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Thatcher, T. (2006). 2 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 517–518). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2331). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


I will hear what God the Lord will speak…peace unto his people.

Psalm 85:8

The living God has spoken to lost mankind in a variety of ways. The general response among us has been, “We did not hear His voice. We did not hear anything.”

John recorded in his gospel the reactions of an audience of people who heard God speak audibly. When Jesus talked of His coming death, asking God to glorify His name through it, “a voice [came] from heaven saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again” (John 12:28).

And what were the reactions of the bystanders? “The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him” (John 12:29).

People prefer their own logic, their own powers of reason. Even when God speaks, they refuse to recognize His voice. They will not confess that God has spoken through Jesus Christ, the eternal Son. When He confronts them with their sin, they consult a psychiatrist and hope they can get their personalities “properly adjusted.”

But in a coming day every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord of all!

Almighty God, I am so grateful that You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to live among us and to show us the way of eternal life. I pray that many seekers will bow before You today.[1]

8 In submission to the Lord, the people await his response. The “I” of this verse may be the voice of the psalmist or of a prophet awaiting the Lord’s response. He receives assurance that the Lord will “speak” (NIV, “promises”) “peace” (šālôm) and thus grant to his people relief from their grief. After all, they are “his people,” i.e., his “loyal people” (“saints,” asîdāyw; see 4:3). The saints are those who do not “return to folly.”[2]

85:8 peace. Ultimately this comes in the Messiah’s kingdom (cf. Mt 10:34; Lk 2:14).[3]

85:8–9 I Will Listen to Hear His Word of Peace. Now the members of the congregation declare their patience in watching for God to act on their prayer. The song has shifted from the plural “we” to the singular “I”: let me hear. Each member is thus making this pledge. There is confidence that God will speak peace to his people, i.e., he will agree to the reconciliation they have asked for in vv. 4–7. At the same time, the psalmist prays, let them not turn back to folly; i.e., the people who are appealing to God’s benevolence should make sure that their repentance is genuine, and that they really do aim for faithfulness and really intend not to repeat the folly (moral stupidity) that provoked God’s anger. The word saints (Hb. khasid) reinforces this, since it refers to members of the covenant people who take the covenant to heart and walk in obedience before God. Therefore the force of this is, “to his people, especially to his saints.” Likewise God’s salvation (which they had requested in v. 7) is near to those who fear him, i.e., again, to those who lay hold of the promises of God’s covenant by genuine faith and obedience. The people should never presume upon God’s gracious response to their prayers, as if it comes “automatically.” Thus, as the Israelites wait for God to speak, they can evaluate their own sincerity.[4]

85:8–9 The identity of the voice in vv. 8–9 is unclear; it may be the individual psalmist or the nation as a group. This unit may portray a liturgical statement that the people of Israel would speak during the performance of the psalm. The psalmist asks to hear what God will say in the future when He rescues His people (v. 8) and expresses hope in God’s loyalty to His faithful people (v. 9). Compare note on vv. title–13.

85:8 peace The Hebrew word shalom can refer to overall well-being and wholeness. See note on 120:6.

let them not return to folly By Yahweh being faithful to Israel, He will enable His people to be faithful to Him in return (see Jer 31:31–34; compare Jer 32:36–41).

85:9 those who fear him Refers to those who honor God by worshiping Him and following His commandments.

in our land Although the psalmist does not specifically mention the captivity or exile of God’s people, he seems to imply it by stating that glory does not presently dwell in the land of Israel.[5]

85:8–9 These verses recount the promise of restoration and a word of exhortation.

85:8 me. The community has been speaking as a unit up to this point (“us”), but now an individual steps forward. Whoever he is (priest or prophet), he speaks on behalf of God.

he will speak peace. The word for “peace” (Heb. shalom) indicates health and wholeness, and, like “steadfast love” (v. 7), it is a word intimately associated with the covenant. God promises the restoration of intimate relationship with His people.

saints. Formed from the same root as “steadfast love” (v. 7) and denotes those who are the objects of God’s covenant love.[6]

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

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 641). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 85:8). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1045). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 85:8–9). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 931). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

May 12 – Prayer’s Real Audience: God

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.—Matt. 6:6

Jesus’ primary instruction about prayer here is not about the location, but about our attitude in realizing that God constitutes our audience. If you go to a quiet, private place and shut everything else out as you pray, you’ll turn your focus from yourself and others and over to God exclusively. Jesus regularly got away to pray alone so He could have effective communion with His Father, the most important, singular member of His prayer audience.

Praying to God “who is in secret” doesn’t mean He is not our main audience for public prayers. He is definitely there wherever and whenever we call on Him. Genuine prayer is thus in a sense always intimate. If offered rightly, even public prayer will shut us into a private moment with God, enclosed in His presence.

Our “Father who sees what is done in secret” never betrays one of our prayer confidences. Unlike the occasional breached confidence we suffer at the hands of even our closest family or friends, private prayers and secret concerns shared with God will forever remain known just to Him, unless we later want others to know. The important thing for God is not the precise words we utter in private prayer, but rather the private thoughts we express in our hearts. Only He can know these with certainty and truly care about them (cf. 1 Cor. 4:3–5).

When God is genuinely the audience of our prayers, He will faithfully and unfailingly bless and reward us.

What have you discovered to be the greatest blessings of prayer? If none immediately spring to mind, try imagining a life without access to God’s ear and His Spirit. What would you miss most about being out of contact with Him?[1]

The True Audience: God

But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. (6:6)

The basic definition of prayer is “communion with God,” and if He is not involved there is only the pretense of prayer. Not only must He be involved, but centrally involved. Prayer is God’s provision; it is God’s idea, not man’s. There could be no prayer if God did not condescend to speak with us, and we could not know how to pray had He not chosen to instruct us.

Jesus’ teaching here is simple, in contrast to the complicated and difficult traditions. The phrase when you pray implies great latitude. No prescribed time or occasion is given by the Lord. The tameion (inner room) could be any sort of small room or chamber, even a storage closet. Such rooms were often secret and used to store valued possessions for protection. The idea is that of going to the most private place available.

As already mentioned, Jesus does not forbid or condemn public prayer as such (cf. 1 Tim. 2:1–4). His purpose here seems to have been to make as great a contrast as possible to the practices of the scribes, Pharisees, and other hypocritical religionists. The primary point Jesus makes does not have to do with location but with attitude. If necessary, Jesus says, go to the most secluded, private place you can find so you will not be tempted to show off. Go there and shut the door. Shut out everything else so that you can concentrate on God and pray to your Father. Do whatever you have to do to get your attention away from yourself and others and on Him and Him alone.

Much of our prayer life should be literally in secret. Jesus regularly went away from His disciples to pray entirely alone. Our family members or friends may know that we are praying, but what we say is not meant for them to hear. Chrysostom commented that in his day (the fourth century a.d.) many Christians prayed so loud in their rooms that everyone down the hall heard what they said. If people sometimes happen to overhear our private prayers, it should not be by our intention. (Cf. John A. Broadus, Matthew [Valley Forge, Pa.: Judson, 1886], p. 140.)

But the Father being in secret does not mean He is not present when we pray in public, or with our families or other small groups of believers. He is very much present whenever and wherever His children call on Him. Jesus’ point has to do with the singleness of intention. True prayer is always intimate. Even prayer in public, if the heart is right and concentrated on God, will in a real and profound way shut one up alone in the presence of God.

In the pattern of prayer Jesus taught His disciples, He begins with “Our Father” (Matt. 6:9), indicating that other believers may be present and that the prayer is corporate. But even when prayer represents the feelings and needs of others who are present, the supreme attention is to be on God. In that sense, even the most public prayer is in secret. Even if the whole world hears what we say, there is an intimacy and focus on God in that communion that is unaffected.

God also sees in secret in the sense that He never betrays a confidence. Many things we share with God in our private prayers are for Him alone to know. Confidences we share even with our dearest loved ones or closest friends may sometimes be betrayed. But we can be sure our secrets with God will forever be just that, and that one believer praying in secret with a pure heart has the full attention of the Father.

Furthermore, when our prayer is as it should be, our Father who sees in secret will repay us. The most important secret He sees is not the words we say in the privacy of our room, but the thoughts we have in the privacy of our heart. Those are the secrets about which He is supremely concerned, and about which only He can know with certainty (cf. 1 Cor. 4:3–5). Those secrets sometimes are hidden even from ourselves, because it is so easy to be deceived about our own motives.

When God is genuinely the audience of our prayer, we will have the reward only He can give. Jesus gives no idea in this passage as to what God’s reward, or repayment, will be. The important truth is that God will faithfully and unfailingly bless those who come to Him in sincerity. Without question, the Lord will repay. Those who pray insincerely and hypocritically will receive the world’s reward, and those who pray sincerely and humbly will receive God’s.[2]

  1. But whenever you pray, enter into your most private room, and having shut the door, pray to your Father who is in secret. The idea is not that there must be a separate prayer room. As was pointed out earlier, the houses of many in the audience had only one room. The sense is this: if there be a private room then use that for your private prayer; otherwise choose the most hidden corner. Do not try to make yourself conspicuous. The main emphasis, however, is not even on the place of prayer but on the attitude of mind and heart. Not the secrecy is the real underlying thought but the sincerity. The reason for mentioning the secret place is that the sincere and humble worshiper, one who is not interested in making a public display for the sake of enhancing his prestige, will find the secluded nook or den to be most appropriate for his devotions. It is there that he can shut out the world and be alone with his God.

The shutting of the door (cf. 2 Kings 4:33; Isa. 26:20) makes the secret place even more secret. As to the Object of the prayer, namely, the Father, he not only sees in secret (verse 4), but also is in secret: he fills every secret (as well as public) place with his presence, yet transcends all spatial limitations (1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 139:7–10; Isa. 66:1; Jer. 23:23, 24; Acts 7:48, 49; 17:27, 28).

Here again it is necessary to add that the purpose of entering the secret place and shutting the door can be defeated if one begins to advertise this practice, as some ministers are in the habit of doing, when at the beginning of the worship service—sometimes even in the pastoral prayer—they assure the congregation that before they sat down to prepare the sermon they had locked the door of their study and spent so many minutes in earnest prayer!

The one who prays with the proper disposition of heart and mind is blessed, as in verse 4: and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. The man who so prays will have peace of heart and mind. He will know that the Father, in his infinite love, will give the supplicant whatever is best both for himself and for all concerned. He will also know that this same Father “is able to do infinitely more than all we ask or imagine” (see N.T.C. on Eph. 3:20, 21).[3]

6 If Jesus were forbidding all public prayer, then clearly the early church did not understand him (e.g., 18:19–20; Ac 1:24; 3:1; 4:24–30). The public versus private antithesis is a good test of one’s motives. The person who prays more in public than in private reveals that he is less interested in God’s approval than in human praise. Not piety but a reputation for piety is his concern. Far better to deal radically with this hypocrisy (cf. 5:29–30) and pray in a private “room”; the word tameion (GK 5421) can refer to a storeroom (Lk 12:24), some other inner room (Mt 12:26; 24:26; Lk 12:3, 24), or even a bedroom (Isa 26:20 LXX, with which this verse has several common elements; see also 2 Ki 4:33). The Father, who sees in secret, will reward the disciple who prays in secret (see comments at v. 4).[4]

6:6 In verses 5 and 7, the Greek pronoun translated you is plural. But in verse 6, in order to emphasize private communion with God, you switches to singular. The key to answered prayer is to do it in secret (i.e., go into your room and shut your door). If our real motive is to get through to God, He will hear and answer.

It is reading too much into the passage to use it to prohibit public prayer. The early church met together for collective prayer (Acts 2:42; 12:12; 13:3; 14:23; 20:36). The point is not where we pray. At issue here is, why we pray—to be seen by people or to be heard by God.[5]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 141). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 366–367). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 322–323). 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.


Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

—1 Timothy 6:15-16

The human mind, being created, has an understandable uneasiness about the Uncreated….We tend to be disquieted by the thought of One who does not account to us for His being, who is responsible to no one, who is self-existent, self-dependent and self-sufficient.

Philosophy and science have not always been friendly toward the idea of God, the reason being that they are dedicated to the task of accounting for things and are impatient with anything that refuses to give an account of itself. The philosopher and the scientist will admit that there is much that they do no know; but that is quite another thing from admitting that there is something which they can never know…. To admit that there is One who lies beyond us, who exists outside of all our categories, who will not be dismissed with a name, who will not appear before the bar of our reason… this requires a great deal of humility, more than most of us possess, so we save face by thinking God down to our level, or at least down to where we can manage Him. KOH041-042

Lord, forgive my flimsy attempts to comprehend You. I bow humbly before the great Uncreated, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Amen. [1]

The Blessedness of God

He who is the blessed (6:15b)

Beginning with this phrase, Paul launches into one of the magnificent doxologies of Scripture. Each phrase in it expresses the transcendent, incomparable greatness of God. This first phrase of the doxology yields a third attribute of God, His blessedness. Makarios(blessed) means “happy,” “content,” or “fulfilled.” When used in reference to God, it describes His lack of unhappiness, frustration, and anxiety. He is content, satisfied, at peace, fulfilled, and perfectly joyful. While some things please Him and other things do not, nothing alters His heavenly contentment. He controls everything to His own joyous ends.

Those who enter into a relationship with God enter into His calm. They can be unperturbed because He is unperturbed. The Psalmist wrote, “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him” (Ps. 2:12; cf.. 34:8; 40:4; 84:12; 112:1; 128:1)! Scripture describes the blessed as those whom God chooses (Ps. 65:4), those who know Christ (Matt. 16:16–17), those who believe the Gospel (Gal. 3:9), those whose sins are forgiven (Rom. 4:7), those to whom God grants righteousness apart from works (Rom. 4:6–9), and those who obey the Word (James 1:25).

No matter what the opposition, no matter what trials or persecutions he faces, the man of God can be at peace. That peace is not based on external circumstances but on the knowledge that God is in control. Believers are blessed because they are in union with the God who is blessed.

The Sovereignty of God

and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; (6:15c)

God is the only Sovereign because He alone is God (Deut. 4:35, 39; 6:4; 32:39; 1 Sam. 2:2; 2 Sam. 7:22; 22:32; 1 Kings 8:23, 60; 2 Kings 19:15, 19; 2 Chron. 6:14; Neh. 9:6; Pss. 18:31; 86:10; Isa. 37:16, 20; 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:5–6, 21–22; 46:9; Joel 2:27; 1 Cor. 8:4, 6). There is no one to vie with Him for control of the universe. “I act,” says the Lord, “and who can reverse it” (Isa. 43:13)?

Isaiah understood that God is uniquely sovereign. He wrote,

“To whom then will you liken Me that I should be his equal?” says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power not one of them is missing. Why do you say, O Jacob, and assert, O Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, and the justice due me escapes the notice of my God”? Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable. He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power. Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly, yet those who wait for the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles, they will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary. (Isa. 40:25–31)

Dunastēs (Sovereign) comes from a word group whose basic meaning is “power.” The adjective only shows that God’s power to rule is inherent in Himself, not delegated from an outside source. God is absolutely sovereign and omnipotently rules everything everywhere. He has no rivals, certainly not Satan, whom He created, cast out of heaven, and sentenced to eternal hell.

God’s sovereignty is further amplified by the title King of kings and Lord of lords. Such titles were given to God in the Old Testament (cf.. Deut. 10:17; Ps. 136:2–3; Dan. 2:47). Although this title describes the Lord Jesus Christ in Rev. 17:14 and 19:16, it is here used in reference to the Father. The phrase “whom no man has seen or can see” clearly does not apply to Christ, “who was revealed in the flesh” (3:16).

It is likely that Paul intended this title as a conscious rebuttal to the cult of emperor worship. The deification of the emperor dates back to Augustus. It gradually assumed a central place in the empire, and became “the supreme cause of Roman persecution of Christians” (Bruce L. Shelley, Church History in Plain Language [Waco, Tex.: Word, 1982], 58). The Romans viewed emperor worship as the unifying factor that bound their diverse empire together. To refuse to worship Caesar was considered an act of treason. To counter that, Paul insists that God alone is the Sovereign, and He alone is to be worshiped.

The sovereignty of God is the most encouraging and comforting doctrine in all of Scripture. An understanding of it removes the anxiety from life. It also gives the man of God courage in spiritual duty and willingness to face any danger. God is never surprised, nor is His will ever frustrated. He says in Isaiah 46:11, “Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it.” Because He is in total control, there is no need to worry, to compromise, to equivocate, or to manipulate to achieve a goal.

The man of God knows that the success of his ministry does not depend on his ingenuity, wisdom, or talent. He is relieved of the intolerable burden of imagining that people’s eternal destiny rests on the persuasiveness of his preaching or the cleverness of his invitation. He understands that no one comes to faith in Christ apart from God’s gracious, sovereign choice. And he, too, is operating under the constant surveillance of and within the plan of the God who is in perfect control of everything. That frees him to focus on faithfully expounding the Word and fulfilling his calling with contentment.

The Eternity of God

who alone possesses immortality (6:16a)

Once again the apostle counters the cult of emperor worship. Although the Romans imagined the emperors to be immortal, Paul emphasizes that God alone possesses immortality. That phrase describes God’s eternity. He alone possesses immortality in the sense that He is inherently immortal. Angels and men, having come into existence, will exist forever. Their immortality, however, derives from God. Immortality does not translate aphtharsia, which means “incorruptible,” but athanasia, which means “deathless.” God has an unending quality of life, and is incapable of dying. The psalmist wrote, “For with Thee is the fountain of life” (Ps. 36:9). Jesus said, “The Father has life in Himself” (John 5:26). Isaiah called Him “the Everlasting God” (Isa. 40:28), while Moses wrote in Psalm 90:2, “Before the mountains were born, or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God” (cf.. Hab. 1:12). Micah 5:2 describes the Lord Jesus Christ as eternal, offering further proof of His deity.

The man of God derives comfort from the knowledge that his God is above history and beyond time. No matter what happens during his brief span of time on this earth, the deathless, eternal One is available to support him. He shares the perspective of Paul, who told the Romans, “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18; cf.. 2 Cor. 4:17).

The Holiness of God

and dwells in unapproachable light; whom no man has seen or can see. (6:16b)

In this age of casual familiarity with God, it is well to remember His utter holiness. While God is our loving, gracious Father, He nevertheless dwells in unapproachable light. He is transcendent, totally beyond us. He is, in Martin Luther’s words, Deus absconditus, the hidden God. Had he not revealed Himself and come out of His holy habitation, man could have had no knowledge of Him.

The psalmist wrote of Him, “O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with splendor and majesty, covering Thyself with light as with a cloak” (Ps. 104:1–2). When Moses prayed for God to reveal His glory, the Lord replied,

“I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the Lord before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” But He said, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Ex. 33:19–20)

The writer of Hebrews put it simply, “our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:29).

The imagery of God as blazing light aptly expresses His holiness. He is totally separate from sin. Psalm 5:4 reads, “For Thou art not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with Thee.” He is “majestic in holiness” (Ex. 15:11). “There is no one holy like the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:2).

Because of that holiness, God is inaccessible to man. He lives in an atmosphere of absolute purity, far too holy for mortals to ever enter. Such passages as Matthew 5:8, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God,” and 1 Corinthians 13:12, “Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face,” refer to only that much of a vision of God which glorified humanity can perceive.

How does God’s absolute holiness fit into this doxology? Paul emphasizes God’s inability to make any mistakes. He always does exactly what is right and just. That provides great comfort for the man of God as he pursues his ministry. Not only is God in total control, but He also never makes a misjudgment. Further, those who oppose and persecute him will one day be judged by the holy God. That knowledge equips the man of God to faithfully serve his Lord.

It is fitting that the doxology ends with a refrain of praise, to Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. Paul exclaims, “let God always be respected, and may his rule never end.” That refrain takes its place alongside the other great hymns of praise to God in Scripture (cf.. 1 Peter 4:11; 5:11; Jude 24–25).

Nothing motivates a man of God like a true understanding of the greatness of his God. Those who know their God can say with the writer to Hebrews, “The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What shall man do to me” (Heb. 13:6)?[2]

15, 16. With reference to this appearing Paul continues: which in due season he will display, (even he)



Old Testament Parallels


a. the blessed and only Sovereign ……


Deut. 6:4; Ps. 41:13; Is. 40:12–31; Dan. 4:35


b. the King of kings …… and


Ezek. 26:7; Dan. 2:37; Ezra 7:12


c. Lord of lords ……


Deut. 10:17; Ps. 136:3


d. the only One possessing immortality ……


Ps. 36:9; Is. 40:28; Dan. 4:34


e. dwelling in light unapproachable ……


Ex. 24:17; 34:35; Ps. 104:2


f. whom no human being has (ever) seen or is able to see


Ex. 33:20; Deut. 4:12; Is. 6:5


g. to whom (be) honor and strength eternal. Amen.


Neh. 8:6; Ps. 41:13; 72:19; 89:52


To the two reasons which have been given, indicating why Timothy should “keep the commission without spot and above reproach” a third is now added, but only by implication, namely, that he will receive his reward when Jesus returns in glory. However, the idea of reward for Timothy is pushed into the background by the rapturous contemplation and consequent exaltation of the majestic attributes of the One who, in due season (or: “in its—or his—own season”), the season designated by the Father from eternity (Acts 1:7; 3:20, 21; cf. Gal. 4:4), will exhibit that great event to which, in a sense, the entire universe looks forward (cf. Rom. 8:19): the epiphany or visible shining forth of Jesus Christ upon clouds of glory. Just as, in Paul’s thinking, it is God (1 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 1:20), or more particularly, God the Father (Rom. 6:4; Gal. 1:1; cf. 1 Peter 1:3) who raises the Son (though it is also true that Christ arose through his own power, John 10:18), so it is God who displays the Son’s epiphany. He displays it as proof (for the verb in this sense see John 2:18) to the world, for this is the public vindication of the Son and of his people.

The doxology in praise of God is one of the finest in Scripture. For its origin one must not look to pagan philosophy. Though some of its phrases have parallels in extra-canonical Jewish literature, it should certainly be regarded as a spontaneous outburst coming from the heart of a devout believer in Jesus Christ, an apostle who, while he is writing or dictating, is thoroughly conscious of the loving presence of his Lord and who in his youth had made a thorough study of the Old Testament, so that its phraseology was embedded in his soul. The parallels from the Old Testament have already been indicated (see the incomplete list of references above, next to the quoted passage). It is possible to duplicate the sense—and in most cases the very words—of the doxology without departing from the text of the Old Testament. Thus, quoting throughout from the Old Testament, one might paraphrase the doxology as follows:

“the blessed and incomparable One, who does according to his will in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth, the King of kings and Lord of lords, with whom alone is the fountain of life, who covers himself with light as with a garment, whom no human being shall (ever) be able to see, whose glorious name be blessed forever, Amen and Amen.”

It was to be expected that just as the contemplation of the first coming of Christ led to a doxology (1 Tim. 1:17), so also the meditation upon the second coming (here in 1 Tim. 6:15, 16) would lead to a similar and expanded doxology.

The present doxology consists of seven terms descriptive of Deity. In the original, as in our translation, a., b., and c. are nouns; d. and e. are participial modifiers; and f. and g. are relative clauses.

As to thought-content, every element in this doxology stresses the transcendence or incomparable greatness of God. He is Sovereign (a word applied to human rulers in Luke 1:52; Acts 8:27; and to God in 2 Macc. 3:24; 12:15; 15:4, 23; but see Dan. 4:35). As Sovereign he is altogether blessed. See on 1 Tim. 1:11. He is, moreover, the only Sovereign (cf. Jude 25); hence, absolutely incomparable in his right to do as he pleases, for example, to choose the appropriate season for Christ’s epiphany (note preceding context). Thus, “the blessed God” (of 1 Tim. 1:11) and “the only God” (of 1 Tim. 1:17) are here combined. Whatever titles men may bear, either rightfully or by usurpation, he—he alone!—is the real King of kings and Lord of lords. Literally, the original has, “the King of those kinging and the Lord of those lording” (Rev. 17:14; 19:16, used both times with reference to Christ, have the simpler form). The lengthened (participial) form probably adds freshness and vigor to the meaning.

Having set forth God’s relation to the universe and particularly to all earthly rulers, Paul in the last four terms (d., e., f., and g.) dwells on the divine essence itself, the majestic being of God.

He alone possesses immortality. This must not be confused with “endless existence.” To be sure, that, too, is implied, but the concept immortality is far more exalted. It means that God is life’s never-failing Fountain. On the concept life as applied to God see N.T.C. on John 1:4. This immortality is the opposite of death, as is clear from the derivation of the word both in English and in Greek. Athanasia is deathlessness. It is fulness of life, imperishable (cf. 1 Tim. 1:17) blessedness, the inalienable enjoyment of all the divine attributes. The only human beings who, as far as it is possible for creatures to do so, share this immortality, and thereby become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:4), are believers, though also unbelievers exist endlessly. It is through the gospel that immortality or imperishability was brought to light (2 Tim. 1:10). For the believer immortality is therefore a redemptive concept. It is everlasting salvation. For God it is eternal blessedness. But while the believer has received immortality, as one receives a drink of water from a fountain, God has it. It belongs to his very being. He is himself the Fountain.

The idea of life, implied in immortality, naturally leads to that of light. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Now, this light is like the sun. We need it to see by, yet we cannot look into it, for it is too intensely brilliant. In that sense, God, too, dwells in light unapproachable. The metaphor is even stronger than that employed in Ps. 104:2 (“He covers himself with light as with a garment”). Like a dwelling conceals its occupants, and hides them even more when it is unapproachable, so God’s very essence, by virtue of what it is, conceals him. Hence, the term light as here used re-emphasizes his incomparable greatness. “Verily, thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Savior” (Is. 45:15). “Behold, God is great.”

This greatness of God has as its corollary, “… and we know him not” (Job 36:26). Similarly, here in 1 Tim. 6:16 the line, “dwelling in light unapproachable,” already implies and is immediately followed by, “whom no human being has (ever) seen or is able to see.” Cf. 1 Tim. 1:17, in connection with which the sense in which God is invisible has been explained. See also N.T.C. on John 1:18; and cf. 1 John 4:12.

The devout contemplation of this majestic Being, who has wonderful blessings in store for his children, leads to the climax, “to whom be honor and strength eternal. Amen.” Truly, such a God is worthy of all honor: reverence, esteem, adoration (see footnote  above). He is also worthy of eternal strength, that is, power manifested in action, to the discomfiture of his enemies and to the salvation of his people. Paul’s expressed wish is that God may receive this honor and may manifest this eternal strength. This wish is very deep-seated, for the apostle loves God very, very much. Hence, as in 1 Tim. 1:17, he seals the wish with the solemn word of affirmation or confirmation: Amen (cf. Num. 5:22; Neh. 8:6; Ps. 41:13; 72:10; 89:52; and see N.T.C. on John 1:51).[3]

15–16 In a great sevenfold closing doxology (cf. 1:17; Quinn and Wacker, 537–44), the apostle refers to God as:

the blessed and only Ruler,

the King of kings

and Lord of lords,

who alone is immortal

and who lives in unapproachable light,

whom no one has seen

or can see.

To this God, Paul concludes the doxology, “be honor and might forever. Amen.” It is possible that the apostle here inserts or adapts a doxology from the liturgy of Hellenistic synagogue worship (cf. Kelly, 146).

15 “Ruler” renders the rare Greek term dynastēs (GK 1541), found elsewhere in the NT only in Luke’s writings, where it refers to human rulers (Lk 1:52; Ac 8:27; with reference to God, see Sir 46:5; 2 Macc 12:15). Slightly more common is despotēs (GK 1305; Lk 2:29; Ac 4:24; 2 Pe 2:1; Jude 4; Rev 6:10; see esp. Jude 4, where Jesus Christ is called “our only Sovereign [Ruler] and Lord”; see comments at 1 Ti 6:2a); much more frequent is kyrios (GK 3261), “Lord.” This “Ruler” is identified as both “blessed” (makarios, GK 3421) and the “only” one (monos, GK 3668), both common Jewish designations for God.

“King of kings and Lord of lords” also has OT precedent (cf. esp. Dt 10:17, “God of gods and Lord of lords”; Ps 136:2–3), identifying God as the ultimate King and supreme Lord in Hebrew style (similarly, Rev 19:16; cf. Rev 17:14; 2 Macc 13:4; 1 En. 9:4). The combination of “Ruler,” “King,” and “Lord” emphatically affirms God’s sovereignty over human affairs (cf. Isa 40:12–31; Da 4:35), lending further weight to Paul’s charge to Timothy. In the light of God’s supreme authority, all competing claims are dwarfed by comparison.

16 In the second section of his doxology,the apostle affirms that God alone is “immortal” (cf. 1 Co 15:53–54) and “lives in unapproachable light” (cf. Ps 104:2: “He wraps himself in light as with a garment”). “Immortality” is a Greek concept that corresponds to the notion of “eternal life” referred to in v. 12. God alone is not subject to death (rather, death is subject to God). He is the life-giver (v. 13), and he dwells in “unapproachable” (aprositos, GK 717; only here in the NT) light, removed from human sight (cf. Ex 33:20; Jn 1:18), for he is too holy for sinful human beings to look upon (a subject of frequent contemplation in the Fathers: see Peter Gorday, ed., Colossians, 1–2 Thessalonians, 1–2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon [ACCS; Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2000], 9:220–22). This understanding of God as transcendent comports well with the depiction of God in the OT (e.g., at Sinai; cf. Josephus, Ant. 3.76, who refers to Sinai as “awful and unapproachable” because of the rumor that God dwelt there; also, J.W. 7.280, where the rock of Masada is called “inaccessible to the foot of any living creature”).

Paul seals his doxology affirming God’s sovereignty and transcendent majesty with the words “to him be honor [timē, GK 5507] and might [kratos, GK 3197; cf. 1 Pe 4:11; 5:11; Jude 25; Rev 1:6; 5:13] forever. Amen.”[4]

6:15 Bible scholars are not agreed as to whether the pronouns in this verse and the next refer to God the Father or to the Lord Jesus Christ. Taken by itself, verse 15 seems to refer to the Lord Jesus, because He is definitely called King of kings and Lord of lords in Revelation 17:14. On the other hand, verse 16 seems to refer particularly to God the Father.

In any case, the meaning of verse 15 seems to be this: When the Lord Jesus Christ comes back to reign upon the earth, men will realize who is the blessed and only Potentate. The appearance will manifest who is the true King. At the time Paul wrote to Timothy, the Lord Jesus was the rejected One, and He still is. But a day is coming when it will be clearly shown that He is the King over all those who reign and He is the Lord over all those who rule as lords.

Blessed means not only worthy to be praised, but One who has in Himself the fullness of all blessing.

6:16 At the appearing of the Lord Jesus, men will also realize that it is God alone who has immortality or deathlessness. This means that He is the only One who has it inherently. Angels have had immortality conferred upon them, and at the resurrection, believers will receive bodies that are immortal (1 Cor. 15:53, 54), but God has immortality in Himself.

God is next spoken of as dwelling in unapproachable light. This speaks of the bright, shining glory which surrounds the throne of God. Man in his natural condition would be vaporized by this splendor. Only those who are accepted in the Beloved One and complete in Christ can ever approach God without being destroyed.

In His essential being, no man has seen God or can see Him. In the OT, men saw appearances of God, known as theophanies. In the NT, God has perfectly revealed Himself in the Person of His beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

However, it is still true that God is invisible to mortal eyes.

To this One, honor and everlasting power are due, and Paul closes his charge to Timothy with this ascription of homage to God.[5]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 273–276). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 205–208). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 1 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 557–558). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2102). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 12 – Trials’ Lessons: No Partiality

“But let the brother of humble circumstances glory in his high position; and let the rich man glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away.”

James 1:9–10


God does not exempt any believer, rich or poor, from trials and suffering.

There is a basic principle of life that we all know to be true—namely, that trials and sufferings do not exclude privileged people. This is a humbling truth that we don’t always like to acknowledge, yet it operates before us regularly in such things as natural disasters. No one can deny that large–scale floods, hurricanes, or earthquakes affect both rich and poor, young and old, educated and uneducated; all races and classes are susceptible to pain, hardship, and even death during such events. After a major earthquake, for example, nearly everyone feels the effects of disruptions in transportation and communication. And the ground’s violent shaking can damage or destroy both modest bungalows and expensive mansions.

The realization that God does not show favoritism in sending trials and difficulties is also quite sobering and humbling for those in the Body of Christ. As today’s first verse suggests, the challenge for poor believers is in realizing that they can rejoice in their exalted spiritual position as Christians (1 Peter 1:3–6), no matter how lowly their earthly status might be. Current economic hardship does not diminish the glories of our future inheritance (see Eph. 1:11–14).

The challenge for wealthier believers is to accept the “humiliation” that trials bring, remembering that such tests will make them more dependent on God and His grace rather than on earthly riches. Such wealth is only temporary, and it fades away like the grass of the field.

Once we grasp the truth of this equalizing factor, we will be more inclined to declare with sincerity, “My resources are in God.” The divine impartiality revealed through trials also has a wonderful unifying effect on the church. The commentator R.C.H. Lenski summarized it this way: “As the poor brother forgets all his earthly poverty, so the rich brother forgets all his earthly riches. The two are equals by faith in Christ.”


Suggestions for Prayer: Ask the Lord to give you a better appreciation for His evenhandedness in bringing trials our way.

For Further Study: Read Hebrews 12:3–13. What are some parallels between this passage and what we have been studying about trials? ✧ Does God exempt any believer from correction?[1]

A Humble Spirit

But the brother of humble circumstances is to glory in his high position; and the rich man is to glory in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. (1:9–11)

A fifth means to perseverance in trials is a humble spirit.

James first addresses the brother of humble circumstances, that is, the saint who was economically poor and who represented most of the scattered and persecuted Jewish believers to whom he wrote. Many of them, no doubt, had once been at least somewhat well-off financially but had their homes and other possessions confiscated or had to leave them behind when fleeing their persecutors. At this time, their most common lot was poverty.

Despite that circumstance, however, such a believer was to glory in his high position. Kauchaomai (glory) is often translated “rejoice” or “boast.” James is speaking of a legitimate form of pride that even the most destitute Christian can have in his high position as a child of God and in the countless blessings that position brings. He may be considered “the scum of the world, the dregs of all things” (1 Cor. 4:13) in the eyes of the world, but in God’s eyes he is exalted. He may be hungry, but he has the bread of life. He may be thirsty, but he has the water of life. He may be poor, but he has eternal riches. He may be cast aside by men, but he has been eternally received by God. He may have no home on earth, but he has a glorious abode in heaven. When God, in His wisdom and sovereignty, takes away physical possessions from some of His children, it is for the purpose of making them spiritually mature, a blessing infinitely more valuable than anything they have lost or have wanted but never possessed. The believer who is deprived in this life can accept that temporary and insignificant deprivation because he has a future divine inheritance that is both eternal and secure.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Peter exults,

who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials. (1 Pet. 1:3–6)

John gives similar encouragement and cause for rejoicing. “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are,” he says.

For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure. (1 John 3:1–3)

In His incarnation, the Lord promised, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” and, “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:3, 5).

It is for all those reasons that Paul could say, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him. For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:16–18).

James then presents the other side of the principle. Just as a materially poor believer should rejoice in his spiritual riches, the materially rich man [should] glory in his humiliation. The idea is that a believer who is materially well-off, healthy, and otherwise physically blessed should rejoice when trials come, for they teach him the transitory nature of those material things and their inability to give inner and lasting satisfaction or help, especially spiritual help. Both he and his possessions are like flowering grass and will pass away. “All flesh is like grass,” Peter reminds us, quoting Isaiah, “and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off” (1 Pet. 1:24; cf. Isa. 40:6–7).

Because men, including believers, have a natural tendency to trust in material things, James gives special attention to the dangers of wealth. Expanding on the temporariness of physical things and emphasizing the danger of trusting in them, he adds, For the sun rises with a scorching wind and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away. This is a picture of the flowers and grasses of Israel, which flourish in February and dry up by May. James borrows this imagery from Isaiah 40:6–8 (cf. Pss. 102:4, 11; 103:15).

The loss of material things is meant to drive the rich person to the Lord and to greater spiritual maturity, blessing, and satisfaction. And at that point, the rich and poor are exactly alike. Neither material possessions nor lack of them is of any ultimate consequence. What is of significance is a trusting relationship to the Lord, who showers all of His children with spiritual wealth that will never diminish or fail to satisfy.

Faith in Christ to supply his needs lifts the lowly believer beyond his trials to the great height of a position in the eternal kingdom of Christ, where, as God’s child, he is rich and may rejoice and boast. Faith in Christ does an equally blessed thing for the rich believer, whose riches are temporary; it fills him with the spirit of lowliness and true humility. As the poor brother forgets all his earthly poverty, so the rich brother forgets all his earthly riches. The two are equals by faith in Christ.

When you lose a daughter, son, wife, husband, or other loved one, wealth is no comfort. When you lose your health, are betrayed by a friend, or are wrongfully maligned, money cannot buy peace of mind or decrease the pain. Trials are the great equalizer, bringing all of God’s children to dependence on Him. Wealth does not bring God closer, nor does poverty keep Him further away. In light of that truth and the present text, the beautiful, well-known passage from Hebrews could be modified: “Therefore let us draw near with [equal] confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may [equally] receive mercy and [equally] find grace to help in time of need” (Heb. 4:16; cf. Phil. 4:19).[2]

  1. The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. 10. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower.

These two verses reveal parallelism and contrast common in the Psalms and the Proverbs. The parallel lies in the expression take pride. The phrases brother in humble circumstances and one who is rich show contrast. Also the adjectives high and low stand in opposition to each other.

Note that although James refrains from using the word poor in this verse, the intent to depict poverty is evident (compare 2:2, 3, 5, 6). The man in humble circumstances he designates “brother.”

  1. “The brother.” Pastor James writes a letter to the Christians “scattered among the nations.” He knows that many of them live in grinding poverty and fill the lowest-paying positions in society. These people need words of encouragement, for economic conditions are oppressive and perplexing. Thus, James exhorts the Christian brother “to take pride in his high position.”

Although the brother lives “in humble circumstances,” he should not only know his exalted position; he is even encouraged to take pride in it. The contrast is striking. How can an economically deprived Christian understand that he is highly exalted? Before he can boast of an honorable position, he must learn first to appreciate the significance of his status. That is, he should look not at material possessions, but at spiritual treasures. He must have an entirely different outlook on life. He views life not from the aspect of materialism but rather in relation to spiritual values. He knows that God himself has elevated the believer to a high rank.27 He sees himself as a child of the King—a son or daughter of God.

As a member of God’s royal family, the brother “ought to take pride” in his family tree. Proudly he points to his heavenly Father and to his brother Jesus Christ. The Christian has royal blood in his veins. Says James, “Listen, my dear brothers: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?” (2:5). No wonder the Christian ought to take pride in his high position. He is heir of God’s kingdom.

  1. “The one who is rich.” The counterpart to the “brother in humble circumstances” is the “one who is rich.” James exhorts both to take pride in their respective positions.

Who is this rich person? This is an open question. Some interpreters wish to complete the parallel in verses 9 and 10 by inserting the word brother: “But the brother who is rich should take pride in his low position.” Then both the poor and the rich are Christians.

We note a few objections, however. First, although James explicitly calls the man in lowly circumstances a brother, he omits this term when he introduces the rich man. Next, James compares the rich man to a plant that withers and dies—he will fade away (v. 11). He adds no word of admonition and no call to repentance. Then, in other parts of his epistle, James leaves the impression that the rich do not belong to the Christian fellowship (see 2:6–9; 5:1–6). And last, James addresses Christians who were persecuted and dispersed. They had lost their possessions and now lived in economically depressed conditions. They were oppressed by the rich in the areas where they had settled.

Moreover, we note that James speaks about the rich man but not about riches. He does not repudiate earthly possessions in order to rejoice in poverty. No, he teaches that God is the giver of “every good and perfect gift” (1:17). James is not concerned about riches but about the person who possesses them. I conclude, then, that the rich man is not a Christian.

How can the rich person “take pride in his low position”? The poor man boasts about his spiritual riches, but the rich man who has rejected God is spiritually blind and unable to see his “low position.” He boasts about his material wealth, but earthly riches “pass away like a wild flower.”

James resorts to irony. He is saying, “The rich man should take pride in his low position,” viewed by the spiritually discerning brother. Earthly goods can be compared to the tides of the sea; they come and they go. James, however, uses an illustration taken from climate and landscape.[3]

9 The first exhortation is addressed to “the brother” of “humble circumstances.” The use of adelphos (“brother,” GK 81) makes it clear a fellow believer is in view. The term translated “humble circumstances” (ho tapeinos, GK 5424) can refer to a person’s status, resources, opportunities, or attitude and often is rendered as “humble” or “lowly.” Here the situation of being poor materially seems to be in view, because this brother is contrasted with “the rich” in the next verse. In the biblical literature, the “lowly” or “poor” person is of special concern to God (Johnson, 184–85; e.g., LXX Pss 9:39; 17:28; 33:19; 81:3; 101:18; Isa 11:4; 14:32), and James, here and with the quotation of Proverbs 3:34 in 4:6, picks up on this biblical theme. This affirmation of the person who struggles with a humble situation in life also connects very directly to the teachings of Jesus, in which there often is a reversal of status—the exalted are brought lower and the lowly are raised up (Edgar, 68–70; e.g., Mt 23:12/Lk 14:11; Lk 6:24–25; 12:16–21; 16:19–31; 18:4).

So the humble brother “ought to take pride in his high position.” The special favor of God makes for a situation in which “boasting” is appropriate. The term rendered “take pride in” (kauchasthō, GK 3016) by the NIV can be used to speak of boasting or glorying in something or someone and in the wisdom tradition of the OT is often seen as a very appropriate action, the basis of the boasting being the key (Johnson, 185). The concept in the NT is especially found in Paul’s writings. Paul can speak, for instance, of boasting in God (Ro 2:17), in the Lord (2 Co 10:17), or in Christ Jesus (Php 3:3), but he can also speak of taking pride in weaknesses (2 Co 12:9) and in afflictions (Ro 5:3) because these have spiritual value in God’s economy. So James exhorts the poor Christian to “take pride in his high position,” that is his high status as a member of the community of God’s people. Here again we are challenged to see our experiences from the perspective of God’s values rather than those of the world.

10 Commentators are fairly evenly divided as to whether the “rich” person of v. 10 is also a Christian brother or one of the rich oppressors outside the church, and it is difficult to come to a firm conclusion. Those who hold the latter position take the exhortation as highly ironic, since an unbeliever would not “take pride in” his humiliation. Elsewhere in James (e.g., 2:7; 5:1–6) the “rich” seem clearly to be unbelievers, and in strands of Jewish tradition the rich are set in contrast to the “poor” people of God. Further, the rich person of 1:10–11 is offered no future hope, so it is difficult to conceive of this person being a believer (Davids, 77; Laws, 63–64; Martin, 23; Dibelius, 87).

On the other hand, those who understand the rich person here as a Christian brother point out that grammatically both the subject and verb must be supplied to the main clause at the beginning of v. 10, and these flow naturally from the previous verse. The verb in v. 9, translated “to take pride in,” carries over to this clause, and so should the subject, “the brother” (ho adelphos, GK 81). The parallelism between the two clauses strengthens this conclusion. Further, these commentators suggest, the irony required by the “unbeliever” position is excessive. The exhortation for a rich Christian to glory in the tentative nature of his economic strength makes more sense (Nystrom, 54; Adamson, 61; Motyer, 43).

It may be pointed out also that the Christian communities to whom James writes seem to have the wealthy in their midst (2:1–2), and the exhortation of 4:13–17 can be understood to be addressed to Christians involved in business. The thought of the latter passage parallels our passage under consideration. It is not difficult to imagine a situation in which the “trials” of dealing with the rich come on various levels for the church. On one level, navigating the relationships between the poor and rich within the congregation is challenging. On another, the poor would struggle with the oppression of the rich outside the church, and the brother of financial resources would struggle against falling into the cultural patterns of rich unbelievers with whom they would have had some association. On balance, therefore, that here we are dealing with a rich believer may have the upper hand, though the case is far from clear.

What is clear is the principle encapsulated in the balance of v. 10 and v. 11. Oecumenius asserts, “James calls the rich man both proud and humble at the same time, because what puffs him up also brings him down” (cited in Bray, 10). The impermanent, fleeting nature of material possessions should be a cause for pause for the rich and should spur the wealthy person to glory in the “low position” of being spiritually dependent on God. The proverbial analogy that the rich person’s passing away is like a wildflower is taken from Isaiah 40:7 (LXX): “All flesh is grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of our God remains forever” (1 Pe 1:24; cf. Ps 103:15–16). In Palestine were wildflowers, such as the anemone and the cyclamen, that wither before the burning heat of the sun (Davids, 77).[4]

1:9 At first glance, verses 9–11 seem to introduce a completely new subject, or at least a parenthesis. James, however, is continuing with the subject of holy trials by giving specific illustrations. Whether a man is poor or rich, he can derive lasting spiritual benefits from the calamities and crises of life. For instance, when a lowly brother finds himself dissatisfied and discouraged, he can always rejoice that he is an heir of God, and a joint heir with Jesus Christ. He can find consolation in the truth that all things are his, and he is Christ’s and Christ is God’s. The lowly brother probably has no control over his humble circumstances. There is no reason to believe he is lazy or careless. But God has seen fit to place him in a low income bracket and that is where he has been ever since. Perhaps if he had been rich, he never would have accepted Christ. Now that he is in Christ, he is blessed with all spiritual blessings in the heavenlies. What should he do? Should he rebel against his station in life? Should he become bitter and jealous? No, he should accept from God the circumstances over which he has no control and rejoice in his spiritual blessings.

Too many Christians go through life rebelling against their sex, their age, their height, and even against life itself. Girls with a flair for baseball wish they were boys. Young people wish they were older, and old people want to be younger. Short people envy those who are tall, and tall ones wish they weren’t so conspicuous. Some people even say, “I wish I were dead!” All this is absurd! The Christian attitude is to accept from God things which we cannot change. They are God’s destiny for us, and we should make the most of them for His glory and for the blessing of others. We should say with the Apostle Paul: “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). As we forget our disabilities and lose ourselves in service for others, we will come to realize that spiritual people love us for what we are, not for our appearance, for instance.

1:10, 11 Next James turns to the rich. But strangely enough he does not say, “Let the rich man rejoice in his riches.” Rather he says that the rich can rejoice that he is made low. He agrees with Jeremiah 9:23, 24:

Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, says the Lord.

The rich man may actually find real cause for rejoicing should he be stripped of his material possessions. Perhaps business reverses would bring him to the Lord. Or if he is already a Christian, then he could take joyfully the spoiling of his goods knowing he has in heaven a better and more enduring possession (Heb. 10:34). Earthly riches are destined to pass away, like the flower of the field (Isa. 40:6, 7). If a man has nothing but material wealth, then all his plans will end at the grave. James dwells on the transiency of grass as an illustration of the fleeting life of a rich man and the limited value of his riches. He will fade away in the midst of his pursuits. The point is, of course, that neither sun nor scorching wind can affect spiritual values. Any trial that weans us away from the love of passing things and sets our affections on things above is a blessing in disguise. Thus the same grace that exalts the lowly humbles the rich. Both are cause for rejoicing.[5]

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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1998). James (pp. 39–41). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 42–43). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Guthrie, G. H. (2006). James. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 217–218). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2219–2220). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 12 – Spiritual Motivation

I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

The apostle Paul’s goal was to be like Christ. He knew that he would receive his reward when God’s upward call came. Like Paul, we won’t reach the goal of Christlikeness in this life, but we will receive it instantly in the next: “It has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

The upward call of God is our motivation to run the race. We should live in light of being called out of this world at any time into the presence of God, where we will receive our eternal reward. We were vile, godless sinners on our way to hell when God sovereignly chose us for salvation that He might eternally make us like His own Son. What grace! What motivation to reach for the goal![1]

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).[2]

Pursuing the Prize Requires a Proper Motivation

I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (3:14)

As noted earlier, this verse is the heart of the passage. The present tense verb translated I press on denotes Paul’s continuous effort to pursue the “impossible dream” and defeat “the unbeatable foe.” The root meaning of the preposition kata (toward) is “down.” Paul again expressed his single-minded focus, saying, “I continually bear down on the goal (skopos; “a mark on which to fix one’s eyes”).”

That prize was what motivated him to run to win (1 Cor. 9:24). Believers will not receive the prize (Christlikeness, with all its eternal benefits) until the upward (lit. “above,” denoting both the source of the call and to where it leads) call of God in Christ Jesus ushers them into God’s glorious presence in heaven. As noted above, perfection is not attainable in this life. The finish line is the threshold of heaven, where the rewards will be handed out (cf. Matt. 5:12; Luke 6:23; 1 Cor. 3:12–15). It is not until Christ “appears, [that] we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is” (1 John 3:2).

Like a runner triumphantly pumping his fist in the air as he approaches the finish line, Paul declared at the end of his life, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day” (2 Tim. 4:7–8). Only “in the future” in heaven would Paul receive “the crown of righteousness” (Christ’s righteousness perfected in him); only then would he receive the prize which he so diligently pursued.[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.

  1. Goal
  2. So Paul continues, I am pressing on toward the goal. By derivation, the word translated goal is that on which one fixes his eyes. Throughout the race the sight of that pillar at the end of the track encouraged the contestant to redouble his exertions. He was ever running goal-ward, that is, in accordance with the line from his eyes to the goal.

In the spiritual race that goal is Christ, that is, ethical-spiritual perfection in him (see Phil. 3:8, 12). With all his heart the apostle desired to be completely raised above sin. He sought eagerly to promote the glory of God by every tool at his disposal, particularly by being a witness to all men (Acts 22:15, 21; 26:16–18), that he might by all means save some (1 Cor. 9:22).

  1. Reward

Never does the runner forget the prize (1 Cor. 9:24, 25; 2 Tim. 4:8; Heb. 12:2). Hence, Paul continues, for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. At the end of the race the successful runner was summoned from the floor of the stadium to the judge’s seat to receive the prize. This prize was a wreath of leaves. At Athens after the time of Solon the Olympic victor also received the sum of 500 drachmai. Moreover, he was allowed to eat at public expense, and was given a front-row seat at the theater.

Probably some of these facts were in the background of Paul’s thinking when he stated that he was pressing on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. However, underlying figure and spiritual meaning do not completely correspond here—do they ever?—, for though the prize in both cases is awarded at the end of the race, the upward call of which the apostle is here speaking was issued already at his conversion, hence not only at the end of the race. Here as elsewhere in Paul there is the effective gospel call. It is the heavenward call, the holy calling, a calling to holiness of life. Thus God is summoning Paul upward continually. See N.T.C. on 2 Thess. 1:11, p. 162, footnote 162 there; also N.T.C. on 2 Tim. 1:9. Nevertheless, the prize which corresponds to this call, and is given to those in whom this call has performed its work, is awarded when the race is over and has been won. Then Paul, too, together with all the saints, is called upward to meet the Lord in the air and to remain forever with him in the new heaven and earth (1 Thess. 4:17). It is only in Christ Jesus that this upward call, this holy calling, is possible. Without him it could neither have been given nor obeyed. Apart from his atoning sacrifice the glorious prize to which the call leads the way could never be awarded.

Is there a real difference between goal and prize? In a sense they are the same. Both indicate Christ, perfection in him. Nevertheless, goal and prize represent different aspects of the same perfection; as follows,

  1. When this perfection is called goal, it is viewed as the object of human striving. When it is called prize it is viewed as the gift of God’s sovereign grace. God imparts everlasting life to those who accept Christ by living faith (John 3:16). He imparts perfection to those who strive to attain it. Though it is true that this believing and this striving are from start to finish completely dependent on God’s grace, nevertheless it is we who must embrace Christ and salvation in him. It is we who must strive to enter in. God does not do this believing and striving for us!
  2. The goal rivets the attention on the race that is being run or was run; the prize upon the glory that will begin in the new heaven and earth. Thus, bringing sinners to Christ, and doing this with perfect devotion, pertains to the goal. Perfect fellowship with these saved ones on and after the day of the great consummation pertains to the prize. Hence, it is correct to distinguish between goal and prize, as Paul also does both here and, by implication, in 2 Tim. 4:7, 8.

With this glorious prize in mind—namely, the blessings of everlasting life; such as perfect wisdom, joy, holiness, peace, fellowship, all enjoyed to the glory of God, in a marvelously restored universe, and in the company of Christ and of all the saints—Paul is pressing on toward the goal.[4]

14 Paul has not arrived but continues to pursue the goal. The verb diōkō (GK 1503) pictures him intensely pressing forward. Elsewhere he uses the verb diōkō negatively to mean persecution (Ro 12:14; 1 Co 4:12; 15:9; 2 Co 4:9; Gal 1:13, 23; 4:29; 5:11; 6:12; 2 Ti 3:12). Ironically, then he formerly “pursued” (persecuted) the church (3:6); now he pursues Christ. His goal is the upward call of God. He understands his life in terms of God’s call (1 Co 7:14–24), but the upward or “heavenward” call does not refer to his vocation as a “high calling.” Paul uses anō in Galatians 4:26 and Colossians 3:1–2 to refer to the heavenly dimension. In the context, the call comes at the end of the race, not at the beginning, and does not refer to any vocation or to the divine initiative of bringing a person to faith (Ro 11:29; 1 Co 1:26; 7:20; Eph 1:18; 4:1, 4; 2 Th 1:11; 2 Ti 1:9). Instead, it is the call to come up, a call to heavenly existence (Rev 11:12). Philo (Planting, 23) uses the phrase to refer to those who are called upwards (anō kaleisthai) to God. If Paul has in mind the chariot races of Rome (cf. E. M. Blaiklock, Cities of the New Testament [London: Pickering & Inglis, 1965], 43–44), the upward calling would refer to the summons to the winner to approach the judge’s elevated stand and receive his prize. This call is the prize that awaits him at the end of the race (2 Ti 4:7–8), and he visualizes the heavenly judge at the end of the age calling him to “come up” to receive it.[5]

3:14 Looking at himself as a runner in a race, Paul describes himself as exerting every effort toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

The goal is the finish line at the end of the race track. The prize is the award presented to the winner. Here the goal would be the finish of life’s race, and perhaps more particularly the Judgment Seat of Christ. The prize would be the crown of righteousness which Paul elsewhere describes as the prize for those who have run well (2 Tim. 4:8).

The upward call of God in Christ Jesus includes all the purposes that God had in mind in saving us. It includes salvation, conformity to Christ, joint-heirship with Him, a home in heaven, and numberless other spiritual blessings.[6]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 149). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

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

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 248–249). Chicago: Moody Press.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, pp. 172–175). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 245). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

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