Daily Archives: May 15, 2017

May 15, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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May 15, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump has asked his homeland security adviser to convene two emergency meetings so far on the threat posed by a global cyber-attack.

Security agencies are hunting for those behind a crippling cyberattack which has so far hit hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide, including at government agencies, factories and health services.

The U.S. Supreme Court dealt an unexpected blow to the voter-identification movement, refusing to reinstate North Carolina ballot restrictions that a lower court said target blacks “with almost surgical precision.”

In 1999, when Puerto Rico had an investment-grade credit rating, the island had roughly $16 billion of public debt. Today that figure is $74 billion and the rating is junk. Puerto Rico, where half the 3.4 million inhabitants live in poverty, has become America’s Greece: Thousands of people, many of them professionals, are fleeing for the U.S. mainland.

President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Forum speech on Sunday appeared on the front page of just about every newspaper and website in China. China Daily hailed the speech, saying it underlined the aspiration for a “new-type” of international relations driven by a “spirit of sharing.” The Global Times went one step further, saying humankind has often been distracted from focusing on development and that the Belt and Road Initiative instilled the world economy with a new imagination.

North Korea boasted on Monday that its new rocket could carry a “large-size heavy nuclear warhead” over long distances, with analysts estimating that it could reach U.S. military forces on the island of Guam.

Carriers are bracing for operational chaos at European airports after the Department of Homeland Security said last week it might expand to Europe a ban imposed in March on U.S.-bound flights from 10 Middle Eastern airports. The new security protocol could mean longer security lines, heightened delays, boarding gate confusion, and yet more hassles for fliers.

The number of market indexes now exceeds the number of U.S. stocks. Traditional ones such as the S&P 500 are collections of securities weighted by market value, and index funds mimic them as a low-cost way to deliver the market’s performance. Many new indexes are different: They include stocks based on custom criteria, such as having low volatility or high dividends.

In the most cashless society on the planet, even God now accepts digital payments. A growing number of Swedish parishes have started taking donations via mobile apps. Uppsala’s 13th-century cathedral also accepts credit cards.

AP Top Stories

The mayor of Charlottesville, Va., condemned Saturday night’s demonstration by a large group of torch-bearing white nationalists who were protesting the removal of statues honoring Confederate Gens. Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson.

Britain’s National Cyber Security Center said that by registering a domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the malware, the anonymous Britain-based cyber specialist, known as Malware Tech, had prevented further infections and “already resulted in preventing over 100,000 potential infections.”

A 5.7 magnitude earthquake near Iran’s border with Turkmenistan killed two people, injured hundreds and caused widespread damage, state media reported Sunday, citing the country’s seismological center.

Toyota has its sights set on a Blade Runner future as the Japanese automaker backs a move to launch a flying car in time for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

Osama bin Laden’s son has vowed revenge on the west for killing his father and is set to become the next leader of al-Qaeda, a former FBI agent has warned.

United Airlines announced Sunday its cockpit door access information was accidentally made public but the problem had already been fixed. A flight attendant mistakenly posted information that included access codes to get in and out of a cockpit on a public website.

China and the Philippines will start bilateral consultations on the disputed South China Sea this week, the Philippine ambassador to Beijing said, as Manila looks to ease tensions with Asia’s top economic power.

BBC

The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared an Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo. At least one person has died after contracting the virus in the country’s north-east.

Singapore’s Pink Dot LGBT rights rally will only allow Singaporean citizens and permanent residents to attend this year’s event because of legal changes.

Buses have arrived in northern Syria carrying rebels and their families who were evacuated from a devastated north-eastern district of Damascus.

A state of emergency has been declared in the Yemeni The Red Cross says the number of suspected cases in the country has tripled in a week to more than 8,500.

WND

Major department stores are floundering about like fish in a rapidly draining pond after reporting dreadful earnings last week.

Why are young people, especially women, reporting cases of temporary blindness and other vision problems in record numbers? Doctors see a correlation with cell-phone use – especially watching the device in the dark with one eye closed or obscured.

After reaching a peak in 2014, sales of e-readers and eBooks have slowed and hardback sales have surged. The latest figures from the Publishing Association showed eBook sales falling 17% in 2016, with an 8% rise in their physical counterparts. At the same time, publishers’ production values have soared and bookshops have begun to fill up with books with covers of jewel-like beauty, often with gorgeously textured pages.


The Briefing 05-15-17

“Ransomware” cyber attack affecting over 150 countries stopped by 22 year old surfer—at least for now

Days after winning the election, Emmanuel Macron inaugurated as President of France

Mormons sever longstanding relationship with Boy Scouts following pattern of rapid liberalization

Abortion “God’s work”? Setting the record straight on early Christianity’s consistent pro-life witness

The post The Briefing 05-15-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 5/15/2017

Trump Hoping to Jump-start Peace Process Next Week
President Donald Trump intends to express his hopes to “leaders and peoples alike, across the entire trip” for a “just and lasting peace” between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Sanhedrin Calls For Trump to Fulfill King Solomon’s Mandate by Praying on Temple Mount
The nascent Sanhedrin sent a letter on Monday to US President Donald Trump, calling on him to ascend to the Temple Mount and pray for world peace when he arrives in Jerusalem next week for his first state visit. If Trump chooses to answer the call, he will not only be making a powerful political statement but enacting precisely what King Solomon described when he first dedicated the Temple 3,000 years ago.

More victims expected in unprecedented cyberattack as users log on Monday
An unprecedented global “ransomware” attack that hit at least 100,000 organizations in 150 countries spread to thousands more computers Monday as people returned to work and logged in for the first time since the massive online assault began.

US appeals court to review Trump revised travel ban
A three-judge 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals panel, made up entirely of judges appointed by Democratic former President Bill Clinton, will review a Hawaii judge’s ruling that blocked parts of the Republican president’s revised executive order on travel.

North Korea steps closer to an ICBM: experts
North Korea’s successful missile test-launch signals major advances in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile, such as mastery of re-entry technology and better engine performance key to targeting the United States, experts say.

Trump considering how move of U.S. Embassy in Israel could affect Mideast peace
“The president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He spoke just days before Trump starts a Middle East trip that includes meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Labor pledges to give Netanyahu political cover for peace deal
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would receive a parliamentary safety net from Labor that would enable him to advance a peace process with US President Donald Trump, according to the major candidates for Labor Party leader. The statements made by MKs and Labor contestants…came as Netanyahu clashed with Education Minister Naftali Bennett… In that case, no matter who wins the July 4 Labor leadership race, Netanyahu could remain in power.

10,000 police assigned to secure Trump’s stay in Israel
More than 10,000 police officers will take part in securing the two-day visit of US President Donald Trump, expected to take place on May 22-23. Trump will arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport, whence he will fly by helicopter to Jerusalem to visit the Old City and Yad Vashem, and sleep in the King David Hotel’s presidential suite.

North Korea missile test was ‘new type of ballistic rocket’
North Korea has claimed that the missile it tested on Sunday was a new type of rocket capable of carrying a large nuclear warhead. The missile, launched at a steep angle, reached an altitude of 2,000km (1,242 miles) and travelled about 700km, landing in the sea west of Japan. North Korea said on Monday it was a test of the abilities of a “newly developed ballistic rocket”.

Yemen war: Emergency in Sanaa as cholera kills scores
A state of emergency has been declared in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, after an outbreak of cholera killed scores of people. Hospitals in the city, which is controlled by Houthi rebels, are crowded with cholera patients. The Red Cross says the number of suspected cases in the country has tripled in a week to more than 8,500.

Inside North Korea’s Accelerated Plan to Build a Viable Missile
North Korea’s launch on Sunday of its most-sophisticated missile yet offered new clues into how serious the country is in its nuclear ambitions. In the past three years, North Korea has launched more major missiles than in the three previous decades combined. That acceleration is one of the most dramatic signs of leader Kim Jong Un’s push to overhaul the country’s weapons program since he took power in late 2011.

Ahead of Trump visit, Jordan and Egypt declare east Jerusalem ‘capital of Palestine’
In anticipation of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Israel and Saudi Arabia, pressure is mounting on him to start a diplomatic process and leave the American Embassy in Tel Aviv….Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shukri and PLO Executive Committee Chairman Saeb Erekat, Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said that east Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine, while West Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

Prominent Populists Meet in Milan to Discuss Future of EU, Making Europe Great Again
A growing malaise has been sweeping Europe as citizens grow progressively more distrustful of the European Union…The Milan conference, titled “Sovereignty vs. Globalism: Shifting Geopolitical Realities in Europe and the USA,” analyzed this phenomenon by comparing the populist-nationalist fervor in Europe with the movements that produced the Trump revolution in the United States and Brexit in the United Kingdom.

Turkey prepares to build wall on Iranian border
An official with the Iranian Foreign Ministry told the Tehran Times on Tuesday that Turkey had “informally informed” Tehran of a plan to construct a wall along the border with Iran. Turkish Hurriyet Daily News reported on Tuesday that Ankara is considering plans to build a wall along the Turkish-Iranian border as part of measures against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

In Cashless Sweden, Even God Now Takes Collection Via an App
In the most cashless society on the planet, even God now accepts digital payments.
A growing number of Swedish parishes have started taking donations via mobile apps. Uppsala’s 13th-century cathedral also accepts credit cards.

No ‘clean slate’ between the US and Russia, Tillerson says
Relations between the United States and Russia, at their lowest level since the Cold War, will not restart “with a clean slate,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Sunday. The former ExxonMobil CEO, who was decorated in 2013 by Russian President Vladimir Putin, had said previously that the relationship between the two nuclear powers had hit its lowest point since the Soviet collapse in 1991.

ISIS Commanders Join “Moderate” Syrian Rebels
Once again confirming that there is no such thing as a “moderate” Syrian rebel (although there certainly is for State Department funding and arming purposes), on Friday, two prominent ISIS commanders have left the ranks of the calliphate to join forces with the Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters, i.e., “moderate rebels” on the provincial border between Homs and Deir Ezzor.

North Korea: Latest Missile Can Deliver “Large Scale Heavy Nuclear Warhead”
On Monday morning North Korea’s KCNA news agency announced that it had successfully conducted a mid-to-long range missile test on Sunday supervised by leader Kim Jong Un which was aimed at verifying the capability to carry a “large scale heavy nuclear warhead.”

Trump, irked at cabinet and staff, mulls sweeping shake-up
At the urging of longtime friends and outside advisers, most of whom he consults after dark, President Trump is considering a “huge reboot” that could take out everyone from Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Steve Bannon, to counsel Don McGahn and press secretary Sean Spicer, White House sources tell me.

Texas is back as King of the oil world
Weekly US oil production is back to 9.3 million barrels per day and is nearing the 9.6 million barrel peak in mid-2015. OPEC raised its outlook for U.S. production growth by 285,000 barrels a day to 820,000 a day in 2017. The number of drilling rigs operating in the country has more than doubled since May, data from Baker Hughes Inc. shows, as shale explorers emerge from a two-year rout buoyed by the initial price gains after OPEC announced its plan.


Mid-Day Snapshot

May 15, 2017

Trump’s Agenda Blocked by Distractions

There are 460 of 557 key positions within the government that have yet to be filled, slowing his reform efforts.

The Foundation

“The pyramid of government — and a republican government may well receive that beautiful and solid form — should be raised to a dignified altitude: but its foundations must, of consequence, be broad, and strong, and deep.” —James Wilson (1804)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 15

  • Oil Jumps Over Output Deal (Read More), Saudi Arabia, Russia Favor Extending Oil Cuts Through Next March (Read More)
  • Trump Doctrine Confounds G-7 as Ministers Kick Can to Sicily (Read More)
  • Senate GOP’s agenda is at a moment of reckoning with unpredictable Trump (Read More)
  • White House Races to Fill FBI Job (Read More)
  • Former Trump Employees Say He Taped Phone Conversations (Read More)
  • Monday morning blues as ‘WannaCry’ hits at workweek’s start (Read More)
  • Britain worked through night to counter cyber attack on health service: minister (Read More)
  • North Korea steps closer to an ICBM (Read More)
  • North Korea missile launch due to ‘state of paranoia’: U.N. envoy Haley (Read More)
  • Behind China’s Silk Road vision: cheap funds, heavy debt, growing risk (Read More)
  • U.S. companies push hard for lower tax rate on offshore profits (Read More)
  • Trump Travel Ban Faces Second Round at West Coast Appeals Court (Read More)
  • No Taboos at Elysee as Mrs. Macron Signals Change in France (Read More)
  • Merkron? France’s Macron seeks close ties with Germany to shore up EU (Read More)
  • A $1 Trillion Pain Trade in Treasuries Divides Top Bond Dealers (Read More)
  • Floating oil storage has dropped by one-third in 2017: OPEC source (Read More)
  • Battle Heats Up for Control of Refiner Citgo (Read More)
  • Libyan Oil Output Creeps Higher Ahead of OPEC Decision on Cuts (Read More)
  • Chinese yogurt bid warrants dollop of skepticism (Read More)
  • Brace for Chaos if U.S Expands Airline Laptop Ban (Read More)
  • Noble Group Routed Again as Worst-Case Outcomes Get Scrutiny (Read More)
  • Man Who Helped Bury Lehman Turns to Saving Troubled Trader Noble (Read More)
  • Xi’s ‘New Imagination’ for World Economy: Eye on Chinese Media (Read More)
  • Debt Island: How $74 Billion in Bonds Bankrupted Puerto Rico (Read More)

Top Headlines – 5/15/2017

Bennett: ‘Netanyahu must make clear to the US that we expect the embassy to move to Jerusalem’

Tillerson: Trump weighs embassy move impact on Mideast peace

Jordan, PA, Egypt reiterate commitment to two states

Palestinians hope for settlement curb if peace talks resume

Barghouti calls on Palestinians: Civil disobedience

Israel must apologize for ‘Nakba,’ says top PA negotiator

Today in History: Harry Truman Defies State Department, Recognizes Israel

Convicted murderer of six Israelis elected as Palestinian mayor of Hebron

PM Netanyahu pans Jordan for siding with terrorist

Responding to Netanyahu, Jordan says stance against terrorism ‘clear to everyone’

Jordanian Foreign Minister in response to Netanyahu’s remarks: ‘The King of Jordan is striving to establish peace’

Egypt sees recent archaeological findings as a blessing for a struggling economy

Syrian army sends reinforcements toward border with Iraq: rebels

Over 2,000 rebels, families evacuate Damascus district: state media

Iranians See Little Hope Elections Will Alleviate Economic Strain

Germany Confiscating Homes to Use for Migrants – “A massive attack on the property rights”

North Korea’s Kim celebrates test of ‘perfect weapon system’

North Korea says missile could carry nuclear warhead

Inside North Korea’s Accelerated Plan to Build a Viable Missile

US UN envoy Haley: N. Korea missile launch due to ‘state of paranoia’

Haley says US will ‘tighten the screws’ on North Korea, after recent missile test

France says N.Korea serious threat to security, must abide by obligations

China pledges $124 billion for new Silk Road as champion of globalization

Macron’s win adds to Poland’s worries about its place in EU

Scotland needs choice on independence at end of Brexit: Sturgeon

Opposition in Venezuela in desperate plea to military

Ex-US intel chief: American democracy ‘under assault’ by Trump, Russia

Warner: Trump firing Comey has ‘appearance’ of quashing FBI’s Russia probe

U.S. lawmakers ask Trump to turn over any Comey tapes

Trump to Pirro: I’m ‘Surprised’ At ‘Hypocrite’ Dems For Blasting Comey Firing

The Latest: 29,000 Chinese institutions hit by cyberattack

Friday cyberattack hit 200,000 victims in over 150 countries

Businesses brace for Monday as ransomware threat lingers

More victims expected in unprecedented cyberattack as users log on Monday

Cyberattack’s Impact Could Worsen in ‘Second Wave’ of Ransomware

More disruptions feared from cyber attack; Microsoft slams government secrecy

Microsoft Claims Stolen U.S. Government Computer Code Fuels Cyberattack

G7 financial leaders reiterate FX pledges, vow more cyber cooperation

In Israel, cyber experts joined forces to help foil massive attack

United’s Cockpit Door Security Codes Inadvertently Revealed

New York eyes ‘textalyzer’ to combat distracted driving

Memphis, Tennessee, Man Fatally Sets Himself on Fire on Facebook Live

Innovative techniques in 3-D printing mean some previously impossible design will start showing up in consumer products

Here Comes the War for Commercial Drone Dominance

Magnitude 5.7 earthquake in northeast Iran leaves 3 dead

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Iquique, Chile

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits North of Ascension Island

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 22,000ft

Manam volcano in Papua New Guinea erupts to 15,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 13,000ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 11,000ft

Yemen war: Emergency in Sanaa as cholera kills scores

Opioid addiction crisis spurs brutal candor in obituaries

Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary… with stamp honoring gay ‘marriage’?

In Cashless Sweden, Even God Now Takes Collection Via an App

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

ABC News Journalist: Christian Persecution is not a real Problem, but Persecution of Muslims in America is

Furtick joins Rod Parsley’s 2017 N.A.R. “Dominion Camp”

Dr. Michael Brown (Sort of) Approves of These “Fine Christians…”

NAR Apostles: Patricia King and Lou Engle

Kris Vallotton’s False Gospel of Prosperity

Widow of Late Detroit World Outreach Pastor Presents Proof She Is Rightful Leader of Megachurch

Complaint Filed To Close Sex Club Posing As Church

Pope Francis canonises two children at Portugal’s Fatima shrine

Doctors Advised Her Parents to Abort Their Severely Disabled Baby, She’s Born Healthy

Americans More Accepting of Immorality Than Ever Before, Gallup Finds

Dramatic Fall of Christianity in UK Continues: 26 Christians Abandon Faith for Every One New Convert

Trump commits to securing American pastor’s release from Turkish prison, family lawyer says

North Korean university draws U.S. evangelicals despite risks

Christian militias kill up to 30 Muslim civilians in Central African Republican


DEVELOPING: Experts Warn Italy’s Super-Volcano May Be About to Blow?

Posted: 15 May 2017 08:19 AM PDT

While the Campi Flegrei volcano hasn’t erupted since 1538, experts have warned that it could be building up to another devastating eruption. By studying patterns…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pastor attempting to walk on water like Jesus is eaten by crocodiles

Posted: 15 May 2017 08:15 AM PDT

Jonathan Mthethwa was killed by three crocodiles as he carried out a religious demonstration in Zimbabwe.  Shocked witnesses said the clergyman had “prayed the whole…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Deadly Floods Strike Chile – Deaths Reported and Thousands Evacuated

Posted: 15 May 2017 06:29 AM PDT

Heavy rains affecting Atacama and Coquimbo regions of Chile since May 12, 2017, have caused widespread floods, left at least 2 people dead and forced 3…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Israel on High Alert for Cyber Attacks Following Global Onslaught

Posted: 15 May 2017 06:22 AM PDT

In order to ensure Israel’s preparedness against the ongoing threat, National Infrastructure, Energy and Water Minister Yuval Steinitz declared an increased state of cyber alert…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Putin Warns America to “Stop Bullying North Korea”

Posted: 15 May 2017 06:09 AM PDT

Vladimir Putin waded into the North Korea crisis this morning and told Donald Trump: ‘Stop bullying Kim.’ Russia’s ironman leader warned the “intimidation” of Kim…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Photo Taken Just Moments After Fatal Car Accident is Providing Grieving Family With Peace

Posted: 15 May 2017 06:01 AM PDT

A photo taken at the scene of a tragic car crash that killed two young moms and a 9-month-old baby last month is bringing hope and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christianity Diminishing in Britain but Islam & Hinduism Growing

Posted: 15 May 2017 05:53 AM PDT

Britain has reached new heights of secularization, with almost half of Britons now identifying as non-religious, a new study reveals. According to ‘The “No Religion”…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

President of China Eyes ‘New Imagination’ for World Economy

Posted: 15 May 2017 05:49 AM PDT

President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Forum speech on Sunday appeared on the front page of just about every newspaper and website in China. China…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Freak Snowstorm Brings New Hampshire 6 Inches of Snow in May

Posted: 15 May 2017 05:45 AM PDT

Mother’s Day is usually known for sunny and nice weather, but some Granite Staters are digging out from nearly six inches of snow this morning….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Putin Blames America For Cyber Attacks

Posted: 15 May 2017 05:41 AM PDT

Vladimir Putin has blamed the US for the global cyber attack that has crippled computer systems around the world since Friday.  The cyber attack, which…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

29,000 Chinese Institutions Struck By Cyber Attack

Posted: 15 May 2017 05:38 AM PDT

The latest on the global extortion cyber attack that hit dozens of countries on Friday (all times local): 4:50 a.m. Chinese state media say more…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Asian Governments and Businesses Disrupted From Ongoing Cyber Attacks

Posted: 15 May 2017 05:35 AM PDT

Asian governments and businesses reported some disruptions from the WannaCry ransomware worm on Monday but cybersecurity experts warned of a wider impact as more employees…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New French President Expected To Support Two-State Solution

Posted: 14 May 2017 08:06 PM PDT

A succession of ceremonies marked the inauguration of Emmanuel Macron as France’s eighth president under the Fifth Republic. Outgoing president François Hollande received his successor…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Cashless Sweden Forcing Churches To Go Mobile Apps For Tithes and Offerings

Posted: 14 May 2017 07:56 PM PDT

A growing number of Swedish parishes have started taking donations via mobile apps. Uppsala’s 13th-century cathedral also accepts credit cards. The churches’ drive to keep…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

6 Warning Signs of Spiritual Danger

Posted: 14 May 2017 07:35 PM PDT

(By J.Lee Grady) A desperate friend recently contacted me because he was worried that his son might be under the influence of a Christian ministry…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

SIGNS IN THE HEAVENS: The Sun Will Disappear For An Hour And a Half on Aug 21st

Posted: 14 May 2017 07:30 PM PDT

Where will you be on August 21? Hopefully near a window. You wouldn’t want to miss out on a solar eclipse! The astronomical event happens…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

MASS DECEPTION: Pope Francis: I’m going to Fatima to entrust the eternal fate of mankind to Mary

Posted: 14 May 2017 06:53 PM PDT

Mary is the “best of Mothers” who faithfully keeps the candle of hope burning in the darkness, Pope Francis said today, as he invited Christians to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea claims latest missile test proves its capability to carry Nuclear Warheads’

Posted: 14 May 2017 06:37 PM PDT

Pyongyang has claimed that its medium-range ballistic missile test carried out on Sunday under the supervision of Kim Jong-un has confirmed the “tactical specifications and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Tornado Strikes Baton Rouge, Huge Hail Pelts Oklahoma and Arkansas

Posted: 14 May 2017 06:31 PM PDT

The National Weather Service confirmed that an EF-1 tornado touched down near Baton Rouge, Louisiana early Friday morning, May 12, 2017. The tornado ripped through…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

3 killed, Hundreds Injured as Magnitude 5.7 Earthquake Strikes Iran

Posted: 14 May 2017 06:27 PM PDT

At least three people were killed and 225 injured in a 5.7-magnitude earthquake that hit northeast Iran on May 13, 2017 night. With a depth…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Latest North Korea Missile Launch Ended Up 60 Miles From Russia

Posted: 14 May 2017 06:17 PM PDT

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in a “state of paranoia” as it was revealed his latest nuclear missile test landed just miles from Russia….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Latest Launch Indicates North Korea has Missiles Powerful Enough to ‘launch Strike at America’

Posted: 14 May 2017 01:05 PM PDT

Kim Jong-un’s latest missile launch suggests North Korea has a weapon capable of striking at the US, experts have warned. Japan and South Korea said…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Another Day, Another FAILED Prophecy! WW3 Date Setter Missed it!

Posted: 14 May 2017 12:55 PM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) A while back we reported a story regarding an alleged “clairvoyant” who claimed to have predicted the electoral victory of U.S. President…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

False Prophet Claims Planet X Coming and Will Destroy Earth!

Posted: 14 May 2017 12:41 PM PDT

False Prophets are at it again with the “Doomsday” predictions! This latest one comes, as predictions are being made that an alleged Solar system on…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

More victims expected in unprecedented cyberattack as users log on Monday

Posted: 14 May 2017 12:24 PM PDT

An unprecedented global “ransomware” attack has hit at least 100,000 organizations in 150 countries, Europe’s police agency said Sunday — and predicted that more damage…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

White House Warns “North Korea has Been Flagrant Menace for far too long”

Posted: 14 May 2017 12:17 PM PDT

The White House responded to the latest North Korean ballistic missile launch late Saturday, saying that the rogue regime has been a “flagrant menace for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Retail Apocalypse Spells Doomsday For Shopping Malls

Posted: 14 May 2017 12:13 PM PDT

American retail culture may well have reached a tipping point. Major department stores are floundering about like fish in a rapidly draining pond after reporting…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Muslim Cleric Calls on FIFA to Ban Christian Players From Making the Sign of the Cross

Posted: 14 May 2017 12:09 PM PDT

A Muslim scholar from Saudi Arabia has called on FIFA, the international governing body of football, to forbid players from making the religious sign of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Alabama Senate Approves Proposal That Would Allow Display of Ten Commandments on Public Property

Posted: 14 May 2017 10:42 AM PDT

The Alabama Senate has approved a bill that would place on the ballot a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the Ten Commandments to be displayed on…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Learning Program Pushes LGBT Agenda on Homeschooled Children

Posted: 14 May 2017 10:36 AM PDT

Khan Academy, a learning program aimed at homeschooled students, has begun pushing an LGBT agenda, according to LifeSite News. On one of Kahn’s English quizzes,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: North Korea’s Latest Missile Test Posing “Grave Threat” to Japan

Posted: 14 May 2017 10:32 AM PDT

North Korea’s latest ballistic missile test has flown further and higher than it’s last, posing a ‘”grave threat” to Japan. The missile was launched yesterday…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Trump Reportedly Considering Huge White House Shake-Up

Posted: 14 May 2017 10:28 AM PDT

President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a massive White House shake-up that could end with the president firing many of his top advisers, including Chief…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
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May 15, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Power of Relationship

While He was still speaking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. And someone said to Him, ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.’ But He answered the one who was telling Him and said, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Behold, My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.’ ” (12:46–50)

Reformation is not salvation, regeneration, or redemption. It may, in fact, work toward the very opposite by entrenching a person in self-satisfaction and blinding him to his need for God’s mercy. In order to have salvation there must be a new and right relationship to God, which comes only as a sinner humbly confesses and turns from his sin and receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.

The arrival of Jesus’ family gave Him the perfect opportunity to give a graphic illustration of the need for personal relationship to Him. While He was still speaking to the multitudes in a house (see 13:1), His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. When Jesus was informed of this, He answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?”

By this time Joseph had probably been dead for many years, and Jesus’ immediate family consisted of His mother, Mary, his half brothers (James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas), and His half sisters, who are not named (Matt. 13:55–56).

After the resurrection, Jesus’ brothers eventually came to believe in Him, His brother James becoming the head of the Jerusalem church (see Acts 15:13–22) and author of the epistle that bears his name. But during Jesus’ preaching and teaching ministry there is no clear evidence that any member of His family other than Mary fully understood who He really was or trusted in Him as Savior. We are told specifically that His brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:5), and it may be that even His mother-despite the revelations to her before and after Jesus’ birth and her magnificent confession at that time (see Luke 1:26—2:38)-did not yet personally trust in Jesus as her own Lord and Savior.

We are not told (cf. Mark 3:31–32; Luke 8:19–20) why Jesus’ mother and brothers were … seeking to speak to Him, but it seems reasonable to assume that they were greatly concerned about His welfare and perhaps even feared with some of His home town friends that He had “lost His senses” (Mark 3:21). His condemnation of the scribes and Pharisees continued to grow in intensity and seriousness, and those leaders, in turn, were accusing Him of doing His work by Satan’s power. Their plan to destroy Jesus (Matt. 12:14) was probably already rumored among the people. Jesus’ mother and brothers were therefore hoping to dissuade Him from continuing His work and perhaps hoped He would flee to a safe place until the religious leaders forgot about Him or lost interest. His family was on a rescue mission to save Him from imminent death.

For most men such an incident would have been embarrassing in the extreme, but Jesus was neither embarrassed nor resentful. He loved and cared for His family, and He understood their concern, misguided as it was. He did not, in fact, respond directly to the request of His family but rather used the occasion to teach an important truth: And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold, My mother and My brothers!”

Jesus was not renouncing His family. He loved them even more than they loved Him. His last request from the cross was for John to care for His mother (John 19:26–27), and through His gracious love His brothers eventually came to believe in Him as their Lord and Savior (Acts 1:14).

The Lord’s purpose in referring to His disciples as His mother and brothers was to teach that He invites the entire world into His intimate and divine family. Anyone can enter His spiritual family by trusting in Him, and the family of God is the only family that ultimately matters.

Even being a member of Jesus’ own earthly family did not merit salvation by virtue of that relationship. Jesus’ invitation therefore extended to His natural mother and half brothers, because they, too, needed to be saved from sin. Apart from personal faith, they were no more spiritually related to Him than any other human being. “All of those, and only those, who believe in Me are spiritually related to Me,” He was saying. For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.

The whoever indicates the universality of the invitation. No one who believes is excluded. And, on the other hand, no one who does not believe will be included. God’s first and most absolute desire and requirement for mankind is belief in His Son. “This is the work of God,” Jesus said, “that you believe in Him whom He has sent” (John 6:29). Until a person believes in Christ, God cannot give him any spiritual help, and that person cannot give God any spiritual service.

At Jesus’ baptism God declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17), and at the transfiguration He spoke the same words to Peter, James, and John, adding, “Listen to Him” (17:5). God’s supreme will for mankind is for them to be well-pleased with the Son, just as He is-and to trust in Him, listen to Him, follow Him, and obey His Word.

After declaring, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost” (Matt. 18:11), Jesus told a parable explaining the Father’s great love for mankind and His desire that they be saved. “What do you think?” He asked rhetorically. “If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? And if it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. Thus it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish” (vv. 12–14). Many years later the apostles echoed that truth. Paul wrote, “God our Savior … desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:3–4), and Peter declared that the Lord does not wish “for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

Being rightly related to Christ, however, requires more than a mere verbal declaration of loyalty. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven,” Jesus warned; “but he who does the will of My Father who is heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’ ” (Matt. 7:20–23). Saving relationship to Jesus Christ comes only from submissively believing in Him and receiving the gift of salvation He offers. “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).

At best, reformation changes only the outside of a person; at worst it becomes a barrier to his being changed on the inside. A right relationship to Christ, however, brings completely new life, both inside and outside. All the rest of Scripture surrounds the central truth that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners-to transform them, not reform them. Until a person claims that truth, no other can be of any benefit.

The great message of the gospel, and therefore of the church, is not a call to morality but a call to deliverance from sin through the Lord Jesus Christ.[1]


Doing the Father’s will (12:46–50)

Overview

Here Matthew basically follows Mark 3:31–35 (cf. Lk 8:19–21; Jn 7:3–5), though he omits the background in Mark 3:20–21. As a result, these verses are not so much a confrontation between Jesus and his family as a statement about what it really means to be a disciple of Jesus and to be totally committed to him. The way for us to be as close to Jesus as his nearest and dearest is to do the will of his Father.

Commentary

46–47 The obvious implication is that Jesus is inside the house (cf. Mk 3:20, 31). Though v. 47 is omitted in many MSS, probably by homoeoteleuton (words, clauses, or sentences with similar endings being dropped by oversight; both v. 46 and v. 47 end in lalēsai [“to speak”]), it was likely in the original text and clearly helps the sense of the pericope. While the verse might represent assimilation to Mark 3:32, this would not explain tō legonti autō (“to the one who had spoken to him,” omitted from v. 48 in the NIV), which presupposes v. 47.

In Mark’s account, a reason is given as to why Mary and Jesus’ brothers were trying to see him: they were concerned because the press of the crowd was so great that Jesus was not finding time and space even to eat (3:20–21). In that context, Jesus’ insistence that his disciples constitute his true family members might be taken to stem, in part, from Jesus’ insistence that his family did not have the right to interfere with his God-given mission. Because Matthew’s account, typically shorter than that of Mark, does not mention his family’s concern, Jesus’ comment about which people constitute his true family appears even sharper, though the main point is unchanged. Rather remarkably, David Sim (Gospel of Matthew, 191–92) thinks Matthew’s account actually rehabilitates James and the natural family of Jesus by including his disciples “within his natural family” (emphasis added). It is hard to see why he draws this inference. The only argument he advances is that Mary is presented favorably in Matthew’s birth narratives. Even this judgment is misplaced. Compared with Luke’s account, Matthew’s birth narratives are not much interested in Mary.

The most natural way to understand “brothers” is that the term refers to sons of Mary and Joseph and thus to brothers of Jesus on his mother’s side. To support the dogma of Mary’s perpetual virginity, a notion foreign to the NT and to the earliest church fathers, Roman Catholic scholars have suggested that “brothers” refers either to Joseph’s sons by an earlier marriage or to sons of Mary’s sister, who had the same name (cf. McHugh, Mother of Jesus, 200 ff.). Certainly “brothers” can have a wider meaning than male relatives (Ac 22:1); yet it is very doubtful whether such a meaning is valid here, for it raises insuperable problems. For instance, if “brothers” refers to Joseph’s sons by an earlier marriage, not Jesus but Joseph’s firstborn would have been legal heir to David’s throne. The second theory—that “brothers” refers to sons of a sister of Mary also named “Mary”—faces the unlikelihood of two sisters having the same name. All things considered, the attempts to extend the meaning of “brothers” in this pericope, despite McHugh’s best efforts, are nothing less than far-fetched exegesis in support of a dogma that originated much later than the NT (see comments at 1:25; cf. Lk 2:7; see Broadus on 13:55–56).

48–50 Jesus’ searching question (v. 48) and its remarkable answer (vv. 49–50) in no way diminish his mother and brothers but simply give the priority to his Father and doing his will. “For, had [Christ] not entered into earthly kinship solely for the sake of the higher spiritual relationship which He was about to found …? Thus, it was not that Christ set lightly by His Mother, but that He confounded not the means with the end” (Edersheim, Life and Times, 1:577). Henceforth the disciples are the only “family” Jesus recognizes.

The metaphorical nature of v. 49 is shown by the “ands” (v. 50): “my brother and sister [Jesus had physical sisters; cf. 13:56] and mother” instead of “… or … or.” We do not make ourselves Jesus’ close relatives by doing the will of his heavenly Father. Rather, doing the Father’s will identifies us as his mother and sisters and brothers (cf. 7:21). The doing of that will turns on obedience to Jesus and his teaching, according to Matthew, for it was Jesus who preeminently revealed the will of the Father (cf. 11:27). This means that Jesus’ words in this pericope are full of christological implications, but they also establish the basic importance of the community now beginning to form around him, God’s chosen Servant, who, despite rising opposition, will lead justice to victory (vv. 18, 20).[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 12:43–46). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 344–345). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 15 – Speaking the Truth in Love (John)

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

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Seek to maintain a proper balance between truth and love.

Some people picture John as overly sentimental and egotistical, lying with his head on Jesus’ shoulder and constantly referring to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” But that’s not an accurate characterization of this “Son of thunder”! He loved Jesus deeply and was amazed that Jesus loved him—especially after he wanted to burn up the Samaritans and then secure a prominent place for himself in Christ’s Kingdom. Calling himself “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (e.g., John 21:20) was simply his way of marveling over God’s grace in his life.

As much as he loved Jesus, John never allowed his love to deteriorate into mere sentimentalism. In fact, the proper balance between truth and love is the hallmark of his ministry. In his writings we find the word love more than eighty times and witness nearly seventy times. His profound love for Christ compelled him to be a teacher of love and a witness to the truth. To him, obedience to the truth was the highest expression of love. As 1 John 2:5 says, “Whoever keeps [God’s] word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected.”

John’s greatest joy was to know that his spiritual children were “walking in the truth” (3 John 4). He firmly denounced anyone who attempted to divert them from that goal by denying or distorting God’s Word.

Today media talk shows and other influences have blurred the lines between opinion and truth. One man’s opinion is purported to be as good as the next, and there’s little talk about what’s right or wrong.

Truth suffers even within the church, because many Christians are willing to compromise it to avoid upsetting people. They forget that true love flourishes only in the atmosphere of Biblical truth (Phil. 1:9).

Amid such confusion, God calls you to speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). The world doesn’t need another opinion—it needs God’s absolute and authoritative Word!

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the gift of His love and the power of His truth. Ask Him to make you a person of ever-increasing Biblical integrity.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 2:1–7. ✧ What strengths did the church at Ephesus have? ✧ What did it lack? ✧ What did Jesus require of it?[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. 148). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

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

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

MAY 15 – THE CHARACTERISTIC OF THE PROPHET IS ALWAYS LOVE

…We were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.

1 THESSALONIANS 2:8

If evangelical Christianity is to stay alive she must repudiate the weaklings who dare not speak out, and she must seek in prayer and much humility the coming again of men of the stuff prophets and martyrs are made of! God will hear the cries of His people as He heard the cries of Israel in Egypt. And He will send deliverance by sending deliverers. It is His way among men.

A characteristic of the true prophet has always been love. The free man who has learned to hear God’s voice and dared to obey it has felt the moral burden that broke the hearts of the Old Testament prophets, crushed the soul of our Lord Jesus Christ and wrung streams of tears from the eyes of the apostles.

The free man has never been a religious tyrant, nor has he sought to lord it over God’s heritage. It is fear and lack of self-assurance that has led men to try to crush others under their feet. These have had some interest to protect, some position to secure, so they have demanded subjection from their followers as a guarantee of their own safety.

But the free man—never; he has nothing to protect, no ambition to pursue and no enemy to fear. For that reason he is completely careless of his standing among men. Whether accepted or rejected he will go on loving his people with sincere devotion, and only death can silence his tender intercession for them![1]


Sacrificial love

we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. (2:8b)

Such personal and intimate supernatural affection was not out of a sense of obligation; they were not merely carrying out an assignment as God’s messengers. It was, rather, the highest joy of their hearts to so love. Paul said they were well-pleased to so minister. That desire defined an eagerness and zealousness generated from love-filled hearts (cf. 3:12).

They came first of all to impart … the gospel of God. The verb translated impart means to share, or give someone something of which one retains a part. That is exactly what happens when Christians impart to other people divine truth. They give someone else the good news of salvation, yet without losing possession of it themselves.

Paul and his fellow workers taught the transforming truths of the gospel of God (see comments on 2:2) and yet retained those truths, even strengthening them by the giving (as all good teachers know), thus forming a loving, enriching fellowship with those who accepted the message. Implicit in the expression gospel of God is a doctrinal fullness that encompasses justification, sanctification, and glorification (cf. Titus 1:1–2). (And because God is the source of the good news, even election is included.) The missionaries understood and obeyed the Great Commission’s injunction that said Christians were to “make disciples of all the nations … teaching them to observe all that I commanded you” (Matt. 28:19–20). They exhorted the Thessalonians to repent and embrace Christ’s death and resurrection (justification). They also instructed them on how to live holy lives in obedience to Scripture and in the power of the Holy Spirit (sanctification) and to wait for their eternal glory at the glorious coming of the Lord for His beloved church (glorification). (In reality, all New Testament teaching relates to the complete gospel in some way.)

Besides imparting the complete gospel, Paul, Silas, and Timothy shared also their own lives. Literally, they gave up their souls—their real inner beings—for the sake of the Thessalonians. There was nothing superficial or partial about their sacrificial service. A woman who fulfills the biblical role for motherhood does the same thing when she, at great cost to herself, unselfishly and generously sets aside her life for the benefit of her beloved children. That is especially true of the nursing mother as she provides nourishing milk for her little one and cares for her newborn baby’s every need.

Paul ministered to his people with that same attitude of all-out commitment because, as babies to a mother, they had become very dear to him. Very dear adds to the images and descriptions intended by Paul to unmistakably demonstrate the heart of a godly pastor.[2]


  1. So, being affectionately desirous of you, we gladly shared with you not only the gospel of God but also our own souls.

What a powerful combination: here is the true gospel combined with the most affectionate presentation! And all this in the service of the Holy Spirit! How then can it cause surprise that these missionaries had been so successful?

It is probably impossible (except for the spacing of the letters of the pronoun) to improve on the rendering “being affectionately desirous of you” (thus A.V., taken over by A.R.V., and retained even by R.S.V.). Wyclif translates: “desirynge you with greet loue.” Others: “yearning for (or yearning after) you.” The word used in the original occurs only here in the New Testament. Cf. its use in Job 3:21: the bitter in soul “long for” death. In a sepulchral inscription the sorrowing parents are described as “greatly desiring their son.”

It is very well possible that there is a bit of irony in this expression, as if Paul wanted to say, “Those who slander us are saying that we were out to get you; well, they are right, we were indeed yearning for you, but the purpose was not to take something from you but to share something with you.” And that something consisted of nothing less than these two treasures: the gospel of God and our very souls (or perhaps selves as in John 10:11; see N.T.C. on that passage), our talents, time, energies; see on the next verse; and all this because you had become very dear to us. Paul, Silas, and Timothy have a vivid recollection of their work in Thessalonica. All those scenes of joyful acceptance of the good news, and this in spite of bitter persecution, pass in review once more. They recall how close had been the fellowship and how the bond between themselves and these people had become more and more strong and enduring. These believers who were God’s beloved had also become very dear to God’s special envoys. An appeal is made to their own memory:[3]


8 The manner of gentle treatment was a willingness to “share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.” “We loved you so much” represents a rare word of uncertain derivation (homeiromai, GK 3916; see Notes), but the general thrust is clear. The missionaries knew a constant yearning for these people, so much so that they found it a continual delight (eudokoumen, “we were delighted”; NASB, “we were well-pleased”) to share their whole being with them. “Lives” (psychas, GK 6034) denotes more than just physical lives; in the depths of their being, they cared “because [the Thessalonians] had become so dear” to them. An even stronger relationship of love developed as the ministry continued—a relationship like that of a nursing mother with her child.[4]


2:8 So deep was his affectionate concern for them, he was anxious to share with them rather than to receive from them. His was not a cold, perfunctory dispensing of the gospel of God but a pouring out of his very soul. He loved them, and love is heedless of cost. Like his Master, he did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life (Mark 10:45).[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2002). 1 & 2 Thessalonians (pp. 46–47). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of I-II Thessalonians (Vol. 3, pp. 64–65). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Thomas, R. L. (2006). 1 Thessalonians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 391). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2027). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

MAY 15 – MORE THAN RELIGION

Walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.

1 Thessalonians 2:12

Contrary to much that is being said and practiced in churches, true worship is not something that we “do” in the hope of appearing to be religious!

True worship must be a constant and consistent attitude or state of mind within the believer, a sustained and blessed acknowledgment of love and admiration. If we have this awareness in our own lives and experience, then it is evident that we are not just waiting for Sunday to come to church and worship.

Having been made in His image, we have within us the capacity to know God and the instinct that we should worship Him. The very moment that the Spirit of God has quickened us to His life in regeneration, our whole being senses its kinship to God and leaps up in joyous recognition!

That response within our beings—a response to the forgiveness and pardon and regeneration—signals the miracle of the heavenly birth without which we cannot see the kingdom of God. Thus the primary work of the Holy Spirit is to restore the lost soul to intimate fellowship with God through the washing of regeneration.

Lord Jesus, many people in our country and around the world are not yet born again. I pray that Your Spirit will restore many lost souls to intimate fellowship with God today.[1]


The father as producer

so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory. (2:12)

Like a father whose goal is the mature wisdom of his children, the apostle Paul concluded his exhortation by affirming that a spiritual father will endeavor to continue his efforts until he produces sons and daughters who walk in a manner worthy—live mature lives. Walk refers to daily conduct, as it often does in the New Testament epistles (e.g., Rom. 6:4; 2 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 5:16, 25; Eph. 2:10; 4:1; 5:8; Col. 1:10; 2:6; 1 John 2:6). In referring to the God who calls, Paul was again directly referring to the truth of the Thessalonians’ election, which he stated in 1:4 (see the discussion in chapter 1 of this volume) and again mentions in 5:24.

Here the divine call, as always in the epistles, refers to the effectual saving call. By it God, through the faith graciously and sovereignly granted to sinners, regenerates, justifies, and sanctifies them. And Paul stated the singular end of that call—entrance into His own kingdom and glory. Though they, as all believers, had not yet seen either the millennial kingdom or the eternal kingdom, they were already citizens of the redeemed kingdom over which God now rules (Luke 17:21; Col. 1:13; cf. Rom. 14:17). Thus they had a present share in the glory of God as well as a promise of the future glory in the kingdom yet to come. All believers look forward to sharing in the full glory of the heavenly kingdom when God raises them to be like Christ and with Him for eternity (Ps. 73:24; Prov. 3:35; Rom. 9:23; 1 Cor. 15:43; Phil. 3:20–21; Col. 3:4; 2 Thess. 2:14; 1 Peter 5:10; cf. Matt. 5:12; John 14:2; Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:17; Heb. 4:9; 11:16; 1 Peter 1:3–4; Rev. 7:16–17).

The parental pictures of spiritual leadership in 1 Thessalonians 2:7–12 clearly demonstrate that leadership in the church must be balanced. It is not enough for leaders just to be compassionate, tender, and caring as spiritual mothers. They also need to live uncompromising, pure, and exemplary lives as spiritual fathers—lives that, in their motives and actions, set the standard for all to follow (cf. 1 Cor. 11:1). Furthermore, they need to teach the truth faithfully, building up the saints in spiritual wisdom (cf. Eph. 4:11–16) and displaying the courage of conviction to come alongside and exhort and call their spiritual children to obedience, through both strong discipline and tender consolation. These efforts lead their congregation to live in a way that honors God, who has called them to His eternal kingdom and glory.[2]


12 The fatherly treatment included “encouraging, comforting and urging.” “Encouraging” (parakaleō, GK 4151) can in some contexts signify a note of comfort, but here it has the hortatory flavor of “exhorting.” “Comforting” is covered by the second participle (paramytheomai, GK 4170). “Urging” (martyromai, GK 3458) adds a note of authority. These actions were more than mere requests. Their goal was a worthy lifestyle. “Live” (NASB, “walk”) represents the figure of “walking around” (peripateō, GK 4344), a common way of designating conduct in both biblical and nonbiblical Greek (cf. Best, 107). In reference to the Christian life, it relates primarily to the moral sphere. Conduct should be on the plane of God’s standards.

The call of God “into his kingdom and glory” is an incentive to a high quality of life. The articular present participle tou kalountos (“who calls”) probably has a substantival force with little attention to a continuing call (cf. Best, 107–8; Hiebert, 105–6), since God’s character as a caller is indicated by a comparable construction in 5:24 and Paul uses kaleō (GK 2813) only in the aorist and perfect indicative, never in the present indicative. This participle displays no duration but looks back to the initial call of these readers, which in Paul is always effectual (cf. Lightfoot, 29).

In one sense, God’s “kingdom” is already present (Mt 12:28; 13:1–52; Ro 14:17; 1 Co 4:20; Col 1:13), but ultimate realization of the messianic kingdom with its future glory is in view here (cf. Ac 17:7). As frequently in the Thessalonian literature, those whom Paul is addressing are pointed to the kingdom bliss ahead as incentive to godly living now. “Glory” (doxa, GK 1518; cf. 2:6) is that unhindered manifestation of God’s presence in which believers will share (Ro 5:2; 8:18).[3]


2:12 The goal of Paul’s ministry was that the saints might walk worthy of God who calls them into His own kingdom and glory.

In ourselves we are unworthy of God or of a place in heaven; the only worthiness we have is found in the Lord Jesus Christ. But as sons of God, we are expected to walk worthy of the high calling. We can do this by submitting ourselves to the control of the Holy Spirit and by confessing and forsaking sin in our lives continually.

All who are saved are subjects of God’s own kingdom. At the present time that kingdom is invisible, and the King is absent. But the moral and ethical teachings of the kingdom apply to us today. When the Lord Jesus returns to reign, the kingdom will then be set up in visible form, and we will share the glory of the King in that day.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2002). 1 & 2 Thessalonians (pp. 52–53). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Thomas, R. L. (2006). 1 Thessalonians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 392). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2028). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 15 – The Lord’s Prayer: An Overview, Part 1

Pray, then, in this way: “Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]” For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.—Matt. 6:9–15

In the words of this passage, Jesus provides a concise but comprehensive model outline of genuine prayer. First our Lord addresses God’s glory (vv. 9–10), then He speaks to humanity’s needs (vv. 11–13a). Three petitions make up each of the sections. The first three deal with God’s name, kingdom, and will; the second three appeal to the Father concerning daily bread, forgiveness, and protection from temptation.

Jesus says nothing specific about where we should pray. During His earthly ministry, He prayed in many different places and situations, both public and private. Paul instructed his readers to pray “in every place” (1 Tim. 2:8).

There is also nothing specific about a time to pray. Jesus prayed at many different hours, around the clock. Scripture pictures believers praying at every conceivable occasion—at regular, habitual prayer times; at times of special danger and special blessing; before and after meals; and when arriving at or leaving a certain location.

At any time and under any circumstance, prayer is appropriate. It should be a continual, comprehensive way of life—an open communion with God (Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17).

ASK YOURSELF

As we embark on several days of devotional discussion concerning the Lord’s Prayer, try to articulate what this passage has meant to you through the years. What is in this pattern of prayer that has ministered to you in deep, unforgettable ways?[1]


The Disciples’ Prayer—Part 1

(6:9–15)

Pray, then, in this way: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]” For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (6:9–15) (For a more detailed study of the Disciples’ Prayer, see the author’s book Jesus’ Pattern of Prayer [Chicago: Moody Press, 1981].)

Jesus’ earthly ministry was remarkably brief, barely three years long. Yet in those three years, as must have been true in His earlier life, a great amount of time was spent in prayer. The gospels report that Jesus habitually rose early in the morning, often before daybreak, to commune with His Father. In the evening He would frequently go to the Mount of Olives or some other quiet spot to pray, usually alone. Prayer was the spiritual air that Jesus breathed every moment of His life.

Someone has said that many Christians offer their prayers like sailors use their pumps-only when the ship leaks. But to be obedient disciples of Christ, to experience the fullness of communion with God, and to open the floodgates of heaven’s blessings, believers must pray as Jesus prayed. In addition to that, we must know how to pray. If we do not know how to pray and what to pray for, it does little good to go through the motions. But if we know how to pray, and then pray that way, every other part of our lives will be strengthened and put in proper perspective. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones has beautifully expressed it Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, “Man is at his greatest and highest when upon his knees he comes face to face to God” (2 vols. [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977], 2:45).

The Bible teaches a great deal about the importance and power of prayer. Prayer is effective; it makes a difference. “The effective prayer of a righteous man,” James says, “can accomplish much” (James 5:16). Abraham’s servant prayed, and Rebekah appeared. Jacob wrestled and prayed, and Esau’s mind was turned from twenty years of revenge. Moses prayed, and Amalek was struck. Hannah prayed, and Samuel was born. Isaiah and Hezekiah prayed, and in twelve hours one hundred eighty-five thousand Assyrians were slain. Elijah prayed, and there were three years of drought; he prayed again, and rain came. Those are but a small sampling of answered prayer just from the Old Testament. The Jews to whom Jesus preached should have had unlimited confidence in the power of prayer.

Prayer is vital to every other aspect of kingdom living. We cannot, for example, give (see Matt. 6:2–4) or fast (see 6:16–18) properly unless we are in constant communion with God. The only giving that God wants is that which is sincere, willing, and done to His glory-giving that comes from a life of personal communion with Him. Fasting is meaningless apart from prayer, because apart from prayer it is apart from God. It will be a meaningless religious ritual. The greatest emphasis in this passage (6:1–18), therefore, is given to prayer.

God’s Purpose

God’s supreme purpose for prayer, the purpose beyond all other purposes, is to glorify Himself. Although nothing benefits a believer more than prayer, the purpose in praying must first of all be for the sake of God, not self. Prayer is, above all, an opportunity for God to manifest His goodness and glory. An old saint said, “True prayer brings the mind to the immediate contemplation of God’s character and holds it there until the believer’s soul is properly impressed.” Jesus affirmed the purpose of prayer when He said, “And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified” (John 14:13).

Contrary to much emphasis in the evangelical church today, true prayer, like true worship, centers on God’s glory, not on man’s needs. It is not simply to lay claim on God’s promises, much less make demands of Him, but to acknowledge His sovereignty, to see the display of His glory, and to obey His will.

Because prayer is so absolutely important and because we often do not have the wisdom to pray as we ought or for what we ought, God has commissioned His own Holy Spirit to help us. “We do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). That is surely what Paul means when he urges believers to “pray at all times in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18).

In the few words of Matthew 6:9–15 our Lord gives a succinct but marvelously comprehensive outline of what true prayer should be. As we will discuss later, the second part of verse 13, a doxology, was possibly not a part of the original text. The prayer proper has two sections; the first section deals with God’s glory (vv. 9–10) and the second with man’s need (vv. 11–13a). Each section is composed of three petitions. The first three are petitions in behalf of God’s name, His kingdom, and His will. The second three are petitions for daily bread, forgiveness, and protection from temptation.

It is significant that Jesus makes no mention of where prayer should take place. As pointed out in the previous chapter, Jesus’ instruction to “go into your inner room” (6:6) was to stress the single-mindedness of prayer, the need to block out every other concern but God. Jesus Himself had no inner room to call His own during His earthly ministry, and we see Him praying in many places and in many situations, both public and private. Paul’s desire was for believers to pray “in every place” (1 Tim. 2:8).

Nor does Jesus specify a time to pray. Jesus, as well as saints of both the Old and New Testaments, prayed at every hour of the day and night. They can be seen praying at regular, habitual times, on special occasions, when in special danger, when specially blessed, before meals and after meals, when arriving at a destination and when leaving, and in every other conceivable circumstance and for every other conceivable good purpose.

Neither are attire or posture specified. As Jesus had already emphasized (6:5–8), it is the attitude and content of prayer that are of supreme importance, and those two things are central to the pattern He now prescribes.

In any posture, in any attire, at any time, in any place, and under any circumstance prayer is appropriate. Prayer is to be a total way of life, an open and constant communion with God (Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17). Because it is to be a way of life, we need to understand how to pray; and that is precisely why Jesus gave His followers this model prayer.

As with all of the Sermon on the Mount, what Jesus says about prayer was not essentially new. The Old Testament, and even Jewish tradition, taught all of the basic principles that Jesus presents here. Many faults and perversions-such as praying to be seen of men and meaningless repetitions (6:5, 7)-had crept into Jewish prayer life. But rabbinic tradition was truer to Scripture in its teaching about prayer than perhaps about anything else. Both the Talmud and the Midrash contain many lofty and helpful teachings about prayer.

From their knowledge of Scripture, Jews rightly believed God wanted them to pray, that He heard and responded to their prayers, and that praying should be continual. From Scripture they also knew that prayer should incorporate certain elements-such as adoration, praise, thanksgiving, a sense of awe at God’s holiness, the desire to obey His commands, confession of sin, concern for others, perseverance, and humility.

But something had gone wrong, and by Jesus’ day most Jews had forgotten the teachings of Scripture and even the sound, biblical teachings of their tradition. Most prayer had become formalized, mechanical, rote, and hypocritical.

After warning against those perversions that had so corrupted Jewish prayer life, our Lord now gives a divine pattern by which kingdom citizens can pray in a way that is pleasing to God.

That the prayer Jesus is about to give was not meant to be repeated as a prayer itself is clear for several reasons. First, in the present passage it is introduced with the words, Pray, then, in this way. In the account in Luke the disciples did not ask Jesus to teach them a prayer but to teach them how to pray (Luke 11:1). Houtōs oun (then, in this way) means literally, “Thus therefore,” and frequently carried the idea of “along these lines” or “in the following manner.” Second, Jesus had just warned His followers not to pray with “meaningless repetition” (v. 7). To then give a prayer whose primary purpose was to be recited verbatim would have been an obvious contradiction of Himself. Third, nowhere in the New Testament-gospels, Acts, or epistles-do we find an instance of that or any other prayer being repeated by anyone or used in a repetitious, ritualistic manner by a group.

The Lord’s Prayer, or more accurately, the Disciples’ Prayer, is not a set group of words to repeat. It is fine to recite it, as we recite many parts of Scripture. It is certainly fine to memorize it and to rehearse it in our minds and meditate on it in our hearts. But it is not so much a prayer in itself as it is a skeleton which believers are to flesh out with their own words of praise, adoration, petitions, and so on. It is not a substitute for our own prayers but a guide for them.

In fewer than seventy words we find a masterpiece of the infinite mind of God, who alone could compress every conceivable element of true prayer into such a brief and simple form-a form that even a young child can understand but the most mature believer cannot fully comprehend.

Another indication of the prayer’s divine comprehensiveness is seen in the seemingly endless schemes by which it can be outlined. When outlined from the perspective of our relationship to God, we see: Our Father showing the father/child relationship; hallowed be Thy name, the deity/worshiper; Thy kingdom come, the sovereign/subject; Thy will be done, the master/servant; give us this day our daily bread, the benefactor/beneficiary; forgive us our debts, the Savior/sinner; and do not lead us into temptation, the guide/pilgrim.

From the perspective of the attitude and spirit of prayer, Our reflects unselfishness; Father reflects family devotion; hallowed be Thy name, reverence; Thy kingdom come, loyalty; Thy will be done, submission; give us this day our daily bread, dependence; forgive us our debts, penitence; do not lead us into temptation, humility; Thine is the kingdom, triumph; and the glory, exultation; and forever, hope.

In similar ways the prayer can be outlined to show (1) the balance of God’s glory and our need; (2) the threefold purpose of prayer: to hallow God’s name, bring in His kingdom, and do His will; and (3) the approach of present (give us this day our daily bread), past (forgive us our debts), and future (do not lead us into temptation).

Those are but a brief sampling of the ways in which Jesus’ magnificent diamond of prayer may be cut.

The purpose of prayer is seen more in the overall thrust of these five verses than in any particular word or phrase. From beginning to end the focus is on God, on His adoration, worthiness, and glory. Every aspect of true righteousness, the righteousness that characterizes God’s kingdom citizens, focuses on Him. Prayer could hardly be an exception. Prayer is not trying to get God to agree with us or to provide for our selfish desires. Prayer is affirming God’s sovereignty, righteousness, and majesty and seeking to conform our desires and our purposes to His will and glory.

Every facet of the Disciples’ Prayer focuses on the Almighty. Here Jesus gives a comprehensive view of all the essential elements of righteous prayer, every one of which centers on God-acknowledging His paternity, priority, program, plan, provision, pardon, protection, and preeminence. Each element is overloaded with meaning, its truths being impossible to exhaust.

God’s Paternity

Our Father who art in heaven. (6:9b)

God is Father only of those who have come to His family through His Son, Jesus Christ. Malachi wrote, “Do we not all have one father? Has not one God created us?” (Mal. 2:10), and Paul said to the Greek philosophers on Mars Hill, “As even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His offspring’ ” (Acts 17:28). But Scripture makes it unmistakably clear that God’s fatherhood of unbelievers is only in the sense of being their Creator. Spiritually, unbelievers have another father. In His severest condemnation of the Jewish leaders who opposed and rejected Him, Jesus said, “You are of your father the devil” (John 8:44). It is only to those who receive Him that Jesus gives “the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12; cf. Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26; Heb. 2:11–14; 2 Pet. 1:4; etc.). Because believers belong to the Son, they can come to God as His beloved children.

Faithful Jews had known of God as their Father in several ways. They saw Him as Father of Israel, the nation He chose to be His special people. Isaiah declared, “For Thou art our Father, … Thou, O Lord, art our Father” (Isa. 63:16; cf. Ex. 4:22; Jer. 31:9). They also saw Him in an even more intimate and personal way as their spiritual Father and Savior (Ps. 89:26; 103:13).

But over the centuries, because of their disobedience to the Lord and their repeated flirting with the pagan gods of the peoples around them, most Jews had lost the sense of God’s intimate fatherhood. They saw God as Father only in a remote, distant, faded figure who had once guided their ancestors.

Jesus reaffirmed to them what their Scripture taught and what faithful, godly Jews had always believed: God is the Father … in heaven of those who trust in Him. He used the title Father in all of His prayers except the one on the cross when He cried “My God, My God” (Matt. 27:46), emphasizing the separation He experienced in bearing mankind’s sin. Though the text uses the Greek Patēr, it is likely that Jesus’ used the Aramaic Abba when He gave this prayer. Not only was Aramaic the language in which He and most other Palestinian Jews commonly spoke, but Abba (equivalent to our “Daddy”) carried a more intimate and personal connotation than Patēr. In a number of passages the term Abba is used even in the Greek text, and is usually simply transliterated in English versions (see Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).

To be able to go to God as our heavenly Father first of all means the end of fear, the fear that pagans invariably had for their deities. Second, knowledge of God’s fatherhood settles uncertainties and gives hope. If an earthly father will spare no effort to help and protect his children, how much more will the heavenly Father love, protect, and help His children (Matt. 7:11; John 10:29; 14:21)?

Third, knowing God as our Father settles the matter of loneliness. Even if we are rejected and forsaken by our family, friends, fellow believers, and the rest of the world, we know that our heavenly Father will never leave us or forsake us. “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21; cf. Ps. 68:5–6).

Fourth, knowing God’s fatherhood should settle the matter of selfishness. Jesus taught us to pray, Our Father, using the plural pronoun because we are fellow children with all the rest of the household of God. There is no singular personal pronoun in the entire prayer. We pray holding up to God what is best for all, not just for one.

Fifth, knowing God as our Father settles the matter of resources. He is our Father who [is] in heaven. All the resources of heaven are available to us when we trust God as our heavenly Supplier. Our Father “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

Sixth, God’s fatherhood should settle the matter of obedience. If Jesus, as God’s true Son, came down from heaven not to do His own will but His Father’s (John 6:38), how much more are we, as adopted children, to do only His will. Obedience to God is one of the supreme marks of our relationship to Him as His children. “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:50).

Yet in His grace, God loves and cares even for His children who are disobedient. The story of Luke 15 should be called the parable of the loving father rather than the prodigal son. It is first of all a picture of our heavenly Father, who can forgive a self-righteous child who remains moral and upright and also forgive one who becomes dissolute, wanders away, and returns.

Our Father, then, indicates God’s eagerness to lend His ear, His power, and His eternal blessing to the petitions of His children if it serves them best and further reveals His purpose and glory.

God’s Priority

hallowed be Thy name. (6:9c)

At the beginning Jesus gives a warning against self-seeking prayer. God is to have priority in every aspect of our lives, and certainly in our times of deepest communion with Him. Praying is not to be a casual routine that gives passing homage to God, but should open up great dimensions of reverence, awe, appreciation, honor, and adoration. This phrase introduces a protection against any sentimentalism or overuse and abuse of Father, which is prone to being sentimentalized.

God’s name signifies infinitely more than His titles or appellations. It represents all that He is-His character, plan, and will. When Moses went up on Mount Sinai to receive the commandments for the second time, he “called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin’ ” (Ex. 34:5–7). The characteristics of God given in verses 6–7 are the equivalent of “the name of the Lord” mentioned in verse 5.

It is not because we simply know God’s titles that we love and trust Him, but because we know His character. “Those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee,” David said, “for Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee” (Ps. 9:10). God’s name is seen in His faithfulness. In another psalm David declared, “I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” (Ps. 7:17; cf. 113:1–4). In the typical form of Hebrew poetry, God’s righteousness and His name are paralleled, showing their equivalence. When the psalmist said, “Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God” (20:7), he had much more in mind than the title by which God is called. He spoke of the fullness of God’s person.

Each of the many Old Testament names and titles of God shows a different facet of His character and will. He is called, for example, Elohim, the Creator God; El Elyon, “possessor of heaven and earth”; Jehovah-Jireh, “the Lord will provide”; Jehovah-Shalom, “the Lord our peace”; Jehovah-Tsidkenu, “the Lord our righteousness”; and many others. All of those names speak of God’s attributes. His names not only tell who He is but what He is like.

But Jesus Himself gives the clearest teaching about what God’s name means, because Jesus Christ is God’s greatest name. “I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world” (John 17:6). Everything the Son of God did on earth manifested God’s name. As the perfect manifestation of God’s nature and glory (John 1:14), Jesus was the perfect manifestation of God’s name.

Hallowed is an archaic English word used to translate a form of hagiazō, which means to make holy. Words from the same root are translated “holy, saint, sanctify, sanctification,” etc. God’s people are commanded to be holy (1 Pet. 1:16), but God is acknowledged as being holy. That is the meaning of praying hallowed be Thy name: to attribute to God the holiness that already is, and always has been, supremely and uniquely His. To hallow God’s name is to revere, honor, glorify, and obey Him as singularly perfect. As John Calvin observed, that God’s name should be hallowed was nothing other than to say that God should have His own honor, of which He was so worthy, that men should never think or speak of Him without the greatest veneration (cited in A Harmony of the Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979], p. 318).

Hallowing God’s name, like every other manifestation of righteousness, begins in the heart. “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts,” Peter tells us (1 Pet. 3:15), using a form of the word that hallowed translates.

When we sanctify Christ in our hearts we will also sanctify Him in our lives. We hallow His name when we acknowledge that He exists. “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). To the honest and open mind, God is self-evident. Immanuel Kant had many strange ideas about God, but he was absolutely right when he said, “The law within us and the starry heavens above us drive us to God.” (See William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, 2 vols. [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], 1:208)

We also hallow God’s name by having true knowledge about Him. False ideas about the Sovereign One are irreverent. Origen said, “The man who brings into his concept of God ideas that have no place there takes the name of the Lord God in vain.” Discovering and believing truth about God demonstrate reverence for Him; and willing ignorance or wrong doctrine demonstrate irreverence. We cannot revere a God whose character and will we do not know or care about. But acknowledging God’s existence and having true knowledge about Him are not enough to hallow His name. We must have a constant awareness of His presence. Spasmodic thinking of God does not hallow His name. To truly hallow His name is to consciously draw Him into every daily thought, every daily word, and every daily action. David put the focus of his life where it should always be-“I have set the Lord continually before me” (Ps. 16:8).

The Father’s name is most hallowed when we behave in conformity to His will. For Christians to live in disobedience to God is to take His name in vain, claiming as Lord someone whom we do not follow as Lord. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ ” Jesus warned, “will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). When we eat, drink, and do everything else to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31), that is hallowing His name. Finally, to hallow God’s name is to attract others to Him by our commitment, to “let [our] light shine before men in such a way that they may see [our] good works, and glorify [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Psalm 34:3 sums up the teaching in this phrase with a lovely exhortation: “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”

God’s Program

Thy kingdom come. (6:10a)

Frances Havergal wrote these beautiful words of tribute to her Lord in her hymn “His Coming in Glory:”

Oh, the joy to see Thee reigning,

Thee, my own beloved Lord.

Every tongue Thy name confessing,

Worship, honor, glory, blessing,

Brought to Thee with glad accord.

Thee, my Master and my Friend,

Vindicated and enthroned,

Unto earth’s remotest end,

Glorified, adored, and owned.

Our greatest desire should be to see the Lord reigning as King in His kingdom, to have the honor and authority that have always been His but that He has not yet come to claim. The King is inseparable from His kingdom. To pray Thy kingdom come is to pray for the program of the eternal Deity to be fulfilled, for Christ to come and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. His program and His plan should be the preoccupation of our lives and of our prayers.

But how self-centered our prayers usually are, focused on our needs, our plans, our aspirations, our understandings. We are often like tiny infants, who know no world but the world of their own feelings and wants. One of the greatest struggles of the Christian life is to fight the old sinful habits, with their constant and unrelenting focus on self.

Even problems and issues outside of ourselves can cloud our supreme concern for God’s kingdom. It is our responsibility to pray for our families, pastors, missionaries, national and other leaders, and for many other people and things. But our prayers in every case should be that God’s will be done in and through those people, that they would think, speak, and act in accordance with God’s will. The best we can pray for any person or for any cause is that God’s kingdom be advanced in that person or that cause.

The holy purpose of the divine Father is to exalt Christ in the consummation of history when the Son rules and reigns in His kingdom. The Talmud is right in saying that if a prayer does not name the kingdom of God, it is not a prayer (Berakoth 21a).

The greatest opposition to Christ’s kingdom, and the greatest opposition to Christian living, is the kingdom of this present world, which Satan rules. The essence of Satan’s kingdom is opposition to God’s kingdom and God’s people.

Basileia (kingdom) does not refer primarily to a geographical territory but to sovereignty and dominion. Therefore when we pray Thy kingdom come, we are praying for God’s rule through Christ’s enthronement to come, His glorious reign on earth to begin. Come translates the aorist active imperative of erchomai, indicating a sudden, instantaneous coming (cf. Matt. 24:27). It is the coming millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:4) of which the Lord is speaking, not an indirect effort to create a more godly society on earth through the progressive, human-oriented work of Christians.

To pray Thy kingdom come is to pray for God’s kingdom, the kingdom over which He, and He alone, is Lord and King. It will be a kingdom on earth (v. 10a), but it will not be a kingdom of this world-that is, of this present world system. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus told Pilate (John 18:36). No human kingdom could dovetail with God’s kingdom, even partially. Sinful man could not be a part of a divine reign. That is why we do not advance God’s kingdom by trying to improve human society. Many good and worthy causes deserve the support of Christians, but in supporting those causes we neither build the earthly kingdom of Jesus Christ or bring it closer. Even the best of such things are but holding actions that help retard the corruption that will always and inevitably characterize human societies and human kingdoms-until the Lord returns to establish His own perfect kingdom.

The kingdom of God, or of heaven, was the heart of Jesus’ message. He came to “preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43). There is no other gospel but the good news of the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. Always and everywhere He went, Jesus preached the message of salvation as entrance to the kingdom. He even stated that He “must preach the kingdom … for I was sent for this purpose” (Luke 4:43). For the forty days that Jesus remained on earth between His resurrection and ascension He spoke to His disciples “of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

God’s kingdom is past, in the sense that it embodied Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt. 8:11). It was present in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, in the sense that the true divine King was present “in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21, lit.). But the particular focus of our praying is to be on the kingdom that is yet to come.

God now and always has ruled the kingdom of the universe. He created it, and He controls it, orders it, and holds it together. As James Or comments, “There is therefore recognized in Scripture … a natural and universal kingdom or dominion of God embracing all objects, persons, and events, all doings of individuals and nations, all operations and changes of nature and history, absolutely without exception.” … (cited by Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom [Winona Lake, Ind.: bmh Books, 1980], p. 22). God’s is an “everlasting kingdom” (Ps. 145:13), and even now “His sovereignty rules over all” (Ps. 103:19; cf. 29:10; 1 Chron. 29:11–12; etc.).

But the most obvious fact of life is that God is not now ruling on earth as He rules in heaven (Matt. 6:10c)-and it is the divine earthly kingdom we are to pray will come. Our praying should be for Christ to return and to establish His earthly kingdom, to put down sin and enforce obedience to God’s will. The Lord will then “rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev. 2:27; cf. Isa. 30:14; Jer. 19:11). After a thousand years His earthly kingdom will blend into His eternal kingdom, and there will be no distinction between His rule on earth and His rule in heaven (see Rev. 20–21).

The Greek of this verse could be translated “Let Thy kingdom come now.” There is therefore a sense in which we pray for God’s kingdom to come presently. In a present and limited, but real and miraculous way, God’s kingdom is coming to earth each time a new soul is brought into the kingdom.

First of all, the kingdom comes in this way by conversion (Matt. 18:1–4). So prayer should be evangelistic and missionary-for new converts, new children of God, new kingdom citizens. Conversion to the kingdom involves an invitation (Matt. 22:1–14), repentance (Mark 1:14–15), and a willing response (Mark 12:28–34; Luke 9:61–62). The present existence of the kingdom on earth is internal, in the hearts and minds of those who belong to Jesus Christ, the King. We should pray for their number to mightily increase. Praying for the kingdom to come, in this sense, is praying for the salvation of souls. Every believer should seek others who can sing, “King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be” (“Lead Me to Calvary,” by Jennie Evelyn Hussey).

The kingdom for which we are to pray, and of which we now have a taste, is of infinite value. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field” or a “pearl of great value” which a person sells all his possessions to buy (Matt. 13:44–46). Its value is so great that each of those parables emphasizes that the procurer sold all he had to purchase salvation (cf. Matt. 10:37).

Second, the kingdom comes now through commitment. The desire of those already converted should be to respond to the rule of the Lord in their lives now so that He rules in them as He rules in heaven. When we pray as Jesus teaches, we will continually pray that our lives will honor and glorify our Father in heaven.

The call for the kingdom to come is also related to the second coming of the Lord. John says in the last chapter of Revelation: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (22:20).

In that day, our prayers will finally be answered. As the hymn by Isaac Watts begins, “Jesus shall reign where’ere the sun does its successive journeys run. His kingdom spread from shore to shore, ’til moon shall wax and wane no more.” Paul emphasizes that waiting for the kingdom to come in its final form is not so much looking for an event as for a person-the King Himself (1 Thess. 1:10).

God’s Plan

Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. (10:b)

Many people wonder how God’s sovereignty can be related to praying for His will to be done. If He is sovereign, is not His will inevitably done? Does our will override His will when we pray earnestly and sincerely? That is one of the great paradoxes of Scripture, a paradox about which Calvinists and Arminians have debated for centuries. It should be evident that this paradox, like those of God’s being three in one and Jesus’ being wholly God and wholly man, must be left to the infinite mind of God, because it is far beyond the finite human mind to comprehend. But what seems a hopeless contradiction to us is no dilemma to God. We hold both truths, seemingly paradoxical, in perfect tension with faith in the infinite mind of God, who resolves all things in perfect, noncontradictory truth (Deut. 29:29).

It is absolutely clear from Scripture that God is sovereign and yet not only allows but commands that man exercise his own volition in certain areas. If man were not able to make his own choices, God’s commands would be futile and meaningless and His punishments cruel and unjust. If God did not act in response to prayer, Jesus’ teaching about prayer would also be futile and meaningless. Our responsibility is not to solve the dilemma but to believe and act on God’s truths, whether some of them seem to conflict or not. To compromise one of God’s truths in an effort to defend another is the stuff of which heresy is made. We are to accept every part of every truth in God’s Word, leaving the resolution of any seeming conflicts to Him. Attempting on a human level to resolve all apparent paradoxes in Scripture is an act of arrogance and an attack on the truth and intent of God’s revelation.

When we pray Thy will be done, we are praying first of all that God’s will become our own will. Second, we are praying that His will prevail all over the earth as it [does] in heaven.

Wrong Understanding of God’s Will

Many people, including many believers, wrongly understand this part of the Disciples’ Prayer. Seeing God’s sovereignty simply as the absolute imposition of a dictator’s will, some believers are resentful. When, or if, they pray for His will to be done, they pray out of a feeling of compulsion. God’s will has to be done, and He is too strong to resist; so what would be the point of praying otherwise? The logical conclusion of most people who look at God in that way is that there is no point to prayer-certainly not to petitions. Why ask for the inevitable?

Other people are more charitable in their feelings about God. But because they, too, believe His will is inevitable, they pray out of passive resignation. They pray for God’s will to be done simply because that is what the Lord tells them to do. They are resignedly obedient. They do not pray so much out of faith as out of capitulation. They do not try to put their wills into accord with the divine will, but rather shift their own wills into neutral, letting God’s will run its course.

It is easy for Christians to fall into praying that way. Even in the very early days of the church, when faith generally was strong and vital, prayer could be passive and unexpectant. A group of concerned disciples was praying in the house of Mary, John Mark’s mother, for the release of Peter from prison. While they were praying, Peter was freed by an angel and came to the house and knocked on the door. When a servant girl named Rhoda came to the door and recognized Peter’s voice, she rushed back inside to tell the others, forgetting to let Peter in. But the praying group did not believe her, and thought she had heard an angel. When Peter was finally admitted, “they saw him and were amazed” (Acts 12:16). They apparently had been praying for what they did not really believe would happen.

Our own prayer lives often are weak because we do not pray in faith; we do not expect prayer to change anything. We pray out of a sense of duty and obligation, subconsciously thinking that God is going to do just as He wants to do anyway. Jesus gave the parable of the importunate widow-who refused to accept the status quo and persisted in begging, despite receiving no response-for the very purpose of protecting us against that sort of passive and unspiritual resignation. “Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

The very fact that Jesus tells us to pray Thy will be done on earth indicates that God’s will is not always done on earth. It is not inevitable. In fact, lack of faithful prayer inhibits His will being done. In God’s wise and gracious plan, prayer is essential to the proper working of His divine will on earth.

God is sovereign, but He is not independently deterministic. Looking at God’s sovereignty in a fatalistic way, thinking “What will be will be,” absolutely destroys faithful prayer and faithful obedience of every sort. That is not a “high” view of God’s sovereignty, but a destructive and unbiblical view of it. That is not the divine sovereignty the Bible teaches. It is not God’s will that people die, or why would Christ have come to destroy death? It is not God’s will that people go to hell, or why would His only Son have taken the penalty of sin upon Himself so that men might escape hell? “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). That sin exists on earth and causes such horrible consequences is not evidence of God’s will but of His patience in allowing more opportunity for men to turn to Him for salvation.

Other people, overemphasizing the importance of man’s will, look at prayer as a means of bending God’s will to their own. They think of God’s providence as a sort of cosmic vending machine, which they can operate simply by inserting the required claim on one of His promises. As Elton Trueblood observes, “In some congregations the Gospel has been diminished to the mere art of self-fulfillment. Some current religious authors, far from emphasizing what it means to believe that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, write chiefly of themselves. Egocentricity is all that is left when the objective truth about the revelation of Christ is lost or even obscured.”

But Jesus undercuts that notion throughout His model prayer. True prayer focuses on Thy name, Thy kingdom, Thy will. Amy Carmichael wrote, “And shall I pray to change Thy will, my Father, until it accord to mine? But no, Lord, no; that shall never be. Rather I pray Thee blend my human will with Thine.”

There is a tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s will, between God’s grace and man’s faith, but we dare not try to resolve it by modifying God’s truth about either His sovereignty or our will, His grace or our faith. God is sovereign, but He gives us choices. God is sovereign, but He tells us to pray Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. And James reminds us that “the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much” (5:16).

Right Understanding of God’s Will

David sang of the angels who did God’s will. “Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word!” (Ps. 103:20). That is the way God’s will is done in heaven, and that is the way believers are to pray for God’s will to be done on earth-unwaveringly, completely, sincerely, willingly, fervently, readily, swiftly, and constantly. Our prayer should be that every person and thing on earth be brought into conformity with God’s perfect will.

A part of the right understanding of and attitude toward God’s will is what might be called a sense of righteous rebellion. To be dedicated to God’s will is, by definition, to be opposed to Satan’s. To pray Thy will be done, on earth as it is heaven is to rebel against the worldly idea that sin is normal and inevitable and should therefore be acquiesced to or at least tolerated. It is to rebel against the world system of ungodliness, the dishonoring and rejecting of Christ, and also the disobedience of believers. Impotence in prayer leads us, however unwillingly, to strike a truce with wrong. To accept what is, is to abandon a Christian view of God and His plan for redemptive history.

Jesus knew the end from the beginning, but He did not accept the situation as inevitable or irresistible. He preached against sin and He acted against sin. When His Father’s house was profaned, “He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the moneychangers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said, ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise’ ” (John 2:14–16; cf. Matt. 21:12–13).

To pray for God’s will to be done on earth is to rebel against the idea, heard today even among evangelicals, that virtually every wicked, corrupt thing that we do or that is done to us is somehow God’s holy will and should be accepted from His hand with thanksgiving. Nothing wicked or sinful comes from the hand of God, but only from the hand of Satan. To pray for righteousness is to pray against wickedness. To pray for God’s will to be done is to pray for Satan’s will to be undone.

To pray for God’s will to be done is to cry with David, “Let God arise, let His enemies be scattered; and let those who hate Him flee before Him” (Ps. 68:1) and with the saints under God’s altar, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, wilt Thou refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” (Rev. 6:10).

To pray rightly is to pray in faith, believing that God will hear and answer our prayers. I think the greatest hindrance to prayer is not lack of technique, lack of biblical knowledge, or even lack of enthusiasm for the Lord’s work, but lack of faith. We simply do not pray with the expectation that our prayers will make a difference in our lives, in other people’s lives, in the church, or in the world.

There are three distinct aspects of God’s will as He reveals it to us in His Word. First, is what may be called His will of purpose-the vast, comprehensive, and tolerating will of God expressed in the unfolding of His sovereign plan that embodies all of the universe, including heaven, hell, and the earth. This is God’s ultimate will, of which Isaiah wrote, “The Lord of hosts has sworn saying ‘Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand’ ” (Isa. 14:24; cf. Jer. 51:29; Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:9–11; etc.). This is the will of God that allows sin to run its course and Satan to have his way for a season. But in God’s appointed time sin’s course and Satan’s way will end exactly according to God’s plan and foreknowledge.

Second, is what may be called God’s will of desire. This is within His will of purpose and completely consistent with it. But it is more specific and focused. Unlike God’s will of purpose, His will of desire is not always fulfilled; in fact, it is very unfulfilled in comparison to Satan’s will in this present age.

Jesus greatly desired that Jerusalem be saved, and He prayed, preached, healed, and ministered among its people to that end. But few believed in Him; most rejected Him, and some even crucified Him. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem,” He prayed. “I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!” (Luke 13:34). That was the repeated experience of God’s Son, who came to earth that men might have life, and have it more abundantly. Like the unbelieving Jews in Jerusalem, most people were not willing to come to Jesus for that abundant life (John 5:40; cf. 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9).

Third, is what may be called God’s will of command. This will is entirely for His children, because only they have the capacity to obey. The will of command is the ardent desire of the heart of God that we who are His children obey Him completely and immediately with a willing heart. “Do you not know,” Paul says, “that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:16–18).

God’s will of purpose embraces the ultimate end of this world, Christ’s second coming and the setting up of His eternal kingdom. His will of desire embraces conversion; and His will of command embraces the commitment and obedience of His children.

The great enemy of God’s will is pride. Pride caused Satan to rebel against God, and pride causes unbelievers to reject God and believers to disobey Him. For God’s will to be accepted and to be prayed for in sincerity and with faith, self-will must be forsaken in the power of the Holy Spirit. “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:1–2).

When we pray in faith and in conformity to God’s will, our prayer is a sanctifying grace that changes our lives dramatically. Prayer is a means of progressive sanctification. John Hannah said, “The end of prayer is not so much tangible answers as a deepening life of dependency. … The call to prayer is a call to love, submission, and obedience, … the avenue of sweet, intimate, and intense fellowship of the soul with the infinite Creator.”

The believer’s call is to bring heaven to earth by hallowing the Lord’s name, letting His kingdom come, and seeking to do His will.

In verses 11–13a Jesus gives three petitions. The first relates to our physical life and the present (daily bread), the second to our mental and emotional life and the past (debts), and the third to our spiritual life and the future (temptation and evil).

 

The Disciples’ Prayer—Part 2

(6:9–15)

 

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Pray, then, in this way: “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]” For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (6:9–15)

God’s Provision

Give us this day our daily bread. (6:11)

Although it may have been a genuine concern in New Testament times, to many Christians in the western world today, such a request may seem needless and inappropriate. Why should we ask God for what we already have in such abundance? Why, when many of us need to consume less food than we do, ask God to supply our daily bread? What would be a completely understandable request of a Christian in Ethiopia or Cambodia, seems irrelevant on the lips of a well-fed American.

But this part of the Disciples’ Prayer, like every other part, extends beyond the first century to all believers, in every age and in every situation. In this pattern for prayer our Lord gives all the necessary ingredients for praying. We can see five key elements in this request for God’s provision: the substance, the source, the supplication, the seekers, and the schedule.

The Substance

Bread not only represents food but is symbolic of all of our physical needs. John Stott has observed that to Martin Luther, “everything necessary for the preservation of this life is bread, including food, a healthy body, good weather, house, home, wife, children, good government, and peace” (Christian Counter-Culture: The Message of the Sermon on the Mount [Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1978], p. 149).

It is marvelous to understand that the God who created the entire universe, who is the God of all space and time and eternity, who is infinitely holy and completely self-sufficient, should care about supplying our physical needs-and should be concerned that we receive enough food to eat, clothes to wear, and a place to rest. God obligates Himself to supply our needs.

This part of the prayer is in the form of a petition, but it is also an affirmation-which is why it is as appropriate for those who are well-fed as for those who have little to eat. Above all it is an affirmation that every good thing we have comes from the gracious hand of God (James 1:17).

The Source

That leads us to the source, who is God. The Father is the one addressed throughout the prayer, the One who is praised and petitioned.

When all our needs are met and all is going well in our lives, we are inclined to think we are carrying our own load. We earn our own money, buy our own food and clothes, pay for our own houses. Yet even the hardest-working person owes all that he earns to God’s provision (see Deut. 8:18). Our life, breath, health, possessions, talents, and opportunities all originate from resources that God has created and made available to man (see Acts 17:24–28). After scientists have made all their observations and calculations, there remains the unexplained element of the design, origin, and operation of the universe. It is unexplained, that is, apart from God, who holds it all together (Heb. 1:2–3).

God provided for man even before He created man. Man was God’s final creation, and after He made and blessed Adam and Eve He said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you” (Gen. 1:29). Since that time God has continued to provide an abundance of food for mankind, in almost unlimited variety.

Yet Paul tells us that “the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, … and advocate abstaining from foods, which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:1, 3–5). The Word of God sanctifies it by way of creation, and we sanctify it when we receive it with grateful prayer.

Every physical thing we have comes from God’s provision through the earth. It is therefore the sin of indifference and ingratitude not to daily recognize His gifts in thankful prayer.

Supplication

Supplication is expressed in the word give. That is the heart of the petition, because it recognizes need. Even though God may already have provided it, we ask Him for it in recognition of His past and present provision as well as in trust for His future provision.

The only thing that could make Jesus’ instruction and our petitions valid is the promise of God. We could not expect God to give what He has not promised. We can pray confidently because God has promised abundantly. “Trust in the Lord, and do good,” David counsels us; “dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness. Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart. … Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; … But the humble will inherit the land, and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Ps. 37:3–4, 10–11).

God does not bind Himself to meet the physical needs of everyone, but only of those who trust in Him. In Psalm 37 David is speaking to believers who “trust in the Lord” (v. 3), “delight … in the Lord” (v. 4), “commit [their] way to the Lord” (v. 5), “rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him” (v. 7), “cease from anger,” and “do not fret” (v. 8). He says, “I have been young, and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, or his descendants begging bread” (v. 25).

The Seekers

The us of Jesus’ model prayer are those who belong to Him. Speaking to believers, Paul wrote, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:10–11).

Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who shall not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life” (Luke 18:29–30). God irrevocably commits Himself to meet the essential needs of His own.

The greatest cause of famine and its attendant diseases in the world is not poor agricultural practices or poor economic and political policies. Nor is the root problem lack of scientific and technological resources or even overpopulation. Those problems only aggravate the basic problem, which is spiritual. Only some fifteen percent of the arable land in the world is used for agriculture, and that for only half of the year. There is no major area of the world that with proper technology is not capable of supporting its own population and more.

Those parts of the world that have no Christian roots invariably place a low value on human life. The poverty in India, for example, may be laid at the feet of Hinduism, the pagan religion that spawned a host of other religions. According to Encyclopaedia Britannica and Eerdman’s Handbook to the World’s Religions, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism come from Hinduism. Shintoism, Zoroastrianism, Confucianism, and Taoism do not.

To the Hindu, man is but the incarnation of a soul on its way to moksha, a kind of “final emancipation,” during which trip he goes through countless, perhaps unending, cycles of reincarnation in both animal and human form. He works his way up to higher forms by good deeds and regresses to lower forms by sinning. Poverty, disease, and starvation are therefore seen as divine punishments for which the persons involved must do penance in order to be born into a higher form. To help a person in poverty or sickness is to interfere with his karma and therefore do him spiritual harm. (For a discussion of moksha, or mokṣa, see Encyclopedia Britannica, Micropaedia, VI, p. 972; for a more general discussion, see Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, vol. 8, pp. 888–908. Consult, also, Eerdman’s Handbook to World Religions [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982].)

All animals are considered to be incarnations either of men or deities. Cows are held to be especially sacred because they are incarnated deities-of which Hinduism has some 330 million. Cows not only are not to be eaten but add to the food problem by consuming 20 percent of India’s total food supply. Even rats and mice, which eat 15 percent of the food supply, are not killed because they might be one’s reincarnated relatives.

Just as paganism is the great plague of India, Africa, and many other parts of the world, Christianity has been the blessing of the West. Europe and the United States, though never fully Christian in any biblical sense, have been immeasurably blessed because of the Christian influence on political, social, and economic philosophy and policy. The great concerns for human rights, care for the poor, orphanages, hospitals, prison reform, racial and slave reform, and a host of other concerns did not come from paganism or humanism but from biblical Christianity. On the other hand, the current degraded view of human life reflected in the low view of the family and growing legal and social approval of abortion, infanticide, and euthanasia are the legacy of humanism and practical atheism.

Without a proper view of God there cannot be a proper view of man. Those who have a right view of God and also a right relationship to Him through Jesus Christ are promised the provision of their heavenly Father. “For this reason,” Jesus says, “I say to you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? … For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:25, 32–33).

God has sometimes provided for His children through miraculous means, but His primary way of provision is through work, for which He has given life, energy, resources, and opportunity. His primary way to care for those who cannot work is through the generosity of those who are able to work. Whether he does so directly or indirectly, God is always the source of our physical well-being. He makes the earth to produce what we need, and He gives us the ability to procure it.

The Schedule

The schedule of God’s provision for His children is daily. The meaning here is simply that of regular, day-by-day supply of our needs. We are to rely on the Lord one day at a time. He may give us vision for work He calls us to do in the future, but His provision for our needs is daily, not weekly, monthly, or yearly. To accept the Lord’s provision for the present day, without concern for our needs or welfare tomorrow, is a testimony of our contentment in His goodness and faithfulness.

God’s Pardon

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. (6:12)

Opheilēma (debts) is one of five New Testament Greek terms for sin. Hamartia is the most common and carries the root idea of missing the mark. Sin misses the mark of God’s standard of righteousness. Paraptōma, often rendered “trespass,” is the sin of slipping or falling, and results more from carelessness than from intentional disobedience. Parabasis refers to stepping across the line, going beyond the limits prescribed by God, and is often translated “transgression.” This sin is more conscious and intentional than hamartia and paraptoma. Anomia means lawlessness, and is a still more intentional and flagrant sin. It is direct and open rebellion against God and His ways.

The noun opheilēma is used only a few times in the New Testament, but its verb form is found often. Of the some thirty times it is used in its verb form, twenty-five times it refers to moral or spiritual debts. Sin is a moral and spiritual debt to God that must be paid. In his account of this prayer, Luke uses hamartia (“sins”; Luke 11:4), clearly indicating that the reference is to sin, not to a financial debt. Matthew probably used debts because it corresponded to the most common Aramaic term (ḥôbā˒) for sin used by Jews of that day, which also represented moral or spiritual debt to God.

The Problem

Sin is that which separates man from God, and is therefore man’s greatest enemy and greatest problem. Sin dominates the mind and heart of man. It has contaminated every human being and is the degenerative power that makes man susceptible to disease, illness, and every conceivable form of evil and unhappiness, temporal and eternal. The ultimate effects of sin are death and damnation, and the present effects are misery, dissatisfaction, and guilt. Sin is the common denominator of every crime, every theft, lie, murder, immorality, sickness, pain, and sorrow of mankind. It is also the moral and spiritual disease for which man has no cure. “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to do evil” (Jer. 13:23). The natural man does not want his sin cured, because he loves darkness rather than light (John 3:19).

Those who trust in the Lord Jesus Christ have received God’s pardon for sin and are saved from eternal hell. And since, as we have seen, this prayer is given to believers, the debts referred to here are those incurred by Christians when they sin. Immeasurably more important than our need for daily bread is our need for continual forgiveness of sin.

Arthur Pink writes in An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1974), pp. 163–64:

As it is contrary to the holiness of God, sin is a defilement, a dishonor, and a reproach to us as it is a violation of His law. It is a crime, and as to the guilt which we contact thereby, it is a debt. As creatures we owe a debt of obedience unto our maker and governor, and through failure to render the same on account of our rank disobedience, we have incurred a debt of punishment; and it is for this that we implore a divine pardon.

The Provision

Because man’s greatest problem is sin, his greatest need is forgiveness-and that is what God provides. Though we have been forgiven the ultimate penalty of sin, as Christians we need God’s constant forgiveness for the sins we continue to commit. We are to pray, therefore, forgive us. Forgiveness is the central theme of this entire passage (vv. 9–15), being mentioned six times in eight verses. Everything leads to or issues from forgiveness.

Believers have experienced once-for-all God’s judicial forgiveness, which they received the moment Christ was trusted as Savior. We are no longer condemned, no longer under judgment, no longer destined for hell (Rom. 8:1). The eternal Judge has declared us pardoned, justified, righteous. No one, human or satanic, can condemn or bring any “charge against God’s elect” (Rom. 8:33–34).

But because we still fall into sin, we frequently require God’s gracious forgiveness, His forgiveness not now as Judge but as Father. “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” John warns believers. But, he goes on to assure us, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8–9).

During the Last Supper, Jesus began washing the disciples’ feet as a demonstration of the humble, serving spirit they should have as His followers. At first Peter refused, but when Jesus said, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me,” Peter went to the other extreme, wanting to be bathed all over. Jesus replied, “ ‘He who has bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.’ For He knew the one who was betraying Him; for this reason He said, ‘Not all of you are clean’ ” (John 13:5–11).

Jesus’ act of footwashing was therefore more than an example of humility; it was also a picture of the forgiveness God gives in His repeated cleansing of those who are already saved. Dirt on the feet symbolizes the daily surface contamination from sin that we experience as we walk through life. It does not, and cannot, make us entirely dirty, because we have been permanently cleansed from that. The positional purging of salvation that occurs at regeneration needs no repetition, but the practical purging is needed every day, because every day we fall short of God’s perfect holiness.

As Judge, God is eager to forgive sinners, and as Father He is even more eager to keep on forgiving His children. Hundreds of years before Christ, Nehemiah wrote, “Thou art a God of forgiveness, gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness” (Neh. 9:17). As vast and pervasive as the sin of man is, God forgiveness is more vast and greater. Where sin abounds, God’s grace abounds even more (Rom. 5:20).

The Plea

Asking forgiveness implies confession. Feet that are not presented to Christ cannot be washed by Him. Sin that is not confessed cannot be forgiven. That is the condition John makes plain in the text just quoted above: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). To confess means basically to agree with, and when we confess our sins we agree with God about them that they are wicked, evil, defiling, and have no part in those who belong to Him.

It is difficult to confess sins, and both Satan and our prideful nature fight against it. But it is the only way to the free and joyful life. “He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion” (Prov. 28:13). John Stott says, “One of the surest antidotes to the process of moral hardening is the disciplined practice of uncovering our sins of thought and outlook, as well as of word and of deed, and the repentant forsaking of them” (Confess Your Sins [Waco, Tex.: Word, 1974], p. 19).

The true Christian does not see God’s promise of forgiveness as a license to sin, a way to abuse His love and presume on His grace. Rather he sees God’s gracious forgiveness as the means of spiritual growth and sanctification and continually gives thanks to God for His great love and willingness to forgive and forgive and forgive. It is also important to realize that confessing sin gives God the glory when He chastens the disobedient Christian because it removes any complaint that God is unfair when He disciplines.

A Puritan saint of many generations ago prayed, “Grant me never to lose sight of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, the exceeding righteousness of salvation, the exceeding glory of Christ, the exceeding beauty of holiness, and the exceeding wonder of grace.” At another time he prayed, “I am guilty but pardoned. I am lost but saved. I am wandering but found. I am sinning but cleansed. Give me perpetual broken-heartedness. Keep me always clinging to Thy cross” (Arthur Bennett, ed., The Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1975], pp. 76, 83).

The Prerequisite

Jesus gives the prerequisite for receiving forgiveness in the words, as we also have forgiven our debtors. The principle is simple but sobering: if we have forgiven, we will be forgiven; if we have not forgiven, we will not be forgiven.

We are to forgive because it is the character of righteousness, and therefore of the faithful Christian life, to forgive. Citizens of God’s kingdom are blessed and receive mercy because they themselves are merciful (Matt. 5:7). They love even their enemies because they have the nature of the loving heavenly Father within them (5:44–45, 48). Forgiveness is the mark of a truly regenerate heart. Still we fail to be consistent with that mark and need constant exhortation because of the strength of sinful flesh (Rom. 7:14–25).

We are also to be motivated to forgive because of Christp’s example. “Be kind to one another,” Paul says, “tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32). John tells us, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6).

Because it reflects God’s own gracious forgiveness, the forgiving of another person’s sin expresses the highest virtue of man. “A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook a transgression” (Prov. 19:11).

Forgiving others also frees the conscience of guilt. Unforgiveness not only stands as a barrier to God’s forgiveness but also interferes with peace of mind, happiness, satisfaction, and even the proper functioning of the body.

Forgiving others is of great benefit to the whole congregation of believers. Probably few things have so short-circuited the power of the church as unresolved conflicts among its members. “If I regard wickedness in my heart,” the psalmist warns himself and every believer, “the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66:18). The Holy Spirit cannot work freely among those who carry grudges and harbor resentment (see Matt. 5:23–24; 1 Cor. 1:10–13; 3:1–9).

Forgiving others also delivers us from God’s discipline. Where there is an unforgiving spirit, there is sin; and where there is sin, there will be chastening (Heb. 12:5–13). Unrepented sins in the church at Corinth caused many believers to be weak, sick, and even to die (1 Cor. 11:30).

But the most important reason for being forgiving is that it brings God’s forgiveness to the believer. That truth is so important that Jesus reinforces it after the close of the prayer (vv. 14–15). Nothing in the Christian life is more important than forgiveness-our forgiveness of others and God’s forgiveness of us.

In the matter of forgiveness, God deals with us as we deal with others. We are to forgive others as freely and graciously as God forgives us. The Puritan writer Thomas Manton said, “There is none so tender to others as they which have received mercy themselves, for they know how gently God hath dealt with them.”

God’s Protection

And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (6:13a)

Peirasmos (temptation) is basically a neutral word in the Greek, having no necessary connotation either of good or evil, as does our English temptation, which refers to inducement to evil. The root meaning has to do with a testing or proving, and from that meaning are derived the related meanings of trial and temptation. Here it seems to parallel the term evil, indicating that it has in view enticement to sin.

God’s holiness and goodness will not allow His leading anyone, certainly not one of His children, into a place or experience in which they would purposely be induced to commit sin. “Let no one say when he is tempted,” says James, “ ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13).

Yet James had just said, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials (peirasmos), knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (vv. 2–3). There is an interpretive problem, therefore, as to whether peirasmos in Matthew 6:13 is translated temptation or trial. As James tells us, God does not tempt. So why ask Him not to do what He would never do anyway? Yet James also tells us we should rejoice when trials come and not seek to avoid them. So why should we pray, do not lead us into temptation?

I affirm with Chrysostom, the early church Father, that the solution to this issue is that Jesus is here not speaking of logic or theology but of a heart desire and inclination that cause a believer to want to avoid the danger and trouble sin creates. It is the expression of the redeemed soul that so despises and fears sin that it wants to escape all prospects of falling into it, choosing to avoid rather than having to defeat temptation.

Here is another paradox of Scripture. We know that trials are a means for our growing spiritually, morally, and emotionally. Yet we have no desire to be in a place where even the possibility of sin is increased. Even Jesus, when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, first asked, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me,” before He said, “yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). He was horrified at the prospect of taking sin upon Himself, yet He was willing to endure it in order to fulfill the will of His Father to make possible the redemption of man.

Our proper reaction to times of temptation is similar to Christ’s, but for us it is primarily a matter of self-distrust. When we honestly look at the power of sin and at our own weakness and sinful propensities, we shudder at the danger of temptation or even trial. This petition is another plea for God to provide what we in ourselves do not have. It is an appeal to God to place a watch over our eyes, our ears, our mouth, our feet, and our hands-that in whatever we see, hear, or say, and in any place we go and in anything we do, He will protect us from sin.

Like Joseph we know that what men and Satan mean for evil God will turn to the good of His children (see Gen. 50:20); but we are not certain that, like Joseph, we will be completely submissive to and dependent on God in our trials. The implication of this part of the prayer seems to be: “Lord, don’t ever lead us into a trial that will present such a temptation that we will not be able to resist it.” It is laying claim to the promise that “God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

This petition is a safeguard against presumption and a false sense of security and self-sufficiency. We know that we will never have arrived spiritually, and that we will never be free of the danger of sin, until we are with the Lord. With Martin Luther we say, “We cannot help being exposed to the assaults, but we pray that we may not fall and perish under them.” As our dear Lord prayed for us in His great intercessory prayer, we want, at all costs, to be kept from the evil one (John 17:15).

When we sincerely pray, do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil, we also declare that we submit to His Word, which is our protection from sin. “submit therefore to God,”James says. “Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Submitting to God is submitting to His Word. “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11). So the believer prays to be kept from overwhelming solicitation to sin, and if he falls into it, to be rescued from it. Deliver is actually in the form of a command.

In a cursed world where we are battered by evil all around us, we confess our inadequacy to deal with evil. We confess the weakness of our flesh and the absolute impotency of human resources to combat sin and rescue us from its clutches. Above all we confess our need for the protection and deliverance of our loving heavenly Father.

God’s Preeminence

[For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.] (6:13b)

Because they are not found in the most reliable manuscripts, it is likely that these words were not in the original text. In many modern translations they are therefore given in footnotes or, as here, placed in brackets.

Although they may not have been in the original account, the words are perfectly fitting in this passage, and express truths that are thoroughly scriptural. They form a beautiful doxology, declaring the preeminence of God as seen in the greatness of His eternal kingdom, … power, and … glory. They are an echo of 1 Chronicles 29:11 and, to the minds and hearts of Matthew’s Jewish readers, would have been a moving and appropriate climax.

God’s Postscript

For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (6:14–15)

The prayer lesson concludes with a reminder that follows the teaching of forgiveness in verse 12. This is the Savior’s own commentary on our petition to God for forgiveness, and the only one of the petitions to which He gives added insight. Thus its importance is amplified.

For if you forgive men for their transgressions puts the principle in a positive mode. Believers should forgive as those who have received judicial forgiveness (cf. Eph. 1:7; 1 John 2:1–2) from God. When the heart is filled with such a forgiving spirit, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Believers cannot know the parental forgiveness, which keeps fellowship with the Lord rich and blessings from the Lord profuse, apart from forgiving others in heart and word. Forgive (aphiēmi) means literally “to hurl away:”

Paul had this in mind when he wrote, “I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost [of sinners], Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience” (1 Tim. 1:16; cf. Matt. 7:11). An unforgiving spirit not only is inconsistent for one who has been totally forgiven by God, but also brings the chastening of God rather than His mercy. Our Lord illustrates the unmerciful response in the parable of Matthew 18:21–35. There a man is forgiven the unpayable debt representing sin and is given the mercy of salvation. He then refuses to forgive another and is immediately and severely chastened by God.

But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. That states the truth of verse 14 in a negative way for emphasis. The sin of an unforgiving heart and a bitter spirit (Heb. 12:15) forfeits blessing and invites judgment. Even the Talmud taught that he who is indulgent toward others’ faults will be mercifully dealt with by the Supreme Judge (Shabbath 151b).

Every believer must seek to manifest the forgiving spirit of Joseph (Gen. 50:19–21) and of Stephen (Acts 7:60) as often as needed (Luke 17:3–4). To receive pardon from the perfectly holy God and then to refuse to pardon others when we are sinful men is the epitome of abuse of mercy. And “judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13).

There are petitions for the believer to ask from God, but there are also conditions for the answers to be received. Even more, our prayers are to be primarily concerned with the exaltation of the name, kingdom, and will of the Lord Jesus Christ. Prayer is primarily worship which inspires thanks and personal purity.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 144). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 371–398). Chicago: Moody Press.

MAY 15 – DIVINE TRANSCENDENCE

Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all.

—1 Chronicles 29:11

The term divine transcendence may sound like something that takes a lot of learning or at least a lot of profound thinking to understand, but it doesn’t. Transcend simply means to go above, to rise above, to be above. Of course, it’s very difficult to think of God as transcendent and also as immanent or omnipresent at the same time. It is difficult to understand how He can be here with us, in us, pervading all things, but at the same time transcending all things. It looks like a contradiction, but as with many other apparent contradictions, it’s not at all contradictory; the two thoughts are entirely in accord with each other.

God is always nearer than you may imagine Him to be. God is so near that your thoughts are not as near as God; your breath is not as near as God; your very soul is not as near to you as God is. And yet, because He is God, His uncreated Being is so far above us that no thought can conceive it nor words express it….

There is a vast gulf … between the great I AM and all created things…. God’s uncreated quality of life causes Him to be transcendent, to rise high above all creatures. AOGII034, 037

Lord, how awesome that You can be above all and yet so close. I am Your humble servant; may I act according to Your will today. Amen. [1]


11 Note the similarity of David’s declaration to the end of the Lord’s Prayer reflected in some manuscripts: “Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever” (Mt 6:13). Also note the points of similarity between David’s broader prayer (vv. 10–19) and David’s other prayers of thanksgiving in 1 Chronicles (16:7–36; 17:16–27) as well as Psalm 145, which is attributed to David in the superscription of that psalm.[2]


29:11 Yours, O Yahweh, is the kingdom See note on 1 Chron 17:14.

head While the Hebrew word used here, rosh, literally means “head,” it often is used to mean “first” (Prov 8:26) or “chief” (Deut 1:13; 33:5). Here, it indicates that God is exalted as the ultimate ruler of all creation.[3]


29:11 Yours, O Lord. Probably the source of the longer ending of the Lord’s Prayer (Matt. 6:13; cf. Luke 11:4). See theological note “The Incomprehensibility of God.”[4]


29:11 The purpose of the temple was to exalt the Lord and to acknowledge the universality of His kingdom. David modeled before the people the worship of the living God. It typically starts with praise for God’s eternity, His complete control over the universe, and His great power. He is the glorious Master over all (Ps. 134:3).[5]


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

[2] Mabie, F. J. (2010). 1 and 2 Chronicles. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Chronicles–Job (Revised Edition) (Vol. 4, p. 154). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Ch 29:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 631). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 530). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

May 15 – The Necessity of Grateful Prayer

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”

Philippians 4:6

✧✧✧

Genuine believers will react thankfully to trials and suffering.

Preventive spiritual maintenance is very important. If we are disciplined believers, we’ll practice it and prepare ourselves for any kind of trials and hardships. Then when the unexpected happens, we’ll be able to respond in a godly manner and truly appreciate what the Lord is teaching us.

The attitude expressed in today’s verse is basic and is one of the strongest antidotes to fear and lack of preparation in the face of trials. The apostle Paul affirms an attitude that allows us to call upon God for help in difficulties but does not leave room for doubt, blame, or second–guessing. Those responses reveal an absence of faith and a lack of acceptance of what God has for us.

A prayerful and grateful reaction to God’s tests in our lives, no matter how painful, unexpected, or difficult to understand at the time, results in our receiving His unsurpassed peace. A careful look at Philippians 4:6, along with verse 7—“the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, shall guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus”—proclaims that God’s chief concern for us is not so much specific answers to our every request, but that we know His supernatural peace. We can also glean this principle from the long series of questions Job asked God about Himself. God chose not to answer Job’s questions per se (see Job 38–41) because His purpose was simply that Job know God’s sovereignty and submit to it.

That may be His purpose for us as well. Therefore, the Lord wants us to be prepared for trials and sufferings with a faith–filled, grateful response, one that recognizes He has an ultimate purpose for us (1 Peter 5:10) and remembers His promise that we will receive no trial or temptation we can’t bear (1 Cor. 10:13).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to help you stay faithful in your reading and study of Scripture so that the preventive maintenance of your soul will be strong. ✧ Thank the Lord for His peace that is available even in the most difficult circumstances. ✧ Praise Him for a specific time when that peace was especially comforting to you.

For Further Study: Read Ephesians 2:14–15; 6:15; and 1 Thessalonians 5:23. What important components characterize peace?[1]


The Meaning of Prayer

Philippians 4:6–7

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

For most people few doctrines associated with Christianity are more generally misunderstood than that of true prayer. It is totally misunderstood by nonbelievers, and it is misunderstood by many who profess the name of Jesus. The problem may be traced to the fact that so few persons know God well enough to be closely associated with him in prayer, and since none of us is as closely associated with him as we ought to be, prayer is at least partially confusing to us all. Does prayer change things? Or does prayer change people? Does God change his mind as the result of believing prayer? Or does God move us to pray? What does it mean to pray without ceasing? Who can pray? How do you pray? And why should a person pray anyway? In any gathering of God’s people many of these questions will receive different and sometimes even contradictory answers.

In the fourth chapter of Philippians there are two verses that are an exceptionally fine statement of the Christian doctrine of prayer. Paul says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6–7).

For Christians Only

What is prayer? Prayer is talking with God, and the place to begin in any true definition of prayer is with the fact that prayer is for believers only. Paul did not write his words about prayer to the pagan world at Philippi or to the world at large. He wrote them “to all the saints in Christ Jesus” at Philippi. This means that prayer is exclusively for Christians. It is the means by which an empty soul that has been touched by Jesus Christ can be thrust beneath the life-giving fountain of God’s grace, can bask in God’s goodness, and can be supernaturally refreshed for life’s tasks. Prayer is the Christian’s antidote for anxiety.

I know something called prayer is offered a billion times daily by millions of people who are not Christians, but this is not prayer in any real sense. Scores of non-Christian people in the East spend the better part of a day spinning prayer wheels. Savages chant prayers in many jungle clearings. New Agers finger prayer beads. Many poor souls cry out a prayer in the midst of some calamity. Many non-Christians give themselves to a life of meditation. But this is not true prayer, if the person involved is not a Christian. Prayer is talking with God, and the only prayer that God hears and answers is one that is made through his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, who alone provides access to his presence.

This truth was taught by Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Jesus did not say that he was one of several ways to come to God, that he was a prophet who pointed out the ways to God; he said that he was the way to come to God, and he added, lest anyone misunderstand him, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” This means that no prayer offered to God apart from faith in the Lord Jesus Christ has ever reached God his heavenly Father.

There are more passages in the Bible that tell when God will not answer prayer than there are passages in which he promises to do it, and God definitely says he will not answer the prayer of anyone who does not come through faith in his Son.

Have you ever tried to pray and found God distant and unreal? Have you gone away without any real hope that God has heard you? It may be that you have never done the first thing God requires. Your sin divides you like a wall from God’s presence. It will only be removed by Jesus Christ. You need to come to him. You need to say, “Lord Jesus Christ, I recognize that I am separated from you by my sin; but I believe you died for me to remove that sin forever. Remove it now, and accept me as your child. Amen.” If you do that, God will remove your sin, and he will accept you as his child forever.

Barriers to Prayer

Now we must also add that although it is true that God does not hear the prayer of non-Christians, it is also true that he does not hear the prayers offered by many Christians. In fact, the Bible says that God will never hear a Christian’s prayer so long as the Christian is clinging to some sin in his heart. David said, “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Ps. 66:18). Isaiah wrote, “Surely the arm of the Lord is not too short to save, nor his ear too dull to hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden his face from you, so that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:1–2).

Do these verses describe your prayer life? If so, you must confess your sin openly and frankly, knowing that God “is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). We can only pray if our lives are open books before him.

In normal life we must know people well before our conversation with them flows freely. There are many people I know casually to whom I would speak about the weather, their work, their families, but to whom I would never speak about more personal things. There are others I know better; to these I would speak about some problems in my own life or about the concerns of others. Certain things I share only with my wife. How easily I can speak depends on how well I know the person. It is the same in our relationship to God. If we do not know God well, if our sin keeps us from him, if we do not recognize his characteristics and how he operates with people, then he is like a stranger to us and the prayer flows slowly, even though we have come to faith in Jesus. Instead, we must confess our sin and learn to spend time alone with our heavenly Father. When we do that our prayer will become the kind of communion that we have in conversation with a close friend.

Prayer for Others

Everything that I have noted up to this point has ourselves as the center; but if you know what prayer is, you know also that prayer necessarily involves other people. No matter how intimate the conversation may be between a husband and wife, it does not always center on their own affairs exclusively. They share news about their acquaintances and their concerns for them. So it is in prayer. The Bible calls such prayer “intercession.” First Timothy 2:1 says, “I urge you, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone.”

As we meet with God in prayer—at the beginning of a day, at its end, or in any moment throughout it—these concerns should also be a part of our conversation with him. We should have great boldness as we present the concerns of others.

That great Bible teacher, Harry Ironside, tells a story about intercessory prayer in one of his books. He had been preaching in the Midwest and had held meetings in a church that contained a most unusual group of believers. They had Sunday services and midweek meetings, but they did not come together for prayer. He spoke to them about this lack. They said, “We don’t need to meet for prayer. We have no spiritual needs, for the Bible says that we have all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. And we have no need of material things, for we are well provided for. So we don’t pray.” Ironside said, “Well, that is unfortunate. At the very least, you should pray for me that God will give me freedom of speech as I go about preaching the gospel.”

They could not seem to understand his point, and Ironside left. Some time later he collapsed while in the pulpit. It was found that he had typhoid fever with a temperature of 106 degrees. In time he recovered, and during the next year he was back with this strange group of Christians. They said to him, “When we heard that you were sick with typhoid fever we began to pray for you. We prayed for you twice a week, but after we heard that you had recovered we stopped.” Ironside said, “Well, that is unfortunate also. As long as I was in the hospital room I was all right. All I had was typhoid fever. But now that I am out preaching the gospel, I am faced with the spiritual temptations that come to a Christian minister. Now I need your prayers more than ever.”

I know someone is going to say, “Do you mean to teach that God will only take care of another Christian if we pray?” No, I do not think intercession means that. But it does mean that God allows us to share in the blessings he gives to others and delights in using our prayers as a means through which he operates.

Let me illustrate this by another story. More than a generation ago a man named Hotchkiss went to Nigeria where he spent over forty years as a missionary. One day he was late for a service he was to have in a village located across a large plain. There was a rule in Nigeria in those days that no one ever crossed a large open space for fear of stampedes by the herds of wild game that roamed at large in the country. A safe path always passed within a short run of the trees. Hotchkiss was late, and he knew the quickest way to the village was to go directly across the plain. So he started across it. Halfway across the worst happened. He heard the thunder of rhinoceros hoofs, and as he looked up he saw a herd of the monstrous animals headed toward him. There was nowhere to go, so Hotchkiss knelt down in the middle of the plain, clasped his Bible to his chest, and prayed, “Lord, here I come.” An eternity passed as the roar grew louder and then faded away into the distance. At last all was quiet and Hotchkiss arose. He was standing in the midst of the plain marked with the hoofprints of a hundred or more rhinoceros. But he was alive, and he went on to his meeting in the village.

Years later, a couple from Ohio visited this man in Nigeria. In the course of their conversation the husband said to Hotchkiss, “I had a most unusual experience once that concerned you. One night I woke up suddenly with an irresistible urge to pray for you. And I did, committing you to God’s safekeeping.” Hotchkiss asked if he remembered when it was. The man had written it down that night in his Bible, and when they compared the times, it was on the same day and at the same hour that Hotchkiss had been spared on the Nigerian plain.

Someone may argue that God would have saved Hotchkiss anyway, even if the man had not prayed. Probably. But the point is that in God’s marvelous working he moved a man halfway around the world to pray for Hotchkiss in that hour. Thus, years later the man was able to share in the blessing of his friend’s supernatural deliverance. In the same way we have the privilege as God’s children of committing others into his hands for his blessing—our friends, neighbors, acquaintances, and family. As we do, we are permitted to share in his blessing on them. Our Christian life holds few joys greater than this one.

Supplications

There is one other point about prayer that comes directly from this passage. Prayer is not only talking with God, nor is it only intercession for others. Prayer is also an opportunity to present our requests to him. Paul calls them petitions, and he says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” God invites us to place our earnest requests before him.

This is God’s cure for anxiety. Christians are troubled about many things. You may be troubled about your work, your family, the future, money, sex, or happiness. God invites you to place your request about these things before him. The promise of the verse is that the peace of God will keep your heart and mind through Christ Jesus.

Have you ever noticed that the verse does not say that we shall necessarily receive the things we ask for? You would expect the verse to say, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and God will fulfill your requests.” But it does not say that. It says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God, and the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Our prayers are often in error, and we pray for things that are not good for us. God does not promise to give us these things. All things work together for good to them that love God. However, God does promise to give a supernatural peace to those who share their real needs with him.

We must not think that Paul was recommending something for others that he had not found true for himself. Paul too had had this experience. Do you remember the prayer that Paul wrote in Romans 15? Paul was in Corinth and was about to go on to Jerusalem with the collection from the gentile churches. After that he had planned to travel to Rome as an ambassador of the Christian gospel. He asked prayer for three things: 1) “that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea”; 2) “that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints”; and 3) “that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and together with you be refreshed” (Rom. 15:31–32).

How were Paul’s requests answered? We do not know every aspect of God’s answers, but we know that Paul’s first request was not fulfilled literally. Paul fell into the hands of unbelievers and spent two years in prison in Caesarea as a result, although his life was spared. We have no information about his second request—that his collection might be received willingly by the saints in Judea—but there is no reason to think Paul received a warm welcome from anyone. Finally, we know that Paul’s third request—for a joyous journey to Rome—was fulfilled, if it was fulfilled, only after long delays and through much hardship. When Paul arrived in Rome at last, he arrived as a prisoner in chains.

God certainly did not answer Paul’s requests as Paul intended. But God did answer, and he answered exactly as Paul indicates in his words about prayer to the Philippians. He answered by giving Paul peace. Paul knew God’s peace even in the most difficult of earthly circumstances, and he writes out of these circumstances to tell us also to make requests of God, our heavenly Father.[2]


6 Anxiety can be good or bad. Paul has anxiety for the progress of the gospel (2:28) and the condition of the individual churches he has founded, and he sometimes loses sleep over them (2 Co 11:28), but he does not seem to regard this concern to be a noxious anxiety. It comes with the task of being an apostle. The anxiety Paul warns against is the kind that unhinges, paralyzes, and incapacitates one—“anxious, harassing care” (Lightfoot, 160). Paul is not calling for them to be indifferent toward life. The root idea of the verb “to be anxious” (merimnaō, GK 3534) is “to be pulled apart.” The Philippians are not to allow their lives to become so wrapped up with material well-being that they fall apart when their standard of living is threatened or their wealth is taken from them. They also need not be anxious about what is going to happen to Paul. Only those who are confident in the coming of the kingdom of God and in their vindication by God will not be overwhelmed by anxiety when trouble comes.

They are to “present [their] requests to God,” not because God is unaware of their needs and needs to be informed, but because it is a way to acknowledge their total dependence on God. When requests are accompanied with thanksgiving, they will be prepared “to surrender themselves to his will whatever the circumstances” (Peter T. O’Brien, “Divine Provision for Our Needs: Assurances from Philippians 4,” RTR 50 [1991]: 24). Michael, 197, writes, “The way to be anxious about nothing is to be prayerful about everything.” If the Philippians are truly thankful for what God has done for them in Christ, they will not be anxious about the assaults of opponents who threaten them. A thankful spirit crowds out selfish pride, checks fear, defuses anger, and directs one’s thoughts outwardly toward others.[3]


4:6 Is it really possible for a Christian to be anxious for nothing? It is possible as long as we have the resource of believing prayer. The rest of the verse goes on to explain how our lives can be free from sinful fretting. Everything should be taken to the Lord in prayer. Everything means everything. There is nothing too great or small for His loving care!

Prayer is both an act and an atmosphere. We come to the Lord at specific times and bring specific requests before Him. But it is also possible to live in an atmosphere of prayer. It is possible that the mood of our life should be a prayerful mood. Perhaps the word prayer in this verse signifies the overall attitude of our life, whereas supplication signifies the specific requests which we bring to the Lord.

But then we should notice that our requests should be made known to God with thanksgiving. Someone has summarized the verse as saying that we should be “anxious in nothing, prayerful in everything, thankful for anything.”[4]


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

[2] Boice, J. M. (2000). Philippians: an expositional commentary (pp. 238–243). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 253). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1978–1979). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 15 – Understanding Our Goal

He who says He abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.

1 John 2:6

The Christian life is simply the process of pursuing Christ’s likeness, theologically described as sanctification. Jesus said, “Follow Me,” and that simple command has not been replaced or improved on. Following Christ involves learning from Him so we can be like Him (Luke 6:40). Romans 8:29 says God saved us so that we can become “conformed to the image of His Son.” Therefore, our one pursuit is to become more and more like Christ.

Now some people may argue that glorifying God or evangelizing the lost are more important priorities. But being like Christ glorifies God, and if we are like Christ we can’t help but reach out to others. After all, He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). All that is needed in the Christian life will flow out of a pursuit of Christlikeness.[1]


Conclusion (v. 6)

This conclusion also comes to Christians living in our own time. Do we say we are Christians? Then “whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” The call is to emulate Jesus in our conduct. “Earlier,” as Calvin said, “he had set the light of God before us as an example. Now he calls us also to Christ, to imitate him. Yet he does not simply exhort us to the imitation of Christ, but, from the union we have with him, proves we should be like him.”

To walk as Christ walked is to live, not by rules, but by an example. It is to follow him, to be his disciple. Such a discipleship is personal, active, and costly. It is personal because it cannot be passed off to another. Indeed, we are to find ourselves with Christ, as Peter did following the resurrection. Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” When Peter replied, “Yes,” he was told, “Feed my sheep.” This was repeated three times, and it began to irritate Peter. So to escape Christ’s careful probing, he turned to John, the beloved disciple, who was apparently standing some distance away, and asked, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus replied, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” In other words, there was no escaping the call to a personal discipleship for Peter.

To walk as Christ walked is also active because the Lord himself is active. To be inactive is to be left behind.

Finally, it is costly as well, because the path that Jesus walked is the path to crucifixion. It leads to glory, but before that it leads to the cross. Such a path can be walked only by the one who has died to self and who has deliberately taken up the cross of Christ to follow him.

Such a one, whether in John’s day or our own, will always have confidence before God and will be sure that he knows him. Here Dodd concludes most perceptively,

In this passage our author is not only rebutting dangerous tendencies in the Church of his time, but discussing a problem of perennial importance, that of the validity of religious experience. We may have the feeling of awareness of God, of union with him, but how shall we know that such experience corresponds to reality? It is clear that no amount of clearness or strength in the experience itself can guarantee its validity, any more than the extreme vividness of a dream leads us to suppose that it is anything but a dream. If, however, we accept the revelation of God in Christ, then we must believe that any experience of God which is valid has an ethical quality defined by what we know of Christ. It will carry with it a renewed fidelity to his teaching and example. The writer does not mean that only those who perfectly obey Christ and follow his example can be said to have experience of God. That would be to affirm the sinlessness of Christians in a sense which he has repudiated. But unless the experience includes a setting of the affections and will in the direction of the moral principles of the Gospel, it is no true experience of God, in any Christian sense.

There is more to be said, of course, as Dodd also indicates. In fact, more is to be said in the verses following, but thus far the test of one’s experience holds. By the test of righteousness we may know that we know God and may assure our hearts before him.[2]


The Test Exemplified

the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked. (2:6)

The only person who can pass the test of obedience and realize full assurance is the one who … abides in Him—because Jesus Christ is the perfect role model for obeying the Father. In John 15:4–5 Jesus commanded,

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (cf. vv. 10–11)

Believers draw spiritual life from the Lord Jesus Christ, even as branches do from a vine. To abide in Christ is to remain in Him—not a temporary, superficial attachment, but a permanent, deep connection (cf. Luke 9:23; John 6:53–65; Phil. 1:6; 2:11–13). Such authentic abiding in the Savior characterizes those who “continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that [they] have heard” (Col. 1:23; cf. 2:7; Eph. 3:17), because they are truly regenerate—new creatures who possess irrevocable eternal life.

John made it perfectly clear that those who claim to abide in Christ must walk in the same manner as He walked. Walk is a metaphor for daily conduct by believers (1:7; John 8:12; 12:35; Rom. 6:4; 8:4; 1 Cor. 7:17; 2 Cor. 5:7; Gal. 5:16; Eph. 2:10; 4:1; 5:2, 8; Col. 1:10; 2:6; 1 Thess. 2:12; 4:1; 2 John 6; cf. Mark 7:5). The Lord Himself perfectly exemplified this principle during His earthly ministry. In every way He obeyed His Father’s will:

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.” (John 6:38)

“And He who sent Me is with Me; He has not left Me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to Him.” (John 8:29)

“For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” (John 10:17–18)

“So that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.” (John 14:31)

Obviously, believers’ obedience will not be perfect, as Jesus’ was. Nonetheless, He established the perfect pattern they are to follow. If anyone claims to know Him and abide in Him, it will be evident in his life. He will walk in the light—in the realm of truth and holiness—and guard (obey) His commandments because of his passionate love for the truth and the Lord of the truth. Therein lies the key to real assurance of salvation.[3]


6 While the language of this verse is grammatically similar to that of v. 4, it seems John is now offering a maxim to validate the two tests in vv. 4–5. While v. 3 focused on the need to obey Jesus’ teaching, v. 6 emphasizes the need to live by his example. The person who claims to remain in Jesus “ought to walk just as he walked” (NIV, “must walk as Jesus did”), meaning that the true believer’s life will be patterned after the example of Jesus.

The maxim in v. 6 describes the person who “claims to live in him.” The Greek word menō (NIV, “live”; GK 3531) is a key term in Johannine thought. Menō literally means “remain,” “stay,” or “abide,” and John sometimes uses the term in this general sense to imply endurance or durability (cf. Rensberger, 62–63). He warns believers, for example, to “see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you” in the face of the threat of the Antichrists (2:24) and tells the “chosen lady” that “the truth which remains in us will be with us forever” (2 Jn 2; NIV, “the truth, which lives in us …”).

Other passages indicate that menō is a codeword for several key points in Johannine theology. It is frequently used in the fourth gospel to describe “the relationship of mutual indwelling of the Father, the Son, and the believer” (W. L. Kynes, “Abiding,” in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels, ed. Joel Green et al. [Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1992], 2). The Father abides in Jesus, empowering his work (Jn 14:10), and will also abide in those who love Jesus and obey his teaching (14:23). The disciples, in turn, must abide in Jesus, apparently meaning that they must live by his word in order to maintain their relationship with him. It is through this process of mutual indwelling that Jesus gives believers life and power to accomplish his work (15:4–9). This special relationship gives an eschatological dimension to Christian experience. Those who remain with Jesus faithfully throughout their lives will “abide [NIV, live] forever” because they have escaped from the world and its desires (1 Jn 2:17). First John 2:6 highlights the ethical obligation that follows from this relationship: if we truly abide in Jesus, this will be evident in the way we live our lives. All those who do not live this way “abide in death” (1 Jn 3:14; NIV, “remain in death”).[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 152). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2004). The Epistles of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 49–50). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 59–60). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[4] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 437–438). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.