Daily Archives: May 16, 2017

May 16, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

img_0231

May 16, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump defended wanting to share terrorism intelligence with Russian officials in a White House meeting last week, saying he has the “absolute right” to do so. “As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining to terrorism and airline flight safety.”

A day before U.S. and European Union officials meet to discuss prohibiting passengers bound for America from carrying laptops and other electronic devices on board airplane cabins, Europeans remain in the dark about the actual threat.

President Bashar al-Assad should be eliminated to stop the atrocities taking place in Syria, according to an Israeli minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Syria has built a crematorium at a prison outside of Damascus to “cover up the extent of mass murders” by President Bashar al-Assad’s government, according to a U.S. official.

Swedish arms manufacturer Saab AB says rising tensions in Asia may turn the region into one of its fastest growing markets.

America needs more warships — and must build them faster — to keep up with other countries that are spending heavily on maritime prowess, according to the U.S. Navy’s chief of operations.

JPMorgan Chase & Co. agreed to pay about 125 million euros ($137 million) for an office building under construction in Dublin.

A Rolex that was owned by the last emperor of Vietnam became the Swiss watchmaker’s most expensive wristwatch ever sold at auction, fetching $5 million at Phillips as Geneva’s spring auction season kicks off.

Americans are rejecting the consistency of national restaurant chains after decades of dominance in favor of the authenticity of locally owned eateries, with their daily specials and Mom’s watercolors decorating the walls.

Social Finance Inc., the online lender known as SoFi, is ramping up its wealth-management platform by adding human advisers to its software-based financial advice offering that’s been in beta over the past year, the firm said Tuesday in a statement.

When researchers traveled to a tiny, uninhabited island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, they were astonished to find an estimated 38 million pieces of trash washed up on the beaches. Almost all of the garbage they found on Henderson Island was made from plastic. The density of trash was the highest recorded anywhere in the world, despite Henderson Island’s extreme remoteness.

Ford Motor Co. plans to shrink its salaried workforce in North America and Asia by about 10 percent as it works to boost profits and its sliding stock price.

European Union foreign ministers urged Venezuelan authorities to hold elections and release political prisoners to help end six weeks of demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro that have killed dozens of people.

AP Top Stories

Police have confirmed that the severed head of a woman brought into an Oregon grocery store before a stabbing belonged to the mother of the suspect.

Archaeologists have dug up 17 mummies and other artifacts from ancient Egypt near a historical animal graveyard, and they expect to discover even more. The mummies, which were not of ancient royals, were uncovered in catacombs a few hours southwest of Cairo while the experts were “following a trail of burial shafts.”

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.

Dawn air strikes on a Syrian border town in the Islamic State-held eastern province of Deir al-Zor killed at least 30 people, most of them civilians including more than a dozen children.

BBC

Film studio Disney has said hackers have threatened to release one of the studio’s forthcoming movies unless it pays a ransom. Disney is refusing to pay.

Australian health officials have warned of a “serious” incidence of children inhaling aviation fuel in the Northern Territory. Petrol sniffing is not a new challenge to hit remote communities, but aviation fuel is even more dangerous because it contains lead. Lead exposure can badly damage the brain and nervous system. Health officials believe more than 100 youths – one as young as seven – have inhaled the fuel on Elcho Island and a nearby area since March last year.

A healthy teenager in the US state of South Carolina died from drinking several highly-caffeinated drinks too quickly, a coroner has ruled.

Three French gay rights groups have accused the Russian republic of Chechnya of a policy of genocide towards gay people in a complaint filed at the International Criminal Court.

A Mississippi man has been sentenced for killing a transgender woman in the first US federal prosecution of a hate crime based on gender identity.

Uganda’s censorship board has banned a Dutch film, The Dinner Club, after accusing it of “glorifying homosexuality” the Embassy of The Netherlands in Kampala has said.

WND

On Monday, the State Department confirmed a new ban on U.S. funding for organizations that perform or promote abortion overseas as a method of family planning.

If the secret to a happy marriage is finding the right person, we can all stop looking. At least, according to “sologamists.” They’re part of a growing relationship trend, in which people are tying the knot to themselves.

American University in Washington, D.C., has reportedly banned white students from using its new “student lounge” for the spring semester.


The Briefing 05-16-17

Alarming moral barometer: New Gallup poll reveals Americans hold record liberal views on moral issues

The “new monogamy”? What the open marriage movement says about our cultural moment

The post The Briefing 05-16-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 5/16/2017

Rivlin to Friedman: Time to recognize Jerusalem as our capital
“I’m happy to welcome you and your dear wife to Israel, to Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, and I’m welcoming you, not only as the President of Israel, but also as a Jerusalemite – seventh generation.

Stone Age Fire-Making Stone, Dating to Beginning of Civilization, Discovered on Highway
Israeli archaeologists discovered a rare 9,000-year-old limestone slab used by inhabitants of the land during the Stone Age to light fire. Anna Eirich-Rose, an expert on the prehistoric era and the manager of the excavation, believed that the slab dated back to the Neolithic 2 period when mankind started to adopt a sedentary lifestyle and began to farm the land.

500,000 People Watch Pope Francis Create Two Child Saints Who Spoke With Demons In Fatima Vision
Clutching Babylonian rosary beads and praying to statues, the Roman Catholic faithful showed up in massive numbers to worship at the feet of Pope Francis as he declared two children who were visited by demons at Fatima in 1917 to be “saints”. During the mass, he held high an Egyptian sun disk as he prayed to his god.

Ambassador Friedman to President Rivlin: Trump’s Commitment to Israel Rock-Solid
The new Ambassador stressed, “I am so grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity, for having confidence in my abilities, and most importantly for sending me off this past week with the unequivocal and unambiguous mandate to support the State of Israel in every way, and in all ways. As you know, the President has chosen Israel as the site for his first international visit this coming week. His love for and commitment to the State of Israel is rock-solid and enjoys his highest priority.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich Tells President Trump ‘Close Down the Press Room’
former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Trump should put his words into action, citing recent remarks by the president that he might stop the daily briefings at the White House. “What they ought to do is get out of all this junk, they ought to focus on the big goals, they ought to report to the nation on the big goals, ignore all these reporters, close down the press room, send the reporters off [to Starbucks],”

Report: Arab states offer Israel improved ties in exchange for peace concessions
Various Arab Gulf nations are reportedly prepared to improve ties with Israel if Jerusalem takes…significant efforts to relaunch the stagnate peace process with the Palestinians…Gulf states would reportedly be willing to set up telecommunication lines between the countries, allow for Israeli businesses to trade with their Arab counterparts and allow for Israeli planes to fly over their airspace. In return, Israel would have to freeze settlement construction and relax trade restrictions with the Gaza Strip.

Israeli minister calls for assassination of Syria’s Assad
Housing Minister Yoav Galant called for the assassination of Syrian President Bashar Assad following the reports of the regime using a crematorium to hide their atrocities outside Damascus. “The reality in which people are executed in Syria, being hit deliberately by chemical weapons, their bodies being burned, something we haven’t seen in 70 years, we are crossing a red line and it is time to eliminate Assad, literally,”…

White House questions authenticity of ‘Western Wall’ sovereignty comments
The Trump administration is denying that one of its top officials characterized the Western Wall as West Bank territory outside of established Israeli jurisdiction, after local reports claimed a US official said as much to counterparts in the prime minister’s office. “These comments, if true, were not authorized by the White House,” a spokesman told The Jerusalem Post on Monday afternoon. “They do not reflect the US position, and certainly not the president’s position.”

France’s Macron calls for ‘historic reconstruction’ of Europe
France’s new president, Emmanuel Macron, has called for a “historic reconstruction” of Europe, saying it is “the only reaction” to fight populism. Speaking in Berlin on the first full day of his presidency, he was joined by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. She said the pair had a “joint conviction” that they needed to “deepen the European Union”.

Open Sesame: Science centre unveiled in Jordan
In a rare show of unity in the Middle East, an advanced research centre to be shared by the troubled region is opening today in Jordan. Despite political tensions and rows, countries usually hostile to each other are jointly supporting the venture. Its name is Sesame – Synchrotron-light for Experimental Science and Applications in the Middle East.

Syria’s Saydnaya prison crematorium hid killings, says US
The Syrian government has constructed a crematorium at a military prison to dispose of the remains of thousands of murdered prisoners, the US has alleged. The state department has released satellite images of the facility which it said was used to hide evidence. Rights groups say thousands of inmates have been tortured and hanged at the military prison outside Damascus.

WannaCry ransomware cyber-attack ‘may have N Korea link’
Who was behind the huge global cyber-attack? One prominent theory right now is North Korea – but what we know is far from conclusive…Security experts are now cautiously linking the Lazarus Group to this latest attack after a discovery by Google security researcher Neel Mehta. He found similarities between code found within WannaCry – the software used in the hack – and other tools believed to have been created by the Lazarus Group in the past.

Trump administration vastly expands global anti-abortion policy
The Trump administration said on Monday it was vastly expanding the scope of a policy blocking U.S. assistance to foreign groups that perform or provide information about abortions, a move critics say will hinder women’s access to critical care…The policy, introduced in 1984, holds that no U.S. government funding for family planning services can be given to foreign clinics or groups that offer abortion services or discuss abortion…

China Could Become the Biggest Christian Nation by 2030s
The rapid spread of Christianity in China is well documented, but few would have imagined the communist country might one day become the most populous Christian nation on the planet.

Jim Bakker: Making Fun Of Trump Is The ‘Spirit Of The Antichrist’
The “spirit of the Antichrist” is alive and well and living inside people who dare to mock President Donald Trump, disgraced televangelist Jim Bakker said. Bakker now sells survivalist food and gear to doomsday preppers on his “Jim Bakker Show.” In a clip from Thursday that was posted online by Right Wing Watch, he claimed there was a “hatred among peoples and this is satanic.”

Baltimore: A Glimpse Of America’s Future “Retail Apocalypse”
Block after block, it resembles a post-apocalyptic view of America, if industry fails to return… “we’re hitting ‘peak youth’, and a ‘demographic tidal wave’ is coming.”

Canadian Elementary School Letter: Mothers’ Day Cancelled To ‘Nurture’ Students Part of Non-Traditional Families’
Canadian elementary school has nixed any celebrations for Mothers’ Day and Fathers’ Day in “effort to celebrate diversity, inclusivity and also nurture our students who are part of non-traditional families.”

An eruption at one of the world’s most dangerous supervolcanoes is closer than we thought
One of the world’s most dangerous supervolcanoes appears to be closer to erupting than we once thought, scientists have warned. Campi Flegrei in southern Italy has been showing signs of reawakening over the past 67 years, and new research indicates the volcano has been building energy throughout this period, increasing the risk that it will erupt.

Lt. Gen. McInerney: North Korea has crossed the red line
Fox News military analyst Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney on the latest threats from North Korea.


Financial Weapons Of Mass Destruction: The Top 25 U.S. Banks Have 222 Trillion Dollars Of Exposure To Derivatives

The recklessness of the “too big to fail” banks almost doomed them the last time around, but apparently they still haven’t learned from their past mistakes.  Today, the top 25 U.S. banks have 222 trillion dollars of exposure to derivatives.  In other words, the exposure that these banks have to derivatives contracts is approximately equivalent to the gross domestic product of the United States times twelve.  As long as stock prices continue to rise and the U.S. economy stays fairly stable, these extremely risky financial weapons of mass destruction will probably not take down our entire financial system.  But someday another major crisis will inevitably happen, and when that day arrives the devastation that these financial instruments will cause will be absolutely unprecedented. (Read More…)


Americans Hold Record Liberal Views on Most Moral Issues

It should come as no surprise to learn from a new Gallup poll that pretty much anything goes with most Americans.  According to the report:

Americans continue to express an increasingly liberal outlook on what is morally acceptable, as their views on 10 of 19 moral issues that Gallup measures are the most left-leaning or permissive they have been to date. The percentages of U.S. adults who believe birth control, divorce, sex between unmarried people, gay or lesbian relations, having a baby outside of marriage, doctor-assisted suicide, pornography and polygamy are morally acceptable practices have tied record highs or set new ones this year. At the same time, record lows say the death penalty and medical testing on animals are morally acceptable.

View article →


False Converts Teaching False Doctrine Are Leading Professing Evangelical Christians Astray

Just prior to his death in 2014, Ken Silva of Apprising Ministries took on what he referred to as Big Tent postmodern liberal Christianity in a piece entitled “Good Works Actually Extend From God.” And as always, Ken nailed it: 

I know, O Lord, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. (Jeremiah 10:23)

Labors in the Lord like this one here at Apprising Ministries would never have been necessary had the mainstream evangelical Christian community not decided to follow the mainline denominations, who’re now mortally wounded by adherence to the religious slavery of liberal theology. It was a serious error from which evangelicalism may indeed never recover.

Yet in His mercy, as the Internet started to gain more influence within Christendom, Jesus would begin to raise up a few initial ministries to pioneer the mission field of online apologetics and discernment ministry (OADM). Unfortunately self-righteous, and largely self-appointed, evangelical leaders chose to ignore these early watchmen.

Even so, over the past couple of decades—as God would begin calling His elect away from these false shepherds—He’s still graciously continued to try and reach them while spreading His truth through the work of a growing number of OADMs. At the same time Satan would launch his Christian counterfeit aka the Emerging Church (EC) via evangelicalism’s Leadership Network (LN).

View article →


Don’t call it a comeback! Hillary launches Onward Together to raise money for…something

If Hillary had won the 2016 election her campaign would eventually have transformed into an ongoing organizing effort the way Obama for America transformed into Organizing for Action after his reelection in 2012. Hillary lost the election but her “Stronger Together” campaign motto seems to have morphed into a new organization called “Onward Together” anyway. It even has the same arrow logo. Hillary announced it on Twitter Monday:

View Article


New Evidence Emerges Showing Seth Rich Murdered At Command Of DNC Operatives For Leaking Emails

It has been almost a year since Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in the nation’s capital. There have been no solid answers about why he was killed until now.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For fans of the series “Prison Break“, you are quite familiar of how “The Company” operated and how they eliminated people who sought to expose them. From the moment Seth Rich was murdered, conspiracy theorists connected his untimely death with the fact that it appeared he was the informant to WikiLeaks of the DNC and Hillary Clinton-related bombshell emails. Snopes immediately dismissed this idea – but – in a stunning revelation today, it would appear that the conspiracy “nuts” were, once again, correct. Someone from the Democrat’s “company” ordered his execution, a special “someone” who added Rich to the Clinton Dead Pool. Hmmm, I wonder who that could be? And you know who it wasn’t? Russia. 

Seth Rich was shot and killed last July in Northwest D.C and police have suggested the killing in the District’s Bloomingdale neighborhood was a botched robbery. However, online conspiracy theories have tied the murder to Rich’s work at the DNC.  Just two months shy of the one-year anniversary of Rich’s death, FOX 5 has learned there is new information that could prove these theorists right.

Report: Slain DNC staffer Seth Rich was in contact with WikiLeaks

Why are the Democrats so bent of trying to connect Russia to the Wikileaks email dumps? To divert attention away from the fact that it wasn’t Russia but Seth Rich who did the leaking. And who killed Seth Rich? Ho, ho, ho, don’t YOU know?

Rod Wheeler, a private investigator hired by the Rich family, suggests there is tangible evidence on Rich’s laptop that confirms he was communicating with WikiLeaks prior to his death.

Now, questions have been raised on why D.C. police, the lead agency on this murder investigation for the past ten months, have insisted this was a robbery gone bad when there appears to be no evidence to suggest that.

Wheeler, a former D.C. police homicide detective, is running a parallel investigation into Rich’s murder. He said he believes there is a cover-up and the police department has been told to back down from the investigation.

Wikileaks releases hacked DNC emails:

It was not Russia who gave the emails to Wikileaks, it was Seth Rich. And he paid for it with his life.

“The police department nor the FBI have been forthcoming,” said Wheeler. “They haven’t been cooperating at all. I believe that the answer to solving his death lies on that computer, which I believe is either at the police department or either at the FBI. I have been told both.”

When we asked Wheeler if his sources have told him there is information that links Rich to Wikileaks, he said, “Absolutely. Yeah. That’s confirmed.”

Wheeler also told us, “I have a source inside the police department that has looked at me straight in the eye and said, ‘Rod, we were told to stand down on this case and I can’t share any information with you.’ Now, that is highly unusual for a murder investigation, especially from a police department. Again, I don’t think it comes from the chief’s office, but I do believe there is a correlation between the mayor’s office and the DNC and that is the information that will come out [Tuesday]. source


Two-Time Loser Hillary Clinton Launches ‘Dark Money’ Website To Attack Trump Administration

Two-time failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton officially launched a new organization on Monday, ‘Onward Together’, with the stated goal of “advancing the vision that earned nearly 66 million votes in the last election.”

Put more bluntly, the group’s mission is to advance Clinton’s agenda, which was unable to defeat Donald Trump.

But buried on the donation page is this nugget:

Contributions or gifts to Onward Together, a 501(c)(4) organization, are not tax deductible as charitable contributions or as business deductions.

By listing itself as a 501(c)(4), Clinton is able to take so-called “dark money,” or money from donors who legally do not have to be disclosed, in unlimited amounts.

In October 2015, during a town hall meeting in Iowa, Clinton called 501(c)(4) groups “unaccountable dark money,” and even used the left’s favorite boogey-men, the Koch brothers, as an example of a group that operates this kind of organization:

Fast forward a year-and-a-half, and Clinton can count herself among the leaders of the “unaccountable dark money” groups. It’s just the latest twist in the long political saga that has become the Clintons’ legacy. source

Mid-Day Snapshot

May 16, 2017

The Latest WaPo Dezinformatsiya on Trump and the Russians

The Post seeks to exploit the Russia narrative in its active attempt to resist and take down Trump.

The Foundation

“[The press] corrupts, it deceives, it inflames. It strips virtue of her honors, and lends to faction its wildfire and its poisoned arms, and in the end is its own enemy and the usurper’s ally. It would be easy to enlarge on its evils.” —Fisher Ames (1807)

May 16, 2017

ALAN KEYES — “Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who was confirmed by a 96 to 4 vote in the Senate on April 25, wrote the letter recommending that Comey should be fired: ‘The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement,’ wrote Rosenstein.”… (more)


May 15, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — Changing academia has been much more difficult than changing the media. However, there is hope: President Donald Trump has asked Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to head a White House task force on reforming the U.S. higher education system…. (more)

May 15, 2017

BYRON YORK — Calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the Russia-Trump affair have multiplied in the days since President Trump fired FBI director James Comey. Almost invariably, Democrats and others calling for a prosecutor say such a step is needed to “get to the bottom” of the matter…. (more)


May 15, 2017
NEWSMAX — Final score: Republicans 14, Barack Obama’s last-minute regulations, one. Congressional Republicans anxious to show voters they can get something done are hailing their reversal of more than a dozen Obama-era regulations on guns, the internet and the environment…. (more)

May 15, 2017

NEWSMAX — Cyber security researchers have found technical clues they said could link North Korea with the global WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attack that has infected more than 300,000 machines in 150 countries since Friday…. (more)


May 15, 2017
NEWSMAX — North Korea said on Monday it had successfully conducted a newly developed mid-to-long range missile test on Sunday, supervised by leader Kim Jong Un and aimed at verifying the capability to carry a “large scale heavy nuclear warhead.”… (more)

May 15, 2017
DAVID KUPELIAN — It’s not that unusual for an Islamic society. After all, the usual features are all on display – – the Muslim call to prayer, the teaching of Islam in the nation’s schools to the exclusion of other religions, preferential treatment afforded Muslims by government and the courts, news coverage reflexively portraying Islam in a positive light, the rapid growth in mosque construction – – and also the disturbing cultural phenomena of female genital mutilation, “honor killings” and so on…. (more)

May 14, 2017

NEW YORK POST — Let’s cut right to the chase: James Comey should have been fired immediately following his disastrous press briefing last July, in which he candidly laid out the case against Hillary Clinton over her mishandling of classified information and then refused to recommend charges…. (more)


May 14, 2017

THE HILL — Speaking to a friendly crowd at the country’s largest Christian university on Saturday, President Trump told the graduating class that “in America, we don’t worship government, we worship God.” “America has always been the land of dreams because America is a nation of true believers,” Trump told those gathered at Liberty University…. (more)


May 14, 2017
THE GUARDIAN — The global ransomware cyber-attack that targeted tens of thousands of computers in 100 countries and crippled NHS systems appears to have raised just $20,000 (£15,500) for the criminals behind it, experts working with investigators have told the Guardian…. (more)

May 14, 2017
GLENN BECK — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has introduced a new health care bill that would purportedly repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act with only support from Republicans. Described as a one-time deal, Cruz’s bill would be part of a single budget resolution that could be passed under reconciliation, which allows legislation to pass with a 51-vote majority support…. (more)

May 14, 2017
NEWSMAX — The New York Times has reached out to subscribers who said they canceled their subscriptions after the newspaper brought on conservative columnist Bret Stephens, Politico reports…. (more)

May 14, 2017
JONAH GOLDBERG — The last weekend of April delivered one of the more enjoyable spectacles of 2017. It wasn’t Donald Trump’s tent-revival rally in Pennsylvania. Nor was it the cotillion of self-congratulation known as the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. It wasn’t even the People’s Climate March, which begged for some Monty Pythonesque splinter factions – – the March for People’s Climate, Climate Marchers for People, whatever…. (more)

May 14, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — It’s official: Donald Trump really is the president. The proof: boxes of presidential M&Ms with his signature were handed out for the first time Saturday to those on Air Force One. The Examiner’s Al Weaver was the pool reporter for the president’s trip to Lynchburg, Va., and he wrote: “M&M boxes were handed out featuring POTUS’s signature for what some poolers believe is the first time.”… (more)

May 13, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — As noted by Peter LaBarbera of Lifesitenews.com, LGBT activists were bitter and outraged that a conservative Christian with a public policy record of opposing the LGBTQ agenda was chosen to succeed a homosexual for the job of secretary of the Army. That is why a dishonest attack on Dr. Mark Green, a West Point grad and decorated U.S. Army flight surgeon, was launched weeks ago by the Huffington Post, as well as other media and gay rights organizations…. (more)

May 13, 2017
JOAN SWIRSKY — I always thought that James Comey was a company man. As it happens, the company he heads is among the most influential, powerful, and scary companies in the world – – the Federal Bureau of Investigation. But still, a company guy. Whether working for a president on the moderate-to-conservative spectrum like G.W. Bush or for a far-left Alinsky acolyte like Barack Obama makes absolutely no difference to this type of obedient – – and also subservient – – accommodator…. (more)

May 13, 2017
PUBLIUS HULDAH — What’s the real problem with our federal government? That people in Congress serve too many terms? And if we get an Amendment to limit their terms, will our Land be healed? Of course not! The real problem is that the politicians we elect ignore our Constitution – – yet we keep reelecting them…. (more)

May 13, 2017

ASSOCIATED PRESS — Dozens of countries were hit with a huge cyberextortion attack Friday that locked up computers and held users’ files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies. It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded. The malicious software behind the onslaught appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was supposedly identified by the National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes and was later leaked to the internet…. (more)


May 13, 2017
THE GUARDIAN — The “accidental hero” who halted the global spread of an unprecedented ransomware attack by registering a garbled domain name hidden in the malware has warned the attack could be rebooted…. (more)

May 13, 2017
THE INTERCEPT — IN MID-APRIL, an arsenal of powerful software tools apparently designed by the NSA to infect and control Windows computers was leaked by an entity known only as the “Shadow Brokers.” Not even a whole month later, the hypothetical threat that criminals would use the tools against the general public has become real, and tens of thousands of computers worldwide are now crippled by an unknown party demanding ransom…. (more)

May 13, 2017
NEWSMAX — The popularity of Caitlyn and other spellings of the name have all dropped a year after Caitlyn Jenner made her new name and gender public. The annual Social Security Administration list of 2016’s 1,000 most popular baby names was released Friday. Emma took the top spot for girls for the third year in a row, followed by Olivia, Ava, Sophia, and Isabella…. (more)

May 12, 2017
CHARLES HURT — Every time the Washington political press freaks out and goes into full panic mode against President Trump, the blockbuster, Watergate-volume story always unfolds the same way. First the news starts leaking or breaking. Newsrooms from the Potomac to the Hudson become seized and fixated on every morsel of the delicious story. News flashes zing around the internet…. (more)

May 12, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Many in the news media have already indicted President Trump for breaking some unspecified law by firing former FBI Director James Comey, which they theorize is an attempt to cover up his ties to Russia. In the immediate days and hours following Comey’s unexpected firing, some news outlets and TV commentators have indicated that they’re convinced Trump is guilty of something…. (more)

May 12, 2017
FOX NEWS — A top FBI official who came under scrutiny last year over his wife’s campaign contributions from a Hillary Clinton ally did not list those 2015 donations or his wife’s salary in financial disclosure forms, according to records reviewed by Fox News…. (more)

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

Top Headlines – 5/16/2017

Senior member of Trump team said to tell Israelis: Western Wall is not your territory

Israel wants White House to explain U.S. official’s Western Wall comment

White House: Western Wall comments ‘unauthorized,’ do not represent Trump’s stance

White House questions authenticity of ‘Western Wall’ sovereignty comments

Harsh exchange between Trump and Netanyahu teams days ahead of key Israel visit

Netanyahu to Tillerson: Moving U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem Will ‘Shatter Palestinian Fantasy’

PMO denies Netanyahu asked Trump not to move embassy at this time

US officials said to be pressuring Trump not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Ahead of Trump visit, Jordan and Egypt declare east Jerusalem ‘capital of Palestine’

10,000 police assigned to secure Trump’s stay in Israel

Jordanian FM sees new hope for Israeli-Palestinian peace in Trump era

Palestinian envoy to US: It’s ‘too early’ for direct talks with Israeli

Israel-Palestine: the real reason there’s still no peace – the history of failed negotiations suggests it’s largely because Israel prefers the status quo

Bennett urges PM to renege on two-state solution

Labor pledges to give Netanyahu political cover for peace deal

Gulf states could upgrade Israel ties in exchange for peace overtures

Ukraine’s prime minister visits Israel seeking to strengthen ties after UN vote

The UN’s Obsession against Israel

Clashes erupt as Palestinians mark ‘Nakba’ Day

PA lawmaker photographed throwing rocks at Israeli troops

Demonization of Soros recalls old anti-Semitic conspiracies

German neo-Nazi party builds alliance with Assad and Hezbollah

ISIS Commanders Join “Moderate” Syrian Rebels

U.S. says Syria built crematorium to handle mass prisoner killings

Car bombs kill at least six in Syrian camp near Jordan border

Tony Blair: Iraq war prosecution attempt goes back to court

Turkey orders arrest of 85 ministry staff in post-coup probe

Erdogan visits Trump, amid much friction between US, Turkey

Merkel: Germany will move its soldiers if Turkey refuses lawmaker visit

Iran changes course of road to Mediterranean coast to avoid US forces

Obama Officials Working to Derail New Iran Sanctions

North Korea’s latest missile launch suggests progress toward ICBM: experts

North Korea: New long-range missile can carry heavy nuke

Russia warns against ‘intimidating’ North Korea after its latest missile launch

Lt. Gen. McInerney: North Korea has crossed the red line

Security Council condemns NKorea missile test

UN Security Council considering new N.Korea sanctions

UN agency helps North Korea with patent application for banned nerve gas chemical

Researchers say global cyber attack similar to North Korean hacks

‘WannaCry’ ransomware shares code with Sony hack, raising possibility of North Korea connection

Seoul cyber experts warn of more attacks as North blamed

Ransomware attack again thrusts U.S. spy agency into unwanted spotlight

White House: Blame cyberattack on hackers, not spy agencies

Russia’s Putin blames U.S. cyberspies for global hacking wave

White House grapples with newest crisis amid report Trump gave secret info to Russians

White House tries to fend off reports that Trump divulged highly classified info to Russian officials

Deep State Leaks Highly Classified Info to Washington Post to Smear President Trump

No ‘clean slate’ between the US and Russia, Tillerson says

Slain DNC staffer had contact with WikiLeaks, investigator says

Push for Convention of the States to rein in government gains steam

US appeals court to review Trump revised travel ban

In travel ban case, U.S. judges focus on discrimination, Trump’s powers

Sweden gives Bible tests to Christian asylum seekers

Prominent Populists Meet in Milan to Discuss Future of EU, Making Europe Great Again

France’s Macron picks PM from the right, blowing apart old boundaries

Venezuelans again shut down capital to protest government

2 dead as Venezuela protests turn violent outside capital

A giant lava lamp inside the Earth might be flipping the planet’s magnetic field

6.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Namatanai, Papua New Guinea

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Inarajan Village, Guam

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

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Taitung City, Taiwan

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Acajutla, El Salvador

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

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Isangel, Vanuatu

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 33,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 28,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 16,000ft

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

Sakurajim volcano on Japan erupts to 10,000ft

Campi Flegrei: One of World’s Most Dangerous Supervolcanoes Could Erupt Sooner Than Expected

Mt. Washington gets record snowfall as Mass. prepares for heat

Trump expands ban on funding abortions overseas

Germany’s far right preaches traditional values. Can a lesbian mother be its new voice?

Canadian Elementary School Letter: Mothers’ Day Cancelled To ‘Nurture’ Students With ‘Non-Traditional Families’

Steve McCranie – Jude: We Have Met the Enemy and He is Us

Jeff Maples – 5 Marks of a False Gospel

Charisma News & Christianity Today parades a demon-possessed fraud as a Christian leader

The Quest of Beth Moore

Dr. Michael Brown Ruins His Credibility on His Own Facebook Wall, Then Deletes All the Evidence

North Carolina Church Converted to Mosque – Area Pastors Take Part in Conversion Ceremony to Show Mutual Respect For Muslim Neighbors

Students Sue Professor for Rubbing Out Pro-Life Chalk Messages

Posted: 16 May 2017 08:06 AM PDT

Students at the University of California, Fresno sued a professor Thursday for wiping away pro-life chalk messages that were approved by the university. The Students for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Rich Retirees Hoarding Cash Out of Fear…

Posted: 16 May 2017 08:00 AM PDT

There’s a time in everyone’s life to save. There’s also a time when you’re supposed to spend. That time is commonly known as retirement. Millions…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

China creating massive ‘Orwellian’ DNA database…

Posted: 16 May 2017 07:54 AM PDT

In the name of safeguarding its 1.4 billion people, China has been collecting biometric information from millions of people whom it deems potential threats—among them,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: European Super Volcano Advances to ‘CRITICAL STAGE’ 360,000 lives in Danger

Posted: 16 May 2017 07:51 AM PDT

Super Volcano Campi Flegrei is at a critical stage and scientists have warned that European authorities need to be ready – as experts fear the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

5 Reasons Some Christians Believe the Biblical End Times Are Upon Us

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:58 AM PDT

Our culture has become increasingly captivated by apocalyptic themes and storylines, with a plethora of popular TV shows and feature films embracing zombies, plagues and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Video of Mysterious Aircraft Making Bizarre Formation Over UK Emerges

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:49 AM PDT

Bizarre video footage of three strange aircraft appearing to make a changing triangle formation in the skies above Exmouth is being examined by specialist UFO…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Widow of Tortured Missionary to Forgives Muslims Who Killed Him

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:34 AM PDT

The wife of a murdered Christian missionary who made headlines when she declared that she had forgiven her husband’s murderers just days after his death…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UNSC threatens North Korea with sanctions, Says launches must stop!

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:26 AM PDT

The UN Security Council has warned it may hit North Korea with a new round of sanctions in response to its latest missile launches, which…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FALLING AWAY: Christian Pastor in Bible Belt Admits to Personally Worshiping Allah

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:13 AM PDT

A former church has been taken over and converted to a mosque in a rural North Carolina county, and a group of Christian pastors took…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Orthodox Priest Warns Europe will Turn Muslim in 30 years and Russia in 50

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:07 AM PDT

A Russian Orthodox priest says the West better get ready for Islam’s conquest. “There is very little time left until the death of the entire…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘I Have the Absolute Right to Do It’: Trump Defends Sharing ‘Terrorism Facts’ with Russia

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:02 AM PDT

After a major news report by the Washington Post that President Donald Trump shared secret information with the Russian officials last week, the president took…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Frustration Building in Trump White House

Posted: 16 May 2017 05:57 AM PDT

Trump World has a blunt message for the president: empower your staff or hire a new one. Former aides, GOP strategists and sources close to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Murdered DNC Staffer ‘Had Contact’ With Wikileaks

Posted: 16 May 2017 05:52 AM PDT

It has been almost a year since Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in the nation’s capital. There have been no solid answers…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Wolves return to Denmark for first time in 200 years

Posted: 15 May 2017 07:35 PM PDT

t least five wolves, including one female, have returned to Denmark for the first time in two centuries, a zoologist who has obtained DNA evidence said on…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Red Meat Increases Risk of Dying From 9 Diseases

Posted: 15 May 2017 07:22 PM PDT

The more red meat you eat, the greater your risk of dying from one of nine diseases, according to a new report. Researchers studied more…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Amid a Harrowing Cancer Battle Famed Christian Says He Encountered Christ in Powerful Dream

Posted: 15 May 2017 07:17 PM PDT

Famed Muslim-turned-Christian apologist Nabeel Qureshi has explained over the years how spiritual visions and dreams led him to accept Jesus, but amid his most recent battle…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Research Reveals What May Be Responsible for Next Magnetic Field Flip of Earth

Posted: 15 May 2017 07:05 PM PDT

If you could travel back in time 41,000 years to the last ice age, your compass would point south instead of north.  That’s because, for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Young Lesbian May Be New Voice of German Far Right…

Posted: 15 May 2017 06:59 PM PDT

The far right’s drubbing in the French election exposed the biggest challenge for European nationalists: convincing voters that they are no longer a bunch of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ford Aims to Cut Global Workforce by Roughly 10%

Posted: 15 May 2017 06:48 PM PDT

Ford Motor Co. F 0.18% is planning substantial cuts to its global workforce amid Chief Executive Officer Mark Fields drive to boost profits and address…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Israel wants White House to explain U.S. official’s Western Wall comment…

Posted: 15 May 2017 06:44 PM PDT

Israel wants the White House to explain why a U.S. diplomat preparing President Donald Trump’s visit to Jerusalem said Judaism’s Holy Western Wall in its…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Was North Korea Linked To Global Cyber Attack?

Posted: 15 May 2017 05:45 PM PDT

Cyber security researchers have found technical clues they said could link North Korea with the global WannaCry “ransomware” cyber attack that has infected more than…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ransomware Hits Small Number of U.S. Critical Infrastructure Operators

Posted: 15 May 2017 05:19 PM PDT

According to a new report, A small number of U.S. critical infrastructure operators have been affected by the global ransomware worm, but there has been no…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Deep State Leaks Highly Classified Info to Washington Post to Smear President Trump

Posted: 15 May 2017 05:11 PM PDT

Current and former U.S. officials, supposedly concerned that President Trump had shared some “highly classified information” with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador to the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Financial Weapons Of Mass Destruction: The Top 25 U.S. Banks Have 222 Trillion Dollars Of Exposure To Derivatives

Posted: 15 May 2017 05:07 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) The recklessness of the “too big to fail” banks almost doomed them the last time around, but apparently they still haven’t…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

White House Denies Report Trump Revealed Classified info about ISIS to Russians

Posted: 15 May 2017 04:57 PM PDT

White House officials Monday denounced a Washington Post report that President Trump revealed classified information about ISIS to Russia’s foreign minister and Moscow’s ambassador to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

P.A. Envoy: ‘I Promise There Will Be a Palestinian State’

Posted: 15 May 2017 04:52 PM PDT

The Palestinian Liberation Organization’s (PLO) new ambassador to the United States, Dr. Husam Zomlot, says he wants peace in the Middle East and believes a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Netanyahu Says US Embassy Move to Jerusalem Would Help “Trump’s Peace Push”

Posted: 15 May 2017 04:46 PM PDT

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday relocating the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would benefit President Donald Trump’s peace push….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Carman Issues Urgent Prayer Alert Before Biopsy Returns

Posted: 15 May 2017 04:37 PM PDT

Carman Licciardello called all his “ninja prayer warriors” to intercede ahead of his biopsy results. The hit Christian musician recently had a tumor removed and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Russia Aligns with China in crafting the New World (trade) Order

Posted: 15 May 2017 04:32 PM PDT

History will record the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing marked the juncture where the 21st century New Silk Roads assumed their full character of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hackers Steal Upcoming Disney Movie but Disney Refuses to Pay Ransom

Posted: 15 May 2017 04:26 PM PDT

Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger revealed Monday that hackers claiming to have access to a Disney movie threatened to release it unless the studio paid a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador

Posted: 15 May 2017 04:22 PM PDT

President Trump revealed highly classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador in a White House meeting last week, according to current and former…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Economist Uses Laws of Math and Science to Make the Case that God Must Exist

Posted: 15 May 2017 01:51 PM PDT

In a new article for The Conversation, economist-turned-professor Robert H. Nelson uses laws of math, science, and the human condition to make the case that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Ebola Has Returned and May be Spreading Quickly!

Posted: 15 May 2017 01:36 PM PDT

Three people have died from an Ebola outbreak in a remote northern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, as health officials travel to the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Tensions Rise Between Trump and Netanyahu Days Before Visit to Israel

Posted: 15 May 2017 01:29 PM PDT

A dramatic rift was created between Washington and Jerusalem as US President Donald Trump’s team as well as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s team both issued…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Sanhedrin Calls For Trump to Fulfill King Solomon’s Mandate by Praying on Temple Mount

Posted: 15 May 2017 01:22 PM PDT

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…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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


Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer

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

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

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

— Augustine

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

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

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

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

Phil Johnson rebukes Dr Michael Brown.

We want to provide readers with Brown’s quote that kick-started the controversy and what Gracelife’s Pastor Phil Johnson recently had to say about Dr Michael Brown’s behaviour.

phil-johnson From thegracelifepulpit.com

Brown writes,

“Some of today’s self-appointed heresy hunters are like a doctor who amputated his patient’s head because the patient needed eye-glasses. They are like the hypocrites Jesus spoke of who strained out a gnat yet swallowed a camel, damning some of God’s children to hell because of a difference over a non-essential doctrine or practice. It’s very sad to see and terribly divisive and destructive. May God reveal to them the fullness of His truth and love, and may the discover the fullness of the Spirit’s power.”

Source: Dr Michael Brown, FaceBook, https://www.facebook.com/AskDrBrown/posts/1947488478610078, Published 14/05/2017. (Accessed 14/05/2017.)

Dr Michael Brown also put this comment on Twitter. However, it appeared Ps. Phil Johnson tried to comment… and was blocked by Michael Brown…

View original post 1,023 more words

Dr. Michael Brown (Sort of) Approves of These ‘Fine Christians…’ Watch at your Own Risk!

Steve Kozar over at Museum of Idolatry put together a video to show how false teachers such as Heidi Baker and Bill & Beni Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, CA use repetitive phrases and repetitive music to induce their audience into a trance-like state. You will see ordinary folks, who’ve been hypnotized, doing the most bizarre things imaginable, believing that the Holy Spirit is responsible for what they’re experiencing. Kozar begins with a warning to those who view the video that some might find what they see very disturbing.  Here’s what prompted the headline:

Recently, in an exchange on his Facebook page, Dr. Michael Brown was challenged (by Steven Kozar, Chris Rice, Amy Spreeman and others) to call out these false teachers in order to protect his listeners from their very bad doctrine. False teachers like Jennifer LeClaire, Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson and Benny Hinn. Nobody suggested that Dr. Brown personally attack these people, but simply compare their teachings to Scripture. He repeatedly refused. Strangely,  he did not fully endorse them; instead he used vague generalizations like “as far as I know these are fine Christians.”  Dr. Brown wants to be respected as a very knowledgeable scholar and expert, but he continually expresses ignorance about the people and teachings from within his very own movement. Dr. Brown promotes these people on his own radio show, and he’s been a guest on Benny Hinn’s TV show.

View article →

Source: Dr. Michael Brown (Sort of) Approves of These ‘Fine Christians…’ Watch at your Own Risk!

Ravi Zacharias: Millennials Have Abandoned the Church and Christian Sexual Ethics to Seek Answers and Fulfillment—They Have Found Neither

Ravi Zacharias Millennials

After speaking at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington, D.C., apologist Ravi Zacharias sat down with the Christian Post to discuss millennials and the church. Among his observations, gleaned after answering hundreds of questions posed to him by college students across the country, Zacharias believes millennials have abandoned the church and Christian sexual ethics in order to find answers and fulfillment.

The topic of sexuality comes up in practically every speech or talk Zacharias does, regardless of how unrelated the topic of the speech may be. Speaking to Christian Post reporter Brandon Showalter, Zacharias explained millennials have replaced real spirituality with sexual expression as a means to finding fulfillment. “And what they have done is burned themselves out before they are even in their mid-20s and they have come away empty-handed as well.”

In essence, millennials are looking to sex to give them spiritual fulfillment. The problem with this, Zacharias explains, is that “if the body indulges itself you’re going to come away empty.” Only by “touching the soul” will one be fulfilled. The challenge to Christians is to communicate the beauty of sexuality and the fact that God’s laws surrounding it are actually liberating and not repressive.

The approach of helping people see the heart of Christianity seems to be what Zacharias is advocating for. He shared the example of coming to Christ in a hospital room on a “bed of suicide” after someone took the time to come and talk to him about Jesus. Christians should be moved to action by compassion, and not just “identify [non-Christians] as an opposition.”

Millennials “have come to the conclusion that there are no answers anywhere,” Zacharias says. He recounts an encounter he had with a university student who left the faith after 18 years to pursue answers he never felt were given in the church. In a telephone call, Zacharias asked the young man if he had found the answers, meaning, and purpose he was looking for outside the church. The answer was no.

Which leads Zacharias to encourage Christians everywhere to approach their unbelieving neighbors with compassion and not to see them as opposition.

The post Ravi Zacharias: Millennials Have Abandoned the Church and Christian Sexual Ethics to Seek Answers and Fulfillment—They Have Found Neither appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.

Six Things You Need to Know About God’s Wrath

As peace is a truth widely loved, wrath is a truth widely loathed. Many in the history of the church has been embarrassed by God’s wrath and have wanted to revise this biblical truth.

Yet, this theme of the wrath (or anger) of God toward sin and sinners is clearly and widely taught in the Bible. This truth is so interwoven with the hope of our peace with one another and with God that if we lose our grasp on the one, we lose our hope of the other.

Six Things You Need to Know About God’s Wrath

The wrath of God is, according to John Stott, “His steady, unrelenting, unremitting, uncompromising antagonism to evil in all its forms and manifestations.”[1]

1. The anger of God is not like our anger.

When we speak about the wrath of God, remember that it is the wrath of God.  So everything we know about God—he is just, he is love, and he is good—needs to be poured into our understanding of his wrath.

The words “anger” and “wrath” make us think about our experience. You may have suffered because of someone who is habitually angry, loses his temper, or flies into a rage. Our anger can often be unpredictable, petty, and disproportionate.

Although these things are often true of human anger, none of them are true of the anger of God. God’s wrath is the just and measured response of his holiness toward evil.

2. God’s wrath is provoked.

The anger of God is not something that resides in him by nature; it is a response to evil. It is provoked.

The Bible says, “God is love.” That is his nature. God’s love is not provoked. He does not love us because he sees some wisdom, beauty, or goodness in us. He loves you because he loves you, and you can never get beyond that (Deuteronomy 7:7).

But God’s wrath is different, his holy response to the intrusion of evil into his world. If there was no sin in the world, there would be no wrath in God. So the Bible’s teaching about the wrath of God is different from ancient mythologies, gods who run around frustrated and fuming. God’s anger is his settled resolve that evil will not stand.

3. God is slow to anger.

Why does God allow evil to continue in the world? Why does he not wipe it out?

God holds out the offer of grace and forgiveness in Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:9). People are coming to him in faith and repentance every day, and God patiently holds open the door of grace. The day of God’s wrath will come, but God is not in a hurry to bring it because then the door of grace will be closed.

4. God’s wrath is revealed now.

How does God reveal his wrath when sinners suppress the truth about him, exchange the truth for a lie, and worship created things rather than the Creator? God gives them up (Romans 1):

  • Therefore, God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity (1:24).
  • For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions (1:26).
  • God gave them up to a debased mind (1:28).

One writer states, “Paul is not teaching that one day God will punish Roman civilization for its vice and decadence. On the contrary, the vice and decadence are themselves God’s punishment…Their punishment was their greed, envy, strife, deceit, violence and faithlessness.” [2] When we see the moral fabric of our culture being torn, then as Christian believers we should cry to God for mercy.

5. God’s wrath is stored up.

The whole Bible story leads to a day when God will deal with all evil fully, finally, and forever. This will be the day of wrath, when God will recompense every evil and bring to judgment every sin.

God will do this in perfect justice. The punishment for every sin will match the crime. When the judgment is done, every mouth will be stopped because everyone will know that God judged in righteousness and justice. Then God will usher in a new heaven and a new earth, which will be the home of righteousness.

6. God’s wrath is on sinners.

In John 3:36, he does not say, “The wrath of God will come on [the disobedient].” He says, “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” It is already there. Why is it already there? By nature, we are children of wrath (Ephesians 2:3). It is the state in which we were born.

What, at the end of the day, is the greatest human problem? It is not that we are lost and need to find our way on a spiritual journey. It is not that we are wounded and need to be healed. At the core of the human problem is that we are sinners under the judgment of God, and the divine wrath hangs over us unless and until it is taken away.

How God’s Wrath Is Removed

The Bible speaks about God’s wrath being poured out at the cross: “I will soon pour out my wrath upon you, and spend my anger against you” (Ezekiel 7:8). This takes us to the heart of what happened there: The divine wrath toward sin was poured out on Jesus. He became the “propitiation” for our sins (Romans 3:25), which means that the payment for our sins was poured out on Jesus at Calvary.

Don’t ever get the idea that God loves you because Christ died for you. No, it’s the other way round. Christ died for you because God loved you! He loved you even when you were the object of his wrath! God so loved the objects of his wrath that he spent the wrath on himself at the cross.

The outpouring of God’s wrath was the greatest act of love this world has ever seen.


The hope for sinners is that between us and the wrath of God stands the cross of Jesus.
Click To Tweet


The hope for sinners is that between us and the wrath of God stands the cross of Jesus. Sin was laid on Jesus and the Divine wrath toward it was poured out, spent, and exhausted in the darkness of Calvary. And when it was done, Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “It is finished!” The wrath of God that will one day be poured out on all sin was spent at the cross with regard to all who are in him.

Then Christ rose from the dead, and he stands before you today, a living Savior! He offers to you the priceless gift of peace with God. He is ready to forgive your sins and fill you with his Spirit. He is able to save you from the wrath and reconcile you to the Father. He has opened the door of heaven, and he is able to bring you in.

[1] John Stott, The Cross of Christ, p. 171, InterVarsity Press, 2006. [2] Donald Macleod, The Wrath, Present and To Come, The Monthly Record of the Free Church of Scotland, p. 239, Nov. 1986.

RELATED POSTS:

The post Six Things You Need to Know About God’s Wrath appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

May 16, 2017: Verse of the day

img_1325

The Command for Submission

submit yourselves (2:13a)

Although they are not ultimately under human authority, God still expects believers to submit to the human institutions He ordained. He wants them to demonstrate godly character qualities (cf. 2 Peter 1:5–7) and a genuine concern for society—a concern that seeks peace (3:11; cf. Ps. 34:14; Matt. 5:9; Rom. 14:19; James 3:18) and desires to prevent trouble and crime (cf. Rom. 12:14–21). To that end Christians will obey all laws and respect all authority, unless called upon to do something God forbids or not do something He commands (Acts 4:19; 5:27–29).

Submit yourselves (hupotassō) is a military expression literally meaning “to arrange in formation under the commander.” The Old Testament supports the principle of submission to authority (cf. Deut. 17:14–15; 1 Sam. 10:24; 2 Kings 11:12; 1 Chron. 29:24). Proverbs 24:21–22 says, “My son, fear the Lord and the king; do not associate with those who are given to change, for their calamity will rise suddenly, and who knows the ruin that comes from both of them?” Submission to rulers is right because God appoints them; therefore there is no place for supporting “those who are given to change,” rebels who might seek to overthrow the government.

Through the prophet Jeremiah, the Holy Spirit declared the following:

Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon, “Build houses and live in them; and plant gardens and eat their produce. Take wives and become the fathers of sons and daughters, and take wives for your sons and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; and multiply there and do not decrease. Seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf; for in its welfare you will have welfare.” For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, “Do not let your prophets who are in your midst and your diviners deceive you, and do not listen to the dreams which they dream. For they prophesy falsely to you in My name; I have not sent them,” declares the Lord. For thus says the Lord, “When seventy years have been completed for Babylon, I will visit you and fulfill My good word to you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans that I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,” declares the Lord, “and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.” (Jer. 29:4–14)

Although that passage was primarily a message to the Jews concerning their conduct while captives in Babylon, it has overtones for Christians, who should promote the welfare of their society and government while waiting for their eternal home (cf. John 14:2–3; Heb. 4:9–10; 11:13–16; Rev. 21:1–4).

Nearly a decade before Peter wrote his letter, the apostle Paul had already taught concerning submission to government:

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. (Rom. 13:1–4)

Although Peter and Paul both lived in the openly sinful, decadent Roman Empire—a society infamous for evil (homosexuality, infanticide, government corruption, abuse of women, immorality, violence), neither apostle offered any exemption by which believers were free to defy civil authority. Jesus Himself had commanded, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s” (Matt. 22:21).

Throughout history and presently there have been various violations of ordinances, acts of civil disobedience, insurrections, revolutions, and different subversive attempts to overthrow governments—all in the name of Christianity. Scripture nowhere condones such actions. On the contrary, the biblical command is simple—submit to civil authority, regardless of its nature (see the discussion of 2:18 in the next chapter of this volume). Even unreasonable, evil, harsh rulers and oppressive systems are far better than anarchy. And all forms of government, from dictatorships to democracies, are filled with evil because they are led by fallen sinners. Still, civil authority is from God, though the individual rulers may be godless.

The Motive for Submission

for the Lord’s sake (2:13b)

Peter stated the motivation for submitting to authority as clearly as he did the basic command to submit. It is for the Lord’s sake, making it obligatory to submit, as with all divinely inspired commands. Christians obey because they desire to honor the Lord (cf. Ps. 119:12–13, 33; Acts 13:48; 1 Cor. 10:31).

Believers actually obey earthly authority to honor God’s sovereign authority (cf. Pss. 2:8; 9:20; 22:28; 46:10; 47:8; 66:7; 72:11; 83:18; 96:10; 113:4). Of God’s sovereignty over all human authority, Robert Culver wrote:

God alone has sovereign rights.… Democratic theory is no less unscriptural than divine right monarchy. By whatever means men come to positions of rulership—by dynastic descent, aristocratic family connection, plutocratic material resources, or by democratic election, “there is no power but of God” (Rom. 13:1). Furthermore, civil government is an instrument, not an end. Men are proximate ends, but only God is ultimate end. The state owns neither its citizens nor their properties, minds, bodies, or children. All of these belong to their Creator-God, who has never given to the state rights of eminent domain. (A Biblical View of Civil Government [Chicago: Moody, 1974], 47)

Believers also submit in order to imitate Christ’s example of obedient submission to His Father. Verse 23 of this chapter reveals the Lord’s model behavior: “while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously.” Christ lived under the unjust and unrighteous rule of the Jewish and Roman authorities, yet He never opposed their right to rule. He denounced the sins of the Jewish leaders (Matt. 16:11–12; 23:13–33), but He never sought to overturn their authority. Likewise, Jesus never led demonstrations against Roman slavery and abuse of justice or engaged in any act of civil disobedience. He did not object even when those authorities unjustly tried Him and crucified Him (Matt. 26:62–63; Mark 15:3–5; John 19:8–11). Instead of being preoccupied with political and social reform, Christ always focused on matters pertaining to His kingdom (Matt. 4:17; Mark 1:15; Luke 5:31–32; 19:10; Acts 1:3; cf. Matt. 11:28–30).

God is pleased when unsaved people associate Christians with spiritual virtue, righteousness, love, graciousness, humility, and the gospel of salvation (Phil. 2:14–15; cf. Prov. 4:18) rather than protests against human institutions. Paul also had the single-minded, undivided commitment required for believers as they minister: “When I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:1–2). He would only engage in the spiritual war for the souls of sinners, as explained in the following text:

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ. (2 Cor. 10:3–5)

The “fortresses” are described as “speculations.” The Greek is logismes, meaning “ideologies.” The real war saints must wage is against the deadly ideas, ungodly ways of thinking, and any religious or philosophical systems “raised up against” the truth of God. All unbiblical systems of thought that hold people captive must be smashed by the Word of truth and captive sinners set free to obey Jesus Christ. When the Lord said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), He defined the sphere of believers’ calling and duty—to focus ministry efforts only in matters related to His spiritual and eternal rule.

The Extent of Submission

to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. (2:13c–14)

In reviewing the foundational and detailed teaching on believers’ responsibility to civil authority, one can see three essential purposes for government:

For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil. (Rom. 13:3–4)

Those purposes—the restraint of evil, promotion of the public good, and punishment of wrongdoing—stemming from the overarching truth that God establishes all authority (Rom. 13:1), explain why Peter’s command extends to every human institution. To maintain peace and order in society, God has ordained them all; thus to limit or make exception to the command to submit to every authority would condone disobedience and disrespect for God’s plan. (For a more complete, biblical analysis of government’s purpose, see chapter 3 of my book, Why Government Can’t Save You [Nashville: Word, 2000].)

The Greek word ktisis (“foundation”), from which institution derives, always occurs in the New Testament in connection with God’s creative activities (cf. Rom. 1:20, 25; 8:39; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; Col. 1:15, 23; 2 Peter 3:4). (In fact, the second lexical meaning generally given for ktisis is “the act of creating,” or “creation.”) God has created all the foundations of human society—work, family, and the government. Peter designated society human not as to its origin, but as to its function or sphere of operation. The apostle’s intent was therefore to command submission to every human institution because every one is God ordained. Believers submit to civil authorities, to employers (2:18; Eph. 6:5; Col. 3:22), and in the family (Eph. 5:21–6:2). In the latter two areas, the motive is also for the Lord’s sake (Eph. 5:22; 6:1, 5–6; Col. 3:18, 20, 22–24).

That command does not exclude authorities who make bad or unjust decisions. The Old Testament acknowledges the existence of corrupt rulers (cf. Dan. 9:11–12; Mic. 7:2–3) but recognizes God has the prerogative to judge them. Despite the evil that occurs because authorities are fallen and institutions are imperfect, believers must trust that God still exercises sovereign and perfectly wise rule over societies and nations (cf. Gen. 18:25).

Peter elaborates on the extent of believers’ submission by noting that it applies to all levels of authority. Breaking authority down to specific categories, he speaks of the highest level of the one in authority, the king. Obviously this recognizes the legitimacy of one-man rule as a form of God-ordained government. Monarchy, or its parallel, dictatorship, is a form God uses in the world. It was especially a challenge for believers in Peter’s time to obey this part of the command because the king (caesar) was a deranged tyrant, the Roman emperor Nero. But even he was divinely ordained for his leadership role of carrying out the fundamental purposes of government. Governors is a term referring to a lower level of authority (cf. Luke 2:1–2; 3:1; Acts 7:10), officials under the king who might be sent by him.

Peter echoed Paul when he said that ruling officials have been designed by God first for the punishment of evildoers. Years earlier, at His betrayal and arrest, Jesus taught Peter the lesson that the responsibility for capital punishment (Gen. 9:5–6) is required for and reserved to government:

Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and seized Him. And behold, one of those who were with Jesus reached and drew out his sword, and struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his ear. Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt. 26:50–53; cf. John 18:10–11)

Jesus was affirming the Roman government’s right to use the sword against Peter if he used it on anyone. Only the government has been given that right to bear the sword to punish lawbreakers (Rom. 13:4). Therefore believers must never engage in acts of vigilante justice.

On the other hand, God has appointed civil officials for the praise of those who do right. The authorities generally reward good citizenship with fair and favorable treatment (Rom. 13:3; cf. Gen. 39:2–4; 41:37–41; Prov. 14:35; Dan. 1:18–21). The role of government is clear—to create fear that restrains evil, punish those who do wrong, and protect those who do right.[1]


  1. Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, 14. or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.

Here Peter introduces the verb to submit, which is a key word in this passage. The verb itself can be translated “be subject” (in the passive sense) or “submit yourselves” (in the reflexive sense). The word basically means “to place under; to subordinate,” and in this passage is a synonym of the verb to obey. The implication is not that a person who submits to authority loses his dignity, but that he recognizes authority that God has instituted.

Peter begins by mentioning authorities in general. Thereafter he specifies and refers to kings and to governors.

  • “To every authority.” If the Christians in Peter’s day had refused to obey Roman law, they would have given their opponents the necessary evidence to accuse them of lawlessness. Even though they desire freedom from Roman servitude, Peter admonishes his readers to obey the magistrates “for the Lord’s sake.” With this phrase he implies that God is sovereign in every area of life and in full control of every situation. Therefore, Peter encourages Christians to submit to instituted authority and to fulfill God’s purposes in the world. Unfortunately, text and context are of little help in determining whether Peter understands “Lord” to mean “God” or “Christ.” Because God has established governing authorities (Rom. 13:1), the reference to God seems quite appropriate.

What is the meaning of the clause “to every authority instituted among men”? Literally the Greek text has, “to every human creation.” The term creation, however, refers to an “act by which an authoritative or governmental body is created.” It denotes, then, the creative act of instituting authority, presumably by a legislative body. Peter speaks in general terms to avoid the charge that he prefers one type of government to another.

Furthermore, human efforts to build a structured society do not run counter to, but are in harmony with, God’s creative plan. Kings and queens, presidents and prime ministers, dictators and despots rule by the grace of God (see Prov. 8:15; Dan. 2:21; Rev. 1:5).

  • “To the king.” Peter wrote his epistle in the last few years of Emperor Nero’s wicked rule. Nero came to power in a.d. 54 at the age of seventeen and committed suicide fourteen years later. During the reign of this emperor, Peter himself met martyrdom outside Rome. Yet the apostle tells the readers to submit themselves to the king [emperor], “as the supreme authority.” The title king was often used for “emperor” in the Mediterranean world of the first century (e.g., Luke 23:2; Acts 17:7). Because of his conduct Nero was not worthy of the highest office in the Roman Empire. Nevertheless, Peter recognizes him as supreme authority and exhorts the Christians to obey him.
  • “To governors.” The New Testament lists the names of three governors of Judea: Pilate, Felix, and Festus. These three governors were appointed by the Roman emperor and were directly responsible to him. They governed in behalf of Rome. Peter writes that the governors “are sent by him” and thus indicates that the emperor repeatedly commissioned governors. However, Peter uses the term rather loosely. He makes no distinctions between governors who were sent out by the Roman senate and governors who were appointed by the emperor for an indefinite period of time. Governors commissioned by the Roman senate served for a stated interval as “legates” or “proconsuls” (Quirinius [Luke 2:2]; Sergius Paulus [Acts 13:6]; Gallio [Acts 18:12]). Governors sent out by the emperor usually served in troublesome areas. However, Peter is not interested in the rank of governors but in their function.

The task of governors is “to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right” (v. 14; compare Rom. 13:3). As the representative of Roman authority the governor had the power to inflict punishment on condemned criminals. The governor received this power from the emperor and the emperor received it from God. Thus Jesus said to Pilate, “You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above” (John 19:11). Paul parallels Peter’s teaching on the role of government, for he points out that rebelling “against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted” (Rom. 13:2). Paul adds that the one in authority is “God’s servant to do you good” and “an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Rom. 13:4). The role of the magistrate, then, is to restrain evil, maintain law and order, and promote the welfare of the people.

Whether Christians received words of praise from Roman governors is inconsequential. Christians were a despised and persecuted minority. They tried to advance the cause of Christ, not their own name and interests. Indeed, the possibility is not remote that the words “to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right” are instructions a civil magistrate received for keeping order in society. Whatever the source may be, Peter exhorts the Christians to do that which is good and right because this is the will of God.[2]


13–14 Case illustration number one calls for subordination to “every authority instituted among men.” Some disagreement among interpreters exists as to how to translate ktisis. The NRSV renders ktisis hypotassō as “accept the authority,” a reading that has both strengths and weaknesses. To be commended in this reading is the extent to which “accept” entails the notion of recognition. The recognition underscored by Peter and reiterated by Paul in Romans 13 is that authority in its generic form derives from the Creator. The recognition that all authority is owing to God is not qualified in either Peter or Paul by those who exercise the authority, whether just or unjust. The prophetic viewpoint of the OT reminded Israel again and again that the Lord accomplishes his purposes through the existing powers (cf. Pr 21:1; Jer 25:9; 27:6; 43:10; Da 4:17). The reading of “accept” is weak to the extent that it does not do full justice to the nuances of the verb hypotassō. Lest the reader view Peter’s prescription as unquestioning obedience or spiritual compromise (a major concern of Achtemeier, 182; Michaels, 121; Waltner, 87), Peter’s exhortation is framed in terms of doing wrong and doing right. The context is guided by the issue of punishment for wrongdoing (cf. Ro 13:3–4). Thus this has to do with criminal justice.[3]


2:13 The next five verses deal with the Christian’s relation toward government. The key word here is submit. In fact, the injunction to submit is found four times in the Epistle.

Citizens are to submit to the government (2:13).

Slaves are to submit to their masters (2:18).

Wives are to submit to their husbands (3:1).

Younger believers are to submit to the elders (5:5).

Lyall says:

The ultimate Christian answer to persecution, detractors and critics is that of a blameless life, conduct beyond reproach and good citizenship. In particular … submission is a supremely Christlike virtue.

Human governments are instituted by God (Rom. 13:1). Rulers are God’s servants (Rom. 13:4). Even if the rulers are not believers, they are still God’s men officially. Even if they are dictators and tyrants, their rule is better than no rule at all. The complete absence of rule is anarchy, and no society can continue under anarchy. So any government is better than no government at all. Order is better than chaos. Believers should submit to every human institution for the Lord’s sake. In doing so, they are fulfilling His will and doing the thing that pleases Him. These instructions apply to the emperor or to whoever is the supreme ruler. Even if Nero happens to be occupying the imperial palace, the general exhortation is to be subject to him.

2:14 The injunction of obedience applies to subordinate officials such as governors. They are authorized by God to punish offenders and to praise those who keep the law. Actually, government officials have little time or inclination to do the latter, but that does not alter the responsibility of the Christian to obey! The historian Arnold Toynbee observed that “as long as original sin remains an element in human nature, Caesar will always have plenty to do.”

Of course, there are exceptions. There is a time when obedience is not required. If a human government orders a believer to act contrary to the revealed will of God, then the believer must disobey the government. In that case he has a higher responsibility; he should obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29). If punishment is meted out for his disobedience, he should endure it courageously. Under no circumstances should he rebel or seek to overthrow the government.

Technically, those who smuggle Bibles into closed countries are breaking the law. But they are obeying a law that has precedence over any human law—the command to go into all the world with the gospel. So they cannot be condemned on scriptural grounds.

Suppose the government orders a Christian into the armed forces. Is he obligated to obey and to bear arms? If he feels that this is in direct violation of God’s word, he should first exhaust any options that are open to him in the status of a non-combatant or a conscientious objector. If these fail, then he would have to refuse induction and bear the consequences.

Many Christians do not have conscientious scruples about serving in the military forces. It is a matter in which each one should be fully convinced in his own mind, and allow liberty for others to disagree.

The questions as to whether a Christian should vote or engage in politics are of a different order. The government does not demand these things, so it is not a question of obedience or disobedience. Each one must act in the light of the principles of conduct and citizenship found in the Bible. Here too we must allow liberty for differing viewpoints and not insist that others see eye to eye with us.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 145–150). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 98–100). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 322). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2263). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 16 – Friendship Evangelism (Philip)

The twelve apostles included “Philip” (Matt. 10:3).

✧✧✧

Friendships can provide the most fertile soil for evangelism.

Philip was probably a fisherman who was acquainted with Peter, Andrew, James, John, Nathanael, and Thomas prior to their all becoming disciples. We first meet him in John 1:43–46, which says, “The next day [after Jesus encountered Peter and Andrew], He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me.’ Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him, of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. … Come and see.’”

Those brief verses reveal two things about Philip. First, he had a seeking heart. Apparently he and Nathanael had studied the Scriptures in anticipation of the Messiah’s coming. When Jesus said, “Follow Me,” Philip was ready. Jeremiah 29:13 describes such a person: “You will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Second, he had the heart of an evangelist. The first thing he did after his own conversion was to lead Nathanael to Christ. Imagine his joy as he told his friend about the One for whom they had searched so long!

I believe friendships usually provide the best context for evangelism because you’re introducing Christ into an already established relationship of love, trust, and mutual respect. After all, it’s only natural to share the joy of your salvation with someone you love.

I pray that your joy overflows to those around you and that they are drawn to Christ because of your testimony.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Do you have unsaved friends? If so, be faithful in praying for their salvation and asking the Lord to use you as an instrument of His grace. If not, ask the Lord to bring unsaved people into your life so you can tell them about Christ.

For Further Study: The Samaritan woman Jesus met at Jacob’s well spoke of Him not only to her friends but also to the entire city. Read John 4:1–42. ✧ What analogy did Jesus use in presenting the gospel to her? ✧ How did Jesus describe true worshipers? ✧ What was the reaction of the city people to the woman’s testimony?[1]


10:3 James the son of Alphaeus. There are 4 men in the NT named James: 1) the Apostle James, brother of John (see note on 4:21); 2) the disciple mentioned here, also called “James the Less” (Mk 15:40); 3) James, father of Judas (not Iscariot, Lk 6:16); and 4) James, the Lord’s half-brother (Gal 1:19; Mk 6:3), who wrote the epistle that bears the name. He also played a leading role in the early Jerusalem Church (Ac 12:17; 15:13; Gal 1:19). Thaddaeus. Elsewhere he is called Judas, son of James (Lk 6:16; Ac 1:13).[2]


10:3 Philip Not mentioned anywhere else in Matthew (compare John 1:43–48; 6:5–7; 12:21–22; 14:8–9). This apostle is not the same as Philip the evangelist in the book of Acts (Acts 6:5; 8:1–8; 21:8)..[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 149). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mt 10:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Mt 10:3). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

MAY 16 – POLITE SOCIETY: “RELIGION MUST NOT GET PERSONAL”

And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

LUKE 24:11

I remind you that it is characteristic of the natural man to keep himself so busy with unimportant trifles that he is able to avoid settling the most important matters relating to life and existence.

Men and women will gather anywhere and everywhere to talk about every subject from the latest fashions on up to Plato and philosophy—up and down the scale! They talk about the necessity for peace. They may talk about the church and how it can be a bulwark against communism. None of these things are embarrassing subjects.

But the conversation all stops and the taboo of silence becomes effective when anyone dares to suggest that there are spiritual subjects of vital importance to our souls that ought to be discussed and considered. There seems to be an unwritten rule in polite society that if any religious subjects are to be discussed, it must be within the framework of theory—“never let it get personal!” All the while, there is really only one thing that is of vital and lasting importance—the fact that our Lord Jesus Christ “was wounded for our transgressions; he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”[1]


  1. But these words seemed to the apostles to be nonsense, and so they continued to disbelieve the women.

What makes the Easter story so convincing is that the disciples of Jesus did not at all expect Jesus to arise from the grave. In fact they considered the reports of the women to be sheer nonsense. Yet, after a while, these very men—all of them but especially Peter and John—are proclaiming the startling news to all and sundry and are willing to face any opposition they may encounter. For more on 24:11 see on verse 24.[2]


24:11 They (the apostles) did not initially believe the women.[3]


24:11 they refused to believe them In the Graeco-Roman world of the first century, the testimony of women was considered unreliable and could not be used to settle legal disputes. For this reason, the mention of women being the first eyewitnesses of the empty tomb suggests that Luke is faithfully reporting the early church’s recollection of this event. It also shows the vital role of women in Jesus’ ministry.[4]


24:11 they did not believe them. In general, the testimony of women was not highly regarded by first-century Jews, and some rabbinic tradition deemed their testimony inadmissible in a court of law. This mindset lies behind the misgivings later expressed by two disciples en route to Emmaus (vv. 22–24).[5]


24:11 Skepticism reigned among the disciples. It is clear that they did not expect a resurrection. they did not believe: The disciples thought the women’s story was nonsense.[6]


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

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, p. 1055). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 2012). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Lk 24:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1840). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1303). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

MAY 16 – HOLY SPIRIT, ALL DIVINE

It is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

1 John 5:6

I wonder if any Christian can ever show forth the transforming radiance of the love of God without a complete surrender to the indwelling Person of the Holy Spirit.

Surely that was in the mind of the songwriter, as he prayed and sang:

Holy Ghost, with light divine,

Shine upon this heart of mine;

Chase the shades of night away,

Turn my darkness into day.

Holy Spirit, all divine,

Dwell within this heart of mine;

Cast down every idol throne,

Reign supreme—and reign alone.

Our world is filled with hatred and conflict, violence and bloodshed. Through the plan of redemption, God has dealt graciously with this global problem of hatred in the hearts of men and women. He has sent the source of love and light and radiance to the human bosom; Paul himself testifying: “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5).

Lord, may Your divine love minister through me to a hurting person today.[1]


The Father also testified to the Son through the ministry of the Spirit, who is the truth (cf. John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth in that He is true and, therefore, the source and revealer of divine truth (1 Peter 1:12; cf. Acts 1:16; 28:25; Heb. 3:7; 10:15–17), particularly about Jesus Christ (John 15:26). The Spirit was involved at Jesus’ conception (Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:35), baptism (Matt. 3:16), temptation (Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1), and throughout His ministry. Peter said to those gathered in Cornelius’s house, “You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him” (Acts 10:38; cf. Matt. 12:28; Luke 4:14; John 3:34). Because the Holy Spirit empowered Jesus for ministry, to attribute Christ’s miraculous works to Satan was to blaspheme the Holy Spirit (Mark 3:28–30). Jesus always did the will of the Father in the power of the Spirit.[2]


Testify

John continues, “And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.” The word testify is rather significant in this paragraph. The Spirit is testifying as a witness to the birth (Matt. 1:20 [conception]; Luke 1:35; 2:25–32), baptism (Matt. 3:16; Luke 3:22), teaching (John 6:63), and ministry of Jesus (Luke 4:1, 18). John affirms the words of Jesus: “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me” (John 15:26). The Spirit continues to testify to God’s truth with reference to the person and work of Jesus.

John states the reason for the testifying work of the Spirit. He writes, “Because the Spirit is the truth.” John identifies the Spirit with the truth and alludes to the words of Jesus, “I am … the truth.” That is, both Jesus and the Spirit have their essence in the truth. The Spirit testifies because of his identity with the truth in Jesus.

“For there are three that testify: the Spirit, the water and the blood.” Of the English-language translations, only two (KJV, NKJV) have the expanded verses (vv. 7–8). “For there are three who bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth” (NKJV). The translators of the New King James Version, however, state in a footnote that the Greek New Testaments (Nestle-Aland, United Bible Societies, and Majority Text) “omit the words from ‘in heaven’ (v. 7) through ‘on earth’ (v. 8).” Only four or five very late Greek manuscripts contain these words.

John actually writes that three (Spirit, water, and blood) are testifying. But why does John place the historical facts of Jesus’ baptism (water) and death (blood), to which the Spirit testifies, on the same level as the Spirit? How can water and blood testify along with the Spirit? We need to look at the text from a Semitic point of view. Impersonal objects can testify; for example, the heap of stones Jacob and Laban put together was called a witness (Gen. 31:48). And according to the Mosaic law (Deut. 19:15), “One witness is not enough.… A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.”[3]


It is the Spirit who bears witness, because the Spirit is truth. This means that the Holy Spirit of God always testifies to the truth concerning the Lord Jesus which John has been unfolding. He bears witness that Christ came not with water only, but with water and with blood, because this is the truth of God.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (p. 195). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 353–354). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2323). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 16 – The Lord’s Prayer: An Overview, Part 2

Pray, then, in this way.—Matt. 6:9a

Over the years people have had misunderstandings about the Lord’s Prayer (more accurately, the Disciples’ Prayer) that need correcting. First, Jesus’ words were not meant to be repeated as a formal prayer. The disciples had asked Him how to pray, not what to pray. And He hardly would have given them a prayer to recite after He had just warned against “meaningless repetition” (v. 7).

Second, people often don’t realize that Jesus’ teaching here is simply a skeleton or pattern for prayer. As believers, we are to flesh out the skeleton with our own words of worship, praise, and intercession as we come to the Father.

Third, people have seldom realized how versatile Jesus’ pattern for prayer is. Each phrase reflects the relationship between Creator and creature, and each one demonstrates an attitude and spirit of prayer. Similarly, we can variously outline it to show God’s glory versus our need, the threefold purpose of prayer (hallow His name, usher in His kingdom, and do His will), or to present our concerns from a past, present, and future standpoint.

We can see God’s overall purpose in prayer throughout the Lord’s Prayer. The primary focus is on God, which includes our adoration of Him, His worthiness, and His glory. From this model we see that prayer is not so much our asking to meet our own needs and wants, but our affirming God’s sovereignty, holiness, and majesty, and conforming our desires and purposes to His will.

ASK YOURSELF
What have people forfeited the most by viewing this prayer primarily as a rote, methodical, unthinking recitation before God? Does this argue against stating it in unison at church or in other religious gatherings? Or is there value in quoting it together—as long as our hearts are attuned to its meanings?[1]

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.[2]


9a. This, then, is how you should pray. Before entering into the contents of this prayer a few introductory remarks may be in order:

(a) Christ’s Reason for Teaching His Disciples This Prayer Literally, according to the original, the sentence reads: “Thus (or: in this manner), therefore, you should pray.” Some stress the fact that the second person plural imperative verb is in the present tense. They interpret this present as having continuative force (you should keep on praying), and on this they base their conclusion that Jesus wants his very prayer to be prayed again and again and again. Now it certainly is not wrong to make frequent use of this prayer if the worshiper, when he does this, is able to do it with heart and mind. On the other hand, very frequent use may easily lead to the sin of formalism which the Lord has been condemning. Besides, it must be borne in mind that Jesus said, “Thus” or “In this manner” or “This is how.” He did not say, “Use exactly these words, and no other.” The so-called “Lord’s Prayer” is really the model prayer; meaning: it should serve as a pattern for our devotions. Its characteristics should mark also our prayers. Some of these qualities will now be mentioned:

(b) Its Brevity The prayer consists of two parts: an invocation (“Our Father who art in heaven”) and six petitions; or, if the conclusion (“For thine is the kingdom, etc.”) be considered as belonging to it, then three parts, approximately seventy words in all.

(c) The Priority to Which It Points In harmony with the fact that, according to both Old and New Testament, the glory of God is important above everything else, the first three petitions have reference to the Father’s name, kingdom, and will. Human needs—bread, pardon for sin, and victory over the evil one—take second place.

(d) Its Breadth or Scope There are six petitions, as follows,

Petitions with reference to

 

God’s

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

name

 

first petition

 

verse 9b

 

 

 

reign

 

second.…

 

… 10a

 

 

 

will

 

third …

 

… 10b

 

Our

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

bread

 

fourth …

 

.… 11

 

 

 

debts

 

fifth …

 

.… 12

 

 

 

foe

 

sixth …

 

.… 13

 

The comprehensive or universe-embracing nature of these petitions appears from the fact that they bear reference not only to God’s glory, etc. (first three petitions), but also to our needs (last three); not only to our physical needs (fourth petition), but also to our spiritual (fifth and sixth); not only to our present need (fourth petition), but also to our need with reference to the past (fifth), and even to our future need (sixth). Finally, in this prayer the worshiper carries to the throne of grace the burdens that are not only his own but also his brothers’ (“our,” “us”). All of this is included in the six brief requests. This is indeed the perfect pattern for our prayers![3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 145). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (p. 374). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 324–326). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

MAY 16 – GOD IS FAR ABOVE

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

—Isaiah 55:8-9

I want to make it very clear that when I say “far above,” I do not mean geographically or astronomically removed. It’s an analogy. Because we are human beings and live in this world, we learn to speak by analogy….

So when we say that God is far above, we’re using an analogy. We’re thinking about a star that’s way above, way out yonder in space—but that isn’t what we really mean when we think about the transcendent God.

If you miss this point, you might as well stop reading, because this is critical to understanding what follows. When we say that God’s transcendence is “farness above,” we are not thinking about astronomical distances or physical magnitude. God never thinks about the size of anything, because God contains everything. He never thinks about distance, because God is everywhere; He doesn’t have to go from one place to another, so distance doesn’t mean anything to Him. We humans use these expressions to help us to think—they’re analogies and illustrations. AOGII034-035

Lord, even our human expressions of Your greatness amaze me. How much more wonderful must You be in all Your infinite glory! Amen. [1]


55:8, 9 Men shouldn’t judge Jehovah by their own thoughts and ways. He thinks and acts in ways that transcend anything man could ever imagine. This is never more true than in the gospel plan of salvation, which is all of God’s grace and allows no glory in self-effort. William Cowper expressed it with his usual elegant English in his poem “Truth”:

O how unlike the complex works of man,

Heav’n’s easy, artless, unencumber’d plan!

No meretricious graces to beguile,

No clustering ornaments to clog the pile;

From ostentation, as from weakness, free,

It stands like the cerulian arch we see,

Majestic in its own simplicity.

Inscribed above the portal, from afar

Conspicuous as the brightness of a star,

Legible only by the light they give,

Stand the soul-quickening words—

believe, and live.[2]


55:8, 9 My thoughts … My ways. Some may doubt such willingness as is described in v. 7, but God’s grace is far beyond human comprehension, especially as manifested toward Israel.[3]


55:7–9 let the wicked forsake his way … let him return. Thorough repentance is required, for God’s thoughts are not your thoughts—that is, they are as high above man’s thoughts as the heavens are above the earth and vastly superior to the expectations of human intuitions (cf. Ps. 145:3; 1 Cor. 2:9). neither are your ways my ways. In the immediate context, this is an appeal to people to exchange their sinful “thoughts” and “ways” (Isa. 55:7) for God’s, which are higher (nobler and more magnificent). More broadly, theologians have recognized that God, the incomparable Creator, is far above his finite creatures and beyond their ability to describe him or comprehend him fully; though they may know him truly, such knowledge is always partial and imperfect. But because God is perfectly wise in all his thoughts and ways, his people can take great comfort amid hardship and when inevitably they are unable to understand the mysteries and tragedies of life.[4]


55:8 my thoughts are not your thoughts Invites trust in Yahweh’s ability to accomplish everything He has promised for His people if they repent. While people may fail in their plans or promises, God can be trusted to keep His word.

This passage in Isa 55:8–9 is often taken as a direct statement about God’s transcendence: His nature and plan are infinitely beyond human understanding. God is infinitely different from us in His thoughts and ways. The biblical portrait of God develops both transcendent and immanent aspects of His nature. The transcendent aspect is not like people and infinitely above people. The immanent aspect is intimately present with people and among people. God’s transcendence places Him beyond the limits of time and space. His nature as uncreated and separate from His creation is a fundamental concept distinguishing a biblical understanding of God from other philosophical or religious theories, such as pantheism or monism.[5]


55:8 my thoughts are not your thoughts. Specifically, God’s thoughts concerning grace exceed human imagination (64:4; 1 Cor. 2:9; Eph. 3:20; Rom. 11:33). Yet this is also true of His providence, which often leads down unexpected pathways. It is to be expected that the sheep will not always understand their Shepherd’s leading.[6]


55:8, 9 God’s gracious thoughts exceed all human imagination (64:4; Rom. 11:33; 1 Cor. 2:9; Eph. 3:20). No one can fathom the depths of His wisdom.[7]


55:8–9. God’s compassion on those who turn to Him (vv. 6–7) comes because His thoughts and ways are far superior to human thoughts and ways, which in fact are evil (cf. v. 7). God’s plan is something people would have never dreamed of.[8]


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

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

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 55:8). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1342). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 55:8). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

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

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 865). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[8] Martin, J. A. (1985). Isaiah. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 1111). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

May 16 – Confidence in God’s Providence

“We know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”

Romans 8:28

✧✧✧

We will be better prepared for what God teaches us through trials if we have a basic understanding of His providence.

I believe it is vital that all Christians have an essential awareness of God’s providence if they want to be fully prepared to cope with life’s adversity. Providence is how He orchestrates, through natural means and processes, all things necessary to accomplish His purposes in the world. It is the most frequent way He works and controls the daily course of human events. The only other means the Lord uses to intervene in the flow of history is miracles. But He does not perform miracles in the same way now as He did during the days of Christ, the apostles, and the prophets. However, God has continuously used providence from eternity past to coordinate the infinite variety of factors necessary to accomplish His perfect purpose.

Think about it. The vast scope and endless outworking of divine providence, in which God draws together millions of details and circumstances to achieve His will each day, is a far greater miracle than the relatively uncomplicated, one–time supernatural occurrences that we usually term miracles. Belief in God’s providence is, therefore, one of the greatest exercises of faith we can have and a major contributor to our general preparedness and peace of mind as we encounter trials and hardships.

Paul trusted wholeheartedly in the providence of God, no matter how easy or challenging life was (Phil. 4:11). Joseph the patriarch stated his confidence in providence this way: “You [his brothers] meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen. 50:20). Until we come to a similar acceptance of God’s providential control of everything, we will not fully realize the rich lessons He wants to teach us through trials, and we will not be able to apply the truth of Romans 8:28.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that His providence is always at work for your benefit. If this concept is new to you, ask Him to help you understand it better through His Word.

For Further Study: Read more about Joseph in Genesis 39–50. Jot down some of his positive character traits. ✧ What events in the narrative were possible only because of providence?[1]


 

The Certainty of Security

And we know (8:28a)

In the context of the truths that follow in Romans 8, these three simple words express the Christiaffs absolute certainty of eternal security in the Holy Spirit. Paul is not expressing his personal intuitions or opinions but is setting forth the inerrant truth of God’s Word. It is not Paul the man, but Paul the apostle and channel of God’s revelation who continues to declare the truth he has received from the Holy Spirit. He therefore asserts with God’s own authority that, as believers in Jesus Christ, we know beyond all doubt that every aspect of our lives is in God’s hands and will be divinely used by the Lord not only to manifest His own glory but also to work out our own ultimate blessing.

The phrase we know here carries the meaning of can know. Tragically, many Christians throughout the history of the church, including many in our own day, refuse to believe that God guarantees the believer’s eternal security. Such denial is tied to the belief that salvation is a cooperative effort between men and God, and although God will not fail on His side, man might-thus the sense of insecurity Belief in salvation by a sovereign God alone, however, leads to the confidence that salvation is secure, because God, who alone is responsible, cannot fail. Beyond that theological consideration Paul is saying that the truth of eternal security is clearly revealed by God to us, so that all believers are able with certainty to know the comfort and hope of that reality if they simply take God at His word. God’s child need never fear being cast out of his heavenly Father’s house or fear losing his citizenship in His eternal kingdom of righteousness.

The Extent of Security

that God causes all things to work together for good (8:b)

The extent of the believer’s security is as limitless as its certainty is absolute. As with every other element of the believer’s security, God is the Guarantor. It is He who causes everything in the believers life to eventuate in blessing.

Paul emphasizes that God Himself brings about the good that comes to His people. This magnificent promise does not operate through impersonal statements, but requires divine action to fulfill. God’s decree of security is actually carried out by the direct, personal, and gracious work of His divine Son and His Holy Spirit. “Hence, also, [Christ] is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). And as Paul has just proclaimed, “The Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26–27).

All things is utterly comprehensive, having no qualifications or limits. Neither this verse nor its context allows for restrictions or conditions. All things is inclusive in the fullest possible sense. Nothing existing or occurring in heaven or on earth “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus” (8:39).

Paul is not saying that God prevents His children from experiencing things that can harm them. He is rather attesting that the Lord takes all that He allows to happen to His beloved children, even the worst things, and turns those things ultimately into blessings.

Paul teaches the same basic truth in several of his other letters. “So then let no one boast in men,” he admonishes the Corinthian believers. “For all things belong to you, whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or things present or things to come; all things belong to you” (1 Cor. 3:21–22). Perhaps a year later he assured them in another letter: “For all things are for your sakes, that the grace which is spreading to more and more people may cause the giving of thanks to abound to the glory of God” (2 Cor. 4:15). Later in Romans 8 Paul asks rhetorically, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?” (v. 32).

No matter what our situation, our suffering, our persecution, our sinful failure, our pain, our lack of faith-in those things, as well as in all other things, our heavenly Father will work to produce our ultimate victory and blessing. The corollary of that truth is that nothing can ultimately work against us. Any temporary harm we suffer will be used by God for our benefit (see 2 Cor. 12:7–10). As will be discussed below, all things includes circumstances and events that are good and beneficial in themselves as well as those that are in themselves evil and harmful.

To work together translates sunergeō, from which is derived the English term synergism, the working together of various elements to produce an effect greater than, and often completely different from, the sum of each element acting separately. In the physical world the right combination of otherwise harmful chemicals can produce substances that are extremely beneficial. For example, ordinary table salt is composed of two poisons, sodium and chlorine.

Contrary to what the King James rendering seems to suggest, it is not that things in themselves work together to produce good. As Paul has made clear earlier in the verse, it is God’s providential power and will, not a natural synergism of circumstances and events in our lives, that causes them to work together for good. David testified to that marvelous truth when he exulted, “All the paths of the Lord are loving-kindness and truth to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies” (Ps. 25:10). No matter what road we are on or path we take, the Lord will turn it into a way of loving-kindness and truth.

Paul likely has in mind our good during this present life as well as ultimately in the life to come. No matter what happens in our lives as His children, the providence of God uses it for our temporal as well as our eternal benefit, sometimes by saving us from tragedies and sometimes by sending us through them in order to draw us closer to Him.

After delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage, God continually provided for their well-being as they faced the harsh obstacles of the Sinai desert. As Moses proclaimed the law to Israel, he reminded the people: “[God] led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end” (Deut. 8:15–16). The Lord did not lead His people through forty years of difficulty and hardship to bring them evil but to bring them good, the good that sometimes must come by way of divine discipline and refining.

It is clear from that illustration, as well as from countless others in Scripture, that God often delays the temporal as well as the ultimate good that He promises. Jeremiah declared, “Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans. For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will plant them and not pluck them up. And I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart’ ” (Jer. 24:5–7). In His sovereign graciousness, the Lord used the painful and frustrating captivities of Israel and Judah to refine His people, and by human reckoning, the process was slow and arduous.

“Therefore we do not lose heart,” Paul counseled the Corinthian believers, “but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:16–17). Even when our outward circumstances are dire-perhaps especially when they are dire and seemingly hopeless from our perspective-God is purifying and renewing our redeemed inner beings in preparation for glorification, the ultimate good.

First of all, God causes righteous things to work for our good. By far the most significant and best of good things are God’s own attributes. God’s power supports us in our troubles and strengthens our spiritual life. In his final blessing of the children of Israel, Moses testified, “The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deut. 33:27). In His parting words to the apostles, Jesus promised, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

In order to demonstrate our utter dependence upon God, His power working through us is actually “perfected in weakness. Most gladly, therefore,” Paul testified, “I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me” (2 Cor. 12:9).

God’s wisdom provides for our good. The most direct way is by sharing His wisdom with us. Paul prayed that the Lord would give the Ephesian believers “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17). He made similar requests on behalf of the Colossians: “We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9), and later, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (3:16).

Almost by definition, God’s goodness works to the good of His children. “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience,” Paul reminds us, “not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:4).

God’s faithfulness works for our good. Even when His children are unfaithful to Him, their heavenly Father remains faithful to them. “I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them” (Hos. 14:4). Micah rejoiced in the Lord, exulting, “Who is a God like Thee, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love” (Mic. 7:18). When a child of God is in need, the Lord promises, “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, and honor him” (Ps. 91:15). “My God shall supply all your needs,” Paul assures us, “according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

God’s Word is for our good. “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32). Every good thing we receive from God’s hand “is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (1 Tim. 4:5). The more we see sin through the eyes of Scripture, which is to see it through God’s own eyes, the more we abhor it.

In addition to His attributes, God’s holy angels work for the good of those who belong to Him. “Are they not all ministering spirits,” the writer of Hebrews asks rhetorically about the angels, “sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb. 1:14).

God’s children themselves are ministers of His good to each other. In the opening of his letter to Rome, Paul humbly assured his readers that he longed to visit them not only to minister to them but to be ministered to by them, “that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Rom. 1:12). To the Corinthian believers the apostle described himself and Timothy as “workers with you for your joy” (2 Cor. 1:24; cf. v. 1). It is both the obligation and the joy of Christians “to stimulate one another to love and good deeds” (Heb. 10:24).

Although the truth is often difficult to recognize and accept, the Lord causes even evil things to work for our good. It is these less obvious and less pleasant channels of God’s blessing that Paul here seems to be emphasizing-those things among the “all things” that are in themselves anything but good. Many of the things that we do and that happen to us are either outright evil or, at best, are worthless. Yet in His infinite wisdom and omnipotence, our heavenly Father will turn even the worst of such things to our ultimate good.

As mentioned above, God used His people’s slavery in Egypt and their trials in the wilderness not only to demonstrate His power against their enemies in their behalf but to refine and purify His people before they took possession of the Promised Land. Although the afflictions and hardships in the Sinai desert hardened the hearts of most of the people and made them rebellious, God intended those trials to be for their blessing.

When Daniel was threatened with death for refusing to obey King Darius’s ban on worshiping any god but the king, the monarch reluctantly had the prophet thrown into the den of lions. When it became evident that the lions would not harm him, Daniel testified to Darius, “ ‘O king, live forever! My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths, and they have not harmed me, inasmuch as I was found innocent before Him; and also toward you, O king, I have committed no crime.’ Then the king was very pleased and gave orders for Daniel to be taken up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no injury whatever was found on him, because he had trusted in his God” (Dan. 6:21–23). The suffering and martyrdom of many of His saints, however, is clear evidence that God does not always choose to bless faithfulness by deliverance from harm.

The evil things that God uses for the good of His people may be divided into three categories: suffering, temptation, and sin.

God uses the evil of suffering as a means of bringing good to His people. Sometimes the suffering comes as the price of faithfulness to God. At other times it is simply the common pain, hardship, disease, and conflicts that are the lot of all mankind because of sin’s corruption of the world. At still other times the suffering comes by God’s permission, and not always as punishment or discipline. The godly Naomi lamented, “Call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me” (Ruth 1:20). After the bewildering afflictions with which God allowed him to be tormented by Satan, Job responded in simple trust: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Often, of course, suffering does come as divine chastisement for sin. God promised Judah that, despite the rebellion and idolatry that caused her captivity, “I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans” (Jer. 24:5). God chastened certain members of the Corinthian church because of their flagrant and unrepentant sins, causing some to become sick and others to die (1 Cor. 11:29–30). We are not told what good God brought to those sinful believers themselves. Perhaps it was simply His means of preventing them from falling into worse sin. It is likely that He worked good for the rest of the Corinthian church as He had done in the instance of Ananias and Sapphira, whose severe discipline was a purifying force, causing “great fear [to come] upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things” (Acts 5:11).

Regardless of what our adversities might be or how they might come, James admonishes us to “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:2–3). Trials that come directly because of our relationship to Christ should be especially welcomed, Peter says, “that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:7).

Joseph is a classic Old Testament example of God’s using unjust suffering to bring great good, not only to the sufferer himself but to all of his family, who constituted God’s chosen people. If he had never been sold into slavery and cast into prison, he would not have had the opportunity to interpret Pharaoh’s dream and rise to a position of great prominence, from which he could be used to save Egypt and his own people from starvation. Understanding that marvelous truth, Joseph told his fearful brothers, “And as for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive” (Gen. 50:20).

King Manasseh of Judah brought foreign conquest and great suffering upon himself and his nation because of his sinfulness. But “when he was in distress, he entreated the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. When he prayed to Him, He was moved by his entreaty and heard his supplication, and brought him again to Jerusalem to his kingdom. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God” (2 Chron. 33:12–13).

Although Job never lost faith in God, his incessant afflictions eventually caused him to question the Lord’s ways. After a severe rebuke by God, however, Job confessed, “I have heard of Thee by the hearing of the ear; but now my eye sees Thee; therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes” (Job 42:5–6).

An enemy aggressively afflicted pain on the apostle Paul. Very likely he was the leader of Corinthian hostility toward Paul. Paul knew that, although this person belonged to Satan’s domain, his activity against the apostle was permitted by God to keep him (Paul) from exalting himself because of his visions and revelations (2 Cor. 12:6–7). Nevertheless, Paul pleaded earnestly three times that he might be delivered from the man’s attacks. The Lord responded by telling His faithful servant, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” That explanation was sufficient for Paul, who said submissively, “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9–10). Instead of turning down the trouble, God turned up the sufficient grace, so that Paul could endure the situation gladly and be humbled by it at the same time.

Through suffering of all kinds and for all reasons, we can learn kindness, sympathy, humility, compassion, patience, and gentleness. Most importantly, God can use suffering as He can use few other things to bring us closer to Himself. “And after you have suffered for a little while,” Peter reassures us, “the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (1 Pet. 5:10). The Puritan Thomas Watson observed, “A sick-bed often teaches more than a sermon” (A Divine Cordial [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981], p. 20).

Suffering can also teach us to hate sin. We already hate sin to some degree, because it is the direct or indirect cause of all suffering. But personally suffering at the hands of evil men will teach us more about the wickedness of sin. Martin Luther said that he could never understand the imprecatory psalms until he himself was persecuted viciously. He could not understand why the godly David could call down God’s vengeance on his enemies until he himself [Luther] had been tormented by enemies of the gospel.

We also come to hate sin when we see its destruction of others, especially its harm to those we love. Jesus groaned in agony at Lazarus’s tomb, but not because He despaired for His deceased friend, because He would momentarily remedy that. He was angry and saddened because of the grief that sin and its greatest consequence, death, brought to the loved ones of Lazarus (see John 11:33). He also realized that such agony is multiplied a million times over every day throughout the world.

Suffering helps us see and hate our own sin. Sometimes it is only when we are mistreated, unfairly accused, or are debilitated by illness, financial disaster, or some other form of hardship that we come face-to-face with our temper, our self-satisfaction, or our indifference to other people and even to God. By helping us see and hate our sin, suffering is also used by God to drive it out and purify us. “When He has tried me,” Job said, “I shall come forth as gold” (Job 23:10). In the last days, “ ‘It will come about in all the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘that two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on My name, and I will answer them; I will say, “They are My people,” and they will say, “The Lord is my God”’ ” (Zech. 13:8–9). Through that final and unparalleled period of suffering, the Lord will refine and restore to Himself a remnant of His ancient people Israel.

Suffering divine discipline confirms that we are indeed God’s children. The writer of Hebrews reminds us that “those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives. It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons” (Heb. 12:6–8; cf. Job 5:17).

As the writer of Hebrews notes, wise human parents discipline their children for the children’s own welfare. Even secular psychologists and counselors have come to recognize that a child who is overindulged in what he wants, but given no bounds and held to no standards by his parents, realizes innately that he is not loved.

Three times the writer of Psalm 119 acknowledged that the Lord used suffering to strengthen his spiritual life: “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Thy word” (v. 67); “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes” (v. 71); and, “I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are righteous, and that in faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me” (v. 75).

Suffering is designed by God to help us identify to a limited extent with Christ’s suffering on our behalf and to conform us to Him. It is for that reason that Paul prayed to “know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Phil. 3:10), and that he boasted, “I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus” (Gal. 6:17). When we willingly submit it to our heavenly Father, suffering can be used by Him to mold us more perfectly into the divine likeness of our Lord and Savior.

God uses the evil of temptation as a means of bringing good to His people. Just as suffering is not good in itself, neither, of course, is temptation. But, as is the case with suffering, the Lord is able to use temptation for our benefit.

Temptation should drive us to our knees in prayer and cause us to ask God for strength to resist. When an animal sees a predator, he runs or flies as fast as he can to a place of safety. That should be the Christian’s response whenever he is confronted by temptation. Temptation causes the godly believer to flee to the Lord for protection.

Whether Satan approaches us as a roaring lion or as an angel of light, if we are well taught in God’s Word we can recognize his evil enticements for what they are. That is why the psalmist proclaimed, “Thy word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against Thee” (Ps. 119:11).

God can ago cause temptation to work for our good by using it to devastate spiritual pride. When we struggle with temptation, we know that, in ourselves, we are still subject to the allurements and defilements of sin. And when we try to resist it in our own power, we quickly discover how powerless against it we are in ourselves.

In His incarnation, even Jesus did not resist Satan’s temptation in His humanness but in every instance confronted the tempter with the Word of God (Matt. 4:1–10; Luke 4:1–12). Our response to Satan’s enticements should be the same as our Lord’s while He was on earth. Christ’s experience with temptation not only provides us with a divine example but provided Christ with human experience-in light of which the writer of Hebrews could declare, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Finally, temptation should strengthen the believer’s desire for heaven, where he will be forever beyond sin’s allurement, power, and presence. When in frustration we cry out with Paul, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?” we can also proclaim with him, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin” (Rom. 7:24–25). We can also confess with the apostle that, although we are willing to remain on earth to fulfill the Lord’s ministry through us, our great longing is to be with Him (Phil. 1:21–24).

God uses the evil of sin as a means of bringing good to His children. That would have to be true if Paul’s statement about “all things” is taken at face value. Even more than suffering and temptation, sin is not good in itself, because it is the antithesis of good. Yet, in God’s infinite wisdom and power, it is most remarkable of all that He turns sin to our good.

It is of great importance, of course, to recognize that God does not use sin for good in the sense of its being an instrument of His righteousness. That would be the most obvious of self-contradictions. The Lord uses sin to bring good to His children by overruling it, canceling its normal evil consequences and miraculously substituting His benefits.

Because it is often easier for us to recognize the reality and the wickedness of sin in others than in ourselves, God can cause the sins of other people to work for our good. If we are seeking to live a godly life in Christ, seeing a sin in others will make us hate and avoid it more. A spirit of judgmental self-righteousness, of course, will have the opposite effect, leading us into the snare about which Paul has already warned: “In that you judge another, you condemn yourself; for you who judge practice the same things. And we know that the judgment of God rightly falls upon those who practice such things. And do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God?” (Rom. 2:1–3; cf. Matt. 7:1–2).

God can even cause our own sins to work for our good. A believer’s sins are just as evil as those of unbelievers. But the ultimate consequence of a believer’s sin is vastly different, because the penalty for all his sins-past, present, and future-has been paid in full by his Savior. Although the foundational truth of Romans 8 is that, by God’s unspeakable grace, a Christian is forever preserved from sin’s ultimate consequence, which is eternal condemnation (v. 1), a Christian is still subject to the immediate, temporal consequences of sins he commits, as well as to many continuing consequences of sins committed before salvation. As noted several times above, the sinning believer is not spared God’s chastisement but is assured of it as a remedial tool for producing holiness (Heb. 12:10). That is the supreme good for which God causes our sin to work.

God also causes our own sin to work for our good by leading us to despise the sin and to desire His holiness. When we fall into sin, our spiritual weakness becomes evident and we are driven humbly to seek God’s forgiveness and restoration. Evil as it is, sin can bring us good by stripping us of our pride and self-assurance.

The supreme illustration of God’s turning “all things,” even the most evil of things, to the good of His children is seen in the sacrificial death of His own Son. In the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, God took the most absolute evil that Satan could devise and turned it into the greatest conceivable blessing He could offer to fallen mankind-eternal salvation from sin.

The Recipients of Security

to those who love God, to those who are called (8:28c)

The only qualification in the marvelous promise of this verse has to do with the recipients. It is solely for His children that God promises to work everything for good. Those who love God and those who are called are two of the many titles or descriptions the New Testament uses of Christians. From the human perspective we are those who love God, whereas from God’s perspective we are those who are called.

The Recipients of Security Love God

to those who love God,

First, Paul describes the recipients of eternal security as those who love God. Nothing more characterizes the true believer than genuine love for God. Redeemed people love the gracious God who has saved them. Because of their depraved and sinful natures, the unredeemed hate God, regardless of any arguments they may have to the contrary. When God made His covenant with Israel through Moses, He made the distinction clear between those who love Him and those who hate Him. In the Ten Commandments the Lord told His people, “You shall not worship [idols] or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing loving-kindness to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments” (Ex. 20:5–6; cf. Deut. 7:9–10; Neh. 1:4–5; Pss. 69:36; 97:10). In God’s sight, there are only two categories of human beings, those who hate Him and those who love Him. Jesus was referring to that truth when He said, “He who is not with Me is against Me” (Matt. 12:30).

Even during the time of the Mosaic covenant, when God was dealing with His chosen people Israel in a unique way, any person, even a Gentile, who trusted in Him was accepted by Him and was characterized by love for the Lord. God’s redeemed included “also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant” (Isa. 56:6).

The New Testament is equally clear that those who belong to God love Him. “Just as it is written,” Paul reminded the Corinthians, “ ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him’ ” (1 Cor. 2:9; cf. Isa. 64:4). Later in that letter he declared, “If anyone loves God, he is known by Him” (1 Cor. 8:3).

James says that those who love God, that is, believers, are promised the Lord’s eternal crown of life (James 1:12). Paul refers to Christians as “those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with a love incorruptible” (Eph. 6:24).

Saving faith involves much more than simply acknowledging God. Even the demons fearfully believe that God is one and is all-powerful (James 2:19). True faith involves the surrendering of one’s sinful self to God for forgiveness and receiving Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. And the first mark of saving faith is love for God. True salvation produces lovers of God, because “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). It is not by accident that Paul lists love as the first fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22).

Love for God is closely related to forgiveness, because the redeemed believer cannot help being grateful for God’s gracious forgiveness. When the sinful woman, doubtlessly a prostitute, washed and anointed Jesus’ feet in the Pharisee’s house, the Lord explained to His resentful host that she expressed great love because she had been forgiven great sins (Luke 7:47).

Love for God is also related to obedience. “And why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ ” Jesus said, “and do not do what I say?” (Luke 6:46). The persistently disobedient heart is an unbelieving and unloving heart. Because “the love of Christ controls us” (2 Cor. 5:14), His Word will also control us. “You are My friends,” Jesus said, “if you do what I commanded you” (John 15:14). In context, it is clear that Jesus uses the term friend as a synonym for a true disciple (see vv. 8–17).

Obviously we do not love Christ as fully as we ought because we are still imperfect and are contaminated by the sinful remnants of the old self. It is for that reason that Paul told the Philippians, “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment” (Phil. 1:9). Their love for Christ was genuine, but it was not yet perfect.

Genuine love for God has many facets and manifestations. First, godly love longs for personal communion with the Lord. It was that desire which led the psalmists to proclaim, “As the deer pants for the water brooks, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; when shall I come and appear before God?” (Ps. 42:1–2), and “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth” (Ps. 73:25).

David prayed, “O God, Thou art my God; I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee, in a dry and weary land where there is no water. Thus I have beheld Thee in the sanctuary, to see Thy power and Thy glory. Because Thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips will praise Thee” (Ps. 63:1–3). Speaking for all faithful believers, the sons of Korah exulted, “My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. The bird also has found a house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. How blessed are those who dwell in Thy house! They are ever praising Thee” (Ps. 84:2–4).

Second, genuine love for God trusts in His power to protect His own. David admonished fellow believers: “O love the Lord, all you His godly ones! The Lord preserves the faithful” (Ps. 31:23).

Third, genuine love for God is characterized by peace that only He can impart. “Those who love Thy law have great peace, and nothing causes them to stumble” (Ps. 119:165). As believers, we have a divine and secure peace that the world cannot give, possess, understand, or take away (John 14:27; 16:33; Phil. 4:7).

Fourth, genuine love for God is sensitive to His will and His honor. When God is blasphemed, repudiated, or in any way dishonored, His faithful children suffer pain on His behalf. David so identified himself with the Lord that he could say, “Zeal for Thy house has consumed me, and the reproaches of those who reproach Thee have fallen on me” (Ps. 69:9).

Fifth, genuine love for God loves the things that God loves, and we know what He loves through the revelation of His Word. Throughout Psalm 119 the writer expresses love for God’s law, God’s ways, God’s standards, and all else that is God’s. “The law of Thy mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver pieces” (v. 72); “O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (v. 97); and “How sweet are Thy words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (v. 103). David testified: “I will bow down toward Thy holy temple, and give thanks to Thy name for Thy loving-kindness and Thy truth; for Thou hast magnified Thy word according to all Thy name” (Ps. 138:2).

Sixth, genuine love for God loves the people God loves. John repeatedly and unequivocally asserts that a person who does not love God’s children does not love God and does not belong to God. “We know that we have passed out of death into life,” the apostle says, “because we love the brethren. He who does not love abides in death” (1 John 3:14). “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (4:7–8). In the strongest possible language, John declares that “if someone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves God should love his brother also” (4:20–21). In the next chapter he declares just as firmly that “whoever loves the Father loves the child born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments” (1 John 5:1–2).

Seventh, genuine love for God hates what God hates. Godly love cannot tolerate evil. The loving Christian grieves over sin, first of all for sin in his own life but also for sin in the lives of others, especially in the lives of fellow believers. When the cock’s crow reminded Peter of His Lord’s prediction, he wept bitterly over his denial of Christ, which he had just made for the third time (Matt. 26:75).

On the other hand, to love the world and the things of the world is to love what God hates, and John therefore solemnly warns, “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).

Eighth, genuine love for God longs for Christ’s return. Paul rejoiced in the knowledge that “in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8).

Ninth and finally, the overreaching mark of genuine love for God is obedience. “He who has My commandments and keeps them,” Jesus said, “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). As noted above in the citation of 1 John 5:1–2, obedience to God is inextricably tied both to love for God and love for fellow believers.

Although we are commanded to love God and fellow believers, that love does not and cannot originate with us. Godly love is God-given. “Love is from God,” John explains, and therefore it is “not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:7, 10). We are able to love only because God has first loved us (v. 19).

Recipients of Security are Called

to those who are called

Second, Paul describes the recipients of eternal security as those who are called. Just as our love originates with God, so does our calling into His heavenly family. In every way, the initiative and provision for salvation are God’s. In their fallen, sinful state, men are able only to hate God, because, regardless of what they may think, they are His enemies (Rom. 5:10) and children of His wrath (Eph. 2:3).

When Jesus said that “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14), He was referring to the gospel’s external call to all men to believe in Him. In the history of the church nothing is more obvious than the fact that many, perhaps most, people who receive this call do not accept it.

But in the epistles, the terms called and calling are used in a different sense, referring to the sovereign, regenerating work of God in a believer’s heart that brings him to new life in Christ. Paul explains the meaning of those who are called in the following two verses (29–30), where he speaks of what theologians often refer to as God’s effectual call. In this sense, all those who are called are chosen and redeemed by God and are ultimately glorified. They are securely predestined by God to be His children and to be conformed to the image of His Son.

Believers have never been called on the basis of their works or for their own purposes. As Hebrews 11 makes clear, faith in God has always been the only way of redemption. Believers are not saved on the basis of who they are or what they have done but solely on the basis of who God is and what He has done. We are redeemed “according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9). Because it operates completely according to God’s will and by His power, the gospel never fails to accomplish and secure its work of salvation in those who believe (1 Thess. 2:13).

Later in Romans Paul uses Jacob and Esau to illustrate God’s effectual call, which is also a sovereign call. “For though the twins were not yet born,” he says, “and had not done anything good or bad, in order that God’s purpose according to His choice might stand, not because of works, but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger.’ Just as it is written, ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated’ ” (Rom. 9:11–13).

Although human faith is imperative for salvation, God’s gracious initiation of salvation is even more imperative. Jesus declared categorically, “No one can come to Me, unless it has been granted him from the Father” (John 6:65). God’s choice not only precedes man’s choice but makes man’s choice possible and effective.

Paul not only was called by Christ to salvation (see Acts 9) but was also “called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (1 Cor. 1:1). He describes himself as being “laid hold of by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12). Paul addressed believers at Corinth as “those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling” (1 Cor. 1:2), and later refers to all Christians as “those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks” (v. 24). All believers, without exception, are called by God, “having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will” (Eph. 1:11).

In its primary sense, God’s call is once and for all, but in a secondary sense it continues until the believer is finally glorified. Although he acknowledged his permanent call both as a believer and as an apostle, Paul could yet say, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

As already noted, although salvation is by God’s initiative and power, it is never accomplished apart from faith. It is therefore impossible, as some teach, that a person can be saved and never know it. No person is saved apart from conscious and willful acceptance of Christ. “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead,” Paul says, “you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation” (Rom. 10:9–10). It is possible, of course, for a weak, unlearned, or sinful Christian to have later doubts about his salvation. But a person cannot come to Christ without knowing it.

As Paul explains a few verses later, God also uses human agents in making effective His call to salvation. “How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” (Rom. 10:14).

It is through the content of His Word, specifically the truth of the gospel message, and through the power of His Holy Spirit that God brings men to Himself. Peter succinctly states the first of those two principles: “You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Pet. 1:23). Paul states the second principle in these words: “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13; cf. John 16:8).

The Source of Security

according to His purpose. (8:28d)

At the end of verse 28, Paul states the source of the believer’s security in Christ. God causes all things to work together for the good of His children because that is according to His divine purpose. Although the Greek text does not contain the term for His, that meaning is clearly implied in the context and is reflected in most translations.

Paul expands on and clarifies the meaning of God’s purpose in verses 29–30, which will be discussed in the next chapter of this volume. Briefly explained, God’s broader purpose is to offer salvation to all mankind. As our Lord declared at the beginning of His earthly ministry, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:16–17). In his second letter, Peter states that the Lord does not desire the condemnation of any person but wants “all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).

In Romans 8:28, however, Paul is speaking of the narrower, restricted meaning of God’s purpose, namely, His divine plan to save those whom He has called and “predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son” (v. 29). The focus is on God’s sovereign plan of redemption, which He ordained before the foundation of the earth.

While Israel was still wandering in the desert of Sinai, Moses told them, “The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the Lord loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the Lord brought you out by a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deut. 7:7–8). The Jews were not chosen because of who they were but because of who God is. The same is true of God’s choosing believers. He chooses solely on the basis of His divine will and purpose.

Isaiah wrote, “For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done, saying, ‘My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure’; calling a bird of prey from the east, the man of My purpose from a far country Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it” (Isa. 46:9b-11).

John wrote of Jesus, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:12–13).[2]


All Things Working Together for Good

Romans 8:28

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

It is always a humbling experience to study the Word of God, and I have been humbled as I have moved from our last study about knowing the will of God to the tremendous text that is to occupy us now: Romans 8:28. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

It seemed to me that the last study was rather difficult. At any rate, in writing it I had difficulty trying to distinguish between the various ways in which we use the term “God’s will” and in trying to suggest what we can know and cannot expect to know about it. But then I came to our text, and the problems I had been laboring with in the last study suddenly seemed quite simple. Earlier Paul said, “We do not know what we ought to pray for.” Now he writes, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” We do not know! We know! The first knowing concerns the details of what God is doing in our lives; we do not understand these things, we puzzle over them. The second knowing concerns the fact of God’s great plan itself. Paul tells us that we do know this; we know that God has a plan.

He teaches this quite simply. If God has “called [us] according to his purpose,” he must have both a purpose and a place for us in it. Moreover, we know that everything will obviously work together for our good in the achievement of that purpose. This is tremendous! Because of these truths this verse has been one of the most comforting statements in the entire Word of God for most Christians.

Faith and Circumstances

Yet this verse also poses an obvious problem. “In all things God works for the good of those who love him,” the text says. But how can this be? How is this possible when the world is filled with hatred and evil, and when good people, as well as evil people, suffer daily?

Two days before I wrote this study, the ministerial staff of Tenth Presbyterian Church had its regular weekly meeting, and the ministers shared some of the problems they were dealing with. Three days earlier one of our members had been murdered. She was a lovely Korean girl, only twenty-one years old, and she had been very active in Tenth’s ministries. Her name was Julee Yang. She sang in the choir, tutored disadvantaged children from one of the city’s housing projects, and participated in a young people’s group that is focused on the city. Julee worked in a jewelry store and was shot in the back when two young thugs came into the store to steal money. In a surprising turn of events, the murder was captured on a hidden video camera. According to some reports, it was the very first actual murder to have been captured on videotape. The funeral was the day of our staff meeting.

Other staff members shared counseling concerns. One was dealing with a person suffering from extreme personal setbacks, including a case of cancer. She had been thinking of suicide. Another was dealing with a young man who had been diagnosed as having AIDS.

The night before, I had conferred with another pastor who was planning a memorial service for a stillborn infant and wanted to talk about what comfort he could give the grieving parents. That same day, I was to visit another pastor who was under pressure in his church and was quite possibly going to be forced out of it, in spite of nearly two decades of faithful Bible teaching in that place. The combination of these seemingly tragic situations had depressed us all, and we spent a great deal of time praying about them. Later I went to the New Jersey shore, about an hour and a half away, to gain some breathing space and pray for the staff and these problems.

“We know that in all things God works together for the good of those who love him.” But do we really know that?

When times are good—when we have steady jobs, when our families are doing well, when no loved one is sick, and there have been no recent deaths—in times like these, well, it is easy to say, “We know that in all things God works together for the good of those who love him.”

But what about the other times?

What about times like those I was describing?

In such times we need to be sure we know what we are professing and are not merely mouthing pious nothings.

“All’s Right with the World”

This great text has some built-in qualifications, and we need to begin with them. I call them “boundaries.”

  1. For Christians only. The first boundary is defined by a question: To whom does this promise apply? Obviously it does not apply to everyone, for Paul’s statement says, “We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” That verse is talking about Christians. So, to read on to the closely linked verses that follow, it is saying that everything works for the good of those whom God has predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, those he predestined and called and justified and glorified. This is not a promise that all things work together for the good of all people.

Do you remember Robert Browning’s well-known couplet: “God’s in his heaven—/All’s right with the world”? The lines are a small capsule of nineteenth-century Victorian thinking, when the world was more or less at peace, and progress in all areas of human life and endeavor seemed unlimited and inevitable. Nobody thinks that way today, and rightly so. It is because all is not right with the world, and anybody who thinks so is either out of his or her mind or is just not seeing things clearly.

Several centuries before Browning, the German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz developed a line of thought known popularly as “the best of all possible worlds” philosophy. But this, too, was an illusion and still is. For most people this is not the best of all possible worlds at all. In fact, for many millions of people this world and the things they endure in it are terrible.

According to our text, it is only of Christians, not of all people, that these comforting words can be said.

  1. To be like Jesus Christ. The second boundary to our text comes from another question: What is meant by “good”? That is an important question to ask, because if “good” means “rich,” as some would like it to mean, the text is not true, since most Christians have not been given a great supply of this world’s goods. The same thing is true if “good” means “healthy.” Not all believers have good health. Similarly, “good” cannot mean “successful” or “admired” or even “happy” in the world’s sense, since God asks many Christians to endure failure or scorn or very distressing personal experiences or severe disappointments.

What does “good” mean, then, if it does not mean rich or healthy or successful or admired or happy? The answer is in the next verse: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son.”

That is what the “good” is: “to be conformed to the likeness of his Son,” in other words, to be made like Jesus Christ. That is an obvious good. It is impossible to think of a higher good for human beings, to be like one’s Maker. Pastor Ray Stedman rightly calls this “what life is all about.” But at the same time, seeing this allows us to see other not so obviously good things within the greater purpose. We can see how sickness, suffering, persecution, grief, or other ills can be used by God for this good end.

  1. A good use of bad things. That leads to a third boundary for this text, and it comes from a third question: Are the things used in our lives by God for this good end necessarily good in themselves or only in their effect? The answer is the latter. In other words, this text does not teach that sickness, suffering, persecution, grief, or any other such thing is itself good. On the contrary, these things are evils. Hatred is not love. Death is not life. Grief is not joy. The world is filled with evil. But what the text teaches—and this is important—is that God uses these things (and others) to effect his own good ends for his people. God brings good out of the evil, and the good, as we saw, is our conformity to the character of Jesus Christ.
  2. Knowing rather than feeling. The fourth and final boundary for the meaning of this text comes in answer to still another question: What is our relationship to what God is doing in these circumstances? The answer Paul gives is that “we know.” He does not say that we “feel” all things to be good. Often we do not feel that God is doing good at all. We feel exactly the opposite. We feel that we are being ground down or destroyed. And it is not even that we “see” the good. Most of the time we do not perceive the good things God is doing or how he might be bringing good out of the evil. The text simply says, “we know” it.

Paul was no sentimentalist. He had been persecuted, beaten, stoned, and shipwrecked. He had been attacked and consistently slandered by the Gentiles as well as by his own countrymen. Paul did not go around saying how wonderful the world was or how pleasant his missionary endeavors had been. On the contrary, he reported that he had been “hard pressed on every side … perplexed … [and] struck down” (2 Cor. 4:8–9). But Paul came through the things that pressed down and perplexed him precisely because he knew that God was working out his own greater and good purposes through these events.

How did Paul know it? He knew it because God had told him this was what he was doing. And now Paul is telling us. He is saying that we, too, can know it and be comforted in the knowledge that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”

The Part Without Boundaries

We have spent the first half of this study looking at four qualifications for this text: (1) that it is for Christians only; (2) that the good is not our idea of the good but God’s idea and that it is to be made like Jesus Christ; (3) that the things God uses for this supremely good end are not necessarily good in themselves; and (4) that we can “know” this even though we may not feel or see it. However, having established these boundaries, we can turn joyfully to the one part of the text that has absolutely no boundaries whatever.

It is the term “all things.” This tells us that all things that have ever happened to us or can possibly happen to us are so ordered and controlled by God that the end result is inevitably and utterly our good. Even the worst things are used to make us like Jesus Christ.

What is more, when we begin to look at this closely, we see that they are used not only for our good but for the good of other people as well.

Here are three examples.

First, Joseph. Joseph’s story shows how God controls circumstances. Apart from God’s purpose, most of which was hidden from Joseph for a very long time, no one would suspect that God was doing anything good at all. Joseph was a young man favored of his father, with what we would call a bright future before him. His brothers hated him because of his righteousness and their own sin, and they conspired to do away with him. At first they threw Joseph into a dry cistern, planning to leave him there to die. But when some Midianite traders passed by, they seized the opportunity and sold him to them to be a slave. In their turn, the Midianites sold him to a military man in Egypt whose name was Potiphar.

What a horrible experience for a young man. Joseph was only seventeen years old, and he was now a slave in Egypt, where he could not even speak the language. But even this was not all. For a time he prospered as Potiphar’s slave. But when Potiphar’s wife tried to seduce him and he refused, Joseph was accused of trying to violate her and was thrown into prison where he spent the next two years as an abandoned and seemingly forgotten man.

All this, bad as it was, was only the path by which God was planning to raise him to the throne of Egypt to be second in power only to Pharaoh himself.

Pharaoh had a dream. No one could interpret it. Then Pharaoh’s chief butler, who had been in prison with Joseph two years before, remembered how Joseph had interpreted one of his dreams. He told Pharaoh, and Joseph was removed from the prison and brought to court, where he easily supplied the explanation. Pharaoh was so impressed that he promoted the former slave on the spot, and Joseph was able to direct the Egyptian grain harvests and store large quantities of grain. Thus he saved many lives during the ensuing famine.

The favor of his father, his dreams, his brothers’ hatred, the passing of the Midianite caravan, his being sold to Potiphar, the enthrallment of his master’s wife, two years in prison, the Pharaoh’s dream—all these diverse circumstances, some quite evil in themselves, were used by God for the great and ultimate good of Joseph and others.

His own testimony, uttered years later in a reassuring conversation with his eleven brothers, who had since been reunited to him, was this: “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives” (Gen. 50:19–20).

Second, Job. From the world’s point of view the story of Job is one of the saddest in the Bible. Job was a mature and upright man, one who feared God and shunned evil. He had seven sons and three daughters, and his wealth consisted of seven thousand sheep, three thousand camels, five hundred yoke of oxen and five hundred donkeys. He had many servants. Then, suddenly, in one day all this was taken from him. Raiders carried off the donkeys and oxen. Lightning killed the sheep. Chaldean bandits stole the camels and killed the servants. Finally, a building collapsed and his children were all killed in an instant.

Satan, who was behind this, stood back and expected Job to curse God for his ill fortune. But instead Job “fell to the ground in worship and said: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart./The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised’ ” (Job 1:21).

The next stage of the story tells how Job was afflicted with ill health, being covered with boils from his head to his feet. Then his friends heaped even greater pain on him by their shallow counsel. Job did not understand this at all. Even at the end of the story, when God restored his wealth and gave him a new family, he seems not to have known what God was doing. God was developing Job’s character and confounding the supposed wisdom of Satan, who had said that God’s people serve him only because he makes them prosperous. Job did not see this or feel it. But everything was nevertheless working together for good in the life of this great patriarch.

Third, Peter. Peter sinned in his pride, telling Jesus that although the other disciples might deny him, Peter at least would not. Not Peter! Then, he, too, sinned in his weakness, doing precisely what he had told Jesus he would not do. Peter denied the Lord three times, the last time with oaths and cursings.

What was the outcome? Jesus turned even these very bad things to good. He interceded for Peter so that the apostle’s faith would not fail, and he asked the Father to order things so that, when Peter was restored, he would be stronger for his fall and able to strengthen his brethren. This is what Peter did, for later he wrote to other Christians:

Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name. For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.

1 Peter 4:12–19

All Things

Years ago I had a watch that my father had given me when I graduated from high school. It was an unusual watch in that its back was transparent. You could look into it and see the mechanism working and the wheels turning. Some wheels went forward. Some went backward. Some turned quickly, others slowly. There was a large mainspring and a few small hairsprings. There were levers that were popping up and down.

The Christian life is like the parts of that watch. At times the events of our lives move forward quickly and we sense that we are making fast progress in being made like Jesus Christ. At other times events move slowly, and we seem to be going slowly ourselves or even slipping backward. Sometimes we seem to be going up and down with no forward motion at all. At such times we say that our emotions are on a roller coaster or that we just can’t seem to get on track. Our lives have petty annoyances that spoil our good humor. Sometimes we are overwhelmed with harsh blows, and we say that we just can’t go on. It may be true; perhaps we really can’t go on, at least until we are able to pause and catch our spiritual breath again.

But God has designed this timepiece of ours—this plan for our lives. That is the point. It has been formed “according to his purpose,” which is what our text is about, and it is because we know this, not because we feel it or see it, that we can eventually go on.

What can possibly come into our lives that can defeat God’s plan?

There are many things that can defeat human planning. Our plans are often overturned by our sins and failures, others’ opposition or jealousy, circumstances, or our own indifference. But not God’s plans. He is the sovereign God. His will is forever being done. Therefore, you and I can go on in confidence, even when we are most perplexed or cast down.

What can happen to me that can defeat God’s purpose?

Can some thorn in the flesh? Something to prick or pain me? Paul had his thorn in the flesh, but God’s grace was sufficient for him and it was in his weakness that God was glorified.

Sickness? Job had boils, but God glorified himself in Job’s sickness and even matured Job.

Death? How can death hurt me? “To be away from the body” is to be “at home with the Lord,” says Paul (2 Cor. 5:8). Therefore, my physical death will only consummate the plan of God for me. And as far as those who remain behind are concerned, well, God will work his will for good for them also. No one is indispensable, so if I should die this afternoon, the next service of Tenth Presbyterian Church would still be held. The gospel would still be preached. Christians would still be strengthened and unbelievers won. This is because “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.”[3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (pp. 471–488). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: The Reign of Grace (Vol. 2, pp. 902–910). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

May 16 – He’s in the Book

As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby.

1 Peter 2:2

To become more like Christ you need to know the Word of God. You need to know how Christ lived when He was on earth, and the only place to learn that is the Scriptures, which are the revelation of Christ. The Old Testament sets the scene for Him, creates the need for Him, and predicts His coming. The gospels record His arrival. The Book of Acts describes the immediate impact of His ministry. The epistles delineate the long–term significance of His life and ministry. And Revelation details His future return and judgment of earth.

Christ is the focus of the entire Bible, and you need to study it to know what He is like. Too often we study the Bible for the sake of theological arguments or to answer questions. Those things are important, but the main point of Bible study is to know more about Christ so that you can be like Him.[1]


Admitting Their Need

like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, (2:2a)

Believers need God’s truth like a baby needs milk. Peter compares the strength of that longing for divine revelation to the singular and dominant desire of newborn babies (artigennēta brephē) for their mother’s milk. Peter could have made his point just with the term brephē, but to underscore it he added the modifier artigennēta, which literally means “born just now.” The two words identify an infant that has just emerged from its mother’s womb and is crying for milk from her breast. That sole and desperate hunger for milk is the newborn’s first expressed longing designed by God to correspond to their greatest need, and it illustrates how strongly believers ought to desire the Word. It is singular and relentless because life depends on it.

Long for (epipothēsate) is an imperative verb that commands believers to strongly desire or crave something. The apostle Paul used the word seven times (Rom. 1:11; 2 Cor. 5:2; 9:14 kjv; Phil. 1:8; 2:26; 1 Thess. 3:6; 2 Tim. 1:4), and in each instance it expresses an intense, recurring, insatiable desire or passion (cf. Pss. 42:1 and 119:174; James 4:5). Its meaning encompasses such things as the strong desire a husband or wife has for a spouse, the strong physical craving that accompanies extreme hunger, the poignant longings one has for a deceased loved one, the intense desire a Christian parent has for a spiritually wayward child to repent and return to obedience, and the strong desires believers have for the salvation of an unbelieving family member or close friend. Those definitions each illustrate the kind of strong, consuming desire Peter wanted his readers to have for Scripture. None is stronger, however, than the desire a baby has for milk.

Peter compares the object of their craving with pure milk. Pure (adolos) means unadulterated or uncontaminated and often referred to farm products such as grain, wine, vegetable oil, or in this instance milk. Believers are to crave what is unmixed and pure, that provides real sustenance, namely, the pure milk of the word. Of the word translates logikos; however that rendering is not the usual translation of the term. In Romans 12:1 the nasb uses “spiritual” to translate logikos. In that verse other reliable English Bible versions render logikos “reasonable” (cf. kjv; nkjv), a fact which demonstrates that one cannot be overly narrow concerning the word’s meaning. Originally, logikos meant “belonging to speech,” or “belonging to reason,” which conveyed a sense of rationality and reasonability. If that meaning were applied to Peter’s use of the word, translators would have rendered his phrase “pure rational milk,” or “pure reasonable milk.” But the nasb translators here chose to render logikos. of the word, because that adequately conveys Peter’s intent to refer his readers to Scripture. The rabbis traditionally referred to God’s law as milk and Psalms 19:8–9 and 119:140 say God’s Word is pure and clean. Therefore the translation pure milk of the word is a legitimate, fair option that describes the Word as the source of pure spiritual milk for believers.

The broader context of verse 2 further supports the nasb rendering of logikos. Peter concludes chapter 1 with a focus on “the living and enduring word of God,” which is the source of believers’ new life. Therefore his reference to spiritual milk contextually relates back to the Word of God. Such milk is thus synonymous with Scripture.

It is notable what Peter did not command. He did not charge believers to read the Word, study the Word, meditate on the Word, teach the Word, preach the Word, search the Word, or memorize the Word. All of those things are essential, and other passages do command believers to perform them (cf. Josh. 1:8; Ps. 119:11; Acts 17:11; 1 Tim. 4:11, 13; 2 Tim. 2:15; 4:2). However, Peter focused on the more foundational element—which believers need before they will pursue any of the other things—a deep, continuous longing for the Word of truth (cf. 2 Thess. 2:10b).

Whether believers are recent converts or more mature in the faith, craving the Word of God (cf. Neh. 8:1–3; Ps. 119:97, 103, 159, 167; Jer. 15:16; Acts 17:11) is always essential to spiritual nourishment and growth (Job 23:12). Jesus affirmed this when He told Satan in the wilderness, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’ ” (Matt. 4:4; cf. Deut. 8:3; Luke 4:4). In view of postmodern culture’s relentless output of informational junk food through radio, television, films, the Internet, computer games, books, periodicals, and even so-called Christian pulpits—all of which causes spiritual malnourishment and dulls appetites for genuine spiritual food—believers must commit to regular nourishment from God’s Word.

Pursuing Their Spiritual Growth

so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, (2:2b)

It is always sad to see a human being who is malnourished, weak, and retarded in development. But far sadder is seeing believers who are spiritually malnourished and underdeveloped. All believers should be motivated by the opportunity to grow strong and mature in Christ, enjoying greater blessing and usefulness. May grow (auxēthēte) is a passive verb, literally meaning “it may grow you.” Peter used the same verb at the close of his second letter when he commanded believers to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18; cf. Acts 20:32; 1 Tim. 4:6). It is by the intake of the truth that the Holy Spirit grows and matures believers (cf. 2 Cor. 3:18).

In respect to salvation is the obvious objective of believers’ spiritual growth. The Word will grow them into the full, final expression of the sanctification aspect of their salvation, as Paul commanded the Philippians,

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. (Phil. 2:12–13; cf. John 8:31–32; 2 Cor. 3:18; Col. 1:21–23; Heb. 3:14; James 1:25)

Peter’s exhortation for believers to grow through the Word strongly implies the necessity of discontent with the present condition of spiritual development. It also recalls what Paul said about his dissatisfaction with the status quo in his life:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:7–14)

Motivation for genuine spiritual growth arises out of a righteous sense of discontent, coupled with a sincere desire to be satisfied with nothing but the Word of God.[2]


Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation, 3. now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.

“Like newborn babies.” Is Peter intimating that the readers are recent converts? Not necessarily. Possibly he uses the phrase like newborn babies figuratively to give the readers of his letter the mental picture of infants craving nourishment. Parents know how newborn babies vocally and ardently express their desire to be fed regularly. In fact, newborn babies act as if their life depends on the next feeding. Likewise, believers must show their longing for the Word of God. Peter encourages his readers to crave the milk of God’s Word. He does not chide them (see, e.g., 1 Cor. 3:2; Heb. 5:12–13) but wants them to crave spiritual nourishment.

“Crave pure spiritual milk.” The verb crave in the Greek must be understood favorably, not unfavorably. For example, Paul uses this verb approvingly when he expresses his longing to see the believers to whom he writes his epistles. Similarly, Peter exhorts the readers to crave spiritual food, just as newborn babies long for milk at feeding time.

Peter describes the word milk with the adjectives pure and spiritual. He does not say that the readers eventually will receive solid food when they mature, but that their nourishment is pure and spiritual. Only here in the entire New Testament the Greek adjective pure occurs. It denotes an absence of fraud and deceit (see John 1:47). The term spiritual in this context points to the Word of God. Notice that in 1:23, Peter tells the readers that they are born again through the Word of God (also consult 1:25). In the Greek, the term translated “spiritual” comes from the same root as the expression word. Because this particular term occurs only once more in the New Testament (Rom. 12:1, where Paul speaks of spiritual worship) it is difficult to translate. In English we lack derivatives and therefore furnish the reading spiritual. We rely on the context, which clearly indicates that Peter has the Word of God in mind. The spiritual food the believers consume comes to them verbally through the Word of God.

“So that by it you may grow up in your salvation.” The main verb in this clause is “grow.” The result of consuming the milk of God’s Word ought to be the spiritual growth of the believers. As a mother constantly looks for evidence of growth in her child, so God wants to see continued spiritual growth in his children. The verb to grow literally refers to physical growth in children. Interestingly, Peter makes no distinction between babies and adults, milk and solid food. Instead he indicates that all believers continue to be babies whose constant diet is the milk of God’s Word.

Once again Peter introduces the concept salvation. In fact, we observe a parallel between the first chapter, where the writer teaches that we experience rebirth that leads to salvation (see 1:3, 5, 9), and the second chapter, where he says that we grow up in our salvation (2:2).

“Now that you have tasted that the Lord is good.” Although most translations do not indicate that this verse resembles Psalm 34:8, the similarity is clear. David says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good.”

We mark three points. First we note that Peter indicates a lapse of time since the readers initially became acquainted with the Word of God. They have tasted it and now Peter wants them to continue to receive the nourishment of that Word. He encourages them to “crave pure spiritual milk” with the intensity of newborn babies who demand nourishing milk. Once babies taste nourishment, they do not stop craving it until they are satisfied. Likewise the believers, now that they have tasted God’s Word, must crave it until they are filled.

The second point is that the word Lord in Peter’s epistle relates to Jesus, but in the psalm (Ps. 34:8) it relates to the Lord God of Israel. Peter indirectly teaches the divinity of Jesus by placing him on an equal level with God.

And the last item is the word good. This Greek word is also translated “kind” and serves as a synonym of “gracious.” Peter wants to say that when the believer reads the Bible, he meets his personal God in Jesus Christ, who grants him numerous blessings. The child of God, then, joyfully exclaims that the Lord is good and kind.

Practical Considerations in 2:2

Do you have family devotions? You would like to say yes, but your answer is really no. There are too many conflicts and interruptions for regular family devotions. You have tried, but you cannot get the whole family together. Perhaps you have given up. However, there are times when the family is together.

Mealtime is family time, and family time should include prayer and Bible reading. The Christian family comes together at mealtime, not only to enjoy each other’s company, but also to express thanks to God and to read his Word. Families should look forward to mealtime and make it devotional. We need spiritual food just as much as other food, with the same regularity.

Family devotions ought to be for the entire family, and each member should be urged to participate. We should let the children each read some Bible verses, ask them to present their prayer requests to God, and teach them the practice of regularly reading God’s Word. Consistent family devotions are a spiritual blessing to all members of the family, especially if each one participates. Moreover, the home is the training ground for life, for in the family circle lifelong patterns are set.

Family devotions are exercises in the practice of holiness, because in prayer and the reading of Scripture we enter the holiness of God. Therefore, devotions should never be rushed, conducted thoughtlessly, or skipped altogether. God wants us to come to him with regularity and reverence. As we eat regularly, so we read Scripture and pray regularly. The old cliché is worth repeating: “The family that prays together stays together.” And last, God wants his children to grow spiritually in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).[3]


2 Growth in any area of human existence is progressive, incremental. This growth, it goes without saying, is dependent on food as nourishment. Having noted the enduring character of the word of God, Peter depicts this “word” as being the means by which nourishment comes to the Christian. This food, in contradistinction to the vices just enumerated, is “pure” (adolos, GK 100); it is free from mixture, containing not the slightest trace of impurity. Peter describes the word as a kind of “pure spiritual milk,” conjuring an image of life sustenance in its basic form. The believer is to “crave” (epipotheō, GK 2160) the milk of the word, just as a baby craves its milk (the imagery of infants and milk also occurs in 1 Co 3:2; 1 Th 2:7; Heb 5:12). While it is natural for commentators to see in this image the idea of spiritual immaturity (a notion reinforced by the context in which milk is used in Heb 5:12–13), or to view the readers as young in the faith (so, e.g., Beare, 114, and Kelly, 84), the main point of the imagery—illustrated by the verb “crave”—is to stress the idea of hunger and focused pursuit. Peter wishes foremost to convey motivation for growth, not to suggest immaturity on the part of the readers (thus Grudem, 94).[4]


2:2 A second obligation flowing from our new birth is to have an insatiable craving for the pure spiritual milk of the word. The sins mentioned in the previous verse stunt spiritual growth; the good word of God nourishes it.

The phrase as newborn babes does not necessarily mean that Peter’s readers were new believers; they may have been saved for several years. But young or old in the faith, they should thirst for the word just as infants cry for milk. We get some idea of the thirst of the healthy baby by the impatient, aggressive, determined way he sucks and swallows.

By the pure milk of the word, a believer grows up spiritually. The ultimate goal toward which all spiritual growth in this life is moving is conformity to the image of our Lord Jesus Christ.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 153). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 98–101). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 80–82). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 313). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2257). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.