Daily Archives: May 17, 2017

May 17, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

img_1328

May 17, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

Russian President Vladimir Putin offered to give a transcript of White House talks between his foreign minister and Donald Trump to Congress to prove that the U.S. president didn’t give away secrets.

Mexican authorities have zeroed in on seven banks, including three from the U.S., as part of a widening investigation into price manipulation in the nation’s bond market, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The United Nations said it plans to deploy more peacekeeping forces in the Central African Republic diamond-mining town of Bangassou to stem a recent wave of violence.

Apple Inc. plans to announce an update to its laptop lineup at an annual conference for app developers in early June, a move that could help offset new competition from Microsoft Corp. as well as declining iPad sales.

Amazon.com Inc. updated its least-expensive tablets, continuing to produce new and updated hardware as a way to attract consumers to its more profitable services.

Sotheby’s set the record auction price for a pair of earrings, selling a duo of blue and pink diamond jewels for $57 million in Geneva.

For the first time, women in their early 30s are having more babies than younger moms in the United States. Health experts say the shift is due to more women waiting longer to have children and the ongoing drop in the teen birth rate.

AP Top Stories

Chelsea Manning, the transgender army private jailed for one of the largest leaks of classified documents in US history, was released from a military prison Wednesday after seven years behind bars.

In the latest wave of journalist killings in Mexico, Javier Valdez Cárdenas, an award-winning reporter who specialized in writing about drug trafficking and organized crime was killed Monday in the northern state of Sinaloa, officials said. He was among the six journalists who have reportedly been murdered in Mexico this year.

A U.S. appeals court has rejected a Georgia death row inmate’s motion that his scheduled Tuesday execution by lethal injection be halted and that he be put to death instead by a firing squad, which his lawyers said would be less painful for him.

Moderate senators from both parties met Monday to explore whether they can work on bipartisan legislation overhauling the nation’s health care system.

The United States Supreme Court has quelled an attempt by Republicans in North Carolina to reinstate a controversial voter-identification law that a lower court said targeted African American voters with an “almost surgical precision”.

An 11-year-old “cyber ninja” stunned an audience of security experts Tuesday by hacking into their Bluetooth devices to manipulate a teddy bear and show how interconnected smart toys “can be weaponized”.

Employees at a Lowe’s hardware store in Christiansburg, Virginia, recently channeled Ellen Ripley in the 1986 movie “Aliens,” as they donned mechanical exoskeletons to help them lift and move heavy objects.

Tesla is pairing up with a Vermont utility provider to offer subsidized Powerwall battery packs to bolster its power grid and give customers a chance to harness its energy when other lights go out.

US President Donald Trump’s administration has reportedly refused to allow Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accompany him to one of the holiest Jewish sites in the region during a visit next week.

A Syrian monitoring group says twin explosions have gone off in a makeshift camp near Syria’s the border with Jordan, killing at least 10 people and wounding seven, including rebel fighters.

Amazon is hiring a business lead to figure out how the company can break into the multibillion-dollar pharmacy market.

BBC

President Macron has unveiled a gender-balanced cabinet in accordance with an earlier pledge, with 11 of 22 new ministerial posts taken by women.

A Sharia court in Indonesia’s Aceh province has sentenced two men to be caned in public for having gay sex. The men were found guilty of violating strict Islamic laws in conservative Aceh and will receive 85 lashes each.

Gunmen from a Christian sect have stormed a prison in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s capital, freeing their leader and about 50 other inmates, a government spokesman said.

At least six people and all four IS gunmen have been killed in a battle at the Afghan state television building in the city of Jalalabad, officials said.

China is building a vast DNA database with no appropriate privacy protection, human rights activists warn.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s official website has been hit by an “organized” cyber-attack from Russia, his administration has said.

WND

One of China’s top universities has installed facial recognition in a female dormitory to ensure the building is off limits to non-residents.

A medical report confirms prominent Islam expert Robert Spencer’s claim that he was drugged by an Icelander in the island nation’s capital after giving a speech on Islam and the future of European culture.

McDonald’s on Tuesday pulled a British television ad that was accused of using child bereavement to sell fast food.


The Briefing 05-17-17

Christian governor jailed on charges of blasphemy in predominately Muslim Indonesia

When religious liberty is a matter of life and death: Record number of Christians fleeing Middle East

Evacuating the center: Labour Party releases radically left-wing manifesto ahead of Britain’s election

What’s in a name? American culture through the lens of baby name trends

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


Top News – 5/17/2017

Merkel, Macron: the new power couple to shake up the EU
Macron on the campaign trail made the case that a reformed France would go hand in hand with a reformed EU, made more responsive to the concerns of citizens who may have missed the benefits of globalisation.

Oklahoma Lawmakers Officially Declare Abortion to be Murder
In a resolution that will have little to no effect on actual legal policy in the state, the Oklahoma House of Representatives passed a resolution last week that officially declared abortion to be the murder of an innocent human being. In the resolution, lawmakers in the body – made up of 74 Republicans and 26 Democrats – made it state clear that “all human life is protected by God’s law and the highest laws of the land.”

Financial Weapons Of Mass Destruction: Top 25 US Banks Have 222 Trillion Dollars Derivatives Exposure
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.

Putin: Claims Trump Gave Lavrov Secret Info Show ‘Political Schizophrenia’ in US
He said that it seems that “political schizophrenia” is developing in the US amid such media claims. The situation in the US is being in turmoil under anti-Russian slogans, Putin said, adding that Trump is not being allowed to work properly.

Friedman: Palestinians drop settlement freeze as precondition for talks
Days after arriving in Israel, America’s new envoy reportedly says the US is also not making the demand.

How Do We Know God Truly Loves Israel?
To most readers of Israel Today, it’s a given that God never stopped loving Israel – even after the nation rejected their Messiah. “For they are beloved for the sake of the fathers” (Rom. 11:28). Unfortunately, too many Christians still do not share that belief. And sadly, and understandably, many Jews are extremely skeptical of His love, also.

EU SHOCK: Austria to hold emergency snap election as support for eurosceptics SURGE
The countries main parties have agreed to hold an early parliamentary election on October 15, Chancellor Christian Kern said on Tuesday. Fears are now growing among the political elite that the far-right Freedom Party could make it into government. The election will be the latest threat to the European Union’s spreading ideology and push for uniformity among member states.

Mary’s Providential Bridge to Islam
As a matter of historical importance, Fatima was the favorite daughter of Muhammad — a woman considered of the highest dignity in Islam, save for only one person: the Virgin Mary. Indeed, after Fatima’s death at around the age of 26, her father wrote to his dead daughter: “Thou shalt be the most blessed of women in Paradise after Mary.”

US organizations pressure Trump to move Embassy
Group of 60 US organizations pressures Trump to move Embassy to Jerusalem with no delays or preconditions.

Pair of Earthquakes Rattle Santa Barbara Area
A pair of earthquakes shook the Santa Barbara area Tuesday night, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. A 4.1-magnitude earthquake struck first, according to USGS.

Hostilities between the Koreas very likely, S. Korean president says
…there is a “high possibility” of clashes between the North and the South on land or at sea, South Korean President Moon Jae-In said Wednesday. While visiting the Defense Ministry…

BIN Conference Speaker Kade Hawkins, Founder of Prophecy News Watch, Is “Reporting Prophecy As it Unfolds”
“It amazes me how Bible prophecy can be hidden in plain sight,” Hawkins told Breaking Israel News. “People intuitively believe that seeing is a matter only of opening one’s eyes. Frequently, people fail to perceive very major things happening right in front of our eyes, a phenomenon known ‘perceptual blindness’.

Official Trump Itinerary Confirmed: Western Wall Yes, Masada No
The White House officially confirmed US President Donald Trump’s itinerary for his first official visit to Israel on May 22-23, including a visit to the Western Wall.

Haley: ‘I Believe the Western Wall Is Part of Israel’
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said Tuesday that the Western Wall is part of Israel, something other Trump administration officials would not unequivocally state the same day.

US officials: Trump’s intel leak endangered life of spy placed inside ISIS by Israel
US President Donald Trump’s alleged intelligence disclosure to Russia has endangered the life of a spy who was placed inside ISIS by Israel…The spy in question, whose life now hangs on the line after Trump reportedly revealed classified information in a meeting with Russian officials last week, was tracking an ISIS plot to bring down a passenger jet on its way to the US with a bomb hidden in a laptop…Trump took to Twitter earlier Tuesday, defending having shared “facts” with senior Russian officials…

Friedman: Palestinians drop settlement freeze as precondition for talks
The United States has not asked for a settlement freeze and the Palestinians have dropped that demand as a precondition for talks with Israel, America’s new Ambassador David Friedman told the Hebrew daily Yisrael HaYom. “We have no demands for a settlement freeze and [Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen wants to meet [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu without any preconditions,” Friedman said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Haley: Western Wall part of Israel, US embassy should move to Jerusalem
The Western Wall is part of Israel, US Ambassador to the UN Nikkey Haley said on Tuesday as she took a number of stands that appears to differ from the Trump Administration. “The Western Wall is part of Israel and I think that is how we have always seen it and that is how we should pursue it,” Haley told the Christian Broadcasting Network in a video interview.

Greeks walk out in general strike over cuts
Hospitals, transport services and government offices across Greece have been severely affected by a general strike over new austerity measures. Industrial action began on Tuesday but has now been ramped up nationally by members of the big trade unions. Ferry services stopped and buses and trains were limited. Flights were also being hit for several hours. MPs are set to vote on controversial reforms on Thursday that will cut pensions and end tax breaks.

Syria war: Turkey will never accept US alliance with Kurds – Erdogan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has indicated after talks in Washington that he will never accept a US alliance with Kurdish forces fighting in Syria. “There is no place for terrorist organisations in the future of our region,” he said at a joint news conference with President Donald Trump. He was referring to the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, following a US decision earlier this month to arm the group.

Donald Trump Plans ‘Direct’ Speech to Muslims About Radical Islamic Terror
President Donald Trump will visit Saudi Arabia during his first multi-national trip overseas, meeting with the leaders of more than 50 Muslim countries. Trump will deliver “an inspiring, yet direct speech on the need to confront radical ideology,” according to National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who briefed reporters on the president’s trip. He added that Trump would talk about his hopes “for a peaceful vision of Islam to dominate across the world.”

Rash of media murders highlights deadly threats in Mexico
A journalist is shot dead as she pulls out of her garage in the morning with her young son. Gunmen ambush another journalist while he lazes in a car wash hammock. An award-winning reporter is hauled out of his vehicle and gunned down a block from his office.

Chaffetz Demands FBI Hand Over All Comey’s Notes, Memos, & Recordings Related To Trump
“GOP oversight is going to get the Comey memo, if it exists. I need to see it sooner rather than later. I have my subpoena pen ready.”

South Korea says it wants to reopen communications with North amid missile crisis
South Korea said on Wednesday it wanted to reopen communications with North Korea as new President Moon Jae-in seeks a two-track policy involving sanctions and dialogue with its reclusive neighbor to rein in its nuclear and missile programs.

Manufacturing Resistance – The American Public Is Being Manipulated Into Irrelevance
“The reason the ‘elites’ are elites is because they know how to corral and manipulate the sheep. 2017 is the perfect manifestation of it…”

US Nears Record $100 Billion Arms Deal For Saudi Arabia
White House officials said the move would be good for the economy, and insisted that building Saudi Arabia’s already substantial military was “essential” because of regional problems.

Kim Jong-un could soon have long-range weapons capable of reaching Alaska and Hawaii
Careful analysis of North Korean tests sites, using images from Planet, reveal the regime has gradually been building up the size of its missiles. Scorch marks in the ground show that it may now be testing the Hwasong-12 rocket – capable of flying 4,500miles.


Impeachment Fever

Democrats and their media allies are whipping themselves into a frenzy in their quest to impeach the duly elected 45th president of the United States and drive him from office.

It is part of the Left’s collective mental breakdown.

View Article


Ransomware Is Tip Of The Iceberg: America’s Infrastructure At Risk

The Ransomware that began spreading across the globe on Friday is still going with more computers reportedly being affected today by new variants of the virus.

What we’ve learned is that the attack hasn’t just taken down personal computers, but core government and business networks affecting everything from health care systems and transportation in Europe, to ATM withdrawals in China.

View Article


Donald Trump, Seth Rich And The Gangster Culture That Permeates Washington

Politics has become a very dirty game in America, and if you don’t know how to play the game, the game is going to play you. Donald Trump and Seth Rich are both victims of this cold, hard reality, and hopefully what has happened to them will help the American people understand what is really going on in Washington. Contrary to what many may believe, politics is not an easy road to fame, wealth and glory. For every Obama or Clinton that makes it big, there are thousands of others that have had their careers shattered, their reputations ruined and their futures destroyed by the game. And those such as Seth Rich that cross the wrong people at the wrong time end up dead. (Read More…)


The New, Truly Confused Evangelicals – Eric Barger

View Video


More say Bible is ‘book of fables’ than ‘word of God’

According to a new Gallup poll, the majority of those polled believe the Bible is a book of myths and fables.  “This is the first time in Gallup’s four-decade trend that biblical literalism has not surpassed biblical skepticism.”  Paul Bedard of Washington Examinerhas the story:

A record low percentage of Americans believe that the Bible is “actual word of God,” with more calling it a “book of fables,” similar to Aesop’s, according to a new survey.

Gallup reports that just 24 percent believe the Bible should be taken “literally, word for word.”

View article →


The Real News Coming Out Of Washington Is That President Trump Is The Target Of A Political Coup

Someone at the highest levels of government has leaked information to the news media about President Trump’s discussions with Russian officials. That’s potentially a serious crime. And, this wasn’t the first time.

EDITOR’S NOTE: By now it has become obvious to even the casual observer that our president is under dire, direct and sustained attack. There is a very powerful and organized behind-the-scenes campaign to destroy his presidency. All signs point to the Obama Shadow Government whose HQ id mere blocks from the White House. The fake news media has been relentless with their made-up reporting of half-truths while completely ignoring the real issues. The Far Left will stop at nothing to take down Trump, even if it includes a trip to the grassy knoll. 

There is, indeed, a bombshell of a story coming out of the news that President Donald Trump revealed sensitive information during his White House meeting with Russian officials last week. But it’s not that President Trump committed any crime. The really alarming news is that the duly-elected President of the United States appears to be the target of a political coup.

First, let’s be clear: President Trump has been sloppy, arrogant, and just plain misguided plenty of times during his short tenure in office — including the way he handled the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the hiring and firing of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. And if he did unnecessarily compromise the source of the sensitive information he shared with the Russians, shame on him.

But a president cannot be removed from office for arrogance and sloppiness. The Constitution sets specific grounds for impeachment. They are “treason, bribery, and other high crimes and misdemeanors.” To be impeached and removed from office, the House and Senate must find that the official committed one of these acts.

Hannity: 5 major forces are aligning to take down Trump

Here’s what I think is the bigger scandal: Someone at the highest levels of government has leaked information to the news media about President Trump’s discussions with Russian officials. That’s potentially a serious crime. And, this wasn’t the first time.

What all of the leaked stories have in common is that they were immediately beset with multiple leaks from highly placed officials meant to deeply defame President Trump. Once again, it’s important to note that a good deal of these leaks may, indeed, be illegal. The Espionage Act bans transmitting or communicating information “relating to the national defense” if the leaker believes the information could be used to harm the United States or aid a foreign nation. And it’s hard to see how these many leaks aren’t helping our enemies.

Hillary commands her followers to resist the Trump administration:

Where are these leaks coming from? When we look at the most likely sources, we find no real comfort. The first possibility is that someone close to President Trump himself is essentially acting like a mole in the White House. Remember that when the story broke Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, and Deputy National Security Adviser Dina Powell were all in the room with President Trump and the Russians last week and they all flatly denied the news reports. If one of them is saying one thing publicly and something else to contacts in the news media, that is certainly not encouraging.

Then-candidate Donald Trump indeed insulted the intelligence community during the election, and many have concluded that this is their plotted revenge.

Almost as bad is the possibility that someone on one of the congressional intelligence committees is the source of this and other leaks. It’s one thing to use domestic policy or even overt foreign policy information to oppose a sitting president. It’s another to compromise knowledge of intelligence briefing materials to do so.

Obama creating a ‘shadow government?’

Here’s the kicker: None of this is actually working where it counts. Again, we have not one piece of evidence of any impeachable act. And it’s not even truly working in the polls. President Trump’s approval ratings may be lower than any modern president this early in his tenure, but they’re still higher than they were throughout the election. If anything, these constant attacks coming from this obviously angry and potentially illegal place are only strengthening the resolve of Trump’s base of supporters. They elected a guy they believed was truly the enemy of the established political class. And right on cue, the established political class is stopping at nothing to prove them right.

For all the things President Trump has said that have dragged down the level of our American political discourse, this sustained takedown effort is worse. And it’s not clear how this is going to end. Unlike President Trump, the leakers remain anonymous and thus unaccountable. They can presumably go on forever. And President Trump doesn’t seem like he’s going to stop fighting back or irritating and threatening his political opponents.

But don’t fool yourself into thinking this is OK or even tolerable. The bottom line is that we have some very powerful people in Washington who really don’t like how democracy played out this time around and what they do to attack it next isn’t going to be any better than what they’re doing now.

Luckily the American people remain wisely circumspect about all of this. President Trump’s polls aside, the voters are still giving him a decent shot to govern. And unaccountable people in Washington shouldn’t be trying to make that decision for us. source

MID-DAY SNAPSHOT

MAY 17, 2017

Don’t Believe the Hype

The MSM is waging a smear campaign against Trump designed to derail his agenda with the hope of eventually bringing him down.

THE FOUNDATION

“During the course of administration, and in order to disturb it, the artillery of the press has been levelled against us, charged with whatsoever its licentiousness could devise or dare. These abuses of an institution so important to freedom and science are deeply to be regretted, inasmuch as they tend to lessen its usefulness and to sap its safety.” —Thomas Jefferson (1805)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 17

  • Here’s What the Latest Trump-Comey News Is Doing to Markets (Read More)
  • Dollar Slide Worsens With U.S. Stocks Near Records: Markets Wrap (Read More)
  • Turmoil Puts GOP Agenda at Risk (Read More)
  • Trump Faces Deepest Crisis of His Presidency (Read More)
  • Trump’s $1 Trillion Plan Helps Wall Street More Than Rural America, Democrats Warn (Read More)
  • States Wage Battles Over High Drug Prices (Read More)
  • Chinese state media says U.S. should take some blame for cyber attack (Read More)
  • In America’s largest oilfield, whir of activity confounds OPEC (Read More)
  • Highflying Emerging-Market Hedge Funds Fail to Impress Investors (Read More)
  • Germany asks U.S. for classified briefing on Lockheed’s F-35 fighter (Read More)
  • Trump’s Tweets Leave His Aides in an Awkward Spot (Read More)
  • Trump Tries to Reassure Erdogan After U.S. Plan to Arm Kurds (Read More)
  • Target Sales Fall as Traffic and Average Orders Decline (Read More)
  • Fyre Festival Was Buried Under Millions in Debt Before It Even Began (Read More)
  • How Trump’s Rust Belt Voters Have Changed Since the Election (Read More)
  • The U.S. Army Wants to Replace Its Helicopters With These (Read More)
  • A question of trust: Merkel treads carefully with Trump (Read More)
  • Women in 30s Now Having More Babies Than Younger Moms in U.S. (Read More)

Featured Blogs


Top Headlines – 5/17/2017

Nikki Haley: Western Wall part of Israel, US embassy should be moved to Jerusalem

Rivlin to Friedman: Time to recognize Jerusalem as our capital

Families of Israeli terror victims ask to meet Trump during Israel visit

Abbas: We want a state alongside Israel – peace agreement will help the fight against terror

Israel Said to Be Source of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to Russians

Russia says reports that Trump revealed secret information are ‘fake’

Trump defends ‘absolute right’ to share ‘facts’ with Russia

Israel says ties with US unaffected after Trump-Lavrov accusations

A New Goal for President Trump’s First Foreign Trip: Damage Control

Trump Signals Shift in Middle East Strategy With Symbolic First Stop in Saudi Arabia

Trump to give ‘inspiring’ speech on Islam in Saudi Arabia

Sudan President, Charged With Genocide, Is Invited to Saudi Summit

9 hurt, 2 arrested in altercation at Turkish Embassy in DC

Trump Praises Erdogan as Ally in Terrorism Fight, Brushing Aside Tensions

Syria war: Turkey will never accept US alliance with Kurds – Erdogan

US hits Syria with new sanctions

Israeli minister calls for assassination of Syria’s Assad

Syria Denies Burning Bodies of Political Prisoners

Iranian Democracy Advocates Dismiss Presidential Election as ‘Puppet Show’ as Rouhani Faces Off With Conservative Challenger Raisi

S.Korea says communication channel with North must reopen

US Ambassador to UN says countries ‘either support North Korea or you support us’

US admiral: North Korea’s actions ‘recipe for disaster’

North Korea missile detected by THAAD, program progressing faster than expected: South Korea

Expansion of ban on larger electronics on airlines likely: U.S.

Hacker group that leaked NSA spy tools likely includes a U.S. insider, experts say

Besieged White House denies, defends as new bombshells hit

McCain: Latest Trump revelations are of ‘Watergate size and scale’

White House disputes explosive report that Trump asked Comey to end Flynn probe

Fox News: Murdered DNC Staffer Sent 44,053 Internal Emails to WikiLeaks

Dems launch ‘Resistance Summer’

Montage: The Media Can’t Stop Asking Democratic Guests If They’re Ready to Impeach Trump

Congressional Dems making early calls for Trump’s impeachment

Pelosi warns Democrats pushing impeachment that they’re adding to the ‘hearsay’

Dems warn their Trump obsession will hurt party

France’s Macron calls for ‘historic reconstruction’ of Europe

Starbucks Computer System Crashes

Here’s How Facebook Knows Who You Meet In Real Life

Facial recognition installed in female university dormitory in China – to keep out ‘strangers’

Amid Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Ruins, a New Push for Statehood

Rash of media murders highlights deadly threats in Mexico

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Tambo, Peru

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits South of the Fiji Islands

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

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 40,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Cleveland volcano on the Aleutian Islands erupts to 12,000ft

2 dead after tornadoes hit Oklahoma, Wisconsin

China is creating a massive “Orwellian” DNA database

3D-printed ovaries successfully restore mouse’s fertility in ‘holy grail of bioengineering’

Babies From Skin Cells? Prospect Is Unsettling to Some Experts

Women Safely Take Abortion Pills At Home, With Online Consult

‘Internet abortions’ may be option in some restrictive countries, study suggests

Tennessee passes viability test for abortions after 20 weeks

Indian girl, 10, granted abortion after rape

Bob DeWaay – Reject The Benedict Option

Jim Bakker: Trump Opponents Have Triggered The Apocalypse

Christian Mom Blogger Glennon Doyle Melton Marries Soccer Star Girlfriend Abby Wambach

Calgary Pastor, Charged With Murder In Death Of 3-Month-Old Son

Poll: More say Bible is ‘book of fables’ than ‘word of God’

‘Jesus Christ Superstar’ Coming to Television

Christians Slam ‘Demonic’ Practice of Turning Frozen Embryo Children Into Jewelry for Parents

Italian evangelicals fight to legalise their places of worship

Christianity Growing in North Korea Despite Persecution, Defector Says

Christian sect members attack Congo prison, free leader

Trump to visit Western Wall without Netanyahu

Posted: 17 May 2017 07:01 AM PDT

US President Donald Trump will visit the Western Wall during his visit to Israel next week, National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster confirmed during a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Deadly Tornadoes Strike Elk City, OK and Chetek, Wisconsin

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:55 AM PDT

At least two people were killed in the central United States on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, as powerful thunderstorms rolled through the region. SPC’s preliminary…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Dangerous parasite showing up in sushi and raw fish

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:43 AM PDT

A dangerous parasite that can be consumed with raw fish and sushi, leading to sickness in humans, is now showing up in the United States….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christianity Growing in North Korea Despite Persecution

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:36 AM PDT

Kim Chung-seong, a North Korean defector now working as a Christian missionary, says despite the persecution faced by Christians in the world’s most difficult place…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Orleans Continues Purge Of Historical Monuments Deemed Racially Offensive

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:27 AM PDT

New Orleans removed a statue honoring Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard early Wednesday morning, marking the third of four historical monuments the city slated for removal…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: South Korea Warns of ‘High Possibility’ of conflict with North Korea

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:20 AM PDT

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday there was a “high possibility” of conflict with North Korea, which is pressing ahead with nuclear and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Vladimir Putin says can prove Trump did not pass Russia secrets

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:16 AM PDT

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Wednesday that U.S. President Donald Trump had not passed any secrets onto Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Dollar losses build as Trump crisis stokes fears for agenda

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:13 AM PDT

The dollar sank Wednesday with a fresh crisis in the White House fuelling concerns that Donald Trump’s economy-boosting agenda could be run off-track. The administration…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Congressional Dems making early calls for Trump’s impeachment

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:09 AM PDT

That didn’t take long.  A small group of President Trump’s most outspoken critics has seized on the James Comey controversy to make a — very — early…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Keep Your Faith and Take your Mountain!

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:05 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we discuss how it is essential that we hold fast to the profession of our faith and continue believing…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

100K Sign Petition to ABC to Save Conservative Values Sitcom ‘Last Man Standing’

Posted: 17 May 2017 05:55 AM PDT

A fan’s petition to ABC Television to revive the now-canceled blue-collar sitcom Last Man Standing has received more than 100,000 signatures in less than a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Earthquake Shakes Up Residents in Bardwell, KY – 3rd Quake on New Madrid In 7 Days

Posted: 17 May 2017 05:51 AM PDT

The ground shook across portions of at least three states, after a magnitude 3.2 quake struck directly underneath the Mississippi River just west of Bardwell….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Chaffetz ready to issue subpoena for Comey memo

Posted: 17 May 2017 05:47 AM PDT

House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) indicated he’s willing to issue a subpoena to obtain a memo authored by former FBI Director James Comey…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘I Came…to Graduate, Not Go to Church’: High School Seniors Demand Apology After Superintendent’s God Comments

Posted: 16 May 2017 07:16 PM PDT

A group of recent high school graduates are demanding an apology after their school superintendent reportedly invoked prayer, the Bible and his “savior” during a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Kim Jong-Un Vows to Keep Testing Missiles Despite Threats from White House

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:50 PM PDT

North Korea has vowed to continue secret underground nuclear explosions and ballistic missile tests as the sabre rattling hermit kingdom bolsters its military capability. Kim…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Pushed for Release of American Pastor During Meeting With Turkey President, Source Says

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:31 PM PDT

President Donald Trump made imprisoned American pastor Andrew Brunson a topic of discussion during his meetings with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday, a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

MASS DECEPTION? Giant ‘Alien Megastructures’ Could Be Orbiting Dozens of Nearby Stars

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:23 PM PDT

The world was electrified last year when it was suggested that scientists had spotted an “alien megastructure” orbiting a distant star. Now a space boffin has…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Facial recognition installed in female university dormitory in China

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:15 PM PDT

One of China’s top universities has installed facial recognition in a female dormitory to ensure the building is off limits to non-residents. The scanners were…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Upcoming Total Solar Eclipse Brings End Times Speculation

Posted: 16 May 2017 06:09 PM PDT

A total solar eclipse will be visible in the U.S. on August 21, 2017. Some are speculating that this may be a sign of the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Satellite Images Reveal NK Nuclear Missiles More Powerful Than World Feared And Can Hit US

Posted: 16 May 2017 05:56 PM PDT

Satellite images of Kim Jong-un’s main missile test site reveal North Korea’s weapons are far more powerful than first thought. And trigger-happy Kim could soon…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Cyber Sleeper Cells Prep War-Contingency..

Posted: 16 May 2017 05:51 PM PDT

They take legitimate jobs as software programmers in the neighbors of their home country, North Korea. When the instructions from Pyongyang come for a hacking…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

LEAKS TURN TO FLOOD: Ousted FBI chief James Comey Throws Trump Under the Bus

Posted: 16 May 2017 05:47 PM PDT

Former FBI director James Comey accused President Donald Trump of asking him to close a federal investigation into disgraced general Mike Flynn during a February…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

More than 1,600 Accept Jesus in Texas Revival

Posted: 16 May 2017 01:40 PM PDT

Christian revival is sweeping across North Central Texas, specifically the Dallas-Fort Worth area.  Through a movement called “reviveTX,” more than 350 churches are involved in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Undeniable Sign Of Christ’s Return

Posted: 16 May 2017 01:26 PM PDT

The signs of the Second Coming are all around us. When His disciples asked Jesus to describe the signs, He gave them several. The Jewish…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Istanbul ‘Overdue’ For Mega-Quake – Magnitude 7 or Greater Expected in Next Few Years

Posted: 16 May 2017 01:22 PM PDT

A Major earthquake will strike Istanbul with just a few seconds notice, scientists have warned. They believe a quake with a “magnitude of 7 or…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Instagram Down: Facebook-owned app suffers worldwide outages

Posted: 16 May 2017 01:13 PM PDT

Facebook-owned Instagram has been hit with worldwide outages, with social media users reporting that they’re unable to access the photo-sharing app. Users from across the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

School Rebukes Worker for Saying ‘I’ll Pray for You’

Posted: 16 May 2017 01:09 PM PDT

A school worker in Augusta, Maine, was ordered to stop using religious phrases like “I will pray for you” and “You were in my prayers”…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Satanic Church Openly Celebrates as Christians Hide for Their Lives

Posted: 16 May 2017 01:05 PM PDT

The Satanic Church of Russia celebrated their one-year anniversary by cheering the Jehovah’s Witness ban. Russia banned the cult in April, claiming their tactics were “extremist.” It’s…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Israel Named as Source of Secret Intelligence Trump Gave to Russians

Posted: 16 May 2017 01:00 PM PDT

ATTENTION: The following report is from the New York Times and does not reflect the opinions of End Time Headlines The classified intelligence that President…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea-US End Times Bible Prophecy, Nuclear Destruction Fears: Should Christians Despair?

Posted: 16 May 2017 09:51 AM PDT

With the recent escalation of tensions between the United States and North Korea, discussions have stirred about how it fits into biblical prophecy and whether…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FALLING AWAY: More Americans Now Believe Bible Is a Book of Fables, Not Literal Word of God

Posted: 16 May 2017 09:47 AM PDT

More Americans now believe that the Bible is a book of fables and history than those who believe it’s the literal Word of God, a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump praised for expanding protections for Unborn

Posted: 16 May 2017 09:44 AM PDT

Some of America’s biggest pro-life organizations are praising the Trump administration for a huge expansion in protections for the unborn worldwide through an order Monday…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Top Private School Brings in Skirts for Boys Amidst ‘Surge’ in ‘Trans Children’

Posted: 16 May 2017 09:23 AM PDT

One of Britain’s top private schools is bringing in ‘gender-neutral’ uniforms that would allow boys to wear skirts, as teachers report growing numbers of children…

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.

The Living and Active Word of God

1 Peter 1:23-2:3

Code: B170517

God’s Word is alive in a truer sense than we are. As Peter quotes Isaiah 40:6–8, “For, ‘all flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, but the word of the Lord endures forever’” (1 Peter 1:24–25).

In the world around us, the things we call “living” are really dying. What we call “the land of the living” is probably better named “the land of the dying,” because wherever you look, death is doing its work of decay and destruction. In the final analysis, death is the monarch of this world.

Against this background of decay and death, the Word of God stands as eternal truth. The corruption of this world can’t penetrate God’s Word, deteriorate its reality, or decay its truth. Scripture’s life-giving power is readily apparent in many self-authenticating ways.

  1. God’s Word is perennially fresh. In every generation, to every person who picks it up, the Bible is living and fresh. I have reread some parts of the Bible many, many times. In some cases I am just beginning to understand what they say. I once read the book of Colossians every day for 90 days and, after all of that, the book of Colossians still holds untapped mysteries that I haven’t yet explored. Every time I read the book of Colossians, I gain new excitement and fresh insights.
  2. God’s Word is never obsolete. Most libraries have backrooms where you can find all of the old obsolete textbooks. In recent years, scientific discoveries make dozens and even hundreds of books obsolete each day. But the timeless truths of the Bible never become obsolete. They are as up to date as the next generation of men and women that needs its message so desperately. “The word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25).
  3. God’s Word is powerful. The Bible is a discerner of hearts. Scripture has a living insight into our lives that is alarmingly precise. The Holy Spirit ministers through God’s Word exposing our faults, needs, weaknesses—and sins. No wonder Hebrews 4:12 tells us, “The word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit . . . able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
  4. God’s Word produces growth. As 1 Peter 1:23 points out, “You have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” The great mystery of any living thing is its power to reproduce. And reproduce, says Peter, is exactly what the Word of God does. The only way to be a “son of God” is to be born by the Word of God. When the Word of God is truly heard, and sincerely received into a heart that has been prepared by God, that Word, quickened by the Holy Spirit, becomes a spiritual seed that is imperishable or incorruptible. That seed is the germ of a new creation and it springs into life by making the hearer who believes that Word, a son of God.

Jesus illustrated that concept in His parable of the sower (Luke 8:4–15). The farmer goes out to sow and some seed lands on the road, some seed lands on rocky soil, some seed lands where weeds spring up, and some seed lands on the fertile ground that produces bountiful growth. In explaining the parable to His disciples, Jesus said, “The seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe and be saved” (Luke 8:11–12).

The one source of belief and salvation is God’s Word! Naturally, its sabotage and removal is Satan’s highest priority because of its life-producing power. Hence Jesus’ words in Luke 8:15: “But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance.” That’s a vivid description of Scripture and the ongoing results of its life-giving power.

Jesus understood that God’s Word cooperates powerfully with His Spirit: “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (John 6:63). The Word of God, in the hand of the Holy Spirit, is the critical life-giving agent. The Spirit of God, using the Word of God, produces life!

Trying to survive without any scriptural intake is a futile exercise. When it comes to a healthy spiritual diet, God’s Word is the fundamental and essential source of true eternal health.

(Adapted from Why Believe the Bible.)

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170517
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

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

Four Reasons to Meet with God in Secret

“But you, when you pray, go into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6)

Almost everyone has a “special” place where they love to relax, engage in a favorite activity, or be at peace. In fact, some people, like me, have several. A scenic view from a back deck. A cozy basement. But do you have a special place to meet with God and pray? A place where you can “shut the door,” knowing that no one can bother you?

Four Reasons to Meet with God in Secret

In his teaching on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stresses the importance of having such a place. I’ve come up with four reasons why he stresses a secret place: intentionality, privacy, intimacy, and integrity.

1. Intentionality

We go places with specific purposes in mind. When we go to work, we’re there to work. When we go to the gym, we’re there to work out. When we go to our secret place with God, we should be there to spend time with him, and for no other reason. Going to a specific place for a specific purpose produces the type of intentionality that is sorely lacking in the lives of many Christians.

2. Privacy

The word “closet” that Jesus uses in Matthew 6:6, tameion, is defined in Strong’s Greek Dictionary as a secret chamber, a place where a person may retire for privacy, or a place for storage (like a closet). All three of these concepts unmistakably emphasize that this place should be private and cut off from the comings and goings of the household. It should be a place where the world can be shut out. The reason such privacy is necessary for prayer is clear: Privacy fosters honesty, and honesty fosters relationship.

How can we pray freely and openly with God when there are others nearby, who may disturb us and listen to us pray at any moment? Having a secret meeting place with God prevents any hindrances to the unbroken communion that is essential for meaningful prayer.

3. Intimacy

Intimacy comes right on the heels of privacy. Without the safety of privacy, having any depth of relationship with another person is impossible. Even when intimate friendship or relationship is developed in a group setting, it’s because of a certain privacy that surrounds the group, allowing people to bond without the encumbering presence of outsiders. There is no intimacy without privacy.

Also, the sharing of a special, secret place is an intimate act in itself. If there is a place where you meet with one person, and with nobody else, that place becomes a hallowed sanctuary for the relationship. It becomes more than a place. The thought of sharing that place with another person for similar purposes can even seem blasphemous. Simply going to that special, secret place creates an expectation in itself. In the same way, having a special, secret place to meet with the Father creates an expectation, before we even arrive, that God is already there, eager to meet with us.

4. Integrity

In this part of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is talking about outward righteousness and inner righteousness. He speaks of how the Pharisees pray out loud, in public, so that people will see their piety and be impressed. Jesus says that “they already have their reward” (Matthew 6:5), meaning that praise from men is all they will receive for this action. God will not reward them.

Jesus, in contrast teaches his followers to “go into their closet” to pray, so that they will receive no praise from people. If no praise is received from people, then our reward is from the Father instead – a much better reward indeed. Praying in a secret, special place removes the “trying to impress” element from prayer and leaves us naked and open before the Father in a setting where we no longer have any motivation to pray for the wrong reasons.

Obviously, we are to pray often with others as well. Jesus taught clearly about the power of agreeing prayer. If Jesus taught us to pray alone in secret and with others in agreement, there is obviously to be a balance of both in the Christian life.

Find Your Secret Place

This teaching about having a special, secret place to be alone with God has deepened my prayer life in ways I never imagined. And it’s simple and practical! When I first grasped this teaching, I realized that the little “nook” under the stairs in the basement would make for a perfect prayer closet. It’s a hidden, cramped little space that has no other use in the house. So my wife and I used markers to write prayer requests on the walls, as well as Scripture promises pertaining to prayer. Now when I go there, it’s only to pray. And when I go there to pray, there is an expectation there when I arrive: God is already there, eager to meet with his beloved child.

Find a special, secret place to meet with God. It will add intentionality, privacy, intimacy, and integrity to your times of prayer, and you’ll find yourself looking forward to your meetings with your Father more and more.

[This article is adapted from The Psalm Project blog, January 8, 2013. Photo Credit: Lightstock]

The post Four Reasons to Meet with God in Secret appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

May 17, 2017: Verse of the day

img_1326

the savior’s command (10:21–22)

Motivated by a love for him, Jesus said, “One thing you lack: go and sell all you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” The Lord’s command and the man’s response, but at these words he was saddened, and he went away grieving, for he was one who owned much property, further exposed his failure to keep the law. Not only was he a violator of the second five of the Ten Commandments but also a criminal transgressor of the first five. He was guilty of blaspheming God, by worshiping another god—his wealth and possessions—and God tolerates no rivals. “No one can serve two masters;” Jesus said, “for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth” (Matt. 6:24). Earthly wealth and temporal satisfaction was this man’s god.

Jesus preached the law to him, but not the gospel. Sinners are not ready for the good news of the gospel until they accept the bad news that the law condemns them as guilty sinners. As a highly respected, revered, and honored religious leader, he viewed his prosperity and his exalted position in the synagogue as evidence that he was good and God was pleased with him. He was unwilling to acknowledge that he was a sinner, affirm that his good works could not save him, and cast himself on God’s grace and mercy, and submit to Christ’s lordship. Tragically, at the crossroads of his eternal destiny, face-to-face with the Savior, he took the broad way that leads to destruction and rejected the narrow way that alone leads to eternal life.[1]


Continued: 21a. Jesus looked at him and loved him. Just what can this mean in the present connection? There are two ideas which require a word of comment:

  1. Because Mark used a particular Greek verb and not another, the love here indicated is of the highest kind, “far beyond mere affection.” But see footnote.
  2. The meaning is: Jesus fell in love with this young man. The Lord here and now began to love him. This possibility cannot be denied, but we must be careful. Otherwise a strange situation results, as if immediately after this man revealed his very superficial attitude toward God’s holy law, Jesus fell in love with him!

Is not the following explanation to be preferred? As the Savior allowed his gaze to rest on the rich young ruler, he loved him; that is, a. he admired him for not having fallen into gross outward sins and for having gone to the best possible source to obtain a solution to his problem; and b. he deeply, sorrowfully, ruefully pitied him, and decided to recommend to him a course of action which, if followed through, would solve his problem, and would give him the rest of soul he needed.

After saying, “Teacher, all these things I have observed ever since I was a child,” the young man had added, “what do I still lack?” (Matt. 19:20). Jesus is now about to answer that question. However, while linking his answer to the young man’s phraseology, the Master is not at all agreeing with that enquirer’s philosophy of life. To the young man, supplying this lack was a matter of addition. He wanted to know which meritorious deed he had to add to all the other fine deeds he had already performed. But to Jesus, taking care of this lack was a matter of substitution. Cf. Gal. 2:19–21; Phil. 3:7 f. It is in that sense that Mark now writes: 21b. One thing you lack, he said to him. Go, sell478 whatever you have and give (the proceeds) to the poor, and you will have a treasure in heaven …

The question may be asked, “But by thus instructing the young man was not Jesus endorsing the ‘salvation by good works’ doctrine?” Should he not rather have told him, “Trust in me”? The answer is that “Trust completely in me” was exactly what the Lord was telling him, for certainly without complete confidence in and self-surrender to the One who was issuing the order, the rich young ruler could not be expected to sell all he had and give the proceeds to the poor. This was the test. If he sustains it he will have “treasure in heaven.” The reference is to all those blessings that are heavenly in character, are in full measure reserved for God’s child in heaven, and of which we experience a foretaste even now. For more about this concept see N.T.C. on Matt. 6:19, 20. It is important to note that Jesus added, and come, follow me. Such “following,” to be accompanied by and to prepare for active witness-bearing, would imply that the young man must learn to “deny himself and take up his cross,” and would therefore no longer be able to devote himself to the service of Mammon.

The young man’s response was tragic. It showed that Christ’s command had been the arrow that wounded his Achilles’ heel, his most vulnerable spot, love of earthly possessions: 22. But he, crestfallen because of these words, went away sorrowful, for he possessed much property. Because of Christ’s command and the young man’s ingrained materialism, his countenance fell. It resembled a lowering cloud (cf. Matt. 16:3). As enthusiastic as he had been at first, so sad and sullen he was now, so that he departed sorrowful and aggrieved, probably thinking, “This requirement is not fair. None of the other rabbis would have demanded this much of me.”

The demand which Jesus had made on this bewildered man was suited to his particular circumstances and state of mind. The Lord does not ask every rich person—for example Abraham (Gen. 13:2), or Joseph of Arimathea (Matt. 27:57)—to do exactly this same thing. There are those opulent individuals who, speaking by and large, are living for themselves. What they contribute to the cause of others is wholly out of proportion to what they keep for themselves. There are other wealthy persons, however, who are willing to go all out in helping others, including even the ungenerous (Gen. 13:7–11; 14:14); and who, motivated by gratitude, are constantly building altars and bringing offerings to God (Gen. 12:8; 13:18; 15:10–12; 22:13). The young man “had much property.” He had it; it had him, holding him tightly in its grasp. It is clear that this young man needed exactly the treatment Jesus gave him.

Did the rich young ruler persist forever in his deplorable refusal? The answer has not been revealed. Some reason as follows: Scripture tells us that Jesus loved him (Mark 10:21). God loves the elect, no one else. Conclusion: this young man must have become converted.

But this amounts to superimposing an erroneous theological idea upon the text. If those who cling to it would be satisfied with the proposition that God loves in a peculiar way all those who place their trust in him (Ps. 103:13; 1 John 3:1), their teaching would be on firm ground. But when they go beyond this and deny that there is a love of God which extends beyond the sum-total of the elect, we must part company with them. See Ps. 145:9, 17; Matt. 5:45; Luke 6:35, 36. And since this is true, there is no basis whatever for believing that the rich young ruler must have become a believer before he died. Instead of speculating about what may or may not have happened, the lesson of Luke 13:23, 24 should be taken to heart.[2]


21 Recognizing the young man’s sincerity, Jesus responded in love. The verb emblepō (“gazed intently”; cf. v. 27) suggests that Jesus, looking penetratingly at the man, discerned his attitude of heart. Some commentators suggest that the words “loved him” indicate an outward expression, such as a touch or a hug (so Nineham, 274–75; Anderson, 249). That Jesus did so is possible, but nothing in the text or context demands that understanding. Mark’s point, rather, is that Jesus treats the man’s response not as one of self-righteousness or hypocrisy but as sincere.

But sincerity isn’t enough. The one thing that prevented this man from having eternal life was the security of his wealth. Jesus put his finger on the sensitive place by commanding him to go, sell all he had, and give it to the poor. These commands led up to the final and conclusive one: “Come, follow me.” For this man there could be no following of Jesus before he sold everything he had and gave it away. His wealth and all it meant to him for position, status, comfort, and security prevented him from entering eternal life. Mitton, 80, writes, “The only way to ‘life’ is through the narrow gate of full surrender, and through that gate we may take, not what we want, but only what God allows. For this man his wealth was the hindrance.”

Jesus’ command here is shocking (like the analogy that follows in v. 25), with the result that many Christians assume too quickly that Jesus’ command was for this man only and not for all believers. Jesus’ words are sometimes softened to mean that Christians must be willing to sell everything (at which time a sigh of relief passes through the congregation). Yet we dare not take the punch out of Jesus’ teaching (see Reflections below). It is certainly true that those who followed Jesus did not always divest themselves of all their property. In Jesus’ immediate ministry, Peter retained his house in Capernaum (1:29), and the women who supported Jesus from their resources obviously had retained their possessions (Lk 8:2–3). Acts shows some people as selling their possessions to meet specific needs (Ac 4:34–37), but doing so was neither universal nor mandatory (see Jesus’ comment to Ananias in Ac 5:4). Many homes and possessions remained as private property.

Jesus’ promise of “treasure in heaven” recalls his similar teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus exhorts his followers to store up treasures in heaven, where they can never be stolen or destroyed (Mt 6:19–21; cf. Lk 12:33–34). The concept of storing up spiritual treasures rather than physical ones was common in Judaism, especially with reference to almsgiving. Tobit 4:8–9 (NRSV) reads, “If you have many possessions, make your gift from them in proportion; if few, do not be afraid to give according to the little you have. So you will be laying up a good treasure for yourself against the day of necessity.” Psalms of Solomon 9:5 reads, “He that does righteousness lays up [as a treasure] for himself life with the Lord” (cf. 2 Bar. 24:1; Sir 29:10–12). Treasure in heaven is not some material reward in the afterlife but the joy of eternal life in relationship with God. The “treasure” received is God himself. In Jesus’ teaching the sacrifice made to achieve this treasure is not almsgiving but giving up all to follow him.

22 Notice the intimate eyewitness details. When he heard Jesus’ words, the young man’s “face fell.” The verb used here is a rare one, appearing elsewhere in the NT only in Matthew 16:3, where it refers to the darkening sky of an approaching storm. In the LXX it can have the sense of “shocked” or “appalled” (Eze 27:35; 28:19; 32:10), and its cognate adjective of “gloomy” or “dismayed” (Da 2:12). The TEV translates it here “gloom spread over his face.” As Plummer, 240–41, writes, “He was gloomy and sullen with a double disappointment; no perilous exploit was required of him, but he was asked to part with what he valued most.” To obey Jesus was too great a risk for him to take. So the security of wealth kept him out of the kingdom of God. “He went away sad, because he had great wealth” (v. 22b). Obedience to God brings joy; disobedience brings sorrow.[3]


10:21, 22 But did he really love his neighbor as himself? If so, let him prove it by selling all his property and giving the money to the poor. Oh, that was another story. He went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.

The Lord Jesus did not mean that this man could have been saved by selling his possessions and giving the proceeds to charity. There is only one way of salvation—that is faith in the Lord. But in order to be saved a man must acknowledge that he is a sinner, falling short of God’s holy requirements. The Lord took the man back to the Ten Commandments to produce conviction of sin. The rich man’s unwillingness to share his possessions showed that he did not love his neighbor as himself. He should have said, “Lord, if that’s what is required, then I’m a sinner. I cannot save myself by my own efforts. Therefore I ask You to save me by Your grace.” But he loved his property too much. He was unwilling to give it up. He refused to break.

When Jesus told the man to sell all, He was not giving this as the way of salvation. He was showing the man that he had broken the law of God and therefore needed to be saved. If he had responded to the Savior’s instruction, he would have been given the way of salvation.

But there is a problem here. Are we who are believers supposed to love our neighbor as ourselves? Does Jesus say to us, “Sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me”? Each one must answer for himself, but before doing so, he should consider the following inescapable facts:

  1. Thousands of people die daily of starvation.
  2. More than half the world has never heard the good news.
  3. Our material possessions can be used now to alleviate spiritual and physical human need.
  4. The example of Christ teaches us that we should become poor that others might be made rich (2 Cor. 8:9).
  5. The shortness of life and the imminence of the Lord’s coming teach us to put our money to work for Him now. After He comes it will be too late.[4]

 


[1] MacArthur, J. (2015). Mark 9–16 (pp. 80–81). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Mark (Vol. 10, pp. 395–397). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] Wessel, W. W., & Strauss, M. L. (2010). Mark. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 865–866). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1347). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 17 – Overcoming Pessimism (Philip)

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

✧✧✧

Pessimism will blind you to the sufficiency of God’s resources.

It’s been said that an optimist sees a glass half full, while a pessimist sees it half empty. An optimist sees opportunities; a pessimist sees obstacles. In one sense Philip was an optimist. He recognized Jesus as the Messiah and immediately saw an opportunity to share his discovery with Nathanael. In another sense, Philip was a pessimist because on occasions he failed to see what Christ could accomplish despite the apparent obstacles.

On one such occasion Jesus had just finished teaching and healing a crowd of thousands of people. Night was falling, and the people were beginning to get hungry. Apparently Philip was responsible for the food, so Jesus asked him, “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip said, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for every one to receive a little” (v. 7). In other words, “We don’t have enough resources in our whole savings account to buy enough food for a group this size!” Philip’s calculating, pragmatic, pessimistic mind could reach only one conclusion: this is an utter impossibility.

Jesus knew all along how He was going to solve the problem, but He wanted to test Philip’s faith (v. 6). Philip should have passed the test because he had already seen Jesus create wine from water at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1–11). Despite Philip’s failure, Jesus didn’t give up on him. Instead, from five barley loaves and two fish He created enough food to feed the entire crowd, thus replacing Philip’s pessimism with a reaffirmation of divine sufficiency.

There’s a little of Philip in each of us. We’ve experienced God’s saving power and have seen Him answer prayer, and yet there are times when we let pessimism rob us of the joy of seeing Him work through obstacles in our lives. Don’t let that happen to you. Keep your eyes on Christ, and trust in His sufficiency. He will never fail you!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Memorize Ephesians 3:20–21. Recite it often as a hymn of praise and an affirmation of your faith in God.

For Further Study: Read Numbers 13–14. ✧ What kind of report did the pessimistic spies bring back from the Promised Land? ✧ How did the people react to their report? ✧ How did God react to their report?[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. 150). 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 17 – A SILENT CHRISTIAN: IS THAT POSSIBLE?

…and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

ROMANS 10:10

The Bible links faith to expression—and faith that never gets expression is not a Bible faith. We are told to believe in our hearts and confess with our lips that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we shall be saved.

It is my opinion, brethren, that the silent Christian has something wrong with him!

Psychologists try to deal with abnormal human behavior, linked to deep depression, where people just go into silence. They will not talk—they will not respond. They just shut up, and that’s all.

There is something wrong with the mind that does not want to talk and communicate. God gave each of us a mouth and He meant for us to use it to express some of the wonders that generate within our beings.

Someone describing the Quakers said they did not talk about their religion—they lived it. That is a foolish simplification—for the things that are closest to our hearts are the things we talk about and if God is close to our hearts, we will talk about Him!

This quiet religion that apologizes: “I haven’t anything to say” does not square with the vision of the heavenly beings who say with their voices, “Holy, holy, holy!”

You may say: “Well, I worship God in my heart.”

I wonder if you do. I wonder if you are simply excusing the fact that you have not generated enough spiritual heat to get your mouth open![1]


Heart Belief and Mouth Confession

Romans 10:10

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

In the last few studies I have been dealing with the nature of Christian preaching and therefore with the nature of the Christian gospel, based on the second paragraph of Romans 10. I want to carry that study further in this chapter, focusing on an important question: Is there such a thing as secret discipleship?

The Dallas doctrine would answer “Yes” since, according to that mistaken view, it is possible to be a Christian without any outward evidence of justification or regeneration at all. If you do not even have to repent of sin to be a Christian, you certainly do not have to confess Christ openly. In fact, you can even deny him. You can turn your back on him altogether. In the previous study I tried to show why that view is wrong, fatally wrong, in fact. Now I want to show that it is not only necessary to repent of sin, trust Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, and follow him in faithful discipleship throughout life, but that it is also necessary to confess him openly before other men and women.

That is the teaching of our text: “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (Rom. 10:10). I want to explore the exact meaning of that clear statement.

Secret Discipleship?

As I prepared this study I remembered doing a sermon on this subject sixteen years earlier in which I asked two questions: “Is it possible for a person to be a secret believer in the Lord Jesus Christ? Is it possible to believe in Jesus with our whole hearts and not confess him openly?” I was asking those questions because I had come to a passage in my study of the Gospel of John in which many of the Jewish leaders are said to have believed on Jesus even though “because of the Pharisees they would not confess their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue” (John 12:42).

It was a puzzling text to me, because on the surface it seemed to say that silent belief is possible, while, at the same time, the language was such that I naturally wondered if the belief spoken of in the case of these religious leaders was genuine. After all, the passage goes on to say, “for they loved praise from men more than praise from God” (v. 43)—and that does not sound like genuine Christianity.

I finally concluded that, whatever the case may have been, these men were trying to do something that ultimately is impossible. For this reason: Either the secrecy kills the discipleship, or else the discipleship kills the secrecy. In the end, secret discipleship is a contradiction in terms, and this means that we must confess Jesus openly if we are to be (and remain) true Christians.

Today I am not so hesitant. And one of the reasons I am not so hesitant is our text, which indissolubly links heart belief and mouth confession. You will recall from our earlier studies that we are not to find some prescribed sequence of events in these verses, as if we first believe and then confess, or even some supposed ordering of priorities, as if one item were essential and the other good but not essential. That is not how Paul is speaking. He is describing what it means to be a Christian, and his point is that all must believe the truth about Jesus, receive it into the heart, and then confess him openly before others.

When Paul says we must believe with our hearts and confess with our mouths, he is saying that we must do both and that it is the presence of both together—faith leading to confession and confession proving the reality of faith—that leads to “righteousness” and “salvation.”

This is the way all the major commentators handle Romans 10:10. Robert Haldane, the Scottish Bible teacher responsible for the Swiss revival of the early nineteenth century (sometimes called Haldane’s Revival), wrote, “Confession of Christ is as necessary as faith in him, but necessary for a different purpose. Faith is necessary to obtain the gift of righteousness. Confession is necessary to prove that this gift is received. If a man does not confess Christ at the hazard of life, character, property, liberty, and everything dear to him, he has not the faith of Christ.”

Charles Haddon Spurgeon, the great Baptist preacher of London who was responsible for a revival of a different sort only a generation later, said, “Faith and confession … are joined together; let not man put them asunder.”

Leon Morris, a scholar of our own day, writes, “These are but two parts of the same saving experience.”

What a great verse this is! It is a preacher’s verse. Some verses are for scholars; they are to be probed, analyzed, and fathomed. Some are for devotional reading; our hearts are warmed by them. Others, like this one, are to be declared boldly and joyfully. This is a verse that, together with the one before it, assures us that if we believe in our hearts that Jesus is the Son of God, that he is both Lord and Savior and that God has raised him from the dead, and that if we confess him as Lord before other people, we will be justified by God, being forgiven of all sin, and will be saved, not only now or in future days but at the final judgment.

There is no greater message in all the world than that message. There is nothing so important in life as to believe on and confess Jesus. There is no greater result than the salvation to be gained by receiving and acting upon that gospel.

Heart Belief

The verse is in two parts, of course, and the first of these two parts concerns faith. It is what Paul is talking about when he says, “It is with your heart that you believe and are justified.”

At this point we do not need to take a great deal of time to speak about the object of faith, for this is what the passage and our study have been exploring all along. The object of faith is “Jesus as Lord.” This means, Jesus as: (1) the divine Son of God, (2) the Savior who died to rescue us from sin, and (3) the Lord who rules over his people and church. Some have argued that a person does not have to believe on Jesus as his or her Lord to be a Christian, maintaining that we need only to believe on him as our Savior. But a Savior who is not also Lord is another Jesus, a counterfeit Jesus, and a counterfeit Jesus will save no one. It is only by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ that we are saved.

What is new about this section of the verse is the phrase “with your heart.” It is striking because it deals with the nature of true faith or belief. Without these words we might suppose, as the Dallas doctrine teaches, that faith is a matter of the intellect only. But lest we make that mistake, Paul tells us by these words that faith is a matter of the whole being—intellect, will, and emotions—which is what the word heart in the Bible signifies. The faith that saves is a faith that takes all we are and commits it to all that Jesus Christ is.

Moreover, “with the heart” implies two other important truths.

  1. It implies sincerity. In one of her books and in many of her public talks, Corrie ten Boom describes a time in which, years after her deliverance from the Nazi death camps, she was confronted by one of the brutal German guards who had been responsible for the death of her sister Betsie. The guard, who had become a Christian, came forward at one of her meetings and asked her for forgiveness. Corrie described what a struggle it was for her. But at last the Holy Spirit had his way, and she grasped the outstretched hand of her former persecutor, responding, “Yes, I do forgive you—with all my heart.”

That is what belief “with the heart” is all about. It means “sincerely” or “wholeheartedly.” It is the way the Bible uses the word when it commands us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37).

Here is what John Calvin said about believing with the heart. “Let us note that the seat of faith is not in the head but in the heart. I am not going to argue about the part of the body in which faith is located, but since the word heart generally means a serious and sincere affection, I maintain that faith is a firm and effectual confidence, and not just a bare idea.” It is, in other words, notitia, assensus, and fiducia, as the theologians of the Reformation and later centuries frequently expressed it.

  1. It implies the Holy Spirit’s work. When we look at what the Bible says about the hearts of men and women, we see, on the one hand, that the heart is “deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer. 17:9) and that, on the other hand, it is the work of the Holy Spirit to renew or regenerate evil hearts (“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them …” Ezek. 11:19; cf. 18:31; 36:26). Otherwise, we do not get a right spirit, nor do we come to believe on Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior.

God said through the prophet Isaiah, “These people come near to me with their mouth / and honor me with their lips, / but their hearts are far from me” (Isa. 29:13, emphasis added). Yet God also spoke through Jeremiah:

“This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel

after that time,” declares the Lord.

“I will put my law in their minds

and write it on their hearts.

I will be their God,

and they will be my people.

No longer will a man teach his neighbor,

or a man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’

because they will all know me,

from the least of them to the greatest.”

Jeremiah 31:33–34, emphasis added

This began to be fulfilled at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit operated through the preaching of Peter to bring three thousand people to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. It is being fulfilled in our day whenever people hear the Word of God, turn from sin, believe on Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior, and confess him before others.

Mouth Confession

The second part of this verse is the part with which I actually began, asking, “Is it possible to be a secret believer?” It answers by telling us, “It is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.” This second part goes with the first, so that (in one sense) it is as necessary to confess Christ as Lord and Savior as it is to believe on him.

We are to confess him with our mouths, of course, which means openly and audibly. But a simple public testimony in a meeting does not exhaust the ways we can confess Jesus Christ as Lord.

How can we confess him? Let me suggest the following eight ways.

  1. In public worship. The first and most obvious way in which you can confess Jesus Christ is by assembling with other Christians in public worship. There have been times in history when this has been a mere form for many. It is probably a mere form for many, even today. Yet this is changing. As more and more people are neglecting church, preferring the idle pleasures of the world to the demands of public worship, the mere fact of your joining with other believers to worship God can be a useful and significant confession that you are indeed a Christian.

I am aware of this most Sunday mornings. I live only four blocks from Tenth Presbyterian Church, so I walk to church. As I do this Sunday by Sunday throughout the year, I am aware of those I pass on the streets on those mornings. There are always a number who have been to the convenience store to pick up the Sunday papers and are reading them as they shuffle along sleepily. I also pass joggers. They are working earnestly to preserve their bodies, which will perish anyway in time, while they are indifferent to the condition of their souls. Other people are just walking along, some perhaps returning from an all-night debauch or binge.

But while all this is going on, there is an entirely different group of people, a subculture that is collecting from around the Delaware Valley. These people are alert and expectant. They have their Bibles in hand, and their minds are already attuned to the God they are coming to worship. The mere fact that they are collecting to worship him sets them apart. They are rightly and joyfully confessing Christ by what they do on Sunday mornings.

  1. By the sacraments. A second way in which we confess Christ openly is by our participation in the sacraments: baptism, the initiatory sacrament of the Christian faith; and the Lord’s Supper, the repeatable sacrament. Both are for Christians only, and by both we proclaim before other people that Jesus Christ is our Lord.

Charles Haddon Spurgeon had a wonderful sermon on the second half of this text, the part speaking of confession with our mouths, in which he listed a number of these means of confessing Christ. He spoke of baptism, calling it the crossing of the Rubicon: “If Caesar crossed the Rubicon, there would never be peace between him and the senate again. He draws his sword, and he throws away his scabbard. Such is the act of baptism to the believer. It is the crossing of the Rubicon. It is as much as to say, ‘I cannot come back again to you. I am dead to you. And to prove I am, I am absolutely buried to you. I have nothing more to do with the world. I am Christ’s and Christ’s forever.”

So also with the Lord’s Supper. As you partake of it you say to the world, “I am not my own. I am Christ’s. I am in fellowship with him. Therefore, I cannot indulge in the sins in which you indulge or live for the goals for which you surrender everything.”

  1. Through association with God’s people. Not all our associations with other believers are formal, that is, in worship services and sacraments. We also associate with them informally, proving by our identification with these others, of whatever race, nationality, or status in life, that we belong to the same Lord and confess the same gospel. You can do that at work, in weekly Bible studies, or just by your friendships. We remember that in his first letter, the apostle John made our love for other Christians one of the tests by which we can know whether or not we are a Christian (1 John 3:11–13). If this is a way we can know we are Christians and are following Christ, it is obviously also a way by which others can know we are Christians. The pagans said of the early Christians, “Behold, how they love one another.”
  2. By how we conduct our business. How you conduct your business or how you work in someone else’s business also testifies to whether or not you belong to Jesus Christ. It is a rare business that is utterly upright and moral. Therefore, there will be many occasions when a person who belongs to Christ will have to stand up for him, saying, “I cannot do that, because I am a Christian.” Although a stand like that may result in isolation, abuse, ridicule, or persecution, even loss of a job, it is necessary. A faith that is not supported by an upright moral life is not worth having.
  3. In reaching out to others. A fifth way we confess Christ before others is by reaching out to them in evangelism. Spurgeon said, “I believe, my brethren, that a Christian man can hardly carry out his confession with his mouth, unless he goes a little out of his way at times to bear testimony.” Do you do that? Do you do anything, even something quite little, merely to be able to speak to others about Jesus? If not, how can you consider yourself to be a Christian? If you are a Christian, Christ is your Lord, and it is he who said, “You will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).
  4. In temptation. There is never a better and more hopeful opportunity to confess Jesus as Lord than in a time of temptation. Remember Joseph. He was pursued by the wife of his Egyptian master, Potiphar. But he refused to sleep with her, proclaiming, “… How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9). The temptation gave him an opportunity to state his true allegiance, and stating it undoubtedly also helped him to resist the sin. You would be wise to do the same.
  5. In severe trials. The seventh circumstance in which you can confess Christ forcefully is in severe trials. Have you lost your job? Has your wife or husband left you? Have you discovered that you have a serious, perhaps fatal illness? This is your opportunity to show the world that you are not like those who have no knowledge of the true God or of his Son our Savior. It is a time you can say, “I am not afraid of what is coming, for I belong to Jesus Christ. He has shown his love by dying for me, and I know that he will not desert me. Even in the face of a loved one’s death, says Paul, though we grieve we do not grieve “like the rest of men, who have no hope” (1 Thess. 4:13).
  6. In the hour of our deaths. Finally, we sometimes also have the privilege of confessing Jesus as Lord in the hour of our deaths. This is not always possible, given the forms of medical treatment today. But it often is. Some of the greatest testimonies of believers to the grace and power of God have been given on their deathbeds.

When he was dying, William Carey, known as the father of modern missions and a great missionary to India, said to a friend, “When I am gone, say nothing about Dr. Carey; speak about Dr. Carey’s Savior.”

David Livingstone, the pioneer missionary to Africa, said, “Build me a hut to die in. I am going home.”

John Bunyan, the Bedford tinker who left the world the immortal Christian classic The Pilgrim’s Progress, said as he died, “Weep not for me, but for yourselves. I go to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will, no doubt, through the mediation of his blessed Son, receive me, though a sinner. We shall ere long meet to sing the new song, and remain everlastingly happy, world without end. Amen.”

Dwight L. Moody, the great evangelist, said, “I see the children’s faces. Earth is receding. Heaven is opening. God is calling.”

Righteousness and Salvation

Since the end result of heart belief and mouth confession, which we have been studying, is the righteousness and salvation about which the text speaks, and since these are the greatest blessings any human being can receive, let it be your deep desire to believe on Jesus as Savior and Lord wholeheartedly and let it be your earnest endeavor to confess him before others in every possible way. Let’s be rid of all “secret discipleship,” if such a thing even exists. We do not have long to live. Let us use our time well and wisely, above all by trusting wholly in Jesus Christ and by confessing him boldly with our mouths. Let us stand with him, bearing his reproach, knowing that if we do, one day we will be with him in glory and will reign with him forever.

Jesus himself said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven” (Matt. 10:32).

Health, Wealth, and What?

Romans 10:10

For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

For the last few studies I have been following an alternating procedure in which I have first expounded a text from Romans and then dealt with wrong ways of understanding the gospel or doing evangelism that result from misusing or neglecting what the text teaches. Thus far I have dealt with two wrong approaches: (1) the religion of signs and wonders, and (2) the doctrine that eliminates claims of Christ to lordship from salvation matters.

In this study I want to tackle another serious aberration, namely, the gospel that is often proclaimed on television by the so-called television evangelists. This is sometimes called the “health, wealth, and happiness” gospel.

The reasons I am dealing with this aberration at this point is that it has bearing on the word saved, which we came to in the last two verses we were studying. Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (emphasis added). The next verse, Romans 10:10, says, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved” (emphasis added). I said in the last study that the future tense of the verb in verse 9 indicates that this is speaking of salvation from the wrath of God against sin at the last judgment. If I had been dealing with this fully, I could have shown that “salvation” is an inclusive term for what the Bible offers. It includes: (1) salvation from the penalty of sin, a past tense; (2) salvation from the power of sin, a present tense; and (3) salvation from the presence of sin, a future tense. Each part has to do with sin.

Most Christians will think this is obvious. What person who claims to be a Christian could deny it? Yet this is precisely what is being lost or even denied by the many popular TV preachers. This is no small matter. The error concerns the very essence of Christianity, and it is unusually harmful if for no other reason than that television is so pervasive and influential. For millions of Americans, the “electronic church” is virtually all they know of Christianity.

The Gospel According to Television

Let me begin by setting some parameters and providing some focus. First, what I am going to say does not apply to all religious television. It does not apply to the broadcasts of the Billy Graham Association, for instance. Billy Graham is an exception in this, as in many other areas of his unique ministry. Joel Nederhood’s “Faith 20” program is another exception. So also, though to a lesser degree, is James Kennedy’s television program. People who know the television medium well will say rightly that these programs are “bad television.” That is, they do not play to television’s unique capacities for oversimplification, drama, and entertainment. But that is precisely why they are a good exception. I hope they will survive.

What I am referring to are the exceptionally popular (read “financially successful”) programs, particularly those that promote what is generally called “positive [or possibility] thinking” and “positive confessionism.” These programs are associated with such names as Robert Schuller, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, and Robert Tilton. Instead of a traditional gospel of salvation from sin, these TV evangelists preach a man-centered gospel that, in its mildest form, offers self-esteem without repentance and, in its most startling extension, proclaims the deification of man, with its inevitable blasphemous encroachments on God’s prerogatives.

This TV gospel promotes self-esteem instead of sin, self-help instead of atonement and redemption, an entertainer instead of Christ, and a lust for power instead of true discipleship.

In 1990, a talented friend of mine named Michael Horton edited a book on the TV evangelists entitled The Agony of Deceit. He concluded, after a careful examination of the actual teachings of this influential group of communicators, “All of the televangelists censured in this book tend to trivialize the plan of salvation. There is rarely any serious attempt to explain to the masses such basic redemptive truths as the substitutionary atonement, propitiation, or sacrifice and satisfaction. … One thing the viewer comes away with is the sense that the purpose of evangelism is not to satisfy God and his purposes, but to satisfy the consumer with the product.”

In the following analysis I am depending in large measure on the material assembled by Horton and his associates.

The Gospel of Self-Esteem

The least objectionable, but still harmful, form of the TV gospel is the message of “self-esteem” associated with the name of Robert Schuller, pastor of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, not far from Disneyland. Schuller’s weekly Sunday-morning services are broadcast on more than two hundred television stations worldwide, and he is watched by more than three million people. In an interview feature in late 1984, Christianity Today claimed that he is “reaching more non-Christians than any other religious leader in America.”

Robert Schuller wants to be orthodox and claims to be. He believes in the inerrancy of the Bible and affirms the Apostles’, Nicene, and Athanasian creeds. He even claims to be a Calvinist, professing submission to the Westminster Standards and the Canons of the Synod of Dort, which is the official standard of his denomination. Nevertheless, Schuller’s doctrine of sin is deficient, and as a result his doctrine of salvation has shifted away from the message of God’s redeeming work in Christ to what is basically a philosophy of positive thinking, at least to the extent that his views are disclosed on television.

In 1982, Schuller wrote a book that was mailed free to every minister in America. It was titled Self-Esteem: The New Reformation. In this book Schuller took issue with the ways traditional preaching speaks of sin and proposed a gospel of enlightened “self-esteem” instead. Clearly, Schuller believes that if other ministers follow his approach, most of them will have the same or nearly the same (numerical) success he has had.

What did he say? Schuller wrote, “Reformation theology failed to make clear that the core of sin is a lack of self-esteem.” “The most serious sin is the one that causes me to say, ‘I am unworthy. I may have no claim to divine sonship if you examine me at my worst.’ ” “Once a person believes he is an ‘unworthy sinner,’ it is doubtful if he can really honestly accept the saving grace God offers in Jesus Christ.” Writing along the same lines in a paragraph quoted by Christianity Today in 1984, Schuller said, “I don’t think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and, hence, counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and unchristian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition.”

To be fair to Schuller, he claims that his evangelistic strategy is to get non-Christians in the door, as it were, and then teach them the gospel later. But it is also fair to say that whatever is heard on Schuller’s influential television program is not that gospel.

Besides, one cannot help but question whether the true gospel can ever be built on a false foundation. In a helpful analysis of Schuller, authors Dave Hunt and T. A. McMahon write, “One thing is certain … : The Bible never urges self-acceptance, self-love, self-assertion, self-confidence, self-esteem, self-forgiveness, nor any of the other selfisms that are so popular today. The answer to depression is not to accept self, but to turn from self to Christ. A preoccupation with self is the very antithesis of what the Bible teaches.”

Health, Wealth, and Happiness

The second, and much more harmful brand of the TV gospel is the “health, wealth, and happiness” message of the positive confessionists, men like Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Oral Roberts, and Robert Tilton. These preachers believe that “health, wealth, and happiness” are the birthright of every Christian and that the power to attain them lies within Christians themselves. They affirm the gospel. I know of none who would deny outright that Jesus died for sin and rose again from the dead. But this is not the gospel they preach. In fact, they seem almost intentionally to ignore it.

What these preachers really seem to believe in is the power of the mind to visualize and thus create what one desires. This is New Age thinking. It is not far removed from the fantasies of Shirley MacLaine and may actually have the same origins, as some argue.

A popular slogan for this distortion of the Bible’s message is: “Name it and claim it.” That is, we have the right to whatever we want because we are God’s sons and daughters or even, as we will see, because we are ourselves “little gods.” We see this view reflected in book and pamphlet titles such as Kenneth E. Hagin’s “How to Write Your Own Ticket with God” and Robert Tilton’s magazine, Signs, Wonders and Miracles of Faith, which is filled with stories of financial and physical success from his followers. Kenneth Copeland has written “God’s Will Is Health” and “God’s Will Is Prosperity.” Oral Roberts promises people on his mailing list, “prosperity miracles that are within fingertip reach of your faith,” and one of his most recent books is titled How I Learned Jesus Was Not Poor.

Christians who know their Bibles may wonder how the TV evangelists deal with Bible statements to the contrary, statements that say we are called to suffer with Christ or Job’s statement that “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away” (Job 1:21). It is not often that we hear the TV evangelists contradict Scripture, but they do at this point. Charles Capps, another “name it and claim it” preacher, said that Job “was sure not under the anointing” when he said, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away” and called the statement a “lie.”

Even Pat Robertson, president of the Christian Broadcasting Network and a former candidate for the presidency of the United States in the 1988 elections, said, “I can hardly think that the Bible, which was transmitted through human beings, is totally perfect. I believe it to be the Word of God and a fully inspired book, but not perfection.”

The false teaching I have been describing would be serious enough if it stopped here. But, unfortunately, it does not. In an effort to enforce the “authority” the positive confessionists believe to have been given to each Christian, these teachers extend their errors to insist that by their rebirth, Christians have become “little gods” and therefore possess the authority of God himself, not only in “health, wealth, and happiness” matters but in all things. This is either so ignorant or so diabolical that it is hard for most Christians to believe that such “nice Christian men” are teaching this. But they are, as scores of verbatim quotations show. Here are some examples. …

Kenneth Copeland, one of the most popular TV evangelists, said, “Every man who has been born again is an incarnation, and Christianity is a miracle. The believer is as much an incarnation as was Jesus of Nazareth.” On another occasion he said, “You don’t have a god in you. You are one.”12

Kenneth E. Hagin wrote, “Even many in the great body of Full Gospel people do not know that the new birth is a real incarnation; they do not know that they are as much sons and daughters of God as Jesus.”

In a televised interview with Copeland, Trinity Broadcasting Network’s Paul Crouch made this statement: “We are gods. I am a little god. I have his name. I am one with him. … Critics be gone!”

Here is a particularly offensive example from a tape series called “Believing in Yourself” by Casey Treat.

The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost had a conference and they said, “Let’s make man an exact duplicate of us.” Oh, I don’t know about you, but that does turn my crank! An exact duplicate of God! Say it out loud—“I’m an exact duplicate of God!” [The audience repeats it a bit tentatively and uncertainly.]

Come on, say it! [He leads them in unison.] “I’m an exact duplicate of God!” Say it again, “I’m an exact duplicate of God!” [The congregation is getting into it, louder and bolder, with more enthusiasm each time.] Say it like you mean it! [He’s yelling now.] “I’m an exact duplicate of God!” Yell it out loud! Shout it! [They follow as he leads.] “I’m an exact duplicate of God!” “I’m an exact duplicate of God!” [Repeatedly] . …

When God looks in the mirror, he sees me! When I look in the mirror, I see God! Oh, hallelujah! …

You know, sometimes people say to me, when they’re mad and want to put me down. … “You just think you’re a little god.” Thank you! Hallelujah! You got that right! “Who d’you think you are, Jesus?” Yep!

Are you listening to me? Are you kids running around here acting like little gods? Why not? God told me to! … Since I’m an exact duplicate of God, I’m going to act like God!”

What we see in this teaching is an inevitable multiplication of false doctrines. It began with unlimited faith, but it soon progressed to unlimited health, unlimited wealth, unlimited power, and unlimited divinity. And even that is not the end. The last stage is unlimited dominion, even more dominion or authority than Jesus. Kenneth Hagin tells of a supposed conversation he had with God that was periodically interrupted by Satan. Hagin asked God to silence the devil, but God said he couldn’t do it. He was powerless. So Hagin commanded Satan to be quiet. Hagin concluded his story with these words: “Jesus looked at me and said, ‘If you hadn’t done anything about that, I couldn’t have.’ ”

What is the end purpose of this unlimited, divine authority? I remind you that it is to grow healthy and rich, and to be happy for that reason. That is, it is selfish. Pat Robertson said, “We are to command the money to come to us.” Fred Price says, “You, as a Christian, are supposed to be master of your circumstances. … There is no way in the world you can reign as a king and be poverty-stricken.”

Let me say that I do not know of any teachings anywhere that are a better contemporary illustration of the warning of 2 Timothy 3:1–5, which says that in the last days, “people will be lovers of themselves [the gospel of ‘self-esteem’], lovers of money [and] … lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God [the ‘health, wealth, and happiness’ gospel].”

The Nature of Television

There is one more thing that needs to be said before I drop this topic and go on with our studies of Romans 10. The problems I have been describing result in large measure from the very nature of television, by which I mean that broadcast television is a bad medium for communicating the gospel.

We have been taught to think of television as a powerful educational tool, but education is what television probably does worst. Broadcast television is an entertainment medium, and the result is that it eventually turns everything it touches into entertainment. If entertainment is what it is presenting, that is all right. You may as well watch a movie on television as see it in a theater. But to the degree it tries to be serious, television is harmful, because it trivializes the serious by making news events, politics—yes, even religion itself—entertainment.

Because television creates and thrives on celebrities, when religion goes on television the evangelist inevitably becomes the focus of audience attention, a celebrity. He becomes “a god” and soon begins to think of himself as one, promising the viewers that they can become “gods,” too. Again, the program becomes a performance, entertainment, because that is what television is. As a result, religious programs thrive, not by preaching of the gospel but by becoming “holy vaudeville” or talk shows. Above all, television is marketing products. So in the end the gospel (or religion) becomes merely another item to be sold, and success is viewed, not in the number of conversions, still less in the development of Christian character, but in audience share and income.

What I am saying is that television is not a good place to do religion. Those who attempt it do so at their own peril and that of their viewers.

We would be far better off heeding the words of Romans 10, which warn us against ascending into heaven to bring Christ down or descending into the deep to bring him up from the dead—can we say, “trying to be celebrities?”—and instead direct us to the Word of God, which is given to us by revelation, is near us, and is the “word of faith we are proclaiming” (vv. 6–8).

As far as I am concerned, let me say clearly that I have no new word from God, no new revelation. The only word I have is the Word that has been once for all delivered to God’s saints. I am a teacher. I seek only to point you to those old doctrines and invite you to walk those worn paths. I do not want to entertain. The world will do that. I want to challenge your minds and move your hearts to obey the Bible’s teachings. And God forbid that I, or any other preacher, should teach anything contrary to the true gospel doctrine of repentance for sin and corresponding faith in and submission to Jesus Christ.

I echo Michael Horton’s own words when he says:

The biblical gospel offers freedom from sin, not sinlessness; liberation from guilt, not from sin-consciousness; salvation from spiritual, not material, poverty. It offers peace with God won by Christ’s bloody sacrifice—not success won by our incessant “decrees.” It promises salvation from God’s wrath, not freedom from the unhappiness common to all humanity from time to time. And it hides us—in the midst of our pain and grief—in the wounds of Christ, who has made us worthy to share in his suffering.[2]


10:10 In further explanation, Paul writes that with the heart one believes unto righteousness. It is not a mere intellectual assent but a genuine acceptance with one’s whole inward being. When a person does that, he is instantly justified.

Then with the mouth confession is made unto salvation; that is, the believer publicly confesses the salvation he has already received. Confession is not a condition of salvation but the inevitable outward expression of what has happened: “If on Jesus Christ you trust, speak for Him you surely must.” When a person really believes something, he wants to share it with others. So when a person is genuinely born again, it is too good to keep secret. He confesses Christ.

The Scriptures assume that when a person is saved he will make a public confession of that salvation. The two go together. Thus Kelly said, “If there be no confession of Christ the Lord with the mouth, we cannot speak of salvation; as our Lord said, ‘He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.’ ” And Denney comments,

“A heart believing unto righteousness, and a mouth making confession unto salvation, are not really two things, but two sides of the same thing.”

The question arises why confession comes first in 10:9, then belief, whereas in 10:10 belief comes first, then confession. The answer is not hard to find. In verse 9 the emphasis is on the Incarnation and the resurrection, and these doctrines are mentioned in their chronological order. The Incarnation comes first—Jesus is Lord. Then the resurrection—God raised Him from the dead. In verse 10 the emphasis is on the order of events in the salvation of a sinner. First he believes, then he makes a public confession of his salvation.[3]


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

[2] Boice, J. M. (1991–). Romans: God and History (Vol. 3, pp. 1205–1220). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1721–1722). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

MAY 17 – HONOR GOD’S SPIRIT

Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

I think there are great numbers of Christian believers who ought to go home and go into their places of prayer and apologize to God for their demeaning attitudes toward the Holy Spirit of God.

Included in their numbers are Bible teachers who are guilty of leading us astray. They have dared to teach Christians that the Holy Spirit will never speak of His own person or position, as though the third Person of the Godhead may be ignored and His ministry downgraded!

Jesus said, “[When He comes] he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak” (John 16:13).

Jesus was actually telling His disciples: The Comforter will not come to stand on His own, to speak on His own authority. He will guide you into all truth—He will speak and act on the authority of the divine Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If you do not yield and honor the Holy Spirit, your lives will not show forth the blessed fruits of the Spirit!

Lord, I pray that my life will produce the fruit of Your Spirit today (see Galatians 5:22–23).[1]


A powerful motivation for putting off unwholesome talk is that not to do so will grieve the Holy Spirit of God. All sin is painful to God, but sin in His children breaks His heart. When His children refuse to change the ways of the old life for the ways of the new, God grieves. The Holy Spirit of God weeps, as it were, when he sees Christians lying instead of speaking the truth, becoming unrighteously rather than righteously angry, stealing instead of sharing, and speaking corrupt instead of uplifting and gracious words.

Whatever violates the will of God and the holiness of the heart will grieve the third Person of the Trinity. Grieving can lead to quenching (1 Thess. 5:19) and to a forfeiture of power and blessing. It should be noted also that such responses by the Holy Spirit indicate His personhood, which is seen in the use of personal pronouns referring to Him (cf. John 14:17; 16:13; etc.). His identity as Comforter, or Helper (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7), indicates that He is like Christ, who is a person. The Holy Spirit has intellect (1 Cor. 2:11), feelings (Rom. 8:27; 15:30), and will (1 Cor. 12:11). He works (1 Cor. 12:11), searches (1 Cor. 2:10), speaks (Acts 13:2), testifies (John 15:26), teaches (John 14:26), convicts (John 16:8–11), regenerates (John 3:5), intercedes (Acts 8:26), guides (John 16:13), glorifies Christ (John 16:14), and directs service to God (Acts 16:6–7).

Specifically in light of this text in Ephesians, the personhood of the Holy Spirit is seen in the fact that He can be treated as a person. He can be tested (Acts 5:9), lied to (Acts 5:3), resisted (Acts 7:51), insulted (Heb. 10:29), and blasphemed (Matt. 12:31–32).

Paul asks, in effect, “How can we do that which is so displeasing to the One by whom [we] have been sealed for the day of redemption?” (see 1:13–14). The Holy Spirit is God’s personal mark of authenticity on us, His stamp of divine approval. How can we grieve the One who is our Helper, Comforter, Teacher, Advocate, Divine Resident of our hearts, and guarantor of our eternal redemption? How can we ungraciously grieve God’s infinitely gracious Holy Spirit? He has done so much for us that, out of gratitude, we ought not to grieve Him.

The command not to show ingratitude to the Divine Spirit is based on the fact that He has secured our salvation. Paul is not saying we should avoid sin in order to keep our salvation, but rather that we should be eternally grateful to the Holy Spirit for His making it impossible for us to lose it.[2]


  1. When the apostle warns against ill behavior and urges Christian conduct upon all the addressed, he is never forgetting about all the “interested” parties. He has already mentioned the neighbor, the devil, the needy one, and the listeners (verses 25, 27, 28, and 29). It does not surprise us, therefore, that he now refers to one more interested party, most interested indeed, namely, the Holy Spirit. He writes: And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God in whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. It is said at times that the church has failed to do full justice to the doctrine of the Holy Spirit; that it has neglected to bestow upon him the attention given to the Father and to the Son. There may be truth in this. As for Paul, however, he has no share in this blame. The term “the Holy Spirit” occurs about thirty times in his epistles, if we include such synonymous appellatives as “Spirit of God,” “Spirit of Jesus Christ,” etc. In addition I have counted at least seventy instances in which I, for one, would interpret the term pneúma (occurring without the adjective “holy”) as referring to the third person of the Holy Trinity. On that subject, however, there is some difference of opinion among commentators. Be that as it may, the epistle to the Ephesians mentions the Holy Spirit again and again, using the very term (1:13; 4:30) or simply the designation: “the Spirit” (1:17; 2:18, 22; 3:5, 16; 4:3, 4; 5:18; 6:17, 18). In most of these cases there is general agreement that the reference is to the Paraclete.

The reason for this frequency of occurrence is obvious: Paul wishes to impress upon us that apart from God we cannot be saved; that is, that whatever good there is in us has its origin in the Holy Spirit. He both imparts life and sustains it. He causes it to develop and to reach its ultimate destination. It is he, therefore, who is the Author of every Christian virtue, every good fruit. Hence, whenever the believer pollutes his soul by any deceitful, vengeful, covetous, or filthy thought or suggestion, he is grieving the Holy Spirit. This is all the more true because it is the Spirit that dwells within the hearts of God’s children, making them his temple, his sanctuary (2:22; 1 Cor. 3:16, 17; 6:19). By means of every evil imagination, cogitation, or motivation that indwelling and sanctifying Spirit is therefore, as it were, cut to the heart. Besides, not only does the Spirit save us but he also fills us with the joy, the assurance, of salvation; for, as was made clear earlier, and as is repeated in substance here in 4:30, it was “in” him (“in connection with,” hence also “by means of,” him) that we were “sealed for the day of redemption,” that great day of the consummation of all things, when our deliverance from the effects of sin will be completed. It is the day of Christ’s return, when our lowly body, refashioned so that it will have a form like Christ’s glorious body, will rejoin our redeemed soul in order that in soul and body the entire victorious multitude may inhabit the new heaven and earth to glorify God forever and ever. The very meditation on the fulfilment of this hope should have a purifying effect on us (1 John 3:2, 3). For further explanation see on 1:13, 14; cf. Luke 21:28; Rom. 8:23. Hence, reversion to pagan attitudes and practices is a sign of base ingratitude. How this must grieve the indwelling Spirit! We may call this a highly anthropomorphic expression, and so it is, both here and in Isa. 63:10 from which it is borrowed. It is, however, in a sense, a most comforting anthropomorphism, for it cannot fail to remind us of “the love of the Spirit” (Rom. 15:30), who “yearns for us even unto jealous envy” (James 4:5). That is also the context in Isaiah. Read Isa. 63:10 in connection with the verse which precedes it. To be sure, “grieving the Spirit” may not be as strong a term as “resisting” the Spirit (Acts 7:51); which, in turn, is not as trenchant as “quenching the Spirit” (1 Thess. 5:19). Nevertheless, one step in the wrong direction easily leads to the next. Let the Ephesians, and all those down the centuries for whom the epistle was intended, take this to heart! Note also with what emphasis the Comforter’s full name is spelled out: “the Holy Spirit of God,” or, even more literally, “the Spirit, the Holy One, of God,” with special emphasis on his holiness. The stress is both on his majesty and on his sanctifying power. He is “holy” and this not only as being spotlessly sinless in himself, but also as the very Source of holiness for all those in whose hearts he deigns to dwell![3]


30 With a linking “and,” Paul connects the preceding prohibitions to a much larger issue—offending the Holy Spirit. Their behavior affects God! Paul issues another prohibition using plus the present imperatival form of the verb to call on the readers either to avoid or to stop grieving the “Holy Spirit of God” (cf. “put out the Spirit’s fire,” 1 Th 5:19; “resist the Holy Spirit,” Ac 7:51). Paul underscores the personality of the Spirit—one who can be grieved. “Grieve” (lupeō, GK 3382) means “to cause severe mental or emotional distress, vex, irritate, offend, insult” (BDAG, 604). The thought may parallel Isaiah 63:10: “Yet they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.” When believers disregard God’s will concerning how the community of Christ ought to behave, they cause grief to God’s Spirit, whose work it is to build up the body (cf. 2:22; 4:3–4). Again we note Paul’s parallelism: not dealing properly with anger gives the devil an opportunity to harm the body of Christ (v. 27); so sinning with the tongue offends the Holy Spirit, who desires to bless and build up the body. Of course, sins other than those involving evil speech can grieve the Spirit (and so this prohibition could reflect the entire section), but avoiding destructive speech is probably the primary point in this context. To tear down a brother or sister rather than to build him or her up distresses God’s Spirit.

Paul then reminds his readers of a crucial truth about the role of the Spirit in the body—and a crucial incentive against misusing the tongue: believers were sealed in (with God as agent) or by means of the Spirit for the day of redemption. A “seal” could be a security measure or a mark of identification denoting ownership. As we saw earlier (see commentary on 1:13), a seal implies God’s protection for those who enter the Christian community. The Spirit authenticates them as his people “who have been stamped with the holy character of their owner” (Lincoln, 307). At their entrance into the body, God marked believers as his own—giving them the Holy Spirit as the down payment—ensuring their status until the end, the day of their redemption. (On “redemption,” apolytrōsis, GK 667, see comments at 1:7, 14; cf. Ro 8:23.) “Day” points to an especially significant event (cf. “day of the Lord” or “day of Christ”). The “day of redemption” points to the final consummation of believers’ salvation (cf. 1:10, 14). So in view of this certainty, why would they engage in any behavior that would insult the very one who has marked them out for that special day?[4]


4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. If this is taken in connection with the preceding verse, it means that worthless talk grieves the Spirit. It may also be linked to verses 25–28 to indicate that lying, unrighteous anger, and stealing also hurt Him. Or in a still wider sense, it may be saying that we should abstain from anything and everything that grieves Him.

Three powerful reasons are suggested:

  1. He is the Holy Spirit. Anything that is not holy is distasteful to Him.
  2. He is the Holy Spirit of God, a member of the blessed Trinity.
  3. We were sealed by Him for the day of redemption. As mentioned previously, a seal speaks of ownership and security. He is the seal that guarantees our preservation until Christ returns for us and our salvation is complete. Interestingly enough, Paul here uses the eternal security of the believer as one of the strongest reasons why we should not sin.

The fact that He can be grieved shows that the Holy Spirit is a Person, not a mere influence. It also means He loves us, because only a person who loves can be grieved. The favorite ministry of God’s Spirit is to glorify Christ and to change the believer into His likeness (2 Cor. 3:18). When a Christian sins, He has to turn from this ministry to one of restoration. It grieves Him to see the believer’s spiritual progress interrupted by sin. He must then lead the Christian to the place of repentance and confession of sin.[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (p. 189). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, pp. 221–222). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 131–132). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1940). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 17 – Knowing God as Father

Our Father who is in heaven … —Matt. 6:9b

Only those who have come to God through Christ can call God “Father.” He is the Father of unbelievers only in that He created them (cf. Mal. 2:10; Acts 17:28). It is only those who trust Jesus who have “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12; cf. Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26).

In the Old Testament, faithful Jews saw God as the Father of Israel, the nation He elected as His special people. Isaiah proclaimed, “You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your name” (Isa. 63:16b; cf. Ex. 4:22; Jer. 31:9). Many of them even saw God in an intimate way as their spiritual Father and Savior (Pss. 89:26; 103:13).

But because of their disobedience toward God’s commands and their embracing of false gods around them, most Jews of Jesus’ time had lost the true sense of God’s fatherhood and viewed Him as only the remote Deity of their ancestors.

These six words at the beginning of the Disciples’ Prayer reaffirm that God is the Father of all who trust in Him. Jesus Himself used the title “Father” in all His recorded prayers except one (Matt. 27:46). Although the text here uses the more formal Greek patēr for Father, Jesus likely used the Aramaic abba when He spoke these words. Abba has a more personal connotation (cf. Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15), equivalent to the English “daddy.”

Because saints belong to Jesus the Son, they can come to God the Father (“Daddy”) as His beloved children.

ASK YOURSELF
Certainly in our decadent day and age, many are increasingly growing up in homes where “father” is a person to be feared, a person who rejects, a person who demeans and devalues. How does God’s identity as “Father” fill the holes left by even well-meaning dads who fall short of what their role requires?[1]

God’s Paternity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Father, then, indicates God’s eagerness to lend His ear, His power, and His eternal blessing to the petitions of His children if it serves them best and further reveals His purpose and glory.[2]


The Invocation or Words of Address

9b. Our Father who art in heaven. It is immediately clear that not everyone is privileged to address God thus. That is the exclusive prerogative of those who are “in Christ” (John 1:12; Rom. 8:14–17; Gal. 4:6; 2 Cor. 6:18; 1 John 3:1, 2). To be sure, there is a sense in which God can be correctly referred to as the Father of all men. He has created all, and provides sustenance for all (Mal. 2:10; Ps. 36:6). But that is not the usual sense in which in Scripture the term “Father” can be interpreted. In “the Sermon on the Mount,” too, the term is used in a definitely soteriological or redemptive sense, a sense in which God is the Father not of all (though he is kind to all, 5:45; Luke 6:35, 36) but of some. He is called “your (also: your) Father” (5:16; 6:18, etc.), the Father of the peacemakers (5:9) and of those who love even their enemies (5:44, 45). Similarly, according to Christ’s teaching recorded elsewhere, those who reject him are children not of God but of the devil (John 8:44; 1 John 3:10).

Once this is understood it becomes clear that this model prayer is for believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, for them alone. It also follows that the objection of those who say that “the Lord’s Prayer” is not a Christian prayer because it does not even mention the name of Jesus, and/or because it does not end with the phrase, “for Jesus’ sake,” is groundless. The name and the atoning work of the Lord are clearly implied in the very words of the invocation. Apart from Christ no one can come to the Father (John 14:6).

As to the words of address themselves, first of all see what has been said earlier (pp. 286, 287). The striking fact, of which we should never lose sight, is that he who is King of the kingdom of heaven is at the same time the Father of its citizens. The citizens are the children. The kingdom is the Father’s Family. See N.T.C. on Eph. 3:14, 15. Note also the combination of immanence and transcendence, of condescension and majesty. “Our Father” indicates his nearness. He is near to all his children, infinitely near. Therefore with confidence they approach the Father’s throne, to make all their wants and wishes known to him, that is, all those that are in harmony with his revealed will. They need not be afraid, for God is their Father who loves them. Yet, he is the Father in heaven (literally “in the heavens”). Therefore, he should be approached in the spirit of devout and humble reverence. The chumminess or easy familiarity that marks a certain type of present day “religion” is definitely antiscriptural. Those who indulge in this bad habit seem never to have read Exod. 3:5; Isa. 6:1–5; or Acts 4:24!

Also, whereas the words “Our Father” indicate God’s willingness and eagerness to lend his ear to the praises and petitions of his children, the addition “who art in heaven” shows his power and sovereign right to answer their requests, disposing of them according to his infinite wisdom. Finally, reflect again on those words, “Our Father … in heaven.” They make the Father’s children feel that they are pilgrims here below, and that their real home is not here but in heaven. It is comforting to know that not only do the children wish to be where the Father is, but the Father also desires that his children be where he is (Ps. 73:23, 24; Jer. 31:3; cf. John 17:24). Does the child sing Ps. 42:1? With slight change of wording (“O my child” for “O God”) Ps. 42:1 can be (shall we say “is being”?) sung also by God himself.—The idea of a God who sings, rejoicing in his children’s salvation, has scriptural support (Zeph. 3:17).—Then in glory these children will forever address God as their Father, but nevermore will they have to add “who art in heaven,” for they will be with him.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 146). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 375–377). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 326–327). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

MAY 17 – THAT CROSS!

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

—Matthew 11:28-29

Saint Theresa, that dear woman of God, said that the closer we are to God, the more conscious we are of how bad we are. Oh, the paradox, the mystery, the wonder of knowing that God, that transcendent One who is so high above all others that there is a gulf fixed that no one can cross, condescends to come and dwell among us. The God who is on the other side of that vast gap one day came and condensed Himself into the womb of the virgin, was born and walked among us. The baby that tramped around on the floor of Joseph’s carpenter shop, that got in the way and played with the shavings, was the great God so infinitely lifted up and so transcendent that the archangels gazed upon Him. There He was! …

A great gulf lies between me and the transcendent God, who is so high I cannot think of Him, so lofty that I cannot speak of Him, before whom I must fall down in trembling fear and adoration. I can’t climb up to Him; I can’t soar in any man-made vehicle to Him. I can’t pray my way up to Him. There is only one way: “Near, near thee, my son, is that old wayside cross.” And the cross bridges the gulf that separates God from man. That cross! AOGII048-049

Thank You, Father, for the miracle of the cross, the marvelous bridge that allows me to have fellowship with You. Amen. [1]


Faith

Come to Me, (11:28a)

Just as man’s part in salvation is to come humbly, it is also to come in faith. Although finite minds cannot fully comprehend the truth, divine grace and human faith are inseparable in salvation. God sovereignly provides salvation, which includes the fact that man must give himself to the Lord Jesus Christ in commitment before it becomes effective. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me,” and then immediately added, “and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

Salvation is not through a creed, a church, a ritual, a pastor, a priest, or any other such human means-but through Jesus Christ, who said, Come to Me. To come is to believe to the point of submitting to His lordship. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus declared; “he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Comes and believes are parallel just as are hunger and thirst. Coming to Christ is believing in Him, which results in no longer hungering and thirsting. Other biblical synonyms for believing in Christ include confessing Him, receiving Him, eating and drinking Him, and hearing Him.

Peter declared, “Of Him [Jesus Christ] all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43). And the Lord Himself said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14–16).

Repentance and Rest

all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (11:28:b)

All who are indicates a condition that already exists. Those whom Jesus invites to Himself are those who already are weary and heavy-laden. Although this aspect of Jesus’ invitation is mentioned after faith (“Come to Me”), chronologically it precedes faith, referring to the repentance that drives the humble, seeking person to Christ for salvation.

Kopiaō (to grow weary, or “to labor”) carries the idea of working to the point of utter exhaustion. John uses the term to describe Jesus’ fatigue when He and the disciples reached Sychar after a long, hot journey from Jerusalem (John 4:6).

Weary translates a present active participle and refers figuratively to arduous toil in seeking to please God and know the way of salvation. Jesus calls to Himself everyone who is exhausted from trying to find and please God in his own resources. Jesus invites the person who is wearied from his vain search for truth through human wisdom, who is exhausted from trying to earn salvation, and who has despaired of achieving God’s standard of righteousness by his own efforts.

Heavy-laden translates a perfect passive participle, indicating that at some time in the past a great load was dumped on the wearied person. Whereas weary refers to the internal exhaustion caused by seeking divine truth through human wisdom, heavy-laden suggests the external burdens caused by the futile efforts of works righteousness.

In Jesus’ day, the rabbinical teachings had become so massive, demanding, and all-encompassing that they prescribed standards and formulas for virtually every human activity. It was all but impossible even to learn all the traditions, and was completely impossible to keep them all. Jesus spoke of the heavy loads of religious tradition that the scribes and Pharisees laid on the people’s shoulders (Matt. 23:4); and at the Jerusalem Council, Peter noted that the Judaizers were trying to saddle Christianity with the same man-made “yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” (Acts 15:10).

Although the term itself is not used in the text, Jesus gives a call to repent, to turn away from the self-centered and works-centered life and come to Him. The person who is weary and heavy-laden despairs of his own ability to please God. He comes to the end of his own resources and turns to Christ. Desperation is a part of true salvation, because a person does not come to Christ as long as he has confidence in himself. To repent is to make a 180-degree turn from the burden of the old life to the restfulness of the new.

Repentance was the theme of John the Baptist’s preaching (Matt. 3:2) and the starting point of the preaching of Jesus (4:17), Peter (Acts 2:38; 3:19; cf. 5:31), and Paul (17:30; 20:21; cf. 2 Tim. 2:25). The person who humbly receives God’s revelation of Himself and His way of salvation, who turns from the unbearable burden of his sin and self-effort, and who comes to Christ empty-handed is the only person God will save.

Anapauō (to give … rest) means to refresh or revive, as from labor or a long journey. Jesus promises spiritual rest to everyone who comes to Him in repentance and humble faith.

God’s rest is a common Old Testament theme. The Lord warned Israel, “Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness; when your fathers tested Me, they tried Me, though they had seen My work. … Therefore I swore in My anger, truly they shall not enter into My rest” (Ps. 95:7–9, 11). After quoting that passage, the writer of Hebrews warns those who make a pretense of faith in Christ but have not really trusted Him: “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in failing away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). To intellectually acknowledge Christ’s deity and lordship is a dangerous thing if it does not lead to true faith, because it gives a person the false confidence of belonging to Christ.

In the time of the early church many Jews were attracted to the gospel and outwardly identified themselves with the church. But for tear of being unsynagogued, ostracized from the worship and ceremonies of Judaism, some of them diet not truly receive Christ as saving Lord. They went part way to Him but stopped before full commitment. “As a result” of such superficial allegiance, John says, “many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore” (John 6:66). Consequently they would not enter God’s rest, that is, His salvation, because they still possessed “an evil, unbelieving heart” (Heb. 3:11–12).

Just as those Israelites who rebelled against Moses in the wilderness were denied entrance into the Promised Land because of unbelief, so those who refuse to fully trust in Christ are denied entrance into God’s kingdom rest of salvation for the same reason (v. 19). “Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest’ ” (4:1–3).

The dictionary gives several definitions of rest that remarkably parallel the spiritual rest God offers those who trust in His Son. First, the dictionary describes rest as cessation from action, motion, labor, or exertion. In a similar way, to enter God’s rest is to cease from all efforts at self-help in trying to earn salvation. Second, rest is described as freedom from that which wearies or disturbs. Again we see the spiritual parallel of God’s giving His children freedom from the cares and burdens that rob them of peace and joy.

Third, the dictionary defines rest as something that is fixed and settled. Similarly, to be in God’s rest is to have the wonderful assurance that our eternal destiny is secure in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. It is to be freed from the uncertainties of running from philosophy to philosophy, from religion to religion, from guru to guru, hoping somehow and somewhere to discover truth, peace, happiness, and eternal life.

Fourth, rest is defined as being confident and trustful. When we enter God’s rest we are given the assurance that “He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). Finally, the dictionary describes rest as leaning, reposing, or depending on. As children of God, we can depend with utter certainty that our heavenly Father will “supply all [our] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

Submission

Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” (11:29–30)

Salvation involves submission, because it is impossible for Christ to exercise lordship over those who refuse to obey Him. Jesus’ invitation therefore includes the call to submission, symbolized by a yoke.

A yoke was made of wood, hand-hewn to fit the neck and shoulders of the particular animal that was to wear it in order to prevent chafing. For obvious reasons, the term was widely used in the ancient world as a metaphor for submission. The yoke was part of the harness used to pull a cart, plow, or mill beam and was the means by which the animal’s master kept it under control and guided it in useful work. A student was often spoken of as being under the yoke of his teacher, and an ancient Jewish writing contains the advice: “Put your neck under the yoke and let your soul receive instruction.”

That is the particular meaning Jesus seems to have had in mind here, because He adds, and learn from Me. Manthanō (to learn) is closely related to mathētēs (disciple, or learner) and reinforces the truth that Christ’s disciples are His submissive learners. They submit to Christ’s lordship for many reasons, among the most important of which is to be taught by Him through His Word. A yoke symbolizes obedience, and Christian obedience includes learning from Christ.

The power of salvation is entirely of grace and nothing of works. An unbeliever has neither the understanding nor the ability to save himself, just as a babe has neither the understanding nor the ability to help itself. But although good works do not produce salvation, salvation does produce good works. Believers are, in fact, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

But because Jesus is gentle and humble in heart, He gives rest, not weariness, to the souls of those who submit to Him and do His work. His yoke is easy, and His load is light. His burden is not like that of Pharaoh, who bitterly oppressed the children of Israel, or like that of the scribes and Pharisees, who burdened the Jews of Jesus’ day with a grievous legalism.

Christ will never oppress us or give us a burden too heavy to carry. His yoke has nothing to do with the demands of works or law, much less those of human tradition. The Christian’s work of obedience to Christ is joyful and happy. “For,” as John explains, “this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

Submission to Jesus Christ brings the greatest liberation a person can experience-actually the only true liberation he can experience, because only through Christ is he freed to become what God created him to be.

Thy precious will, O conquering Saviour,

Doth now embrace and compass me;

All discords hushed, my peace a river,

My soul a prisoned bird set free.

Sweet will of God still fold me closer,

Till I am wholly lost in Thee.

(William E. Blackstone)[2]


28–30. Come to me all who are weary and burdened.… What it means to come to Jesus is clearly described in John 6:35, “He who comes to me will in no way get hungry, and he who believes in me will in no way get thirsty.” It is clear from this passage that “coming” to Jesus means “believing” in him. Such faith is knowledge, assent, and confidence all in one. Moreover, faith, being the gift of the Holy Spirit, produces the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22; cf. John 14:15; 15:1–17; 1 John 2:3). It brings forth the works of gratitude, performed in spontaneous obedience to Christ.

It is to the weary and burdened485 ones that the invitation is extended.

It is they, all of them, who are urged to come to Jesus. Specifically whom does Jesus have in mind? Matt. 23:4 provides the answer. The reference is to all those who are oppressed by the heavy load of rules and regulations placed upon their shoulders by scribes and Pharisees, as if only then when in any person’s life obedience to all these traditions outbalances his acts of disobedience can he be saved. When in anyone’s mind and heart the belief took root that in this way, and only in this way, man must earn his way into everlasting life, the result at best was painful uncertainty; more often something worse, namely, clutching fear, gnawing anxiety, rayless despair (cf. Rom. 8:15a).

It stands to reason that Christ’s urgent invitation that such weary and burdened ones should come to him is relevant today as well as it was at the time when Jesus walked on earth. It applies to anyone who, for whatever reason, tries wholly or partly to achieve salvation by means of his own exertion. And does not the heart of every sinner, including even the man already reborn but still living here on earth, harbor a Pharisee, at least once in a while?

The promise is: and I will give you rest. Such rest is not only negatively absence from uncertainty, fear, anxiety, and despair; positively it is peace of mind and heart (Ps. 125:1; Isa. 26:3; 43:2; John 14:27; 16:33; Rom. 5:1); assurance of salvation (2 Cor. 5:1; 2 Tim. 1:12; 4:7, 8; 2 Peter 1:10, 11). Continued: Take my yoke upon you and learn488 from me.… In Jewish literature a “yoke” represents the sum-total of obligations which, according to the teaching of the rabbis, a person must take upon himself. This definition accounts for such terms as “yoke of the Torah,” “yoke of the commandments,” “yoke of the kingdom of heaven,” etc. It has already been shown that because of their misinterpretation, alteration, and augmentation of God’s holy law, the yoke which Israel’s teachers placed upon the shoulders of the people was that of a totally unwarranted legalism. It was the system of teaching that stressed salvation by means of strict obedience to a host of rules and regulations. Now here in 11:29 Jesus places his own teaching over against that to which the people had become accustomed. When he says, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,” or “and become my disciples,” he means, “Accept my teaching, namely, that a person is saved by means of simple trust in me.” Continued: for I am meek and lowly in heart.… In explaining the word “meek” as it occurs in 5:5, it was pointed out that the meek person is the one “who finds refuge in the Lord, commits his way entirely to him, leaving everything in the hand of him who loves and cares.” See also on 12:19, 20. It is clear that the meek person is peaceful and peace-loving. It is therefore not so strange that the Syriac (Peshitta) New Testament has: “Come to me … and I will rest you … for I am restful … and you shall find rest for yourselves.” This, or something very similar to it, may well have been what Jesus, speaking Aramaic, closely resembling Syriac, said that day to the conscience-stricken multitude. The synonym of “meek” is “lowly” or “humble,” as opposed to “proud” (cf. 1 Peter 5:5).

The result of taking Christ’s yoke and becoming his disciple is: and you shall find rest for your souls (or “for yourselves”). Such “finding” is “obtaining.” Note the parallel: “I will give you rest” (verse 28) and “you shall find rest” (verse 29). Men can never obtain unless Christ gives. They can never discover what he has not disclosed. Concluded: For my yoke is kindly, and my burden is light. It should never be forgotten that a yoke, literally a wooden frame, was placed upon a person’s shoulders in order to make a load or burden easier to carry, by distributing its weight in equal proportions to opposite sides of the body. This, however, did not entirely rule out the possibility that if the burden was very heavy the yoke would not be of sufficient help to the wearer. Consequently even a yoke could be called heavy (Acts 15:10). Accordingly, to make the carrying task delightful not only must the yoke be well adjusted to the shoulders, not chafing, but also the burden must not be too heavy. Symbolically speaking, Jesus here assures the oppressed persons whom he addresses, both then and now, that his yoke, that is, the one he urges them to wear, is kindly,  and his burden, that is, that which he requires of us, is light. What he is really saying, therefore, is that simple trust in him and obedience to his commands out of gratitude for the salvation already imparted by him is delightful. It brings peace and joy. The person who lives this kind of life is no longer a slave. He has become free. He serves the Lord spontaneously, eagerly, enthusiastically. He is doing what he (the “new man” in him) wants to do. Cf. Rom. 7:22. On the contrary, the attempt to save oneself by means of scrupulous adherance to all the artificial rules and arbitrary regulations superimposed upon the law by scribes and Pharisees (23:4) spells slavery. It produces wretchedness and despair. Therefore, says the Lord, “Come to me.”

In the study of this marvelous passage (verses 28–30) one fact is generally passed by in silence. It is this: The authoritative advice Jesus gives is not only good for the soul; when heeded it also greatly benefits the body. The rest—peace of heart and mind—which Jesus here provides is the very opposite of the aggravated mental stress that sends so many people to doctors, hospitals, and death. Absence of peace, whether in the form of anxiety or of rancor and vindictiveness (the lust to “get even”), may lead to ulcers, colitis, high blood pressure, heart attacks, etc. The teachings of Christ, if taken to heart, have a curative effect on the entire person, soul and body. He is a complete Savior![3]


Overview

These verses are only in Matthew. Jesus is the one who alone reveals the Father (v. 27). Jesus it is who invites, not “the wise and learned” (v. 25), but “the weary and burdened” (v. 28). The Son reveals the Father, not to gratify learned curiosity or to reinforce the self-sufficiency of the arrogant, but to bring “the little children” (v. 25) to know the Father (v. 27), to introduce the weary to eschatological rest (v. 28)—or, as the angel once said to Joseph, so that Jesus Messiah might save his people from their sins (1:21).

Partly because these verses have some links with Sirach 51:23–27, where wisdom invites men to her yoke, several have argued that Matthew here identifies Jesus with hypostasized wisdom (e.g., Zumstein, La condition du croyant, 140 ff.; Dunn, Christology, 200–201). But the contrasts between Sirach 51 and this passage are more impressive than the similarities. In the former, Sirach is inviting men to take on the yoke of studying Torah as the means of gaining acceptance and rest; in the latter, Jesus offers eschatological rest, not to the scholar who studies Torah, but to the weary. Jesus’ teaching must be adopted, not Torah; and this stands, as the next pericopes show (12:1–8, 9–14), in welcome relief to a primarily legal understanding of the OT. Stanton (Jesus of Nazareth, 368–71) disputes that there is any link with Sirach. But whether or not he has gone too far in this conclusion, he is entirely right to point out that despite the common words “to me,” “toil,” “yoke,” “find,” “rest,” and “soul” in the two passages, the configuration of the two sets is entirely different. In Sirach, the writer, the Wise Man, receives Wisdom’s blessings and invites his readers to share in them. Here, however, Jesus is not the mediator of Wisdom’s blessings “but issues ‘Wisdom’s’ invitation in his own person. Wisdom’s yoke is now his yoke, and it is he who offers rest to those who toil” (France [NICNT]).

Commentary

28 The “me” is grammatically unemphatic but in the wake of v. 27 extremely important. Jesus invites the “weary” (the participle suggests those who have become weary through heavy struggling or toil) and the “burdened” (the passive side of weariness, overloaded like beasts of burden) to come to him; and he (not the Father) will give them rest. There is an echo of Jeremiah 31:25, where Yahweh refreshes his people through the new covenant.

While there is no need to restrict the “burdens,” it is impossible not to be reminded of the “heavy loads” the Pharisees put on men’s shoulders (23:4; cf. 12:1–14; see M. Maher, “ ‘Take my yoke upon you’ [Matt. xi.29],” NTS 22 [1976]: 97–103). The “rest” (cf. use of cognate term in Heb 3–4) is eschatological (cf. Rev 6:11; 14:13) but also a present reality.

29–30 The “yoke” (zygos, GK 2433), put on animals for pulling heavy loads, is a metaphor for the discipline of discipleship. If Jesus is not offering the yoke of the law (Pirke Avot 3:6, cf. Sir 51:26), neither is he offering freedom from all constraints. The “yoke” is Jesus’ yoke, not the yoke of the law; discipleship must be to him. In view of v. 27, “learn from me” cannot mean “imitate me” or “learn from my experience” (contra Stauffer, TDNT, 2:348–49) but “learn from the revelation that I alone impart” (cf. Josef Schmid, Das Evangelium nach Matthäus [Regensburg: Pustet, 1959]).

The marvelous feature of this invitation is that out of his overwhelming authority (v. 27) Jesus encourages the burdened to come to him because he is “gentle and humble in heart.” Matthew stresses Jesus’ gentleness (18:1–10; 19:13–15). Apparently the theme is connected with the messianic servant language (Isa 42:2–3; 53:1–2; cf. Zec 9:9, cited in Mt 21:5) that recurs in 12:15–21. Authoritative revealer that he is, Jesus approaches us with a true servant’s gentleness. For the present, his messianic reign must not be understood as exclusively royal.

On “rest” (anapausis, GK 398), see v. 28. Here the words “and you will find rest for your souls” are directly quoted from Jeremiah 6:16 (MT, not LXX).

The entire verse is steeped in OT language (cf. Gundry, Use of the Old Testament, 136); but if this is intended to be not just an allusion but a fulfillment passage, then Jesus is saying that “the ancient paths” and “the good way” (Jer 6:16) lie in taking on his yoke because he is the one to whom the OT Scriptures point. That yoke is “easy” (“good,” “comfortable,” GK 5982), and his burden is light (v. 30). The “rest” he promises is not only for the world to come but also for this one as well.

The implicit contrast between Jesus’ yoke and that of others is not between antinomianism and legalism, for in a deep sense his demands (5:21–48) are far more radical than theirs; nor between salvation by law and salvation by grace (contra Barth, “Matthew’s Understanding of the Law,” 148 n. 2); nor between harsh attitudes among Jewish teachers of the law and Jesus’ humane and humble approach (Klostermann). No, the contrast is between the burden of submission to the OT in terms of Pharisaic regulation and the relief of coming under Jesus’ tutelage as under the authority of gentle Revealer to whom the OT, the ancient paths, truly pointed (cf. H. D. Betz, “The Logion of the Easy Yoke and of Rest [Matthew 11:28–30],” JBL 86 [1967]: 10–24).[4]


11:28 Come. To come means to believe (Acts 16:31); to receive (John 1:12); to eat (John 6:35); to drink (John 7:37); to look (Isa. 45:22); to confess (1 Jn. 4:2); to hear (John 5:24, 25); to enter a door (John 10:9); to open a door (Rev. 3:20); to touch the hem of His garment (Matt. 9:20, 21); and to accept the gift of eternal life through Christ our Lord (Rom. 6:23).

to Me. The object of faith is not a church, a creed, or a clergyman, but the living Christ. Salvation is in a Person. Those who have Jesus are as saved as God can make them.

all you who labor and are heavy laden. In order to truly come to Jesus, a person must admit that he is burdened with the weight of sin. Only those who acknowledge they are lost can be saved. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is preceded by repentance toward God.

and I will give you rest. Notice that rest here is a gift; it is unearned and unmerited. This is the rest of salvation that comes from realizing that Christ finished the work of redemption on Calvary’s cross. It is the rest of conscience that follows the realization that the penalty of one’s sins has been paid once for all and that God will not demand payment twice.

11:29 In verses 29 and 30, the invitation changes from salvation to service.

Take My yoke upon you. This means to enter into submission to His will, to turn over control of one’s life to Him (Rom. 12:1, 2).

and learn from Me. As we acknowledge His lordship in every area of our lives, He trains us in His ways.

for I am gentle and lowly in heart. In contrast to the Pharisees who were harsh and proud, the true Teacher is meek and lowly. Those who take His yoke will learn to take the lowest place.

and you will find rest for your souls. Here it is not the rest of conscience but the rest of heart that is found by taking the lowest place before God and man. It is also the rest that one experiences in the service of Christ when he stops trying to be great.

11:30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Again there is a striking contrast with the Pharisees. Jesus said of them, “For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers” (Matt. 23:4). Jesus’ yoke is easy; it does not chafe. Someone has suggested that if Jesus had had a sign outside His carpenter’s shop, it would have read, “My yokes fit well.”

His burden is light. This does not mean that there are no problems, trials, labor, or heartaches in the Christian life. But it does mean that we do not have to bear them alone. We are yoked with One who gives sufficient grace for every time of need. To serve Him is not bondage but perfect freedom. J. H. Jowett says:

The fatal mistake for the believer is to seek to bear life’s load in a single collar. God never intended a man to carry his burden alone. Christ therefore deals only in yokes! A yoke is a neck harness for two, and the Lord himself pleads to be One of the two. He wants to share the labor of any galling task. The secret of peace and victory in the Christian life is found in putting off the taxing collar of “self” and accepting the Master’s relaxing “yoke.”[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (p. 275). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 503–506). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 321–322). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1246–1247). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 17 – Satan’s Role in Our Trials

“Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.”

1 Peter 5:8–9

✧✧✧

All of Satan’s involvement in our sufferings and trials is under God’s control, which means our success against him is also in God’s sovereign hands.

During the past twenty–five years, there has been a tremendous upsurge of interest in the occult, Satan worship, and evil supernatural influences. Such unwise fascination has had an impact on the church and led to an overemphasis on spiritual warfare in some circles. But such unbiblical emphases give us an unbalanced perspective on the role Satan plays in our trials and persecutions.

On the other hand, 1 Peter 5:8–9 places Satan’s activities in the proper context. Peter urges us to watch our surroundings and be alert to possible temptations. But as we do, we can be encouraged that Jesus Christ has already defeated Satan, and therefore the evil one can have no long–term victories in our lives (1 John 4:4).

Peter goes on to admonish us that we need to resist Satan, which simply means we must “stand up against” him with our spiritual feet solidly planted on the objective truth of the Word (see also James 4:7). The Devil is a liar and a deceiver, and the surest way to deflect his onslaughts is with the infallible, revealed truth of Scripture.

In the biblical accounts of Satan’s participation in the trials, persecutions, or sufferings of God’s servants, God is always the one in control (see Job 1:1–2:8; Matt. 4:1–11). Therefore, our responsibility as we prepare for possible satanic attacks is to recall that our own grand strategies of spiritual warfare, however relentless and innovative they might be, will not provide the vigilance Peter speaks of. Paul gives us a further example of the right kind of preparation when he describes the essence of spiritual warfare as “taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5). If we heed the implications of those words, there’s really nothing else we need to have or do in combating the Devil.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to give you a biblical, balanced approach to dealing with Satan and his many subtle temptations.

For Further Study: Read Mark 9:14–29. What does this passage affirm about Jesus’ authority? ✧ What basic lesson did the disciples need to be reminded of?[1]


Self-Control

Be of sober spirit, (5:8a)

This command calls for another basic element of godly thinking, which Peter mentioned already (see earlier discussions on 1:13 and 4:7 in chapters 5 and 21 of this volume). On a physical level, sober (nēphō) refers to self-control in relation to intoxication. Here, as in its other New Testament usages, however, it has a more metaphorical connotation (cf. 1 Tim. 2:15 kjv; 3:2, 11; Titus 2:2). It includes ordering and balancing life’s important issues, which requires the discipline of mind and body that avoids the intoxicating allurements of the world (cf. 2:11; Luke 21:34; Rom. 12:1–2; 13:14; Phil. 4:8; Col. 3:2; 1 Thess. 5:6–8; Titus 2:12; James 1:27; 4:4; 1 John 2:15–16).

Vigilance

be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (5:8b)

The reason Christians must cultivate the preceding attitudes of submission, humility, trust, and self-control is that they face fierce and relentless spiritual opposition from Satan and his demons. Believers must not become indifferent to that reality (cf. Prov. 15:19; Heb. 6:12) or indulgent of sin (1 Cor. 5:6; Heb. 3:13), lest they become victims of the enemy (2 Cor. 2:11; Eph. 6:11; cf. 1 Thess. 3:5). Instead, the realities of spiritual warfare call for vigilance. Peter urges believers to be on the alert (grēgorēsate), an imperative command that means “be watchful,” or, “stay awake.” The spiritual forces that assault Christians, not only directly (cf. Gen. 3:1–7; Mark 1:13; 2 Cor. 12:7; 1 Thess. 2:18) but often very subtly (2 Cor. 11:14), demand that those who love Christ maintain such vigilance. The Lord warned His disciples: “Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41).

Peter identifies Satan as your adversary, the devil, the pronoun your making that designation a very personal one. Satan is not only the adversary of God and His holy angels, but he is the vicious, relentless enemy of all God’s people (cf. Job 1:6–8; 2:1–6; Zech. 3:1). Adversary (antidikos) was used as a technical term meaning “legal opponent,” as well as any kind of enemy who was seriously and aggressively hostile. The term rendered devil (diabolos) takes this opposition to the level of a “malicious enemy who slanders or attacks.” Three times Jesus called him the ruler of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11; cf. Eph. 2:2), which shows the formidable platform from which he launches his malevolent assaults.

The devil commands the demonic realm and administrates the human, fallen world system. Personally and through his surrogates the demons, who like him never sleep nor rest, Satan untiringly, like a predator in the night of his own evil darkness, hunts to kill. He prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (cf. Job 1:6–12; 2:1–7). Peter’s imagery of the roaring lion derives from the Old Testament (Pss. 7:2; 10:9–10; 17:12; 22:13–21; 35:17; 58:6; 104:21; Ezek. 22:25) and pictures the viciousness of this hunter pursuing his prey. Devour has the sense of “to gulp down,” emphasizing the final objective, not to wound but to destroy. Peter would not have had, as most believers today do, the experience of seeing lions in a zoo. But he might have seen the gory spectacle of lions slaughtering victims for the entertainment of the Romans. Certainly he knew of such events.

Satan’s opposition to God and believers is behind the human enemies of God and His Word. Revelation 12 is the watershed passage that draws the battle lines in the long war with the enemies of God’s kingdom (vv. 3–4; cf. Isa. 14:12–16; Ezek. 28:1–19). Those demons who are not bound (see the discussion of 3:19–20 in chapter 19 of this volume) are the sinister, diabolical forces behind the world system. God’s children, in their struggle against deception and temptation that come from the world to their flesh, are actually wrestling with and contending with demonic strategies (Eph. 6:11–12; cf. 2 Cor. 10:3–5).

Satan and the demons hide unseen in the spirit world, but do their work through human agents (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1–2; 2 Peter 2:1–22; Jude 3–16). Revelation 12:4 says that “the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child.” The dragon is Satan, the woman Israel, and the child Christ. The dramatic picture is of Messiah about to come out of Israel, God’s chosen people, and Satan poised to devour Him. The Enemy sought to implement that plan through Herod the Great’s horrific slaughter of all the male children age two and under in and around Bethlehem (Matt. 2:13–18). He attempted to defeat Christ by giving Him the world’s kingdoms without any suffering (Matt. 4:1–11; Luke 4:1–12). Judas Iscariot was also a willing pawn of Satan, used to betray the Lord in an ill-conceived effort to somehow thwart God’s plan (Luke 22:3; John 13:27; cf. Matt. 26:47–56). Satan also used the Jewish leaders in an effort to hinder Christ’s redemptive mission (cf. Matt. 12:14; 21:46; 22:15–16; 26:1–5; 27:20–23; Luke 6:7; John 5:16; 7:1–13, 32; 8:44, 59; 11:8, 47–48, 53, 57). The enemy continues tirelessly in his efforts to oppose Christ through twisting the saving gospel (cf. Gal. 1:6–9; 1 John 4:1–4) and attempting to ruin God’s redemptive plan (cf. Matt. 13:38–39; 2 Cor. 2:11; 4:3–4).

In addition to opposing Jesus Christ directly, Satan over the centuries has sought to destroy the nation of Israel (cf. Est. 3:1–4:3), the people from whom the Messiah would come. In his vision, John was given a look into the future time of tribulation at the end of the age and saw that “the woman fled into the wilderness where she had a place prepared by God, so that there she would be nourished for one thousand two hundred and sixty days” (Rev. 12:6). God will preserve Israel (“the woman”) during the last half (“one thousand two hundred and sixty days”) of the seven-year Tribulation period, when Satan, through the Antichrist, tries again, unsuccessfully, to destroy the Jews. They will be protected, saved (Zech. 12:10; 13:1; Rom. 11:11–12, 25–29), and given the kingdom promised to them (Zech. 14:4–9, 16–21; Rev. 20:1–6).

Third, Satan’s strategy has been to oppose the holy angels: “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war, and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven” (Rev. 12:7–8). When Satan first fell from heaven, those angels who joined his rebellion accompanied him in warring against Michael, the superangel (cf. Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1), and his legions of holy angels.

Believers are the fourth target in the demonic strategy of warfare against God and the main focus of Peter’s admonition in this passage. The apostle John describes that part of the vision: “So the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her children, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev. 12:17). After being expelled from heaven, the devil (“the dragon”) and his demons began their assault against “the rest of her children” (believers)—those who obey God’s commands and trust in Christ for salvation. Not content with deceiving unbelievers (Rev. 12:9; 2 Cor. 4:3–4) and enslaving them to his world system of ignorance, unbelief, false religion, and sin, Satan also focuses his efforts on opposing the saints.

Satan seeks to devour believers in a number of ways. First, God may allow him to attack a believer directly. The story of Job’s ordeal and the eventual triumph of his faith illustrates this well. In the New Testament, Peter himself experienced Satan’s onslaught (Luke 22:31–34) as the enemy caused him to deny Christ three times (vv. 54–62). The Lord, however, used that incident to make his faith stronger and give him a greater ability to instruct others (cf. John 21:15–22). The apostle Paul also had to contend with assault from a demonic agent who led the attack of false teachers on the Corinthian church (2 Cor. 12:7–10). Some of the members of the church in Smyrna suffered as a result of satanic persecution (Rev. 2:10), and some in Thyatira experienced the painful consequences of demonic teaching in their church (Rev. 2:18–24). The fifth seal reveals the thousands killed by Satan through Antichrist during the Great Tribulation as pleading for divine justice to come speedily against evil enemies (Rev. 6:9–11). Finally, God even uses Satan as the agent of punishment for those who profess to preach Christ but actually lead others astray with false doctrine (1 Tim. 1:18–20), and for those who are unwilling to repent of sin (1 Cor. 5:1–5).

More generally, Satan and his demons constantly mount the attack on individual believers through the ubiquitously sinful and alluring world system. John condensed the spiritual battle down to three points at which believers’ fallen humanness is susceptible to temptation:

Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. (1 John 2:15–17; cf. Acts 5:3)

Secondly, Paul recognized that Satan attacks believers in the most intimate realm of human relations—marriage and the family. For that reason Paul charged the Corinthians,

The husband must fulfill his duty to his wife, and likewise also the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Cor. 7:3–5)

When one partner withholds the physical relationship from the other, Satan will tempt the one deprived to sin, thereby hastening attitudes that often bring the destruction of that marriage and family.

Third, believers—both the leaders and the members of the congregation—are vulnerable to Satan’s attacks within the church. Paul instructed Timothy to choose well-qualified men as shepherds (1 Tim. 3:1–6), lest they be subject to “the snare of the devil” (v. 7). Satan also seeks to destroy the church’s unity, render its spiritual power ineffective, and confuse its purpose (cf. 1 Cor. 1:10–13; 6:1–6; 11:17–34; 14:20–38; Rev. 2–3).

Peter’s first line of defense for protection from Satan’s strategies is simple and direct—be on the alert. If Satan so easily deceived Eve in Eden’s perfect environment (Gen. 3:1–13; 1 Tim. 2:14; cf, 2 Cor. 11:3), how much more are redeemed sinners living in a sinful, fallen world susceptible to Satan’s craftiness and deception (2 Cor. 11:3).

Contrary to what some teach, Scripture nowhere commands believers to attack the devil or demons with prayers or formulas, or to “bind the devil.” Those who foolishly engage in useless efforts to speak to Satan (who is not omnipresent anyway), or to command him, or to dismiss him or other demons are confused and wrong about their powers as Christians. Since the saints are not apostles of Christ, they have no authority over demons (cf. Matt. 10:1; Luke 9:1; 2 Cor. 12:12). Only Christ Himself, by dispatching a powerful holy angel, can bind Satan:

Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding the key of the abyss and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he would not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed; after these things he must be released for a short time. (Rev. 20:1–3)

Satan has already been defeated by Christ (cf. Rom. 16:20) and, through belief in the truth and prayer, can also be defeated in believers’ lives. It is by the Word of God, believed and obeyed, that Christians overcome Satan:

I am writing to you, little children, because your sins have been forgiven you for His name’s sake. I am writing to you, fathers, because you know Him who has been from the beginning. I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one. I have written to you, children, because you know the Father. (1 John 2:12–13; cf. 4:4–6)

They will be victorious if they are spiritually alert for satanic influence coming through their surroundings and relationships, and assess potential temptations and flee from them (Prov. 1:10–17; 4:14–15; Matt. 18:8–9; 26:41; 1 Cor. 6:18; 10:13–14; 2 Cor. 2:11; 1 Tim. 6:11; 2 Tim. 2:22; James 1:13–16).

Fortitude

But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. (5:9)

Peter commands Christians to have a mind that is resolute and to resist Satan by being firm in their faith. Such resistance causes the devil to “flee from you” (James 4:7). Resist means “to take a stand against,” and to be firm is to make that stand solid (the Greek is stereos, from which comes the English stereo, meaning “solid,” or balanced at both ends). That is done by being solidly fixed on the faith (tē pistei), which is biblical revelation. It is the whole body of revealed truth contained in Scripture (cf. Gal. 1:23; Eph. 4:5, 13; Phil. 1:27; 1 Tim. 4:1). This is a call to know and believe sound doctrine, to be discerning in distinguishing truth from error, and to be willing to defend the truth and expose error. Jude’s call is most appropriate in this connection: “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3). It is that “once-for-all” faith which is the inscripturated revelation of God and constitutes the faith on which believers stand solidly and from which they continually resist Satan. This strong stand is the result of the faithful leading of shepherds in the church, as Paul indicates in Ephesians 4:11–14,

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

Since Satan is a liar (John 8:44; cf. Gen. 3:1; 2 Thess. 2:9) and a deceiver (Rev. 20:7–8), the only sure way to stand up against him is by faithful obedience to biblical truth. The battle is a spiritual one, in the supernatural realm, as Paul notes:

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)

“Speculations” are satanic ideologies, ideas, theories, religious philosophies, and systems of thought “raised up against the knowledge of God”; that is, they are anti-biblical viewpoints that have people captive as if they were imprisoned in a great fortress. Christians cannot smash those ideas with human ingenuity, but only with biblical truth—“taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.” Only when someone has the mind of Christ on a matter is he rescued from such ideas.

Peter concludes this section with a word of assurance to his readers as they persevered humbly and submissively, vigilantly and courageously in the midst of many persecutions, sufferings, and trials—they were not alone. He reminded them that the same experiences of suffering were being accomplished by their brethren who are in the world. Believers in other places could empathize with them because every segment of the Christian community has experienced or will experience attack from the Enemy (cf. Heb. 13:3). God allows this form of painful testing to accomplish His perfect work in the lives of His elect (cf. 1:6–7; 4:19; 5:10; Matt. 5:10–12; John 15:18–21; 2 Cor. 1:6–7; James 5:11).[2]


Self-control

5:8

The exhortations in the epilogue of this epistle appear to be loosely related. Peter moves from topic to topic: submission, humility, and self-control. And he seems to lack the time to expand on them. He writes,

  1. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Peter exhorts the Christian who puts his confidence in God to be in full control of his senses. In two other places in his epistle he urges the readers to self-control (1:13; 4:7). Moreover, he admonishes the people to be alert, that is, to be fully awake (1 Thess. 5:6). The warning is clear and crisp: be sober and alert. Be on your guard!

The sentence be self-controlled and alert concentrates on two characteristics: self-control is man’s ability to look at reality with a clear mind, and alertness is a state of watchfulness and readiness. The first characteristic describes a person who controls his own disposition, while the second discloses his readiness to respond to outside influences. A Christian must always be on guard against both internal and external forces that are bent on destroying him. These forces originate in man’s chief adversary, Satan.

Peter calls Satan “your enemy the devil.” He speaks from experience, for he remembers the words of Jesus on the night of the betrayal: “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail” (Luke 22:31–32). That same night Peter denied his Lord when he failed to watch and pray (compare Matt. 26:41).

Satan is the adversary who accuses the Christian in the presence of God. The Old Testament provides a vivid illustration of Satan accusing the high priest Joshua, whose filthy garments God changed for clean ones (Zech. 3:1–5; also see Job 1:6; Rev. 12:10). Satan is the prince of this world (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11); his residence is on this earth and he restlessly moves from place to place. Satan not only controls the whole world (1 John 5:19), but also is a slanderer who turns the truth into a lie. He slanders God and man, pits one person against another, and undermines the believer’s faith in God.

“The devil prowls around like a roaring lion.” In all of Scripture only Peter portrays Satan as a prowling, roaring lion. His simile reminds one of the psalmist’s words: “Roaring lions tearing their prey open their mouths wide against me” (Ps. 22:13; also see Ps. 104:21; Ezek. 22:25).

“Looking for someone to devour.” Were it not for God’s revelation, this portrayal of Satan would strike terror in the heart of a Christian. The believer would have no protection against this fearful adversary. Should he become Satan’s victim he would be ruthlessly destroyed.

A Christian, however, has the protection of spiritual armor (Eph. 6:11–18). When a Christian is fully equipped, the devil is unable to penetrate this armor. Also, Jesus has taught his followers to pray, “Deliver us from the evil one” (Matt. 6:13). And God declares that Satan’s defeat is through the blood of the Lamb (Rev. 12:11). Nevertheless, the Christian must always be on full alert “against the devil’s schemes” (Eph. 6:11).

The prince of darkness grim,

We tremble not for him;

His rage we can endure,

For lo! his doom is sure,

One little Word shall fell him.

—Martin Luther

Greek Words, Phrases, and Constructions in 5:8

νήψατε, γρηγορήσατε—two aorist active imperatives are written in the form of clear, distinct commands. Both aorists are constative; “this use of the aorist contemplates the action in its entirety.”

τινα καταπιεῖν—Bruce M. Metzger defends this reading as original and states that “the others are scribal attempts to alleviate the difficulty of the absolute use of καταπιεῖν.”

  1. Resistance

5:9

  1. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.
  2. “Resist him.” The parallel in James 4:7 is striking: “Resist the devil.” And Paul urges the Ephesians to “stand against the devil’s schemes” (6:11, 13). For Christians the state of being alert must continue unabated.

How do we oppose Satan? Peter says, “[By] standing firm in the faith.” The Greek word translated “standing firm” means “solid”; that is, in respect to faith the believer must be solid and unmovable. For example, Paul uses the word solid when he writes, “God’s solid foundation stands firm” (2 Tim. 2:19). The word faith, however, can be taken in a subjective sense of one’s personal faith and trust in God. It can also be objective faith; that is, the body of Christian doctrine. Although Peter uses the word subjectively in other passages (1:5, 7, 9), here the context favors the objective sense. Peter refers not so much to the faith of the individual as to the faith, or beliefs, of the worldwide body of believers. Thus the term faith relates to the teachings of the Christian church.

  1. “Because you know.” Peter reminds the readers that the Christian church is universal. For this reason the believers must stand together against Satan. The expression you know refers not to knowing how to do something but to knowing (thinking about) somebody. In this case, Peter calls the attention of the readers to fellow Christians in other parts of the world.
  2. “That your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” Here is a literal translation of the Greek: “That the same experiences of sufferings are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world” (NASB). Peter does not say “the same sufferings” but “the same kind of sufferings.” Perhaps he wants to point to the exact experience other Christians have to endure and thus put it in emphatic form. He conveys the message that the readers ought to see that their sufferings are only part of Christian martyrdom.

In the Greek, Peter chooses the word brotherhood to portray the Christian community of brothers and sisters. Peter is saying, “The same sufferings which happen to your brethren are also undergone by you.” Christian men and women throughout the world are suffering for the sake of Christ. Because of the fellowship of these saints, this information should be heartening to the readers and should not surprise them (see 4:12).

  1. “Are undergoing.” Translations of this Greek verb vary, with some translators giving it an active (middle) connotation and others a passive. As some stress that suffering is an experience, others state that through it the sufferers accomplish God’s purpose. In fact, the Christian who suffers because of Christ rejoices when Christ’s glory is revealed (4:13–14); the time of suffering is but “a little while” (v. 10). In his epistle Peter mentions suffering and glory in the same breath. “Thus the Christian awaits not the end of suffering but its goal.”

Doctrinal Considerations in 5:8–9

Out of the numerous symbols the Bible uses to portray spiritual truths, I select two that appear in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation. They are the symbols of the snake and of the lion. Both of them are descriptive of both Satan and Jesus Christ. The sign of the snake appears in the account about Adam and Eve in Eden; there it depicts Satan (Gen. 3:1–15). In the last book of the Bible, Satan bears the name that ancient serpent (Rev. 12:9; 20:2).

Toward the end of Israel’s desert journey, Moses put a bronze snake on a pole so that anyone bitten by a venomous snake might look at it and live (Num. 21:8–9). Note that the symbol of the snake in the desert points to Jesus lifted up on a cross so “that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life” (John 3:15).

Peter portrays Satan as a prowling, roaring lion that seeks to devour anyone in its path. However, the lion is also the symbol of sovereignty; first it refers to the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:9), and then it represents Judah’s greatest descendant, Jesus Christ, “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5).

Greek Words, Phrases, and Constructions in 5:9

τὰ αὐτὰ τῶν παθημάτων—this is a peculiar Greek construction designed to stress “the same ‘kinds’ of sufferings, rather than the same sufferings.” Observe that παθημάτων is plural.[3]


8 To entrust oneself fully to divine care is not to conclude that we have no role to play. Peter continues, “Be self-controlled and alert.” The reason for this is “your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” While the profile of “Satan” in the OT is (relatively speaking) low, in 1 Chronicles 21:1; Job 1:6–12; 2:1–8; and Zechariah 3:1–2, he manifests the character of an accuser (diaballō, “to press charges” or “accuse,” GK 1330) and provoker—a role amplified in the NT (Mt 4:10; 13:37; 16:23; Jn 6:70; 1 Co 7:5; 2 Co 11:14; 12:7; Eph 4:27; 6:11; 1 Ti 3:7; 1 Jn 3:8; Rev 12:9; 20:2, 7, 10). Vigilance is being accented by Peter as he prepares to conclude his letter—and with good reason, for he no doubt agonizes over the lack of it at a critical time leading up to the crucifixion of his Lord (Mt 26:38–46; Mk 14:32–42; Lk 2:39–46).

Often in the OT, persecutors are compared to a crouching lion waiting to attack and devour (e.g., Ps 7:2; 10:8–10; Jer 4:7; Eze 19:6; Na 2:11–13). Because in Scripture the image of a devouring lion is not infrequently associated with the persecutor, this image is effective in the thought of Peter.

9 The readers, however, are not called to fear the devil; they are called to opposition. Peter’s response is simple: “Resist him”—a strategy also found in James (4:7; cf. also Eph 6:10–13), remaining “firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers [and sisters] throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” Solidarity with those whose experience is the same creates an extraordinary bond and motivation to persevere. Whether people share suffering or joy, this common fellowship (what the NT calls koinōnia [GK 3126] breeds uncommon motivation.[4]


5:8 Although we should not worry, we must be sober and vigilant, because we have a powerful adversary, the devil. To be sober means to be serious-minded, to take a realistic approach to life, to be intelligent concerning the stratagems of Satan. Pentecost well says:

An individual who takes no cognizance of the nature or character of the world, one who is unmindful of the purposes and attacks of our adversary, the Devil, can afford to live in a lighthearted or flippant way. But for one who sees life as Jesus Christ sees it, there must be an entirely new attitude, an entirely new outlook characterized by sobriety.

There must also be constant vigilance, a preparedness to meet every attack of the wicked one. Here the adversary is described as a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. The devil has different poses. Sometimes he comes like a snake, seeking to lure people into moral corruption. Sometimes he disguises himself as an angel of light, attempting to deceive people in the spiritual realm. Here, as a roaring lion, he is bent on terrorizing God’s people through persecution.

5:9 We are not to surrender to his fury. Rather we must resist him through prayer and God’s word. We do not have strength in ourselves to oppose him, but as we are firm in our faith, in our dependence on the Lord, we can resist him.

One of Satan’s devices is to discourage us with the thought that our sufferings are unique. As we pass through the fire of affliction, it is easy to faint under the mistaken idea that no one else has as much trouble as we do. Peter reminds us that the same sufferings are experienced by our Christian brotherhood throughout the world.[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 280–286). 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. 201–204). 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, pp. 354–355). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2281). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 17 – All We Need

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Matthew 13:44

The apostle Paul lived a complex life before he became a Christian (Phil. 3:4–6). He tried to keep all the laws and traditions of Judaism. He tried to accomplish various works that he hoped would be credited to his account. But in all his pursuits, he was seeking something he couldn’t find. Then one day, on the road to Damascus, he was confronted by the living Christ and realized He was everything Paul had been looking for.

Paul describes the exchange that was made: “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7–8). When Paul met Christ, he realized everything in his asset column was actually a liability. He found that Christ was all he needed.[1]


The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field. (13:44)

As He does in the other parables, Jesus builds this simple story around an experience or situation familiar to His hearers. Few, if any, would themselves have found such a treasure; but the practice of hiding valuables in the ground was common. Because there were no banks or other public depositories, most people protected their valuables in a secret spot in the ground. When they needed money or decided to sell or trade a piece of jewelry, for instance, they would go to the place at night, uncover the jar or storage box, take out what was desired, and rebury the rest.

Because Palestine had been a battleground for hundreds of years, families would often even bury food, clothing, and various household objects to protect them from plundering enemy soldiers. The famed Jewish historian Josephus wrote, “The gold and the silver and the rest of that most precious furniture which the Jews had and which the owners treasured underground was done to withstand the fortunes of war.”

Over the years, the ground of Palestine became a veritable treasure house. When the owner of buried treasure died or was forcefully driven from the land-sometimes deported to a foreign land such as Assyria or Babylon-the treasure would be forever lost unless someone accidentally discovered it, as occasionally happened.

No doubt that was the fate of the treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again. The man may have stumbled over part of the treasure or seen some of it protruding above ground as he happened to pass through the field. Or he may have been a hired hand who inadvertently dug it up while plowing or cultivating. In any case, the field did not belong to him, because, from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has, and buys that field.

Many Christians are embarrassed by this story, thinking Jesus used an unethical act to illustrate a spiritual truth. It seems to them that the man was obligated to tell the owner of the field about the treasure, since it was on his property and therefore rightfully belonged to him.

The point of the parable does not involve the ethics of what the man did, but rather his willingness to sacrifice everything he had in order to possess the treasure. But what he did was not unethical or dishonest.

In the first place, it is obvious that the treasure was not hidden by the present owner of the field and was unknown to him. Otherwise, he would have retrieved it before he sold the field. The man who bought the field obviously knew the owner was not aware of the treasure or he would not have offered to buy the field, knowing the treasure would not be included in the deal.

In the second place, rabbinic law provided that “if a man finds scattered fruit or money, it belongs to the finder.” If a person came across money or other valuables that were obviously lost and whose owner was dead or unknown, the finder had the right to keep what was found.

In the third place, the basic honesty of the man is testified to by the fact that, had he been dishonest, he would simply have taken the treasure without any thought of buying the field. But he did not even use part of the treasure to buy the field; rather, he sells all that he has, and buys that field.[2]


  1. The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and covered up. Then, in his joy over it, he goes and sells all he has and buys that field. The attention in this parable is fixed on a man who, while digging in a field, unexpectedly came upon a treasure. The picture is true to life. Due to wars, raids, and the difficulty of finding a secure place to store valuables in houses that offered rather easy access to accomplished burglars (6:19), a home-owner would at times resort to burying in the ground his most durable precious possessions or a portion of them. In the case here described the man who, probably in a chest, had buried his treasure in the ground may have died before informing anyone about his deed. Someone else now owns the field.

So now the digger, suddenly finds it. By what right he was digging in somebody else’s field is not stated in the parable. Let us assume that he had this right. One possibility would be that he was a renter. His sense of fairness (or shall we say, fear that he himself might otherwise not escape punishment?) prevents him from scooping up the entire find and running off with it. So he covers up his find. He realizes that in order to claim legal ownership of the treasure he must first of all own the field. So he buys the field, even though in order to acquire the purchase price he must sell all he has. Not in the least does he mind this, so delighted is he to obtain possession of the treasure.

The point of the parable is that the kingdom of heaven, the glad recognition of God’s rule over heart and life, including salvation for the present and for the future, for soul and ultimately also for the body, the great privilege of being thereby made a blessing to others to the glory of God, all this, is a treasure so inestimably precious that one who obtains it is willing to surrender for it whatever could interfere with having it. It is the supreme treasure because it fully satisfies the needs of the heart. It brings inner peace and satisfaction (Acts 7:54–60).

An excellent commentary on this parable is Paul’s experience as recorded in his autobiographical note: “Yes, what is more, I certainly do count all things to be sheer loss because of the all-surpassing excellence of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all these things, and am still counting them refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him” (Phil. 3:8, 9a). Paul had come upon this treasure suddenly, unexpectedly (Acts 9:1–19). Moreover, he was not reading the Bible when it happened. All extraneous ideas—for example, that in this parable the field indicates Scripture—should be dropped. When God leads the sinner to the discovery that causes him to shout for joy he employs all kinds of ways and methods. Think of his dealings with Nathanael (John 1:46–51), with the Samaritan woman (John 4:1–44), with the man born blind (John 9), etc. Of course, the possession of the treasure also implies love for the Word, but rather than loading the parable with subjective allegorical embellishments of individual items, we should grasp its one important lesson: the incalculable preciousness of salvation for those who discover it and obtain possession of it without even looking for it!

Also for those who obtain possession of the kingdom after diligent search it is the summum bonum (highest good), as is made clear in

The Parable of the Pearl of Great Price[3]


The parable of the hidden treasure (13:44)

Overview

For the way these parables relate to the structure of the chapter, see comments at vv. 10–17.

The parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl are a pair; and pairing is not uncommon in Matthew (e.g., 5:14b–16; 6:26–30; 7:6; 9:16–17; 10:24–25; 12:25; 13:31–33; 24:43–51), an excellent way of reinforcing a point. Like the paired parables with which these two are chiastically coordinated (mustard seed and yeast, vv. 31–33), these two make the same general point but have significant individual emphases.

Unlike the parables earlier in the chapter, these two do not deal so much with the hidden, inaugurated form of the kingdom and the concomitant delay of the Parousia as with the superlative worth of the kingdom of heaven. Yet even here, the previous eschatological structure underlies them, for in traditional Jewish apocalyptic, one could scarcely liken the kingdom to a man finding a treasure or buying a pearl. The kingdom was to come apocalyptically at the end of the age by an act of God alone. In contrast to this, some kind of realized or inaugurated eschatology is here presupposed.

Commentary

44 On the “is like” language, see comments at v. 24. The kingdom is not simply like a treasure, but its situation is like the situation of a treasure hidden in a field. The Greek articles are generic (cf. Turner, Syntax, 179). Finding the treasure appears to be by chance. In a land as frequently ravaged as Palestine, many people doubtless buried their treasures; but as Huffman (“Atypical Features in the Parables,” 213) points out, actually to find a treasure would happen once in a thousand lifetimes. Thus the extravagance of the parable dramatizes the supreme importance of the kingdom.

Derrett (Law in the New Testament, 1–16) has pointed out that under rabbinic law if a workman came on a treasure in a field and lifted it out, it would belong to his master, the field’s owner; but here the man is careful not to lift the treasure out until he has bought the field. So the parable deals with neither the legality nor the morality of the situation (as with the parable of the thief in the night) but with the value of the treasure, which is worth every sacrifice. When the man buys the field at such sacrifice, he possesses far more than the price paid (cf. 10:39). The kingdom of heaven is worth infinitely more than the cost of discipleship, and those who know where the treasure lies joyfully abandon everything else to secure it.

Two alternative interpretations must be dismissed.

  1. The first, represented by Walvoord, understands the treasure to represent Israel and Jesus as the man who sold everything to purchase her. He rejects the above view by making the parable mean that “a believer in Christ has nothing to offer and the treasure is not for sale” and proposes his own interpretation by noting that in Exodus 19:5 Israel is called God’s treasure. But any view, including Walvoord’s, can be made to look foolish by pressing a parable into a detailed allegory. For instance, one could rebut his view by showing that it entails Israel’s being worth far more than the price paid, and that of course would constitute an implicit depreciation of Christ’s sacrifice, which no thoughtful Christian would accept. One must come to grips with the nature of parables (see comments at v. 3a). And “treasure” has a vast range of associations in the OT and NT; on what basis, then, does Walvoord select Exodus 19:5? Above all, his interpretation does not adequately handle the opening clause.
  2. J. D. Crossan (Finding Is the First Act [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1979], esp. 93 ff.) argues that “sold all he had” must be taken so absolutely that “all” includes the parable itself. One must give up the parable itself and, in abandoning all, abandon even abandonment. The parable is therefore a paradox, like the sign that reads “Do not read this sign.” Crossan’s interpretation is unacceptable for exegetical, literary, historical, and theological reasons: exegetical, in that this parable does not speak of “abandoning” or “giving up” things but of “selling,” and one cannot imagine giving the parable away by selling it; literary, in that Crossan, like Walvoord, fastens on one word and rides it so hard that the nature of parables is overlooked; historical, in that ascription of such existentialist results to Jesus or to Matthew is so anachronistic as to make a historian wince; theological, in that his interpretation of “paradox” is defective and is used in undifferentiated ways. Crossan oscillates between paradox construed as a merely formal contradiction and paradox construed as antinomy or even incoherence.[4]

The Parable of the Hidden Treasure (13:44)

All the parables so far have taught that there will be good and evil in the kingdom, righteous and unrighteous subjects. The next two parables show that there will be two classes of the righteous subjects: (1) believing Jews during the periods before and after the Church Age; (2) believing Jews and Gentiles during the present age.

In the parable of the treasure, Jesus compares the kingdom to treasure hidden in a field. A man finds it, covers it up, then gladly sells all he has and buys that field.

We would suggest that the man is the Lord Jesus Himself. (He was the man in the parable of the wheat and tares, v. 37.) The treasure represents a godly remnant of believing Jews such as existed during Jesus’ earthly ministry and will exist again after the church is raptured (see Psalm 135:4 where Israel is called God’s peculiar treasure). They are hidden in the field in that they are dispersed throughout the world and in a real sense unknown to any but God. Jesus is pictured as discovering this treasure, then going to the cross and giving all that He had in order to buy the world (2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Jn. 2:2) where the treasure was hidden. Redeemed Israel will be brought out of hiding when her Deliverer comes out of Zion and sets up the long-awaited Messianic Kingdom.

The parable is sometimes applied to a sinner, giving up all in order to find Christ, the greatest Treasure. But this interpretation violates the doctrine of grace which insists that salvation is without price (Isa. 55:1; Eph. 2:8, 9).[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 154). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 13:44). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 575–576). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 375–376). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1258–1259). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.