Daily Archives: May 18, 2017

May 18, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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May 18, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

Roger Ailes, a former U.S. presidential adviser who started the Fox News Channel to promote a Republican agenda and built it into the most-watched U.S. cable news network before resigning amid sexual harassment allegations, has died. He was 77.

The U.S. Trade Representative office has indicated to lawmakers that it will officially inform Congress on Thursday about its intention to re-negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, according two people familiar with the plans.

Brazil was plunged back into a political crisis reminiscent of last year’s impeachment saga following reports that President Michel Temer was embroiled in an alleged cover-up scheme involving the jailed former speaker of the lower house of Congress.

The United Nations Security Council held consultations on the political turmoil in Venezuela that has left at least 43 dead as U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the global body to focus on the crisis before it escalates further.

U.S. anti-terrorism officials met for four hours Wednesday in Brussels with their European counterparts who are resisting a proposed expansion of a laptop ban in airline passenger cabins. U.S. officials called the threat critical but stopped short of any new action.

Turkey called on President Donald Trump to get rid of Brett McGurk, the U.S. envoy for the global coalition to counter Islamic State, over his backing for Kurdish groups it views as its top national security threat.

The U.S. imposed new measures aimed at punishing Iran for developing ballistic missiles while continuing to suspend sanctions linked to its nuclear program, in a reflection of the Trump administration’s difficult balancing act toward the Islamic Republic.

Saudi Arabia is putting on a show for Donald Trump on his first overseas trip as U.S. president. Muslim leaders will assemble in Riyadh, and there’ll be an exhibition of classic American cars as well as sports matches and concerts. An online clock counts down the seconds until the big day.

The world’s richest people lost $35 billion Wednesday when global equity markets were rocked by political turmoil in the U.S., according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

The U.K. may have to pay as little as $6.5 billion or no more than 30 billion pounds to leave the European Union, according to a study by the country’s chartered accountancy industry that’s sure to thrill Prime Minister Theresa May’s government.

AP Top Stories

In the 100 days since President Trump signed an executive order outlining U.S. immigration enforcement priorities, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested nearly 40 percent more undocumented immigrants than during the same period a year ago – whether or not they had criminal records, immigration officials said Wednesday.

The former head of Mossad’s intelligence directorate has contradicted Donald Trump’s claim that he has the “absolute right” to share secret information with foreign officials. Israel is believed to be the source of classified intelligence on Isis allegedly passed by the President to Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov and ambassador Sergey Kislyak in a closed-door meeting last week.

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 missile programs it says are needed to counter U.S. aggression.

Russia’s GDP grew 0.5 percent in the first quarter of 2017, the state statistics agency said Wednesday, as the country’s economy slowly recovers from a crippling crisis.

The Japanese emperor’s granddaughter, 25-year old Princess Mako, is set to marry a commoner – specifically, “an ocean-loving legal assistant who can ski, play the violin and cook.” Once Mako marries Kei Komuro, the legal assistant in question, she’ll become a mere commoner, as female royals must after getting married in Japan. Conservatives fear that changing the law to allow women to remain royal after marriage might lead the Japanese down the slippery slope toward allowing women to inherit the throne (there actually have been Japanese empresses, but conservatives argue their reigns were temporary and not a reason to allow a woman on the throne, as was made official in the 1889 Imperial House Law).

On May 19, Endangered Species Day, the National Geographic Society and the Outdoor Advertising Association of America (OAAA), the national trade association for the out of home (OOH) advertising industry, launched a groundbreaking OOH campaign aimed at saving species at risk in the wild.

BBC

More than 3,000 prisoners are believed to have escaped the main prison in Democratic Republic of Congo. The authorities say only around 50 prisoners got away when armed men attacked the prison on Wednesday.

A top UN court has ordered Pakistan not to execute a former Indian navy officer convicted on charges of spying until it has had time to hear a case brought by India.

A schoolgirl who was abducted by Nigeria’s militant Islamists in 2014 has escaped from captivity. The girl was found by government troops while she was escaping, .

Turkey has opened a vast center dedicated to housing and educating orphans from war-torn Syria. The complex will house 990 children in what Turkish media say is a cozy, home environment.

WND

Another large-scale, stealthy cyberattack is underway on a scale that could dwarf last week’s assault on computers worldwide, a global cybersecurity firm told AFP on Wednesday.

Employees increasingly are testing positive for marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines at work, driving the rates of positive drug tests in the United States to the highest level in 12 years.

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. said Wednesday he would leave office next month to accept a federal appointment as an assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.


The Briefing 05-18-17

What we know, what we don’t know, and why both matter: Crisis of credibility at the White House

Is refusing to print gay pride t-shirts discrimination? KY appeals court says no; but will it stand?

How many Americans believe the Bible is the literal word of God? Parsing data from a new Gallup poll

No man will do: Why secular economists are alarmed at the recent decline in marriages

The post The Briefing 05-18-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 5/18/2017

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

Former DOJ Spox: Comey Is Trying To Take Down Trump
Miller agreed with the president that Comey is a “showboat,” which is another reason he believes Comey may be coming after Trump. “You just look at his [Comey’s] actions in the [Hillary] Clinton case, where he made himself the central player when there was no reason for him to be the central player,” Miller said. “That aside, his entire history shows that he likes to be at the center of attention.”

WannaCry XXL? 2nd even bigger global cyber attack already underway
As the world reels from the WannaCry ransomware attack, it’s now emerged that a second, potentially larger attack, is already under way. It seems the widespread proliferation of military-grade cyberweapons has ushered in a new era of digital crime.

Jerusalem mayor: Move US embassy, regardless of possible violence
“For violence to occur there could be any reason or no reason and if we – God forbid – because of fear of violence wouldn’t do the right things there would never be Israel, there would never be a reunited city,” Barkat said at a meeting with journalists at Jerusalem City Hall

Egypt’s Sisi: Trump vital to resolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Egyptian president to Israel: “The Arabs and Palestinians are ready for peace.”

SOLAR WIND STORM PREDICTED
The solar wind around Earth is about to speed up. NOAA forecasters expect velocities to top 700 km/s on May 19th when a stream of gaseous material flowing from a big hole in the sun’s atmosphere reaches our planet.

Report: Jordanians claim leaked intel was theirs, not Israel’s
Intelligence about ISIS that US President Donald Trump allegedly leaked to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during an Oval Office meeting last Wednesday was sourced by Jordanian spies, not Israelis, Al Jazeera reported on Thursday morning. According to the report, “veteran Jordanian intelligence officials” claimed that the numerous media reports that the information Trump disclosed to the Russians originally came from Israel are false.

Ukraine urged to act against general who threatened to ‘destroy Jews’
The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Wednesday joined calls on the Ukrainian government to take action against retired Security Service General Vasily Vovk in the wake of a recent Facebook post in which he threatened to “destroy” the country’s Jews. Vovk, who still holds a senior reserve rank with the Security Service of Ukraine, posted on Facebook: “I am completely against Jews,” and “You are not Ukrainians and I will destroy you…

US complains to Turkey over embassy violence
The US has made a complaint to Turkey after violence erupted between protesters and Turkish security personnel in Washington, DC. Two people were arrested and 11 were injured in protests outside the Turkish ambassador’s residence amid President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit. Video footage of the clash on Tuesday showed men in suits charging past police to kick and punch protesters.

U.S. conducts military drill to counter N. Korea’s WMDs
U.S. soldiers stationed in South Korea have recently conducted an exercise aimed at destroying North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) by practicing a ship-to-shore air assault from a South Korean warship, the infantry division said Thursday. The U.S. Army forces carried out the exercise, called “Warrior Strike 7” at Camp Stanley in Euijeongbu, just north of Seoul, and the Rodriguez Live Fire Complex near the inter-Korean border, it said.

N.K preparing for cruise missile strikes: RFA
The North Korean army is repairing protective walls for gallery positions to brace for possible cruise missile strikes after witnessing such U.S. attacks on Syria last month, a U.S. broadcaster said Thursday. The North’s armed forces ministry ordered the army to take steps to protect gallery strongholds from air raids in mid-April, Radio Free Asia (RFA) said, citing the Osaka-based North Korea specialist news organ Asia Press.

New Israeli naval launcher: ‘8 concomitant rockets to a range of 150 kilometers’
IMI Systems is currently exhibiting at the Maritime Defense Exhibition & Conference in Singapore the Stingray—a rocket launcher for the naval arena that will be able to operate from battleships and drilling rigs, and is intended for offensive activities of the naval force alongside multi-arm operations. The launcher was sold to two foreign customers but has yet to be purchased by the IDF.

U.S. cyber bill would shift power away from spy agency
A bill proposed in Congress on Wednesday would require the U.S. National Security Agency to inform representatives of other government agencies about security holes it finds in software like the one that allowed last week’s “ransomware” attacks. Under former President Barack Obama, the government created a similar inter-agency review, but it was not required by law and was administered by the NSA itself.

Franklin Graham: Christians under attack, should engage in politics
Evangelist Franklin Graham said he believes Christianity has been attacked and marginalized by “anti-Christ” media and a liberal government and that it is time for Christians to become more active in politics.

Rouhani warns Revolutionary Guards not to meddle in Iran election
President Hassan Rouhani on Wednesday urged Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards and the Basij militia under its control not to meddle in Friday’s presidential election, in a rare warning that underscored rising political tensions.

Carmageddon: All 3 Major Auto Markets Contract YoY For The First Time Since January 2009
For the first time since January 2009, sales of cars declined year-over-year in all three of the world’s largest auto markets of Western Europe (-6.8%), China (-1.8%) and the United States (-3.7%).  Combined, these three markets account for roughly 70% of the world’s auto sales.

JPMorgan: “A Trump Impeachment Is Very, Very Unlikely”
“Trump impeachment is very, very unlikely… the impeachment bar is very, very high. The daily scandals obviously don’t help Trump’s political capital but market expectations for legislative action are already very low.”

Mosque Takes Over Pentecostal Church as Pastor Prays to Allah
Christian clergy helped a Muslim mosque open in a Pentecostal church. “It’s open faith; we’re brothers,” Ali Mohammad, an organizer of the mosque, tells North Carolina’s News & Observer.  The Muslims are stripping the church of its Christian roots, including removing any crosses and handing them over to pastors in the area.

“Trump Doesn’t Matter”? European Stocks Slump Most In 8 Months
Again and again we were told that this rally was all about fun-durr-mentals and that anything Trump did was gravy and not priced into markets… so how do you explain the biggest plunge in European stocks since September today… on zero fundamental catalysts?

US Household Debt Surpasses 2008 High, Hits Record $12.7 Trillion
“Almost nine years later, household debt has finally exceeded its 2008 peak. This record debt level is neither a reason to celebrate nor a cause for alarm. But it does provide an opportune moment to consider debt performance,” said Donghoon Lee, Research Officer at the New York Fed.


David Gushee: Our ‘differences are unbridgeable’

Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, makes the case that evangelicalism is facing a crisis over the issue of sexual immorality. “We are about to find out who is for real and who isn’t,” says Burk.  He writes:

David Gushee has a column at Religion News Service about Jonathan Merritt, Jen Hatmaker, and LGBT “inclusion” within the church. Gushee says that he exited evangelicalism 30 months ago, and since then he has concluded this:

I now believe that incommensurable differences in understanding the very meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the interpretation of the Bible, and the sources and methods of moral discernment, separate many of us from our former brethren — and that it is best to name these differences clearly and without acrimony, on the way out the door.

I also believe that attempting to keep the dialogue going is mainly fruitless. The differences are unbridgeable. They are articulated daily in endless social media loops.  View article →

Mid-Day Snapshot

May 18, 2017

Trump Calling Dems’ Bluff?

Appointing Mueller to investigate the Russia-Trump collusion conspiracy may have been unavoidable, but it’s not necessarily bad.

The Foundation

“In disquisitions of every kind there are certain primary truths, or first principles, upon which all subsequent reasoning must depend.” —Alexander Hamilton (1788)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 18

  • FBI’s Russia Probe Gains Credibility With Mueller In Charge (Read More)
  • Trump storm hits stocks again but dollar steadies (Read More)
  • Flynn stopped military plan Turkey opposed – after being paid as its agent (Read More)
  • Kremlin declines to comment on probe of Trump ties with Russia (Read More)
  • Trump To Announce $350bn Saudi Arabia Arms Deal – One Of Largest Ever (Read More)
  • Brazilian Markets Tumble After Country Plunges Back Into Political Crisis (Read More)
  • Fed’s Kashkari says don’t use rate hikes to fight bubbles (Read More)
  • Rebellion in Venezuela: 43 Dead in 44 Days of Relentless Protest (Read More)
  • Turkey wants U.S. envoy on Islamic State removed over Kurdish policy (Read More)
  • Revealed: Dutch King Has Been a KLM Pilot for 21 Years (Read More)
  • GM will cut operations in India, South Africa (Read More)
  • Amazon Believers Double Their Pleasure in Wagers Against Retail (Read More)
  • VIX Surge Is Unwelcome Lesson in Duplicity of Volatility Wagers (Read More)
  • Britain faces dire consequences if it fails to secure good Brexit deal: May (Read More)
  • Wal-Mart’s quarterly same-store sales beat estimates (Read More)
  • Even nuanced shift in ECB communication needs great caution (Read More)

Featured Blogs


Top Headlines – 5/18/2017

For now, Trump rules out moving embassy to Jerusalem

Top US official: Trump will not announce US Embassy’s move to Jerusalem while in Israel

Unfazed by Western Wall row, Jerusalem mayor still expects Trump to move US embassy

US organizations pressure Trump to move Embassy

Netanyahu to unveil economic incentives for Palestinians on eve of Trump visit

Friedman: Palestinians drop settlement freeze as precondition for talks

Sissi urges Israelis to ‘seize opportunity’ of Trump’s peace push

Aide behind travel ban said penning Trump speeches to Middle east

Gravestones toppled at a second Philadelphia Jewish cemetery

14-year-old arrested in arson of New York synagogue

Venezuela leader says officials treated like Jews under Nazis

US: Venezuela crisis worsening, wants to prevent new Syria

IS conflict: US-led coalition denies bombing civilians in Syrian town

ISIS Reportedly on Brink of Defeat in Mosul

Trump to unveil plans for an ‘Arab NATO’ in Saudi Arabia

Turkish President’s Bodyguards Accused of Beating Protesters Outside DC Embassy

Trump presses Turkey’s Erdogan to release jailed US pastor

Israel’s public enemy No. 1 may be Iran – and tensions are escalating

Iran election: why next president could steer country’s future for a generation

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

Iran’s Supreme Leader Warns of Possible Election Fraud

Rouhani warns Revolutionary Guards not to meddle in Iran election

Iran nuclear: Trump extends Obama’s ‘worst deal ever’

Iran Nuclear Deal Will Remain, for Now, White House Signals

US extends Iran nuke sanctions relief, adds other sanctions

South Korea’s Moon says ‘high possibility’ of conflict with North

North Korea’s closest major US city, Seattle, wants to plan for possible nuclear attack

Flynn reportedly told Trump team he was under investigation before inauguration

Intel Trump gave Russians came from Jordan, not Israel – report

Putin Accuses U.S. Of ‘Political Schizophrenia’ Over Trump And Secrets

Putin offers transcript to prove Trump did not pass Russia secrets

Putin ‘ready to provide recording’ of Trump-Lavrov meeting

Erick Erickson: Mueller returns to run an independent investigation and Republicans should rejoice

The Special Counsel Mistake – Rosenstein bends to political pressure, and here we go again.

As special counsel named, Trump says probe will show no links to Russia

Russia probe a scandal Trump can’t tweet his way out of

US officials: Trump’s intel leak endangered life of spy placed inside ISIS by Israel

Loose Lips Sink Presidencies – The Russian intel story shows the price of Trump’s lost credibility

Turmoil over recent Trump controversies triggers the Dow’s biggest loss since September

Dow falls 350 points; stocks wipe out monthly gains as Trump fears send shivers down Wall Street

“Trump Doesn’t Matter”? European Stocks Slump Most In 8 Months

Jack Welch: Impeachment of Trump would ‘blow the market away’

Worried about fallout, Dems poised to poll-test impeachment

GOP lawmaker raises option of impeaching Trump over Comey

Conservatives begin to whisper: President Pence

Comey cracks Republican wall: GOP pols voice concerns on Trump ‘drama’

Sean Hannity: Trump faces alliance of haters

Trump: No politician in history has been treated worse

Right pushes Trump to make staff, press changes

New Orleans crews remove statue of Confederate general

Immigration arrests up 38% nationwide under Trump

Dozens of MS-13 gang members nabbed in 50 Los Angeles raids

Riot Police on Venezuela’s Front Lines Seek a Way Out

Macron and Merkel signal new move to strengthen eurozone

U.S. Household Debts Hit Record High in First Quarter

Another large-scale cyberattack underway: experts

A Robot Copilot Just Flew—and Landed—a 737 Sim

Reports claim UFO whizzes past International Space Station

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits off the coast of Guerrero, Mexico

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near San Antonio de los Cobres, Argentina

Pair of Earthquakes Rattle Santa Barbara Area in California

Klyuchevskoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 24,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 14,000ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 13,000ft

Scientists get closer to making personalized blood cells by using patients’ own stem cells

Chelsea Manning: from antisecrecy activist to transgender idol

Telling women not to drink during pregnancy ‘sexist’

Tel Aviv therapist sells the healing power of sex with a stranger

Cyclops goat born with one eye is worshipped by villagers in India

Christian Ministry to Hold Bible Study, Discipleship Camps in Russia Despite Crackdown on Evangelism

Thomas DiLorenzo – The Fascist Pope

Denny Burk – Our “differences are unbridgeable”

Five Signs Your Church Might be Heading Toward Progressive Christianity

Beloved Megachurch Pastor, Televangelist RJ Washington Dies From Cancer

Maine School Employee Reprimanded for Telling Churchgoing Coworker ‘I Will Pray for You’

Trump presses Turkey’s Erdogan to release jailed US pastor

Fugitive Agape cultist Rocco Leo fails to front court as ordered, $9 million lawsuit splits further as former parishioners lose faith

Pakistan Medical Superintendent ‘Orders Christian Staff to Recite Quran’

DEVELOPING: Mount St. Helens is ‘Recharging’ after 37 Years

Posted: 18 May 2017 08:05 AM PDT

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980 after two months of increasing volcanic activity. That event is widely considered the most disastrous volcanic eruption…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia plans to boost Baltic fleet with new fearsome missile ships and fighter jets to face Nato

Posted: 18 May 2017 07:59 AM PDT

Russia will beef up its Baltic fleet with new warships and fighter jets — positioned within MILES of Britain’s Nato allies. Strongman president Vladimir Putin…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

3 Malicious Lies the Devil Tells You About God

Posted: 18 May 2017 07:55 AM PDT

(By Kyle Winkler) I’ve said it plenty of times, but it always bears repeating: The devil’s warfare isn’t aimed merely to cause pain and grief…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Atheist Sparks Debate After Painting Bible Verse About Women on His Truck

Posted: 18 May 2017 07:42 AM PDT

A Bible verse that is strangely plastered on the back of a Virginia pick-up truck has inspired quite a bit of frustration, anger and concern in recent…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christians in India Under Pressure to Convert to Hinduism, Can’t Talk About Jesus, Heaven or Hell

Posted: 18 May 2017 07:33 AM PDT

Hindu nationalists in India continue to punish Christians and pressure them to abandon their faith, say Christian charity workers serving persecuted Christians in the country….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Says Russia Probe is “Greatest Witch Hunt of a Politician in US History”

Posted: 18 May 2017 07:14 AM PDT

US President Donald Trump says he is the victim of the “single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history,” in an apparent reference…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US-Israel Alliance Tops Global Impact of ’67 War

Posted: 18 May 2017 07:01 AM PDT

In the 50 years since the Six-Day War, the world has seen the Iron Curtain fall and global terrorism rise. It has also witnessed the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Analyst Predicts Markets Will ‘Be Hit’ by Triple Collapse ‘Worse’ than 2008 Crisis

Posted: 18 May 2017 06:53 AM PDT

The next financial crisis will be worse than the collapse seen in 2008, and investors should seek shelter from the storm in precious metals and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pastor John Hagee Claims President Trump Will Soon Face a ‘Truman Moment’

Posted: 18 May 2017 06:46 AM PDT

Pastor John Hagee, in his capacity as founder and chairman of Christians United For Israel, has written an open letter to President Donald Trump that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Do You Have a Jeremiah 23 False Prophet in Your Pulpit?

Posted: 18 May 2017 06:43 AM PDT

(By Shane Idleman) Many today argue that we can’t preach with authority because we need to have a flexible approach to all aspects of theology….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: North Korea Preparing for cruise missile strikes

Posted: 18 May 2017 06:37 AM PDT

The North Korean army is repairing protective walls for gallery positions to brace for possible cruise missile strikes after witnessing such U.S. attacks on Syria…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

US Conducts Military Drill to Counter North Korea’s WMDs…

Posted: 18 May 2017 06:31 AM PDT

U.S. soldiers stationed in South Korea have recently conducted an exercise aimed at destroying North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) by practicing a ship-to-shore…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Jordanians Claim Leaked Intel Was Theirs, Not Israel’s

Posted: 18 May 2017 06:27 AM PDT

Intelligence about ISIS that US President Donald Trump allegedly leaked to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak during an Oval Office…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Tim Allen ‘stunned and blindsided’ by ABC’s cancellation of ‘Last Man Standing’

Posted: 17 May 2017 07:48 PM PDT

Tim Allen is no longer the “Last Man Standing.” The sitcom starring the Michigan actor is among a handful of shows cancelled by ABC last…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Cyclops goat born with one eye is worshipped by villagers in India

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:46 PM PDT

A baby goat has been born with one eye in what has been hailed a ‘miracle’. Some villagers believe the goat, that was born in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

5 Ways We Quench the Holy Spirit

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:25 PM PDT

(By J.Lee Grady) How would we respond today if God wanted to repeat the miracle of Pentecost in one of our carefully scripted Sunday meetings?…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Donald Trump will have just 10 Minutes to react if North Korea fires nuclear missile

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:18 PM PDT

Donald Trump will have just ten minutes to react if North Korea fires a long-range missile towards the US mainland, experts have warned. Scientists insist…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pastor Framed, Thrown Behind Bars for Conspicuous Text Messages

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:05 PM PDT

A 51-year-old Christian man has been sentenced to life imprisonment for allegedly sending out blasphemous texts in Pakistan. Christian NGO’s up and down the country…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Twitter Freaks Out Over Marco Rubio Posting Bible Quotes

Posted: 17 May 2017 06:00 PM PDT

Former Republican presidential hopeful and current U.S. Senator Marco Rubio garnered many hostile reactions on Twitter for writing two posts in which he quoted the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Dow loses 370 points; wipes out monthly gains on Trump fears

Posted: 17 May 2017 05:50 PM PDT

U.S. equities closed sharply lower on Wednesday as investors fretted over the latest news coming out of Washington. “This is clearly Washington-driven,” said Michael Shaoul,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Google training computers to predict when you might get sick…

Posted: 17 May 2017 05:46 PM PDT

Google is building tools to predict when you’ll get sick. The company is applying its machine learning expertise, which it originally developed for consumer products…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Considering Joe Lieberman for FBI Director

Posted: 17 May 2017 05:41 PM PDT

President Donald Trump is considering former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman to lead the FBI, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters Wednesday. Trump will…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Comey kept memos from his phone conversations with Trump

Posted: 17 May 2017 05:37 PM PDT

Ahead of discussions with President Donald Trump, Former FBI Director James Comey prepped with his team on ways to respond to anticipated questions so that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Former FBI Chief to oversee Russia election investigation as special counsel

Posted: 17 May 2017 05:32 PM PDT

The Justice Department announced Wednesday it has appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller as a special counsel to oversee a federal investigation into the probe…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Requested Reporters Who Published Classified Information to Be Arrested

Posted: 17 May 2017 01:55 PM PDT

Journalists are accustomed to President Trump’s contempt for the press by this point, but his apparent desire to jail reporters who publish classified information still…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Are These Irreversible End-Times Signs Converging Right Now?

Posted: 17 May 2017 01:42 PM PDT

(By Dave Williams) We live in the very first generation to see all the end-time signs converging. No other generation has witnessed such a massive…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Chicago Church Takes on Gang Epidemic with Massive Prayer Gathering

Posted: 17 May 2017 01:33 PM PDT

New Life Covenant Church Southeast (NLC) will make a valiant effort to fight the gang epidemic in Chicago’s South Side by holding a prayer gathering…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Voice’ Worship Leader Snags Finale Spot With Spirit-Filled Praise

Posted: 17 May 2017 01:23 PM PDT

Chris Blue, a worship leader from Knoxville, snagged a spot on The Voice‘s finale with the incredible praise song, “Take Me to the King.”  “Big thanks…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Shadow Brokers launches monthly subscription service offering nuclear, banking secrets

Posted: 17 May 2017 01:17 PM PDT

The Shadow Brokers hacking group is pushing a monthly subscription service offering members top secret information including “compromised network data” from the nuclear and ballistic…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Impeachment of Trump would Crush Stock Market!

Posted: 17 May 2017 01:06 PM PDT

Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric who has President Donald Trump‘s ear, told CNBC on Wednesday that an impeachment would crush the stock…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Second Global Cyber Attack Underway – Could Dwarf Recent Attack in Impact

Posted: 17 May 2017 11:00 AM PDT

Another large-scale, stealthy cyberattack is underway on a scale that could dwarf last week’s assault on computers worldwide, a cyber security firm has claimed. The new…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian Ministry to Hold Bible Study, Discipleship Camps in Russia Despite Crackdown on Evangelism

Posted: 17 May 2017 10:51 AM PDT

One U.S.-based Christian ministry has said that it will continue its outreach in Russia, offering Bible study and discipleship programs for youths this summer, despite…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Bible Answer Man’ Reveals Tumors Have Spread Throughout His Body

Posted: 17 May 2017 10:46 AM PDT

Christian radio host Hank Hanegraaff has shared an update on his battle with cancer.  Hanegraaff, also known as the “Bible Answer Man,” shared in a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ambassador Nikki Haley Says U.S. Embassy Should Be Moved to Jerusalem

Posted: 17 May 2017 10:38 AM PDT

In an exclusive interview with The Brody File, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley says it’s her belief that the United States Embassy should…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pakistan medical superintendent ‘Orders Christian staff to recite Quran’

Posted: 17 May 2017 10:34 AM PDT

The medical superintendent of a hospital in Pakistan has been accused of forcing its Christian staff to memorise Quranic verses. Article 20 of the Pakistan…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
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May 18, 2017: Verse of the day

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God’s Gifts to Jesus

John 17:2

“For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him.”

The second verse of the prayer recorded in John 17 gives a reason for Jesus’ request that is found in the first verse (the request to be glorified by the Father). The reason is that glorification and the authority over all flesh already granted to him go together. As I read this verse, however, the part that strikes me most is its repetition of the verb “to give” or “grant.” It occurs twice of the Father’s gifts to Jesus: the gift of power [or authority] over all flesh, and the gift of a people. It occurs once of Christ’s gift of eternal life to those whom God has given him. As we study this verse we will find that the three are connected, and will be led into the very heart of the relationships of the Son to the Father and of both to us in salvation.

Gift of a People

I do not know if you have ever had difficulty finding an appropriate gift for someone, particularly for a person who apparently has everything, but I confess that I have. And sometimes it bothers me. I can imagine myself giving a bottle of shampoo to a man who wears a wig, though I did not know it, or giving a recording of the Bach B Minor Mass to a person who hates classical music. The fear of doing something inappropriate is what makes us hesitant so much at the counter when buying a present for someone just before Christmas.

I do not think, however, that God the Father had a problem when he was considering the first of these great gifts for his Son Jesus. For what could be more appropriate for God the Father to give the Son than a people who should be conformed to his own blessed image and be his brothers and sisters throughout eternity? A mansion would not be appropriate, for all the mansions of heaven already belong to Christ and are going to be prepared by him for those who are his own. A world such as this, even a galaxy of such worlds, is not appropriate, for Jesus shared in the making of the worlds that already exist, and he could make billions more at any time, if he so chose. Nothing that we can possibly imagine would be a more appropriate gift to that One who is himself the Lord of glory than a people of his own—a people who had been created in his image, who had fallen into sin, but who were now to be redeemed by Christ and called to him in faith by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As we read this and the other verses that speak along these lines, we find ourselves facing what the old Reformed theologians called a covenant between God the Father and God the Son, according to which God would give to Jesus in salvation that vast company for whom he was specifically to die.

Moreover, this was not only an appropriate gift for Jesus; it was a satisfying one as well, for it is often recorded of Christ that he took joy in or rejoiced over his people. One great example of this is in the Old Testament, in the Book of Isaiah. In Isaiah 53, that great chapter in which the suffering and death of Christ for his own is most clearly spelled out, it is said that the Lord should look upon the fruit of his suffering and be satisfied: “Though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied” (vv. 10–11). The satisfaction was in knowing that his death would secure our salvation.

The theme of Christ’s satisfaction is also in the New Testament, as in Hebrews 12, to give just one example. We are told there to look to the example of the Lord Jesus Christ, “the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame” (v. 2). In what was Christ’s joy to be found? Clearly in the knowledge that by his death he would secure the salvation of all whom God had given him.

Do you think that the promise to Christ that a certain people, given to him by the Father and surely to be saved by his suffering, was also a comfort to Christ on the verge of his crucifixion? It must have been. Otherwise, why would the phrase “who you have given me” (twice with slight variations) appear seven times in verses 2, 6, 9, 11, 12, and 14?

We all find ourselves repeating an idea or phrase when we have been faced by something particularly trying or traumatic. Sometimes people facing a dreaded operation keep repeating, “It will all be over in just a few hours,” or “I know it will turn out all right.” When competing in sports, we sometimes repeat something we should recall in order to perform well: “Keep your chin down,” “Keep your forearm stiff,” “Remember to breathe deeply,” or some such point of personal instruction. It was the same with Jesus. The cross was no easy task for him, particularly since, when he was made sin for us, it involved a real, though temporary, separation from the Father. In the Garden, on this same evening, he even prayed in agony that this cup be removed from him, if such could be the Father’s will. This was hard, but in his trial he received comfort in knowing that his suffering would result in the salvation of his people. Of these he had said earlier, “All that the Father gives me” (John 6:37). His death was to provide the objective and judicial basis upon which these who had already been given to him should come.

There is no greater gift, no more appropriate gift, no more satisfying gift for Jesus than this, the gift of the church to the One who would die for it. If you have believed on Christ as your Savior, you should know that you are one who was thus given to Jesus before the foundation of the world and about whom he was thinking and receiving comfort as he died.

Authority

The second of God’s gifts to Jesus according to John 17:3 is power or, as the word exousia should better be translated, authority. The gift is authority over all flesh to do with as he will. It is a great authority, for it is on the basis of this authority that he can give eternal life to all whom God has given him.

There are several very important things about this authority. First, its scope. The text is speaking of this when it says, “For you granted him authority over all people.” All means everyone, everyone who has ever lived or who will ever live. It means the rich as well as the poor, the supposedly sophisticated persons of our culture as well as the savage in the jungle, the strong as well as the weak, the intelligent as well as the not-so-intelligent. It means the other person. It means me. No one is excepted from the scope of this universal authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore he may do with them as he wishes. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Moreover, it is not just all men and women, past and future, who are subject to his authority. It is angels and demons, those in heaven and in hell as well. This truth is clearly taught in that great passage on Christ’s exaltation—Philippians 2:9–11. “Therefore, God exalted him to the hightest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Here three distinct categories of intelligent beings are mentioned: those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth. This refers to angels (whose natural dwelling place is with God), men and women (who dwell upon earth), and those fallen angels or demons (who were cast out of heaven at the time of their original rebellion and who will one day inhabit hell, which has been prepared for them). There are two different kinds of acknowledgment, of course. The holy angels and those who have been redeemed from among men and women will acknowledge Christ gladly. They will rejoice to confess him Lord. Others, the fallen angels and those who have not believed from among men and women, will not acknowledge him gladly. But they will acknowledge him, being forced to this by the sheer fact of his triumph. However the acknowledgment is made, either willingly or reluctantly and with hatred, the acknowledgment will be made, and the full scope of the authority and power of the Lord Jesus Christ will be vindicated.

It is wise for us to ask, not how we may escape that authority (for we cannot) but rather in what way that acknowledgement of his rule shall be made by us. Willingly and with joy? Or grudgingly and with hatred? If we do not come to believe in and love the Lord Jesus Christ here, we will not do it on that great day when all are called before him.

The second important thing to note about the authority of Christ portrayed in this verse is its depth, for it is not just that Jesus has been granted authority over all, important as that is, but also that He has been granted authority “over all flesh”(kjv). Flesh is the most recalcitrant thing in the universe.

In common English usage the word “flesh” refers almost exclusively to the fleshy parts of the body and is related to the “skin.” Yet this is not what the word means in the Bible. To be sure, it can at times mean “skin.” But generally it means the entire individual—composed of a body, soul, and spirit—which since the fall is constantly motivated by a sinful nature. We see the first instance of this broader definition in the early chapters of Genesis when Adam says, after God has brought the first woman to him, “ ‘This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called “woman,” for she was taken out of man.’ For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and they will become one flesh” (2:23–24). This last phrase does not mean that the man and the woman were to be united sexually only, though that was an important part of their union, but rather that they were to be united on each level of their being—body, soul, and spirit—so that they would thereafter be what we might conceivably call one organism. The word “flesh,” therefore, denotes the whole of man’s being.

In this first case the word “flesh” is used in a favorable sense. But with the coming of the fall in the next chapter this initial and favorable usage changes. Now the word continues to refer to the whole of man’s being, but a being that is sadly dominated by man’s depraved sinful nature.

Let me give an illustration. We may think in terms of an airplane flying at 35,000 feet. The pilot is the soul. The fuselage is the flesh. The thrust of the engines is the spirit. In that form each part of the airplane is good and is functioning as the designer intended it to function. But if the engines stop, the entire plane is in trouble, for now the fuselage, which was an asset when the engines were running, becomes a liability and will soon draw the plane to destruction. To be fleshly in the biblical sense means, therefore, to be dominated by the body without the ongoing thrust of the spirit. Sometimes it is said that we are dominated by our “old man” or “old nature.” Sometimes the Bible speaks of the deceitfulness of our heart.

Here are some texts. “Surely I was sinful from birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5). “Put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires” (Eph. 4:22). “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure” (Jer. 17:9). “For from within, out of men’s hearts, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make a man ‘unclean’ ” (Mark 7:21–23). “Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God” (Rom. 8:8).

With this background we can appreciate something of the depth of the authority of Christ over all flesh, for the point of this word is not merely that Jesus has authority over all intelligent beings, though that is true, but also that he has authority even over that stubborn and rebellious nature that now so totally dominates men and women. I am glad that he does, for if he had not had that authority over me to turn me from my path of rebellion and quicken my dead spirit so that I might respond to him in faith, I would never have believed. I would be under condemnation and soon to perish in my sin. But in grace he turned me to himself, as he has countless others.

Universal and Specific

This leads to the third of the gifts mentioned in the text. We are told that Jesus has been given authority over all so that he might in a specific way give eternal life to as many as God has given him. The authority is universal. It cannot possibly be greater either in scope or in depth. Nevertheless, the exercise of that authority in the matter of salvation is specific, for it is shown in the giving of eternal life to those, and only those, whom God has given him.

This is the problem of the verse so far as natural, human thinking goes. We do not really doubt or question the statement that Jesus has authority over all—at least no Christian does—for this is what a Christian confesses when he calls Jesus Lord. But it is quite another matter to say that he gives eternal life selectively and that only to those who have already been given to him by the Father. How can this be? Is God partial? Is this really the way God operates in salvation?

We must be ready to say that we do not fully understand these things, particularly when we are asked the why of God’s actions. Nevertheless, we must always say that this is the way God operates and that he is just in doing so, whatever our thoughts in the matter may be.

Jesus faced precisely these objections on more than one occasion during his ministry, and sometimes they were violently expressed. For example, on the occasion of his opening his ministry by a reading of the Book of Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth, he got into a discussion of the nature of God’s electing grace, and the people who heard him were offended. Earlier he had pointed to himself as the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1–2, and they were not particularly upset about that. In fact, we are told that they actually “were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips” (Luke 4:22). But then he explained that God does not always work where we expect him to or according to our standards of justice or propriety. He said, “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian” (vv. 25–27). These verses illustrate God’s authority over all so that he might show mercy on whom he will. And at this statement, not at the earlier one but at this, the people were “furious. … They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him down the cliff” (vv. 28–29).

Which is worse, the fact that we are dead in our trespasses and sins and unable to come to Christ unless Jesus first gives eternal life to us, or the fact that we naturally hate these truths when they are spoken to us? It is hard to say. But what is best is to say that God in his grace has given some to Christ and that Jesus has in turn given them his own life that they might be saved.

Are you such a person? I cannot say that you are or are not, apart from your response to Christ, and neither can you. But I can say that if you find stirrings of spiritual life within you so that you are becoming increasingly aware of your spiritual need and are finding Jesus to be the One who is attractive to you as the Savior, and if you are turning to him, then it is because these great gifts of God have already taken place where you are concerned, and you are being brought inevitably to Jesus. God has given you to him. Jesus is drawing you. Come to him. Find him to be your Savior.

Knowing the True God

John 17:3

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

One of the things that has always interested me in my study of the Word of God is the number of ways in which one may speak of salvation. In fact, it has been more than interesting. It is important because it is often the case that Christians get locked into one particular way of talking about salvation and thus cannot change, even when the person to whom they are talking fails to understand their terminology. That needs to be corrected.

In evangelical circles the most common way of talking about the gospel of Jesus Christ is by the words “sin,” “atonement,” “the new birth,” “believing on Jesus,” and related concepts. It is no surprise that this is so, for these are the dominant biblical terms, and they are correctly at the heart of our Christian proclamation. But what if these words were missing from the English language? Or what if, which is nearly the same thing, these words and what they mean are missing from the thoughts of someone to whom we are speaking about the gospel? Can other terms be used? My study of the Bible indicates that they can. Thus, to give just one example, it is possible to speak of the will of God, our rebellion against that will, and God’s activity in Christ and through the Holy Spirit to get our wills in line with his once again. The rebellion of our wills against God’s will is sin; this is what the Bible calls Satan’s sin (Isaiah 14). Salvation is that by which God again establishes his perfect and holy will in us so that we are drawn to Christ and begin to seek after holiness. Heaven may be described as that place where the wills of those who are there, after having been disrupted by Satan, are harmonious.

Our text in John gives another set of terms for salvation. It says, “Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (17:3). Here the operative term is knowledge—“that they may know.” Knowledge of God is salvation. By contrast, not knowing God and not wanting to is sin.

True Knowledge

When we speak along these lines we must be careful to define what we mean by that knowledge that is salvation, for there are several uses of the word that are not what the Lord meant in this expression and that, far from suggesting salvation, actually are used biblically to explain why men are guilty for failing to come to God for it.

There are four senses of this word that are inadequate. The first is that sense of knowing by which we actually mean awareness. It is what we have in mind when we say, for example, that we know the United States is governed by a president and a congress and that the headquarters for both are in Washington. This is not a very profound kind of knowledge, nor is it necessarily detailed. It is the kind of awareness a child might have as a result of something he or she has been taught in school. The Bible speaks of this kind of knowledge in Romans 1, saying that all who have ever been born into the human race have this knowledge and are guilty before God because, having it, they do not come to him. More precisely, Paul speaks of the wrath of God being revealed against men “since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened” (Rom. 1:19–21). These verses are not speaking of a knowledge of God in the sense intended by Jesus when he linked a knowledge of God to eternal life, otherwise all would be saved. Rather, they speak of the most rudimentary kind of knowledge. It is awareness only, but it makes us responsible.

The second inadequate meaning of the words “to know” or “knowledge” involves information. To return to the earlier illustration, we may say not merely that we know there is a president and a congress but also that we know much about them. A reporter covering the Washington beat would have much knowledge. But the type of knowledge would be the same. In spiritual terms this would be the kind of knowledge of God possessed by a theologian who, while he may know much about God, is not necessarily born again.

The third view is knowledge by experience. But this, although better than either of the other two, is still not enough. We might think of this as the experience of a person who goes out into the fields around his house on a summer night and looks up into the twinkling heavens and returns, saying, “I have experienced God. Do not give me any of your theology. I don’t want words. I have experienced the real thing.” We may believe that such a person is imagining his experience, particularly if it has nothing to do with the Lord Jesus Christ; but he is not necessarily imagining it, nor is his experience without meaning. He actually may have experienced something very profound and moving. Still, moving as this may be, it is not what Jesus meant when he spoke of eternal life consisting in such knowledge.

Fourth, even in its highest form this knowledge is not merely knowledge of God alone, for it always involves knowledge of ourselves in terms of our relationships to him. Knowledge of God and of ourselves go together.

What is this knowledge? It is a personal encounter with God in which, because of his holiness, we become aware of our sin and consequently of our deep personal need and then, by his grace, are turned to Christ who is our Savior. This knowledge occurs only where God’s Holy Spirit is at work beforehand to make it possible, and it always changes us, issuing in a heart response to God and true devotion. This is involved even in Christ’s brief statement, for he stresses that the knowledge of which he is speaking is knowledge of the true God and of himself as Savior.

The True God

This brings us to the matter of knowing the true God as opposed to a false or imaginary God. It causes us to ask: Who is this God? What is the effect on us when we come to know him?

There is a story in the Old Testament that is helpful at this point. It is the story of God’s revelation of himself to Moses. Moses was certainly aware of the true God prior to this time. He had been born into a godly home. He had undoubtedly heard of God’s calling of Abraham and of His subsequent dealings with him and the other patriarchs. He even believed in God’s promises to deliver the Hebrew people from their Egyptian bondage, for he put himself forward as the vehicle of that deliverance by killing an Egyptian. Still it is probably true that Moses had never had a personal encounter with God in any full sense of the term until God revealed himself to him in the burning bush on Mount Sinai.

Moses had been going along minding his own business when he noticed this bush. It was burning, which was unusual but not miraculous. The astonishing thing, which he became aware of gradually as he stood watching, was that the bush did not burn up. He went closer. After a while a voice came to him out of the bush saying, “Moses! Moses! … Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground” (Exod. 3:4–5).

What is the first thing that God revealed about himself to Moses? The first thing that God revealed about himself was his holiness. Here God was obviously calling Moses and desiring him to come close and listen to what he had to say. But the first words Moses heard were: “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals.” And the reason given was that even the ground was holy by virtue of God being in that place. Holiness! That is the first and most important thing that fallen men and women have to learn about the true God, and accompanying that they have to learn that sin bars their access to him. Moses was apparently aware of this instantly, for we read in the next verse: “Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God” (v. 6).

Let me ask in a personal way: Have you ever had the experience of being afraid to look on God because of his holiness and your sin? I do not mean: “Are you always afraid of God?” or “Do you not know that you should be afraid of God?” If you have also believed on Jesus Christ, you have learned that God has made provision to blot out your sin through Christ’s sacrifice and that you can therefore come to him boldly and joyfully on that basis. What I do mean is: Have you ever been really disturbed knowing that you must ultimately deal with One in whom is no sin at all, who cannot tolerate sin in any form and who must judge it? If you have not really known God in that way, then I suggest that in a sense you do not know even the first thing about him, at least not deeply. Consequently, you do not really know much about the depth of your sin or the true measure of God’s great grace.

God’s Knowledge

The second thing that God revealed about himself to Moses was his own knowledge of things or, as we would say in more precise language, his omniscience. In this account God spoke to Moses, Moses hid his face, and then God began to tell what he had seen and heard concerning the condition of the people of Israel in Egypt. “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians. … Now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them” (vv. 7–9). “I have seen. … I have heard. … I am concerned,” and therefore, “I have come”—these are the words God uses. They speak of omniscience. And if Moses did not get the point in this declaration—because he was hiding his face and undoubtedly trembling in his shoeless feet—he soon got it later, for God showed that he knew all about Moses too, his strengths and weaknesses—and about what was coming, for God foretold difficulties, saying that Pharaoh would not willingly consent to Moses’ demands, in fact, that he would strongly resist them and would let go eventually only after God had done many wonders in Egypt.

Why is it important to know this about God? Why is it important to know that he knows everything? The answer is in two areas. First, we must know that God is omniscient so that we will not be tempted to try to fool him with some exalted portrayal of our own deep devotion or loyalty. If we could, we would try to convince God that we are serious about following him when actually we would be going our own way. We would try to appear good, when we are not; loving, when we are actually motivated by hatred or antipathy; humble, when we are filled with pride.

God is not fooled by such things. He is not fooled by anything. Consequently, we are to learn that, whatever our relationships to others may be, our relationships with God must be based on total honesty, as he is honest. We must know that “everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13).

The second area in which knowledge of the omniscience of God is important to us concerns our trust in him. If God did not know everything, if something could at any moment rise up to surprise him, then God could not be trusted. For however good his intentions, the unexpected thing might cause him to change his mind or actually change him so that he would no longer be the God we knew originally. His promises could not be trusted, for he might decide to break or change them on the basis of this new knowledge. He might even change his attitude toward us, for we might surprise him by the sin we commit and thus cause him to look upon us with abhorrence or even apathy. If God does not truly know everything, any of this is possible. On the other hand, if God does know all things both in the past and future, then nothing unforeseen can change him. He has seen the end from the beginning. He has taken all into consideration. Nothing we can ever do will surprise him. Thus, his promises can be believed, and he can be trusted to remain the same in himself and toward us forever.

Our Sovereign God

The third thing that Moses learned about God was his sovereignty. This was personal too, for it was expressed to Moses in terms of God’s demand that he return to Egypt with God’s message to Pharaoh: “Let my people go.” Moses did not want to do it. He was like the rest of us who do not want to do anything difficult and who often are content only when God blesses us while allowing us to do nothing. Moses made excuses, but they were not valid. He asked for signs; God provided them. At last God intensified the tone of his orders, and Moses, who eventually ran out of excuses, succumbed.

Have you learned this about God, that the God of the Bible, the true God, is a sovereign God who will be obeyed and who will most certainly see his will rather than ours done in the universe? There is no other God. Any god less than this is not God. So why do we fight him? Why do we find this matter of doing the will of God so unwelcome?

Knowing God

Here we come to the true problem in the knowledge of God, for the problem is not that God has not revealed himself in at least a partial way or that we do not have the physical ability to seek after him for salvation, if we would. The problem is that we do not want to do this, and the reason we do not is that we find the true God, who is there to be known, threatening. His holiness is threatening. His knowledge is threatening. His sovereignty is threatening. All that can be known of God is threatening, profoundly so when we are yet in our sins, but also sometimes even after God has brought us to faith in himself through Jesus Christ.

God knows this. He knows that we do not know him and do not want to know him. Therefore, he has taken steps to reveal himself to us in spite of our sinful dispositions against him. He has done three things.

First, God has revealed himself in history. This special revelation is in addition to that general revelation of himself in nature of which all have an awareness but to which none will respond. This revelation consists of direct supernatural interventions in earthly affairs. In the Old Testament this was centered in God’s actions on behalf of the nation of Israel, in their deliverance, guidance, and preservation. In the New Testament it centers primarily in Jesus, the fullness of God’s personal revelation. This One died for us. He paid the price of our sin. He shows the nature of God to be love, while at the same time he satisfies God’s justice.

Second, God has revealed himself in writing. This has two purposes: one, that we might know what God has done and, two, that we might understand it. We would not even know what Jesus had said, as in the case of this particular text, for example, if God had not caused these things to be put down on paper and be preserved throughout the years of church history to our own generation. Nor would we understand these things, even if they were recorded, had God not given an interpretation along with the facts.

Finally, God also reveals himself to us personally, applying these truths to us by the work of his own Holy Spirit. So great is our sin, so warped our knowledge, that even with the interpretation of his acts in Scripture we would not know God or understand his ways, apart from this activity. What light does this throw on our knowledge? It shows it to be God’s gift, for notice that in John 17:2–3, Jesus speaks, first of all, of his gift of eternal life to as many as God has given him and then, secondly, that this eternal life is to be found in spiritual knowledge. This makes knowledge itself God’s gift. And so it is, for no one would ever know God in the fullest sense unless God first revealed himself and then made the reception of this knowledge possible.[1]


The Right He Possesses

even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that to all whom You have given Him, He may give eternal life. (17:2)

In keeping with God’s eternal plan of salvation, the Son was given authority over all flesh (mankind) to grant eternal life to all those whom the Father had given Him. That authority, being granted to Him by His Father, was made possible through the cross. Though He submitted to His captors and allowed Himself to be nailed to a cross by wicked men, in reality it was He who had the authority. In dying for the sins of those who would believe in Him, He was given the right to grant eternal life to them.

Jesus, the Son of Man who is about to be glorified and thus will fulfill his earthly mission, here anticipates his exalted, authoritative position subsequent to his crucifixion and resurrection. This authority enables him to bestow eternal life on all those whom God has given to him (cf. 6:39–40). God’s granting of authority to Jesus (cf. 1:12; 5:27) marks the inbreaking of a new era (cf. Isa. 9:6–7; Dan. 7:13–14). All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Jesus (Matt. 28:18), including the authority to judge (John 5:27). (Andreas Köstenberger, John, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004], 486)

Though His authority extends over all creation (cf. Matt. 28:18), it is clear that redemption applies only to those who have been chosen for Him by the Father. Only those whom the Father has given Him (vv. 6, 9, 24; 6:37, 39; cf. Acts 13:48; Rom. 8:29–30; Eph. 1:4–5; 2 Thess. 2:13; Titus 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1–2) will receive eternal life. Christ’s authority to grant them that life is another aspect of His victory over the world through His death (cf. 16:33). That Jesus Christ is the source of eternal life is a central theme of John’s gospel (cf. 3:15–16, 36; 4:14; 5:21, 24, 40; 6:27, 33, 35, 40, 47, 48, 51, 54, 68; 10:10, 28; 11:25; 14:6 and the apostle’s purpose statement for writing his gospel in 20:31), and one he reiterates in his first epistle (1 John 5:20).

Throughout His ministry, Christ manifested the divine authority His Father had given Him in a multitude of ways (cf. Matt. 11:27; 28:18). His teaching was characterized by divine authority (Matt. 7:29; Mark 1:22; Luke 4:32); as were His healings (Mark 5:38–43; Luke 4:39; 9:1; John 11:43), exorcisms (Matt. 10:1; Mark 3:15; Luke 4:36), and other miracles (cf. Mark 8:26–27; Matt. 21:19; John 21:3–11). He claimed the right to violate traditional Jewish customs (cf. Matt. 5:21–22, 27–28; 15:1–9; Luke 6:1–11; John 5:9–17), to cleanse the temple (cf. Matt. 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; John 2:14–16), to forgive sins and offer salvation in His own name (Matt. 9:6, 8; Mark 2:10; Luke 5:24), to receive worship from others (Matt. 14:33; 15:25; 28:9), and even to judge the world (Mark 13:26–27; John 5:22–23). It was because His authority clashed with that of the Jewish religious leaders that they were so often angered by Him, and ultimately plotted His death.

His death, too, was under His own authority. As He declared in John 10:17–18, “For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.” As the time of His crucifixion approached, Jesus did not relinquish the authority that His Father had given to Him. Rather, He anticipated the full authority He would have as a result of the cross. Following His resurrection, He knew that He would ascend to heaven where His Father would seat “Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He [would] put all things in subjection under His feet, and [would give] Him as head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:20–22).

The fact that Jesus Christ alone was given the authority to grant eternal life, through His death on the cross, also underscores the exclusivity of the gospel message. It is only through Him that eternal life can be received. As Jesus had said earlier that evening, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). Though many may claim to offer eternal life (Matt. 7:13–14; 24:5), only the Son has actually been given the authority to grant it. As John the Baptist explained, “The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:35–36).

The Relationship He Offers

This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (17:3)

In contrast to the pluralistic claims of contemporary religious culture, eternal life comes only to those who know (the Greek word implies not mere intellectual knowledge, but a deep, intimate love relationship; cf. v. 25; 10:14–15, 27) … the only true God (Jer. 10:10; 1 Thess. 1:9; 1 John 5:20; cf. 1 Cor. 8:6) and that is possible only through Jesus Christ whom He has sent (cf. 5:23, 36, 37; 10:36; 1 John 4:10, 14). As Peter boldly declared to the Jewish leaders, “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; cf. 1 Tim. 2:5).

The essence of eternal life is participation in the blessed, everlasting life of Christ (cf. 1:4) through union with Him (Rom. 5:21; 6:4, 11, 23; 1 Cor. 15:22; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 2:20; Col. 3:3–4; 2 Tim. 1:1, 10; Jude 21). It is the life of God in the soul of man (Gal. 2:20). Because believers have Christ’s life in them, they also possess His peace (John 14:27; 16:33; cf. Phil. 4:7), love (John 15:10; cf. Rom. 5:5), and joy (John 15:11). The life that God predetermined to give the redeemed is a life of shared communion with Him.

Eternal life refers to a quality of life, and not just a quantity of life. It is much more than living forever; it is enjoying intimate fellowship with God both now and forever. It cannot be reduced merely to endless existence, since the unredeemed in hell will also live forever (cf. Matt. 25:46 where the same word, aiōnios, describes both the eternal life of the righteous and the eternal punishment of the wicked).

Because eternal life is a quality of life, it is not only a future possession, but also a present reality. In John 5:24 Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God,” John wrote, “so that you may know that you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13). Thus, believers enjoy eternal life even now as they experience the rich blessings that come through their personal and intimate fellowship with Christ (John 15:1–11; 1 Cor. 1:9; Eph. 1:3; Phil. 3:8–11; 1 John 1:3; 5:20). Of course, they will most fully experience that life in the age to come (Eph. 2:6–7), when they see Christ face-to-face (1 Cor. 13:12) and worship Him in the perfect, unending glory and joy of heaven (Rom. 8:19–23, 29; 1 Cor. 15:49; Phil. 3:20–21; 1 John 3:2; Rev. 22:3–4).[2]


[1] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 1251–1262). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 250–253). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

May 18 – Avoiding Prejudice (Bartholomew)

The twelve apostles included “Bartholomew [Nathanael]” (Matt. 10:3).

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Prejudice can destroy relationships and prevent people from coming to Christ.

Prejudice is an uncalled-for generalization based on feelings of superiority. It is an ugly sin that has fueled hatred and conflicts for centuries, dividing entire nations and bringing untold misery. But prejudice is most damning when it blinds people to God’s Word. The prophet Jonah was so prejudiced against the Assyrians, he refused to go to Nineveh to preach to them. Even after God convinced him to obey, he wanted to die because the people of Nineveh had repented and God had spared them.

Prejudice also reared its ugly head in Nathanael, whose last name was Bartholomew (meaning “son of Tolmai”). John 1:45–46 says, “Philip found Nathanael, and said to him, ‘We have found Him, of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’ And Nathanael said to him, ‘Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?’” Nathanael was a student of the Word and was looking for the Messiah, but he couldn’t understand how the Messiah could come from Nazareth.

Nazareth lay on the fringes of the Jewish world—the last stop before Gentile territory. Perhaps the people of Cana, Nathanael’s hometown, were more refined and educated than the people of Nazareth. Whatever the cause, Nathanael’s perspective seemed to be that nothing but trouble could come out of Nazareth.

Prejudice has blinded many people to the gospel. The Jewish religious leaders rejected Jesus because He didn’t fit their idea of a Messiah, wasn’t from Jerusalem, and wasn’t trained in their synagogues. Fortunately, Nathanael’s desire for truth overpowered his prejudice, and he came to Jesus.

Perhaps you have family or friends who are resisting the gospel because of prejudice. If so, don’t be discouraged, and don’t give up! Jesus broke through Nathanael’s prejudice and redeemed him, and He has done the same for millions of others.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray for those you know who are blinded by prejudice, asking God to open their spiritual eyes to His truth. ✧ Confess any prejudice you might have in your own heart.

For Further Study: Practicing unity and humility is the best way to overcome prejudice within the Body of Christ. Read Ephesians 4:1–6 and Philippians 2:1–8. ✧ What attitudes did Paul encourage? Discourage? ✧ Whose example of humble service on behalf of others are we to follow?[1]


The Master’s Men—Part 3: Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael)

Philip and Bartholomew; (10:3a)

The second group of four disciples begins with Philip, as it does in the other listings (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13), probably indicating he was its leader. This Philip is not to be confused with the deacon who became a prominent evangelist in the early days of the church (see Acts 6:5; 8:4–13, 26–40).

All of the twelve were Jews, but many used both Greek and Jewish names. It is not known what this disciple’s Jewish name was, because Philip (a Greek name meaning “lover of homes”) is the only name used of him in the New Testament. It was possibly due to his name that the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus came to Philip first (John 12:20–21).

Philip’s hometown was the northern Galilee town of Bethsaida, where Peter and Andrew also lived. Because they were all God-fearing Jews and probably were all fishermen (see John 21:2–3), it seems certain that Peter, Andrew, Philip and Bartholomew not only were acquaintances but were close friends even before Jesus called them.

As with Andrew, the first three gospels make no mention of Philip except in listings of the apostles, and all that is revealed about him is found in the fourth gospel.

It can be surmised from John’s account that Philip was already a devout man. The day after Jesus called Peter and Andrew, “He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me’ ” (John 1:43). Although John, Andrew, and Peter had taken up with Jesus as soon as they realized He was the Messiah (vv. 35–42), Philip was the first person to whom the Lord expressly said, “Follow Me.”

God had already given Philip a seeking heart. Salvation is always on the sovereign Lord’s initiative, and no one comes to Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws him (John 6:44, 65). But God planted the desire in Philip’s heart to find the Messiah even before Jesus called him. Philip therefore said to Nathanael (or Bartholomew), “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (1:45). From the perspective of divine sovereignty, the Lord found Philip, but from the perspective of human understanding and volition, Philip had found the Lord. Both the divine and human wills will be in accord when salvation takes place. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and it is those who truly seek Him who find Him (Luke 7:7–8; cf. Jer. 29:13). God seeks and finds the hearts of those who genuinely seek Him.

From his comments to Nathanael, it seems that Philip must have been diligently studying the Scriptures to learn God’s will and plan. God’s promised Messiah was central on his mind, and when he was introduced to the Messiah, he immediately acknowledged and accepted Him. Using His written Word, God had prepared Philip’s heart. From the scriptural record we know of no human agent who was instrumental in Philip’s calling or commitment. Jesus simply walked up to Him and said, “Follow Me.” Philip’s heart and eyes and ears were spiritually attuned, and when he heard Jesus’ call he knew it was from God. We can only imagine the excitement and joy that filled his soul at that moment.

The genuineness of Philip’s faith is seen not only in the fact the he immediately recognized and accepted the Messiah but in the reality that he also promptly began to serve Christ by telling others of Him. As soon as Jesus called him, Philip found Nathanael and told him he had found the Messiah.

One of the certain marks of genuine conversion is the desire to tell others of the Savior. The new believer who is baptized as a public testimony of his new relationship to Jesus Christ often has a spontaneous desire to use that occasion to witness for the Lord. The believer who has not left his first love for the Lord inevitably has a loving desire to witness to those who do not know Him.

Because Philip already cared about his friend Nathanael, it was natural to communicate to him the most profound and joyous discovery of his life. In every listing of the twelve, Philip and Nathanael are together, and it is likely they had been close friends for many years before they met Jesus.

Second, we learn from John’s gospel that Philip had a practical, analytical mind. When Jesus faced the great crowd of people who had followed Him to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, He knew they were tired and hungry and that few of them had made provision for eating. He therefore “said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?’ ” (John 6:5). Philip had seen Jesus perform many miracles, including the turning of water into wine (John 2:1–11), but at this time his only thoughts were of the practical problems involved in Jesus’ suggestion. In addition to the 5,000 men (6:10), it is not unrealistic to assume that there were an equal number of women and several times that many children.

Judging from Philip’s response, it may have been that he was normally in charge of getting food for Jesus and his fellow disciples, just as Judas was in charge of the group’s money. He therefore would have known how much food they usually ate and how much it cost. But Jesus had a special purpose in asking Philip about the food. “And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself! knew what He was intending to do” (v. 6). If Jesus had asked about buying food only for the thirteen men in their own group, the answer would have been simple and practical, and Philip could quickly have given the answer. But he should have realized that, in His asking about feeding the entire multitude, Jesus’ question went far beyond the practical and implied the impossible.

But Philip took the question at its practical face value and immediately began to calculate an answer based on his own experience. Making a rough estimate, he concluded that “two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little” (v. 7). A denarii represented the daily wage of an average Palestinian worker, and even if two hundred of them were collacted from the crowd or taken from the disciples’ treasury, that amount could not buy enough bread even to give the multitude a snack.

Philip’s response was sincere, but it revealed a lack of consideration for Jesus’ supernatural provision. He was face to face with the Son of God, but he could see no further than the practical, physical dilemma. There was no prospect of a solution from the human standpoint, and that is all he considered. He was so engrossed in the material situation that he completely lost sight of God’s power.

It has been noted that the supreme essential of a great leader is a sense of the possible. Like most people, however-including perhaps most believers-Philip only had a sense of the impossible. He did not yet understand that “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26; cf. Mark 9:23).

It would seem that, after having seen Jesus perform so many miracles, Philip’s immediate response would have been, “Lord, You made the water into wine, stilled the storm, and have healed every kind of disease. Why bother trying to buy so much food when all You have to do is say the word and create the food necessary to feed all these people?”

Philip failed Jesus’ test of faith because he was too taken up with his own understanding and abilities. He was methodical and full of practical common sense; but those virtues, helpful as they often are, can be an obstacle to the immeasurably greater virtue of trusting God for what is impractical. Facts and figures are a poor substitute for faith.

Third, we learn from John’s gospel that Philip was not forceful and was inclined to be indecisive. Although he was not a member of the inner circle, Philip had access to Jesus on his own. But when “certain Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast … came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus,’ ” Philip decided to take them first to Andrew (12:20–22).

Philip knew that Jesus healed the Gentile centurion’s servant and accepted the half-Gentile Samaritans who came to Him for salvation, yet he seems to have been uncertain about whether it was proper to introduce these Gentiles to the Lord. He may have been thinking of the temporary instruction Jesus gave when He first sent the disciples out on their own: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5–6). Natural Jewish prejudice made that an easy command to obey, and Philip may have thought the restriction was still in effect. But he did not ignore the Greeks’ request and at least made the effort to consult Andrew.

Fourth, we discover from John’s gospel that Philip lacked spiritual perception This deficiency was evident in his failing Jesus’ test in regard to feeding the multitude, and it was even more pronounced when, almost three years later, he said to Jesus at the Last Supper, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:8). It must have grieved Jesus deeply to hear such a question, and He replied, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves” (vv. 9–11).

After three years of learning at Jesus’ feet, Philip’s spiritual perception still seemed almost nil. Neither Jesus’ words nor His works had brought Philip to the understanding that Jesus and His Father were one. After gazing for three years into the only face of God men will ever see, he still did not comprehend who he was seeing. He had missed the main truth of Jesus’ teaching, that He was God incarnate.

Yet the Lord used that man of limited vision and trust. Philip was slow to understand and slow to trust. He was more at home with physical facts than with spiritual truth. Yet, along with the other apostles, Jesus assured him of a throne from which he would judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28) Philip was pessimistic, insecure, analytical, and slow to learn; but tradition tells us that he ultimately gave his life as a martyr for the Lord he so often disappointed and who so patiently taught and retaught him. It is reported that he was stripped naked, hung upside down by his feet, and pierced with sharp stakes in his ankles and thighs, causing him slowly to bleed to death. He is said to have asked not to be shrouded with linen after he was dead, because he felt unworthy to be buried as was his Lord.

Bartholomew (Nathanael)

Bartholomew means “son [Aramaic, bar] of Tolmai.” He was much different from Philip, his close friend and companion with whom he is always paired in the New testament. The first three gospels refer to him only as Bartholomew but John always as Nathanael, which may have been his first name. The short account of John 1:45–51 is the only place this apostle is mentioned in the New Testament outside the four listings of the twelve.

Bartholomew came from Cana of Galilee and was brought to the Lord by his friend Philip. As soon as Philip discovered Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, he “found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’ ” (John 1:45).

Philip’s words imply that, like himself, Nathanael was a student of Scripture, a seeker after divine truth and well acquainted with the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. A further implication seems to be that these two men were partners in Scripture study, having examined the Old Testament together for many years. In any case, it is clear from Philip’s statement that he knew Nathanael would immediately know whom he was talking about. They both hungered for God’s truth and earnestly sought the coming of the anticipated Messiah.

But Nathanael was affected by prejudice. Instead of judging Jesus by what He said and did, Nathanael stumbled over the fact that He was from Nazareth, a town with a notably unsavory reputation. It was an unrefined, rowdy place that hosted many foreign travelers. Nathanael’s question, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (v. 46), was probably a common expression of derision among the Jews of Galilee.

Prejudice is an unwarranted generalization based on feelings of superiority, and it can be a powerful obstacle to the truth. Herbert Lockyer points out that in his allegory The Holy War, John Bunyan depicts Christ (called Emmanuel) invading and holding the life of a person (represented as the town Mansoul). During the course of the siege on Mansoul, Emmanuel’s forces attack Eargate. But Diabolus (Satan) sets up a formidable guard called “Old Mr. Prejudice, an angry and ill-conditioned fellow who has under his power sixty deaf men” (All the Apostles of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972], p. 60).

The nature of prejudice is to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to any truth that does not fit its preconceived and cherished ideas. Consequently, it is a common and powerful weapon of Satan By appealing to various prejudices he often succeeds in getting a person to reject the gospel even before learning what it is really about. The prejudices of their man-made traditions blinded many Jews to the true teaching of their Scriptures and thereby led them to reject Jesus as the Messiah-despite His clear demonstrations of divine power and fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

Fortunately, Nathanael’s prejudice was tempered by his genuine desire to know God’s truth. He agreed to Philip’s suggestion (“Come and see”) and went to meet Jesus for himself (v. 46b-47a).

From the mouth of Jesus we learn still other characteristics of Nathanael. As Nathanael approached, Jesus said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (v. 47b). Alēthōs (“indeed”) was a word of strong affirmation by which Jesus declared Nathanael to be the kind of man God intended His chosen people to be. He was a Jew in the truest spiritual sense, “a Jew who is one inwardly, … [whose] praise is not from men, but from God” (Rom. 2:29). He was not merely a physical descendant of Abraham but, more important, a Jew in the true covenant with God, a spiritual descendant, a child of promise (see Rom. 9:6–8).

Not only was Nathanael a genuine, spiritualual but he was, by the Lord’s own testimony, a man “in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47c). He was a genuine Jew and a genuine person. He had no deceit or duplicity, no hypocrisy or phoniness. That characteristic alone set him far apart from most of his countrymen, especially the self-righteous and hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, whose very names Jesus used as synonyms for religious and moral hypocrisy (Matt. 23:13–15, 23, 25, 27).

Nathanael had reflected the common prejudice of the time, but his heart was right and won out over his head. His prejudice was not strong and it quickly withered in the light of truth. What an astoundingly wonderful commendation to be described by the Lord Himself as “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

Nathanael’s response to Jesus’ commendation reflected its appropriateness. He did not swell up with pride at the compliment but wondered how Jesus could speak with such certainty about the inner life of a person He had never met. “How do You know me?” he asked (John 1:48). “How do You know what I am really like on the inside?” he was asking. “How do You know that I truly seek to follow God and that my life is not hypocritical?” Because of his genuine humility, Nathanael may have been inclined to doubt Jesus’ judgment and think His comments were mere flattery.

But Jesus’ next words removed any doubts Nathanael may have had. When Jesus said, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Nathanael knew he stood in the presence of omniscience He declared, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (vv. 48b-49).

Because fig trees of that region could become quite large, they were often planted near a house to provide shade, comfort, and a place of retreat from household activities. Nathanael must have been meditating and praying in the shade of such a tree before Philip came to him.

In any case, Jesus not only saw where Nathanael was sitting but knew what he was thinking. “I saw you in your secret place of retreat,” Jesus said, in effect, “and I even saw what was in your heart.” Nathanael’s prayers were answered and his searching for the Messiah was over. Because his heart was divinely prepared to seek the Messiah, he immediately acknowledged Him when they met, just as the godly Simeon and Anna recognized even the infant Jesus as the: Son of God (Luke 2:25–38).

Jesus continued His attestation of Nathanael’s faith. “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe?” (John 1:50), is better translated as a statement of fact (as in the NIV). Both Jesus and Nathanael knew it was the manifestation of omniscience that convinced Nathanael of Jesus’ messiahship. Because of Nathanael’s faith, Jesus went on to say, “ ‘You shall see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man’ ” (vv. 50b-51). This demonstration of Jesus’ omniscience would come to seem small to Nathanael in comparison to the wonders of divine power he would soon begin to witness.

It may be that Nathanael came to understand Jesus’ glory as well as any of the other apostles. We know nothing else of the man than what is found in that one brief account. But it seems reasonable to assume that he was among the most dependable and teachable of the twelve. There is no record of his questioning Jesus or arguing with Him or even misunderstanding Him.

The New Testament says nothing of his ministry or his death, and even tradition has little to offer about him. But it is apparent from the Lord’s own words that, like David, Nathanael was a man after God’s own heart.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 151). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 10:3). Chicago: Moody Press.

MAY 18 – GOD DOES NOT HAVE POWER: GOD IS POWER

God hath spoken once: twice have I heard this: that power belongeth unto God.

PSALM 62:11

It is hard for us sons of the machine age to remember that there is no power apart from God! Whether physical, intellectual, moral or spiritual, power is contained in God, flows out from Him and returns to Him again. The power that works throughout His creation remains in Him even while it operates in an atom or a galaxy!

The notion that power is something God separates from Himself and tosses out to work apart from Him is erroneous. The power of nature is the Presence of God in the universe. This idea is woven into the book of Job, the Psalms and the Prophets.

The writings of John and Paul in the New Testament harmonize with this Old Testament doctrine, and in the book of Hebrews it is said that Christ upholds all things by the word of His power.

We must not think of the power of God as wild, irrational energy coursing haphazardly through the world like a lightning strike or a tornado. This is the impression sometimes created by Bible teachers who keep reminding us that dunamis, the Greek word for power, is the root from which comes our word “dynamite.” Little wonder that sensitive Christians shrink from contact with such a destructive and unpredictable force.

The power of God is not something God has: it is something God is! Power is something that is true of God as wisdom and love are true of Him. It is, if we might so state it, a fact of His being, one with and indivisible from everything else that He is. The power of God is one with God’s will and works only as He wills that it should. It is His holy Being in action![1]


62:11 Once God has spoken The psalmist uses a numerical saying—a literary device common in Wisdom Literature—as he looks to God’s promises (see Prov 30:18 and note).[2]


62:11 once, Twice: It is a convention of wisdom literature to use a number and then raise it by one (Prov. 30:11–33). The point here is that David has heard the message with certainty.[3]


62:11, 12 once, Twice: The ascending number emphasizes the truth of the following statement. To God belong power and mercy; He gives to each one as we deserve (see 1 Cor. 3:8).[4]


62:11–12. The psalmist contrasted this with the fact that God has declared that the power is His. David heard God say two things: that He is strong and loving. So justice will be meted out to everybody. How much better then to find rest in the powerful God than in human devices.[5]


11, 12 God has power (unlike man in his insubstantiality, 9) and unchanging love (unlike man’s deceitfulness, 9). Not only so, but his loving power is an active force of moral providence (12) whereby he ‘fully requites’ (reward). Therefore we can trust him for our welfare and against the works of our enemies.[6]


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

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 62:11). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 689). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[4] The Open Bible: New King James Version. (1998). (electronic ed., Ps 62:11–12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 839). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[6] Motyer, J. A. (1994). The Psalms. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 524). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

MAY 18 – RESPONDING TO THE SPIRIT

Quench not the Spirit. Hold fast that which is good.

1 Thessalonians 5:19, 21

Are we raising a whole generation of young men and women without any sensitivity to the voice of God’s Holy Spirit?

I am on record, and I will be as long as I live, that I would rather lose a leg and hobble along throughout the rest of my life than to lose my sensitivity to God and to His voice and to spiritual things!

Oh, how I want to keep that sensitivity within me—within my soul!

I am thinking about a great throng of men and women raised in Christian homes. They have been brought up in Sunday school. They probably cut their first baby tooth on the edge of a hymnbook when the mother was not watching.

Still, to this day, they are not right with God. Some have made a kind of profession but have never been able to delight themselves in the Lord.

The reason? They have lost sensitivity to the message and the voice of God. If the Holy Spirit cannot move something within their beings every day, they are not going to be effective Christians—if they are Christians at all!

Lord, today my heart goes out to mediocre Christians who “know” the truth of the gospel but who have not experienced a personal relationship with You. Lord, will You give them a divine nudge so that they will find delight in truly knowing You?[1]


The Responsibility Not to Quench the Spirit

Do not quench the Spirit; (5:19)

Some commentators believe this verse is connected to verses 20–22 and refers to forbidding the expression of the charismatic gifts in the Thessalonian church. They argue that Paul was warning the Thessalonians not to stifle the exercise of those gifts within their assembly. Those commentators go on to assert that the “prophetic utterances” (v. 20) are supernatural prophesyings that must be examined carefully to make sure they are good rather than evil (vv. 21–22). This view concludes that verses 19–22, in constituting Paul’s attempt to correct the Thessalonians’ underestimation of the miraculous gifts, are equivalent to an affirmation of the gifts’ use in the church.

However, such arguments are not convincing for several reasons. First, there is no compelling reason in the text to make Paul’s exhortation, do not quench the Spirit, or the other exhortations in verses 20–22, as anything other than separate statements of general exhortation. Readers ought to see them as principles for the Christian life and not read anything more into the text. Second, if the Thessalonian church had been abusing the charismatic gifts, Paul would have earnestly admonished the Thessalonians in detail, as he later did the Corinthians.

To appreciate this short command’s true application and view it in its proper perspective, one must remember the Holy Spirit’s role in believers’ lives. By His sovereign power (cf. John 1:12–13; 6:37, 44; Acts 13:48; 16:14) God through the Spirit regenerates sinners (John 3:6, 8; Eph. 2:1, 5; Titus 3:5; cf. Ezek. 37:11–14), thereby effecting a complete transformation of their spiritual affections (Titus 3:5; cf. Ezek. 11:19; 36:27; Rom. 2:29; 2 Cor. 5:17). He frees them from slavery to habitual sin (Rom. 8:3–9), places them into the body of Christ (Rom. 8:15–17), takes up permanent residence within each new believer (John 14:17; Rom. 8:9, 11, 14; 1 Cor. 3:16; 1 John 2:27; 4:13; cf. 1 Cor. 6:19), pours the love of God into their hearts (Rom. 5:5; 2 Thess. 3:5; cf. 1 John 2:5), gifts them for spiritual service (1 Cor. 12:4–10, 28; cf. Rom. 12:4–13; 1 Cor. 2:12–13; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6), seals them for eternity (2 Cor. 1:22; Eph. 1:13–14; 4:30), and sanctifies them (Rom. 15:16; 1 Cor. 6:11; 2 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 10:14–15; 1 Peter 1:2).

It is that process of progressive sanctification by the Spirit that Paul warned the Thessalonians not to quench. The metaphor quench means “to extinguish, stifle, or retard” the power or energy of something (cf. Matt. 25:8; Mark 9:48). Sometimes Scripture represents the presence of the Spirit as a fire (Acts 2:2–4; cf. Ex. 13:21; Mal. 3:2–3); thus the apostle warned the Thessalonians not to smother the Holy Spirit’s work within them, comparing such quenching to extinguishing a fire (cf. Isa. 63:10; Acts 5:3–4; 7:51; Eph. 4:30; 2 Tim. 1:6).

That Jesus promised to send all believers the Holy Spirit—as a Helper to assist them in ministry and progressively sanctify them (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7; Acts 1:4–5; cf. Prov. 1:23)—is another crucial reason not to quench Him. And that sanctification process comprises a variety of Spirit-initiated works.

First, the Holy Spirit illuminates the Word of God. “For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” (1 Cor. 2:10; cf. (vv. 12–13; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:20–21; 1 John 2:27). Believers grow spiritually only as they feed on the Word, when they “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it [they] may grow in respect to salvation” (1 Peter 2:2; cf. Ps. 19:7–14; Matt. 4:4). Believers can quench this aspect of the Spirit’s work by failing to study Scripture or misinterpreting it (cf. 2 Tim. 2:15), by not receiving it with humility and applying it to their lives (cf. James 1:21–25), by failing to hide it in their hearts (cf. Ps. 119:11), by not searching it diligently (cf. John 5:39; 8:31–32), and by not letting it dwell richly within them (cf. Col. 3:16).

Second, the Holy Spirit brings believers into intimacy with God. “For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:15–16). The Spirit wants believers to have the joyful confidence that God loves them as His children (Abba means “Papa” or “Daddy,” a term of intimacy and endearment) and that they are secure in His salvation. Paul told the Galatians, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’ ” (Gal. 4:6). The Spirit prompts believers to pray for divine resources (cf. Ps. 116:2; Matt. 6:33; 1 Cor. 14:15; Phil. 4:6; Heb. 4:16). If believers are growing in sanctification, they will have an increasingly deeper and more intimate knowledge of God (cf. Pss. 9:10; 25:4; 1 Cor. 2:2; Eph. 3:19; Phil. 3:10; 1 John 2:3). Believers can, however, quench that Spirit-prompted, intimate knowledge by not accepting God’s purpose in life’s difficulties (cf. Rom. 5:3; James 1:2–3, 12), by not being prayerful and worshipful (cf. John 4:24; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:17), by not casting their cares upon God (cf. 1 Peter 5:7), by operating in their own flesh rather than trusting God’s strength (cf. Prov. 3:5–6), by not trusting God’s supply (2 Cor. 9:8; Phil. 4:19), and by not trusting God’s love (cf. Eph. 2:4–5; 1 John 3:1; 4:19).

Third, the Holy Spirit glorifies Christ to believers and makes them more like Him. “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18; cf. John 16:14–15; Gal. 4:19). Under the New Covenant, the veil is removed and believers can look into the mirror of the Word and see the glory of Christ (cf. Isa. 40:5; John 5:39). Genuine Christians affirm Christ’s lordship and glorify His name (1 Cor. 12:3; cf. 1 John 2:6). But believers also can quench the Spirit’s efforts to make them more Christlike; for instance, by neglecting the reading and studying of Scripture (cf. Ps. 119:130; Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15), or by merely reading the Bible for information rather than allowing it to reveal Christ to them. Or they can proudly refuse to admit that they need to see His glory and become more like Him (cf. James 1:22–25).

Fourth, the Holy Spirit helps believers know God’s will (cf. Eph. 5:17; James 1:5; 1 John 5:14–15). He ensures, first, that they know and obey the scripturally revealed will of God. “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezek. 36:27; cf. Isa. 28:29; Jer. 10:23; John 10:4). Second, the Spirit leads believers more subjectively into God’s will concerning issues that are not specifically revealed in Scripture. The Spirit provides believers with a level path of guidance (Ps. 143:10) as He operates through providence and helps them make decisions in accord with the Father’s will (cf. Ps. 37:5; Prov. 16:3; James 4:15). Believers can quench this element of the Spirit’s work in sanctification through self-will, stubbornness, pride, indifference, and insensitivity regarding God’s will (cf. Prov. 26:12; Dan. 5:20; Luke 18:11–12; Rom. 12:3; Rev. 2:4; 3:16–17).

Finally, the Holy Spirit grants believers inward strength to help them stay on the path of progressive sanctification. Paul prayed for the Ephesians “that [God] would grant [them], according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man” (Eph. 3:16; cf. Zech. 4:6; 2 Cor. 12:9). In no respect can Christians walk obediently with Christ unless they rely on the Holy Spirit’s strength by the indwelling Word (Gal. 5:16; cf. Eph. 5:8–10). Through the Spirit’s sealing, they can know the security of their salvation (Eph. 1:13–14). Without the Spirit’s strength, they could not have victory over sin and the flesh (Rom. 8:5, 13; Gal. 3:3; 6:8; cf. Matt. 26:41; Rom. 7:18). Unless they have the Spirit’s power, believers cannot witness effectively (Acts 1:8; cf. Matt. 28:18–20; Acts 8:26–29). The Spirit’s enabling and filling allows them to worship God from the heart and relate to everyone else in their lives in a God-honoring fashion. However, the empowering work of the Spirit can also be quenched through pride and overconfidence in human ability, both of which deny the believer’s need to rely on the Spirit.

Isaiah 11:2 aptly summarizes how the Holy Spirit would assist Christ during His earthly ministry and suggests the kinds of empowerment all Christians have available: “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him [Christ], the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.” But believers can utilize those resources only when they are filled with the Spirit (Eph. 5:18) and walk by the Spirit (Gal. 5:25)—two expressions of what it means to be Spirit-controlled. (For a complete study of the Holy Spirit’s Person and work, see John MacArthur, The Silent Shepherd [Wheaton, Ill.: Scripture Press/Victor Books, 1996].)[2]


19–22. The next little series of admonitions has to do with the Holy Spirit and his gifts:

The Spirit do not quench.

Prophetic utterances do not despise, but test all things: to the good hold on; from every form of evil hold off.

Upon the early church the Holy Spirit had bestowed certain special gifts or charismata. Among them were: ability to perform miracles of healing, speaking in tongues, and prophesying.

Although according to some interpreters there was nothing miraculous about the latter, we do not share this opinion? The Church in its infancy had no complete Bible (Old and New Testament). It had no extensive body of Christian literature, such as we have today. Christian hymnology, too, was still in its infancy. Numerically also, the Church was rather insignificant. It was, moreover, the object of scorn and derision from every side. In that situation God graciously provided special supports or endowments, until the time would arrive when these were no longer needed. One of these gifts was that of prophesying.

As the term—and its derivatives—implies (for in this case the etymological sense continues to cling to it), a prophet (προφήτης from πρό forth, and φημί to speak) is “a person who speaks forth.” And what he speaks forth or openly declares is the will and mind of God. He is a “forth-teller,” and not necessarily (though sometimes also) a “fore-teller.”

Now, although this particular gift of prophesying was one of the greatest of the charismata, ranking even above that of the ability to speak in tongues—for, the prophet’s message as contrasted with the utterance of the man who spoke in a tongue, was readily understandable (1 Cor. 14:1, 2, 4, 5, 6)—, yet it was held in low esteem by some of the members of the Thessalonian church. This was deplorable in view of the fact that by making light of prophetic utterances these members missed the “edification, encouragement, and consolation” (1 Cor. 14:3) brought by the prophet. Moreover, by means of despising the prophetic utterances, their Giver, the Holy Spirit, was being dishonored. In the early Church the gift of prophesying was like a brightly burning flame. It must not be quenched or extinguished! (for the verb cf. Matt. 12:20; 25:8; Mark 9:48; Eph. 6:16; Heb. 11:34). Hence, we read, “The Spirit do not quench. Prophetic utterances do not despise.” The objects are placed first for the sake of emphasis. It is as if Paul were saying, “By making light of the utterances of the prophets among you, you are belittling the work of no One less than the Holy Spirit.”

The reason for this disparagement of prophetical utterances can readily be surmised. Wherever God plants wheat, Satan sows his tares. Wherever God establishes a church, the devil erects a chapel. And so, too, wherever the Holy Spirit enables certain men to perform miracles of healing, the evil one distributes his “lying wonders.” And wherever the Paraclete brings a true prophet upon the scene, the deceiver presents his false prophet. The easiest—but not the wisest—reaction to this state of affairs is to despise all prophesying. Add to this the fact that the fanatics, the meddlers, and the loafers at Thessalonica may not have appreciated some of the utterances of the true prophets, and it is readily understood why by some in the congregation prophetic utterances had fallen into disfavor.

Paul, therefore, states what course of action the congregation should take: “Prophetic utterances do not despise, but test (on the verb see 1 Thess. 2:4) all things.” The standard by which the true prophet can be distinguished from the false is that the former will declare nothing that is contrary to what God has made known previously, in his special revelation. Cf. Deut. 13:1–5; Rom. 12:6. In the new dispensation the criterion would be the revelation of God through the testimony of Christ and of the apostles. Besides, in the early Church some men seem to have been gifted with rare proficiency in separating genuine from false prophesying (see 1 Cor. 12:10: “and to another the ability to distinguish between spirits”).

Once a true verdict has been reached, the practical rule must apply: “to the good hold on (κατέχετε); from every form (or kind, not appearance here) of evil hold off (ἀπέχεσθε). Note: every form, whether the wicked and uninspired utterance concerns doctrine or life. It is probable that this every is even broader, to be taken absolutely.

When verses 19–22 are studied together, as a unit, it becomes apparent immediately that the rule “Test all things” cannot mean “Try everything once,” or “Enter every place of wickedness and find out for yourselves what it is.” In the given context it simply means that, instead of despising each and every prophetical utterance, one should test whatever presents itself as such. The good should be accepted; every kind of evil (without any exception; hence, whether it be evil advice—given by a false prophet—or any other form of evil) must be avoided.

What follows is a concluding wish and a few urgent requests, such as one expects to find at the close of this letter; then the benediction.[3]


Responsibilities to Public Worship (5:19–22)

Commentary

19 At this point Paul shifts from the personal life to communal worship. “Do not put out the Spirit’s fire” alludes to the Holy Spirit as a burning presence (cf. 2 Ti 1:6). In particular, this is the Spirit’s impartation of specialized capabilities for ministry to others in the body of Christ. In his discussions of spiritual gifts elsewhere (Ro 12:6–8; 1 Co 12:8–10, 28–30; Eph 4:11), Paul distinguishes eighteen such special abilities. Only nine of them, however, involve speaking publicly (apostleship, prophecy, discerning of spirits, kinds of tongues, interpretation of tongues, evangelism, teaching, pastor-teaching, and exhorting). Since apostleship in the narrower sense is not present in Thessalonica, it along with the nonspeaking gifts cannot have been the ones in question here.

When Paul commands to “stop putting out the Spirit’s fire” (as this verse can be rendered), he advocates the cessation of something already being practiced. It is possible that other gifts in addition to prophecy (cf. v. 20) have been abused, with the result that the more sober-minded leaders have overreacted and prohibited Spirit manifestations altogether. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul dealt with the wrong use of tongues. But the need in Thessalonica is apparently different. Rather than allowing the error to continue, as the Corinthians had done, the leaders in Thessalonica are completely repressing some gifts, with a resulting loss of spiritual benefit. Paul forbids such repression. The proper course is to allow gifted ones to share in a decent and orderly fashion what the Spirit can do through them for the edification of the body of Christ (1 Co 14:12, 26, 40). Control is necessary, but overcontrol is detrimental. So it is the responsibility of leadership and the whole community to find the right balance.

20 Paul’s next prohibition, “do not treat prophecies with contempt,” makes it apparent that the Christians at Thessalonica, like those at Corinth (1 Co 14:1), have underrated the gift of prophecy. The directive may be translated literally, “Stop treating prophecies with contempt.” Prophecies are separate utterances of those who in their prophetic office proclaim the will and command of God as well as predict the future (Ac 11:28). Benefits from such utterances can build up a local church (1 Co 14:3).

Apparently, however, certain “idle” brothers (v. 14; cf. 4:11–12) have misused this gift by falsifying data regarding the Lord’s return. They have soured the remainder of the flock against prophecy in general. Their tendency now is not to listen to any more prophetic messages but to discount them because of counterfeit utterances they have heard. Once again, Paul warns against overreaction and urges the church to give prophecies their proper place in edifying the members (cf. v. 11).

21 To balance the two prohibitions, Paul stipulates that all charismatic manifestations be tested with a view to accepting what is valid and disallowing what is not (vv. 21–22). “Everything” is subject to the limitation of vv. 19–20, i.e., the exercise of spiritual gifts. The mere claim to inspiration is not a sufficient guarantee of genuineness, because inspirations are known at times to come from below (1 Co 12:2) as well as from above (cf. Lightfoot, 84).

The nature of the test is unspecified, but suggestions are forthcoming from related passages. In 1 John 4:1–3 (as well as probably 1 Co 12:3), the test is theological in nature, having to do with a proper view of Jesus as the Christ and Lord. In 1 Corinthians 12:10 and 14:29, discernment is a specific spiritual function in combination with the gift of prophecy. It consists of an ability to discern whether another prophetic spokesman has given a genuinely inspired utterance. But perhaps these two tests are too specialized for the present context, and preference should be given to a more general criterion of whether the alleged gift has made a positive contribution to the body’s edification and mutual love.

Testing like this will identify some spiritual activities as attractive and conducive to a growing love and to Christian power (5:11; 1 Co 13; 14:3–5, 12, 26; so Frame, 207). Such are genuine gifts that should be clung to tenaciously. In a similar discussion about five years later for “hold on to [katechō, GK 2988] the good,” Paul substituted “cling to [kollaō, GK 3140] what is good” (Ro 12:9). Both speak of determined tenacity to retain what is beneficial; in this, this church has been remiss (vv. 19–20). “Good” in Thessalonians describes what is outwardly attractive and therefore beneficial (to kalon) and in Romans what is inherently good and therefore bound to be beneficial (tō agathō) also.

22 Allowance is also necessary for professed spiritual manifestations that do not contribute but rather detract from the development of the local body. Paul designates this category by pantos eidous ponērou (“every kind of evil”). The expression lends itself to varying interpretations. Eidous (“kind,” GK 1626), in keeping with its predominant NT meaning (Lk 3:22; 9:29; Jn 5:37; 2 Co 5:7), may denote “appearance.” Or in accord with the obvious antithesis between this and v. 21, it may mean “kind” or “species.” The latter meaning is preferable because spiritual gifts can hardly with any credibility assume the “appearance of evil,” but they can be a “species of evil” falsely attributed to the Holy Spirit.

Ponērou (“of evil,” GK 4505) likewise presents two options: if taken as an adjective qualifying eidous, the phrase is “evil kind”; if taken as a substantive, a practical equivalent of the noun ponēria, the phrase is “kind [or form] of evil.” Though the anarthrous adjective in Paul is more frequently adjectival in force, the nature of the present contrast with to kalon (“the good,” GK 2819; v. 21) resolves this issue in favor of the substantival use adopted by the NIV.

Paul clearly intends an antithesis with v. 21 here. “Hold on to” (katechō) the good, but “hold yourselves free from” (apechō, GK 600; NIV, “avoid”; NASB, “abstain from,” v. 22) every kind of evil that tries to parade as a genuine representation of the Spirit (cf. Hiebert, 249). Only then can maximum benefit for the body of Christ in local worship be achieved.[4]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2002). 1 & 2 Thessalonians (pp. 193–196). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of I-II Thessalonians (Vol. 3, pp. 139–141). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Thomas, R. L. (2006). 1 Thessalonians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 432–434). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 18 – Value and Importance of Knowing the Father

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

Knowing God as our Father carries with it a definite list of spiritual privileges and benefits. First, it means we need not fear, as pagans do before their false gods or unbelievers do in their agnosticism.

Second, real knowledge of God resolves uncertainties and gives us hope. A good earthly father does what it takes to protect and provide for his children; so our heavenly Father does much more to love and sustain His children (cf. Matt. 7:11; John 10:29; 14:21).

Third, knowing the Father alleviates loneliness. Family, friends, and even other believers may reject us, but we can be sure that God never will (John 14:21; cf. Ps. 68:5–6).

Fourth, knowing God as Father settles the issue of selfishness. Jesus used the plural possessive pronoun in reference to God because we share His fatherhood with millions of other Christians. Thus we ought to pray for others, not just ourselves.

Fifth, genuine knowledge of the Father means all His heavenly resources are available to us (Eph. 1:3).

Finally, this comprehension settles the issue of obedience. If Jesus in His incarnation did only His Father’s will (John 6:38), we as adopted spiritual children must also do only God’s will. This proves our relationship to Him (Matt. 12:50). Yet God in His grace still loves His children who disobey (cf. Luke 15:11–24).

Being our Father reveals God’s willingness to lend His ear, power, and blessings to His children, for their best and His glory.

ASK YOURSELF
Which of these six benefits of God’s Fatherhood struck you as most comforting and compelling today? What needs in your life does this particular blessing of God meet? And how does it do so in ways that no person could ever accomplish?[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]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 147). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

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

MAY 18 – THE ETERNITY OF GOD

For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.

—Isaiah 57:15

If I thought that the word “eternal” as referring to God meant only “lasting until the end of the age,” I’d just fold my Bible up and go home and wait for the end. If I had a God that only lasted so long, that didn’t have eternity in His heart, I couldn’t possibly find it worthwhile to preach….

The Old Testament Hebrew has exhausted itself—wrung its language as you wring a towel, to get the last drop of meaning out of it—to say that God is forever and ever endlessly, unto perpetuity, world without end. The New Testament Greek has done the same. There aren’t any other words in the Greek language that can be used to mean “unto perpetuity, having no end, going on and on and on and on endlessly and forever.”…

Eternal, everlasting, forever, unto perpetuity, world without end—all of those words mean just what they say. When God talks about Himself, that’s what He means—the High and Lofty One who exists eternally, forever, unto perpetuity, world without end. AOGII053-055

Lord, I bow today before the high and lofty One who far surpasses my comprehension. Holy is the Lord! Amen. [1]


57:15 high and lifted up. See note on 6:1; cf. 52:13. God dwells in the high and holy place of his eternal transcendence, where no one else may go, and also dwells with him who is of a contrite and lowly spirit.[2]


57:15 the high and lofty one Echoes the vision of God in 6:1, and the exaltation of the Servant in 52:13.[3]


57:15 high and lifted up. An epithet for the Lord (6:1).

high and holy place. The Lord is transcendent over creation, yet He is nonetheless not far from those who call on His name.

contrite and lowly spirit. Those who submit to God’s law and repent under His judgment (Pss. 34:17, 18; 51:17; 1 Pet. 5:6).[4]


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

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1345). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 57:15). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1232). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

May 18 – Reassurance in the Midst of Trials

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you.”

1 Peter 4:12

✧✧✧

We can be certain of God’s love for us, no matter how unexpected or difficult any trial might be.

Reassuring words are vital as we strive to deal in a godly fashion with trials and sufferings in our Christian lives. In today’s verse, Peter opens with a pastoral term (“beloved”) that conveys tenderness, love, and concern for his audience. It reinforces in a single word the concepts of fervent love for one another and love that covers sin (1 Peter 4:8). Such love is a welcome reality to lean on whenever anyone is undergoing suffering or persecution.

Trials can easily tempt us to be discouraged and doubt God’s love. That likely was happening to believers in Peter’s time. For example, the emperor Nero coated many, including children, in pitch and used them as human torches. With such cruel persecution going on, we can see why Peter wrote to fellow Christians—which includes us—to reassure them of God’s love.

Peter’s expression “fiery ordeal,” which can refer to many different types of difficulties, provides reassurance that troubles and trials come for a purpose. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, “fiery” referred to a smelting furnace that refined metals of their foreign, unwanted elements. That process is pictured in verses such as Psalm 66:10, “For Thou hast tried us, O God; Thou hast refined us as silver is refined.” So “fiery ordeal” represents the various sufferings God allows in our lives to purify us.

Peter closes by assuring us that trials are not out of the ordinary, or “some strange thing.” We should not be surprised at them as if each was some bizarre occurrence, coming at us simply by chance. Trials, therefore, should be seen as part of life. They might catch us off guard at first, but we can confidently deal with them, knowing that God’s loving care for us never fails.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that no trial, no matter how unusual it seems at first, needs to catch you by surprise.

For Further Study: Jesus taught the disciples about the inevitability of sufferings, trials, and disappointments. What warnings did He give in John 15–16? ✧ What major resource did He promise?[1]


Expect Suffering

Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; (4:12)

Not expecting to be so hatefully persecuted, the believers to whom Peter wrote were understandably surprised, troubled, and confused by their suffering. Perhaps they expected life to be full of blessing, benefits, and divine protection. However, believers’ expectation for suffering is bound up in the words of Jesus, who told the apostles, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18); Paul’s admonition to Timothy, “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12); and the apostle John’s warning, “Do not be surprised, brethren, if the world hates you” (1 John 3:13). For Christians, the confrontation with sin and the world often results in suffering, which is part of the promised cost of discipleship (cf. Matt. 10:38–39; 16:24–26; John 12:24–26). Counting the cost is behind Jesus’ words that no one builds a tower or enters battle without first calculating that cost (Luke 14:28–32).

Beloved (agapētos, cf. 2:11) is a common pastoral word conveying tenderness, compassion, affection, and care (cf. 1 Cor. 4:14; 1 Thess. 2:8). Such love provides a sweet pillow for believers’ weary souls to rest on in the midst of trials and persecutions. Severe suffering can tempt them to doubt God’s love and allow the same thought to enter their minds that once prompted Job’s wife to utter the despicable words: “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die!” (Job 2:9). Thus the apostle sought to reassure his readers of his and God’s unfailing love.

The phrase do not be surprised informs believers to expect that the gospel of Christ will be offensive to many and will produce persecution. The original Greek is zenizō, meaning “to be surprised or astonished” by the novelty of something. Believers should never be shocked by persecution. Later in the verse, Peter uses the related noun zenos, translated some strange thing, but that could also be rendered “a surprising thing,” which gives a double emphasis to Peter’s point to expect persecution. As saints are obedient to God’s Word and effective in proclaiming the gospel, animosity from unbelievers is inevitable. “We are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” (2 Cor. 2:15–16; cf. 4:3; 1 Cor. 1:18). As the time-tested spiritual adages state it, “The sun that melts the wax also hardens the clay,” and “The gospel saves and slays” (cf. Rom. 9:15–24). Whether it is hostility toward their exclusive message, their efforts to evangelize, or their godly lifestyle, believers need to remember that hardship is a corollary to biblical faith (Mark 10:30; John 16:33; 1 Thess. 3:4; 2 Tim. 2:3–4; 3:12; cf. Matt. 7:13–14).

While the term rendered fiery ordeal (purōsis) portrays figuratively a painful experience of persecution, it is also used of a furnace melting down metal to purge it of impurities (cf. Ps. 66:10; Prov. 17:3; see also the discussion of 1:6–7 in chapter 3 of this volume). It may be that Peter is here drawing on his familiarity with Malachi’s prophecy:

“Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming,” says the Lord of hosts. “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap. He will sit as a smelter and purifier of silver, and He will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, so that they may present to the Lord offerings in righteousness.” (Mal. 3:1–3)

That text speaks of a purifying fire, in contrast to the consuming fire in 4:1, “ ‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,’ ” says the Lord of hosts, “ ‘so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.’ ” Evidence that Peter was thinking of Malachi’s words is strengthened by the apostle’s reference to “the household of God” (v. 17), where such purifying judgment must come. Peter is saying that the persecution is the Lord refining His temple—His people.

Such mistreatment which comes upon believers is also for their testing, proving the genuineness of their faith (cf. Job 23:10; Rom. 5:3; 2 Cor. 1:10; 2 Tim. 3:11; James 1:3–12). Suffering for righteousness’ sake not only refines, but, even before that, reveals whether people are truly believers. Jesus illustrated this truth in the parable of the soils: “Others [seeds] fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away” (Matt. 13:5–6). The Lord described a shallow, inadequate response to the proclamation of the gospel. Some did not allow the seed of the Word to penetrate the hard soil of their heart, and persecution soon revealed their response to the gospel to be nothing but a superficial, false profession (vv. 20–21).

The verb translated were happening (sumbainontos) may mean “to fall by chance” and calls for Christians to understand that experiences of unjust suffering for Christ are not accidental, but inevitable because the message of sin, salvation, and judgment offends. In addition, these incidents occur by God’s design and reveal whether professing believers’ faith is truly regenerate (cf. Job 5:17; Prov. 3:11–12; Heb. 12:5–11; Rev. 3:19).[2]


  1. Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.

As a pastor, Peter figuratively stands next to the Christians who are experiencing persecution. He tenderly addresses them with the words dear friends, which in the original means “beloved.” Peter expresses his personal love and interest in the readers of his epistle.

“Do not be surprised.” In the Greek, Peter uses the same verb as in verse 4. There he writes that the pagan world thinks it strange that Christians do not participate in their riotous living; in reaction to this refusal the unbelieving world heaps abuse on the believers. Now Peter says that Christians should not be surprised when they endure persecution. Jesus warns them that the unbelieving world hates his followers (see John 15:18–19; 17:14; and compare 1 John 3:13). Therefore, having this warning, Christians should not be astonished when they must suffer persecution.

“At the painful trial you are suffering.” Many translations have the reading fiery trial (ordeal or test). This reading comes from the Greek word which refers to the process of burning. Although the term burning can be taken in either a literal sense (see Rev. 18:9, 18) or a figurative sense (Didache 16:5), Peter indicates with the expression trial that he wishes to convey the figurative connotation to his readers. He is not so much interested in portraying the time, circumstances, and occurrences of the painful trial as he is in stressing the purpose of this trial. With an allusion to the smelter’s fire, Peter intimates that as gold is refined by fire so the believer’s faith is tested through suffering (see 1:6–7). God wants to test the genuineness of the Christian’s faith, for faith in God is “of greater worth than gold” (1:7). The believer, then, should be fully aware of God’s purpose in his life and not be surprised.

“As though something strange were happening to you.” The Christian should not question God’s providence when unexpected suffering strikes him. He should not blame God for failing to intervene in his behalf. Certainly God is in control of every situation and has the power to shield a Christian from impending suffering. However, God works out his own purposes to strengthen the believer’s faith through suffering.

Christians must understand that God wants to separate true faith from pretense and uses the instrument of suffering to accomplish his purpose. Christians should apply Jesus’ words to themselves:

“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad.” [Matt. 5:11–12a][3]


12 In what follows, the writer returns to the theme of suffering with a final admonition regarding his readers’ particular situation. Herewith he addresses them affectionately and intimately (agapētoi, GK 28) as a father figure. His concern is to adjust their perspective on suffering: “do not be surprised [xenizō, GK 3826; also in 4:5] … as though something strange were happening.” After all, the human inclination is to question the “necessity” of suffering. “Where are you, God? Why is this happening to me?” But despite the tendency to question—or rebel against—suffering, Christians are not to be “surprised” when, in the form of hostility, ostracizing, and persecution, suffering visits. Jesus himself promised as much: “If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (Jn 15:20). For this reason, John can affirm: “Do not be surprised … if the world hates you” (1 Jn 3:13). In the end, persecution will reveal whether our faith is genuine.

But even when the writer understands suffering as “normative” in the Christian life, he does not belittle its impact on the lives of Christians; suffering is very real, as suggested by the vocabulary—“suffering” (pathēmata, GK 4077), “painful trial” (pyrōsei pros peirasmon, GK 4796, 4280, lit., “a purifying by fire”). Suffering in any context is painful, and the pain endured by the readers in their present situation is very real and not to be diminished.[4]


4:12 The rest of chapter 4 contains exhortations and explanations concerning suffering incurred for the name of Christ. The word “suffering” and its derivatives are used twenty-one times in this Epistle.

The natural attitude for a Christian is to look on persecution as strange and abnormal. We are surprised when we have to suffer. But Peter tells us that we should consider it as normal Christian experience. We have no right to expect better treatment from the world than our Savior received. All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). It is especially true that those who take a forthright stand for Christ become the object of savage attack. Satan doesn’t waste his ammunition on nominal Christians. He turns his big guns on those who are storming the gates of Hades.[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 248–250). 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. 173–174). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 349). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2278). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 18 – A Helpful Mountain Guide

Therefore I urge you, imitate me.

1 Corinthians 4:16

Since all Christians are imperfect, we need the example of someone who also is imperfect but knows how to deal with imperfection. Perhaps this illustration will help. Suppose I decide to embark on a dangerous mountain–climbing expedition. A helicopter drops a leader on top of the mountain, and he looks down on me and says, “This is the top. Just climb up here—this is where you want to be.” He would not be as much help as someone climbing up the path ahead of me, saying, “Follow me. I know the way up.”

Christ shows us the goal we need to achieve, but we also need someone to model the process of reaching the goal. Only by overcoming sin can we become more like Christ, so we need to find another Christian who is also battling to overcome sin. A godly human example can show you how to deal with all of the products of our fallen flesh. Begin to search for and follow a godly guide.[1]


He Sets an Example

I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ. (4:16–17a)

Without a good example, a parent’s teaching cannot be effective. A spiritual father must set the example for his spiritual children, as Paul was careful to do. With confidence, but without bragging, he could say, be imitators of me. He not only could say, “Do as I say,” but also, “Do as I do.” The Greek term is equivalent to our word mimic (cf. Matt. 23:3).

Often the hardest place to disciple is in the home. When we disciple those outside our families, they often see us only in ideal situations, where it is easy to act spiritual and mature. But our children see us in all of our moods, in all of our attitudes and actions. They know firsthand if we are living up to what we are trying to teach them. If we are not, most of our instruction and admonition will fall on deaf ears. Even if we sincerely love them, our children are more likely to follow what we do than what we say. Having godly children is required of an elder (1 Tim. 3:4–5) in part, at least, because that is good evidence that he himself is godly. Discipling is more than teaching right principles; it is also living those principles before the ones being discipled (cf. 1 Tim. 4:12).

Paul was so successful as a discipler that he could entrust his discipling to those he had discipled. For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ. For this reason refers to the goal of making the Corinthians imitators of Paul. To accomplish that he sent Timothy. What a thought! Timothy was so like Paul that he could be sent as a Pauline model. The apostle had done such a complete work as a spiritual father to Timothy that he could send Timothy to continue discipling the Corinthians on his behalf. He was a replica. That is the epitome of raising spiritual children: being able to send them to work in our place. When we are Christlike, those we disciple will be more likely to become Christlike and be able to help others become Christlike. This obviously provides a potentially great multiplication of ministry. Paul loved Timothy and commended him as a faithful child who would bring back to mind the Christlike life pattern of Paul, because it was also his own life pattern.[2]


  1. Therefore I urge you to be imitators of me. 17. For this reason, I am sending Timothy to you, who is my dear and faithful child in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways that are in Christ Jesus, just as I teach everywhere in every church.
  2. Imitators. Paul brought the gospel to the Corinthians, witnessed their spiritual birth, taught them the Christian way of life, urged to follow Christ, and demonstrated his unwavering love for them. Now he directs them to become his imitators and adopt his personal testimony of Christ. By implication, Paul urges them to imitate Christ, who reveals himself in the gospel. Elsewhere in this epistle he writes, “Be imitators of me, just as I am of Christ” (11:1; see also Gal. 4:12; Phil. 3:17; 2 Thess. 3:7, 9). What Paul is trying to say is that one who is imitating Paul is imitating Christ.

Speaking as their spiritual father, Paul expects the Corinthians to follow his example. From the moment they are born, children are dependent on their parents for survival, care, guidance, and teaching. They copy the parents’ way of life, learn elementary truths, and adopt their basic values. Children not only physically but also spiritually reflect the likeness of their father and mother. “The closer the relationship of parent and child, the more the similarities develop.” This close relationship, of course, is founded on love. Paul demonstrates his love toward his spiritual offspring by calling them his “beloved children” (v. 14, NKJV).

Offspring. Most translators render the Greek literally: “I have sent” or “I sent,” which implies that Paul instructed Timothy to travel to Corinth. Yet we have no evidence that Timothy ever arrived in Corinth (but see 16:10–11). About this time (a.d. 55), Paul began writing the First Epistle to the Corinthians. If Timothy had been with Paul at that time, we would have expected Paul to include his name in the greetings, as in 2 Corinthians 1:1.

Other translators prefer the present tense of the verb: “I am sending.” The reasoning is that when a writer sent a letter or a messenger, he would place himself in the position of the recipients. For the recipient the act of sending occurred in the past. But from the sender’s point of view, this happened in the present.

“For this reason, I am sending Timothy to you, who is my dear and faithful child in the Lord.” Along with the letter, Paul is sending Timothy to the Corinthians. Timothy became acquainted with the faith of his grandmother Lois and his mother, Eunice (2 Tim. 1:5); we assume that he was converted when Paul and Barnabas came to Lystra and Derbe on their first missionary journey (Acts 14:8–21). When Timothy eventually accompanied Paul, he was heartily recommended by the Christians in Lystra (Acts 16:1–3) and presumably had been a believer for some time.

Paul called Timothy “my dear faithful child in the Lord,” This means that Paul considered himself Timothy’s spiritual father. As a natural father normally loves his son, so Paul deeply loved his spiritual father. As a natural father normally loves his son, so Paul deeply loved his spiritual son (1 Tim. 1:2; 2 Tim. 1:2; compare Philem. 10). And Timothy proved to be Paul’s faithful child in working for the Lord. We learn from Acts and Paul’s epistles that Timothy often completed tasks that Paul himself was hindered from doing. For example, when Paul had to leave Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea, Timothy went there to work in his place (Acts 17:15; Phil. 2:22; 1 Thess. 3:1–3, 6).

Instruction. “[Timothy] will remind you of my ways that are in Christ Jesus, just as I teach everywhere in every in every church.” As Paul’s spiritual son, Timothy must refresh the memory of Paul’s spiritual children in Corinth. He has to remind them of Paul’s Christian conduct, mentioned here as “ways that are in Christ Jesus.” These ways relate to the work Paul performed while he was with the Corinthians: teaching, preaching, counseling, shaping, nurturing, and praying. They pertain to the work Paul accomplished on behalf of Jesus Christ and the building of the church.

Paul intimates that even though he has not visited the church in Corinth for some time, let no one think that he has not been busy elsewhere. He has been teaching, chiefly in Ephesus and the province of Asia. And his teaching there is similar to what the Corinthians received some years earlier. Furthermore, Paul believes in and contends for the unity of the church of Jesus Christ (see 7:17; 14:33). There is, therefore, no place for divisions and doctrines that are contrary to the gospel.[3]


16 On the basis of vv. 14–15 Paul now feels free to “urge” or “exhort” (parakaleō, see comments at 4:13) the Corinthians to “imitate” him. Such a comment may take us aback. What pastor today would dare to stand in front of his congregation and suggest that they use him as a model for how to live a godly Christian life? Yet Paul does not hesitate to do precisely that, both here and elsewhere (cf. 11:1; Php 3:17; 4:9; 1 Th 1:6; 2 Th 3:7, 9). In a sense, of course, this is to be expected. Many of these Corinthians had just come out of paganism, and the Christian way of life is more caught than taught. So it was inevitable that these people would look to Paul, their father, as an example. Moreover, since the NT had not yet been written, believers did not have written guidelines by which to conduct their new life in Christ. Even more important, Paul felt convinced that his own life was modeled on Jesus Christ (1 Co 11:1), so that by imitating him they were ultimately using Christ as their model and example.

What specific imitation is Paul referring to here? Undoubtedly he must be thinking of his pattern of not judging himself or not taking pride in any human leaders (4:1–7). Moreover, he is probably also thinking of his willingness to suffer for the sake of Christ rather than living with a triumphalist theology (4:8–13). But insofar as Paul presents this concept of himself as an example in various contexts, he probably would extend its implications to his entire Christian life.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 155). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 117–118). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, pp. 145–147). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 297). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.