Daily Archives: May 22, 2017

May 22, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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May 22, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump landed in Israel on a groundbreaking direct flight Monday from Saudi Arabia and expanded a core theme of his Sunday speech in Riyadh: the U.S. will stand with Arab nations and Israel against the threats they all agree are posed by Iran.

North Korea conducted another ballistic missile test on Sunday, ratcheting up tensions in the region as Kim Jong Un persists with his nuclear program.

A rise in U.S. tariffs on Canadian softwood will help drive an increase in lumber exports to China and other Asian markets, Canada’s top trade official said.

Saudi Arabia signed billions of dollars of deals with U.S. companies during President Trump’s visit to Riyadh. Estimates of their total value vary from $300 billion to close to $400 billion.

China’s President Xi Jinping wasn’t trying to bully the Philippines at a recent meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the Southeast Asian nation’s top diplomat. In a speech last Friday, Duterte said Xi had threatened to go to war with the Philippines after Duterte expressed an intention to drill for oil in the disputed South China Sea.

New Zealand’s top trade official said his country wouldn’t gain much from major changes to a Pacific trade pact, highlighting obstacles to finalizing the deal without the U.S. after Malaysia called for more negotiations.

After finding common ground among India’s 29 states, the finance ministry on Friday released detailed rates for the incoming goods and services tax, slotting more than 1,200 items — from sugar to steel pipes and motorcycles — into five tax brackets between zero and 28 percent. With that done, India is almost ready to implement a tax code that unifies more than a dozen separate levies, effectively creating a single market with a population greater than the U.S., Europe, Brazil, Mexico and Japan combined.

President Donald Trump plans to propose $1.7 trillion in cuts to a category of spending that includes major social and entitlement programs for lower-income Americans, as part of an effort to balance the budget within a decade.

Battery-making gigafactories are about to arrive in Europe, challenging a lead Tesla Inc. is building at a plant in Nevada and opening the way for a quicker shift toward green power for both cars and utilities.

AP Top Stories

With an astounding voter turnout of 74%, moderate Hassan Rouhani beat hard-liner Ibrahim Raisi by nearly 8 million votes. “The Iranian nation has chosen the path of interaction with the world.”

The “totally unprovoked” murder of a young black soldier was committed by a white man who was a member of a “despicable” Facebook group, police have said.

Norway is repairing the entrance of a “doomsday” seed vault on an Arctic island after an unexpected thaw of permafrost let water into a building meant as a deep freeze to safeguard the world’s food supplies.

A fast-moving wildfire has forced several hundred campers to flee a campground south of San Diego and is threatening homes in a nearby community.

Egypt referred 48 people to the country’s military judiciary on Sunday for suspected involvement in three deadly church bombings and accused them of joining the militant group Islamic State.

The Swiss voted Sunday in favor of a massive overhaul of the country’s energy system by gradually replacing the power from its ageing nuclear reactors with renewable sources.

State lawmakers are reviving Texas’ version of a North Carolina-style transgender “bathroom bill,” moving to ensure it will at least apply to public schools by adding hotly debated language to otherwise unrelated legislation involving classroom safety.

China’s Hainan Airlines, which has poured billions of dollars into overseas acquisitions, announced plans Monday to buy 19 Boeing aircraft for $4.2 billion to help meet skyrocketing travel demand by Chinese consumers.

Authorities in Mexico City have ordered cars off the streets and warned people about exercising outdoors as sprawling metropolis chokes in its worst smog for nearly two decades.

BBC

The authorities in Nepal have destroyed more than 4,000 animal body parts in an effort to discourage illegal hunting and trading in wildlife.

Indonesian police have arrested 141 men attending what they called a “gay sex party” at a sauna in the capital Jakarta late on Sunday.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has accused opposition protesters of setting alight a government supporter in Caracas on the 50th day of protests.

A group of the “Chibok girls” freed from Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants have been reunited with their families.

More than 20 people have been injured in a small bomb blast at a military hospital in the Thai capital, Bangkok.

A major epidemic of cholera is feared in Yemen, according to charity Save the Children. Almost 250 people have died of the disease this month alone, with hundreds of suspected cases being reported every day.

WND

Facebook is refusing to delete videos and images of “violent death”, abortion and self-harm because the web giant does not want to censor its users, it has emerged.

In 1910, Christians made up 13.6 percent of the Mideast’s population. A hundred years later, in 2010, that number had declined to 4.2 percent. By 2025, Christians are expected to represent just over 3 percent of the Middle East’s population.


The Briefing 05-22-17

Breaking with predecessor, Trump confronts “crisis of Islamic extremism” in address in Saudi Arabia

Why didn’t US presidents set foot on foreign soil before 1906? History of the presidential trip abroad

A moderate Iran? How a watching world interprets the reelection of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani

Emperor or “god”? The theology behind Japanese Emperor Akihito’s pending abdication of the throne

The post The Briefing 05-22-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 5/22/2017

Saudis Rejoice Over ‘Death’ of Obama’s Policies
Israel was not the only country in the Middle East happy to see Barack Obama out of the White House. President Donald Trump’s visit to Saudi Arabia over the weekend served as a very public slap in the face of his predecessor. And it was the Saudis, not Trump, who delivered the blow.

Some On The Left Are Getting Sick Of DC Dems’ Russia Obsession
It’s not just Democratic strategists who are getting the message that voters don’t care as much about Russia as Washington media does. Some progressives and other writers are seemingly skeptical of the nefarious Russia narrative, too. Many see it as a distraction or a dodge from championing legitimate progressive causes.

US-led coalition attacks Syrian army, Iranian-backed militia
Coalition jets bomb a convoy advancing against a Pentagon-backed rebel group in southern Syria; the US intervention will help the rebels hold their ground against any future incursions by the Syrian army and its Iranian-backed militias.

Jewish Mystics Hope Trump’s Israel Visit Might ‘Raise The Temple’
Donald Trump’s transformation from real estate mogul and reality TV star to president reads like a strange American fairytale. Dogged by controversy, with no political experience, Trump is now the most powerful person in the world. To some, his triumph was so unlikely that there was only one way to explain in — God played a part. “President Trump can choose to be a part of a process to bring the Messiah,” Rabbi Hillel Weiss told Breaking Israel News, a religious website in Israel.

Bennett’s mid-handshake message to Trump: Recognize Jerusalem
While most cabinet members made do with a simple “Hello, Mr. President”, “Welcome to Israel”, or other pleasantries, Bennett took the opportunity to make a personal, if brief, appeal to the president to make good on his 2016 campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as the united capital of Israel. “Welcome to Israel. It’s Jerusalem’s birthday, you know – 50 years,” Bennett told the president. “This is the time to recognize Jerusalem.”

Report: China cripples CIA operations, kills informants
The Chinese government “systematically dismantled” CIA spying operations in China starting in late 2010 and killed or imprisoned at least a dozen CIA sources over the next two years, The New York Times reported Saturday. The newspaper cited 10 current and former U.S. officials, who described the intelligence breach as one of the worst in decades. They spoke on condition of anonymity.

‘We love Israel, we respect Israel, we are with you’
President Donald Trump calls Israel ‘one of the world’s great civilizations, pledges American support for the Jewish state.

‘Senators united on reining in the UN’
And while the Republicans and Democrats might fight about a lot of things, what we are 100% united on – which means we have a hundred senators in the United States Senate who are committed to reining in the United Nations and the abuses that we have seen there.

Trump, Israeli leaders boast of ‘unbreakable bond’ upon president’s arrival
US President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump arrived at Ben-Gurion Airport on Monday, where they were greeted by President Reuven Rivlin and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. After Trump and Rivlin reviewed the Honor Guard, Trump’s welcome ceremony began. Rivlin spoke first, lauding the American leader’s trip as a symbol of the “unbreakable bond between Israel and America.”…Trump reaffirmed the “unbreakable bond between Israel and the State of Israel”…

Switzerland votes to phase out nuclear power
Switzerland has voted to phase out nuclear power in favour of renewable energy. More than 58% backed the move towards greener power sources in a referendum on Sunday. Switzerland has five ageing nuclear power plants, which provide a third of the country’s energy needs. There is no date yet to decommission the facilities, but the country will now aim to increase reliance on sources like solar, wind and hydro power.

Syria conflict: Government regains full control of Homs
The Syrian government says its forces have regained total control of the central city of Homs after rebels left the last district under their control. About 700 rebels and their families, a total of nearly 3,000 people, were evacuated on buses from al-Wair district, government officials say. “The city of Homs is completely clear of weapons and militants,” provincial governor Talal Barazi said.

Revealed: Facebook’s internal rulebook on sex, terrorism and violence
Facebook’s secret rules and guidelines for deciding what its 2 billion users can post on the site are revealed for the first time in a Guardian investigation that will fuel the global debate about the role and ethics of the social media giant. The Guardian has seen more than 100 internal training manuals, spreadsheets and flowcharts that give unprecedented insight into the blueprints Facebook has used to moderate issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm.

Isis tests chemical weapons
Isis are conducting chemical weapons experiments on “human guinea pigs” before launching attacks on Western targets, according to secret documents. The extremist group has reportedly poisoned prisoners by spiking their food and water with compounds used in pesticides that are easy to obtain. Security forces now fear the terror network may hatch a twisted plot to contaminate Western food supplies with formulas that quickly dissolve in liquid.

North Korea fires off ‘unspecified missile’ into Sea of Japan as South condemns “irresponsible and reckless behaviour”
North Korea has fired an ‘unspecified missile’ in a latest act of aggression, according to military sources. A South Korean news agency are claiming that the projectile took off from a location near Pukchang. However, NHK News, a Japanese new agency, claims the missile ‘fell into the Sea of Japan’. South Korea’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the projectile was launched on Sunday afternoon (local time).

Iran accuses U.S. of ‘Iranophobia’, arming ‘dangerous terrorists’
Iran accused the United States on Monday of selling arms to “dangerous terrorists” in the Middle East and of spreading “Iranophobia” aimed at encouraging Arab states to purchase arms, state television reported. “Once again, by his repetitive and baseless claims about Iran, the American president … tried to encourage the countries of the region to purchase more arms by spreading Iranophobia,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said…

Disagreements surface over China-backed trade deal
Disagreements between Asian countries over a China-backed free trade deal surfaced at talks on Monday, raising questions over a target for concluding negotiations by the end of the year. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) would create a free trade area of more than 3.5 billion people, bringing together China, India, Japan, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand as well as Southeast Asian nations.

Three sentenced to death over Hamas commander assassination
A court in the Gaza Strip on Sunday sentenced three men to death over the assassination of a Hamas military commander that the Islamist movement accused Israel of masterminding.

CNN Reports Comey’s 86-Year-Old Dad Thinks Trump’s A Nut Job Too, So There
“Jim tells the truth, (while) Trump runs around lying most of the day…I think the man should be in a home quite honestly, he’s crazy as a hoot.”

Angela Merkel declares “Islam is not the source of terrorism” but the Christians who make Muslims feel angry because of “Islamophobia”
Angela Merkel’s speech that shocked the German people “Europe must take MORE Muslim refugees, ISLAM is a peaceful religion”.

Bill Introduced Allowing Cancellation Of Over $1 Trillion In Student Debt Through Bankruptcy
And since the government owns most of the student loans, it would basically be yet another taxpayers bailout for those who loaded up on debt and now are unable to repay it. Meanwhile, if massive amounts of debt were erased, it would be another bubble bursting, which would send the U.S. into a fresh round of economic instability.

Obama Holdouts In Trump Administration Hiding Hillary Emails
Judicial Watch’s President Tom Fitton is astounded: The Trump officials he finds working on Freedom of Information cases he files are still, typically, Obama holdovers.

The Obama Administration Repeatedly Leaked Intel To Spite Israel
Much of the media’s attention this week has been dedicated to fanning the flames on an anonymously sourced report that President Trump revealed national security secrets to Russian officials during  a meeting at the White House earlier this month….let’s take a minute to remember all the times the Obama administration leaked secrets in order to spurn Israel, a longtime ally.

What If I Don’t Feel Forgiven?

“There is an important difference between guilt and guilt feelings. The distinction is between that which is objective and that which is subjective.”

Do I Need to Confess Every Sin to Be Forgiven?

There is a difference between failing to confess a sin and refusing to confess a sin.

What Is a Tarnation? (Video)

“We have the word ‘tarnation’ thanks to societal taboos against saying certain words–instead substituting in other words that often mean the exact same thing, but for some reason we find it acceptable to say the one rather than the other…”

The Pastor Must Fall On His Sword Before He Wields It

“You think of a pastor and a Bible, and you think of a book. But maybe our imaginations ought first to run to a different image: a pastor carrying around a sword. This is the pastor’s weapon.”

Eliminating Spiritual Toxins

There are Christians who “carefully guard their spiritual diet but make no effort to avoid or eliminate sinful, spiritual toxins from their lives. Faithfully studying God’s Word is vital to our growth, but it’s not the only factor. We need to recognize sinful attitudes and motivations as carcinogens that can wreak havoc in our spiritual lives.”

Should I Send or Should I Go?

“Whenever missionaries speak at our church my heart leaps in my chest. Their PowerPoint slides get my spiritual adrenaline pumping. There is something undeniably compelling about the thought of being on the front lines of the Great Commission. And yet, the reality is that we cannot all go. Some need to stay in order to send.”

An Elephant-Sized Problem

“Identifying animals is much harder than you might think. Indeed, it touches on one of the most fundamental questions of biology. This difficulty actually has a name: “the species problem.’”

Flashback: 5 Ways Every Christian Grows

Here are five things that are true of fruit trees and, therefore, true of the fruit of the Spirit.

Mid-Day Snapshot

May 22, 2017

Trump Impresses and Presses in Speech to Top Muslim Leaders

“This region should not be a place from which refugees flee,” the president said, “but to which newcomers flock.”

The Foundation

“I want an American character, that the powers of Europe may be convinced we act for ourselves and not for others; this, in my judgment, is the only way to be respected abroad and happy at home.” —George Washington (1795)

The Tens Of Millions Of Forgotten Americans That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount.  As you will see below, nearly half the country would be unable “to cover an unexpected $400 expense”, and about two-thirds of the population lives paycheck to paycheck at least part of the time.  Of course the economy has not been doing that well overall in recent years.  Barack Obama was the only president in all of U.S. history not to have a single year when the economy grew by at least 3 percent, and U.S. GDP growth during the first quarter of 2017 was an anemic 0.7 percent.  During the Obama era, it is true that wealthy enclaves in New York, northern California and Washington D.C. did thrive, but meanwhile most of the rest of the country has been left behind. (Read More…)


CA Dem Chair: ‘All Together Now: F*ck Donald Trump!’ as Crowd Holds Up Two Middle Fingers (VIDEO)

The Democrats appear to have lost their minds.

They believe the propaganda while creating it. It’s a big government snake eating its own tail.

Consider if the chair of the Texas GOP got up in front of the state convention and got the crowd to chant “F–k Barack Obama!” The media would have flipped out. But, because the old media is on board, very little will be heard of this. A 1 day story at best.

Read More


95% of Fed Gov Employees who gave gave to Clinton, Department of Justice 97%, State Department 99% (This is the deep state and they are comfy – right now)

Image: The Hill

(From FOX News)

The constant, anonymous leaks from disgruntled federal bureaucrats aim to provide ammunition for the propaganda news media to press the attack.

The Left’s dance of destruction is stunningly choreographed.

I have been overseas for the last three days, and it has been sickening to see so many foreigners terrified because they unknowingly believe the news media’s false reports and vicious attacks. The only version of President Trump they know is the one portrayed in the 24-hour cesspool of CNN and the daily acrimony of the New York Times.

Read More


The Growing Civil War in America

By Bill Wilson

While these remarks seem incredulous, they are indicative of a growing civil war fomented by Marxists (progressives and liberals) to overthrow America.

View Article


A Guide to Understanding the Trump-Saudi Deal – Joseph Farah

Exclusive: Joseph Farah answers America’s pressing questions in wake of big agreement

Question: Why did the Saudis treat President Trump so graciously?

Answer: They’re scared. Even though the Saudis are as responsible as any party for radicalizing Sunni Islam, they did so believing it would make them safe.

View Article


Pastor Robert Jeffress: Trump Has Done More to Reach Out to Evangelicals

In an interview with The Christian Post, Jeffress, who is a member of Trump’s Evangelical Advisory Board, argued that the Trump campaign and administration has an unprecedented evangelical outreach.

“There’s been no American president in history who has reached out to evangelicals to the extent that President Trump has done,” said Jeffress.

View Article


Mark Steyn: Congressional Republicans ‘Sending a Dangerous Message’ Saying ‘Elections Don’t Matter’

Friday on Fox Business Network’s “Varney & Co.,” conservative commentator Mark Steyn opined on the “dysfunctional” state of the federal government. By not taking action that reflected the sentiment of the voter, Steyn said congressional Republicans were sending a dangerous message.

View Article


Facebook Founder Calls For Creation Of New World Order ‘Global Superstructure’ To Control Humanity

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg stated his belief that the world is in need of a ‘global superstructure’ in a recent article from the New York Times Magazine.

“But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” Daniel 12:4 (KJV)

We have gotten to used to communicating on Facebook that we no longer see it for the prophetical fulfillment it truly is. As of this writing, Facebook has 1,860,000,000 daily users posting and reading content around the globe, and is growing at a rate of 17% each year. Is short, it is the single greatest communication device ever conceived by mankind, second only to the Internet itself.

In an article titled “Can Facebook Fix It’s Own Worst Bug?” author Farhad Manjoo poses the question, “Mark Zuckerberg now acknowledges the dangerous side of the social revolution he helped start. But is the most powerful tool for connection in human history capable of adapting to the world it created?”

Facebook and Oculus Want Your Head and Hands in Virtual Space

Zuckerberg highlighted Facebook’s “safety check” feature which allows users to publicly acknowledge that they’re safe during dangerous events. Zuckerberg later expanded on this, describing a “global superstructure to advance humanity.” Zuckerberg stated, “we’re getting to a point where the biggest opportunities I think in the world … problems like preventing pandemics from spreading or ending terrorism, all these things, they require a level of coordination and connection that I don’t think can only be solved by the current systems that we have.”

The author of the article states, “What’s needed, he argues, is some global superstructure to advance humanity.”

The prophet Daniel states that “knowledge will increase” in the end times, and people will “run to and fro”. In Facebook, nearly one-third of all humanity “visit” with each other every day. Without leaving your computer,  you can virtually travel to and spend time with anyone on your friends list. You can see their photos, watch their videos, and then tap to open Messenger and call them all without ever leaving Facebook. Soon, Virtual Reality devices developed by Facebook will let you interact in 3-D.

And now the person that created the single-largest communication device in human history is calling for a One World Government. Living in the end times is a lot like living in a city with a lot of smog. When I lived in Los Angeles, I could not see the smog no matter how thick it got because I was in the middle of it. But on my way back from the beach, and viewing LA from a distance, I could clearly see the ring of smog choking the city.

And so it is with Bible prophecy. Viewed from a distance you have clarity, but when you live in a time where it’s being fulfilled it is much harder to discern what’s happening. But God’s people know what’s going on.

“Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (KJV)


Piers Morgan Stirs Controversy for Asking ‘Non-Binary’ Couple If He Could Identify as Black Woman, Elephant

Christian News reports:

Talk show host Piers Morgan is under fire for asking a couple who say they identify neither as male or female if he could identify as a black woman or an elephant.

“Can I be an elephant? Can I literally say I’m now an elephant and do I get afforded elephant rights?” he inquired on Friday’s broadcast of “Good Morning Britain.” “Can I go to London Zoo and demand to be put in an elephant compound because I have decided I’m an elephant?”

During the conversation with the couple who go by the names “Fox and Owl,” Fox explained that she was born a female, but later decided to present herself as male, and now doesn’t want to self-identify as either sex. She said that while her “gender expression” is male, her “gender identity” is non-binary.

View article →


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 22

  • Trump Arrives in Israel, May Show His Cards on the Peace Process (Read More)
  • Taxes, Budget Are Focus for White House Despite Probes (Read More)
  • Paul Manafort’s Lucrative Ukraine Years Are Central to the Russia Probe (Read More)
  • Ford set to fire CEO Mark Fields as shares founder (Read More)
  • Producers Set to Extend Cuts as Rally Stalls: OPEC Reality Check (Read More)
  • Times Square Driver Says He Tried to Get Mental Help (Read More)
  • America’s Cities Are Running Out of Room (Read More)
  • Here’s Why the Fed Will Stay Central to Markets (Read More)
  • Commodity Traders Have a Really Big Problem (Read More)
  • The Quants Run Wall Street Now (Read More)
  • Huntsman, Clariant Agree to Merge, Creating $14 Billion Chemicals Giant  (Read More)
  • EU Discusses Brexit Position as U.K. Threatens to Quit Talks (Read More)
  • British PM May’s election lead halves after ‘dementia tax’: surveys (Read More)
  • Solar-Energy Giant Manipulated Sales Data, Say Former Managers (Read More)
  • Trump to Propose Deep Cuts to Anti-Poverty Programs and Medicaid (Read More)
  • Venezuela holds 5,000 Russian surface-to-air MANPADS missiles (Read More)
  • Seth Klarman Scores Preakness Win (Read More)
  • Bomb Injures Dozens at Bangkok Army Hospital on Coup Anniversary (Read More)
  • Why Millennials Are (Partly) to Blame for the Housing Shortage (Read More)
  • Ghost of the 1997 Crisis Stalks Hong Kong’s Economy (Read More)
  • China Seeks More Private Money for Its Massive State-Owned Energy Companies (Read More)
  • Move Over Tesla, Europe’s Building Its Own Battery Gigafactories (Read More)
  • Hackers hit Russian bank customers, planned international cyber raids (Read More)
  • Hospitals around the country are scrambling to stockpile vials of a critical drug (Read More)

Top Headlines – 5/22/2017

Jerusalem jubilee festivities begin

Netanyahu celebrates 50 years since the liberation of Jerusalem: ‘We did not conquer – we liberated’

Western Wall will always be Israeli, PM says ahead of Trump visit

Netanyahu cancels party leaders meeting after discovering not all of them will attend Trump’s welcome ceremony

Netanyahu orders reluctant Israeli ministers to greet Trump at airport

Netanyahu: ‘I’ll talk security and peace with Trump’

Next stop for Trump is Israel, in pursuit of ‘ultimate deal’

Pollard to Netanyahu: Don’t forget me in talks with Trump

Ex-Arab League chief: Only settlement freeze can thaw ties with Israel

Ministers okay economic package for Palestinians ahead of Trump visit

Goodwill gestures to Palestinians came at Trump’s request, says PMO

Israelis worry Trump’s changing stands look more and more like Obama’s

A weakened president on an impossible mission

Egyptian president: Trump ‘capable of the impossible’

‘How can it hurt?’ Why Israel says it’s not worried by Trump’s huge Saudi arms deal

Ignoring Israel, Trump misses chance to push for peace where it counts

Israel, barely mentioned by Trump, can only hope his focus on tackling terror yields results

Gaza-Hamas rejects Trump’s description of the group as a terror organization, says it shows his ‘complete bias’ towards Israel

US, Gulf States, sign deal to end financing for terror

Contradictions add up during Trump’s Saudi visit

Trump says fight against terrorism is not a battle between different faiths, but between ‘good and evil.’

Trump Softens Tone on Islam but Calls for Purge of ‘Foot Soldiers of Evil’

Trump says US seeks ‘coalition of nations’ in Middle East with aim of ‘stamping out extremism’

Trump visits new Saudi terrorism-monitoring center

Gen. Keane: Trump Creating ‘Framework of an Arab NATO’ to Combat Terror

Donald Trump should worry about another 9/11 rather than making claims about Iran, says Tehran

Saudi king says Iran at forefront of global terrorism

Trump says Syria’s Assad has committed ‘unspeakable crimes’ with Iran’s support

Suicide attack in Syria’s insurgent stronghold kills 5

Erdogan extends Turkey’s state of emergency

Erdogan Says He Will Extend His Sweeping Rule Over Turkey

Taliban attacks kill at least 25 Afghan police

North Korea confirms ‘successful’ new ballistic missile test

North Korea missile passes re-entry test in breakthrough for nuclear programme

Tillerson calls North Korea nuclear testing ‘disappointing, disturbing’

The cyber warfare cell that worries the West – North Korea’s Unit 180

Killing C.I.A. Informants, China Crippled U.S. Spying Operations

Sen. McCain Softens ‘Watergate’ Statement on Trump Administration Turmoil

Republicans fearing for their safety as anger, threats mount

Notre Dame graduates walk out on Pence as he touts free speech

Facebook will not delete videos of violent death, abortion and self-harm, leaked guidelines show

TPP trade deal will continue without Trump

Dollar hovers near 6-month lows amid U.S. political uncertainty

New Zealand space launch has nation reaching for the stars

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Taron, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Mid-Indian Ridge

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 23,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 13,000ft

Sixth year anniversary of deadly Joplin, Missouri tornado

Record-breaking heat poised to bake the West Coast

Ebola Virus in DR Congo: CDC Not Ready to Issue Travel Advisory

Cholera outbreak spreading at ‘unprecedented’ speed kills 315 in Yemen

Texas revives transgender ‘bathroom bill’ for public schools

Here We Go Again! – Trump becomes first president to pray at Western Wall

Selling the Apocalypse – The Second Coming Of Televangelist Jim Bakker

Morris Cerullo Previews Legacy International Center to Area Pastors

Word of Faith Fellowship leader tries to get case moved out of Rutherford County

HB Charles Will Be First Black SBC Pastors’ Conference President in 172 Years

Boy Scouts, church leaders accused of covering up admitted rapist for decades

A Secular Biography of George Washington – Washington was not an outspoken devout Christian but wasn’t a secular stoic either. 

Churches, Synagogues Openly Defy Trump’s Immigration Crackdown

Pro-Life Doctor Purchased an Abortion Clinic and Kicked Out the Abortion Doctor

Students Demand Apology Over Superintendent’s Christian Speech, Prayer at Graduation

Houston Area Pastor and Family Attacked, Beaten. Home Invader Shot & Killed by Son in Law

Australian Christian Group ‘Threatened, Harassed’ by Homosexual Activists

Christian Pastor’s Home, Church Burned Down in Southern India

North Korea now ready to ‘Mass Produce’ War-Ready Nukes which can strike US targets

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:57 AM PDT

North Korea boasts it’s now ready to deploy and start mass-producing new medium-range nuclear missiles capable of reaching Japan and major US military bases.  The…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Distant Star In Space Begins Flashing Again Leaving Scientists Baffled

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:52 AM PDT

A Distant star has begun exhibiting the same strange behavior which led astronomers to suggest an “alien megastructure” is orbiting it.  Tabby’s Star first attracted…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump: ‘We love Israel, we respect Israel, we are with you’

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:41 AM PDT

Air Force One touched down at Ben Gurion Airport Monday afternoon, marking the beginning of President Donald Trump’s first state visit to Israel.  The president…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Is the American Church Vulnerable to Fake Revival?

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:37 AM PDT

(By Eddie Hyatt) There have been great revivals without great preaching. There have been great revivals without great singing. But there has never been a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

800 Churches and Synagogues Defy Immigration Crackdown…

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:33 AM PDT

There is a peaceful rebellion growing against federal immigration law and the interpretation of that law by the Trump administration. More than 800 houses of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘World’s first Robocop’ hits the streets…

Posted: 22 May 2017 05:30 AM PDT

The “world’s first operational Robocop” has been unveiled in Dubai as part of the emirate’s planned robot police force. Robocop started work on Sunday and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Exotic Animals Could Go Extinct Within Months.

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:41 PM PDT

Some of the world’s most exotic animals could be extinct within months, conservationists have warned, with future generations growing up in a world without many…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian Pastor’s Home, Church Burned Down in Southern India

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:31 PM PDT

Hindu nationalists in southern India burned down a church and the home of its pastor after some high “caste” Hindus converted to Christianity and joined…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Tens Of Millions Of Forgotten Americans That The U.S. Economy Has Left Behind

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:23 PM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) The evidence that the middle class in America is dying continues to mount.  As you will see below, nearly half the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Evidence Reveals ISIS Performed ‘Nazi-style’ Experiments

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:19 PM PDT

ISIS has tested deadly poisons on prisoners in Nazi-style experiments in a bid to develop chemical weapons which could be used to contaminate Britain’s food…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Comey now believes that Trump tried to influence his judgment about the Russia probe

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:11 PM PDT

Former FBI Director James Comey now believes that President Donald Trump was trying to influence his judgment about the Russia probe, a person familiar with…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Next Stop For Trump Is Israel, In Pursuit Of ‘ULTIMATE DEAL’

Posted: 21 May 2017 05:00 PM PDT

President Donald Trump has cast the elusive pursuit of peace between Israelis and Palestinians as the “ultimate deal.” But he will step foot in Israel…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: Kim Jong-Un Approves Deployment of New Missile for Action

Posted: 21 May 2017 04:54 PM PDT

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has approved the deployment of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile for combat use as the country succeeded in test-firing it,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Chris Pratt Just Took a Very Public Stand for the Bible

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:49 PM PDT

A superstar on and off the big screen known for freely sharing his love for Jesus Christ, Chris Pratt took a very public stand for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

ALERT: Palestinian Factions Call For ‘Day Of Rage’ During Trump Visit

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:36 PM PDT

Palestinian factions in the West Bank are calling for “A Day of Rage” to coincide with US President Donald Trump’s visit to Bethlehem on Tuesday,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Scientists Report Largest Wave Ever Recorded in the Southern Ocean – Higher Waves Could Follow

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:26 PM PDT

A giant wave south of New Zealand earlier this weekend was the biggest ever recorded by a buoy in the Southern Hemisphere – and scientists…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Ongoing Earthquake swarm continues shaking near Bremerton

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:20 PM PDT

Scientists say hundreds of tiny earthquakes have rumbled through the Bremerton area since the start of May— most too weak for humans to feel.  How…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Twitter co-founder apologizes for helping elect Trump

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:07 PM PDT

The co-founder of Twitter apologized Saturday for the social media platform’s role in Donald Trump’s rise to the White House.  In an interview with the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

HOUSE DIVIDED: New Barna Study Examines Which Christians Fight Online

Posted: 21 May 2017 01:02 PM PDT

Verbal fights on the Internet are common, be it comment sections or social media posts. Do Christians also fight online? Does one denomination argue more…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Are Trump’s Promises to Israel Foretold in the Bible?

Posted: 21 May 2017 10:31 AM PDT

(By Tzippe Barrow) Donald and Melania Trump’s first stop on their premier international tour benefitted royalty. That’s how it was planned and that’s how it’s being…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump pulled into Saudi Arabia and Iran conflict that could cause World War 3

Posted: 21 May 2017 10:22 AM PDT

Donald Trump has been sucked into the murky, hate-fuelled tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran as the threat of World War Three igniting in the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea missile passes re-entry test in breakthrough for nuclear program

Posted: 21 May 2017 10:12 AM PDT

The ballistic missile launched by North Korea on May 14 successfully re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere, according to analysts, a significant breakthrough for Pyongyang’s missile program.  Defence…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Trump Says Mideast Peace Possible When All 3 Religions Unite

Posted: 21 May 2017 10:06 AM PDT

While the President of the United States, Donald Trump was delivering his speech in Saudi Arabia he emphasized, In order for Mideast Peace to be…

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?


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Watching Your Spiritual Diet

According to Bible expositor Dr. John MacArthur, although Christians are supposed to be growing in Christlikeness, many are not. So Dr. MacArthur lays out the ways in which the believer can eat right and grow spiritually. He writes:

Most of us have known people whose bodies have not grown or matured properly. It’s sad to encounter people with cognitive handicaps, brain damage, or other developmental obstacles that have hindered their growth. Many of them remain locked in a child-like state—others tragically don’t progress even that far.

In a similar way, some Christians remain locked in a perpetual state of spiritual infancy. However, unlike those suffering with mental handicaps, Christians struggling with arrested spiritual development have no one to blame but themselves.

View article →

Eliminating Spiritual Toxins

1 Peter 2:1-3

Code: B170522

Consider a person who exercises fastidiously and holds to a strict diet but also abuses alcohol and drugs. That kind of schizophrenic behavior would raise a lot of questions, and rightly so.

The same goes for Christians who carefully guard their spiritual diet but make no effort to avoid or eliminate sinful, spiritual toxins from their lives. Faithfully studying God’s Word is vital to our growth, but it’s not the only factor. We need to recognize sinful attitudes and motivations as carcinogens that can wreak havoc in our spiritual lives.

Right now, these sinful toxins could be poisoning your life, eating away at your usefulness, and causing all sorts of decay and destruction. Peter recognized the threat these sins pose to our spiritual health and commanded his readers to “[put] aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander” (1 Peter 2:1).

The King James translation of 1 Peter 2:1 tells us to “lay aside” all of these negative things. The Greek word used here actually means to “strip off your clothes.” It’s the same thing that is meant in Hebrews 12:1 where we are told to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.” Peter highlights five specific toxins we should strip out of our lives for the sake of our spiritual health: malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, slander.

Strip out the malice. In biblical times, malice meant “wickedness” or “heathen evil”—the characteristic evil of the world surrounding the young Christian church. Peter doesn’t advise laying aside some malice; he wants all of it gone. Today’s Christians are no different than those in the first century. Many of us like to play at Christianity while dabbling in worldly practices. But there is no place in the Christian’s life for the garbage of the world.

A young man once approached a great Bible teacher and said to him, “Sir, I’d give the world to know the Bible as you do.” The teacher looked him in the eye and said, “And that’s exactly what it will cost you!” If we want to grow and develop as Christians, we need to examine ourselves and identify those worldly remnants and scraps that we are hanging on to.

Strip out the deceit. Peter also instructs us that all deceit (or guile) has to be jettisoned from our lives. Impure motives lie at the root of deceit and this always leads to the conscious deception of others. But deceit never offers any long-term payoff—it’s always exposed eventually.

This is a hard lesson to teach children. I used to tell my own children, “It’s really a lot more expensive to lie, because every time I catch you in a lie you are going to be punished much more severely than if you told me the truth.” I had to prove this on occasion, and it was always a hard lesson for everyone—for me to teach and for them to learn—but it was worth it.

Strip out the hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is a natural outgrowth of deceitfulness. Non-Christians always like to point out that the church is full of hypocrites, and unfortunately they are right.

Christians sometimes reply to this charge by rightly observing that the church—where people can hear the gospel and be taught the Bible in the right way—is the best place for hypocrites to be. Nonetheless, as Peter plainly shows us, we can’t be content with that as the status quo. Hypocrisy, once uncovered, needs to be repented of. There is no place for it in the life of a sincere Christian. If the believer glibly excuses his hypocrisy, he is taking advantage of God’s grace and is a bigger hypocrite than ever.

Strip out the envy. Reduced to its basic components, envy is simply self-centeredness. Envy is always the last thing to die, because it only dies when the self dies. But as most Christians know, the self is hard to kill.

How many churches have been wrecked, how many missionary organizations have been riddled with dissension, how many families have been destroyed—all by envy? In his letter, James joins with Peter in warning Christians about the demonic influence of envy:

But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. (James 3:14–16)

Strip out the slander. Simply stated, Peter is telling us to quit gossiping. Gossip just might be the most attractive sin for Christians. We may nod vigorously when the preacher warns about it from the pulpit, but on the way home or even while walking to the car we engage in it in any number of ways. We are very clever, of course, to mask it behind words like, “I’m so concerned about Mary” or “Can you fill me in a little so I can pray about it?” Far too much gossip goes on under the guise of prayer and feigned piety.

It is worthwhile to note how all of these five sins are interconnected. Malice (worldliness) inevitably fans the flames of deceit or guile. And deceit and guile lead to hypocrisy, which produces the envy. And the fruit of envy often leads to evil speaking—slanderous gossip.

As deadly as these toxins are, we still gravitate to them. In order to break their hold on our lives, we must develop a taste for what Peter calls the milk of God’s Word. He says, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord” (1 Peter 2:2–3). Peter is telling his readers they have tasted God’s grace by taking that first step into salvation. The imperishable seed has sprouted and now they need to feed the new life they have within. For the new Christian especially, God’s Word is like milk. Milk is crucial to the growth of any baby and God’s Word is crucial to the growth of the new Christian.

Paul had the same idea when he wrote to the Christians at Thessalonica and said, “But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children” (1 Thessalonians 2:7, NKJV). Paul passed on the same idea to Timothy, encouraging him to stand fast in the face of apostasy. He reminded Timothy that, if he is faithful in instructing the brethren in the truth of God’s Word, “You will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed” (1 Timothy 4:6, NKJV).

As important as milk is, however, the human body needs other foods to gain all its proper nutrition. While some Christians are doing pretty well with laying off spiritual junk food, they are perhaps too content with a weekly bottle fed to them by their preacher. They are failing to get into the Word of God for themselves where they can chew on more solid food.

True spiritual nourishment for the believer is God’s Word. However, as Paul told the Corinthians, there is more to God’s Word than just milk (see 1 Corinthians 3:1–2). The milk provides a good start for our spiritual growth but we must also desire meat, the rich spiritual truths that God wants us to have if we are to truly change and become what He wants us to be.

(Adapted from Why Believe the Bible.)

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170522
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Bible Q&A: Do I Need to Confess Every Sin to Be Forgiven?

Question: Pastor Smith made a statement that “God only forgives the sins that we confess.” My question is in regard to the inference that the sins we do not confess are unforgiven. The problem I see is that we are all in trouble because no one can remember all of their sins to confess.

Answer: This really is a good question! And the original quote is from Dr. Alan Redpath: “God has not promised to forgive one sin that you are not willing to forsake.” And you’re absolutely correct: If we had to confess every single sin in order to be forgiven, that would be an unbearable burden!

The key words in the Redpath quote are “not willing.” The question is not, “Have you really confessed all your sins?” The question is, “Are you holding onto a sin, and refusing to turn from it?” These are two very different things.

The first is an issue of remembering all your sins; the second is the issue of a willful refusal to turn from sin. Pastor Colin (and Redpath) was, in fact, saying that God has not promised to forgive our willful refusal to turn from sin.

This is an important distinction because our forgiveness does not depend in any way on our performance in the Christian life. Our forgiveness depends entirely on the finished work of Christ in his perfect life and atoning death on the cross. The question that is being raised here with the Redpath quote is, “Do you have an authentic Christian life? Is the Spirit of God at work in your life?” The authentic Christian willingly turns from sin.

I pray that this explanation would be clarifying and helpful, leading you to find rest in the finished work of Christ.

Pastor Tim

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The post Bible Q&A: Do I Need to Confess Every Sin to Be Forgiven? appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

Assurance

John Calvin’s emphasis was upon certainty. He abhorred the way in which Romanism kept people wondering whether or not they were saved. In his Defense of the Reformed faith, p. 256; Eerdmans, Grand Rapids (1958), he wrote:

Thus nothing is left but constant disquietude, and slow torture, and perplexing doubts, which will wear out the soul not less effectively than open murder.

In speaking of Roman confession, he also said,

The Apostles did not discharge their office of binding and loosing by hearing Confessions, but by preaching the gospel . . . And the reason why they strongly urge Confession is, because they wish to make the world obsequious to them, and to hold it in subjection . . . yet to color Confession, and hold it forth as a thing necessary to salvation, is neither expedient nor lawful. Conscience cannot be squeezed by the chains of such laws, without being strangled. (Ibid., p. 257, 258).

He was concerned about poor, wretched people, deluded by the traditions of men, who were enslaved to a system purporting to be Christian, but in reality, anything but.

There is salvation neither in works of penitence, nor in any other ceremony or human action. Salvation—with the assurance it brings—is in Christ alone. It is because by His death and resurrection He satisfied God once for all, that those who believe can have assurance of salvation. In what are you trusting—that which brings certainty or that which brings confusion and terror?

Source: Assurance

CultureWatch: Are You Wasting Your Life?

This may be one of the most important questions any Christian can ask of himself or herself. Of course we don’t usually think in those terms. We assume that God is fully pleased with all that we do, and that the life we live – so very much like everyone else around us – is just fine.

And that is a big part of the problem: we compare ourselves with one another, and so our expectations are all rather low, our desires are not so great, and our zeal is only half-hearted. We are just living the normal Christian life found in so much of the West.

It seems like an OK life. We have not murdered anyone. We may not have engaged in adultery. We are not stealing stuff or lying about things – at least not too much. We have a respectable sort of a Christian life in other words. But of course we are not exactly doing anything extraordinary either.

wasted life 2We may go to church once a week. We may read from the Bible a few minutes every day. We may pray now and then, especially when we get in a tough spot. But that is about it. Our lives are otherwise really indistinguishable from any non-Christian.

We simply do the normal routine: we go to work five days a week. We try to earn a lot of money in order to live a comfortable life. We seek to be as well off as our neighbour at least. And all of these things are OK. They may not be evil in themselves. But for most believers, that is the extent of most Christians’ lives.

The real trouble is, therefore, that most folks won’t know that they have wasted their life until it is all over. They have gone through all the right and acceptable motions for decades on end. Nothing exceptional. Nothing fancy. Just a normal life, with a normal job, and normal expenditures in time, effort and money.

But then when we stand before the living God, and see the nail-pierced hands of our Saviour extended toward us, we will instantly come to see that most of our life was a complete waste. We really did nothing for Christ and the Kingdom.

We never really shared our faith with anyone. We never led anyone to the Lord. We never agonised in heartfelt prayer for the lost. We never groaned in grief over the flood of wickedness engulfing our lands. We never really cared about the major disrepair and dysfunction of the church.

Just this morning I read in Nehemiah and saw again how different his life and his attitude was to that of me and most Christians. Consider the first four verses of chapter one:

The words of Nehemiah son of Hakaliah. In the month of Kislev in the twentieth year, while I was in the citadel of Susa, Hanani, one of my brothers, came from Judah with some other men, and I questioned them about the Jewish remnant that had survived the exile, and also about Jerusalem. They said to me, “Those who survived the exile and are back in the province are in great trouble and disgrace. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been burned with fire.” When I heard these things, I sat down and wept. For some days I mourned and fasted and prayed before the God of heaven.

Can I suggest that the church today is really no better than what Jerusalem was like back then? The walls are broken down and the place is in a real mess. Yet we don’t really seem to care. We sure do not react like Nehemiah did with weeping, with fasting, with prayers, for days on end.

Our ‘normal Christian life’ knows nothing of such a crushed heart and grieved spirit. And how could it be? We are just so busy with “good” things. Again, they are not evil in themselves. But they have become gods in our lives. Especially older Christians who go into retirement mode can fall prey to this.

While a few retirees may use those sunset years to go help out on the mission field and the like, most will just live fully for themselves. And there are plenty of good things they can involve themselves in, be it travel around the world, or collections of various kinds, whether collecting expensive cars, butterflies, or antique clocks.

They might get into hobbies such as four-wheel drives, or photography, or visiting fine restaurants. Again, these may all be good things, in themselves. But again, when we stand before the Lord, will all these activities and things we devoted our lives to amount to a hill of beans?

What will our Lord say to us when we give an account of how we spent our lives? That is something we all should be thinking carefully about. Let me close by sharing some words by pastor and evangelist John Piper. In 2000 he gave a talk entitled “Boasting Only in the Cross”.

The whole talk, along with a short segment of it, can be found online. A short seven-minute segment of it is about not wasting our life. It goes like this:

You don’t have to know a lot of things for your life to make a lasting difference in the world. But you do have to know the few great things that matter, and then be willing to live for them and die for them. The people that make a durable difference in the world are not the people who have mastered many things, but who have been mastered by a few great things.
If you want your life to count, if you want the ripple effect of the pebbles you drop to become waves that reach the ends of the earth and roll on for centuries and into eternity, you don’t have to have a high IQ or a high EQ. You don’t have to have good looks or riches. You don’t have to come from a fine family or a fine school. You just have to know a few great, majestic, unchanging, obvious, simple, glorious things, and be set on fire by them.
Piper: “Not everybody wants their life to make a lasting difference — you just want to be liked. That’s a tragedy.”
But I know that not everybody in this crowd wants their life to make a difference. There are hundreds of you — you don’t care whether you make a lasting difference for something great, you just want people to like you. If people would just like you, you’d be satisfied. Or if you could just have a good job with a good wife and a couple good kids and a nice car and long weekends and a few good friends, a fun retirement, and quick and easy death and no hell — if you could have that, you’d be satisfied even without God.
That is a tragedy in the making.
Three weeks ago, we got word at our church that Ruby Eliason and Laura Edwards had both been killed in Cameroon. Ruby was over eighty. Single all her life, she poured it out for one great thing: to make Jesus Christ known among the unreached, the poor, and the sick. Laura was a widow, a medical doctor, pushing eighty years old, and serving at Ruby’s side in Cameroon.
The brakes give way, over the cliff they go, and they’re gone — killed instantly.
And I asked my people: was that a tragedy? Two lives, driven by one great vision, spent in unheralded service to the perishing poor for the glory of Jesus Christ — two decades after almost all their American counterparts have retired to throw their lives away on trifles in Florida or New Mexico. No. That is not a tragedy. That is a glory.
“To make a difference in the world, you just have to know a few great, unchanging, simple, glorious things, and be set on fire by them.”
I tell you what a tragedy is. I’ll read to you from Reader’s Digest what a tragedy is. “Bob and Penny . . . took early retirement from their jobs in the Northeast five years ago when he was 59 and she was 51. Now they live in Punta Gorda, Florida, where they cruise on their thirty foot trawler, playing softball and collecting shells.”
That’s a tragedy. And people today are spending billions of dollars to persuade you to embrace that tragic dream. And I get forty minutes to plead with you: don’t buy it. With all my heart I plead with you: don’t buy that dream. The American Dream: a nice house, a nice car, a nice job, a nice family, a nice retirement, collecting shells as the last chapter before you stand before the Creator of the universe to give an account of what you did: “Here it is Lord — my shell collection! And I’ve got a nice swing, and look at my boat!”
Don’t waste your life; don’t waste it.

You can watch that video clip here: http://www.desiringgod.org/don-t-waste-your-life

In 2003 he produced a book on this topic entitled Don’t Waste Your Life (Crossway). His closing chapter includes these words:

No, you don’t have to be a missionary to admire and advance the great purposes of God to be known and praised and enjoyed among all peoples. But if you want to be most fully satisfied with God as he triumphs in the history of redemption, you can’t go on with business as usual—doing your work, making your money, giving your tithe, eating, sleeping, playing, and going to church. Instead you need to stop and go away for a few days with a Bible and notepad; and pray and think about how your particular time and place in life fits into the great purpose of God.

[1641 words]

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Five Truths About the Holy Spirit

In creation, we have the Spirit breathing His energy, releasing the power of God in the act of creation. We have the same thing in the act of redemption, and we see it again in the divine act of giving to us the record in the Scriptures themselves. The doctrine of inspiration is entirely related to the work of God the Holy Spirit.

Jesus said: “I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7). Now, I don’t want to bring cold coals to Newcastle by giving you information with which you are already familiar, so let me just briefly give some background on this verse. You know that the Greek word translated here as “Helper” is parakletos. In its technical form, it has a legal dimension; it refers to one who would be an advocate. In its wider context, it speaks of comfort, of protection, of counsel, and of guidance. Jesus also spoke of the Spirit as the Helper in John 14 and introduced Him as “the Spirit of truth” (14:17; 16:13).

I think it best for me to simply say a number of things concerning the identity of this Helper with little embellishment.

First, we need to notice that the Holy Spirit is a unique person and not simply a power or an influence. He is spoken of as “He,” not as “it.” This is a matter of import because if you listen carefully to people speaking, even within your own congregations you may hear the Holy Spirit referenced in terms of the neuter. You may even catch yourself doing it. If you do, I hope you will bite your tongue immediately. We have to understand that the Spirit of God, the third person of the Trinity, is personal. As a person, He may be grieved (Eph. 4:30), He may be quenched in terms of the exercise of His will (1 Thess. 5:19), and He may be resisted (Acts 7:51).

Second, the Holy Spirit is one both with the Father and with the Son. In theological terms, we say that He is both co-equal and co-eternal. When we read the whole Upper Room Discourse, we discover that it was both the Father and the Son who would send the Spirit (John 14:1616:7), and the Spirit came and acted, as it were, for both of Them. So the activity of the Spirit is never given to us in Scripture in isolation from the person and work of Christ or in isolation from the eternal will of the Father. Any endeavor to think of the Spirit in terms that are entirely mystical and divorced from Scripture will take us down all kinds of side streets and eventually to dead ends.

Third, the Holy Spirit was the agent of creation. In the account of creation at the very beginning of the Bible, we are told: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2). The Hebrew word translated as “Spirit” here is ruach, which also can mean “breath.” The ruach elohim, “the Breath of the Almighty,” is the agent in creation. It is not the immateriality of the Spirit that is in view here, but rather His power and energy; the picture is of God’s energy breathing out creation, as it were, speaking the worlds into existence, putting the stars into space. Thus, when we read Isaiah 40:26 and the question is asked, “Who created these?” we have the answer in Genesis 1:2—the Spirit is the irresistible power by which God accomplishes His purpose.

Tangentially, one of the questions of Old Testament scholarship concerns the extent to which we are able to discover the distinct personhood of God the Holy Spirit from the Old Testament. In other words, can we understand the nature of His hypostasis in the Old Testament alone? When we read Genesis 1, it is not difficult to see that we have in the second verse, certainly in light of all that has subsequently been revealed, a clear and distinct reference to the third person of the Trinity.

In his book The Holy Spirit, Sinclair B. Ferguson notes that if we recognize the divine Spirit in Genesis 1:2, that provides what some refer to as the missing link in Genesis 1:26, where God said, “Let us make man in our image.” Ferguson observes that this is a clear antecedent reference to the Spirit of God who is at work in Genesis 1:1-2.

This issue reminds us, incidentally, that it is helpful to read our Bibles backward. As we read from the back to the front, we discover the truth of the classic interpretive principle attributed to Augustine: “The New [Testament] is in the Old [Testament] concealed, and the Old is in the New revealed.” In other words, we discover the implications of those teachings and events that come earlier in the Scriptures.

Fourth, the Holy Spirit is the agent not only of creation, but also of God’s new creation in Christ. He is the author of the new birth. We see this in John 3, in the classic encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus, where Jesus said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (v. 5). This truth, of course, is worked out in the rest of the Scriptures.

Fifth, the Spirit is the author of the ScripturesSecond Timothy 3:16 tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God. …” The Greek word behind this phrase is theopneustos, which means “God-breathed.” In creation, we have the Spirit breathing His energy, releasing the power of God in the act of creation. We have the same thing in the act of redemption, and we see it again in the divine act of giving to us the record in the Scriptures themselves. The doctrine of inspiration is entirely related to the work of God the Holy Spirit. Peter affirms this view, writing, “No prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:21). The men who wrote the biblical books were not inventing things. Neither were they automatons. “They were real people in real historical times with real DNA writing according to their historical settings and their personalities. But the authorship of Scripture was dual. It was, for instance, both Jeremiah and God, because Jeremiah was picked up and carried along. Indeed, in Jeremiah’s case, God said, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth” (1:9). He did so without violating Jeremiah’s distinct personality, and he then wrote the very Word of God. This is why we study the Bible—because this is a book that exists as a result of the out-breathing of the Holy Spirit.

Concerning the identity of the Helper, we could go on ad infinitum, but we must be selective rather than exhaustive. His identity is as “another Helper.” The word translated as “another” here is allos, not heteros. Jesus promised a Helper of the same kind rather than of a different kind. The Spirit is the parakletos, the one who comes alongside. Jesus said He would “be with you forever … he dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:16-17). In other words, His ministry is both permanent and personal.

This excerpt is adapted from Alistair Begg’s contribution to Holy, Holy, Holy: Proclaiming the Perfections of God. This article used with permission.

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Is Jesus the Messiah? An Outline on Jewish Messianism

The Messiah Concept

1. What does the word Messiah mean? Messiah means “Anointed One” (Heb. messiah) (Gk. Christos) and  is derived from verbs that have the general meaning of “to rub something” or, more specifically, “to anoint someone.”

2.The Hebrew Bible records the anointing with oil of priests ( Exod 29:1-9 ), kings ( 1 Sam 10:1 ; 2 Sam 2:4 ; 1 Kings 1:34 ), and sometimes prophets ( 1 Kings 19:16b ) as a sign of their special function in the Jewish community. “Anointed One” almost never refers to the Messiah in the Hebrew Bible.

3. The messianic concept also has a wider dimension than the royal, priestly, and/or prophetic person. Included in this wider view are the characteristics, tasks, goals, means, and consequences of the messianic person.

4. Remember that words and concepts are separate entities. “Word-bound” approaches to what really are concept studies can lead us astray.

5. The image of the Messiah and the idea of messianism comprise a broad concept that far outreaches the few instances where the term “anointed” is used. It is the concept that we are seeking to define, not merely one particular word.  This can only be achieved by reading not only the Bible but extra-biblical Jewish literature including the Apocrypha, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Targumim, etc. (see Craig Evans handout on Introduction to Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies).

6. Before 70 CE, we can hardly find any occurrence of the absolute term “the Messiah”; instead the word in Greek or Hebrew occurs with a genitive or possessive pronoun like “Messiah of Israel,” “Messiah of the Lord,” “Messiah of Aaron,” “Messiah of the Lord,” etc;  no single meaning is ever assumed.

7. Other names were used to describe the messianic person other than the “Messiah.” Some of the names include  “Son of David,” “ Son of God,” “ Son of Man,” “  Prophet,” “Elect One,” “Servant,” “ Prince,” “ Branch,” “Root,” “Scepter,” “Star,”  “Chosen One,” and “ Coming One.” (See section on messianic titles).

The Messianic Task:  Traditional Jewish Views

1. A personal Messiah is irrelevant; many Jewish people don’t see the need for a Messiah to fix the problems of the world.

2.  The Messiah is not divine-he is an earthy figure “anointed” to carry out a specific task.

3. The Messiah will enable the Jewish people to dwell securely in the land of Israel (Is.11:11-12; 43:5-6; Jer.23: 5-8; Mic.5:4-6), and usher in a period of worldwide peace.

4.  The Messiah is supposed to put an end to all oppression, suffering and disease (Is.2:1-22; 25:8; 65:25; Mic.4:1-4) and create a pathway for universal worship to the God of Israel (Zeph.3:9; Zech.9:16; 14:9).

5. The Messiah will spread the knowledge of the God of Israel to the surrounding nations (Isa.11:9; 40:5; 52:8).

 The Maimonides view of Messiah: Maimonides was a medieval Jewish philosopher whose writings are considered to be foundational to Jewish thought and study. Here are some of his messianic expectations:

1.  The Messiah will be a king who arises from the house of David

2.  He helps Israel follow Torah

3.  He builds the Temple in its place

4. He gathers the dispersed of Israel

 The Messiah in Rabbinical Literature

1Messiah Ben Yossef and Messiah Ben David: The prophecy of Zech. 12:10 is applied to Messiah ben Yossef in that he is killed and that it will be followed by a time of great calamities and tests for Israel. Shortly after these tribulations upon Israel, Messiah ben David will come and avenge the death of Messiah ben Yossef, resurrect him, and inaugurate the Messianic era of everlasting peace.

2.What is interesting is that R. Saadiah Gaon elaborated on the role of Messiah ben Yossef by starting that this sequence of events is contingent. In other words, Messiah ben Yossef will not have to appear before Messiah be David if the spiritual condition of Israel is up to par.

3.This is why it says in the Talmud, “If they [the people of Israel]  are worthy of [the Messiah] he will come ‘with the clouds of heaven’ [Dan 7:13] ;if they are not worthy, ‘lowly and riding upon a donkey’ [Zech. 9:9]” (b. Sanhedrin 98a

Messianic Fulfillment Depends on Moral Regeneration

1. The advent of Messiah will not be heralded by the actions of a pagan or Christian king.

2. Israel’s salvation depends on Israel itself.

3.The Messiah will be a sage who will only come when Israel fully accepts God’s sole rule.

4.The coming of the Messiah is not dependent on historical action but on moral regeneration. How about reading John 3:3-8?

 The Davidic Messiah

The capitalized term “Messiah” is often confined to a precisely delineated concept, viz., the anointed king of the Davidic dynasty who would establish in the world the definite kingdom intended by God for Israel. Such a notion of the Messiah is the product of a long development traceable in three stages:

First Stage: Before Eighth Century BC

1. God promised that Israel would have an earthly king (Gen. 17:6; 49:6; Deut.17: 14-15)

2. Gen 49:9-12: alludes implicitly to the reign of David; this prophecy says the Messiah will have to come before the Tribe of Judah loses its identity.

3. The Davidic Covenant: David is promised that one of his descendants would rule on his throne forever (2 Sam.7:12-17; 1 Chr.17:7-15; Ps. 89:28-37). In 2 Samuel 7:12-17, the immediate prophecy is partially fulfilled in David’s son Solomon. However, the word “forever” shows there are future descendants to come.

4. The Royal Psalms:Psalm 2;72;110 are considered part of this first stage of messianism.

Second Stage:  Eighth Century BC to the Babylonian Exile

1. Messianic Expectation centers on the re-establishment of the throne of David and deliverance of Israel from its foreign oppressors.

2. This expectation resulted from disappointment at the destruction of Jerusalem and suspension of Davidic dynasty.

3. Isaiah: speaks of the time when God that would revive the Davidic dynasty and ensure its permanence. God would raise up a successor of David who would be unlike any past Davidic king (Is.7:14-17; 9:6-7;11:1-10), but he is not spoken of as “The Messiah.”

4. Micah 5:1-6 speaks of the new David coming from Bethlehem; Jer.23:5-6 uses messianic titles such as “branch” or “shoot” to describe this figure.

5. Amos likewise proclaimed that a figure would emerge from the Davidic lineage who would fulfill God’s covenant promises to the nations (9:11-15).Ezekiel spoke of a new David who would be a shepherd as well as a “prince” and a “king” to Israel (Ezek: 34:23-24; 37:24-25). This king’s function would help restore the Davidic dynasty after the exile.

Third Stage: From the Exile to NT Times           

The Psalms of Solomon (a Pharisaic composition written about 50 B.C.) describes the Davidic messianic expectation: The “Son of David” will:

1. Violently cast out foreign nations occupying Jerusalem (Pss.Sol:15,24-25,33)

2. Judge all the nations of the earth (Pss.17:4;31;38-39, 47) and cause the nations to  “serve him under his yoke” (Pss.Sol.17:32)

3. Reign over Israel in wisdom (Pss. Sol.17:23,28,31,35,41,18:8), which involves  removing all the foreigners from the land (Pss. Sol.17:31) and purging the land of unrighteous Israelites (Pss. Sol. 17:29, 33, 41) in order to eliminate all oppression (Pss. Sol.17:46) and gather to himself a holy people (Pss. Sol.17:28, 36;18:9).

Jesus as The Davidic King

1.  Jesus is of the “seed of David,” who was sent by God to restore God’s kingship over mankind (Matt. 1:1; Acts 13:23; Rom. 1:3,4; Rev. 22:16). Jesus  is both the son of David and the one greater than David (Psalm 110:1-4).

Let’s look at Romans 1:1-5

“Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ; to all who are beloved of God in Rome, called as saints:Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

We see the following:

Paul says through the resurrection, Jesus is installed (by God) as the Son of God (Rom. 1:4). Paul is not saying Jesus is being appointed as The Son of God is a change in Jesus’ essense. The appointment is not in terms of his nature but in terms of his work as a mediator—the messianic age has dawned. Jesus is the Lord—the anti-type of the previous “sons” in the Old Testament (Adam, David, Israel).

Remember, the New Testament authors unanimously declare Jesus as the one who is from the “seed of David,” sent by God to restore God’s kingship over mankind (Matt. 1:1; Acts 13:23; Rom. 1:3,4; 2 Tim:2:8; Rev. 22:16). As seen in 2 Samuel 7:12-17, the immediate prophecy is partially fulfilled in David’s son Solomon. However, the word “forever” shows there are future descendants to come. God promised David that his “seed” would establish the kingdom. There were two ways for this prophecy to come to pass. Either God could continually raise up a new heir or he could have someone come who would never die. Does this sound like the need for a resurrection?

2. In following the pattern of the Hebrew Bible, Jesus (as the Davidic King) will return to this present earth and after the complete removal of all man’s kingdoms (cf. Dan 2:35;44;7:13-14; Zech 9:10;14:1-4;9-11;Matt24;27-31;25:31-33; Rev:11:15;19:11-16;20:1-6).

3. Remember Prophetic Telescoping:  Telescoped prophecy bridges the first and second appearances of Yeshua. In the second coming, “the obedience of the nations will be his,” and “His everlasting dominion will not pass away, his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed”; Gen 49:10-12: Dan 2:37-44;7:13-14; Psalm 2: Isa.9-6-7;11:1-10.

Messianic Expectations (cont):  Priestly Messiah: The priest (Heb. cohanim) was anointed in his role as a mediator between God and the Jewish people because of his ability make to make atonement (Lev.4:26;31,35;5:6,10; 14:31).

1. There are implicit passages in the Hebrew Bible that discuss a priestly aspect of the Messiah (Hag:1:12-14; 2:2-4; 20-23; Zech:3:6-10;4:2-5,11-14).

2. In the Qumran community which predated the time of Yeshua was convinced there were possibly two Messiahs, one priestly and one royal (1QS 9.11; CD 12.22-23; 13. 20-22; 14. 18-19; 19.34-20.1; CD-B 1.10-11; 2.1; 1Q Sa 2. 17-22).

3. Forgiving sins was a prerogative of God alone (Exod. 34: 6-7; Neh.9:17; Dan. 9:9;) and it was something that was done only in the Temple.

4. The Messiah’s priestly work is seen in Psalm 110:1-4.

5. As with Melchizedek, Jesus was without the ancestral, genealogical credentials necessary for the Aaronic priesthood ( Hebrews 7:3 Hebrews 7:13 Hebrews 7:16 ), he was also before Aaron and the transitory, imperfect law and Levitical priesthood  ( Hebrews 7:11-12 Hebrews 7:17-18 ; 8:7 ). Melchizedek, Aaron, and his descendants all died, preventing them from continuing in office ( 7:23 ). Jesus has been exalted to a permanent priesthood by his resurrection and enthronement at the right hand of God in the heaven ( 8:1 ).

 The Suffering/Atoning Messiah

1. There are several texts that speak to the possibility of a suffering Messiah (Zech 13:7; Dan 9:26; Tg.Isa.53; T.Benj.3:8; 4Q521frgs.9, 24; 4Q285 5.4; 4 Ezra7:29-30;2 Bar.30:1).

2. There are also several expressions of the belief that the death of the righteous will benefit, or even save, God’s people (1 Macc: 6:26-28 17:20-22; T Moses 9-10).

The Prophetic Messiah

1. The characteristics of the prophet (Heb. nabi) of Deuteronomy 18:15-19: (1) He would be an Israelite; (2) he would be like Moses; and (3) he would be authorized to declare the word of God with authority.

2. Emphasis on listening to the Prophet: See Mathew 17:5

3. Jesus says “I say to you,” thirteen times in this one sermon (Matt. 18,20,22,28,32,34,39,44;6:2,5,16,25,29). He even challenged his hearers to base their own lives on his words (Matt. 7:24,26). Yeshua cites not one single rabbi or religious authority. Scholars have found no precedent in the Tanakh, nor have scholars found any precedent in the rest of ancient Jewish literature.

4. Miracles have a distinctive purpose: to glorify the Creator and to provide evidence for people to believe by accrediting the message of God through the prophet of God. Miracles confirmed the prophetic claim: Moses (Ex. 4:1-5; 8-9); Elijah (1 Kings 18:38–39).

5.  Miracles confirmed the Messianic claim of Jesus  (Matt 12: 38-39; John 3: 1-2; Acts 2: 22).

6.  Matt. 11:4-6: Jesus’s evidential claim can be seen in the following syllogism:
1. If one does certain kinds of actions, then one is the Messiah.
2. I am doing those kinds of actions.
3. Therefore, I am the Messiah.

Michael Bird’s excellent book Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question, has some insight about this issue as well. Bird says:

“It is historically naive to depict first-century Palestine as ravaged with continual uprisings and to posit some Roman occupying forces as having to put down one messianic pretender after another. Alternatively, it is equally reductionistic to suppose that many of the tumultuous events of the first century were untouched by messianism. The death of Herod the Great led to several uprisings; although things cooled for a while, in the period 4 BCE to 66 CE, there were many socioreligious movements at the time of the procurators that show expectation and hope for God’s miraculous interventions and gradually a spirit of zealotry beginning to emerge. I doubt that we have to wait as long as Simon ben Kosiba in 135 CE to find another messianic leader after the death of Jesus. The following lists indicate messianic expectations that are explicitly titular or implicitly messianic.”-Are You the One Who Is to Come?: The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question, pgs 47-49.

Bird goes onto list the expectations using the title “Messiah.” Notice that Bird knows  in order to understand messianism, we need to read the Bible but also read extra-biblical Jewish literature including the Apocrypha, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, Philo, Josephus, The Dead Sea Scrolls,  and the Targumim, etc, (see Craig A Evans: “Introduction” to Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies: A Guide to the Background Literature).

“Messiah of Aaron and Israel” (CD 12.23–13.1; 14.19; 19.10–11; 20.1; 1QS 9.11)

“Messiah of Israel” (1QSa 2.12, 14, 20)

“Messiah of righteousness” (4Q252 frg. 1 5.3–4)

“Heaven and earth will obey his Messiah” (4Q521 2.1)

“Their king shall be the Lord’s Messiah” (Pss. Sol. 17.32; cf. 18.7)

“May God cleanse Israel for the day of mercy and blessing for the appointed day when his Messiah will reign” (Pss. Sol. 18.5)

“Lord of the Spirits and his Messiah” (1 En. 48.10)

“authority of the Messiah” (1 En. 52.4)

“For my son the Messiah shall be revealed with those who are with him” (4 Ezra 7.28) “

“This is the Messiah whom the Most High has kept until the end of days, who will arise from the offspring of David” (4 Ezra 12.32) “The Messiah will begin to be revealed” (2 Bar. 29.3) “when the time of the appearance of the Messiah has been fulfilled” (2 Bar. 30.1) “the kingship of the house of David, thy righteous Messiah” (Shemoneh ‘Esreh 14)

Son of Man: (Dan. 7:13–14; 1 En. 46.1–5; 48.2; 62.1–15; 63.11; 69.27–29; 71.14–17; 4 Ezra 13.1–13, 25–26; Justin Martyr, Dial. 31–32)

Man/Ruler: (Philo, Rewards 95; Num. 24:7, 17 LXX) Rod (CD 7.19–20; Justin Martyr, Dial. 100, 126) Prince (Ezek. 34:24; 37:25; Dan. 9:25–26; CD 7.20; 1QSb 5.20; 1QM 3.16; 5.1; 4Q285 frgs. 4–6; Jub. 31.18; Sib. Or. 3.49–50)

Branch of David: (4Q161 frgs. 8–10.15, 22; 4Q252 5.3; 4Q285 frg. 5.3–4; T. Jud 24.4–6) Scepter (1QSb 5.27–28; 4Q161 frgs. 2–4 2.9–13; frgs. 5–6 3.17; frgs. 8–10, 22–26; 4Q252 5.2)

Son of God :(4Q246 1.9; 2.1; Mark 15:39)

Elect/Chosen One (1 En. 39.6; 40.5; 45.3; 48.6; 49.2, 4; 51.3, 5; 52.6, 9; 53.6; 55.4; 61.5, 8, 10; 62.1; Apoc. Abr. 31.1)

King (Mark 15.32 and par.; Sib. Or. 3.286–87, 652) Snow-white cow/horned ram (1 En. 90.9–12, 37–38) Star (T. Levi 18.3; T. Jud. 24.1; Sib. Or. 5.158–60)

Righteous One (Acts 3:14; 22:14; 1 John 2:1; 1 En. 38.2; 53.6)

Historical figures referred to as “Messiah”:

Jesus of Nazareth

Simon ben Kosiba

Implicitly messianic historical figures not referred to as “Messiah”:

Judas the Galilean Simon the servant of Herod

Athronges Menahem Simon bar Giora-

 

 Figures who claimed royal prerogatives between 4 B.C.E and 68-70 C.E but are not called “the” or “a” Messiah:

1. In Galilee 4 B.C.E.: Judas, son of bandit leader Ezekias (War 2.56;Ant.17.271-72)

2. In Perea 4 B.C.E.: Simon the Herodian slave (War 2.57-59;Ant 17.273-77)

3. In Judea 4 B.C.E.: Athronges, the shepherd (War 2.60-65;Ant 17.278-84)

4. Menahem: grandson of Judas the Galilean (War 2.433-34, 444)

5. Simon, son of Gioras (bar Giora) War 2.521, 625-54;4.503-10, 529;7.26-36, 154)

Sources:

1. Berger, D. The Rebbe, The Messiah, And The Scandal Of Orthodox Indifference. Portland, Oregon: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. 2001, 171-173.

2 Bird, M.F.,Are You The One To Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2009.

3.  Brown, R.E. An Introduction to New Testament Christology. Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1994, 155-161.

4. Evans, C.A. and P. W. Flint. Eschatology, Messianism, and the Dead Sea Scrolls. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1997.

5.  Elwell, W. Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology.Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1996.

6.  Schochet, J.I. Mashiach: The Principle of Mashiach and the Messianic Era in Jewish Law and Tradition. New York: S.I.E. 1992, 93-101.

7.  Zannoni, A. Jews and Christians Speak of Jesus. Minneapolis: Fortress Press.1994, 113-114.

Source: Is Jesus the Messiah? An Outline on Jewish Messianism

The Loss of the Christian Mind in America (Moreland)

As I was re-reading parts of Love God With All Your Mind, I came across this great section I had marked up – a section of the book where Moreland talks about the loss of the Christian mind in American Christianity.  I’ve posted it here before, but it is for sure worth noting again.  Especially fascinating are Moreland’s comments on how the rise of two major cults in the U.S. had a lot to do with the lack of doctrinal knowledge about the Christian faith:

“During the middle 1800s, three awakenings broke out in the United States: the Second Great Awakening (1800-1820), the revivals of Charles Finney (1824-1837), and the Layman’s Prayer Revival (1856-1858).  Much good came from these movements, but their overall effect was to emphasize immediate personal conversion to Christ instead of a studied period of reflection and conviction; emotional, simple, popular preaching instead of intellectually careful and doctrinally precise sermons; and personal feelings and relationships to Christ instead of a deep grasp of the nature of Christian teaching and ideas.  Sadly, as historian George Marsden notes, ‘anti-intellectualism was a feature of American revivalism.’”

“Obviously, there is nothing wrong with the emphasis of those movements on personal conversion.  What was a problem, however, was the intellectually shallow, theologically illiterate form of Christianity that became part of the populist Christian religion that emerged.  One tragic result of this was what happened in the so-called Burned Over District in the state of New York.  Thousands of people were ‘converted’ to Christ by revivalist preaching, but they had no real intellectual grasp of Christian teaching.  As a result, two of the three major American cuts began in the Burned Over District among the unstable, untaught ‘converts’: Mormonism (1830) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses (1884).”

J. P. Moreland, Love God With All Your Mind, p. 23.

Shane Lems
Covenant Presbyterian Church (OPC)
Hammond, WI

Source: The Loss of the Christian Mind in America (Moreland)

Albert Mohler Blog: “‘As It Had Been the Face of an Angel’ — A Commission for God’s Messengers

This is the text of the commencement address preached by President R. Albert Mohler, Jr. at the May 19, 2017 commencement ceremony at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

“These graduates go out to build upon what others have already built. We will all build on the foundation someone else has laid. Even as the Lord grants opportunity to sow seed, we will spend much of our lives and ministries watering. The Christian ministry is not a career. It is a calling that originates in the sovereign majesty of God and is concluded only by the coming of the kingdom of the Lord, and of his Christ.”

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May 22, 2017: Verse of the day

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91:3 It seems that the Holy Spirit’s voice is heard in verses 3–13, assuring the Lord Jesus of the tremendous security that was His because of His life of perfect trust. What are the guarantees of security? There are nine:

Deliverance from hidden dangers. The snare of the bird-trapper speaks of the enemy’s evil plot to trap the unwary.

Immunity from fatal disease. In our Lord’s case, there is no reason to believe that He was ever sick at all.

91:4 Shelter and refuge in the Almighty. God’s tender, personal care is likened to that of a mother bird with her young.

Protection in the faithfulness of God. His promises are sure. What He has said, He will do. This is the believer’s shield and buckler.[1]


91:3 snare of the trapper. This metaphor represents any plots against the believer intended to endanger his life. deadly pestilence. The reference here and in v. 6 is specifically to dreaded diseases, plagues, and epidemics (cf. Jer 14:12; Eze 5:12; 14:19).

91:4 under His wings. Pictures the protection of a parent bird (see note on Ps 57:1).[2]


3–4 The emphatic pronoun “he” (“Surely he,” v. 3) amplifies the care of the Lord. He gets wholly involved with the welfare of his people. He protects them from all adversity perpetrated by evil persons—adversity likened to “the fowler’s snare” (cf. 119:110; 124:7; 141:9; 2 Ti 2:26) and “the deadly pestilence.” He protects them tenderly, as with feathers, i.e., “his wings” (v. 4; cf. 17:8; 36:7; NEB, “pinions”; lit., “his ligament”; cf. v. 1; Dt 32:11; Isa 31:5; Mt 23:37; Lk 13:34). Divine protection is likened to that of a bird (“feathers,” “wings”) that is kept from being trapped by the “fowler’s snare.” The “shield” and “rampart” (cf. 35:2) develop the imagery of “refuge” and “fortress” (v. 2). Yahweh’s care is both tender and sufficient because he is faithful, i.e., “true” to his people.[3]


91:3 the snare of the fowler Refers to a bird trap. Because birds must come to the ground to eat, drink, and nest, they are vulnerable to clever hunters.

the plague of destruction The Hebrew text here seems to refer to disease (possibly the bubonic plague) and can be associated with siege warfare situations.

91:4 he will cover The Hebrew word used here, sakhakh, means to “shut off” or “make inaccessible,” for the purpose of protection.

With his feathers May refer to the larger flight feathers of a bird’s wing.

under his wings Yahweh’s care and actions are combined in the picture of a bird caring for its young. See note on 17:8; note on Ruth 2:12.

a shield and a buckler Used for protection for battle.[4]


91:3 he will deliver you. God is present and able to deliver His people.

91:4 with his pinions. Psalms of confidence often have a metaphor for God’s compassion at their core. God is likened to a mother bird who protects her young.

his faithfulness. God’s steadfast love and the certainty that He will keep His promises sustain the psalmist.[5]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 690). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 91:3–4). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 698). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 91:3–4). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 939). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

May 22 – A Traitor Turns to Christ (Matthew)

The twelve apostles included “Matthew the tax-gatherer” (Matt. 10:3).

✧✧✧

God can use you despite your sinful past.

I remember reading a notice in a local newspaper announcing the opening of a new evangelical church in our community. It gave the date and time of the first services, then added, “Our special guest star will be . . .” and named a popular Christian celebrity. In its attempt to appeal to unbelievers or simply draw a large crowd, the church today commonly uses that kind of approach.

Jesus, however, used a different approach. None of His disciples were famous at all. In fact, rather than drawing a favorable crowd, some of them might have repelled or even incited anger and hatred among His Jewish audience. Matthew was such a man because he was a despised tax-gatherer—one of many Jewish men employed by Rome to collect taxes from his own people. As such he was regarded as a traitor by his own countrymen.

The Roman tax system allowed tax collectors to keep anything they collected in excess of what was owed to Rome. That encouraged bribes, extortion, and other abuses.

To compound the issue, Matthew was among those who had the prerogative of taxing almost anything they wanted to tax—roads, bridges, harbors, axles, donkeys, packages, letters, imports, exports, merchandise, and so on. Such men could accumulate enormous wealth for themselves. You might remember another tax-gatherer named Zaccheus, who is described in Luke 19:2 as a wealthy man. His salvation was evidenced by his offer to repay those he had defrauded fourfold (v. 8).

Some people think God can’t use them because they’re not famous or because of their past sins. But God has used Matthew, Zaccheus, and millions of others like them. Concentrate on your present purity, and let God bless your ministry as He sees fit.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God that he has made you a new person in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17). Minister in light of that reality!

For Further Study: Read Luke 19:1–10. ✧ Where was Zaccheus when Jesus first spoke to him? ✧ What was the reaction of the crowd when Jesus went to Zaccheus’ house? ✧ What prompted Jesus to say that salvation had come to Zaccheus?[1]


Matthew

Because he wrote the first gospel, Matthew is one of the best known apostles. But the New Testament reveals very few details of his life or ministry.

Before his conversion and call to discipleship, Matthew collected taxes for Rome (Matt. 9:9). It was not an occupation to be proud of, and one would think he would have wanted to dissociate himself from the stigma as much as possible. Yet when he wrote the gospel some thirty years later, he still referred to himself as the tax-gatherer.

As discussed previously in more detail (see chap. 6), tax-gatherers were considered traitors, the most hated members of Jewish society. They were often more despised than the occupying rulers and soldiers, because they betrayed and financially oppressed their own people. They were legal extortioners who extracted as much money as they could from both citizen and foreigner with the full authority and protection of Rome.

They were so despicable and vile that the Jewish Talmud said, “It is righteous to lie and deceive a tax collector.” Tax collectors were not permitted to testify in Jewish courts, because they were notorious liars and accepted bribes as a normal part of life. They were cut off from the rest of Jewish life and were forbidden to worship in the Temple or even in a synagogue. In Jesus’ parable, the tax collector who came to the Temple to pray stood “some distance away” (Luke 18:13) not only because he felt unworthy but because he was not allowed to enter.

Matthew was hardly proud of what he had been, but he seems to have cherished the description as a reminder of his own great unworthiness and of Christ’s great grace He saw himself as the vilest sinner, saved only by the incomparable mercy of his Lord.

Even from the little information given about him, it is evident Matthew was a man of faith. When he got up from his tax table and began to follow Jesus, he burned his bridges behind him. Tax collecting was a lucrative occupation, and many opportunists were doubtlessly eager to take Matthew’s place. And once he forsook his privileged position, the Roman officials would not have granted it to him again. The disciples who were fishermen could always return to fishing, as many of them did after the crucifixion; but there could be no returning to tax collecting for Matthew.

In the eyes of the scribes and Pharisees, Matthew’s leaving his tax office to follow Jesus did little to elevate his standing. Casting his lot with Jesus did not increase Matthew’s popularity, but it greatly increased his danger. There is little doubt that Matthew faced something of the true cost of discipleship before any of the other apostles.

Matthew was not only faithful but humble. In his own gospel (and even in the other three) he is faceless and absolutely voiceless during his time of training under Jesus. He asks no questions and makes no comments. He appears directly in no narrative. Only from Mark (2:15) and Luke (5:29) do we learn that the banquet Jesus ate with “tax-gatherers and sinners” was in Matthew’s house. In his own account, the fact that he was responsible for it is only implied (Matt. 9:10). He was eager and overjoyed for his friends and former associates to meet Jesus, but he calls no attention to his own role in the banquet.

It may be that his humility was born out of his overwhelming sense of sinfulness. He saw God’s grace as so superabundant that he felt unworthy to say a word. He was the silent disciple, until the Holy Spirit led him to pick up his pen and write the opening book of the New Testament-twenty-eight powerful chapters on the majesty, might, and glory of the King of kings.

The fact that Matthew is also referred to as Levi indicates his Jewish heritage. We have no idea what his biblical training may have been, but Matthew quotes the Old Testament more often than the other three gospel writers combined-and quotes from all three parts of it (the law, the prophets, and the writings, or Hagiographa). Since it is highly unlikely he studied Scripture while he was a tax collector, he gained his biblical knowledge either in his youth or after he became an apostle.

Matthew had a loving heart for the lost. As soon as he was saved his first concern was to tell others of that great news and invite them to share in it. He was ashamed of his own previous life of sin; but he was not ashamed to be seen eating with his former associates who were despised by society and living under God’s judgment, because they needed the Savior just as he had.

He sensed personal sinfulness as perhaps none of his fellow disciples did, because he had been greedily and unashamedly involved in extortion, deception, graft, and probably blasphemy and every form of immorality. But now, like the woman taken in adultery, because he was forgiven much, he loved much (see Luke 7:42–43, 47). The genuineness of his love for the Lord is proved in his concern for the salvation of his friends.

God took that outcast sinner and transformed him into a man of great faith, humility, and compassion. He turned him from a man who extorted to one who gave, from one who destroyed lives to one who brought the way of eternal life.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 155). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

MAY 22 – HOPE IN ETHICS: UTTERLY UNREALISTIC AND NAIVE

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.

MATTHEW 25:34

The hope being voiced by many that the nations will “accept the ethics of Jesus, disarm and live like brothers,” is utterly unrealistic and naive.

In the first place, the teachings of Jesus were never intended for the nations of the world. Our Lord sent His followers into all the world to make and baptize disciples. These disciples were to be taught to observe the commandments of Christ.

They would thus become a minority group, a peculiar people, in the world but not of it, sometimes tolerated but more often despised and persecuted. And history demonstrates that this is exactly what happened wherever groups of people took the gospel seriously.

To expect of once-born nations conduct possible only to the regenerated, purified, Spirit-led followers of Christ is to confuse the truth of Christianity and hope for the impossible. In the Scriptures, the nations of the earth are symbolized by the lion, the bear and the leopard.

Christians, in sharp contrast, are likened to peaceful sheep in the midst of wolves, who manage to stay alive only by keeping close to the Shepherd. If the sheep will not act like the bear why should we expect the bear to act like the sheep?

It might be well for us Christians to listen less to the news commentators and more to the voice of the Spirit![1]


Jesus here reveals unequivocally that the Son of Man who sits on the glorious throne (v. 31) is also the Son of God, the divine King. After his subjects are separated, the King will say to those on His right, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” Those will be the believers who have survived the holocaust of the Tribulation, and they will be ushered alive into the millennial kingdom, which has been prepared for them from the foundation of the world.

Doubtlessly anticipating the salvation-by-works interpretations that would be made of verses 35–45, the Lord made clear that believers will not inherit the kingdom based on good deeds they will have or will not have performed on earth. Their inheritance was determined countless ages ago, even from the foundation of the world. Those who enter the kingdom will not do so on the basis of the service they have performed for Christ but on the basis of their being blessed by the Father because of their trust in His Son. They will in no way earn a place in the kingdom. A child does not earn an inheritance but receives it on the basis of his being in the family. In exactly the same way, a believer does not earn his way into the kingdom of God but receives it as his rightful inheritance as a child of God and a fellow heir with Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:16–17).

Prepared for you accentuates the selectivity of salvation. From before the time the world was created, God sovereignly chose those who will belong to Him. And “whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). The source of salvation is the Father’s blessing, the reception of salvation is through faith, and the selectivity of salvation is in the advance preparation of the Father made in ages past. Stressing the same truth, Peter declared, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Pet. 1:3–5).[2]


  1. Then the king shall say to those at his right, Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you since the founding of the world.… Since the Son of man is clothed with “all authority” (11:27; 28:18; cf. Eph. 1:22), he is called “the King” (cf. John 18:36; Rev. 19:16). To be at the King’s right means to hear from his lips, “Come.” They are welcomed to close, loving, and abiding fellowship with their Savior, the Judge and King. No greater blessing can be imagined (Ps. 17:15; 73:23–25). They are those who have been and, as the tense of the original implies, are abidingly the blessed of—or: those blessed by—the Father, who bestowed upon them salvation, that is, who delivered them from the greatest evil, sin and all its consequences, and placed them in possession of the greatest good, right standing before him and all it implies.

They hear the joyful words, “inherit the kingdom.” For “kingdom” see on 4:23, 13:43. Since this is the judgment day, the kingdom in its final phase is meant here. These blessed ones, who were already heirs by right now also become heirs in fact, and this in the full sense of the term. All the promises of salvation full and free are now about to be fulfilled in them everlastingly and ever progressively; all this in and through Christ (Rom. 8:17). For the implications of the term “inherit” see on 5:5.

It is surely wonderful and comforting to observe that before the good deeds of these “sheep” are mentioned (verses 35, 36) emphasis is first of all placed on the fact that the basis of their salvation, hence also of these good deeds, is their having been chosen from eternity: the kingdom had been prepared for them, and this not just recently, but “from the founding (or: foundation) of the world.” Whether this phrase (from, etc.) is used or before, etc. (Eph. 1:4), the result is the same: “from eternity.” The good pleasure of God Triune, his sovereign grace, is the foundation of their salvation. Their good works are the fruit, not the root, of grace. This must be borne in mind throughout the study of verses 35, 36. To God alone be the glory![3]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 25:34). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 887–888). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

MAY 22 – GOD IS SOVEREIGN

We are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ.

1 John 5:20

Oh, how I wish that I could adequately set forth the glory of the One who is worthy to be the object of our worship!

I do believe that if our new converts—the babes in Christ—could be made to see His thousand attributes and even partially comprehend His being, they would become faint with a yearning desire to worship and honor and acknowledge Him, now and forever!

I know that many discouraged Christians do not truly believe in God’s sovereignty. In that case, we are not filling our role as the humble and trusting followers of God and His Christ.

And yet, that is why Christ came into our world. The old theologians called it “theanthropism”—the union of the divine and human natures in Christ. This is a great mystery, and I stand in awe before it!

The theanthropy is the mystery of God and man united in one Person—not two persons but two natures. So, the nature of God and the nature of man are united in this One who is our Lord Jesus Christ!

Lord Jesus, You are the only hope for this world. You provided the perfect plan for our redemption. Though Your supernatural being may be beyond our human comprehension, Your grace and mercy and love are worthy of all our praise.[1]


That Christ Is the True God

And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, guard yourselves from idols. (5:20–21)

These closing verses finally bring the epistle full circle. John began with the coming of the Word of Life (1:1–4); now he closes with the certainty that the Son of God has come. The present tense of the verb hēkō (come) indicates that Jesus has come and is still present. The Christian faith is not theoretical or abstract; it is rooted in the practical truth that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ.

Because no one can know “who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Luke 10:22), Jesus has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true. But beyond mere knowledge, Christians have a personal union with Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ (cf. Rom. 8:1; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:17; 1 Peter 5:14). The Bible teaches that the only way to know the true and living God is through Jesus Christ. No one can be saved who does not believe in Christ, for there is no salvation apart from Him (cf. 2:1–2; 4:10, 14; 5:1; John 14:6; Acts 4:12).

John’s threefold use of the word alēthinos (true) in this verse stresses the importance of understanding the truth in a world filled with Satan’s lies. The last use of the term points to the most significant truth of all—that Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life. The deity of Jesus Christ is an essential element of the Christian faith, and no one who rejects it can be saved. (For a detailed biblical defense of Christ’s deity, see John 1–11, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 2006], chapter 1).

John’s concluding warning, Little children, guard yourselves from idols, reflects the crucial significance of worshiping the true God exclusively. The danger of idolatry was especially serious in Ephesus (where John likely wrote this epistle), center of the worship of the goddess Artemis (Diana). A few decades earlier, the ministry of the apostle Paul had sparked a riot by her zealous worshipers (Acts 19:23–41). But the danger was not confined to Ephesus, as Paul’s warning to the Corinthians, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons” (1 Cor. 10:21), indicates. Though few in our contemporary culture worship physical idols, idolatry is widespread nonetheless. Anything that people elevate above God is an idol of the heart. Every “lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God” (2 Cor. 10:5) must be smashed, and only Christ exalted.

In a dark world filled with uncertainty, Christians have the glorious certainty based on divine revelation—“the prophetic word made more sure … a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19). While the world stumbles blindly in the darkness (Jer. 13:16), God’s Word is for saints “a lamp to [their] feet and a light to [their] path” (Ps. 119:105), because “the commandment is a lamp and the teaching is light” (Prov. 6:23).[2]


The Third Affirmation (v. 20)

This leads to the third of John’s affirmations, which is, as Stott notes, “the most fundamental of the three.” This strikes at the very root of the heretical Gnostic theology, for it is the affirmation that the Son of God, even Jesus, has come into this world to give us knowledge of both God and salvation. In other words, it is the assurance that he and nothing else is at the heart of Christianity; he and only he provides what all men desperately need. The need is not for philosophical enlightenment, as valuable as that may be in some areas. The need is, first, to know God, and second, for a Savior.

Knowledge of God

The first gift Jesus has brought us is the capacity of knowing God. This suggests not only that Jesus is God and that we see God in him, as he said to Philip (John 14:9), but also that we are incapable of spiritual sight until he gives it to us. Indeed, we are like the blind man of John 9 who could not see Christ and did not even seek him until Jesus first of all sought him out and healed him. After that we grow in knowledge, as the blind man grew (cf. John 9:11, 17, 33, 36, 38).

Moreover, the knowledge of God that Christ gives is knowledge, not just of any God, but of the true or genuine God. The word translated “true” in this verse is the word alēthinos, which is a popular one with John. In the Gospel he uses it of true or genuine worshipers (4:23), the true or genuine bread (6:32), and the true vine (15:1). In this first letter he has already used it of the true light that is dispersing the darkness (2:8). “True” refers to that which is authentic as opposed to that which is false, the ultimate reality as opposed to that which is merely its shadow. In John’s day the Gnostic teachers had made much of their supposed knowledge of God, but it is John’s contention that apart from the work of the Christ of history, who reveals God, such knowledge is not knowledge at all. At least it is not knowledge of the real God. Only through the real Son of God is the real God known.

Salvation

The second gift of Jesus is salvation, which John suggests by one of his favorite terms: “eternal life.” Elsewhere he has indicated that the basis on which we enjoy such life is the atoning death of Jesus Christ through which God’s just wrath against sin is turned away and a new relationship is established between God and the sinner. He has also indicated that the channel through which this life is received is faith, that is, believing in what God has said concerning the work of his Son and committing oneself to him as Savior. Here, however, John dwells once more on the idea of “eternal life,” indicating that the knowledge of God and union with him is life, in the sense of a complete salvation.

When John writes, “He is the true God and eternal life,” it is possible that the word “He” refers to an antecedent immediately preceding, namely, Jesus Christ. If this is so, then this is an exceptionally clear statement of the deity of Christ. Indeed, many of the church fathers took the text in this manner. On the other hand, we must also say in all honesty that “He” can also refer to “him who is true,” in which case all three uses of the word “true” refer to the same person, even the Father. This seems preferable. In view of the scope of biblical theology, there is little difference, however, for Jesus is said to be the “true” one elsewhere, and we are also said to abide in him as we are said to abide in the Father.

Conclusion

The proper contrast to the true or genuine God is that which is a false god or idol. Consequently, John concludes with the otherwise unexpected warning, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” In the context of this book we are probably not to think of the various carved idols of antiquity, though the admonition must include these as well. Rather, we are to think of the false god of the schismatics, who, though he was presented under the name of the Christian God, was not the true God, just as his apostles were not true teachers.

The application of this truth to today is in the fact that the mere names of Jesus Christ or God or Christianity do not authenticate the message or religion of the one proclaiming them. On the contrary, the profession must be tested by the basic doctrines of apostolic Christianity. What does the one speaking really believe about Jesus? Is he God incarnate or just a teacher? Did he die a real, atoning, vicarious death for sinners? Or is his death merely exemplary? Did he rise from the dead? Is the teaching of Jesus true, complete, and authoritative? Or is his teaching partial, thereby needing the teaching of others to bring us to a higher and indeed needed form of “Christianity”? According to John’s book, and indeed to the entire Word of God, anything that detracts from Christ is idolatrous, for he is the true God, the true revelation of the Father, the true atonement for sin, the true bread, the true vine. He is the beginning and end of all true religion. Consequently, to know him is to know the true God and eternal life.

Once we know him, what then? Then we must keep ourselves from idols. In verse 18 John has written that the Son of God will keep the Christian, but this does not relieve the Christian from his own responsibility to persevere in God’s service. Rather than drifting, he must draw near to God and grow in the knowledge of him. For only then will he be truly kept from idols. An anonymous Keswick hymn puts it like this:

Draw and win and fill completely,

’Till the cup o’erflow the brim;

What have we to do with idols

Who have companied with Him?[3]


Son of God

  1. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

For the last time, John writes “we know” (3:2, 14; 5:18, 19, 20). This time, however, he reminds us of the coming of the Son of God and our understanding of Jesus. Even though we see corruption in every sphere and sector of the world, we know that Jesus Christ has come to give us insight into his true nature. In a world of deceit and falsehood, God has revealed himself in the Son of God as the one who is true. God has not forsaken us to the powers of darkness, but has endowed us with the ability to discern truth from error.

God sent his Son “so that we may know him who is true.” The verb to know in this clause denotes knowledge we acquire by close association. In the fellowship we have with God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ (1:3), we come to know his truth. We learn to know what belongs to God and what comes from Satan. God is true. “By true God [John] does not mean one who tells the truth, but him who is really God.” The adjective true is descriptive, for it reveals God’s nature (see John 17:3; Rev. 3:7).

John says that in addition to learning to know God, “we are in him who is true.” That is, we have intimate fellowship with him through his Son Jesus Christ, who is “the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6). We are in the Father and the Son. In his high-priestly prayer Jesus prayed, “Just as you are in me and I am in you[,] may they also be in us” (John 17:21).

And last, having woven the golden thread of Jesus’ divinity and sonship through the cloth of his epistle, John completes this verse with the following words: “Even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” The Gnostic teachers denied that Jesus was the Christ, Son of God. Therefore, in this last verse John summarizes the basic teaching of the Christian faith: Jesus Christ is the Son of God, is truly divine, and is eternal life.

The translators of the New International Version have adopted the reading “He is the true God” instead of “This is the true God.” Some scholars say that the pronoun he refers to the nearest noun, Christ. Others vigorously dispute this view and claim that the pronoun refers to God the Father. They point to the wording in John 17:3, “the only true God,” and see the parallel in 5:20. They have to admit, however, that their reading of verse 20 is redundant: “And we are in [God] who is true … he is the true God.”

Proponents of the first view argue, quite rightly, that John ascribes eternal life to Jesus (1:2; also see John 11:25; 14:6). They also show that the entire epistle expounds the identity of Jesus, the Son of God. Therefore, a conclusive statement on the divinity of Jesus at the end of the letter is most effective. I believe that the supporters of this view, namely, that the pronoun he or this is a reference to Jesus and not to God, have the stronger argument.[4]


20 John’s third statement of what believers “know” summarizes the two major themes of the epistle: the identity of Jesus and the difference between true believers and the world/Antichrists. Jesus is the Christ, the Son, and the “true God” in contrast to the false “idols” (v. 21) promoted by the Antichrists. Jesus “has come” for the purpose of giving those who accept him a true understanding of God. The perfect tense indicates that this understanding was not only for those who witnessed the human Jesus but also extends to those who now accept authentic testimony about him. The same point is made at John 1:18, where it is stressed that no human being, not even Moses, has ever seen God, so that only Christ, “who is at the Father’s side,” can reveal God to the world. Of course the “understanding” (dianoia, GK 1379) God gives is synonymous with John’s witness about Jesus, so that knowing God means accepting John’s Christology. As a consequence, anyone who denies Jesus has a distorted view of God.

In what sense has the Son “given us understanding”? If v. 20 parallels verses such as John 14:26 and 16:13, one might conclude that John is thinking of a supernatural revelation of religious truth through the work of the Spirit. However, the focus of 1 John 5:18–20 is not on a mystical ascent to knowledge of God but rather on the knowledge of God that came through the descent of Christ to earth. Most likely, then, “the moment of the giving of the dianoia (understanding) or revelatory insight is surely the moment when the author’s readers became Christians” (Brown, 639). In conjunction with John’s teaching on the “anointing” at 2:27, 5:20 suggests that those who accept John’s witness already have a complete and full knowledge of God, which the world and the Antichrists cannot enjoy.[5]


5:20 The third great truth is that of the Incarnation. We know that the Son of God has come. This is the theme with which John opened his Epistle and with which he is now about to close it. The coming of the Lord Jesus revealed to us Him who is true, that is, the true God. God the Father can only be known through the Lord Jesus Christ. “The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Then John adds: and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. Again the emphasis is that it is only as we are in Jesus Christ that we can be in God. “No one comes to the Father except through Me.” This is the true God and eternal life. In other words, John is teaching what the Gnostics denied, namely, that Jesus Christ is God, and that eternal life is found only in Him.[6]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 209–210). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[3] Boice, J. M. (2004). The Epistles of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 147–149). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 366–368). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 504–505). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2325–2326). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 22 – God’s Will: Two Misunderstandings

Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.—Matt. 6:10b

Two polar opposite views of God’s will can cause Christians to have faulty understandings of prayer and the accomplishing of God’s purposes. On the one hand, some see His will as absolutely deterministic—whatever will be, will be. They either pray little at all, figuring the divine will is inevitable, or they are resignedly obedient, praying for God’s will simply because He tells them to.

Neither approach to prayer demonstrates faith. Viewing God’s sovereignty in a fatalistic, prayerless way robs us of the joy of aligning our wills with His and seeing His will done as we pray in faith. And praying with passive resignation leads to a weak, unexpectant prayer life. It is one that doesn’t heed Jesus’ instruction in the parable of the persistent widow: “He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart” (Luke 18:1).

Other believers overemphasize the role of human will and see prayer as mainly a way to twist God’s will to their own desires. They think of God’s will as what He dispenses from His cosmic vending machine—they get whatever they want by inserting a claim on one of His promises. But our Lord rejects such a false, man-centered concept throughout the model prayer. Genuine prayer focuses on God’s name, God’s kingdom, and God’s will. The emphasis remains on the Father. God is sovereign, but Jesus tells us to pray that His will be done (cf. James 5:16).

ASK YOURSELF
Which of these two misunderstandings has been the hardest for you to counteract? Which one do you find yourself gravitating toward in your usual dealings with God? How has this led you to defeat and discouragement in your walk with Christ? What would you gain from embracing a more biblical mind-set?[1]

God’s Plan

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

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

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

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

Wrong Understanding of God’s Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right Understanding of God’s Will

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In verses 11–13a Jesus gives three petitions. The first relates to our physical life and the present (daily bread), the second to our mental and emotional life and the past (debts), and the third to our spiritual life and the future (temptation and evil).[2]


The Third Petition

10b. Thy will be done, as in heaven so on earth. The will of God to which reference is made is clearly his “revealed” will, expressed in his law. It is that will which is done in heaven, but not yet to any great extent on earth. On the other hand, the will of God’s “decree” or “plan from eternity” is always being realized both in heaven and on earth (Dan. 4:35; Eph. 1:11), and cannot be the subject of prayer. (Incidentally, the statement that God’s revealed will is being perfectly obeyed in heaven—hence not only by heaven’s angels but also by the hosts of the redeemed—implies that the very moment a soul is translated from this sinful earth to heaven it has been freed from every vestige of sin.) It is the ardent desire of the person who sincerely breathes the Lord’s Prayer that the Father’s will shall be obeyed as completely, heartily, and immediately on earth as this is constantly being done by all the inhabitants of heaven.

As to “completely,” the story of King Saul shows that incomplete obedience, in which man sets his own will over against the divine, does not receive God’s approval and may have serious consequences (1 Sam. 15:1–3, 7–9, and note especially verses 22 and 23). As to “heartily,” note the words of Deut. 26:16 and Matt. 22:37. And as to “immediately,” the cherubim in Ezekiel’s vision of the throne-chariot, each cherub being equipped with four faces, and the chariot itself with wheels within wheels, so that its “drivers” were always ready to take it wherever the Lord wanted it to go, furnish a vivid illustration of the kind of obedience in which heaven delights (Ezek. 1; 10). Examples of human obedience: Noah (Gen. 6:22), Abraham (Gen. 11:28–32, cf. Acts 7:3; Gen. 12:1, cf. Heb. 11:8; Gen. 22:2 ff., cf. James 2:23); Joshua (Josh. 5:13–15); Samuel (1 Sam. 3:1–10); Simon (Peter) and Andrew (Matt. 4:19, 20); Simon (Peter) once more (Luke 5:5); James and John (Matt. 4:21, 22); Peter and the apostles (Acts 5:29); Mary of Bethany (John 11:28, 29); Paul (Acts 16:6–10; 26:19); and the Philippians (Phil. 2:12). The greatest example of all is Jesus Christ himself (Luke 2:51, 52; John 15:10; 17:4; Phil. 2:5–8; and Heb. 5:8). It was he who in the garden said, “Not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt. 26:39). As to the manner in which obedience is rewarded, from a host of passages that could be listed the following few should suffice: Josh. 1:8; Matt. 7:7, 8; John 7:17; 8:29; 14:21, 23; 15:10; Phil. 2:9, 10; Heb. 12:1, 2; and Rev. 3:20.

The petitions for the fulfilment of human needs follow. Although it is true that between the first three petitions, pertaining to God, and the last three, pertaining to man, there is a rather sharp division, the two are not to be regarded as wholly separate. If the believer is to take an active part in the hallowing of God’s name, the coming of his kingdom, and the doing of his will—such an active part being certainly implied in the first three petitions—he must have bread (Luke 10:7, cf. 1 Tim. 5:18; Gal. 6:6; Eph. 4:28; Phil. 4:15, 16). Jesus, accordingly, is not forgetful of the physical needs of his disciples (see Matt. 6:25–34; 25:34–40; Mark 10:29, 30; cf. Acts 24:17; 2 Cor. 8:8 f.; James 2:15, 16), both in order that they may live and be happy, and that they may be able vigorously to support kingdom causes.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 151). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 381–386). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 331–332). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

MAY 22 – GOD IS HERE; GOD IS NOW

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

—Psalm 90:12

It is a wonderful thought that God has already lived all of our tomorrows. God has no yesterdays and no tomorrows. The Scriptures say, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8), but it’s not His yesterday—it’s yours and mine. Jesus Christ the Lord is the One who came out of Bethlehem, out of Judea, whose goings forth have been even from everlasting. He can’t have yesterdays and tomorrows, because yesterday is time and tomorrow is time, but God surrounds it all and God has already lived tomorrow. The great God who was present at the beginning when He said, “Let there be” and there was, is also now present at the end, when the worlds are on fire and all creation has dissolved and gone back into chaos—and only God and His redeemed saints remain. Remember that God has already lived our tomorrows….

The Scripture says in Psalm 90:12 that because God is eternal, we must learn “to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.” God is in our today because God was in our yesterday and will be in our tomorrow…. God is! And because God is, then God is here and God is now. God dwells in an everlasting and eternal now. AOGII059-060

Lord, You are eternal, but I am of now. Teach me to number my time-oriented days, so I might use them wisely. Amen. [1]


Proper Response to God’s Wrath (90:11–12)

Commentary

11–12 The two previous motifs of “wrath” and “days” lead into a prayer for wisdom as the only legitimate and wise response to the human condition. People generally do not pay attention to the divine law of sin and retribution. One reason is that the full brunt of God’s anger is withheld and unknown to people. The frustrations in life are explained away or accepted as long as there are not too many problems. The greatness of God’s wrath should evoke fear, and that fear should be commensurate with God’s wrath (v. 11). Thus the psalmist calls for a wise response to the previous teaching on the nature of God in contradistinction to the nature of humans. His question “Who knows the power of your anger?” is to be understood as a strong affirmation: “Nobody knows the power of your anger!”

Though no one knows how God’s full anger will affect human existence, those who fear the Lord are more aware of the fierceness of his anger. The wise pray for “a heart of wisdom” (v. 12). Since no one “knows” (yôdēaʿ GK 3359, v. 11) how great God’s rage may be, the wise are receptive to divine revelation/instruction: “teach us” (hôdaʿ GK 3359, v. 12). The prayer consists of two parts. First, the wise ask to apprehend the brevity of life. The numbering of “days” (v. 12) is an act of recognition of the vast difference between God and finite human beings. Though life may have many pleasant surprises, God’s anger may come at any time; and the wise reckon continually with God’s existence and humankind’s accountability. Second, the wise apply themselves to obtaining a “heart of wisdom” (cf. Dt 5:29; 32:29). Brueggemann (Message of the Psalms, 113) observes that this heart “attends to the persistent reality of Yahweh’s Lordship.” Wisdom begins and ends with the Lord, as the wise seek the Lord in all of their ways (cf. Pr 1:7), and true wisdom begins with the petition for revelation and illumination: “Teach us.”[2]


90:11, 12 The man of God stands in awe of the power of God that has been awakened in anger. Who, he wonders, can reverence Him adequately when one considers the immensity of His wrath? This much is sure: it should make us value every day of our lives and spend each one in obedience to Him, and in such a way that it will count for eternity.[3]


90:11 Your fury … fear … due You? Instead of explaining away life’s curses, a wise person will recognize God’s wrath toward sin as the ultimate cause of all afflictions and consequently learn to fear God.

90:12 number our days. Evaluate the use of time in light of the brevity of life. heart of wisdom. Wisdom repudiates autonomy and focuses on the Lord’s sovereignty and revelation.[4]


90:12 teach us to number our days. In view of the theme of the psalm, this refers especially to the ability to make the most of one’s days, since they are so few. The heart of wisdom would enable the faithful to live by the right priorities (cf. the “fear” of God, v. 11).[5]


90:11 the fear due Fearing God means placing all other potential objects of fear or reverence in perspective and revering Him above else. Fearing God can be described as giving Him respect or honor. Verse 12 advocates a response to God’s power and wrath.

The fear of God is a pervasive concept throughout the Bible (Prov 1:7; 8:13; 9:10; compare Psa 111:10), including the Prophets (Isa 11:2; Jer 5:24), and the Psalms (Ps 2:11; 5:7; 15:4; 19:9; 33:8).

90:12 teach us to number our days A response to God’s power and wrath—emphasizing that people should pay attention to God’s ways each day and appreciate the life given to them.

a heart of wisdom Wisdom starts with being properly oriented to God.[6]


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

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 693–694). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 688–689). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 90:11–12). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1053). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 90:11–12). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

May 22 – Entrusting All to God

“Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.”

1 Peter 4:19

✧✧✧

The final attitude we should have in facing trials and sufferings is that of entrusting ourselves to God.

Geoffrey Bull epitomizes the modern–day believer who entrusts his entire soul to God’s will in the middle of terrible suffering. Bull was punished with solitary confinement, brainwashing, many kinds of intimidation, and starvation during more than three years of imprisonment by the Communist Chinese forty years ago. During his affliction he prayed that God would help him remember Scriptures, realize His peace, and triumph over doubt, fear, loneliness, and fatigue. The final two lines of a poem he wrote summarize Bull’s complete trust in God’s plan and purpose:

And Thy kingdom, Gracious God,

Shall never pass away.

The term “entrust” is a banker’s expression meaning “to deposit for safekeeping.” Peter encourages all believers who experience trials and tribulations to give over their very lives (“souls”) to God’s care. The Lord is indeed “a faithful Creator” who made us. Therefore we can and should trust Him fully as the only one who is able to care for all our needs.

By this point Peter has assumed that his original readers, since many had endured persecution, knew what suffering was like. Therefore, he could also present the Lord as a sovereign God who could be trusted to do “what is right.” Because it is God’s will to allow sufferings and trials in the lives of all believers, it is only logical that Peter exhort us to entrust ourselves to Him during such times.

Peter’s instruction is also related to Romans 12:1, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual [or rational] service of worship.” Paul reminds us that it is much easier to react as we should to trials if we have already resolved, with God’s help, to entrust everything to Him. Then we can face with calm and confidence, rather than worry and fear, whatever God allows.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Review your commitment to God, and ask Him to bring to mind anything that you need to entrust wholly to Him; then by faith take that step.

For Further Study: Psalm 25 describes David’s desire to trust in God. Read it and pick out several verses or a paragraph to meditate on.[1]


Entrust Suffering to God

Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right. (4:19)

Therefore draws the reader into the obvious duty he has in his suffering. Those who suffer according to the will of God receive this encouragement concerning the difficulty of their righteous pain—it is the will of God (cf. 3:7; 5:10). Knowing that fact, believers rest their souls in God’s care and purpose. Entrust (paratithemi) is a banker’s term referring to a deposit for safe keeping. One would be properly concerned about the character and ability of the person given such a trust. Jesus used the same word on the cross when He committed His spirit to His Father (Luke 23:46; cf. the discussion of 2:23 in chapter 15 of this volume). Believers are encouraged further to recall that the One to whom they give their souls is the faithful Creator. Only here in the New Testament is God called Creator. That is because it was generally understood that the Author of everything, the Designer of all that is, the One who sustains not only His material creation but achieves His purpose for it all, will bring to pass what He wills—only He is completely able and trustworthy in doing what is right. Who could be better than the trustworthy Creator who always acts righteously? Because God is faithful in Himself and to His own promises, believers’ souls are at rest in His power and purpose (cf. 1:3–5; John 10:27–30; 17:11–12, 15; Rom. 8:35–39; Eph. 1:13–14; Phil. 1:6; 1 Thess. 5:23–24; 2 Tim. 1:12; Jude 24–25).

The psalmist David walked the road that took him from anguish over his persecutors to assurance in his faithful Creator. Psalm 31 is a rich example of a believer entrusting himself to God:

In You, O Lord, I have taken refuge; let me never be ashamed; in Your righteousness deliver me. Incline Your ear to me, rescue me quickly; be to me a rock of strength, a stronghold to save me. For You are my rock and my fortress; for Your name’s sake You will lead me and guide me. You will pull me out of the net which they have secretly laid for me, for You are my strength. Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have ransomed me, O Lord, God of truth. I hate those who regard vain idols, but I trust in the Lord. I will rejoice and be glad in Your lovingkindness, because You have seen my affliction; You have known the troubles of my soul, and You have not given me over into the hand of the enemy; You have set my feet in a large place. Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted away from grief, my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow and my years with sighing; my strength has failed because of my iniquity, and my body has wasted away. Because of all my adversaries, I have become a reproach, especially to my neighbors, and an object of dread to my acquaintances; those who see me in the street flee from me. I am forgotten as a dead man, out of mind; I am like a broken vessel. For I have heard the slander of many, terror is on every side; while they took counsel together against me, they schemed to take away my life. But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, “You are my God.” My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and from those who persecute me. Make Your face to shine upon Your servant; save me in Your lovingkindness. Let me not be put to shame, O Lord, for I call upon You; let the wicked be put to shame, let them be silent in Sheol. Let the lying lips be mute, which speak arrogantly against the righteous with pride and contempt. How great is Your goodness, which You have stored up for those who fear You, which You have wrought for those who take refuge in You, before the sons of men! You hide them in the secret place of Your presence from the conspiracies of man; You keep them secretly in a shelter from the strife of tongues. Blessed be the Lord, for He has made marvelous His lovingkindness to me in a besieged city. As for me, I said in my alarm, “I am cut off from before Your eyes”; nevertheless You heard the voice of my supplications when I cried to You. O love the Lord, all you His godly ones! The Lord preserves the faithful and fully recompenses the proud doer. Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who hope in the Lord.[2]


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

Exhortation

Peter writes his epistle not to unbelievers but to God’s people and especially those who experience suffering and hardship. The words so then introduce the conclusion to Peter’s lengthy discussion on suffering. In other parts of the epistle (2:15; 3:17; 4:2), Peter exhorts Christians to remember that nothing happens without God’s will, for God is in control of every situation. In particular the sufferers grapple with the question of injustice to which they have to submit. They ought not to lose sight of God’s purpose in their lives, for in his providence he will care for them. Therefore, Peter gives these sufferers an extra word of consolation.

Peter tells his readers to fulfill two obligations. The first one is that they

  1. “Should commit themselves to their faithful Creator.” The verb commit appears in the last saying Jesus uttered from the cross: “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46). Peter exhorts the suffering believers to commit their lives into the hands of their faithful Creator. He describes God as “Creator,” a term that appears only here in the entire New Testament. He chooses this word to point to God’s creative power. Then he qualifies the word Creator with the adjective faithful. God not only has created man, but also sustains him from moment to moment. To this God the believer can confidently commit himself, for God’s word will never fail him. With that knowledge, the Christian should
  2. “Continue to do good.” This admonition occurs frequently in this epistle (2:15, 20; 3:6, 11, 17). Peter implies that the Christian who commits himself verbally to his faithful God ought to show this commitment in deeds of love and mercy toward his fellow man.[3]

19 In conclusion, the readers are once more admonished (“So then”) to “commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.” Entrusting oneself into divine care has been a crucial subtheme of 1 Peter (2:23; 4:19; 5:7), as has doing good (2:12, 20; 3:13, 17; 4:19). It is fitting that the two should interlock at this point. Moreover, the one to whom the saints commit themselves is “faithful,” able to be trusted by those who “cast all [their] anxiety,” since “he cares for [them]” (5:7). What is more, Peter is quite conscious that the readers’ hardships are not arbitrary; rather, they are part of God’s overall plan, hence his framing of both suffering and doing good in terms of “God’s will” (2:15; 3:17; 4:2, 19)—a conviction that presses to the fore throughout the entire letter.

Mounce, 78–79, summarizes this closing advice well: “Committing oneself to God is not passive submission. It involves active well-doing. While believers will certainly endure hostility of an unbelieving world, there is no place for a martyrdom mentality. Suffer in silence but get on with the job of living an active life of good deeds. Christians should be known for what they do, not for what they suffer. Fixation upon the difficulties of life robs the believer of the opportunity to display his concern for the welfare of others.”[4]


4:19 Peter insists that sufferings must be according to the will of God. Religious zealots may invite suffering by acting impulsively without divine guidance. Those with a martyr complex tempt God in a way that leads to dishonor. But the true pathway of suffering for Christians leads to eternal glory. In view of that, they should continue to do right, no matter what the cost may be, and entrust their souls to the faithful Creator.

It seems somewhat strange that Peter should introduce the Lord as Creator here rather than as Savior, High Priest, or Shepherd. Christ is our Creator in a twofold sense—we are His as part of the original creation and of the new creation (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10). In either case, we are the objects of His love and care. It is only reasonable that we should entrust ourselves to the One who made our souls and who saved them.[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 258–260). 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. 182–183). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 350–351). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2279). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 22 – Avoiding Man–Centered Theology

From among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.

Acts 20:30

Many forces hinder our understanding of this basic truth: the goal of every Christian’s life is to become more like Christ. Humanistic psychology is one such force. It teaches that man exists for his own satisfaction—he must have all his perceived needs and desires met to be happy. As a result, in many churches spiritual growth is often equated with ironing out life’s problems and finding personal fulfillment.

That kind of mentality ultimately leads to a man–centered theology, which is diametrically opposed to what the Bible teaches. The goal of salvation and sanctification is that we be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). It’s been well said that faith looks out instead of in, and the whole of life falls into line. The more you know Christ and focus on Him, the more the Spirit will make you like Him. But the more you focus on yourself, the more distracted you will be from the proper path.[1]


Guard the Flock

I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. (20:29–31)

It is not enough for a faithful shepherd to feed and lead his flock, he must also protect it from predators. Paul had no doubt that after his departure false teachers would threaten the Ephesian church, as they already had entered the church at Corinth (2 Cor. 11:4) and the churches of Galatia (Gal. 1:6). Whenever the truth is proclaimed, Satan can be expected to counter it with the lies of false doctrine. It has always been so. Paul’s striking description of false teachers as savage wolvesnot sparing the flock echoes that of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 7:15; 10:16). Because of the serious danger they pose to the church, the Scriptures condemn false teachers in the strongest language. Peter vividly describes them in 2 Peter 2 as “those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority” (v. 10); “unreasoning animals” (v. 12); “stains and blemishes” (v. 13); “having eyes full of adultery …having a heart trained in greed …accursed children” (v. 14); “springs without water …mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved” (v. 17); “slaves of corruption” (v. 19); dogs returning to their own vomit and pigs wallowing in the mud (v. 22).

True to Paul’s prediction, false teachers did come in among the flock at Ephesus and attack it (cf. Rev. 2:2). Even more subtle than the attack of false teachers from outside the church, however, is the defection of those within. Accordingly, Paul warned them that from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Perverse is from diastrephō, which means “to distort,” or “to twist.” False teachers twist God’s truth for their own perverted ends. Draw away is from apospaō and could be translated “to drag away” or “to tear away.” If the undershepherds are not vigilant, Paul warns, the wolves will drag their sheep away to devour them.

Tragically, even the Ephesian church, where Paul himself ministered for three years, saw such defections among its leadership. In his letters to Timothy (who was then the pastor of the Ephesian church), Paul condemned the false teachers who had arisen from within the Ephesian congregation (1 Tim. 1:3–7; 2 Tim. 3:1–9), even naming some of them (1 Tim. 1:20; 2 Tim. 1:15; 2:17).

Jude also warned in his epistle of the insidious danger of false teachers who arise from within the church:

Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (vv. 3–4)

But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. (vv. 10–13)

These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage. (v. 16)

To guard their flocks from attacks from both outside and inside the church, the undershepherds must do two things. First, they must be on the alert. Knowing that the savage wolves are awaiting an opening to attack their flocks, they must be vigilant. Charles Jefferson describes the importance of the shepherd’s vigilance:

The Eastern shepherd was, first of all, a watchman. He had a watch-tower. It was his business to keep a wide-open eye, constantly searching the horizon for the possible approach of foes. He was bound to be circumspect and attentive. Vigilance was a cardinal virtue. An alert wakefulness was for him a necessity. He could not indulge in fits of drowsiness, for the foe was always near. Only by his alertness could the enemy be circumvented. There were many kinds of enemies, all of them terrible, each in a different way. At certain seasons of the year there were floods. Streams became quickly swollen and overflowed their banks. Swift action was necessary in order to escape destruction There were enemies of a more subtle kind—animals, rapacious and treacherous: lions, bears, hyenas, jackals, wolves. There were enemies in the air; huge birds of prey were always soaring aloft ready to swoop down upon a lamb or kid. And then, most dangerous of all, were the human birds and beasts of prey—robbers, bandits, men who made a business of robbing sheepfolds and murdering shepherds. That Eastern world was full of perils. It teemed with forces hostile to the shepherd and his flock. When Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Habakkuk talk about shepherds, they call them watchmen set to warn and save.

Many a minister fails as a pastor because he is not vigilant. He allows his church to be torn to pieces because he is half asleep. He took it for granted that there were no wolves, no birds of prey, no robbers, and while he was drowsing the enemy arrived. False ideas, destructive interpretations, demoralizing teachings came into his group, and he never knew it. He was interested, perhaps, in literary research; he was absorbed in the discussion contained in the last theological quarterly, and did not know what his young people were reading, or what strange ideas had been lodged in the heads of a group of his leading members. There are errors which are as fierce as wolves and pitiless as hyenas; they tear faith and hope and love to pieces and leave churches, once prosperous, mangled and half dead. ( The Minister as Shepherd [Hong Kong: Living Books for All, 1980], 41–42, 43–44)

The faithful shepherd must also warn his flock. Paul had done so during his own ministry at Ephesus; he reminds the Ephesian elders of how night and day for a period of three years he did not cease to admonish each one with tears. Admonish is from noutheteō, which refers to giving counsel with a warning involved (cf. Col. 1:28). The pattern of Paul’s ministry shows the importance of warning believers about false teachers. He admonished the Ephesians for a period of three years, caring for each one of the flock (cf. v. 20). So compelled was he to warn them that he hardly had time for sleep, ministering night and day (cf. 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8). Nor was it a mere academic exercise for Paul—he punctuated his warnings with his tears. He wept because he knew the terrible consequences when false teachers infiltrate. Only by following Paul’s example can the faithful undershepherd protect Christ’s flock from the savage wolves and diseased sheep who constantly threaten it.[2]


  1. “I know that after my departure, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30. Even from among your number men will stand up to speak perverse things to draw away disciples after them.”

“I know.” Again Paul employs the verb to know. He is fully cognizant of the perilous condition in which the believers will find themselves after he has left them. He speaks from innate knowledge: “Savage wolves will come in among you.” Wolves are predators that attack the flock and slaughter many of the sheep (compare Matt. 7:15; 10:16; John 10:12).

“After my departure.” Paul introduces the concept departure in general terms. After the departure of the apostles, many of the seven churches in the province of Asia showed spiritual lethargy (Rev. 2:1–3:22). Paul himself continued to warn the church of Ephesus through his pastoral epistles to Timothy (e.g., 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Tim. 3:1–9).

“Savage wolves.” The metaphor of wolves attacking the flock is a portrayal of false teachers who enter the church to deceive the members and lead them away from the faith. Both Peter and Jude oppose false teachers and scoffers who have furtively slipped into the church and led the people astray. For instance, these teachers deny the return of Christ, despise authority, reject Jesus Christ, repudiate Christian conduct, and live in immorality (see, e.g., 2 Peter 2; Jude 4–19).

“Even from among your number.” Not only do false teachers slip in among the members of the church (compare Jude 4), but even within the church the danger of heresy is real (see 1 John 2:18–19). Some people in the church become false prophets, who at times disguise themselves as angels of light (2 Cor. 11:14). They purposely strive to draw believers away from the truth of the gospel.[3]


20:29, 30 Paul was well aware that after his departure, the church would be attacked from without and from within. False teachers, wolves in sheep’s clothing, would prey upon the flock, showing no mercy. From within the fellowship, men would aspire to places of prominence, speaking perversions of the truth, and trying to draw away the disciples after themselves.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 159). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (p. 326). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 733–734). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1649). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.