Daily Archives: May 26, 2017

May 26, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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May 26, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

The deadly terror attack in the U.K. has catapulted security to the top of the agenda for the world’s most powerful leaders meeting in Sicily. Italy, the Group of Seven host, said the summit aimed to “deliver the strongest possible message of extraordinary and common commitment against terrorism.” Still, the nations gathered do not see eye to eye on trade, immigration and climate change.

German carmakers found themselves at the receiving end of renewed attacks by President Donald Trump, who reportedly chided them for selling too many vehicles in the U.S., contributing to a lopsided German trade surplus that’s hurting the U.S. economy.

The U.K. is furious that American officials gave away the name of the suspected suicide bomber, and images of his improvised explosive device to U.S. media, while British police race to prevent further attacks from the same network.

A Republican won a special election for a U.S. House seat in Montana, even after being charged with assaulting a reporter the day before polls opened, in a race seen as a referendum on Trump.

Taiwan’s historic court ruling this week did more than make it the first place in Asia to let same-sex couples wed: It also widened the political gap with China.

The U.S. and Russia are engaged in a rivalry for dominance once again, this time in the wheat market. After Russia recently pulled ahead, the U.S. has fought back, with the help of a weaker dollar. One irony of the situation is that the U.S. is taking market share partly as the FBI investigation into ties between President Donald Trump’s aides and Russia. The probe has weakened the greenback and made American grain cheaper for overseas buyers.

Wal-Mart and other retailers have beat back the finance industry’s latest lobbying campaign to let banks charge stores higher fees when customers use debit cards.

Longer life spans and disappointing investment returns will help create a $400 trillion retirement-savings shortfall in about three decades, a figure more than five times the size of the global economy, according to a World Economic Forum report.

Future military dominance will depend partly on how fast you can fly and how quickly you can get into space. That’s one of the guiding principles behind an advanced Pentagon project to build a spacecraft able to launch smaller payloads into low-earth orbit on short notice, and lower cost.

Imax says the initial reception to VR content-often around 10 minutes, at $1 / min.-at the Imax VR center in L.A. has been so enthusiastic that it’s increasing the number of locations, to 11 from 6, for the rollout. On May 26 the company will open its second VR parlor in the U.S. at a multiplex in Manhattan. A total of five U.S. centers are planned, as well as locations in Tokyo; Shanghai; Toronto; Manchester, England; the Middle East; and France.

AP Top Stories

Fireworks erupted Thursday when President Trump’s budget chief sparred with a Senate panel over the administration’s proposed 2018 budget, most notably trading barbs with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., over potential cuts to entitlement programs.

Four inmates remain hospitalized with gunshot wounds a day after California correctional officers opened fire to quell a mass attack on eight prison guards by more than 100 inmates.

A pregnant teenager – an honor student with straights A’s – has been branded “immoral” by her school and told she cannot attend its graduation ceremony. Officials at Heritage Academy, a private Christian school in Maryland, said Maddi Runkles, 18, was not welcome at the event because she had to be held “accountable for her immorality”.

Thousands of civilians fled fighting in the Philippines on Wednesday as troops tried to fend off Islamist militants who took over large parts of a city, capturing Christians, seizing and torching buildings and setting free scores of prisoners.

Amid growing tensions in the Korean peninsula over North Korea’s continued missile tests, the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea is seen as a critical part of efforts to lessen North Korea’s leverage from asymmetric weapons, a top American military commander in Seoul said Thursday.

BBC

Gunmen have attacked a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, killing at least 26 people and wounding 25 others, state media report.

At least 15 Afghan soldiers have been killed in an attack by the Taliban on a military base in Kandahar province.

The German government plans to fine parents up to $2,806 if they fail to get medical advice about vaccinating their children.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has returned to Harvard University under rainy skies to give a graduation speech and receive an honorary degree. The world’s fifth-richest person, worth $62.3bn famously dropped out of Harvard after launching the global social-networking website.

A historic summit in Australia has called for a new formal body to represent the nation’s indigenous peoples in parliament. More than 250 indigenous leaders met in Uluru to discuss how to best recognize Australia’s first inhabitants.

The retirement age should rise to at least 70 in rich countries by 2050 as life expectancy rises above 100, according to a new report.

The United States has admitted that at least 105 Iraqi civilians were killed in an air strike it carried out in Mosul in March.

WND

President Trump ordered the Justice Department and other agencies to conduct a “complete review” of government leaks of sensitive information and hunt for culprits in the wake of a furor with Great Britain over publicly revealed intelligence.

The complaint of a single resident of a planned community of hundreds of homes in California prompted the homeowners association board to banish four Christian groups that had been meeting in a common building, some for nearly a decade.


The Briefing 05-26-17

New research shows “existential distress,” not pain, main reason why people choose assisted suicide

Should religious organizations have to give up convictions to help foster children? TX bill says no.

How John F. Kennedy, born 100 years ago on Monday, became an iconic figure

Friday Book Recommendation: “Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World”

The post The Briefing 05-26-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 5/26/2017

78% of Israelis say peace not possible, split if PM serious to make deal
Some 78% of Israelis believe there is no chance of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians, despite the efforts of US President Donald Trump, according to a Panels Research poll taken for Maariv on Wednesday and released on Thursday. Only 18% believe it is possible to reach such an agreement, while 4% do not know, according to the poll of 542 Israeli adults who constitute a statistical sample of the population with a margin of error of 4.3%.

Israel’s eyes in the sky gather intel in a shifting Middle East
The Air Force’s reconnaissance aircraft have been flying more intelligence missions in light of rising threats along Israel’s borders and the continuing wave of Palestinian violence in the West Bank. The small and unassuming Sde Dov Airport is tucked between the city’s Tel Aviv Port and the Ramat Aviv neighborhood, taking civilians away on vacation. But the hybrid civilian/military airport is also where the air force’s First Squadron planes is based, and took off to fly at least 6,000 hours in 2016 alone.

Egypt Coptic Christians killed in bus attack
At least 23 people have been killed and 25 wounded after gunmen opened fire on a bus carrying Coptic Christians in central Egypt, state media report. The incident occurred in Minya province, 250km (155 miles) south of Cairo, as the bus headed to a church. There have been a number of attacks on Copts in recent months claimed by Islamic State (IS) militants.

G7 leaders gather for ‘robust’ talks in Sicily
US President Donald Trump is attending a G7 summit with leaders of the world’s major economies in Sicily, Italy, on the last leg of his first foreign trip. A tough debate is expected on issues including trade and climate change. The G7 consists of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US. The EU also has representatives.

Brazil protests: Temer revokes decree deploying troops in Brasilia
Brazilian President Michel Temer has revoked a decree that deployed troops in the capital, Brasilia, to defend government buildings against protests. The decree was made on Wednesday when the government said police could not contain anti-government demonstrations. However, the move was strongly criticised by city authorities and the opposition.

Libya: breeding and training ground for jihadists
Feeding on the chaos that has gripped Libya since the overthrow and killing of longtime dictator Moamer Kadhafi in 2011, jihadists have used the country to recruit and export militants. Salman Abedi, the man suspected of carrying out the attack on a pop concert in Manchester that killed 22 people and wounded dozens, was born in Britain but visited Libya before the bombing that was claimed by the Islamic State group.

Declassified memos show FBI illegally shared spy data on Americans with private parties
The FBI has illegally shared raw intelligence about Americans with unauthorized third parties and violated other constitutional privacy protections, according to newly declassified government documents that undercut the bureau’s public assurances about how carefully it handles warrantless spy data to avoid abuses or leaks.

Mark Zuckerberg joins Silicon Valley bigwigs in calling for government to give everybody free money
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called on the need to consider universal basic income for Americans during his Harvard Commencement Speech. Zuckerberg’s comments reflect those of other Silicon Valley bigwigs, including Sam Altman, the president of venture capital firm Y Combinator. “Every generation expands its definition of equality. Now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract,” Zuckerberg said during his speech.

Sri Lanka landslides, floods kill at least 25; dozens missing
Floods and landslides in Sri Lanka have killed at least 25 people while dozens are missing after torrential rain, officials said on Friday, as soldiers fanned out in boats and in helicopters to help with rescue operations. The early rainy season downpours have forced hundreds of people from their homes across the Indian Ocean island. “There are at least five landslides reported in several places in Kaluthara,” said police spokesman Priyantha Jayakody, referring to the worst-hit district on the island’s west coast.

Planned Parenthood executives joke about decapitating fetuses in new video
Planned Parenthood executives joked about decapitated fetuses, admitted to altering abortion procedures to preserve fetal organs and said clinics have a financial incentive to sell human tissue in a new undercover video released Thursday.

Patriots to sponsor LGBT ‘Gay Bowl’
…The stick to sports crowd usually targets players or media personalities. Now they may have to say it to an entire organization. This weekend the Patriots announced they will sponsor the 2017 Gay Bowl, which is a national championship flag football built with teams from the LGBT community.

Twitter Suspends WND For Seth Rich Story
“We have determined that you have violated the Twitter Rules, so we’ve temporarily limited some of your account features.  While in this state, you can still browse Twitter, but you’re limited to only sending Direct Messages to your followers – no Tweets, Retweets, or likes.”

US On Track To Kill More Syrian Civilians Than Russia For 5th Straight Month
Coalition-led airstrikes in Syria killed a total of 225 civilians between April 23 and May 23, the highest 30-day death toll for U.S.-led forces since the campaign began, Agence France-Presse reported. That’s nearly double the number of intended targets…

Trump Travel Ban Blocked; Fight Headed For Supreme Court
President Donald Trump’s revised travel ban “speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus and discrimination,” a federal appeals court said Thursday in ruling against the executive order targeting six Muslim-majority countries.

Jared Kushner “Under FBI Scrutiny” In Russia Probe: NBC
“Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC News.”

Trump talks terrorism while Europe shouts ‘Climate!’
While terrorism may top President Donald Trump’s agenda, European leaders keep pressing him on climate change and the environment. French President Emmanuel Macron worked on Trump during lunch Thursday, urging the U.S. president not to ditch the 196-nation Paris Agreement on climate change before getting on a plane to Sicily, Italy.

Charlie Daniels’ Open Letter to Chuck Schumer: You’ve Opened Pandora’s Box
Sen. Schumer, I don’t live in your constituency, but in the larger picture, you live in mine and every other legal, taxpaying American citizen who is affected by the power you hold in your political party, your blind allegiance to it and the obstructionist posture to anything that doesn’t directly benefit it.

Trump Pledges That Leakers Will Be ‘Prosecuted To The Fullest Extent Of The Law’
Donald Trump pledged that those in his administration who are leaking sensitive information will be “prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.” In a statement Thursday, the president said he has asked the Department of Justice to launch “a complete review” into leaks, which he finds “deeply troubling” because they pose “a grave threat” to national security.

The Syrian Airfield The US Hit Is Back In Business
In the past week, the Syrians began returning Su-22 and MiG-23 fighter jets back to Shayrat airfield, which the US military attacked on April 6 with 59 Tomahawk missiles. The aircraft returning to Shayrat had been distributed throughout regime-controlled portions of the country, defense officials


Fighting the Politicized, Evidence-Free ‘Collusion with Russia’ Narrative

According to Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review, the ‘Russian collusion’ scandal is completely manufactured. No question that the Russians hoped to influence the election outcome but no one can say whether they actually did, including former CIA director John Brennan who recently answered a slew of questions before the House Intelligence Committee. The end result? “After all this time and effort, Democrats are unable to show that Trump and his minions did anything wrong,” says former assistant U.S. attorney McCarthy. In a column he penned, he makes the case that there is not a smidgen of evidence that Donald Trump colluded with the Russians.  There is collusion, though — between the liberal media and the Democrats. More from McCarthy:

If police believe bank robbers were hoping for inside help on a heist, they don’t hold a press conference to smear the bank manager with their suspicions about “collusion.” They go about the quiet police work of building a conspiracy case. Unless and until they find concrete evidence and are ready to file formal charges, they keep their big mouths shut. Those rudimentary rules of the road are worth remembering when we consider the transparently political testimony of former Obama-administration CIA director John Brennan before the House intelligence committee on Tuesday.

View article →


Planned Parenthood executives joke about decapitating fetuses in new video

Bradford Richardson of Washington Times has the story:

Photo credit: Godspeak Calvary Chapel

Planned Parenthood executives joked about decapitated fetuses, admitted to altering abortion procedures to preserve fetal organs and said clinics have a financial incentive to sell human tissue in a new undercover video released Thursday.

The three-minute video was recorded at an annual National Abortion Federation meeting by pro-life investigators with the Center for Medical Progress. The advocacy group said it’s just a preview of never-before-seen content that has been sealed for almost two years due to legal fights.

View article →


May 26, 2017
WES VERNON — The mainstream media apparently have decided the bungling Democrat Party (and some scared rabbits in the GOP) are doing an inadequate job of getting President Trump booted from the White House. Therefore, they themselves (those same media types) want to be the de facto engine to bring forth the charges (i.e., new “facts”) that will bring our 45th president to his supposedly deserved doom…. (more)

May 25, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — One of the big problems with the media is that journalists publish so many things that aren’t true, especially when they are writing about people in positions of power whom they want to pursue their liberal agendas…. (more)

May 25, 2017

ALETEIA — From The Daily Mail: When Melania Trump recited The Lord’s Prayer before a Melbourne, Florida presidential rally in February, the Internet went hog wild. Now we know one reason why the first lady began with ‘Let us pray’ and ‘Our Father who art in heaven’ when she introduced the president that evening: She’s a practicing Roman Catholic…. (more)


May 25, 2017

GARTH KANT — It’s the kind of crazy scenario that only Washington could invent: Democrats are now accusing the president of covering up a non-crime. The good news for President Trump is that the Russia collusion scandal appears to be dying because there is no evidence…. (more)


May 25, 2017
NEWSMAX — Journalist Sharyl Attkisson is not buying the claims President Donald Trump and/or his campaign had any improper ties to Russia. Attkisson spoke Wednesday with Newsmax TV host Steve Malzberg and was asked about the alleged collusion between the two parties, of which there is no hard evidence…. (more)

May 25, 2017
BYRON YORK — Former CIA Director John Brennan’s appearance before the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday rekindled the hopes of Democrats and others searching for proof that Donald Trump or his associates colluded with Russia to interfere with the 2016 election. But Brennan gave the committee old information – – he frankly admitted it was old – – that did not take into account what has been learned in recent months from other sources…. (more)

May 25, 2017
BOB UNRUH — Twitter, whose founder has expressed regret that his organization’s advocacy for free speech may have contributed to Donald Trump’s election as president, on Wednesday suspended for 12 hours WND.com’s account for a headline tweet on Donna Brazile’s involvement in the scandal developing over the death of DNC staffer Seth Rich…. (more)

May 25, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — Democrats and much of the mainstream news media Wednesday poured cold water on the the House Republicans’ American Health Care Act, citing a report from the Congressional Budget Office that the legislation to begin dismantling Obamacare would result in 23 million uninsured in the next 10 years…. (more)

May 25, 2017

LEO HOHMANN — The British have not yet buried their dead from the jihadist massacre at a Manchester, England, concert hall, but that hasn’t stopped the Council on American-Islamic Relations from beating the drum of its favorite meme – – “Islamophobia.”… (more)


May 24, 2017

CIRCA — The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community…. (more)


May 24, 2017

May 24, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — The Manchester massacre underscores complaints from counterterrorism analysts that Europe has fallen into denial about the threat of Islamic terrorism. For instance, London Mayor Sadiq Khan is on record as saying terrorism is “part and parcel” of urban life…. (more)

May 24, 2017
THE HILL — Sen. Rand Paul intends to force a vote on a $110 billion defense deal President Trump signed with Saudi Arabia, according to an aide to the Kentucky Republican…. (more)

May 24, 2017

WORLDNETDAILY — Some big names in media and politics are demanding to know: Why won’t anyone thoroughly investigate the mysterious murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich and its possible connection to DNC emails leaked to WikiLeaks during the 2016 presidential campaign?… (more)


May 24, 2017
CHERYL CHUMLEY — Another day, another media hit on President Donald Trump, it seems. This one, from The Associated Press, who apparently hired a freelancer who went above and beyond journalistic duties to sneak her way into a “closed press” fundraiser to report on Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway’s comments – – and paint them in a negative light, of course…. (more)

May 24, 2017
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON — Election machines in three states were not hacked to give Donald Trump the election. There was never a serious post-election movement of electors to defy their constitutional duties and vote for Hillary Clinton. Nor, once Trump was elected, did transgendered people begin killing themselves in alarming numbers…. (more)

May 23, 2017

TOWNHALL — More than four in five, 81 percent, of Americans think the overall state of moral values in the country is only “fair” or “poor,” according to a poll released Monday by Gallup. This assessment of U.S. moral values marks a seven-year low. Seventy-seven percent of those surveyed said the country’s moral values are “getting worse.”… (more)


May 23, 2017
NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia was music to the ears of our partners in the Middle East, but that is just the beginning of what needs to get done, John Bolton wrote in a column for the New York Post…. (more)

May 23, 2017
NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump has backed off immediately moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem because of the slightly nutso view of the State Department, Bill Kristol, editor-at-large of The Weekly Standard, told Newsmax TV…. (more)

May 23, 2017

WORLDNETDAILY — One of America’s most outspoken political leaders has a blunt description of the accusations against Donald Trump: It’s “slander.” Tom Coburn, a former senator from Oklahoma and the author of the new book “Smashing the DC Monopoly,” discussed the case against the president in a recent interview with talk-show host, pastor and author Carl Gallups on Gallups’ radio show “Freedom Friday.”… (more)


May 23, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — The budget that the Trump administration will roll out Tuesday does much more than balance in 10 years and boost military spending; it forces a major change in the way Washington looks at the spending by putting the focus on taxpayers instead payees…. (more)

May 23, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — Former Democratic National Committee interim chairwoman Donna Brazile is the high-ranking DNC representative who allegedly called police and the family of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich and demanded to know why a private investigator was “snooping” into Rich’s death, the private eye revealed to WND Monday…. (more)

May 23, 2017
JOSEPH FARAH — Means, motive and opportunity. Those are the key elements of a crime detectives are trained to look for in the search for suspects. They certainly never rule out those who know the victim, especially when robbery does not appear to be a motive…. (more)

May 23, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said Monday that the Trump administration will spearhead a historic school-choice initiative aimed at a “transformation” of the nation’s “closed and antiquated education system.” “The president is proposing the most ambitious expansion of education choice in our nation’s history,” said Ms. DeVos at a speech in Indianapolis before the American Federation for Children, which she previously chaired…. (more)

May 23, 2017
ALAN KEYES — Like most people inexperienced in the conduct of governmental affairs, President Donald Trump has not yet developed the frame of mind required to govern his use of words so that his statements take account of the complex responsibilities of his office…. (more)

Mid-Day Snapshot

May 26, 2017

Trump’s Welcome Bluntness

It’s high time all NATO members contributed their “fair share” to the old alliance, the president insisted.

The Foundation

“National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.” —John Adams (1815)


Weekly Watchman for 05/26/2017

Assessing President Trump’s Efforts in the Middle East

This morning we look at President Trump’s visit to the Middle East to try to rally Muslim nations against ISIS and terrorism, along with his ambitious hopes to bring peace to Israel and its enemies. We will look at his efforts from biblical and pragmatic viewpoints, and discuss some writings by Christian author, Bill Koenig, a White House corespondent. In the first segment we check in with Dr. Cal Beisner of the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation to look at the radical environmental movement and its real agenda.

Read more

The Attack on Religious Liberty

The Constitution of the United States guarantees every citizen the right to worship as they believe and to freely express their religious views privately as well as publicly. But Jesus warned us that the day would come when true Christian believers would be marginalized, hated and even persecuted for their faith in Him. Historically we have believed “that could never happen in America,” but we are seeing the early signs that indeed it is starting to happen.

Are we approaching the day when the right of true, practicing Christians to share their faith and worship publicly in our nation will become a distant memory? What can we do to assure our constitutional rights to privately and publicly express and share our Christian convictions? Or should we accept what many feel is inevitable: that Christian liberties will be stripped in favor of political correctness and secular humanism?

Brad Dacus of The Pacific Justice Institute joins us to discuss trends and recent legal battles over the religious freedom of Christians.

Read more

A Knock on Your Door…

Many of us have received some friendly faces knocking on our door at some point and often on a Saturday morning. You open the door and a couple nice young men greet you and ask if they can talk to you about Jesus and where you might be spending eternity. You are being witnessed to by dedicated members of The Mormon Church.

There are more than 1.5 million Mormons in America. Most of them are conservative citizens that are passionate about their beliefs and desiring to convert you to their religion. But is Mormonism, which also claims salvation through their version of Jesus, consistent with Biblical Christianity in their beliefs and values? Today we take a closer look at Mormon history and beliefs with James Walker of Watchman Fellowship, a former Mormon himself.

Read more

Striving for the Standard set by Jesus

Paul encouraged believers to run the good race finishing life in the holiness of God. Jesus called us to new heights of holy living by the power of His Word and God’s Spirit. Similar to an athlete competing in the pole vault, Jesus has set an increasingly high bar for us to aim for in our striving to pursue holy living in this world. Dave Wager is back with us to discuss how Jesus set the ultimate standard, raised the bar on holy living, and by God’s grace and Spirit we can reach new heights in Christ.

Read more

Peace in the Middle East?

President Trump recently stated, “peace in the Middle East may not be as difficult as many people think.” This is part of the message he hopes to convey to Muslim and Israeli leaders during his current visit. Well the author of The Art of the Deal will probably find that conducting business contracts and mergers is a lot easier than brokering peace between Israelis and Muslims who have sworn to wipe them off the face of the earth.

In our nation, many are concerned that under the Obama Administration, radical groups like The Muslim Brotherhood have become so ensconced within the fabric of our government that we are already living in very dangerous times. Joining us to discuss the growth and acceptance of Islam within our nation and government is Brigitte Gabriel of ACT! For America. Brigitte experienced first hand the brutality of radical Islam when the call for jihad affected her personally as a child in Lebanon.

Read more


This ‘n’ That

  • It’s terrible that this girl is now fighting a rare infection, but let this be a lesson: animals in captivity are still wild animals. Don’t blame the sea lion for acting like a sea lion. There’s a theological parallel to this, too, isn’t there? Don’t expect the world to act in accordance with Christianity; expect the world to act like the world.
  • This made me smile.
  • Here’s a throwback to 2014 and another helpful article on some of the warning signs of spiritual abuse.
  • R.C. Sproul discusses three types of legalism. I think more could be outlined, but this is a good start.
  • God’s intricate, perfectly designed creation!
  • I thought this was amusing until it blasphemously mocked our Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • What if Jeremiah, John the Baptist, and the Apostle Paul were Arminian? Yikes.
  • John MacArthur on eliminating spiritual toxins from your spiritual diet.
  • Charles Spurgeon on contentment:

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 26

  • Trump’s first G7 expected to be ‘challenging’ (Read More); Trump Saves Worst for Last on Foreign Trip (Read More)
  • Trump Blasts German Carmakers’ U.S. Sales and Threatens Barriers (Read More)
  • Trump directly scolds NATO allies, says they owe ‘massive’ sums (Read More)
  • Trump Likely to Maintain Obama’s Russia Sanctions (Read More)
  • Juncker says Trump was not aggressive on German trade surplus (Read More)
  • Republican wins Montana special election despite assault charge (Read More)
  • China Considers Changing Yuan Fixing Formula to Curb Swings (Read More)
  • China Exerts More Control Over Its Currency With Tweak to Yuan Fix (Read More)
  • China’s teapot refiners set to slow crude imports as tanks overflow (Read More)
  • China’s reforms not enough to arrest mounting debt: Moody’s (Read More)
  • China central bank denies reports it told banks to deposit dollars (Read More)
  • Chinese foreign minister urges Seoul to resume talks with North Korea (Read More)
  • Amazon’s Brush With $1,000 Signals the Death of the Stock Split (Read More)
  • Waiting for ‘The Big One’ to Shake San Francisco (Read More)
  • Philippine president urges IS-linked rebels to halt siege, start talks (Read More)
  • Why All CEOs Need to Be Tech CEOs (Read More)
  • Tesla’s Model X Is Missing the American SUV Craze (Read More)
  • Major UK parties restart election push, under shadow of security threat (Read More)
  • Indonesia makes arrests as Islamic State claims Jakarta attacks (Read More)

Top Headlines – 5/26/2017

Trump’s envoy returns amid push to renew direct talks

Talks underway for possible pope visit to Israel to push peace

Nasrallah: ‘Saudi Arabia gave Trump money for Israel’

Netanyahu mulling radical plan for east Jerusalem neighborhoods

Ramadan 2017 to begin on Saturday, May 27

Reprieves were approved for the Palestinians for the month of Ramadan

Hamas calls for day of rage in support of hunger strikers

Arab students call for ‘intifada’ at Hebrew University rally

Hamas kills three men in execution partially streamed on Facebook

Slain US student’s mother to UN: PA must stop paying my son’s killer

IDF troops come under fire outside Ramallah; none injured

Evidence of 2,000-year-old battle for Jerusalem unearthed in City of David

Jerusalem to become a smarter city

Israeli cows are world’s best milk producers, new report shows

Estonia blasts BDS, calls Israel ‘a friend and partner’

Egypt blocks access to news websites including Al-Jazeera and Mada Masr

Turkish Foreign Ministry rejects U.S. resolution condemning street brawl in Washington

Senate Panel Approves Stiff Iran Sanctions and Says Russia Is Next

Iran says it has built third underground ballistic missile factory

Iranian President: ‘We Need Missiles’ to Confront Trump Admin, Enemies

Hezbollah chief says dialogue with Iran is only way forward

US air strike on IS killed 105 civilians in Iraq’s Mosul

Pentagon Inquiry Blames ISIS for Civilian Deaths in Mosul Strike

Islamic State group ‘prepared attacks’ in Moscow

‘Credible’ Islamic State propaganda video features short clip of Las Vegas Strip

Growing Concern Over Brothers Arrested With Guns, Bomb-Making Materials in Minnesota

Philippines says foreign fighters part of Islamic State ‘invasion’

Greek goddess statue removed in Bangladesh after Islamist outcry

Ethiopia charges 2 with terrorism over deadly stampede

Manchester Bomber Believed Muslims Were Mistreated, Sought Revenge

Attack turns spotlight on Libyan Islamists in Manchester

Why Libya is still a global terror threat

Manchester attack: Ex-CIA officer says publication of leaked pics ‘goes too far’

Trump condemns leaks after UK police briefly halt information sharing

Manchester terror attack: British police ‘working closely’ with US again after ‘fresh assurances’

Election campaign resumes after Manchester attack

Greek ex-prime minister hurt as letter bomb explodes in car

Brazilian President Sends in Army to Control Leftist Protesters

Trump demands Europe pay more toward Nato in excoriating speech at Brussels summit

Trump, G7 peers seek deals on terrorism, trade, climate

G-7 leaders prepare to go face to face with Trump over Paris climate accord

Trump talks terrorism while Europe shouts ‘Climate!’

Federal appeals court maintains freeze of Trump’s travel ban. Attorney general vows Supreme Court appeal.

Pew: Refugee arrivals in U.S. decline sharply as world crisis grows

Obama Lectures Trump Over Walls, Builds One Around D.C. Home

California Farmers Fear Worker Shortage From Crackdown on Illegals

Federal agents nab nearly 200 people in L.A.-area immigration raids targeting criminals

Students berate professor who refused to participate in no-whites ‘Day of Absence’

Republican wins Montana election one night after being charged with assault

With Confederate flags gone, Civil War museum will close

Bad intel from Russia influenced Comey’s Clinton announcement: report

Jared Kushner Under Scrutiny in Russia Probe, Say Officials

Kushner urged Trump to challenge Russia probe head

Kushner says willing to cooperate with FBI probe into Russia meetings

Robert Mueller emerging as gatekeeper for all Russia probes, and Congress is wary

Senate Intelligence Committee votes to give leaders solo subpoena power

Trump Pledges That Leakers Will Be ‘Prosecuted To The Fullest Extent Of The Law’

Trump plans to boost White House staff with ‘war room’ to go after critics

Utah law that could send online bullies to jail criticized

Hackers are hiding computer viruses in film subtitles, security experts warn

Wall Street hits record highs, helped by consumer stocks

Oil price slides as Opec production cuts fail to impress markets

Goldman Warns OPEC Faces Test After Oil Deal Met With Skepticism

Farmer faces $2.8 million fine after plowing his own field

NASA announces 2022 mission to explore metal asteroid so valuable it could crash the world economy

Juno mission first results: Jupiter isn’t like what researchers expected

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Babo-Pangulo, Philippines

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Ndoi Island, Fiji

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 15,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 12,000ft

Pigeon ‘caught with backpack of drugs’

Rate of Alzheimer’s disease deaths jumped 54 pct. in 15 years, CDC finds

‘Every year, I give birth’: why war is driving a contraception crisis in Sudan

Video: Abortion Providers Share Graphic Details of Dismembering Unborn Children

Judge to consider contempt against antiabortion group leader after release of Planned Parenthood videos

Taiwan approves same-sex marriage, first such ruling in Asia

Target Gets 500K More Boycott Petitions, Still Refuses to Bar Men From Women’s Bathrooms

Bosnian town defends Virgin Mary sightings, despite Pope’s doubt

Gary DeMar – The prophecy pundits are scaremongering again: Here’s how to answer them from the Bible. . . .

Mark Driscoll Defends Roman Catholic Church, Says It Affirms Essential Doctrines

How deep and wide does the NAR rabbit hole go?

Who is Jan-Aage Torp?

Abortion Conference Attendees Joke About Decapitated Heads, Brains, Eyeballs

20 Planned Parenthood Abortion Biz Clinics Closed Last Year, 13 Have Closed This Year

Most UK Students Say Jesus Is Real, but Not ‘God in Human Form’

Gunmen kill 26 in attack on Christians in Egypt

DEVELOPING: Hunt for possible 2nd explosive in Manchester under way

Posted: 26 May 2017 08:37 AM PDT

Investigators have uncovered signs the suicide bomber at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester may have made a second explosive device that’s still missing, local…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Magnitude 5.4 Earthquake shakes parts of Luzon

Posted: 26 May 2017 08:31 AM PDT

A tectonic earthquake of magnitude 5.4 struck 12 kilometers northeast of San Marcelino in Zambales at 10:27 p.m. on Thursday, according to the Philippine Institute…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

ISIS calls for ‘All-Out War’ to Mark start of Ramadan – Targets Include Civilians

Posted: 26 May 2017 08:23 AM PDT

ISIS has issued a rallying call to its followers for an “all-out war” on the West to mark the start of Ramadan tomorrow. European security…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Security Measures On Heightened Alert For Memorial Day Weekend!

Posted: 26 May 2017 08:18 AM PDT

A legitimate Islamic State group propaganda video posted on social media last week features brief footage of the Las Vegas Strip while calling for lone-wolf…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia warns citizens against travelling to Britain in fears of more terrorism

Posted: 26 May 2017 08:14 AM PDT

Russia has warned its citizens against visiting Britain due to the threat of “inevitable” new terrorist attacks.  Vladimir Putin’s government issued the travel advice after…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Lying in the Lap of Seduction

Posted: 26 May 2017 08:00 AM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will show you how the life of Samson gives us a clear picture of the progression of a…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Alabama Church Reports 600 Baptisms in 6 Years!

Posted: 26 May 2017 06:17 AM PDT

When Joey Hanner began pastoring Union No. 3 Baptist Church near Gasden, Alabama, he felt something wasn’t quite right.  After attending an event on discipleship,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Why the Six-Day War Was a “Prophetic Milestone”

Posted: 26 May 2017 06:04 AM PDT

The 1967 Six-Day War pitted a relatively young Israel against five established Arab armies. One of the world’s superpowers also came dangerously close to entering…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Patriots to become first NFL Team to sponsor LGBT “GAY BOWL”

Posted: 26 May 2017 06:00 AM PDT

The New England Patriots will reportedly become the first NFL team to sponsor the Gay Bowl, an annual tournament to crown the country’s best LGBT…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Reality Series Will Feature Plastics of Hollywood Staring 12 “Human Dolls”

Posted: 26 May 2017 05:54 AM PDT

A TV show is set to follow the most plastic people on the planet who have spent close to three million dollars on surgeries and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Dozens killed as masked gunmen ambush convoy of Egyptian Coptic Christians

Posted: 26 May 2017 05:44 AM PDT

Gunmen opened fire on two buses and a truck carrying Coptic Christians in Minya, Egypt on Friday, killing at least 26, including children. Some 26…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Apocalyptical hailstorms strike Mexico and Turkey

Posted: 25 May 2017 08:24 PM PDT

A few days after the furious storms and tornado that closed down customs in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, this fierce hailstorm hit the North Territory of Baja…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Expert Warns ‘ISIS planning Month of UK terror attacks starting This weekend’

Posted: 25 May 2017 08:14 PM PDT

Jihadi extremists in Britain are plotting to “go out in a blaze of glory” with a wave of terror attacks planned to start this Bank…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

NOAA predicts above normal hurricane season…

Posted: 25 May 2017 08:06 PM PDT

The nation’s climate agency Thursday predicted an above-normal 2017 hurricane season with 11 to 17 named storms, five to nine of them hurricanes and two…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Utah law could send online bullies to jail

Posted: 25 May 2017 07:59 PM PDT

Utah lawmakers hope a new, unusual law cuts down on increasingly troubling forms of cyber harassment by giving authorities the ability to send online bullies…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mark Zuckerberg Calls For “Universal Income”

Posted: 25 May 2017 07:53 PM PDT

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called on the need to consider universal basic income for Americans during his Harvard Commencement Speech.  Zuckerberg’s comments reflect those of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Alzheimer’s disease deaths spike 55% over 15 years

Posted: 25 May 2017 07:45 PM PDT

Federal researchers have found the death rate for those with Alzheimer’s disease rose significantly since 1999, especially among certain ethnicities over 85 years old or…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hospitals across UK told to ‘prepare for further incident’ in wake of Manchester attack

Posted: 25 May 2017 07:41 PM PDT

The UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has issued an urgent alert to every hospital in England, including trauma centers in 27 cities, to “prepare for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Belief That God Created Humans Hits Record Low

Posted: 25 May 2017 07:35 PM PDT

A record-low percentage of U.S. adults believe that God created humans in their present form, according to a Gallup survey.  Thirty-eight percent accept the strict…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

LGBT Activists Using Sparkles to Distort Pentecost

Posted: 25 May 2017 05:31 PM PDT

The “tongues of fire” Christians believe rained down on Pentecost just got a whole lot flashier with “Glitter and Fire,” a new project intended to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Jared Kushner Now Targeted in Russia Probe

Posted: 25 May 2017 05:26 PM PDT

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and one of his senior advisers, has come under FBI scrutiny in the Russia investigation, multiple U.S. officials told NBC…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Most UK Students Say Jesus Is Real, but Not ‘God in Human Form’

Posted: 25 May 2017 05:21 PM PDT

An extensive new survey in England has found that only a minority of young people believe Jesus Christ was both a real person who lived…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump travel ban blocked by VA.-based federal appeals court

Posted: 25 May 2017 11:33 AM PDT

A Virginia-based federal appeals court blocked the Trump administration’s controversial travel ban, becoming the second circuit court to uphold lower court rulings against the policy….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UK Braces For Invasion of Billions Of Slugs

Posted: 25 May 2017 10:53 AM PDT

With fears that a plague of 500 billion slimy molluscs are munching their way through the nation’s herbaceous borders, comes welcoming news of ways to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pond turns white as tens of thousands of fish die overnight in China …

Posted: 25 May 2017 10:42 AM PDT

Hengxian Tao Town, Mr. Chen and several friends contracted the four fish ponds, May 18 at 11 pm, vigil workers found one of the fish…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mike Huckabee Leaving Fox News – Joining Trinity Broadcasting Network

Posted: 25 May 2017 10:36 AM PDT

For more than six years, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee hosted his weekly Huckabee program on FOX News Channel, airing typically on Saturday evenings with…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

President Trump Declares a National Day of Prayer for ‘Permanent Peace’

Posted: 25 May 2017 10:30 AM PDT

Memorial Day was once meant to honor the sacrifice of those who lost their lives in the service of their country. While it remains that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
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Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Four Hallmarks of Humility, Part 3”

Luke 17:5-10

Code: B170526

What is the worst sin? Most of us probably think of the big ones in terms of visibility and fallout. Sins like adultery or murder are usually near the top of the list. But how many of us would put pride as chief of crimes against God?

Scripture actually contains a list of things God hates and pride is at the top of that list (Proverbs 6:16–17). Pride is certainly one of the best ways to imitate Satan. No wonder it’s so offensive to God. “Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord; assuredly, he will not be unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5).

Pride is a subtle and sinister threat that continually stalks the Christian life. The temptation is always there to take credit for things when God rightly deserves the glory. Pride is so utterly subversive it often attacks us subconsciously. Even our piety can become a battlefield with pride. Have you ever caught yourself feeling good over your worship of God, your selflessness—even your humility?

In his sermon “Four Hallmarks of Humility, Part 3,” John MacArthur points out that the pride so inherent to the human condition was turned into an art form by the Pharisees.

Fallen, unredeemed flesh is proud and it will turn pride into a virtue, as you well know from the culture in which you live. That’s bad enough. But when you compound it with religious pride—spiritual pride which takes it to a higher level of virtue—you sell that as if that is legitimate religion. It is a difficult disconnect to remove people from those things which are both instinctive to their fallenness and cultivated in them from their youth as virtuous.

And so Jesus spends a lot of time teaching His disciples about humility, while at the same time they’re having discussions about which of them will be the greatest in the kingdom. Even so audacious, a couple of them send their mother to ask Jesus if they can please be on His right hand and left hand. And when that was unfolded, the rest of the disciples were angry—not because they were more humble but because two of them got there first. They were struggling deeply with these issues of humility, it just wasn’t part of their nature and nor was it part of their religious culture.

Our modern plight is really no different from the prideful struggles of Jesus’ disciples. Humility is counterintuitive to every natural tendency and instinct we have. For that reason, we need it to take root via supernatural means. And John MacArthur lays out that reality from a profound biblical perspective in “Four Hallmarks of Humility, Part 3.”

Here’s what one of our staff members said about John’s sermon and its central text, Luke 17:5–10:

Jesus’ teaching in these verses serves as a welcome reminder that everything commendable in us is the result of God’s grace, and all good works attempted and accomplished must be attributed to His gracious gifting and empowerment. Jesus’ words in verses 9–10 remind us of the beauty of humility in our service for God: “He [the master] does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.’” Such an attitude rightly acknowledges and exalts God’s grace which works in us who believe. —Jeremy S.

Click here to watch or listen to “Four Hallmarks of Humility, Part 3.”

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170526
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

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

May 26, 2017: Verse of the day

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14:3 Verse 3 refers to the time when the Lord will come back again into the air, when those who have died in faith will be raised, when the living will be changed, and when all the blood-bought throng will be taken home to heaven (1 Thess. 4:13–18; 1 Cor. 15:51–58). This is a personal, literal coming of Christ. As surely as He went away, He will come again. His desire is to have His own with Him for all eternity.[1]


3. And when I go and prepare a place for you, I come again and will take you to be face to face with me, in order that where I am you may be also.

The coming again of which Jesus speaks in this verse is the counterpart of the going away. Cf. Acts 1:9–11. That fact explains its character. In all probability, therefore, it refers to the second coming, and its purpose is to enable Christ to receive the disciples into his loving presence, to abide with him forever.

Observe that instead of saying what one might expect him to say, namely, “And when I go and prepare a place for you, I come again and will take you to that place,” Jesus says something that is far more comforting: “I will take you to myself” (or: to be face to face with me; for the meaning of πρός see on 1:1). So wonderful is Christ’s love for his own that he is not satisfied with the idea or merely bringing them to heaven. He must needs take them into his own embrace.

The verb translated, “and will take you” (παραλήμψομαι, root-idea: to take over from another), with a wide variety of shades of meaning, has here the sense of welcoming someone. A. Deissmann has shown that the comfort contained in this passage (14:3) was by the early Christians applied to the death of dear ones. Although Jesus himself probably did not directly refer to this, but rather to the meeting again in connection with the second advent, nevertheless, the application to death is legitimate. Hence, in ancient letters of consolation the phraseology of 14:3 is often found.

On the expressed purpose of this welcoming, namely, “in order that where I am you may be also,” see Rev. 14:1; 19:14; 20:4. Wherever the Christ is, there too are the believers.[2]


Comfort Comes from
Trusting Christ’s Preparation

In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. (14:2–3)

Another offering to comfort the disciples was the revelation that their separation from Him would not be permanent. Jesus’ words, if it were not so, I would have told you, assured the disciples that He was telling them the truth. He was going away in part to prepare a place for them where they would be reunited with Him in His heavenly glory (John 17:24).

The Father’s house is another name for heaven, which is variously described as a country (Heb. 11:16), due to its vastness; a city (Heb. 12:22), emphasizing its large number of inhabitants; a kingdom (2 Tim. 4:18), because God is its King (Dan. 4:37; cf. Matt. 11:25; Acts 17:24); paradise (Luke 23:43; 2 Cor. 12:4; Rev. 2:7), because of its indescribable beauty; and a place of rest (cf. Heb. 4:1–11), where the redeemed are free from the wearying conflict with sin, Satan, and the evil world system that hates those who love Christ (John 15:19; 17:14).

The dwelling places of which the Lord spoke must not be pictured as separate buildings, as if heaven were a giant housing tract. The picture is rather of a father building additional rooms onto his house for his sons and their families, as was often done in Israel. In modern terms, the dwelling places might be pictured as rooms or apartments in the Father’s spacious house. The emphasis is on heaven’s intimacy, where “the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them” (Rev. 21:3). That there will be many such dwelling places means there will be room for all whom God, in His infinite love and mercy, has chosen to redeem. According to Revelation 21:16, “The city [the New Jerusalem] is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal.” In terms of modern measurements, the base of the city alone is over two million square miles—more than half the size of the United States. Its height adds exponentially to its living space.

The place the Lord Jesus Christ is preparing for believers is a place of dazzling, inexpressible beauty:

Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues came and spoke with me, saying, “Come here, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.” And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper. It had a great and high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names were written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel. There were three gates on the east and three gates on the north and three gates on the south and three gates on the west. And the wall of the city had twelve foundation stones, and on them were the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, and its gates and its wall. The city is laid out as a square, and its length is as great as the width; and he measured the city with the rod, fifteen hundred miles; its length and width and height are equal. And he measured its wall, seventy-two yards, according to human measurements, which are also angelic measurements. The material of the wall was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like clear glass. The foundation stones of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation stone was jasper; the second, sapphire; the third, chalcedony; the fourth, emerald; the fifth, sardonyx; the sixth, sardius; the seventh, chrysolite; the eighth, beryl; the ninth, topaz; the tenth, chrysoprase; the eleventh, jacinth; the twelfth, amethyst. And the twelve gates were twelve pearls; each one of the gates was a single pearl. And the street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass. I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. In the daytime (for there will be no night there) its gates will never be closed; and they will bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (Rev. 21:9–27)

Jesus’ promise, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also, refers to the rapture of the church (1 Cor. 15:51–54; 1 Thess. 4:13–18; Rev. 3:10). The absence of any reference to judgment indicates that the Lord was not referring here to His second coming to earth to judge and establish His kingdom (Matt. 13:36–43, 47–50; 24:29–44; 25:31–46; Rev. 19:11–15), but rather to the catching up of the believers into heaven (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13–18; 1 Cor. 15:51–57). Further differences between the two events reinforce that truth. At the second coming angels gather the elect (Matt. 24:30–31), but here Jesus told the disciples He would personally come for them. At the second coming the saints will return with Christ (Rev. 19:8, 14) as He comes to set up His earthly kingdom (Rev. 19:11–20:6); here He promises to return for them. Between the rapture and the second coming, the church will celebrate the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7–10), and believers will receive their rewards (1 Cor. 3:10–15; 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10). When He returns in judgment and kingdom glory, the saints will come with Him (Rev. 19:7, 11–14).[3]


A Place for You

John 14:2–3

“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”

One reason why those who believe in Jesus Christ should not be troubled by adverse circumstances is that they have a home in heaven. However, as soon as we begin to talk about heaven we create a problem, for in the thinking of most people heaven is not an interesting subject. This was not always so. There was a time in the history of the western world when thoughts about the life to come were popular. But ours is a secular and scientific age. Thus, in today’s world, thoughts about heaven seem to be either a form of escapism or mere speculation.

Thoughts of Heaven

We suffer from this purely secular outlook, as will be shown. But as we begin to study about heaven, let us take note that heaven should be far more interesting to us than we naturally imagine. For one thing, we should recognize that heaven is likely to become increasingly interesting to us as we grow older. D. L. Moody tells of a man who testified that in his youth he thought of heaven largely as a great shining city, filled with vast walls, domes and towers, and populated by millions of angels, all of whom were strangers to him. But then his little brother died. After that he thought of heaven as a great shining city, filled with vast walls and towers and unknown angels, but now also with one little fellow he knew. When a second brother died there were two he knew. Acquaintances died. In time one of his children went to be with Jesus; this one was followed by another and then still another. By this time the man seldom thought of walls and towers. He thought of those residents of the Celestial City whom he knew, and his interest in heaven intensified. Toward the end of his life so many of his acquaintances had gone to heaven that it sometimes seemed to him that he knew more persons in heaven than he did on earth. And, of course, his thoughts fixed increasingly on that distant place.

Moreover, it is not only as we grow older that we should find heaven interesting. To be sure, when we are younger the emotional ties that bind an older person to those who have gone ahead are lacking. But we are going there some day, if we are Christians. Should we not be interested in the place where we will spend eternity?

I remember the great interest my wife and I had when, in the early days of our married life together, we determined to go to Europe where I was to pursue my graduate studies. Our destination was Basel, Switzerland, about which we knew virtually nothing. Were we disinterested? Not at all! I remember how we poured over maps and books containing geographical and other information, for we wanted to know what Basel was like. How big was Basel? What was the climate? Was it an old city or a new one? What was its history? What belongings should we take with us? Most people will recognize our interest in Basel to have been a proper one. How much greater should a Christian’s interest be in that place to which Jesus has gone, which he is preparing for us.

Should we not have a great interest in these verses in which the Lord himself talks about heaven? Do we not want to ponder the words: “In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am” (vv. 2–3)? I think we do. Therefore, although we have studied these verses once, we are going to deal with them again in this and the following study.

A Real Place

As we look closely at these words, the first thing we notice is that, according to Jesus, heaven is a genuine place. When we say this, we do not mean that we are therefore able to visualize it adequately, even with the help of biblical symbols. For example, we read in the Bible of a city whose streets are paved with gold. But we are not necessarily to think that these streets are like our streets or that the gold is what we identify as the seventy-ninth element on the atomic charts. Streets speak of permanence, gold of something precious and valuable that does not rust or deteriorate. In the same way, we do not think that there are necessarily literal crowns in heaven, although there may be. There may not be harps as we conceive of them. These things are symbols; so, while they point to reality, nevertheless they may not themselves be reality.

Yet none of this is to be taken as meaning that heaven is therefore anything less than a real place, as real, perhaps even as localized, as New York or San Francisco. On the occasion of his address in the upper room Jesus did not describe heaven, but he did call it a place to which he was going, from which he would return, and to which he would one day take all whom the Father had given him.

The word “heaven” is used in three different ways in the Bible. It is used of what we would call the atmosphere, the heaven of birds and clouds. It is used of those great spaces in which the planets and stars are found. This is sometimes also called “the firmament.” Finally, it is used of the heaven of heavens, which is the home of God. It is this—a place just like the other places—about which these verses are speaking.

All this presents difficulties for some persons, and for two reasons. First, there are those who observe that God is described as being pure spirit—that is, as having no bodily form—and who therefore conclude that heaven is the abode or state of pure spirits. But the idea that heaven is merely a state and therefore everywhere and nowhere is not according to Scripture. True, God is a spirit; he does not have a concrete, visible form. But Jesus does. He has become man for all eternity. The angels also have bodies. So do we, not only in this life but also in the life to come. If this were not so, the teaching about the resurrection of the body would be meaningless. These bodies must be somewhere. As I read the accounts of Christ’s postresurrection appearances, I recognize that the heavenly body of Christ (after which our heavenly bodies are patterned) possesses qualities that we do not yet have. His body could move through closed doors, for instance. It could vanish and then reappear. Still, it is a true body and must be localized. Heaven is the place where our bodies shall be, though we will presumably be able, like Jesus, to move freely.

The second reason why some people have difficulty thinking of heaven as a genuine place is linked to scientific considerations. These people are aware of the vast distances of our universe as well as the fact that no one using any of the gigantic telescopes of our time has ever seen anything like heaven. They say, “If Jesus had ascended into heaven beginning in a.d. 30 and if he had accelerated until at last he was traveling at the speed of light, he would not yet have reached the farthest star, let alone heaven, wherever that may be located. How then are we to imagine that heaven is a real place, that Jesus went there, and that he is coming again to take us to be with him?”

This is an important problem. For if there is no material, spatial heaven, then the Lord Jesus Christ did not ascend into it in his body. And if this is so, then we must abandon the idea of a bodily resurrection of the Savior and all that goes with it, which is most of Christianity. Indeed, we will find ourselves in the position described by Paul when he declared that “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). But why, on the other hand, must we thus limit the Creator? On one occasion, when Donald Grey Barnhouse was asked a question about ascending at the speed of light, he replied, “Why do you wish to slow the Creator to the speed of light? He who created the universe is able to move with the speed of thought, and it is possible to think from here to the remotest point of the universe as quickly as it is to think down to the corner drugstore.” We readily admit that we do not understand how this operates; we cannot think clearly beyond known physical laws. But God is not bound by the laws he has created. Consequently, all things—literally, all things—are possible to him.

Our Heavenly Home

There is a second thought in the phrase we have been considering, “a place for you.” For it tells us that heaven is not only a place; it is a home. This is the import of the last two words, “for you.”

As I have thought about this phrase I have been helped by the Swiss doctor Paul Tournier, who has taken the words as the title of one of his books on counseling. In that book, A Place for You, he deals with the idea of a place and of the need we all have for it. For instance, at the beginning of the book he tells of a young man whom he had once counseled. The young man had been born into an unhappy home, had developed a sense of failure—first failing to reconcile his parents and then in an inability to settle down into any one area of life—and at last had come to see Tournier. Together they explored the young man’s problems. On one occasion, as he was trying to look at himself objectively and put what he saw into words, the student looked up at his counselor and said, “Basically, I’m always looking for a place—for somewhere to be.”

This, says Tournier as the book unfolds, is a basic desire of the human heart. It is the desire to have a genuine place of our own, a home, a place where we belong and know ourselves to belong. The problem, says the counselor, is that many people apparently never find this place and so spend much of life wandering.

Tournier is not insensitive to the need that we have to find a home spiritually. Here we think of Adam and Eve and of their expulsion from their garden home in Eden because of their sin. We think of Cain, who, because he killed his brother, was condemned to a life of wandering. He had no home. In Genesis 11 we find men trying to create a city in which homes will be established. But the men of Babel are in opposition to God, and so God scatters them. Again they are made homeless. Here, then, is a great motif of Genesis. Sin brings alienation, and one aspect of alienation is that men lose their home.

With the coming of Abraham we find a new and heartening element. To be sure, God’s first dealings with Abraham are to take him from his home, for it is a sinful place filled with idols and idol worshipers. But in return for the place he has lost God promises him a new home—“a land I will show you” (Gen. 12:1). What is more, God gives the boundaries and indicates the specific territory involved. It is “from the river of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates—the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites” (Gen. 15:18–21). The names are concrete. These are real names. They occur in real history. Thus they show God’s awareness of the fact that the men and women he has created need a real place to be.

When we turn to the New Testament, we find Abraham praised, not because he fixed his hope on an earthly home (important as that is), but because he looked for a heavenly home. The Bible says, “For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). This means that although earthly homes are necessary and valuable, they are nevertheless and at best not permanent and that, consequently, the basic need for a home (going back to Eden) is fully met only when the Lord Jesus Christ himself prepares a home for us in heaven. Now we are in a strange land, even in an enemy’s country. But in that day we shall be in the Father’s house and shall be home. This is our destiny.

Can anyone still feel that thoughts about heaven are otherworldly and therefore improper for Christians? Does anyone think that thoughts like these are escapism? This reality is anything but escapism.

Here again let me illustrate from Tournier’s psychology. Take a child. Who is the child who spends a lifetime wandering about, always unable to find a place where he can belong and can make a sure contribution? Is it the child who has a home or the child who does not? Obviously, it is the child who does not have a home. Writes Tournier, “When the family is such that the child cannot fit himself into it properly, he looks everywhere for some other place, leading a wandering existence, incapable of settling down anywhere. His tragedy is that he carries about within himself this fundamental incapacity for any real attachment.” On the other hand, “The child who has been able to grow up harmoniously in a healthy home finds a welcome everywhere. In infancy all he needs is a stick placed across two chairs to make himself a house, in which he feels quite at home. Later on, wherever he goes, he will be able to make any place his own, without any effort on his part. For him it will not be a matter of seeking, but of choosing.”

It is the same spiritually. Who are those who seek to escape from this world? It is not those who are certain of a home in heaven. The ones who try to escape from this world are those who have no sure, spiritual mooring and who are therefore still searching. They may study theology and even write books about it, but they are lost. They have no sure foundation, and their views and interests shift constantly. Those who do not try to escape are those who have their home. They may not be in it as yet. They may not even understand what it is like precisely, for they look through a glass darkly. Still, it is a home for them; and, therefore, because they have this home, they are at home anywhere. They can form friendships. They marry for life. They can commit themselves to a Christian work or even a secular work and labor for years without being restless and unfulfilled.

The world needs such satisfied men and women. It needs people who can be at home here—in spite of the world’s evil—precisely because they have a home in heaven.

Do You Have a Home?

The final point is in the form of a question. Do you have a home? Are you one for whom Jesus has gone to prepare a place in heaven?

At the beginning of this chapter you read a story that was often related by that great evangelist D. L. Moody. Here is another. There was a man who had great wealth. He was dying. When the doctor told him he could not live, the lawyer was sent for to make out his will. The dying man had a little girl who was about four years old. She did not understand what death meant. But when her mother told her that her father was going away, the little child went to the bedside and looked into her father’s eyes and asked, “Papa, have you got a home in that land you are going to?” The question sunk deep into the man’s soul, for he had spent his time and energy accumulating great wealth. In this life he enjoyed a grand home, but now he had to leave it.

I would ask that of you. It is certain that you are going away, for it is appointed unto man once to die. Have you a home where you are going? Has the Lord Jesus Christ, your Savior, gone to prepare it for you?

If you want to be able to say yes to that question, all that is necessary is for Jesus to become your Savior, for he says that he has gone to prepare a place for all who trust him. Apart from his work no one can enter heaven. Heaven is a place of holiness, and none but holy ones can dwell there. On the other hand, for all who trust his work, who believe that he is indeed the Savior from sin, that he died for them particularly, and who receive him as that Savior and promise to follow him as his faithful disciples until their life’s end—for these heaven is that certain and blessed home that we have even now but that, nevertheless, still awaits us at our journey’s end. If you have never believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, do so now. Receive him as your Savior, and know the joy of possessing a place prepared for you by his own skilled hands.

Heaven

John 14:3–4

“And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

Many human beings are anxious about whether or not they will recognize their friends in heaven. They are Christian people. Often they have no doubt that they will be in heaven; for, as they point out, “to be away from the body [is to be] at home with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8). Still they are confused about what is to happen in the life to come and wonder whether or not they will recognize those who have gone on before them. “Do you think I will know my Bill?” “Will I recognize Sally?” These are the questions they ask me, and I think that I understand them. For obviously, if we will not recognize our friends and family, then heaven inevitably loses much of its attractiveness for us. And—let us put it frankly—it is hard to see how we can really be happy there, regardless of how dazzling the streets or how beautiful the music of the angels.

On the other hand, there is also a sense in which I do not understand these questions. The reason I do not understand them is simply that the Word of God is so explicit about our mutual recognition. We will know each other. Bill will know Sally. Sally will know Bill. We will know parents and children, friends, and those who have died in the Lord before us. This truth is suggested in our text. Therefore, I want to look at it again before we move on to other subjects.

We Will See Jesus

The place to begin in this discussion, however, is not with our recognition of each other and enjoyment of each other but with the fact that we will see Jesus and enjoy him. We begin here as a simple matter of priority, for we will want to see him even more than a departed husband, wife, parent, child, or grandparent. But we begin here for another reason also. We begin here because, if we begin with Jesus, then our reunion in heaven becomes (as it will be) a truly spiritual and godly reunion. If we forget this priority, then in our minds our reunion with loved ones becomes something only a little removed from a family get-together with all the failures of such a human affair.

This is what will make heaven a real home to us. True, having our loved ones there will be a part of it. But the thing that will make heaven a true home is being with Jesus. On this point D. L. Moody used to tell of a child whose mother became very sick. While the mother was sick one of the neighbors took the child away to stay with her until the mother should get well again. But instead of getting well, the mother grew worse and died. The neighbors thought that they would not take the child home until after the funeral was over, and that they would not tell her about her mother being dead. So after a while they simply brought the little girl home. At once she went to find her mother. First she went into the sitting room to find her mother; then she went into the parlor to find her mother. She went from one end of the house to the other, but she could not find her. At last she asked, “Where is my mama?” When they told her that her mama was gone, the child wanted to go back to the neighbor’s house again. Home had lost its attraction for her since her mother was not there any longer. Moody writes, “It is not the jasper walls and the pearly gates that are going to make heaven attractive. It is being with God.”

To know that we are going to heaven is a wonderful thing. But more wonderful still is the fact that we shall see Jesus and shall be able to express to him that praise and love he deserves for having left heaven to come to earth and here die for us sinners. Of this truth Fanny Crosby once wrote:

Some day the silver cord will break,

And I no more as now shall sing;

But O, the joy when I shall wake

Within the palace of the King!

And I shall see him face-to-face,

And tell the story—Saved by grace;

And I shall see him face-to-face,

And tell the story—Saved by grace;

Some day my earthly house will fall—

I cannot tell how soon ’twill be;

But this I know—my All in All

Has now a place in heav’n for me.

This expectation of the redeemed child of God is a glorious theme, the reality of which makes heaven a true home for us. Indeed, heaven becomes a proper home only when we have the first priority.

A Reunion

But the point at which we began is not whether or not we will see and recognize Jesus but whether or not we will see and recognize each other. Will we recognize each other? Of course, we will. What is more, there are many indications in Scripture that this will be so.

One very encouraging indication comes from the Old Testament in a phrase often used in connection with the death of the patriarchs. It is the phrase “and he was gathered to his people.” It occurs in texts like these: “Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people” (Gen. 25:8); “Altogether Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people” (Gen. 25:17); “Then he [Isaac] breathed his last and died and was gathered to his people, old and full of years. And his sons Esau and Jacob buried him” (Gen. 35:29); “When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people” (Gen. 49:33); “Aaron will be gathered to his people. He will not enter the land I give the Israelites” (Num. 20:24); and “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Go up this mountain in the Abarim range and see the land I have given the Israelites. After you have seen it, you too will be gathered to your people, as your brother Aaron was” (Num. 27:12–13).

Many Old Testament scholars regard the phrase “and he was gathered to his people” as being nothing more than a conventional way of saying that he died. It is to be explained, so they say, by the thought that the individual was being placed in the same graveyard as those who had died before him. But this is hardly satisfactory in the case of the Bible stories involved. When Abraham died he was buried in a cave at Machpelah in the land that was to become Israel, but it was not the burial place of his ancestors. They had been buried back in Ur of the Chaldees, and his father had been buried at Haran. Moreover, in reading the account of his death, it is hard to overlook the fact that Abraham is said to have been gathered to his ancestors in verse 8 of Genesis 25, but to have been buried only in verse 9. Consequently, the phrase “gathered to his people” cannot refer to the burial but must refer to the death itself as a result of which Abraham joined those who had gone before him.

The same thing is true of Moses, who died by himself in the mountain. The Book of Deuteronomy even tells us that “no one knows where his grave is” (Deut. 34:6).

The comment of David upon being told of the death of Bathsheba’s child is also important, for it shows that David believed in a personal reunion with departed loved ones in the life to come. God struck the child so that it became sick and died. While it lay languishing David, who understood that he was to blame, prayed for the child and fasted, lying all night upon the earth. So great was his grief and concern that when the child died, those who were close to David were afraid to tell him lest his grief should know no bounds. David detected the change in their attitude, however. He asked, “Is the child dead?” When they told him that the child had died, David surprised them by rising from his place of mourning, washing himself, dressing, and resuming his duties as leader of the nation.

The servants asked about his change of attitude, since they could not understand it. David explained, “While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, ‘Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:22–23). This last comment does not mean merely that David would eventually die himself. For the point of the story is that David comforted himself (and Bathsheba) after the child’s death, and there would be no comfort unless David believed that, although he could not bring the child back, nevertheless, one day he would see the child again in heaven.

If we turn to the New Testament, we find an additional indication of these same truths in the events that took place on the Mount of Transfiguration. On this occasion the Lord Jesus Christ took three of his disciples, Peter, James, and John, with him into the mountain and was transformed into a form showing his celestial glory. Moreover, Moses and Elijah, two other glorified saints, appeared beside him. Luke calls them “men”; that is, not disembodied spirits, and he reports that Peter and presumably also the others recognized them. Peter said, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah” (Luke 9:33). Here both Moses and Elijah had retained their identities and were recognized by the three disciples.

Christ’s story about the rich man and Lazarus makes a similar point, for the Lord told how the rich man went to hell and, being in torment, lifted up his eyes and saw “Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side” (Luke 16:23). Here is a case that involves recognition of the departed, not only as they appear in this life, but as they appear to each other in the life to come.

Finally, there is a fine text from the lips of Jesus in which he speaks of many Gentiles joining with believing Jews in a great reunion in heaven. We read, “I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 8:11). This is a great promise, but it is not possible unless there is to be a full recognition of all who have died. Clearly the patriarchs are to know each other at this holy reunion, and so will all those who have died in Christ and who will be gathered to the reunion from the far corners of the earth. In that day we may well be surprised to see many in heaven whom we do not expect to be there. And we will be just as surprised not to find many there whom we thought would be present.

Many of us have lost believing loved ones. Or, if we have not lost them and yet live long enough, we will lose them. But we have not lost them ultimately, for they are with Jesus, and we will yet be reunited with them.

All We are Meant to Be

It has been pointed out, first, that we shall see Jesus and, second, that we shall see and recognize each other. The third point is that we shall see each other, not as we are now or have been but as we are meant to be. This truth is conveyed in the text mentioned earlier, which says that we shall see Christ face to face. It says, “Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” (1 John 3:2).

Until recently, every time I read that verse I focused on the word “we” and read it as if it said “I.” I read that “I will be like him” and took comfort in that. But now I am impressed with something else that is also true. It is not only that I shall be made like Jesus. It is that we all shall be like him. As a result, the sin, ignorance, anger, hate, weariness, and perversity that so often mar our relationships now will be eliminated. In that day we will have a fresh view of each other, for we will see each other, not as we have come to know each other here below, in our sin, but rather as we were meant to be.

Moreover, we will see each other rewarded for faithful service in this life, for the Bible speaks of crowns that will be given to those who are faithful. The Lord himself has said, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12). I am sure that there is a wrong way of thinking of rewards. If we are serving only for what we can get out of the arrangement, we are no more than hirelings. Again, if we are working for rewards in this life—for money or the praise others may (or may not) give us—we are not fit to be Christ’s servants. On the other hand, there is a right way to think about rewards, for the prospect of rewards is set before us as one reason why the patriarchs and other biblical characters were faithful. They had much to discourage them. Often there were severe trials, hardships, beatings, pain, and ridicule. But they endured because they were “looking ahead to [their] reward” (Heb. 11:26).

One of our great hymns, written by Heinrich Schenk early in the eighteenth century and translated into English by Francis Cox, speaks of these rewards:

Who are these like stars appearing,

These before God’s throne who stand?

Each a golden crown is wearing;

Who are all this glorious band?

Alleluia! Hark, they sing,

Praising loud their heavenly King.

Who are these of dazzling brightness,

These in God’s own truth arrayed,

Clad in robes of purest whiteness,

Robes whose lustre ne’er shall fade,

Ne’er be touched by time’s rude hand?

Whence come all this glorious band?

These are they who have contended

For their Savior’s honor long,

Wrestling on till life was ended,

Following not the sinful throng;

These, who well the fight sustained,

Triumph through the Lamb have gained.

In the day of our heavenly reunion we shall have those rewards, if we are faithful. And we shall rejoice in the triumphs of other Christians. Do you not think, since this will be true, that you could rejoice with them now? We tend to be critical of one another; and, of course, sometimes there are grounds for it. We do sin; we are unfaithful. But by God’s grace we are also, at times, faithful, for which we shall be rewarded. If only we could see this, we would regard one another differently. We would rejoice in the triumphs, rather than bemoan the faults. We would pray for one another fervently.

So let us pray and work. Let us do so until the day when the entire ransomed church of God is raised to be with Jesus and is made like him.[4]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1545). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 2, pp. 265–266). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 100–102). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[4] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 1063–1074). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

May 26 – Receiving Christ’s Word (Thaddaeus)

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

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If you love Christ, you will receive His Word and obey it.

Radio signals are fascinating. At any given moment every room in your house is filled with voices, music, and numerous other sounds; yet you can’t hear them unless your radio is tuned to their frequency. That’s a modern parallel to a spiritual truth Jesus taught in John 14:21: “He who has My commandments, and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him.” In effect Jesus was saying, “I reveal Myself to those who love Me—those whose spiritual receivers are tuned to My frequency. They receive My Word and obey it.”

In the Biblical record Thaddaeus is a man of few words. His question in John 14:22 is the only thing he ever said that is recorded in Scripture. It was prompted by his perplexity over Jesus’ statement in verse 21 to disclose Himself only to those who love Him. Thaddaeus asked, “Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?”

Thaddaeus didn’t understand Christ’s statement because it wasn’t consistent with his concept of the Messiah. Like the other disciples, he expected Jesus imminently to vanquish Roman oppression, free God’s people, and establish an earthly kingdom wherein He would sit on the throne of David, reigning as Lord and Savior. How could He do that without revealing who He was to everyone?

In verse 23 Jesus responds by reiterating that only those who love Him will be able to perceive Him, and they are the ones within whom He and the Father would dwell.

That brief conversation between the Lord and Thaddaeus addresses the very heart of Christianity. It isn’t those who say they love God who are true believers, but those who receive Christ and obey His Word. As Jesus said, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word” (v. 23).

Does obedience to the Word characterize your life? I pray it does. Remember, your obedience to Christ is the measure of your love for Him.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His Word, by which the Spirit instructs you and empowers you to live an obedient life.

For Further Study: Read John 8:31–47. ✧ To whom was Jesus speaking? ✧ Why were they seeking to kill Him? ✧ How did Jesus characterize the Devil?[1]


Thaddaeus (Judas the Son of James)

The second apostle listed in the third group is Thaddaeus. Based on less reliable Greek manuscripts, the Authorized text reads, “Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus.” From Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13 we learn that he was also called Judas the son of James. It is likely that Judas was his original name and that Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus were descriptive names, somewhat like nicknames, added by his family or friends.

Thaddaeus comes from the Hebrew word shad, which refers to a female breast. The name means “breast child,” and was probably a common colloquialism for the youngest child of a family, the permanent “baby” of the family who was the last to be nursed by his mother.

Although the name Lebbaeus is not found in what are considered the superior Greek manuscripts, and is therefore not in most modern translations, it may well have been one of this apostle’s names. It is based on the Hebrew leb (“heart”) and means “heart child,” which suggests he was known for his generosity, love, and courage.

On the night before His arrest and trial, Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him, and will disclose Myself to him” (John 14:21). At that time Thaddaeus spoke his only words recorded in Scripture: “Judas (not Iscariot) said to Him, ‘Lord, what then has happened that You are going to disclose Yourself to us, and not to the world?’ ” (v. 22).

Judas (Thaddaeus) obviously was thinking only of outward, visible disclosure, and he wondered how Jesus could manifest Himself to those who loved Him without also manifesting Himself to everyone else. Like most Jews of his day, he was looking for Christ to establish an earthly kingdom. How, he wondered, could the Messiah sit on the throne of David and rule the entire earth without manifesting Himself to His subjects? Thaddaeus may also have wondered why Jesus would disclose Himself to a small group of insignificant men and not to the great religious leaders in Jerusalem and the powerful political leaders in Rome.

Jesus did not rebuke Thaddaeus for his misunderstanding, which he sincerely and humbly expressed. In light of common Jewish expectations, the question was appropriate and insightful, and it gave Jesus the opportunity to further explain what He meant. He proceeded to reiterate what He had just said and added the negative side of the truth: “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him, and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me” (John 14:23–24). Christ was not at that time establishing His earthly kingdom, and the disclosure He was then making was of His divinity and authority as spiritual Lord and Savior. That disclosure can only be recognized by those who trust and love Him, and the genuineness of such trust and love is evidenced by obedience to His Word Manifestation is limited to reception.

A radio or television broadcast can have a great range, reaching virtually the entire globe by use of satellites. But its programs are only “disclosed” to those who have proper receivers. The rest of the world has no awareness of the broadcast, although its electronic waves completely surround them.

Henry David Thoreau once observed that “it takes two people to speak the truth, the one who says it and the one who hears it.” Those who will not listen to the gospel cannot hear it, no matter how clearly and forcefully it may be proclaimed. Jesus Christ was God incarnate, yet “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:10–11). During His three years of ministry, countless thousands of people-mostly God’s chosen people, the Jews-saw and heard Jesus. Yet only a few had more than passing interest in who He really was or in what He said. The god of this world so blinded their minds that when they looked they could not see (2 Cor. 4:4).

Someone has commented that if you tore a beautiful hymn out of a hymnal and threw it down on the sidewalk, you could expect many different reactions from those who saw it. A dog would sniff at it and then go his way. A street cleaner would pick it up and throw it in the trash. A greedy person might pick it up expecting to find a valuable document of some sort. An English teacher might read it and admire its literary quality. But a spiritually-minded believer who picked it up and read it would have his soul blessed. The content would have been the same for all those who came in contact with it, but its meaning and value could only be understood by a person receptive to its godly truth.

Only those whose hearts are purified by love and who walk in obedience to God’s Word can perceive Christ’s truth, beauty, and glory. Thaddaeus was such a person.

Tradition holds that Thaddaeus was specially blessed with the gift of healing and that through him the Lord healed many hundreds of people in Syria. He is said to have healed the king of that country and won him to the Lord. The supposed conversion threw the land into such turmoil that the king’s unbelieving nephew had Thaddaeus bludgeoned to death with a club, which became the symbol for that apostle.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 159). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

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

MAY 26 – ARE YOU A SETTLED AND CONTENTED CHRISTIAN?

…Let us go on unto perfection….

HEBREWS 6:1

I wonder why the people of God in our churches are so reluctant to leave the things which are the “first principles” of the doctrine of Christ?

Some of you have heard the gospel many times. You say you have believed and that you have turned away from idols to serve the living God and to wait for His Son from heaven—and yet you do not behave as though you are a settled and contented Christian!

You are not satisfied until you have tried out the latest gospel peddler or the sensationally popular evangelistic services down the street.

If a gospel troupe comes along, you are satisfied for a while because they have cowbells and a musical handsaw and a lot of other gadgets.

In our day we seem to overlook the divine principle of what ought to happen in the life of a truly born-again person. What do we do? We get them into church and then after we get them in, we try to “work” on them. My reading tells me that in an earlier day believers were better Christians when they were newly converted than many of today’s so-called deeper life people—because a miracle had taken place!

They would not accept a pale, ineffective and apologetic “believing.” They insisted on a miracle taking place in the human breast. Jesus Christ was their Hope, and they knew full well the guarantee—God had raised Him from the dead![1]


6:1 The warning which began in 5:11 continues throughout this chapter. It is one of the most controversial passages in the entire NT. Since so many godly Christians are disagreed on its interpretation, we must not speak with dogmatism. We present the explanation which seems most consistent with the context and with the rest of the NT.

First of all, the readers are exhorted to leave the elementary principles of Christ, literally, “the word of the beginning of Christ” (FWG), or “the beginning word of Christ” (KSW). We understand this to mean the basic doctrines of religion that were taught in the OT and were designed to prepare Israel for the coming of the Messiah. These doctrines are listed in the latter part of verse 1 and in verse 2. As we shall seek to show, they are not the fundamental doctrines of Christianity but rather teachings of an elementary nature which formed the foundation for later building. They fell short of Christ risen and glorified. The exhortation is to leave these basics, not in the sense of abandoning them as worthless, but rather of advancing from them to maturity. The implication is that the period of Judaism was a time of spiritual infancy. Christianity represents full growth.

Once a foundation has been laid, the next step is to build upon it. A doctrinal foundation was laid in the OT; it included the six fundamental teachings which are now listed. These represent a starting point. The great NT truths concerning Christ, His Person, and His work, represent the ministry of maturity.

The first OT doctrine is repentance from dead works. This was preached constantly by the prophets as well as by the forerunner of the Messiah. They all called on the people to turn from works that were dead in the sense that they were devoid of faith.

Dead works here may also refer to works which formerly were right, but which now are dead since Christ has come. For example, all the services connected with temple worship are outmoded by the finished work of Christ.

Second, the writer mentions faith toward God. This again is an OT emphasis. In the NT, Christ is almost invariably presented as the object of faith. Not that this displaces faith in God; but a faith in God which leaves out Christ is now inadequate.[2]


  1. Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2. instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

Instead of teaching the elementary truths of God’s Word once more (see 5:12), the author urges his readers to go beyond these truths. They are not ignorant of the basic teachings of Christian doctrine; they need to be stimulated to progress in their understanding of the faith. They ought to review the elementary teachings about Christ, so that they are ready to receive further instruction.

The introductory word therefore is retrospective. In the preceding verses, the writer contrasts the spiritually weak believer with the mature Christian. And the model he holds before his readers is that of the believer who strives for maturity. He exhorts them to go on to perfection after having left the elementary teachings behind. Actually the author is saying, “Let us … go forward to adult understanding” (Phillips), and together we are able to do this. The verb (“let us go on”) that the author employs is a key word because it conveys the idea of actively exerting oneself to make progress. He includes himself and places himself on his readers’ level even though he, as the teacher, really occupies a higher position than the recipients of his letter. This implies that the writer has not yet achieved maturity in spiritual matters. Therefore, the author does not explain the “elementary teachings about Christ” but merely outlines them.

  1. Foundation of
  2. repentance
  3. faith in God
  4. Instruction about
  5. baptisms
  6. laying on of hands
  7. resurrection of the dead
  8. eternal judgment
  9. “Not laying again the foundation.” Does the author refer to a standard of instruction in the church of the first century? Perhaps. F. F. Bruce points out that the items listed among the elementary teachings are as much Jewish as they are Christian. We assume that these doctrines were given much more prominence in the Christian church than in the Jewish synagogue. These truths also may have been used as a catechism that new converts were required to learn before they were fully accepted.

Because the readers know that to be members in the church they must have a foundation of repentance and faith, the writer states that it is not necessary to lay that foundation anew. He is spelling out for his audience the difference between the basic doctrines (which he calls a foundation) and the deeper truths of Scripture (which believers ought to study in order to progress in their spiritual lives). He concludes that because of their membership believers already have laid the foundation.

  1. “The foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death.” The first component of the Christian’s spiritual foundation is repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19). This means turning away from something that is detrimental to one’s being. Basically repentance constitutes a negative action, in this case a change of mind that results in no longer performing “acts that lead to death.” Repentance, then, is an activity that involves the mind and thinking of a person—a complete turnabout in the life of the believer. No longer does he show an interest in activities that lead to his destruction. He now shuns the effects of sin that bring about death (Rom. 5:12, 21; 6:23; 7:11). Consequently, it would not be necessary for the author to ask his readers to lay the foundation of repentance again.
  2. “And of faith in God.” Laying a foundation of faith in God was a positive action that believers had taken when they accepted Christ in faith. They turned from their “acts that lead to death” to life in Christ through faith. We would expect the author to write “faith in Christ” instead of “faith in God,” for Jewish converts to Christianity did not need to be instructed in the doctrine of faith in Israel’s God. The difficulty disappears, however, when we realize that throughout his epistle the author speaks of God as revealed in Christ (3:1–6; also see Acts 20:21; 1 Thess. 1:9–10). Indirectly, the author reminds the reader of Jesus’ word, proclaimed at the beginning of this ministry: “The time has come.… The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). This twofold message from the lips of Jesus is repeated by the apostles. For example, Peter on the day of Pentecost called the people to repentance, and as a result three thousand believers were added to the church (Acts 2:38, 41).

Of course, faith is a prominent theme in Hebrews. Chapter 11 with its brief definition of faith and list of the heroes of faith is eloquent testimony to the author’s interest in this theme. For the writer, faith constitutes complete trust as demonstrated by Joshua, who because of his faith entered the land God had promised (4:8). Everyone who puts faith in the gospel, says the author of Hebrews, enters God’s rest (4:2–3).

  1. “Instruction about baptisms.” Next to the foundation of repentance and faith comes the instruction about baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. The first phase in the believer’s instruction is the teaching concerning baptisms. Interestingly enough, the writer uses not the common Greek word baptisma (baptism), but rather the term baptismos (washing; Mark 7:4; Heb. 9:10). Furthermore, the word is in the plural.

What is the writer saying? Use of the plural provides sufficient reason to assume that he calls attention to washings other than Christian baptism. What these washings are has been debated at length by numerous scholars. I mention only a few interpretations:

  1. purification ceremonies (Qumran)
  2. triple immersion in the name of the Trinity
  3. multiplicity of baptismal candidates
  4. baptisms of water, blood, fire, and the Holy Spirit
  5. Levitical washings and Christian baptism

The New Testament does refer to the baptism of John the Baptist (Matt. 3:7; Mark 11:30; Luke 7:29; John 3:23; 4:1; Acts 1:22; 10:37; 18:25) that was still practiced more than twenty-five years after his death (Acts 19:3). Also there is the Jewish rite of baptism for proselytes.

The word baptismos (which signifies “the act alone,” whereas baptisma is “the act with the result”) is a Jewish-Christian term. The expression in the plural probably expresses a “contrast between Christian baptism and all other religious washings … known to the readers.”18

Finally, the four Gospels and Acts mention the baptism with the Holy Spirit (Matt. 3:11 and parallels; Acts 1:5; 11:16). Although this particular form of baptism is different from the washing that the word baptismos describes, it has significance for the next phase of instruction, the imposition of hands.

  1. “The laying on of hands.” In Acts the imposition of hands results in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. For example, Peter and John visited the believers in Samaria and placed their hands on the Samaritans, who as a consequence received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:17). Ananias put his hands on Saul (Paul), who received both his sight and the Holy Spirit (Acts 9:17). In Ephesus, Paul laid his hands on some disciples of John the Baptist who were recipients of the Holy Spirit (Acts 19:6).

Other passages show that the practice of laying hands on someone relates to the ceremony of ordination to service: ministering to the needs of the poor (Acts 6:6); proclaiming the gospel (Acts 13:3); or pastoring the church (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6).

Apart from the instances that mention the imposition of hands in connection with healing (Matt. 9:18; Mark 5:23; 6:5; 7:32; 8:23; Luke 13:13; Acts 28:8) and with Jesus blessing the children (Matt. 19:13, 15; Mark 10:16), the New Testament is silent.

What did the practice of laying hands on a believer mean to the first recipients of the Epistle to the Hebrews? John Calvin declares that baptized children, after a period of instruction in the faith, received another rite—that of laying on of hands. This rite was intended as confirmation of their baptism and originated in the time of apostles. This may very well be the explanation of the practice, although substantiating evidence is scarce.

  1. “The resurrection of the dead.” The next phase in the believer’s instruction is his knowledge concerning the resurrection of the dead. Already in Old Testament times the doctrine of the resurrection was known (Ps. 16:10; Isa. 26:19; Ezek. 37:10; Dan. 12:2). In the days of Jesus and the apostles, the general public knew the teaching about the resurrection from the dead (John 11:24), and the Pharisees separated themselves from the Sadducees because the two groups disagreed about this doctrine (Acts 23:6–7).

Jesus taught the doctrine of resurrection by claiming it for himself: “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25); the apostles made this teaching the foundation of their gospel proclamation (Acts 1:22; 2:32; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:37; 17:31–32; 26:23). The author of Hebrews also refers to this doctrine directly (11:35) and indirectly (2:14–15).

  1. “And eternal judgment.” The two doctrines of the resurrection and of eternal judgment are logically related, but I do not think that we should explain the first as the resurrection of the righteous and the second as the judgment on the wicked. The author does not provide sufficient information, and therefore we do well to understand the words as general references to these teachings.

Hebrews 6:2 is the only text in the New Testament that gives the reading eternal judgment. The passage that is somewhat similar is Acts 24:25, which says, “Paul discoursed on righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come.” That Jesus returns “to judge the living and the dead” is a basic teaching eventually formulated in the three ecumenical creeds: the Apostles’, the Nicene, and the Athanasian.[3]


Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. (6:1–2)

The key ideas are leaving and press on to maturity, and are really two parts of the same idea. Together they are the first step in these Jews’ becoming spiritually mature. They had to leave once and for all their ties with the Old Covenant, with Judaism, and accept Jesus Christ as Savior. They should do it immediately, without further hesitation. The maturity that salvation brings is not a process. It is an instantaneous miracle. The maturity about which this passage is talking is that of leaving the ABC’s of the Old Covenant to come to the full revelation and blessing of the New.

Leaving in the Greek is aphiēmi, which means to forsake, to put away, let alone, disregard, put off. It refers to total detachment, total separation, from a previous location or condition. The Expositor’s Greek Testament translates Hebrews 6:1, “Let us abandon [give up] the elementary teaching about Christ.” Alford comments, “Therefore … leaving (as behind, and done with; in order to go on to another thing).”

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul uses aphiēmi in speaking of a Christian husband’s not sending away (that is, divorcing) his unbelieving wife. Divorce is total marital separation, complete abandonment of the relationship. It is wrong in relation to marriage but mandatory in relation to leaving Judaism for Christ. The unbelieving Jew must completely divorce himself from his former religion before he can be saved.

The same Greek word is often used of forgiveness of sins (as in Matt. 9:2, 5, 6; Rom. 4:7; and James 5:15). When we are forgiven, our sins are put away from us, separated from us, divorced from us. In Matthew 15:14 the same term is used to speak of separating ourselves from false teachers, and in Mark 1:20 it is used of James’s and John’s leaving their father, Zebedee, in order to follow Jesus. As far as their life’s work was concerned, they abandoned, completely separated themselves from, their father and his fishing business.

The elementary teaching about the Christ (Messiah) that the unbelieving Jews were to leave was the Old Testament teaching about Him—another indication that it is not immature Christians (“babes”) that are being addressed. We are never to leave the basics, the elementary teachings, of the gospel, no matter how mature we grow in the faith. Remember, the issue here is not that of growing in spiritual maturity as a Christian, but of coming into the first stage of spiritual maturity by becoming a Christian. It is a matter of dropping, leaving, putting away, that which we have been holding onto and taking up something entirely new. Therefore it can only be a reference to unbelievers, because at no time does the Word of God suggest that a Christian drop the basics of Christianity and go on to something else.

It is the provisions and principles of the Old Covenant, of Judaism, that are to be dropped. It is not a question of adding to what one has. It is a question of abandoning what you have for something else. This is precisely what the Holy Spirit asked the Hebrews to do—to abandon the shadows, the types, the pictures, and the sacrifices of the old economy and come to the reality of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. A paraphrase could be, “Leave the pictures of the Messiah and go on to the Messiah Himself,” or “Drop the Old Covenant and accept the New.”

Incomplete Old Testament Features

The foundation, the Old Covenant, had six features that are pointed out in verses 1–2. These are: repentance from dead works, faith toward God, instruction about washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. These are not, as is often interpreted, elementary Christian truths that are to be abandoned in order to go on to maturity. They are Old Testament concepts. To be sure, they pointed to the gospel, but they are not themselves part of the gospel.

Repentance from Dead Works

Repentance from dead works is turning away from evil deeds, deeds that bring death. “For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:13–14). “The soul who sins will die,” said Ezekiel (18:4). In the New Testament the truth is expressed as, “The wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The Old Testament taught that a man should repent and turn from his evil works that brought about death. But this Old Testament pattern is only the first half of repentance. Men only knew that they were to turn away from evil works and turn toward God. That was the whole doctrine they knew.

In John the Baptist’s preaching, and even in Jesus’ own early ministry, the basic message was, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2; 4:17). Only repentance was preached. Turn from evil toward God. But the doctrine of repentance becomes mature, complete, in Jesus Christ. Paul reminded the elders of the Ephesian church of his “solemnly testifying to both Jews and Greeks of repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). In his defense before King Agrippa, Paul mentioned that he had “kept declaring both to those of Damascus first, and also at Jerusalem and then throughout all the region of Judea, and even to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” (Acts 26:20). But he went on to explain that the focus of this message was Jesus Christ and His work of salvation (v. 23). It no longer did any good simply to turn from evil works toward God. A person could come to God only through Jesus Christ.

Now that the New Covenant is in effect, repentance is meaningless without faith in Jesus Christ. “No one comes to the Father, but through Me,” said Jesus (John 14:6). A person who, no matter how sincerely, seeks to repent of his sins and turn to God apart from Christ will never reach God. Jesus Christ is the only way to Himself that God has provided.

Repentance from dead works is simply turning from evil, and is an important and wonderful truth of the Old Testament. But it is not complete. It is fulfilled, made effective, only by a person’s also coming to Jesus Christ in faith. An incomplete dealing with sin must be abandoned for a complete one.

Faith Toward God

The meaning of faith toward God has already been touched on. It does no good at all today to have faith in God unless there is also faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the only way to God. Peter said, “Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). There is no acceptable repentance apart from faith in Christ. The only repentance that “leads to life” is that which is related to belief in Jesus Christ (Acts 11:17–18). The only faith toward God that is now acceptable is faith in God the Son. There is no way to the Father except through the Son.

The Old Testament taught repentance from dead works and faith toward God. The New Testament teaches repentance in faith toward the Lord Jesus Christ, the only Way to God. The distinction is clear. The Jews addressed in this letter believed in God; but they were not saved. Their repentance from works and faith toward God, no matter how sincere it may have been, could not bring them to God without Christ. “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).

Instruction About Washings

The King James translation (“doctrine of baptisms”) is misleading, especially since everywhere else, including Hebrews 9:10, the same Greek word (baptismos) is translated washings. It is not baptizō, which is always used for the ordinance of baptism. It may have been that the King James translators assumed this passage was addressed to Christians, in which case “baptisms” might be appropriate. But the use here of baptismos rather than baptizō is another strong indication that the passage is not addressed to Christians.

Every Jewish home had a basin by the entrance for family and visitors to use for ceremonial cleansings, of which there were many. It is these washings that the readers are told to abandon and forget. Even the Old Testament predicted that one day its ceremonial cleansings would be replaced by a spiritual one that God Himself would give: “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols” (Ezek. 36:25). The old washings were many, physical, symbolic, and temporary; the new washing is once, spiritual, real, and permanent. It is the wonderful, effective, and eternal “washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). It is the being born (regeneration) of water and the spirit that Jesus told Nicodemus was necessary for entrance into the kingdom (John 3:5).

Laying on of Hands

This laying on of hands has nothing to do with the apostolic practices (Acts 5:18; 6:6; 8:17; 1 Tim. 4:14; etc.). Under the Old Covenant the person who brought a sacrifice had to put his hands on it, to symbolize his identification with it (Lev. 1:4; 3:8, 13).

Our identification with Jesus Christ does not come by putting our hands on Him; it comes by the Spirit’s baptizing us into union with Him by faith. “Forget the teaching about laying hands on the Temple sacrifices,” the writer is telling these immature Jews. “Lay hold of Christ by putting your trust in Him.”

Resurrection of the Dead

The Old Testament doctrine of resurrection is not clear or complete. We learn of life after death and of rewards for the good and punishment for the wicked—and not much more about resurrection than this. From Job, for instance, we learn that resurrection will be bodily, and not just spiritual (Job 19:26). There is little else that we can learn of it from the Old Testament.

In the New Testament, of course, resurrection is one of the major and most detailed doctrines. It is the theme of apostolic preaching. It comes to fullness in the very Person of Jesus Christ, who said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). The resurrection body is described in considerable detail in 1 Corinthians 15; and in 1 John 3:2 we are told, “We shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” Why should anyone be content with trying to understand the resurrection from the limited and vague teachings of the Old Testament?

Eternal Judgment

We can learn little more from the Old Testament about final judgment than what is given in Ecclesiastes: “God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil” (12:14). Punishment would come to the wicked and blessing to the good.

Again in the New Testament, however, we are told a great deal about eternal judgment—much more than many people like to hear. We know what is going to happen to believers. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). We will have to stand before the Lord and have our work judged—for reward or lack of reward—but we ourselves will not be judged (1 Cor. 3:12–15). We also know what is going to happen to unbelievers. We know about the judgment of the sheep and goats (Matt. 25:31–46), and the judgment of the great white throne (Rev. 20:11–15). We know that to Jesus Christ has been committed all judgment (John 5:21–29). We know this and much more about judgment from the New Testament.

The point of Hebrews 6:1–2 is simply that the unbelieving Jews should let go completely of the immature, elementary shadows and symbols of the Old Covenant and take hold of the mature and perfect reality of the New. The Holy Spirit is calling for them to leave the ABC’s of repentance from dead works for the New Testament teaching of repentance toward God and new life in Christ. Leave the ABC s of faith toward God for faith in the Person of Jesus Christ. Leave the ABC s of ceremonial washings for the cleansing of the soul by the Word. Leave the ABC’s of laying hands on the sacrifice for laying hold of the Lamb of God by faith. Leave the ABC’s of the resurrection of the dead for the full and glorious resurrection unto life. Leave the ABC’s of eternal judgment for the full truth of judgment and rewards as revealed in the New Covenant.

These six doctrines were the basics of Judaism that were to be laid aside in favor of the better things that come in Christ. The Old Testament is incomplete. It is true. It is of God. It was a necessary part of His revelation and of His plan of salvation for man. But it is only partial revelation, and is not sufficient. Judaism is abrogated. Judaism is nullified. It is no longer a valid expression of worship or of obedience to God. It must be abandoned.[4]


6:1a “The elementary teachings about Christ” is literally “the word of the beginning of Christ,” an idiom similar to that in 5:12 (see Notes), but now with the specific mention that it is Christian teaching, not just OT Scripture, that is in view. The call to “leave” this basic teaching does not mean it is now to be discarded as something they have outgrown; TNIV rightly translates “move beyond.” That basic teaching is the launching pad from which they ought now to “go on”; the verb means literally “to be carried,” the passive probably implying God’s agency rather than their “being borne along on the flood tide of the author’s argument” (Montefiore, 104). The goal is “maturity” (the same word group as in 5:14) rather than “laying again the foundation,” a metaphor that speaks for itself in that a foundation once laid is there to be relied on but does not need to be revisited.

1b–2 The “elementary teachings about Christ” are now summarized in three pairs of phrases that presumably would have been familiar enough to the original readers but that cause some surprise to us as a summary of the Christian basics. None of the phrases are exclusively Christian, and all could have been agreed to in some sense by most strands of first-century Judaism. In particular, they include no mention of Christ and of his saving role, which is, in fact, the main theme of this letter.

The first pair is the least surprising: repentance and faith. The two terms occur together elsewhere as a summary of the gospel imperative (Mk 1:15; Ac 20:21) and neatly express the twofold nature of Christian conversion, turning from the “acts that lead to death” or “useless rituals” (see note) and turning to God in faith.

The second pair of elements in the Christian “foundation” is less obvious. Later Christian sacramental usage suggests to many readers that the terms “baptisms” and “laying on of hands” refer to the Christian rituals of baptism and what would later be called either confirmation or ordination. But it is not likely such a technical sense of the latter phrase could have been assumed at this stage. And two peculiarities of the wording here point away from Christian baptism. First, the word here is “baptisms” (plural), and there is no other NT instance of baptism being referred to in the plural; indeed, its character as a single initiatory act makes such a usage very unlikely. Second, the Greek noun here is not baptisma (GK 967), which is used in the NT for Christian baptism (and for that of John the Baptist), but baptismos (GK 968), which is used elsewhere in the NT only for Jewish ritual washing of utensils (Mk 7:4; Heb 9:10; there may be a use for Christian baptism in Col 2:12, but the text is disputed). So despite the similarity of the Greek words, TNIV is right to avoid the loaded word “baptism” here and use instead “cleansing rites.” Whether these “cleansing rites” were the same as those of Judaism or some Christian development from them (see comments at 10:22), and whether baptism itself may have been included among them, it is impossible to say. “Laying on of hands” is a broader term with many possible applications. In the OT, hands were laid on people as a mark of blessing or consecration, including commissioning for God’s service (Nu 27:18–23), but also on sacrificial animals as a mark of identification (Lev 1:4; 16:21; etc.). In Christian circles, hands were laid on in connection with healing (Mk 6:5; Ac 9:17), commissioning (Ac 6:6; 13:3; 1 Ti 4:14), and the gift of the Spirit (Ac 8:17; 19:6). Thus it seems the Christian basics our author assumes included some form of ritual either taken over from Judaism or developed as Christian equivalents to the Jewish rites. We have here, then, perhaps a glimpse into an early strand of “Messianic Judaism” that continued to accept as normal aspects of Jewish ritual or Christian substitutes for them for which we have no evidence in the Pauline churches of the NT.

The third pair of Christian basics introduces a more doctrinal note. The “resurrection” referred to is not that of Jesus but that of dead people more generally. And that resurrection leads to an “eternal judgment,” which will be mentioned again in 9:27 as something all people must face. These beliefs, which occur together in Daniel 12:2, would have been shared by many Jews at that time, so that the readers may have already accepted them before they became Christians. But they remain an essential aspect of the Christian gospel, and the special role of Jesus as the judge (Mt 25:31–46; etc.) gives them added force.

The three pairs of “basics,” therefore, strike us in different ways. The first pair would be in anyone’s summary of what the Christian gospel is about; the second pair have little place in our understanding of faith as Gentile Christians; the third pair expresses an aspect of Christian (and some Jewish) belief that modern Christians would accept but perhaps might not have chosen for emphasis in such a short list of the basics. It is in this curious mixture of Jewish and Christian elements that the readers are still stuck; surely it is time to move on to a more distinctively Christian understanding.[5]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2172–2173). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, pp. 152–156). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 136–141). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 81–82). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MAY 26 – MAN’S VIEW OF THIS WORLD

Choose you this day whom ye will serve…but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.

Joshua 24:15

If you have ever given much thought to this present world in which we live, you have some idea of the power of interpretation. The world is a stable fact, quite unchanged by the passing of years, but how different is modern man’s view of the world from the view our fathers held.

The world is for all of us not only what it is; it is what we believe it to be, and a tremendous load of weal or woe rides on the soundness of our interpretation!

In the earlier days, when Christianity exercised a dominant influence over American thinking, men conceded this world to be a battleground. Man, so our fathers held, had to choose sides. He could not be neutral—for him it must be life or death, heaven or hell!

In our day, the interpretation has changed completely. We are not here to fight, but to frolic! We are not in a hostile foreign land; we are at home! It now becomes the bounden duty of every Christian to reexamine his spiritual philosophy in the light of the Bible. So much depends on this that we cannot afford to be careless about it!

Lord, with Joshua I say to You today, “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”[1]


24:15 The choice here was not between the Lord and idols: Joshua assumed that the people had already decided against serving God. So he challenged them to choose between the gods which their ancestors had served in Mesopotamia and the gods of the Amorites that they had found in Canaan. Joshua’s noble decision for himself and his household has been an inspiration to succeeding generations of believers: “But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”[2]


24:15 choose … today whom you will serve. Joshua’s fatherly model (reminiscent of Abraham’s, Ge 18:19) was for himself and his family to serve the Lord, not false gods. He called others in Israel to this, and they committed themselves to serve the Lord also (vv. 21, 24).[3]


24:15 choose this day whom you will serve. Joshua has urged the people to serve the Lord alone, and to put away the false gods (v. 14). Now he makes his admonition even sharper: if it is evil in their eyes to serve the Lord (i.e., if they prefer not to be loyal to the one true God, the Lord alone), then they must choose between two different categories of false gods: (1) their ancestral gods from Mesopotamia, or (2) the gods worshiped by the peoples they have dispossessed in Canaan. Joshua exercises leadership by example, committing himself and his household to serving the Lord. The people’s response was to decisively reject false gods and to serve “the Lord our God” (vv. 16–17)—which Israel did “all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua” (v. 31), but which Israel failed to do in subsequent generations, as is tragically evidenced in the book of Judges.

24:15 God must be served with exclusive loyalty (Deut. 5:7), prefiguring the exclusivity of commitment to Christ as the one way of salvation (Matt. 6:24; 10:34–39; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Cor. 10:21–22).[4]


24:15 the gods that your ancestors served Shechem was the place at which Jacob had earlier buried the gods that his wives and concubines had brought from Haran (Gen 35:2–4). See Josh 24:14.

the Amorites Here “Amorites” refers generally to the Canaanites. Often refers to the Transjordan region (the territory of Og and Sihon; see vv. 12; Num 21; Deut 2–3).

as for me and my household Joshua and his extended family.[5]


24:15 choose this day whom you will serve. With irony Joshua presents the alternatives that are available if the Israelites reject the Lord. The choice is between the gods Abraham left behind (vv. 2, 3) and the gods of the dispossessed Amorites (vv. 12; 2:10 note).

me and my house. See 6:25; 7:24; Acts 16:15.[6]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 256–257). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Jos 24:15). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 430). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jos 24:15). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[6] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (pp. 346–347). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

May 26 – Asking for God’s Provision

Give us this day our daily bread.—Matt. 6:11

“Give” reminds us of our need to ask God for His provision. In recognition of His past and present provision we ask Him, and trust for His future furnishing of all our needs. We can ask confidently because God has richly promised. “Delight yourself in the Lord; and He will give you the desires of your heart.… The humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity” (Ps. 37:4, 11). God does not pledge to always meet the physical needs of everybody, but only of those who trust in Him. In Psalm 37:25, David is speaking about believers when he says, “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread.”

It is clear that the “us” who can expect provision from the Father are believers. Paul echoes the same principle: “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (2 Cor. 9:10–11; cf. Luke 18:29–30).

God mercifully supplies our needs daily, meaning simply our ordinary, day-by-day provision of food, clothing, money, etc. The primary means by which we receive these things is through work, but isn’t it the Lord who provides even the strength for that? To accept God’s provision for today without undue concern for tomorrow is a testimony of our godly contentment (cf. Matt. 6:25, 32–33).

ASK YOURSELF
If the supply we have today isn’t satisfying to us and doesn’t seem like enough, is the problem with our Supplier or with our own measure of demand? Pray for a humble willingness to be thankful for every blessing, without focusing on the ones He seems to be withholding.[1]

6:11 Give us this day our daily bread. After putting God’s interests first, we are permitted to present our own needs. This petition acknowledges our dependence on God for daily food, both spiritual and physical.[2]


The Fourth Petition

  1. Give us this day our daily bread. What did Jesus mean by “daily”? In Greek literature the word which it translates is very rare; in fact, so rare that it used to be thought that it was coined by the evangelists. In Scripture it occurs only in the Lord’s Prayer (here and in Luke 11:3). Although it has now become clear that the word did not originate with the Gospel writers, there is no unanimity in explaining it. All kinds of guesses have been ventured, among them being “continuous,” “supersubstantial,” “ready at hand,” “for future use,” “for sustenance,” etc. The explanation “sufficient for the next day” has been strongly defended. As I see it, a good argument can be made in favor of: a. “Give us this day our bread for (or: belonging to) the current day (the day in being),” and of b. “Give us this day our needful bread,” that is, “our bread necessary for existence.” The two ideas (a. and b.) combine easily. In any case we must make sure that our interpretation does not run counter to the teaching of Jesus in this very chapter (verses 31–34), the warning against worry about food. See especially verse 34. Personally I see no reason, therefore, to depart from the translation to which many people have become accustomed, namely, “daily.” The meaning then would be, “Give us today the portion that is needed for any one day.”

What has been said so far indicates that by means of this petition Jesus teaches his disciples to be moderate in their desires and requests. This is brought out even more strikingly in the original, where the words “our daily bread” occur at the very head of the petition; hence, “Our daily bread give us this day.” Christ’s disciples must ask for bread, not for luxuries. “Neither poverty nor riches give thou me. Feed me with the bread that is appointed to me, lest, being full, I deny thee and say, ‘Who is Jehovah?’ Or, lest, being poor, I steal and profane the name of my God” (Prov. 30:8, 9, taken from the prayer of Agur). It is clear, of course, that the term “bread” should not be taken too literally. Whatever is necessary to sustain physical life is meant.

Not only a. moderation is here taught, also b. trust in the heavenly Father, who loves and cares, the childlike confidence expressed so beautifully in Ps. 37:25. Yet, it is not “making provision for the future” (Gen. 41:33–36; Prov. 6:6–8) that is here condemned, but “anxiety about the future,” as if there were no heavenly Father. And well may the conviction of c. total dependence fill the heart, for all men, including even the richest, in order to have, consume, and enjoy food, are dependent upon the condition of soil, water, weather, and health of body. Moreover, in order to eat, men of slender and those of average means need to work, that they may earn their bread. Therefore, all men are dependent upon the general state of the economy, together with all its contributing factors, ecological, social, political, etc., which in the final analysis means that all are dependent upon the sovereign God, who is in control of the universe. Then, too, d. humility is required; hence, “Give us.…” Although the supplicant is making a living in the sweat of his brow and besides has even paid for his groceries, he must still accept what is on the table as a gift from God, a product of grace; for, not only is God the ultimate source of every blessing (James 1:17) but also, by reason of sin man has forfeited all! e. Willingness to work is also presupposed. Else how would one dare to pray for daily sustenance (cf. 2 Thess. 3:10)? To all this add one more quality, namely, f. generosity; hence, not “Give me,” but “Give us … our daily bread.” The needs of believers all over the world are included, for together they constitute one family (Eph. 3:14). And, in the spirit of Gal. 6:10, are not the supplicant’s horizons extended even beyond “the camp of the saints, the beloved city”?

Man has been endowed by the Creator with body and soul (Gen. 2:7). So, from a petition for the fulfilment of the needs of the body the prayer now advances to a request for the satisfaction of the soul’s requirements, that what is spiritual may be both first (see the first three petitions) and last (see the last two, or the last two plus the doxology).[3]


God’s Provision

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

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

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

The Substance

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

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

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

The Source

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

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

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

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

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

Supplication

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

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

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

The Seekers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Schedule

The schedule of God’s provision for His children is daily. The meaning here is simply that of regular, day-by-day supply of our needs. We are to rely on the Lord one day at a time. He may give us vision for work He calls us to do in the future, but His provision for our needs is daily, not weekly, monthly, or yearly. To accept the Lord’s provision for the present day, without concern for our needs or welfare tomorrow, is a testimony of our contentment in His goodness and faithfulness.[4]


11 The last petitions explicitly request things for ourselves. The first is “bread,” a term used to cover all food (cf. Pr 30:8; Mk 3:20; Ac 6:1; 2 Th 3:12; Jas 2:15). Many early fathers thought it inappropriate to talk about physical food here and interpreted “bread” as a reference to the Lord’s Supper or to the Word of God. This depended in part on Jerome’s Latin rendering of epiousios (NIV, “daily,” GK 2157) as superstantialem: Give us today our “supersubstantial” bread—a rendering that may have depended in part on the influence of Marius Victorinus (cf. F. F. Bruce, “The Gospel Text of Marius Victorinus,” in Text and Interpretation [ed. Best and Wilson], 70). There is no linguistic justification for this translation. The bread is real food, and it may further suggest all that we need in the physical realm (Luther).

That does not mean that epiousios is easy to translate. The term appears only here and in Luke’s prayer (Lk 11:3); and the two possible extrabiblical references, which could support “daily,” have had grave doubt cast on them by Bruce M. Metzger (“How Many Times Does ἐπιούσιος Occur Outside the Lord’s Prayer?” ExpTim 69 [1957–58]: 52–54). P. Grelot (“La quatrième demande du ‘Pater’ et son arrièreplan sémitique,” NTS 25 [1978–79]: 299–314) has attempted to support the same translation (“daily”) by reconstructing an Aramaic original, but his article deals inadequately with the Greek text, and other Aramaic reconstructions are possible (e.g., Black, Aramaic Approach, 203–7).

The prayer is for our needs, not our greeds. It is for one day at a time (“today”), reflecting the precarious lifestyle of many first-century workers who were paid one day at a time and for whom a few days’ illness could spell tragedy. Many have suggested a derivation from epi tēn ousan [namely, hēmeran] (“for today”) or hē epiousa hēmera (“for the coming day”), referring in the morning to the same day and at night to the next (for hēmera[n], see GK 2465). This meaning is almost certainly right, but it is better supported by deriving the word from the feminine participle epiousa, already well established with the sense of “immediately following” by the time the NT was written. Whatever the etymological problems, this makes sense of Luke 11:3, where “each day” is part of the text: “Give us each day our bread for the coming day.” Equally it makes sense in Matthew, where “today” displaces “each day”: “Give us today our bread for the coming day.” This may sound redundant to Western readers, but it is a precious and urgent petition to those who live from hand to mouth.

Some derive epiousios (“daily”) from the verb epienai, referring not to the future, still less to the food of the messianic banquet (contra Jeremias, Prayers of Jesus, 100–102), but to the bread that belongs to it, i.e., that is necessary and sufficient for it (cf. R. Ten Kate, “Geef ons heden ons ‘dagelijks’ brood,” Nederlands Theologisch Tijdschrift 32 [1978]: 125–39; with similar conclusions but by a different route, H. Bourgoin, “ʼΕπιούσιος expliqué par la notion de préfixe vide,” Bib 60 [1979]: 91–96; and for literature, BDAG, 376–77; Gundry, Use of the Old Testament, 74–75). This has the considerable merit of meshing well with both “today” and “each day” (Matthew and Luke respectively), and in Matthew’s case it may be loosely rendered “Give us today the food we need.” But the derivation is linguistically artificial (cf. Colin Hemer, “ʼΕπιούσιος, JSNT 22 [1984]: 81–94).

The idea of God “giving” the food in no way diminishes responsibility to work (see comments at vv. 25–34) but presupposes not only that Jesus’ disciples live one day at a time (cf. v. 34) but that all good things, even our ability to work and earn our food, come from God’s hand (cf. Dt 8:18; 1 Co 4:7; Jas 1:17). It is a lesson easily forgotten when wealth multiplies and absolute self-sufficiency is portrayed as a virtue.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 155). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1224). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 332–334). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 387–391). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 205–206). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

MAY 26 – TOO HARD FOR GOD?

Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?

—Jeremiah 32:27

What does it mean to us, that God Almighty has all the power there is? It means that since God has the ability always to do anything He wills to do, then nothing is harder or easier with God. “Hard” and “easy” can’t apply to God because God has all the power there is. Hard or easy applies to me….

God, who has all the power there is, can make a sun and a star and a galaxy as easily as He can lift a robin off a nest. God can do anything as easily as He can do anything else.

This truth applies specifically to the area of our unbelief. We hesitate to ask God to do “hard” things because we figure that God can’t do them. But if they are “easy” things, we ask God to do them. If we have a headache we say, “Oh God, heal my headache.” But if we have a heart condition, we don’t ask the Lord about that, because that’s “too hard” for the Lord! What a shame! Nothing is hard for God—nothing whatsoever. Nothing! In all God’s wisdom and power He is able to do anything as easily as He is able to do anything else. AOGII084

Lord, no matter where You lead me today or what circumstances come my way, I rest in the knowledge that there is no such thing as “hard” or “easy” with You. Amen. [1]


26–27 It appears that the Lord quickly answers Jeremiah’s prayer, and in quite striking a manner, throwing back on Jeremiah in the form of a question (v. 27) what he stated as a fact in v. 17: Jeremiah, do you really believe that nothing is too difficult for me? (cf. also Ge 18:14 for the same rhetorical question as a challenge to unbelief). I know you said it as part of your confession, but is it reality to you? (The phrase, “the God of all flesh/mankind” [bāśār] is found only here [for a similar description, cf. Job 12:10; note also Jer 31:1].)[2]


32:26–27 God confirms Jeremiah’s confession (v. 17); he is the Creator of all flesh, and nothing is too hard for him to accomplish.[3]


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

[2] Brown, M. L. (2010). Jeremiah. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah–Ezekiel (Revised Edition) (Vol. 7, p. 414). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1433). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

May 26 – Paul: Joy in Spite of Detractors

“Whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.”

Philippians 1:18

✧✧✧

It is possible to maintain your joy even while dealing with criticisms and irritating distractions.

The dictionary definition of detraction is “the uttering of material (as false or slanderous charges) that is likely to damage the reputation of another.” A detractor wants to undermine and destroy the good name and credibility of another. Great statesmen, such as President Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War, often have been the targets of contentious political opponents and stinging detractions by the press.

For the church, the most difficult criticism has arisen from within, from false professors who once claimed to support it and its leaders. Paul came to know the disappointment and distress of being torn down when his detractors at Philippi assailed him even while he sat in prison. But he is a model of how one can rise above such pain and discouragement.

Paul’s main detractors (Phil. 1:15) were his fellow preachers who proclaimed the same gospel as he did. They were not at odds with him over doctrine but over personal matters. Paul’s detractors were envious of his ministry gifts and the way God had blessed his efforts with many converts and numerous churches.

Contending with the detractors at Philippi was not a completely new trial for Paul. He had previously learned patience in dealing with the letdowns caused by other supposed supporters (see 2 Tim. 1:15; 4:16). Now his opponents were testing his patience to the extreme as they sought to destroy his credibility with his supporters.

The detractors’ tactics might have unsettled the faith of some in the churches, but not Paul’s confidence. He stood up to all the unpleasantness with joy because, as our verse indicates, he knew the cause of Christ was still being advanced.

Paul’s exemplary behavior under fire provides an obvious lesson for us: no amount of false and unfair criticism should steal our joy in Christ and His gospel. And we can keep rejoicing if we, like Paul, stay devoted to our top priority, proclaiming and glorifying the name of Christ.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank the Lord that the gospel and its power are strong enough to overcome any amount of jealous detraction. Pray that you would stay focused on gospel priorities.

For Further Study: Read Nehemiah 4–6. How did Nehemiah deal with the detractors to his work? ✧ What was the eventual outcome (6:16)?[1]


1:18 Paul refuses to be downcast by the wrong motives of some. Christ is being preached by both groups, and that is for him a great cause for rejoicing.

It is remarkable that under such difficult circumstances, Paul does not feel sorry for himself or seek the sympathy of others. Rather he is filled with the joy of the Lord and encourages his readers to rejoice also.[2]


18a. What then? or “What really matters?” Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed, and in this I rejoice. Paul’s self-forgetfulness excites affectionate admiration. We love him all the more for having written this beautiful passage. Sensitive soul though he was, he does not begin to pity himself because certain jealous preachers were trying to win applause at his expense. What really matters to him is not what they are doing to him but what they are doing for the gospel. But is it possible, then, that such selfish individuals can render service to the gospel in any way? Yes, for it must be borne in mind that those who hear them do not know what Paul knows. The listeners hear only the good preaching. They do not see the bad motive. What matters then is that in every way, that is, whether in pretense—as by those who know how to cover up their selfish ambition—or in truth—as by those whose sole aim is actually the glorification of their Lord and Savior—Christ is proclaimed. In this, says Paul, I rejoice (see also 1:25; 2:2, 17, 18, 28, 29; 3:1; 4:1, 4, 10). It would seem that the apostle’s joy is so great that it crowds out every other consideration.

1:18b–26

Christ Magnified in Paul’s Person whether by Life or by Death

18b Yes, and I shall continue to rejoice. 19 For I know that through your supplication and the help supplied by the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my salvation, 20 in accordance with my eager expectation and hope that in not a single respect I shall ever be put to shame, but that now as always by my unfailing courage Christ will be magnified in my person, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live (is) Christ, and to die (is) gain. 22 Now if (what awaits me is) to live in the flesh, this for me means fruit resulting from work; yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 So I am hard pressed between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very far better; 24 but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25 And being convinced of this, I know that I shall remain, yes remain with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 in order that in connection with me, because of my being with you again, your exultation in Christ may abound.

18b, 19. Paul is the Optimistic Prisoner not only because he realizes that his imprisonment is for the advantage of the gospel (1:12–18), but also because he is deeply convinced that in his person Christ will be magnified, and that this happy result will be attained whether he, the apostle, is set free (as he rather expects) or is put to death (1:19–26).

At first glance it might seem as if from the lofty height of glorying in the fact that Christ is being proclaimed—verse 18—Paul now descends to the somewhat lower plane of rejoicing in his own salvation—verse 19. However, by reading not only verse 19 but also verse 20 it will be seen that for Paul salvation consisted in this—to quote his own words—“that … Christ be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.” Christ’s glory and Paul’s salvation cannot be separated.

Yet there is progress in thought. The apostle advances from the consideration of his joy in the present (verse 18) to the consideration of his joy in the future. He writes: Yes, and I shall continue to rejoice. He states as the reason for his continued rejoicing: For I know that through your supplication and the help supplied by the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my salvation. This present imprisonment with all its attending woe will result in Paul’s truest welfare, his highest good, namely, Christ magnified more than ever in Paul’s person. Note that this glorious result will be brought about by means of two factors which because of their great difference in magnitude—the one human, the other divine—we would probably hesitate to place next to one another: your supplication … and … the help supplied by the Spirit of Jesus Christ! Yet, they certainly belong together: the very same Spirit which sustained Jesus Christ, the Mediator, in his trials, will cause all things to work together for good in the case of Paul also, and this in answer to the prayer of fellow-believers. The apostle sets much store by the intercession (here supplication, that is, fervent petition or request for the fulfillment of a definite need; cf. Phil. 1:4; 4:6; see N.T.C. on 1 Tim. 2:1) of his friends (cf. Rom. 15:30, 32; 2 Cor. 1:11; Col. 4:2; 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1). Note that Paul makes supplication for the Philippians (1:4), and that he knows that they are doing the same thing for him (1:19). The fellowship is operating (see on verse 5).[3]


More important, though, he saw the larger picture. Because those envious men were actually preaching the true gospel, people were being saved. “What then?” he therefore asked rhetorically, answering: Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice. Yes, and I will rejoice. In other words, if the cause of Christ was being served, even in pretense by those envious detractors, he was glad. Although the detractors’ motive was not primarily to exalt Christ or to win souls but to exalt themselves at Paul’s expense, he was not bitter. He knew that, although He did not honor those men who preached the truth out of pretense, the sovereign God nevertheless honored their message when Christ [was] proclaimed. That reality greatly pleased Paul.

God’s Word is always powerful, no matter what the motives of the one who proclaims it. The last thing the prophet Jonah wanted to happen was for Nineveh to repent at his preaching; but the message he gave from God produced repentance in spite of his ill intentions (cf. Jonah 4:1–9). Even a preacher or teacher who is envious, jealous, and selfish can be used by God when his message is true to the Word. God always honors His Word, and His Word always bears fruit. “My word … which goes forth from My mouth … will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11). As the nineteenth-century Scottish minister John Eadie wisely commented, “The virtue lies in the gospel, not in the gospeller; in the exposition, and not in the expounder” (A Commentary on the Greek Text of the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians [reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979], 40).

In truth refers back to those who were preaching “from good will; … out of love, … [and] from pure motives” (Phil. 1:15–17). Truth here refers not to the accuracy of what they said, but rather to the truthfulness and integrity of their hearts. In marked contrast to the detractors, they were not hypocrites preaching the pure gospel from impure motives.

Katangellō (proclaimed) refers to announcing or declaring something with authority. Whether the gospel was proclaimed by jealous, hurtful preachers, or by those who were faithfully and humbly preaching the gospel with pure motives, it was accurately proclaimed, it bore fruit, and Paul could only rejoice. He reinforced his earnestness by adding, Yes, and I will rejoice. His joy, his gracious attitude, and his grasp of the greater issue of gospel truth were not transitory, but were resolutely permanent (cf. Ps. 4:7–8; Rom. 12:12; 2 Cor. 6:10).

Absolutely nothing could steal Paul’s God-given joy. He was expendable; the gospel was not. His own privacy and freedom were incidental, and he cared nothing for personal recognition or credit. Neither the painful chains of Rome nor the even more painful criticism of fellow Christians could keep him from rejoicing, because Christ was being proclaimed and His church was growing and maturing. The apostle’s view of his life and ministry are perhaps best expressed in 2 Corinthians:

And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain—for He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”—giving no cause for offense in anything, so that the ministry will not be discredited, but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses, in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in hunger, in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left, by glory and dishonor, by evil report and good report; regarded as deceivers and yet true; as unknown yet well-known, as dying yet behold, we live; as punished yet not put to death, as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things. (2 Cor. 6:1–10)

Paul’s example of selfless humility shows that the worse circumstances are, the greater joy can be. When the seemingly secure things in life begin to collapse, when suffering and sorrow increase, believers should be drawn into ever-deeper fellowship with the Lord. It is then that they will most fully experience the enduring joy the apostle knew so well. This joy is far greater and more satisfying than any fleeting circumstantial happiness. And this unmixed joy comes not because of circumstances but in spite of them and through them.[4]


18 Paul’s response to the negative preaching reflects the spirit of a saint: “But what does it matter [ti gar, “so what?”]?… Christ is preached.” It is not that Paul has mellowed after wrangling with the Corinthians and has lost his fighting trim, as C. H. Dodd suggests (New Testament Studies [Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press, 1953], 80–82). Paul sets an example for the Philippians to emulate. His prestige, reputation, and personal feelings are secondary to the preaching and advance of the gospel. Paul is not immune to personal hurt (2 Co 1:23–2:4; 7:3–16), but he does not put his personal feelings above the progress of the gospel. What is important is not his personal vindication before a Roman court or rival Christians, but the defense and confirmation of the gospel. His private concerns must not outweigh his ultimate task.[5]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1962). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, pp. 73–74). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 68–69). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 200). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 26 – An Expectation of Heaven

Seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.

Colossians 3:1

The apostle Paul was preoccupied with heaven; he knew few earthly comforts. He was beaten, stoned, left for dead, deprived of necessities, and frequently disappointed by people. But he had no concern for pleasant feelings: he wanted only to live a productive life in pursuit of his heavenly goal.

We must have the same focus if we are going to pursue our heavenly reward. Christ is from heaven and in heaven. Heaven is His place, and because we are His, heaven is our place as well. If we are preoccupied with being like Him, we will naturally be preoccupied with heaven. What happens there should be more important to us than what happens here.[1]


3:1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. The If of this verse does not express any doubt in the mind of the Apostle Paul. It is what has been called the “If” of argument, and may be translated since: “Since then you were raised together with Christ.…

As mentioned in chapter 2, the believer is seen as having died with Christ, having been buried with Him, and having risen with Him from among the dead. The spiritual meaning of all this is that we have said goodbye to the former way of life, and have entered upon a completely new type of life, that is, the life of the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Because we have been raised with Christ, we should seek those things which are above. We are still on earth, but we should be cultivating heavenly ways.[2]


  1. Consistency requires that believers live in conformity with the fact that they were raised with Christ, who is not only the Object of their faith (chapters 1 and 2) but also the Source of their life (chapters 3 and 4). Of course, the line between these two divisions is not sharp. There is considerable overlapping. There is, however, a difference in emphasis.

Between Colossians 3 and that which precedes there is a close connection. The opening words of Col. 3, If then you were raised with Christ, resume the thought already expressed in 2:12, 13, “raised with him … made alive with him,” and are the counterpart of 2:20, “If with Christ you died to the rudiments of the world.…” The Colossians, it will be recalled, were beset by the danger of relapsing into paganism with its gross sensuality, etc., as is clear from 2:23 and 3:5 ff. The wrong solution of their problem was refuted in chapters 1 and 2, especially the latter. It was indicated that there is no material cure for a spiritual ill, that neglect of the body will never heal the soul’s sickness but will aggravate it, that heaven-born individuals cannot gain satisfaction from earth-born remedies. Christ, he alone, is the answer, Christ in all the fulness of his love and power, as already implied in both chapters 1 and 2, and set forth with even greater clarity and directness now (chapter 3), in a series of pastoral exhortations. If, then, the Colossians were corporately raised when Christ was raised and with him, as previously explained (see on 2:12, 13, 20), why should they seek salvation or fulness anywhere apart from him? Why should they resort to broken cisterns when the Fountain is at hand? Christ’s resurrection, followed by his ascension and coronation, guarantees their pardon and provides for their purity. To this Savior they had surrendered themselves when they had embraced him by faith. The cleansing power of Christ’s blood and Spirit had been signified and sealed to them in baptism. The supply of grace remains plentiful. Right now—they need not wait until the day of the Parousia!—they are raised with Christ. They possess within themselves the life of the resurrection. Let the power of Christ’s resurrection, therefore, be experienced by them in an ever increasing degree. Let their union with the exalted Christ transform their entire life: mind, heart, and will (Phil. 3:10). Let them seek the things that are above, where Christ is. The verb seek implies persevering effort; hence, the rendering, “Be constantly seeking,” is not incorrect. This seeking, moreover, is more than a seeking to discover. It is a seeking to obtain (cf. Matt. 6:33; 13:45). The emphasis, though, is not on the seeking but on the object sought. A precise rendering would be, “the things that are above [placed forward for emphasis] be constantly seeking.” Seeking to obtain is a common activity, but seeking to obtain the right treasures is not nearly so common, and therefore requires emphasis. These things that are above are the spiritual values embedded in the heart of the exalted Mediator in glory, whence, without loss to himself, they are bestowed upon those who humbly ask for them and diligently seek them (Matt. 7:7; 1 Cor. 12:11; Eph. 1:3; 4:7, 8). As the context indicates, the apostle has reference to such realities as tenderheartedness, kindness, lowliness, meekness, longsuffering, patience, the forgiving spirit, and above all love (3:12 ff.). Surely, if the hearts of believers are filled with such bounties there will be no room for fleshly indulgence. Here, then, is the true solution.

The Colossians can be assured of the fact that their exalted Christ has both the right and the power to bestow whatever gifts are needed, for he is seated at the right hand of God (Ps. 110:1, a phrase applied by Christ to himself in Matt. 22:41–46; 26:64; Mark 12:35–37; 14:61, 62; Luke 20:41–44; 22:66–70), clothed with majesty and honor.

This comforting truth of the ascension of the Lord and his coronation at the Father’s right hand, as a Fountain of blessing for his people, was foreshadowed in the Old Testament (Ps. 8, as interpreted in Heb. 2:1–8; Ps. 68:18, as explained in Eph. 4:7, 8; Ps. 110:1, as has been shown; Isa. 53:12). It was frequently referred to by the Lord himself (see, in addition to the Gospel-passages in the preceding paragraph, John 14:1–4; 14:13–18; 16:7; 17:5; 20:17). It was from the very beginning one of the basic themes in the preaching of the church (Luke 24:50–53; Acts 1:6–11; 2:33–36; 3:21; 5:30, 31; 7:56; Rom. 8:32–34; Eph. 1:20–23; 4:7, 8; Phil. 2:9–11; 3:20, 21; 1 Tim. 3:16; Heb. 1:1–3, 13; 2:1–8; 4:14–16; 8:1, 2; 9:11, 12, 24; 10:12; 1 Peter 3:21, 22; Rev. 1:12–18; 12:5–12).

Those that seek to obtain these “things that are above” are not chasing phantoms but are gathering priceless treasures. They are not the kind of people who forget about their duty in the here and now. On the contrary, they are very practical, for the graces that have been enumerated enable them not only to gain victory upon victory in their struggle against fleshly indulgence but also to be truthfully “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13, 14).[3]


The Reminder

If then you have been raised up with Christ (3:1a)

If denotes reality, as in 2:20, and is better translated “since.” Believers having been raised up with Christ is not in doubt. The verb actually means “to be co-resurrected.” It is an accomplished fact.  Believers spiritually are entered into Christ’s death and resurrection at the moment of their salvation. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me.” In that verse, the apostle shows the union of the believer with the Lord, so that they have a shared life. Romans 6:3–4 teaches the same truth: “Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.”

The “baptism” here is not into water, but an immersing into the Savior’s death and resurrection. Through their union with Christ, believers have died, have been buried, and have risen with Him. By saving faith they have entered into a new dimension. They possess divine and eternal life, which is not merely endless existence, but a heavenly quality of life brought to them by the indwelling Lord. They are thus alive in Christ to the realities of the divine realm.

Consequently, Christians have an obligation to live consistently with those realities. Paul delineates the specifics of that obligation in Romans 6:11–19:

Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body that you should obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law, but under grace. What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know 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. I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh. For just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.

This new life is real and powerful, but so is remaining sin. Though it no longer is our master, it can still overpower us if we are not presenting ourselves to God as servants of righteousness. (For a fuller  treatment of this rich teaching, see my comments on Romans 6–8 in Romans 1–8, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1991].)

Spirituality, as Paul says in Philippians 2:12, is working that inner life out, the process of living the reality of our union with Christ. In Him we have all the resources necessary for living the Christian life (cf. 2 Pet. 1:3). Paul emphasizes the centrality of Christ throughout Colossians 3:1–4. By using such phrases as with Christ (3:1); where Christ (3:1); with Christ (3:3); when Christ (3:4); and with Him (3:4), he stresses again Christ’s total sufficiency (cf. 2:10). Unfortunately, many Christians fail to understand and pursue the fullness of Christ. Consequently, because of not knowing what Scripture says, or not applying it properly, they are intimidated into thinking they need something more than Him alone to live the Christian life. They fall prey to false philosophy, legalism, mysticism, or asceticism.

Paul reminds the Colossians that they have risen with Christ. This is the path to holiness, not self-denial, angelic experience, or ceremony. They are no longer living the old life they lived before their salvation, but possess the eternal life of Christ and have been raised to live on another plane. They must not be ignorant or forgetful of who they are and how they are to live. All sinful passion is controlled and conquered by the power of the indwelling Christ and our union with Him.

The Responsibility

keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (3:1b, 2)

The present tense of zēteō (keep seeking) indicates continuous action. Preoccupation with the eternal realities that are ours in Christ is to be the pattern of the believer’s life. Jesus put it this way: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Paul is not advocating a form of mysticism. Rather, he desires that the Colossians’ preoccupation with heaven govern their earthly responses. To be preoccupied with heaven is to be preoccupied with the One who reigns there and His purposes, plans, provisions, and power. It is also to view the things, people, and events of this world through His eyes and with an eternal perspective.

The things above refers to the heavenly realm and hones in on the spiritual values that characterize Christ, such as tenderness, kindness, meekness, patience, wisdom, forgiveness, strength, purity, and love.

When believers focus on the realities of heaven, they can then truly enjoy the world their heavenly Father has created. As the writer of the hymn “I Am His, and He Is Mine” expressed it,

Heav’n above is softer blue

Earth around is sweeter green!

Something lives in every hue

Christless eyes have never seen:

Birds with gladder songs o’erflow

Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know,

I am His, and He is mine.

When Christians begin to live in the heavenlies, when they commit themselves to the riches of “the Jerusalem above” (Gal. 4:26), they will live out their heavenly values in this world to the glory of God.

In 3:2, Paul gives instruction on how to seek the things above. He says, Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Set your mind is from phroneō and could simply be translated, “think,” or more thoroughly, “have this inner disposition.” Once again, the present tense indicates continuous action. Lightfoot paraphrases Paul’s thought: “You must not only seek heaven, you must also think heaven” (St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon [1879; reprint, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959], p. 209; italics in the original). The believer’s whole disposition should orient itself toward heaven, where Christ is, just as a compass needle orients itself toward the north.

Obviously, the thoughts of heaven that are to fill the believer’s mind must derive from Scripture. The Bible is the only reliable source of knowledge about the character of God and the values of heaven. Paul describes that preoccupation as being “transformed by the renewing of [your] mind” (Rom. 12:2). In it we learn the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy things our minds are to dwell on (cf. Phil. 4:8).

Such heavenly values dominating the mind produce godly behavior. Sin will be conquered and humility, a sacrificial spirit, and assurance will result.

The Resource

where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. (3:1c)

The believer’s resource is none other than the One in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge: the risen and glorified Christ, seated at the right hand of God in the place of honor and majesty. The Bible speaks often of Christ’s exalted position. Psalm 110:1 says, “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies a footstool for Thy feet.’ ” Jesus told the accusers at His trial that “from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right hand of the power of God” (Luke 22:69). In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter told the crowd that Jesus had been “exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33). Peter and the other apostles described Jesus to the Sanhedrin as “the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior” (Acts 5:31). As he was being martyred, Stephen cried out, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56). Paul describes Jesus as He “who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us” (Rom. 8:34), because God “raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places” (Eph. 1:20). The writer of Hebrews says of Christ, “When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3). Because of that, “we have such a high priest, who has taken His seat at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1). He is the One “who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Pet. 3:22).

Because of Christ’s coronation and exaltation to the Father’s right hand, He is the fountain of blessing for His people. Jesus told the disciples, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13–14; cf. 15:16; 16:23–24, 26). Believers can be assured that what they seek is there, “for as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes” (2 Cor. 1:20).[4]


1 Having reminded the Colossians that they have died with Christ (2:20; cf. 2:12), Paul now reiterates that they have been “raised with Christ” (cf. 2:12). Unlike Christ, they have not been raised bodily. Nevertheless, Paul insists that they have been raised (synēgerthēte, GK 5283, is a liquid aorist passive compound verb [second person plural]) spiritually with Christ by God. Their baptisms served as vivid, tangible reminders of this vital theological principle. If they truly have been raised with Christ via conversion as imaged in baptism, then they should seek “the things above.” They should not devote their attention to the earthly things that characterized the “philosophy”; conversely, they should quest after (“set [their] hearts on”) heavenly things. (“The things above” is synonymous with heaven [so, rightly, Lincoln, 637].)

Why does Paul counsel the Colossians to keep seeking the things above? Is this not dangerous advice with which the promoters of the “philosophy” would agree? Paul does not employ such spatial imagery to affirm the “philosophy” or to encourage visionary activity among the assembly; rather, he commands the Colossians to pursue the things of heaven precisely because this is where Christ is. He is not one among a panoply of heavenly dignitaries; Christ occupies a place of primacy and sovereignty. The resurrected Christ is the ascended Christ who is “seated at the right hand of God.” This depiction of Christ’s session is drawn from Psalm 110:1 (cf. Ro 8:34; Eph 1:20). (To take this metaphoric description literally is a misconstrual of the text.) In enjoining the church to seek the things above and thereby Christ, Paul is encouraging them “to give Christ [who reigns as Lord] an allegiance that takes precedence over all earthly loyalties. His ends are to be their ends; and it follows that the means by which those ends are attained must be his means” (Caird, 202).[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 163). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2007). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Colossians and Philemon (Vol. 6, pp. 139–141). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 125–128). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 322). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.