Daily Archives: June 8, 2017

June 8, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Jun. 8, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

If all of Washington will tune in Thursday as fired FBI Director James Comey testifies about the tense and politically fraught series of conversations he had with Donald Trump, perhaps no one will watch more closely, or with more at stake, than Trump himself.

Polls are open and voting is underway in a U.K. election dominated by Brexit, austerity and in the closing phases, security.

Angela Merkel is taking her campaign to buttress the global order against the disruptive presidency of Donald Trump to Latin America.

Perpetrators of the twin attacks in Tehran were recruited inside Iran by Islamic State and fought in both Iraq and Syria, the Iranian Intelligence Ministry said on Thursday.

The United Arab Emirates banned all international flights serving Doha from flying through its airspace in an effort to deepen Qatar’s isolation, the latest in a series of unprecedented measures by the Saudi-led alliance that risk squeezing the country’s economy and finances.

Japan’s ruling party urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to consider building missile shelters and carrying out more evacuation drills in response to the growing threat from North Korea.

North Korea launched a series of short-range missiles early Thursday that appeared to be designed to attack ships, the latest provocation by Kim Jong Un’s isolated regime.

U.S. tax revenue is running as much as $70 billion behind estimates more than halfway through the fiscal year, leaving the government with less cash than planned and adding to pressure on Congress to raise the debt ceiling.

The U.S. labor market remains a bright spot in the economy as fewer Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, with hiring managers decrying a scarcity of available workers. Jobless Claims (Week Ended June 3) decreased by 10k to 245k (forecast was 240k).

U.S. markets are at their highest risk levels since before the 2008 financial crisis because investors are paying a high price for the chances they’re taking, according to Bill Gross, manager of the $2 billion Janus Henderson Global Unconstrained Bond Fund.

Billionaire investor Paul Singer said “distorted” monetary and regulatory policies have increased risks for investors almost a decade after the financial crisis. “What we have today is a global financial system that’s just about as leveraged — and in many cases more leveraged — than before 2008, and I don’t think the financial system is more sound.”

AP Top Stories

In a head-spinning shift that could affect the war on ISIS, President Trump on Wednesday accused Qatar of funding extremism and mused that the oil-rich U.S. ally’s growing diplomatic isolation might mark “the beginning of the end to the horror of terrorism.”

Myanmar’s military said Thursday it has found the wreckage of a plane in the Andaman Sea that went missing with around 120 people on board, along with several bodies.

In one of his first international speaking engagements since leaving office, former President Barack Obama laid out his defense of his administration’s goals, including reforming immigration policy, ending extreme poverty and curbing carbon emissions through the Paris climate agreement. Obama is said to charge a speaking fee of $400,000 for such appearances, according to the Toronto Star.

Vice President Mike Pence addressed the National Catholic Prayer Breakfast Tuesday, using his speech to sell the crowd of religious leaders and devotees on the spiritual bona fides of the new administration. Pence emphasized the need for religious freedom, both domestically and globally, and said the U.S. is dedicated to ensuring liberty for all faiths.

Major international finance institutions in Hong Kong made a landmark intervention Wednesday in the case of a gay couple struggling to get their rights recognized by the city’s courts. The 12 businesses — including Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse — say they want to submit evidence to a hearing at the Court of Appeal next week in the case of a British woman refused a spousal visa because she is in a same-sex partnership.

Islamic State built prison cells inside an ordinary villa in Mosul as part of the group’s tactic of boosting the safety of its jails and security centers by concealing them among regular houses.

The Syrian government’s allies will strike at American positions inside Syria if it crosses any “red lines,” Hezbollah warned on Wednesday.

Lowe’s says it’s laying off approximately 125 information technology workers, the third round of job cuts this year. Some of the jobs will be relocated to Bangalore, India.

BBC

A proposal by an Australian Islamic group to allow “safe spaces” for young Muslims to discuss “inflammatory” issues has sparked a row. The Islamic Council of Victoria (ICV) said such forums enabled young people’s opinions to be “respectfully and intelligently debated and challenged”. But State Premier Daniel Andrews said he was “very troubled” by the idea of a space where people “could be radical”.

The UN has received reports that 231 Iraqi civilians have been killed by so-called Islamic State while attempting to flee Mosul over the past two weeks.

The Malaysian government has removed a category on “preventing” homosexuality from a sex education video competition for young people, following an outcry among activists.

Farc rebels in Colombia say they have handed over 30% of their arms to United Nations (UN) monitors, under the terms of last year’s peace agreement.

The number of suspected cases of cholera resulting from a severe outbreak in Yemen has passed 100,000, the World Health Organization says.

WND

A crackdown on illegal immigration under President Donald Trump has driven some poor people to take a drastic step: opt out of federal food assistance because they are fearful of deportation, activists and immigrants say.


The Briefing 06-08-17

Big news day: Comey to testify before Senate Intelligence Committee & Britain to vote in snap election

Religious test for office? Sen. Sanders vehemently opposes nominee’s defense of biblical Christianity

New legislation in Ontario gives state power to seize children from parents who oppose LGBTQ agenda

The post The Briefing 06-08-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 6/8/2017

Stunning! Senate OKs U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem resolution 90-to-0
The U.S. Senate, in an extremely rare moment of action without any opposition, has adopted a resolution calling on President Trump to abide by a 1995 law that calls for the U.S. Embassy to be in Jerusalem. The vote actually was 90-0….

Is New Scientific Trial to Revive the Dead a Threat to God’s Final Resurrection of Believers?
“If they are able to revive a person from total brain death, it will be considered techiyat hamaytim (resurrection of the dead),” said Rabbi Halperin. “Torah law puts limits on man, forbidding him from some areas which are strictly divine. Reviving the dead is one of them.”“Not only does this effort by scientists go against this principle of faith, but we know that true resurrection can only happen by Divine will.

“Streaked, Speckled, Spotted”, First Jacob’s Lambs in 2,000 Years Born in Native Land
After a journey as dramatic as anything in the Bible, the first Jacob’s Sheep born in the land of Israel in over two millennia made their auspicious appearance last month in the Jordan Valley. One Torah Codes expert found an amazingly precise and detailed description of the flock’s arrival and the role it will play in bringing the Third Temple.

Philippines says Islamist fighters on back foot in besieged city
The Islamist militants holed up in the southern Philippines town of Marawi have been reduced to a “small resistance” after troops crippled their logistics and some fighters have fled from the battle, military officials said on Thursday. “In a few more days it could be over,”

Britons vote in election seen strengthening May’s Brexit hand
Britons began voting on Thursday in a snap election predicted to give Prime Minister Theresa May a larger parliamentary majority, which she hopes will strengthen her hand in looming divorce talks with the European Union. A final survey backed other opinion polls in the last 24 hours, suggesting that the Conservatives had widened their lead following a tricky campaign in which their support appeared at times to be ebbing away.

Trump effect rocking the Middle East
Even before the US president set foot in Saudi Arabia, different countries in the region were required to pay ‘earnest money’ to be able to join the Sunni bloc against Iran and ISIS. One of the demands was that all Sunni Arab states—particularly Qatar—would wash their hands off Hamas.

PA official: Settlement building not a barrier for resuming peace talks
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will forgo demands on stopping Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank in order to resume peace talks under the Trump administration, according to Bloomberg on Thursday. Mohammad Mustafa, Abbas’s senior economic adviser and former deputy prime minister, explained in an interview conducted Monday that: “We think it’s better for all of us right now to focus on giving this new administration a chance to deliver.”

US Senate proceeds with Iran sanctions bill hours after attack
The Senate voted on Wednesday to proceed with a bill that would sanction Iran over its ballistic missile activity, its human rights record and its funding of terrorist organizations across the Middle East, just hours after the Iranian capital suffered a significant terrorist attack. The timing of Wednesday’s vote – a procedural hurdle before the Senate votes on the bill itself, likely on Thursday – caused several Democratic senators to feel compelled to vote against the measure.

Netanyahu, Haley discuss UNIFIL mandate vs Hezbollah
Anticipating the possibility of another war in Lebanon, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Wednesday with Nikki Haley, Washington’s ambassador to the UN, about a possible Security Council resolution calling for the removal of Hezbollah forces from southern Lebanon…According to senior government officials, Netanyahu and Haley…spoke about strengthening the mandate of UNIFIL…to make it more effective in enforcing Security Council Resolution 1701…

Al-Shabab fighters storm military base in Somalia
Somalia’s militant Islamist group al-Shabab says it has carried out a major assault on a military base in the semi-autonomous region of Puntland. Its fighters killed 61 government troops and seized 16 vehicles in the dawn raid, the group said. A Puntland government minister has denied the high death toll, but did not give separate casualty figures.

General election 2017: Voters to go to the polls
Voting in the UK general election is under way at more than 40,000 polling stations across the country. Polls opened at 07:00 BST on Thursday, with counting starting once voting ends at 22:00 BST. A total of 650 Westminster MPs will be elected, with about 46.9 million people registered to vote.

Iran FM Zarif slams ‘repugnant’ Trump statement on Tehran attacks
Iran’s foreign minister has denounced as “repugnant” a White House statement on Wednesday’s terror attack in Tehran that said Iran was a “terror sponsor”. President Trump had said he was praying for the victims, but added that “states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote”. But Javad Zarif said Iran “rejected such claims of friendship” and claimed the attackers from so-called Islamic State had been “backed by US clients”.

North Korea fires suspected land-to-ship missiles as South Korea delays THAAD
North Korea fired what appeared to be several land-to-ship missiles off its east coast on Thursday…a day after the South postponed full deployment of a controversial U.S. anti-missile system designed to deter a North Korean attack. The launches…come less than a week after the United Nations Security Council passed fresh sanctions on the reclusive state.

Trump picks white-collar crime lawyer to replace Comey at FBI
President Donald Trump on Wednesday ended a fraught month-long search for an FBI chief after firing James Comey by selecting Christopher Wray, who has prosecuted and defended white-collar crime cases…Wray, who must be confirmed to the post by the Senate, and Comey served together in the Justice Department under former President George Bush, and both worked on the government’s case in the Enron Corp fraud scandal in the early to mid-2000s.

Iran Burning: Isis Claims Responsibility For Massive Iranian Attacks That Left 12 Dead
Islamic State claimed responsibility for attacks on Iran’s parliament and Ayatollah Khomeini’s shrine on Wednesday, the group’s state news agency AMAQ said.

Confirmed: Comey Planted Inside FBI as Clinton Fixer
FBI Director James Comey is a Clinton-fixer with a long history of running interference within the Department of Justice to make sure the Clintons are never prosecuted – a loyalty that the Clintons have repaid in corporate board appointments that have earned Comey millions of dollars.

Swedish Govt. Orders Clinic to End Treatment For Rape Victims in Favor of Treating Migrants
The Swedish government has announced that a clinic in Stockholm will no longer treat female rape victims and the money will be spent on treating ‘traumatized’ Muslim migrants instead. After 10 years of helping rape victims, the Stockholm Crisis and Trauma Center “will now only devote itself to patients with war and torture trauma,”reports SVT.

The Attack on Wonder Woman
Lebanon bans “The Israeli Soldier Film.”

Netanyahu: Israel Will Keep Control Over Golan Heights
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday vowed to stay in control of the Golan Heights region, CGTN is reporting.   “Golan Heights will always remain under Israeli sovereignty. We will never leave the Golan Heights. It is ours,” Netanyahu said during a youth conference to note the 15th anniversary of the Six Day War in 1967, CGTN reports.

Public School Opens Up Rooms For Muslim Prayer- Atheist Group Says It’s “REASONABLE”
This is happening right here on American soil folks. A New York state public school has provided two vacant rooms so Muslim students can pray during Islam’s holy month of Ramadan. This school’s principal, Donald Flynt, along with some other school administrators had invited a local imam to meet with them and learn more about the Muslim religion. Following this meeting Flynt made the call to open up the rooms for Muslim prayer

.An Illinois Town Denied This Muslim Congregation A Mosque. Now It Owes Them $580,000
Four years after a Chicago suburb denied a Muslim group’s request to convert a vacant building into a mosque, the U.S. Justice Department announced Tuesday that the city is required pay the congregation $580,000 in a settlement.


Central Banks Now Own Stocks And Bonds Worth Trillions – And They Could Crash The Markets By Selling Them

Have you ever wondered why stocks just seem to keep going up no matter what happens?  For years, financial markets have been behaving in ways that seem to defy any rational explanation, but once you understand the role that central banks have been playing everything begins to make sense.  In the aftermath of the great financial crisis of 2008, global central banks began to buy stocks, bonds and other financial assets in very large quantities and they haven’t stopped since.  In fact, as you will see below, global central banks are on pace to buy 3.6 trillion dollars worth of stocks and bonds this year alone.  At this point, the Swiss National Bank owns more publicly-traded shares of Facebook than Mark Zuckerberg does, and the Bank of Japan is now a top-five owner in 81 different large Japanese firms.  These global central banks are shamelessly pumping up global stock markets, but because they now have such vast holdings they could also cause a devastating global stock market crash simply by starting to sell off their portfolios. (Read More…)


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Bill Gross: “Market Risk Is Highest Since Before The 2008 Crisis”

Speaking at the Bloomberg Invest summit in New York, Bill Gross (of the recently merged Janus Henderson) who may or may not have been talking his bond book, issued a loud warning to traders saying U.S. markets are at their highest risk levels since before the 2008 financial crisis “because investors are paying a high price for the chances they’re taking.” Well, either that, or simply ignoring the possibility of all ETFs having to sell at once.

“Instead of buying low and selling high, you’re buying high and crossing your fingers,” Gross said Wednesday quoted by Bloomberg.

The rest of Gross’ complaint is familiar to long-suffering traders who have to navigate centrally-planned markets for much of the past decade: he said that central bank policies for low-and negative-interest rates are “artificially driving up asset prices while creating little growth in the real economy and punishing individual savers, banks and insurance companies.”

In other news, Gross’s fund has returned 3.1% YTD according to Bloomberg, outperforming 22% of Bloomberg peers (and underperforming 1-X that number). It has posted a total return of 5.4% since Gross took over management in October 2014 after he was ousted from PIMCO, which while modest is better than 90% of macro funds.


Brave New World’s Big Brother – Terry James

Evidence mounts that our own generation is moving swiftly into a new, troubling world, and the tools Huxley’s fictional world utilized seem like child’s toys by comparison with what is in view now. The technologies that have developed truly constitute what could be termed the “big brother” of those technological instrumentalities described in the long-ago novel. More about that in due course. For now, let’s look at the intrusions into everyday life that increase with each passing day.

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‘The Shack’ Book Sales Soar, Tops Best-Seller Lists Despite Controversy

Book sales for The Shack continue soar, boosted by the recently released movie of the same name, with the novel sitting on top of best-seller lists despite the controversy it has generated.

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YouTube Banned Me But Not Hate Imams – Michele Malkin

One of the many maddening takeaways from the London Bridge jihad attack is this: If you post videos on YouTube radicalizing Muslim viewers to kill innocent people, YouTube will leave you alone.

But if you post a video on YouTube honoring innocent people murdered by barbaric jihadists, your video will get banned.

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TBN’s Jan Crouch Found Liable for Cover Up

A California jury has found that the late Jan Crouch, the founder and popular face of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN), is partly to blame for mishandling an incident when her teenage granddaughter was allegedly molested and raped at a telethon in 2006.

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The Tyranny of Decadence

Society is experiencing the same sort of moral anarchy that occurred when the Weimar Republic ruled Germany and liberal ideas and pleasure seeking became the norm. Dr. Peter Jones is the Executive Director of truthXchange and one of the world’s foremost experts on paganism.  According to Dr. Jones, there has been a pagan transformation of the West, starting with the sexual revolution of the 60’s — and what the change agents have in mind is far worse than any of us can imagine.  He believes the battle for the spiritual health of our children has just begun.

In his latest blog post, Dr. Jones gives us a glimpse of what liberals have in store for the culture; likewise for Christians.  He writes:

In our present world, decadence is replacing decency. For the sake of personal freedom our culture sanctions a sexual revolution that German sociologist, Gabriele Kuby believes “will quite possibly prove to be the most destructive revolution in history.”  She goes on to state that “the extent to which that satanic system will go for [sexual] freedom…is nowhere better seen than in abortions.” Someone has said: “Abortion is the willingness to kill for the sake of the willingness to copulate.”

View article →

MID-DAY SNAPSHOT

JUNE 8, 2017

Comey’s Coy Testimony Indicts Himself Not Trump

The former FBI director’s released testimony provides no evidence of obstruction, but plenty to justify his own firing.

THE FOUNDATION

“Truth can stand by itself. Subject opinion to coercion: whom will you make your inquisitors?” —Thomas Jefferson (1781)

Ramadan 2017 On Track For Breaking Record For Number Of Killings By Islamic Terrorists Around The World

The estimated 832 deaths and 912 injuries from the estimated 60 attacks that have taken place across about 19 countries during the first 12 days of this year’s holy Muslim month of Ramadan have already marked the bloodiest Ramadan in recent years for adherents of Islam.

 “I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them” Qu’ran 8:12 

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Muslim month-long-holiday of Ramadan means a lot of things to a lot of people. And for nearly 1,000 people during the first 12 days of the “celebration”, it means death. Why? Because they were killed by Muslims celebrating Ramadan. Wouldn’t it be great if we lived in a world where, instead of “fasting and praying” for 30 days, Muslims simply refrained from killing innocent people? 

Jihadists believe martyrdom is doubly rewarded in paradise during Ramadan. Jihadist groups encourage martyrdom among their sympathizers and followers, promoting the belief that they will be doubly rewarded if they fatally castigate infidels during Ramadan. The holy month this year is on track to surpass the deadliest and bloodiest Ramadan in the modern record: Ramadan 2016.

Ramadan 2016 featured 1,150 casualties — both death and injuries. This year, terrorists – namely the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL), Taliban, and al-Qaeda, among other jihadists – have already killed or wounded more than 1,500 people across about 15 countries and there are still about 20 days left in the month.

During the first 12 days of Ramadan 2017 period, there have been an estimated 60 terror attacks carried out in the name of Allah (by Islamic extremists) resulting in the death of 832 people and injury of 912.

The death toll for the first few days of Ramadan this year has already surpassed the fatalities that occurred during the entire holy month last year —  421 deaths and 729 injuries. Among the 2016 fatalities are women, children, and members of the Christian minority. This year is no exception.

Ramadan-Bombathon-2017There are members of a wide variety of ethnic and religious groups among the victims: Westerners, Christians, Asians, Sunnis, Shias, and Arabs. Muslims of all sects made up the majority. As recent attacks in England, Germany, and France show, the West is not immune to the Islamic extremists’ call to attack during Ramadan.

This year, the first full day of Ramadan fell on May 27. Muslims follow the tradition of abstaining from eating, drinking, smoking, having sex, and other physical needs each day, starting from before the break of dawn until sunset during the holy month.

Breitbart News’ count, gleaned from the Religion of Peace website in coordination with news reports, excludes the number of casualties directly linked to battles between U.S.-led coalition troops and jihadists groups, as well as Iranian- and Russian-backed troops loyal to dictator Bashar al-Assad.

If all of the deaths from the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan had been included, the total number would be much higher. The Religion of Peace website acknowledges their estimate is an undercount, so the number of Ramadan deaths and injuries could be higher.

Some of the terrorist attacks during Ramadan 2017 include:

May 27 — Charchino, Afghanistan — Group fighting in favor of imposing Islamic law ambushes checkpoint, kills 11.
May 27 — Qadis, Afghanistan — Taliban kills 14, injures 17.
May 27 — Khost, Afghanistan — Taliban suicide bomber targets U.S-backed National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), which includes army and police units, killing 18, woundin six others, including children.
May 27 — Kacha Khuh, Pakistan — “Honor Killing” — Brother hacks 18-year-old sister with axe to death for denying to abide by pre-arrange marriage.
May 27 — Marawi, Philippines — Jihadists kill 19 including women and a child.
May 28 — Marawi, Philippines — Jihadists murder 8 for “having betrayed their faith.”
May 28 — Ramo Adey, Somalia — Jihadists bury man to his neck, stone to death for adultery
May 28 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS sets hospital ablaze and kills a dozen young people inside.
May 28 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS kills at least 40 women and children trying to flee besieged city.
May 28 — Shirqat, Iraq — ISIS rocket attack kills three children and their parents.
May 28 — Gumsri, Nigeria — Boko Haram kills at least seven villagers.
May 28 — Shakhil Abad, Afghanistan — Islamic extremists kill district governor and his son inside their home.
May 28 — Baqubah, Iraq — Suicide bomber kills 3, injures up to 16 others outside court.
May 29 — Nguro, Nigeria — Boko Haram beheads five people.
May 29 — Ghat, Libya, — Suspected Islamic terrorists kill 1, injure 4.
May 29 — Shirqat, Iraq — Islamic shrapnel dismembers a child, injures 7.
May 29 — Baghdad, Iraq — 17 killed, 32 wounded — ISIS launches suicide attack against ice cream parlor frequented by families who were breaking their Ramadan fast.
May 29 — Baghdad, Iraq — 14 killed, 37 injured. ISIS attacked Shiites.
May 30 — Mattani, Pakistan — Islamist gun down four peace committee members.
May 30 — Peshawar, Pakistan — Suspected jihadist shoots leader of Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hezb-i-Islami group while he was leaving a mosque.
May 30 — Shifa, Iraq — Mass grave found with 60 ISIS torture victims, including women, elderly.
May 30 — al-Joura, Syria — ISIS mortar kills 14, including children.
May 30 — Bay Hassan, Iraq — ISIS kills 3 Iraqi guards, wounds six others.
May 30 — Baghdad, Iraq — Jihadists kill 7, injure 19 in a blast.
May 30 — Baqubah, Iraq — A bomb explosion at mosque kills 7, wounds 6.
May 30 — Hit, Iraq — Fedayeen suicide bomber kills 8, injures 10.
May 31 — Kaya, Nigeria —Boko Haram kills 14.
May 31 — Fafi, Kenya — Suspected al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab burns down school, kills one teacher.
May 31 — Bab el-Beid, Iraq — Suicide bombers kill 3 civilians, including a child.
May 31 — Hit, Iraq — Shahid suicide bomber kills 3, injures 7.
May 31 — Mosul, Iraq — ISIS kills 34 for trying to leave the city.
May 31 — Mangai, Kenya — al-Qaeda-linked bombers kill 8.
May 31 — Kabul, Afghanistan — Suspected Haqqani Network kills at least 150, Wounds more than 460, including 11 Americans.
May 31 — Sinjar, Iraq — ISIS kills 2, injures 2.
June 01 — Abala, Niger — Jihadists kill 6 guards.
June 01 — Al-Hazm, Yemen — Terrorists kill 6, wound 15.
June 01 — Behsud, Afghanistan — Suicide bomber kills 1, wounds 4.
June 01 — Oldenburg, Germany — Muslim kills one for smoking during Ramadan and refusing to fast.
June 01 — Zanjili, Iraq — ISIS kills 7 for trying to flee caliphate.
June 02 — Kolofota, Cameroon — Islamist use two girls as suicide bombers killing 9 and wounding 30.
June 02 — Sidi Bouzid, Tunisia — Jihadist beheads one man.
June 03 — Marawi, Philippines — Islamic sniper kills 70-year-old man.
June 03 — Halabsah, Iraq — Four suicide bombers kill 1, injure 3
June 03 — London, England — Three Jihadists plow into pedestrians, then stab people, killing 7, injuring 48.
June 03 — Zanjili, Iraq — ISIS kills 43 for trying to flee caliphate.
June 03 — Lower Munda, India — Hizb-ul-Mujahideen kill 2 security troops, injure 4
June 03 — Nawabshah, Pakistan — Alleged victim’s brother-in-law kills two people for alleged adultery.
June 03 — Kabul, Afghanistan — Suicide bombers kill 20, injure 87
June 04 — Kandahar, Afghanistan — Afghan police insider attack leaves six dead, one injured
June 04 — Spini, PakistanTwo Shiites from Hazara minority group killed.
June 04 — Talibul, Moula, Pakistan — “Honor Killing” — Father kills 18-year-old daughter for allegedly “having an affair.”
June 04 — Zanjili, Iraq — Wave of suicide bombers kills 32, injures 24.
June 04 — Quaidabad, Pakistan — Jihadis kill 1 barber.
June 05 — Melbourne, Australia — ISIS-linked migrant from Somalia kills man, takes prostitute hostage, an injures 4.
June 05 — Baghdad, Iraq — Terrorist mortar fired into family home dismembers 10-year-old boy, injures 4.
June 06 — Lower Munda, India — Hizb-ul-Mujahideen kill 2 security troops, injure 4
June 06 — Paris, FranceJihadist wounds cop with a hammer outside Notre Dame cathedral.
June 06 — Herat, Afghanistan — Terrorist kill 7, injure another 16 near the northern gate of the Great Mosque of Herat.
June 06 — Garissa, Kenya — Suspected al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab jihadists kill 4 aid workers with land mine.
June 07 — Mosul, Iraq — Islamic State massacres 160 civilians trying to flee city, according to United Nations.
June 07 — Tehran, Iran — Sunni ISIS gunmen, suicide bombers attack Shiite country’s parliament and shrine to its revolutionary leader, kills 12, wounding up to 42. source


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: June 08

  • U.K. Election Remains Tight as Voters Head to the Polls (Read More)
  • Trump Will Be Watching Comey Just Like the Rest of Us (Read More)
  • What we know about U.S. probes of Russian meddling in 2016 election (Read More)
  • ECB Drops Reference to Future Interest-Rate Cut (Read More)
  • Euro zone growth revised up to highest rate in two years (Read More)
  • Italy ruling party says deal on new electoral law ‘dead’, markets rally (Read More)
  • U.K. Housing Weakens Further as Market Emits ‘Ominous’ Signals (Read More)
  • UK arrests three as footage of London Bridge attack appears online (Read More)
  • China’s Top Property-Bubble Prophet Says Prices Set to Soar (Read More)
  • BOJ Is Said to Mull How to Communicate Eventual Stimulus Exit (Read More)
  • Iran minister calls Trump’s condolences for attacks ‘repugnant’ (Read More)
  • The U.A.E. Needs Qatar’s Gas to Keep Dubai’s Lights On (Read More)
  • Gulf states squeeze Qatar as U.S., Kuwait probe for solution to row (Read More)
  • House Set to Pass Bill Rolling Back Wall Street Rules (Read More)
  • Elliott’s Singer Warns System May Be More Leveraged Than 2008 (Read More)
  • Hedge Fund Looks to Shake Up BHP Billiton’s Board (Read More)
  • Athens to seek growth package at Eurogroup (Read More)
  • Brazil’s JBS Says It Won’t Sell Core Assets (Read More)
  • Greece says Colombian gangs plundering hospitals Europe-wide (Read More)
  • Bodies, debris found in search for missing Myanmar aircraft (Read More)
  • Boeing’s Rookie Plane Boss Plots Assault on Airbus With New Jets (Read More)

Featured Blogs


Top Headlines – 6/8/2017

Netanyahu, Haley discuss UNIFIL mandate vs Hezbollah

In Jerusalem, Nikki Haley says she has ‘no patience’ for ‘bullies’ like the UN

Israel and US to work to annul UN anti-settlement resolution

Plans for first new settlement in 25 years approved

Construction of new Samaria town to begin right away

Have two ministers annexed Area C of the West Bank?

Netanyahu okayed US draft setting ’67 lines as start for talks – report

Knesset, US Congress celebrate Jerusalem jubilee in joint live broadcast

Nikki Haley says ‘it was a blessing’ to visit Western Wall

Sears pulls ‘Free Palestine’ clothing from site after complaints

Amazon still selling ‘Free Palestine’ clothes

IDF head says Hezbollah remains Israel’s main priority

Palestinian expert: Hamas might end up biggest loser in Qatar dispute

Russian hackers to blame for sparking Qatar crisis, FBI inquiry finds

Turkey Throws Support Behind Qatar in Rift Among Arab Nations

UAE says Gulf rivals not seeking Qatar regime change

Top Israeli intel official: Threat of Iran’s Mideast dominance ‘immediate’

Trump urges Gulf unity ‘but not at expense of stopping terror funding’

ISIS Publishes Video Allegedly From Tehran Parliament Attack

Iran symbols of power hit by its ‘first so-called IS’ attack

Iranian military blames Saudis after 12 killed in Tehran terrorist attack

Rouhani says Tehran attacks will make Iran more united

Trump to Iran: States backing terror risk ‘falling victim’ themselves

Iran FM says Trump reaction to Tehran terror attacks ‘repugnant’

Trump Has Busy Day in Vortex of Middle East Relations

Islamic State snipers targeting fleeing Mosul civilians

Hezbollah threatens to attack American forces in Syria

Pro-Assad alliance threatens to hit U.S. positions in Syria

Iraqi Kurds to hold independence referendum in September

Battle for Britain’s Soul

UK goes to polls in shadow of terror, with race tighter than expected

Jeremy Corbyn: Radical peril or amiable underdog?

Election campaign exposes faultlines in iron-clad May

French Magazine Charlie Hebdo Crosses the Line With Gruesome Theresa May Cover

Officials ‘sorry’ for ticketing cars in London terror zone

Anti-Muslim crimes spike in London after attack – mayor

ISIS Says Manchester Attack a Preview of Their ‘Rekindled’ Post-Caliphate Terror Ops

Terror Attacks In Britain Come As Summer Travel Season Kicks Off – TSA May Extend Ban On Laptops To Domestic Fligh

Explosive device thrown into US embassy compound in Kiev

Panic, Chaos Erupt Over Emotionally Disturbed Woman on B Train Near Central Park

DC Bouncers Learn How to Prevent, Respond to Terrorism

DC bars to open early for Comey hearing watch parties

RNC to lead ‘war room’ to defend White House

In dramatic testimony, Comey to say Trump demanded ‘loyalty’

Lewandowski: Trump asked Comey for ‘loyalty to the country,’ not him

Trump feels ‘totally vindicated’ by Comey testimony

Dershowitz: Comey’s statement fails to deliver the smoking gun Democrats craved

‘If This is Watergate, What’s the Crime?’

James Comey’s credibility problem

The ‘Independent’ Mr. Comey – His prepared testimony shows why he deserved to be fired.

Top Intel Community Officials Deny That Trump Pressured Them On Russia Probe

White House lawyers face a Clinton-era legal trap in Russia probe

2 House Democrats launch longshot bid to impeach Trump

Top Dems reject impeachment push

Long shot: Considering market reaction to a ‘President’ Pence

Violence engulfs Venezuelan capital, teenage protester dies

Puerto Rico goes to the polls for statehood

Puerto Rico’s bankruptcy leaves US island facing hard times

98% Of Greeks Consider Their Economic Situation As “Bad”, Survey Says

Philippines bank BPI hit by glitch which debited accounts

Trump backs permanent snooping powers for intelligence agencies

Autonomous cars (no human backup) may hit the road next year

South Korea suspends deployment of American missile defense system

North Korea launches multiple surface-to-ship missiles, South Korean military says

Head of U.S. missile defense says North Korea missile advances a ‘great concern’

Fukushima Remains “A Nuclear Radiation Nightmare”, In Pictures

China prepares for manned moon landing

SpaceX will launch secretive X-37B spaceplane’s next mission

Scientists defy Einstein’s prediction and use relativity to measure a star’s mass

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits the Reykjanes Ridge

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kirakira, Solomon Islands

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 28,000ft

Kluychevksoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 18,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 15,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Poas volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 11,000ft

Bogoslof volcano in the Aleutian Islands erupts to 10,000ft

One dead, two missing as Taiwan battles floods

Lake Erie inches away from hitting record-high water level

California’s endless winter: 8 feet of snow still on the ground in June

Pollution ‘devastating’ China’s vital ecosystem, research shows

Paris pollution victim sues France for bad air

Hawaii ignores Trump, is first state to pass law committing to Paris Climate Accord

Growing evidence points to solar activity over carbon dioxide as climate change culprit

Doctors blame ‘selfies’ for jump in head lice cases

Feds drop bombshell: Up to 100 girls may have had their genitals cut in Michigan

The emergence of the ‘pornosexual’: internet users who shun sex with real people

Why house prices in gay neighborhoods are soaring

School nurses get training for gender talks with students

Court rules against gay man who sued Catholic church for firing him

Church says riot in Indonesia sparked by military burning bibles

Mike Ratliff: The mature in Christ have a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of God

Word of Faith Fellowship: MISTRIAL – Jury Foreman Charged with Misconduct!

Jim Bakker: Christians Should Study Trump Prophecies to Rightly Divide Word of God

False Teacher of the Day: Lisa Bevere

Leaving the NAR Church: Alicia’s story

‘Our Bible’ app aims to support LGBTQ Christians who feel excluded

Texas Governor Signs Abortion Dismemberment Ban Into Law

Olympic gold medalist Sanya Richards-Ross : Abortions common among young female athletes

‘Mother of all storms’ fuels Western Cape’s largest and most destructive fire in recent memory

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 06:56 AM PDT

The worst winter storm to hit South Africa’s drought-stricken province of Western Cape fueled a massive wildfire near the city of Knysna (population 77 000)….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hawaii ignores Trump and becomes first state to pass law committing to Paris Climate Accord

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 06:44 AM PDT

The governor of Hawaii on Tuesday signed a bill that aligns the state’s carbon emissions with the Paris climate accord. Gov. David Ige signed the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Releases Statement Recognizing ‘LGBTI Pride Month’

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 06:40 AM PDT

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a statement on Wednesday recognizing “LGBT Pride Month,” an act that some have noted President Donald Trump has…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

VP Mike Pence Says Genocide of Christians in Middle East ‘Must’ and ‘Will End,’

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 06:37 AM PDT

The persecution of Christians in the Middle East carried out by the Islamic State is a “genocide” the depletion of Christianity from its ancient homeland…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian Couple Charged With Murder After They Prayed Instead of Taking Twin Daughter to Doctor

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 06:18 AM PDT

A young Christian couple who are members of the controversial Followers of Christ Church in Oregon have been charged with murder after one of their…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Many Claim Wonder Woman Being Portrayed as Jesus

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 06:12 AM PDT

After 75 years in the making, “Wonder Woman” hit theaters last weekend, soaring at the box office. And although the action-packed film put DC back…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Church Must Drain Their Own Swamp of Dirty Money

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 06:06 AM PDT

(By Bret Farias) Filthy lucre is mentioned several times in the New Testament, especially in regards to ministers. Filthy lucre is dirty money, or money…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Samsung smartphones listen and watch what you do on web; Monitor your emails…

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 05:49 AM PDT

Samsung phones use technology which can spy on what you’re reading and watching online – and monitor emails in your inbox. The phones switch onto…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

The Rise of the Humanoid Robots!

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 05:46 AM PDT

Sophia smiles mischievously, bats her eyelids and tells a joke. Without the mess of cables that make up the back of her head, you could…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Madrid Bans Man-spreading On Its Public Transport

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 06:29 PM PDT

The city has banned manspreading on its trains and buses. If only every city could take a cue from Madrid when it comes to manspreading….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Oldest Homo sapiens bones ever found shake foundations of the human story

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 06:13 PM PDT

ATTENTION: The following report does not reflect the views, opinions or personal beliefs of End Time Headlines Fossils recovered from an old mine on a desolate mountain…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Sears announces 72 more stores closing!

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 06:08 PM PDT

Sears is closing 72 more stores, in addition to the more than 180 closings that had already been announced this year.  The company released a list…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Hezekiah’s secret weapon for obtaining quick breakthroughs!

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 04:01 PM PDT

(By Ricky Scaparo) In this segment, we will discuss how Hezekiah understood how to touch Heaven and receive a quick breakthrough in the time of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

BREAKING NEWS: North Korea fires ‘multiple unidentified missiles’

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 03:56 PM PDT

DEVELOPING: According to a developing report coming from RT News, North Korea has reportedly launched several unidentified ground-based projectiles, assumed to be surface-to-ship missiles, according to South…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Jailed Pastor Issues Dire Warning About the Fate of Christianity

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 03:52 PM PDT

Christianity is “not welcome” in Sudan, according to the lawyer who defended a church leader and an activist abruptly released from jail last month.  Muhanad Nur, who…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

NY Public School Turns Classrooms into Muslim Prayer Rooms

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 03:47 PM PDT

(Reported By Todd Starnes) A New York high school has transformed two vacant rooms into areas where Muslim students can pray during Ramadan. A spokesperson…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Facebook to spy on people through smartphone camera and analyse emotions of faces

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 03:42 PM PDT

Facebook has been secretly developing creepy technology which spies on people and automatically analyses their facial expressions. The social network applied for a patent to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Worst winter storm in 30 years strikes Cape Town, causing at least 8 deaths

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 12:35 PM PDT

A major winter storm hit South Africa’s province of Western Cape and the Cape Town metropolitan area around 23:00 SAST (21:00 UTC) on Tuesday, June…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Does Something On Twitter That Sparks Strange Free Speech Battle

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 12:32 PM PDT

There’s a strange free speech battle raging over President Donald Trump’s tweets, but it actually has nothing to do with his oft-times controversial proclamations.   As…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Superintendent Punished After Students Demand He Apologize for Praying and Mentioning God During Commencement

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 12:25 PM PDT

A Missouri school district has decided to punish its superintendent for praying during a recent high school graduation ceremony. Superintendent Kent Medlin of the Willard School…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Indiana toddler dies from suspected tick bite infection

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 12:07 PM PDT

An Indiana toddler died on Sunday after she caught a bacterial infection she may have got from a tick bite, her family said.  Kenley Ratliff,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian convert faces deportation and possible death sentence for conversion

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 12:03 PM PDT

An Iranian actress who left Islam for Christianity has twice been denied asylum in Sweden and could be sent back to Iran where the penalty…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Prayers Answered! Mother and Son’s Emotional Reunion After 48 Years

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 12:00 PM PDT

Kirk Kellerhals was just two years old when he was adopted from an orphanage in Vietnam.  Now 47, the Virginia Beach resident never imagined he…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Sign of the Times? Facial-Recognition Software Coming to Stores

Posted: 07 Jun 2017 11:52 AM PDT

(By Jim Denison) I still remember my first crime. I was 6 or 7-years-old and was standing with my mother in the grocery store checkout…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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


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Don’t Pursue Feelings. Pursue Christ.

God has created us as emotional people. There is a time to weep and laugh, to mourn and dance, to hate and love (Eccl. 3:1–8). Neither stoicism nor emotionalism are marks of healthy faith. What is needed is robust, biblical theology that informs and transforms our emotions.

Human beings are emotional creatures. We love or hate, feel happy or sad, angry or joyful. And yet Christians sometimes struggle with integrating emotion into their spiritual lives and end up falling victim to dangerous tendencies when it comes to their emotions. These tendencies occupy two ends of a spectrum, and they have led many into a superficial kind of Christianity. We see these tendencies at both the personal level and at the corporate level.

One danger is emotionalism, in which we allow our feelings to interpret our circumstances and form our thoughts about God. This is putting feelings before faith. The other danger is a kind of stoicism, where faith is rooted in theology but void of affection. This tendency removes feelings from faith altogether. While it is true that our emotions should not lead our theology, it is vital to our faith that theology lead to a deep experience of our triune God.

Good doctrine is critically important to the health of the Christian and the church. But the church doesn’t need men and women who can merely define repentance. Rather, the church needs people who hate sin and love righteousness. Memorizing our catechisms is important, but it is useless if it isn’t also producing in us awe, humility, love, and worship. The substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ is not only something to affirm and defend, but it should also be something in which we rejoice. Yes, “zeal without knowledge is dead,” but knowledge without deep affection is just as lifeless.

It should be obvious that Scripture calls us to be a people who feel what we believe, who not only know truth but experience it. There is an order to this. Our feelings and emotions must be governed and guided by truth. We are to fear the Lord, hate evil, love the truth, mourn over sin and injustice, and rejoice in our sufferings. These are not naked commands but precepts given by God in light of who He is and what He has done. We are supposed to feel the weight and the power of the truth revealed in Scripture. Theology should do more than inform us—it should warm and stir our hearts. And if it doesn’t, then we have missed the connection that God’s revelation is designed to make between head and heart.

The key is not to pursue feelings themselves but to pursue the Lord Jesus Christ by looking to Him, knowing His ways, pondering His promises, and obeying His commands. Faith is what gives birth to feeling. The emotional component of the Christian life isn’t always as present as we would like. It often lags behind. As the English Reformer John Bradford said, “Faith must first go before, and then feeling will follow.”

Consider how often we find ourselves afraid when we face the unknown or the dangerous. When we run up against the fragility of life or the potential of loss, anxiety and fear are right beside us, working their way into our hearts. This is precisely when God calls us to “fear not.” yet the hope for relief from fear is not found in ignoring what lies ahead, but in looking to the God whose sovereignty is certain and whose promises are sure. It is when we seek the Lord and ground our faith in Him that our fears are overcome (Ps. 34:4). The trouble itself may not disappear, but the knowledge of God conquers what makes us afraid. His love for us, demonstrated in His adoption of us in Jesus Christ, is just one of the truths that replaces fear with comfort and confidence (Rom. 8:15).

Pain and suffering are not only common to all, but for the Christian, they are to be expected as a consequence of following Jesus. We know the feeling of dread that can accompany severe trials. But the lifting of our heads and the courage of faith is tied to God’s character and promise. We know that He is “near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit” (Ps. 34:18). We can cast all our anxieties on Him because we are assured that He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

When we struggle with assurance and long for a confident hope in Jesus, we must learn to trust Him more. The assurance of our salvation is first and foremost based on the mercy and merits of Jesus Christ. We fix our eyes on Him by faith and find in His life, death, and resurrection all the hope necessary to stand before the face of God without the threat of judgment. Christ alone is our surety. This transforms us from a people who despair over our sin into a people who sing the praises of the Savior who has delivered us from our transgressions.

God has created us as emotional people. There is a time to weep and laugh, to mourn and dance, to hate and love (Eccl. 3:1–8). Neither stoicism nor emotionalism are marks of healthy faith. What is needed is robust, biblical theology that informs and transforms our emotions.

This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine. This article is used with permission.

The post Don’t Pursue Feelings. Pursue Christ. appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Understanding The New, Truly Confused Evangelicals Video Series (Part 1-4)

The New, Truly Confused Evangelicals – Part 1

Eric Barger & Take A Stand! Ministries

Published on May 17, 2017

In part one of this new series Eric Barger exposes what is nothing short of a wholesale, end-time abandonment of the Bible – all in the name of “Evangelicalism.”

Carefully detailing the players, methods, and beliefs, Eric explains how this sweeping Postmodern-Emergent redefinition has led to the rejection of the orthodox doctrines that have defined Christianity for the past twenty centuries.


The New, Truly Confused Evangelicals – Part 2

Eric Barger & Take A Stand! Ministries

Published on May 23, 2017

In part two of our series, Eric Barger defines and expose the “NEW” Evangelicalism and demonstrates that it’s really nothing new.

Learn how this cultic ideology made its way into countless churches and the top seminaries subverting biblical teaching and placing the spotlight on man – instead of God.

Don’t miss this series – especially if you or your church have been effected!


The New, Truly Confused Evangelicals – Part 3

Eric Barger & Take A Stand! Ministries

Published on May 31, 2017

In part 3 of the current series, Eric Barger reiterates the growing need for discernment among remnant believers today.


The New, Truly Confused Evangelicals – Part 4

Eric Barger & Take A Stand! Ministries

Published on Jun 7, 2017

As the culture around us quickly declines, Christianity has its own set of resident anarchists determined to overthrow biblical truth with a new unholy reformation. The research is disturbing and the conclusions shocking to those uninformed but the fact remains – evangelicalism is in desperate trouble.

This 4th episode in the series is titled “Resisting and Combating” and make no mistake why. We are witness to an ongoing wholesale redefinition of Christianity made to fit the Postmodern paradigm – but these two worlds can never coexist without compromise. Eric asks, “Can there honestly be any such thing as “Postmodern Christianity?” Answer: Not if the Bible is still our guide!

Eric concludes with a list of issues for concerned Bible-believers to watch out for that may indicate the postmodern mindset is at work in their midst.


At the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:10-11

“You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war.” -Sir Winston Churchill

“I fear the day when technology will surpass our human interaction. The world will have a generation of idiots.” -Albert Einstein

Alexander: There WAS Collusion…

ALEXANDER’S COLUMN

The Smoking Gun: There WAS Collusion…

By Mark Alexander · June 7, 2017   Print

“[W]e ought to deprecate the hazard attending ardent and susceptible minds, from being too strongly, and too early prepossessed in favor of other political systems, before they are capable of appreciating their own.” —George Washington (1795)

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The Trump/Putin collusion conspiracy is, arguably, one of the most successful “fake news” propaganda campaigns in the history of the Democratic Party‘s decades-long collusion with mainstream media PR outlets.

Indeed, there is no foreseeable end to the Demo/MSM transparent collusion to delegitimize the legitimate election of Donald Trump and to undermine his legislative agenda and that of congressional Republicans, including the restoration of Rule of Law.

The Demo/MSM charade centers on the claim that Mr. Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin cut a deal to undermine Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign. Apparently, we are to believe that Mr. Trump’s agenda in support of Liberty is more aligned with Putin’s socialist ideology than Clinton’s mega-socialist ideology, or that of her hyper-socialist opponent, Bernie Sanders.

Of course, it’s much more likely that, if the Russians endeavored to undermine Clinton’s abysmal campaign specifically, it was because she colluded with the DNC to undermine the campaign of Vladimir Putin’s preferred candidate — the aforementioned Bernie Sanders. If Russian surrogate hackers had a candidate-specific objective, it was to punish Clinton for rigging the Democrat campaign against Sanders. It was certainly not to reward Trump, with whom they had nothing in common politically, and whom they undoubtedly assumed would ultimately be crushed by the Clinton machine in the general election.

While punishing Clinton might have been a factor, there is no question that there was a Russian dezinformatsiya campaign in 2016, but the primary objective was to further erode American citizens’ confidence in our government, regardless of who was elected, by undermining the integrity of our election process. Russians have endeavored to hack away at our republican government since the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution, but, until the digital age, they had to rely on socialist agitators in the U.S. — like Barack Obama and his long list of mentors.

As for collusion with Russia, while there is absolutely no evidence of collusion between Trump and Putin, there is clear and substantiated evidence of such collusion between Obama, Clinton and Putin.

Let’s review…

Vladimir Putin, a hardened communist KGB aggressor, who said famously that the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century was the disintegration of Russia’s Soviet empire, knew that Obama was a milquetoast president, and an ideological socialist sympathizer at that. Putin is a chess player, while Obama struggled with checkers.

And Clinton, Obama’s understudy, set the tone for relations with Russia as his secretary of state, when, as you recall, she presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a giant “reset” button prop with “Peregruzka” stamped on the front. “We worked hard to get the right Russian word,” said Clinton, asking “Do you think we got it?” Lavrov replied, “No,” and informed her that “Peregruzka” didn’t translate as “reset” but “overcharged.”

That faux pas was a fitting metaphor for the Obama/Clinton reset, because they short-circuited our established foreign policy around the globe, but most notably giving rise to the “Russian Spring,” allowing Putin to roll tanks into Ukraine and annex the strategically vital Crimea region.

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And if there was ever conclusive evidence of treasonous election collusion between Obama and Putin, it would be Obama’s 2012 hot mike assurance to then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev that he would surrender NATO’s plans for anti-ballistic missile defenses in Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Turkey and Bulgaria after his re-election. He told Medvedev, “On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this — this can be solved, but it’s important for [incoming Russian President Vladimir Putin] to give me space. This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.”

Medvedev replied, “I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.” He added, “I stand with you.”

Again — “I stand with you.”

As for Clinton, the benefit of collusion with Russia prior to her 2016 campaign was much more personally enriching. Recall how she approved the back-channel sale of 20% of our uranium reserves to Putin’s cronies at Rosatom. Remember how she and her campaign chairman John Podesta lied about that deal until emails hacked from her secret communications server exposed their collusion. Recollect how the Clinton Foundation received $145 million in connection with that deal, and millions more from other Putin oligarchs.

And Podesta certainly profited handsomely, his company receiving millions from a fund established by Putin, while Podesta’s brother Tony was also on the Putin payroll. And all this while Bill Clinton picked up a $500,000 check for a speech in Russia.

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And what howls of protest from Demos and the MSM did we hear about all this authentic collusion? ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ.

So what about Trump and Putin?

This week, all of the MSM shock banner ALERTS are promoting the upcoming congressional testimony of former FBI Director James Comey, who Obama and Clinton wanted to fire, but Trump finally fired for plenty of good cause.

This would be the same James Comey who Hillary Clinton recently blamed for her election loss, as trumpeted in thousands of headlines nationwide: “If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president. It wasn’t a perfect campaign, but I was on the way to winning until a combination of Comey’s letter and Russian WikiLeaks.”

Expect to hear Comey parse his answers to Republican questions, but provide no smoking gun in the Democrats’ quest to ramp up their Trump/Putin collusion conspiracy charade.

On the subject of smoking guns, while there is plenty of evidence establishing a wide range of collusion between Obama, Clinton and Putin, what evidence is there tying Trump to Putin?

Of course, there has not been even a puff of smoke affirming the Demo/MSM alleged Trump/Putin collusion conspiracy to interfere with the 2016 election — unless by “interfere” Democrats mean that Russian surrogates may have hacked Clinton’s illegal and unsecure email server, where she unlawfully maintained official and classified communications to hide them from the public record in advance of her 2016 election — and then, as Clinton asserted last week, turned those communications over to WikiLeaks for public disclosure. The irony of Clinton’s charges is that her official communications were mandated by law to be public record.

According to leftist Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), a senior member of the Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Committees, nothing, nada, zilch.

Asked in a CNN interview if she had seen any evidence of such collusion, she said, “Well, no — no…” When pressed by the interviewer about her “access from the Intelligence Committee, from the Judiciary Committee, all of the access you have had to very sensitive information, so far you have not seen any evidence of collusion, is that right?” Feinstein replied, “Well, there are all kinds of rumors around, there are newspaper stories, but that’s not necessarily evidence.”

Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, reinforced Feinstein’s views regarding the Russian collusion charade: “We have no smoking gun at this point.”

Michael Morell, Barack Obama’s former CIA director, said of the Trump/Putin connection, “There’s no little campfire, there’s no little candle, there’s no spark. And there’s a lot of people looking for it.”

So the MSM has trumpeted every conversation about anything between any person with whom Donald Trump has any association, and someone connected with Russia.

Allow me to repeat my assessment about the Demo/MSM collusion conspiracy theory: The very real collusion between the Democrats and their MSM propagandists has one objective — to keep the agenda of Donald Trump and congressional Republicans on the ropes.

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis
Pro Deo et Libertate — 1776

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JUNE 8 – ANYTHING HE WILLS TO DO

Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.

—Deuteronomy 4:39

To say that God is sovereign is to say that He is supreme over all things, that there is no one above Him, that He is absolute Lord over creation. It is to say that His Lordship over creation means that there is nothing out of His control, nothing that God hasn’t foreseen and planned….

God’s sovereignty logically implies His absolute freedom to do all that He wills to do. God’s sovereignty does not mean that He can do anything, but it means He can do anything that He wills to do. The sovereignty of God and the will of God are bound up together. The sovereignty of God does not mean that God can lie, for God does not will to lie. God is truth and therefore God cannot lie, for He wills not to lie. God cannot break a promise, because to break a promise would be to violate His nature, and God does not will to violate His nature.

Therefore it is silly to say that God can do anything. But it is scriptural to say that God can do anything He wills to do. God is absolutely free—no one can compel Him, no one can hinder Him, no one can stop Him. God has freedom to do as He pleases—always, everywhere and forever. AOGII144-145

God in heaven above and on the earth beneath, I willingly give You my life; take it and sovereignly do whatever You will to do with it. Amen [1]


39–40 Based on all the marvelous things the Lord has done for them already, God’s children are exhorted to acknowledge his utter uniqueness and obey his commands with the result that this generation and all future generations will experience God’s abundant blessings. Moses challenges his fellow Israelites to “take to heart” or internalize the fact that Yahweh is the universal sovereign (“in heaven above and on the earth below”) and the only sovereign (“there is no other”). In the light of that theological reality, they should gladly obey his commands. Moses affirms that Israel’s genuine obedience to God’s commands will occasion long tenure in the land (and continued enjoyment of covenantal blessings).

As seen in 4:1 (see comments there), Moses is not simply holding before Israel the hope of long tenure in the Promised Land as a bribe or incentive. Granted, Israel’s obedience or disobedience to God’s covenantal expectations did affect whether they would remain in the Land of Promise. Nevertheless, Yahweh intended that Canaan would serve as a platform for his people to demonstrate his greatness to the surrounding world. God offered them the opportunity to live lives that exalt his greatness before the world around them for the undetermined future.[2]


4:37–39 Juxtaposed with God’s universal sovereignty is his love of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see notes on 1:8; 4:31). loved. A key, and unique, theme of Deuteronomy is the love of God for the patriarchs (here and 10:15), or for his people in general (5:10; 7:9, 12–13; 23:5), and Israel’s reciprocal love for God (6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1, 13, 22; 13:3; 19:9; 30:6, 16, 20). as it is this day. See note on 2:30. know … and lay it to your heart. Deuteronomy is constantly concerned with the state of Israel’s heart (see 6:4–5; 7:17; 8:2, 17; 9:4; 10:16).[3]


4:39–40. In light of such electing grace and such unique revelation the Israelites were to acknowledge that the Lord is God alone (cf. v. 35) and to keep His decrees and commands. Only in doing these two things would the Israelites find prosperity and long life in the land (cf. 5:33; 6:2). The words so that it may go well with you occur eight times in this book, undoubtedly to emphasize this motive for obedience (4:40; 5:16; 6:3, 18; 12:25, 28; 19:13; 22:7). The idea that righteousness lengthens life and sin shortens it is common in the Old Testament (Prov. 3:1–2, 16; 10:27).[4]


4:39 God in heaven … there is no other: Since no other God was Creator, Lord of history, Teacher, and the Lover of His people, Israel had to respond to God alone. This is a major theme of Deuteronomy and of the prophets. The incomparability of Yahweh is also the heart of the basic creed of Israel, the “Shema” (6:4).[5]


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

[2] Grisanti, M. A. (2012). Deuteronomy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Numbers–Ruth (Revised Edition) (Vol. 2, p. 529). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 339). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Deere, J. S. (1985). Deuteronomy. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 271). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 240). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

June 8, 2017: Verse of the day

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“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” …

“I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (22:13, 16)

The first reason for sinners to accept God’s final invitation is because it comes personally from the exalted, majestic, glorious Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord’s threefold identification of Himself repeats the same truth for emphasis. Since the original readers of Revelation spoke Greek, Jesus identifies Himself first as the Alpha and the Omega (cf. 1:8; 21:6). Alpha and Omega are, respectively, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Together with the parallel phrases the first and the last (cf. 1:17) and the beginning (the source of all things) and the end (the goal of all things), it expresses Christ’s infinity, eternity, and boundless life transcending all limitations. This threefold description describes the completeness, timelessness, and sovereign authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

This description of Jesus Christ is also a statement of His deity. Obviously, there can be only one Alpha and Omega, first and last, and beginning and end—God. In 1:8 God says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” while 21:6 describes Him as “the beginning and the end.” In Isaiah 44:6 God declares, “I am the first and I am the last” (cf. Isa. 41:4; 48:12). That all three titles, which can apply only to God, are used here of Jesus Christ offers convincing testimony to His deity. He is not a created being; He is not merely a great prophet or a great moral teacher; He is not a misguided martyr. He is God the Son, the second Person of the eternal Trinity.

Salvation in Jesus Christ is the theme of Scripture. In the Old Testament the ark in which Noah and his family were saved, the Passover lamb, and the kinsman redeemer are all pictures of Christ. In addition, Christ fulfilled more than 300 Old Testament prophecies at His first coming. He is the focus of the New Testament as well. The gospels record His life and ministry, and the rest of the New Testament expounds their doctrinal and practical implications. To be saved is to be saved by Christ; to be a Christian is to be in Christ; to have forgiveness is to be forgiven by Christ; to have hope is to have hope in Christ; in short, for the Christian “to live is Christ” (Phil. 1:21).

Christ further identifies Himself in His own words in verse 16. But before doing so He tells John, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you.” Though angels communicated the Apocalypse to John (v. 6; 1:1; 17:1, 7; 21:9), its source was Jesus. The expression “I, Jesus” appears only here in the Bible. It establishes that this final invitation in Scripture is not a human invitation, but a divine call issued personally to sinners by the Lord Jesus Christ. The Apocalypse is addressed to the churches (1:11), but though it is written to believers (1:1), they are to proclaim it to the entire world (cf. 22:10).

Then, in an astounding, seemingly paradoxical statement, Jesus declares Himself to be both the root (ancestor) and the descendant of David. That phrase sums up the biblical teaching on Christ’s two natures; only the God-man can be both David’s ancestor and his descendant. In His deity, Christ is David’s root (cf. Mark 12:35–37); in His humanity, He is David’s descendant (2 Sam. 7:12–16; Ps. 132:11–12; Matt. 1:1; Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8).

Finally, Jesus describes Himself as “the bright morning star.” To call someone a star was in biblical times (as it is today) to exalt him (cf. Dan. 12:3). In extrabiblical Jewish writings, the coming Messiah was called a star (Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation, The New International Commentary on the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977], 395). Though Balaam was a greedy prophet for hire, God nevertheless used him to make an accurate prediction of the coming Messiah: “A star shall come forth from Jacob, a scepter shall rise from Israel” (Num. 24:17). Peter wrote of the time when “the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Pet. 1:19). Jesus promised to give the overcomers at Thyatira the “morning star” (2:28)—that is, Himself. As the morning star heralds the arrival of the day, so Jesus’ coming will herald the end of the darkness of man’s night, and the glorious dawn of His kingdom. Christ is the “Light of the world” (John 8:12) who calls sinners to drink of the water of life. And to those who heed that call He promises, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28); and “The one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2000). Revelation 12–22 (pp. 306–307). Chicago: Moody Press.

June 8 – Being a Doer of the Word

“Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves” (James 1:22).

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A doer of the Word obeys what Scripture says.

Effective Bible study is built on three key questions: What does the Bible say? What does it mean? How does it apply to my life? Each of those questions is important, but applying the Word must always be the highest goal. Knowledge without application is useless.

Both the Old and New Testaments emphasize the importance of applying Scripture. For example, just prior to leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, Joshua received this message from God: “This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success” (Josh. 1:8). That’s a command to be a doer of the Word—one who receives, studies, and understands Scripture and then applies it to every aspect of his or her life. That was the key to Joshua’s amazing success.

James 1:22 is a New Testament counterpart to Joshua 1:8 and is directed to every believer: “Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.” It’s not enough to hear the Word—you must also do what it says.

The phrase “doer of the word” doesn’t refer to the person who obeys periodically, but the one who habitually and characteristically obeys. It’s one thing to run in a race; it’s something else to be a runner. It’s one thing to teach a class; it’s something else to be a teacher. Runners are known for running; teachers are known for teaching—it’s characteristic of their lives. Similarly, doers of the Word are known for their obedience to Biblical truth.

Never be content to be a hearer of the Word only, but prove yourself a doer in the Christian life. Your claim to love Christ will mean something only if you obey what He says.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Memorize Joshua 1:8, and pray regularly that God will make you a faithful doer of the Word.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 1. ✧ What are the benefits of delighting in God’s law? ✧ How does the psalmist characterize those who reject righteousness?[1]


1:22 It is not enough to receive the implanted word; we must obey it. There is no virtue in possessing the Bible or even in reading it as literature. There must be a deep desire to hear God speaking to us and an unquestioning willingness to do whatever He says. We must translate the Bible into action. The word must become flesh in our lives. There should never be a time when we go to the Scriptures without allowing them to change our lives for the better. To profess great love for God’s word or even to pose as a Bible student is a form of self-deception unless our increasing knowledge of the word is producing increasing likeness to the Lord Jesus. To go on gaining an intellectual knowledge of the Bible without obeying it can be a trap instead of a blessing. If we continually learn what we ought to do, but do not do it, we become depressed, frustrated, and callous. “Impression without expression leads to depression.” Also we become more responsible to God. The ideal combination is to read the word and obey it implicitly.[2]


22. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.

In the next four verses, we see the following parts:

  • A direct command

The command has a negative and a positive part. “Do not merely listen.… Do what it says.” Here is a more literal translation of the text: “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves” (RSV). The New International Version reverses the order because in actual experience hearing comes before doing. Also, the phrase and so deceive yourselves applies only to hearing. Therefore, the choice to place the words do what it says separately at the end of the verse is commendable, for it shows emphasis.

First, let us look at the term hearers. This expression is closely linked to the word disobedience in the Greek. The writer of Hebrews joins the verb to hear and the noun disobedience in the same breath. “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For … every violation and disobedience received its just punishment” (2:1–2). James also warns his readers to pay attention to the Word of God. If they neglect to hear God’s message, they deceive themselves. They merely listen to the preaching of the gospel and at the conclusion of the worship service walk away as if the Word of God has nothing to say to them.

Next, to all of us James says, “Do what it says.” The Christian faith is always active and stands in sharp contrast to other religions that practice meditation and general inactivity. In one of his epistles, John delineates the Christian’s duty to be active. Says he, “Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth” (1 John 3:18; also consult Ezek. 33:32).[3]


22 In 1:22–25 James comes to the heart of a major problem among those he addresses (see 2:14–26) and a point eminently relevant to the church of any age. There are, of course, various ways a person can interact with the word of God. Yet here James asserts that listening to the word without actively applying it to life is deficient interaction. Thus he exhorts his readers to become doers of the word, not only hearers. His concern is strikingly similar to Paul’s concern in Romans 2:13: “it is not the hearers of the Law who are just before God, but the doers of the Law will be justified” (NASB). The point is clear. If one merely listens to the word taught and takes no action to incorporate it into the patterns of life, this does not constitute true receptiveness. God’s word should change behavior, not just stimulate the mind. The concept of doing the word is Semitic and anticipates the discussion of “faith and works” in 2:14–26.

In fact, those who hear the word without acting on it “deceive themselves” (paralogizomenoi [GK 4165] heautous). The word translated “deceive” can carry the meaning “cheat” or “defraud,” but based on the analogy to which we will turn momentarily (1:23–24), deception, or the idea of misleading, clearly is in view. Paul uses this term in Colossians 2:4 of being deceived by persuasive arguments. So the sense of James’s assertion is comparable to one saying, “If you think it is OK to listen to the word without acting on it, you are fooling yourself![4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 172). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2223). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, p. 60). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Guthrie, G. H. (2006). James. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 226–227). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

JUNE 8 – A SPIRITUAL RULE: HOT FURNACE, COOL CHIMNEY

Now we have received…the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.

1 CORINTHIANS 2:12

In our Christian fellowship two opposite dangers are to be recognized and avoided: they are the cold heart and the hot head!

For downright harmful effects the hot head is often the worst of the two.

The human heart is heretical by nature. Unless well instructed in the Scriptures and fully enlightened by the indwelling Spirit, it may confuse the fervor of the Spirit with the heat of the flesh, and mistake the scintillations of the overheated imagination for the glow of the true Shekinah.

It may be said without qualification that there can never be too much fire if it is the true fire of God, and it can be said as certainly that there cannot be too much cool judgment in religious matters if that judgment is sanctified by the Spirit.

Among the gifts of the Spirit scarcely any one is of greater practical usefulness in these critical times than the gift of discernment. This spiritual gift should be highly valued and frankly sought.

Human sweat can add nothing to the work of the Spirit, especially when it is nerve sweat. The hottest fire of God is cool when it touches the redeemed intellect. It makes the heart glow but leaves the judgment completely calm.

Let love burn on with increasing fervor but bring every act to the test of quiet wisdom. Keep the fire in the furnace where it belongs. An overheated chimney will create more excitement but it is likely to burn the house down. Let the rule be: a hot furnace but a cool chimney![1]


2:12 The we of verse 12 refers to the writers of the NT, although it is equally true of all the Bible writers. Since the apostles and prophets had received the Holy Spirit, He was able to share with them the deep truths of God. That is what the apostle means when he says in this verse: “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” Apart from the Spirit who is from God, the apostles could never have received the divine truths of which Paul is speaking and which are preserved for us in the NT.[2]

12. Now we have received not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may know the things freely given to us by God.

  • “Now we have received.” In the previous verse, Paul spoke in generalities that involved man’s spirit. But here he specifies the Corinthians and himself by using the plural personal pronoun we. This pronoun takes the first place in the Greek sentence and so receives emphasis. With this inclusive pronoun, Paul has come to the heart of the paragraph on God’s Spirit versus man’s spirit. He offers the comforting assurance that we have received the Spirit, whom God has given us.
  • “Not the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God.” The negative clause not the spirit of the world has been interpreted in various ways:

it describes the rulers of the world who crucified Jesus (v. 8);

it denotes evil that has established its own rules and objectives (see 2 Cor. 4:4; 1 John 4:4; 5:19);

it is equivalent to the wisdom of this world (1:20);

it is the spirit in man that is worldly.

We say that the spirit of the world is the spirit that makes the world secular. From the time Adam and Eve fell into sin, the spirit of this world has revealed itself in opposition to God’s Spirit: for example, in the lawlessness prior to the flood, in the building of the tower of Babel, and in the false teachers who sought to destroy the church in apostolic days (2 Peter 2; 1 John 4:1–3; Jude 4–19). It is the spirit that rules a person in whom God’s Spirit does not live. It is a power that determines “all the thinking and doing of men, which places itself over against the Spirit who is of God.”

By contrast, as Paul expresses in eloquent Greek, believers have received the Spirit that proceeds from God (see John 15:26; Gal. 4:6). God’s Spirit comes to the believers from a sphere other than this world and conveys knowledge of God, creation, redemption, and restoration. Since Pentecost, God’s Spirit dwells in the hearts of all believers (6:19).

  • “That we may know the things freely given to us by God.” Why does God grant us the gift of his Spirit? The answer is that we may know innately the things that pertain to our salvation. The Spirit teaches us the treasures we have in Christ Jesus, whom God handed over to die on a cross so that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13). If God delivered up his Son, he certainly will graciously give us in him all things (Rom. 8:32). Believers appropriate the gift of salvation through the work of the Holy Spirit. They realize through faith that in Christ sin and guilt have been removed from them, that God is reconciled to them, and that the way to heaven has been opened for them.[3]

By Inspiration

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (2:12–13)

The process of the Spirit’s transmission of God’s truth is called inspiration. His truth cannot be discovered by man; it can only be received. In order to be received, something must first be offered. God’s truth can be received because is it freely given. The Spirit who is from God, not the spirit of the world (that is, human wisdom) has brought God’s Word—which comprises the things freely given to us by God. The Bible is the Spirit’s vehicle for bringing God’s revelation.

The we’s and the us of verses 12–13 (as in vv. 6–7, 10) do not refer to Christians in general but to Paul himself. God’s Word is for all believers, but was revealed only to the apostles and the other writers of Scripture. Only those men properly can be said to have been inspired. The promise of John 14:26 (“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit … will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you”) is for the benefit of all believers, but was given only to the apostles. Paul and the other writers of Scripture did not record their own ideas and interpretations. They recorded what God gave them and only what He gave them. We have received … that we might know. The Spirit used words that the human writers knew and used, but He selected them and arranged them in precisely the order that He wanted. The Bible, therefore, not only is God’s Word but God’s words.

It is not simply the “Word behind the words” that is from God, as many liberal and neoorthodox interpreters maintain. “All Scripture is inspired by God [lit., ‘God–breathed’]” (2 Tim. 3:16). Scripture means “writings,” and refers specifically to what God’s chosen men wrote by His revelation and inspiration, not to everything they said and wrote. It refers, as Paul explains, to the things freely given to us by God, to the “God–breathed” words they recorded.

When Jesus responded to Satan’s first temptation in the wilderness, He said (quoting from Deut. 8:3), “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). God gave His own Word in His own words. “Every word that proceeds out the mouth of God” is revealed, inspired, and authoritative. Which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.[4]


12 The amazing thing is that such communication is indeed possible! For when one becomes a believer in Jesus, that person receives the Holy Spirit as a gift (see Ac 2:38; Ro 8:9b, 14–15). This is what Paul now reminds the Corinthians of—that believers have “received … the Spirit who is from God.” This reality enables us to understand the foregoing about how, through the cross and resurrection of Christ, the powers of this age are coming to nothing. Those, however, who have not received God’s Spirit—those who are still caught up in the “spirit of the world”—do not understand this “secret wisdom” (v. 7).

With this message, of course, the apostle is able to address on the deepest level possible those among the Corinthians who loved the sophisticated rhetoric and wisdom of the world. If that is the level on which they desire to operate, says Paul, they will miss out on the full meaning of Jesus Christ, the purpose of his coming into the world, the salvation he has to offer, and the many gifts he has to offer. “What God has freely given” is actually a passive participle of the verb charizomai (GK 5919), with God as the expressed agent (called a “divine passive”; cf. NASB, “the things freely given to us by God”). It denotes in the broadest way possible all communication of teachings and gifts from God to us.[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.) (p. 1753). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, pp. 88–89). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 62–63). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 279). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

JUNE 8 – MAKE GOD’S WILL OUR WILL

And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?

Acts 9:6

The mystery of man’s free will is far too great for us! God said to Adam and Eve: “Thou shalt not eat from this tree” (see Genesis 2:16–17). Here was a divine requirement calling for obedience on the part of those who had the power of choice and will. When they disobeyed, they usurped the right that was not theirs!

The poet Tennyson must have thought about this, for he wrote in his “In Memoriam”: “Our wills are ours, we know not how; our wills are ours to make them Thine!”

“We know not how;” then Tennyson girds himself and continues, “Our wills are ours to make them Thine!”

As created beings, that is our only right—to make our wills the will of God, to make the will of God our will! God is sovereign, and we are the creatures. He is the Creator and has the right to command us with the obligation that we should obey.

It is a happy obligation, I might say, for “His yoke is easy and His burden is light!” It is important to agree that true salvation restores the right of a Creator-creature relationship, acknowledging God’s right to our fellowship and communion!

Heavenly Father, intellectually it is easy to say that I want to do Your will, but to really do so I need Your Spirit’s help. Strengthen me, Lord. I am Yours.[1]


6. Now get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you must do.”

Some commentators prefer the reading “Who are you, sir?” They think that because Paul had not yet acknowledged Jesus Christ as the Messiah, he used the polite address sir. But the setting—Paul lying face down on the ground with brilliant light flashing around him and a heavenly voice calling to him in Aramaic—indicates that Paul realizes he is confronted by Jesus, the ascended Lord (see vv. 17, 27; 22:14; 26:15).

Of course, Paul is confused. Thinking that he is doing God’s will in persecuting the Christians, he now hears Jesus’ voice calling him to face reality. Although in writing to the Corinthians Paul seems to indicate that he knew Christ during his earthly ministry (2 Cor. 5:16), we have no solid evidence of Paul meeting Jesus. Yet he has heard the Christians proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection and ascension. These facts now become reality for Paul as Jesus calls him. Hesitatingly he asks, “Who are you, Lord?”

Jesus replies, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.” Notice that he uses his earthly name Jesus given to him on the day of circumcision (Luke 2:21). Jesus addresses Paul from heaven, and Paul discerns that the words spoken by Stephen are true: “I see heaven open and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God” (7:56). Jesus is alive, raised from the dead and seated at the right hand of God in heaven. In the Greek, Jesus is actually saying to Paul, “Yes, indeed, I am Jesus.” Then he adds, “whom you yourself are persecuting,” to emphasize the direct accusation. That is, what Paul has been doing to the Christians, he has perpetrated against Jesus. For that reason, Jesus declares twice that Paul has been persecuting him. In other words, Paul understands that he has sinned against Jesus, which he acknowledges repeatedly in his letters (see 1 Cor. 15:9; Gal. 1:13, 23; Phil. 3:6).

Jesus instructs Paul and says, “Now get up and enter the city, and you will be told what to do.” Paul hardly has time to assimilate that Jesus has appeared to him when he hears Jesus commanding him to get up and enter Damascus. Jesus is in charge and Paul, who earlier breathed death and destruction, obeys. Note that Jesus only tells Paul to enter the city, where he will receive further instructions. At this moment, Jesus says nothing about Paul’s eventual role as apostle to the Gentiles. First, Paul has to be accepted by the Christians in Damascus and be one of Christ’s disciples. Next, he will learn that Jesus commissions him to proclaim the name of Christ to the Gentiles, kings, and the nation Israel (v. 15). And last, he must be prepared to suffer on behalf of Jesus (v. 16).[2]


Consecration

“but rise, and enter the city, and it shall be told you what you must do.” And the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. And Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. (9:6–8)

The genuineness of Saul’s conversion immediately became evident. From Acts 22:10, we learn that he asked, “What shall I do, Lord?” Saul’s surrender was complete, as he humbly submitted himself to the will of the Lord he had hated. In contrast to the teaching of many today, Saul knew nothing of accepting Christ as Savior, then (Hopefully) making him Lord later. The plain teaching of Scripture is that Jesus is Lord (cf. Rom. 10:9–10), independent of any human response. The question in salvation is not whether Jesus is Lord, but whether we are submissive to His lordship. Saul was, from the moment of his conversion to the end of his life.

In response to Saul’s inquiry, Jesus told him to rise and enter the city of Damascus, and it shall be told you what you must do. Luke notes that the men who traveled with him stood speechless, hearing the voice, but seeing no one. This incident was no subjective projection of Saul’s mind but an actual historical occurrence. Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; and leading him by the hand, they brought him into Damascus. His entry into the city was very different than he had anticipated. Instead of barging in as the conquering hero, the scourge of Christians, he entered helplessly blinded, being led by the hand.

God crushed Saul, bringing him to the point of total consecration. From the ashes of Saul’s old life would arise the noblest and most useful man of God the church has ever known.[3]


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

[2] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 332–333). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1994). Acts (p. 269). Chicago: Moody Press.

June 8 – Worry Is a Sin

For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?—Matt. 6:25

For Christians to worry is to be disobedient and unfaithful to God. Nothing in our lives, internal or external, justifies our being anxious when God is our Master.

Worry is basically the sin of distrusting the promise and providence of God, and yet it is a sin Christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other. In the Greek, the tense of Jesus’ command includes the idea of stopping what is already being done. We are to stop worrying and never start again.

The English term worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle, or to choke. That’s exactly what worry does—it’s a type of mental and emotional strangulation that probably causes more mental and physical afflictions than any other single cause.

The substance of worry is nearly always extremely small compared to the size it forms in our minds and the damage it does in our lives. It’s been said that worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind that, when encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.

If worrying is a pattern in your life—stop now. In the days to follow you’ll learn why you should trust your Father and stop worrying.

ASK YOURSELF
Would you categorize yourself as a worrier? If so, what do you think has driven you to choose the perceived relief of worry over the actual relief of trust in God? If not, what has tipped your heart in favor of less worry and more confidence and contentment?[1]

6:25 In this passage Jesus strikes at the tendency to center our lives around food and clothing, thus missing life’s real meaning. The problem is not so much what we eat and wear today, but what we shall eat and wear ten, twenty, or thirty years from now. Such worry about the future is sin because it denies the love, wisdom, and power of God. It denies the love of God by implying that He doesn’t care for us. It denies His wisdom by implying that He doesn’t know what He is doing. And it denies His power by implying that He isn’t able to provide for our needs.

This type of worry causes us to devote our finest energies to making sure we will have enough to live on. Then before we know it, our lives have passed, and we have missed the central purpose for which we were made. God did not create us in His image with no higher destiny than that we should consume food. We are here to love, worship, and serve Him and to represent His interests on earth. Our bodies are intended to be our servants, not our masters.[2]


25. Therefore I say to you, Do not be anxious about your life, what you are going to eat or what you are going to drink, nor about your body, what you are going to wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?

The word “Therefore” shows the connection with the preceding. On the basis of what has gone before and in connection with what follows, the meaning is probably this: Since transitory earthly treasures do not satisfy, and setting the heart on them implies forfeiting the enduring pleasures of heaven (verses 19–21), and since the yearning for such earthly riches blurs mental and moral vision (verses 22, 23), and finally, because a choice must be made between God and Mammon (verse 24), do not continue to set your heart on the latter, that is, on earthly things, such as food and drink, to keep alive, or on clothes, to keep dressed. After all, it is your heavenly Father who gave you your life and your body and will sustain them. He who has provided the greater, namely, life and body, will he not also furnish the lesser, namely, food, drink, and clothes? Is not life more important than food, and the body than clothes? Do not, then, confuse priorities!

What we have here, therefore, is an argument from the greater to the lesser, somewhat on the order of Rom. 8:32, “He who did not spare his own Son but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also graciously give us all things?”

“Do not be anxious,” says Jesus. Since the present imperative is used here, the meaning seems to be, “Do not have this bad habit.” It may, however, also mean, “If you have already fallen into it, then break this habit: stop being anxious.” Compare with verse 31, where the exhortation is, “Do not become anxious.” The word used in the original for being anxious means being distracted, as was, for example, Martha, whose attention was divided to such an extent that she, for a while, forgot about “the one thing needful” (Luke 10:38–42; note verse 41, “you are anxious and troubled about many things”).[3]


Worry is Unfaithful Because Of Our Master

For this reason 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? (6:25)

For this reason refers back to the previous verse, in which Jesus declares that a Christian’s only Master is God. He is therefore saying, “Because God is your Master, I say to you, do not be anxious.” A bondslave’s only responsibility is to his master, and for believers to worry is to be disobedient and unfaithful to their Master, who is God. For Christians, worry and anxiety are forbidden, foolish, and sinful.

In the Greek, the command do not be anxious includes the idea of stopping what is already being done. In other words, we are to stop worrying and never start it again. For your life makes the command all-inclusive. Psuchē (life) is a comprehensive term that encompasses all of a person’s being-physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. Jesus is referring to life in its fullest possible sense. Absolutely nothing in any aspect of our lives, internal or external, justifies our being anxious when we have the Master we do.

Worry is the sin of distrusting the promise and providence of God, and yet it is a sin that Christians commit perhaps more frequently than any other. The English term worry comes from an old German word meaning to strangle, or choke. That is exactly what worry does; it is a kind of mental and emotional strangulation, which probably causes more mental and physical afflictions than any other single cause.

It has been reported that a dense fog extensive enough to cover seven city blocks a hundred feet deep is composed of less than one glass of water-divided into sixty thousand million droplets. In the right form, a few gallons of water can cripple a large city.

In a similar way, the substance of worry is nearly always extremely small compared to the size it forms in our minds and the damage it does in our lives. Someone has said, “Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.”

Worry is the opposite of contentment, which should be a believer’s normal and consistent state of mind. Every believer should be able to say with Paul, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need” (Phil. 4:11–12; cf. 1 Tim. 6:6–8).

A Christian’s contentment is found in God, and only in God-in His ownership, control, and provision of everything we possess and will ever need. First, God owns everything, including the entire universe. David proclaimed, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it” (Ps. 24: 1). He also said, “Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth” (1 Chron. 29:11).

Everything we now have belongs to the Lord, and everything we will ever have belongs to Him. Why, then, do we worry about His taking from us what really belongs to Him?

One day when he was away from home someone came running up to John Wesley saying, “Your house has burned down! Your house has burned down!” To which Wesley replied, “No it hasn’t, because I don’t own a house. The one I have been living in belongs to the Lord, and if it has burned down, that is one less responsibility for me to worry about.”

Second, a Christian should be content because God controls everything. Again David gives us the right perspective: “Thou dost rule over all, and in Thy hand is power and might; and it lies in Thy hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone” (1 Chron. 29:12). Daniel declared, “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. And it is He who changes the times and the epochs; He removes kings and establishes kings; He gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding” (Dan. 2:20–21).

Those were not idle words for Daniel. The events of Daniel 2 and 6 were separated by many years. When the jealous commissioners and satraps tricked King Darius into ordering Daniel thrown into the den of lions, it was the king, not Daniel, who was worried. “Slept fled from” the king during the night, but Daniel apparently slept soundly next to the lions, whose mouths had been closed by an angel (6:18–23).

Third, believers are to be content because the Lord provides everything. The supreme owner and controller is also the supreme provider-as indicated in one of His ancient names, Jehovah-Jireh, which means “the Lord who provides.” That is the name Abraham ascribed to God when He provided a lamb to be sacrificed in place of Isaac (Gen. 22:14). If Abraham, with his limited knowledge of God, could be so trusting and content, how much more should we who know Christ and who have His whole written Word? As the apostle assures us, “God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

The needs that Jesus mentions here are the most basic-what we eat, what we drink, and what we put on. Those are things that every person in every age has needed; but because most western Christians have them in such abundance, they are not often worried about.

Throughout Bible times, however, food and water could seldom be taken for granted. When there was little snow in the mountains there was little water in the rivers, and inadequate rainfall was frequent. Shortage of water naturally brought shortage of food, which seriously affected the whole economy and made clothes harder to buy Yet Jesus said, do not be anxious for any of those things.

Those things are important, and the Lord knows and cares about our need of them, as Jesus goes on to explain. But, He asks rhetorically, Is not life more than food, and the body than clothing? All three of those necessities pertain to the body, and Jesus says that the fullness of life is more than merely taking care of the body.

Yet taking care of the body has always been a common obsession with men. Even when we are not starving or thirsty or naked, we still give an inordinate amount of attention to our bodies. We pamper the body, decorate it, exercise it, protect it from disease and pain, build it up, slender it down, drape it with jewelry, keep it warm or keep it cool, train it to work and to play, help it get to sleep, and a hundred other things to serve and satisfy our bodies.

Even as Christians we are sometimes caught up in the world’s idea that we live because of our bodies. And since we think we live because of our bodies, we live for our bodies. We know better, of course, but that is the way we often act. Our bodies in themselves are not the source of anything. They do not give us life but are given life by God, who is the source of all life-spiritual, emotional, intellectual, and physical.

Therefore, whether the Lord gives us more or gives us less of anything, it all belongs to Him, as owner, controller, and provider. It is our responsibility to thank Him for what He gives and to use it wisely and unselfishly for as long as He entrusts us with it.[4]


25 “Therefore,” in the light of the alternatives set out (vv. 19–24) and assuming his disciples will make the right choices, Jesus goes on to prohibit worry. The KJV’s “Take no thought” is deceptive in modern English, for Jesus himself demands that we think even about birds and flowers (vv. 26–30). “Do not worry” can be falsely absolutized by neglecting the limitations the context imposes and the curses on carelessness, apathy, indifference, laziness, and self-indulgence expressed elsewhere (cf. Carson, Sermon on the Mount, 82–86; Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 165–68). The point is not to worry about the physical necessities, let alone the luxuries implied in the preceding verses, because such fretting suggests that our entire existence focuses on and is limited to such things. The argument is a fortiori (“how much more”) and not (contra Hill) a minori ad maius (“from the lesser to the greater”) but the reverse: if God has given us life and a body, both admittedly more important than food and clothing, will he not also give us the latter? Therefore fretting about such things betrays the loss of faith and the perversion of more valuable commitments (cf. Lk 10:41–42; Heb 13:5–6).[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 168). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1226). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 348–349). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 419–421). 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, p. 214). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

June 8 – Integrity Passes the Test

“So [the king’s overseer] listened to [Daniel and his friends in this matter and tested them for ten days. And at the end of ten days their appearance seemed better and they were fatter than all the youths who had been eating the king’s choice food. So the overseer continued to withhold their choice food and the wine they were to drink, and kept giving them vegetables.”

Daniel 1:14–16

✧✧✧

All spiritual commitment will be tested.

When God wants to prove the quality of one’s commitment, He tests it. The test may come directly from Him, as with Abraham when God asked him to sacrifice his son Isaac (Gen. 22:1–2), or it may come through difficult circumstances, as with the Israelites during their wilderness wanderings (Deut. 8:16), or it may even come from Satan himself, as God permitted with Job (Job 1:12; 2:6). Regardless of its source, every test is designed by God to produce greater spiritual fruit in His children (1 Peter 1:6–7).

Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego’s tests came at the hands of their Babylonian captors. Separation from family, friends, and homeland must have been an extremely difficult test for them, but through it all their commitment to the Lord remained unshakable. Now they faced a test to determine whether or not they could remain undefiled. For ten days they would eat only vegetables and drink only water, while their fellow captives ate the king’s special diet.

Normally such a brief period of time would make no noticeable change in one’s physiology, but God must have intervened because at the conclusion of just ten days, these four young men were clearly healthier and more vigorous than their peers. The results were so convincing that their overseer allowed them to remain on a vegetarian diet throughout their entire three–year training period. God honored their uncompromising spirit.

When you are tested, remember that God is working on your spiritual maturity and that He will never test you beyond what you are able to endure and will always provide a means of victory (1 Cor. 10:13).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for wisdom and strength to meet each test in your life with courage and victory.

For Further Study: Read Psalm 26:1–3. What did King David request of God? ✧ How does he describe a person of integrity?[1]


8–17 The plotline of a story unfolds in the arrangement of events recorded in the narrative. The basic ingredient of a good story plot is conflict moving toward resolution. The opening scene of Daniel reports such conflict. The conflict for Daniel and his three friends is an ideological or moral conflict dilemma. This type of conflict usually occurs within the protagonist(s) of the story and generally focuses on issues of worldview and ultimately “good” versus “evil.” Specifically, the issue here is the royal food and wine that Daniel and his friends were required to eat and drink (v. 8). The rejection of the royal food by Daniel and his friends foreshadows further episodes of conflict as the story of the Hebrew captives progresses, conflicts with other characters (e.g., the Babylonian wise men; 3:8–12; 6:1–5), and physical danger in the form of execution by fire (3:11) and exposure to wild beasts (6:7).

The expression Daniel “resolved” (v. 8) is an idiom expressing a deliberate act of the will motivated by a deep-seated personal conviction (Heb. śîm + lēb, “to set the heart”; cf. NASB’s “Daniel made up his mind”). The word “defile” (Heb. gāʾal) occurs fewer than a dozen times in the OT and may refer to moral or ceremonial impurity (e.g., Isa 59:3; Mal 1:7, 12). Wallace, 42–43, observes that Daniel believed “faith in God and the forgiveness of God had made him clean”—clean from the idolatry and moral pollution of the surrounding world. To eat the king’s food would compromise God’s forgiveness and draw him back into the very same “world” from which he had been cleansed.

The royal food rations posed a problem for Daniel and his friends for several possible reasons. First, the law of Moses prohibited the obedient Hebrews from eating certain types of food, and there was no assurance that such fare would be left off the menu (cf. Lev 11; Dt 12:23–25; 14). Yet the Mosaic dietary restrictions do not include wine, also rejected by Daniel and his friends.

Second, the royal food rations would have probably been associated with idol worship in some way (either by the food’s having been offered to idols or blessed by idolatrous priests). Yet Daniel and his friends do not refuse all the royal food rations (as though only meat and drink but not “vegetables” were dedicated to the Babylonian gods). On both counts the royal food would have been regarded as ritually unclean on theological grounds, and hence the eating of such food would constitute an act of disobedience against Yahweh and his commands.

Beyond this, it is possible that Daniel simply interpreted the eating of the royal food rations as a formal demonstration of allegiance to the Babylonian king. Baldwin, 83, and Felwell, 40, suggest that Daniel’s motivation for rejecting the king’s menu was political in the sense that eating the royal provisions was tantamount to accepting the lordship of the Babylonian king, whereas Daniel and his friends owed loyalty to Yahweh alone as their “king” (cf. 3:17–18; on the issue of cultural assimilation see BBCOT, 731). But again, Daniel and his friends do agree to certain provisions of royal food, thus weakening the argument of political allegiance to King Nebuchadnezzar by virtue of the “meal custom” of the biblical world. Longman, 53, suggests that the food-rations test was essentially a means by which Daniel and his friends might demonstrate that their healthy physical appearance (and hence their intellectual gifts) was the miraculous work of their God—not King Nebuchadnezzar’s palace food or the Babylonian pantheon. As J. H. Sims (“Daniel,” in A Complete Literary Guide to the Bible, ed. L. Ryken and T. Longman [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993], 333–34) points out, whatever the motivation for rejecting the royal food rations, the greater issue theologically is that of divine nurture versus human nurture—on whom or what will the Hebrews rely for sustenance in their captivity?

The question of conformity to the surrounding culture was of paramount concern for the Diaspora Hebrews. To what degree, if any, should the displaced Israelites make accommodation to the surrounding dominant culture? What place was there for the Hebrew distinctives of religious monotheism and ethical absolutism based on the law of Moses in the religious pluralism and moral relativism of the Gentile superpowers? Rather than react in open defiance of the king’s decree, Daniel and his friends arranged a compromise with Ashpenaz and his appointed guardian (vv. 10–14). The alternative to eating the king’s food was a “rations test,” with the Hebrew captives to be fed a diet of vegetables and water (v. 12), against the control group of those young men eating the royal provisions (v. 13). Goldingay, 20, interprets the “ten-day” testing period pragmatically as a standard round number of days that would not arouse the suspicion of Ashpenaz’s superiors and yet be long enough for the effects of the test to be observed.

The example of nonconformity by Daniel and his friends became a model for the Israelite response to Gentile culture in later Judaism. For example, the characters of both Judith and Tobit are portrayed as pious Jews who observe strict adherence to the Mosaic law in the books of the apocryphal OT literature that bear their names. Separation from Gentile culture was an important component in an emerging “Diaspora theology” for the Hebrews during the intertestamental period. By the time of the NT, the Jewish worldview was tainted with attitudes of particularism, exclusivism, and superiority in reaction to the influences of Hellenism.

This “Judaism against Gentile culture” paradigm made Jesus’ apparent laxity toward the Mosaic law and his accommodation to Gentile culture difficult to interpret and accept. The church, as the counter-culture agent of God’s kingdom in the world, has no less difficulty in discerning and practicing what Jesus meant when he instructed his followers that though they were in the world, they were not to be of the world (Jn 17:14–18; see the discussion of the Christian’s interface with culture employing Niebuhr’s classic Christ and culture paradigms in Longman, 62–69).

In the process we learn that God’s providential rule of history is not restricted to nations and kings, as God caused Ashpenaz, the chief official, “to show favor and sympathy to Daniel” (v. 9). The passage is reminiscent of Joseph, who “found favor” in Potiphar’s eyes (Ge 39:4), and Esther, who “pleased [Hegai] and won his favor” during her preparations for the royal beauty contest (Est 2:9). The repetition of the verb “gave” (Heb. nātan; GK 5989) echoes God’s deliverance of King Jehoiakim to the Babylonians (v. 2). The NIV’s “God had caused” (v. 9) fails to convey the full theological freight of the original (cf. NASB, “Now God granted Daniel favor and compassion …”). Literally, “God gave Daniel for favor and mercies before the chief official.” Even as God gave Jehoiakim to the Babylonians for judgment, God gave Daniel to Ashpenaz for grace.

This language of divine intervention is in keeping with the theme of Daniel established in the opening verses, namely God’s sovereignty. As Seow, 27, notes, “the sovereignty of God is thus affirmed; the theological paradox of judgment and grace is maintained … God is the narrator’s ‘lord’ … God is at work and ever providing.” In fact, God’s testing and providing are key themes of the OT and justify his name as “Yahweh Yirʾeh” or “Jehovah Jireh” (“The Lord Will Provide,” Ge 22:14).

The four Hebrews passed the rations test, actually emerging “healthier and better nourished” than their counterparts, whose diet consisted of the royal food (v. 15). For the third time in the chapter we read that God “gave” (Heb. nātan; v. 17). In this instance, as a result of their resolve not to defile themselves with the royal food, God granted Daniel and his friends “knowledge and understanding” (v. 17a). The term “knowledge” (Heb. maddāʿ) implies academic learning (cf. v. 4, “quick to understand”), and the word “understanding” (Heb. haśkēl) suggests both “aptitude for learning” (cf. v. 4) and insight with respect to prudence or sound judgment.

In other words, the food rations episode offers practical commentary of sorts on Proverbs 1:7a: “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (cf. Ps 111:10). Baldwin, 84, has summarized that even small acts of faith and self-discipline, when undertaken out of loyalty to godly principle, set “God’s servants in the line of his approval and blessing. In this way actions attest faith, and character is strengthened to face more difficult situations.” (But see Goldingay, 20, who denies the cause-and-effect relationship between faithfulness and reward.) The added statement in v. 17b that Daniel received a special divine endowment to understand or interpret visions and dreams foreshadows those “more difficult situations” he will face in the key role he plays as interpreter of dreams and seer of visions in the rest of the book.[2]


A Young Man Decides

Daniel 1:3–21

Then the king ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to bring in some of the Israelites from the royal family and the nobility—young men without any physical defect, handsome, showing aptitude for every kind of learning, well informed, quick to understand, and qualified to serve in the king’s palace. He was to teach them the language and literature of the Babylonians. The king assigned them a daily amount of food and wine from the king’s table. They were to be trained for three years, and after that they were to enter the king’s service.

Among these were some from Judah: Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. The chief official gave them new names: to Daniel, the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abednego.

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.

At the time of the Protestant Reformation, the two greatest reformers, Martin Luther and John Calvin, each issued commentaries on Daniel. Luther produced two studies, published in 1524 and 1544. Calvin produced one, published in 1561. It is a striking fact that in spite of Luther’s great popularity, which continues to this day, Luther’s books on Daniel have never been translated into English, while Calvin’s massive work, running to a thousand pages in the original Latin, was available in English within ten years.

Why has the text of Calvin’s commentary proved so popular? There may be many reasons, but most people feel that it is because of the passionate and moving way in which the great expositor linked the times of the exiled Daniel to his own.

Calvin lived in an age of ecclesiastical and political warfare in which many thousands suffered greatly for their faith. In Germany in 1546, Charles V began a war to stamp out Lutheranism. In France, between 1540 and 1544, Francis I attempted the same thing, massacring the Waldensians as part of his misconceived program. In 1545 he burned twenty-two villages and killed three thousand men and women. Others were sent to the galleys. In 1562, the year after Calvin’s commentary appeared, the eight Wars of Religion began, the destruction of which was so great that Europe did not recover for two centuries. Thousands became exiles during this period. Many fled to Switzerland where Calvin, who was himself an exile, lived.

Calvin’s commentary breathes with compassion for these people, and as a result it has always appealed to those who consider themselves exiles in a strange land. Indeed, it appears even more broadly than this. For Daniel was a man of God in worldly Babylon, and Christians are always God’s people in the midst of those who do not honor and in fact oppose their divine King.

Calvin dedicated his book to the “pious Protestants of France” and urged Daniel upon them as a great encouragement.

I have the very best occasion of showing you, beloved brethren, in this mirror, how God proves the faith of his people in these days by various trials; and how with wonderful wisdom he has taken care to strengthen their minds by ancient examples, that they should never be weakened by the concussion of the severest storms and tempests; or at least, if they should totter at all, that they should never finally fall away. For although the servants of God are required to run in a course impeded by many obstacles, yet whoever diligently reads this book will find in it whatever is needed by a voluntary and active runner to guide him from the starting point to the goal; while good and strenuous wrestlers will experimentally acknowledge that they have been sufficiently prepared for the contest.… Here then, we observe, as in a living picture, that when God spares and even indulges the wicked for a time, he proves his servants like gold and silver; so that we ought not to consider it a grievance to be thrown into the furnace of trial, while profane men enjoy the calmness of repose.

A Secular Environment

In order to understand Daniel we must realize that the Babylon to which Daniel and his three friends were taken was a secular, worldly place, as I attempted to show in the last study, and that their initial experiences there were intended to blot out of their minds the remembrance of the true God and their homeland. We see this in several ways. For one thing, Nebuchadnezzar ordered Ashpenaz, chief of his court officials, to choose young men who would be easily molded by their new environment. Again, he attempted to lure them with the delicacies of food the great city of Babylon could provide.

Chiefly we notice Nebuchadnezzar’s intentions in the altering of the young men’s names. The Hebrew names of these young men were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. They were changed to Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It should be immediately evident to anyone with even a limited knowledge of Hebrew that the Jewish names of these men each contains a name of God and has a spiritual meaning. Daniel and Mishael both contain the syllable el, which means “God” and is the basis of the frequently appearing (plural) name Elohim. Daniel means “God is my Judge.” Mishael means “Who is like God?” The other two names, Hananiah and Azariah, both contain a shortened form of the name Jehovah. Hananiah means “Jehovah is gracious.” Azariah means “Jehovah is my helper.” The very names of these men were reminders of their heritage and a challenge to them to remain faithful to the Lord. But now, deported into a strange, pagan land, their names are changed. And the names they are given all contain a reference to one of the false gods of the ancient Babylonians, Aku and Nego. It was a way of saying that these who had been servants of the Jewish God were now servants and worshipers of the gods of the pagan pantheon.

Yet the change accomplished nothing. Nebuchadnezzar changed the men’s names, but he could not change their hearts. They remained faithful to the true God of Israel, as the story shows.

I apply that to our own age. One thing the world seems always to try to do—it has happened in the past, and it is happening in our own time—is to take Christian words and rework them to convey the world’s ideas. I suppose it is one of the devil’s subtlest tricks. It happens in liberal theology. “Sin” used to mean rebellion against God and his righteous law or, as the Westminster Shorter Catechism puts it, “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God” (A. 14). But today it means ignorance or merely the kind of oppression that is supposed to reside in social structures. “Jesus” is no longer the incarnate God who died for our salvation, but rather our example or what might even be termed an evolutionary peak of the human race. “Faith” is awareness of oppression and beginning to do something about it, and so on. Of course, in the secular world the readjustment of words is even more ridiculous and extreme, as the recent use of the term “born again” in advertising slogans shows.

This is a great danger, I admit. But although it is a danger, if the truth of what is behind these words remains strong in the minds and hearts of those who really know the truth, then the vitality of the faith will remain regardless of the world’s corruptions. Christians will persevere because God will strengthen them to stand against the culture.

Daniel’s Decision

The most important verse in the first chapter of Daniel is verse 8, which says, “But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine.”

What is your reaction to that? Remember that Daniel was a young man at this time. We know from the later development of the story that he lived for a very long time beyond this—through the rule of four emperors. He was probably in his nineties when he died. So at this point he was probably between fifteen and seventeen. It was at this young age that he was taken away from his own country and culture, plunged into the strange but exciting life of the great world capital, and lured to loyalty by the best of all possible educations and by provision of the very food served to Nebuchadnezzar. Yet Daniel refused to partake of this food. As I say, what is your reaction to that? Do you find it a very little thing? Do you see Daniel’s decision as the immaturity and foolishness of youth? Would you have acted as Daniel and his friends did in these circumstances, or would you have gone along with your great benefactor’s desires? Would you have said, “After all, why should we live by Jewish dietary laws while in Babylon? Let’s eat and drink. It’s just a small thing”?

Well, it was a small thing. Yet that is just the point. For it is in the small matters that great victories are won. This is where decisions to live a holy life are made—not in the big things (though they come if the little things are neglected), but in the details of life. If Daniel had said, “I want to live for God in big ways, but I am not going to make a fool of myself in this trivial matter of eating and drinking the king’s food,” he never would have amounted to anything. But because he started out for God in small things, God used him greatly.

I have titled this chapter “A Young Man Decides” because it is particularly in youth that the most significant and life-forming decisions are made. Are you a young person? Then you should pay particularly close attention to this point. Most young people want their lives to count, and most Christian young people want their lives to count for God. Youth dreams big. That is right. You should dream big. But youth is also often impatient and undisciplined, and young people are tempted to let the little things slide. You must not do that if you are God’s young man or God’s young woman. God will make your life count, but this will not happen unless you determine to live for him in the little things now. You know what Jesus said: “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10). Being wholly given over to God now is the essential and best possible preparation for future service.

Why We Must Be Holy

In the last chapter I pointed out that Daniel is a story of the struggle of the world’s people and culture against God’s people and God’s culture, and it is. But it is also a story of men who lived for God by choosing the path of personal discipleship and holiness. This is no contradiction, because it is only such persons who actually embody the spiritual standards of “the city of God.” It is only these who make any lasting difference in the world.

A great evangelical bishop of England, John Charles Ryle, wrote a classic study of holiness in which he urged holiness upon all who call themselves Christians. After some opening passages in which he describes holiness as separation to God, devotion to God, service to God, being of one mind with God and wanting God’s will—Ryle went on to show why holiness, the kind of holiness exercised by Daniel, is so necessary. He listed eight reasons.

  1. “We must be holy, because the voice of God in Scripture plainly commands it.” Peter wrote, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’ ” (1 Peter 1:14–16). This is not optional. God did not say, “I would like you to live a holy life; but if you are not too excited about that particular lifestyle, don’t worry about it. We’ll work on something else.” God said, “Be holy, because I am holy.” We must be holy because the holy God commands it.
  2. “We must be holy, because this is the one grand end and purpose for which Christ came into the world.” You say, “But I thought Jesus came to save us from our sins.” Yes, he did come for that. But the Bible also says, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless” (Eph. 5:25–27). Many Christians think they would like the benefits of salvation without the obligation to live for Christ, but they cannot have them because Christ came to make them holy just as much as he came to save them from the penalty of their sins. If you are fighting against holiness, you are fighting against nothing less than the purpose of God in the Atonement.
  3. “We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we have a saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.” How is that so? Well, James in his letter speaks of two kinds of faith: a living, saving faith and a dead faith that saves no one. The devils have a dead faith; that is, they believe there is a God and that Jesus is his Son, sent to save his people. But they do not trust him personally. They do not live for him. A living faith does live for him and therefore shows itself in good works. That is why James says, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead” (James 2:26).

Ryle used this point to comment on so-called “death-bed” conversions, judging that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred these “conversions” are illusory. He said, “With rare exceptions, men die just as they have lived. The only safe evidence that we are one with Christ, and Christ is in us, is a holy life.”

  1. “We must be holy, because this is the only proof that we love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity.” Jesus was quite plain on this point. He said, “If you love me, you will obey what I command” (John 14:15); “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me” (v. 21); “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching” (v. 23); “You are my friends if you do what I command” (John 15:14). How could the point be more clearly spoken? If you love Jesus, you will obey him; you will be holy. If you do not obey him, you do not love him—whatever your profession. Do you love Jesus? We have a chorus in which we sing, “Oh, how I love Jesus,” but you do not love him if you do not do what he says.
  2. “We must be holy, because this is the only sound evidence that we are true children of God.” Do you remember how Jesus made this point when he was talking with the Pharisees? They claimed to be children of Abraham and therefore in right standing before God. But Jesus said, “If you were Abraham’s children, then you would do the things Abraham did” (John 8:39–40). Paul said the same thing in Romans, noting that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Rom. 8:14). The Spirit of God does not lead you to sin. The Spirit of God does not lead to disobedience. If you are led by God’s Spirit, you will lead a holy life, and the evidence of that holy life will be sound evidence that you are God’s son or daughter.
  3. “We must be holy, because this is the most likely way to do good to others.” Many people today have some desire to do good to others, and many of our social and benevolence programs are an expression of that praiseworthy desire. But I ask, “Do you help others by advancing a low moral standard—one that is easy for them to live up to? Do you help others by whittling down the righteous standards of the Old Testament law or the New Testament precepts? Not at all! You help others by upholding the highest possible standards and above all by living according to those standards yourself. There are several places in the New Testament in which the godly conduct of a believer is said to be the best hope of doing good to someone else. For instance, Peter writes, “Wives, … be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” (1 Peter 3:1–2). No doubt many besides husbands have been won to Christ by the consistent, holy behavior of some Christian.
  4. “We must be holy, because our present comfort depends much upon it.” Not all suffering is directly related to a suffering person’s sin. Christ’s words about the man born blind (John 9:3) should disabuse us of attempts to make that an easy, one-to-one relationship. But although all suffering does not come directly from one’s sin, the reverse is true: All sin produces suffering.

We do not think this way naturally. In fact, we think just the opposite. We come up against one of God’s commandments, think that we would like to do something else, and immediately reason that if only we could do what we really want to do we would be happy. We think that we would be absolutely miserable obeying God. That was the devil’s argument in his temptation of Eve, but it is as diabolical now as it was then. To heed it is to forget whence our good comes. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows” (James 1:17). If we turn from this good, we do not turn to happiness but away from it.

  1. “Lastly, we must be holy, because without holiness on earth we shall never be prepared to enjoy heaven.” The author of Hebrews wrote, “Without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Heb. 12:14). Revelation speaks of heaven, saying, “Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27).

Can I Be Holy?

The objection I am likely to get is that these points are all very well and good but that it is just not possible for you to live a holy life in your circumstances. “If I did the right thing in my job, I’d lose it,” you say. Or, “None of my friends would speak to me.” Or, “I’d never get ahead.” Or, “I just can’t be holy; I’ve tried it and I fail.”

If you are thinking this way, let me turn back to Daniel, who was not only resolved not to defile himself with the king’s food and wine but was also willing to put the matter to the test and prove God able in his circumstances. Daniel said to the guard who had been appointed over him, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see” (Dan. 1:12–13).

The guard agreed to this test, and at the end of the ten days the young men looked healthier and better nourished than any of the young men who ate the royal food. Moreover, it was not only in their appearance that Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah excelled. They also excelled in knowledge and understanding of all kinds of literature and learning. The text concludes by noting that at the end of the three years of training, when the king brought his young protégés in for testing, Nebuchadnezzar “found them ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters in his whole kingdom” (v. 20).

Do not say, “If I live for God, I’ll lose out.” You may lose out on some of the things the world offers, which are not good for you anyway, but you will experience a richness of God’s bounty. The Bible says, “Seek first [God’s] kingdom and [God’s] righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matt. 6:33).[3]


1:8–16 Daniel and His Friends Remain Undefiled. Daniel and his three friends resisted the attempted assimilation. They retained their original names (see v. 11) and resolved not to defile themselves with the king’s food and drink (v. 8). Many have thought that the four men’s resolve came from their intent to eat only ceremonially clean food, not any “unclean” food as specified in Lev. 11:1–47 and Deut. 14:3–20—much as a group of Jewish priests later did in Rome, eating only figs and nuts (see Josephus, Life of Josephus 14; cf. Rom. 14:2). That may be part of the explanation, for the Babylonians would have eaten such things as pork, which was unclean for Jews. But wine (Dan. 1:8) would not have been prohibited by any law in Jewish Scripture, so that cannot be the entire explanation (unless the young men feared that somehow the wine had been polluted through failure to grow the grapes according to the rule of Lev. 19:25–28; cf. Deut. 20:6). Another view is that they feared the meat and wine would have been first offered to Babylonian idols. Again, this may have provided part of the reason for their reluctance to partake of the Babylonian food, but the vegetables and grains would probably also have been offered to idols, so that does not seem to be the most persuasive explanation. A third view, that they were following a vegetarian diet for health reasons, is unhelpful, because no OT laws would have taught them that (modern) idea. A fourth view combines elements of the first two, and seems the best explanation: Daniel and his friends avoided the luxurious diet of the king’s table as a way of protecting themselves from being ensnared by the temptations of the Babylonian culture. They used their distinctive diet as a way of retaining their distinctive identity as Jewish exiles and avoiding complete assimilation into Babylonian culture (which was the king’s goal with these conquered subjects). With this restricted diet they continually reminded themselves, in this time of testing, that they were the people of God in a foreign land and that they were dependent for their food, indeed for their very lives, upon God, their Creator, not King Nebuchadnezzar. (It is possible that Daniel later came to accept some of the Babylonian food; see Dan. 10:3.) The Lord gave Daniel favor (1:9) with his captors, an answer to Solomon’s prayer for the exiles (1 Kings 8:50), and the steward honored their request for a special diet. At the end of a trial period, Daniel and his friends looked fitter (fatter in flesh; Dan. 1:15) than those who had consumed a high-calorie diet. This confirmed that God’s favor was upon them.[4]


1:14–16 Better and fatter indicates that Daniel and his friends were healthier than the young men who ate … of the king’s delicacies.[5] Daniel and His Friends Refuse Unclean Food (1:8–16). Daniel regarded the food offered by the Babylonians to be defiling. The Mosaic law forbade God’s people to eat unclean animals or flesh that had not been drained of blood. Portions of the wine and meat presented by Ashpenaz may have been offered to idols.

Daniel convinced the Babylonians to allow him and his three friends to follow a different diet, consisting only of vegetables and water. After a ten-day trial period they looked even healthier than those who were following the diet prescribed by the king. Consequently they were not forced to eat the king’s food or drink his wine.[6]


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

[2] Hill, A. E. (2008). Daniel. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel–Malachi (Revised Edition) (Vol. 8, pp. 52–54). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Boice, J. M. (2003). Daniel: an expositional commentary (pp. 19–25). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 1586–1587). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1009). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[6] Chisholm, R. B. (1998). The Major Prophets. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 333). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

June 8 – A Christ–Centered Life

You have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him.

Ephesians 4:20–21

As Christians, we are no longer controlled by a self–centered mind; we learn from Christ. Christ thinks for us, acts through us, loves through us, feels through us, and serves through us. The lives we live are not ours but are Christ living in us (Gal. 2:20). Philippians 2:5 says, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” An unsaved person walks in the vanity of his own mind, but a saved person walks according to the mind of Christ.

God has a plan for the universe, and as long as Christ is working in us, He’s working out a part of that plan through us. Paul noted that He “is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Eph. 3:20). Every day should be a fantastic adventure for us because we’re in the middle of God’s unfolding plan for the ages.[1]


4:20 How different all this was from the Christ whom the Ephesians had come to know and love! He was the personification of purity and chastity. He knew no sin, He did no sin, there was no sin in Him.

4:21 The if in if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him is not meant to cast doubt on the conversion of the Ephesians. It simply emphasizes that all those who had heard Christ and had been taught by Him had come to know Him as the essence of holiness and godliness. To have heard Christ means to have heard Him with the hearing of faith—to have accepted Him as Lord and Savior. The expression, taught by Him, refers to the instruction the Ephesians received as they walked in fellowship with Him subsequent to their conversion. Blaikie remarks: “All truth acquires a different hue and a different character when there is a personal relation to Jesus. Truth apart from the Person of Christ has little power.” As the truth is in Jesus. He not only teaches the truth; He is truth incarnate (John 14:6). The name Jesus takes us back to His life on earth, since that is His name in Incarnation. In that spotless life which He lived as a Man in this world, we see the very antithesis of the walk of the Gentiles which Paul has just described.[2]


20. In principle, however, the people whom Paul addresses belong to a different category. This had been the case ever since Christ entered into their hearts and lives. Hence, Paul continues: You, however, did not so learn Christ. In the original the sentence begins with the word you, on which, accordingly, great emphasis is placed, as if to say, “You did not learn Christ so as to continue to live as the Gentiles are doing.” To learn Christ is more than to learn about Christ. Not only had the Ephesians received a body of teaching, namely, about Christ, and not only had they observed in the lives of those who brought it what this doctrine was able to achieve, but in addition, they themselves by an act of Spirit-wrought faith had welcomed this Christ into their hearts. Joyfully they had received the sacrament of holy baptism. And by constant and systematic attendance upon the means of grace, by prayer and answers to prayer, by daily living in accordance with the principles of the truth of the gospel, they had learned Christ, yes, Christ himself in very person.

Paul here presents the appropriation of Christ and of salvation in him as the result of a learning process, a learning with heart and mind. Believers, in other words, are not saved at one stroke. They do not become completely transformed all at once. They learn. There was the basic change wrought by the power of God. This was followed by a constant progress in sanctification, constant but not necessarily uniform. In one person it had been more clearly evident than in another. At one time the progress had been by leaps, but at another time at snail’s pace. At times, in all likelihood, there had been reverses, retrogressions. The point which the apostle emphasizes, however, is that whatever had been their degree of advance in learning, they had definitely not learned Christ as an advocate of sin and selfishness, of lewdness and licentiousness. No longer were their minds futile, no longer was their understanding dark. Continued: 21.… for surely you heard of him and were taught in him. Justification for this translation—“for surely,” where A.V. and A.R.V. have “if so be”—was offered in the explanation of 3:2 where a similar “for surely” occurs. Many of the Ephesians had been taught by Paul himself during his lengthy ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19; 20:17–35). The apostle had been able to reach not only those who were actually living within the city of Ephesus but also people from the surrounding territory. Many had flocked to the city to attend feasts, for business, or for other purposes. Some, no doubt, had gone there for the very purpose of seeing and hearing Paul. But in addition there had been other multitudes, in surrounding cities and villages, who heard the gospel from the lips of those who had received it from Paul (Acts 20:17). It should be borne in mind constantly that this epistle is, in all probability, a letter addressed to a vast multitude of people, many of whom did not live in Ephesus. It was probably a circular letter. See Introduction, pp. 58–61. The addressed, then, had heard of Christ and had been taught not only about but “in” him; that is, the entire atmosphere had been Christian. Christ, speaking through his ambassadors, was the teacher. He was also the theme. Continued: just as it is in Jesus that truth resides. The truth with reference to man’s fall into sin, his desperate condition by nature, the salvation procured by Christ, the necessity of faith working through love, principles of Christian conduct, etc.: all these doctrines had Christ as their very center. In Christ’s suffering and death by crucifixion the addressed had been able to read how deeply fallen they were, necessitating the death of God’s only-begotten Son, a death both painful and shameful. In his triumphant resurrection, ascension, and coronation they had received proof positive that salvation had been achieved. In Christ’s constant emphasis upon the fact that men must come to him and rely on him completely, they had been given a lesson in the necessity of faith as appropriating organ of salvation. The Master’s marvelous example in humility, self-sacrifice, love, etc. had been given for their instruction. Moreover, had not Jesus himself said, “I am the way and the truth and the life”? (John 14:6). Was not he the very embodiment of the truth, the truth in person? Were not “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” hidden in him, hidden in order to be revealed? (Col. 2:3). Was not he the active and living truth, the truth that sets men free (John 8:32; 17:17), the very answer to Pilate’s question (John 18:38)?[3]


Christ–centered

But you did not learn Christ in this way, (4:20)

After reviewing the evils of the pagan world and the self–centered, purposeless, standardless wickedness that both comes from and leads to spiritual darkness and ignorance, Paul declared to believers who had fallen back into such degradation, But you did not learn Christ in this way. That is not the way of Christ or of His kingdom or family. “You are not to have any part of such things,” He insisted, “whether by participation or association.”

You did not learn Christ is a direct reference to salvation. To learn Christ is to be saved. While it is true that the verb manthanō can be used in reference to the process of learning truth (see Rom. 16:17; Phil. 4:9), it can also mean “to come to know” (Walter Bauer, A Greek–English Lexicon of the New Testament. Translated and edited by W. F. Arndt and F. W. Gingrich. 5th ed. [Chicago; U. of Chicago, 1958], p. 490), as a one–time act, particularly when the verb is aorist active indicative, as in this case. The aorist is also used in John 6:45, where Jesus spoke to those who had “learned from the Father”—indicating a reference to the saving act of faith under the Old Covenant which would lead them now to Him.

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus offered one of the loveliest of all salvation invitations: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me” (KJV). This use of manthanō is also in the aorist tense, indicating a single unrepeated act.

Both the context and the use of the aorist tense of the verb “to learn” in these passages lead to the conclusion that this learning refers to the moment of saving faith.

“Friendship with the world is hostility toward God” (James 4:4), and the person who makes a profession of Christ but makes no effort to break with his worldly and sinful habits has reason to doubt his salvation. “The one who says, ‘I have come to know Him’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him,” and “If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:4, 15).

The ways of God and the ways of the world are not compatible. The idea, promoted by some who claim to be evangelicals, that a Christian does not have to give up anything or change anything when he becomes a Christian is nothing less than diabolical. That notion, under the pretense of elevating God’s grace and of protecting the gospel from works righteousness, will do nothing but send many people confidently down the broad way that Jesus said leads to destruction (Matt. 7:13).

From the human side, salvation begins with repentance, a change of mind and action regarding sin, self, and God. John the Baptist (Matt. 3:2), Jesus (Matt. 4:17), and the apostles (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 20:21; 26:20) began their ministries with the preaching of repentance. The very purpose of receiving Christ is to “be saved from this perverse generation” (Acts 2:40), and no one is saved who does not repent and forsake sin. Repentance does not save us, but God cannot save us from sin of which we are unwilling to let go. To hold on to sin is to refuse God, to scorn His grace, and to nullify faith. No Christian is totally free from the presence of sin in this life, but in Christ he is willingly freed from his orientation to sin. He slips and falls many times, but the determined direction of his life is away from sin.

One of the first things a Christian should learn is that he cannot trust his own thinking or rely on his own way. “They who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Cor. 5:15). The Christian has the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16), and Christ’s is the only mind on which he can rely. The obedient, faithful Christian is the one for whom Christ thinks, acts, loves, feels, serves, and lives in every way. He says with Paul, “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” (Gal. 2:20).

Because we have the mind of Christ, we are to “have this attitude in [ourselves] which was also in Christ Jesus,” who “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:5, 8). Although Christ was one with His Father, while on earth He did absolutely nothing but His Father’s will (Matt. 26:39, 42; John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; etc.). If the incarnate Lord sought the mind of His heavenly Father in everything He did, how much more should we? The mark of the Christian life is to think like Christ, act like Christ, love like Christ, and in every possible way to be like Christ—in order that “whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him” (1 Thess. 5:10).

God has a plan of destiny for the universe, and as long as Christ is working in us He is working out a part of that plan through us. The Christ–centered life is the most purposeful and meaningful life conceivable—it is part of the divine plan and work of God!

Knows God’s Truth

if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, (4:21)

Instead of being ignorant of God’s truth, the Christian has heard Christ and is taught in Him. Both verbs are in the aorist tense, again pointing to a one–time past act, and in this context referring to the time when the readers were taught and came to believe the gospel—here called the truth … in Jesus. These terms describe the moment of salvation–conversion. When a person receives Christ as Savior and Lord, he comes into God’s truth.

If indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him (cf. Matt. 17:5) could not possibly refer to hearing Jesus’ physical voice on earth, because there is no way that could have been true of all the believers in Asia Minor to whom Paul was writing. It must refer to the hearing of His spiritual call to salvation (cf. John 8:47; 10:27; Acts 3:22–23; Heb. 3:7–8). Many New Testament references speak of this hearing and being taught as the call of God (see, e.g., Acts 2:39). En autoi (in Him) means in union with Christ and further emphasizes the fact that at conversion we received the truth embodied in Christ, because we came to be in Him.

Life without God leads to cynicism about truth. The ungodly person may ask rhetorically with Pilate, “What is truth?” (John 18:38), but he expects no satisfactory answer. The Christian, however, can say, “The truth of Christ is in me” (2 Cor. 11:10) and “We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ” (1 John 5:20).

The truth that is in Jesus, then, is first of all the truth about salvation. This idea is parallel to 1:13, where Paul says hearing the truth and being in Him are synonymous with conversion: “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise.” The truth … is in Jesus and it leads to the fullness of truth about God, man, creation, history, sin, righteousness, grace, faith, salvation, life, death, purpose, meaning, relationships, heaven, hell, judgment, eternity, and everything else of ultimate consequence.

John summed up this relationship with truth when he wrote: “And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding, in order that we might know Him who is true, and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20).[4]


Jesus, the Great Divide

Ephesians 4:20–24

You, however, did not come to know Christ that way. Surely you heard of him and were taught in him in accordance with the truth that is in Jesus. You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.

Have you ever thought how significant it is that in the Western world we do not reckon time from some fixed point in the past to which we add on year by year but from a midpoint from which we figure both forward and back? The Jewish calendar begins from what it regards as the date of creation and moves on from that point. So does the Chinese calendar. But not the Christian calendar! We begin with an approximation of the year of the birth of Jesus Christ and then number in two directions—backward in a receding series of years, which we call b.c. (“before Christ”), and forward in an increasing accumulation of years, which we call a.d. (anno Domini, “in the year of the Lord”). By this strange reckoning we testify that Jesus of Nazareth is the dividing line of history.

Jesus is the great divide in more than a historical sense. He is also a personal dividing point for everyone who has been saved by him. This is what Paul has in mind as he moves in his treatment of practical Christian conduct from the gentile world, as it was (and is) apart from Christ, to the new standards of Christianity. Having described the world in its darkness, alienation, and futility, Paul now exclaims, “You, however, did not come to know Christ that way” (Eph. 4:20).

This is Paul’s introduction to what is going to be an extensive description of the Christian life. So it is important to notice that it begins with a reference to Christ himself and not to anything that might be supposed to come out of the depraved hearts or futile efforts of mere human beings. Some people think that a new life or a new beginning in life can emerge from self-discovery. The human potential movement, visible in such organizations as EST, Mind Dynamics, Lifespring, and Scientology, teaches this. Some think that a change can be found through personal enlightenment. They seek it through mysticism and the newly resurgent religions of the East. Still others retain belief in the nineteenth-century notion of inevitable progress.

Real change comes in none of these ways. The only truly transforming power that has ever come into the world is that of the person and teaching of Jesus Christ, and the only true and lasting changes that ever take place in an individual life take place through believing in and learning from him.

Jesus is the great divide, not only historically but also in the lives of countless people.

The School of Christ

As Paul begins to explain this he uses three verbs, all having to do with education, and he follows them with a reference to “the truth that is in Jesus.” Together they create an image of what we might call the school of Jesus Christ. The way these verbs are used is interesting. Marcus Barth calls them “baffling” in his excellent treatment of them and considers them examples of “an extraordinary use of language.”

The first verb is emathete. The phrase in which it occurs should be rendered literally “you learned Christ” (niv, “came to know”). The reason this is “extraordinary” is that the idea of learning a person, rather than a mere fact or doctrine, is found nowhere else in the Greek Bible. Nor has it been found in any other pre-biblical document. What does it mean? Well, it probably means more than merely learning about the historical Jesus or becoming acquainted with his doctrines. It is probably to be taken along the lines of Jesus’ words when he said in his great prayer to the Father, recorded in John 17, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (v. 3). It means that Christians are Christians because they have entered into a personal relationship with the living Lord Jesus Christ. It is a learning of him that changes them at the deepest possible level.

The second verb is ēkousate and occurs in the phrase “you heard him.” The New International Version says, “you heard of him,” but “of” is not in the text and at this point the niv is probably in error. The point is not that we have heard of Christ but rather that we have heard him speak. How so? How have we heard Jesus? The answer—though this is perhaps also a bit baffling—is that we have heard him in Scripture, particularly as it has been expounded to us by preachers of the gospel. I emphasize preaching because this is the way the Ephesians, to whom Paul is actually writing, must have heard Christ. As Paul preached Jesus, they heard Jesus himself through Paul’s exposition.

This is hard for the world to understand. The minds of this world’s people are clouded and their eyes blinded, as we saw in the story about William Pitt the Younger and Wilberforce. Yet Christians know exactly what this means. You read the Bible or hear the Word of God preached and, suddenly, sometimes quite unexpectedly, you are aware that Jesus is talking to you personally. This is not mere subjectivity; it is supernatural. For Jesus does speak. He speaks to change the life and thinking of his people.

The third verb is edidachthēte. It is a heightened form of the common Greek word for instruction and occurs in the phrase “you … were taught in him.” The puzzling thing about this expression is the words “in him.” Normally we would expect the sentence to say “taught by him,” or “taught about him,” But it actually says “in him,” and it probably means that Jesus is the atmosphere within which the teaching takes place. We might say that Jesus is the school, as well as the teacher and the subject of instruction.

Some years ago Marshall McLuhan popularized the phrase “the medium is the message.” He used it in reference to forms of communication such as television. In Christ’s school we have a case where the Medium really is the Message—and the environment too. Christ is everything. John Stott says in his comments on this passage, “When Jesus Christ is at once the subject, the object, and the environment of the moral instruction being given, we may have confidence that it is truly Christian. For truth is in Jesus. The change from his title ‘Christ’ to his human name ‘Jesus’ seems to be deliberate. The historical Jesus is himself the embodiment of truth, as he claimed.”

Notice that although Paul is speaking of the knowledge of Christ and his ways in the deepest, most personal, and most profound sense, it is nevertheless in terms of knowing or learning of Christ that he speaks. Why is this? It is because in the previous verse he has described the condition of the secular or gentile world as due chiefly to ignorance. He was pointing out that the depravity of the gentile world was due to its willful ignorance of God. The world has hardened its heart against God and so is alienated from him intellectually and in every other way. It follows, then, that when Paul speaks of the difference Jesus makes he does so in exactly parallel terms. The world is ignorant of God, but Christians have come to know him. The secular mind is hostile to Christ’s teaching, but the believer joyfully enrolls in and continually makes progress in Christ’s school.

What is the Difference?

We come to specifics now and ask in concrete terms precisely what difference the coming of Christ and his revelation mean to us. How shall we describe the geography to the right and to the left of this great historical divide? I suggest the following five alternatives.

  1. God and atheism. I am aware, of course, that there are many religions in the world other than Christianity, and I would even argue that they exist because of the God of Christianity. Not knowing the true God has left a vacuum at the center of the human personality which people everywhere try to fill with religion. But religion itself is empty—“vain” is Paul’s word—and it leads to frustration, the kind of thing Edward Gibbon meant when he described the religions of the ancient world either as “equally true” (in the minds of the common people), “equally false” (in the minds of the philosophers), or “equally useful” (in the minds of the magistrates). Mere human debate on this issue leads at best to skepticism and at worst to outright disbelief or atheism. Christ shows that there is a God and that the true God is the God of the Bible.

I am impressed with the fact that in his early apologetic writing this is the place where Francis Schaeffer starts. He starts with the existence of God, and his classic statement of this foundational point is that “God is there, and he is not silent.” It is evident why we must start at this point. If God exists and we can know he exists, then everything else follows from that premise. The Bible begins this way: “In the beginning God. …” Everything else follows that. If God does not exist or if we cannot know he exists, then nothing follows except chaos.

Jesus shows us that God exists and that this God, the true God, is the God of the Bible. This is the God he himself believed in and about whom he taught. He taught that God is all-powerful, and he declared that after he had died, this God, the God of the Old Testament, the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, would raise him from the dead. This was a stupendous claim, a seemingly impossible claim. But the God of Jesus stood the test. He did raise Jesus from the dead, and thus both by his teaching and by his resurrection we know that there is a God and that the God proclaimed by Jesus is that God.

  1. Plan or accident. Is life part of an important, divine plan, or is it just an accident? That is the second issue that hinges on the person of Christ. The proponents of atheistic evolution, of whom there are many in our day, argue that everything that exists, including ourselves, has come about entirely by chance. There has been no guiding Mind or plan. It just happened. One day, for no real reason, certain inorganic compounds (like hydrogen, water, ammonia, and carbon dioxide, which were existing for no real reason) united to form bio-organic compounds (like amino acids and sugars). These bio-organics united to form bio-polymers, which are large molecules such as proteins, and these in turn became the first living cells, like algae. From this point life just progressed upward.

This is an utter absurdity, of course. “Chance” is no thing. It can “form” nothing. So if the choice is between a plan and an accident (or chance), there is really no choice. There must be a plan, and in order for there to be a plan there must be a Planner, who makes it.

The world does not see the absurdity of tracing everything to chance, and therefore in this area as in others Jesus is the point of division.

If there is no plan and everything is the product of mere chance (whatever that may be), then nothing at all has meaning. The world itself is meaningless. History is meaningless. You have no meaning, and neither do I. Everything is just an accident, and whether we live or die, achieve or fail to achieve in this life, is irrelevant. Moreover, since the universe does not care, there is no reason why we should care either. People do not want to acknowledge this, of course. After all, regardless of their world-and-life view (or even the absence of one), they are all nevertheless made in the image of God and therefore sense that they have meaning anyway.

But my point is that it is only in Jesus Christ that we know this. Otherwise we might as well say, as the ancients did, “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” This is precisely the manner in which many of our contemporaries are living—and they have empty lives to show for it.

  1. Truth or ignorance. When I mentioned Francis Schaeffer’s statement, “God is there, and he is not silent,” it was for the sake of the statement’s first part: God is there. Now I return to it for the second part, which tells us not merely that God exists but that we can know he exists and that we can know many other things besides. We can know because of God’s authoritative speaking or revelation.

Without the knowledge of God in Jesus Christ the world cannot know anything with real certainty. This must have seemed particularly strange to the Greeks of Paul’s day. The Greeks had produced nearly all the great philosophers, and the ancient world prided itself on their wisdom. Still, the best philosophers knew (at least in part) how ignorant they were. Plato said somewhat wistfully, on one occasion, “Perhaps one day there will come forth a Word out of God who will reveal all things and make everything plain.” But the Greeks did not know where that Word was—until the early preachers of the gospel told them. They remained ignorant. And our world, which has heard the Word proclaimed but has rejected him, has moved in the direction, not of increasing certainty about absolutes, but of uncertainty.

I have frequently said that in our day people no longer even believe in truth, strictly speaking. They speak of truth, but they mean only what is true for me (but not necessarily for you) or what is true now (but not necessarily tomorrow). This means that in the final analysis there is no truth. A philosophy like this is the opposite of revelation, and the ignorance that results is so deep that it does not even know it is ignorance.

  1. Life or oblivion. What is in store after death: eternal life or personal oblivion? Here too Jesus Christ’s coming into the world has made a difference.

What is the one great fear of men and women apart from Jesus Christ? It is death. People fear death for two reasons.

First, they do not know what stands on the far side of that dark portal, if anything. They are ignorant. Francis Bacon was thinking of this when he said, “Men fear death as children fear the dark.”

Second, in spite of their willful ignorance of God, they sense deep in their beings that he is there, that they have offended him, and that beyond the door of death they must give an accounting to him. I think this is what bothered Samuel Johnson when he described his horror at the death of a friend: “At the sign of this last conflict I felt a sensation never known to me before: a confusion of passions, an awful stillness of sorrow, a gloomy terror without a name” (The Rambler, no. 54).

But let me say: Of all the fears people have in the face of death the least to be feared is oblivion—to die and be no more. The reality of facing God is far worse. To face God apart from Christ is to face judgment. Only in Christ can we pass over the dividing line between the kingdom of wrath and condemnation to that of life and light.

  1. Blessing or cursing in this life. I have been speaking of the difference Jesus makes for eternity, but I end by saying that Jesus makes all the difference in this life too. Do you remember that great scene in the book of Joshua in which, in obedience to the remembered command of Moses, Joshua gathered the people of Israel at Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim? The area between the mountains was a natural amphitheater, and the people were to stand on the opposing mountains while the law of God, containing blessings and cursings, was read to them. Mount Ebal was to be the mountain of cursing, and as the curses of God upon all who break his law were read, the people were to say, “Amen.” Mount Gerizim was the mountain of blessing. From this mountain the Levites read the blessings of God which were to be upon all who loved him and kept his commandments.

How were the people to keep them? They had no strength to do it. What were they to do if they did break the commandments? How were they to escape the curses of God which hung over them? In the bottom of that amphitheater, between the two mountains, there was an altar which pointed to the atonement to be made one day by Jesus Christ. That is what would deliver them from the curse and keep them in blessing. Christ alone could do it. Christ alone can bring blessing.

I do not fully understand how he does it, but he does. What was our life b.c. (before Christ)? Wrath and disaster. What is it a.d.? It is the way of mercy and blessing. What a Savior![5]


20 With this verse, we begin a new paragraph with the adversative conjunction “but” (de; NIV, “however”). Such behavior does not characterize you (emphatic hymeis) who have come to “know Christ.” The kind of expression Paul uses here, literally “to learn a person [namely, Christ],” is unparalleled in Greek literature, though its import is clear enough. Paul points his readers back to their initial entry (perhaps the inceptive use of the aorist tense of “learn”) into the way of Christ and thus what it means to be a Christian. Paul implies that they learned that becoming “Christ’s ones” involved a complete break with their former lifestyle. Christians no longer act as they did when they were Gentiles.

21 Expanding what it means to learn Christ, Paul uses a Greek first-class condition—one that assumes the reality of its premise, though it may imply a teasing irony. In other words, if it is true, and surely it is, that they have heard and been taught the truth in Jesus, then they need to acknowledge and live out the instructions they received about living as Christians. At the very least, Paul’s words should lead to a crucial introspection: if they have embraced the way of Christ, are they living it? Why does Paul use the phrase “the truth that is in Jesus”? He said earlier that truth is embodied in “the gospel of your salvation” (1:13; cf. Gal 2:5, 14; 5:7). He assures them that what they learned is the truth and that it resides “in Jesus,” the one who is Truth. As Paul envisions the down-to-earth behavior for those in Christ here, he employs the human name “Jesus” (its only occurrence by itself in the letter), perhaps suggesting the lifestyle of the earthly, historical Jesus as the example to follow. They must no longer live in the ignorant state of “the Gentiles.” Now they must live as Jesus did and as the gospel of Jesus teaches they should.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 177). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1938). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, pp. 211–213). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 173–175). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 159–164). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

[6] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 125–126). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.