Daily Archives: June 9, 2017

June 9, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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The Briefing 06-09-17

Analyzing the media’s reaction to James Comey’s hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee

Stunning the world, Theresa May’s Conservative Party loses overall majority in Britain’s snap electio

The NFL officially opposes gambling. So why did it relocate the Oakland Raiders to Las Vegas?

Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, fought and won the Six Day War 50 years ago this week

Friday Book Recommendation: “Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East”

The post The Briefing 06-09-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 6/9/2017

Magnitude-5.3 earthquake strikes Hawaii’s Big Island
The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake was centered about 11 miles (18 kilometers) southeast of Volcano town on the state’s southernmost island at a depth of 5 miles (8 kilometers.) That’s on the south flank of Kilauea volcano, which has been erupting continuously since 1983.

China “gravely concerned” as teachers reported killed in Pakistan
China said on Friday it was “gravely concerned” at Islamic State claims that the group killed two Chinese teachers it kidnapped in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province last month, where Beijing is investing billions of dollars in infrastructure projects.

Qatar vows no surrender in Gulf crisis as U.S., Kuwait seek solution
Qatar vowed on Thursday to ride out the isolation imposed on it by fellow Arab states over its alleged support for terrorism and said it would not compromise its sovereignty over foreign policy to resolve the region’s biggest diplomatic crisis in years.

Liberman: We are ‘closer than ever’ to deal with Palestinians
“We are far closer to an agreement than ever before,” Liberman told Channel 2 on Thursday. “I hope we will be able to realize this option.” Liberman did not offer any details about the agreement on the table, referring to it only as an “arrangement,” but indicated US President Donald Trump’s administration had played a role in cobbling the pact together and that it would include other regional players.

North Korea says it has tested new anti-ship missile
North Korea said Friday it has test-launched a new type of cruise missile capable of striking U.S. and South Korean warships “at will,” as South Korea found a suspected North Korean drone near the tense border between the rivals. The missiles are the fourth new missile system North Korea has disclosed and tested this year, sending a defiant message that it will continue to pursue a weapons program that has rattled its neighbors and Washington.

Accused leaker wanted to ‘burn the White House down’
Reality Winner appeared before a judge in Augusta, Ga., on Thursday who ordered her to remain jailed until her trial. Prosecutors argued that the 25-year-old might try to flee the U.S. if she was released on bond. They added that Winner wrote in her notebook alleged plans to set the White House on fire, travel to Afghanistan and pledge her allegiance to the Taliban, WSB-TV reported.

NYT ‘Looking Into’ Massive Russia Scoop James Comey Said Is Almost Entirely False
The New York Times is “looking into” whether one of its big Russia scoops is actually true, after former FBI Director James Comey disputed the report in Thursday testimony before Congress

DOJ Says Comey Wasn’t Honest In Senate Hearing
A Department of Justice spokesman denied several claims made by former FBI Director James Comey in a Senate hearing Thursday.

Defense Minister: Closer than ‘ever before’ to agreement with Palestinians
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas could hold direct peace talks for the first time in seven years, Channel 20 said on Thursday night in a report on a three-way Washington meeting with US President Donald Trump scheduled next month. The report comes just two months after Trump began to formally work to bring Israelis and Palestinian back to the negotiating table.

LIVE: Tens of thousands march in Tel Aviv LGBT Pride parade
Tel Aviv’s streets have been transformed into an incredible sea of color as tens of thousands take part in the annual Pride celebrations on Friday…

Israeli, Indian partners team up with Motorola to launch Jerusalem incubator
Aiming to give Jerusalem-based start-ups a global edge, Israeli and Indian partners have teamed up with American data communications giant Motorola Solutions to launch a new incubator. The incubator, led by equity crowdfunding platform OurCrowd, will focus on frontier technologies such as big data, analytics, artificial intelligence, fintech, storage, Internet of things and computer vision, according to the partners.

South Africa: 10,000 Knysna residents evacuated amid fire
Up to 10,000 people have been evacuated from a scenic coastal town in South Africa that has been devastated by wildfires, officials have said. Military equipment was being deployed to douse more than 25 fires in Knysna, they added. At least eight people have been killed in the storms and fires that have been raging in the town and other areas of the Western Cape region.

Juncker: EU needs stronger defence arm
EU nations must step up their military co-operation as they cannot simply rely on the US to defend them, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says. “Our deference to Nato can no longer be used as a convenient alibi to argue against greater European efforts. “We have no other choice than to defend our own interests in the Middle East, in climate change, in our trade agreements,” he said in Prague.

Qatar vows ‘no surrender’ in row with Arab states
Qatar has vowed it will “not surrender” its foreign policy in a row with other Arab states over its alleged connections to extremism. Foreign minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani said he favoured diplomacy to resolve the escalating crisis and that there was no military solution, Reuters reported. Qatar rejects claims it is a leading supporter of Islamist extremism.

Yemen cholera cases pass 100,000 amid ‘unprecedented’ epidemic
The number of suspected cases of cholera resulting from a severe outbreak in Yemen has passed 100,000, the World Health Organization says. A total of 798 deaths associated with the disease have been recorded in 19 out of 22 provinces since 27 April. The charity Oxfam said the epidemic was killing one person almost every hour.

Israel angry Turkish ambassador hosted Islamist at Iftar
Israel recently sent a harsh message to Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, Kemal Ökem, for having hosted the leader of the northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah, at his home for an Iftar dinner at the end of the Ramadan fast last week. Salah is known for his positions that deny the legitimacy of the State of Israel and its rights to the Temple Mount. He was previously sentenced to imprisonment for rioting and inciting to violence and racism.

Russia may seize U.S. property if its own compounds not returned: Kommersant
Russia may seize U.S. diplomatic property in Moscow and complicate life for an Anglo-American school unless Washington hands back two diplomatic compounds in the United States before July, the daily Kommersant newspaper reported on Friday. In December, then U.S. president Barack Obama ordered the expulsion of 35 Russians over what he said was their involvement in hacking last year’s U.S. presidential election, allegations Moscow flatly denies.

China says it is vigilant as two U.S. bombers fly over South China Sea
China said on Friday it was monitoring U.S. military activities in the South China Sea, after two U.S. bombers conducted training flights over the disputed waters. The U.S. Pacific Command said on its website that two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flew a 10-hour training mission from Guam over the South China Sea on Thursday, in conjunction with the Navy’s USS Sterett guided-missile destroyer.

Woman detonates bomb in crowded Friday market in Iraq, killing at least 30
A woman detonated her explosive belt in a market east of the Shi’ite holy city of Kerbala on Friday, killing at least 30 and wounding 35, Iraqi security sources said. Islamic State claimed the attack in the town of Musayab, south of Baghdad, in a statement on its Amaq news agency. It didn’t identify the bomber. A security officer said the assailant was a woman who hid the bomb under the customary full-body veil.

Korea says launch tested ‘new type’ of cruise missile
Pyongyang on Friday hailed the successful test of a new type of surface-to-ship cruise missile, which it said was designed to hit “any enemy group of battleships” that threatened North Korea.

The Thrill Is Gone: Chris Matthews Admits “There’s No ‘There’ There” On Trump-Russia ‘Collusion’
“I’ve always assumed that what Trump was afraid of was that he had said something to Flynn and Flynn could be flipped on that and Flynn would testify against the President that he’d had some conversation with Flynn in terms of dealing with the Russians affirmatively.  And if that’s not the case, where’s the there-there?”

PICTURES: FGM-Linked Muslim Sect Given First Chance to Lay Flowers at London Attack Vigil
Thousands of Londoners gathered Monday in a park near London’s Tower Bridge to express grief over the deaths of those killed by radical Islamic terrorists on Saturday evening. The vigil, led by London mayor Sadiq Khan, saw a procession of Muslims given the opportunity to first, and separately, lay flowers at the scene. …The group is believed to have been from the Bohra sect of Islam, perhaps best known for their adherence to the barbaric practice of female genital mutilation.

Watch Live: UK Election Results – BBC/ITV Forecast ‘Hung Parliament’, Farage Warns “Brexit Is In Trouble”
Conservatives will do slightly better than the exit poll predicted – but will still be just short of an overall majority… Porjection – Conservatives: 322 (4 short of majority, down 9 from 2015), Labour: 261 (up 5 from 2015)

OY VEY: Sea of Galilee, Dangerously Salty, Reported in Danger of Becoming Desolate As Prophesied The Regional Council of the Jordan Valley published its annual report with the disturbing finding that the salinity of the Kinneret (Sea of Galilee) is 30 percent higher than it was just five years ago and the highest it has been in 50 years. This dire situation may be remedied by prayers and good acts, and is described in Jewish sources as an aspect of the pre-Messianic age.

Clinton’s charity confirms Qatar’s $1 million gift while she was at State Dept
The Clinton Foundation has confirmed it accepted a $1 million gift from Qatar while Hillary Clinton was U.S. secretary of state without informing the State Department, even though she had promised to let the agency review new or significantly increased support from foreign governments.


JIM ROGERS: The worst crash in our lifetime is coming, “Later this year or next.”

We still haven’t felt the full wrath of the ghost of 2008. There is still more to pay. Many of us of course already have paid dearly, but the banking system has not paid the way it must. Which means that WE, the non-bankers will pay again.

Keeping powder dry is always smart, if possible. It’s not for many Americans. Which makes any potential crash highly destabilizing. Then add in the current political risk in the USA.

Read More

June 8, 2017

June 8, 2017

GREG COROMBOS — The highly anticipated testimony of former FBI Director James Comey delivered devastating blows to the legal accusations against President Trump Thursday, but a former federal prosecutor says the political damage inflicted by Comey and the overall investigation could end up being a major wound…. (more)


June 8, 2017
PAT BUCHANAN — Pressed by Megyn Kelly on his ties to President Trump, an exasperated Vladimir Putin blurted out, “We had no relationship at all. … I never met him. … Have you all lost your senses over there?” Yes, Vlad, we have…. (more)

June 8, 2017

DAILY CALLER — Loretta Lynch, the former attorney general under Barack Obama, pressured former FBI Director James Comey to downplay the Clinton email server investigation and only refer to it as a “matter,” Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday…. (more)


June 8, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — Those who think that Russia-gate is a witch-hunt or a hoax that will run out of gas need to think again. As we are about to see with the live coverage of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony, this is an opportunity for the media to have enormous fun, generate ratings, and make money bashing another Republican president…. (more)

June 8, 2017

NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump announced on Twitter Wednesday that he will nominate Christopher Wray as the new FBI director. The former assistant attorney general will take the place of former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump fired on May 9…. (more)


June 8, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — With his nomination of Christopher Wray to become the next director of the FBI, President Trump has put Democrats in a bind and made opposition to the pick all but impossible…. (more)

June 8, 2017
BYRON YORK — The special election to replace Republican Tom Price in Georgia’s Atlanta-area 6th Congressional District has become a contemporary politics version of World War I, with both sides dug into fixed positions, both pouring people and money into the effort – – it will be by far the most expensive House race in history – – and no one holding much hope the results will settle anything…. (more)

June 8, 2017
PAUL BEDARD — Booming American businesses are expanding at such a pace that the number of job openings – – 6 million – – has reached an all-time high, according to government statistics…. (more)

June 8, 2017
MICHAEL BARONE — “Too many people are going to college,” writes my American Enterprise Institute colleague Charles Murray. That’s not a response to the mob of students that attacked him and the liberal professor who had invited him to speak back in March at Middlebury College. It’s the title of the third chapter in his 2008 book Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America’s Schools Back to Reality…. (more)

June 8, 2017
ALICIA POWE — It’s perhaps the simplest question in the Seth Rich murder mystery that everyone involved in the case won’t answer: What hospital admitted and treated the DNC staffer before a physician pronounced him dead on that fateful morning of July 10, 2016?… (more)

June 8, 2017
MICHAEL J. NEW — Last month, the Guttmacher Institute released a policy analysis claiming that many state pro-life laws have no scientific basis. The analysis considers various categories of state-level pro-life laws and concludes that 53 percent of women of childbearing age live in a state with at least two restrictions “that conflict with the scientific evidence.” In the news release that accompanied the policy analysis, one author claims that “the antiabortion movement has long been an evidence-free zone and many of its signature initiatives and proposals are devoid of any factual foundation.”… (more)

June 7, 2017

MCCLATCHY DC — A small revolt in corners of the Republican Party bedevils plans for reauthorization this year of surveillance capabilities considered the “crown jewels” of the U.S. intelligence community…. (more)


June 7, 2017
NEWSMAX — President Donald Trump’s approval rating is slightly higher than Bill Clinton’s at 138 days into the Democrat’s first term in the White House, according to poll averages reported Tuesday…. (more)

June 7, 2017
NEWSMAX — The Democratic Party has become “a sideshow circus-car full of clowns” hell bent in taking down President Donald Trump rather than rebuilding its weakened power base, onetime Republican super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff told Newsmax TV on Tuesday…. (more)

June 7, 2017
ART MOORE — London Mayor Sadiq Khan – – who wants the U.K. to cancel Donald Trump’s upcoming state visit because the president’s “policies go against everything we stand for” – – once tried to overturn Britain’s ban on Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan…. (more)

June 7, 2017
TIMOTHY P. CARNEY — When President Trump announced American withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accord, the criticisms of him were hardly muted, often hysterical and typically flawed. Among the many vapid attacks on Trump’s decision, however, the worst was that big business opposed him…. (more)

June 7, 2017
BOB UNRUH — A massive worldwide malware attack called “Fireball” is being reported by experts who estimate it already has infected and taken over 250 million computers. And it’s growing…. (more)

June 7, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — On the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day invasion, black and white photos newly rendered in color bring history to life. Brazilian artist Marina Amaral used Photoshop to color both iconic and unfamiliar images of the largest amphibious invasion in history for the June 6 anniversary…. (more)

June 6, 2017
PUBLIUS HULDAH — “…of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants.” Federalist No. 1 (5th para), Alexander Hamilton…. (more)

June 6, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — One of the men responsible for Saturday’s terror attack in London previously appeared in a 2016 BBC documentary titled “The Jihadis Next Door” and was known to authorities. The Metropolitan Police confirmed Monday the identities of two men involved in last weekend’s massacre near London Bridge, which killed at least seven and wounded dozens of others. Khuram Shazad Butt, 27, and Rachid Redouane, 30, were both shot and killed by police after mowing down victims with a vehicle and stabbing others…. (more)

June 6, 2017
WESLEY PRUDEN — If Robert Mueller concludes, after a $100 million investigation into whether Donald Trump and his campaign colluded with the Russians to rig the 2016 election, that there was no “there” there, then what? Will the liberals then organize a lynch mob to go after Mr. Mueller? He can’t count on escaping a little tar and feathers, if not the rope. The Democrats are already drooling in anticipation…. (more)

June 6, 2017
CHERYL CHUMLEY — London is in chaos. And the left’s response to this latest Islam-tied terror attack on innocence and the West? Condemn President Donald Trump – – not the terrorists. It’s such a skewed, dangerous way of thinking. Here’s how it goes…. (more)

June 6, 2017
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — The Western schizophrenia about radical Islam is on full display in Britain, in the aftermath of the latest jihadist atrocity, the third in just the past three months…. (more)

June 5, 2017
ALAN KEYES — So, the other shoe has finally dropped on Mr. Trump’s pledge to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, as U.S. law requires. Like Barack Obama and all the other presidents before him, he has signed a waiver postponing compliance with that requirement, which the law also allows…. (more)

Mid-Day Snapshot

June 9, 2017

Comey vs. Trump: Obstructing the Truth

A thorough review of Comey’s testimony, its background, and why it’s important.

The Foundation

“Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.” —Samuel Adams (1775)

Purpose Driven Dismantling of Christianity

Posted below is part 3 of a column I wrote for RenewAmerica in 2011.  In it I revealed that religious syncretism (a blending of many different belief systems) had virtually reshaped the visible Church.  I wasn’t alone in pointing out this fact.  There were many others in the online apologetics and discernment ministries who were sounding the alarm. In light of what is going on in many churches, it is clear that the warning cry of “discerners” has been largely ignored and now the visible church is in considerable disarray. Not only were we not listened to, we’ve been marginalized, and in some cases hated, for exposing the apostasy that has changed the face of evangelicalism.

The dismantling of historic, orthodox, biblical Christianity has continued at break-neck speed to the point where the visible Church has become a haven for hirelings and goats who’ve set about butting the sheep out the church’s back door.

My primary focus for part 3 of the series is to show how Gnosticism and Man-centered Psychology has; gotten a firm grip on Christendom.  How did this happen?  In large part it happened because undiscerning Church leaders thought it was a good idea to adopt the Rick Warren “Purpose Driven” marketing strategy to grow their churches.

This short intro sets the stage for part 3 of “Purpose Driven Dismantling of Christianity.”

This overview of what I have termed Syncretism Stew shows a diabolically inspired supermarket of truth and error in the postmodern Church.  What we’re witnessing is a shopping cart overflowing with false teaching.  Aisle 1-Mysticism Madness; aisle 2-Charismatic Confusion; aisle 3-Pentecostal Pandemonium; aisle 4- Enlightened Emergents; aisle 5- Purpose-driven Pragmatism; aisle 6-Secular Strategies…to suck in seekers; aisle 7-Twelve-steps…to “group think”; aisle 8-Preposterous Pop Psychology; aisle 9- Discernment Disintegration; aisle 10-Predatory Pastors.  On and on it goes.

The Body of Christ trusts its Shepherds to feed them healthy nutritious foods, yet many of them are literally starving their sheep to death!  A diet of “Bible Light” does not nourish the soul – it causes spiritual malnutrition!  A shepherd’s job is to lead the flock in Christian life and faith.

View article →


Saddleback Youth Worker Ruben Meulenberg Charged With 5 Felony Counts – Saddleback Remaining Tight Lipped on Staff Issue

On May 30, CRN posted a piece by Lighthouse Trails titled “Saddleback Church Statement Appears to Downplay Role of Molester Ruben Meulenberg.”  In it we stated:

Saddleback downplayed alleged child molester Ruben Meulenberg’s role at the church and it appears that he has been quite involved at Saddleback….and so are his parents, Abraham and Marieke. In fact, Abraham is a pastor in charge of interfaith outreach and was involved with Rick Warren’s efforts to form alliances with the Muslim community. So it seems there could be more here than meets the eye.”

As of this date, Rick Warren has not made a public statement.  Since the news broke, LHT has been following the story.  Here’s an update:

Ruben Meulenberg, the youth worker at Saddleback Church who was arrested for allegedly molesting two 14-year-old boys at Saddleback, has been charged with 5 felonies related to the molestation of the boys. At least one of the boys was 13 when the abuse began.

The following public information on the case has been released by the Orange County District Attorney’s office:

Case #17HF070 

  • Three felony counts of lewd acts on a child
  • Two felony counts of lewd acts on a child under 14-year-old
  • the above charges are given a Sentencing Enhancement for multiple victims (source)

Circumstances of the Case * At the time of the crime, Meulenberg is accused of being a volunteer youth mentor at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest in a position of trust with access to children. * Between May 2016 and May 2017, Meulenberg is accused of committing lewd acts on 13-year-old boys John Doe 1 and John Doe 2, both on and off church property. * Between May 18, 2017, and May 22, 2017, the defendant is again accused of sexually molesting the victims, who were then 14 years old. * On May 24, 2017, a Saddleback Church representative reported suspected inappropriate conduct to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department (OCSD), who investigated this case. * Meulenberg was arrested by OCSD on Thursday, May 25, 2017. * Prosecutor: Deputy District Attorney Courtney Thom, Sexual Assault Unit

View article →


Featured Blogs


Abandoned Faith: A Lost Generation?

There have always been problems with communication and understanding between generations. Every younger generation that comes along is viewed with skepticism by more elderly generations. But the gap in communication and understanding between today’s millennials and older people is in some ways like nothing we have ever experienced.

While it might be easy to just think they’ll grow out of it, it is important to understand that this younger generation faces serious challenges many of us have not faced; and they been raised in a public education system and media presence that has caused them to become skeptical about life as a whole.

We’re joined by a Christian apologist, researcher and author who has studied millennials extensively: Dr. Alex McFarland. He has written a new book Abandoned Faith: Why Millennials Are Walking Away and How You Can Lead Them Home, about the questions and struggles of millennials and how we can reach them with the truth and hope of Jesus Christ.

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Religious Freedom Slipping Away

Today we cover two court cases that could have permanent damaging effects on religious freedom for Christians in America. They are blatant attempts to muzzle Christians by restricting how they can earn a living and provide for their families. If Progressives are victorious in these court cases, religious freedom as we have known it will become a thing of the past.

We’re also joined by Tina Maria Griffin of Counter Culture Mom to discuss the growing influence of Hollywood, television and video games on our children and how we protect them.

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Five Hundred Years After The Reformation

This year, 2017 marks the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther’s Reformation Movement: An event with ground shaking consequences for Christianity and the world. Luther spoke out boldly against the corruptions he saw in the Roman Catholic Church at that time, and changed the world of Christianity by the stances he took. Today we look at Luther’s background and life as well as a few other individuals who were influential in the reformation of Christianity and getting the Holy Bible into the hands of the people. Pastor Mike Abendroth of No Compromise Radio, who just recently took a group of Christians on a tour of Reformation cites in Europe, joins us to discuss its affect on modern Christianity.

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A World Preparing to Kneel Before Anti-Christ

It is very difficult to escape the reality that Satan’s influence is growing by leaps and bounds in the days in which we live. The rise of Islamic terrorism, a religion clearly defined as a religion of anti-christ in the bible, along with the growing hedonism all around us are clear indications that mankind has decided we do not need God, and we would prefer to do things our way. And we should not be surprised at what we see because God’s Word warned us all these things would increase in the times leading up to the Lord’s return.

America certainly has enough of its own moral and spiritual problems, but this morning we focus on events in Europe and worldwide that are preparing the way for the “New World Order” where Satan’s puppet, anti-christ, will be worshiped as the savior of humanity, and most will blindly follow up while turning their backs on the one who died on a cross so we could be reconciled to God.

Pastor Carl Gallups joins us to look at a world lining up to reject God and embrace its true enemy: The one who seeks to destroy the eternal souls of all men.

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ZeroHedge Frontrunning: June 09

  • UK voters deal May a crushing blow (Read More)
  • May Fights to Remain U.K. Premier After Election Debacle (Read More)
  • Warning of U.S. desertion, EU chief calls for European defense (Read More)
  • EU Turns Schadenfreude Up to Maximum After May Election Disaster (Read More)
  • Dollar cleans up as UK election shock stuns sterling (Read More)
  • Trump tweets on Comey, declares ‘total vindication’ (Read More)
  • Baghdad rejects Kurds’ move to press for independence unilaterally (Read More)
  • Oil’s price fall stalls despite supply glut (Read More)
  • Once Stalwart Oil Stock Bulls Starting to Say Enough Is Enough (Read More)
  • Feud over Qatar deepens conflicts across Arab world (Read More)
  • Venezuela Bond Repudiation Jitters Grow After Goldman Sachs Deal (Read More)
  • Saudis Have a Lot to Lose in Qatar Fight, Even If They Win (Read More)
  • Arab powers adds Qatar-linked people, groups to blacklists (Read More)
  • Trump calls ex-FBI director Comey a ‘leaker’ after testimony (Read More)
  • Central Banks Are Poised to Start Rowing in One Direction Again (Read More)
  • China says it is vigilant as two U.S. bombers fly over South China Sea (Read More)
  • Russia may seize U.S. property if its own compounds not returned (Read More)
  • Verizon to Cut 2,100 Jobs at Yahoo, AOL After Merger (Read More)
  • Saks Owner Hudson’s Bay to Cut About 2,000 Jobs (Read More)
  • Torn by War on ISIS, Mosul Risks Lasting Divisions (Read More)
  • Here’s How to Kill Electric Cars (Read More)
  • South Korea finds apparent North Korean drone near border (Read More)
  • SoftBank to buy robotics businesses from Alphabet Inc (Read More)
  • Bain replacing KKR in Japan government-backed bid for Toshiba chip unit: sources (Read More)
  • South Korea’s Stance on U.S. Missile-Defense System Hasn’t Shifted (Read More)

This ‘n’ That

  • There are a few things we need to know about the formation of the biblical canon.
  • I haven’t seen the actual data from this study, but if this blurb is true, it could be of interest to the many moms who have stripped dairy from their children’s diets.
  • Did you remember that June 6 was the anniversary of D-Day?
  • I’m actually not a huge fan of Mary Poppins, but I still think they need to just leave this classic alone.
  • Ah, postmodernism. It’s the worldview that is only consistent in its inconsistency.
  • Here’s a good deal on Calvin’s commentaries on the Psalms.
  • “One of the primary purposes of the home is to cultivate Christlike virtues that animate who we are in private and facilitate what we do in public.”
  • Your unbelieving friend may not be miserable without Christ, but he or she still needs Christ and His gospel of grace.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Wait—I already follow the Pope on Twitter. Does that still count?
  • This is tricky in more ways than one, especially with the details that are shared in this article. One doesn’t want to affirm this girl in her sin, yet should rejoice if she is truly repentant and has chosen life for her child. There is a way to balance this without celebrating sin, and without refusing grace to a repentant sinner.
  • Well, I hate to say “I told you so,” but
  • There is freedom in Christ:

Top Headlines – 6/9/2017

Liberman: We are ‘closer than ever’ to deal with Palestinians

All sides must work to revive hope for a just Israel-Palestine peace

Aide: Abbas willing to temporarily shelve settlement freeze demand

Israel said set to start work on barrier against Gaza tunnels

Red Cross calls on Hamas to clarify fate of Israelis held in Gaza

Arab Israelis charged in Hamas plot to assassinate IDF officer

US busts Hezbollah plot to attack Israelis in New York, Panama

During the Six-Day War, some of the Arab countries at war with Israel treated their Jewish populations terribly, causing them to leave en masse

Trump effect rocking the Middle East

Trump’s $110 billion Saudi arms deal is ‘fake news,’ officials tell US think tank

Saudi Arabia, allies issue Qatar-linked terror blacklist

Qatar denies terror links, rejects ‘blockade’ by Arab states

Qatar vows ‘no surrender’ in row with Arab states

‘There is no trust’: Gulf states give up hope on Qatar

Hackers target al-Jazeera as Qatar crisis deepens

Clinton’s charity confirms Qatar’s $1 million gift while she was at State Dept

Egypt accuses Qatar of paying huge ransom to IS-linked group

Isis marks Ramadan with wave of violence across half the world

Philippines says Islamist fighters on back foot in besieged city

Islamic State says it killed two Chinese teachers kidnapped in Pakistan

ISIS Has Killed Hundreds of Civilians in Mosul, U.N. Says

Scorpions the new threat for displaced Mosul civilians

US shoots down pro-Assad drone that opened fire on coalition forces

Al-Shabab fighters storm military base in Somalia

The Tehran attack makes it clear: we’re on the same side as Iran against Isis

US Senate proceeds with Iran sanctions bill hours after attack

America’s Descent Into Middle Eastern-Style Conspiracy-Theory Madness

Shock exit poll shows May losing majority in British elections

May’s gamble on a snap British vote backfires spectacularly, as losses trigger calls to step down

Theresa May won’t quit despite election setback – reports

UK elections: Hung parliament could jeopardize Brexit plan

Pound falls sharply after exit poll signals blow to May

Hung parliament confirmed in UK as pressure mounts on May to resign

A ‘hung parliament’ in Britain? What happens next

UK election has Democrats hoping they can send Trump a strong message

Restoring credibility? Trump’s slate of 11 judicial nominees could shake up courts

Did Trump’s actions amount to obstruction of justice and could he be impeached?

Comey testimony: Ex-FBI boss says Trump team lied, but stops short of obstruction charge

In striking testimony, Comey exposes deep distrust in Trump, says administration lied

White House hits back at Comey: ‘The president is not a liar’

Trump lawyer denies president demanded loyalty, calls Comey a ‘leaker’

Comey says he had friend leak Trump memo to spark probe

Trump’s lawyer slams Comey’s memo leak, suggests ‘authorities’ should investigate

Comey cracks credibility of Lynch on Clinton email case, Sessions on Russia investigation

Stocks fall flat after Comey testimony yields no surprises

House votes to ease Wall Street rules put in place after 2008 financial crisis

Amazon Has Secretly Become a Giant Bank

The Democratic Party Is in Worse Shape Than You Thought

Ossoff raises another $15M in Georgia 6th, setting new fundraising record

Trump backs permanent snooping powers he once criticized as abusive

United Nations summit seeks to save humanity with artificial intelligence

N. Korea says launch tested ‘new type’ of cruise missile

North Korea Dreams of Turning Out the Lights – Detonating a nuke above Seoul – or L.A. – would sow chaos.

California Prepares for Solar Power Loss During the Great Eclipse

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits near Pagan, Northern Mariana Islands

5.3 earthquake strikes Hawaii’s Big Island

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Tocache Nuevo, Peru

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Tocopilla, Chile

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 23,000ft

Bezymianny volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 23,000ft

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

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 14,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 13,500ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 10,000ft

Macron trolls Trump with ‘make planet great again’ site

China rolls out green carpet for California on climate – a signal that Beijing is ready to go around the White House in the battle against climate change

Tick-Borne Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever May Have Killed a 2-Year-Old Girl

Yemen cholera cases pass 100,000 amid ‘unprecedented’ epidemic

Culls, poultry transport ban as S. Korea fights bird flu outbreak

Virginia imam placed on leave after endorsing female genital mutilation

An LGBT group says it was barred from a Pride parade because it supports Trump

Activists say Capital Pride overtaken by corporations and rich gay men

79% of Israelis back gay marriage or civil unions

Security tight as LGBTQ community set to march in Tel Aviv

Pro-LGBT Group Wants Southern Baptists to Remove Homosexuality, Transgenderism From ‘Sin List’

Public school opens up rooms for Muslim prayer during Ramadan. Atheist group calls it ‘reasonable.’

An Illinois Town Denied This Muslim Congregation A Mosque. Now It Owes Them $580,000

Michael Horton – Six Things We Need to Know about the Formation of the Bible

Trump is Infallible? Don’t Second Guess President Trump says Steve Strang CEO of Charisma Magazine

Leaving the NAR Church: Lizzy’s story (Part 1)      Lizzy’s Story (Part 2)

Elizabeth Breaks Free of Beth Moore: A Testimony

Married Pastor Charged in Prostitution Sting Apologizes

Bernie Sanders’s Religious Test for Christians in Public Office

The United Methodist Church has appointed a transgender deacon

Tri-Faith Initiative: Christian, Jewish, Muslim Congregations to Share Worship Home in Nebraska

Parents Horrified by Man’s Risque’ Drag Performance at Children’s Talent Show

Muslim ‘safe space’ plan sparks row in Australia

Water, Electricity Cut at House Churches in China for Refusing Install of Surveillance Equipment

Posted: 09 Jun 2017 06:29 AM PDT

Disputes over government surveillance devices in house churches continue in China’s coastal Zhejiang as officials cut power and water supplies to several area churches and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Jacob’s Lambs spotted for first time in 2,000 Years, Born in Native Land

Posted: 09 Jun 2017 06:15 AM PDT

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…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Defiant Missouri Mayor Refuses to Take Down Giant, 60-Foot Cross That’s Been Up Since 1930

Posted: 09 Jun 2017 06:11 AM PDT

A Missouri city is refusing atheist activists demands that officials take down a large, lighted cross that has been on display inside one of its local parks…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Massive crack opens in the earth in Manipur, Destroying villages

Posted: 09 Jun 2017 06:08 AM PDT

A massive earth crack that developed Sunday morning, June 4, 2017 in the Indian state of Manipur is widening with every passing hour, threatening several villages in the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

23 explosions at Fuego volcano create disrupting communications in Guatemala

Posted: 09 Jun 2017 05:55 AM PDT

The Fuego volcano has erupted 23 times, 4 of which really strongly sending ash plumes 4,400-4,500 m. Asl. The heavy rains falling on Santiaguito and…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

PROPHECY WATCH: Are We Watching Ezekiel 36:24 Come to Pass Before Our Eyes?

Posted: 09 Jun 2017 05:48 AM PDT

A group of Ethiopian Falash Mura arrived at Ben Gurion Airport on Tuesday, the first group in a new wave of aliyah (immigration to Israel)….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Unborn Babies Recognize and Interact With ‘Faces’ While in the Womb

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 08:11 PM PDT

Researchers at a U.K. university say they’ve found evidence that unborn babies have a penchant for looking at and responding to faces — or, at…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

LGBT Group Demanding Christian Mom’s Facebook Page Be Banned Immediately!

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 08:07 PM PDT

Elizabeth Johnston, also known as “The Activist Mommy” is no stranger to controversy.  The popular Christian vlogger often posts videos on social media about the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Daughter has baby with stepdad so her mother can be a parent again at 47

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 07:54 PM PDT

A woman has had a child with her stepfather to grant her mother’s wish to have another baby. Jacky Edwards, 47, had been unable to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Two U.S. Citizens Arrested for Ties to Hezbollah…

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 07:48 PM PDT

Two naturalized U.S. citizens have been arrested on charges related to activities on behalf of Hezbollah, a designated terrorist organization based in Lebanon.  Ali Kourani,…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korea Dreams of Turning Out the Lights for America!

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 07:43 PM PDT

Conventional wisdom holds that it will be years before North Korea can credibly threaten the United States with a nuclear attack. Kim Jong Un’s scientists…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pro-Trump gays banned from pride parade

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 07:39 PM PDT

Those who preach tolerance and equality are normally the least tolerant and least equal of all. That’s why I was not terribly surprised to learn…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Priest Warns Satanic Temple’s Memorial in Minnesota Could Victimize, Lead Children Into Satanism

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 11:17 AM PDT

A Roman Catholic priest has warned that if the Satanic Temple erects its memorial to dead soldiers in Belle Plaine’s Veterans Memorial Park in Minnesota, it…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

FALLING AWAY: Scottish Episcopal Church officially approves gay marriage

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 11:09 AM PDT

The Scottish Episcopal Church has voted to allow gay couples to marry in church. It makes it the first major Christian church in the UK…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Magnitude 5.1 Earthquake Shakes Up Hawaii

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 10:59 AM PDT

Reports are indicating that a large earthquake has struck near the Volcano region on the Big Island, but there was no tsunami threat, according to…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Pro-LGBT Group demanding Southern Baptists remove Homosexuality and Transgenderism from ‘Sin List’

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 10:52 AM PDT

Faith in America, a pro-LGBT organization which will be protesting at the annual gathering of the Southern Baptist Convention in Phoenix, Arizona, next week, recently…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Religious Scholar Claims Trump Is ‘Most Stunning Example of the Success of the Prosperity Gospel,’

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 10:41 AM PDT

A religion scholar who studies the prosperity gospel argued that Donald Trump represents the “most stunning example” of the success of this theology. At the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Senator Bernie Sanders Attacks Trump Appointee for Christian Views

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 10:37 AM PDT

Vermont Senator and former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders recently attacked a Trump administration appointee because he wrote a blog post expressing his belief that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Texas Governor Signs New Ban on ‘Dismemberment Abortion’ — and the Reaction is Volcanic

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 10:30 AM PDT

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a controversial new law into effect that will crack down on “dismemberment abortion,” making the form of pregnancy termination illegal…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RUMORS OF WAR: Japan Urging nuclear bunkers as Kim Jong-un carries out more missile tests

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 10:24 AM PDT

Japanese MPs are demanding more missile shelters and increased evacuation drills as fears of an imminent attack from North Korea continue to grow.  The ruling…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

ALERT: ISIS warns Muslims to avoid ‘gathering places of Crusaders’…

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 10:18 AM PDT

A pro-ISIS news agency has told followers to stay away from the ‘gathering places of the Crusaders’ as it warns that ‘thousands of lonely lions’…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Maine high school becomes first in U.S. to get “sports hijabs”

Posted: 08 Jun 2017 10:14 AM PDT

Muslim student athletes at one U.S. high school no longer have to be slowed down by worries that their headscarves might fall off.  Deering High…

Read more at End Time Headlines.


What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


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June 9, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Parable of the Hidden Treasure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the third place, the basic honesty of the man is testified to by the fact that, had he been dishonest, he would simply have taken the treasure without any thought of buying the field. But he did not even use part of the treasure to buy the field; rather, he sells all that he has, and buys that field.[1]


The parable of the hidden treasure (13:44)

Overview

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

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

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

Commentary

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

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

Two alternative interpretations must be dismissed.

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

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

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

June 9 – Avoiding Spiritual Delusion

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

✧✧✧

It’s a delusion to think you can hear God’s Word, then disobey it without cost.

Matthew 7:21–23 records the tragic results of spiritual delusion. Jesus says, “Not every one who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father, who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’”

Jesus made a clear distinction between those who merely claim to be Christians and those who truly are. The difference is, true believers do the will of the Father. In the words of James, they are doers of the Word, not merely hearers who delude themselves.

“Hearers” in James 1:22 translates a Greek word that speaks of auditing a class. Auditing students attend class and listen to the instructor but don’t do any work. Consequently, they don’t receive credit for the course. The phrase “delude themselves” speaks of being victimized by one’s own faulty reasoning.

People who listen to God’s Word but never obey it are spiritual auditors who delude themselves by thinking that hearing the Word is all God requires of them. Unfortunately, many churches are full of such people. They attend services and hear the sermons, but their lives never seem to change. They’re content to hear the Word but never apply it. Like those whom Jesus condemned in Matthew 7, they’ve chosen religious activities over true faith in Christ.

How tragic to think you’re saved, only to hear, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness” (Matt. 7:23). That will never happen if you’re a doer of the Word.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Take advantage of every opportunity to respond to the Word in specific ways. Ask God for His grace to keep you faithful to that goal.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 7:13–29. ✧ How did Jesus describe false prophets? ✧ How can you discern a false from a true prophet? ✧ To what did Jesus liken those who hear His words and act on them? Why?[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. 173). 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 9 – WE ALL STAND DAILY IN THE MERCY OF GOD

Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

HEBREWS 4:16

Although God wants His people to be holy as He is holy, He does not deal with us according to the degree of our holiness but according to the abundance of His mercy.

Honesty requires us to admit this!

We do believe in justice and we do believe in judgment. We believe the only reason mercy triumphs over judgment is that God, by a divine, omniscient act of redemption, fixed it so man could escape justice and live in the sea of mercy! The justified man, the man who believes in Jesus Christ, born anew and now a redeemed child of God, lives in that mercy always!

The unjust man, however—the unrepentant sinner lives in it now in a lesser degree, but the time will come when he will face the judgment of God. Though he had been kept by the mercy of God from death, from insanity, from disease, he can violate that mercy, turn his back on it and walk into judgment. Then it is too late!

Let us pray with humility and repentance for we stand in the mercy of God. What an example we have set for us by the life and faith and spirit of the old Puritan saint, Thomas Hooker, as his death approached.

Those around his bedside said, “Brother Hooker, you are going to receive your reward.”

“No, no!” he breathed. “I go to receive mercy!”[1]


4:16 Now the gracious invitation is extended: draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. Our confidence is based on the knowledge that He died to save us and that He lives to keep us. We are assured of a hearty welcome because He has told us to come.

The people in OT days could not draw near to Him. Only the high priest could approach Him, and then only on one day of the year. We can go into His presence at any time of the day or night and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. His mercy covers the things we should not have done, and His grace empowers us to do what we should do but do not have the power to do.

Morgan writes helpfully:

I am never tired of pointing out that the Greek phrase translated “in time of need” is a colloquialism of which “in the nick of time” is the exact equivalent. “That we may receive mercy and find grace to help in the nick of time”—grace just when and where I need it. You are attacked by temptation. At the moment of assault, you look to Him, and the grace is there to help in the nick of time. There is no postponement of your petition until the evening hour of prayer. But there in the city street with the flaming temptation in front of you, turn to Christ with a cry for help, and the grace will be there in the nick of time.

Up to this point, Jesus has been shown to be superior to the prophets, the angels, and Moses. We now turn to the important theme of priesthood to see that Christ’s high priesthood is of a superior order to Aaron’s.

When God gave the law to Moses on Mount Sinai, He instituted a human priesthood by which the people might draw near to Him. He decreed that the priests must be descended from the tribe of Levi and from the family of Aaron. This order is known as the Levitical or Aaronic priesthood.

Another divinely ordained priesthood is mentioned in the OT, that of the patriarch Melchizedek. This man lived in the days of Abraham, long before the law was given, and served both as a king and a priest. In the passage before us the author will show that the Lord Jesus Christ is a priest after the order of Melchizedek, and that this order is superior to the Aaronic priesthood.

In the first four verses we have a description of the Aaronic priest. Then in verses 5–10 Christ’s fitness as a priest is detailed, mostly by way of contrast.[2]


16. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

What encouraging words! The writer throughout his epistle exhorts the readers numerous times, but in this particular verse he has a special word for us. This time he does not exhort believers to rectify their way of life; he commends us for coming in prayer to God and urges us to do so confidently.

  • “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence.” The invitation to approach the throne of grace implies that the readers are already doing this. The author also uses the same verb in Hebrews 10:22 (“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith”). He later repeats the same invitation in slightly different wording (see Heb. 7:25; 10:1; 11:6; 12:18, 22).

The verb approach may have a religious connotation, because it often referred to the priests who in their cultic service approached God with sacrifices (Lev. 9:7; 21:17, 21; 22:3; Num. 18:3). In Hebrews 4:16 the writer urges us to come near to the throne of grace in prayer, for the only sacrifice a believer can bring is a broken and a contrite heart (Ps. 51:17). The great high priest has brought the supreme sacrifice in offering himself on the cross on behalf of his people. The merciful and faithful high priest invites the weak and tempted sinner to come to the throne of grace.

What is meant by the phrase throne of grace? This is an explicit reference to the kingship of the Son of God (Heb. 1:2–4). Jesus sits at the right hand of God and has been given full authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). But the word grace implies that the reference is also to the priesthood of Christ. The sinner who comes to the throne of grace in repentance and faith indeed finds the forgiving grace of Jesus.

Moreover, we are exhorted to come to the throne with confidence; that is, we may come boldly (Heb. 3:6; 10:19, 35), not rashly or in fear of judgment, but “in full confidence, openness to God and in the hope of the fullness of the glory of God.” Jesus invites his people to approach freely, without hesitation. He holds out the golden scepter, as it were, and says, “Come!”

  • “So that we may receive mercy and find grace.” Although the terms mercy and grace are often interpreted as being synonyms, their difference ought to be noted. Westcott makes the distinction succinctly:

Man needs mercy for past failure, and grace for present and future work. There is also a difference as to the mode of attainment in each case. Mercy is to be “taken” as it is extended to man in his weakness; grace is to be “sought” by man according to his necessity.

The mercy of God is directed to sinners in misery or distress; they receive God’s compassion when they approach him. And whereas God’s mercy extends to all his creatures (Ps. 145:9), his grace, as the writer of Hebrews indicates in Hebrews 4:16, extends to all who approach the throne of God. Mercy is characterized as God’s tender compassion; grace, as his goodness and love.

  • “To help us in our time of need.” Help is given at the right moment in the hour of need. The author is not saying that the help is constant, but rather that it alleviates the need of the moment. That need may be material, physical, or spiritual. When we call on the name of the Lord in faith and approach the throne of God, he will hear and answer. He stands ready to help (see Heb. 2:18).

This aid, in the form of grace, comes when temptation seems to sway us. God provides the means to find a way out of our temptations. God is faithful (1 Cor. 10:13).[3]


His Perfect Provision

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. (4:16)

The One who understands us perfectly will also provide for us perfectly. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Jesus Christ knows our temptations and will lead us out of them.

Come to God’s Throne of Grace

Again, the Holy Spirit appeals to those who are yet undecided about accepting Christ as their Savior. They should not only keep from going back into Judaism, but they should hold on to their confession of Christ and, finally—and necessarily—go on to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.

Most ancient rulers were unapproachable by the common people. Some would not even allow their highest-ranking officials to come before them without permission. Queen Esther risked her life in approaching King Ahasuerus without invitation, even though she was his wife (Esther 5:1–2). Yet any penitent person, no matter how sinful and undeserving, may approach God’s throne at any time for forgiveness and salvation—confident that he will be received with mercy and grace.

By Christ’s sacrifice of Himself, God’s throne of judgment is turned into a throne of grace for those who trust in Him. As the Jewish high priests once a year for centuries had sprinkled blood on the mercy seat for the people’s sins, Jesus shed His blood once and for all time for the sins of everyone who believes in Him. That is His perfect provision.

The Bible speaks much of God’s justice. But how terrible for us if He were only just, and not also gracious. Sinful man deserves death, the sentence of justice; but he needs salvation, the gift of grace. It is to the very throne of this grace that any person can now come with confidence and assurance. It is the throne of grace because grace is dispensed there.

How can anyone reject such a High Priest, such a Savior—who not only permits us to come before His throne for grace and help, but pleads with us to come in confidence? His Spirit says, “Come boldly all the way to God’s throne that has been turned into a throne of grace because of Jesus. Come all the way up, receive grace and mercy when you need it—before it is too late and your heart is hard and God’s ‘today’ is over.” The time of need is now.

What a High Priest we have. He sympathizes and He saves. What more could He do?[4]


16 Verses 14–15 have set side by side the two essentials for the perfect high priest: to be in the position of ultimate authority with God in heaven, and yet also to have a personal knowledge of our human condition. No earthly priest could offer the first, and no angel the second, but in Jesus we have both. So there can be no barrier to the parrēsia (GK 4244), “confidence” or lack of inhibition, with which we can approach God (cf. 10:19–22, where the same word parrēsia is used). In the OT, the priests alone were entitled to “approach” the sanctuary, but now through our great high priest all of us can fearlessly approach God himself. Of course we must not forget the absolute holiness and majesty of the God who “lives in unapproachable light” (1 Ti 6:16), but through Jesus we have come to know that the throne of majesty is also a “throne of grace,” a place of welcome, not of rebuff, where “mercy” and “grace” are freely available through the high priest who has gone there to intercede for his people (7:25). This theme of access to the presence of God will be graphically developed in 12:18–24. And its relevance is not only to our ultimate acceptance before God when this earthly life is finished but also to the present crises of life on earth; in such “time of need,” too, effective “help” is there for the asking.[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. 2170). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, pp. 126–127). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 114–115). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 73). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

JUNE 9 – WHY SETTLE DOWN?

That ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.

Ephesians 3:19

Why should a Christian “settle down” as soon as he has come to know the Lord?

I blame faulty exposition of the New Testament for stopping many Christians dead in their tracks, causing them to shrug off any suggestion that there is still spiritual advance and progress beckoning them on.

It is the position of some would-be teachers that everyone who comes into the kingdom of God by faith immediately obtains all there is of God’s spiritual provision.

I believe that such a teaching is as deadly as cyanide to the individual Christian life. It kills all hope of spiritual advance and causes many believers to adopt what I call “the creed of contentment.”

I am sure you agree with me that there is always real joy in the heart of the person who has become a child of God. Sound teaching of the Word will then hold out the goal of moving forward, emulating the Apostle Paul’s desire to become a special kind of Christian!

Lord, there are several areas in my spiritual life in which I would like to move forward. Guide me in this process through Your Word and through Your Church.[1]


3:19 The apostle’s next request is that the saints might know by experience the knowledge-surpassing love of Christ. They could never explore it fully, because it is an ocean without shores, but they could learn more and more about it from day to day. And so he prays for a deep, experimental knowledge and enjoyment of the wonderful love of our wonderful Lord.

The climax in this magnificent prayer is reached when Paul prays that you may be filled with (lit. unto, Gk. eis) all the fullness of God. All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in the Lord Jesus (Col. 2:9). The more He dwells in our hearts by faith, the more we are filled unto all the fullness of God. We could never be filled with all the fullness of God. But it is a goal toward which we move.

And yet having explained this, we must say there are depths of meaning here we have not reached. As we handle the Scriptures, we are aware that we are dealing with truths that are greater than our ability to understand or explain. We can use illustrations to throw light on this verse, for example, the thimble dipped in the ocean is filled with water, but how little of the ocean is in the thimble! Yet when we have said all this, the mystery remains, and we can only stand in awe at God’s word and marvel at its infinity.[2]


19b. in order that you may be filled to all the fulness of God. See also on 4:13. In other words, the knowledge just described is transforming in character: “But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). To contemplate the glory of Christ’s love means to be increasingly transformed into that image. In one sense that process of transformation will cease at the moment of death. At the very moment when the soul of the believer enters heaven, a great change will take place, and he, who a moment before was still a sinner, a saved sinner, will be a sinner no more, but will behold God’s face in righteousness. He will then be absolutely perfect, completely sinless, in every respect obedient to the Father’s will (Matt. 6:10; Rev. 21:27). For “all the saints” it will cease, in the sense indicated, at Christ’s return. In another sense, however, the transformation-process will not cease: growth in such things as knowledge, love, joy, etc., will continue throughout eternity. Such growth is not inconsistent with perfection. Even in the hereafter believers will still be creatures; hence, finite. Man never becomes God. God, however, ever remains infinite. Now when in glory, in a condition of total absence of sin and death, finite individuals are in continuous contact with the Infinite, is it even possible that the finite would not make progress in the matters that have been mentioned? When “the fulness of God”—all of those divine communicable attributes of which God is full: love, wisdom, knowledge, blessedness, etc.—is, as it were, poured into vessels of limited capacity, will not their capacity be increased? To be sure, believers will never be filled with the fulness of God in the sense that they would become God. Even the communicable attributes, in the measure in which they exist in God, are incommunicable. But what Paul prays is that those addressed may be filled to all the fulness of God. Perfection, in other words, also in such matters as knowledge, love, blessedness must ever remain the goal; to become more and more like God, the ultimate ideal. What Paul is asking, therefore, with special reference, of course, to the church still on earth, though the answer to the prayer will never cease, is nothing strange, nothing new. It is a request similar to the exhortation of 5:1, “Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children, and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God, for a fragrant odor.” And again, “It was he who gave some (to be) apostles … in order to fully equip the saints for the work of ministry … until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the clear knowledge of the Son of God, to a full-grown man, to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (4:11–13). Cf. Col. 2:9, 10.[3]


God’s Fullness

that you may be filled up to all the fulness of God. (3:19b)

The inner strengthening of the Holy Spirit leads to the indwelling of Christ, which leads to abundant love, which leads to God’s fullness in us. To be filled up to all the fulness of God is indeed incomprehensible, even to God’s own children. It is incredible and indescribable. There is no way, this side of heaven, we can fathom that truth. We can only believe it and praise God for it.

J. Wilbur Chapman often told of the testimony given by a certain man in one of his meetings:

I got off at the Pennsylvania depot as a tramp, and for a year I begged on the streets for a living. One day I touched a man on the shoulder and said, “Hey, mister, can you give me a dime?” As soon as I saw his face I was shocked to see that it was my own father. I said, “Father, Father, do you know me?” Throwing his arms around me and with tears in his eyes, he said, “Oh my son, at last I’ve found you! I’ve found you. You want a dime? Everything I have is yours.” Think of it. I was a tramp. I stood begging my own father for ten cents, when for 18 years he had been looking for me to give me all that he had.

That is a small picture of what God wants to do for His children. His supreme goal in bringing us to Himself is to make us like Himself by filling us with Himself, with all that He is and has.

Even to begin to grasp the magnitude of that truth, we must think of every attribute and every characteristic of God. We must think of His power, majesty, wisdom, love, mercy, patience, kindness, longsuffering, and every other thing that God is and does. That Paul is not exaggerating is clear from the fact that in this letter he repeatedly mentions the fullness of God’s blessings to those who belong to Him through Christ. He tells us that the church is Christ’s “body, the fulness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:23). He tells us that “He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things” (4:10). And he tells us that God wants every believer to “be filled with the Spirit” (5:18).

Plēroō means to make full, or fill to the full, and is used many times in the New Testament. It speaks of total dominance. A person filled with rage is totally dominated by hatred. A person filled with happiness is totally dominated by joy. To be filled up to all the fulness of God therefore means to be totally dominated by Him, with nothing left of self or any part of the old man. By definition, then, to be filled with God is to be emptied of self. It is not to have much of God and little of self, but all of God and none of self. This is a recurring theme in Ephesians. Here Paul talks about the fulness of God; in 4:13 it is “the fulness of Christ”; and in 5:18 it is the fulness of the Spirit.

What a God, who loves us so much that He will not rest until we are completely like Him! We can only sing with David, “The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge; my Savior” (2 Sam. 22:2–3). Throughout the rest of that magnificent hymn, David stacks praise upon praise in declaring God’s greatness and goodness.

In the same way Job seems to be almost at a loss for words to properly extol the wonders of God. “What a help you are to the weak! How you have saved the arm without strength! What counsel you have given to one without wisdom! What helpful insight you have abundantly provided! … He stretches out the north over empty space, and hangs the earth on nothing. He wraps up the waters in His clouds; and the cloud does not burst under them. … The pillars of heaven tremble, and are amazed at His rebuke. … By His breath the heavens are cleared; His hand has pierced the fleeing serpent. Behold, these are the fringes of His ways” (Job 26:2–3, 7–8, 11, 13–14).

From our human, earthly perspective we can never see more than “the fringes of His ways.” No wonder David said that he would not be satisfied until he awoke in the likeness of God (Ps. 17:15). Only then will we know fully as we have been fully known (1 Cor. 13:12).[4]


19 Paul identifies explicitly the object they need strength to grasp: the love of Christ (see end of v. 18 in the NIV). Literally, Paul says, “indeed [emphatic use of te], to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,” another clause that strains logic. We sense that Paul is laboring with his lexicon here, trying to express what he finds almost beyond expression. Snodgrass, 182, remarks appropriately, “This is language from someone who has been surprised and overwhelmed with Christ’s love.” Paul prays for more than a mere awareness of Christ’s love; he wants them to really know (ginōskō, GK 1182) it. This is personal and experiential knowledge, not merely intellectual speculation. The object for them to know is the love “of Christ.” I take “of Christ” as a subjective genitive, specifying Christ’s love for them. Rereading v. 18, we see how vast and immeasurable Christ’s love really is. That is what Paul wants them to know.

Paradoxically, however, such love “surpasses knowledge”! It cannot be understood completely. How can one possibly fathom the extent of Christ’s love (we are reminded of v. 8 and the “unsearchable riches of Christ”)? Paul petitions God to grant them increased understanding and experience of Christ’s love, though its full attainment will always elude them. And though believers will never exhaust its vastness, Christ’s love forms the substance in which they are rooted and established. The implication for the readers, then, is that they are to grow in and build on Christ’s love in their relationships with one another. In this practical and tangible way, Christians come to know experientially more and more what Christ’s love for them really means and entails.

A final purpose clause concludes the verse, introduced by the conjunction “that” (hina). This clause, still part of the sentence that began in v. 14, attaches to the main verb “bow” or “kneel”; therefore, many see this as the third major request of Paul’s prayer. Alternatively, Paul sums up the ultimate goal of his prayer for his readers (so Arnold, 86, 96–97; O’Brien, 253, 365). He desires that they “be filled to … all the fullness of God.” Yet it seems to be an impossible goal (the preposition eis pointing to a goal); has Paul strained the language beyond all boundaries? Has he lost control of his argument? Are his readers to be perfect as God is, or as much as humans can attain to divine perfection; does Paul’s desire perhaps parallel Peter’s statement, “so that … you may participate in the divine nature” (2 Pe 1:4)? Or are they to be filled with God—hence Phillips’ translation: “So you will be filled through all your being with God himself”?

Again, we must take it bit by bit. The verb plēroō (“filled”) here takes the meaning “to make full” (as in 1:23; 4:10, and many other places; cf. BDAG, 828). One can be full of joy or knowledge or other qualities. Here the preposition eis points to the goal, direction, or extent to which they are to be filled: eis pan to plērōma tou theou (to all the fullness of God; NIV, “to the measure of all the fullness of God”). I noted an active and passive sense for the noun “fullness” (plērōma, GK 4445) in the commentary on 1:23. But as Best, 348, notes, “The distinction between the active and passive meanings of plērōma may be unimportant in this respect, for God will fill with that with which he is full.” Paul appends the particle pan, which means “all,” thus resulting in “all that which is filled.” Paul prays that they be filled to (eis) all the fullness “of God.” Paul envisions their movement toward the goal of God’s fullness. Its final realization will not arrive until the eschaton.

How, then, do we understand the genitival phrase “the fullness of God” (tou theou)? What uses of the genitive might fit here? (1) If the genitive is epexegetic, then fullness equals God, and they are to be filled with the fullness, namely, God. But what might it mean to be filled with God, as this image has no parallel in other places in the NT? (2) If possessive, then the fullness belongs to God. (3) If subjective, then the fullness is effected by God; God fills them. This might be very similar to a genitive of origin—the fullness that comes from God.

It seems the options boil down to two main choices. To be filled with the fullness could mean (1) to be filled with God, or (2) to be filled toward some quality (or qualities) that comes from God, which he possesses and which he supplies. The second makes more sense in this context in which Paul prays for the readers’ apprehension of the unsurpassable love of Christ. Can we specify what Paul intends “fullness” to include here? Either it comprises certain unspecified divine qualities and attributes, or Paul has in mind some specific entity. A popular option simply leaves “fullness” here: it refers to divine perfections, divine fullness—insofar as Christians indwelt by the Spirit can attain it.

However, taking with some hesitation the sense of “fullness” as “that which is full of something” (BDAG, 829 [2]), I tender an alternative. I propose on contextual grounds that this “fullness” of God zeroes in on one divine attribute, namely, the love of God that he exercises himself and grants to his people in Christ. Paul wants his readers to grow more and more in their experience of God’s love in their relationships with each other to the extent that they have experienced God’s love for them. Jesus urged his disciples to be perfect as God is perfect (Mt 5:48). No sinless perfection this, but the goal of kingdom living that only the Spirit can enable. Likewise here, Paul could not expect his readers to love as God does—or to be filled with all those qualities that fill up God, for that matter. But the goal (the preposition eis) is to live and love as God does. Paul says as much later in this letter: “Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (5:1–2). Here are all the components: the sacrificial love of God, the love that God has for his children, and the appeal to imitate this divine love by living a life of love.[5]


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

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1931). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Ephesians (Vol. 7, pp. 173–174). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 111–112). Chicago: Moody Press.

[5] 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. 99–101). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

June 9 – Reasons to Be Content

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

Worry is the opposite of contentment, which should be a believer’s normal and consistent state of mind. You 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).

A Christian’s contentment is found only in God—in His ownership, control, and provision of everything we possess and will ever need. Since God owns everything, what we now have and what we will ever have belongs to Him.

Daniel understood the Lord’s control of everything: “Let the name of God be blessed forever and ever, for wisdom and power belong to Him. 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).

And if we hadn’t heard it from Daniel, we should know it from one of the ancient names of God—Jehovah-Jireh, which means, “the Lord who provides.”

Whatever the Lord gives us belongs to Him. Therefore, it is our responsibility to thank Him for it and to use it wisely and unselfishly for as long as He entrusts us with it.

ASK YOURSELF
What keeps “enough” from being enough for us? How do we define the level of property or possessions we need in order to feel satisfied with our supply? Why are these measurements so often faulty and skewed away from sound biblical understanding?[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. 169). 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 9 – AUTHORITY AND POWER

And all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he doeth according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand, or say unto him, What doest thou?

—Daniel 4:35

The sovereignty of God involves all authority and all power. I think you can see instantly that God could never be sovereign without the power to bring about His will or the authority to exercise His power. Kings, presidents and others who rule over men must have the authority to govern and the power to make good on that authority. A ruler cannot stand up and say, “Do this, please; if you feel like doing it, do it.” He says, “Do it,” and then has an army and a police force behind him. He has authority to command and power to carry out his commands. And God has to have both of these.

I can’t conceive of a God who has power and no authority. Samson was a man who had power but no authority, and didn’t know what to do with it. There are men who have authority but no power…. Authority without the power to carry out that authority is a joke. Power without authority puts a man where he can’t do anything. But God Almighty, to be sovereign, must have authority and power. AOGII146

Lord, though the forces of evil often seem to have control of this chaotic world, I will rest in Your authority and power. My hope is in You. Amen. [1]


34–37 The conclusion of the fourth court story returns to first-person narrative, as King Nebuchadnezzar resumes his personal testimony of events associated with his dream of the great tree. The story not only recycles back to its beginning by way of the narrator’s voice, but also to its theme as the king recapitulates his doxology lauding the Most High God and published in the form of a royal letter (vv. 34c–35; cf. vv. 2–3). Porteous, 73, comments that Nebuchadnezzar’s praise “of Daniel’s God is more generous than what he had to say of the God of the three confessors [ch. 3]. This time he had not only witnessed the power of God, he had felt it in his own person.” Critics of the historicity of Daniel remind us that “extant Babylonian records say nothing of Nebuchadnezzar’s losing control of or vacating his throne for a significant period of time” (Redditt, 85; cf. Gowan, 84). But the argument from silence is just that—inconclusive for want of evidence.

The phrase “at the end of that time” (v. 34a) simply refers cryptically to the period of “seven times” stipulated for the duration of Nebuchadnezzar’s madness (cf. vv. 16, 25). The king’s “sanity” or “reason” (NASB) was restored, but not automatically. The expression “I … raised my eyes toward heaven” suggests seeking God’s aid (so Goldingay, 90), even a simple act of repentance (cf. Seow, 72; Russell, 82). The restoration of Nebuchadnezzar’s sanity (and subsequently his honor and splendor; v. 36) is testimony to God’s grace (cf. Miller, 143) and a reminder that the book of Daniel teaches that such “transformation is possible” (Smith-Christopher, 77). The king’s experience has taught him that the Most High is sovereign over human kingdoms (vv. 17, 25), thus demonstrating “the point which animates the narrative” (Towner, 64; cf. Russell, 82).

Nebuchadnezzar’s doxological confession is the longest of such testimonials in the book of Daniel. Smith-Christopher, 76, has isolated three important themes in the king’s confession: (1) the perpetual or eternal sovereignty of God as his kingdom or dominion endures from generation to generation (v. 34c; cf. 3b); (2) God’s rule extends to all the earth; and (3) no one has the power or ability to question the work of God. Nebuchadnezzar’s declarations about God are in keeping with OT teaching about the nature and character Yahweh of Israel (e.g., Pss 115:3; 145:13; Isa 14:27; 40:17; cf. Baldwin, 115).

The full restoration of King Nebuchadnezzar both to physical health and his position of royal authority on the throne of Babylonia (being accorded even greater honor and splendor than before; v. 36) is a reminder that God honors those who honor him (1 Sa 2:30; 1 Ch 29:12). The king’s reference to his “advisers and nobles,” who seek him out, speaks to his formal reinstallation as king of Babylonia (v. 36b). The king’s praise of God as the “King of heaven” (v. 37) is a unique epithet for God in the OT, and the repetition of the term “heaven” echoes what Baldwin, 116, has observed as a “catch-word” in ch. 4 (vv. 13, 20, 26, 34, 37). Ironically, Nebuchadnezzar confesses that God does what is right and that his ways are just (v. 37)—essentially the instructions Daniel gave the king in his summons to repentance (v. 27).

Goldingay (97) summarizes ch. 4 by citing King Nebuchadnezzar as an example—“a warning of how not to be led astray by power and achievement, a model of how to respond to chastisement and humiliation … [and] a promise that earthly authorities are in the hand of God, not merely for their judgment, but for his glory.” And though Nebuchadnezzar’s formal acknowledgment of God’s power and justice may fall short of penitence and true faith (so Baldwin, 116; cf. Gowan, 83, “Nebuchadnezzar is not ‘converted’ ”), the king is also an example of another important biblical principle, namely, that “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble” (Jas 4:6; 1 Pe 5:5; cf. Pr 3:34). Nebuchadnezzar has learned the lesson of humility tragically but confessed the truth of the proverb with conviction given the aftermath of his personal experience (v. 37c). In fact, his confession encapsulates the basic message of the Bible: assume a posture of humility before the Most High God (cf. Isa 57:15; Mic 6:8; Mt 18:4; 23:12; Php 2:8).[2]


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

[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. 99–100). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

June 9 – Integrity Reflects Godly Wisdom

“As for [Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego], God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams.”

Daniel 1:17

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Godly wisdom guards against the influences of a godless society.

From the beginning of human history Satan has tried to confuse and confound God’s purposes by corrupting man’s thinking. In the Garden of Eden he succeeded by calling God’s character into question and convincing Eve that her disobedience would have no consequences. To this day he continues to deceive entire civilizations by blinding “the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor. 4:4).

Daniel and his friends were captives of a pagan king who wanted to dilute their allegiance to God by reprogramming their thinking. However, unlike Eve, they were determined not to be overcome by the evil influences around them. God honored their integrity and taught them everything they needed to know to be productive in Babylonian society and to influence it for righteousness.

Babylon was the center of learning in its day, boasting of advanced sciences, sophisticated libraries, and great scholars. God gave these young men the ability to learn and retain that level of knowledge, and the wisdom to apply it to their lives. Furthermore, He gave Daniel the ability to interpret dreams and receive visions—gifts that would prove crucial later in his life as God elevated him to a position of prominence in Babylon and revealed the plan of history to him (see chapters 7–12).

Surely Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed–nego didn’t understand all that God had in store for them or why He would allow them to be tested so severely at such a young age. But when they chose to love and trust Him despite their circumstances, they demonstrated the kind of wisdom that protects God’s children from the influences of a godless society. As we do the same, God uses us in significant ways. Also, we find that God never calls us to a challenge that He won’t equip us to handle.

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Suggestions for Prayer: King David prayed, “Teach us to number our days, that we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom” (Ps. 90:12). Make that your prayer as well.

For Further Study: Read Colossians 1:9–12. What are the results of being filled with “spiritual wisdom and understanding”?[1]


1:17 Daniel is like Joseph (Gen. 40:8; 41:39) and prefigures the wisdom of Christ (1 Cor. 1:30; Col. 2:3).[2]


1:17 God gave to them God Himself blesses and advances the Hebrew youths in the foreign court. Their activities will display His power to the nations; through them He will be glorified (e.g., 2:47).

God’s favoring of the young men demonstrates His protection and blessing during the exile. Although the nation was removed from its land, Yahweh remained true to His covenant and protected His people. The advancement of the young men in the king’s court, particularly Daniel, gives voice to Jewish concerns during this time. As they succeed and move through the ranks, the young men evidence God’s sovereignty over the affairs of kings and kingdoms. Their ultimate success reflects back on God, to whom they give credit (see 2:27–28).

had insight into all visions and dreams Introduces a motif that will resurface throughout the book. The Hebrew words used here for visions and dreams designate divine revelation. A vision involves a divine experience that occurs while awake, as an interruption of normal consciousness, while a prophetic dream occurs while sleeping.[3]


1:17 God gave them learning. God’s blessing is not limited to physical well-being, but also includes outstanding intellectual development during their three years of Babylonian education. He thus enables them to be a blessing to their pagan neighbors and to build up the city where they have found themselves (cf. Jer. 29:5–7) while remaining true to their beliefs.

visions and dreams. With a view to what follows in the book (chs. 2; 4; 5), Daniel is distinguished from his companions in his ability to interpret dreams and visions, much as Joseph was in the court of Pharaoh (Gen. 40:8; 41:16).[4]


1:17 God gave them knowledge and skill in all literature: As Moses was educated in the knowledge of Egypt, so Daniel and his friends acquired a Chaldean education. The wisdom of the Chaldeans consisted of sciences current at the time, including the interpretation of omens communicated through astrology, the examination of livers, kidneys, and other animal entrails, and the examination of the organs and flight patterns of birds. Daniel had the additional advantage of understanding visions and dreams. In the ancient Near East dreams were considered a source of divine revelation, and thus their interpretation was highly valued. Daniel’s gift from God in this area put him far beyond the abilities of the Chaldean interpreters (4:5–9).[5]


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

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1587). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Da 1:17). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1465). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

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

June 9 – A Renewed Mind

Be renewed in the spirit of your mind.

Ephesians 4:23

When you become a Christian, God gives you a new mind—but you must fill it with new thoughts. A baby is born with a fresh, new mind, and then impressions are made in the baby’s mind that determine the course of his or her life. The same thing is true of a Christian. When you enter into God’s kingdom, you’re given a fresh, new mind. You then need to build the right thoughts into your new mind. That’s why Philippians 4:8 says, “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” We have a renewed mind, not a reprobate mind.

Instead of having a reprobate, vile, lascivious, greedy, unclean mind, we have a mind filled with righteousness and holiness. And that should naturally characterize the way we live.[1]


4:23 A second lesson the Ephesians learned at the feet of Jesus was that they were being renewed in the spirit of their mind. This points to a complete about-face in their thinking, a change from mental impurity to holiness. The Spirit of God influences the thought processes to reason from God’s standpoint, not from that of unsaved men.[2]


22–24. (having been taught) that with respect to your former manner of life you must put off the old man, which is being corrupted through deceitful lusts, and must be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new man, created after (the likeness of) God in true righteousness and holiness.

What the Ephesians had been taught “in Christ” was this, that nothing less than a radical change in their mental outlook and manner of life was necessary, a complete turnabout. Their former manner of life (2:2, 3; 4:17–19; 5:8, 14; cf. Col. 1:21; 2:13; 3:7) must cease. The directive which, from the moment of their vital contact with Christ, was meant to control their entire being in all its manifestations, and to confront them every day and every hour, was curt and crisp: “Put off the old man,” that is, “the old nature, whatever you are apart from grace” (Col. 3:9; cf. Rom. 6:6), and “Put on the new man,” that is, “the new nature, whatever you have become, must be, and can become because of grace” (Col. 3:10; cf. Gal. 3:27). It was a summary formulation of a tremendously large order. In a sense, they had already put off the old man and put on the new man, namely, when they had given their hearts to Christ, and had professed him openly at the time of their baptism. But basic conversion must be followed by daily conversion. Even though in principle the believer has become a new creature (or “creation”), he remains a sinner until he dies. The old nature, with which the Ephesians had been on such intimate terms for so many years, is not easy to shed. Getting rid of it is difficult and painful. It amounts, in fact, to a crucifixion (Rom. 6:6). This is true all the more because it is always promising so much. It is being “continually corrupted” through lusts’ illusions, those deceptive evil desires with their mighty promises and minimal performances. This corrupting deceptiveness is present, moreover, wherever the old nature is represented, whether in the unbeliever or in the believer. Cain’s murder of his brother, a deed which had appeared so attractive when planned, brought nothing but a curse. Absalom’s prospective crown, so dazzling at first, resulted in his gruesome death. The vineyard, so luscious and so conveniently located that Ahab, in order to obtain this coveted prize, had not hesitated to sacrifice Naboth’s life, brought ruin to the king’s household and posterity. The thirty pieces of silver which had shimmered so brightly in Judas’ scheming, once in his possession had burned his hands, tortured his soul, and sent the traitor himself scurrying on his way to hanging and to hell. And, not to omit one of God’s chosen ones, David, in a moment of weakness, filled with passionate delight in the thought of pleasant days ahead with the object of his lustful yearning, was forced to listen to the words of the Lord which like thunder-bolts fell from the lips of the prophet: “You are the man. The sword will not depart from your house.” Truly, the old nature flaunts a golden cup, but upon inspection it is found to contain nothing but filth and abomination (cf. Rev. 17:4). Hence, the Ephesians had been warned most solemnly to put off the old man, to fight him with unrelenting and undiminished vigor in order to divest themselves completely of him.

But while “the old man” is wholly evil, “the new man” is wholly good. He is “created after (the likeness of) God.” Cf. Col. 3:10. Other explanatory passages are Eph. 2:10; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:15; and Titus 3:5. Day by day this new creation is advancing “in true righteousness and holiness.” The Colossian parallel (3:10) adds “full knowledge.” Grace restores what sin has ruinously impaired. God not only imputes but also imparts righteousness to the sinner whom he pleases to save. Thus, the believer begins to perform his duties toward his fellow-men. But righteousness never walks alone. It is always accompanied by holiness, so that the regenerated and converted person performs his duties with reference to God also. Cf. Luke 1:75; 1 Thess. 2:10; Titus 1:8. Moreover, the righteousness and holiness which God bestows are true, not deceptive, as are the lusts spawned by the old nature. They bring life to its true, predestined fulfilment. They satisfy.

As to the figure underlying “putting off” and “putting on,” it refers, of course, to what one does with a garment. Frequently such a robe indicates a person’s nature or character: either good (Job 29:14; Ps. 132:9; Isa. 11:5; 61:10) or evil (Ps. 73:6; cf. Ps. 35:26; 109:29). How it clings to him! The figure is by no means confined to Scripture. It has become part of general literature. It also occurs in the prayers of God’s children: “Disrobe us of ourselves and clothe us with thyself, O Lord.”

Both the putting off of the old man and the putting on of the new man are necessary. Some people constantly stress the negative. Their religion is one of don’t. Others turn their backs upon every don’t, and take peculiar pride in overstressing the positive. Scripture avoids both of these extremes. Ephesians contains many a do and many a don’t. Here in this life both are needed. They are inseparable and point to simultaneous activities. That is what Paul means when he states that the Ephesians had been taught to “put off” the old man and to “put on” the new man. A person can do very little with one scissorblade. Twin blades, operating in unison, compose the scissors that will work. He who says “Yes” to Christ is saying “No” to Satan. But though both are necessary, Paul’s emphasis throughout is on the positive: “Overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21; cf. 13:14). So it is also here in Eph. 4:22–24, for we are taught that the only way in which one can progressively succeed in putting off the old man and putting on the new man is by being renewed in the spirit of one’s mind. This renewel is basically an act of God’s Spirit powerfully influencing man’s spirit, here, as also in 1 Cor. 4:21; Gal. 6:1; and 1 Peter 3:4, mental attitude, state of mind, disposition, with respect to God and spiritual realities.[3]


Become the New Self

and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. (4:23–24)

In contrast to the depraved, reprobate mind of the unregenerate person (vv. 17–18), the Christian is renewed continually in the spirit of [his] mind (cf. Col. 3:10). Ananeoē (to be renewed) appears only here in the New Testament. The best rendering of this present passive infinitive is as a modifier of the main verb put on, so that it would read “and being renewed in the spirit of your mind, put on the new self.” This makes clear that such renewal is the consequence of “laying aside the old self” and is the context in which one may put on the new self. Salvation relates to the mind, which is the center of thought, understanding, and belief, as well as of motive and action. The spirit of your mind is explained by one commentator as intending to show that it is not in the sphere of human thinking or human reason, but in the moral sphere, that this renewal occurs. John Eadie says:

The change is not in the mind psychologically, either in its essence or in its operation; and neither is it in the mind as if it were a superficial change of opinion on points of doctrine or practice; but it is in the spirit of the mind; in that which gives mind both its bent and its material of thought. It is not simply in the spirit as if it lay there in dim and mystic quietude; but it is in the spirit of the mind; in the power which, when changed itself, radically alters the entire sphere and business of the inner mechanism.

When a person becomes a Christian, God initially renews his mind, giving it a completely new spiritual and moral capability—a capability that the most brilliant and educated mind apart from Christ can never achieve (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9–16). This renewal continues through the believer’s life as he is obedient to the Word and will of God (cf. Rom. 12:1–2). The process is not a one–time accomplishment but the continual work of the Spirit in the child of God (Titus 3:5). Our resources are God’s Word and prayer. It is through these means that we gain the mind of Christ (cf. Phil. 2:5; Col. 3:16; 2 Tim. 1:7), and it is through that mind that we live the life of Christ.

The renewed spirit of the believer’s mind is a corollary to putting on the new self, which is the new creation made in the very likeness of God and has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. That which was once darkened, ignorant, hardened, callused, sensual, impure, and greedy is now enlightened, learned in the truth, sensitive to sin, pure, and generous. Whereas it was once characterized by wickedness and sin, it is now characterized by righteousness and holiness. In Colossians 3:12, Paul calls believers “the chosen of God, holy and beloved.”

It is essential to expand the concept of the new self so that it may be understood more fully. The word new (kainos) does not mean renovated but entirely new—new in species or character. The new self is new because it has been created in the likeness of God. The Greek is literally, “according to what God is”—a staggering statement expressing the wondrous reality of salvation. Those who confess Jesus Christ as Lord are made like God! Peter says we become “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).

In Galatians 2:20, Paul declares, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” The image of God, lost in Adam, is more gloriously restored in the second Adam, the One who is the image of the invisible God (cf. 2 Cor. 4:4–6), where Paul describes Christ as the image of God, the treasure that dwell-s in us.

If believers have received the divine nature—the life of Christ, the likeness of God in this new self by an act of divine creation (cf. Col. 3:10)—it obviously must have been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth. In the Greek, the word truth is placed last to contrast with deceit (v. 22), and the best rendering is that of the niv : “true righteousness and holiness.” God could create no less (see Luke 1:75).

Righteousness relates to our fellow men and reflects the second table of the law (Ex. 20:12–17). Holiness (hosiotēs, sacred observance of all duties to God) relates to God and reflects the first table (Ex. 20:3–11). The believer, then, possesses a new nature, a new self, a holy and righteous inner person fit for the presence of God. This is the believer’s truest self.

So righteous and holy is this new self that Paul refuses to admit that any sin comes from that new creation in God’s image. Thus his language in Romans 6–7 is explicit in placing the reality of sin other than in the new sell He says, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body” (6:12) and, “Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin” (6:13, emphasis added).

In those passages Paul places sin in the believer’s life in the body. In chapter 7 he sees it in the flesh. He says, “No longer am I the one doing it, but sin which indwell-s me” (v. 17), “Nothing good dwell-s in me, that is, in my flesh” (v. 18), “I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwell-s in me” (v. 20), and “… the law of sin which is in my members” (v. 23).

In those texts Paul acknowledges that being a new self in the image of God does not eliminate sin. It is still present in the flesh, the body, the unredeemed humanness that includes the whole human person’s thinking and behavior. But he will not allow that new inner man to be given responsibility for sin. The new “I” loves and longs for the holiness and righteousness for which it was created.

Paul summarizes the dichotomy with these words: “So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind [synonymous here with the new self] am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh [synonymous here with unredeemed humanness contained in our sinful bodies] the law of sin” (Rom. 7:25). It is this struggle that prompts the anticipation for “the redemption of the body” described in Romans 8:23 (cf. Phil. 3:20–21).

We are new, but not yet all new. We are righteous and holy, but not yet perfectly righteous and holy. But understanding the genuine reality of our transforming salvation is essential if we are to know how to live as Christians in the Body of Christ to which we belong.

The remaining portions of the epistle contain exhortations to the believer to bring his body into obedience to the will of God.

Many rescue missions have a delousing room, where derelicts who have not had a bath in months discard all their old clothes and are thoroughly bathed and disinfected. The unsalvageable old clothes are burned and new clothes are issued. The clean man is provided clean clothes.

That is a picture of salvation, except that in salvation the new believer is not simply given a bath but a completely new nature. The continuing need of the Christian life is to keep discarding and burning the remnants of the old sinful clothing. “Do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness,” Paul pleads; “but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God” (Rom. 6:13).

The many therefores and wherefores in the New Testament usually introduce appeals for believers to live like the new creatures they are in Christ. Because of our new life, our new Lord, our new nature, and our new power, we are therefore called to live a correspondingly new life–style.[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]


23 In contrast to the destruction of the old way of life to be put off, Christians were also taught to “be renewed” (ananeoomai; NIV, “made new”). The present tense of the infinitive suggests the ongoing nature of this action: they must continually allow God to renew them (passive voice). The apparent location or focus (the dative probably has a locative, not an instrumental, sense) of this renewal is, literally, the “spirit of your mind.” Thus, “spirit” (pneuma, GK 4460) refers not to the Holy Spirit as the means of transformation, but to the human spirit (NIV, “attitude”; a more precise understanding points to a person’s “spiritual state, state of mind, disposition” [BDAG, 833]). To “spirit” Paul attaches “mind” in the genitive case (also suggesting Paul refers to human spirit, not the divine Spirit), so that the whole phrase denotes the disposition one’s mind has or possesses (NIV, “attitude of your minds”). In effect, for renewal to transpire, believers must allow God to transform their ways of thinking in the innermost recesses of who they are (cf. Ro 12:2: “Be transformed by the renewing of your mind”).[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 178). 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. 213–215). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 177–179). 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, p. 126). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.