Daily Archives: December 28, 2017

December 28 The Author of Our Salvation

“It was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings” (Heb. 2:10).

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Through His death, Christ became the perfect leader for His people.

As we look at what Christ has done, we must never forget that He was fulfilling the sovereign plan of God. The writer of Hebrews tells us it was “fitting” in God’s sight for Christ to bring “many sons to glory.” That means that everything God did through Christ was consistent with His character.

The cross was a masterpiece of God’s wisdom. It displayed His holiness in His hatred of sin. It was consistent with His power—Christ endured in a few hours what it would take an eternity to expend on sinners (and even then, sinners couldn’t atone for their own evil). The cross also displayed God’s love for mankind. And Christ’s death on the cross agreed with God’s grace because it was substitutionary.

To bring “many sons to glory,” God had “to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.” The Greek word translated “author” (archēgos) means “pioneer” or “leader.” It was commonly used of a pioneer who blazed a trail for others to follow. The archēgos never stood at the rear giving orders; he was always out front blazing the trail. As the supreme archēgos, Christ has gone before us—He is our trailblazer.

Life seems most anxious and dreadful when death is near. That’s a trail we cannot travel by ourselves. But the author of our salvation says, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). Only the perfect pioneer could lead us out of the domain of death and into the presence of the Father. All you have to do is put your hand in His nail-scarred hand and He will lead you from one side of death to the other. Then you can say with the Apostle Paul, “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” (1 Cor. 15:55).

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for all His attributes—specifically for each one displayed in Christ’s death for you.

For Further Study: Read Hebrews 5:8–9 and 1 Peter 2:19–25. How do those verses expand on Hebrews 2:10?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 375). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

DECEMBER 28 SINGING AND PRAISE: SILENCE AND WORSHIP

Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.

ZECHARIAH 2:13

There is a notion widely held among Christians that song is the highest possible expression of the joy of the Lord in the soul of a man or woman.

That idea is so near to being true that it may seem spiritually rude to challenge it. However, it does need to be brought to the test of the Scriptures and Christian testimony.

Both the Bible and the testimony of a thousand saints show that there is experience beyond song. There are delights which the heart may enjoy in the awesome presence of God which cannot find expression in language: they belong to the unutterable elements in Christian experience. Not many enjoy them because not many know that they can.

The whole concept of ineffable worship has been lost to this generation of Christians. Our level of life is so low that no one expects to know the deep things of the soul until the Lord returns. So, we cheer ourselves by breaking into song.

Far be it from me to discourage the art of singing. Creation itself took its rise in a burst of song; Christ rose from the dead and sang among His brethren. But still there is something beyond song!

When the Holy Spirit is permitted to exercise His full sway in a redeemed heart there will likely be voluble praise first; then, when the crescendo rises beyond the ability of studied speech to express, comes song. When song breaks down under the weight of glory, then comes silence where the soul, held in deep fascination, feels itself blessed with an unutterable beatitude![1]


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

December 28, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

President Donald Trump sent 26 percent fewer Mexicans back home this year through November than Barack Obama did in the same period in 2016, despite vows to crack down on illegal immigration, Mexican government data show.

Rex Tillerson defended U.S. foreign policy during his first year as secretary of state, touting gains in pressuring North Korea, battling Islamic State and supporting Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered more steps to resolve a dispute with Japan over sex slaves in World War II, calling a 2015 agreement reached under his predecessor faulty in “procedure and content.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin vowed a crackdown after a supermarket bomb injured 10 people in St. Petersburg, the latest in a series of attacks linked to Islamic extremists that have targeted his home city.

A coalition of 11 mostly Republican-led states urged a federal appeals court to enforce U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order punishing so-called sanctuary cities, which largely forbid local law enforcement from cooperating with federal immigration authorities.

Almost two dozen government troops were killed in South Sudan during fighting, just a day after a cease-fire agreement came into effect, according to the main rebel group.

Banks are seeing a wave of inquiries from customers in high-tax states rushing during the final days of the year to prepay 2018 property levies before a cap on deductions for state and local taxes comes into effect. One option: tapping home-equity lines or securities-backed loans to lessen the pain of a lump-sum outlay.

Bitcoin resumed its slide Thursday, dipping below $14,000 as the cryptocurrency’s dizzying drop from a record set 10 days ago intensified.

The total value of all homes in the United States rose 6.5 percent in 2017 to $31.8 trillion, according to Zillow. Renters paid a record $485.6 billion this year.

The number of people filing for U.S. unemployment benefits held steady last week, in part reflecting estimated data for 13 states and still consistent with a strong job market, Labor Department figures showed Thursday. Jobless claims were unchanged at 245k from prior week.

AP Top Stories

Suicide bombers stormed a Shi’ite cultural center and news agency in the Afghan capital on Thursday, killing more than 40 people and wounding scores, many of them students attending a conference.

First Lady Melania Trump has made the call to remove a significant part of a historic magnolia tree that has graced the White House’s south facade since the 1800s. President Andrew Jackson added the southern magnolia tree to the White House grounds in honor of his late wife. But the tree has decayed to a point where it can no longer be safely preserved.

South Korea said Wednesday a 2015 deal intended to end a festering dispute with Japan over Tokyo’s wartime sex slavery was faulty, reopening a historical wound as the two countries try to rein in North Korea.

The United States did not pressure Guatemala into announcing it will move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, the Central American state’s foreign minister said Wednesday.

Syrian rebels and opposition groups on Tuesday rejected Russia’s proposed peace talks, accusing Moscow of failing to pressure its ally, President Bashar Assad, to end the conflict.

Apple’s board of directors is now making CEO Tim Cook fly on private aircraft when he travels, whether it’s for work or for pleasure. “This policy was implemented in 2017 in the interests of security and efficiency based on our global profile and the highly visible nature of Mr. Cook’s role as CEO.”

Airbus is drawing up contingency plans to phase out production of the world’s largest jetliner, the A380 superjumbo, if it fails to win a key order from Dubai’s Emirates.

BBC

US missions in Turkey are to resume full visa services following security assurances from Turkey’s government on US consular staff.

U2 front man Bono has criticized what he says is a lack of rock and roll in today’s music. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the singer said: “I think music has gotten very girly.

The government must intervene to stop automation driving up wage inequality, a think tank has warned. It warned lower-skilled jobs were much more likely to be phased out in the coming decades, and only higher-skilled workers would be able to command better wages.

John McAfee has said his Twitter account was hacked and used to promote lesser-known crypto-currencies. The cyber-security pioneer has rebuffed suggestions that the alleged incident undermined his own credentials saying: “I have no control over Twitter’s security”.

WND

Americans once again are most likely to name Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton as the man and woman living anywhere in the world they admire most, as they have for the past 10 years. The pair retain their titles this year, although by much narrower margins than in the past. Obama edges out Donald Trump, 17% to 14%, while Clinton edges out Michelle Obama, 9% to 7%.

“High-level Amazon and Microsoft directors” face charges following a sex trafficking sting that was based on emails sent to brothels.

Prices for a cancer drug called lomustine have skyrocketed nearly 1,400 percent since 2013, putting a potentially life-saving treatment out of reach for patients suffering from brain tumors and Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Though the 40-year-old medication is no longer protected by patents, no generic version is available. lomustine was sold by Bristol-Myers Squib for years under the brand name CeeNU at a price of about $50 a capsule for the highest dose It now charges about $768 per pill for the medication.


News – 12/28/2017

New Trump Executive Order Targets Clinton-Linked Individuals, Lobbyists And Perhaps Uranium One
The Trump Administration quietly issued an Executive Order (EO) last Thursday which allows for the freezing of US-housed assets belonging to foreign individuals or entities deemed “serious human rights abusers,” along with government officials and executives of foreign corporations (current or former) found to have engaged in corruption – which includes the misappropriation of state assets, the expropriation of private assets for personal gain, and corruption related to government contracts or the extraction of natural resources. Furthermore, anyone in the United States who aids or participates in said corruption or human rights abuses by foreign parties is subject to frozen assets – along with any U.S. corporation who employs foreigners deemed to have engaged in corruption on behalf of the company.

When and Why the West Began to ‘Demonize’ Muhammad
Thus, writing around 650, John of Nikiu, Egypt, said that “Muslims”—the Copt is apparently the first non-Muslim to note that word—were not just “enemies of God” but adherents of “the detestable doctrine of the beast, that is, Mohammed.”[i] The oldest parchment that alludes to a warlike prophet was written in 634—a mere two years after Muhammad’s death. It has a man asking a learned Jewish scribe what he knows about “the prophet who has appeared among the Saracens.” The elderly man, “with much groaning,” responded: “He is deceiving.

EXCLUSIVE: Top Execs Continue To Flee Clinton-Linked Laureate Education
The most prestigious board member of Laureate Education has announced his departure from the firm, continuing a rapid exodus of top-level executives at the Clinton-connected company. Robert Zoellick, a former World Bank president, will leave the company at the end of December, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned. His resignation follows on the heels of a number of unexpected departures since the company went public last February, as previously reported by TheDCNF. Those departures include the company’s founder and CEO, Douglas Becker, as well as its chief operating officer, chief legal officer, and its chief human resources officer. The departure of such high-level executives “is very unusual,”

Newt Gingrich: Get ready for the great political surprise of 2018
The great political surprise of 2018 will be the size of the Republican victory. After members of the elite media have spent two years savaging President Trump, lying about Republican legislation, and reassuring themselves that Republican defeat was inevitable, the size of the GOP victory in 2018 will be an enormous shock.

Erdogan: Assad is a terrorist
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday called Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad a “terrorist” and said it was impossible for Syrian peace efforts to continue with him, Reuters reported. Syria’s foreign ministry fired back, accusing Erdogan of himself supporting terrorist groups fighting Assad in Syria’s civil war.

Israeli agreement grants tacit recognition to ‘Palestine’
This is an agreement called the “Transboundary Cooperation Program in the Mediterranean Basin” and is aimed at financing projects costing tens of millions of euros for 14 non-EU countries in the Middle East, including Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which is also defined as a political entity.

Israeli cybersecurity whiz takes aim against hackers
“We bypass everything,” explained Sharon Nimirovski, head of White Hat cybersecurity firm in Tel Aviv. “We bypass every piece of security solution and design you’ve implemented. I’m saying that because we’re doing that today. And if we bypass you, the bad guys can do it too.”

US-led coalition accuses Syria of allowing ISIS to move with ‘impunity’
The US-led anti-ISIS coalition has accused the Syrian regime of allowing ISIS to move through its territory. The statement comes as the coalition continues to emphasize that the war against the extremists is not over in Syria. “They seem to be moving with impunity through regime-held territory…the regime is clearly either unwilling or unable to defeat Daesh within their borders,” British Army Major General Felix Gedney…said Wednesday…

Unicef says scale of attacks on children in conflicts is shocking
The UN children’s fund says the scale of attacks on children in the world’s conflict zones reached “shocking” levels in 2017. In a new report, Unicef said there was widespread and blatant disregard for international laws designed to protect the most vulnerable. Unicef director Manuel Fontaine said children were being targeted in their homes, schools and playgrounds.

Afghanistan suicide bomb attack: Dozens killed in Kabul
At least 41 people have been killed and more than 80 wounded in a suicide bomb attack in the Afghan capital, Kabul. A Shia cultural organisation was the target but the Afghan Voice news agency was also hit. So-called Islamic State said it was behind the attack. The interior ministry told the BBC an explosion at the Shia centre was followed by at least two more blasts.

Another Arctic blast poised to usher in 2018
Brutally cold weather will soon be refreshed as another bout of arctic air dives through the United States. The new frigid blast will make its way from the northern Plains to the eastern and southern U.S. Sunday into Monday. Although arctic air is expected to ease later in the week, any relief will be minimal and short lived.

Tired of Regional Critics, Venezuela Looks to Russia and China
Venezuela, which a decade ago aspired to be the axis of a new, left-leaning diplomatic and trade alliance in the Americas, is finding itself increasingly isolated in the hemisphere. Venezuela downgraded diplomatic relations with Canada and Brazil in recent days, after a war of words over the Venezuelan government’s decision last week to ban three influential opposition parties from running candidates in next year’s presidential election.

On Israeli border, Hezbollah, Syria demand rebel surrender
Syrian rebels pinned down in a strategic area where the Israeli and Lebanese borders meet with Syria were handed an ultimatum by the Syrian army and its Iranian-backed militia allies to either surrender or face certain military defeat… The Syrian army…financed and equipped by Iran…have been escalating a fierce assault against Sunni rebels in an enclave in the foothills of Mount Hermon, close to both the Israeli and Lebanese borders.

North Korean Defectors Show Signs Of Radiation Exposure
In yet another horrifying discovery, South Korean scientists have determined that at least four North Korean defectors have shown signs of radiation exposure…

Israeli officials: Japan offers to host peace summit with Netanyahu, Abbas and Kushner – Israel News
Israeli officials on Tuesday confirmed reports that Japan offered to host Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in a meeting that would include an American negotiation team headed by Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and senior adviser to U.S. President Donald Trump.

Obama Attacks Social Media Users ‘Leaders Must Ensure Internet Users Aren’t Cocooned With Their Own Biases’ (AUDIO)
Barack Hussein Obama just won’t go away. Obama told Britain’s Prince Harry in a BBC radio interview Wednesday there are major risks in having free thinking social media users. Obama hates free speech. We shouldn’t be surprised he’s attacking free thinking social media users.

Crooked Hillary Celebrates Ramadan More Than Christmas – Trump supporters Respond
…Hillary Clinton didn’t say a word on Christmas this year from her social media either. She did however, beg for donations to her organization ‘Onward Together’. What a truly despicable woman. Thank God she is not our president! President Trump and our lovely First Lady released a beautiful Christmas message to Americans this year. President Trump quoted Isaiah from the Bible, celebrated the birth of Christ and wished Americans a Merry Christmas. God bless America. Amen!

Canada PM Trudeau states Islam exemplifies ‘our shared beliefs’ in shockingly naive video
Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, sent a video message to the annual Reviving the Islamic Spirit convention held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre (December 25-27) in Toronto.

Pakistan, Headed to UN Human Rights Council, Expands Crackdown on Online ‘Blasphemy’
Days before it takes up a seat on the U.N. Human Rights Council – for its fourth term in the council’s 11-year history – Pakistan’s federal cabinet has approved a legal amendment designed to facilitate an ongoing crackdown on “blasphemy” on social media.

The Top 10 Most Evil U.N. Actions of 2017
Denied Venezuelan Hunger, Mugabe as Goodwill Ambassador, Putin the Victim, Rewarding Genocidal Syria:

Gallup Poll: Obama Takes Title of ‘Most Admired Man’ for 10th Year in a Row
Former President Barack Obama took the title of “most admired man” for the tenth consecutive year, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

Breaking: Obama Appointed Tech CEO To High-Power Military Position
Last year, the administration of then-President Barack Obama set up a Pentagon advisory board and placed the chairman of Google’s parent company at its helm. Roughly one year into President Donald Trump’s tenure, that man still remains at this coveted position.

Inspector General RIPS Obama DOJ For Improperly Handling Rampant Sexual Harassment, Groping
On Wednesday the Justice department ripped the Obama administration for improperly handling a rampant sexual harassment problem at the department.

Chinese Ships Spotted Illegally Selling Oil to North Korea by U.S. Spy Satellite
U.S. spy satellites have captured images of Chinese ships illegally selling oil to North Korea vessels on the West Sea 30 times in the past three months, according to a South Korean newspaper.


Headlines – 12/28/2017

Iran votes to declare Jerusalem ‘everlasting capital of Palestine’

Saudi Arabia, Turkey discuss Jerusalem, aiding Palestinian ‘brothers’

Erdogan on Trump’s ‘unacceptable’ recognition: Jerusalem is ‘our red line’

Turkish cyclist star quits Israeli team over Jerusalem controversy

US: Report ambassador urged ban on the term ‘occupation’ is misleading

Guatemala: No US pressure behind embassy move to Jerusalem

Israel plans a Trump rail station as Trump-naming frenzy sweeps country

Former mufti of Jerusalem rails at plan for Trump train stop at Western Wall

Trump’s pernicious attempt to starve the UN of cash could yet backfire

Stalled by Christmas: Israel’s withdrawal from UNESCO runs into holiday obstacle

Record 3.6m tourists visit Israel in 2017

Maj.-Gen. Yair Golan: ‘Disunity in Palestinian world a significant security asset’

Dozens of Israeli 12th-graders to defy draft over ‘oppression’ of Palestinians

Netanyahu says calm in Gaza depends on the Palestinians

Israeli Border Police prevent terror attack in Jerusalem

PM warns Iran, Hamas not to tangle with IAF’s ‘tremendous firepower’

A second synagogue reported vandalized in southern Iran

Trump will fail against Iran as did ‘smarter’ Reagan

Turkey’s Erdogan seeks to mend strained ties with Europe

Turkey’s Erdogan calls Syria’s Assad a terrorist, says impossible to continue with him

Syria calls Erdogan’s accusations against Assad hypocritical

Syria child evacuees may be used as bargaining chips, UN warns

Russia accuses U.S. of training former Islamic State fighters in Syria

9 ISIS fighters sentenced to death in Egypt for planning terror attacks

After Islamic State’s defeat, a massive bill to rebuild Iraq

Several dead in simultaneous attacks in Afghan capital, police say

Afghanistan suicide attack: Dozens killed as Shia centre hit in Kabul

Blast rips through supermarket in Russia’s St Petersburg, 10 hurt

Putin says St Petersburg supermarket bombing was an act of terrorism

Olympics in mind, South Korea deports 17 foreigners ‘who could pose a terrorist menace’

North Korean Defectors Show Signs Of Radiation Exposure

China spotted illegally selling oil to North Korea, report says

Republicans care about voter fraud; Democrats want to come out ahead, says study

The world’s 500 wealthiest people got $1 trillion richer in 2017

U.S. holiday sales set to break records in surprise boon to retail

Pot Stocks Soar as California Gets Ready to Get High

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Taltal, Chile

5.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Merizo Village, Guam

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits South of the Fiji Islands

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Lakatoro, Vanuatu

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kerman, Iran

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Lata, Solomon Islands

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Insane 60 Inches Of Snow Forces National Guard Onto Pennsylvania Streets

Brrr! After Record Snow, Bitter Cold Ahead for Northern US

Record-breaking cold to close out 2017

Florida orange industry hit by hurricane, disease

Agroterrorism: Threats to America’s Economy and Food Supply

More pregnant women are using pot to treat morning sickness, studies suggest

FX makes history with transgender musical series

Baltimore has now had 343 homicides in 2017, sets record for killings per capita

Chicago murder rate declines but still alarmingly high

Lockdown after Aventura Mall shooting scare is the latest impact from rumors going viral

Russia To Launch National Biometric Database in 2018

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 07:51 PM PST

Russia To Launch National Biometric Database in 2018Russia will get a country-wide biometric database for financial services starting next summer, the central bank said. The system will expand access to banking by letting people open accounts without having to visit a branch and is a key milestone in digitizing financial services, the Bank of Russia said in a statement. The regulator said that data would only be stored with individuals’ consent. Legal changes needed for the system passed this month.

State-owned Rostelecom PJSC has been selected to run the database, which will collect personal data including images of faces, voice samples and, eventually, irises and fingerprints. Facial-recognition technology has been gaining consumer acceptance around the world, with Apple Inc.’s latest iPhone using it to unlock the device. In Russia, the authorities and government-linked companies are leading the charge. READ MORE

FX makes history with transgender musical series

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 07:43 PM PST

FX makes history with transgender musical seriesCable channel FX said on Wednesday it had green-lit “Glee” creator Ryan Murphy’s “Pose,” a dance-musical series featuring the largest transgender regular cast in US television history. The series will star Evan Peters (“American Horror Story”) and Kate Mara (“The Martian,” “House of Cards”) as a New Jersey couple who get sucked into the glamour and intrigue of New York City in the 1980s.

Through their story, the series will chronicle life and society in New York, the rise of the “luxury Trump-era universe” and the downtown social and literary scene, FX said. Murphy said in a statement he expected the show to be “a game changer” about the “universal quest for identity, family and respect,” adding that it would also feature 50-plus LGBTQ characters –- another record. READ MORE

Excessive video game time now considered “mental disorder”

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 07:23 PM PST

Excessive video game time now considered “mental disorder”People who spend countless hours playing video games could soon be diagnosed with a mental health disorder. The World Health Organization will add Gaming Disorder to its International Classification of Diseases next year. That’s concerning news for the thousands of people who got a game under the tree for Christmas. According to the marketing group NPD, video game console spending in the U.S. is up 27
“percent from last year, up to $1.9 billion.

“We just don’t think it’s a good idea to let them spend hours playing video games,” said Knoxville mother Meredith Prince. Prince and her two sons have an understanding. “Just during the school year they can’t play during the week, and then they can play on the weekends,” Prince said. Video games have their place, but Prince limits them because she wants her boys to be active. READ MORE

Southern Poverty Law Center Adds ‘Merry Christmas’ to Its Hate List

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 07:18 PM PST

Southern Poverty Law Center Adds ‘Merry Christmas’ to Its Hate ListThe Southern Poverty Law Center is already infamous for labeling as “hate groups” many conservative and Christian organizations. Now it’s put “Merry Christmas” and “Jesus” on its “monitoring hate” hashtags list.

● #merrychristmas comes in at number two.

● #jesus ranks number eight.

● Even #christmaseve made the list, coming in at number five.

Liberty Counsel is an Orlando-based non-profit legal organization that’s long been on the SPLC’s hate groups list.   “The SPLC’s idea that ‘Merry Christmas’ is a hateful, violent slur shows how far out of touch it is from reality,” Liberty Counsel Chairman Mat Staver stated.  In the past, SPLC targeted groups that fought against civil rights or advocated violence, but in recent years it’s included organizations that don’t go along with the SPLC’s “politically correct” or more liberal views, declaring them hate groups guilty of hate speech.  “When the SPLC confuses a cheerful ‘Merry Christmas’ with an obscenity-laced rant threatening harm to a group of people, it loses all credibility,” Staver charged. CBN News has asked the SPLC for their reaction to Staver’s statement, but they have not responded to our inquiry. READ MORE

Pope Francis Takes a Shot at Trump’s Decision to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 07:15 PM PST

Pope Francis Takes a Shot at Trump’s Decision to Recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s CapitalPope Francis has called for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, in what many are calling a clear snub of President Donald Trump, following his controversial decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In a wide-ranging address at the Vatican, the Pope urged for dialogue between the two sides, and called for a lasting peace in the war-torn region.

“Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two states within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders,” the Pope said during his “Urbi et Orbi” address – Latin for “to the city and to the world,” as reported by The Independent. “We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians,” he declared to the audience of thousands from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica, READ MORE

New ‘Hollow Earth’ Conspiracy Makes Flat Earthers Look Like Einstein

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 06:09 PM PST

New ‘Hollow Earth’ Conspiracy Makes Flat Earthers Look Like EinsteinWe’ve all heard of the flat-Earth theorists who believe NASA is lying about the shape of the planet we live on – but move over, make way for ‘hollow-Earth’ theorists.  Oh yes, expect to hear more of this in the news in the coming weeks – and it’s even crazier – if that’s even possible? The Hollow Earth Theory has found itself in the headlines this week because of the minor fact people believe there’s a race of

superior ‘alien humans, Vikings and Nazis living in paradise at the center’ of the planet. Yeah.  Cluff was so confident in the theory he actually organized a voyage to the hollow Earth in 2007 – with a plan to set off from Russia on a ship to find the gateway, thought to be situated at the North Pole. Conveniently though, the £15,000-per-head expedition ended up being canceled.  READ MORE

Franklin Graham invites Rosie O’Donnell to avoid hell

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 05:56 PM PST

Franklin Graham invites Rosie O’Donnell to avoid hellA day after Rosie O’Donnell tweeted that House Speaker Paul Ryan was going “straight to hell,” Franklin Graham responded on Facebook with an invitation to her to repent. “Rosie O’Donnell is back in the news today for going after Speaker of the House Paul Ryan on Twitter after he posted a Christmas video message honoring the birth of Jesus Christ,” wrote the evangelist. “Among other things, she told Speaker Ryan he was going ‘straight to hell.’ Rosie, you don’t have the keys to hell, but I know the One who does.”

He continued: “And I can tell you who will be there. Hell is going to be filled with people who rejected God’s offer of salvation and turned their backs on His laws and standards, refusing to repent. Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, and He took your sins and mine to the Cross, dying in our place, so that we might live — if we would turn from our sins and put our faith in Him. I hope one day you will put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ and let him heal your heart, clean up your mouth, and forgive your sins. Do that today — you’ll never regret it.” READ MORE

 

The Rise of Strange Spirits in the Church

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 05:19 PM PST

The Rise of Strange Spirits in the Church(By Ricky Scaparo) In this message, we will discuss how strange and deceiving spirits are invading the Church today and what you need to know from the Word of God on how to identify them. For the full message watch the video below:

Kim’s soldier immune to anthrax sparking fears regime has biological weapons

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 05:15 PM PST

Kim’s soldier immune to anthrax sparking fears regime has biological weaponsAnthrax antibodies have been found in the blood of a North Korean soldier who defected to the South, raising fears the rogue state is stepping up its production of chemical and biological weapons.  At least four North Korean troops have fled Kim Jong-un’s oppressive regime in the past seven months, and the antibodies indicate the soldier was either vaccinated against the potentially deadly bacteria or had been exposed to it.

This comes just days after defense officials in Washington concluded the North is plowing “hundreds of millions of dollars” into its nuclear, biological and chemical arsenal. An intelligence official told South Korea’s Channel A: “Anthrax antibodies have been found in the North Korean defector who has escaped this year.” However, it is not known exactly which defector was found to be immune to the bacteria. READ MORE

 

‘Unseen’ asteroid set to buzz Earth tomorrow

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 05:03 PM PST

‘Unseen’ asteroid set to buzz Earth tomorrowNASA is closely monitoring the arrival of a previously unseen asteroid that is set to brush past Earth tomorrow at 21,362 miles per hour.   The space rock had been invisible to astronomers until Christmas Day when it was first identified.  Now called asteroid 2017 YZ4, it will come past us between the Earth and the Moon at a distance of just 139,433 miles. The Moon is 238,000 miles from Earth, and this pass

is considered a cat’s whisker in astronomical terms. NASA considers and monitors anything which comes within six million miles of our planet as a near-earth asteroid. The small asteroid is estimated to be between 7 and 15 meters (22.6 to 49 feet) in diameter. Although relatively small, if it did impact Earth, it could cause injuries.  READ MORE

Illinois Taxpayers May Have to Fund Thousands of Abortions

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 04:53 PM PST

Illinois Taxpayers May Have to Fund Thousands of AbortionsA number of pro-life groups and 13 Illinois state lawmakers are asking a judge to stop a new law that could give thousands of taxpayer-funded abortions to state residents starting in January. “This emergency injunction would stop a New Year’s Day implementation of this law, under which Illinois taxpayers would be forced to pay for 20,000 to 30,000 or more abortions per year,” said state Rep. Peter Breen, a special counsel for the pro-life Thomas More Society. Illinois is so far in debt it’s often seen as the most financially troubled state.

That led Breen to say, “Even apart from the sincere moral objections that many folks have to paying for abortions, there is no money in the Illinois state budget to pay for them.” He estimates the abortions could cost the state $15 million to $30 million a year. The plaintiffs seeking to stop the new law – HB 40 – warn it would make free abortions available to Medicaid recipients in the state. They could get them through all nine months of pregnancy and for any reason they choose. FULL REPORT

Siberia and Antarctica Will Be Warmer Than New Hampshire…

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 04:12 PM PST

Siberia and Antarctica Will Be Warmer Than New Hampshire…Mother Nature is giving New Hampshire more than just the cold shoulder to end 2017, she’s giving us the back of her hand.  Thanks to a blast of arctic air, we’re bracing for temperatures about 20 degrees colder than normal averages over the next week. In Concord temperatures are expected to dip as low as -11.  Of course this doesn’t even factor in the wind chill, which we all know provides an extra slap in the

face when we walk out the door each morning. But how does New Hampshire stack up against some of the coldest places on Earth? Should we really be complaining? The answer is yes. Here are eight surprising places (as of 3 p.m. Wednesday) that will be warmer than New Hampshire over the next week, according to weather.com: READ MORE

International Falls, Minnesota drops to record low -36F, Shatters 1924 Record

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 01:00 PM PST

International Falls, Minnesota drops to record low -36F, Shatters 1924 RecordInternational Falls, Minnesota woke up to a temperature of -36F at 6 a.m. Wednesday morning breaking the previous record low for Dec. 27 of -32F set in 1924, according to the National Weather Service office in Duluth. That -36 is the actual temperature, not a wind chill!  According to state records, the -36 morning in International Falls is only about halfway to the state record low temperature of -60 in Tower, Minnesota on Feb. 2, 1996.

The all-time record low for International Falls is -55F, set in January 1909.  Wednesday morning, low temperatures in the Twin Cities metro ranged from -7 in St. Paul to -13 in nearby Lake Elmo. Minnesota is stuck in a deep freeze with single-digital highs and subzero lows hanging around into next week. Check the updated 7-day forecast at fox9.com/weather and download the Fox 9 Weather App to track temperatures and snow in your specific location.  READ MORE

New Year’s Eve In NYC May Experience Coldest In History

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 12:55 PM PST

New Year’s Eve In NYC May Experience Coldest In HistoryIf you plan on ringing in the new year at the annual ball drop in Times Square, expect to be cold. A severe blast of Arctic air has descended on the New York City region and temperatures will stay below the freezing mark around the clock for the rest of the year. On New Year’s Eve, the temperature is expected to drop to around 12 degrees, about 12 degrees below normal and one of the coldest on record.

High temperatures leading to the holiday are expected to be colder than the typical low temperatures for those days. Despite the cold, it is not expected to be a record for that date. In 1962 the temperature plunged to 2 degrees on New Year’s Eve but that fact is little comfort for the upwards of one million people expected to spend hours outdoors waiting to ring in 2018. READ MORE

Jerusalem Train Station Near Western Wall to be Named After Donald Trump

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 12:42 PM PST

Jerusalem Train Station Near Western Wall to be Named After Donald TrumpIsrael’s transportation minister is pushing ahead with a plan to dig a railway tunnel under Jerusalem’s Old City, passing near sites holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims — and ending at the Western Wall with a station named after President Donald Trump.   Yisrael Katz’s plan, currently in the initial stages, involves constructing two underground stations and excavating over 2 miles (3 kilometers) of tunnel beneath downtown Jerusalem and under the politically sensitive Old City. The project would extend

Jerusalem’s soon-to-open high-speed rail line from Tel Aviv to the Western Wall, the holiest site where Jews can pray. The route will run close to — but not directly under — the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where tradition holds that Jesus was crucified and buried, and a contested holy site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Previous excavations by Israel near the holy site — the spiritual epicenter of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — READ MORE

Fresh push to allow men to compete as women in Olympics

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 11:27 AM PST

Fresh push to allow men to compete as women in OlympicsThe International Olympic Committee is being asked to reverse its decision to let men compete in women’s events.  Otherwise, as Amanda Prestigiacomo noted earlier this year at the Daily Wire, “women all over the world are getting a taste of ‘fairness,’ leftist style!”  The article explains what happens when gender is “deemed a social construct that is totally disconnected from our biology.”

The request to the IOC has been made by the non-profit 4 Winds Christian Athletics, which pointed out that transgender Tiffany Abreu, 33, is playing on a top women’s volleyball team in Brazil and “is on track to compete at the 2020 Olympics in Japan.” Abreu, born male, previously played in European men’s leagues but in 2012 decided to “become a woman,” 4 Winds said.  READ MORE

 

ISIS has lost 98 percent of its territory

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 11:18 AM PST

ISIS has lost 98 percent of its territoryISIS has lost 98 percent of the territory it once held — with half of that terror group’s so-called “caliphate” having been recaptured since President Trump took office less than a year ago, U.S. military officials said Tuesday. The massive gains come after years of “onerous” rules, when critics say the Obama administration “micromanaged” the war and shunned a more intensive air strategy that could have ended the conflict much sooner.

“The rules of engagement under the Obama administration were onerous. I mean what are we doing having individual target determination being conducted in the White House, which in some cases adds weeks and weeks,” said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. David Deptula, the former head of U.S. Air Force intelligence. “The limitations that were put on actually resulted in greater civilian casualties.” But the senior director for counterterrorism in former President Barack Obama’s National Security Council pushed back on any criticism the former president didn’t do enough to defeat ISIS. READ MORE

DEVELOPING: Backpack bomb denoted in St. Petersburg, Shoppers injured

Posted: 27 Dec 2017 11:11 AM PST

DEVELOPING: Backpack bomb denoted in St. Petersburg, Shoppers injuredA huge explosion has rocked a busy supermarket in St Petersburg, leaving at least 10 people injured. The blast happened in the Perekrestok supermarket in the northwest of the city, and shoppers fled in panic as emergency crews descended on the scene.  It is thought a bomb packed with shrapnel exploded in a storage locker, and authorities are treating the explosion as a deliberate attempt to kill.

One person is believed to be in a serious condition, while a further three were taken to hospital. Six more were treated at the scene, emergency service sources told Russian media. It comes days after a foiled terror plot to target the city led to large quantities of explosives being seized. READ MORE


What is The Gospel?


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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Trump White House Celebrates 50 Years of Kenneth Copeland’s Ministry

(Pulpit & Pen News – Important) With Paula White as Trump’s closest religious adviser, it’s been odd to watch his proximity to the strangest of religious leaders. Donald Trump and America’s craziest charismatics make for strange bed-fellows (a term one has to use cautiously, given the frequency with which Paula White changes literal bed-fellows, from her public affair with already-married Benny Hinn to her serial divorce and remarriages). Having been purportedly led to Christ by Paula White herself, Trump has made a showing of the support he’s enjoyed from Jim Bakker to Rodney Howard- Browne (both of whom have been invited to the White House). Most recently, he has shown his support of Kenneth Copeland. View article →

Source: Trump White House Celebrates 50 Years of Kenneth Copeland’s Ministry

December 28, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

What Are the Issues in Shepherding?

Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd (5:1–2a)

Therefore refers back to the fact that this epistle’s recipients were suffering persecution (4:12–19) and being attacked for righteousness’ sake. That reality led Peter to exhort the elders to shepherd their troubled, beleaguered sheep. The first and obvious point to note here is that the Holy Spirit affirms that such spiritual leadership and responsibility for the church belongs to elders. That is unmistakable and consistent in the New Testament books dealing with the church. The first mention of elders is in Acts 11:30, where the writer Luke identifies them as the leaders of the Jerusalem church. Subsequent references in Acts (14:23; 15:4, 6, 22, 23; 16:4; 20:17; 21:18) continue to make clear their role. In 1 Timothy 5:17 Paul identifies them as those men who rule while laboring “in the word and doctrine” (kjv). Titus 1:5 establishes that elders were to lead every church in every city. The qualifications for such men appear in 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:5–9. (For a detailed treatment of these two passages, see John MacArthur, 1 Timothy, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1995], 91–121; MacArthur, Titus, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1996], 17–52.)

Exhort (parakaleō) means literally “to call alongside,” or in the general sense, “to encourage or compel someone in a certain direction.” The related noun is often associated with the ministry of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 14:16–17, 26; 15:26; 16:7). Here Peter directs the appeal to the elders, who are the Lord’s appointed and gifted leaders of the church. There are three New Testament terms used interchangeably to refer to these men: elder (presbuterion; cf. 1 Tim. 5:19; 2 John 1; 3 John 1), bishop or overseer (episkopos; cf. 2:25; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:7), and pastor (poimēn; cf. Eph. 4:11). Elder emphasizes the man’s spiritual maturity necessary for such ministry, and in many Protestant churches it is the official title chosen for the office. Bishop, or overseer, states the general responsibility of guardianship. Pastor is the word shepherd and expresses the priority duty of feeding or teaching the truth of God’s Word.

The Old Testament is filled with references to elders in Israel (e.g., Lev. 4:15; Num. 11:25; Deut. 25:7; 1 Kings 21:11; Ps. 107:32; Prov. 31:23). The New Testament also indicates elders were still important in Jewish society in those days (e.g., Matt. 15:2; 16:21; Luke 9:22; Acts 4:5; 24:1). Each synagogue had its ruling elders who held leadership duties and were responsible for teaching (cf. Neh. 8:4–8; 9:5; Acts 15:21). The early church broadly adopted a similar model (cf. Acts 2:42–47; 6:4), appointing a plurality of godly and gifted men to lead, guard, and feed each local congregation (cf. Titus 1:5). It was their responsibility to proclaim the truth so as to build up the people and protect them against sin and error, while always being the highest examples of godliness to the flock (5:3; 1 Tim. 4:12; Heb. 13:7).

It is significant that Peter used the plural, elders. In reference to this ministry, the term always appears in the plural in the New Testament, affirming that the office was designed for a plurality of men. A singular usage of the word in reference to church leaders occurs only in such instances as when the apostle John calls himself “the elder” (2 John 1; 3 John 1) or Peter here calls himself a fellow elder, and when instruction is given about an accusation against a specific elder (1 Tim. 5:1, kjv, 19). The plurality of godly leaders, as designed by the Lord, not only provides more ministry care (cf. Ex. 18:13–26) but offers some important safeguards (cf. Prov. 11:14). First, it helps protect the church against error. The apostle Paul told the church at Corinth, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.… and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets” (1 Cor. 14:29, 32). No one was to speak or minister independently (cf. 1 Cor. 14:26–33), teaching strictly on his own and not being accountable or subject to the knowledge of other teachers.

A plurality of elders in a local church also preserves it against imbalance. It is common that dominance by one leader results in his evil domineering over the flock, often with an overemphasis on some doctrine or practice that is out of harmony with the rest of Scripture, exposing people to serious doctrinal error and unbiblical practice. There are varieties of offices, gifts, and administrations (Rom. 12:3–8; 1 Cor. 12:4–11), and each believer, including elders, has a unique gift (see the discussion on 4:10–11 in chapter 21 of this volume), and no two gifts are exactly alike. A plurality of godly and gifted elders enriches the church since God does not give all the spiritual abilities to one man. The undue elevation of one man above what is proper (cf. 1 Tim. 3:6; 5:22) is an abuse against which a plurality of elders in the church safeguards.

Finally, a plurality of elders avoids discontinuity in the church. When a man who has been the sole or dominant leader in a church leaves without ever developing fellow elders, there is no one able to replace him, resulting in a major disruption of ministry for that church. In the shepherdless vacuum, committees of sheep struggle to find a shepherd from among those who have no flock or would like a different one. The results are often disappointing and even divisive. So, God designed the church to be shepherded by a plurality of elders (cf. Acts 14:23; Titus 1:5).

The task of the shepherd carries with it an unequalled responsibility before the Lord of the church (Heb. 13:17; cf. 1 Cor. 4:1–5). While it includes the positive elements of spiritual leadership toward maturity and Christlikeness, and spiritual guardianship to protect the flock, its chief objective is the feeding of the flock through the skillful preaching and teaching of divine revelation, which is the source of all those positive elements. Peter received firsthand instruction on the shepherd’s foremost responsibility from the risen Lord Himself:

So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Tend My sheep.” (John 21:15–17)

Twice Jesus used the word “tend” (boskō), which could be better translated “to feed.” “Shepherd” (poimainō) embodies all the aspects of shepherding. The shepherd’s task is not to tell people only what they want to hear (2 Tim. 4:3–4), but to edify and strengthen them with the deep truths of solid spiritual food that produces discernment, conviction, consistency, power, and effective testimony to the greatness of the saving work of Christ. No matter what New Testament terminology identifies the shepherd and his task, underneath it all is the primacy of biblical truth. He is to feed the sheep.

In Old Testament times, whenever Israel’s spiritual shepherds failed to feed or care for the people, God, through His prophets, rebuked them. Jeremiah declared:

“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the Lord. “Then I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will also raise up shepherds over them and they will tend them; and they will not be afraid any longer, nor be terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord. (Jer. 23:1–4; cf. Ezek. 34:2–16)

Peter includes some compelling motivation in this exhortation for leaders to shepherd. First, the respected apostle humbly identified with them, calling himself a fellow elder. Rather than take advantage of their respect for him as an apostle and elevate himself, he empathized with their task as one who understood the challenges and difficulties inherent in shepherding (see again John 21:15–17).

As another motivation, Peter reminded them that he was a witness of the sufferings of Christ. That he had seen the suffering and risen Christ affirmed the reality of his apostolic identity (Luke 6:12–16; cf. Acts 1:12–17) and gave him authority. Witness (martus) has a twofold meaning: one who personally saw and experienced something, and one who testified to what he saw. Because so many who gave testimony to their experiences with Christ were killed, the term martyred came to refer to one who was killed for being a Christian witness (cf. Matt. 16:24–25; 24:9; Rev. 6:9; 20:4). In Peter’s case, his being a witness to the sufferings of Jesus along with his fellow apostles, and being commissioned to proclaim those sufferings, to declare the gospel message (cf. Luke 24:45–48; Acts 22:15), made him a trustworthy source to encourage the elders to their duty. The Lord’s redemptive work was a primary focus in Peter’s preaching (Acts 2:14–36; 3:12–26; 4:8–12), and a major theme in this letter (1:11, 19; 2:21–24; 3:18; 4:1, 13).

Peter’s mention of future glory motivates by anticipation. As one who was a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, Peter could offer the other elders the genuine hope of an eternal reward for their faithful service. The glory that is to be revealed looks at the return of Christ (cf. 1:7–9; 4:7, 12–13; Matt. 24:30; 25:31; Mark 13:26; Luke 21:27; see the discussion of 4:7a in chapter 21 of this volume) when He comes in full expression of His glory to destroy the ungodly, reward His own, and establish His kingdom forever. Peter says he is a partaker (koinōnos) also in that ultimate blessing, indicating that so are the elders. That believers share in eternal glory with their Lord is the essence of their hope (5:10; cf. 2 Cor. 1:1–7; Phil. 3:20–21; Col. 1:27; 3:4; 2 Thess. 2:14; Heb. 2:10; 2 Peter 1:3; 1 John 3:2). And that those shepherds would one day receive that reward from Christ Himself should have been a powerful motivation to all Peter’s readers (see the discussion of 4:13 in the previous chapter of this volume and of 1:3–5 and 1:13 in chapters 2 and 5, respectively). Certainly Peter’s anticipation was magnified exponentially because he had seen that coming glory at the Transfiguration (cf. Matt. 17:1–8; 2 Peter 1:16–19).

Who Must Be Shepherded?

the flock of God among you, (5:2b)

This text clearly states that elders have the most serious, delegated stewardship, to shepherd not their own flock, but the flock of God. Jesus Christ came to earth to redeem His church (cf. John 10:11; Eph. 5:25b–27). After He ascended back to heaven, He sent His Spirit to empower His church (cf. John 16:5–11; Acts 1:4–9) with the necessary spiritual gifts and gifted men to shepherd the flock to Christlikeness (cf. John 14:26; 15:15–17; Eph. 4:11–12). And the fact that Christ purchased that flock with His own blood (1:18–19; cf. Acts 20:28) emphasizes the church’s value to the Lord. In form, the term rendered flock here (poimnion) is a diminutive, a term of endearment, further stressing the preciousness of the church (cf. John 10:1–5). Commentator R. C. H. Lenski echoes this emphasis:

“Flock” brings to mind all the shepherd imagery found in the Scriptures: the sheep gentle, defenseless, liable to stray, needing a shepherd, happy, peaceful under his care, pitiful when lost, scattered, etc. This is “God’s flock” that was bought at a great price (Acts 20:28), that is exceedingly precious in his sight, a great trust placed into the hands of human shepherds who are to pattern after Yahweh, the Shepherd (Ps. 23:1), and Christ, the Archshepherd (v. 4). What shepherd could have the care of any part of God’s flock and treat it carelessly! Peter’s words are sparing but overflow with tender and serious meaning. (The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude [reprint; Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1966], 218; emphasis in original)

How Must Shepherding Be Done?

exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. (5:2c–3)

To the key question of how elders are to shepherd, Peter provides both positive and negative answers. Exercising oversight actually translates a single Greek word, episkopeō, which literally means “to have scope over,” or “to look upon.” The noun is episkopos (“bishop,” or “overseer”; cf. 1 Tim. 3:1). Its clear connotation here in this first positive answer is that shepherds must watch over the sheep to assess their condition, so as to lead, guard, and feed them.

The second positive way elders exercise oversight is by proving to be examples to the flock. Shepherds are to become sufficiently involved in the lives of the flock that they establish a godly pattern for the people to follow. The most important aspect of spiritual leadership and the best test of its effectiveness is the power of an exemplary life (cf. the apostle Paul’s application of this in Acts 20:17–38; 2 Cor. 1:12–14; 6:3–13; 11:7–11; 1 Thess. 2:1–10; 2 Thess. 3:7–9; 2 Tim. 1:13–14). Paul even went so far as to exhort his sheep to be imitators of him (1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1; 1 Thess. 1:6; cf. Heb. 13:7).

Biblical spiritual oversight also involves avoiding three perils inherent in the shepherding task. The first danger Peter mentions is shepherding under compulsion, rather than as eager, willing servant-leaders who minister voluntarily. The obvious point is that the shepherd must be diligent rather than lazy, heart motivated rather than forced to be faithful, and passionate about his privileged duty rather than indifferent. When the heart is fully Christ’s and driven by love for Him and for souls, there is much internal compulsion that precludes any need for external motivational pressure.

Along this line, Paul declares, “If I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16). He defined the proper compulsion to ministry when he wrote, “Knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade men … the love of Christ controls us” (2 Cor. 5:11, 14). Paul’s personal passion is also evident in Romans 1:14–16,

I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome. For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

This zealous service is according to the will of God, just as the Lord wills the unjust suffering that perfects His saints (4:19). Those who shepherd God’s people should have no doubt about the diligence and seriousness with which they should fulfill their spiritual ministry of caring for the precious souls who are the Lord’s, and they will give an account: “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you” (Heb. 13:17).

The second peril for shepherds to avoid is the temptation to be motivated by money or material benefits. In Acts 20:33–35, Paul manifests the right attitude:

I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” (cf. 1 Thess. 2:8–9; 1 Tim. 6:6–11)

The basic scriptural qualifications for an elder also make it clear that he is characterized as a selfless servant committed to sacrifice and not preoccupied with money and materialism (1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 1:7; cf. 2 Tim. 3:1–2). That is not to say, however, that shepherds should not be properly compensated. Paul taught that those who minister the Word have a right to live by that ministry (1 Cor. 9:7–14). In fact, those elders who serve diligently, with greater commitment and excellence in teaching the Word and leading the sheep, should receive greater acknowledgment and more generous remuneration from their congregations (1 Tim. 5:17–18; cf. 1 Thess. 5:12–13).

Sordid gain actually goes beyond just seeking wealth and speaks to the shameful acquisition of it. True shepherds will never use the ministry to steal the sheep’s money or acquire it dishonestly, like false prophets always do. Such despicable behavior is typical of false shepherds, the charlatans and heretics who masquerade as the servants of God, to make themselves rich and their victims destitute (Isa. 56:11; Jer. 6:13; 8:10; Mic. 3:11). In his second letter, Peter characterizes false teachers in vivid language: “In their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep” (2:3). True shepherds, instead, will eagerly rejoice at the privilege to serve at all personal costs; as Paul told the Corinthians, “I will most gladly spend and be expended for your souls” (2 Cor. 12:15). Ministry for money and personal gain is a prostitution of the calling of the Lord of the church, as is laziness and indifference toward the people entrusted to elders. No true shepherd should need personal wealth to motivate him, but he should serve with eagerness (prothumōs, “willingly, freely, eagerly”) because of the high calling and privilege (cf. 1 Tim. 1:12–17).

Finally, those called to shepherd can be imperiled by the desire to sinfully dominate others. Lording it over (katakurieuō) connotes intensity in domineering over people and circumstances (see Diotrephes as an example in 3 John 9–10). Any kind of autocratic, oppressive, and intimidating leadership, with elements of demagoguery—traits that typically characterize the leadership style and methodology of unregenerate men—is a perversion of the overseer’s office. In Matthew 20:25–28, the Lord Jesus set the standard:

But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

As if to further challenge elders with the weight of their responsibility, Peter adds a strong reminder that those who shepherd do not choose their responsibility, or those for whom they are responsible. Every shepherd has a flock allotted to his charge (klērōn, “that which is given to another’s care”) by the Lord Himself. Christ’s teaching in Matthew 18, the first instruction regarding life in the church, emphasizes how precious His children (believers) are and how they are to be treated.

Whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of its stumbling blocks! For it is inevitable that stumbling blocks come; but woe to that man through whom the stumbling block comes! If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire. If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell. See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? If it turns out that he finds it, truly I say to you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine which have not gone astray. So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish. (Matt. 18:5–14)[1]


2–3 Peter’s exhortation to those entrusted with spiritual leadership in the community is marked by great care and pastoral sensitivity. He is careful to emphasize how the elders exercise their oversight. He does this in a manner consistent with the sheep/shepherd imagery appropriated earlier (1:19; 2:22–25) and so frequently used in the OT to depict the relationship between God and his people (e.g., Ge 48:15; 1 Ki 22:17; Pss 23:1–6; 80:1; 100:3; 119:176; Jer 3:15; 23:1–4; 31:10; 50:6; Eze 34:2, 11; Mic 5:4; Zec 9:16; 10:2). Peter’s charge is, “Be shepherd of God’s flock that is under your care”—language reminiscent of Paul’s charge to the Ephesian elders (Ac 20:28). Implicit in the shepherding metaphor is a concern for the flock’s total well-being, constitutive elements of which are feeding, watering, protecting, and guiding. Such attentiveness to the flock’s needs is by no means arbitrary, for the flock belongs to God. Hence they have been entrusted by the Lord himself; in the end, shepherds are accountable stewards (cf. 4:11). And certainly an extra measure of passion lies behind Peter’s directive to shepherd the flock, given Jesus’ post-resurrection charge to him: “Feed my lambs.… Take care of my sheep.… Feed my sheep” (Jn 21:15–17).

How precisely are the elders to “serve as overseers”? Three qualifications follow, each consisting of a negative and positive exhortation to form a contrast: (1) not by compulsion, but willingly (cf. 1 Ti 3:1); (2) not for dishonest gain, but eagerly (cf. 1 Ti 3:8; 6:6–10; Tit 1:7; cf. 1 Co 9:7–11); and (3) not lording it over others, but as examples (cf. Mk 10:35–45; Php 3:17; 2 Th 3:9; 1 Ti 4:12; Tit 2:7).

All three speak to the issue of personal motivation. All three strike at the essence of human nature. The exercise of authority, given the human predicament, tends to be coercive, self-centered, and domineering. Jesus’ warning to the disciples at a crucial point in his ministry is poignant: “Not so with you” (Mk 10:43). Rather, Jesus’ prescription is that the true leader “must be your servant.” And this is the spirit of Peter’s admonition. By overseeing in this manner, the elders will be examples (typoi, “types,” GK 5596) to all. One leads not by asserting but by serving the needs of others. A self-serving shepherd is a contradiction in terms.[2]


5:2 / Not surprisingly, after his unforgettable interview with the risen Lord on the shore (John 21:15–17), Peter again employs pastoral language. The church leaders are to be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care (lit. “to shepherd God’s flock among you”). The symbol of shepherd/sheep appeared in 2:25, where it corresponds to Christ/Christians, echoing the frequent ot picture of God as the Shepherd of his people (Ps. 23:1; 80:1; Isa. 40:11; Zech. 9:16). But the image is also applied in the nt to Christian leaders/other believers (Acts 20:28; Eph. 4:11). The transfer is natural enough, for Christian leaders are acting on behalf of the Chief Shepherd, Jesus himself (5:4), and they are to pattern their ministry after his.

A shepherd is responsible for the total well-being of the flock committed by an employer into his charge. He must see to it that the sheep are fed, watered, and protected at all times, and that, as necessary, they are led from place to place to find fresh pasture. The task can involve not simply the personal inconvenience of putting the sheep before his own comfort, but hardship and danger, even at the risk to his own life (John 10:11). The appropriateness of the metaphor is apparent in the harsh and wild rural economy of Bible days, even if the city-dweller of today may have to make a special effort to appreciate its application to a modern situation.

The flock of church members is described as God’s. The flock belongs to him: it is his property. Elders in their shepherding are to keep that fact always in mind, for they are engaged in fulfilling a divine trust, and in due course they will be answerable to God for what they do—or fail to do—with it.

The elders do not own the sheep, but are serving as overseers, exercising oversight in the church fellowship. But they are not to carry out this responsibility with any unworthy motives. It must be voluntary service (not because you must) and willingly and eagerly given, for such is the true nature of Christian love. Neither must there be any idea of doing for getting, no notion of serving only for what they can squeeze out of it: not greedy for money (1 Tim. 3:8; Titus 1:7). The inclusion of such a warning suggests that it was not unnecessary. Probably since being known as a committed believer meant almost certain ostracism from employment and social life in the general pagan community, the opportunities for grasping money entrusted to Christians in a position of authority might become all too tempting.[3]


5:2. Out of his personal history and his identification with his fellow elders, Peter encouraged and challenged them. The primary role for pastors is to be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care. This is not an optional assignment but a command. It echoes Christ’s command to Peter to “take care of my sheep” (see John 21:16). To “shepherd” means “to lead, to guide, and to rule.”

Since the pastor is the leader of a church, one commentator suggests the following functions of the pastor: “(They) had charge of the financial administration of the church … they were the counselors and administrators of the church. They oversee all the activities of the church and are defenders of the faith. They are also called rulers and teachers and were the paid leaders of the church” (William Barclay, The Letters of James & Peter, Daily Study Bible [Toronto: G. R. Welch Co., 1976], p. 264.)

Although Peter did not allude to the shepherd image in Psalm 23, the model presented there can be applied here. According to that psalm, the tasks of a shepherd are to lead (v. 2), to provide spiritual guidance and feeding (v. 3), to offer comfort (v. 4), strengthening (v. 5), and correction (v. 2).

To accomplish this kind of ministry, a pastor’s motivation must be positive. He must view his role as an overseer of the church not because you must, but because you are willing. “Not because you must” suggests a false sense of unworthiness, a reluctance for responsibility, or a desire to do no more than is absolutely necessary. Ministry should not be an unwanted burden; pastors are not to serve out of a sense of false guilt or fear, or in an attempt to please people. Any of these attitudes or motives can lead to an unwillingness to shepherd or to shepherd in an inappropriate manner.

One of the most inappropriate shepherding motivations is highlighted next: serving because one is greedy for money. Peter did not suggest that pastors should not be paid a salary for their shepherding ministries. The New Testament is very clear that generous remuneration for pastors is incumbent upon the churches (see 1 Tim. 5:17–18). Scripture opposes a motivation for ministry driven by greed, so much so that the pastor either appropriates money dishonestly or is concerned only about personal financial needs. When this occurs, the pastor is not helping the church resist the attacks of Satan, because this is something that Satan often uses to distract us.

How much better to be eager to serve. Eager is a strong term meaning “with enthusiasm, with energy and excitement.” This is certainly difficult when facing the attacks of Satan and when one is attempting to lead a church through a maze of suffering and persecution. At the same time, it is an indispensable characteristic for pastor-leaders to model. It doesn’t suggest that a pastor is never discouraged or that he does not have days when he is not enthusiastic about ministry. This is a big-picture word, a long-haul term that describes the overall tone of his shepherding. Without this, pastors have a tendency to drift toward a harmful approach to ministry.[4]


2. Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3. not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.

  • “Be shepherds of God’s flock.” The imagery is striking in view of Jesus’ words spoken at the time of Peter’s restoration: “Feed my lambs,” “Take care of my sheep,” and “Feed my sheep” (John 21:15–17). Here is a figure of speech that Jesus often used. He applied the saying I am the good shepherd (John 10:11, 14) to himself and called the church a flock of sheep. He borrowed the imagery from the Old Testament (see, e.g., Ps. 78:52; Isa. 63:11; Jer. 31:10; Zech. 13:7). As Jesus is the “Chief Shepherd” (v. 4), so the elders should be shepherds working under him and caring for God’s people, called “God’s flock.” Here Peter commands the elders to be shepherds while they serve as overseers. They must feed the flock “by discipline and doctrine.”

The expression flock appears four times in the New Testament: Jesus uses it to calm his disciples (“Do not be afraid, little flock” [Luke 12:32]); Paul exhorts the Ephesian elders to “keep watch over yourselves and all the flock” and to protect it from savage wolves that “will not spare the flock” (Acts 20:28–29); Peter tells the elders to “be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care” (v. 2) and to be “examples to the flock” (v. 3). The Greek word for “flock” is a diminutive form. It is a term of endearment and means “God’s precious flock” that has been bought with the blood of Christ.

  • “Serving as overseers.” Elders serve by being overseers of the flock. Peter gives them a number of instructions about how they are to do their work. We have the following scheme, put in parallel form to show the negative and positive directives:
not because you must

 

but because you are willing,

 

 

 

as God wants you to be

 

not greedy for money

 

but eager to serve

 

not lording it over

 

but being examples to the

 

those entrusted

 

flock

 

to you

 

 

 

First, let us consider the negative statement not because you must. In the Greek, the adverbial expression which in the New Testament occurs only here means “by compulsion” or “by force or constraint.”8 The desired attitude is similar to that of the person who donates his gifts: “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7).

Positively, an elder must serve willingly and spontaneously to please God (compare Philem. 14). He does so freely, with the sole purpose of doing God’s will. By doing so, he demonstrates his love and thankfulness toward God.

Second, the prohibition not greedy for money is telling, for this is one of the vices the elders should avoid (see 1 Tim. 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7, and see 11). During his earthly ministry, Jesus instructed the disciples: “The worker deserves his wages” (Luke 10:7). Paul amplifies this thought when he writes about the material support of the preacher. Says he, “The Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel” (1 Cor. 9:14). And in the pastoral Epistles Paul indicates that elders received remuneration for their labors in the church. “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Tim. 5:17). In the next verse, Paul quotes Jesus’ saying, “The worker deserves his wages,” to show that the term honor includes financial support. The elders, however, ought to shun every desire to enrich themselves. Should they yield to this desire, they would commit the sin of greed, “which is idolatry” (Col. 3:5). “What is forbidden is not the desire for fair remuneration, but the sordid love of gain.”

Peter tells the elders not to be greedy “but eager to serve.” He says that they must be filled with enthusiasm in their task of serving God’s people. They must find their satisfaction in serving Christ, not in serving Money.

Third, as shepherds of the flock, the elders receive their authority directly from the Chief Shepherd (v. 4) through the Holy Spirit (compare Acts 20:28). However, they are not to misuse this authority; hence the admonition, “not lording it over those entrusted to you.” That is, Jesus has given them a charge to serve the people of his flock.

The words lording it over “speak of a high-handed autocratic rule over the flock.” Although Jesus delegates authority to leaders in the church (see 1 Tim. 5:17), no elder may abuse the power he has received. When Paul writes to the Christians in Corinth, he advances their spiritual stability. Says he, “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm” (2 Cor. 1:24; also compare Ezek. 34:4).

The apostles Peter and Paul never used their apostolic office for personal advantage. They placed themselves alongside the members of the church to strengthen the weak, heal the sick, and bind up the wounded.

Peter notes that the elders are to serve the people who are entrusted to their care. In the Greek, Peter literally says, “not lording it over the lots.” The lots are “the various parts of the congregation which have been assigned as ‘portions’ to the individual presbyters.” Jesus, then, entrusts various parts of his church to the elders and holds them accountable to God for the work they perform (see Heb. 13:17). The elders serve God’s people not because of natural leadership capabilities or because Peter ordained them as presbyters. They serve because Jesus the Chief Shepherd called them to this task.

Church leaders must “be examples to the flock.” Paul instructs Timothy to be an example to the believers in speech, life, love, faith, and purity (1 Tim. 4:12; and see Titus 2:7). The elders must induce the people to imitate them in true obedience to the gospel of Christ. Furthermore, when these leaders faithfully proclaim the Word and live in accordance with it, they enhance the name of Christ and thus strengthen their authority. In short, for the elders words and deeds must be synonymous (compare 1 Cor. 11:1; Phil. 3:17).

Practical Considerations in 5:2–3

People are slavish borrowers of expressions they do not have in their own tongue. The result is that words in time assume different shades of meaning. Often the original meaning of a word disappears completely.

One such word is the term clergy. Today we use it of ordained pastors. We place it in opposition to the unordained members of the church whom we call “laity.” Now notice an interesting development in the history of these two terms. The word clergy comes from the Greek kleeros (v. 3), which in the original means “lot” or in this verse “an allotment of members of the church.” In early ecclesiastical Latin, the expression clerus signified a congregation and pointed to a group of unordained members. In later years, however, the Latin term clericus became the designation for an ordained person; the rest of the people were called “laity” (from the Greek word laos or laikos, people).

When Peter wrote verses 2 and 3 and instructed the elders to be shepherds of the people, he told them not to lord it over those who were entrusted to their care. But the Greek term he employed to describe the ones entrusted to the elders now functions as a label for the clergy.[5]


5:2 Elders are mature men of Christian character who are qualified by the Holy Spirit to provide spiritual leadership in the assembly. The NT presupposes a plurality of elders—not one elder over a church or over a group of churches, but two or more elders in one assembly (Phil. 1:1). For the qualifications of elders see 1 Timothy 3:1–7 and Titus 1:6–9. In the early church before the NT was available in written form, elders were appointed by the apostles and their representatives, but only after sufficient time had elapsed in a new church for it to be evident who had the qualifications. Today, Christians should recognize and obey those who have the qualifications and who do the work of elders.

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you. The flock belongs to God but elders have been given the responsibility to serve as undershepherds. Not by compulsion but willingly. Overseeing the flock is not a work into which men are coerced by election or appointment. The Holy Spirit provides the burden and ability, and the elders must respond with a willing heart. So we read in 1 Timothy 3:1, “If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.” Coupled with divine enablement must be human willingness.

Not for dishonest gain but eagerly. Financial reward must not be the motive for being an elder. This does not mean that an elder may not be supported by the local church; the existence of such “full-time elders” is indicated in 1 Timothy 5:17, 18. But it means that a mercenary spirit is incompatible with true Christian ministry.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 263–270). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 352–353). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hillyer, N. (2011). 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (pp. 139–140). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Walls, D., & Anders, M. (1999). I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude (Vol. 11, pp. 89–90). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 190–193). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2280). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

DECEMBER 28 CHRIST’S PICTURE EVERYWHERE

Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power.

Revelation 4:11

We try to sympathize with the writer John as he attempts to describe heavenly creatures in human terms in the book of Revelation. He knew and we know that it was impossible for God to fully reveal Himself and the heavenly glories to a man.

John tries to describe for us the four “living creatures” in Revelation 4. The first was like a lion; the second was like an ox; the third had the face of a man; the fourth was like a soaring eagle. Did you know that for centuries Christians have seen those same “faces” in the four gospels of the New Testament?

God has put Jesus Christ’s picture everywhere! Matthew’s is the gospel of the King. Mark’s, the gospel of the suffering Servant. Luke’s, the gospel of the Son of Man. John’s, the gospel of the Son of God. Four loving, adoring, worshiping beings, faithfully and forever devoted to praising God!

Make no mistake about it: The imagery is plainly the gospel of Christ. He is what Christianity is all about!

Lord, You are truly what this world is all about: You created it, You hold it together, and You have redeemed it! You are worthy to be praised every moment of every day![1]


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

December 28 Principles of the Dragnet, Part 2

So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous.—Matt. 13:49

One way that God’s angels serve Him in the judgment is as instruments of separation and execution of final sentence (cf. Matt. 24:31; 25:31–32; Rev. 14:19; 15:5–16:21). This separation will be from among all the living and the dead of humanity from all time—“those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:29).

During His earthly ministry, Jesus repeatedly warned about the horrors of hell (Matt. 10:28; 25:41; Luke 16:23) and pled with people to avoid such a terrible fate by fleeing to Him for salvation. Even though life will seem normal, our Lord predicts that one day the righteous and unrighteous will part ways:

For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left. (Matt. 24:37–41)

God does not want any sinner to perish (Ezek. 18:23; 2 Peter 3:9). Jesus wept over Jerusalem because its people would not turn to Him (Luke 19:41)—He does not desire anyone to experience hell.

ASK YOURSELF

One way you see the distinction between the world and the church is how quickly the serene atmosphere of Christmas devolves into the bawdy recklessness of New Year’s Eve plans. Why are so many people content to treat Christianity like a part-time occupation?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 371). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

December 28 Fruitful Labor

If I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor.

Philippians 1:22

The apostle Paul considered that being alive in the physical world is synonymous with fruitful labor for Christ. His use of “labor” refers to his spiritual work for the Lord, which yields spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit may be seen in people, deeds, and words—whatever is of eternal value. That kind of fruit comes from good hard work, which is the natural activity of the godly on earth.

Paul had a strong desire to bear fruit. He wanted the Philippians to be confident in Christ and strengthened for evangelism (Phil. 1:26–27). He is reminiscent of the psalmist who said, “O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come” (Ps. 71:17–18). That elderly man wanted to live long enough to declare God’s strength and power to the next generation. May God grant you that same privilege.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 389). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 28, 2017: Morning Verse Of The Day

The Two Mannas

John 6:48–51

“I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”

Several years ago I heard a story about a Scotsman who was coming to America. He had purchased passage on one of the great ocean liners. He did not have much money, so he decided to save on food by stocking up on crackers, cheese, and fruit before his departure. The ship sailed, and he began to eat his Spartan meals. This went fairly well for the first four or five days. But as the ship drew closer to New York the crackers became increasingly stale, the cheese became moldy, and the fruit spoiled. Finally there was nothing left that was fit to eat. The Scotsman decided that he would go to the dining room and have one last, good meal before the liner docked in Manhattan and he went ashore. Imagine his surprise to discover that nothing in the dining room cost anything and that all that he could ever have eaten had already been included in the price of his ticket before he left the British Isles!

Unfortunately, this is the way in which thousands of men and women act toward the true bread of life that is offered to us without price in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is there for all. But the sad fact is that many would rather feed upon the dry crackers of human philosophy or the spoiled fruit of good works than come to him.

Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (John 6:48–51). We will enter into the full meaning of these verses when we recognize that in them Jesus Christ voices a great claim, makes a requirement, and offers a wonderful promise.

Christ’s Claim

The claim that the Lord Jesus makes in these verses is, quite simply, to be the “bread of life.” It is the second time in this chapter that he has described himself by this image, and the image itself constitutes the first of the great “I am” sayings that are a characteristic of this Gospel. Here Jesus is portrayed as the bread of life. Later he will say: “I am the light of the world” (8:12; 9:5), “I am the gate” (10:7, 9), “I am the good shepherd” (10:11, 14), “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25), “I am the way and the truth and the life” (14:6), “I am the true vine” (15:1, 5). By these images he shows that he is all that men and women need and that he is the sole way to come to God the Father.

Another way of setting the context for this saying is to notice that it is the third great Old Testament image that has been appropriated as a description of who Jesus Christ is and what he does. In chapter 1 Jesus has used the figure of Jacob’s ladder upon which the angels of God were ascending and descending from heaven. This suggests that Jesus is the One through whom God the Father is revealed to men. In chapter 3 he is the brazen serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness. Here the crucifixion is portrayed, that work by which men and women are healed from the serpent bite of sin. Now he is the bread of life, the new manna, by which the new people of God are fed during the years of their desert wandering. There are two mannas, of course. There is the manna upon which the Jewish people fed in the wilderness under the direction of Moses. This manna sustained physical life for a time; but even this physical life did not go on forever, and eventually all who had eaten this literal manna died. There is also the manna that Jesus gives. This bread imparts and sustains that kind of life that will go on forever.

What does it mean when Jesus claims to be the bread of life? It means that he is able to satisfy the deepest needs and longings of the human soul. He is able to satisfy your needs, your longings, whatever they may be.

This does not mean that Jesus is going to satisfy every want or desire you may have or think you have. It means that he will satisfy that which you most deeply need. You say, “But aren’t those two the same thing?” No, I do not think so. Let me give an example. Take a child who is beginning to grow up with a highly sharpened sense of what he “needs,” as most children do. He thinks he needs candy—about every hour or so throughout the day. He thinks he needs to stay up to watch the late, late show on television. He thinks he needs to be able to set his own schedule—get up when he wants to, go in and out with his friends when he wants to, come to dinner when he wants to. He thinks he needs leisure time, particularly when he is asked to straighten up his room or help his mother with the dishes. All these items are “needs” from the child’s point of view. But if the parent indulges the child in these, all he will produce is an unruly and obnoxious brat. What is more, when he grows up the child will attempt to inflict his unrestrained desires on everyone else and may well end up in jail.

What is it that the child needs? It is not what the child thinks he needs. Actually, the child needs discipline. He needs a standard of right and wrong conduct and someone to insist on that standard. He needs to be loved, to have goals, guidance, and encouragement.

In the same way, our real needs often differ from our imagined needs, and it is our real needs for which Jesus Christ is the answer. We find salvation in him. In him we have eternal life. We also are loved, receive goals and guidance, and are encouraged in life. “I am the bread of life,” said Jesus. The implication is that we should feed upon him and grow.

In this chapter Jesus gives what would be called in theology a “progressive revelation” of himself as the bread. It is as though he held the mystery of himself as the bread in his hand and then slowly opened his hand one finger at a time so that those who were listening to him would see the truth gradually. First, he spoke of a bread from heaven that the Father gives to men (v. 32). This was the opening of the first finger. After the curiosity of the crowd had been aroused Jesus opened another finger by pointing out that he was the bread about which he was speaking (vv. 35, 48). Finally, in the verses that we are considering, he opens his hand the whole way and shows that the bread is his body that will be given up in death for men and women. He says, “And the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world” (v. 51).

I am glad that Jesus went on to speak of the cross, because Christ without the cross is of no use to us. We can look to his example, to the way he led his life. We can admire it. But the life alone does not help. We can admire the life, but we cannot live it. Besides, we are condemned by that life, for it is the standard of what God would require of us as his creatures. A Christ without the cross is of no use to us. He condemns us. Fortunately, there is more. For Jesus went on to speak of the cross and eventually to die upon it and rise again. Now there is hope. He died for our sin. The chastisement of our peace is upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. In his resurrection life we now have life. In his righteousness, through his death, we are now reckoned righteous in the sight of a holy and loving God.

To understand these things is to understand not only why Christ is truly the bread that came down from heaven but also why he is necessary for spiritual life.

The Requirement

These verses not only contain Christ’s claim, which is a great claim; they also make a requirement. The requirement is that we feed upon him. This means to believe on Jesus, commit your life to him, take him into yourself so that he becomes a part of you and you of him. It is precisely the same act that is spoken of in verse 37, where we are encouraged to “come” to Christ, knowing that those who come to him will never be cast out. Have you come? I do not mean, do you know about Christ? Many people know about Christ but have never come to him. The devil knows about him but hates him. I mean, have you committed your life to him so that now your life, properly speaking, belongs to Jesus? If not, you need to say, “Lord Jesus Christ, I want you to know that I accept all the things said in Scripture about my sin and my need of you. I know that I am not holy. I recognize that I cannot please you by my own efforts. At the same time, I recognize that you died for me on the cross two thousand years ago, and I want that death to stand for my death. I want to be yours. Receive me now as one of your followers, as your child.”

Men and women have used many different words as they have prayed along these lines. Many who read this have come in different ways and have said different words as they have come. Still, at its heart the experience is the same. It is the experience of letting go of anything that you might present, in order that your hands might be empty to receive that righteousness that Jesus Christ gives. There is no substitute for that. If you have not done that, you are not a Christian, no matter how much you may know about the Christian faith. On the other hand, if you have done that, then you are already a Christian and know that God has placed his eternal life within you and will keep you until the last day.

What I have been saying is born out in a forceful way by this imagery of eating. Think what eating involves. First, it is necessary. Other things are necessary too, but not to the same degree. A person might argue that exercise is necessary. Yes, it is good for you. But if you do not eat, before long you are not going to be able to do your exercises. Someone else might argue that the life of the mind is necessary. I agree. But if you fail to eat, pretty soon you will not even be able to sit up and read or think clearly. You must eat to live. So, spiritually, you must eat of the Lord Jesus Christ if you are to come to life spiritually and grow strong.

How do you feed upon Christ? It is through studying the Bible. That is one reason why I place such a strong emphasis upon a systematic study of the Word of God on the Bible Study Hour. It is why in my church I comment upon the Scripture readings at each of the services, as well as preach the sermon. It is why I encourage area Bible studies in which people can meet informally to learn and grow together as they eat and digest the Word. These are tools by which you and I can feed upon Jesus. There is no substitute for them.

If we use the Word, God will bring us into contact with Jesus. He will use it to bring to our minds what we most need to know; he will reveal sin in us and correct it; and he will most certainly lead us in the way that we should go.

Then, too, eating is always a response to a need that is felt. In physical terms the need is for nourishment and the feeling of the need for nourishment is hunger. It is the same spiritually. When does a person come to the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior or for daily feeding after he has believed on him initially? It is when he has recognized his need. If you consider yourself all-sufficient spiritually—sufficient for this life and for the next—then it is not likely that you will come to the Lord Jesus Christ. However, if you have tried the allurements of this world and have found them to be empty, as many have, then there will be within you that sense of inner need and hunger that will drive you toward Jesus. If you have been reading the Bible, God will show you that need for holiness that will turn you to him.

At one point in my ministry I was talking with a number of young people who had seen other young people turn to sexual indulgences as a means of satisfying the hunger they felt in their hearts. It had a hold upon them, as sin always does. They enjoyed it. They did not see how they could possibly stay away from this style of life. It was everything to them. But the interesting thing is that they were not happy. They were miserable. There is an old saying, “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” We could also say, “If sex is the way, why aren’t you happy?” These young people needed to recognize that any way that is not God’s way—that is divorced from Jesus Christ—is empty. They needed to see that Jesus is the bread that satisfies.

How I wish I could make that clear! Jesus is the only One who satisfies. You will never have to go far to find those who say the opposite. Madison Avenue exists for no other reason than to say the opposite. It says it all the time. Buy a car; you’ll be happy. Take this vacation; you’ll be happy. Use a detergent; you’ll be happy. But it is not so. Do not permit yourself to be sold a bill of goods spiritually. Real joy comes from knowing the great God of the universe in Jesus Christ and from glorifying him forever.

Third, eating involves appropriation. Knowledge is not enough. It is possible to sit down at a banquet and identify all the dishes and even be able to address them by their French names—all the way from the potage de légumes to the crêpes suzette. But if you do not or will not eat of them, they do you no good whatsoever. In the same way, it is possible to understand Christian doctrine so well that you can tell where everyone else is wrong—where Barth is wrong, where Brunner is wrong, where Boice is wrong—but you are still lost unless you appropriate Jesus Christ personally.

That, of course, leads to the last significant point about eating. It must be personal. You must eat. No one else can do it for you. It also is true in regard to your relationship to the Lord Jesus. You cannot get along by saying, “Well, my husband believes … my wife believes … my children or my parents believe.” The question is: Do you believe? Are you feeding on Jesus? I hope that you will never cheat your wife or husband or children or parents by asking them to do something that you refuse to do personally, but rather will give them the best of yourself by allowing God to make you into the kind of person he has always planned for you to be.

Life or Death

The last point is involved in all that has been said previously. It has to do with believing or not believing in Jesus. What are the issues? They are “life” and “death.” It is not just a matter of a little bit of happiness versus more happiness or partial satisfaction versus greater satisfaction. It is life versus death. To know Jesus is to live—now and eternally. To refuse him is suicide.

There is no greater issue to be faced by anyone in the course of a normal human existence. Will you have life? God is the source of life; he gives it abundantly. Or will you choose that eternal death that comes from making yourself, rather than your Creator and Redeemer, the center of your spiritual horizons?

Do not do what the prodigal son did. He thought that he was going to find life when he left his father to enjoy himself in the city. We would say in today’s jargon that he was determined to “live it up.” So he took his inheritance and squandered it on riotous living. Did he find life? No, he found a life that to a Jew was a symbol of death. He was feeding unclean animals. When did life begin for the prodigal? Only when he saw his need, left his willful past behind him, and returned to his father. I covet that for you if you are one who has never really surrendered your will to Jesus and returned to him. Will you not come to him? Jesus is wonderful. He really is. He wants the best for you. Why do you not walk in that way willingly?[1]


47–48 Verses 47–48 restate the truth that the person who believes in Jesus has, as a present possession, “everlasting life.” The present tense of the participle “he who believes” (ho pisteuōn, GK 4409) stresses the continuing necessity of faith. Faith is not a onetime event that covers all exigencies of the future but an ongoing trust in God that transforms the life and conduct of the believer in the here and now. Everlasting life belongs to those who are allowing faith to become the controlling factor of their existence. “I am the bread of life,” said Jesus, “and everlasting life belongs to those who receive me and make me their spiritual nourishment.”[2]


6:48–51. Jesus offered the gospel of himself as the bread-eating metaphor persisted. Israelites who ate the manna in the desert died; it was only physical bread designed to sustain their lives on earth a bit longer. But the living bread is not like that; it provides eternal life. And then the bombshell: This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. Certainly this is not a reference to the Lord’s supper for there was no “Lord’s Supper” as yet. Furthermore, participating in any religious ritual does not produce eternal life; only faith in Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection can accomplish that.

By this time, mental assent—agreement with the truth of the Gospel—was giving way to spiritual appropriation, the voluntary and personal application of Christ’s death to oneself. Yes, the manna came from God, but it was temporary, and those who ate of it still died. Spiritual appropriation of the life of Jesus leads to eternal life—and that is what they should have been seeking, not another free lunch.

The constant repetition of the concept of bread as life seems to roll upon the shores of our minds like breakers from the sea. Surely the Holy Spirit intends John to repeat in print what Jesus emphasized in word. We need constant reminders that an eternal relationship with God surpasses any food necessary for physical life.

Imagine the shock verse 51 must have had on the ears and minds of the hearers that day in Capernaum. One can talk in general terms about eating the bread of life; it is quite another matter to say, this bread is my flesh. The word for flesh is different from body or self because it focuses on physical death and clearly points to the cross. There the bread of life was offered by Jesus universally—for the life of the world.

It is crucial for us to understand the significance of spiritual appropriation in these verses. Jesus claimed that his death and its atonement for sin are effective only when people reach out and apply that substitutionary sacrifice to themselves in a spiritual sense.

It is interesting that a short verse like this can consist of three complete sentences. And there is an order or design to the sentences. The first states the source of the living bread; the second discusses the manner in which the life is received when one eats the living bread; and the third focuses on how that eating is available through the vicarious death of Christ on the cross. As Morris declares, “It is a strong word and one bound to attract attention. Its almost crude forcefulness rivets attention on the historical fact that Christ did give Himself for man. He is not speaking simply of a moving idea … The last words of the verse bring before us once more the truth that the mission of Jesus is universal. He had not come to minister to the Jews only. When he gave his flesh it would be ‘for the life of the world’ ” (Morris, p. 376).[3]


47–51. But the knowledge which one does attain by listening to the Father and learning of him is not to be disparaged. It results in the greatest possible blessing: I most solemnly assure you (on this see 1:51), he who believes has everlasting life. (For the verb to believe and on everlasting life, see on 3:16.) Note: the believer already has it; he has it here and now. This life is the gift of Jesus as “the bread of life.” Hence, this thought is repeated: I am the bread of life (for which see 6:35). This bread does what no other bread, including even the manna from heaven, has ever done or can ever do: it imparts and sustains life, and it banishes death. It imparts and sustains spiritual life; it banishes spiritual death. However, it even affects the body, raising it up in the last day so that it may be conformed to the glorious body of him who is the bread of life (cf. Phil. 3:21). In sharp contrast with this is the manna which the (fore)fathers had gathered: Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and died. This (did Jesus point to himself as he spoke this word?) is the bread which comes down out of heaven (see 6:32), in order that a man may eat of it and not die. Not only is Jesus the bread of life (imparting and sustaining life) but he is this because he is the living bread (cf. 4:10), having within himself the source of life (5:26): I myself am the living bread which came down out of heaven. If anyone eat of this bread, he will live forever. For ὁ ἐξ οὐρανοῦ καταβάς see on 6:41. One must eat this bread, not merely taste it (Heb. 6:4, 5). To eat Christ, as the bread of life, means to accept, appropriate, assimilate him—in other words, to believe in him (6:47)—, so that he begins to live in us and we in him. One who does this will live forever (the truth of verse 51 now stated positively). The words will live forever clearly indicate that one cannot dissociate the quantitative idea from the concept of “everlasting life.” When one has ζωὴν αἰώνιον, he actually ζήσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα. Of course, the meaning of “everlasting life” is not exhausted in this quantitative concept. (See on 3:16 and cf. 1:4).

A new thought is now added. Up to this point Jesus has been stressing the fact that not the manna but he himself is the true bread from heaven. He now gives a further definition of the term bread, showing in which sense he is the bread: And the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh. (On the meaning of the term σάρξ see 1:14; also the note at the bottom of that page.) What Jesus means here is that he is going to give himself—see 6:57—as a vicarious sacrifice for sin; that he will offer up his human nature (soul and body) to eternal death on the cross. The Father gave the Son; the Son gives himself (10:18; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:2). Note: “the bread which I myself—in distinction from the Father—shall give!” The future tense—“I shall give”—clearly indicates that the Lord is thinking of one, definite act; namely, his atoning sacrifice on the cross, which, in turn, represents and climaxes his humiliation during the entire earthly sojourn. This, and this alone, is meant when he calls himself flesh. The meaning cannot be that Jesus is for us the bread of life in a twofold sense: a. entirely apart from his sacrificial death; and b. in his sacrificial death. On the contrary, the words are very clear: “And the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” To believe in Christ means to accept (appropriate and assimilate) him as the Crucified One. Apart from that voluntary sacrifice, Christ ceases to be bread for us in any sense. That Jesus actually thought of his death is clear from 6:4, 53–56, 64, 70, and 71, which should be studied in this connection.

This bread is given “for the life of the world.” Its purpose is, accordingly, that the world may receive everlasting life. The concepts life and world are used here as in 3:16. (See commentary on 3:16.)[4]


6:48, 49 Now the Lord Jesus states that He is the bread of life of which He had been speaking. The bread of life means, of course, the bread which gives life to those who eat it. The Jews had previously brought up the subject of the manna in the wilderness and challenged the Lord Jesus to produce some food as wonderful as that. Here the Lord reminded them that their fathers had eaten the manna in the wilderness and were dead. In other words, manna was for this life only. It did not have any power to give eternal life to those who ate it. By the expression, “Your fathers,” the Lord dissociated Himself from fallen humanity and implied His unique deity.[5]


6:47–48. These two verses summarize Jesus’ teaching in the debate. I tell you the truth occurs here for the third of four times in this passage (cf. vv. 26, 32, 53). He who believes is in Greek a participial construction in the present tense, meaning that a believer is characterized by his continuing trust. He has everlasting life, which is a present and abiding possession. Jesus then repeated His affirmation, I am the Bread of Life (see comments on v. 35).[6]


[1] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 517–522). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 447). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Gangel, K. O. (2000). John (Vol. 4, pp. 127–128). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 1, pp. 240–241). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1504–1505). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Blum, E. A. (1985). John. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 296). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

DECEMBER 28 BORED IN HEAVEN

And the four beasts had each of them six wings about him; and they were full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

—Revelation 4:8

I have been at funerals where the presiding minister preached the deceased right into heaven. Yet the earthly life of the departed plainly said that he or she would be bored to tears in a heavenly environment of continuous praise and adoration of God.

This is personal opinion, but I do not think death is going to transform our attitudes and disposition. If in this life we are not really comfortable talking or singing about heaven, I doubt that death will transform us into enthusiasts. If the worship and adoration of God are tedious now, they will be tedious after the hour of death. I do not know that God is going to force any of us into His heaven. I doubt that He will say to any of us, “You were never interested in worshiping Me while you were on earth, but in heaven I am going to make that your greatest interest and your ceaseless occupation!”

Controversial? Perhaps. But I am trying to stir you up, to encourage you to delight in a life of praise and spiritual victory! JIV067-068

May my worship on earth prepare me for the enthusiastic celebration that will be heaven. May I learn to delight in a life of praise. Amen. [1]


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

December 28 The Inheritance of Christ

“[Christ] is … the first–born of all creation.”

Colossians 1:15

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Christ is the preeminent inheritor over all creation.

Puritan minister Thomas Manton once said, “Heresies revolve as fashions, and in the course of a few years antiquated errors revive again, and that by their means who did not so much as know them by name.” He was right: false doctrines keep repeating themselves through the ages, only to reappear under different names. From the Arians of the early church to the Jehovah’s Witnesses of our own day, cultists have sought to deny our Lord’s deity. One of the favorite verses of such cultists is Colossians 1:15, which refers to Christ as the “first–born.” They argue that it speaks of Christ as a created being and hence He could not be the eternal God. Such an interpretation completely misunderstands the sense of prototokos (“first–born”) and ignores the context.

Although prototokos can mean first–born chronologically (Luke 2:7), it refers primarily to position or rank. In both Greek and Jewish culture, the first–born was the son who had the right of inheritance. He was not necessarily the first one born. Although Esau was born first chronologically, it was Jacob who was the first–born and received the inheritance. Jesus is the One with the right to the inheritance of all creation (cf. Heb. 1:2).

The context of Colossians 1:15 also refutes the idea that “first–born” describes Jesus as a created being. If Paul were here teaching that Christ is a created being, he would be agreeing with the central point of the Colossian false teachers. That would run counter to his purpose in writing Colossians, which was to refute them. Moreover, Paul had just finished describing Christ as the perfect and complete image of God (v. 15). In the following verses he refers to Christ as the Creator of all things (v. 16) and the One who “is before all things” (v. 17). Far from being an emanation descending from God, Christ is the preeminent inheritor over all creation. He existed before the creation and is exalted in rank above it.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Use Psalm 93 as the basis of your prayer to worship Christ, who is preeminent in rank over all creation.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 4:8–11. According to verse 11, what is Christ worthy to receive? Why?[1]


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

December 27 Daily Help

AT this hour we rest in the promises of our faithful God, knowing that his words are full of truth and power; we rest in the doctrines of his word, which are consolation itself; we rest in the covenant of his grace, which is a haven of delight. The person of Jesus is the quiet resting-place of his people; and when we draw near to him in the breaking of bread, in the hearing of the word, the searching of the Scriptures, prayer, or praise, we find any form of approach to him to be the return of peace to our spirits. The God of Peace gives perfect peace to those whose hearts are stayed upon him.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 365). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

December 27, 2017: Evening Verse Of The Day

6  There are many who say, “Who will show us some good?
Lift up the light of your face upon us, O LORD!”
7  You have put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.

8  In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 4:6–8). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


6a As a true shepherd of Israel, David knew the hearts of the people. It was a time of turmoil and frustration due to unfulfilled expectations regarding the covenantal blessings. It is not clear who the “many” were. Were they the skeptics (Craigie, 81; cf. Ps 3:2), or were they his supporters who honestly questioned what was happening? Whoever they were, David prayed for them also and called on God to make his covenantal blessings evident. He did this by an allusion to the priestly benediction (Nu 6:24–26). They asked, “Who can show us any good?” David responded by pointing away from himself and to the Lord as the author of blessing.

6b–7 David prays specifically for the nation and for himself. His intercessory prayer for the nation is that the Lord may restore the fullness of his blessing. “The light of your face” (v. 6b) is an idiom for the benefits of the covenant resulting from God’s presence (cf. Nu 6:25). The disgrace of the king has brought an end to God’s blessings. While the people lamented, David prayed. He prayed because the Lord had “filled [his] heart with greater joy.” David had the personal assurance of God’s presence. God-given joy is vastly more important than all the food the world can give. It is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22–23) and therefore cannot be imitated.[1]


4:6–8 / This final section raises the issue of grain and new wine. In this connection the question Who can show us any good? probably has particular reference to agricultural “goods” (cf. 34:10, 12; 104:28; 107:9; and esp. 85:11–13, which also connects Yahweh’s gift of “good” with his “righteousness”). The psalm’s answer to this question is clear: Let the light of your face shine upon us, O Lord. This request echoes the Aaronic benediction (Num. 6:22–27) and may imply the speaker is a priest (also note the concern for right sacrifices). The Aaronic benediction also closes with the bestowal of “peace,” which is precisely the note on which Psalm 4 closes: I will lie down and sleep in peace. This is in direct contrast to the opponents who are to tremble “when you are on your beds.” Thus, Yahweh’s people may enjoy security in the midst of distress. Verse 7 does make an implicit contrast between their enjoyment of material goods and the greater joy with which Yahweh has filled my heart. Priority is given to what Yahweh grants within, as opposed to what people enjoy outwardly. But the bestowal of agricultural prosperity is also part of Yahweh’s promises, as the psalms (e.g., Pss. 65; 85) and the prophets (esp. Hos.) make clear.[2]


4:6 any good: Although our lives often seem to be filled with uncertainty, there is never uncertainty with God. light of Your countenance: This phrase recalls the Aaronic benediction (Num. 6:26) and indicates God’s favor. Those on whom the Lord shines His face are truly blessed.

4:7 grain and wine: The joy God gives transcends the joy of the harvest. Agricultural produce, the result of abundant rain on fertile soil, was a blessing of God on His people. But there is something greater than full barns and overflowing cisterns—the joy of God’s presence.

4:8 The peace that God gives is far from a relaxation technique. It is a peace that enables an anxious person to lie down and sleep (3:5).[3]


4:6. This verse probably refers to the many discontented people following David. They would follow anyone who could show them good prospects. David’s answer to their question was a prayer for blessing (cf. Num. 6:24–26); that God would cause His face to shine on them (i.e., bestow His favor; cf. Pss. 31:16; 44:3; 67:1; 80:3, 7, 19; 119:135). God would satisfy their complaint, as He had done so often in Israel’s history.

4:7–8. The joy and contentment David experienced in trusting in the Lord was greater than the mirth of the harvest festivities. Even in distress and away from the visible evidence of God’s goodness, he enjoyed peace and safety in his God (on sleep; cf. 3:5). True joy and peace depend not on circumstances but on God’s protection and provisions (cf. Gal. 5:22; Rom. 14:17).[4]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 111–112). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (pp. 54–55). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 650). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[4] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 794). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

December 27: Love Is Good News

Jeremiah 51:1–64; Romans 13:8–14:12; Proverbs 28:1–28

Love is good news for those seeking guidance. Love is the guide we need.

Many first-century Jewish Christians faced the question of what to do with the Law (the first five books of the Bible), by which they had lived previously. Now that they had Jesus, what would they do with their traditions? Paul’s answer is based on love: “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another, for the one who loves someone else has fulfilled the law” (Rom 13:8). He goes on: “For the commandments, ‘You shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit murder, you shall not steal, you shall not covet,’ and if there is any other commandment, are summed up in this statement: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does not commit evil against a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law” (Rom 13:9–10). These are beautiful words, and I’m not saying that because they let me off the hook for keeping the law; they also answer the problem that the ot prophets addressed.

The prophet Jeremiah, commenting on the sin of Babylon, notes: “All humankind turns out to be stupid, without knowledge. Every goldsmith is put to shame by the divine image. For his cast image is a lie, and there is no breath in them. They are worthless, a work of mockery. At the time of their punishment, they will perish. The portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the creator of everything, and the tribe of his inheritance. Yahweh of hosts is his name” (Jer 51:17–19).

Jeremiah’s words teach us that we are lost without Yahweh as our guide. Without Him, we will, like Babylon, seek things as dumb as golden images. Yahweh, in His great love for us, guides us to Himself. In Him, we see love; in Jesus, we see His loving image made visible. In Yahweh, we see the way we should go; in Jesus, we see the way back to Yahweh.

Are you seeking love or golden images? What law do you need to be free from? Are you fully living the good news?

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.