Daily Archives: January 23, 2018

January 23 Comprehending What You Have

“[I pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Eph. 1:17).

✧✧✧

Your inheritance in Christ is so vast and profound that you cannot comprehend it apart from God’s enabling.

The late newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst invested a fortune in collecting great works of art. One day he read of an extremely valuable work that he determined to add to his collection. His agent searched the galleries of the world but to no avail. Finally, after many months of effort and at great expense, the agent found the prized artwork. It had been stored in one of Hearst’s own warehouses all along!

That story parallels Christians who are constantly searching for something more because they don’t understand what they already have in Christ. Since Paul knew that was a potential problem, he prayed for God to enable us to comprehend our spiritual riches.

“Spirit” in verse 17 refers to a disposition or attitude of humility, as in, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” (Matt. 5:3). “Revelation” means knowledge that God imparts through His Word. “Wisdom” is the application of that knowledge to daily living. The combined effect is a humble attitude toward God’s Word that compels you to learn it and to integrate it into every aspect of your life.

On the human level, the fullness of your inheritance in Christ is incomprehensible. God’s Word reveals many of its benefits, and the Holy Spirit empowers you as you learn to live according to its principles, but much of it will remain a mystery in this life (1 John 3:2). Paul’s prayer is that you will understand as much as possible so that godly wisdom and revelation will govern all your attitudes and actions. Let that be your goal today.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for the incomprehensible riches that are yours in Christ. ✧ Pray that you might always approach His Word with a submissive and teachable heart.

For Further Study: Reviewing God’s promises motivates praise and reminds us of His gracious provisions. Read the following passages, noting the promises they contain: Psalm 29:11; Isaiah 26:3; 41:10; Matthew 6:25–34; John 14:2–3, 13–14; 1 Corinthians 10:13; 2 Corinthians 1:3–4; Philippians 4:6–7; 1 John 1:9; 5:11–12; Revelation 21:3–4. ✧ Study your life. Does it demonstrate confidence in God’s promises?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 35). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

JANUARY 23 OUR LORD THE OBJECT OF FAITH FOR SALVATION

…Preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is LORD of all).

ACTS 10:36

It is altogether doubtful whether any man can be saved who comes to Christ for His help but with no intention of obeying Him, for Christ’s saviourhood is forever united to His lordship.

Look at the apostle’s instruction and admonition:

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved…for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13

There the Lord is the object of faith for salvation! And when the Philippian jailer asked the way to be saved, Paul replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Paul did not tell him to believe on the Saviour with the thought that he could later take up the matter of His lordship and settle it at his own convenience. To Paul there could be no division of offices. Christ must be Lord or He will not be Saviour!

There is no intention here to teach that our first saving contact with Christ brings perfect knowledge of all He is to us. The contrary is true. Ages upon ages will hardly be long enough to allow us to experience all the riches of His grace.

As we discover new meanings in His titles and make them ours we will grow in the knowledge of our Lord and the many forms of love He wears exalted on His throne![1]


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

January 23, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

President Trump slapped tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines on Monday in his first major move to level a global playing field he says is tilted against American companies.

Whirlpool Corp. said it’s adding 200 jobs after the Trump Administration imposed a tariff of up to 50 percent on large residential washing machines, a penalty aimed at imports from rivals Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Inc.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said the U.S. should retain its dominant role as mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, rebuffing Palestinian appeals to the European Union to take the reins.

Elite snipers on rooftops and naval patrol ships are being deployed to ensure security during former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva’s trial at an appeals court in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre.

As South Korea gets ready to host the Winter Olympics, its northern neighbor is preparing to flex its muscles at its own party — just a day before the Feb. 9 opening ceremony. North Korea’s Politburo on Monday designated Feb. 8, 1948 as the foundation date of the Korean People’s Army, and plans to “significantly mark” the 70th anniversary next month, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. The Workers’ Party will hold “diverse events” so troops, party members and ordinary people will “deeply grasp” the feat of the nation’s founder Kim Il Sung in building the military force.

The U.S. dropped out of the top 10 in the 2018 Bloomberg Innovation Index for the first time in the six years the gauge has been compiled. South Korea and Sweden retained their No. 1 and No. 2 rankings.

Billionaire Elon Musk set a series of aggressive growth targets at Tesla Inc. that would make the electric carmaker one of the world’s most valuable companies within the next decade, and assured shareholders he’ll stick around by tying his compensation to those goals. The unprecedented pay package proposes Musk won’t get paid unless his company’s stock rises, further tying the 46-year-old chief executive officer’s personal wealth to that of shareholders.

AP Top Stories

A Japanese soldier was killed Tuesday and several other people injured after a volcano erupted near a popular ski resort, sparking an avalanche and leaving scores stranded — including tourists from Britain and Taiwan.

A respected doctor who has been in the United States for nearly 40 years has been picked up by American immigration agents after the Trump administration denied his attempt to renew his green card.

Taliban militants who killed at least 22 people at a luxury Kabul hotel went from room to room searching for foreigners, survivors and a security source said Monday as more details of the victims emerged.

A Vietnamese former state oil executive who was allegedly kidnapped from Germany was jailed for life on Monday for embezzlement, in the highest-profile corruption trial to target the communist country’s business and political elite. The case — also involving 21 other officials, including a former party politburo member — has captivated a country where the affairs of the powerful are normally kept secret and the downfall of senior politicians rarely happens in public.

A video reportedly showing Customs and Border Protection agents demanding proof of citizenship from Greyhound bus passengers in Florida last week has sparked fresh outrage over the Trump administration’s hardline immigration policies.

Two devices found at a Florida mall originally thought to be improvised explosives were actually marine flares, authorities said on Monday.

The Boring Company, Elon Musk’s tunneling enterprise behind SpaceX headquarters in Southern California, is taking its first major step in making a subterranean highway to allow commuters to travel beneath notorious Los Angeles traffic.

For the first time, a U.S. state has legalized marijuana with the stroke of a pen, not a vote at the ballot box. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) on Monday signed into law House Bill 511, which legalizes the possession of up to one ounce of cannabis and removes penalties for possession of up to two mature marijuana plants and up to four immature plants. The legislation says nothing about creating a state market for recreational weed, however. The new law will go into effect in July.

Niels Hoegel, a German nurse, who is already serving a life sentence for two murders has been charged with killing 97 more patients over several years at two hospitals in northwestern Germany, prosecutors said Monday.

Thirty children have died from confirmed influenza-related causes so far this flu season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) most recent weekly report, released last Friday. The total includes deaths between Oct. 16 and Jan. 13.

BBC

The UN’s flag and blue helmets no longer offer “natural protection” to its peacekeeping forces, who should not shy from using force if necessary. UN peacekeepers should be prepared to take offensive measures to eliminate threats.

South Korea is banning the use of anonymous bank accounts to make cryptocurrency transactions. The move is aimed at stopping virtual currencies being used for crimes such as money laundering.

WND

For the first time in nearly a decade, a sitting U.S. president has released a powerful defense of the “humanity of the unborn” in a declaration for the 2018 National Sanctity of Human Life day, which is Monday.

During of a cross-border operation by Turkish troops against ethnic Kurds in Syria, all 90,000 mosques in the country over the weekend invoked a prayer from the Quran that promises reward for jihad and commands that Muslim warriors be “ruthless against unbelievers.”


The Briefing — Tuesday, January 23, 2018

1) The federal government is back in business…at least for another three weeks

 

2) As new conscience protections become national policy, the political left complains about the very argument they once advanced

Wall Street Journal (Stephanie Armour and Louise Radnofsky) –
Trump to Let Health Practitioners Skip Procedures on Religious Grounds

Washington Post (Juliet Eilperin and Ariana Eunjung Cha) –
New HHS civil rights division to shield health workers with moral or religious objections

3) What one politician calls “a mistake”, the Bible calls “sin”

AP (David Lieb and Summer Ballentine) –
Greitens: ‘No blackmail,’ ‘no violence’ in affair

4) Abortion reveals a divide that points to the deepest divide of all

Pew Research Center (David Masci) –
American religious groups vary widely in their views of abortion


News – 1/23/2018

Avalanche kills one in Japan ski resort after volcanic eruption
At least 11 people have also been injured, several of them critically. The eruption sent rocks raining down over a kilometre-wide area near Kusatsu in central Japan, say local media. Mount Kusatsu-Shirane, 150km (93 miles) north-west of Tokyo, erupted on Tuesday but officials are still investigating whether it caused the avalanche. Images of the volcano showed a vent on its side appeared to have blown out, while video footage shows a large cloud of black ash and rock being thrown down the mountainside.

Strong earthquake sets buildings swaying in Indonesia
Indonesians wait outside an office building after a 6.4 magnitude quake hit Jakarta, Jan. 23, 2018. There were no immediate reports of injuries and no tsunami was generated.

Alaska hit by 7.9 earthquake; tsunami warning canceled
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck off Alaska’s Kodiak Island early Tuesday, prompting a tsunami warning for a large swath of the state’s coast and sending some residents fleeing to higher ground.

Netanyahu to travel to Davos less than one week after India trip
Just five days after returning from India, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will leave Tuesday afternoon for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, and meet a number of international leaders. Among those Netanyahu is slated to meet include German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, Presidents of Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Switzerland, as well as, the Prime Ministers of Belgium, Canada and Netherlands.

Israel accuses UN rights forum of bias over Palestinians
Israel accused the United Nations on Tuesday of continuous discrimination against it over its treatment of Palestinians and called for reforms of its human rights body. The Human Rights Council’s regular examination of Israel’s record, the first since 2013, comes after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem last month as the capital of Israel, angering Palestinians, Middle East leaders and world powers.

Avalanche kills one in Japan ski resort after volcanic eruption
A Japanese soldier has been killed in an avalanche in central Japan that may have been triggered by a volcanic eruption. At least 11 people have also been injured, several of them critically. The eruption sent rocks raining down over a kilometre-wide area near Kusatsu in central Japan, say local media.

Syria offensive: Turkey warns US over Kurdish militia group
Turkey has urged the US to stop backing the Kurdish YPG in Syria, as it steps up an offensive against the militia. A spokesman for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said YPG fighters were using US-supplied weapons against troops trying to clear the Afrin region. Turkey says the YPG is an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is fighting for Kurdish autonomy in Turkey, and is a terrorist group.

US slaps ‘America First’ tariffs on washing machines and solar panels
The US has approved controversial tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels. The move is in line with President Donald Trump’s “America First” trade policy, which aims to protect local manufacturers from foreign competition. A spokesman said the administration would “always defend American workers, farmers, ranchers and businessmen”.

Alaska tsunami fears prompt evacuation
A tsunami warning was lifted hours after a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Alaska in the US. The quake hit 280km (173 miles) south-east of Kodiak, at a depth of 25km, at 00:31 local time (09:31 GMT), the US Geological Survey said. The US National Weather Service (NWS) said tsunami waves of less than one foot (0.3m) had been confirmed.

Senior Qaeda leader calls for killing Jews, Americans over Jerusalem
A senior Al-Qaeda leader has called on Muslims “everywhere” to rise up and kill Jews and Americans in response to US President Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In a video released Monday, Khalid Batarfi said Trump’s decision was “a declaration of a new Jewish-Crusader war” and every Muslim had a duty to “liberate” the holy city, the SITE Intelligence monitoring group reported.

As U.S. goes quiet on close naval patrols, China speaks out
While the Pentagon plays down patrols close to Chinese-controlled reefs and islands in the South China Sea, Beijing is sounding the alarm about them… Chinese officials publicized the latest U.S. “freedom of navigation patrol”, protesting the deployment last week of the destroyer USS Hopper to within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, an atoll west of the Philippines which Beijing disputes with Manila.

U.S., European powers set up working group to address Iran deal concerns
UK’s Johnson says Jerusalem decision can prove helpful with “symmetrical movement in the other direction.” The Trump administration has entered talks with the governments of Britain, France and Germany on ways to address their joint concerns with an international nuclear deal brokered with Iran in 2015.

Council of Europe takes up PA challenge to Trump
The Council of Europe will discuss a Palestinian Authority-led resolution on Tuesday, which calls for all negotiations between Israel and the PA to be based on the two-state solution and the 1967 borders with territorial exchanges. It explicitly states that Israel must refrain from unilateral steps – including construction – beyond the 1949 Armistice Line and calls for European countries to take a more significant role in bringing the parties to the negotiating table.

What the Media Really Wants
President Trump’s end-year remarks to the New York Times acerbically summed up his relationship with the media. “I’m going to win another four years… because newspapers, television, all forms of media will tank if I’m not there.” The answering outburst of rage and contempt from the media burned all the hotter because the statement was not only intentionally provocative; it was also true.

Flu outbreak: 100 people a week dying in US as virus continues to spread
A deadly flu virus has been killing around 100 people per week in the US since mid-December, the Center for Disease Control has warned. A report published by the CDC with the latest figures showed there were 759 flu deaths between 7 October and 23 December.

Will Missing Texts Save Manafort From Mueller’s Probe?
“Throw in this evidence that the investigation may have been tainted before Mueller even took over, and that the DOJ could be covering up damaging information, and a motion to dismiss alleging prosecutorial misconduct is a near certainty.”

Shocker! L’Oreal Muslim Hair Model Amena Khan Is Fired After Series of Anti-Jew Tweets
…someone found tweets she posted several years ago, per the Jerusalem Post, in which she referred to Israelis as “child murderers,” among other insults. She also called Israel a “sinister state,” an “illegal state” and hoped for the country to be defeated. Other tweets found the model accused Israel of committing “Torture. Murder. Rape. Genocide” and, quite falsely, noting that “Orthodox Jews themselves condemn the actions of Israel.”

Same-sex active-duty couple marries at West Point}
Two Army captains who met at West Point returned there to be married, in what is believed to be the first same-sex marriage of active-duty personnel at the storied New York military academy.

Prophetic update: Is the Great Deception here?
..Some call it fake news. Jesus called it deception. When His disciples asked about the signs of the last days, Jesus began by giving His followers this warning: “Take heed that no one deceives you” -Matthew 24:4

Here comes a ‘super blue blood moon eclipse’
…As if the total solar eclipse last August and the “blood moons” of 2014 and 2015  weren’t enough, there will be a “super blue blood moon eclipse” on Jan. 31 – something that hasn’t happened for 150 years. And this rare event could herald war and turbulence on earth, according to a leading researcher of astronomical signs and how they interact with Scripture.

Socialist Bolivia Makes Evangelism a Crime
This coming Sunday, evangelical churches in Bolivia will observe a day of prayer and fasting in the wake of their socialist government introducing potentially severe restrictions on religious freedom.

Two More Children Dead as ‘Deadly’ Flu Shot Causes Fatal Influenza Epidemic
…The tragic stories of children dying of the flu after receiving the flu shot is sadly not uncommon. Eight Santa Barbara County residents have died from the flu in the last fortnight. Seven of them had the flu shot… President Donald Trump has warned citizens to be vigilant when it comes to taking ‘deadly’ flu shots, urging the American public to “avoid them at all costs.”

WANKER: I read the Koran every day, says former UK PM Tony Blair who claims it keeps him ‘faith-literate’
Mr Blair, who converted to Catholicism months after leaving Number 10, has now spoken of how he reads the Koran every day. Reading the Islamic religion’s holy book – considered by Muslims to be the exact words of God – ensured he remained ‘faith-literate’, the former Labour leader said. In an interview with the Observer magazine, published yesterday he said: ‘To be faith-literate is crucial in a globalised world, I believe.

Entitled Muslim Migrants Reportedly Leaving In Droves Due To Simple 2-Word Requirement
…Austria is reporting an exodus of veil-wearing Muslims and their families after passing a law that requires migrants to sign an “integration contract,” which includes prohibiting them from wearing the burqa and niqab and requires them to take courses in German language and Western values.

Ex-CIA Clandestine Officer Confirms False Flag Missile Attack Upon Hawaii
…One should realize that the “attack” upon Hawaii and later Japan happened very shortly after is was announced that the two Korea’s would march under the same flag and form a joint hockey team. This development is being undertated in the mainstream media. This development is monumental in its implication because this represents two nations who are saying no to World War III.

VP Pence Confirms US Will No Longer Certify Iran Deal 
…Pence has received a warm welcome in Israel, which has praised the American decision last month to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is among the fiercest opponents to the nuclear accord the Obama administration reached with Iran, saying it could pave a path for the Islamic Republic acquiring a nuclear weapon that could threaten Israel’s existence.

January 22, 2018
ALAN KEYES — Talk is cheap. People are unlikely to believe this old taunt if they have ever experienced a regime of totalitarian repression, where “free speech” is a criminal offense, or ever looked into the lives of people like Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, or the myriads of Christians severely persecuted or killed for bearing true witness to Christ in areas where Islamist practitioners of violent jihad deploy terror to repress such evangelization. In such circumstances, talk, in spoken or written form, may cost people their livelihood and their lives, not to mention the mental anguish of relentless fear…. (more)

January 22, 2018
POLITICO — In a dramatic turnaround, Senate Democrats voted to reopen the government on Monday after receiving a commitment from Republicans to hold a vote on immigration legislation – – paving the way to end the three-day shutdown…. (more)


January 22, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Radio host Rush Limbaugh says there is a simple reason why a short-lived government shutdown ended Monday: President Trump “went on offense.” The man behind “the golden EIB microphone” told listeners this week that Democrats were so caught off guard by “Schumer Shutdown” attacks that they did a political U-turn after three days. Mr. Limbaugh said the Republicans’ refusal to negotiate on Saturday, coupled with rhetorical broadsides against Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, constituted a political masterstroke…. (more)

January 22, 2018
WORLDNETDAILY — Democrats in the House and Senate thought they would play the old government-shutdown card that has worked for them every time it has been played since 1995 when Republicans were blamed. But 2018 is different. It is backfiring. It’s no longer Republicans starving children and forcing old people to eat dog food. This time, Democrats are being blamed for refusing to fund the U.S. military as a means of aiding illegal alien… (more)

January 22, 2018
JEFF SESSIONS — For decades, the American people have been begging and pleading with our elected officials for an immigration system that is lawful and that serves our national interest. That’s not just because immigration is an economic issue. It’s also because it’s a matter of public safety and national security. If we can’t control – – or even know – – who enters this country, it’s much harder to keep people safe…. (more)

January 22, 2018
BYRON YORK — Investigators in both House and Senate were stunned late Friday when, receiving a batch of newly-released texts between FBI officials Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, they also received notice from the bureau that the FBI “failed to preserve” Strzok-Page messages from December 14, 2016 through May 17, 2017…. (more)

January 22, 2018
NEWSMAX — The head of Russian television channel RT says the Kremlin-funded outlet is already suffering the consequences of having to register as a foreign agent in the U.S. amid allegations that it participated in attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election…. (more)

January 22, 2018
CBS CHICAGO — The Russian government is reportedly developing a city-killing torpedo, called Kanyon, that would allegedly leave a country’s coastline uninhabitable for decades. The terrifying news, which sounds more likely to come from a “James Bond” film, was actually leaked from the Pentagon’s report on nuclear weapons posturing…. (more)

January 22, 2018
ROBERT KNIGHT — In early January, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) overturned a longstanding policy that forbade churches from getting federal disaster relief money. The rule change by the Trump administration affected any houses of worship that were damaged on or after August 23, just before Hurricane Harvey devastated large areas of Texas and especially the Houston area. It was a welcome relief also to congregations in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina in the path of Hurricane Irma, and to church communities in Puerto Rico that endured Hurricane Maria…. (more)

January 22, 2018
BOB UNRUH — The Trump administration has worked virtually nonstop since the inauguration to unwind and withdraw some of the environmental campaigns launched by Barack Obama, and on Monday the Supreme Court joined in…. (more)

January 22, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Colin Kaepernick entered the home stretch of his Million Dollar Pledge last week with a donation to one of Democratic moneyman George Soros’s favorite left-wing resistance groups. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback announced Thursday that his foundation would give $10,000 to the Advancement Project as part of his commitment to donate $1 million to organizations “working in oppressed communities.”… (more)

January 20, 2018
LINDA GOUDSMIT — “Don’t tell your mother.” Parents teach their children to recognize these words to warn them of stranger danger. Exposure is the predator’s enemy. “Don’t tell your mother” is the victimizer’s watchword used to silence his/her victims. So it is in politics…. (more)


January 20, 2018
BYRON YORK — One of the most vexing problems of the Trump dossier probe has been that much of the evidence involved is classified and thus hidden from public view. House and Senate investigators are tightly constrained from revealing key aspects of the dossier affair. There is, for example, the question of whether the FBI and Justice Department used the unverified allegations in the dossier as evidence to win a secret court warrant to spy on Americans. Members and staff in both House and Senate know the answer. But it is classified, and they can’t talk…. (more)

January 20, 2018
FOX NEWS — One year ago this weekend, liberal women flowed into our nation’s capital and other cities across America for a march to protest the inauguration of President Trump. And on Saturday, women and some male supporters again gathered in Washington and hundreds of cities to protest against the president and in support of protection for illegal immigrants and other liberal causes…. (more)


January 20, 2018
WESLEY PRUDEN — A few Ping-Pong balls broke the Cold War ice around China a generation ago, following Richard Nixon’s stunning trip to Beijing (when it was still called Peiping), and soon the United States and China were on their way to normal diplomatic relations…. (more)


January 20, 2018
NBC NEWS — NBC News’ Lester Holt is in North Korea filing exclusive reports for NBC News and MSNBC through Monday. On Tuesday, January 23, he will anchor “NBC Nightly News” live from Seoul, South Korea…. (more)


January 20, 2018
CONSERVATIVE TRIBUNE — Kim Jong Un is about to come face to face with yet more American naval power in the Pacific, and the latest addition sent by the Trump administration could rain down “silent death” on his North Korean regime. According to Stars and Stripes, the USS Wasp – – an amphibious assault ship with stealth attack capabilities – – has been deployed to Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan, joining the 7th Fleet’s show of force against Pyongyang. The ship will be replacing the USS Bonhomme Richard as the flagship of Task Force 76…. (more)

January 20, 2018
THE TELEGRAPH — Adulthood does not begin until 24, scientists have concluded because young people are continuing their education for longer and delaying marriage and parenthood…. (more)

January 19, 2018
SUSAN FERRECHIO — The federal government appeared to be headed toward a partial shutdown late Friday after most Senate Democrats and a few Republicans voted to block a bill that would have authorized funding for another four weeks…. (more)


January 19, 2018
THE HILL — At the 45th annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., Friday, President Trump became the first sitting president to address the anti-abortion rally via a live video. Trump addressed the rally from the Rose Garden. In 2015, Vice President Mike Pence and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway attended March for Life and spoke…. (more)

January 19, 2018
NEWSMAX — The national director of Priests For Life hailed Friday’s “March For Life” on the National Mall – – and President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence for their help in making America “a nation of life.”… (more)

January 19, 2018
NEWSMAX — Conservative commentator Pat Buchanan told Newsmax TV Friday that President Donald Trump has “done an awful lot of things” in his first year – – and a great achievement was “having survived” the fierce attacks in the media and from Democrats and other detractors…. (more)

January 19, 2018
BOB UNRUH — A top-secret memo that has been released to members of Congress, but still is being withheld from the American public, characterizes Barack Obama as “the vengeful narcissist” and alleges surveillance abuses by his administration that one representative likened to the work of Russia’s KGB…. (more)

January 19, 2018
NEWSMAX — Sen. Lindsey Graham compared Sen. Tom Cotton to Rep. Steve King over his plans for immigration reform. “We’re not going to end family immigration for [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program] DACA. The Tom Cotton approach has no viability here,” the South Carolina Republican told MSNBC on Friday…. (more)

January 19, 2018
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE — A petition campaign demanding a halt to the LDS Church’s practice of closed-door, one-on-one interviews by bishops with children – – sometimes including inquiries about sexual matters – – had collected 11,493 signatures as of Thursday. At a news conference, organizer Sam Young, a former Mormon bishop, said the petition will be presented March 30 at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ downtown Salt Lake City headquarters…. (more)


MID-DAY SNAPSHOT

JAN. 23, 2018

Schumer Concedes, Shutdown Ends

Feeling the growing negative political fallout, the Democrat leader agrees to a short-term budget without DACA.

THE FOUNDATION

“There is not a more important and fundamental principle in legislation, than that the ways and means ought always to face the public engagements; that our appropriations should ever go hand in hand with our promises.” —James Madison (1790)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: January 23

  • Globalisation is losing its luster, India’s Modi tells Davos summit (Read More)
  • Centrists Outflanked Party Leadership to End Government Shutdown (Read More)
  • UK regulator rules against Murdoch takeover of Sky (Read More); UK Deals a Blow to Fox’s $16 Billion Takeover of Sky (Read More)
  • Manufacturers Fight Over New Tariffs’ Effect on U.S. Jobs (Read More)
  • Samsung says U.S. tariffs on washers a great loss for American consumers (Read More)
  • Here’s What Trump’s Tariffs Are Doing to Markets (Read More)
  • U.S. solar panel import tariff to hit European, Asian manufacturers (Read More)
  • As Trump Heads to Davos, the Question Is Which Trump Will It Be? (Read More)
  • Bitcoin May Split 50 Times in 2018 (Read More)
  • The UK has already “agreed in principle” to a Norway-style Brexit transition period (Read More)
  • Tesla Gives Musk New Long-Term Pay Deal (Read More)
  • Pence Says U.S. Must Play ‘Preeminent’ Role as Peace Broker (Read More)
  • States Grapple With Federal Tax Cut That May Raise State Taxes (Read More)
  • Goldman Sachs Plans to Reopen Geneva Office (Read More)
  • JPMorgan to raise pay, hire staff in $20 bln investment push (Read More)
  • Ford Urged to Recall 1.3 Million SUVs Over Exhaust Fume Fears (Read More)
  • As U.S. goes quiet on close naval patrols, China speaks out (Read More)
  • The World’s Biggest Gold Market Might Start Using Blockchain (Read More)

Headlines – 1/23/2018

Abbas urges EU to swiftly recognize Palestine, says it will encourage peace

Abbas Asks EU to Recognize Palestinian State Within 1967 Borders: ‘You’re the Main Partner in Building Palestinian State’

EU promises to back Abbas’ demand for Jerusalem

EU ready to take ‘central role’ in peace process alongside US

While Netanyahu cements US support, Abbas fails to recruit EU as new peace broker

Livni hopes Pence’s visit not a ‘death certificate for peace’

Report: Trump suggests annexation of 10% of Judea and Samaria

Pence in Knesset: Embassy to open in Jerusalem in 2019, Iran will never get bomb

In Jerusalem with Pence, Netanyahu roasts Europe over Iran stance

Netanyahu Standing Alongside Pence: Iran Nuclear Deal Should Be Nixed if Not Fixed

Netanyahu leads chorus of Israeli praise for Pence speech

U.S. Embassy Invites Israeli Settler Leaders to Attend Pence’s Knesset Speech

Pence to visit Western Wall amid heightened tension with Palestinians

Palestinian Christians slam Pence’s pro-Israel faith

Hamas praises Arab Israeli MKs for ‘Jerusalem is Palestine’ anti-Pence protest

Minister calls Arab MKs ‘traitors’ for interrupting Pence’s speech

After Jerusalem, UK’s Johnson says US should offer incentives to Palestinians

UNRWA chief: US decision to cut funds ‘abrupt and harmful’

Rivlin calls on world to tear off ‘mask of hypocrisy,’ recognize Jerusalem

Qaeda leader urges attacks on Jews, Americans over Trump’s Jerusalem recognition

Rescuers In Rebel-Held Syrian Area Accuse Government Of Gas Attack

Trump’s First War? Turkey Declares a Military Frontline Against America

Turkish Troops Attack U.S.-Backed Kurds in Syria, a Clash of NATO Allies

Syria offensive: Turkey warns US over Kurdish militia group

Tillerson says US discussing Syria security zone

Moscow rejects schemes to topple Syrian regime, Yemeni FM slams Houthis

Saudi-led Arab Coalition announces $1.5 bln in aid for Yemen

Iran kicks off annual drill near key Strait of Hormuz

Iranian planes warned off two ‘coalition vessels’ during military drill

France says Iran not respecting UN text on ballistic missiles

UK man ‘obsessed’ with Muslims accused of deadly ramming attack outside mosque in London

India, Pakistan continue trading fire and blame in Kashmir

Trump claims victory as Congress votes to end shutdown, reopen government

GOP lawmakers raise concerns over ‘secret society’ in FBI agents’ texts

Republicans demand new special counsel over lost FBI text messages

Anti-Trump protest in Haiti temporarily shuts US Embassy

NFL rejects veterans group’s Super Bowl ad urging people to stand for the anthem

Facebook admits social media threat to democracy

Montana becomes first state to implement net neutrality after FCC repeal

US Policy May Cause Trade War with Chinese Internet Companies

South Korea to ban cryptocurrency traders from using anonymous bank accounts

Hawaii Missile Alert Update Delayed Because Governor Didn’t Know His Twitter Password

NASA working on compact nuclear reactor to aid long-term stays on other planets

Let’s talk about the big scary asteroid that’s NOT going to hit Earth

Magnitude 8.2 quake off Alaska prompts tsunami warning

Offshore Quake Rattles Indonesia, Sending Jakarta Into a Panic

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Binuangeun, Indonesia

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Arawa, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Southern East Pacific Rise

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits the Central Mid-Atlantic Ridge

Mayon volcano in the Philippines erupts to 25,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 15,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 13,000ft

Karymsky volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 10,000ft

Volcano, avalanche hit Japan ski resort as Philippines volcano spews anew

Heaviest snowstorm in years cuts power, delays travel in Tokyo

On the eve of the World Economic Forum Heads of State and C.E.O.s in Davos Beware: 6 Feet of Snow in 6 Days

Blizzard dumps heavy snow from Rockies to Upper Midwest

No Travel Advised In South Central Minnesota, Already A Foot Of Snow Reported

National Guard called out as more than foot of snow buries southern Minn., strands motorists

Pacific Northwest Coast Battered by 60-Foot-Tall Waves

San Juan residents celebrate as power is restored after months in the dark

Why flesh-eating bacteria can look like the flu

Flu outbreak: 100 people a week dying in US as virus continues to spread

Vermont Makes History By Legalizing Marijuana, But Its Law Comes With A Catch

Fifth-grader thought she brought gummy candies to school, but they were laced with marijuana

ACLU Using Undocumented Minors as ‘Political Pawns’ in Abortion Debate, Pro-Lifers Warn

Franklin Graham Slammed for Defending Trump on Porn Star Allegations

Pope apologizes to sex abuse victims, defends accused Chilean bishop

Death Toll for German Serial Killer Nurse Goes Up, Another 97 Victims Suspected

One student wounded, 16-year-old boy in custody after school cafeteria shooting in Texas


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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January 23 Tuesday: A Messianic Wedding Song

By James Boice on Jan 23, 2018 12:00 am

In a psalm unique among the Psalter, we also find a unique introduction (v. 1). In it the poet tells how the theme assigned to him as court poet has stirred his emotions. His is “a noble theme,” and he has been moved to pour all his considerable skill into the effort.

Read more…

Rediscovering the Holiness of God

“Where did holiness go?” wonders David Schrock. “Evangelicals who only speak profusely of God’s love,” says Schrock, “have too often discarded his holiness. As A. W. Tozer observed more than a generation ago, ‘we lack reverence—not because we are free in the gospel, but because God is absent, and we have no sense of His presence.’ We offer to others a message of salvation from judgment, when we ourselves do not tremble before God.”

In this piece over at Credo Magazine, Dr. Schrock helps us rediscover the Holiness of God. He writes: Note then the kindness and severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen,but God’s kindness to you,  provided you continue in his kindness.

When God created Adam and Eve, he endowed them with righteousness and a limitless capacity to delight in God’s holiness. On the hill of the Lord, they were to worship and work, as they extended the boundaries of God’s garden-temple. For Eden was more than an ancient garden for planting; it was an arboreal sanctuary where God’s priestly children daily walk in the presence of God’s holiness.

Sadly, this original design was lost when the first couple rebelled against his word (Gen 3:1–6). Seeking to be like God, they spurned their Creator. In the fall, they traded God’s holiness for the profane. Ever since, humanity has been chasing glory with impure hands and unholy hearts.

Idolatry: A Journey into the Profane

In Scripture, sin finds its source in idolatry. Borrowing imagery from the fall, Paul speaks of humanity’s plight: “For although they knew God, they did no honor him as God or give thanks to him, . . . Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images” of created things (Rom. 1:21-23).

As image-bearers, we abound in worship. Humankind has worshiped beasts, birds, business ventures, and ballplayers. Even Israel turned God’s holy law into an idol (see Romans 2). In short, all have sinned and fallen short of God’s holiness.

In response, God warns those who worship false gods. He also indicts those who worship God falsely. For instance, 3,000 men died when Israel worshiped God by means of a golden calf (Exod. 32). Of note, Aaron didn’t lead Israel to stray from Yahweh (the first commandment); he led them to break the second commandment—the fashioning of a graven image.

Likewise, leprosy broke out on Uzziah’s forehead when he presumed to worship the temple (1 Chron. 26). And before him, Uzzah perished by putting his hand out to keep the Ark of the Covenant from falling (1 Chron. 13). Apparently, the dirty ground was cleaner than Uzzah’s flesh!

Each of these episodes speaks of God’s holiness and man’s profane attempts to approach God on our own. God will not stand for sinful men to worship him as they choose. Rather, he is looking for worshipers who tremble at his holiness and humbly receive his cruciform grace. View article →

Source: Rediscovering the Holiness of God

Without brakes, the ‘Reformed Charismatic Movement’ could soon resemble the NAR

Wretched host Todd Friel has some concerns that some high profile leaders in the Reformed camp may be headed to a very bad place. Three such “cautious” leaders are John Piper, Wayne Grudem and Matt Chandler.

See Berean Research’s White Paper on the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR)

source: Without brakes, the ‘Reformed Charismatic Movement’ could soon resemble the NAR

January 23, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Mount Zion—the Grace of the Gospel

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel. (12:22–24)

The mountain of the New Covenant is Mount Zion, representing the heavenly Jerusalem. The opposite of Sinai, it is not touchable, but it is approachable. Sinai symbolizes law and Zion symbolizes grace. No man can be saved by the law, but any man can be saved by grace. The law confronts us with commandments, judgment, and condemnation. Grace presents us with forgiveness, atonement, and salvation.

Ever since David had conquered the Jebusites and had placed the ark on Mount Zion, this mountain had been considered the special earthly dwelling place of God. “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His habitation. ‘This is My resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it’ ” (Ps. 132:13–14). When Solomon moved the ark to the Temple, which was built on nearby Mt. Moriah, the name Zion was extended to include that area as well. Before long, Zion became synonymous with Jerusalem, and Jerusalem was therefore the city of God and the place of sacrifices. Isaiah, who spoke often and hopefully of Zion, says that God will “grant salvation in Zion” (46:13).

Whereas Sinai was forbidding and terrifying, Zion is inviting and gracious. Sinai is closed to all, because no one is able to please God on Sinai’s terms—perfect fulfillment of the law. Zion is open to all, because Jesus Christ has met those terms and will stand in the place of anyone who will come to God through Him. Zion symbolizes the approachable God.

Sinai was covered by clouds and darkness; Zion is the city of light. “Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God has shone forth” (Ps. 50:2). Sinai stands for judgment and death; Zion for forgiveness and life, “for there the Lord commanded the blessing—life forever” (Ps. 133:3).

The Jews to whom Hebrews is speaking at this point are clearly believers, for they are told, you have come to Mount Zion. They were already on the gracious mountain of God, already in the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. As Christians, we are already citizens of heaven, where we now spiritually dwell (Phil. 3:20).

In coming to Mount Zion—that is, by becoming a Christian—we come to seven other blessings: the heavenly city; the general assembly; the church of the first-born; God, the Judge of all; the spirits of righteous men made perfect; to Jesus; and to the sprinkled blood.

the heavenly city

The city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, is heaven itself. Coming to Christ is coming to heaven, the only way to come to heaven. When we come to Mount Zion, we come by grace to the city Abraham looked for, “the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10). From the moment of salvation, heaven is our spiritual home—where our heavenly Father and our Savior are, and where the rest of our spiritual family is. That is where our treasure is, our inheritance is, our hope is. Everything we have of any value is there and all that we should want is there.

Until the Lord takes us there to be with Himself, however, we cannot enjoy its full citizenship. For now we are ambassadors on earth. As ambassadors we have full citizenship in our home country, but we are away from it for a while and cannot enjoy its full blessings. In the meanwhile we are to be faithful emissaries of our Savior and our heavenly Father, reflecting their nature before a world that does not know them. And Paul encourages us not to lose our perspective of the incomparable value of our heavenly inheritance (Rom. 8:17–18).

And like the writer of Hebrews, Paul uses Sinai and Jerusalem as figures of the Old and New Covenants and, consequently, of the old and new relationships to God that they represent. “Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.… So then, brethren, we are not children of a bondwoman, but of the free woman” (Gal. 4:25–26, 31). Sinai is the mountain of bondage. Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, is the mountain of freedom.

the general assembly

I believe the general assembly (panēguris, “a gathering for a public festival”) refers to the myriads of angels, rather than to the church of the first-born. The translation could be, “But you have come to … an innumerable company of angels in festal gathering.” When we come in Jesus Christ to Mount Zion, we come to a great gathering of celebrating angels, whom we join in praising God. Daniel gives us an idea of just how many angels we will be joining in heaven: “Thousands upon thousands were attending Him, and myriads upon myriads were standing before Him” (Dan. 7:10; cf. Rev. 5:11).

Innumerable angels were also present at Sinai, as mediators of the Mosaic covenant (Gal. 3:19), the covenant of law and judgment. But men could not join them there. Like the God they served, at Sinai they were unapproachable. The angels were not celebrating at Sinai; they were blowing the trumpets of judgment.

Contrary to what some churches teach, we are not to worship angels. We join them in worshiping God, and God alone. “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize,” Paul warns, “by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels” (Col. 2:18). During his vision on Patmos, John once was so awestruck that he fell at the feet of an angel and would have worshiped him. But the angel forbid him, saying, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God” (Rev. 19:10). In heaven, we will not worship angels, but will worship with angels. We will join them in eternal celebration and praise of God.

the church of the first-born

The church of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven is the Body of Christ. The first-born are those who receive the inheritance. As believers, we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,” who is “the first-born among many brethren” (Rom. 8:17, 29).

Jesus tells us that we should not rejoice in the great works that God may do through us but that our “names are recorded in heaven” (Luke 10:20). Our names are enrolled in heaven in “the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27).

god, the judge of all

On Mount Zion we can come into God’s own presence, an incomprehensible concept to a Jew who knew only the God of Sinai. But at Jesus’ crucifixion, “the veil of the temple was torn in two” (Luke 23:45), and the way into God’s presence forever made open for those who trust in the atoning work of that crucifixion. To come into God’s presence at Sinai was to die; to come into His presence at Zion is to live (cf. Ps. 73:25; Rev. 21:3).

the spirits of righteous men made perfect

The spirits of righteous men made perfect are Old Testament saints, those who could only look forward to forgiveness, peace, and deliverance. When we come to heaven we will join Abel, Abraham, Moses, David, and all the others in one great household of God (cf. Matt. 8:11).

They had to wait a long time for the perfection that we received the instant we trusted in Christ. In fact, they had to wait for us (Heb. 11:40), in the sense that they had to wait for Christ’s death and resurrection before they could be glorified. In heaven we will be one with them in Jesus Christ. We will not be inferior to Abraham or Moses or Elijah, because we will all be equal in righteousness, because our only righteousness will be our Savior’s righteousness.

jesus

Supremely we come to Jesus, in the fullness of His beauty and glory as the mediator of a new covenant. Our Lord is here called by His redemptive name, Jesus, which He was given because He would “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). When we come to Mount Zion, we come to our Savior, our Redeemer, our one and only Mediator with the Father. First John 3:2 sums up the ultimate end of this truth: “we shall be like Him.”

the sprinkled blood

To come to Christianity is to come to the sprinkled blood, the atoning blood, through which we have redemption, “through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7), and by which all who “formerly were far off have been brought near” (2:13).

The sprinkled blood of Jesus far surpasses the sacrifice of Abel (Heb. 11:4) and speaks better than the blood of Abel. Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God because it was offered in faith, but it had no atoning power—not even for Abel, much less for anyone else. Jesus’ blood, however, was sufficient to cleanse the sins of all men for all time, to make peace with God for whoever trusts in that blood sacrifice (Col. 1:20).[1]


22 G. Hughes, 67, refers to the perfect tense “you have come” as “strangely daring”; he goes on to discuss helpfully “the dialectic, or rather the bipolarity, of Christian eschatological existence” (71), the tension between “already” and “not yet” as we encounter it in Hebrews.

The word πανηγύρει, panēgyrei, “in joyful assembly” (which occurs nowhere else in the NT), stands between the clauses about the angels and the church of the firstborn and is sometimes taken either as a separate item on its own (“a national assembly,” Buchanan) or with the following clause, “to the full concourse and assembly of the firstborn” (REB). But the NIV reading is preferable, since a one-word item would not fit the style of the list, and καί, kai, “and,” which introduces each new item in the list, follows πανηγύρει, panēgyrei rather than precedes it.[2]


12:22 / The opening of this verse picks up the opening verb of verse 18. The perfect tense of this verb, you have come, indicates arrival some time in the past with continued enjoyment of the results of that arrival in the present. By the use of this tense the author clearly means to stress that what he is about to describe is in some way already enjoyed by the readers. They have come to Mount Zion, a mountain of even greater significance than the mountain alluded to in the preceding verses. Mount Zion is synonymous with Jerusalem in the ot (e.g., 2 Sam. 5:6f.; 2 Kings 19:21; Ps. 2:6; 9:11). Here it is further described as the heavenly Jerusalem, that eschatological expectation referred to in Revelation 21:2 (cf. Gal. 4:26; 2 Bar. 4:2ff.) and the city of the living God, a city already mentioned as Abraham’s true goal (11:10; cf. 11:16). In 13:14 it is written: “we are looking for the city that is to come.” Thus the readers already enjoy in the present the eschatological city of the future (cf. Eph. 2:6). Here again we encounter the tension between realized and future eschatology (e.g., 1:2; 4:3; 6:5; 9:11; 10:1). Christians have experienced fulfillment, but fulfillment short of consummation. The readers are also said to have come to thousands upon thousands (lit., “myriads” or “tens of thousands”) of angels. In Deuteronomy 33:2, “myriads of holy ones” are associated with the appearance of the Lord at Sinai; in Daniel 7:10, “ten thousand times ten thousand” serve before the throne of God. These hosts are also present in the city, the heavenly Jerusalem (cf. the marriage supper of the Lamb, Rev. 19:6).[3]


12:22. This verse begins the description of the superior spiritual approach available to believers. Dread and fear have vanished. Believers can worship God in full fellowship and joy!

The name Mount Sinai, where Israel received the Law, does not appear in verses 18–21. The location at which believers meet with God is called Mount Zion. The mount is identified as the city of the living God and as the heavenly Jerusalem. The picture is one of calmness as God and his people enjoy fellowship together. Mount Zion represents the true worship of God, and Jerusalem symbolizes God’s people in community with him.

Thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly surrounding God show that he is approachable. He lives among a society of followers who worship him. These angels were the ministering spirits presented earlier in 1:14. Christians do not come together to worship these angels but to worship and serve the God who sends them forth.

This verse does not refer merely to a communion which believers enter at death. At conversion Christians become members of a community of those who can worship the living God and receive from him grace for daily needs (Heb. 4:16). Christians already experience a fulfillment of fellowship with God. The future will bring a complete consummation of this fellowship.[4]


22. But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23. to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the judge of all men, to the spirits of righteous men made perfect, 24. to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.

  • “Mount Zion, … the heavenly Jerusalem.” What a difference between the description of Mount Sinai and that of Mount Zion! What a contrast! The first scene is one of doom and dread; the second scene portrays life and joy. In the first portion of the argument Mount Sinai is not even mentioned, for the Israelites were not to stay there. In the second part, Mount Zion is described as “the heavenly Jerusalem” and as “the city of the living God.”

The verb have come intimates that the readers of Hebrews have arrived at a permanent place. That is, the temporary conditions of the old covenant have ended, and the everlasting terms of the new covenant now prevail. That the expression Mount Zion ought to be understood spiritually and not literally is evident from the explanation “the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God.” The new Jerusalem is the place where Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, dwells.

Zion, founded on the mountains,

God, thy Maker, loves thee well;

He has chosen thee, most precious,

He delights in thee to dwell;

God’s own city,

Who can all thy glory tell?

Psalter Hymnal

Mount Zion is the highest elevation in the city of Jerusalem. As a fortress it was fiercely defended by the Jebusites, who were defeated at last by David. In time, the fortress, including the surrounding area, was called the city of David, but poets and prophets used the name Zion and designated it God’s dwelling place (see, for instance, Ps. 2:6; 20:2; 99:2; 135:21; Isa. 4:3–5; Jer. 8:19).

The writer of Hebrews employs the adjective heavenly to signify that the place he mentions is not the southeast corner of Jerusalem, but the heavenly Zion where God dwells with all the saints (Rev. 14:1; 21:2). The citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem are known as sons and daughters of Zion. It is the place where “God himself will be with them and be their God” (Rev. 21:3). The heavenly Jerusalem excels its earthly counterpart, for sin and death are banished eternally in heaven; the city has no need of sun or moon, “for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp” (Rev. 21:23). The living God lives among his people forever.

What an honor to live in that city! Consider this: Moses was given the honor of climbing Mount Sinai and being with God for forty days and forty nights (Exod. 34:28). We shall be with him in heaven always. Mount Sinai is a windswept, uninhabited mountain; the new Jerusalem is a city populated by the saints who dwell permanently in Zion with their living God (Gal. 4:26; Phil. 3:20).

  • “Thousands upon thousands of angels.” Already Abraham looked “forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10; cf. 13:14). That city is the habitation of countless angels as well. Certainly the New International Version has the translation “thousands upon thousands of angels,” but this is an expression that appears in Revelation 5:11 and stands for countless thousands. “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels,” says John, “numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand.” This “joyful assembly” of angels sings a song of glory, honor, and praise to the Lamb (see also Dan. 7:10).

Translations differ on the exact position of the Greek word translated as “assembly.” Depending on the placing of a comma, the word assembly or its equivalent is taken either with angels or with “the church of the firstborn” in the next verse (v. 23). Commentators are divided on this matter. However, it appears that the translation “thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly” is preferred because the author of Hebrews “perhaps intended to offset any thought that angels were angels of judgment.”44 Angels were commissioned to deliver the law at Mount Sinai (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19; cf. Deut. 33:2; Ps. 68:17); by contrast, they constitute a joyful assembly at Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem (see Rev. 5:11–13). In heaven angels rejoice when they see that one sinner repents (Luke 15:10). They are sent out to serve all those who inherit salvation (Heb. 1:14).

  • “Church of the firstborn.” When the writer of Hebrews says to the readers, “You have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God,” and then mentions the festive gathering of an immense number of angels, he could be misunderstood. Because he places the scene in heaven, the readers might say that they as yet have not come to the heavenly Jerusalem. But when he says, “[You have come] to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven,” he definitely addresses the readers. They are the ones who belong to the new covenant, and their names already have been recorded in the Book of Life (see also Luke 10:20; Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 20:12).

That the believers belong to the church on earth is evident from the clause “the spirits of righteous man made perfect.” They are still sinners, and their spirits have not yet been glorified to join the church in heaven. They are on earth; their names, however, are written in heaven.

What is meant by the expression first-born? The New Testament shows repeatedly that Jesus is the first-born. Of the nine occurrences of this word (Matt. 1:25; Luke 2:7; Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:15, 18; Heb. 1:6; 11:28; 12:23; Rev. 1:5), seven refer to Jesus. One passage (Heb. 11:28) relates to Egypt’s first-born slain by the angel of death, and the other passage (Heb. 12:23) concerns believers. The privilege of the first-born is that he is able to lay claim to the inheritance. Christ is therefore the heir, and we are coheirs with him (Rom. 8:17). We value our birthright, whereas Esau despised it (Heb. 12:16). We are first-born because of Christ who makes us holy, and we who are made holy belong to the same family (Heb. 2:11).

Recording the names of the first-born males in Israel was done at God’s command. Moses counted all their names and made a list (Num. 3:40). In heaven all the names of those believers included in the new covenant are written in the Book of Life.

  • “God, the judge.” God is judge of all men, and no one is higher than God. At Mount Sinai he came to Israel to give the people his law and to make a covenant with them. There he did not appear as judge, only as lawgiver.

Here the readers of Hebrews learn that God is judge of all men, and (by implication) that everyone must appear before him. Seated at Mount Zion, the heavenly Jerusalem, God summons his people to the judgment seat, not to condemn them, but to justify them. God declares them righteous because of his Son who paid their debt (2 Tim. 4:8). God’s right hand is filled with righteousness, says the psalmist (Ps. 48:10). God rewards his people by renewing them after his image of true righteousness, holiness, and knowledge (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10).

  • “Spirits of righteous men.” Who are these “spirits of righteous men made perfect”? Some commentators are of the opinion that these spirits belong to Old Testament believers; others think that the writer refers to New Testament saints who have died. But all believers of both Old Testament and New Testament times, who have been translated to glory, are declared righteous. They have been made perfect on the basis of Jesus’ work; he is “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).

What then is the relation between the saints on earth and the saints in heaven? The saints in glory have been perfected, for they are set free from sin. Their souls are perfect; their bodies wait for the day of resurrection. In principle, the believers on earth share in the perfection Christ gives his people. They enjoy the prospect of joining the assembly of the saints in heaven. Only death separates the church below from the church above. When death occurs the believer obtains the fulfillment of Christ’s atoning work (Heb. 2:10).

  • “Jesus the mediator.” In earlier chapters the writer explained the covenant (7:22; 8:6, 8–12; 9:4, 15–17, 20; 10:16, 29); once more he reminds the readers that Jesus is the mediator of a new covenant. He purposely uses the name Jesus to bring into focus the suffering, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.

At Mount Sinai Moses served as mediator between God and man; and with respect to the covenant God made with his people, Moses was the intermediary. But Mount Sinai represents that which is temporary: Moses died, and the first covenant eventually came to an end. To be sure, God replaced it with a new covenant (Jer. 31:31–34; Heb. 8:8–12), and Jesus became the mediator of it. The readers of the epistle observed that the establishing of a new covenant was relatively recent. It occurred when Jesus died on Calvary’s cross (also see Matt. 26:28). Moreover, the readers ought to look not to Moses, who mediated the old covenant, but to Jesus. As mediator of the new covenant, he calls the believer to joyful and thankful obedience; he removes the burden of guilt and cleanses the sinner’s conscience; he grants him the gift of eternal life; and he functions as intercessor in behalf of his people.

  • “Sprinkled blood.” When Moses formally confirmed the first covenant at Sinai, he sprinkled blood on the altar, the scroll, the people, and even the tabernacle (Exod. 24:6–8; Heb. 9:17–22). Sprinkled blood signified forgiveness of sin, for “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22). Jesus inaugurated the new covenant by shedding his blood once for all at Golgotha. Because of that sprinkled blood, believers enter the presence of God as forgiven sinners (Heb. 10:22; 1 Peter 1:2).

You have come, says the author, “to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.” The comparison is somewhat unequal. The blood of Abel called for revenge, and God placed a curse upon Cain for killing his brother Abel (Gen. 4:10–11). The blood of Christ removed the curse placed upon fallen man and effected reconciliation and peace between God and man. Abel’s blood is the blood of a martyr that evokes revenge. The blood of Jesus is the blood of the Lamb of God who “takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

The deliberate contrast accentuates the significance of Jesus’ blood that proclaims the gospel of redemption. The blood of Jesus sets the sinner free. And that is the better word the author wishes to convey.

Practical Considerations in 12:22–24

“Why do you go to church on Sunday?” Your answer may be: “Because I want to worship the Lord my God together with his people.” You may also say: “I attend the worship services because the blood of Jesus shed for me has cleansed me from all my sins. I enter the very presence of God as a forgiven sinner cleansed by the blood of the Lamb.”

Sermons about the blood of Jesus are few. Certainly on Good Friday pastors describe the suffering and death of Christ, and the people sing “Alas! and did my Savior bleed.” But neither preacher nor parishioner dwells on the concept Jesus’ blood. The thought of blood is too gruesome. The repulsiveness of blood causes us to turn to pleasantries instead, and thus we miss the message of Jesus’ “blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (italics added).

What is the message of the blood? It tells me that Jesus removed the curse, lifted the burden of guilt, and forgave my sins. It assures me that I have peace with God and that I have been set free to live a life of obedience. It tells me that God loved me so much that he had his Son die for me.

I go to church not to hear a theological lecture or to receive some pastoral advice on how to avoid conflict, but to learn that the blood of Jesus daily speaks to me and brings me the message of salvation. I have been delivered from the bondage of sin because of Jesus’ blood. Throughout the week, but especially on Sundays, I am reminded of the words of an Italian hymn, translated by Edward Caswall,

Grace and life eternal

In that blood I find;

Blest be his compassion,

Infinitely kind![5]


12:22 Believers have not come to the forbidding terrors of Sinai but to the welcome of grace:

The burning mount and the mystic veil,

With our terrors and guilt are gone;

Our conscience has peace that can never fail,

’Tis the Lamb on high on the throne.

James G. Deck

Now every blood-brought child of God can say:

The terrors of law and of God,

With me can have nothing to do;

My Saviour’s obedience and blood

Hide all my transgressions from view.

A. M. Toplady

“We have already arrived in principle where in full reality we shall be forever. The future is already the present. In today we possess tomorrow. On earth we own Heaven” (Selected).

We do not come to a tangible mountain on earth. Our privilege is to enter the sanctuary in heaven. By faith, we approach God in confession, praise, and prayer. We are not limited to one day of the year, but may enter the holiest at any time with the knowledge that we are always welcome. God no longer says, “Stay at a distance”; He says, “Come near with confidence.”

Law has its Mount Sinai but faith has its Mount Zion. This heavenly mountain symbolizes the combined blessings of grace—all that is ours through the redeeming work of Christ Jesus.

Law has its earthly Jerusalem but faith has its heavenly capital above. The city of the living God is in heaven, the city which has the foundations, whose Architect and Builder is God.

As we enter the presence of God, we are surrounded by an august gathering. First of all, there are myriads of angels who though untainted by sin cannot join with us in song because they do not know “the joy that our salvation brings.”[6]


22–24 Mount Zion, which could be understood as the ultimate goal of God’s people when they left Egypt, is the point to which Christians already have come. However, the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God, rather than any earthly destination, is meant (cf. Gal. 4:26; Rev. 21:2). Men and women of faith in OT times looked forward to this city (cf. 11:10, 13–16), but those who have come to God through Jesus Christ (the same verb is used in 4:16; 7:25; 10:22; 11:6) are now part of that heavenly scene. This is a vivid way of saying that we have secured the promised eternal inheritance through faith in Jesus and his work. In that heavenly city are thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, united in celebration with the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. Here is a vision of the ultimate, completed company of the people of God, assembled around Christ in the heavenly places (cf. Eph. 2:6–7; Rev. 7). We may now enjoy membership of that church by faith. If our names are written on the roll of the heavenly city, we will one day enjoy the full rights of citizenship. God is there as the judge of all, suggesting that scrutiny or judgment must take place first (cf. 9:27). However, this heavenly church consists of the spirits of righteous men made perfect, indicating that they are those made perfect for ever by the one sacrifice of Jesus Christ (10:14). As mediator of a new covenant, his sprinkled blood provides complete cleansing from the defilement of sin (9:13–15; 10:22). Abel’s blood cried out for vengeance (11:4), but Jesus’ blood speaks a better word, assuring us of forgiveness and acceptance. All must face the judgment of God, but those who trust in the atoning power of Jesus’ death can look forward to acquittal and life for ever in God’s presence.[7]


12:22–24. The realities that pertain to New-Covenant people and to which they have come are even more impressive because they are heavenly. Not only is there the heavenly city, but there are also heaven-related beings, both angels and people, associated with it. The term church of the firstborn may mean the assembly of those whose inheritance rights are already won (since under the OT Law the “firstborn” was the primary heir; cf. v. 16). They have already gone on to the heavenly regions where the angels are. But above all, it is to God, the Judge of all men, that they have come—and there are some who indeed can stand His searching scrutiny of their lives (the spirits of righteous men made perfect; cf. 10:14; 11:40)—and to Jesus the Mediator (cf. 8:6; 9:15) of a New Covenant whose atoning blood does not cry for judgment as did Abel’s but secures the acceptance of all New-Covenant persons.

If the readers would contemplate these things properly, they would be awed by them and more inclined to fulfill their call to the highest privileges that the New Covenant can provide.[8]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 413–416). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 179). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (p. 225). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, pp. 222–223). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, pp. 392–396). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2206). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Peterson, D. G. (1994). Hebrews. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 1351). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[8] Hodges, Z. C. (1985). Hebrews. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 811). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

JANUARY 23 MAJESTY—AND MEEKNESS

I will speak of the glorious honour of thy majesty, and of thy wondrous works.

Psalm 145:5

When the prophets try to describe for me the attributes, the graces, the worthiness of the God who appeared to them and dealt with them, I feel that I can kneel down and follow their admonition: “He is thy Lord—worship thou Him!”

They described Him as radiantly beautiful and fair. They said that He was royal and that He was gracious. They described Him as a mysterious being, and yet they noted His meekness.

The meekness was His humanity. The majesty was His deity. You find them everlastingly united in Him. So meek that He nursed at His mother’s breast, cried like any baby and needed all the human care that every child needs.

But He was also God, and in His majesty He stood before Herod and before Pilate. When He returns, coming down from the sky, it will be in His majesty, the majesty of God; yet it will be in the majesty of the Man who is God!

This is our Lord Jesus Christ. Before His foes He stands in majesty. Before His friends, He stands in meekness!

Dear Lord, You are both my King and my Friend. Lead me through this day, O King, and pick me up when I stumble, dear Friend.[1]


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

January 23 Christ Sovereignly Masters Satan

Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.’ ”—Matt. 4:10

The devil’s final proposal was so outlandish and beyond the boundaries of God’s will that Jesus dismissed him with the terse, firm command, “Go, Satan!” Satan can wield his present power only by God’s permission; therefore he had no choice but to leave Christ’s presence. This last interaction is a prime example of our Lord’s sovereign mastery over the enemy.

If the Savior would not compromise on a mundane matter such as turning stones to bread, He certainly would not compromise on the major issue of worshiping and serving anyone besides the Father and the Father alone.

Christ will finally inherit God’s kingdom in God’s perfect time, and we will inherit it with Him (Matt. 5:5; 25:34; Rom. 8:17). This glorious truth doesn’t mean God will not give us many good things in this life, because no one desires our happiness more than our heavenly Father. Jesus Himself later taught, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matt. 7:11). Knowing this, why should any of us want to settle for any of the cheap, fleeting substitutes of instant gratification that Satan offers?

ASK YOURSELF

What inspires you the most about Jesus’ reactions to Satan’s three temptations? What are the most convicting or compelling aspects of His testimony that would look good on you as well? Thank Him for His sturdy, steady faithfulness—and ask Him to grow the same in you.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 31). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

January 23 True Thanks

I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world.

Romans 1:8

One thing we know about the apostle Paul: he had a thankful heart. In almost every one of his epistles, Paul expressed thanks for the people who would receive his message. Though he knew that each church needed correction, he didn’t just send instruction; he also sent a word of thanks. He was always able to see God’s purposes being accomplished. Paul expressed what is in the heart of all true servants of God—an attitude of gratitude.

Unfortunately, some people go through life dwelling on the negative. They refuse to be grateful for the good that God is doing in someone else’s life. If it isn’t happening to them, then they think it’s bad. Paul didn’t express his thanks by saying, “I’m so thankful for what God has done for me”; rather, he said, “I thank God for you.” He received as much joy from someone else’s success as he did from his own. May the same be true of you as well.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 34). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

January 23, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

9:6 The First Advent is described in verse 6a: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given.” The first clause speaks of His humanity, the second of His deity. The next part of the verse points forward to the Second Advent:

the government will be upon His shoulder—He will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. The rest of the verse describes His personal glories:

His name will be called Wonderfulthis name is a noun, not an adjective, and speaks of His Person and work.

Counselor—His wisdom in government.

Mighty God—the omnipotent, supreme Ruler.

Everlasting Father—or better, the Father (or “Source”) of eternity. Eternal Himself, He confers eternal life on those who believe in Him. Vine comments: “There is a twofold revelation in this: (1) He inhabits and possesses eternity (57:15); (2) He is loving, tender, compassionate, an all wise Instructor, Trainer, and Provider.”

Prince of Peace (Sar-Shālôm)—the One who will at last bring peace to this troubled world.[1]


9:6 Born speaks of the Child’s humanity and given of His deity. Wonderful, Counselor is one name, meaning “wonderful divine Counselor” (11:1–5). Mighty God indicates that the Lord is a powerful Warrior (10:21). Everlasting Father describes a King and Father who provides for and protects His people forever (40:9–11; Matt. 11:27–30). Thus the word Father is used here of the Savior’s role as an ideal king. Prince of Peace is the climactic title (2:4; 11:6–9; 53:5; Luke 2:14; Rom. 5:1). The Child is the true Prince—the One who has the right to reign and who will usher in peace. The four double names combine aspects of Jesus’ deity and His humanity. Together, these four double names assert the dual nature of the Savior: He is God become man.[2]


9:6 child … son. These terms elaborate further on Immanuel, the child to be born to the virgin (7:14). The virgin’s child will also be the royal Son of David, with rights to the Davidic throne (9:7; cf. Mt 1:21; Lk 1:31–33; 2:7, 11). government. In fulfillment of this verse and Ps 2:9, the Son will rule the nations of the world (Rev 2:27; 19:15). Wonderful Counselor. In contrast to Ahaz, this King will implement supernatural wisdom in discharging His office (cf. 2Sa 16:23; 1Ki 3:28). Mighty God. As a powerful warrior, the Messiah will accomplish the military exploits mentioned in 9:3–5 (cf. 10:21; Dt 10:17; Ne 9:32). Eternal Father. The Messiah will be a Father to His people eternally. As Davidic King, He will compassionately care for and discipline them (40:11; 63:16; 64:8; Pss 68:5, 6; 103:13; Pr 3:12). Prince of Peace. The government of Immanuel will procure and perpetuate peace among the nations of the world (2:4; 11:6–9; Mic 4:3).[3]


9:6 to us. A gift of divine grace to sinners. a child … a son. This is the invincible figure striding across the world stage, taking gracious command, according to vv. 4–5 (cf. Ps. 2:7–9; Luke 1:32). Isaiah presents the events as if it were the time of the child’s arrival, with an expectation of what he will achieve (Isa. 9:7). Wonderful Counselor. A “counselor” is one who is able to make wise plans (cf. 11:2). He is a ruler whose wisdom is beyond merely human capabilities, unlike intelligent but foolish Ahaz (cf. 28:29). Mighty God. A title of the Lord himself (10:20–21; Deut. 10:17; Neh. 9:32; Jer. 32:18). Everlasting Father. A “father” here is a benevolent protector (cf. Isa. 22:21; Job 29:16), which is the task of the ideal king and is also the way God himself cares for his people (cf. Isa. 63:16; 64:8; Ps. 103:13). (That is, this is not using the Trinitarian title “Father” for the Messiah; rather, it is portraying him as a king.) Prince of Peace. He is the ruler whose reign will bring about peace because the nations will rely on his just decisions in their disputes (cf. Isa. 2:4; 11:6–9; 42:4; 49:7; 52:15). This kind of king contrasts with even the best of the Davidic line that Judah has experienced so far, because these titles show that this king will be divine. Thus this cannot refer to, say, Hezekiah (whose father Ahaz was king at the time), who for all his piety was nevertheless flawed (cf. 39:5–8) and only human.

9:6 The Messiah is both human (from the line of David) and divine (see John 1:14; Col. 2:9).[4]


9:6 child … son. The good news is the birth of Jesus Christ. The four royal names express His divine and human qualities, giving assurance that He is indeed “Immanuel” (7:14).

born … given. The verbs are consistent with His humanity and deity respectively.

Mighty God. As a warrior, God protects His people (10:21; Deut. 10:17; Jer. 32:18).

Everlasting Father. The Father and King cares for His subjects (40:9–11; 65:17–25; Matt. 18:12–14; 23:9–12; Rom. 8:15–17).

Prince of Peace. His government brings peace (2:4; 11:6–9; Ps. 72:7; Zech. 9:10; Luke 2:14).[5]


9:6 Although Mt 4:16 applies the passage as a whole (vv. 2–7) to Jesus Christ by implication, the NT does not specifically apply to Him the names, or titles, listed in this verse. Some commentators believe Isaiah was describing a Judean ruler to come during his own time; thus, these names were applied to the reigns of Hezekiah, Josiah, and even Ahaz. But even if the names do not recur, as such, in the NT, they fit the ministry and messianic role of Jesus. As a “Wonderful Counselor,” He is a doer of “miracles, wonders, and signs” (Acts 2:22) who sends the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to continue His work (Jn 14:26). Hailed as “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28) in His resurrection, Jesus has been given “all authority … in heaven and on earth” (Mt 28:18). As one with the Father (Jn 10:30), He is eternal—“alive forever and ever” (Rv 1:18). As a member of David’s royal line (Rm 1:3) He is the Prince who brings peace between Jew and non-Jew (Eph 2:14), whose rule over all kingdoms (Rv 1:5) brings an end to wars.[6]


9:6 Born speaks of the Child’s humanity and given of His deity. Wonderful, Counselor is one name, meaning “wonderful divine Counselor” (11:1–5). Mighty God indicates that the Lord is a powerful Warrior (10:21). Everlasting Father describes a King and Father who provides for and protects His people forever (40:9–11; Matt. 11:27–30). Thus the word Father is used here of the Savior’s role as an ideal king. Prince of Peace is the climactic title (2:4; 11:6–9; 53:5; Luke 2:14; Rom. 5:1). The Child is the true Prince—the one who has the right to reign and who will usher in peace. The four double names combine aspects of Jesus’ deity and His humanity. Together, these four double names assert the dual nature of the Savior: He is God become man.[7]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 947). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 818–819). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 9:6). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1257). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 963). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[6] Cabal, T., Brand, C. O., Clendenen, E. R., Copan, P., Moreland, J. P., & Powell, D. (2007). The Apologetics Study Bible: Real Questions, Straight Answers, Stronger Faith (p. 1006). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[7] The NKJV Study Bible. (2007). (Is 9:6). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

JANUARY 23 ACQUAINT THYSELF WITH GOD

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.

—Psalm 24:9-10

When viewed from the perspective of eternity, the most critical need of this hour may well be that the Church should be brought back from her long Babylonian captivity and the name of God be glorified in her again as of old. Yet we must not think of the Church as an anonymous body, a mystical religious abstraction. We Christians are the Church and whatever we do is what the Church is doing. The matter, therefore, is for each of us a personal one. Any forward step in the Church must begin with the individual.

What can we plain Christians do to bring back the departed glory? Is there some secret we may learn? Is there a formula for personal revival we can apply to the present situation, to our own situation? The answer to these questions is yes….

The secret is an open one which the wayfaring man may read. It is simply the old and ever-new counsel: Acquaint thyself with God. To regain her lost power the Church must see heaven opened and have a transforming vision of God. KOH179-180

Lord, give me a glimpse of Your glory and then help me to live in the light of that glory, exhibiting a transformed life and representing a renewed Church. Amen.[1]


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

January 23 The Effect of Patience

“Walk … with patience.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

Patience is crucial to our testimony.

The virtues of Ephesians 4:2–3 enable the church of Jesus Christ to have a powerful witness. Many think the key to evangelism is following a specific course or method, but according to Jesus, the greatest way to get people to believe the gospel is through our love and unity (John 17:21). Though evangelistic methods are important, often they aren’t as effective as they could be because of the church’s poor reputation among unbelievers. If the church were full of people who had genuine humility, gentleness, and patience, others would be more inclined to listen to what we say.

Sir Henry Stanley traveled to Africa in 1872 to find Dr. David Livingstone, the famous missionary and explorer, who had lost contact with the European community. After finding him, Stanley spent several months with Livingstone, who by that time was an old man. Apparently Livingstone didn’t say much to Stanley about spiritual things—he just continued about his business with the Africans. Stanley observed that throughout the months he watched him, Livingstone’s habits, especially his patience, were beyond his comprehension. Stanley could not understand Livingstone’s sympathy for the pagan Africans, who had wronged Livingstone many times. For the sake of Christ and His gospel David Livingstone was patient, untiring, and eager. He spent himself for his Master.

In his account How I Found Livingstone, Stanley wrote, “His religion is not of the theoretical kind, but is a constant, earnest, sincere practice. It is neither demonstrative nor loud, but manifests itself in a quiet practical way, and is always at work…. In him religion exhibits its loveliest features; it governs his conduct not only towards his servants but towards the natives … and all who come in contact with him.”

I’m not suggesting that you never talk about the gospel. But realize that what you say will have far greater effect when you live in harmony with what the gospel teaches. If the world could see a clear picture of Jesus Christ through the unity of the church and its humble, gentle, and patient people, our evangelism would be sped along on wings!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Pray that you would live in a way that glorifies God and attracts others to the Savior.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 5:13–16. What did Christ mean by being salt and light in the world? ✧ Think of specific ways you can obey the command in verse 16.[1]


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

January 22 Daily Help

BOLDLY come unto the King of kings, from whom no sincere petitioner ever was dismissed unheard.

Whenever there is a heart big with sorrow, wherever there is an eye suffused with tears, wherever there is a lip quivering with agony, wherever there is a deep groan, or a penitential sigh, the ear of Jehovah is wide open. He puts our prayers, like rose leaves, between the pages of His book of remembrance, and when the volume is opened at last, there shall be a precious fragrance springing up therefrom.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 26). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

January 22, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Aspects of Blessing

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, (1:3)

Paul here presents six aspects of the divine blessing he is about to unfold: the blessed One, God; the Blesser, also God; the blessed ones, believers; the blessings, all things spiritual; the blessing location, the heavenly places; and the blessing Agent, Jesus Christ.

the blessed one—god

Such gracious truth is introduced appropriately by praise to the One who has made such provision: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. From eulogeō (blessed) we get eulogy, a message of praise and commendation, the declaration of a person’s goodness. Because no one is truly good but God (Matt. 19:17), our supreme eulogy, our supreme praise, is for Him alone.

Goodness is God’s nature. God the Father not only does good things, He is good in a way and to a degree that no human being except His own incarnate Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, can be. Consequently from Genesis to Revelation, godly men, recognizing the surpassing and humanly unattainable goodness of God, have proclaimed blessing upon Him. Melchizedek declared, “Blessed be God Most High” (Gen. 14:20). In the last days, “every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them” will be “heard saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever’ ” (Rev. 5:13).

Nothing is more appropriate for God’s people than to bless Him for His great goodness. In all things—whether pain, struggle, trials, frustration, opposition, or adversity—we are to praise God, because He is good in the midst of it all. For that we praise and bless Him.

the blesser—god

Consistent with His perfection and praiseworthiness, the One who is to be supremely blessed for His goodness is Himself the supreme Blesser who bestows goodness. It is He who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. “Every good thing bestowed and every perfect gift,” James reminds us, “is from above, coming down from the Father of lights” (James 1:17). Paul assures us “that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28). God blesses because He is the source of all blessing, of every good thing. Goodness can only come from God because there is no source of goodness outside of God.

the blessed ones—believers

The us whom God has blessed refers to believers, “the saints … in Christ Jesus” Paul addresses in verse 1. In His wonderful grace, marvelous providence, and sovereign plan God has chosen to bless us. God has eternally ordained that “those who are of faith are blessed” (Gal. 3:9).

When we bless God we speak good of Him. When God blesses us, He communicates good to us. We bless Him with words; He blesses us with deeds. All we can do is to speak well of Him because in ourselves we have nothing good to give, and in Himself He lacks no goodness. But when He blesses us the situation is reversed. He cannot bless us for our goodness, because we have none. Rather, He blesses us with goodness. Our heavenly Father lavishes us with every goodness, every good gift, every blessing. That is His nature, and that is our need.

the blessings—everything spiritual

Our heavenly Father blesses us with every spiritual blessing. In the New Testament pneumatikos (spiritual) is always used in relation to the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore it does not here refer to immaterial blessings as opposed to material ones but to the divine origin of the blessings—whether they help us in our spirits, our minds, our bodies, our daily living, or however else. Spiritual refers to the source, not the extent, of blessing.

Many Christians continually ask God for what He has already given. They pray for Him to give them more love, although they should know that “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). They pray for peace, although Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you” (John 14:27). They pray for happiness and joy, although Jesus said, “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full” (John 15:11). They ask God for strength, although His Word tells them that they “can do all things through Him who strengthens” them (Phil. 4:13).

God’s “divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:3). It is not that God will give us but that He has already given us “everything pertaining to life and godliness.” He has blessed us already with every spiritual blessing. We are complete “in Him” (Col. 2:10).

Our resources in God are not simply promised; they are possessed. Every Christian has what Paul calls “the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:19). God cannot give us more than He has already given us in His Son. There is nothing more to receive. The believer’s need, therefore, is not to receive something more but to do something more with what he has.

Our heavenly position and possession are so certain and secure that Paul speaks of God’s having already “raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places, in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

the location of blessing—the heavenly places

These abundant, unlimited blessings from God are in the heavenly places. More than heaven itself is included. The heavenly places (cf. 1:20; 2:6; 3:10) encompass the entire supernatural realm of God, His complete domain, the full extent of His divine operation.

Christians have a paradoxical, two-level existence—a dual citizenship. While we remain on earth we are citizens of earth. But in Christ our primary and infinitely more important citizenship is in heaven (Phil. 3:20). Christ is our Lord and King, and we are citizens of His realm, the heavenly places. That is why we are to pursue “things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (Col. 3:1).

Because we are members of God’s dominion, unlike the “sons of this age” (Luke 16:8), we are able to understand the supernatural things of God, things which the “natural man does not accept” and “cannot understand … because they are spiritually appraised” (1 Cor. 2:14).

When an American citizen travels to another country, he is every bit as much an American citizen as when he is in the United States. Whether he is in Africa, the Near East, Europe, Antarctica, or anywhere else outside his homeland, he is still completely an American citizen, with all the rights and privileges that such citizenship holds.

As citizens of God’s heavenly dominion, Christians hold all the rights and privileges that citizenship grants, even while they are living in the “foreign” and sometimes hostile land of earth. Our true life is in the supernatural, the heavenly places. Our Father is there, our Savior is there, our family and loved ones are there, our name is there, and our eternal dwelling place and throne are there.

But we are presently trapped in the tension between the earthly and the heavenly. Paul reflected that tension when he said, “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed … as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. 4:8–9; 6:10).

The key to living as a heavenly citizen while living in an unheavenly situation is walking by the Spirit. “Walk by the Spirit,” Paul says, “and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). When we walk in His power He produces His fruit in us: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (vv. 22–23). We receive our heavenly blessings by living in the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

the blessing agent—jesus christ

Christians possess every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places because they are in Christ. When we trust in Him as Lord and Savior, we are placed in a marvelous union with Jesus Christ. “The one who joins himself to the Lord is one spirit with Him” (1 Cor. 6:17). Our unity as Christians is more than simply that of common agreement; it is the unity of a commonness of life, the common eternal life of God that pulses through the soul of every believer (cf. Rom. 15:5–7).

All that the Lord has, those in Christ have. “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:16–17). Christ’s riches are our riches, His resources are our resources, His righteousness is our righteousness, and His power is our power. His position is our position: where He is, we are. His privilege is our privilege: what He is we are. His possession is our possession: what He has, we have. His practice is our practice: what He does, we do.

We are those things and have those things and do those things by the grace of God, which never fails to work His will in those who trust Him (1 Cor. 15:10).[1]


All Good in Christ

Ephesians 1:3

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

I have been a pastor in one place or another for more than two decades, and during that time I have probably put together between 1,300 and 1,400 worship services. These services have had various elements, all important: the sermon, Scripture readings, hymns, prayers, congregational responses, and other items. I value each of these. But as I have reflected on the worship of Christian people over this long period, I have come to believe that one of the most important aspects of all the various parts of worship is hymn singing. Why? Because it is in hymn singing that the congregation itself actively voices praise to God.

The sermon is important. We learn from the sermon. But doctrine, if it is rightly understood, leads to doxology. If we discover who God is and what he has done for us, we will praise him.

Praise to the Father

Paul must have understood this well, for most of his letters begin early on with a hymn of praise (and prayer) to God. We all know that Paul’s letters tend to divide into two sections: teaching and application or, as we could also say, faith and life. Doctrine is followed by duty. But usually, long before he gets to the duty section, Paul revels in what God has done for us by praising him. Romans reviews basic doctrine and praises God for it. Second Corinthians is another example. The same thing occurs in Galatians (briefly), Philippians, Colossians, and other letters. Of all these letters, none is so overflowing with this initial praise to God for his great blessings as Ephesians.

This is a remarkable section of Paul’s letter. To begin with, it is all one sentence—from verse 3 to verse 14. English translations generally break the words up for ease of reading, but in the Greek Paul simply begins with a note of praise to God for “every spiritual blessing” and then keeps going, adding phrase upon phrase and doctrine upon doctrine, as he lists these benefits. One commentator calls this “a magnificent gateway” to the epistle. Another calls it “a golden chain of many links.” A third calls it “a kaleidoscope of dazzling lights and shifting colors.”

John R. W. Stott, who lists these and other descriptions of Paul’s great paragraph of praise, summarizes: “A gateway, a golden chain, a kaleidoscope, a snowball, a racehorse, an operatic overture and the flight of an eagle: all these metaphors in their different ways describe the impression of color, movement and grandeur which the sentence makes on the reader’s mind.”

But it is not just a great panorama of color and movement that we are confronted with in these verses. We also meet with a vast display of doctrines. In fact, they are interconnected, which makes it hard to analyze the paragraph.

Some commentators have noticed that the work of God the Father is chiefly described in verses 3–6, the work of the Lord Jesus Christ in verses 7–10, and the work of the Holy Spirit in verses 11–14. They have divided the paragraph along Trinitarian lines. John Stott provides a temporal outline—the past blessing of election (vv. 4–6), the present blessing of adoption (vv. 5–8), and the future blessing of unification (vv. 9–10)—followed by a section on the “scope” of these blessings. E. K. Simpson lists the blessings: election, adoption, redemption, forgiveness of sins, wisdom and understanding, the unification of things in Christ, and the seal of the Holy Spirit.3 In his very extensive commentary, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones abandons any attempt to provide a neat outline and simply goes through the section significant word or phrase by significant word or phrase.

Probably the Trinitarian framework is most helpful. Paul is saying that the blessings listed come from God the Father, become ours in Jesus Christ, and are applied by the Holy Spirit. We notice, for example, that God the Father is the subject of nearly every verb in the section, and that the phrase “in Christ” or “in him” occurs throughout.

All Spiritual Blessings

I have said that in Greek, Ephesians 1:3–14 is one sentence. But it is appropriate that the New International Version (and some others) make verse 3 a sentence to itself. It states a theme and highlights what is to come. The verse says God “has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” and praises him for it.

What are we to make of the word “spiritual” in this sentence? The word could mean either of two things. It could mean that the blessings come to us by means of the Holy Spirit. The last verses of this section (vv. 11–14) certainly teach that. Or it could mean that these are spiritual rather than material blessings. The phrase “in the heavenly realms” which also occurs in this sentence, suggests that Paul is probably thinking of “spiritual” in the second sense. That is, he is thinking of blessings related to heaven rather than earth and is declaring that these blessings are freely given to us.

It is not that God does not give material blessings as well. He does. Jesus promised that his disciples would be provided with all things needful (see Matt. 6:25–34). The apostle Paul said, “My God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). But these material provisions are relatively unimportant when measured against spiritual riches. Besides, although in this life we may have more or less material possessions, in spiritual terms we have not merely some but all blessings in Christ.

Ephesians 1:4–14 is a listing of these blessings. We will be looking at many of these in greater detail as our study unfolds, but it is worth looking ahead to the entire scope of them now.

  1. Election. Paul says that “he [that is, God] chose us in him [that is, Christ] before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight” (v. 4). This troubles some people, because they suppose that if God elects individuals to salvation, as this verse and others clearly declare he does, then the value of human choices is destroyed and the motivation for a holy life vanishes. This is not what happens. Instead of destroying the value of human choices, election gives us a capacity for choosing that we did not possess previously as unregenerate persons.

Before we were made alive in Christ we had a human will. But it was directed against God, not toward him. We could choose, but we always chose wrongly. When we were made alive in Christ we received a new nature, according to which God, who before was undesirable to us, now became desirable, and we willingly submitted ourselves to him. Again, so far as living a holy life is concerned, we are told in another text that God wills our holiness. So, far from being an excuse for unholiness, election actually guarantees the opposite. The only way we can know whether we are among the elect ultimately is whether we are living a holy life.

Election teaches that “salvation comes from the Lord” (Jonah 2:9). Indeed, Paul makes this clear in this passage. He teaches that God “chose” (v. 4), “predestined” (v. 5), “gave” (v. 6), “forgave” (v. 7), “lavished grace” (vv. 7–8), “made known his will” (v. 9), “purposed” (v. 9), “included” (v. 13), and “marked” us with the seal of the Holy Spirit (v. 13). It is God’s work from beginning to end.

  1. Adoption. The second spiritual blessing in Christ is adoption, for “in love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ” (v. 5). Adoption means becoming God’s sons and daughters with all the privileges implied. On this basis we are said to be “heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17) and have the privilege of bringing all things to God in prayer and of being heard by him.
  2. Redemption. Redemption means being delivered from the slavery of sin by the death of Christ, which Paul indicates by saying: “In him [that is, Christ] we have redemption through his blood” (v. 7). In antiquity a person could become a slave in one of three ways. He could be born a slave; children of slaves were automatically slaves too. He could become a slave by conquest; the citizens of a city or nation captured by another city or nation would be enslaved. He could become a slave through debt; a person who could not pay a debt could be enslaved as the last possible resource for payment.

Significantly, the Bible speaks of people being slaves of sin in each of these ways. We are born in sin, receiving a sinful nature from our parents (“Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me,” Ps. 51:5). We are conquered by sin (“Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me,” Ps. 19:13). We are also slaves of sin through debt (“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord,” Rom. 6:23).

Redemption means Jesus delivering us from this slavery to sin by his work on the cross. Before, we were held captive and could not break free to do God’s bidding. We did not even want to. Now we are freed to serve God by Jesus’ death. As Peter writes, “It was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18–19).

  1. Forgiveness of sins. Paul links forgiveness of sins to redemption, writing, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (v. 7). But although they are closely linked, forgiveness of sins is something different from redemption. Redemption means being freed from sin’s power, so that it no longer rules over us. Forgiveness means having God wipe the slate clean. The Bible seems to go out of its way to magnify the wonder of this forgiveness. David wrote, God “forgives all my sins” (Ps. 103:3). Jeremiah quotes God as saying, “I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more” (Jer. 31:34). John declared, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
  2. The revelation of God’s purpose in history. Now Paul reaches the greatest heights of wonderment and rapture when he speaks of God’s great purpose in history, namely, “to bring all things in heaven and on earth together under one head, even Christ” (vv. 9–10). Paul lived in a very broken world, as we do. He saw Greek pitted against Roman, Jew against Gentile, rich against poor, aristocrat against commoner. He saw people struggling for themselves and, above all, struggling against God. “Is this to go on forever?” he might have asked. Fortunately, Paul knew the answer to that question. The disharmony of the world is not to go on forever, for the same God who has predestined us to salvation in Jesus Christ has also predestined all things to be brought together in submission to him.

Paul wrote to the Philippians: “At the name of Jesus every knee [shall] bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue [shall] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Phil. 2:10–11).

  1. Sealing by the Holy Spirit. Seals authenticate documents and declare that the promises contained in them are good. This is what the Holy Spirit does for Christians. So when Paul says, “Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” (v. 13), he is saying that God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is an authentication that believers are truly God’s and that none of the promises God has made to them will fail.
  2. An inheritance. The Holy Spirit, though a seal on the document, so to speak, is actually more than certification of God’s promises. He is himself a portion of our inheritance. Paul speaks of this when he terms the Holy Spirit “a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession” (v. 14). This is a nice turn of phrase. According to this verse, Christians are God’s inheritance. But the Holy Spirit, who is God, has been given to us as a down payment on the fullness of the inheritance which is already ours in Jesus Christ.

In Jesus Only

The last part of verse 3 tells us that the spiritual blessings given by God are “in Christ,” which means, “in Jesus only.” In the last chapter I alluded to the importance of the phrases “in Christ,” “in him,” or their equivalents, pointing out that they occur, in all, 164 times in Paul’s writings. This is a difficult idea, but there is hardly a more important concept in the New Testament, since it is only by means of our union with Christ that any of these great spiritual blessings come to us. Even our election is in Christ, for God “chose us in him before the creation of the world” (v. 4).

We will be coming back to the phrase again and again as we work through this letter, and we will be looking at some of the more mystical aspects of the phrase then. Here it is more important to stress that these blessings can only be given to us through Jesus.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones puts it well: “If you leave out the ‘in Christ,’ you will never have any blessings at all. … Every blessing we enjoy as Christian people comes to us through the Lord Jesus Christ. God has blessings for all sorts and conditions of men. For instance, the Sermon on the Mount gives our Lord’s teaching that God ‘maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good’ (Matt. 5:45). There are certain common general blessings which are enjoyed by the whole of humanity. There is what is called ‘common grace,’ but that is not what the apostle is dealing with here. Here he is dealing with particular grace, with special grace, the blessings that are enjoyed by Christian people only. The evil as well as the good, the unjust as well as the just, enjoy common blessings, but none but Christians enjoy these special blessings. People often stumble at this truth, but the distinction is drawn very clearly in the Scriptures. The ungodly may enjoy much good in this world, and their blessings come to them from God in a general way, but they know nothing of the blessings mentioned in this verse. Paul is writing here to Christian people, and his concern is that they should understand and grasp the special blessings and privileges possible to them as Christians; and so he emphasizes that all those blessings come in and through the Lord Jesus Christ, and in and through him alone. You cannot be a Christian without being ‘in Christ.’ Christ is the beginning as well as the end. He is Alpha as well as Omega. There are no blessings for Christians apart from him.”

What does anyone have apart from Jesus Christ? Paul answers just a chapter further on in this letter: “Separate from Christ, [you are] excluded from citizenship in Israel and [are] foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).

What is the situation when we are “in” him? We have “every spiritual blessing” and so praise God the Father, as Paul himself does, exuberantly. We will ask for our daily bread here, and other things besides. But if we suffer want here, in the final analysis it will be all right, because we still possess every spiritual blessing “in the heavenly realms.” John Calvin summed it up wisely: “Whatever happens to us, let us always assure ourselves that we have good cause to praise our God, and that even if we are poor and miserable in this world, the happiness of heaven is enough to appease us, to sweeten all our afflictions and sorrows, and to give us such contentment that we may nevertheless have our mouths open to bless God for showing himself so kindhearted and liberal towards us as even to adopt us as his children, and to show us that the heritage which has been purchased for us by the blood of his only Son is ready for us, and that we cannot miss it, seeing that we go to it with true and invincible constancy of faith.”[2]


Blessed with Christ’s Blessing (1:3)

We should praise God, because he blesses us with Christ’s blessing (Eph. 1:3). Paul says, “The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ … has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). We really need the last part of this verse to be able to explain the first part. The words “in Christ” remind us that our “spiritual blessing” includes several important elements.

We Are in Union with Christ (1:3a)

Twelve times in verses 3–12, Paul refers in various ways to believers’ spiritual union with Christ. The words appear so frequently that we may grow numb to their significance. However, we will not miss the impact Paul wants to make on our hearts if we track to the end of the chapter. There Paul identifies the One with whom we are united. He is the Son of God the Father and was

raised … from the dead and seated … at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way. (Eph. 1:20–23)

Paul says that we are united to the One who is above every earthly power and authority in this age and the age to come. He is Lord. Yet we share his honor and blessings by being united to him.

Paul spells out the blessings: Christ is risen from the grave with power over sin and death; he is seated in the heavens with the Father; his power and privileges exceed anything on earth; and we share his glory. He is head of all things, and all that is precious in church and world is filled with him. All of these blessings we share by the marvelous grace of being united to Christ.

We struggle fully to apprehend all the goodness and glory of our union with Christ. The beauty of a sunset, the power of a storm, the purity of a child’s prayer, the majesty of a hero’s glory, the wonder of love’s passion, and the hope of eternal glory when such earthly blessings fail—all these are of him, all are under him, all are by him, all reflect the wonder, majesty, purity, power, and beauty of who he is. And because we are in union with him, they are ours, too.

We Are in Heaven with Christ (1:3b)

If such wonder is ours to enjoy, then a song may come to mind: “Heaven, I’m in heaven.…” And that is just the point that the apostle makes in the first part of verse 3. There he reminds us the blessings of Christ not only involve being in union with Christ but, through that union, being in heaven with Christ.

Paul says that God “has blessed us [past tense] in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing” (Eph. 1:3). Does that mean that God is in the heavenly realms—up there—blessing us down here? Yes, but it means more also. Paul will later remind us with these same words that God raised Jesus “from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 1:20). Jesus is in the heavenly realms; believers are united to him. So where are we? It is clear: we are also blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms. This is precisely what Paul says in the following chapter: “God raised [past tense] us up with Christ and seated [past tense] us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

Because we are in union with Christ, who is in heaven, then we are in heaven with God. The apostle urges praise for God not so much because the Father is in heaven blessing us, as because we are there with him being blessed by him. As hell is total, conscious separation from the blessings of God, so the spiritual dimension of heaven is total and conscious union with God. In our union with Christ, we are already partakers of this spiritual reality, even though it is not fully realized until we are in our glorified state freed of our mortal bodies and the constraints of our temporal existence. This means we are already experiencing aspects of heaven, although we are not yet there.

The benefits of this “already and not yet,” Paul has already stated: grace and peace (Eph. 1:2). We face difficulty, danger, and the deceit of our own hearts, but heaven and all its benefits are already ours. The difference the “already and not yet” makes can be compared to an experience our family had some time ago. On our family vacations, we enjoy going to a cabin that adjoins a deep set of woods. At certain times of the year the woods are so dense that when we have been out hiking, it is difficult to find the path back to the cabin. As night closed in during one such hike, we knew that we would not be able to spot our regular landmarks. So we began to angle through the woods in the direction we thought the cabin was. It got darker and darker; no familiar landmarks came into view. The children assumed that we were lost. I kept a brave face, as if I knew where we were, but ultimately I turned around to tell them the real situation. But just as I turned, a light from the cabin caught my eye. In the dark and dense woods we had actually walked past the cabin, but seeing the light, I knew we were safe. We were not yet inside, but the light meant that we were already safe and secure. What was my reaction to being “home”? Relief, and peace.

It is a similar reaction that Paul intends for us. He does not promise that we will never have to walk through the dark and dense woods. Trials are still here, disease still comes, finances are still hard, jobs and relationships remain difficult, and next steps may remain uncertain, but in Christ we are already home. We do not have to worry that there will be no place for us or that our God will not receive us, because he has already united us to his household through his Son and included us in his purposes. This gives us the confidence to be courageous in the face of opposition whether inside or outside the church. We say with the psalmist, “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?” (Ps. 118:6). Such confidence enables us to be less worried about the dollars and cents of a troubling bill, and more willing to consider how God is calling us to be faithful; less concerned with the wrath of a godless boss, and more willing to entrust ourselves to God’s care. Because we have eternal security that the deprivations of this world cannot deny, we are able to stand for truth when peers demand compromise, or stand up to a child who claims that our discipline will erase his love for us. The reality of our heavenly status in Christ makes earthly challenges less intimidating even if they are not less real.

But what if we do not feel worthy of such honor, or capable of earning such blessing? What if we face the same trials and temptations as did the Ephesians?[3]


3 The doxology begins with eulogētos (GK 2329), a word best translated as “blessed be” or “praise be,” which corresponds to a Jewish berakah—an extended blessing frequent in the OT and in Jewish prayers. Paul also employs this tactic in 2 Corinthians 1:3–4 (cf. Ro 1:25; 9:5; 2 Co 11:31 for his other uses of the Greek term). The one to be praised is both God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The designation “Father” became a Christian way of understanding God after Jesus called God “Abba.” Neither “God” nor “Father” identifies his name: “God” expresses deity, and “Father” specifies his role in relation to Jesus. Again, this Jesus Christ is “Lord.” Paul adds the reason why God is to be blessed: he has “blessed” (from eulogeō) Christians with “blessings” (from eulogia), a Semitic pleonasm (redundancy). The verb “blessed” and the noun “blessing” are cognate to the first verb, translated “praise be.” “Blessings” are the benefits God has bestowed on his people. Paul adds both the location of those blessings and their extent.

The location of those blessings is truly unexpected: he has blessed believers “in the heavenly realms.” Paul uses this spatial expression here and at 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; 6:12. In the first three texts, believers enjoy a position in the heavenly realms with God or Christ; in the other two, rulers, authorities, and evil spiritual forces reside in the heavenly realms. Is this a literal location or a metaphor for some reality? While evil forces may well be said to inhabit some literal heavenly realms, and though Christ is literally in heaven somewhere, this can hardly be true for believers now in the same literal sense. So rather than presenting some arcane cosmology or topography of the heavenly spheres, Paul’s reference is more likely soteriological and eschatological. Though believers are not yet literally resurrected and seated with Christ (1:20; 2:6), the spiritual transaction that will eventuate in these realities has occurred. Through what Christ accomplished in his resurrection and exaltation, the “age to come” has overlapped the present so that those “in Christ” in this age experience the spiritual benefits that will be consummated in the next age. And because believers are still in “this age,” they continue to contend with their and God’s enemies until the end. I referred to this earlier as “realized” eschatology.

God’s blessings are boundless. Paul says God has spared nothing when it comes to blessing his people spiritually. The key lies in the addition of “in Christ.” They lack nothing in the spiritual realm because they are in him. The preposition “in” may also have an instrumental sense—the blessings come through Christ, and this certainly is true. The rest of the letter will show, however, that the locative sense of inclusion in Christ is the dominant sense. Lincoln, 22, puts it succinctly: “Believers experience the blessings of the heavenly realms not only through Christ’s agency but also because they are incorporated into the exalted Christ as their representative, who is himself in the heavenly realms.” Paul will unpack the implications of this corporate solidarity in more detail as he proceeds.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 7–10). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 8–13). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

[3] Chapell, B. (2009). Ephesians. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 19–22). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[4] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 47–48). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

January 22: Be Vigilant

Genesis 35:16–36:43; Matthew 26:14–56; Ecclesiastes 8:10–17

Faith doesn’t always come to bear until we are faced with our own fallibility. When we “enter into temptation,” it often means we haven’t been vigilant—that we’ve stopped pursuing the God who has pursued us. In the aftermath of temptation, we recognize our spiritual laziness. We become wise—but remorsefully.

Vigilance and complacency are illustrated in the garden of Gethsemane. In His last moments, Jesus requests that His closest disciples stay awake with Him (Matt 26:38). But while He repeatedly prays, they fall asleep. What seems like a request for moral support gets defined a few verses later: “Stay awake and pray that you will not enter into temptation” (Matt 26:41). Staying awake is associated with spiritual awareness. And their sleep is costly. Because of their spiritual sleepiness, they’re not prepared for His end, even though He had repeatedly prepared them for His death. They abandon Him, and they even deny Him (Matt 26:56; 75).

But in this same passage, we get a picture of what vigilance looks like from the Son of God. Jesus anticipated His imminent suffering and death. “Deeply grieved, to the point of death,” He turns to the Father in prayer. Jesus boldly requests relief from suffering; when it is not granted, He submits to the Father’s will.

Being vigilant means seeking guidance and refuge from the God who provides it. He has provided refuge, but we must seek it out. This means asking for His Spirit to equip us for discernment. While we don’t know the challenges and temptations we’ll face, He does. And if we ask Him, He will provide us with all we need to face them.

Are you seeking God’s guidance today? No matter what your situation may be, pray for His Spirit to provide you with strength and discernment.

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


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