Daily Archives: February 8, 2018

February 8 The Joy of Spiritual Unity

“… to all the saints … including the overseers and deacons” (Phil. 1:1).

✧✧✧

Faithful spiritual leaders are worthy of your appreciation and esteem.

Paul’s salutation includes the “overseers and deacons” at Philippi. That probably is not a reference to elders and deacons as we know them, but is a general reference to all the Philippian saints, including spiritual leaders (overseers) and those who followed (servants).

That implies unity and submission within the church, which brings joy to leaders and followers alike. Hebrews 13:17 emphasizes that point: “Obey your leaders, and submit to them; for they keep watch over your souls, as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

Spiritual leadership is a sacred responsibility. Leaders are to lead, feed, and guard the flock of God, which Christ “purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20:28). They are accountable to God Himself for the faithful discharge of their duties.

You have a sacred responsibility as well: to obey and submit to your leaders. Hebrews 13:7 says, “Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the outcome of their way of life, imitate their faith.” Paul adds in 1 Thessalonians 5:12–13, “Appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and … esteem them very highly in love because of their work.”

Sadly, our society encourages criticism and mistrust of anyone in authority. Verbal assaults and character assassinations are common. Many within the church have adopted that attitude toward their spiritual leaders, whom they view as functionaries or paid professionals. Consequently, many churches today are weak and ineffective from disunity and strife. Many pastors suffer untold grief from disobedient and ungrateful people.

You must never succumb to that mentality. Your leaders deserve your appreciation and esteem, not because they are exceptionally talented or have winsome personalities, but because of the sacred work God has called them to do.

Your godly attitude toward spiritual leaders will contribute immeasurably to unity and harmony within your church.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for your spiritual leaders. Pray for them and encourage them often.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 9:3–14. ✧ What right was Paul discussing? ✧ What illustrations did he use?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 51). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

FEBRUARY 8 ENCOUNTER WITH GOD BRINGS WONDER AND AWE

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last.

REVELATION 1:17

There is a point in true worship where the mind may cease to understand and goes over to a kind of delightful astonishment—probably to what Carlyle described as “transcendent wonder,” a degree of wonder without limit and beyond expression!

That kind of worship is found throughout the Bible (though it is only fair to say that the lesser degrees of worship are found there also).

Abraham fell on his face in holy wonderment as God spoke to him. Moses hid his face before the presence of God in the burning bush. Paul could hardly tell whether he was in or out of the body when he was allowed to see the unspeakable glories of the third heaven. When John saw Jesus walking among His churches, he fell at His feet as dead.

These were in unusual circumstances—but the spiritual content of the experiences is unchanging and is found alike wherever true believers are found. It is always true that an encounter with God brings wonderment and awe!

The pages of Christian biography are sweet with the testimonies of enraptured worshipers who met God in intimate experience and could find no words to express all they felt and saw and heard!

Christian hymnody takes us where the efforts of common prose break down, and brings the wings of poetic feeling to the aid of the wondering saint. Open an old hymnal and turn to the sections on worship and the divine perfections and you will see the part that wonder has played in worship through the centuries.[1]


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

February 8, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi gave the longest House floor speech since at least 1909 on Wednesday, talking for more than eight hours to demand a vote on legislation to protect young immigrants from deportation.

The numbers: Initial U.S. jobless claims fell by 9,000 to 221,000 in the seven days ended Feb 3. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch forecast a 235,000 reading. The more stable monthly average of claims declined by 10,000 to 224,500, the government said Thursday. That’s the lowest level since March 1973.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un held a military parade Thursday ahead of the Winter Olympics’ opening ceremony in South Korea, but refrained from broadcasting live images of the event, South Korean media reported.

South Africa plans to declare the drought that’s gripping the western and southern parts of the country a national disaster. Cape Town, the South African city contending with the worst drought on record, has pushed out the estimated date on which it may have to turn off water supplies to residents by about four weeks to May 11, as use by farmers declines.

Syrian state-run media on Thursday confirmed a rare U.S. strike on government-backed troops in eastern Syria, citing reports of dozens killed and wounded from the attack.

More than 300 child soldiers have been released by armed groups in South Sudan, the second-largest such release since civil war began five years ago. Over 19,000 children are thought to have been recruited by all sides. The “laying down of the guns” ceremony for 87 girls and 224 boys on Wednesday was the first step in a process that should see at least 700 child soldiers freed in the coming weeks.

Senate leaders agreed on a bipartisan two-year plan to increase federal spending by nearly $300 billion over two years, a pact likely to avert a government shutdown on Friday.

The head of the World Bank compared cryptocurrencies to “Ponzi schemes,” the latest financial voice to raise questions about the legitimacy of digital currencies such as Bitcoin.

AP Top Stories

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton said she is “committed” to urging American voters to participate in 2018 midterm elections to “get the sexism out of politics.” “I believe the only way to get sexism out of politics is to get more women into politics and that’s never been more at stake than right now.”

The Trump administration tasked a small, inexperienced contractor with delivering 30m meals to Puerto Ricans affected by Hurricane Maria, according to a new report. She delivered 50,000.

A $90 billion disaster aid package agreed on by U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday would include nearly $7 billion in aid to storm-battered Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to two Senate Democratic aides and Puerto Rico’s governor.

The Philippine military on Thursday denied it planned to use 16 Bell helicopters bought from Canada as attack aircraft against local insurgents, following reports Ottawa was reviewing the deal.

U.S. forces in Afghanistan have attacked networks of anti-China militants in action likely to please Beijing which had called for Western cooperation in its fight against the group it says wants to split off its Xinjiang region.

A U.S. envoy has assured Lebanon that Israel does not seek an escalation between the countries following a surge in hostile rhetoric, Lebanese and Israeli officials said on Thursday.

Most armed groups involved in human smuggling and trafficking in Libya have links to the country’s official security institutions, sanctions experts said in a confidential report to a U.N. Security Council committee seen by Reuters on Wednesday. People smugglers operating with impunity in Libya have sent hundreds of thousands of migrants to Europe, mainly Italy, by sea since 2014. Thousands have died during the voyages.

Following the pathfinder effort, in which the Air Force established 44 teams, the service will now begin to select bases and wings to start rolling out with the next phase. The Air Force created a concept that spells out what the cyber squadron is – discovering that they had to build a whole squadron structure to support the ultimate goal of protecting aircraft and key cyber terrain on bases to make missions go – and is looking to institute training and infrastructure

BBC

Lucas Warren from Georgia, an 18-month-old boy with Down’s syndrome, has been named as this year’s “spokesbaby” of the US baby food brand Gerber.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is to open a preliminary inquiry into alleged crimes committed during the Philippines government’s war on drugs, its chief prosecutor says.

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has said he will deliver a national apology to victims of child sexual abuse. Mr. Turnbull’s pledge follows the conclusion of a four-year inquiry that found tens of thousands of children had been abused in Australian institutions. The crimes, over decades, took place in institutions including churches, schools and sports clubs. The apology would be given later this year

Police in China have begun using sunglasses equipped with facial recognition technology to identify suspected criminals.

WND

Scientists say a simple and inexpensive new process can transform any type of wood into a material stronger than steel, and even some high-tech titanium alloys. Besides taking a star turn in buildings and vehicles, the substance could even be used to make bullet-resistant armor plates.

Life expectancy in the U.S. has fallen for the second year in a row, thanks to a combination of drug and alcohol use and suicides, according to a new report released Wednesday.

Retailing giant Macy’s will partner with clothing brand Verona Collection to feature a selection of modest, ready-to-wear pieces geared toward Muslim women.


The Briefing — Thursday, February 8, 2018

1) Drama in both the House and Senate as Congress considers budget deal and DACA fix

New York Times (Thomas Kaplan) –
Senate Leaders Reach Deal to Raise Spending Over Two Years

2) Lessons from Poland: Why trying to shut down an argument almost always intensifies an argument

Wall Street Journal (Drew Hinshaw) –
Poland’s Controversial Holocaust Bill Becomes Law

3) Gloria Copeland says you should not ‘receive’ the flu. Why that doesn’t mean you won’t get it

Washington Post (Marwa Eltagouri) –
A televangelist’s flu-season advice: ‘Inoculate yourself with the word of God’


Is Washington Nuts? Increasing Spending AND Cutting Taxes Will EXPLODE The Size Of The National Debt

Our national debt is rapidly approaching 21 trillion dollars, and yet Congress wants to follow up a large tax cut bill with a massive increase in federal spending.  This is absolute madness, and it is going to make our long-term financial problems as a nation far worse.  After passing the tax bill, the appropriate thing to do would have been to cut federal spending.  Yes, that would have not been a positive thing for the economy in the short-term, but we must start addressing our long-term priorities.  If we do not do something about this exploding national debt, it could potentially destroy our republic all by itself. (Read More…)


News – 2/8/2018

Erdogan, Pope Form Unholy, Anti-Trump Alliance to Control Jerusalem
A meeting on Monday between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Pope Francis may have grave implications for Jerusalem as both leaders appear to be building an agenda based upon their joint opposition to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the city as Israel’s capital. Erdogan, who spoke by phone with the pope at the time expressing his concerns over Jerusalem, called upon the Vatican in Monday’s meeting to help Turkey and the Muslim world “preserve Jerusalem’s status.”

Viral Document Reports on Collaboration Between Abbas-Controlled PA and CIA
Two former Palestinian Authority (PA) officials are suing the PA after an anonymous whistleblower revealed that they and other influential Palestinians were targeted during a large-scale wiretapping operation supervised by the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Tawfiq Tirawi, the PA intelligence chief from 1994 to 2008 and an outspoken opponent of PA president Mahmoud Abbas, and Jawad Obeidat, head of the PA bar association, are among thousands of Palestinians whose phone lines were tapped, according to a 37-page anonymous document being circulated virally amongst Palestinians on social media.

US-Led Coalition Bombs Syrian Forces Following Israeli Strike Near Damascus
A US-led coalition has conducted several “defensive” airstrikes against Syrian forces allied with President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday in Syria’s Deir al-Zor province, in retaliation for what the coalition said was an “unprovoked” attack on the US-backed left-wing Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters. Furthermore, CNN reported late Thursday that US forces are now investigating whether Russian contractors were involved in the initial attack against the SDF, after a US official told the news outlet that the possibility could not be ruled out.

FBI Informant Testifies: Moscow Routed Millions To Clinton Foundation In “Russian Uranium Dominance Strategy”
Campbell says that Russian nuclear officials told him of a scheme to route millions of dollars to the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) through lobbying firm ARPCO, which was expected to funnel a portion of its annual $3 million lobbying fee to the charity. “The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months. APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the U.S.-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement.“

Texas flood: U.S. oil exports pour into markets worldwide
The repeal has unleashed a flood of U.S. shale oil, undercutting global crude prices, eroding the clout of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and seizing market share from many of its member countries.

U.S. envoy relays Israeli de-escalation messages to Lebanon
A US envoy has assured Lebanon that Israel does not seek an escalation between the countries following a surge in hostile rhetoric, Lebanese and Israeli officials said on Thursday. The neighbors have exchanged threats and condemnation over a border wall being constructed by Israel, a tender issued by Beirut for oil and gas exploration in disputed waters and arms flows to Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group.

Venezuela’s capital Caracas hit by power cut during rush hour
A power cut during the evening rush hour in Venezuela’s capital, Caracas, caused major disruption to parts of the city on Tuesday. Hundreds of commuters could be seen walking along the city’s central avenues as the metro was affected. Other caught lifts on lorries or hung on to the doors of overcrowded buses.

ISIS Video Depicts Jihadists Waiting West of Paris for Attack on France
The pro-ISIS group that last month depicted the invasion of Washington this week declared “Paris before Rome,” depicting a terrorist invasion that began with cells in the countryside outside Paris before attacking the city. Al-Abd al-Faqir Media released what they called “a cinematic film about the invasion of the Islamic State of the capital of degeneracy … in the near future, inshallah.”

Saudis deny providing authorization for Israeli flights to pass through airspace
Mere hours after Israeli officials claimed that Air India received authorization to fly over Saudi airspace in its New Delhi-Tel Aviv line, a spokesman for Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation said Wednesday they provided no such permission. Previously, an Air India spokesman officially announced the airliner was awaiting authorization from Indian authorities to fly over Saudi Arabia.

River turns blood red in ‘biblical bombshell’
Russian media are calling last week’s sudden change of Siberia’s Molchanka River into a blood-red estuary a “biblical bombshell,” referencing the first of the Bible’s ten plagues visited on the Egytians in the book of Exodus.

Bombshell: DOD Admits $80 Million in M1 Abrams Tanks Ended Up With Iran-Backed Militias
…According to the bombshell audit, the Department of State (DoS) finally acknowledged that “U.S.-provided military equipment” made its way into the hands of “of non-authorized end-users.”  The audit specified as many as nine M1 Abrams main battle tanks worth just over $80 million in inflation-adjusted dollars provided to Iraq’s military for the fight against the Islamic State (IS) ended up in the hands of Iranian-backed terrorist groups.

US-Led Coalition Bombs Syrian Forces Following Israeli Strike Near Damascus
A US-led coalition has conducted several “defensive” airstrikes against Syrian forces allied with President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday in Syria’s Deir al-Zor province, in retaliation for what the coalition said was an “unprovoked” attack on the US-backed left-wing Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) headquarters.

New England Patriots Fans Turned To Porn After Stunning Super Bowl Loss
On Monday, Pornhub’s statisticians were busy computing the numbers behind the web site’s internet traffic after Super Bowl LII on Sunday, February 4th. The unexpected result: New England Patriot fans apparently turned to porn to ease the pain after their teams stunning loss to the Philadelphia Eagles.

France hits out at Poland’s ‘ill advised’ Holocaust law
France criticized on Wednesday Poland’s new law that makes it illegal to attribute Nazi crimes to the Polish state, describing it as an “ill-advised” move.

In the West Bank, a violent storm is brewing
With Palestinians losing faith in their leaders and lionizing terrorists, the post-Abbas era is shaping up to be tumultuous

Germany Sees Record Increase of Weapons Permit Holders
More and more German citizens are choosing to arm themselves as the number of weapons permits for firearms saw a record increase in 2017 going up nationwide by 85 per cent.

Napolitano: Justice Scalia Thought Obama Spied on Supreme Court
Judge Andrew Napolitano said on Fox Business Monday that the late Justice Antonin Scalia told him “that he often thought that the court was being surveilled” roughly four or five years ago.

‘It’s Obama with the levers controlling all of this’
The corruption of the FBI, the Justice Department and intelligence agencies to help Hillary Clinton win the 2016 election was all about protecting Barack Obama, contends talk-radio superstar Rush Limbaugh.

The Artificial Synapse: A First Step Towards ‘Brain-on-a-Chip’?
Around 100 billion neurons contribute to the immense processing power of the human brain. At any given moment, a single neuron can relay instructions to thousands of other neurons via synapses — the spaces between neurons, across which neurotransmitters are exchanged. There are more than 100 trillion synapses that mediate neuron signaling in the brain, strengthening some connections while pruning others, in a process that enables the brain to recognize patterns, remember facts, and carry out other learning tasks, at lightning speeds.

A NEW LOW: Episcopal Church votes no masculine pronouns for G-d
Continuing its freefall to the theological left, the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Washington, D.C., voted last week to pass a resolution that puts an end to the use of masculine pronouns for God as it prepares to update its Book of Common Prayer.

The CDC is Developing a Nationwide “Medical Police State” Program to Track Vaccine Compliance
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed a new program, the Immunization Information Systems (IIS), which would allow the government to monitor and track the mandatory vaccine compliance of every citizen.

Deadly MS-13 Gang Invading US Suburbs
The FBI estimates MS-13 gangs now have over 10,000 members in the United States, and have migrated from America’s big cities into its leafy suburbs -where neighborhoods, school systems, and police departments are often ill-prepared to cope with its wanton brutality.

Mid-Day Snapshot

Feb. 8, 2018

Pelosi Sets Record While Advocating Illegal Aliens

Pelosi uses the House of Representatives as a forum to represent the interests of non-Americans.

The Foundation

“Here comes the orator! With his flood of words, and his drop of reason.” —Benjamin Franklin (1735)


Headlines – 2/8/2018

Abbas, Putin to discuss new peace talks mechanism sidelining US – report

US peace envoy blasts Abbas for failure to mention Jerusalem’s Jewish connection

PA mulling its own currency

Netanyahu proclaims innocence as police said ‘unanimous’ on proposing bribery charges

Netanyahu slams police chief’s ‘delusional, false insinuations’

Netanyahu Lashes Out at Israel’s Top Cop and Questions Police: ‘A Shadow Has Fallen Over Investigations Into PM’

Lapid: Netanyahu’s attack on police commissioner a desperate act

Zionist Union leader Gabbay says Netanyahu ‘acting like a common criminal’

Russia livid over Israeli bill to recognize Ukrainian genocide

Saudis reportedly okay airspace for direct India-Israel flights; Riyadh denies

“Throw terrorists’ bodies into the sea” – Stormy debate on the return of terrorists’ bodies takes place in Knesset

More troops sent to West Bank following uptick in attacks

Hamas: PA ‘lead’ helped IDF track terrorist behind rabbi’s killing

PA spokesman: Middle East conflicts are Israel’s fault

As war clouds gather, northern storm looks more foreboding

Russia, Lebanon to sign military cooperation treaty

Lebanon tells army to confront Israeli ‘aggression’ amid border tensions

IDF Acknowledges Serious Hezbollah Missile Threat to Israeli Natural Gas Rigs

3 possible reasons for Israel’s attack on Syria’s Jamraya facility

Alleged Israeli Strike on Syria Facility Targeted Hezbollah’s Efforts to Enhance Missile Capabilities

U.S. Airstrikes Target Pro-Syrian Forces After ‘Unprovoked Attack,’ Kill More Than 100 Fighters

Russian lawmaker says US strike in Syria an act of aggression

‘Man, She’s Pretty’: Behind Syrian Rebels’ Gruesome Murder of a Female Kurdish Fighter

UN to meet on humanitarian crisis in Syria

Indonesia to help Myanmar deal with terrorism

Myanmar army ‘continuing to force Rohingya out of the country’ through rape and starvation says Amnesty

The Tense Olympics: With Hints of War in the Air, the World Turns Its Eye to Korea

N. Korea set to hold military parade on eve of PyeongChang Olympics’ opening

S. Korea gets flexible with N. Korea sanctions for Olympics

Military parades are about ego and power. Of course Trump wants one.

U.N. chief plans major disarmament push but U.S. skeptical

Napolitano: Justice Scalia Thought Obama Spied on Supreme Court

Newly released texts raise questions about Obama’s role in Clinton probe

Biased FBI and DOJ Officials Broke The Law And Tried To Decide The Election – an Annotated Timeline

FBI put misplaced trust in Trump dossier author, misled judge

Russians penetrated U.S. voter systems, top U.S. official says

IRS overpaid nearly $3.5 billion in Obamacare tax credits in 2017, can’t recoup money

Ignore the stock market rollercoaster, the sell-off in bonds is what matters

George Soros, the man who ‘broke the Bank of England’, backing secret plot to thwart Brexit

FEC commissioner who blocked regulation of Drudge, Internet, steps down

California says it will ban crude from Trump offshore drilling plan

Oil World Turns Upside Down as U.S. Sells Oil in Middle East

Space roadster overshoots Mars, now headed for asteroid belt

Two Small Asteroids Safely Pass Earth This Week

Chernobyl as you’ve never seen it before: Infrared images of the nuclear power plant exclusion zone make it appear more haunting than ever

Fukushima nuclear disaster: Lethal levels of radiation detected in leak seven years after plant meltdown in Japan

False tsunami alert sent to US coasts

Aftershocks rattle Taiwan as quake toll rises to 10, 58 missing

5.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Hualian, Taiwan

5.6 magnitude earthquake hits the Greenland Sea

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Ndoi Island, Fiji

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Hualian, Taiwan

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Coquimbo, Chile

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Hualian, Taiwan

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 22,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 17,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Karymsky volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 16,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 13,000ft

Mayon volcano in the Philippines erupts to 11,000ft

Rare snow brings Paris to scenic standstill

Eiffel Tower closed as heavy snowfall blankets Paris

Skiers take to Paris streets as snow prompts travel chaos

Houston still needs help five months after Hurricane Harvey. National Jewish groups team to assist.

Deadly landslides, flooding spark evacuations in Jakarta

River in Siberia turns alarming ‘blood red’ colour, but experts don’t know why

Israel finds case of severe H5N8 bird flu, sounds all-clear

The Artificial Synapse: A First Step Towards ‘Brain-on-a-Chip’?

Chinese police are using facial-recognition glasses to scan travelers

Your smart TV may be prey for hackers and collecting more info than you realize, ‘Consumer Reports’ warns

Bermuda Bans Same-Sex Marriage Less Than 1 Year After Legalizing It

Pence tweets support for gay US Olympian who trashed him: ‘We are FOR YOU’

Is the Vatican about to abandon Roman Catholics in China?

400 Muslim, Christian, Jewish Leaders Sign ‘Washington Declaration’ for Religious Tolerance

Two False Prophecies and the Idolization of America

Sid Roth’s Contradicting Revelations on the Mark of the Beast – God Contradicts Himself?

Rachael Denhollander Stands by Statements Against Sovereign Grace, CJ Mahaney After Church Rejects Them as False

Pope Francis: Where Mary is, ‘the devil does not enter’
Posted for informational purposes, not an endorsement

Max Lucado, Russell Moore, Other Evangelical Leaders, Senators Demand DACA Bill for Dreamers Illegal Aliens

400 Muslim, Christian, Jewish Leaders Sign ‘Washington Declaration’ for Religious Tolerance

Macy’s Launches Clothing Line For Muslims

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 04:53 PM PST

Macy’s Launches Clothing Line For MuslimsRetailing giant Macy’s will partner with clothing brand Verona Collection to feature a selection of modest, ready-to-wear pieces geared toward Muslim women. The collection’s dresses, tops, cardigans, pants and hijabs will be available beginning Feb. 15 on Macys.com. “Verona Collection is more than a clothing brand. It’s a platform for a community of women to express their personal identity and embrace fashion that makes them feel confident on the inside and outside,”

Lisa Vogl, founder of Verona Collection, said in a news release. Pieces will range from $12.95 to $84.95. The Verona Collection is a product of The Workshop at Macy’s, the retailer’s minority- and women-owned business development program. “Through The Workshop at Macy’s, Lisa shared her vision to create a collection that speaks to a community of women looking for a solution to their fashion needs,” said Cassandra Jones, senior vice president of Macy’s Fashion. READ MORE

 

 

 

Muslim Bans Christian Prison Chaplain Without Warning, Citing ‘Extreme’ Views

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 04:41 PM PST

Muslim Bans Christian Prison Chaplain Without Warning, Citing ‘Extreme’ ViewsA highly-respected Christian volunteer chaplain at HMP Brixton has been removed from chaplaincy work, and an internationally-respected Christian course banned by a Muslim senior chaplain, in an attempt to wipe out “Christian domination” at Brixton prison. Pastor Paul Song moved to the U.K. from South Korea in 1992 and began working as a full-time minister at London Shepherd Church in 1996. In 1998, he started using his one day off each week to volunteer alongside 15 other Christians at HMP Brixton, and he was taken on as a chaplain at the prison on March 1, 1998.

Paul and others started running the internationally-respected Alpha course at HMP Brixton in 1998, and have been doing so for nearly 20 years. In recent times they also ran the “Just10” course created by Canon J. John—all with the blessing of the former senior chaplain, Reverend Phillip Chadder. The demand for the courses was considerable, with around 70 prisoners signing up for each course, and waiting lists having to be created. Over the 19 years, the volunteer chaplain developed strong relationships with the prisoners, the senior chaplain and other staff, and many prisoners became Christians and had their lives transformed. READ MORE

Woman Disfigured in Church Bombing Had Miraculous Vision of Jesus!

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 04:28 PM PST

Woman Disfigured in Church Bombing Had Miraculous Vision of Jesus!When Samiha Tawfiq Awad and her husband Qalini went to church Sunday morning December 11, 2016, they didn’t expect to come face to face with death. The couple did what they did every Sunday – go to St. Peter’s church in Cairo, Egypt and worship the Lord according to the Coptic traditions of their ancestors. All of that suddenly changed when a terrorist ran into the church just before 10 a.m. and blew himself up.

Qalini called out to his wife in the panic and destruction but didn’t find her until hours after she was taken to the hospital. “She won’t survive,” the doctors told him. The bomb blast killed 25 people and severely disfigured Samiha’s face, yet she defied the doctors who expected her to die and miraculously survived. Samiha has since fully recovered and is back home with her husband. “The doctors might’ve given up on Samiha, but God had another plan!” Qalini later told Open Doors. READ MORE

Rick Wiles of TruNews rebukes supporters of Israel!

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 11:00 AM PST

Rick Wiles of TruNews rebukes supporters of Israel!Genesis 12:1-3 –  Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country, From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

On a recent episode of TruNews with host and founder Rick Wiles, The topic of discussion was the scathing rebuke of “Christian Zionism”, which according to Rick Wiles is the support of the Nation of Israel. In the episode, he issues a challenge to those who prefer the reclaiming of the land of Israel over the Cross of Christ. Wiles goes on to say “As churches in Jerusalem are being forced out of places of worship by the Israeli government, where is the outcry of the American church to the persecution of Christians? Watch the video below for the entire segment. Do you agree with Rick Wiles or Disagree?

Ken Ham Event at Oklahoma University Canceled Due to LGBT Group Complaint

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 10:34 AM PST

Ken Ham Event at Oklahoma University Canceled Due to LGBT Group ComplaintAn event with Creation Museum CEO and President Ken Ham as the featured speaker has been dropped by the University of Central Oklahoma after an LGBT campus group complained about his beliefs. “So the name ‘Ken Ham’ seems to invoke fear in the hearts and minds of the increasingly intolerant LGBTQ movement,” Ham wrote on Facebook on Tuesday.

“Pressure from a professor leading the LGBTQ group at the University of Central Oklahoma has resulted in my invitation to give a presentation on campus being cancelled, even though the university signed a contract. So much for ‘toleration’ and ignoring the university’s promise for free inquiry and expression.” Paul Blair, pastor of Fairview Baptist Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, who worked with a campus student group to arrange Ham’s speech at Constitution Hall, revealed that the university spends tax dollars on other events, such as drag queen shows and a “Safe Sex Carnival.” READ MORE

Computer virus cripples city in Dallas for second day in a row!

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 10:24 AM PST

Computer virus cripples city in Dallas for second day in a row!For the second day, a computer virus has disrupted or slowed systems at the City of Dallas. Users looking to access online library searches, or pay tickets online were greeted with a frustrating message: technical difficulties. “There is not a safe that hasn’t been cracked,” says Keith Barthold, CEO of DKB Innovative  with a wry laugh. Not exactly comforting words. But, the warning from the local cybersecurity expert is at least timely.

“There are a lot of bad guys out there trying to get data, disrupt and take down organizations,” says Barthold, often he says simply to “create chaos.” A city spokesperson tells CBS 11 no personal data has been compromised and that responses to 911 calls weren’t delayed. However, the police Computer Aided Dispatch system was disrupted for a time on Monday as city staffers worked on a fix. A spokesperson says the CAD system was back up and running by Monday evening. But, the problems for other departments continued into Tuesday. So what’s a city to do? READ MORE

 

Actor Stephen Baldwin Says ‘You Can’t Be Pro-Choice and Call Yourself a Follower of Jesus Christ’

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 05:44 AM PST

Actor Stephen Baldwin Says ‘You Can’t Be Pro-Choice and Call Yourself a Follower of Jesus Christ’Actor Stephen Baldwin came to the Faithwire headquarters on Thursday, where he delivered a powerful and convicting pro-life message, arguing that the Bible is clear and unchanging and that the scriptures take a firmly pro-life stance.  “The Bible’s very clear. The word never changes. … You can’t be pro-choice and call yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, doesn’t go together,” Baldwin said during a Facebook Live. “It’s a fact. It’s a simple common sense fact. So, anybody who hears me say that and goes, ‘Well, hey I’m

… this type of Christian or this denomination and in our church … it’s acceptable.’ I’m just going to say, ‘Well, whatever they’re teaching you according to God’s word that has allowed you to believe that is incorrect.’ It’s very simple.” And Baldwin, who also spoke about his new Russia Today show, titled, “The Great American Pilgrimage,” wasn’t done there, as he mentioned the recent failure of the U.S. Senate to pass a bill that would ban abortions at 20 weeks, arguing that there is “scientific evidence that shows an infant at 20 weeks feels pain.” READ MORE

Mystery Woman Risks Life to Convert North Koreans Trapped in Labor Camps

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 05:30 AM PST

Mystery Woman Risks Life to Convert North Koreans Trapped in Labor CampsA North Korean defector has recalled her harrowing experience of spending time in one of the communist nation’s notorious labor camps. Incredibly, despite her horrific ordeal, she ended up coming to Jesus during her period of incarceration.  Esther, who has had her name changed for security reasons, told religious freedom charity Open Doors that she and the other inmates were “treated like animals” and that there were 40 of them crammed into a two-by-two cell. Despite the dire situation, Esther said

she was profoundly impacted by a Christian woman who somehow held onto her faith through the horrific treatment they endured. “At one point, I gave her a little push and asked her ‘Hey, what’s going on with you? Why are you so calm?’” Esther explained. “She answered ‘When I was in China, God treated me like a princess.’” “I looked at her. She was a fragile, old lady. Why would anyone treat her like a princess? I mocked her, ‘Okay, I want to be a princess too.’” “‘Alright,’ she said. ‘Just pray like me’. I played along. So she went ‘Thank you, God, for everything. Do what you wish. In the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.’” READ MORE

Is virtual reality porn the next greatest threat to the Church?

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 05:25 AM PST

Is virtual reality porn the next greatest threat to the Church?Ready or not, the new frontier of pornography is here. A reporter who was invited to experience virtual reality pornography with a Samsung Gear VR headset chronicled the lifelike details of a sexual encounter. He noted “after trying out VR porn, I don’t think anyone who experiences it will be able to go back to 2D porn. It’s that realistic.” The New York Times has even taken notice about the business of VR porn.

“While virtual-reality pornography may feel like something out of a science fiction movie, it already has a formidable, if underground, presence,” the newspaper reported. “According to one porn site, views of VR porn are up 275 percent since it debuted in the summer of 2016. Now the site is averaging about 500,000 views.” “Is the church ready for this? No, because they are not aware of it,” Josh McDowell of the Josh McDowell Ministry said in a press release. READ MORE

12 dead, 80+ injured on snow- and ice-covered roads across Iowa and Missouri

Posted: 07 Feb 2018 05:09 AM PST

12 dead, 80+ injured on snow- and ice-covered roads across Iowa and MissouriAt least 12 people have died on snow- and ice-covered roads across Iowa and Missouri on February 4 and 5, 2018 and more than 80 were injured, at least 7 critically. A major pileup involving as many as 70 vehicles took place on I-35 near Ames, Iowa, while officials in Missouri reported more than 650 road crashes in two days and a massive 100-vehicle pileup on I-44 near Springfield. Another winter storm is brewing over the lower Mississippi Valley today. Multiple collisions took place in Iowa on Monday, February 5, 2018 after a dangerous winter storm covered roads in snow and ice. Reports received early February 6 mention at least 7 deaths and 5 critically injured.

A major pileup involving as many as 70 vehicles took place on Interstate 35 near Ames Monday afternoon, temporarily closing the roadway. The pileup left at least one person dead and 5 critically injured. Officials said it was one of the worst pileups they’ve seen in the area. According to Local5, a man who was involved in the pileup said he was driving along I-35 north near exit 113 when he was smashed into by another car. “It was a chain reaction after that… As soon as I saw there weren’t any more cars, I watched about 20 to 30 cars start piling up.” READ MORE


What is The Gospel?


Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS HOLY

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

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

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

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

JESUS IS LORD

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

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

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

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

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

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

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

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

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

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

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

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


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/articles/A335
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February 8, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Adoration by the Magi

And having heard the king, they went their way; and lo, the star, which theyhad seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. And they came into the house and saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell down and worshiped Him; and opening their treasures they presented to Him gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way. (2:9–12)

We are not told what, if anything, the magi told Herod. They had no way of knowing his wicked intent. They proceeded to Bethlehem, not because of Herod’s instruction, but because at last they knew where to find the One they had come to worship. The Lord gave them even more specific help, leading them directly to Jesus. The star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them, until it came and stood over where the Child was. That the star was not a physical heavenly body is again evident from the fact that it was able to stand directly over the house where Jesus and His family now lived—which for obvious reasons could not be possible for an actual star (cf. Ex. 40:34–38; Ezek. 10:4).

The magi were overwhelmed that the special star reappeared to them. It seems almost as if Matthew was at a loss for words to describe their ecstasy: And when they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. The original text piles up superlatives to emphasize the extent of exhilaration they felt, thus indicating to us their uniquely strong interest in this great event.

Joseph and his family were no longer in the stable but had found a house in which to live until the Lord told them where to go and what to do next. It was there that the magi found the One for whom they had so diligently searched, and at last they fell down and worshiped Him. In His wonderful grace God had led them to His Son and allowed them to see Him face to face. Charles Wesley captured the experience in his beautiful Christmas hymn: “Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail the incarnate deity; pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel!”

Matthew is careful to say that the magi worshiped Him, that is, the Child, not His mother. They knew better than Cornelius, who attempted to worship the apostle Peter (Acts 10:25), and the crowd at Lystra who tried to offer sacrifices to Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:11–13). No doubt the magi were delighted to meet both Mary and Joseph, who had been so specially favored by God to be entrusted with caring for His own Son while He grew to manhood. But they worshiped only Jesus. Only He was God, and only He was worthy of adoration.

It was also to Him that they presented their gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. Their giving was not so much an addition to their worship as an element of it. The gifts were an expression of worship, given out of the overflow of adoring and grateful hearts.

Right worship is always, and must be, the only basis for right giving and right learning and right service. Giving that is generous but done apart from a loving relationship with God is empty giving. Learning that is orthodox and biblical but is learned apart from knowing and depending on the Source of truth, is empty knowledge, like that of the chief priests and scribes. Service that is demanding and sacrificial but done in the power of the flesh or for the praise of men is empty service.

Throughout history gold has been considered the most precious of metals and the universal symbol of material value and wealth. It was used extensively in the construction of the Temple (see 1 Kings 6–7, 9; 2 Chron. 2–4). It was also a symbol of nobility and royalty (see Gen. 41:4; 1 Kings 10:1–13; etc.). Matthew continually presents Christ as the King, and here we see the King of the Jews, the King of kings, appropriately being presented with royal gifts of gold.

The Savior of the world is also the true King of the world, and He will not be Savior of those who will not accept Him as sovereign Lord. As wonderful as Jesus’ saviorhood was to them, the early Christians’ first known creed was “Jesus is Lord,” acknowledging His rule.

The great British admiral Lord Nelson was known for treating vanquished opponents with courtesy and kindness. After one naval victory a defeated officer strode confidently across the quarterdeck of Nelson’s ship and offered the admiral his hand. With his own hand remaining at his side, Nelson replied, “Your sword first, sir, and then your hand.” Before we can be Christ’s friends, we must be His subjects. He must be our Lord before He can be our elder Brother.

Frankincense was a costly, beautiful-smelling incense that was used only for the most special of occasions. It was used in the grain offerings at the Tabernacle and Temple (Lev. 2:2, 15–16), in certain royal processions (Song of Sol. 3:6–7), and sometimes at weddings if it could be afforded.

Origen, the great church Father, suggested that frankincense was the incense of deity. In the Old Testament it was stored in a special chamber in front of the Temple and was sprinkled on certain offerings as a symbol of the people’s desire to please the Lord.

Myrrh was also a perfume, not quite so expensive as frankincense but nevertheless valuable. Some interpreters suggest that myrrh represents the gift for a mortal, emphasizing Jesus’ humanity. This perfume is mentioned often in Scripture, beginning in Genesis (37:25; 43:11). Mixed with wine it was also used as an anesthetic (Mark 15:23), and mixed with other spices it was used in preparation of bodies for burial, even Jesus’ body (John 19:39).

Those were the magi’s gifts to Jesus. Gold for His royalty, frankincense for His deity, and myrrh for His humanity.

We do not know what was done with the gifts, but it seems reasonable that they were used to finance the trip to Egypt and to help support the family while there (see Matt. 2:13–15).

With their mission of worship and adoration completed, the magi left Bethlehem. But having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, they departed for their own country by another way. No doubt they expected to hear at a later date the details of the life and accession to the throne of the Child born in Bethlehem.

The warning by God suggests that He was directly communicating with these men, and that their role in the whole event was by divine design. In fact, it may have been the same method, a dream, by which He originally brought them to Jerusalem in search of the King. The use of dreams as a means of divine communication is seen in Genesis 28:12; 31:11; Numbers 12:6; 1 Kings 3:5; and Job 33:14–16. Even the birth of Christ was accompanied by other special revelatory dreams (Matt. 1:20–23; 2:13, 19–20, 22).

So the magi avoided Herod and traveled a homeward route that would allow them to escape his notice—a feat that was not simple, due to the nature and size of their entourage.

Scripture records nothing else about these unusual visitors from the east, but blessed and grateful as they were, they surely must have witnessed of the Messiah in their own country. Because they were among the kingmakers of Parthia, it is likely that the news of Jesus became as well known in the courts of the east as it one day would become in the palace of Caesar (Phil. 1:13; cf. 4:22).[1]


Wise Men Come to Jesus

Matthew 2:1–12

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.”

When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:

“ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,

are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;

for out of you will come a ruler

who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ”…

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.

In the first of his letters to the Christians at Corinth, the apostle Paul wrote that “not many … wise [men] by human standards, not many [who] were influential, not many … of noble birth” have been chosen by God to know Christ (1 Cor. 1:26). That is a true observation.

Yet the Christmas story tells us that from the beginning of the Christian era, there have been some who were wise, some who were of noble birth, some who were influential who came to worship Jesus. We call them the wise men, or Magi. They came from the distant East, probably Persia, and they were so distinguished even by the worldly standards of that day that their arrival in Jerusalem caused a stir. “King Herod was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him” (v. 3). They came to Jerusalem asking, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (v. 2).

Persians Bearing Gifts

The Bible does not tell us very much about these ancient visitors to Jerusalem, and scholars have been puzzled about them and their journey ever since they made it. Millions of Christmas cards show three kings presenting gifts to a tiny child in a manger. People sing “We Three Kings of Orient Are.” But we do not know for sure that three wise men brought gifts. There may have been many more than three. And we are not told that they were kings or even when they arrived in Bethlehem. It is likely, in view of their long journey and of Herod’s command that all children under two years of age be killed, that they arrived after Jesus had already become a young child. The story contains a faint suggestion of this: When the Magi arrived in Bethlehem, Mary and her child were already settled in a house, no longer in the stable.

What about the star that seems to have guided them to that home? Many have attempted to explain it as an astronomical phenomenon. The earliest theorists viewed it as a comet. Such was the view of the great church father Origen of Alexandria. Later, Johannes Kepler, the father of modern astronomy, explained it as the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces in the year 7 b.c. This view has been elaborated in various ways and is probably the favorite explanation of astronomers today.

More than likely, however, the “star” was a miraculous phenomenon, possibly an appearance of the Shekinah glory that had accompanied the people of Israel in their desert wanderings, signifying God’s presence with them. Only something like the Shekinah could have led the wise men over the desert to Jerusalem, reappeared after their meeting with King Herod, guided them to Bethlehem, and then “stopped over the place where the child was” (v. 9), which is what the most straightforward reading of the story seems to indicate.

The Bible shows little interest in these details. The fact that so little information of this kind is given shows that Matthew was not interested in how many wise men there were, the length of their journey, or the star. Rather, he was interested in the fact that from the very beginning of this story, Gentiles came to worship the Jewish Messiah. He was also interested in the significance of the gifts they bore.

Gold: The Metal of Kings

It is easy to see why gold was an appropriate gift for Jesus Christ. Gold is the metal of kings. When gold was presented to Jesus by the men of Persia, it was an acknowledgment of his right to rule.

In his commentary on Matthew, William Barclay notes that according to Seneca, the distinguished Roman orator and writer, it was the custom in Persia that no one could approach a king without a gift and that “gold, the king of metals,” was the proper gift for “a king of men.” This is obvious from the discoveries of archaeologists. When a tomb is opened and is found to be filled with gold, it is usually proof that the deceased was a great person, most likely royalty. I have seen some of these gold relics. In Greece, in the ruins of the ancient city of Mycenae, dating from the time of the Trojan War, there is a cemetery in which the kings of the town were buried, and in the archeological museum at Athens, one can see the elaborate “death mask of Agamemnon,” done in pure gold, which was discovered there. It is one of the greatest treasures of the ancient world. Similarly, in Cairo, the state museum contains the incredibly beautiful and literally priceless coffins and other tomb objects of King Tutankhamen, discovered in the Valley of the Kings at Thebes in 1922 by Howard Carter.

Some theologians have pointed out that when the wise men brought gold to the infant Jesus, they were being used by God to provide the funds necessary for Joseph to take the young child and his mother to Egypt to escape Herod’s attempt on Jesus’ life. This is probably true, but it is not as important as the significance of the gift itself. Jesus was a king, as the wise men knew and acknowledged (v. 2). He was the King of Kings. The wise men confessed his kingship when they presented their gift of gold.

Incense: The Worship of God

It is also easy to see why incense was a significant and symbolic gift. Incense was used in the temple worship. It was mixed with the oil used to anoint the priests of Israel, and it was blended into the meal offerings that were presented to the priests by the people to be offered as thanksgiving and praise gifts to God. Incense gave an offering its pleasant odor, and Paul was probably thinking of incense when he compared the gifts of the Philippians to such a sacrifice, calling them “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God” (Phil. 4:18). In presenting incense, the wise men, either intentionally or unintentionally, pointed to Christ as our great High Priest, the one whose entire life was pleasing to his Father.

It is interesting to note that incense was never mixed with sin offerings, which were meat and wine offerings. Only the meal offerings, which were not for sin, contained incense. When we remember that, we think naturally of Jesus, to whom the incense was given. He was without sin. When his enemies came to him on one occasion, he challenged them with the question, “Can any of you prove me guilty of sin?” (John 8:46). They were speechless. Earlier he had said of his Father, “I always do what pleases him” (John 8:29). None of us can say that. Since only the Lord Jesus Christ was sinless, it is fitting that incense was offered to him.

“We see from the symbolism of these gifts,” wrote Donald Grey Barnhouse,

that the eternal royalty and holiness of Christ were announced from his earliest years. He had come forth from heaven to perform the work of redemption, and he was prepared in every way to do the Father’s will so that he might fulfill every demand and obligation of the law. Thus only would he become eligible to die on the cross; and by that cross alone redeem the world. That life could show that he was the fit candidate for the cross, and we cling with surety to the work that was accomplished there at Calvary, since we know that our sin-bearer was himself without sin.

Myrrh: The Gift of Death

That observation leads naturally to the last and most significant of these gifts. Just as gold spoke of Christ’s kingship and incense spoke of the perfection of his life, myrrh spoke of his death.

Myrrh was used in embalming. Because the trappings of death (although different) were as important then as today, myrrh was an important item of commerce in the ancient world. For instance, for Jesus’ burial Nicodemus used one hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes to prepare the body. If one hundred pounds of that combination were used for just one body, a tremendous amount of myrrh must have been constantly bought and sold for funeral arrangements. Moreover, in Revelation 2 we read of a city of Asia Minor called Smyrna. The name is actually the Greek word for myrrh. The city was called Smyrna because its chief industry was the manufacture of myrrh.

By any human measure it would be odd, if not offensive, to present a spice used for embalming at the birth of a child. But it was not offensive in this case, nor was it odd. It was a gift of faith. Of course, we do not know exactly what the wise men may have surmised about Christ’s future ministry or have intended by this gift, but we know from the Old Testament that Jesus’ ministry was pictured again and again as one involving suffering. Psalm 22 describes Jesus’ death by crucifixion; it was a verse from this psalm that Jesus quoted when he cried out from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Ps. 22:1; see Matt. 27:46). Isaiah 53:4–5 says, “Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” Jesus came to suffer for our sin, and his suffering was symbolized by the Magi’s gift of myrrh.

There was another use of myrrh in the ancient world that is important here; it was a use the Lord Jesus Christ refused. When he was about to be crucified and the soldiers offered him “wine mixed with myrrh,” Jesus refused the offer (Mark 15:23). Myrrh was a crude anesthetic sometimes used to deaden pain, and Jesus wished to endure the full extent of suffering in his death for us. He was willing to bear all that the suffering and death entailed.

William Barclay says rightly, “Gold for a king, frankincense for a priest, myrrh for one that was to die—these were the gifts of the wise men, and, even at the cradle of Christ, they foretold that he was to be the true King, the perfect High Priest, and in the end the supreme Savior of men.”

Wise, Wise Men

But enough about the wise men’s gifts. Let’s think about the Magi themselves. It is true that we do not know very much about these men, as I acknowledged earlier. We do not even know if they can properly be called wise men, since the word Matthew actually uses is magoi, rightly rendered “Magi” by the New International Version. Magoi actually means “great (or powerful) ones,” and it indicates high position or influence. True enough! Nevertheless, these men were truly wise, and we would be wise to remember them and learn from them.

How were these men wise?

  1. They were wise enough to seek Jesus. God had informed them of the birth of the new Jewish king, though we do not know exactly how. Realizing they were far from him, they did the wise thing. They prepared a traveling caravan and made their way to the capital city of the Jews. Moreover, when they got there and discovered that his birth was not a common topic of conversation, they asked people where he was. I notice that the story does not say the wise men asked their question of Herod first. In fact, they do not meet him until halfway through the story. They must have been asking everyone about Jesus and only came to Herod when their quest reached the monarch’s ears.

Are you wise enough to seek Jesus? His birth has been announced well and widely. There is no mystery about it. Have you found him? If you have not yet found him, are you still seeking? A common contemporary saying asserts, “Wise men still seek him.”

  1. They were wise enough to seek information. There is another way in which the wise men were truly wise. They were wise enough to learn from others, even though there was little information to be had either from the people or their leaders. They were Magi, and in their own country, they were the ones from whom others sought information. They were the intellectuals of their culture. Some in their position would have been hindered by pride, but not these wise men. In this story they seek information, standing meekly as genuine disciples when the chief priests and teachers of the law opened the Scriptures and read to them from Micah 5:2: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel” (see Matt. 2:6).

What they learned when the Scriptures were opened to them was important. They learned that Christ was to be born in Bethlehem, a nearby town, and because they were wise, they must have understood that this was as significant for what it did not say as for what it did. We must suppose that the Magi were expecting to find the Lord Jesus Christ in Jerusalem, for that was the capital city and Jesus was the Jews’ king. They probably expected to find Jesus in Herod’s palace. But he was not there. In fact, the reigning king did not even know about his birth.

Not in the palace? Well, then, perhaps in the temple. Perhaps the new spiritual leader would be there. But Jesus was not to be found in the temple either. He had not emerged from the company of the priests or scribes. On the contrary, his birthplace was the little town of Bethlehem to the south of Jerusalem, an apparently insignificant spot, where the Scriptures had long ago indicated he would be born.

The wise men must have noticed that these teachers of the law were unspiritual and unworthy men, for they had so little interest in the birth of Israel’s Messiah that they did not even accompany the Magi to Bethlehem to investigate his arrival for themselves. That did not bother the wise men. God was calling them to Christ, and his call would in time surely lead them to him. Their quest was so serious, their questions so earnest, that they were able to learn even from those who did not know where he was as well as from those, like the chief priests and teachers of the law, who knew but did not care. Above all, they were able to learn where Jesus was from the Bible.

Are you wise enough to find Jesus in the Bible? The wise men had to travel a long distance to find him, but no one has to travel a long distance today. The Bible says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’ (that is, to bring Christ down) or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’ (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? ‘The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,’ that is, the word of faith we are proclaiming” (Rom. 10:6–8). Jesus is present in the gospel, and whoever calls on him will be saved.

  1. They were wise enough to worship him when they found him. This point is very important, because some people seek even though they do not want to find the truth and embrace it. Paul spoke of these people when he warned Timothy of those who are “always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth” (2 Tim. 3:7). Some people love unbelief, and they use their accumulating knowledge as justification for it. The wise men were not like this. They wanted to know about Jesus, but they were not interested in this knowledge for its own sake. They knew when they found him that they would worship him and give him their gifts.

Our Worship and Our Gifts

Have you found Jesus? The point of the story, after all, is not that we might be entertained by the story of Jesus’ birth but that we might find Christ, as the wise men did, and that we might worship him and offer him our gifts too.

What can you do to find Jesus? First, determine in advance that as soon as you find him you will worship him and give yourself to him, holding nothing back. The starting place is to pray: “Lord Jesus Christ, I do not yet know where you are or how I may find you. I have followed many false leads, some of which are in my own heart. I need help if I am to find you. God the Father must lead me to you. I admit that I do not even know what finding you may mean. But I do promise that if you reveal yourself to me, so that I discover you as my own personal God and Savior, I will be yours forever, and I will follow you wherever you lead me.” If you are not yet a Christian, I urge you to follow after Jesus on those terms. If you seek him, you will find him.

What if you have already found him? What if you have already become a Christian? If that is the case, offer him your gifts, as the wise men did. Offer him your gold, your incense, and your myrrh.

Begin with your myrrh. Myrrh is not only a symbol of Christ’s death, it is also a symbol of the spiritual death that should come to you for your sin. Lay it at Christ’s feet, saying, “Lord Jesus Christ, I know that I am a sinner. I know that I should receive the consequence of my sin, which is to be barred from your holy presence forever. But I know that you took my sin, dying in my place. I believe that. I rejoice in that. Now I ask you to take me as your child forever. As a symbol, I now die to myself so I might live for you.”

Next, come to Jesus with your incense. Incense symbolizes worship, and you need to worship him as your Savior and Lord. It also symbolizes the offering up of your life. When Jesus comes to live in you, he will do a good work in you so that the deeds produced in your life will become in turn “a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.”

Finally, bring your gold. When you offer your gold, you acknowledge the right of Christ to rule in your life. Say, “I am your servant. Direct my life and make me strong to serve you and others for your sake.”

If you do these things, I think you will experience something we find at the very end of the story about the wise men. We are told that having been warned not to go back to Herod’s palace because of his murderous intentions, “they returned to their country by another route” (v. 12). And so will you! Your life will follow a different path from the time you surrender it to Christ, and your path will be a good one.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 34–37). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 29–35). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

FEBRUARY 8 WHO HEARS THE CALL OF GOD?

Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

John 6:68

Who can deny that there are certain persons who, though still unconverted, nevertheless differ from the crowd, marked out of God, stricken with an interior wound and susceptible to the call of God?

In the prayer of Jesus in John 17:11, He said: “Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me.” Surely no man is ever the same after God has laid His hand upon him. He will have certain marks, perhaps some not easy to detect.

First might be a deep reverence for divine things. A sense of the sacred must be present or there can be no receptivity to God and truth.

Another mark is great moral sensitivity. When God begins to work in a man to bring him to salvation, He makes him acutely sensitive to evil.

Another mark of the Spirit’s working is a mighty moral discontent. It does take a work of God in a man to sour him on the world and to turn him against himself; yet until this has happened he is psychologically unable to repent and believe!

Lord, I pray that Your Spirit will continue to make me sensitive to the “divine things” at work in this immoral world so that I may make a difference for Christ among my network of relationships.[1]


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

February 8 Sermon on the Mount’s Significance

When Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on the mountain; and after He sat down, His disciples came to Him.—Matt. 5:1

The gospel of the kingdom’s foundational truth (contained in the Sermon on the Mount) has had an impact for two thousand years on all who read and hear it. At least five reasons come to mind as to why Jesus’ greatest of sermons is so important.

First, the Sermon demonstrates the necessity of the new birth. In order for us to recognize our sin, Jesus made a fuller, clearer presentation of the law, followed by His offer of salvation. Jesus’ message here clarifies the reasons for sin’s curse and shows that we have no righteousness of our own to survive God’s scrutiny. Only those who have a new nature through Christ can meet the law’s demands. By no other way but saving faith can we have righteous attitudes as well as actions and be fully right with God.

Second, the Sermon points all listeners to their dependence on Christ’s enabling power to meet God’s standards.

Third, Jesus’ message gives us the Father’s pattern for true happiness and peace (cf. John 14:27; Phil. 4:7). It provides the real pathway to the believer’s sanctification.

Next, the principles in the Sermon on the Mount are some of the greatest scriptural resources for evangelism. If you as a Christian personify these truths, your life will attract others to the Lord.

Last, the life that is obedient to the Sermon’s teachings is the only one that truly pleases God—and that is the highest, noblest objective of the Christian life.

ASK YOURSELF

Embarking on a devotional study of something as monumental as the Sermon on the Mount, you’re always sure to discover truths and insights you’ve never noticed before. Which one or two of the five statements above do you think you’re most ready to hear more about?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 47). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

FEBRUARY 8 CONSUMED WITH GOD’S GLORY

You cannot bear those who are evil.

Revelation 2:2

We should be so consumed with God’s glory that we hurt when He is dishonored. That was certainly the attitude of David when he said, “Because zeal for Your house has eaten me up, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on me” (Ps. 69:9). David was deeply hurt when God was dishonored.

As a father, I understand what David was saying. If you hurt someone in my family, you hurt me. Often I have cried for someone I love whose heart was broken. When you identify with God in that way, you will care about His honor much more than about what happens to you.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 51). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 8, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

The Future: The Crown, with Which He Will Be Rewarded

in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. (4:8)

Loipos, translated in the future, refers generally to what remains, that which is left to come. What yet remained for Paul, after the past and present were finished, would be by far the most glorious part of his life in Christ.

Paul had the certain, Spirit-inspired assurance that in the future there [was] laid up for [him] the crown of righteousness. After he had fought the good fight, finished the course, and kept the faith, he would be given the victor’s reward.

Laid up carries the idea of being safely stored and carefully guarded. A certain part of their heavenly treasure is stored up in advance by believers themselves. “Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven,” Jesus commands, “where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal” (Matt. 6:20). In his first letter to Timothy, Paul counsels him to instruct the people in his congregation “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed” (1 Tim. 6:18–19).

Although he had not met Jesus during His earthly ministry, Paul doubtless had heard of his Lord’s promise “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great” (Matt. 5:11–12). Christ also said that His Father will reward those who give, pray, and fast in secret—that is, sincerely rather than for the notice and praise of men (Matt. 6:4, 6, 18). Christ will, in fact, join His Father in dispensing those rewards, “for the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and will then recompense every man according to his deeds” (Matt. 16:27). Jesus’ promise was not a new revelation but was a quotation from Psalm 62:12—“And lovingkindness is Thine, O Lord, for Thou dost recompense a man according to his work.” The writer of Hebrews tells us that “he who comes to God [not only] must believe that He is, [but also must believe] that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

No writer of Scripture more forcefully proclaimed the truth that salvation is entirely by God’s grace working through our faith than did the apostle Paul. Yet no other writer of Scripture more joyously anticipated the reward he one day would receive from the hand of the Lord who had saved and sustained him by grace. He continually pressed “on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:14).

This reward will be based more on our motives than our accomplishments. The writer of Proverbs asks rhetorically, “Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?” (Prov. 24:12). Selfishly motivated good deeds may be of great help to other people and may be used by God for His glory, but they will merit no reward for the doer.

On the other hand, good work that is sincerely intended but not completed through no fault of the doer will merit a sincere doer’s reward, because it is the heart that God weighs. William Borden accomplished virtually none of the ministry he had envisioned, having been cut off by death even before he reached his field of service. But his final declaration of “No regrets” was well founded in the assurance that he had genuinely sought and faithfully obeyed the Lord’s will.

Paul had no regrets. He did not claim perfection. “I am conscious of nothing against myself,” he said, “yet I am not by this acquitted” (1 Cor. 4:4). Nevertheless, he had absolute confidence that God had laid up for [him] the crown of righteousness.

Crown is from stephanos, which has the literal meaning of surrounding and was used of plaited wreaths or garlands that were placed on the heads of dignitaries, military victors, and winners of athletic contests as a mark of great honor. It was a stephanos of thorns that Pilate’s soldiers placed on Jesus’ head as they mockingly hailed Him as “King of the Jews!” (Matt. 27:29).

Stephanos perhaps most commonly was used of the wreath placed on the heads of winning athletes, much as medals are placed around the necks of Olympic champions today. It was the only prize (cf. 2 Tim. 2:5) ancient athletes received but was cherished as a great treasure. Yet, they run “to receive a perishable wreath [stephanos],” Paul said, “but we an imperishable” (1 Cor. 9:25).

Of righteousness translates the single Greek noun dikaiosunē, which is here a genitive. Linguistically, it could be either a genitive of source, meaning that righteousness is the source of the crown, or a genitive of apposition, in which case righteousness describes the nature of the crown. As noted above, a believer’s heavenly reward is based to some extent on his faithfulness, making possible a genitive of source. But in this context it seems more appropriate to take righteousness as an appositive, describing the crown. It is the crown of eternal righteousness—the very righteousness of the Redeemer granted in full perfection to the glorified believer.

Certain rewards that believers will receive or not receive will be individual, based on their own faithfulness. Summarizing the truths of the parable of the talents, Jesus said, “To everyone who has shall more be given, and he shall have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away” (Matt. 25:29). Paul teaches that “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Cor. 5:10). In his previous letter to believers at Corinth, he had explained that “each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:13–15).

But Paul is here speaking of the crown of righteousness with which every believer will be crowned. James speaks of it as a “crown of life” (James 1:12), and Peter as “the unfading crown of glory” (1 Peter 5:4). In the parable of the landowner who hired men at different times throughout the day and paid them all the same wage (Matt. 20:1–16), Jesus explains that every believer will share equally in eternal life and eternal righteousness.

He also assures us that “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6). Our satisfaction will come from the very thing for which we seek, righteousness itself being the reward of those who seek it. It is “the hope of righteousness” for which believers eagerly wait “through the Spirit, by faith” (Gal. 5:5), as we look “for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). “The kingdom of God is … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17, emphasis added). Righteousness is that which, by the Lord’s gracious provision, will one day be our harvest (2 Cor. 9:10) and our clothing (Rev. 19:8). It could not be otherwise, because “we know that, when [Christ] appears, we shall be like Him” (1 John 3:2).

When we believed in Christ as Savior and Lord, He imputed His righteousness to us (Rom. 4:6, 11); and as we live out our lives in Christ, His Holy Spirit works practical righteousness in us and through us (Rom. 6:13, 19; 8:4; Eph. 5:9; 1 Peter 2:24). Yet because of sin, which clings to us like an old dirty garment, we must battle against unrighteousness. It is only at the completion of that battle that His righteousness will be perfected in us, when we receive the very crown of righteousness from the Lord’s own hands. It is the victor’s wreath, Paul says, which the Lord Himself, the righteous Judge, will award … on that day.

Paul has referred to that day two other times in this letter. He said, “For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (1:12). A few verses later he prayed that his beloved Onesiphorus would “find mercy from the Lord on that day” (v. 18).

He is speaking, of course, of the day of Christ’s return in particular, the day of resurrection and rapture, when “the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:16–17). In that glorious day, “we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’ ” (1 Cor. 15:51–54).

The apostle admonished the church in Philippi, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may have cause to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain” (Phil. 2:14–16, emphasis added).

The glorious prospect of receiving God’s crown of righteousness not only belongs to Paul but also belongs to all who have loved His appearing. Again the apostle uses a perfect tense (have loved), indicating the accomplishment of something in the past that has continuing effects.

“Love is from God,” John says, “and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7). Conversely, he goes on to explain, “The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (v. 8). Love of God is so absolutely essential that “if anyone does not love the Lord,” Paul says, “let him be accursed” (1 Cor. 16:22).

In other words, a person who does not love God has no claim on God, either for salvation or for reward. And every true believer will love God and the things of God, because love is the supreme and necessary mark of salvation. When people become Christians, they come to love God. The regenerated believer is given a new heart, a new will, and a new spiritual attitude, all of which will be expressed in love, because “the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom. 5:5). There are no exceptions.

Likewise, all believers will love His [Christ’s] appearing, because they look forward to coming into His divine presence, where they will live and serve throughout eternity. Because our true “citizenship is in heaven, … we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Phil. 3:20).

Paul was not speaking from pride. As much as any saint who has ever lived, he knew that every good thing he had and did came by the grace of God. “For this purpose also I labor,” he explained to the church at Colossae, “striving according to His power, which mightily works within me” (Col. 1:29). He was not taking credit for himself but was acknowledging that by the grace and power of God, working through the human faithfulness that the Lord requires, his life was coming to a victorious end. On the basis of the Lord’s own promise, he expected one day soon to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21).[1]


8 For Paul, the contest is all but over; what remains is the awarding of the prize (cf. 1 Co 9:24–25; Php 3:13–14). Looking past his impending martyrdom, Paul envisions his heavenly reward (cf. Heb 12:2). What awaits him “now” (loipon, in the sense of “finally”; cf. 2 Co 13:11; 1 Th 4:1) is the “crown [stephanos, GK 5109] of righteousness” (dikaiosynē, GK 1466; 1 Ti 6:11; 2 Ti 2:22; 3:16), i.e., the reward that consists in righteousness (epexegetic genitive; cf. 1 Th 2:19; Jas 1:12; 1 Pe 5:4; Rev 2:10). Paul will finally have attained the full righteousness that positionally was his already in Christ (see esp. Ro 6; 9:30–32; cf. Php 3:9). This expectation coheres with the apostle’s earlier statement: “by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope” (Gal 5:5).

This heavenly reward will be awarded by “the Lord [i.e., Christ; cf. vv. 14, 18], the righteous Judge,” on “that day” to Paul and to all those who have longed for his appearing (epiphaneia, GK 2211; see v. 1). On that day, believers’ glorification will be complete (cf. Ro 8:17–30). Once again, this expectation is consistent with Paul’s teaching elsewhere (e.g., 1 Co 3:10–15; 2 Th 1:5–10). Those who competed in Greek athletic races and won obtained a victor’s crown made of olive branches; military victors were given special wreaths as well (cf. Baugh, 492–93); loyal subjects of Oriental sovereigns received awards for services rendered (cf. Guthrie, 181). The spiritual equivalent is the approval by and full attainment of righteousness through the Lord Jesus Christ on judgment day. While righteousness is in the first instance a divine gift bestowed on the basis of a believer’s identification with Christ, there remains a “need for a life of faithful response on the part of Christians” (Towner, 207–8).[2]


4:8 / Paul now returns to the athletic metaphor, but does so by picking up the eschatological motif from verse 1 (cf. 1 Tim. 6:12). Just as races have finishes, so victors receive the crown of righteousness (stephanos, the laurel wreath given to the winner; cf. 2:5; 1 Cor. 9:25). Such a crown … is in store for Paul (safely reserved in heaven). In this case the wreath is described as the crown of righteousness. Does this mean “the prize awarded for a righteous life” (so Bernard, Barrett, Kelly), which some argue is uncharacteristic of Paul (D-C, Hanson)? Or does it mean “one which consists of the gift of righteousness, which only the Judge, as He who alone is dikaios [righteous], can give” (Pfitzner, p. 184)?

The former is not as unlike Paul as is sometimes perceived. After all, it is a genitive phrase, not a clearly spelled out clause (cf. gnb), and means nothing more than the crown that the righteous will receive, but not necessarily as an award for their achievement. That would be to press the metaphor from verse 7 beyond recognizable Pauline bounds. Nonetheless, other uses of this kind of phrase in the nt (James 1:12; 1 Pet. 5:4) favor the second interpretation. This, too, has been objected to as un-Pauline (righteousness is received in this life); but the objection misses the already/not-yet in Paul’s eschatology. One receives the final crown of righteousness precisely because one has already received righteousness in Christ.

Such a crown will be awarded by the Lord, the righteous Judge (cf. v. 1) on that day, meaning at his coming (cf. 1:12, 18)—and not only to me. With this final phrase Paul redirects his concern back to Timothy. Just as he was charged in verse 1 to fulfill his ministry in light of the great Christian eschatological realities, so now he is encouraged that the prize, too, shall be his and to all who have longed for his appearing (on this word, epiphaneia, see disc. on v. 1). Whether intended or not, this clause sets up a sharp contrast with Demas in verse 10, who loved this present age, rather than Christ’s coming.

With this word, the main concern of the letter comes to an end. But the letter is not finished, and all that has been said thus far will need to be rethought on the basis of what is said next.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 198–202). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 2 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 595). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (p. 290). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

FEBRUARY 8 MEN AND WOMEN WHO HAVE MET GOD

This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD. And when I saw it, I fell upon my face, and I heard a voice of one that spake.

—Ezekiel 1:28

These are elements that are always the same among men and women who have had a personal meeting with God.

First, these great souls always have a compelling sense of God Himself, of His person and of His presence. While others would want to spend their time talking about a variety of things, these godly men and women, touched by their knowledge of God, want to talk about Him. They are drawn away from a variety of mundane topics because of the importance of their spiritual discoveries.

Second, it is plain that the details and the significance of their personal experiences remain sharp and clear with true spiritual meaning….

The third element is the permanent and life-changing nature of a true encounter with God. The experience may have been brief, but the results will be evident in the life of the person touched as long as he or she lives. MMG016-017

Lord, may I too experience You in a way that overwhelms me with a clear sense of Your presence and changes my life so I never want to stop speaking of You. Amen.[1]


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

February 8 Becoming Holy

“But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ ”

1 Peter 1:15–16

✧✧✧

God requires holiness and in Christ provides us the means to attain it.

As we have learned, God is holy, and absolute holiness is the standard for anyone who wishes to be in His presence. “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment” (2 Peter 2:4). In the same way, men who reject God are sent “into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41).

How then can anyone become holy? There’s only one way: through faith in Jesus Christ. It is through Christ’s sacrifice for us that God can credit holiness to our account (2 Cor. 5:21). First Corinthians 6:11 says, “But you were washed, but you were sanctified [made holy], but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God.” We are now called saints, and the Greek word for this in Scripture actually means “holy ones.”

So, by God’s grace we are positionally holy. By contrast, however, we are too often unholy in practice. But the Bible says, “Be holy yourselves also in all your behavior” (1 Peter 1:15) and “Let every one who names the name of the Lord abstain from wickedness” (2 Tim. 2:19). We need to be separate from the way the world lives. We need to let others know there is a difference in how Christians live.

When we live holy lives, we will have peace. “There is no peace … for the wicked” (Isa. 57:21), but God “disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness” (Heb. 12:10). And that discipline “yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (v. 11). If you lack peace, you may well have let sin come between you and God. If so, follow David’s example in Psalm 51:9–10 and pray for a clean heart. You should also spend time with those who lead holy lives (Prov. 13:20; compare 1 Cor. 15:33).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God again that He has made you positionally holy in Christ. ✧ Confess any sins you are aware of, and pray that you would live righteously today.

For Further Study: Answer the following questions, based on 2 Corinthians 5:14–21: What did Christ do for us on the cross? ✧ What happened to us when we were saved? ✧ How should we live as a result?[1]


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

February 7 Daily Help

DOST thou know, O saint, how much the Holy Spirit loves thee? Canst thou measure the love of the Spirit? Dost thou know how great is the affection of his soul towards thee? Go measure heaven with thy span; go weigh the mountains in the scales; go take the ocean’s water, and tell each drop; go count the sand upon the sea’s wide shore; and when thou hast accomplished this, thou canst tell how much he loveth thee. He has loved thee long, he has loved thee well, he loved thee ever, and he still shall love thee; surely he is the person to comfort thee, because he loves.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 42). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

February 7, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Confession of The Divine Lord

By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (4:2–3)

The first test is theological, or more specifically, christological. It asks the question: What does this person teach about Jesus Christ? The verb rendered confesses is a present tense form of the verb homologeō, which means “to say the same thing.” Every spirit (human teacher) who agrees with Scripture that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is therefore from God, confessing a truth taught by the Holy Spirit—that Jesus Christ is God incarnate.

The apostle does not explore all the nuances of Christology here; he simply echoes the definitive christological statement with which he opened this epistle:

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1:1–3)

Jesus Christ proceeded from God the Father as the living Word of God (John 1:1–2) who became flesh (Luke 1:31; John 1:14; cf. Col. 2:9). He is one with the Father (John 10:30, 38; 14:7–10), manifested to humanity as the second person of the Trinity (a correct understanding of Christology will inevitably be Trinitarian), the Son of God (Isa. 9:6; John 3:16; cf. John 1:18; Heb. 1:5, 8). According to the plan of God, Jesus came in the flesh so that He might die a substitutionary death as a man for the sins of other men. That is the only way He could redeem all who would believe (Gal. 4:4–5; Heb. 2:17; cf. 1 Tim. 2:5; 1 John 2:1–2).

John repeatedly emphasizes the deity of Christ and teaches the massive truth with vast implications—that no one can honor the Father without honoring the Son (2:22–23; John 5:23; 2 John 3, 7, 9) because they share the same divine, perfect nature (3:21–23; 5:6, 20). To be saved, one must believe that Jesus is eternal deity, the second person of the Godhead who became a man. He is not merely a created being (contrary to what ancient false teachers taught and the modern-day sects, such as the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses, teach). But mere intellectual assent to that truth saves no one (cf. James 2:19); to be saved one must also acknowledge Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9–10).

A person’s understanding and acceptance of Jesus’ identity is the ultimate litmus test of the legitimacy of his professed faith. In today’s evangelical world it is increasingly politically correct to affirm that all monotheistic religions worship the same God. But the fact is they do not. Jesus Himself made that crystal clear: “The one who listens to you [the disciples] listens to Me, and the one who rejects you rejects Me; and he who rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me” (Luke 10:16); “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6; cf. Acts 4:12; 1 John 2:23). Every spirit propagating any religion or philosophy that does not confess Jesus is not from God. Such teaching is erroneous, heretical, and a rejection of Christ (2 Peter 2:1; cf. Gal. 1:8–9). John calls it the spirit of the antichrist (cf. 2:18, 22; for a more complete discussion of this topic, see chapter 9 of this volume). Believers have heard that the final Antichrist is coming (2 Thess. 2:3–4, 8–9), but the spirit of the antichrist, which evidences itself in false religion and aberrant doctrine, is already in the world. The true nature of Jesus Christ is inevitably denied by false teachers and the systems they promote (Jude 4; cf. Acts 3:14). However, those who rightly understand Jesus Christ and portray Him and His work accurately prove they possess the Spirit of truth.[1]


The Test of the True Prophet (vv. 2–3)

John has already indicated that behind every prophet stands a spirit, either the Spirit of God or the demonic spirit of antichrist (v. 3). He has spoken of the need to test the spirits by their origin. But how are they to be tested? How can a normal Christian know whether the spirit is of God or of antichrist? Here John applies precisely the test given in Deuteronomy 13, though in terms appropriate to the situation occasioned by the Gnostic challenge. “What do they say about Christ?” is John’s question. Do they acknowledge that Jesus is the Christ come in the flesh or do they deny this? If they deny Christ, they are not of God no matter how marvelous their activity.

John’s test has both a positive and negative expression, as is also the case with the similar test held forth by Paul in 1 Corinthians: “Therefore I tell you that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3).

There are three possible ways in which the confession of verse 2 may be taken, as Brooke indicates. (1) “Jesus Christ” may be the object, and the phrase “has come in the flesh” may be the predicate. In this interpretation the confession would be to the effect that “Jesus Christ is come in the flesh”; that is, that he was a real man. This statement would be directed against some form of Docetism, the view that Christ was a spirit who only seemed to be a true man. (2) “Jesus” may be the subject, and the rest of the phrase may be the predicate. This would give the meaning, “By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit which confesses that Jesus is Christ come in the flesh is of God.” It would involve the identity of the historical Jesus as the incarnate Messiah. (3) The entire phrase may be taken as one connected and comprehensive accusative, the view favored by Brooke himself. This would be the simple confession of “Jesus Christ incarnate.”

Brooke feels that the third interpretation is “the simplest construction” and should be preferred unless it is “too awkward.” But there are two reasons why the second interpretation is better than this. First, the single subject “Jesus” accords with the same single subject in the negative statement in verse 3. It also accords well with a similar confession of Jesus as the Christ in John 9:22. Second, the confession of Jesus as Christ come in the flesh most clearly refutes what is known of the Gnostics’ views. They wished to deny that the historical Jesus was the incarnate Christ, probably suggesting instead that the divine Christ merely descended upon the historical Jesus at his baptism and left him before the crucifixion. John, by contrast, regards the denial of Jesus as the incarnate Christ as the chief of all errors and seeks to combat it.

Here Dodd makes an excellent observation, contrasting this passage with the test of a true prophet in Deuteronomy 13. “The fundamental doctrine of Judaism is monotheism; no utterance, however inspired, which contradicts the principle of monotheism can be accepted as true prophecy. The fundamental doctrine of Christianity is the Incarnation; no utterance, however inspired, which denies the reality of the Incarnation, can be accepted by Christians as true prophecy.” In Christianity the incarnate Christ is central. Consequently, believers may tolerate no system that denies either his eternal godhead or historical humanity. As Bruce says, “No matter how charming, how plausible, how eloquent the prophets in question may be, the test of their witness to Christ and His truth is the test by which they must be judged.”3[2]


2–3 John says believers must “test the spirits” (v. 1) to distinguish between true teachers and Antichrists. Strangely, this statement is sometimes taken to refer to a mystical power of discernment or, in extreme cases, a technique of exorcism, despite the fact that John has very little to say about demons or spiritual gifts. The Greek dokimazō (“test,” GK 1507) suggests a more objective inquiry, and vv. 2–3 offer the criteria for such an investigation. The positive version of the test (v. 2) is introduced clearly with the statement “in this you know the Spirit of God” (NIV, “this is how you can recognize the Spirit of God”). “Know” (ginōskō) has a wide range of meanings in 1 John (see comment at 2:3), but here it refers to an objective conclusion based on empirical data. The NIV thus correctly translates the term “recognize.” “Of God” (tou theou) is genitive of source or ablative: the test will distinguish whether or not a person’s teaching comes from the Spirit that proceeds from God, the Paraclete.

The test itself is introduced by homologeō (“confess”; the NIV’s “acknowledge” is too weak here), which suggests that John is citing a creed most Johannine Christians would accept. Everyone who speaks by God’s spirit will assert that “Jesus Christ has come in the flesh.” This confession is clearly important to the background of 1-2-3 John because it distinguishes John’s belief from that of the Antichrists, but regrettably the sentence is obscure in the Greek. The word translated “has come” (NIV) is actually a perfect tense participle (“having come”) that characterizes Jesus, and no other verb appears in the sentence. It is therefore unclear exactly what John thinks the Spirit will confess. Some scholars suggest that the words “Jesus” and “Christ” are used together here as a compound proper name. This can lead to one of two conclusions: (1) one must confess “Jesus Christ [the divine person] as having come in the flesh,” i.e., must accept that “there was a true union of the divine Word, the Son of God, with a human personality in Jesus Christ” (Marshall, 204–5); or (2) one must accept the confession “Jesus Christ come in the flesh,” i.e., one must accept the whole of Johannine Christology, which is summarized by this statement (so Brown, 492–93; Smalley, 222–23). As a third possibility, it may be that the word “Jesus” is the subject of the sentence. From this perspective, true teachers must confess two things about Jesus: that Jesus is “the Christ,” the divine Son of God, and that Jesus also “came in the flesh,” that he had a true physical body (so Dodd, 96–99; Houlden, 107).

All three readings are reasonable within the broader context of Johannine theology. The first two are supported by the fact that John occasionally uses the compound name “Jesus Christ” (e.g., 1:3; 2:1; 3:16, 23; 5:6) to refer to the incarnate Son. Stronger parallels, however, may be adduced in support of the third reading. On four other occasions in 1 John, John presents absolute creeds that require true believers to confess that the human Jesus was also the divine Christ: 2:22, where the “liar” and “Antichrist” is the person who “denies [arneomai, the opposite of homologeō ] that Jesus is the Christ” (Iēsous estin ho Christos); 4:15, where John says that anyone who confesses “Jesus is the Son of God” (acknowledging that the human Jesus and the divine Son are one) remains in God; 5:1, where the one who believes that “Jesus is the Christ” has been born of God; and 5:5, where the one who believes that “Jesus is the Son of God” has victory over the world.

It seems, then, that Johannine creeds tend to follow a formula in which the human Jesus is associated with the Christ who has come from God. From this perspective, 4:2 means that one must confess that Jesus was both a human being with physical flesh and the divine Christ. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the negative version of the test at v. 3 mentions those who do not acknowledge “Jesus” rather than those who do not acknowledge “Jesus Christ.” True Christians must acknowledge Jesus as the Christ. If they do not, their teaching is not from God.

3 For John, then, the Spirit’s revelatory ministry does not go beyond accepted tradition. The negative version of the test follows from this principle: If any teacher/“spirit” does not confess Jesus (i.e., does not accept John’s Christology), then one must conclude that such teaching does not originate with God. This is a logical extension of John 16:13–15, where Jesus says that the Paraclete will “speak only what he hears” from Jesus and will “take from what is mine and make it known to you.” Since the Johannine Jesus clearly presents himself as the human Son of God, the Spirit must do the same. John thus makes personal religious experience subservient to doctrinal norms. The creed sets the boundaries for the Spirit’s work.

If the message of the true teachers comes from the Paraclete, where do those who disagree with John get their teaching? John might logically say Satan, but, continuing the eschatological motif, he concludes that such people are inspired by the Antichrist, the ultimate opponent of God. As at 1 John 2:18 (see comment), John cites the slogan “Antichrist is coming” but specifies that the power of the Antichrist is already at work in the world in the form of those who spread false notions about Jesus. Here again, in John’s application the “Antichrist” is not a person opposed to God, the Messiah, or the forces of good in general but rather one who specifically denies the Jesus proclaimed by orthodox Christians and opposes those who bear this witness.[3]


4:2 / Having told his readers to “test the spirits,” the Elder now gives them the decisive test, in this particular situation, to recognize, to discern the presence of, the Spirit of God in a person who was claiming to speak prophetically. Literally, he writes, “By this you know the Spirit of God.” The test takes the form of a doctrinal confession (lit., “every spirit who confesses”; homologei). The content of this confession is a christological affirmation: Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. This is what the secessionists have denied. They have refused to be believe that God’s Son, the Christ, is Jesus (2:22–23; cf. John 20:31), the one who was an incarnate, i.e., in-the-flesh, human being. What the opponents deny is Jesus, the fully human expression of God’s Son, the Word (4:3, 15; John 1:14). This is also the point of 2 John 7: has Jesus Christ come in the flesh; was he fully human? The Flder’s opponents, with their apparent denial of physical human nature as a possible vehicle for the presence of God, said no. They could not accept that the divine Christ, the Word, the Son, had taken on human form and become the man from Nazareth, Jesus (John 1:46; 7:42; cf. Phil. 2:6–8).

But if a prophetic speaker, one who claims the influence of the Spirit of God, affirms and confesses the full humanity of Jesus Christ, a title which combines his human name with his saving function (cf. John 20:31; 11:27; 1 John 2:22), then that “spirit-speaker” is from God. In a situation, torn by conflict and competing spiritual claims, one must decide “who is on the Lord’s side” and who is not. The secessionists are claiming to be from God and may be denying that origin to the Elder and his group. The writer must then repeatedly affirm the secure spiritual standing of his threatened readers (“our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ,” 1:3; “we have come to know him,” 2:3; “we are in him,” 2:5; “you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know,” 2:20; you know the truth, 2:21; “we are the children of God,” 3:2; “we belong to the truth,” 3:19; “you are from God,” 4:4; “we are from God,” 4:6; “we live in him and he in us,” 4:13; “you have eternal life,” 5:13; “we are of God,” 5:19; “we may know him who is true,” 5:20).

This intense social conflict has fostered in the writer and his community a dualistic view of Christian life in the world as is reflected throughout these letters in their highly antithetical language, e.g., light/darkness, truth/error, love/hate, God/world, children of God/world, us/them, Christ/antichrist, life/death, righteous/sinful, God/evil one, of God/of the devil, children of God/children of the devil, from God/not from God, believe/deny, Spirit of truth/spirit of error, true God/idols.[4]


A Test

2. This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3. but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

Note the following observations:

(a) Profession John gives his readers a formula for determining whether a spirit comes from God or from the devil: The Christian recognizes the Spirit of God in anyone who openly confesses that Jesus Christ is both human and divine, and that Jesus Christ, who is the Son of God, “has come in the flesh.” Here we have the established principle for testing whether a particular teaching comes from the Holy Spirit (also see 1 Cor. 12:3).

In the Greek, John uses the perfect tense for the words has come to indicate that Jesus came in human nature and even now in heaven he has a human nature. That is, in addition to his divine nature he also has a human nature. Sixteenth-century German theologian Zacharias Ursinus asked whether these two natures are separated from each other. This is his answer:

Certainly not. For since the divinity is not limited and is present everywhere, it is evident that Christ’s divinity is surely beyond the bounds of the humanity he has taken on, but at the same time his divinity is in and remains personally united to his humanity.

Scripture teaches that the Christ is Jesus, who as our divine redeemer shares our human nature (Heb. 2:14–15). Any teaching that professes the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ has its origin in God. The opposite is also true; as C. H. Dodd observes, “No utterance, however inspired, which denies the reality of the Incarnation, can be accepted by Christians as true prophecy.”

(b) Denial Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven” (Matt. 10:32–33; also see John 8:47; 2 John 7). Anyone who separates the human nature from the divine nature of Jesus Christ speaks without God’s authority. And anyone who denies either Jesus’ human nature or divine nature “is not from God.” Moreover, anyone who teaches that when Jesus was baptized God gave him a divine spirit, and that this spirit left Jesus when he died on the cross distorts the gospel. And last, whoever says that after Jesus’ death God appointed him Son of God fails to present the truth of God’s Word. All such teachers do not speak as representatives of Jesus Christ, have not been commissioned by God, and are not the mouthpieces of the Spirit of God in this world.

Although John addresses the church of the first century, nothing has changed since that time. Today we have numerous teachers and preachers who deny that Jesus Christ is human and divine. They are not from God, says John. In fact, he labels the spirit of such denial “the spirit of the antichrist.”

(c) Designation John repeats a thought he expressed earlier in the epistle: “The antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come” (2:18; consult also 2 John 7). Now he says, “The antichrist … is coming and even now is already in the world.” He thinks of “all the principles and powers, all the essential characteristics of Antichrist: what … we might call ‘the antichristian nature.’ ” That antichristian spirit is here already and expresses itself insidiously and often violently against Jesus Christ and his followers (compare 2 Thess. 2:3–8).

Practical Considerations in 4:1–3

Without exception, liberal theologians refuse to accept the biblical doctrine that Jesus Christ always has been, is, and will be the Son of God, that he came from heaven to redeem his people, that he took upon himself our humanity yet remained truly divine, that he rose bodily from the dead and ascended in his glorified body to heaven, and that he will return at God’s appointed day in the same body in which he ascended. If you compare the teaching of these theologians with God’s Word, you will notice that their opinions are based on human philosophy and not on Scripture. Ask them what they think of the Christ, then go to your Bible and study the teachings of Scripture (Matt. 16:15).

Then there are the members of sects. In pairs they canvass the neighborhood, ring your doorbell, and announce that they are missionaries—even though they do not carry Bibles. When you listen to them, you soon learn that they do not bring the teaching of Christ. The apostle John advises, “If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching [of Christ], do not take him into your house or welcome him” (2 John 10).

What does John mean? He means that you may receive the members of the sect into your home only when you intend to teach them about Jesus Christ. Tell them that you are happy in the Lord, because he is your Savior; and that you are pleased to introduce them to Jesus Christ. Then you will be a missionary for the Lord and you are in control of the situation. But if you do not intend to teach these visitors about the Lord, receive them not into your home![5]


4:2By this you know: One test of whether a person is led by the Holy Spirit is whether that person’s beliefs agree with the truth of God’s Word (2:22; 1 Cor. 12:3). Jesus Christ has come in the flesh: This test seems to be aimed at Docetists. They taught that Christ did not have a physical body. The test may also be aimed at the followers of Cerinthus who claimed that Jesus and “the Christ” were two separate beings, one physical and the other spiritual. In this letter, John is careful to use the name and title of Jesus Christ together to clearly express the complete union of the two titles in one person.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 157–158). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2004). The Epistles of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 108–109). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Thatcher, T. (2006). 1 John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 472–473). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Johnson, T. F. (2011). 1, 2, and 3 John (pp. 94–95). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 324–326). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 1713–1714). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

February 7: Bread from Heaven and Water from a Rock

Exodus 16–18; John 3:22–36; Song of Solomon 2:8–13

For many years, I said that I believed God would provide for me, but I’m not sure I actually did. Somewhere inside I was still convinced that I was on my own. It wasn’t until recently that I felt convicted about this, and God began working in me to make the necessary changes. As I was dealing with this, I started contemplating what trust issues might’ve looked like for the ancients. Of nearly all biblical characters, Noah must have seemed the craziest to his friends. But I think Moses faced some of the greatest interpersonal struggles involving trust.

Over and over again, the people Moses is leading blame him for all their problems. And they rarely give him credit for his good attributes. God is faithful, though. It’s Moses who sees bread come from heaven (Exod 16) and water from a rock (Exod 17:1–7).

And this really puts it in perspective: if God is capable of this kind of deliverance, what am I so afraid of? It’s not my own strength that will empower me, and even if it were, what good is it? If I put my trust in my own abilities, how will I grow in my trust in God?

Like Moses, I must be willing to be audacious. If God calls me to look to the heavens for providence, I must do it. If He calls me to strike the rock, I must strike it. As the Gospel of John says, “The one who comes from above is over all. The one who is from the earth is from the earth and speaks from the earth” (John 3:31). Let’s be the people who seek the one from above: Jesus.

How do you trust in yourself instead of in God for your needs? How does this impede your relationship with Him and the work He wants to do through you?

John D. Barry[1]


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