Daily Archives: February 10, 2018

February 10 The Joy of Recollection

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you” (Phil. 1:3).

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A key to Christian joy is to recall the goodness of others.

Though Paul was under house arrest in Rome when he wrote to the Philippians, his mind wasn’t bound. Often he reflected on his experiences with the Philippian Christians. As he did so, his thoughts turned to prayers of praise and thanksgiving for all the Lord had done through them.

I’m sure Paul remembered when he preached in Philippi and God opened Lydia’s heart to believe the gospel (Acts 16:13–14). Subsequently everyone in her household was saved (v. 15). Surely her kindness and hospitality were bright spots in an otherwise stormy stay at Philippi.

He must also have remembered the demon-possessed girl whom the Lord delivered from spiritual bondage (v. 18), and the Philippian jailer who threw Paul and Silas into prison after they had been beaten severely (vv. 23–24). Perhaps the girl became part of the Philippian church—the text doesn’t say. We do know that the jailer and his whole household were saved, after which they showed kindness to Paul and Silas by tending to their wounds and feeding them (vv. 30–34).

The many financial gifts the Philippians sent to Paul were also fond memories for him because they were given out of love and concern. That was true of their present gift as well, which was delivered by Epaphroditus and went far beyond Paul’s need (Phil. 4:18).

Paul’s gratitude illustrates that Christian joy is enhanced in your life by your ability to recall the goodness of others. A corollary is your ability to forgive shortcomings and unkindnesses. That goes against the grain of our “don’t get mad—get even” society, but is perfectly consistent with the compassion and forgiveness God has shown you. Therefore, be quick to forgive evil and slow to forget good.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Take time to reflect on some people who have shown kindness to you and encouraged you in your Christian walk. Thank God for them. If possible, call them or drop them a note of thanks. Assure them of your prayers, as Paul assured the Philippians. ✧ If you harbor ill will toward someone, resolve it quickly, and begin to uphold that person in prayer.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 5:23–26; 18:21–35. What were our Lord’s instructions regarding forgiveness and reconciliation?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 53). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

FEBRUARY 10 PRAYER IS NEVER A SUBSTITUTE FOR OBEDIENCE

Not every one that saith unto me, LORD, LORD, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

MATTHEW 7:21

Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late—and how little revival has resulted?

I believe our problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work!

A church, for instance, follows its traditions without much thought about whether they are scriptural or not. Or it surrenders to pressure from public opinion and falls in with popular trends which carry it far from the New Testament pattern. Then the leaders notice a lack of spiritual power among the people and become concerned about it. What to do? How can they bring down refreshing showers to quicken their fainting souls?

The answer is all ready for them. The books tell them how—pray!

The passing evangelist confirms what the books have said—pray!

So the pastor calls his people to pray. The tide of feeling runs high and it looks for a while as if the revival might be on the way. But it fails to arrive and the zeal for prayer begins to flag. Soon the church is back where it was before and a numb discouragement settles over everyone.

What has gone wrong? Simply this: Neither the leaders nor the people have made any effort to obey the Word of God. They felt that their only weakness was failure to pray, when actually in a score of ways they were falling short in the vital matter of obedience![1]


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

Republicans Announce Plan To Pretend To Be Fiscally Conservative Again The Moment A Democrat Takes Office

WASHINGTON, D.C.—During a budgetary discussion Friday, Republican lawmakers announced a plan to pretend to be fiscally conservative again if a Democrat takes office again in 2020 or 2024. The GOP said it would begin to decry deficit spending and the $20 trillion debt in order to win votes as soon as political power swung back […]

. . . finish reading Republicans Announce Plan To Pretend To Be Fiscally Conservative Again The Moment A Democrat Takes Office.

Op-Ed: Looks Like We Forgot To Defund Planned Parenthood Again Like We Promised—Shucks, Sorry, Darnit—Maybe Next Time

Fellow Americans: we want to take a quick moment of your time to apologize. You probably heard that we just passed a huge spending deal—and it looks like we totally forgot to defund Planned Parenthood again, even though we promised you countless times we would do exactly that if you would just give us the […]

. . . finish reading Op-Ed: Looks Like We Forgot To Defund Planned Parenthood Again Like We Promised—Shucks, Sorry, Darnit—Maybe Next Time.

What Is Truth?

Aaron Brake offers three different views of Truth: The pragmatic theory; coherence theory; and  correspondence theory. In his piece over at Stand to Reason, Brake explains these views and then makes the case for what he believes is the only option for the Christian. He writes:

“What is truth?” Pontius Pilate wasn’t the first, or the last, to ask this.

The question, at first blush, may sound profound. In reality, I think we all know the answer to this age-old inquiry. I say that because we presuppose a certain definition of truth in our speech and actions every day of our lives. ….. Perhaps the problem is not that we do not know what truth is but rather that we do not know that we know. In other words, we may not be confident in our knowledge of what truth is because we struggle to articulate a definition. But this is easily remedied if we take a few moments to reflect on the nature of truth.

Three Views on Truth

Historically, there have been three dominant theories of truth put forth by philosophers:[1]

First, there is the pragmatic theory of truth: truth is what works. Three major problems with this view are as follows:

Problem #1: The view seems counterintuitive. For example, there are some true beliefs which are not very useful (e.g., the belief that my cat has grey and white fur), and some false beliefs which may turn out to be very useful (e.g., my false belief that people actually read my articles is useful motivation to continue writing them).

Problem #2: The view is self-defeating. If truth is what works, then the pragmatic theory itself must not be true, since most philosophers throughout the ages have not held to the pragmatic theory (i.e., it didn’t “work” for them) but rather have found the correspondence theory to be much more useful!

Problem #3: The view implies relativism. Imagine two individuals who hold contradictory beliefs. On the pragmatic view, as long as these contradictory beliefs are useful for the respective individuals who hold them, we would have to conclude they are both true. But if that is the case, then truth is relative, a view which itself is untenable and self-refuting.

Second, there is the coherence theory of truth: truth is logical consistency (coherence) among a set of beliefs an individual holds. Three major problems with this view are as follows:

Problem #1: This view implies that contradictory propositions can be true. On this view, it is possible for two different people to hold contradictory beliefs yet for both beliefs to be “true” as long as these beliefs cohere with each individual’s web of belief respectively. This leads to the absurd notion that contradictory propositions can both be true.

Problem #2: For the same reasons as problem #1, and like the pragmatic view, this view implies relativism. On the coherence view, what is true is relative to each individual’s belief system. Two contradictory beliefs may both be “true” as long as they cohere with their respective systems. But relativism is false; therefore, like the pragmatic view, the coherence theory must be rejected.

Problem #3: This view, like the pragmatic view, seems counterintuitive. The reason is that the coherence theory cuts the knower off from the real world. What is true is not what matches reality but rather what coheres within a given system of belief. But most people intuitively understand that truth has something to do with the way the world really is.

Coherence is important but not enough. It is a necessary condition for truth but by itself is not sufficient. View article →

Source: What Is Truth?

Christalignment ‘legally’ threaten discerning Christians – caught profiting from plagiarism.

(Churchwatch Central) Jordan Hall from Pulpit & Pen recently critiqued a video Bethel pastor Ben Fitzgerald uploaded to Facebook, where Fitzgerald accuses Christians of ‘micro-judging’. Not only did Fitzgerald condemn those for calling his mother a ‘witch’ (even though by biblical definition what she  practices is witchcraft), he also accuses someone of passing on information about his family’s occultic practices to discernment sites. As a result of this, his family are now threatening Christians with ‘legal action’.

The video that Jordan Hall reviewed can be seen in this article here:

Bethel pastor has a FITzgerald about his mother’s occultism being exposed.


LEGALLY THREATENING CHRISTIANS.

Holly Pivec recently wrote,

“Does Bethel know that legal action has been threatened against site owners, including myself, who have shared photos of the Christalignment cards and photos of their teams doing “readings” with the cards — despite the fact that this sharing of the photos falls under the fair use rule in copyright law?” [Source]

We were aware of this taking place very early on and would encourage people who have tried to warn the body of Christ about these charlatans, to come forward if they have had legal threats made against them.

Dave MacKenzie from the Glory Gathering site was one of those ‘legally threatened’ by the Hodges:

Dave published the threat Jen Hodge made against both he and Chris Rosebrough:

“Every photo you have used of ours is copy written. That applies to Chris Roseborough too. There will be legal action if photos are not down.” [Source]

MacKenzie observes:

“Where is the LOVE? The audacity to threaten me because my blog post exposes the non-biblical practices of Christalignment. BUT… HOLD THE PHONE… THERE IS NO ARTICLE… NEVER HAS BEEN… but there is now:–)” [Source]  View article →

Source: Christalignment ‘legally’ threaten discerning Christians – caught profiting from plagiarism.

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 02/10/2018

Clergy Gather to ‘Bless’ Late-Term Abortion Facility, Claim Abortion Staff Work for God’s ‘Glory’   Feb 04, 2018 06:57 pm

BETHESDA, Md. — Four clergy members who profess to be Christians and one rabbi gathered outside of a late-term abortion facility in Maryland on Monday to “bless” the location, which is run by notorious abortionist Leroy Carhart. “God of grace and God of glory, in whom we move and live,” prayed Carlton Veazey, president of the Religious Coalition for…

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Six People Now Found Dismembered in Flower Pots in Homosexual Serial Killer Case   Feb 09, 2018 05:59 pm

Photo Credit: Toronto Police Homicide Squad TORONTO — Canadian police state that they have now recovered the remains of at least six people that had been murdered, dismembered and placed in flower pots on property utilized by suspected serial killer Bruce McArthur. Police had stated last week that they had recovered the remains of three people in…

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Atheist Activist Group Complains to School District After Teacher ‘Casts Doubt Upon Evolution’   Feb 03, 2018 04:51 pm

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of the nation’s most conspicuous professing atheist organizations recently sent a letter to a Missouri school district to lodge a complaint about a science teacher who reportedly had been teaching students from a biblical Creation worldview instead of an evolutionary worldview. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF)…

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Bermuda Becomes First Country in the World to Repeal Same-Sex ‘Marriage’   Feb 09, 2018 08:23 pm

(The Christian Institute) — Bermuda has become the first country in the world to repeal same-sex marriage. The British Overseas Territory legalized same-sex “marriage” through a Supreme Court ruling in May last year. It ignored the result of a 2016 referendum where voters overwhelmingly rejected its introduction. However, after a change in government, the…

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Judge Rules California Can’t Force Baker to Create Cakes for Same-Sex ‘Weddings’ in Violation of Her Christian Faith   Feb 07, 2018 03:39 pm

Photo Credit: Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — A Superior Court judge has ruled that the State of California cannot force a baker who identifies as a Christian to create cakes for same-sex “weddings” in violation of her faith. He differentiated between selling a generic product on the shelf with having to specially create a cake that…

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‘With Wings Like Eagles’? Church Signs Twist Scripture in Idolatrous Super Bowl Mania   Feb 05, 2018 09:16 am

A number of Christian-identifying houses of worship joined in on the idolatrous Super Bowl mania this past week by posting signs outside of their buildings twisting Scripture to signify their support for the Philadelphia Eagles. Some also not only threw parties to celebrate the Super Bowl in God’s house, but did so on what they often claim as the Lord’s…

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Walgreens Adopts Policy Allowing Males Who Identify as Females to Use Women’s Restrooms   Feb 09, 2018 01:55 pm

Photo Credit: Wikipedia user Anthony 92931 The nationwide drugstore chain Walgreens has adopted a policy allowing males who identify as females to use the women’s restroom, and vice versa. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California shed light on the policy on Monday, which had been rolled out in November after a man who identifies as a…

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Students No Longer Reading Lord’s Prayer Over Loudspeaker at Louisiana School Following Lawsuit   Feb 06, 2018 06:39 pm

Photo Credit: CNN WEBSTER PARISH, La. — Students at a public high school in Louisiana are no longer reading The Lord’s Prayer over the loudspeaker each morning following a lawsuit filed by a woman who professes to be a Christian and her agnostic daughter. Christy Cole and her 17-year-old daughter Kaylee recently told CNN that no one has presented the…

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New Governor of Kansas Declares in Address Before Legislature: ‘Everyone Has a God-Given Right to Life’   Feb 09, 2018 11:54 am

TOPEKA, Kan. — The new governor of the state of Kansas delivered his first address to a joint session of the legislature on Wednesday, a speech that included a declaration that everyone has a God-given right to life. Jeff Colyer, who previously served as lieutenant governor, was sworn in as governor on Jan. 31 after Gov. Sam Brownback accepted a position to serve…

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University Student Body President Says ‘Very Vocal Group’ Tried to ‘Bully’ Him Into Cancelling Ken Ham Event   Feb 08, 2018 09:56 am

EDMOND, Okla. — The student body president at the University of Central Oklahoma says that a “very vocal group” recently tried to bully him to cancel Christian apologist Ken Ham’s appearance at the school, and while he did ultimately decide to cancel the event for various reasons, he said he would “not allow any more intimidation” going forward. Ham, who leads…

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02/10/2018 Weekend Snapshot — Top Stories This Week

 

Weekend Snapshot

Feb. 10, 2018
Top Stories This Week
Quote of the Week

“The best argument against Trump’s parade is that it will become a cultural-war flashpoint and ‘the resistance’ will try its utmost to ruin the affair. Just imagine a protester in a pussy hat in a Tiananmen Square-style standoff with an M1 Abrams tank.” —Rich Lowry

February 10, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Slaughter at Ramah

Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” (2:16–18)

The third fulfilled prophecy that Matthew mentions in chapter 2 is that of Herod’s brutal slaughter in Bethlehem. After Joseph had secretly taken Jesus and His mother to the safety of Egypt, the malevolent Herod, enraged by the magi’s failure to report back to him (see 2:7–8), committed one of the bloodiest acts of his career, and certainly the cruelest.

The Greek word empaizō generally carried the idea of mocking, and is so translated in the King James Version of this passage. The root meaning is “to play like a child,” especially in the sense of making sport of or jesting. It is used to describe the accusations and taunts of Jesus’ enemies against Him (Matt. 20:19; 27:41; Mark 15:20; Luke 22:63; 23:11; etc.). But the idea in Matthew 2:16 is better rendered as tricked. Either meaning, however, refers to Herod’s perception of the motives of the magi, not their true intention. It was not their purpose to trick or mock the king but simply to obey God’s command “not to return to Herod” (v. 12). The king, of course, knew nothing of God’s warning and saw only that the wise men did not do as he had instructed.

Herod’s hatred of the newborn contender to his throne began when he first heard the news of His birth. The purpose of having the magi report back to him was to learn the exact information needed to discover and destroy the Child—not to worship Him, as he had deceitfully told the magi (2:8). The magi’s going home by another way, and so avoiding Herod, added infuriation to hatred, so that he became very enraged.

Thumoō (to be enraged) is a strong word, made still stronger by lian (very, or better, exceedingly). The Greek is in the passive voice, indicating that Herod had lost control of his passion and now was completely controlled by it. His senses, and what little judgment he may have had, were blinded. He did not bother to consider that, because the magi did not return to him, they probably had guessed his wicked intent and that, if so, they would surely have warned the family. The family, in turn, would have long fled Bethlehem and probably the country. In light of Herod’s perverted mind, however, he possibly would have taken the same cruel action—out of the same senseless rage and frustration—even had he known that the primary object of his hatred had escaped. If he was not able to guarantee killing Jesus by killing the other babies, he would kill them in place of Jesus.

In any case Herod’s rage was vented in the desperate and heartless slaughter of all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under. He went up to the age of two because of the time which he had ascertained from the magi. Jesus was probably no older than six months at this time, but even if that had been the age Herod determined from the magi’s information (2:7), it is likely he would have taken no chances. Killing all the male babies up to age two was a small precaution in his evil thinking, in case the magi had miscalculated or deceived him.

Herod’s crime was made even more vile and heinous by the fact that he knew that the Child he sought to destroy was the Messiah, the Christ. He questioned the chief priests and scribes specifically about “where the Christ was to be born” (2:4). He arrogantly and stupidly set himself against God’s very Anointed (cf. 1 Cor. 16:22).

It seems as if, from the earliest part of his message, Matthew wanted to portray the rejection of the Messiah by those from among whom He came and in whose behalf He first came (Acts 3:26; Rom. 1:16). The chief priests and the scribes, along with the many other Jews in Jerusalem who must have heard or known about the magi’s message of the one “who has been born King of the Jews,” showed no interest at all in finding Him, much less in worshiping Him (see Matt. 2:2–5). Though Herod was not himself a Jew and had no right to a Jewish throne, he nevertheless declared himself to be the king of the Jews and made a pretense of concern for Jewish religious and economic interests. In an illegitimate and perverted way, therefore, Herod’s rejection of Christ both reflected and represented the Jews’ rejection of Him.

The slaughter in Bethlehem was the beginning of the tragedy and bloodshed that would result from Israel’s rejection of her Savior and true King. Those innocent and precious babies of Bethlehem were the first casualties in the now-intensified warfare between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of God’s Christ, God’s Anointed. Within two generations from that time (in a.d. 70) Jerusalem would see its Temple destroyed and over a million of its people massacred by the troops of Titus. Yet that destruction will pale in comparison with that of the Antichrist—a ruler immeasurably more wicked and powerful than Herod—when in the Great Tribulation he will shed more of Israel’s blood than will ever have been shed before (Dan. 12:1; Matt. 24:21–22). All of that bloodshed is over the conflict with the Messiah.

The least of Herod’s intentions was to fulfill prophecy, but that is what his slaughter did. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled. Herod’s beastly act is recorded only by Matthew, yet it was predicted in a text given to the prophet Jeremiah. The term fulfilled (from plēroō, “to fill up”) marks this out as completing an Old Testament prediction. This prophecy, like that of Jesus’ return from Egypt, was in the form of a type, which, as we have seen above, is a nonverbal prediction revealed in the New Testament. In the passage (Jer. 31:15) from which Matthew here quotes, Jeremiah was speaking of the great sorrow that would soon be experienced in Israel when most of her people would be carried captive to Babylon. Ramah, a town about five miles north of Jerusalem, was on the border of the northern (Israel) and southern (Judah) kingdoms. It was also the place where Jewish captives were assembled for deportation to Babylon (Jer. 40:1). Rachel, the wife of Jacob-Israel, was the mother of Joseph, whose two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, became progenitors of the two half-tribes that bore their names. Ephraim is often used in the Old Testament as a synonym for the northern kingdom. Rachel was also the mother of Benjamin, whose tribe became part of the southern kingdom. She had once cried, “Give me children, or else I die” (Gen. 30:1), and now her beloved “children,” her immeasurably multiplied descendants, were being taken captive to a foreign and pagan land.

Rachel weeping for her children therefore represented the lamentation of all Jewish mothers who wept over Israel’s great tragedy in the days of Jeremiah, and most specifically typified and prefigured the mothers of Bethlehem weeping bitterly over the massacre of their children by Herod in His attempt to kill the Messiah. So even while Israel’s Messiah was still a babe, Rachel had cause to weep again, even as the Messiah Himself would later weep over Jerusalem because of His people’s rejection of Him and the afflictions they would suffer as a consequence (Luke 19:41–44).

Though Matthew does not mention it here, because he is emphasizing the tragedy of the massacre, the passage he quotes from Jeremiah continues with a beautiful word of hope and promise: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Restrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded,’ declares the Lord, ‘and they shall return from the land of the enemy’ ” (Jer. 31:16). Within a few generations, the Lord brought His people back from Babylon, and one day He will bring all His chosen people back from captivity to Satan. “All Israel will be saved; just as it is written, ‘The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins’ ” (Rom. 11:26–27; cf. Isa. 27:9; 59:20–21). But before that great and wonderful day, disobedience, rejection, and tragedy would continue in Israel. The massacre of the little ones in Bethlehem signaled the start of terrifying conflict.[1]


2:16–18 / Herod was furious when he realized that the wise men had not returned to him with information about the newborn king. Immediately he ordered the death of all male children in Bethlehem and the surrounding area who were two years old and under. His decision regarding age rested upon what he had learned from the Magi about the time the star had first appeared. It suggests that a number of months had intervened between the “rising” of the star in the east (2:2; cf. niv text note) and the return of the wise men to their own country. Undoubtedly Herod left a considerable margin for error. That Herod would carry out such a savage plan is not surprising. We already know that he murdered members of his own family, and, after all, Bethlehem was a tiny little village with not more than twenty or thirty children of that age. That Josephus the historian (or any other early writer) neglects to mention the slaughter tells us more about the cruelty of that day than it does about any lack of historicity of the event. Such purges were simply not noteworthy.

Once again Matthew finds prophetic background for the event. Jeremiah speaks of the weeping that took place in Ramah when Rachel mourned for her dead children (Jer. 31:15), giving a picture of the Israelites (Rachel’s children) filing by her grave at Ramah as they are led into captivity. Since the route to Babylon would lead the exiles north from Jerusalem, this has led to some confusion regarding the location of Ramah. If it is to be identified with Er-Ram, it would be located about six miles north of Jerusalem; if with Ramat Rahel, it would be on the road south from Jerusalem toward Bethlehem. Tradition has placed the burial place of Rachel near Bethlehem (cf. Gen. 35:19; 48:7). How then would the captives pass by on their way into exile? But is such geographical precision necessary? All we are intended to understand is that as Rachel mourned for her children, so also do the mothers of Bethlehem mourn for theirs.

Some have noted that the larger context of the Jeremiah passages is one of hope. The prophet goes on to say that the exiles will return (31:16) and “there is hope for your future” (31:17). God will bring his people back from captivity (31:23), refreshing the weary and satisfying the faint (31:25). Since a particular passage may intend the entire context (cf. C. H. Dodd, According to the Scriptures, p. 126), Matthew may be pointing beyond the immediate sorrow to the final result of the Messiah’s entrance into the world. Beyond pain and death there is certain victory.[2]


2:16–18. Herod would do anything to protect his own interests, including murdering children. Even though Herod the Great accomplished some wonderful achievements (such as major construction) during his reign, he is best known for his extreme paranoia and the bloodshed that ensued. The story of his slaughter of young boys in and around Bethlehem is consistent with the pattern of his life.

At the time of Herod’s slaughter of infant boys, Jesus must have been around one and one-half to two years old. Herod, in his paranoia, would have allowed for a margin of error in the estimate of the child’s age, ordering that the age range of those killed be high enough to include this king of the Jews (2:16). Demographers tell us there would have been perhaps two dozen boys two years old and under who were killed because of Herod’s obscene order. The weeping would have filled the night from Bethlehem to Ramah. Consider the arrogance of this man. He was observant enough to recognize the truth of Old Testament prophecies about God’s plan, but arrogant enough to think that he could thwart it! No created being, not even Lucifer, can thwart the plan of God. In this situation, God the Father intervened to protect his Son and to preserve our salvation.

The quote in 2:18 is from Jeremiah 31:15. Jeremiah prophesied during the decades leading up to and immediately following Judah’s fall to Babylon in 586 b.c. His ministry was one of proclaiming doom and judgment. However, he, like most Old Testament prophets, included a message of hope of forgiveness and restoration. Jeremiah 30–31 gives us a lengthy oracle focused on the future restoration of Judah. Even in this oracle of hope, Jeremiah occasionally mentions the sorrow and devastation of Judah, by way of contrast with the joy that would follow. Jeremiah’s specific prophecy relates to the captivity in Babylon and the killing of children during Babylon’s conquest of Judea. Its parallel here is striking.

The verse Matthew quoted regarding the children slaughtered by Herod is one of these sorrowful notes common in Jeremiah’s ministry. But in its original context it is immediately followed by, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Restrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears, for your work will be rewarded,’ declares the Lord. ‘They will return from the land of the enemy. So there is hope for your future,’ declares the Lord” (Jer. 31:16–17). Perhaps a number of bereaved parents in and around Bethlehem found comfort in the Lord’s promise, trusting, without understanding, that there was some kind of meaning behind their tragedy. Matthew probably intended his readers, familiar as they were with the Old Testament, to understand the context of hope in which this tragic verse was originally planted, and so to be led one step closer to finding hope in the Messiah.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 43–46). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Mounce, R. H. (2011). Matthew (pp. 18–19). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 21–22). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

FEBRUARY 10 CHRIST CAME TO SAVE

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world.

John 3:17

Millions who have rejected the Christian gospel have generally been too busy and too involved to ask themselves a simple question: “What really is God’s intention toward me?”

They could have found the plain and simple answer given by the Apostle John: “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:17).

This is a gravely significant message from the heart of God Himself! Yet, even in the full light it provides, people are indifferent. Upon our eyes there seems to have fallen a strange dimness; within our ears, a strange dullness. It is a wonder, and a terrible responsibility, that we should have this message in our possession and be so little stirred about it!

I confess that it is very hard for me to accept the fact that it is now very rare for anyone to come into the house of God, silently confessing: “Dear Lord, I am ready and willing to hear what you will speak to me today!”

Dear Lord, how grateful I am that You do not condemn, but by Your Spirit You do convict. Help me to hear and act upon Your promptings today.[1]


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

February 10 Distinctiveness of the Beatitudes

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.—Matt. 5:3

The series of conditional blessings Jesus promises, beginning with this verse and continuing through verse 12, are known as the Beatitudes. This name refers to a state of happiness or bliss. The blessedness promised in each is a divine characteristic, one that men and women can realize only as they share in God’s nature (cf. 2 Peter 1:4). When believers are truly blessed, they don’t experience merely an external, circumstantial feeling of happiness, but a deep sense of spiritual contentedness and well-being based on the objective spiritual reality that they belong to God.

We must understand that Christ’s beatitudes are distinctive and firm pronouncements, not merely ambiguous probabilities. Our Lord does not say that if we have the qualities the Beatitudes set forth, we are only likely to be happy; nor is this simply His wish for us. Adherence to these attitudes and practices will result in blessedness, just as surely as judgmental woes await those who are the subject of His pronouncements in Matthew 23.

The blessed life is the opposite of the cursed life. Blessedness is possessed by those who truly have the inner characteristics of the Beatitudes. Conversely, cursedness represents those who don’t know the Beatitudes, such as the Jewish religionists of Jesus’ time.

The Beatitudes are also distinctively progressive, each leading to the next in logical succession. Poverty of spirit demonstrates a right attitude about ourselves. That leads to mourning, gentleness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, showing mercy, purity of heart, and peacemaking. If we have these traits we will rebuke the world so that it persecutes us and allows us to be lights in its midst.

ASK YOURSELF

We have often stated—rightly so—that God is more interested in making us holy than making us happy. So does it surprise you to see that happiness is a gift Jesus offers to those who take His Word to heart? What’s wrong with a theology that looks suspiciously at happiness?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 49). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

February 10 Confronting an Evil World

If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.

1 Peter 4:14

No one can live for God’s glory and be entirely comfortable in this world. You shouldn’t be obnoxious or try to be a misfit, but if your life is Christ–like, then you will bear some of the reproach He bore.

We live in a day when many want to make Christianity easy, but the Bible says it is hard. Many want to make Christians lovable, but God says they’ll be reproachable. Christianity must confront the system by being distinct from it. It must expose sin before it can disclose the remedy.

Be sure your life reflects your commitment to Christ. That’s what will make you distinct from the world.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 53). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 10, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

12:21–24 / Persistent to the last, however, Rehoboam again tries to impose his will upon the kingdom through force, mustering both Judah and Benjamin (cf. the additional note on 11:32), as well as some mysterious other people (v. 23), to fight against the house of Israel (the northern tribes). It requires a prophetic oracle from Shemaiah to prevent war by convincing the people that what has happened is indeed of God. But this situation does not last long; there will be a continuous war between north and south throughout the period after the schism (1 Kgs. 14:30; 15:6, 16). Perhaps Rehoboam was untimately unwilling to give up his own view of reality in favor of God’s. Perhaps the northern tribes (in spite of Jeroboam’s own knowledge of God’s will) were unwilling to accept the continuing contradiction to the corporate decision of all Israel that Rehoboam’s kingship over Judah and Benjamin represented. We do know of at least one other case where the de facto contradiction of a decision of the whole nation gathered together “from Dan to Beersheba” was resolved by war (Judg. 20). In that case, of course, God was firmly on the side of the tribal assembly, and they succeeded. In this case, he is firmly on his own side, a third party in a conflict between two factions who cannot accept his decision. All the wars will therefore come to nothing, until the two sides come to see that they are indeed brothers (v. 24; cf. 1 Kgs. 22, esp. v. 44) and should live in peace. There is much to happen in 1 Kings, however, before we get to that point.[1]


12:21–24 Rehoboam planned to thwart this by declaring war on Israel, but he canceled his plan as a result of a divine command. Having earlier ignored the counsel of his elders, Rehoboam now heeded the counsel of the Lord and spared the lives of many Israelites. The word of the Lord decreed the split, and the word of the Lord ensured that the division was without bloodshed.

The Kings and Prophets of Israel and Judah

The Division of the Kingdom

The history of the divided kingdom begins here and continues through 2 Kings. Jeroboam reigned over the northern ten tribes, usually known as “Israel” and sometimes referred to in the prophets as “Ephraim.” This kingdom had a succession of nine dynasties, and all the kings were wicked.

Rehoboam reigned over the southern kingdom, known as “Judah.” This kingdom had only one dynasty. Every king was a descendant of David. It was through this kingdom that Christ’s legal title to the throne of David is traced through Joseph, His foster father (see genealogy in Matthew 1). He was also physically a Son of David through the Virgin Mary, who was herself a descendant of David’s own son Nathan (see genealogy in Luke 3). A few of these kings were outstanding reformers, though most of them were wicked.

The Kings of Israel and Judah

Dynasty

 

Israel

 

Dynasty

 

Judah

 

1

 

Jeroboam

Nadab

 

1

 

Rehoboam

Abijam (Abijah)

 

2

 

Baasha

Elah

 

 

 

Asa [good]

Jehoshaphat [good]

 

3

 

Zimri

 

 

 

Jehoram (Joram)

 

4

 

Omri-Tibni

Ahab

Ahaziah

Joram (Jehoram)

 

 

 

Ahaziah

Athaliah—usurper

Jehoash (Joash) [good]

Amaziah [good]

 

5

 

Jehu

Jehoahaz

Joash

Jeroboam II

Zachariah (Zechariah)

 

 

 

Uzziah (Azariah) [good]

Jotham [good]

Ahaz

Hezekiah [good]

Manasseh

 

6

 

Shallum

 

 

 

Amon

 

7

 

Menahem

Pekahiah

 

 

 

Josiah [good]

Jehoahaz (Shallum)

 

8

 

Pekah

 

 

 

Jehoiakim (Eliakim)

 

9

 

Hoshea

 

 

 

Jehoiachin (Jeconiah, Coniah

Zedekiah (Mattaniah)

 

The history of the divided kingdom can be divided into four phases. First, there was a time of open conflict, extending from Jeroboam (1 Kgs. 12:1) to Omri (1 Kgs. 16:28). Secondly, the two kingdoms settled down to a period of detente, from Omri (1 Kgs. 16:29) to Jehu (2 Kgs. 9). The third phase, from Jehu to the captivity of Israel by Assyria (722 B.C.), was one of relative independence (2 Kgs. 9–17). Finally, Judah was left as the surviving kingdom, until it was taken into captivity by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. (2 Kgs. 18–25).

The kingdom of Israel never returned to the land as a nation. Judah remained in captivity for seventy years, and then groups returned to Jerusalem in significant numbers, as recorded in Ezra and Nehemiah. The southern tribes thus came back to the land, under Gentile rule, approximately 500 years before the birth of Christ.

At the close of OT history, the Jews in the land were subject to the king of Persia. Later, Persia was conquered by Greece, and the Jews were ruled by this world power. Finally, the Greeks were subjugated by the Roman Empire; it was this empire that was in power when the Lord Jesus appeared.

In studying the divided kingdom, the student frequently comes across seeming contradictions in the dates given. Most of these chronological difficulties can be accounted for by the fact that different methods were used in calculating the length of reigns in Israel and in Judah. Another important factor is that oftentimes two kings served as coregents for a while. The whole subject of the chronology of the kings has been treated capably and in great detail in The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, by Edwin R. Thiele.

We shall study the divided kingdom in the order in which the kings are listed, giving the important events in the reign of each. The dates are taken from Thiele’s book mentioned above.‡[2]


12:23, 24 this thing is from Me: The foolish behavior of Rehoboam brought about God’s judgment in dividing the nation into two new kingdoms.[3]


12:22–24. Rehoboam’s battle plans were interrupted by a prophet of Yahweh, Shemaiah. The man of God made a public announcement that civil war was definitely not God’s will and he convinced Rehoboam and the people to go back home. To his credit Rehoboam obeyed the word of the Lord and did not proceed into battle. Again the writer pointed out the overruling hand of God in these affairs (as the Lord had ordered, v. 24; cf. v. 15).[4]


12:24 this thing has come from Me. Through the prophet Shemaiah, the Lord commanded Rehoboam and his army not to invade Israel. God, in judgment, had ordained the N-S split (v. 15; 11:29–39), so to attack Israel was to oppose God Himself.[5]


12:24 they listened to the word of the Lord and went home. At least for now a war is averted, but this peace does not last long. The reader will later learn of continual war between north and south throughout the period after the division of the kingdoms (14:30; 15:6, 16), until the two sides see that they are indeed relatives (12:24; cf. ch. 22, esp. v. 44) and should accept the status quo.[6]


12:24 You shall not go up The Hebrew word here (‘lh) denotes the sense of “going up.” In the context of war, ‘lh conveys hostility (see Judg 1:4; 1 Sam 7:7; 1 Kgs 14:25; 2 Kgs 17:5).

this thing was from me Yahweh declares that the division in the kingdom fulfills His words (1 Kgs 11:11–13, 31–39; 12:15).[7]


12:24 return to his home, for this thing is from me. The prophet Shemaiah reaffirms what the prophet Ahijah had earlier declared (11:29–39): the division of the kingdom conforms to the will of God. The existence of two realms is ordained by God, and each now has the opportunity to prove their loyalty to His covenant.[8]


12:21–24 The divine oracle against fighting their brothers prevented hostilities for the moment, but this was just the beginning of recurrent, generally small-scale, border warfare.[9]


[1] Provan, I. W. (2012). 1 & 2 Kings. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 106). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 369–372). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 446). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[4] Constable, T. L. (1985). 1 Kings. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 512). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Ki 12:24). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 621). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[7] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (1 Ki 12:24). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[8] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 494). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[9] Bowling, A. C. (2017). 1 Kings. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 529). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

FEBRUARY 10 ON HIS FACE LISTENING

And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him.

—Genesis 17:3

Think about the reality of Abraham’s experience. Abraham was consciously aware of God, His presence and His revelation. He was aware that the living God had stepped over the threshold into personal encounter with a man who found the desire within himself to know God, to believe God and to live for God.

See the effect of this encounter on Abraham. He was prepared to pay any price for the privilege of knowing God. For certain he recognized the lofty, holy character of the Creator and Revealer God.

The Scriptures declare, “Abram fell on his face” as the Lord talked with him (Genesis 17:3). Abraham was reverent and submissive. Probably there is no better picture anywhere in the Bible of the right place for mankind and the right place for God. God was on His throne speaking, and Abraham was on his face listening!

Where God and man are in relationship, this must be the ideal. God must be the communicator, and man must be in the listening, obeying attitude. If men and women are not willing to assume this listening attitude, there will be no meeting with God in living, personal experience. MMG020-021

Oh, Lord, give me an attitude like Abraham’s, that I might have a living, personal experience 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 10 God Is Everywhere

“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee.”

1 Kings 8:27

✧✧✧

God is in all places; He is not confined by space.

No matter how big the universe is, God is bigger. His being fills up all of infinity. He is omnipresent—everywhere present. God says, “Do I not fill the heavens and the earth?” (Jer. 23:24). Solomon said at the dedication of the temple, “Will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain Thee, how much less this house which I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27). There are no limits of time or space to His presence.

Some may object to the doctrine of omnipresence, saying, “Wouldn’t the sin in the world defile an omnipresent God?” No. God is in the hearts of sinners convicting them of sin. He is also in Hell where He “is able to destroy both soul and body” (Matt. 10:28). Though God’s essence is everywhere, He never mingles with impurity. In a similar way, Jesus lived among sinners and was “tempted in all things as we are, yet [He was] without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Isaiah exhorts people to “call upon [God] while He is near” (55:6); yet Proverbs 15:29 says, “The Lord is far from the wicked.” How can He be near some people and far from others when He is everywhere all the time? To answer this, we must distinguish between God’s essence and His relation to people. He is everywhere in His essence, but with specific individuals He is far or near relationally. When we become Christians, Christ dwells in us. God can fill us with His fullness (Eph. 3:19), and the Spirit who lives in us can also fill us (1:13; 5:18). But before God’s Spirit indwelt us relationally, His essence convicted us of sin and saved us.

The Old Testament tells us that God dwelt between the wings of the cherubim on the Ark of the Covenant. That location was a symbol of God’s presence. Today the church represents God’s presence on earth. In the Millennium, Christ’s rule on the throne of David in Jerusalem will represent God’s presence. In Heaven His presence will be represented by the throne of Revelation 4–5. Remember, though, that the symbol of God’s presence never restricts His essence.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God that He is omnipresent, and thank Him that He lives in you.

For Further Study: What does Psalm 139:7–18 teach about God’s omnipresence? ✧ What was David’s response (vv. 17–18)?[1]


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

February 9 Daily Help

THE canon of revelation is closed; there is no more to be added; God does not give a fresh revelation, but he rivets the old one. When it has been forgotten, and laid in the dusty chamber of our memory, he brings it forth and cleans the picture, but does not paint a new one. It is not by any new revelation that the Spirit comforts. He does so by telling us old things over again; he brings a fresh lamp to manifest the treasures hidden in Scripture; he unlocks the strong chests in which the truth has long lain, and he points to secret chambers filled with untold riches; but he coins no more, for enough is done.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 44). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

February 9, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

Perfect Love and the Christian’s Claim of Faith

No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. We have come to know and have believed the love which God has for us. God is love, and the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. (4:12–16)

In verse 12 John makes the simple point that if no one has seen God the Father at any time (cf. John 4:24; 1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16), and Jesus is no longer visibly present to manifest Him, people will not see God’s love unless believers love one another. If they love one another, God will be on display, testifying that He abides in [them], and His love is perfected in [them] (cf. John 13:34–35; 1 John 3:24). The unseen God thus reveals Himself through the visible love of believers; the love that originated in God and was manifested in His Son is now demonstrated in His people.

In this section the apostle John also sets forth a key sequence of evidences to remind readers once again that they can know they are saved. Assurance begins with the work of the Holy Spirit (2:20, 27; Rom. 8:9, 14–16; 1 Cor. 6:19–20; Eph. 1:13–14). Bruce Milne summarizes it for believers this way:

The heart of Christian experience of the Holy Spirit lies in his bringing us into a living relationship to Jesus Christ so that we share in his redemption and all its blessings. All Christian experience can be focused in this one gift of God to us through his Spirit, our union with Christ. (Know the Truth [Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1982], 182)

Therefore John assures his believing readers they can know that [they] abide in God and He in [them], because He has given [them] of His Spirit.

Having already focused on the Father and the Son within his discussion on perfect love, John now emphasizes the role of the Spirit. By noting the work of each member of the Trinity, the apostle underscores the Trinitarian origins of perfect love. Such love, which is accomplished through the work of each member of the Trinity and subsequently manifested in the lives of believers, finds its source in the triune God, who from eternity past enjoyed perfect fellowship as Father, Son, and Spirit. As those who abide in God, believers will reflect His love, because God abides in them and His Spirit is at work in their hearts.

Jesus compared the Holy Spirit to the wind (John 3:8) and said people can see only the Spirit’s effects; there are no visible, physical signs that guarantee that someone is filled with the Spirit. But the reality of their faith enables believers to know they have the indwelling Spirit, as John reminds his readers: We have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. Belief in the gospel (the doctrinal test) provides evidence of the Spirit’s ministry and presence (cf. 1 Cor. 12:3). Because sinners are spiritually dead (Eph. 2:1, 5), they cannot come to God on their own (cf. Matt. 12:35; John 1:12–13). Saving faith is possible only because God grants it (Eph. 2:8). In John’s case, his own experience of seeing and being with Jesus verified his faith (1 John 1:1–3). He bore witness that the Father has sent the Son to be Savior of the world, but he would not have believed had the Father not chosen him (John 6:44; 15:16, 19) and the Spirit opened his eyes to the truth.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, knows that God abides in him, and he in God. The true believer has discerned the presence of the Holy Spirit, and has come to know and [has] believed the love which God has for us. Such persons understand the eternal love of God, who is love, for all believers. They can rest confidently in the assurance that the one who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. They will further demonstrate the genuineness of their salvation by loving the Father and the Son, loving righteousness and fellow believers rather than the world’s system, and even loving their enemies. In summary, they will increasingly love the way God loves (cf. Matt. 5:48; 22:37–40; 2 Cor. 3:18).[1]


Love and Sound Doctrine (vv. 13–16)

In the last verse of the preceding section, John has concluded that if we love one another, two things may be said to follow: first, that God abides in us, and second, that God’s love is perfected in us. These two conclusions give the outline for the next two sections of this chapter. In the first section (vv. 13–16) God’s indwelling of the Christian is discussed in greater detail; in the second (vv. 17–21) the perfection of love is analyzed. That the indwelling of the Christian by God is the theme of the first section is evident from the threefold repetition of the idea: once in verse 13 (“we live in him and he in us”), once in verse 15 (“God lives in him and he in God”), and once in verse 16 (“whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him”).

It is not easy to give a simple outline to this section of the chapter, however, as it was, for instance, for verses 7–12 on the basis of the threefold repetition of the phrase “love one another.” Still, the major ideas are obvious. First, we know that we dwell in God and God in us because of the Spirit, whom he has given to us (v. 13). Then, second, we know that he has given us the Spirit because we have come to believe in Christ and love the brethren (vv. 14–16).

The Gift of God’s Spirit

John’s first point is that believers know that they dwell in God and God in them because of the Holy Spirit whom God has given to them. By this John emphasizes that God is always first in spiritual things and that apart from his gracious activity by the Holy Spirit to open blind eyes to perceive the truth and move rebellious wills to turn from sin to the Savior, no one would believe in Christ or love the brethren. In the next few verses John is going to talk of belief in Christ and love of the brethren, but we must not think, as some commentators have, that these are conditions by which we are enabled to dwell in God or remain in him. To believe in Christ and to love the brethren are not conditions by which we may dwell in God but rather are evidences of the fact that God has already taken possession of our lives to make this possible.

The Holy Spirit’s Gifts

This leads directly to John’s next point, for, having said that it is always God who is first in spiritual things, the question with which he next wants to deal is this: Is God thus at work spiritually in me? In answer to this question he therefore now argues that if God is at work, the evidences for it will be seen in a combination of love and sound doctrine. In other words, we may know that we have the Spirit because we have come to confess Christ and dwell in love.

The confession of Christ is mentioned first because it is at the point of confession that the Christian life may properly be said to begin. “And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God” (vv. 14–15). Once again, as in numerous spots throughout the letter, John phrases his confession of Christ in words that would be especially challenging to those faced with the Gnostic heresies. He emphasizes that God the Father sent the eternal Son to be the Savior and that the historical Jesus is that eternal Son.

This should not obscure the fact that there are additional theological riches in the verses, however. For one thing, there is the doctrine of a lost world that needs a Savior. This “world,” as was pointed out in the earlier discussion of 2:15–17, means the world of men as it is in rebellion against God. A second doctrine is the full deity of Jesus Christ. A third is the focal point of his mission, which was to be the “Savior of the world.” It was for this that God “sent” him, says John. A fourth is the matter of God’s own motivation in the work of salvation, which is “the love God has for us” (v. 16).

The second evidence of the Spirit’s activity is love for God and one another, for John concludes by saying, “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” In other words, the love to which Christians were exhorted in verses 7–12 is now said not only to be a most solemn duty but also to be a striking evidence of the Spirit’s activity.

Here certainly, in a combination of the ideas of the internal work of the Holy Spirit, belief in Christ as the Son of God and Savior, and the supreme point of Christian ethics which is a two-pronged love both for God and man, is a high point of the epistle. John is dealing with the subject of assurance (as he has been throughout) and has expressed it under several aspects. There is a subjective side, but it is without those unreliable, so-called spiritual experiences on which so many depend: tongues, miracles, feelings, and so forth. There is also an objective side, but this is not without those tender expressions of love that temper mere orthodoxy and validate it. Dodd writes of these verses:

This closely knit statement therefore places the reality of the Christian experience of God beyond question, guarding against the dangers of subjectivism on the one hand, and of mere traditionalism on the other; placing equal and co-ordinate stress on love to God, which is the heart of religion, and love to man, which is the foundation of morality, without allowing religion to sink to the level of mere moralism, or morality to be dissolved in mysticism. The passage is the high-water mark of the thought of the epistle.[2]


16a The language here is subject to different translations with varying exegetical implications. The first difficulty relates to the meaning of the verbs ginōskō and pisteuō. The NIV’s “rely on” for pisteuō is strained, for John typically uses pisteuō (“I believe”) in the more literal sense of Christian faith. The translation “rely on” also implies that ginōskō (“I know”) refers in this context to a cognitive recognition of God’s love. It seems more likely that John is using ginōskō in an existential sense to describe the believer’s personal experience of God’s love and the confidence that arises from that experience. Further, the NIV translation does not reflect the fact that both verbs are in the perfect tense, indicating that a past action has had a continuing result in the present. The use of this tense suggests that John is thinking of the starting point of the believer’s present experience, the time when she first accepted “the love God has for us” (cf. Brown, 524). Since John has already specified that God’s love was revealed in the incarnation, pisteuō probably refers to the moment when the believer accepted John’s witness about Jesus, and ginōskō refers to the experience of God’s presence that followed that recognition. The first portion of v. 16 should therefore be translated, “And we have experienced and have accepted the love …”—where “love” refers to the coming of Jesus and all its benefits.

A second difficulty relates to the unusual phrase hēn echei ho theos en hēmin, “[the love] which God has in us.” The NIV’s “the love God has for us” is possible but would represent an obscure use of the dative case. The more typical meaning of the dative, however, still permits of two possibilities. Although hēmin (“us”) is plural, John may be using the term to refer to the sum total of individual believers, “God’s love in each of us.” If this is the case, John is focusing on “the personal experience of [God’s] love in our hearts created by the Spirit” (Marshall, 221). On the other hand, hēmin may have collective force here, referring either to the entire Christian community (“God’s love among us [= believers]”) or even possibly to the entire world (those to whom God sent the Son as Savior; v. 14). This reading can be supported by the context, for John has just been speaking of “God’s love” specifically as the incarnation, which occurred in the human sphere, “among us” (cf. Rensberger, 121). It seems, however, that the phrase “the love which God has in us” is an awkward restatement of v. 9’s “the love of God in us,” which referred to the presence of God’s Spirit in the believer and the effect the Spirit has on one’s behavior (see comment). The first reading discussed above, then, is probably correct. “Among us” seems to refer to the universal Christian experience of God’s love in each person, which results from believing the incarnation.

16b As the NIV suggests, the latter portion of v. 16 seems to introduce a new thought or paragraph. John repeats the creed “God is love” from v. 8 and reiterates the points he has made at vv. 7 and 12 to elaborate it. The verb menō (NIV, “lives”) appears three times in this sentence and carries two distinct meanings. In the first phrase, “the one who remains in love” (NIV, “whoever lives in love”) is the person who holds to the view that God’s love was revealed through the sending of the Son. Since John has already established that “love” in this context has explicit Christological implications, menō here relates primarily to doctrinal beliefs. In the second and third phrases, John uses menō to describe the unique relationship between God and true believers. Those who hold to the truth “remain in God” (NIV, “lives in God”) in the sense that they receive his approval while the world and the Antichrists are rejected, and they consequently enjoy the gift of God’s Spirit (“God remains in her”; cf. Jn 14:17). In this context, divine indwelling takes the form of love for the brothers and the inner witness of the orthodox creed.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 168–170). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2004). The Epistles of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 117–119). 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. 481–482). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

February 9: Speaking Up

Exodus 21:1–23:33; John 4:27–42; Song of Solomon 3:1–2

Because we convince ourselves that people won’t accept our testimony about God’s work in our lives, we’re not usually ready to share it. We might prejudge their reactions or simply lack confidence. Soon, staying silent becomes a way of life. We become accustomed to the monotony and forget our calling in the world.

But we’re called to action. Our words have power, and not because of our own storytelling talent or our ability to tap into others’ emotions. God can and will use our words to draw people to Him through His Spirit—perhaps without our even being aware of it. In John 4:27–42, Jesus uses a Samaritan woman with a tarnished reputation to bring Samaritans (people whom the disciples and the Jews looked down upon) to faith.

Like the disciples, we have to realize the urgency of the good news. We have to show others that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

We are called to action. Verbalizing, with humility, what God has done for us is an important part of faith. We shouldn’t shy away from it or doubt that He will use it to bring others to Himself. This should bring us to a place of confidence and humility. And it should compel us to speak.

Do you speak to others about your faith? How can you begin telling others about the work God has done in you?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]


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