Daily Archives: February 12, 2018

February 12 The Joy of Participation

“  . . in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:5).

✧✧✧

You share in a sacred partnership with Christ and your fellow-Christians for the advancement of the gospel.

In recent years the Greek word koinōnia has become familiar to many Christians as the New Testament word for “fellowship.” However, it is also translated “partnership” and “participation.” In Philippians 1:5, Paul uses it to emphasize the participation of the Philippians in common ministry goals.

Romans 12:13 gives one aspect of that partnership and participation: monetary contributions. That’s one aspect of fellowship that the Philippian church eagerly shared with Paul. As he says in Philippians 4:15–16, “At the first preaching of the gospel, after I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone; for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.” They were partners in his ministry because their financial support made it possible for him to preach the gospel more effectively.

The Philippians knew that Paul carried a tremendous burden in his heart for all the churches. In listing many of the trials he endured as an apostle, he added, “Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure upon me of concern for all the churches” (2 Cor. 11:28). The Philippian church eased that burden somewhat by being committed to Paul, to his teaching, and to godly living. That brought great joy to him.

How about you? Do your leaders derive encouragement and joy from your participation in the gospel? Remember, you share in a sacred partnership with Christ and your fellow-Christians in the advancement of the gospel, just as the Philippians shared a partnership with Paul. Rejoice in that privilege, and make the most of it today.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank the Lord for the Christian fellowship you enjoy. ✧ Ask for wisdom on how you might advance the gospel more effectively. ✧ Always seek to ease the burden of your spiritual leaders by faithfully participating in the ministry of your church as God has gifted you.

For Further Study: Read Ephesians 4:11–16. ✧ What is the goal of Christian ministry? ✧ What is the role of a pastor/teacher in achieving that goal? ✧ What is your role (see also Rom. 12:6–8; 1 Cor. 12:4–11; 1 Peter 4:10–11)?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 55). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

FEBRUARY 12 THE DEVIL HATES EVERYTHING DEAR TO GOD

…For the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

1 JOHN 3:8

I have observed among spiritual persons in the Christian fellowship a tendency either to ignore the devil altogether or to make too much of him.

Both attitudes are wrong!

There is in the world an enemy whom we dare not ignore. We see him first in the third chapter of Genesis and last in the twentieth of Revelation, which is to say that he was present at the beginning of human history and will be there at its earthly close.

This enemy is not a creation of religious fancy, not a mere personification of evil for convenience, but a being as real as man himself. The Bible attributes to him qualities of personality too detailed to be figurative, and reveals him speaking and acting in situations hard and practical and far removed from the poetic imagination. He is said to be a liar, a deceiver and a murderer who achieves his ends by guile and trickery. While he is not omnipresent (omnipresence being an attribute of God alone) he is ubiquitous, which for his purpose amounts to the same thing.

Satan hates God for His own sake, and everything that is dear to God he hates for the very reason that God loves it. Because man was made in God’s image the hatred with which Satan regards him is particularly malevolent, and since the Christian is doubly dear to God he is hated by the powers of darkness with an aggravated fury.

In view of this, it cannot be less than folly for us Christians to disregard the reality and presence of such an enemy.[1]


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

February 12, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

Israel and Iran moved closer to confrontation in Syria as rising tensions erupted into the most serious standoff between the sides since the Syrian civil war began seven years ago.

President Hassan Rouhani ordered a third of government managerial jobs to be filled by women within three years, in what would be a significant break with a so far disappointing record on attacking gender discrimination in Iran.

The U.S. is ready to engage in talks about North Korea’s nuclear program even as it maintains pressure on Kim Jong Un’s regime, Vice President Mike Pence said, signaling a shift in American policy.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made a dramatic gesture that may raise prospects for easing tensions on the Korean Peninsula by inviting South Korean President Moon Jae-in to meet in Pyongyang. The invitation was verbally delivered by Kim’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, during a Saturday meeting at Moon’s presidential compound in Seoul a day after the opening ceremony for the Winter Olympics in South Korea. A Moon-Kim summit would mark the first time leaders of two countries have met in 11 years.

Investors actively abandoned the world’s biggest passive fund during the onset of market mayhem. The SPDR S&P 500 exchange-traded fund suffered a record $23.6 billion in outflows last week amid the worst momentum swing in history for the underlying U.S. equity benchmark.

The Morgan Stanley strategist who predicted volatility would ramp up in 2018 says the damage has been done and it’s time to buy stocks.

Walmart just named two female executives to top jobs even as women are becoming more scarce overall at the nation’s biggest private employer.

The latest surge in U.S. oil output will probably hasten the country’s rise to the top of the producer pile. More important, it’s starting to look as though at least half of OPEC’s nightmare scenario for 2018 — a surge in shale output and slowdown in demand growth — is coming true. Last week’s avalanche of releases from the U.S. Department of Energy showed daily oil production above 10 million barrels a day for the first time since 1970.

London City Airport, an important hub for business travelers, canceled all flights on Monday to allow for the removal of an unexploded World War II bomb discovered during a construction project.

Bitcoin extended a rebound on Monday as the regulatory concerns that have plagued digital currencies this year showed signs of subsiding. Bitcoin climbed 2.6 percent to $8,774 at 10:26 a.m. in London, bouncing back by almost 50 percent since dipping below $6,000 in intraday trading Feb. 6,

AP Top Stories

An explosion and fire at an electric substation threw much of northern Puerto Rico into darkness late Sunday in a setback for the U.S. territory’s efforts to fully restore power more than five months after Hurricane Maria started the longest blackout in U.S. history.

The deputy chief of the Pakistani Taliban has been killed in a US drone strike, the militant group said in a statement Monday, as Washington continues to intensify attacks along the Afghan border region.

Disney raised entry prices for most tickets at Disneyland in California and Walt Disney World in Florida over the weekend. A single-day ticket to the Magic Kingdom at World Disney World on the most expensive days will now cost $129, up from $124, for anyone ages 10 and older.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says it’s too early to tell if any of the overtures between North and South Korea during the Olympic Games are creating a chance for peace on the Korean Peninsula.

A woman was killed and 12 other people injured after a man carried out a knife attack in a mall in a busy shopping district in the Chinese capital, Beijing, police said on Sunday.

The hopes for citizenship of 1.8 million illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children hung in the balance Monday as Congress started up debate on sweeping new immigration legislation.

BBC

Iceland is facing an “exponential” rise in Bitcoin mining that is gobbling up power resources, a spokesman for Icelandic energy firm HS Orka has said. This year, electricity use at Bitcoin mining data centers is likely to exceed that of all Iceland’s homes.

At least eight people in Bolivia have died when a gas canister used by a street vendor exploded during the city of Oruro’s famous carnival celebrations. More than 40 others were injured.

Thousands of Venezuelans have rushed to border crossings with Colombia after Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced a tightening of controls. Only those who have registered for a special border card or can produce a passport will be able to cross.

A suspected big cat poacher has been eaten by lions near the Kruger National Park in South Africa, police said.

The official Winter Olympics website was taken offline after being hit by a cyber-attack, officials have confirmed. The site was affected just before the beginning of the opening ceremony in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

WND

The federal government has just launched a 10-year, $1.5 billion project for which researchers want your information. All of it. Medical records, mental-health records, lifestyle details, personal habits, physical measurements, blood pressure, height, weight, blood and urine samples, details on health-care visits, procedures, medications, and electronic health records, among others. Oh, and DNA, too. It’s called All of Us and scientists say they want at least one million people to be under observation on an ongoing basis.


The Briefing — Monday, February 12, 2018

1) The shape of theological disaster: A denomination speaks with two minds and two moralities

 

2) What a moral surrender to pornography looks like

New York Times Magazine (Maggie Jones) –
What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn

3) A morally-serious response in morally-unserious times

New York Times (Ross Douthat) –
Let’s Ban Porn

4) Why Kansas may be the state to watch in the upcoming election

New York Times (Jose A. Del Real) –
‘I’m Not a Career Politician’: 6 Teenagers Run for Kansas Governor

Mid-Day Snapshot

Feb. 12, 2018

Love Trumps Hate? Media Swoon Over Kim’s Murderous Sister

While the American Leftmedia slammed Mike Pence, they couldn’t get enough of Kim Yo-jong.

The Foundation

“I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man.” —Thomas Jefferson (1800)


News – 2/12/2018

Earthquake 6.0, 10 km deep strikes off Northern Mariana islands, no tsunami warning
An earthquake magnitude 6.0 has struck 10 kilometres deep off the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Monday. The has been no immediate tsunami warning from the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre as yet.

Tonga declares state of emergency ahead of Tropical Cyclone Gita
The storm was forecast to make landfall later on Monday and into Tuesday, with “very destructive hurricane force winds”, “very rough to high seas”, and “a heavy southeast damaging swell on coastal areas”. Gita was a lesser category 1 cyclone when it passed over Samoa on Saturday, causing widespread flooding and loss of electricity. Many models are predicting it would hit New Zealand, but not until the middle of next week.

The open war with Iran has begun
The “Shadow War” between Israel and Iran has been going on for years, bringing us closer and closer to today’s events and what is to come. What happened in northern Israel on Saturday is the beginning of the overt and direct war between Israel and Iran. The infiltration and interception of an Iranian drone over Israel, the downing of an Israeli F-16 and Israel’s retaliatory strikes against Syrian and Iranian targets that followed, are apparently just the opening scenes of a potentially wider conflict that could erupt if Iran continues trying to fortify its presence in the new Syria.

Trump: Obama was ‘absolutely terrible’ for Israel
“But I feel much better if we can actually make a deal in terms of peace. I mean you certainly weren’t very close with Obama, he gave you the Iran deal, which basically is a deal that says let’s ultimately do bad things to Israel. Obama was terrible. He was absolutely terrible for Israel. I think our relationships are very good. I think they are probably as good as they have ever been.”

Trump warns Israel that settlements ‘complicate’ peace hopes
US President Donald Trump has said Israeli settlements “complicate” the peace process with Palestinians and urged “care” over the issue. He also told an Israeli newspaper that he did not believe the Palestinians, and possibly Israel as well, were ready to make peace. President Trump angered Palestinians in December when he recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Hackers hijack government websites to mine crypto-cash
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) took down its website after a warning that hackers were taking control of visitors’ computers to mine cryptocurrency. Security researcher Scott Helme said more than 4,000 websites, including many government ones, were affected. He said the affected code had now been disabled and visitors were no longer at risk.

Explosion, fire at power plant cause blackout in northern Puerto Rico
An explosion and fire at an electric substation threw much of northern Puerto Rico into darkness late Sunday in a setback for the U.S. territory’s efforts to fully restore power more than five months after Hurricane Maria started the longest blackout in U.S. history. The island’s Electric Power Authority said several municipalities were without power…but they were optimistic it could be restored within a day…

Is America having second thoughts about free speech?
The free speech wars are getting worse, but it seems that none of the warring factions quite grasp the character of the dispute — or precisely what’s at stake…On many college campuses, groups of left-leaning students insist that free speech should be conditional on speakers adhering to explicit standards of diversity and avoiding the infliction of emotional harm on the members of marginalized groups through the spreading of “hate.”

U.S. Secretary of State says Washington backs Egypt in fight against terrorism
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Monday the United States supports Egypt’s fight against Islamic State but reiterated that it advocated free and fair elections in the Arab country. Speaking at a joint news conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Tillerson also said that Washington remained committed to achieving a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, despite President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Putin to host Abbas to settle peace deal with Israel in new peacemaker role
Russian President Vladimir Putin is due to host Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday for talks on achieving a peace settlement with Israel, as Russia tries to promote itself increasingly as a peacemaker in international conflicts. Putin met Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu exactly two weeks ago in Moscow. Russia has managed to maintain robust relations with both Israel and the Palestinian Authority government, as well as Israeli rivals Syria and Iran.

Security Cabinet mulls action against Iran
The 12-member security cabinet met Sunday to discuss the volatile situation in the North, with some of the ministers already having advocated taking military action – not only against Iranian proxies for attacks on Israel, but against Iran itself. The ministers heard briefings from the security establishment, but no operative decisions were announced even as Israeli officials made clear throughout the day that Jerusalem was interested in de-escalating the situation.

Cruz: America stands with Israel in wake of Iran’s aggression
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Sunday condemned Iran’s attack on Israel and urged the world “to take decisive action to stop Iran’s expanding terrorist activities.” “This weekend, Iran committed an unprecedented, blatant act of aggression against our close friend and ally, Israel. Previously, Iranian proxies like Hezbollah and Hamas have used Iranian-provided resources to target Israel, but this escalation was a direct operation by the Iranian military against Israeli territory. This is utterly unacceptable. America stands with Israel, and resolutely against Iran’s unprovoked act of war,” Cruz said in a statement.

Republicans moving forward with Trump’s immigration framework
a group of Republican senators on Sunday evening announced their intention to offer the president’s framework as legislation during the immigration debate. The proposal would offer a pathway to citizenship to 1.8 million young immigrants eligible for the expiring Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, in return for $25 billion in border security and wall money as well as cuts to family based-immigration.

Israel Dispatches Missile Defense Batteries in North After Operation in Syria
The Israel Defense Forces is reinforcing missile defense systems along the border with Syria following a major military confrontation between Israel, Syria and Iran which culminated in the first battle loss of an Israeli fighter jet in 35 years.

False Teacher Rob Bell Claims in New Documentary ‘The Heretic’: ‘Jesus Would Be Mortified Someone Started a Religion in His Name’
A new documentary called “The Heretic,” which centers on false teacher Rob Bell, is set to be released on March 1, and features a number of statements that are already raising concern, such as, “The Bible has caused so much damage” and “Jesus would be absolutely mortified that someone started a religion in His name.”

Hijabbed Muslim singer retools Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” with Islamic proselytizing lyrics on THE VOICE
She seemed to be the embodiment of all the hopes and dreams of French multiculturalist Leftists: a hijab-wearing Muslima singing a song written by a famous Jewish poet. But, as seems always to be the case, there was a catch: she sang altered lyrics in Arabic that turned the song into one that proselytized for Islam:

Game Over – Judge Jeanine Interview With HPSCI Rep. Chris Stewart…
The game is over. The jig is up. Victory is certain… the trench was ignited… the enemy funneled themselves into the valley… all bait was taken… everything from here on out is simply mopping up the details.  All suspicions confirmed.

Preparing for war in the north, Israel boosts air defenses – Arab-Israeli Conflict
Some 20 Syrian air defense missiles were fired towards Israeli jets during missions over Syria.

Israeli Ambassador to UN: 82,000 Syrian Fighters Under Iranian Control
Israel on Sunday said 82,000 fighters are “directly under Iranian authority in Syria,” and warned of Iran’s potential to “terrorize the entire free world,” CNN reports.

Legislators unveil legislation to protect babies with Down syndrome
House Speaker Mike Turzai, R-Allegheny, and Rep. Judy Ward, R-Blair, this week introduced House Bill 2050, which would prohibit the abortion of a child due solely to a diagnosis of possible Down syndrome.

FINALLY: This State Considers Banning Schools From Teaching About Gender Identity
A South Dakota Republican lawmaker proposed a bill calling for a ban on teaching gender identity in public schools, drawing the ire of various gay and transgender organizations.

Jesus statue decapitated in church sword attack
Indonesian police shot and wounded a man wielding a one-meter-long sword who attacked a Catholic Church service Sunday, seriously injuring four, including a priest, and decapitating a statue of Jesus.

A WARDROBE TO DIE FOR: Macy’s to launch line geared toward Muslims, including hijabs
When is Macy’s launching its clothing line geared toward Jews? Christians? Hindus? Buddhists?

New York Times Accuses Jewish Billionaires of Dragging United States Into War With Iran
The New York Times op-ed page carries an article by Lawrence Wilkerson headlined “A Familiar Road to War.” It warns, with zero factual basis, that the Trump administration is about to invade Iran the same way the George W. Bush administration invaded Iraq.

Shock: CNN Literally Fawns Over Sister Of North Korean Dictator As Millions In Country Are Starving To Death, Tortured In Slave Labor Camps
CNN has sparked widespread backlash throughout the country after running what amounted to a direct propaganda piece for the North Korean dictatorship that literally fawned over the sister of dictator Kim Jong Un despite the fact that her and her family have been involved in the horrific abuse of their own people as well as directly threatening to destroy the United States.


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: February 12

  • Investors Get a Reprieve From Recent Turmoil (Read More)
  • White House to Roll Out Trump Infrastructure Plan (Read More)
  • Trump to Urge Wall, Opioid Spending While Congress Sets Its Own Course (Read More)
  • Overseas Markets Rebound After Their Worst Week in Years (Read More)
  • Syrian frontline town divides NATO allies Turkey and U.S. (Read More)
  • The Tax Law Is About to Make Analyzing Earnings Trickier (Read More)
  • Record $23 Billion Flees World’s Largest ETF (Read More)
  • China’s HNA Group gets $3.2 billion credit from Citic Bank (Read More)
  • Glitch Exploited by High-Speed Traders is Back at CME (Read More)
  • Games organizers confirm cyber attack, won’t reveal source (Read More)
  • Bitcoin Closes in on $9,000 as Regulatory Fears Peter Out (Read More)
  • A culprit for financial site glitches: you and your apps (Read More)
  • China Is Winning Global Race to Control Batteries (Read More)
  • The Fall of a Chinese Tesla Killer Threatens a California Town’s Dream (Read More)
  • Comcast May Revive Pursuit of Fox (Read More)
  • Fox commits to Sky News independence to try to secure Sky deal (Read More)
  • General Dynamics Buying CSRA for $6.8 Billion (Read More)
  • Broadcom Secures as Much as $100 Billion of Debt Funding for Qualcomm Bid (Read More)
  • Oxfam International boss says Haiti scandal ‘breaks my heart’ (Read More)

Headlines – 2/12/2018

Abbas heads to Moscow in bid to sideline US from peace process

Trump warns Israel that settlements ‘complicate’ peace hopes

Labor head: West Bank annexation would be a ‘diplomatic terror attack’

Lawmaker from Norway says nomination of BDS for Nobel Peace Prize is against Israel, not Jews

PM rebuffs ‘ridiculous’ report he paid purported crony to follow police

With Gaza in Financial Crisis, Fears That ‘an Explosion’s Coming’

By Light of a Blood Moon, Life Returns to a Bombed-Out Syrian Landscape

Caroline Glick: Syria – The War Everyone Must Fight and No One Can Win

Preparing for war in the north, Israel boosts air defenses

First public Israel-Iran clash was only a taste of the next war

Israeli official: We warned of Iran in Syria, but the situation escalated fast

Bennett: Israel must act systematically against Iranian ‘octopus’

Bennett: We’re in an all-out war against Iran’s presence in Syria

Defense officials: Next confrontation with Iran is inevitable

Israel Believes Syria Strikes Took Out Nearly Half of Assad’s Air Defenses

Former Qaeda leader in Syria ‘welcomes’ Israeli airstrikes

‘IDF performed 1000s of operations in Syria over past year’

Iranian UAV that entered Israeli airspace seems to be American stealth knock-off

Minister Katz: If Iran keeps attacking from Syria, we’ll teach it a lesson it won’t forget

Iranian officials say hacks on newspapers’ websites are from US, Britain

Iran’s Rohani: We prevented Israel and the U.S. from dividing Syria

Iranians show defiance of US, Israel in anniversary of Islamic Revolution

Iran’s Rouhani declares US-Israeli ‘plots’ to divide region were defeated

Lebanon to begin offshore energy search in block disputed by Israel

Gas and oil diplomacy in Eastern Mediterranean prelude to regional war

Egypt jails 17 for life over deadly 2014 unrest

Drone strike kills 6 al-Qaeda suspects in Yemen

Russian passenger plane crashes near Moscow; 71 dead – Investigators said they were looking at all possible causes

Olympics officials confirm cyberattack during opening ceremony

Media outlet tries to link Olympic norovirus outbreak to North Korea bio-attack

Earthquake, wind and fire: extreme conditions hit Olympics

Media make Kim Jong Un’s sister a star at the Olympics

Investors brace for more swings as U.S. inflation specter rises

Bitcoin billionaires turn to millionaires as cryptocurrency world gets cold feet

Is America having second thoughts about free speech?

Puerto Rico hit with partial blackout after power plant explosion

World War II bomb discovered in London’s River Thames, airport shut down, reports say

The Trump administration wants to turn the International Space Station into a commercially run venture, NASA document shows

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Rota, Northern Mariana Islands

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Ndoi Island, Fiji

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Angaur State, Palau

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 15,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 14,000ft

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 13,000ft

Tropical Cyclone Gita could be most powerful to ever hit Tonga

Tonga declares state of emergency ahead of Tropical Cyclone Gita

Newly-formed tropical storm to threaten up to 300 mm of rain in the Philippines

Why so many medicines are in short supply months after Hurricane Maria

Scores of monkeys killed in Rio yellow fever panic

Pope Francis chooses pro-LGBT priest to guide Lent retreat who holds Jesus didn’t ‘establish rules’

White House: Trump ‘shocked’ by domestic abuse claims against ex-aides

Five people killed in ‘horrific’ Kentucky shooting spree

Greg Koukl – How I pray, even when it’s hard

Torben Søndergaard Teaches Only Full Immersion Baptism in Water Sets Free From Sin

Patricia King Claims She Ascended into Heaven and Killed Flu Demons With Sword, and 2018 Flu Season Over

Megachurch Pastor William Curtis Draws Criticism Over $230K Bentley Bentayga

Does This String of Incredible Coincidences Connect Dr. Michael Brown to the NAR?

Papists to Pray the Rosary on British Border, Vainly Repeating Prayer on Coasts

Glendale pastor sought in sexual assault of girl at Covina motel turns himself in

Homeless man saves life of pastor who took him in

Homosexual Advocates Protest Church for Offering Help to Youth Struggling With Homosexuality

16,000 Christians Dead in Less Than 3 Years: Report Reveals Extent of Violence in Nigeria

Teacher Fired for Sharing Biblical Views; Loses Discrimination Lawsuit

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 05:56 AM PST

Teacher Fired for Sharing Biblical Views; Loses Discrimination LawsuitAn Employment Tribunal in the UK dismissed a discrimination lawsuit filed by a Christian teacher in Bristol. Svetlana Powell was fired from her job at the T2 Apprenticeship Academy when she answered a student’s question about her views on homosexuality in 2016. Powell reportedly stated homosexuality was “against God’s will” but that He loves everyone.

According to Christian Concern, a student knew about Powell’s Christian faith and started asking probing questions in an attempt to trap the teacher.  Other students joined the conversation which led to a question from a 17-year-old student about her views on homosexuality.  The students then accused Powell of “brainwashing.”  After an investigation, the school decided to let Powell go for “gross misconduct.” She filed a lawsuit for discrimination and loss of wages. READ MORE

PROPHECY WATCH: Russia, Turkey And Iran Discuss Meeting On Syria In Kazakhstan

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 05:44 AM PST

PROPHECY WATCH: Russia, Turkey And Iran Discuss Meeting On Syria In KazakhstanAccording to a new report from the Jerusalem Post, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said on Monday that Russia, Turkey and Iran had discussed a possible meeting of their foreign ministers

on Syria, which could be held in Kazakhstan’s Astana in March, the TASS news agency reported. Bogdanov also warned against escalation in the Middle East after Israeli strikes on Syria. READ MORE

Megachurch pastor under fire for $230K Bentley Bentayga

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 05:19 AM PST

Megachurch pastor under fire for $230K Bentley BentaygaLeader of the 10,000-member Mount Ararat Baptist Church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, William H. Curtis, has sparked a vigorous debate online after his $230,000 Bentley Bentayga, which costs nearly twice as much as the median home in the church’s Larimer neighborhood, was photographed outside the church. The photograph of the pastor’s Bentayga, which Bentley boasts is the fastest SUV in the world with a top speed of 187 mph, was posted to Facebook Monday by Jarrell Taylor who criticized the pastor’s opulent display.

“If ya pastor driving a Bentley truck … he’s sucking ur community dry with hope and tithes,” Taylor wrote. The Christian Post reached out to Curtis for comment about his choice of transportation Thursday and his assistant said she did not believe he would respond to questions about his car but promised to deliver our message to him. She also acknowledged that the church had been getting direct reactions to the vehicle as well but would not confirm the sources of the criticism. READ MORE

Persecution in Nigeria has resulted in 16,000 Christians dead in less than 3 years

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 05:13 AM PST

Persecution in Nigeria has resulted in 16,000 Christians dead in less than 3 yearsU.S. President Donald Trump and his counterpart, Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria, have been told that at least 16,000 Christians have been killed in Nigeria since June 2015, many of them victims of radical Islamic violence. The International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law submitted a petition to Buhari last week, where the civil society organization urged the president to “wake up from [his] slumber” and protect the millions of endangered Christians in Nigeria.

The “Christians at Crossroads in Nigeria” letter, shared online by Elombah.com, said that 16,000 people, mostly Christians, have been killed since Buhari took office in 2015, including the 5,800 victims of Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen, based on Intersociety’s investigation. Intersociety, which sent a copy of the letter to Trump and United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres, said that the 30 million or so Christians in Northern Nigeria have for decades suffered discrimination and violent attacks at the hands of radical terror groups. READ MORE

DEVELOPING: Israel appears to be preparing for major war, Gives strong warning to Iran

Posted: 11 Feb 2018 11:36 AM PST

DEVELOPING: Israel appears to be preparing for major war, Gives strong warning to IranIsrael has boosted its air defense in the North following a significant confrontation between the Jewish State, Syria and Iran which led to the loss of an F-16 fighter jet.  While the army refused to comment on the reports, witnesses reported seeing a convoy of missile-defense batteries heading north near the Israeli-Arab city of Baka al-Gharbiya. Other witnesses posted photos of several trucks carrying the batteries on central highways in northern Israel.

Israel’s air defenses currently include the Iron Dome, designed to shoot down short-range rockets; the Arrow system, which intercepts ballistic missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere and the David’s Sling missile-defense system, which is designed to intercept tactical ballistic missiles, medium- to long-range rockets and cruise missiles fired from ranges of between 40 km. to 300 km. Israel also has Patriot missile batteries stationed in the North and has used them to intercept drones infiltrating into Israeli airspace from Syria. READ MORE

MAKES STRONG THREAT TO IRAN: Israel issued stark warnings on Sunday over Iran’s presence in neighboring Syria after a confrontation threatened to open a new and unpredictable period in the country’s seven-year civil war. Israel carried out major air raids in Syria on Saturday, including against what it described as Iranian targets — the first time it had publicly acknowledged doing so since the war began. The raids came after an Israeli F16 fighter was shot down by Syrian air defences. The pilots survived, but it was Israel’s first loss of a warplane in battle since 1982. “We inflicted on Saturday a heavy blow to Iranian and Syrian forces,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of Sunday’s cabinet meeting. READ MORE

Hailstorm strikes Cordoba, Argentina producing 9 inch hail, Potentially breaking record

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 01:05 PM PST

Hailstorm strikes Cordoba, Argentina producing 9 inch hail, Potentially breaking recordUnofficial reports coming from Cordoba, Argentina mention a 23 cm (9 inches) large hailstone that fell on February 8, 2018. If confirmed, this will break the current world record for largest hailstone. A violent hailstorm hit Cordoba, Argentina on Thursday afternoon, February 8, 2018. The storm started around 16:30 local time with small hailstones that didn’t cause much damage. However, hailstones grew bigger over the next 20 minutes and eventually reached up to 20 cm (7 inches) and more. Although it’s still not

officially confirmed, the largest hailstone had a diameter of 23 cm (9 inches). Currently, the largest hailstone officially confirmed fell on Vivian, South Dakota, US on July 23, 2010. It measured 20.32 cm (8.0 inches) in diameter, 46.99 cm (18.5 inches) in circumference, and weighed in 0.878 kg (1.9375 pounds). Hail can reach this size only if thunderstorm updrafts are strong enough to keep it suspended in the air. That would require vertical winds exceeding 193 km/h (120 mph), Capital Weather Gang meteorologists explained. READ MORE

Trump at National Prayer Breakfast: America Needs Faith in God to Be a Great Nation

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 12:50 PM PST

Trump at National Prayer Breakfast: America Needs Faith in God to Be a Great NationPresident Donald Trump has declared that the United States of America will be a great nation provided its citizens remain open to the grace of God. Speaking Thursday at the 66th annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., President Trump spoke about the link between faith in God and national greatness.”As long as we open our eyes to God’s grace and open our hearts to God’s love, then America  will forever be the land of the free, the home of the brave, and a light to all nations,” said Trump.

“When Americans are able to live by their convictions to speak openly of their faith and to teach their children what is right, our families thrive, our communities flourish, and our nation can achieve anything at all.” Trump also touted the religious heritage of the United States, pointing to such things as the national motto “In God We Trust” on the money and “under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, adding that “throughout our history, we see the story of God’s providence.” READ MORE

Churches ditching communion, Avoiding handshakes and other methods to combat the Flu

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 12:40 PM PST

Churches ditching communion, Avoiding handshakes and other methods to combat the FluThe United States is experiencing an increase in influenza infections this winter compared with recent years, leading many churches and dioceses to take extra precautions amid reports of hundreds of Americans dying of flu-related complications, including more than 50 children. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta has estimated that nearly 15,000 people have been hospitalized since October, which is double the number last flu season.

Congregations across the denominational spectrum are giving advice and warnings to their members and are even changing certain aspects of their rituals and ceremonies. Here are five examples of local congregations and regional bodies that are altering communion and church activities to help ease the worries of some and hopefully curb the infection rate. READ MORE

WAR DRUMS: Russia calls for restraint from Israel and Syria as war may be imminent

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 07:03 AM PST

WAR DRUMS: Russia calls for restraint from Israel and Syria as war may be imminentRussia’s foreign ministry is expressing concern over Israeli missile strikes in Syria and is urging the sides to avoid escalating the situation. In a statement Saturday, the ministry said “of particular concern is the danger of escalation of tension within and around de-escalation zones in Syria, the creation of which has become an important factor in reducing violence on Syrian soil.” “We urge all parties involved to exercise

restraint and to avoid any actions that could lead to an even greater complication of the situation. We consider it necessary to unconditionally respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Syria and other countries of the region. It is absolutely unacceptable to create threats to the lives and security of Russian servicemen who are in Syria at the invitation of its legitimate government to assist in the fight against terrorists,” the ministry said. READ MORE

PROPHECY WATCH: Israel warns that Iran and Syria playing with fire!

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:57 AM PST

PROPHECY WATCH: Israel warns that Iran and Syria playing with fire!Israel warned Syria and Iran Saturday morning that their attempts to escalate the situation in the north will bring the full force of the IDF upon them. “Iran and Syria are playing with fire,” the army said in a statement.“The IDF acts with determination against the attempt of the Iranian-Syrian attack and the violation of Israeli sovereignty. The IDF is prepared for a variety of scenarios and will continue to act as necessary.” Syria’s involvement shows that it has chosen to interfere in the Israeli-Iranian incident, the

IDF statement said, “the Iranian mask has been removed. It is clear that they are using Syria as a launchpad for activity against Israel.” The statement added that Israel does not seek an escalation, but will exact a high price if the enemy does. Syrian state news agency SANA said on Saturday that Syrian air defenses were responding to a “new Israeli aggression” and a military source said the defenses had thwarted attacks on military positions in the south of the country. READ MORE

Billy Graham on Why Christians Should Avoid Today’s ‘Demonic’ Witchcraft

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:51 AM PST

Billy Graham on Why Christians Should Avoid Today’s ‘Demonic’ WitchcraftEvangelist Billy Graham has cautioned Christians against buying objects that claim to possess “spiritual healing” powers, as such items — no matter how innocent they seem — are “demonic” and “opposed to God.” The 99-year-old founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association answered a reader’s question on his website regarding whether or not “lucky charms” actually affect the wellbeing of users.

The reader wrote: “I have bad arthritis, and I saw an ad in one of those supermarket papers for a gold-plated charm that they say will heal me. The ad says it’s been prayed over by a spiritual healer, and has special magical healing powers. Should I send for it? It’s kind of expensive.” Graham began by urging the reader to refrain from wasting their money on such an item, or anything else that claims to have magical powers. “Nothing like this has any medical evidence to support its dubious claims, nor should you trust what the sellers say about it,” he said. READ MORE

Israel launches heavy Syria strikes after F-16 crashes

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:38 AM PST

Israel launches heavy Syria strikes after F-16 crashesIsrael launched heavy air strikes in Syria on Saturday, saying it hit air defenses and Iranian targets, and the Syrian army claimed to have brought down an Israeli F-16 that crashed in northern Israel in a major escalation of tension.  The Israeli military said early assessments indicated the jet had been shot down by Syrian fire, but this was still unconfirmed. It marked the most serious confrontation yet in Syria between Israel and Iranian and Iran-backed forces that have established a major foothold in the country while fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad in the civil war.

Israel said the F-16 crashed during a mission to strike Iranian drone installations in Syria. It said it sent its jets into Syria after shooting down an Iranian drone over Israeli territory earlier on Saturday. The military alliance fighting in support of Assad denied any of its drones had entered Israeli air space. In a statement, it said Israel had targeted an air base in the Homs desert that is being used to fly drones in missions against Islamic State. READ MORE

Flu Is Causing 1 in 10 American Deaths and Climbing, May kill 4,000 a Week

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:29 AM PST

Flu Is Causing 1 in 10 American Deaths and Climbing, May kill 4,000 a WeekThe amount of influenza ravaging the U.S. this year rivals levels normally seen when an altogether new virus emerges, decimating a vulnerable population that hasn’t had a chance to develop any defenses. It’s an unexpected phenomenon that public health experts are still trying to decode. The levels of influenza-like illnesses being reported now are as high as the peak of the swine flu epidemic in 2009, and exceed the last severe seasonal flu outbreak in 2003 when a new strain started circulating, said Anne Schuchat,

the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s acting director. Swine flu, which swept the globe in 2009 and 2010, sickened 60.8 million Americans, hospitalized 274,304 and killed 12,469, according to CDC data. Deaths from the current outbreak will likely far outstrip those of the 2009-2010 season. “This is a difficult season, and we can’t predict how much longer the severe season will last,” she said. “I wish there was better news, but everything we are looking at is bad news.” READ MORE

Army conducts drills using ground robots that shoot…

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:22 AM PST

Army conducts drills using ground robots that shoot…In a historic first, the Army conducted a live fire exercise with a remote-controlled ground combat vehicle armed with a .50-caliber machine gun. It plans to conduct more exercises with more heavily armed ground robots within the next couple of years. The demonstration was part of the annual Northern Strike exercise, which took place last July and August at Michigan’s Camp Grayling. Primarily

geared toward reserve units, this year’s event debuted an unmanned, heavily armed M113 armored personnel carrier. The driver and the weapons operator followed behind in a slightly larger M577 command post vehicle. “The scenario here was a complex breach in a minefield,” Paul Rogers, director of the Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, or TARDEC, said at the AUVSI conference on Wednesday. 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
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to YouYou may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/connect/copyright).


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What is Real Repentance?

Godly repentance does not lead to a life stricken with guilt and regret, but instead it moves us towards the great love of God and his salvation in Christ. A repentant sinner is ready to receive the grace of God offered in the free gift of the gospel (Lk. 24:47; Acts 20:21). God does not leave us to despair of our brokenness but immediately offers us the comfort and consolation of forgiveness and love, so that when we cry out to God in faith, he willingly forgives us and saves us (Rom. 10:13).

“Repent and believe” has been the cry of preachers ever since the time of Jesus. However, repentance can seem mysterious and sometimes contradictory to the gospel. Doesn’t the gospel say that I don’t have to do anything to be saved? Is repentance a work—something I do to be saved? How does it fit into the Christian life?

What Is Repentance?

Briefly defined, repentance is turning away from sin and self and looking to God for forgiveness and salvation. The Old Testament uses the word “turn” or “turning” to describe repentance. Those who repent turn their backs on their sin and come around to seek God; repentance is the conviction of guilt before God and the awareness that we are stained and in need of cleansing. This isn’t something we do, but it is something God works in us (Acts 5:31; 11:18). Like faith, it is necessary but given to us, not worked by us; rather, God works in us an inward acknowledgment of guilt which causes us to shrink away from our dirtiness before his perfect and holy character.

Repentance and the Law

Repentance is worked in us by the hearing of the Word of God, especially by the hearing of God’s law (Jer. 23:29; Rom. 3:10-12). Martin Luther describes it this way:

Now this is the thunderbolt of God, by means of which he destroys both the open sinner and the false saint and allows no one to be right…this is not “active contrition,” a contrived remorse, but “passive contrition,” true affliction of the heart, suffering, and the pain of death. (Martin Luther, “The Smalcald Articles” in Martin Luther’s Basic Theological Writings [Fortress Press, 2012], 352)

As Luther notes, we are passive recipients of repentance. The law convicts us of our guiltiness, leading us to pain and remorse over our sin. This is why the law is read in church: to remind us of our incapacity so that we might learn to lean more and more upon God.

Repentance that Leads to Salvation

Godly repentance does not lead to a life stricken with guilt and regret, but instead it moves us towards the great love of God and his salvation in Christ. A repentant sinner is ready to receive the grace of God offered in the free gift of the gospel (Lk. 24:47; Acts 20:21). God does not leave us to despair of our brokenness but immediately offers us the comfort and consolation of forgiveness and love, so that when we cry out to God in faith, he willingly forgives us and saves us (Rom. 10:13).

Repentance, then, is the posture that leads us to pray with the tax-collector, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner” (Ps. 51: 2, 10, 14; Lk. 18:13). In fact, repentance is necessary to receive God’s forgiveness. Grief without repentance can lead only to despair (2 Cor. 7:10; Matt. 27:3).

The Fruits of Repentance

Once given to us, we can exercise our repentance by confessing our sin and asking God for forgiveness. Repentance bears the fruit of confession: we confess our sin before God, ask for forgiveness, and pursue godliness in keeping with the new life Christ gives (Matt. 3:8; Acts 26:20). These fruits are born of the tree rooted and watered in Christ.

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The post What is Real Repentance? appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Why Are Satan’s Lies So Convincing?

Code: B180212

Why is the unconverted world so easily enamored with Satan’s lies? Why do sinners eagerly and gullibly imbibe foolish notions about their own innate goodness and charitable judgments in the afterlife? And why do they embrace self-apparent nonsense about the relativity of truth while rejecting the absolute, unassailable truth of Scripture?

We recently asked John MacArthur to help us understand what makes Satan’s lies so enticing and convincing to the unsaved world. Here’s what he had to say:

In the days ahead, we’re going to look at ten of Satan’s primary lies that dominate the world. These lies drive the world’s philosophy, morality, and ideology. They shape the sinner’s worldview and snare him in the grip of Satan’s influence. And increasingly, these lies are infiltrating the church, corrupting the gospel and confusing God’s people.

As John MacArthur explained, the darkness of the unbelieving heart can only be penetrated by the light of the gospel. To that end, we want to expose these lies and give you the biblical tools to combat them in your interactions with unsaved friends and family. We want you to understand the gospel truth that contradicts Satan’s deceptions, and know how to stand faithfully for the truth in a world dominated by lies.


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180212
COPYRIGHT ©2018 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

God Is Just Judge and Merciful Justifier

Imagine you’re a judge. Your job is to uphold and execute the law. It’s the only standard you must adhere to, and you must do it unflinchingly. One day a man stands before you—a vile, wicked murderer. The evidence against him is ironclad. There’s no doubt about his guilt—he openly admits it. He confesses what he did and says he’s very sorry. Then he asks you to forgive him. And in spite of what the law says, in spite of your responsibility to dispatch justice, you grant him complete forgiveness and let him walk free. We’d certainly be horrified if human judges operated that way.

But that’s exactly what our Judge has done. In spite of the clear standard of His law, and in spite of the overwhelming evidence of our sin and corruption, He sweeps aside our crimes, washes away our guilt, and sets us free from the due penalty of our sin. How can He do that and uphold His own holy law?

Paul gives us the glorious answer in 2 Corinthians 5:21— just fifteen Greek words that sum up the entire gospel and encapsulate God’s ministry of reconciliation. Paul writes, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” That is the doctrine of substitution, and that’s how God can be both our just Judge and merciful justifier.

God “made Him who knew no sin”—which can only be a reference to Jesus Christ—“to be sin on our behalf.” As we’ve already seen, Scripture testifies over and over to Christ’s sinless perfection. The writer of Hebrews calls Him “holy, innocent, undefiled” (Heb. 7:26). Pontius Pilate—who had every incentive to find some flaw in the character and reputation of Jesus—said, “I find no guilt in Him” (John 19:6). The Father even spoke of the Son’s implicit sinlessness, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17). That same perfect, spotless, undefiled Son was “made. . . to be sin on our behalf ” (2 Cor. 5:21).

Don’t make the mistake, as some do, when it comes to understanding how God made Christ to “be sin.” Many preachers in the Word of Faith movement, for example, teach that Paul is telling us that Jesus actually became a sinner on the cross. They say His sin forced Him to go to hell for three days, and that after He had suffered sufficiently, He was released through the resurrection. That is a blasphemous, ludicrous heresy. Ephesians 5 tells us Christ surrendered Himself without spot or blemish (vv. 25–27). On the cross He cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46). If He was a sinner, He would not have had to ask why He was punished.

So what is Paul saying when he tells us that God made Christ “to be sin on our behalf”? It means God treated Him as if He were a sinner. More than that, actually—God poured out on Him the full fury of His wrath against all the sins of all the people who would ever believe, as if Christ had committed them Himself. As a righteous Judge, He had no other choice. The just God of the universe had to punish sin justly—He had to pour out the full penalty on His Son to grant forgiveness to His elect people. And His justice demands that every sin that has ever been committed, by every person who has ever lived, will be punished—either in the eternal torment of hell or on Christ at the cross.

It’s a humbling and profound thought that God treated Jesus on the cross as if He had lived my life and punished Him for every sin I have ever committed or ever will commit, to the full satisfaction of His justice. And for all who were included in the atonement—provided by the sacrifice of the Son by the glorious grace and mercy of God—the same is true.

All the judgment, all the torment, all the excruciating punishment was poured out on Christ as He died in our place. That’s a breathtaking reality, especially when you consider that Jesus was only on the cross for about three hours. In that brief window of time, Christ paid for all the sins of all those whom God would one day reconcile to Himself. In the span of a scant few hours, He was “offered once to bear the sins of many” (Heb. 9:28). “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). First Peter 2:24 sums it up simply but powerfully: “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” Through His suffering, Christ purchased our forgiveness. Through His sacrifice, He cleared the way for our reconciliation to God. He is our Redeemer King, our Lord and Lamb.

Amazingly, some people don’t seem to think Christ’s sacrifice was enough. They attempt to extend the atonement Christ purchased on the cross to the whole of humanity, as if He died for the whole human race. In so doing, they make His atoning sacrifice merely potentially effective. It must be actualized by the believing sinner. According to that notion, the price has already been paid for all humans—it’s simply up to the sinner to cash it in. But a just God can’t punish sin twice. He wouldn’t lay the penalty for the sins of everyone on His Son only to later mete out that same punishment on those who didn’t believe. A righteous Judge doesn’t deliver double punishment. God did not punish His Son for our sins and then punish the unbelieving sinner for the same sins.

Furthermore, such a notion would mean that Jesus Christ did the same thing, in dying, for those in hell as He did for those in heaven. It would mean that He did not actually, really atone for anyone’s sins. He just offered a potential atonement that is converted to a real one by the willing sinner. Christ died for no one in particular if He died for everyone. As Christ Himself explained, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. . . . I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:11, 14–15). It’s clear there was no limit to the punishment Christ could endure on the cross, but there would be no sense in enduring God’s wrath if it didn’t purchase redemption for those He would one day reconcile to Himself. Put simply, Christ is not the Redeemer for those who will not be redeemed.

There’s more. Paul saves arguably the best news for last. Second Corinthians 5:21 concludes that God made Christ to be sin for us “so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” Not only has God imputed our sins to Christ, He has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though He was not, so that He could treat us as if we were righteous, though we are not. In the most personal terms, God treated Christ on the cross as if He had lived my life, so He could treat me as if I had lived His life. That’s the beautiful glory of the gospel. God sees us covered with the righteousness of His Son.

Many people—including some Bible scholars—wonder why Christ had to live through the humility of the incarnation for thirty-three years. Why didn’t God just send Him down for a weekend—to be crucified on Friday and return to heaven on Sunday? Why wouldn’t that suffice? Why did the Lord have to endure all the stages of life—most of them spent living in total obscurity?

The answer is the glorious truth we know as the doctrine of imputation. The writer of Hebrews says, “For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Christ had to live a complete life, fulfilling all righteousness, so it could one day be credited to us. The comprehensive nature of God’s reconciliation is staggering. When God looked at the cross, He saw us; when He looks at us, He sees His Son. Our Lord did not just take on the punishment of our sins—He lived a holy, blameless life credited to us by faith. And we now stand before God fully reconciled to Him, cloaked in the righteousness of our blessed Redeemer.

This excerpt is adapted from Good News: The Gospel of Jesus Christ by John MacArthur.

Source: God Is Just Judge and Merciful Justifier

Love week essay #2: What did Apostle John mean when he wrote ‘God is love’?

The End Time

Christians know Jesus and thus, they know His love. But many people don’t understand His love, biblically.

Others who aren’t saved, if they know nothing else in the Bible, they know the verse “God is love” from 1 John 4:8…which they use to reject any discussion of sin, wrath, or judgment, half the Gospel. But unsaved people can’t love (in a Christ-like, God-honoring way). (1 John 4:8)

So what does Apostle John mean when he writes ‘God is love’?

Here is a reposted essay from the blog at Grace To You explaining the verse.

The Nature of God’s Love: John MacArthur on God’s Love Defined Biblically

“God is love” (1 John 4:8).

That’s a transcendent thought that finds its ultimate expression in the cross of Christ. The most famous verse in the Bible confirms that God’s love was the motive for sending Christ: “For God so loved the world …

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Use Your Freedom Well

Unfathomable Grace

Can you imagine being an Israelite saved from Egypt? Can you contemplate the joy of following Moses, Aaron, the elders, the Angel of God, and the supernatural cloud as it leads you and your family out of the God-forsaken land? Then, can you imagine the renewed hope and joy you have after witnessing God bringing down the Red Sea upon Pharaoh’s head? Sure, tough days remain for you and your family. Absolutely, there are still be numerous burdens to carry and foes to face. However, from this point forward, you are free from your devilish taskmasters. No longer will you be commanded to throw your male children in the river. No longer will you be forced to make bricks for another man’s house of idols. From this point forward, you are free to love God, hear God’s counsel, enjoy and glorify him forever.

Can you put yourself in the shoes…

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Albert Mohler Blog: “All Other Ground is Sinking Sand: A Portrait of Theological Disaster”

In this essay, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. writes about the CBF’s recent decision on hiring LGBT individuals in ministry positions. Mohler writes:

“The report, “Honoring Autonomy & Reflecting the Fellowship,” has infuriated LGBTQ proponents and alienated more conservative churches. Its recommendations offer a ridiculous and unstable policy. The report and related news reports reveal that the proposed policy will allow for the hiring of openly-LGBT CBF personnel in some positions, but not in positions of leadership or missionary field assignment. The new policy, if adopted, would create a dual morality — one for an estimated 80% of CBF staff and the other for supervisory staff and field personnel. The two moralities, contradictory by definition, would supposedly co-exist within one structure.”

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February 12, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

5–6a The psalmist analyzes his feelings and asks questions of himself (vv. 5, 11; 43:5). The threefold refrain reflects the emotional state of many of God’s people during the exile and, for that matter, any crisis situation. The inner feelings express themselves in questions, despair, and hope in God. The questions are overtaking him. Yet while hemmed in by the questions in his desperate situation, he still could engage himself in dialogue. There was no voice from God. In the loneliness of alienation, his faith was tried, and it triumphed! Faith and doubt are twins; and when doubt seemed to triumph, true faith calmed its questions. Faith answered. Faith despairs and in despair hopes!

Hope leads the psalmist away from despair. His hope is “in God, … my Savior and my God.” Hope, in essence, is waiting for God to act (cf. 38:15; 39:7). Hope is focused on the glorious acts of salvation and victory of which the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets speak. Hope longs for the “praise” of God for the acts of salvation. Hope says, “You are my God,” in anticipation of the fulfillment of the promises, even when help is far off. For the application of these words, reflecting the LXX, to Jesus’experience in the Garden of Gethsemane, see Matthew 26:38.[1]


42:5 The thought of the happy past leads to spiritual depression and activates a ping-pong struggle between pessimism and faith. The soul becomes downcast and disquieted, but faith challenges the tension of this burdened state of mind.

Hope in God; for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.

If this were just a pious optimism that “everything will turn out all right,” it would be an utterly worthless sentiment. What makes this hope 100% valid is that it is based on the promise of God’s Word that His people will see His face (Ps. 17:15; Rev. 22:4).[2]


42:5Why are you cast down: These words are repeated in v. 11 and 43:5. The psalmist reminds himself that one day he will experience anew the presence of God. In the end, his hope in the Lord will not be misplaced. praise Him: As is common in the Psalms, the poet is not describing an act of private devotion, but of public praise of the goodness of God. This is praise in words and songs that would be repeated in the midst of the congregation (22:22; Eph. 5:19; Heb. 13:15).[3]


42:5. In this refrain (cf. v. 11; 43:5) the psalmist in a rhetorical question encouraged himself, though downhearted (42:6), to hope in God, for he was confident that he would yet be able to praise Him as before.[4]


42:5 in despair … disturbed. In this active introspection the psalmist rebukes himself for his despondency.[5]


42:5Why are you in despair, O my soul In this refrain—repeated in Ps 42:11 and 43:5—the psalmist questions his own despair. He wonders why he is troubled when he should instead hope in God.

Hope The Hebrew word used here, yachal, refers to hoping or waiting on God. It is not a futile activity. The psalmist has faith that God will act and bring deliverance (Prov 20:22).

The psalmist believes his hope in God will not be in vain; he confidently expresses that he will again praise God for His salvation.[6]


42:5 Why are you cast down, O my soul. This verse occurs twice more as a refrain (v. 11 and 43:5). In dialogue with himself, the psalmist takes fresh hold on God.[7]


42:5 The questions and the response of v. 5 also appear in v. 11 and in 43:5 (perhaps because Ps 43 is part of this psalm; see note at Ps 42 title). The psalmist was speaking to himself (my soul) in an attempt to bring comfort and security. In answer to the questions focusing on his depression, he literally commands himself to hope in God. This means waiting on God during a time of crisis, trusting that he will answer prayer (see note at 27:14). The point the psalmist seems to be making is that there was no reason for his depression if God was his Savior. The fact that he repeated this several times shows the difficulty of internalizing this truth.[8]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 383–384). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 615). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 677). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[4] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 825). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 42:5). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 42:5). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[7] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 773). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[8] Warstler, K. R. (2017). Psalms. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 856). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

FEBRUARY 12 THINK LIKE GOD THINKS

Search me, O God…try me, and know my thoughts.

Psalm 139:23

If God knows that your intention is to worship Him with every part of your being, He has promised to cooperate with you. On His side is the love and grace, the promises and the atonement, the constant help and the presence of the Holy Spirit.

On your side there is determination, seeking, yielding, believing. Your heart becomes a chamber, a sanctuary, a shrine in which there may be continuous, unbroken fellowship and communion with God. Your worship rises to God moment by moment!

We have all found that God will not dwell in spiteful and proud and selfish thoughts. He treasures our pure and loving thoughts, our meek and charitable and kindly thoughts. They are the thoughts like His own!

As God dwells in your thoughts, you will be worshiping—and God will be accepting. He will be smelling the incense of your high intentions even when the cares of life are intense and there is activity all around you.

This leaves us no argument. We know what God wants us to be. He wants us to be worshipers.

Lord, I worship You this morning. I look forward to our fellowship throughout the busy activities of this day.[1]


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

February 12 Why the Priority of Humility?

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

This beatitude was uttered first because humility is the foundation of all other graces and a crucial aspect to salvation (cf. Matt. 18:3–4). The door into Christ’s kingdom is narrow and low, and no one who sees himself or herself too large or too tall will ever pass through. It makes about as much sense to attempt to grow fruit apart from a tree and its branches as to expect the other graces of the Christian life to grow apart from humility.

Until we humble ourselves to recognize our own spiritual poverty and our need of Christ, we cannot see and experience His gracious, saving riches. Jesus said of the contrite tax collector, “I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other [the Pharisee]; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 18:14).

No person can receive the kingdom of God until he or she realizes they are unworthy of that kingdom. The proud Laodicean church declared collectively, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” but in reality the members were “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” (Rev. 3:17). People like the Laodiceans remind us of the story of the Roman slave girl who would not recognize her blindness, insisting that her world was just permanently dark.

Until the proud are willing to be poor in spirit, they can’t receive the King or enter His kingdom.

ASK YOURSELF

We see that pride is the chief barrier between people and God, between sinful souls and Christ’s glorious salvation. But what else does pride restrict us from experiencing and enjoying? What other residual costs does it incur in our lives?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 51). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

February 12 Dropping the Dead Weight

Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.

Hebrews 12:1

Whenever we excuse our sin, we are blaming God. Adam did that when God questioned Him about eating the forbidden fruit. He answered, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12). Adam did not accept responsibility for his sin but blamed God, who had given Eve to him.

Sin is never God’s fault, nor is it the fault of a person or circumstance that God brings into our lives. Excusing sin impugns God for something that is our fault alone. If He chooses to chasten us, we deserve it.

That’s why confession of sin is essential to spiritual growth. When you openly face the reality of your sin and confess it, you have less dead weight to drag you down in the process of growth. As today’s verse indicates, your growth will increase as the weight of sin drops off through confession.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 55). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 12, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

Martha Distracted

But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (10:40–42)

Unfortunately, even genuine believers can lose their focus on what really matters. Unlike her sister, Martha was distracted from hearing the Lord’s teaching, being preoccupied with all her preparations. The verb translated distracted literally means, “to be dragged away.” She allowed her preparations (lit., “much serving”), such as fixing a meal for the guests and making arrangements for where they would sleep, to keep her from the priority of listening to the Lord teach.

There is certainly nothing wrong with showing hospitality; in fact, Scripture commands it. Paul wrote that believers are to be constantly “practicing hospitality” (Rom. 12:13). The writer of Hebrews exhorted, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Heb. 13:2), while Peter commanded, “Be hospitable to one another without complaint” (1 Peter 4:9). Showing hospitality marks both elders (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:8) and godly women (1 Tim. 5:10). But in the process of doing that, Martha got her priorities twisted; she was fussing and fretting, trying to get everything arranged to her satisfaction, maybe to make an impression on Jesus. As a result, she failed to take advantage of a rare and priceless opportunity—to hear in person the Lord of the universe teach and be impressed profoundly by Him.

Her misguided priorities finally caused Martha to lose the joy of serving. She became more and more flustered, agitated, and frustrated, until finally she became angry. The target of her anger was her sister who, instead of helping with the chores, was sitting there listening to Jesus. Finally, in exasperation, Martha came up to Jesus and interrupted Him. Her irritation and anger caused her to lose control and make the unthinking accusation, “Lord, do You not care?” To so rebuke the one who is “compassionate and gracious” (Ex. 34:6; 2 Chron. 30:9; Neh. 9:17, 31; Pss. 103:8; 111:4; 116:5; Joel 2:13; Jonah 4:2) and cares for His people (1 Peter 5:7; cf. Ps. 34:15; Matt. 6:26–30) is one of the most foolish and graceless statements anyone ever made to Jesus.

Specifically, Martha accused Jesus of not caring that her sister had left her to do all the serving alone. And if He did care, then He should tell her to help bear the burden of serving. After falsely accusing Him of not caring, Martha then presumed to tell the Lord exactly what to do, implying that her will and her plans were more important than His. She had lost her perspective; she was totally out of control; her view of reality was severely skewed. Martha was worried about the bread that feeds the body, while Mary’s focus was on the Bread of Life that feeds the soul (cf. John 6:33, 35, 48, 51).

Demonstrating the gentle, compassionate care that Martha had unthinkingly questioned, the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha. Repeating her name as a sign of intensified emotion (cf. 6:46; 8:24; 13:34), Jesus said to her, “You are worried and bothered about so many things.” Martha was unduly concerned and troubled about temporal things to the point that she had forgotten that only one thing is necessary—listening to the Word of God. Far from rebuking her as Martha had demanded, Jesus commended Mary for understanding that reality. “Mary has chosen the good part (lit., “what is best”), He told Martha, which shall not be taken away from her.”

All too often Christians, like Martha, allow their lives to be regulated by what is not necessary. Faithfulness on the job, in the home, and in the church has a place, but must not be allowed to replace faithfulness to divine truth. “Man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Deut. 8:3). Only by making that their highest priority can believers behold the beauty of the Lord, as David did, and know Christ, as was Paul’s supreme passion. To that end they must “commend [themselves] to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build [them] up and to give [them] the inheritance among all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32; cf. Col. 3:16; Eph. 6:17; 1 Tim. 4:6; 1 Peter 2:2; 1 John 2:14).

Thus, in this account, the necessity of being a student of the Divine Teacher is established, and the lessons from His lips will unfold through the subsequent chapters.[1]


Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World

Luke 10:38–42

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41–42)

How will it all end? Will the late, great United States be destroyed by some unforeseen cataclysm? Will we collapse under the weight of our own decadence? Or will we simply fade away, going not with a bang, but with a whimper?

Consider another possibility: maybe it will all end in a blur. Living at hyper-speed, the images flicker ever more rapidly across the screens of our lives. Hyped up and supercharged, we live from one surge of adrenaline to the next. We are busier now than we were a year ago, and we will be even busier next year. According to James Gleick, we are witnessing “the acceleration of just about everything.”2 So maybe we will just keep moving faster and faster until, as we approach the speed of light, we suddenly disappear in a blur that smudges the cosmos.

Where is the time in all of this to nurture the life of one’s soul? Because if there is one thing we cannot accelerate, it is our growth in godliness. How can our love for Jesus deepen without time away to read our Bibles, or to pray, or even to stop and think?

Sister, Sister

This struggle is not a new one. Even before the fastest culture ever, people were distracted from spiritual things. We see this in the story of two sisters who were close friends with Jesus Christ: “Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching” (Luke 10:38–39).

These two sisters had two very different personalities. Their character-types are not hard to recognize in women we know today. “Mary’s bent,” writes Joanna Weaver, “was to meander through life, pausing to smell the roses. Martha was more likely to pick the roses, quickly cut the stems at an angle, and arrange them in a vase with baby’s breath and ferns.” Not surprisingly, these two women had two distinct ways of serving God: Martha served him with her hands, while Mary served him with her mind and her heart. But both sisters wanted to honor God with true devotion to Jesus Christ. There were some problems with Martha’s attitude, as we shall see, but we do her an injustice if we fail to recognize the sincerity of her love for Jesus. Like Mary, this godly woman deserves our admiration.

Martha was the responsible one, the type who is always volunteering and always making sure that everything is done to her standards. She was one of the 20 percent who end up doing 80 percent of the work. And if there was one area where Martha excelled, it was in the gift of hospitality. Today people would call her “the hostess with the mostest.” Think Martha Stewart, with her panache for stylish homemaking.

As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, perhaps with little warning, all her domestic instincts took over. She welcomed him into her home as an honored guest. Even as she offered him the best seat in the house, her mind was probably racing down her mental list of all the things that needed to be done for Jesus and his disciples. Any woman who has ever welcomed a special guest into her home knows all the things that needed to be done: cleaning, buying, chopping, cooking and baking, to say nothing of washing up. Everything had to be just right. Martha was the type to put place cards on the table, goat cheese in the salad, and wine with every place setting.

Martha was right to give this kind of welcome because hospitality is one of the noble virtues of godliness. “Seek to show hospitality” (Rom. 12:13), the Scripture says. “Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (1 Peter 4:9–10). Martha used her gift of hospitality to serve others, and when she had the opportunity to do this work for Jesus, she wanted to shine. As the Son of God, he deserved the best welcome that she could give him. We know from other places in the Gospels that Jesus visited this home more than once. Could it be that Martha’s gracious hospitality was one of the things that drew him there?

While Martha was busy getting everything ready for dinner, Mary was also attending to Jesus—not in the kitchen, but in the living room. From the moment she heard that Jesus was coming, one thought had consumed her. Unlike Martha, this thought did not concern what she could do for Jesus, but what Jesus could do for her. He could teach her his word, drawing her deeper into a relationship with him.

Mary wanted to know Jesus, and as he taught, she was the very model of attention. Mary sat in the front row, right at Jesus’ feet. She did not want to miss a word; she wanted to hear everything her Teacher said. To sit at someone’s feet implies not only attention, but also submission. Mary was not standing up to confront Jesus, like the lawyer who asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life (Luke 10:25). Instead, she was sitting at his feet, ready to listen, ready to learn, and ready to believe. Mary shows us how attractive it is when a woman devotes herself to learning what Jesus says. She is a perfect example of the kind of listening Paul had in mind when he said, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness” (1 Tim. 2:11). The apostle is teaching submission, but like Jesus, he is also opening the door for women to learn theology.

Mary’s posture seems all the more remarkable when we remember that in those days women were not exactly encouraged to become theologians. Somehow people had the idea that theology was mainly for men, but not for women, as if it were some kind of gender-specific specialty rather than what it actually is: the knowledge of God that everyone needs. Some rabbis permitted women to study the Torah, but forbade them to sit at their feet for formal instruction. Jesus not only permitted it; he positively encouraged it. To him it was as important to teach women the doctrines of discipleship as it was to teach the men. Sound theology helps us to know God, and of course women have as much need for this as men do. Every believer is called to grow in his or her understanding of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the teaching of the Bible, the doctrines of the Christian faith, and the way these truths apply to daily life. Mary reveled in her opportunity to do just that. While Martha was busy preparing a banquet, Mary was already having one—she was feasting on the word of Christ.

What Martha Thought

Unfortunately, this heartwarming scene of gracious hospitality and theological instruction was soon disturbed by the storm that was building in Martha’s heart. As Jesus went on teaching, Martha became increasingly agitated, until finally the storm cloud burst and the angry words came pouring out: “But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me’ ” (Luke 10:40).

There was nothing wrong with what Martha was doing, but there were some problems with her attitude. We should give them careful notice because these problems are all too common in people who work hard for the Lord. It is possible to serve the Lord, as Martha did, and yet do it in a very unattractive way.

Martha was guilty of at least three sins. One was distraction. As Luke tells us, she was “distracted with much serving.” Martha was guilty of inattention to the word of Christ. The primary meaning of the Greek verb for distraction (perispaō) is to be dragged away. This implies that Martha was doing or wanting to do one thing, but ended up getting pulled away from it. This is what it means to be distracted. First we are attracted to something, but then we get distracted, and our attention turns away.

Martha had lost her focus, and it was her service, of all things, that distracted her attention away from Jesus. With her strong sense of duty, Martha had a long list of all the things she had to do. They were all things she wanted to do for Jesus, but she got so caught up in doing them that she lost sight of Jesus himself. Charles Spurgeon comments: “Her fault was not that she served. The condition of a servant well becomes every Christian. Her fault was that she grew ‘cumbered with much serving,’ so that she forgot him and only remembered the service.” Martha’s ministry was keeping her from Jesus.

How easy it is for us to get distracted, even when we are serving the Lord. We begin serving because we are attracted to Jesus and want to show him our love. So we get involved in helping children, or reaching out to the poor, or teaching the Bible, or some other form of Christian service. Our motivation is to honor God by loving our neighbors. But soon we get distracted by the problems we have in ministry, or even by the work of ministry itself. We have discipline problems in the classroom, and we forget why we ever wanted to work with children in the first place. Or we get so caught up in getting ready to teach others that we fail to listen to what God is saying to us in his Word. Sometimes we even forget to pray for God’s blessing, without which our service can accomplish nothing at all.

Distraction soon gives way to self-pity. The more Martha thought about all the things that had to be done—at least according to her own high standards for hospitality—the more overwhelmed she began to feel. As she continued slaving away in the kitchen, she began to feel sorry for herself. We know the feeling, because like Martha, we start sulking whenever we feel that we are the ones doing all of the work. We think more and more about how hard we are working; little by little, our feelings of self-pity take over. Soon we have stopped serving Jesus at all. We are serving ourselves, and thinking only about what our ministry is or is not doing for us.

Self-pity inevitably gives rise to resentment. Martha did not stay feeling sorry for herself for long, however. Quickly she realized that there was someone else to blame—someone who wasn’t lifting a finger. It just wasn’t fair! Martha did not have to be doing all this work by herself; if only that lazy Mary would get back in the kitchen where she belonged! For if there was one thing that Martha hated, it was a slacker:

It was not of course that she did not enjoy his conversation: she would have enjoyed it as much as Mary; but she had very clear and very strong ideas on what things just had to be done when you were entertaining so important a guest as the Lord. If asked, she doubtless would have explained that true love is practical, and that work must be put before pleasure; and it was this that filled her with resentment when Mary left off working and went and sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his word. It meant that Mary was getting all the pleasure, and Martha was getting all the work, her own share and Mary’s as well. To Martha’s way of thinking, Mary was being selfish, unprincipled and unfair.

In her resentment, Martha self-righteously assumed that her sister ought to be serving Jesus the same way that she was. This attitude is common in the church, especially among people who think they are working hard in Christian ministry. We assume that others should have the same priority that we have, and we look disapprovingly on their lack of commitment. Why isn’t anyone volunteering to help? Why aren’t more people supporting this ministry? Why don’t people notice what I am doing? Whether we are involved in children’s ministry, or adult discipleship, or mercy ministry, or missionary work, or some other form of Christian service, we resent it when people do not make our ministry their priority.

All of these sinful attitudes go together. First we get distracted. However much we say that we want to worship like Mary, our inner Martha keeps bossing us around, and we grow inattentive to Christ and his word. This makes us vulnerable to self-pity. Since we are no longer focusing on Jesus, we can only focus on ourselves. Our difficulties loom large, our work seems overwhelming, and we start to feel sorry for ourselves. Then in our frustration we look for other people to help us, and when they fail to meet our expectations, our resentment begins to burn. As Kent Hughes explains, “There is a tendency for people who are wound tight like Martha to give everything to their particular area of calling or interest and to allow that interest to so dominate their lives that they have little time to let God’s Word speak to them. Without the benefit of the Word, they adopt a mindset of narrowness, judgmentalism, or fault-finding. And eventually the creativity and vitality they once gave to their area of ministry sours.”

This can happen very quickly. For Martha it happened during the time it took her to start preparing a meal. One minute she was welcoming Jesus into her home with joy; the next minute she was busy in the kitchen; the minute after that she was making a scene out in the living room.

Perhaps Martha tried banging on a few kitchen utensils and casting some dirty looks before she said anything, but if she did, of course it was useless because Mary only had ears and eyes for Jesus. By the time Martha spoke, her blood was on the boil. Out spilled all of her irritation, maybe even outrage. Indeed, she was almost as angry with Jesus as she was with Mary, because he was part of the problem! By letting her sit at his feet, Jesus was actually encouraging Mary to neglect her domestic duties. We can hear the tone of reproach in Martha’s words: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” Then she presumed to tell Jesus what he should be doing: “Tell her then to help me” (Luke 10:40).

By this point Martha’s attitude was more than unattractive; it was ugly. She had stopped serving and started scolding. She interrupted Jesus and interfered with her sister’s relationship with her Savior. If she could, Martha would even usurp the place of God in Christ by telling Jesus what to do.

This is where the unattractive attitudes in our own service to Christ will lead. It may not seem all that serious to neglect the Word of God. At first we can hardly tell the difference it makes not to read our Bibles or to pray. But soon a subtle self-pity creeps in. Rather than rejoicing in the promises of God, we feel sorry for ourselves because of the difficulties we are facing. We are increasingly critical, finding fault with others for what they are doing or not doing for us. Before long we will be trying to tell God his business. This will all happen when in our service for Jesus we get distracted from Jesus.

What Mary Chose

How did Jesus respond to Martha’s complaint? Given everything she was doing to get dinner on the table, her request for a little help would seem more than reasonable. Jesus did not see it that way, however: “But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things’ ” (Luke 10:41). Or as the New English Bible expresses it, “you are fretting and fussing about so many things.”

Notice what Jesus did not do. He did not take sides. He did not send Mary back to the kitchen. Nor did he tell Martha that she ought to be more like her sister. He did not even tell her to stop doing what she was doing. This is because Jesus did not “disapprove of Martha’s activities as such, for they were also the outcome of love for Him and were meant to serve Him. It is her wrong attitude as revealed in her condemnation of Mary and her dissatisfaction with Himself that had to be set right and rebuked.” The issue was not who was doing what, but what kind of relationship Martha had with Jesus, and what kind of relationship she needed to have.

It is important in all this to see that Jesus loved Martha as much as he loved Mary. He loved Mary by protecting her time with him and praising her choice to sit at his feet. But he also loved Martha. We know this because the apostle John says so in as many words (John 11:5), and also because of the way that Jesus spoke to her. “Martha, Martha,” he said, calling her back to attention. It was out of love for Martha that Jesus gently rebuked her. He did this by identifying the sin in Martha’s heart; he exposed her underlying idolatry. The Bible tells us not to be anxious about anything (Phil. 4:6), but Martha was anxious about almost everything. She had a to-do list as long as her arm. She did not know how to let some things go, and she did not know how to stop worrying about all the things she could not get done, or that she could not get done according to the unreasonable standards of her own perfection. Kent Hughes comments: “Martha’s self-appointed responsibilities distracted her from what mattered most. So it is with us. The self-imposed necessities of ministry smother us, and serving becomes drudgery.”

Martha’s rebuke shows that behind all our self-pity and resentment are the worries of an anxious heart. Knowing this helps us know how to preach ourselves the gospel. When we find that we are feeling sorry for ourselves because we have suffered a setback, or that we are snapping at people over little things, we need to ask ourselves what we are really worried about. Then we need to recall the promises of God that speak to our anxieties. If we are worried that we will not get what we need, we need to remember God’s promise to provide. If we are worried what people will think, we need to remember God’s promise to accept us in Jesus Christ. If we are worried about will happen or will not happen in the future, we need to remember God’s promise to love us to the very end. Behind every unattractive attitude in the distracted heart there is an ungodly anxiety, and for every anxiety God has a promise in the gospel.

After showing Martha what was really in her heart, Jesus crumpled up her to-do list, so to speak, and said, “One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). Martha had a whole list of things she thought were necessary; Jesus said there was only one. But what, exactly, was the one and only necessary thing?

This question has caused a fair amount of consternation, because Jesus never says. He does not define the one thing that is necessary for the life of discipleship. Instead, he points to Mary’s example. Rather than giving us a proposition, he shows us a picture. What is necessary is to sit at Jesus’ feet, the way that Mary did, and listen to what he says, and in this way come to know Jesus for sure. This picture shows us Mary’s devotion to Christ, specifically her commitment to his teaching. Mary loved Jesus and his Word.

Some scholars emphasize the context for these words. Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem and the cross. Time was short. So Martha did not need to make a fuss over his meals. Dinner could wait. What Martha really needed to do was to sit down and listen to some of the last important things that Jesus had to say.

What Jesus said about the one needful thing also has a wider application. There is only one thing that is necessary for any of us. It is not anything that we can ever do for God. This was Martha’s mistake. She thought that what was really important was her service for God. Yet our service for God can never be necessary in the absolute sense, because he does not need us at all. As the apostle Paul said, God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything” (Acts 17:25). God can do perfectly well without our service. But we, on the other hand, are in desperate need of him. Therefore, what is necessary for every Mary or Martha is not to serve Jesus, but to be served by him.

To be more specific, the one thing necessary is to receive the Word of God through the ministry of Jesus Christ. It is by this Word that God gives us the saving knowledge of his Son. The one thing that is truly necessary for us, therefore, is to hear what Jesus has to say about the way of salvation:

Amid all life’s duties and necessities there is one supreme necessity which must always be given priority, and which, if circumstances compel us to choose, must be chosen to the exclusion of all others. That supreme necessity is to sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to his word. It must be so. If there is a Creator at all, and that Creator is prepared to visit us and speak to us as in his incarnation he visited and spoke to Martha and Mary, then obviously it is our first duty as his creatures, as it ought to be our highest pleasure, to sit at his feet and listen to what he says.

With this in mind, Jesus told Martha that her sister had made the right decision: “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). This expression fits the context perfectly, because the Greek word for portion (merida) often refers to a meal. While Martha was preparing one meal, Mary was having another, better one. She was feeding on the Living Word.

Strictly speaking, Jesus did not say that Mary chose something better, but simply that she chose “the good portion.” Nevertheless, he still seems to be making a comparison. It is good to serve the Lord, as Martha did, but better still to love him and learn from him. To be sure, practical service has its place in the Christian life. Jesus values our service; more than that, he demands it. In fact, as Mary sat listening to Jesus she may well have heard him say something about serving God by serving others. But what we do for Jesus is not the heart of our relationship with him. He prizes our friendship and our fellowship more highly than all our service. He wants us to be with him and to know him. He wants us to give ourselves to him, just as he gives himself to us. The good portion is Jesus himself.

Doing Martha’s Work with Mary’s Heart

What portion are you choosing? The story of Mary and Martha confronts us with a choice. It may not be the choice that we usually have in mind, however. Some people see it as a choice between two different ways of living: the active life and the contemplative life. Thus there are two kinds of Christians in the world: the Mary Christians and the Martha Christians, the listeners and the doers. The Marthas are the ones who do most of the work. They volunteer a lot, and usually end up running a ministry. The Marys lead a more thoughtful existence. They are the ones who start the prayer groups and set up the monasteries.

There is some truth in all of this because Mary and Martha represent such familiar personality types. We have all known our Marys and Marthas in the church (especially the Marthas). But we do not have to choose one of these personalities as a Christian lifestyle. After all, every Martha needs a prayer life, and every Mary is called to serve. Nor do we need to think that a contemplative life is superior to an active one. Jesus loved both Mary and Martha, and he loves the Mary and Martha in all of us.

Others see the story of Mary and Martha as a choice between two different duties. One duty is to serve God in practical ways like Martha, and the other duty is to spend time alone with God in prayer and Bible study. Martha’s problem, then, was that she chose the wrong duty. Here is how one commentator explains the choice:

We cannot do everything; there is not enough time. Like Mary, therefore, we shall have to choose and choose very deliberately. Life’s affairs will not automatically sort themselves into a true order of priorities. If we do not consciously insist on making “sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening to his word” our number one necessity, a thousand and one other things and duties, all claiming to be prior necessities, will tyrannize our time and energies and rob us of the “good part” in life.

This is closer to the truth, but still needs some correction. We do need to make the time and take the time to be with Jesus, not only by worshiping with other believers, but also by spending our own private time in God’s Word. One of the main lessons of this story is: “Don’t be so distracted and concerned about doing good that you neglect what is most important, namely, to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear the Word of God.” However, we need to think about this the right way. Our quiet time with Christ is not another item on our to-do list—yet one more thing that we have to do for Jesus; rather, it is an opportunity for him to do something for us. Remember what is necessary: not something we do for Jesus, but something he wants to do for us as we listen to him. Do you see the difference? When the Marthas read this story, we usually think we need to add another duty to the list: time with Jesus. We do need time with Jesus, of course, but not if we think of that time as fulfilling our religious obligation. Jesus is not asking for something more from us; he is asking for less, so that he can give us more of himself.

When we make this kind of time for Jesus—quality time to meet him in his Word and through prayer—we are choosing the good portion. Jesus is the perfect antidote for all the unattractive attitudes that poison our service when we turn our attention away from him. His gospel is the cure for our distraction, as we are drawn to the beauty of his grace. His peace is the cure for our anxiety, as we trust him through the worries of life. His love is the cure for our self-pity, as we forget ourselves in serving others for his sake. His mercy is the cure for our resentment, as we offer others the same forgiveness that Jesus has given to us. This is the good portion that God offers to Marys and Marthas everywhere: Jesus himself, in all his grace. What we gain in knowing Jesus cannot be taken away from us, any more than Martha could take away Mary’s golden opportunity to sit at her Master’s feet.

Happily, we do not have to choose being with Jesus to the exclusion of serving him. God has given us the time to do everything he has truly called us to do, including spending some of our time in private communion with Christ. But he has also given us his Holy Spirit, and this means that we can commune with Christ in our daily activities. Part of Martha’s problem was that she could not serve in the kitchen and be with Jesus in the living room at the same time. But we can. Through the inward work of the Holy Spirit, who makes Christ to live in us by faith, we can pray and listen to Jesus right in the middle of all our activities—even in the kitchen. As much as we need time away with Jesus, we also need to know his presence when we are with others, and when we are busy with our work. The Holy Spirit makes this a reality in the Christian life. By his ministry we can have a Mary heart in a Martha world, offering Martha’s kind of service with Mary’s attention to Jesus.

One Christian who learned to do this well was the French monk Nicholas Herman, better known as Brother Lawrence. Brother Lawrence made it his ambition to “do everything for the love of God, and with prayer.” He found this hard to accomplish in the busy life of his daily routine. There were so many distractions, especially when he served in the kitchen. But eventually Brother Lawrence learned to meet with Christ in the kitchen as much as anywhere else. He said: “The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees.” Brother Lawrence learned this not so much by doing something different, but by doing what he always did in a different way—doing it for Jesus instead of for himself.

The best examples of this kind of spiritual repose are Mary and her sister Martha. We must include Martha because she was listening when Jesus gave her his kind rebuke. We know this because of what happened later when the two sisters were grief-stricken at the death of their brother Lazarus. Their house was full of guests. Doubtless Martha was concerned to be a gracious hostess, even through her tears. But when she heard that Jesus was coming, she knew that only one thing was necessary. So she abandoned all her guests and ran outside the village to meet her Lord.

Martha was still Martha, however, and we can hear the reproach in her first words to Jesus: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21). Yet even these words were spoken in faith, because Martha went on to affirm her trust in Jesus and his resurrection power. She had learned to know Jesus, and even in her disappointment with him she could not bring herself to deny what she knew to be true about his grace. When he asked if she believed that he is the resurrection and the life, she made one of the first great confessions of the Christian faith: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:27). Martha got it. When the crisis came and she had to look death in the eye, her theology did not let her down. When she was in the living room with Jesus, she learned what was most necessary of all: not anything that she could ever do for God, but what God was doing for her through Jesus Christ.

And what of Mary? She also listened to what Jesus was saying, and while sitting at his feet, she learned something that nearly all of the other disciples missed: Jesus was going to suffer and die. Then, out of the extravagance of her love, she responded to this awful news by anointing Jesus with sweet perfume, preparing him for burial (John 12:1–8).

We may even say that these two sisters were the first disciples to believe the gospel. Mary believed in the cross, even before the crucifixion, whereas Martha believed in the power of the resurrection. They believed these things because they both did the one thing that is needed, which is to listen to Jesus with the full attention of a loving heart.[2]


41–42 The Lord shows concern for Martha’s anxiety (v. 41), but the precise meaning of his saying (v. 42) is partly obscured because of a textual problem (see Notes). There is no explanation of “what is better” (tēn agathēn merida, lit., “the good part”). Some have understood it to be the contemplative life, or placing worship over service. Manson, 264–65, believed it denotes seeking the kingdom first. This interpretation has the merit of explaining Mary’s seeming neglect of household duties, which in comparison with the kingdom would have a radically diminishing demand on her. The word of the Lord has first claim. For the disciple an attitude of learning and obedience takes first place. The preceding narrative and parable establish the importance of priorities in the Christian life—i.e., heeding the commands to love God and neighbor. Martha must now learn to give the Lord and his word priority even over loving service. There are important human needs, whether of the victim in vv. 30–35 or of Jesus himself. But what is most “needed” goes beyond even these.

The thoughtful reader will recognize, however, that this spiritual priority is not the same as the sterile religion of the priest and Levite in vv. 31–32. In line with the emphasis of the parable of the good Samaritan is the emphasis on doing what is necessary, even when it means that one has to deviate from the expected mode of behavior.[3]


Mary and Martha (10:38–42)

The Lord frequently stayed with Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus at Bethany, near to Jerusalem. Here were disciples who had not become homeless in following the Lord, but who used and opened their home for him.

Mary sat at his feet and listened attentively as he spoke. Martha, her sister, was busy preparing food for everyone. Martha asked him to rebuke Mary because she needed her help. Yet to have left so noble a guest on his own would have been rude and foolish. Mary used her time wisely, and was nourished by the word of God, infinitely more important food than could be served on a plate (Luke 4:4).

Like the parable of the Good Samaritan, this small account is timeless. We all have aspects of Mary and Martha within us. Perhaps our modern, active church life more closely resembles that of Martha than Mary. We tend to be ‘distracted with much serving’ today, and only rarely spend time sitting at our Lord’s feet and hearing his word.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2011). Luke 6–10 (pp. 365–366). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Ryken, P. G. (2009). Luke. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (Vol. 1, pp. 552–565). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[3] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, p. 201). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Childress, G. (2006). Opening up Luke’s Gospel (p. 97). Leominster: Day One Publications.

FEBRUARY 12 PRACTICE SPIRITUAL CONCENTRATION

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

—Hebrews 12:2

Retire from the world each day to some private spot, even if it is only the bedroom (for a while I retreated to the furnace room for want of a better place). Stay in the secret place till the surrounding noises begin to fade out of your heart and a sense of God’s presence envelops you. Deliberately tune out the unpleasant sounds and come out of your closet determined not to hear them. Listen for the inward Voice till you learn to recognize it. Stop trying to compete with others. Give yourself to God, and then be what and who you are without regard to what others think. Reduce your interests to a few. Don’t try to know what will be of no service to you. Avoid the digest type of mind—short bits of unrelated facts, cute stories and bright sayings. Learn to pray inwardly every moment. After a while you can do this even while you work. Practice candor, childlike honesty, humility. Pray for a single eye. Read less, but read more of what is important to your inner life. Call home your roving thoughts. Gaze on Christ with the eyes of your soul. Practice spiritual concentration. OGM128-129

Lord, lift my gaze from the clutter and distractions around me and give me a “single eye” for that which is eternal. Amen.[1]


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

February 12 God Has Unlimited Power

“Thine, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Thine is the dominion, O Lord, and Thou dost exalt Thyself as head over all.”

1 Chronicles 29:11

✧✧✧

God has unlimited power and ultimate control over everything.

There is no limit to God’s power. Revelation 19:6 says, “The Lord our God, the Almighty, reigns.” In fact, one Hebrew name for God is El Shaddai (El means “God”; Shaddai means “almighty”). Another word for “almighty” is “omnipotent.”

God can do anything effortlessly. It is no more difficult for Him to create a universe than it is for Him to make a butterfly. We get tired when we work, but God’s infinite power never lessens: “The creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired” (Isa. 40:28).

Not only does God have unlimited power but also the authority to use it. “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases” (Ps. 115:3). But God’s power, authority, and will are in harmony with His nature. He cannot sin, neither can He accept impenitent sinners. Such actions would contradict His holiness.

People often question what God does because they don’t understand that He can do anything He wants. They ask, “Why did God do that?” I’ve often replied, “Because He wanted to.” He showed His sovereignty—His ultimate control of everything—in showing mercy to some like Isaac and Jacob, while hardening the hearts of others like Pharaoh (Rom. 9:6–21). To those who object to God’s right to control such things, Paul said, “Who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay … ?” (vv. 20–21).

Never question God’s use of His power. He is in control, and “The Lord is righteous in all His ways, and kind in all His deeds” (Ps. 145:17). We can trust that whatever He does, it’s for the best.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Praise God for His infinite power and sovereignty.

For Further Study: Read Isaiah 40:21–31. How has God demonstrated His power? ✧ How has He demonstrated His sovereignty? ✧ What comfort should that bring to you?[1]


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

February 11 Daily Help

IF I desired to put myself in the most likely place for the Lord to meet with me, I should prefer the house of prayer, for it is in preaching, that the Word is most blessed; but still I think I should equally desire the reading of the Scriptures; for I might pause over every verse, and say, “Such a verse was blessed to so many souls; then, why not to me? I am at least in the pool of Bethesda; I am walking amongst its porches, and who can tell but that the angel will stir the pool of the Word, whilst I lie helplessly by the side of it, waiting for the blessing?”[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 46). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

February 11, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

Faith in the Truth

Whoever believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God … For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1a, 4–5)

The foundational mark of an overcomer is believing that Jesus is the Christ (Messiah). That abbreviated statement implies all that is true about Him; that Jesus is the Son of God, the second person of the Trinity, who came to earth to die and rise to accomplish salvation for sinners. Only the one who believes in the truth about Him is born of God (lit., “out of God has been begotten”) and overcomes the world. All who are born of God are overcomers, and only those who believe in Jesus Christ are born of God.

In the prologue to his gospel, John wrote, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). The Lord Himself declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). In Acts 4:12 Peter boldly told the hostile Jewish authorities that “there is salvation in no one else [other than Jesus; v. 10]; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Paul wrote, “For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 3:11), and, “There is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself as a ransom for all, the testimony given at the proper time” (1 Tim. 2:5–6). Any teaching that people can be saved apart from faith in Jesus Christ is biblically untenable (see the discussion of this point in chapter 20 of this volume).

The tenses of the verbs in verse 1 reveal a significant theological truth. Believes translates a present tense form of the verb pisteuō, whereas gegennētai (is born) is in the perfect tense. The opening phrase of verse 1 literally reads, “Whoever is believing that Jesus is the Christ has been begotten of God.” The point is that, contrary to Arminian theology, continual faith is the result of the new birth, not its cause. Christians do not keep themselves born again by believing, and lose their salvation if they stop believing. On the contrary, it is their perseverance in the faith that gives evidence that they have been born again. The faith that God grants in regeneration (Eph. 2:8) is permanent, and cannot be lost. Nor, as some teach, can it die, for dead faith does not save (James 2:14–26). There is no such thing as an “unbelieving believer.”

The question sometimes arises concerning those who profess faith in Christ, but then stop believing in Him. Our Lord described such people in the parable of the soils:

Others [seeds] fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.…

The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. (Matt. 13:5–7, 20–22)

Such false, temporary faith produces no fruit, in contrast to genuine saving faith, which alone produces the fruit that proves one’s new birth:

And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.…

And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. (Matt. 13:8, 23; cf. 3:8; Acts 26:20)

Earlier in this epistle, John explained that those who permanently fall away from the faith were never redeemed in the first place: “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us” (2:19; cf. the exposition of this verse in chapter 9 of this volume). Their professed faith was never true saving faith. Saving faith is not mere intellectual knowledge of gospel facts, but involves a wholehearted, permanent commitment to Jesus as Lord, Savior, Messiah, and God incarnate.

The content of saving faith, as noted above, is that Jesus is the Christ; He is its object. People who are born of God believe the truth about Christ; those who do not are liars and antichrists. As John warned earlier in this letter, “Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son” (2:22). Then, making it unmistakably clear that no one can come to the Father apart from Jesus Christ, he added, “Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also” (v. 23; cf. chapter 9 of this volume for an exposition of 2:22–23). No one who rejects Jesus Christ will ever see heaven, since anyone who “does not confess Jesus is not from God” (4:3), and only in the one who “confesses that Jesus is the Son of God [does God abide], and he in God” (v. 15).

John repeated for emphasis the truth from verse 1 that those who believe in Jesus Christ and have been born of God … overcome the world, gaining the victory over it through their faith. The phrase our faith literally reads, “the faith of us.” It could refer to the subjective, personal faith of individual believers, or objectively to the Christian faith, “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3; cf. Acts 6:7; 13:8; 14:22; 16:5; 1 Cor. 16:13; 2 Cor. 13:5; Gal. 1:23; Phil. 1:27; 1 Tim. 4:1; 6:10, 21; 2 Tim. 4:7). It is safe to see in this context of believing that John is referring not to the objective content of the gospel as theology, but to the subjective trust by which God makes saints overcomers.

This interpretation is supported by the apostle’s rhetorical question, Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (cf. 4:15). Christians are victorious overcomers from the moment of salvation, when they are granted a faith that will never fail to embrace the gospel. They may experience times of doubt; they may cry out with David, “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me? (Ps. 13:1; cf. 22:1; 27:9; 44:24; 69:17; 88:14; 102:2; 143:7; 2 Tim. 2:11–13). But true saving faith will never fail, because those who possess it have in Christ triumphed over every foe. The “great … cloud of witnesses” (Heb. 12:1; cf. Rom. 8:31–39)—the heroes of faith described in Hebrews 11—testify that true faith endures every trial and emerges victorious over them all. Job expressed the triumph of faith when he cried out in the midst of his trials, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him” (Job 13:15).[1]


The Three Tests (vv. 2–4)

When a birth takes place the individual involved is not born into isolation, nor is he a totally unique individual in the sense that his characteristics and attributes have no connection with those of people who have gone before. For one thing, he is born into a family and into family relations. For another, he possesses at least some of the characteristics of the one who has engendered him. Spiritually, this means that the child of God exhibits those characteristics about which the letter has been teaching.

Love

The first characteristic is love, both for the parent and for the other children. Earlier John has said that it is a characteristic of the child of God to love, since God is love (4:7–8). Now he shows equally that it is a characteristic of the child of God to be loved by those who are also members of God’s family.

Verse 2 is not altogether unambiguous, however, as Dodd notes; for it can have two meanings. If the opening words “This is how” refer to what follows, as is generally the case in John’s writings, the meaning would be that if we are uncertain whether or not we love other Christians, we may reassure ourselves by determining whether or not we love God the Father. In other words, love of God becomes the fixed point from which we may determine our attitude to others. It may be said in support of this view that John undoubtedly held that love of God and love of man belong together, so that one may begin at either pole and arrive at the other. But the problem is that this form of reasoning is the opposite of what has been affirmed throughout the letter. It is by our love for one another that we are assured of our love for God; this is John’s reasoning. Besides, just a few verses earlier John has argued that we cannot love God unless we love others.

The words of verse 2 are capable of another meaning, however, as Dodd shows in his careful discussion of the passage. In this reading the words “This is how” refer to what comes before. So the passage may be translated, “This is how [namely, the truth that if one loves the parent he inevitably loves the child] we know that, when we love God, we love the children of God and keep God’s commandments.” The logic would be: (1) Everyone who loves the parent loves the child; (2) every Christian is a child of God; (3) therefore, when we love God we love our fellow Christians.

Dodd concludes, “He [John] assumes the solidarity of the family as a fact of ordinary experience, and argues directly from it to the solidarity of the family of God. To be born of God is to be born into a family, with obligations, not only towards the Father of the family, but also (as part of our obligation to him) towards all his children.” Love for others is therefore a direct result as well as an obligation of having become one of God’s children.

Obedience

Love divorced from obedience to the commands of God is not love, however. So John immediately passes from love to the matter of God’s commandments, saying, “This is love for God, to obey his commands.” Christians frequently attempt to turn love for God into a mushy emotional experience, but John does not allow this in his epistle. Love for the brethren means love that expresses itself “with actions and in truth” (3:18). Similarly, love for God means a love that expresses itself in obedience to his commandments.

At this point John says a striking and unexpected thing. He says that “his commands are not burdensome.” This does not mean that total obedience to all the commands of God is an easy thing to achieve, for if that were so, Christians would not sin, and John says elsewhere that they do. John probably means two separate things by this statement. First, he may be thinking of the contrast Jesus made between the commands of the scribes and Pharisees, which were “heavy loads” (Matt. 23:4; cf. Luke 11:46), and his own commands, which were easy—“For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). The Pharisees had created thousands of minute requirements by which the central commands of the law were to be guarded. But they were not God’s commands, nor were they life-giving. They were burdensome. Jesus cut through these man-made rules to expose the central heart attitudes that were required but that God would himself supply in his regenerated people.

Later Paul argued for liberty from such burdensome rabbinical requirements: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). Similarly, Peter at the Jerusalem council argued in nearly the same terms in order to secure liberty for Gentiles: “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” (Acts 15:10–11).

The second thing John is probably thinking of is suggested by this passage. Here he is writing of the new life Christians have from God and of the resulting love they bear to him. Without this life and love the commands of God, even in the form in which Christ gave them, could be burdensome. But now, the life of God within makes obedience to the commands possible, and the love the Christian has for God and for other Christians makes this obedience desirable. The principle is seen in many areas of life, as Barclay argues. “For love no duty is too hard and no task is too great. That which we would never do for a stranger we will willingly attempt for a loved one. That which we would never give to a stranger we will gladly give to a loved one. That which would be an impossible sacrifice, if a stranger demanded it, becomes a willing gift when love needs it. … Difficult the commandments of Christ are; burdensome they are not; for Christ never laid a commandment on a man without giving him the strength to carry it; and every commandment that is laid upon us provides another chance to show our love.”

In all fairness, however, we must admit that there are times when Christians find the commandments of God to be grievous. For who has not heard some Christian complain at some time that God is unfair in expecting him or her to live up to some conditions, particularly when it runs counter to what the individual wishes to do? And what Christian has not done it himself, at least mentally? The last phrase is the clue to understanding the problem, however, for the commands of God become burdensome only when we desire to do something else. In that case, love for our own will dominates our love for God, and fellowship is broken; and what was intended for our good seems cruel and restrictive. The solution is to return to that position in which we love God with all our hearts and souls and minds.

Faith

The third of John’s tests is expressed in these verses as belief. Indeed, it is with this concept that the section both begins and ends (vv. 1, 5). Between belief that “Jesus is the Christ” and belief that “Jesus is the Son of God” is found John’s discussion of both love and obedience. The implication is that, just as it is impossible to have love without obedience or obedience without love, so also is it impossible to have either love or obedience without belief in Jesus as the Christ and the Son of God. It was to lead men and women to this twofold confession that John’s Gospel was written (John 20:30–31).

John has talked about the content of the Christian’s faith several times before. The new element in these verses is that of victory, expressed as an overcoming of the world. This is found three times: once in the first half of verse 4, in the statement that whatever is born of God overcomes the world; once in the second half of verse 4, in the statement that the active ingredient in this victory is faith; and once, finally, in verse 5, in the rhetorical question “Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”

These three statements express three important principles. First, that which is victorious over the world is that which has its origins in God. Indeed, if it were not for the reality of that new life that springs from God and that is implanted within the Christian, no victory would be possible. John has already spoken of the world and its assaults on God’s people. There is the world without. John has spoken of this in chapter 2, verses 15–17, referring to the lure of the world as “the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does.” There is also the world within, which John has discussed in terms of those false teachers who pretended to be among God’s people but who were actually of the world, which they revealed by leaving the Christian assembly (2:19). How can any Christian resist such diverse and insidious evils? He could not were it not for the fact of the new birth and for the truth that he who is within the Christian is greater than he who is within the world.

The second principle involved in the Christian’s victory is faith, which John defines as faith in Jesus as the Christ and as the Son of God. The importance of this confession is seen in contrast to the denial of these truths by the Gnostics. But the confession is equally important for our age. No one would deny that other points of doctrine are important. But since Jesus is the center of Christianity, obviously the truth about him is most important and, in fact, determines what is to be believed in other areas.

The third principle of victory is faithfulness, which is, indeed, always involved in the idea of “faith” as the Bible defines it. It is not just a past overcoming that John is thinking of therefore [one of the occurrences of this word is in the aorist tense], but also a present overcoming [the other two occurrences are present] through a continuing and persevering faith in Jesus Christ. This is the same sense in which the word is used in Christ’s messages to the seven churches of Asia Minor in Revelation, where the phrase “to him who overcomes” occurs seven times. There, as in John, it is not a superior class of Christians that is involved, nor those who do some great work as the world might evaluate it. It is rather those who remain faithful to the truth concerning Jesus as the Christ and who continue to serve him.

This the Christians to whom John is writing have done through their faithfulness in view of the Gnostic threat, and this all who truly know the Lord will do also. Indeed, in the broadest view the faithfulness is not theirs, but rather his who has brought them to spiritual life and who, as a result, has also led them to faith in Christ, a pursuit of righteousness, and love for other Christians.[2]


4 Verse 4 builds on vv. 2–3 by describing the benefits of obedience. All those who are born of God “conquer [nikaō, GK 3771] the world” (NIV, “overcome the world”). The conquest metaphor is consistent with John’s dualistic perspective, which sees a hostile relationship between the world and God’s children. But the precise meaning of nikaō here is open to debate, especially since it seems to contrast starkly with the real-life experiences of the Johannine Christians (see Introduction).

Some suggest that nikaō is used in an eschatological sense. Schnackenburg, 229–30, for example, sees here a reference to “the victory that Christ won once for all in salvation history,” the victory that is “repeated in the lives of the Christians.” By participating in the work of Christ, then, believers experience the future victory over evil in the midst of the pain of this world. Rensberger, 129, takes a somewhat similar view with the suggestion that John is touching on the notion that Satan is “the ruler of this world” (Jn 12:31; 14:30; 16:11). Jesus has conquered the ruler of this world, and all those who believe share the benefits of this victory. Other commentators believe that John is thinking of the moral sphere of human experience. Dodd, 126–27, for example, says that “the world” refers here to “the power of evil inclinations, false standards and bad dispositions.” “Victory” is achieved when believers choose to obey God and resist temptation (cf. Marshall, 228–29; Schnackenburg, 229).

While both of these views are reasonable, the most likely reference point for the believer’s “victory over the world” is John 16:33. First John 5:4 opens with a hoti clause that seems to introduce a traditional slogan or saying, and the phrase that follows is strongly reminiscent of Jesus’ words in the upper room. After assuring the disciples that they will be hated by the world, put out of the synagogues, and persecuted for his name (Jn 15:18–16:4), Jesus predicts that they will soon scatter and abandon him. Despite all this, they should not be discouraged, because “I have conquered the world” (NIV, “overcome the world”; 16:33).

Jesus’ “conquest” seems to consist of his resolution to obey God’s calling and suffer death. By analogy, 1 John 5:4 uses nikaō to describe the true believer’s willingness to serve God in spite of the world’s persecutions. Hence the conquest of the world may be reduced to “our faith”—the fact of holding fast to the orthodox confession in the face of pressure to abandon Christ. The verb nikaō is used with the same connotation in Revelation, where the believer’s “victory” is gained by overcoming the temptation to abandon the faith in the face of severe suffering and possibly death (Rev 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). If 1 John and Revelation were produced by the same person or by members of the same community, these references would also support the interpretation adopted here.[3]


5:4–5. Some Christians see their weakness regarding temptation and sin and decide their victory over the world is incomplete. They conclude that since they have not “overcome the world,” they must not be truly Christian. This is not an accurate understanding of this verse.

As F. F. Bruce observed, the term world may mean (1) the false teachings of the antichrists who suggest that Jesus is not the Son of God and did not come in the flesh, or (2) the lure of the world (lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life), or (c) the threat of open hostility that the world breathes toward those who follow Christ (The Epistles of John, 117). Regardless, John has already encouraged his readers that they are from God and have overcome … because [he] who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world (4:4). The victory is already won. We won it (past tense) with our union in Christ, and we win it (present tense) by our refusal to deny him.

As Simon Kistenmaker observes, “All who have their birth in God have overcome the world and therefore we can claim victory already” (I–III John, 350). Jesus said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Jesus’ victory has overcome the evil one and has set his people free from the power of Satan.

Faith is the basis of our victory. When we place our faith in Jesus, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:37–39; 1 Cor. 15:57). No forces of evil can conquer the person who trusts in Jesus. Instead, the believer is victorious over the world because of his faith in Christ.

Seen this way, this verse is not a matter of discouragement or fear that because we struggle with sin in our lives, we may not be Christians. Rather, it should be a matter of encouragement because in spite of our struggle with sin in our daily lives, the victory is already won. Our salvation is secure in Jesus.

James Boice supports this understanding: “Indeed, in the broadest view the faithfulness was not theirs, but rather his who … led them to faith in Christ, a pursuit of righteousness, and love for other Christians” (The Epistles of John, 158).[4]


Overcome the World

5:3–4

3. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, 4. for everyone born of God has overcome the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.

  • “Love for God.” John is the New Testament writer who provides a number of pithy definitions. For example, in his Gospel he defines eternal life (17:3) and in his first epistle he repeatedly explains spiritual truths (consult 2:5–6; 3:10, 23, 24; 4:2, 10; 5:14). Here he states what love for God means: “to obey his commands.” Love for God does not consist of spoken words, even if they are well-intentioned, but of determined action that demonstrates obedience to God’s commands.
  • “His commands are not burdensome.” John reiterates the words of Jesus, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:30). The Pharisees and scribes placed unnecessary demands upon the Jewish people of the first century. They added to the Decalogue hundreds of manmade rules that were burdensome to the people (see Matt. 23:4; Luke 11:46).

For the person who refuses to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, the commands are a threat to man’s self-proclaimed freedom. They are a hindrance to his lifestyle and a constant source of irritation.

The child of God, however, knows that God has given him laws for his own protection. As long as he stays within the area delineated by these laws he is safe, for in it he has his own spiritual environment. Therefore, the believer can do anything he pleases within the confines of God’s commands (Deut. 30:11–14).

Augustine aptly remarks, “Love and do what you please.” The Christian desires to obey God’s precepts. With the psalmist he says, “I delight in [God’s] commands because I love them” (Ps. 119:47; also see Rom. 7:22). Although John’s teaching holds for all God’s precepts, the context of verse 3 refers to the commands to believe in Jesus as the Son of God and to love the children of God (v. 1).

  • “Everyone born of God.” The Greek says, “all that is born of God.” John wants to place the emphasis not on the individual person but, in general, on all people who have experienced spiritual birth.
  • “Has overcome the world.” All who have their birth in God have overcome the world and therefore can claim victory already. They know that Jesus said, “Take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Because Jesus has been victorious, we, too, are victorious with him. Jesus has overcome the evil one in this world and has set his people free from the power of Satan. “The battle has thus been decided, even if it is not yet over.”
  • “This is the victory.” Note that John does not say, “This is the victor.” He writes “the victory” to show that the concept itself is significant. Victory and faith are synonymous. John tells his readers that their faith has overcome the world. Their faith, of course, is in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. When believers place their faith in Jesus, then nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:37–39; 1 Cor. 15:57). No evil forces in this world are able to overpower the person who trusts in Jesus. Instead, the believer is victorious over the world because of his faith in the Son of God.

Faith is the victory?

Faith is the victory?

Oh, glorious victory,

That overcomes the world.

—John H. Yates

Practical Considerations in 5:4

Heroes usually are public idols. The younger generation especially adores and imitates successful men and women.

The Bible portrays its heroes, too. Think of David after he killed Goliath. At that time, the women in Israel sang songs in his honor:

“Saul has slain his thousands,

and David his tens of thousands.”

[1 Sam. 18:7]

As he walks through the gallery which features the portraits of the heroes of faith, the writer of Hebrews points to numerous people (Heb. 11:4–32). When we look at these heroes, we tend to regard them as being superhuman. But these men and women were ordinary people who had to face trials and temptations that all of us encounter. What, then, makes them great? Their faith in God made them conquer, and their enduring faithfulness to the truth of God’s Word made them victorious.

Are we who are common people able to claim victory? Yes, here is the reason: The word overcome is significant in the seven letters Jesus instructed John to write to the seven churches in Asia Minor. Note that at the conclusion of each letter Jesus specifically addresses “him who overcomes” (Rev. 2:7, 11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21). Jesus directs his words to common people who are members of local churches. When they are faithful to the end, they indeed are heroes of faith.[5]


Faith that Overcomes the World (5:4, 5)

5:4 Next we learn the secret of victory over the world. The world system is a monstrous scheme of temptation, always trying to drag us away from God and from what is eternal, and seeking to occupy us with what is temporary and sensual. People of the world are completely taken up with the things of time and sense. They have become the victims of passing things.

Only the man who is born of God really overcomes the world, because by faith he is able to rise above the perishing things of this world and to see things in their true, eternal perspective. Thus the one who really overcomes the world is not the great scientist or philosopher or psychologist, but the simple believer who realizes that the things which are seen are temporary and that the things which are not seen are eternal. A sight of the glory of God in the face of Jesus dims the glory of this world.

5:5 As we have seen, the subject of this section is faith as a test of eternal life. John has just mentioned that he who overcomes is he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. He now goes on to expound the truth concerning the work of the Lord Jesus Christ.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2007). 1, 2, 3 John (pp. 177–179). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2004). The Epistles of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 125–129). 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. 490–491). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Walls, D., & Anders, M. (1999). I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude (Vol. 11, pp. 222–223). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of James and the Epistles of John (Vol. 14, pp. 349–351). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2322–2323). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

February 11: God’s Will: It’s Confusing

Exodus 26–27; John 5:1–15; Song of Solomon 3:6–11

It’s sometimes difficult to understand why God does what He does, or why He asks us to do certain things. God goes so far as to list precise materials and calculations in Exod 26 for the tabernacle—the portable temple the Hebrew people built for God in the wilderness. You can imagine the conversation:

Nadab says, “Aaron, is it okay if I use leather for this curtain?”

Aaron responds, “No, you know the rules. If God commands it, you have to do it. I don’t want another golden calf incident. I made that mistake once; I won’t make it twice.”

“But there is more leather,” says Nadab.

“I’m not having this discussion any longer,” Aaron says sternly. “Let’s just get the job done.” (“For an elder, you think he would know better,” Aaron says under his breath.)

Aaron, in this fictional scene, is rightfully frustrated because God does know better. Most of us know the answer before we ask God, “Why?” But we ask Him anyway. God’s will can be confusing, and it’s for this reason that discerning it requires great prayer and a dedication to an ongoing relationship with Him. Trying to understand God’s will without that close relationship cannot only be detrimental to us, but also to others. We see this in the golden calf incident later in the exodus narrative (Exod 32).

And isn’t this often the case? God knows what we need before we do; we just don’t always realize that He has already given instructions.

Has God already given instructions for your current situation that you may not have realized yet?

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.