Daily Archives: February 24, 2018

February 24 Understanding God’s Will

“We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col. 1:9).

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Godly living results from being controlled by the principles of God’s Word.

Paul’s prayer for the Philippians (Phil. 1:9–11) is closely paralleled by his prayer for the Colossians (Col. 1:9–12). Both epistles were written from the same Roman prison at about the same time in Paul’s life. Both prayers focus on godly living, but they approach it from slightly different perspectives.

The Philippians were gracious people who needed to exercise greater knowledge and discernment in their love. The Colossians also were gracious, but their devotion to Christ was being challenged by heretics who taught that Christ is insufficient for salvation and godly living. True spirituality, the false teachers said, is found in Christ plus human philosophy, religious legalism, mysticism, and/or asceticism. Paul encouraged the Colossian believers and refuted the false teachers by showing the utter sufficiency of Christ.

At the outset of his prayer Paul stressed the importance of being controlled by the knowledge of God’s will (which is revealed in His Word). That’s the meaning of the Greek word translated “filled” in verse 9. “Knowledge” translates a word that speaks of a deep, penetrating knowledge that results in behavioral change. “Spiritual wisdom and understanding” refers to knowledge that cannot be known through human reasoning or philosophy. It is imparted by the Holy Spirit Himself.

In effect Paul was saying, “I pray that you will be continually controlled by the life-transforming knowledge of God’s will, which the Holy Spirit imparts as you prayerfully study and meditate on God’s Word.”

Scripture supplies the principles you need to live a godly life. And the Spirit gives you the power to do so. Many false teachers will try to divert you from the simplicity of devotion to Christ by offering you philosophy, psychology, and a myriad of other hopeless alternatives. Don’t be victimized. In Christ you have everything you need!

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God for His all-sufficient Son and for the resources that are yours in Him. ✧ Ask for wisdom to apply those resources to every situation you face today.

For Further Study: Read Colossians 1:15–2:23. ✧ What was Christ’s role in creation? ✧ What was Paul’s goal as a minister? ✧ What warnings and commands did Paul give?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 67). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

FEBRUARY 24 GOD WILL NOT PLAY ALONG WITH ADAM

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.

PHILIPPIANS 2:5

There is great need for us to learn the truths of the sovereignty of God and the Lordship of Christ.

God will not play along with Adam; Christ will not be “used” by any of Adam’s selfish brood.

We had better learn these things fast if this generation of young Christians is to be spared the supreme tragedy of following a Christ who is merely a Christ of convenience and not the true Lord of glory at all!

I confess to a feeling of uneasiness about this when I observe the questionable things Christ is said to do for people these days. He is often recommended as a wonderfully obliging but not too discriminating Big Brother who delights to help us to accomplish our ends, and who further favors us by forbearing to ask any embarrassing questions about the moral and spiritual qualities of those ends.

In our eagerness to lead men to “accept” Christ we are often tempted to present for acceptance a Christ who is little more than a caricature of “that holy thing” which was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, to be crucified and rise the third day to take His place on the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens.

The whole purpose of God in redemption is to make us holy and to restore us to the image of God! To accomplish this, He disengages us from earthly ambitions and draws us away from the cheap and unworthy prizes that worldly men set their hearts upon.[1]


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

February 24, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Reason for Freedom—Justification

for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. (8:1b–2)

As noted at the beginning of the previous section, the therefore that introduces verse 1 refers back to the major theme of the first seven chapters of the epistle—the believer’s complete justification before God, graciously provided in response to trust in the sacrificial death and resurrection of His Son.

The divine condemnation from which believers are exonerated (8:1a) is without exception or qualification. It is bestowed on those who are in Christ Jesus, in other words, on every true Christian. Justification completely and forever releases every believer from sin’s bondage and its penalty of death (6:23) and thereby fits him to stand sinless before a holy God forever. It is that particular aspect of justification on which Paul focuses at the beginning of chapter 8.

Paul’s use of the first person singular pronouns (I and me) in 7:7–25 emphasizes the sad reality that, in this present life, no Christian, not even an apostle, is exempt from struggles with sin. In the opening verses of chapter 8, on the other hand, Paul emphasizes the marvelous reality that every believer, even the weakest and most unproductive, shares in complete and eternal freedom from sin’s condemnation. The holiest of believers are warned that, although they are no longer under sin’s slavish dominion, they will experience conflicts with it in this present life. And the weakest of believers are promised that, although they still stumble and fall into sin’s power in their flesh, they will experience ultimate victory over sin in the life to come.

The key to every aspect of salvation is in the simple but infinitely profound phrase in Christ Jesus. A Christian is a person who is in Christ Jesus. Paul has already declared that “all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death,” and that “therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Rom. 6:3–5).

Being a Christian is not simply being outwardly identified with Christ but being part of Christ, not simply of being united with Him but united in Him. Our being in Christ is one of the profoundest of mysteries, which we will not fully understand until we meet Him face-to-face in heaven. But Scripture does shed light on that marvelous truth. We know that we are in Christ spiritually, in a divine and permanent union. “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all shall be made alive,” Paul explains (1 Cor. 15:22). Believers are also in Christ in a living, participatory sense. “Now you are Christ’s body,” Paul declares in that same epistle, “and individually members of it” (12:27). We are actually a part of Him and, in ways that are unfathomable to us now, we work when He works, grieve when He grieves, and rejoice when He rejoices. “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body,” Paul assures us, “whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:13). Christ’s own divine life pulses through us.

Many people are concerned about their family heritage, about who their ancestors were, where they lived, and what they did. For better or worse, we are all life-linked physically, intellectually, and culturally to our ancestors. In a similar, but infinitely more important way, we are linked to the family of God because of our relationship to His Son, Jesus Christ. It is for that reason that every Christian can say, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and delivered Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).

God’s Word makes clear that every human being is a descendant of Adam and has inherited Adam’s fallen nature. It makes just as clear that every true believer becomes a spiritual descendant of Jesus Christ, God’s true Son, and is thereby adopted into the heavenly Father’s own divine household as a beloved child. More than just being adopted, we inherit the very life of God in Christ.

Martin Luther said,

It is impossible for a man to be a Christian without having Christ, and if he has Christ, he has at the same time all that is in Christ. What gives peace to the conscience is that by faith our sins are no more ours, but Christ’s, upon whom God hath laid them all; and that, on the other hand, all Christ’s righteousness is ours, to whom God hath given it. Christ lays His hand upon us, and we are healed. He casts His mantle upon us, and we are clothed; for He is the glorious Savior, blessed for ever. (Cited in Robert Haldane, An Exposition of Romans; [reprint, McLean, Va.: McDonald, 1958], p. 312)

The relationship between God and His chosen people Israel was beautifully illustrated in the garment of the high priest. Over his magnificent robes he wore a breastplate in which twelve different precious stones were embedded, representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Each stone was engraved with the name of the tribe it represented. When the high priest entered the Holy of Holies once each year on the Day of Atonement, he stood before God with those visual representations of all His people.

That breastplate was a rich symbolism of Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest, standing before the Father making intercession on behalf of all those the Father has given Him (Heb. 7:24–25). In what is commonly called His high priestly prayer, Jesus prayed on behalf of those who belong to Him “that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father, art in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me” (John 17:21).

Luther also wrote,

Faith unites the soul with Christ as a spouse with her husband. Everything which Christ has becomes the property of the believing soul; everything which the soul has, becomes the property of Christ. Christ possesses all blessings and eternal life: they are thenceforward the property of the soul. The soul has all its iniquities and sins: they become thenceforward the property of Christ. It is then that a blessed exchange commences: Christ who is both God and man, Christ who has never sinned, and whose holiness is perfect, Christ the Almighty and Eternal, taking to Himself, by His nuptial ring of faith, all the sins of the believer, those sins are lost and abolished in Him; for no sins dwell before His infinite righteousness. Thus by faith the believer’s soul is delivered from sins and clothed with the eternal righteousness of her bridegroom Christ. (Cited in Haldane, Exposition of Romans, p. 313)

The phrase “who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” appears at the end of verse 1 in the King James, but it is not found in the earliest manuscripts of Romans or in most modern translations. It is probable that a copyist inadvertently picked up the phrase from verse 4. Because the identical wording appears there, the meaning of the passage is not affected.

The conjunction for, which here carries the meaning of because, leads into the reason there is no condemnation for believers: the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death.

Paul does not here use the term law in reference to the Mosaic law or to other divine commandments or requirements. He uses it rather in the sense of a principle of operation, as he has done earlier in the letter, where he speaks of “a law of faith” (3:27) and as he does in Galatians, where he speaks of “the law of Christ” (6:2). Those who believe in Jesus Christ are delivered from the condemnation of a lower divine law, as it were, by submitting themselves to a higher divine law. The lower law is the divine principle in regard to sin, the penalty for which is death, and the higher law is the law of the Spirit, which bestows life in Christ Jesus.

But it should not be concluded that the law Paul is speaking of in this passage has no relationship to obedience. Obedience to God cannot save a person, because no person in his unredeemed sinfulness wants to obey God and could not obey perfectly even if he had the desire. But true salvation will always produce true obedience—never perfect in this life but nonetheless genuine and always present to some extent. When truly believed and received, the gospel of Jesus Christ always leads to the “obedience of faith” (Rom. 16:25–26). The coming kingdom age of Christ that Jeremiah predicted and of which the writer of Hebrews refers is far from lawless. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them upon their hearts” (Heb. 8:10; cf. Jer. 31:33). Release from the law’s bondage and condemnation does not mean release from the law’s requirements and standards. The higher law of the Spirit produces obedience to the lower law of duties.

The freedom that Christ gives is complete and permanent deliverance from sin’s power and penalty (and ultimately from its presence). It also gives the ability to obey God. The very notion of a Christian who is free to do as he pleases is self-contradictory. A person who believes that salvation leads from law to license does not have the least understanding of the gospel of grace and can make no claim on Christ’s saviorhood and certainly no claim on His lordship.

In speaking of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, Paul makes unambiguous later in this chapter that he is referring to the Holy Spirit. The Christian’s mind is set on the things of the Spirit (v. 6) and is indwelt and given life by the Holy Spirit (vv. 9–11). Paul summarized the working of those two laws earlier in the epistle: “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23).

When Jesus explained the way of salvation to Nicodemus, He said, “Unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). God “saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness,” Paul explains, “but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5–6). It is the Holy Spirit who bestows and energizes spiritual life in the person who places his trust in Christ Jesus. Paul could not be talking of any spirit but the Holy Spirit, because only God’s Holy Spirit can bring spiritual life to a heart that is spiritually dead.

The truths of Romans 7 are among the most depressing and heart-rending in all of Scripture, and it is largely for that reason that many interpreters believe they cannot describe a Christian. But Paul was simply being honest and candid about the frustrating and discouraging spiritual battles that every believer faces. It is, in fact, the most faithful and obedient Christian who faces the greatest spiritual struggles. Just as in physical warfare, it is those on the front lines who encounter the enemy’s most fierce attacks. But just as frontline battle can reveal courage, it can also reveal weaknesses and vulnerability. Even the most valiant soldier is subject to injury and discouragement.

During his earthly life, the Christian will always have residual weaknesses from his old humanness, the old fleshly person he used to be. No matter how closely he walks with the Lord, he is not yet completely free from sin’s power. That is the discomfiting reality of Romans 7.

But the Christian is no longer a slave to sin as he once was, no longer under sin’s total domination and control. Now he is free from sin’s bondage and its ultimate penalty. Satan, the world, and his own humanness still can cause him to stumble and falter, but they can no longer control or destroy him, because his new life in Christ is the very divine life of God’s own Spirit. That is the comforting truth of Romans 8.

The story is told of a man who operated a drawbridge. At a certain time each afternoon, he had to raise the bridge for a ferry boat and then lower it quickly for a passenger train that crossed at high speed a few minutes later. One day the man’s young son was visiting his father at work and decided to go down below to get a better look at the ferry as it passed. Fascinated by the sight, he did not watch carefully where he was going and fell into the giant gears. One foot became caught and the boy was helpless to free himself. The father saw what happened but knew that if he took time to extricate his son, the train would plunge into to the river before the bridge could be lowered. But if he lowered the bridge to save the hundreds of passengers and crew members on the train, his son would be crushed to death. When he heard the trains whistle, indicating it would soon reach the river, he knew what he had to do. His son was very dear to him, whereas all the people on the train were total strangers. The sacrifice of his son for the sake of the other people was an act of pure grace and mercy.

That story portrays something of the infinitely greater sacrifice God the Father made when He sent His only beloved Son to earth to die for the sins of mankind—to whom He owed nothing but condemnation.[1]


2 Verse 2 immediately picks up this practical, dynamic aspect by concentrating on freedom from the imperious rule of sin (cf. 6:18) and death (cf. 6:22–23), the two archenemies of humanity. This new freedom is now available to and made possible for the believer through the operation of the Spirit. The word “law” is again probably to be understood figuratively here (cf. 7:21, 23). It seems improbable (though not impossible) that Paul would refer to the law of Moses as “the law of sin and of death,” even though it provokes sin (7:7–8) and produces death (7:9–11; 2 Co 3:6, 7). For Paul, the law in itself remains holy (7:12). In the present passage, therefore, “law” is used in the sense of a “principle” to indicate the certainty and regularity of operation that characterizes sin (which leads to death) on the one hand and the work of the Spirit on the other. Whereas the word “law” (nomos, GK 3795) emphasizes regularity, “life” (zōē, GK 2437) emphasizes both supernaturalness and spontaneity—hence the superiority of the Spirit’s operation over that of sin (cf. L. E. Keck, “The Law and ‘the Law of Sin and Death’ [Romans 8:1–4]: Reflections on the Spirit and Ethics in Paul,” in The Divine Helmsman, ed. J. L. Crenshaw and S. Sandmel [New York: KTAV, 1980], 41–57).

The syntax leaves unclear whether the words “through Christ Jesus” are to be taken with the words “the Spirit of life” or with “set me free.” Probably the latter is to be preferred. “The Spirit of life through Christ Jesus set me free” points to the Spirit as the life-giver (cf. 2 Co 3:6) but only as mediating that which is in, or through, Christ (cf. Col 3:4). Paul has already noted the enslaving power of sin and the freedom from it achieved by Christ (6:18, 22; cf. Jn 8:34–36).[2]


8:2 / Paul now resumes the thought of 7:6 concerning the “new way of the Spirit.” Paul’s Jewish contemporaries were familiar with the belief that the day of the Messiah would be accompanied by an outpouring of the Spirit. Keying off the theme of law, Paul says, in effect, that a higher law of the Spirit supersedes the law of sin and death. We know of instances in nature where the effects of one law are cancelled by another. When an airplane wing provides the necessary “lift” to raise a plane upwards, one law (that nature abhors a vacuum) prevails over another (the law of gravity). In like manner, the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death. This is a development of 5:20–21, “Where sin increased, grace increased all the more.” The Spirit now stands where the law formerly stood. It is the Spirit of life through Jesus Christ which set me free. The past tense, set me free, refers to a decisive point, most probably Christ’s crucifixion, but possibly the believer’s conversion. At any rate, it is no vague, undefined spirit which stands there for me. Paul expressly links the Spirit with the redemptive and liberating work of Jesus Christ. What God did through the historical Jesus on Golgotha, he now applies and extends to believers through the Spirit in the community of faith. The emphasis again falls on God’s initiative. Christ’s work, and its ongoing effect as applied by the Spirit, brings peace and freedom. “Grace renders that most easy, which seems difficult to man under the law, or rather does it itself,” said Bengel (Gnomon, vol. 3, p. 98).

There is, to be sure, a bristling tension between being a “prisoner of the law of sin” (7:23) and being free from the law of sin. But the inherent intellectual contradiction does not cancel the fact that both represent the experience of believers (see also 2 Cor. 4:7–12). In their earthly frames Christians are never free from the hold of sin, yet there is a marked difference between their response to that grip and that of non-Christians. Augustine said prior to conversion, “My sin was all the more incurable because I did not think myself a sinner” (Confessions 5.10). Christians are alerted to the ways of sin and are no longer ignorant and unresisting accomplices to its work. They recognize the power and deception of its tyranny and fight against it in the name of Christ and in the power of the Spirit.

Christians may still live with the effects of sin, but they do not live under its authority. When Paris was liberated in 1944 the Allies declared France free, even though a large portion of the country still lay under Nazi control. With the loss of the capital, however, the Nazi power base was broken, and it was only a matter of time until the remaining forces were driven from the land. The Christian experience is similar. The cross of Christ has once and for all broken the claim and power of evil over the lives of believers. The capital belongs to Christ, so to speak, even if mopping-up operations are still in effect. The liberating edict of the Spirit is now effecting Christ’s victory throughout creation. The future is assured even if the present is still uncertain. “He must win the battle” proclaimed Luther in the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.”[3]


2. For through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and of death.

Paul speaks about “the law of the Spirit of life.” That the Holy Spirit is life in his very essence and also imparts life, both physical and spiritual, is clear from ever so many passages of Scripture. The basis for this doctrine is probably found already in Gen. 1:1; Ps. 51:11; 104:30. For closer references see John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6; Gal. 6:8; and do not forget Rom. 8:11. The law of the Spirit of life is the forceful and effective operation of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and lives of God’s children. It is the very opposite of “the law of sin and death,” for which see on 7:23, 25. Just as the law of sin produces death, so also the law, or ruling factor, of the Spirit of life brings about life. Cf. Rom. 6:23. It does this “through Christ Jesus,” that is, on the basis of the merits of his atonement, and by means of the vitalizing power of union with him.

The question arises, “If in Rom. 7:14–8:2 Paul throughout speaks about himself as a believer, how can he say not only, “I am carnal, sold as a slave to sin … a prisoner” (7:14, 23); but also, “Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life has set me free from the law of sin and death”? How can a slave and prisoner also be a free person? Does not this very contradiction show that we have erroneously interpreted Rom. 7:14, 23?

The answer is, “Not at all.” On the contrary, when we read these passages—both 7:14, 23 and 8:1, 2, we say, “How wonderful is the Word of God! What a true picture it draws of the person I really am! On the one hand I am a slave, a prisoner, for sin has such control over me that I cannot lead a sinless life (Jer. 17:9; Matt. 6:12; 1 John 1:8, 10). Yet, on the other hand, I am a free person, for though Satan tries with all his might and trickery to keep me from doing what is right—such as trusting God for my salvation, invoking him in prayer, rejoicing in him, working for his causes, etc., he cannot throughout stop me from doing so. He cannot completely prevent me from experiencing the peace of God that transcends all understanding. The sense of victory, which I possess in principle even now and will possess in perfection in the future, sustains me in all my struggles. I rejoice in the freedom which Christ has earned for me!” (cf. Gal. 5:1).

When an interpreter of 7:21–8:2 limits Christian experience to what is found in 7:22, 25a, 8:1, 2, leaving out 7:21, 23, 24, 25b, does he not resemble the musician who tries to play an elaborate piece on an organ with a very restricted number of octaves, or on a harp with many broken strings?[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1991). Romans (Vol. 1, pp. 400–405). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 128–129). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Edwards, J. R. (2011). Romans (pp. 199–200). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Paul’s Epistle to the Romans (Vol. 12–13, pp. 245–246). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

Christian Joy Best for Charismatics and Not Cessationists, Says John Piper

(Pulpit & Pen News) Although once a popular figure among all stripes of Calvinist believers, John Piper’s increasing social justice activism and increasing charismaticism have largely reduced his popularity to that of The New Calvinists and, oddly enough, evangelicalism at large.

Those who hold to the tenets of classical Reformed theology, however, have grown increasingly cautious of John Piper. His endorsement of figures like Rick Warren, his crecommendation of Beth Moore as a preacher even to men, and his bizarre introduction of “Christian Hedonism” have all been thoroughly criticized by serious Reformed theologians. Peter Masters of the London Metropolitan Tabernacle explains

Christian Hedonism’ is a term adopted in the literature of Dr. John Piper to describe his scheme for sanctification and advance in the spiritual life. Certainly, it is a very strange term, because hedonism is, for Christians, a bad word. Hedonism means the pursuit of pleasure as the chief good, but in the case of this new scheme of spiritual living, it refers to the pursuit of pleasure in God..

Delighting in God, we repeat, is made the organising principle for every other spiritual experience and duty. It becomes the key formula for all spiritual vigour and development. Every other Christian duty is thought to depend on how well we obey this central duty of delighting in the Lord. The entire Christian life is simplified to rest upon a single quest, which is bound to distort one’s perception of the Christian life and how it must be lived.

Whatever the strengths of Dr. Piper’s ministry, and there are many, his attempt to oversimplify biblical sanctification is doomed to failure because the biblical method for sanctification and spiritual advance consists of a number of strands or pathways of action, and all must receive individual attention. As soon as you substitute a single ‘big idea’ or organising principle, and bundle all the strands into one, you alter God’s design and method. Vital aspects of Truth and conduct will go by the board to receive little or no attention

John Piper is a Third Wave Charismatic, who like his fellow “Charismatic Calvinists,” Wayne Grudem and Sam Storms, believes in a New Testament-era prophecy which, unlike Old Testament prophecy, is fallible and can be errantly relayed via the prophet, even though it was inerrantly given by God (source link).

These Third Wave Charismatic Calvinists also believe in the continuance of the Apostolic Sign Gifts, even while denying the continuince of the Apostolate itself.

Though not typically practicioners of “tongues” themselves, they nonetheless agree with First and Second Wave Charismatics who believe the gift is an ecstatic utterance of non-earthly language and deny that it is xenoglossia, or the speaking of foreign tongues as demonstrated in Acts 2, Acts 8 and Acts 11.

This leaves Piper and his fellow Charismatic Calvinists susceptible to all sorts of theological error routinely pouring through the Charismatic Window.

This is further evinced by the long list of associations these men maintain with figures who are both greatly suspect in their theology and who are often demonstrably false in their purported “prophecies.” View article →

Source: Christian Joy Best for Charismatics and Not Cessationists, Says John Piper

Weekend Snapshot — Top Stories This Week

WEEKEND SNAPSHOT

FEB. 24, 2018
TOP STORIES THIS WEEK
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

“If the government at any level had even attempted to do its job, the [Florida] shooting never would have happened. This was perhaps the most preventable mass shooting in American history. But the people tasked with preventing it were incompetents and cowards.” —Matt Walsh

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 02/24/2018

Indiana Woman Charged With Feticide, Involuntary Manslaughter for Taking Meth While Pregnant   Feb 18, 2018 01:02 am

ANDERSON, Ind. — An Indiana woman has been charged with feticide and involuntary manslaughter after she allegedly took methamphetamine and other drugs while pregnant, which authorities state resulted in the child being stillborn. Kelli Leever-Driskel, 34, was officially charged on Wednesday following the December birth, and faces three to twenty years behind bars…

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911 Dispatcher Killed in Suspected Drunk Driving Crash Involving Former Pastor   Feb 20, 2018 07:25 pm

(Fox News) — A Minneapolis 911 dispatcher who worked “day-and-night to keep people safe” was tragically killed over the weekend after her car was struck by a former pastor who was driving the wrong way and is believed to have been drinking, police say. Jenna Bixby, 30, was killed around 8 p.m. while heading to her job Saturday night on Highway 252 in Brooklyn…

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City in Mississippi Denies Homosexual Group’s Request to Parade ‘Gay Pride’ Through Streets   Feb 22, 2018 03:42 pm

STARKVILLE, Miss. — A board of aldermen in Mississippi has voted to deny a homosexual group’s request to hold a pride parade in the city. The City of Starkville denied a special event request from Starkville Pride on Tuesday in voting 4-3 against the group’s application. The organization sought to hold the event in the public streets on March 24 with the…

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Billy Graham Dead at 99   Feb 21, 2018 12:02 pm

Billy Graham, who became well-known for his various crusades across the U.S. and around the world, and who served as a counselor to numerous presidents, including Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, has died at age 99. The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association announced on Wednesday that Graham died at 7:46 a.m. this morning at his…

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13 Indian Christians Sentenced to 6 Months in Prison for Alleged ‘Forced Conversions’   Feb 17, 2018 08:04 pm

Mumbai (AsiaNews) — A court in Madhya Pradesh has sentenced 13 Pentecostal Christians to six months in prison for alleged “forced conversions.” The condemned include Balu Kesu and his wife Bhuri, both of whom are vision impaired. Their defense attorney, Kamlesh Patidar, tried to obtain a reduction in the penalty for their handicap, but the judges were…

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Atheist Activist Group Wants Courthouse Scripture Mural Removed   Feb 19, 2018 11:10 am

Photo Credit: FFRF FINDLAY, Ohio — One of the nation’s most conspicuous professing atheist activist organizations has sent a letter to the clerk of the Findlay, Ohio municipal court to claim that a displayed mural referencing Psalm 91 violates the U.S. Constitution. The Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) says that it was contacted by a…

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Pennsylvania Student Charged With Planning to Shoot Up High School Graduation   Feb 21, 2018 05:50 pm

(New York Daily News) — An 18-year-old Pennsylvania student was arrested Tuesday for threatening to conduct a mass shooting at his high school’s graduation — the latest in a string of student arrests across the country after the massacre in a Florida high school killed 17. Jacob Deneen, a Shade-Central City High School student, confessed to plotting the…

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California Man Who Fatally Stabbed Pastor Outside Home Pleads Guilty to Murder   Feb 17, 2018 11:41 pm

SALINAS, Calif. — A California man who killed a pastor last year by stabbing him in the neck with a drywall saw blade has pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. Servando Silva, 39, entered the plea on Friday after a six-day trial in Monterey County Superior Court, and with the jury still deliberating. He also pleaded guilty to assaulting his own brother with a…

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South Carolina Lawmakers Re-Introduce Bill That Would Protect Rights of Teachers to Join in Student-Led Prayers   Feb 17, 2018 02:17 pm

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Lawmakers in South Carolina have re-introduced a bill that would protect the rights of teachers to participate in student-led prayers in public schools. A second bill is also stated to be in the works that would allow teachers to lead prayers as well. A Parent University Forum was held at Savannah Grove Baptist Church on Monday to discuss the…

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Thousands Call for Reinstatement of Christian Prison Chaplain Allegedly Ousted by Muslim Overseer   Feb 19, 2018 01:00 am

(The Christian Institute) — Over 20,000 people are urging Brixton Prison to reinstate a Christian chaplain who says he was unfairly ousted. Paul Song volunteered at the prison for almost 20 years but was told last year by the senior chaplain, a Muslim, that he was no longer allowed to speak to inmates. An official later confirmed the exclusion, prompting…

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FEBRUARY 24 GIVE TIME TO GOD

In his law doth he meditate day and night.

Psalm 1:2

I have often wished that there were some way to bring modern Christians into a deeper spiritual life painlessly by short, easy lessons; but such wishes are vain. No shortcut exists!

God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine age. It is well that we accept the hard truth now: The man who would know God must give time to Him!

He must count no time wasted which is spent in the cultivation of His acquaintance.

He must give himself to meditation and prayer hours on end. So did the saints of old, the glorious company of the apostles, the goodly fellowship of the prophets and the believing members of the holy Church in all generations.

And so must we if we would follow in their train!

May not the inadequacy of much of our spiritual experience be traced back to our habit of skipping through the corridors of the kingdom like little children through the marketplace, chattering about everything but pausing to learn the true value of nothing?

Dear Lord, help me order my time so that I may get to know You and Your Word more intimately.[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week One – Saturday

Confession: Psalm 130:5–8

I await Yahweh; my soul awaits,

and I wait for his word.

My soul waits for the Lord

more than watchmen for the morning.

Yes, more than watchmen for the morning.

O Israel, wait for Yahweh.

For with Yahweh there is loyal love,

and with him there is abundant redemption.

And he will redeem Israel

from all its iniquities.

Reading: Mark 10:17–31

And as he was setting out on his way, one individual ran up and knelt down before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do so that I will inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’ ” And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have observed from my youth.” And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: Go, sell all that you have, and give the proceeds to the poor—and you will have treasure in heaven—and come, follow me.” But he looked gloomy at the statement and went away sorrowful, because he had many possessions.

And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it is for those who possess wealth to enter into the kingdom of God!” And the disciples were astounded at his words. But Jesus answered and said to them again, “Children, how difficult it is to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God.” And they were very astounded, saying to one another, “And who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “With human beings it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.” Peter began to say to him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed you.” Jesus said, “Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields on account of me and on account of the gospel who will not receive a hundred times as much now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and fields, together with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Reflection

The law says, You shall not commit adultery; but you may not even desire—kindling passion by curious and earnest looks. You shall not kill, says the law; but you are not even to return a blow. On the contrary, you are to offer yourself to the smiter. How much more ascetic is the gospel than the law! You shall not swear is the law; but you are not to swear at all, either a greater or a lesser oath, for an oath is the parent of perjury. You shall not join house to house, nor field to field, oppressing the poor; but you are to set aside willingly even your just possessions, and to be stripped for the poor, that without hindrance you may take up the cross and be enriched with the unseen riches.

—Gregory Nazianzen

Select Orations of Saint Gregory Nazianzen

Response

What cares of this world have you elevated above following Jesus? Sometimes we prioritize even good things above our call to discipleship. Pray that your desire to follow Jesus would trump all of the good things in your life.[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

February 24 Why Gentleness Is Necessary

Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.—Matt. 5:5

Four basic reasons prove the necessity for people to demonstrate Jesus’ trait of gentleness. First, genuine spiritual gentleness is necessary for salvation. Jesus later instructed His listeners that “unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3; cf. Ps. 149:4).

Second, gentleness is necessary because God commands it. James exhorts his readers, “Putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). Centuries earlier, the prophets agreed with James’s concern (e.g., Zeph. 2:3), knowing that without a gentle, humble spirit we can’t even hear God’s Word correctly, much less grasp and apply it.

Third, gentleness is a necessity for effective witnessing. Peter tells us, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Pride will always be a barrier between us and those we talk to.

Lastly, gentleness is necessary because it always glorifies God. Pride wants its own glory, but gentleness wants God’s. Gentleness in relation to fellow believers especially glorifies Him: “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with one accord you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:5–6).

ASK YOURSELF

Oh, what we lose by not choosing a life of gentleness, by not letting the Lord grow in us what (for some) is perhaps the most unnatural of His character traits. What temptations work the hardest against your desire to personify the meekness of Christ?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 63). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

February 24 A Prayer Prerequisite

If we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.

1 John 5:14

Praying in Jesus’ name is more than a formula. Some people think that they have to close every prayer with the phrase “In Jesus’ name, amen.” But the proper kind of prayer involves much more than a formula.

What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name? In Scripture, the name of God embodies all that He is. When God told Moses His name, He said, “I am who I am” (Ex. 3:14). Likewise, Jesus’ name embodies all that He is. When you pray in His name, what you ask should be consistent with who He is. Praying in Jesus’ name is praying in accord with God’s will.

When our requests are in line with God’s sovereign plan, He will answer them and our faith will increase. Instead of invoking a formula at the end of your prayers, perhaps you could say, “I pray this because I believe it to be the will of Christ.”[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 67). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 24, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

the problem of sight

The eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is clear, your whole body also is full of light; but when it is bad, your body also is full of darkness. (11:34)

This statement reveals the heart of the issue. The problem was not lack of light, but lack of sight. The light of the truth was everywhere, but the spiritually blind refused to see it. The Lord Jesus Christ had for all intents and purposes flooded Israel with the truth concerning His deity and messiahship. His miracles further demonstrated His divine and absolute mastery over death, the forces of hell, and the physical world. But having seen all those miraculous works that pointed unmistakably to Jesus’ deity (John 5:36; 10:25, 37–38; 14:11; 15:24) the religious leaders, along with the majority of the Jewish people, rejected Him. They could not accept His indictment of their external, ritualistic, legalistic religion. Stubbornly clinging to their self-righteousness, they sought to explain away Christ’s miracles by attributing them to the power of Satan rather than God. Though they considered themselves guides to the blind (Rom. 2:17–19), they were themselves blind guides (Matt. 15:14; 23:16, 24) willfully blinded by their hatred of Jesus and His message (and by Satan’s deception [2 Cor. 4:4]). In the words of Jesus, “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (John 3:19–20).

Since the eye is the lamp of the body, the ability to see de pends on its condition. When it is clear, the whole body also is full of light. Light enters the brain through the eye, bringing comprehension of all that the light reveals. Therefore when the eye is bad, the body also is full of darkness. Haplous (clear) has the basic meaning of “single,” “open,” or “holding nothing back.” A related word can be translated “generosity.” When their eyes are wide open, people see everything. On the other hand ponēros (bad) describes eyes clouded by sin and evil. Those whose eyes are bad are spiritually blind and cannot see the light of the truth. The light of the glory of God shining in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6) is completely obscured to those whose eyes are blinded by sin.[1]


34. Your eye is your body’s lamp. When your eye is sound, your whole body will be illumined; when it is in poor condition, your body also will be darkened.

The figure is easy to understand. When a person’s eyes (sing. “eye” here for pl.) are in good condition, the entire body “will be illumined,” will know exactly what to do. The foot will know where to step. The hand will realize how to take hold, etc. The opposite is true when, through some illness, a person’s eyes do not function properly. Such a person will be groping in the dark. Those bodily organs over which he would normally exercise conscious control will now refuse to function properly. They are, as it were, “in the dark” as to what to do.

So also when a person’s inner disposition is right, having been sanctified by the Holy Spirit, his entire personality will be illumined. He will possess the true knowledge of God, will experience peace of mind that passes all understanding, and will be able to thank the Lord for joy unspeakable and full of glory. On the contrary, when his heart is not right with God, this lamentable condition will also affect his entire personality. Instead of spiritual progress there will be spiritual retardation and deterioration.[2]


11:34 Their unbelief was a result of their impure motives. In the physical realm, the eye is that which gives light to the whole body. If the eye is healthy, then the person can see the light. But if the eye is diseased, that is, blind, then the light cannot get in.

It is the same in the spiritual realm. If a person is sincere in his desire to know whether Jesus is the Christ of God, then God will reveal it to him. But if his motives are not pure, if he wants to cling to his greed, if he continues to fear what others will say, then he is blinded to the true worth of the Savior.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2013). Luke 11–17 (p. 89). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Luke (Vol. 11, p. 631). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1415). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

FEBRUARY 24 ALL ELOQUENCE IS DONE

Who can utter the mighty acts of the LORD? who can shew forth all his praise?

—Psalm 106:2

Old Novatian said, “That in the contemplation of God’s majesty, all eloquence is done,” which is to say that God is always greater than anything that can be said about Him. No language is worthy of Him. He is more sublime than all sublimity, loftier than all loftiness, more profound than all profundity, more splendid than all splendor, more powerful than all power, more truthful than all truth. Greater than all majesty, more merciful than all mercy, more just than all justice, more pitiful than all pity. Nothing anybody can say about Him is enough….

If God is not the biggest thing in the world to you, not all your talk will ever impress me. We ought to be where God is everything, where we walk into a meeting and see God and think God and feel God. We ought to see God all around us, where He comes down over us and we see Him in a vision, in the cool of the day. We ought to see Him in a mountain, in thunder and fire. We ought to see Him on the cross in blood and tears, and coming down through the sky, riding a white horse, and sitting on a throne judging the nations. But always, we see God and God is everything. SAT039-041

Lord, You are worthy of praise, though words are inadequate to express Your majesty. Today I bow in silence, for what have I to say about the God who is everything? Amen.[1]


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

February 24 God Is True

“He who has received His witness has set his seal to this, that God is true.”

John 3:33

✧✧✧

Since God is true in everything He does, we can trust Him and His Word.

God’s truthfulness is taught often in Scripture. Balaam, though no righteous man, got this right: “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent; has He said, and will He not do it?” (Num. 23:19). Samuel said to King Saul that God “will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind” (1 Sam. 15:29). Paul tells us, “God … cannot lie” (Titus 1:2), and “Let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Rom. 3:4). Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the “Spirit of truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13).

Because God is true, and “all Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16), it follows that His Word is completely true. The psalmist says, “The sum of Thy word is truth” (Ps. 119:160), and Jesus says, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

The Bible, and therefore God Himself, is constantly under attack by critics. They say God doesn’t exist. But the Bible says, “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ ” (Ps. 14:1; 53:1). They say the world came into being by itself. But Scripture says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). They say the miracles in the Bible never happened. But God’s Word says that Jesus came “with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him” (Acts 2:22).

Always treat the Bible for what it is: the very words of God. Never deny its truthfulness, neither in your thinking nor in your living. Instead, “be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God that He and His Word are absolutely true and trustworthy. ✧ If you have denied the truthfulness of the Bible, either in your thoughts or in your life, pray for forgiveness and for understanding in what the Bible has to say.

For Further Study: Read 2 Timothy 3:16–17. What useful qualities are inherent in God’s Word? Meditate on these, and think of ways they can and should affect your behavior.[1]


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

February 23 Daily Help

THE book of nature is an expression of the thoughts of God. We have God’s terrible thoughts in the thunder and lightning; God’s loving thoughts in the sunshine and the balmy breeze; God’s bounteous, prudent, careful thoughts in the waving harvest and in the ripening meadow. We have God’s brilliant thoughts in the wondrous scenes which are beheld from mountain-top and valley; and we have God’s most sweet and pleasant thoughts of beauty in the little flowers that blossom at our feet. “God giveth us richly all things to enjoy.”[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 58). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

February 23, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

1 Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, 2 in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began 3 and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior;
4 To Titus, my true child in a common faith:
Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Tt 1:1–4). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


Encouragement

in the hope of eternal life, (1:2a)

Paul’s third responsibility in fulfilling his commitment to God’s mission was to bring biblical encouragement to believers, based on their divinely guaranteed hope of eternal life, of one day being glorified, wholly perfected in Christ’s own righteousness. That is the marvelous encouragement of hope about which every minister of God can assure God’s people and, in fact, all of God’s people can assure one another. Later in this letter he speaks of our “blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (2:13) and still later of our “being justified by His grace [that] we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (3:7).

Paul is not speaking of a wistful desire for something that is possible but uncertain. The hope of eternal life is the believer’s deepest longing for that which is affirmed and unalterably guaranteed by God’s own Word. Jesus will raise up His own on the last day, and no one who belongs to God will fall short of that promise (see John 6:37–40). The “Holy Spirit of promise” not only seals us in Jesus Christ but also is “given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13–14, emphasis added; cf. 2 Cor. 1:22). “For indeed while we are in this tent, we groan,” Paul reminded Corinthian believers, “being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed, but to be clothed, in order that what is mortal may be swallowed up by [eternal] life. Now He who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave to us the Spirit as a pledge” (2 Cor. 5:4–5, emphasis added).

Eternal life is the pervading reality of salvation, and the hope of that life gives believers encouragement in a multitude of ways. It is an encouragement to holiness. “Beloved, now we are children of God,” John says, “and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2–3).

The hope of eternal life gives encouragement for service. We are assured that “if any man builds upon the foundation [Jesus Christ] with gold, silver, precious stones, … he shall receive a reward” (1 Cor. 3:12, 14). By far the greatest reward will be to hear our Master say, “Well done, good and faithful slave” (Matt. 25:21). Every believer should be able to say with Paul, “I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.… I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:12, 14). The “prize” when we are called up is Christlikeness (1 John 3:2–3), and while we are on the earth it is the “goal” that we strive for (1 John 2:6).

The hope of eternal life also gives encouragement to endure whatever suffering we may experience for the sake of Christ. Again, every believer should be able to sincerely say with Paul, “I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, … that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Phil. 3:8, 10–11). We know “that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.… And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:18, 23, emphasis added). Whomever God has chosen He will justify, and whomever He justifies He will glorify and make into the image of His Son (vv. 29–30). This glorious, eternal hope transcends all temporary pain.

Committed to God’s Message

which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, (1:2b–3a)

That contemplation of the content of gospel ministry leads Paul to a third foundational principle of ministry, namely, uncompromising commitment to God’s message, to divinely revealed Scripture. That commitment is an obvious corollary of the first two. Understanding of God’s sovereign mastery and mission comes exclusively through Scripture. We know about His chosen people, about His requirement of faith for salvation, about knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness, and about the hope of eternal life only through His gracious revelation. And we know certain profound realities regarding the eternal plan of redemption of sinners because God inspired men to write down those realities.

That God … cannot lie is self-evident as well as scripturally attested. The prophet Samuel reminded the disobedient King Saul that God, “the Glory of Israel, will not lie” (1 Sam. 15:29). Because God is the source and measure of all truth, it is, by definition, “impossible for God to lie” (Heb. 6:18). Just as “whenever [the devil] speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies” (John 8:44), so it is that, whenever God speaks the truth, He speaks from His own nature, because He is the Father of truth.

The God of truth promised long ages ago that those whom He has chosen, those who come to faith in Him through His truth that leads to godliness, have the certain hope of eternal life. Long ages ago does not refer to ancient human history. It actually means “before time began.” God reiterated His plan of salvation and eternal life to such godly men as Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets, but the original promise was made and ratified in eternity past. Our gracious God “called us with a holy calling … in Christ Jesus from all eternity” (2 Tim. 1:9). “He chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His [eternal] will” (Eph. 1:4–5). His eternal will was manifested in His “eternal covenant [through] Jesus our Lord” (Heb. 13:20).

The plan of redemption for sinners did not come after men fell but before man was even created. The Father showed His perfect love to the Son (cf. John 17:23–24, 26) by promising Him a redeemed humanity who would serve and glorify Him forever. The Son’s role was to be the sacrifice for the sins of the elect so that they could be redeemed and brought to glory. Before God provided the marvelous promise of forgiveness and heaven to sinful mankind, He had given a promise to His beloved Son. That is the promise of which Jesus reminded the Father in His prayer on our behalf: “Father, I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me; for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24). A year or so earlier, Jesus affirmed that promise of the gift of redeemed souls when He publicly proclaimed: “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.… For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:37, 40). One glorious day in eternity future, when our Lord Jesus has received the full promise of the Father to Him and all the saved are glorified and made like Jesus to serve and praise Him forever, the Son, in a gesture of divine love, will give everything back to the Father. Paul records that future moment: “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:28).

It is astonishing to consider that those who are redeemed are caught up in this magnificent eternal covenant that two members of the Godhead have made with each other in order to demonstrate the infinite scope of their love for each other. At the proper time, that is, when the Bible was being written, that eternal covenant, together with its related truths, was manifested, even His Word. The only source of this monumental truth, the one true message about God, the only effective way of finding Him, the only way of pleasing Him, and the only hope of being forever with Him are manifested in His Word.

One wonders, therefore, how a preacher or teacher who names the name of Christ can proclaim anything other than God’s own Word. Whatever truth we need for evangelism is found in His Word. That Word is the only seed that gives eternal life (1 Pet. 1:23). Whatever truth we need to edify believers is found in His Word (cf. 1 Pet. 2:1–2). All of the truth we are to teach is found in His Word (John 17:17; Acts 20:32). Those absolute truths and all others related to spiritual life are found there and nowhere else.[1]


2–3 The NIV rendering suggests that believers’ faith and knowledge “rest on [epi; NASB, in] the hope of eternal life.” The Greek preposition epi can have this force (e.g., Ro 4:18; 8:20; 1 Co 9:10); alternatively, it may convey purpose (Gal 5:13; Eph 2:10; 1 Th 4:7; 2 Ti 2:14). If so, Paul here adds an additional goal of his apostolic ministry: not only faith and knowledge, but also hope, with epi rather than kata being used for stylistic variation (so Marshall, 124, who takes “hope” as “a further qualification of Paul’s apostleship,” and Mounce, 380). Either rendition coheres well with other NT and Pauline teaching (Ro 4:18; 8:24–25; 1 Co 9:10; 13:13; Gal 5:5; 1 Th 1:3; 5:8; Heb 11:1; 1 Pe 1:21).

This hope is for “eternal life” (3:7; 1 Ti 1:16; 6:12; cf. 1 Ti 4:8; 2 Ti 1:1; cf. Quinn, Letter to Titus, 291–303), a Pauline (Ro 2:7; 5:21; 6:22–23; Gal 6:8; cf. Ac 13:46, 48) as well as Johannine concept firmly grounded in Jewish thought and Jesus’ teaching (Mt 19:16, 29; 25:46 et al.). This life “is not only everlasting but also shares the qualities of the life of God himself, its indestructibility and its joy” (Marshall, 125). It is anchored in the promise of the “not-lying God” (apseudēs, GK 950; NIV, “does not lie”; Ro 3:4; Heb 6:18; 1 Jn 1:10; 5:10; contrast 1 Ti 1:10 and Tit 1:12) made (lit.) “before eternal times” (chronos, GK 5989; NIV, “before the beginning of time”; NASB, “long ages ago” [the NIV’s rendering is to be preferred over the NASB’s]; cf. Ro 16:25; 2 Ti 1:9).

3 While issued in eternity past, the “word” (logos, GK 3364) of God’s promise was “manifested” (phaneroō, GK 5746; NIV, “brought to light”; elsewhere in the PE only in 1 Ti 3:16; 2 Ti 1:10; cf. Ro 3:21; Col 1:26; 4:4) in history at God’s own “appointed season” (chronos, GK 5989; cf. 1 Ti 2:6; 6:15; see also Ac 1:7; Ro 5:6; Gal 4:4; Eph 1:10). The medium of God’s revelation was Paul’s “preaching” of the gospel (kērygma, GK 3060; cf. 2 Ti 4:17; Paul as a herald, kēryx, GK 3061; 1 Ti 2:7; 2 Ti 1:11), which the apostle regarded as a sacred stewardship (passive of pisteuō, GK 4409, “entrusted”; cf. 1 Ti 1:11; 1 Th 2:4; note the emphatic egō; lit., “which I was entrusted with”).

Paul’s gospel proclamation took place by the “command [epitagē, GK 2198; cf. 2:15] of God our Savior” (see comments at 1 Ti 1:1). By identifying God, and then Jesus, as “Savior,” Paul establishes a general framework for the epistle (the pattern recurs in 2:10, 13; 3:4, 6), in which Jesus is presented as both functionally equivalent with God and as the fulfillment of God’s salvific promises (cf. Johnson, 218–19; Quinn, Letter to Titus, 304–15).[2]


1:1b–3 / Ordinarily Paul qualifies his apostleship by some note as to its source (e.g., “by the will of God”); here, as in 2 Timothy, he feels constrained to say something about its purpose. Paul was chosen for (“according to,” kjv) the faith of God’s elect. The word “according to” does not mean that his apostleship was regulated by their faith in some way or that it was in keeping with orthodoxy. Rather it connotes goal or purpose (BAGD, II, 4) and could be translated “with a view to.” His apostleship existed for the faith of God’s elect, which probably refers to their coming to trust Christ, not to their advancing in or better understanding the faith. The designation God’s elect (cf. Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 2:10) is another typical instance of Paul’s referring to believers as the people of God by using ot language (e.g., Ps. 105:43; Isa. 65:9, 15; cf. his use of “saints”). In Paul’s view those who have put their trust (faith) in Christ are therefore the true continuation of the ancient people of God. Such a designation is surely intended for the ears of those who are in churches where the errors have a decidedly Jewish cast to them (see esp. 1:10, 14; 3:8–9).

His apostleship is also “with a view to their coming to know the truth” (niv, for … the knowledge of the truth). In the pe the truth regularly recurs as a designation of the gospel (see disc. on 1 Tim. 2:4); here it refers to the cognitive side of faith (cf. esp. 1 Tim. 4:3, “those who are believers and have come to know the truth”). In this case the truth is further defined as (literally) “which is according to godliness” (eusebeia, see disc. in 1 Tim. 2:2 and 3:16). As with the preceding occurrence, this “according to” can mean either “in keeping with” or “with a view to” (hence the niv, that leads to godliness). This is not an easy decision. The latter would make both prepositions have basically the same meaning and would see godliness as the true aim of the gospel, the truth. As attractive as that is, the grammar (with the definite article functioning as a relative pronoun so that the phrase specifically qualifies the truth) favors the former. Thus the truth that God’s elect have come to know is that which accords with true godliness, probably with emphasis here on its visible manifestation in godly behavior.

The next phrase (lit. “on” or “for the hope of eternal life”) is also very difficult, both as to its meaning and what it modifies. Many (e.g., Kelly, D-C) see it as further defining Paul’s apostleship, which was to promote faith, knowledge of the truth, and hope. The niv sees it (probably correctly) as modifying faith and knowledge (hence the repetition of these words in the translation). But rather than faith and knowledgeresting onthe hope of eternal life, as their eschatological basis (cf. BAGD), this phrase is better understood as sequential to them—as their ultimate goal.

This life, Paul now adds, was promised us by God. With this clause he turns our attention momentarily away from his apostleship and its purpose to the source of all things—both the gospel and his apostleship—God himself. The point in his saying this is probably similar to 1 Timothy 6:14–16, to reinforce the certainty of the future. The hope of eternal life is predicated on the twin facts that the God who promised it does not lie, an idea not pressed elsewhere in Paul but found in Numbers 23:19 (cf. Heb. 6:18) and that he promised us this life (cf. 1 Tim. 4:8; 2 Tim. 1:1) before the beginning of time, and at his appointed season (meaning now) has brought it to light. The phrase before the beginning of time (lit., “before eternal times”) is sometimes interpreted as referring to the ot promises (cf. rsv, “ages ago”). But as in 1 Corinthians 2:7–10 (cf. 2 Tim. 1:9; Eph. 1:4), Paul’s point is that what believers are now experiencing belongs to the eternal counsels of God and has been hidden in God until revealed by the Spirit in the present Age through the work of Christ (cf. Rom. 16:25–26; Col 1:25–26).

The clause and at his appointed season (cf. 1 Tim. 2:6) he brought his word (i.e., the message of the gospel, as elsewhere in pe; 2 Tim. 2:9, 15; 4:2; Titus 1:9; 2:5) to light expresses the present fulfillment of the promise mentioned in verse 2. Thus God promised life, and now, at his appointed season, he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me. If that does not make a nicely balanced set of ideas, the thought is clear enough. Paul simply brings his sentence back to its point of origin, his apostleship. The revelation of the promised life has actually taken place in Paul’s proclamation of God’s word, as attested by the Cretans’ faith (v. 1). As always for Paul, such preaching, hence his apostleship itself, is not of his own choosing but is a sacred trust (see 1 Tim. 1:11; cf. 2 Tim. 1:11; 1 Cor. 9:17; Gal. 2:7). And all of this, finally, is by the command of God our Savior (see disc. on 1 Tim. 1:1). Paul’s preaching, like his apostleship, is in keeping with God’s command, his divine injunction on Paul’s life.[3]


1:2. This faith and knowledge, life and understanding, were resting on the hope of eternal life. It takes some rethinking for English-speaking people to think of hope as anything other than wishing. For instance, we hope it will snow on Christmas, or we hope a friend will call—desires that may or may not occur. But hope in the New Testament is an established certainty because it issues from the promise of God.

Our hope is eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before the beginning of time. Unlike the promises we make, many of which are broken or forgotten, God’s promises remain immutable. God does not lie. Just as God brought forth the world by the spoken word, so he confirms the future by a word of promise. Whatever God says, must happen, since he designs reality. His spoken word cannot be contradicted in actuality. If it could, he would be dethroned. But that is impossible. God by his very nature remains reliable and trustworthy. What he says, must be.

1:3. Paul’s phrasing in this verse shows the reader the parallel course between Christ and the apostle, using matching terminology to describe their missions. Christ came at the “fullness of time.” He was the living Word who brought light to the world. Similarly, the timing of Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles was determined by God for a precise moment in history: at his appointed season he brought his word to light through the preaching entrusted to me (Paul) by the command of God our Savior.

This does not diminish the work of Christ and his fulfillment of God’s promise to all people. Instead, it marks Christ as the beginning point of the promise’s attainment. The work which Jesus began extends to the present and to all those entrusted to preach the gospel. Christ Jesus accomplished salvation for those who believe. Preaching continues the offering of the promise to all people until his return.[4]


2. Now all that has been said so far—Paul’s service and apostleship in the interest of the faith of God’s elect and of their acknowledgment of the truth which accords with godliness—rests on the hope of life everlasting, which the never-lying God promised before times everlasting. This hope is an earnest yearning, confident expectation, and patient waiting for “life everlasting,” salvation in its fullest development (cf. John 17:24; Rom. 8:25). It was this salvation which the God who cannot lie (1 Sam. 15:29; Heb. 6:18; cf. 2 Tim. 2:13; contrast Titus 1:12) “promised before times everlasting.”

Just as God’s grace was given to us in Christ Jesus “before times everlasting” (2 Tim. 1:9), so also everlasting life was promised “before times everlasting.” Before the ages began to roll along in their never-ending course, that is, “before the world began” (A.V.), hence “from eternity,” the grace was given and the life was promised. When God decides to call into being a people for his own possession, the fulfilment of this decree is so certain that the grace which they will receive can be spoken of as having been already given, just as the life is described as having been already promised. Besides, strictly speaking, the text does not say, “God promised to them,” but simply, “God promised.” Nevertheless, the context (see verse 1) definitely implies that it is for the benefit of the elect out of Jews and Gentiles that this promise is made. That in the covenant of redemption from eternity such a promise (of the Father to the Son in the interest of all the elect) was actually made is clearly implied in the fact that believers are viewed as “given” to Christ by the Father, in order that they may inherit life everlasting in its most glorious manifestation (John 17:6, 9, 24; cf. also Ps. 89:3, based on 2 Sam. 7:12–14; cf. Heb. 1:5). Note especially John 17:24, “Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, in order that they may gaze on my glory which thou hast given me, for thou lovest me before the foundation of the world” (John 17:24).

This “before the foundation of the world” doctrine, the exact phraseology, is not only Johannine but also definitely Pauline. Note Eph. 1:4, “He elected us for himself in him (i.e., in Christ) before the foundation of the world.”

Thus interpreted, Titus 1:2 is entirely in harmony with Pauline thinking, which regularly traces the salvation of believers to its origin in God’s redemptive plan from eternity (besides 2 Tim. 1:9 and Eph. 1:4 see also Rom. 8:29, 30; 1 Cor. 2:7; 2 Thess. 2:13; and see N.T.C. on 1 Thess. 1:4).

Verse 3 is really a parenthesis:—but in due season he revealed his word by (that) proclamation which by order of God our Savior was entrusted to me—.

From eternity God promised life everlasting, but “in due season” (here used as in 1 Tim. 2:6; 6:15; see footnotes  and 105; cf. also Gal. 4:4) he revealed it. Strictly speaking, however, it was not life everlasting itself in its glorious heavenly phase that was revealed to earth-dwellers (how could it be?), but the word of God with respect to it. Hence, the change from “life everlasting” in verse 2, to “his word” in verse 3. In the form of (or: by means of) the good news which Paul proclaimed and which by order of “God our Savior” (see on 1 Tim. 1:1) had been entrusted to him (see on 1 Tim. 1:11–13), this word or message of God with respect to Christ and his gracious gift had now been made manifest.

This parenthetical statement is in complete harmony with Paul’s teaching throughout. That teaching may be summarized as follows:

Full salvation in Christ for both Jew and Gentile, considered as equals, a salvation viewed as based solely upon Christ’s merits appropriated by faith, was:

  1. objectively given and promised from eternity (1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 1:2);
  2. hidden—i.e., the message with reference to it was hidden—in preceding ages and from the eyes of former generations (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 3:5, 6, 9; Col. 1:26a); hidden, namely, in the sense that it was not fully proclaimed, nor fully realized, nor fully understood by the men of the old dispensation, though it had been foreshadowed (Gen. 3:15; 12:3; cf. Gal. 3:8; Is. 60; 61; Joel 2:28, 29; Amos 9:11, 12; Micah 4:12; Mal. 1:11; also Ps. 72:8–11, 17; 87);
  3. now fully manifested—i.e., the message with reference to it was fully manifested—by means of universal gospel-proclamation (see on 2 Tim. 1:10, 11; cf. Rom. 16:26; Eph. 3:3–9; Col. 1:26b–29). For “proclamation” or “preaching” (literally “heralding,” “kerugma”) see on 2 Tim. 4:2.

The glorious fact that the proclamation of the good news concerning life everlasting had actually been entrusted to one so unworthy as Paul, a fact which caused the heart of the apostle to overflow with gratitude, accounts for this interruption in the steady flow of the sentence.[5]


1:2 Paul’s commission in connection with the gospel has a third great emphasis. It was not only concerned with: (1) evangelism—furthering the faith of God’s elect, past tense; and (2) education—furthering their knowledge of the truth, present tense; but also (3) expectationin hope of eternal life, future tense.

The NT speaks of eternal life as both a present possession and a future hope. The word hope does not imply uncertainty. The moment we trust Christ as Savior we have eternal life as a present possession (John 5:24) and become heirs to all the benefits of His redemptive work, but we will not experience the practical enjoyment of all of them until we reach our eternal home. We hope in the sense that we are looking forward to eternal life in its final form when we will receive our glorified bodies and be forever free from sin, sickness, sorrow, suffering, and death (Phil. 3:20, 21; Tit. 3:7).

The hope is sure because it was promised by God. Nothing is as sure as the word of God, who cannot lie, who cannot be deceived, and who would not deceive. There is no risk in believing what He says. In fact nothing is more reasonable than for the creature to believe his Creator.

God promised eternal life before time began. This may be understood in two ways. First, God determined in past eternity to give eternal life to all who would believe on the Lord Jesus, and what He determined was the same as a promise. Or it may mean that all the blessings of salvation were contained in germ form in the promise of the Messiah found in Genesis 3:15. This was before the ages of time or dispensations began to unfold.

1:3 In due time God made known this glorious program of eternal life which He had decided on in past ages. He had not fully revealed it in OT times. Believers then had a very hazy idea of life after death. But the vagueness disappeared with the coming of the Savior. He “brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1:10). And the good news was broadcast by Paul and the other apostles in fulfillment of the commandment of God our Savior, that is, in obedience to the Great Commission.[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1996). Titus (pp. 9–12). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Köstenberger, A. (2006). Titus. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 604–605). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 168–169). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 341). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 340–343). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2132–2133). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

February 23: Freedom

Leviticus 14; John 8:31–59; Song of Solomon 7:1–4

“Even though I know it’s wrong, I sometimes think, ‘If I hadn’t accepted Christ, I would have so much more freedom.’ And then I venture down that road and realize just how terrible it is. It takes me to a very dark place.”

This deep, heart-wrenching statement by a friend made me realize there are countless people who probably feel this way about Jesus. And what if, unlike my friend, they hadn’t figured out the latter part of this statement? They were probably walking a road closer to legalism than the road Christ envisions for our lives. Or they could be so far from actually experiencing grace and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit that they have yet to see how incredible a life lived for Jesus can be.

Jesus promises freedom: “Then Jesus said to those Jews who had believed him, ‘If you continue in my word you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free’ ” (John 8:31–32). What we often gloss over in this passage, though, is that Jesus is speaking to believers. If you haven’t begun to fully trust in Jesus, the thought that He gives us freedom is difficult to understand. Someone could ask, “Isn’t He creating a system that forces us to live a certain way?” The answer is no: Jesus is setting up what will be a natural response to His grace.

The context of this verse also makes me wonder if someone who hasn’t yet truly sacrificed for Jesus, beyond just a simple tithe, would fathom what freedom with Him looks like. The Jews Jesus is addressing would have already been experiencing some sort of social ostracism for their belief in Him—they would have understood that sacrifice brings spiritual freedom.

This concept isn’t easy to grasp, but in the simplest terms possible, Jesus frees us from religious systems and gives us the Spirit to empower us to do His work. This Spirit guides us and asks us to make sacrifices for Him, but those sacrifices are minimal compared to the eternal life He gave us through the sacrifice of His life. These sacrifices don’t become a system with Christ, but something we strive to do because we want to. That’s the freedom of the Spirit.

Have you experienced freedom in Christ? How can you seek the Spirit’s presence so you can experience more freedom?

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.