Daily Archives: March 16, 2018

March 16: It Will Seem Simple in Retrospect

Numbers 17:1–18:32; 1 Corinthians 1:1–31; Psalm 18:1–12

We’re all faced with difficult tasks. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he was forced to confront their spiritual problems, which were slowly destroying God’s work among them. Paul was thankful for them (1 Cor 1:4–8), but he was also called to a high purpose as an apostle. His calling meant saying what people didn’t want to hear (1 Cor 1:1).

There were divisions among the Corinthians that were going to rip their fledgling church apart, and Paul implored them to make some difficult changes: “Now I exhort you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that … there not be divisions among you, and that you be made complete in the same mind and with the same purpose. For … there are quarrels among you” (1 Cor 1:10–11). And here’s where something amazing happens that we often overlook. Paul, a confident man and a former Law-abiding Pharisee, could have stated why he was right and moved on, but he does something else:

“Each of you is saying, ‘I am with Paul,’ and ‘I am with Apollos,’ and ‘I am with Cephas,’ and ‘I am with Christ.’ Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? I give thanks that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that you were baptized in my name” (1 Cor 1:12–15). Paul sticks it to them, and he reminds them that Christ deserves all the credit.

We all have moments like this, where we have the opportunity to take credit for someone else’s work—or even worse, for Jesus’ work. Paul had the strength and character that we should all desire.

How are you currently taking credit for others’ people work or for Jesus’?

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.

March 16 Hallowing God’s Name

“Hallowed be Thy name” (Matt. 6:9).

✧✧✧

God is holy and deserves your highest respect and your humble obedience.

To most people the word hallowed elicits thoughts of Halloween, ivy-covered walls, or starchy religious traditions. But those are all far from its Biblical meaning. “Hallowed” in Matthew 6:9 translates a Greek word that means “holy.” When Christ said, “Hallowed be Thy name,” He was saying in effect, “May Your name be regarded as holy.” When you hallow God’s name, you set it apart from everything common and give Him the place He deserves in your life.

Throughout Scripture, holiness is attributed to persons or things that are consecrated to God’s service. The Sabbath day, for example, was to be kept “holy”—set apart from the other days (Ex. 20:8). The Israelite priests were to be considered “holy” because they rendered special service to the Lord (Lev. 21:8). As believers in Christ, we are to be “holy” because we belong to God (1 Peter 1:15).

Holiness also speaks of moral excellence and purity. God is called “the Holy One” (1 Peter 1:15) not only because He is set apart from His creation, but also because He is pure and sinless in His character. That’s why Isaiah pronounced a curse on himself when he saw the Lord and heard the angels crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isa. 6:3–5). He was overcome with a sense of his own human sinfulness in the presence of a holy God.

Such a God deserves your highest respect and reverence. He is your gracious and loving Father, but He is also the sovereign, majestic God of the universe. Consequently, you must guard against thinking of Him as a buddy or addressing Him flippantly.

Additionally, He deserves your humble obedience. You hallow His name only when your life is marked by righteousness and moral excellence.

May that be true of you today, and may you seek to honor Him in all that you do!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Always approach God with a sense of respect and reverence. ✧ Think of specific ways you can hallow His name today. Ask Him for the grace to do so.

For Further Study: Read each of these verses, noting the specific ways you can glorify God: Joshua 7:19; Psalm 50:23; John 15:8; Romans 15:5–6; 1 Corinthians 6:20; Philippians 2:9–11; and 2 Thessalonians 3:1.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 88). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

March 16, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

Trophy hunters are packed on a new U.S. advisory board created to help rewrite federal rules for importing the heads and hides of African elephants, lions and rhinos. That includes some members with direct ties to President Donald Trump and his family.

Southeast Asian leaders started gathering Friday for their first summit in Australia as the regional neighbors look for closer economic and security links and the host prime minister warned against trade protectionism.

Russian hackers are conducting a broad assault on the U.S. electric grid, water processing plants, air transportation facilities and other targets in rolling attacks on some of the country’s most sensitive infrastructure, U.S. government officials said Thursday.

Chinese hackers have launched a wave of attacks on mainly U.S. engineering and defense companies linked to the disputed South China Sea, the cybersecurity firm FireEye Inc. said.

The U.K.’s top diplomat pointed the finger directly at Vladimir Putin, saying it was “overwhelmingly likely” that he personally ordered the nerve-agent attack on British soil.

Haitian immigrants are suing President Donald Trump and Homeland Security officials, alleging racism influenced a decision to end a program allowing them to live and work legally in the U.S. after disasters in their home country.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. pays female employees in the U.K. an average of 56 percent less than male colleagues, another stark example of the entrenched gender imbalances in the financial-services industry. The gap widens to 72.2 percent for year-end discretionary bonuses.

U.S. new-home construction cooled by more than expected in February on a reversal in the volatile multifamily category, while building remained on pace to contribute to economic growth this quarter, government figures showed Friday. Residential starts fell 7% to a 1.24m annualized rate.

Traders who look for future price direction in chart patterns are finding more indicators suggesting the world’s largest digital currency may have further to fall. Bitcoin’s 50-day moving average has dropped to the closest proximity to its 200-day moving average in nine months. Crossing below that level — something it hasn’t done since 2015 — signals fresh weakness to come for technical traders who would dub such a move a “death cross.” Another moving-average indicator of momentum has already turned bearish.

AP Top Stories

A U.S. military helicopter crashed after hitting a power line in Iraq’s western Anbar province, killing all seven personnel aboard, the Pentagon said Friday.

South Korea and the United States will scale down and shorten annual joint military exercises in light of a diplomatic thaw with Pyongyang, a report said Friday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis accused Iran on Thursday of “mucking around” in Iraq’s May parliamentary election, in which Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is seeking another term after a successful, U.S.-backed war against Islamic State militants.

A Turkish-led offensive to capture the Kurdish-majority enclave of Afrin in northern Syria has forced 30,000 civilians from its main city in 24 hours, a monitor said Thursday.

NASA published details of its Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response) deterrent, an eight ton spaceship which could deflect a giant space rock. NASA has said previously that Earth is overdue a huge asteroid strike and programs are in places across the globe to map dangerous rocks as they move through the Solar System.

15 new planets discovered, including potentially habitable super-Earth Scientists from the Tokyo Institute of Technology have discovered 15 new planets orbiting small, cool dwarf stars near our solar system, including one planet that may be habitable.

U.S. factory output jumped last month, led by big gains in the production of cars, computers and furniture.

BBC

As many as 50,000 people have fled separate offensives against rebel forces in northern and southern Syria in recent days, activists said. Russian air strikes reportedly killed 31 people in the Eastern Ghouta outside Damascus on Friday, after 20,000 people left the region.

Germany’s new interior minister has said he believes “Islam does not belong” to the country, in direct contrast with Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Crypto-currencies and digital cash systems have become a key way for cyber-thieves to launder stolen funds, suggests research. Alongside its use in ransomware, virtual cash was also helping clean up other sources of stolen cash, said criminologist Dr Mike Maguire. Bitcoin’s anonymity made it attractive to tech-savvy thieves, he said.

Tasmania has become the first state in Australian history to elect a majority of female MPs to its legislature.

North Korea’s foreign minister has attended talks in Stockholm with Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Lofven, ahead of a possible meeting between US President Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Saudi Arabia has warned that it will develop its own nuclear weapon if regional rival Iran acquires one.

WND

Telling a classmate “God bless you” after she sneezes is a “microaggression,” according to extensive social justice guidelines posted by a women’s college in Boston.

Amid an ongoing surge in Christianity that developed as communism created a spiritual vacuum in people’s lives, China has launched a new crackdown, including rules introduced last month that further restrict the activities of unregistered house churches, according to a new report.


The Briefing — Friday, March 16, 2018

1) How the cult of convenience fails to deliver on its own promises

New York Times (Tim Wu) –
The Tyranny of Convenience

2) The sterilization of play: What’s at stake as our playgrounds have become unrisky, and ultimately, unfun

New York Times (Ellen Barry) –
In Britain’s Playgrounds, ‘Bringing in Risk’ to Build Resilience

3) Why dad-style parenting is a key ingredient of a healthy home

Wall Street Journal (Abigail Shrier) –
‘Knock It Off’ and ‘Shake It Off’: The Case for Dad-Style Parenting

4) The legacy of Dr. T. Berry Brazelton: Pediatrician who helped us understand the necessity of mother-infant bonding dies at 99

New York Times (Sandra Blakeslee) –
Dr. T. Berry Brazelton, Who Explored Babies’ Mental Growth, Dies at 99

Mid-Day Snapshot

Mar. 16, 2018

Make Daylight Great Again

Marco Rubio introduced legislation to banish the scourge of the time change forever.

The Foundation

“He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing.” —Benjamin Franklin (1758)

RenewAmerica Newsletter

March 16, 2018

GEORGE WILL — Iceland must be pleased that it is close to success in its program of genocide, but before congratulating that nation on its final solution to the Down syndrome problem, perhaps it might answer a question: What is this problem? To help understand why some people might ask this question, today’s column is being distributed together with two photographs. One is of Agusta, age eight, a citizen of Iceland. The other is of Lucas, age one, an American citizen in Dalton, Ga., who recently was selected to be 2018 Spokesbaby for the Gerber baby-food company. They are two examples of the problem…. (more)


March 15, 2018
JOSEPH FARAH — The data are in on Facebook’s war on “conservative” news sites, thanks to an impressive report published by WesternJournal.com. The king of social media has been making algorithm changes seemingly intended to marginalize the traffic of right-of-center online news operations, and they have been effective, the report shows…. (more)

March 15, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — Soaring tuition costs, degrees of dubious value and nonstop student activism have combined to bring public confidence in the ivory tower tumbling down. Even college and university presidents acknowledge that the country is becoming disillusioned with higher education. In a recent survey conducted by Inside Higher Ed and Gallup, 51 percent of institution leaders said the 2016 election “exposed that academe is disconnected from much of American society.”… (more)

March 15, 2018
BOB UNRUH — Amid an ongoing surge in Christianity that developed as communism created a spiritual vacuum in people’s lives, China has launched a new crackdown, including rules introduced last month that further restrict the activities of unregistered house churches, according to a new report. Christians in China have been repressed ever since the People’s Republic was created in 1949, with the government’s control of churches and imposition of the Communist Party’s atheistic values…. (more)

March 15, 2018

U.S. NEWS — Eleven Republicans stepped forward before a Thursday evening filing deadline to challenge former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in the Utah Senate race, including a state lawmaker who says an “establishment insider” can’t fix problems in Washington. Many of the candidates acknowledge the David-vs-Goliath nature of challenging the famous and popular Romney, but they say someone needs to keep the race to replace Republican Orrin Hatch from becoming a “coronation.”… (more)


March 15, 2018
FOX NEWS — Broward Deputy Scot Peterson stands safely behind a concrete wall taking no action as high school students lay dead and wounded just feet away, newly released video of the Florida school shooting shows. The Broward Sheriff’s Office released the 27-minute video Thursday of the former longtime resource officer responding to initial reports of a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Feb. 14. Peterson, who was assigned to the school and on site when the shooting began, is seen with a civilian security monitor at the start of the video, but spends most of the video standing outside the school with his gun drawn…. (more)

March 15, 2018
Economic commentator, an informal adviser on presidential campaign, has differed with the president on trade issues

WALL STREET JOURNAL — Lawrence Kudlow, a conservative economic commentator whose career included jobs in the White House, Wall Street, radio and business television, will become one of President Donald Trump’s top economic advisers as director of the National Economic Council…. (more)


March 15, 2018

BOB UNRUH — The results may not be official for some time, but it appears that a Democrat, Conor Lamb, now leading by only a few hundred votes, may have won a special election in a western Pennsylvania congressional district that two years ago chose President Donald Trump by 20 points. Mainstream media regard the apparent outcome as an “unmistakable good sign” for Democrats ahead of the 2018 midterms approach…. (more)


March 15, 2018

ART MOORE — long with concluding the Trump campaign did not coordinate with Russia to influence the 2016 election, the House Intelligence Committee report by the Republican majority confirmed that President Obama’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, leaked information about the dubious anti-Trump “dossier” that ended up being reported by CNN…. (more)


March 14, 2018

WASHINGTON TIMES — The White House’s suspicions over the motives of besieged FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe go back at least to the first months of President Trump’s presidency. The doubts revolved around a since-debunked February 2017 New York Times story that reported that U.S. intelligence owned numerous intercepts and phone records of Trump campaign officials communicating with Russian intelligence…. (more)


March 14, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — A senior Obama State Department official gave the green light to an FBI agent in 2016 to meet with dossier writer Christopher Steele, a new book says. The two met at Mr. Steele’s London office, touching off a relationship that would fuel the ongoing investigation into possible Donald Trump-Russia election collusion that shows no sign of ending…. (more)

March 14, 2018

BOB UNRUH — A teenage Muslim spending the night with friends stabbed three people, killing one, “because of his Muslim faith,” according to police in Florida. The suspect read the Quran “to give him courage to carry out his intentions,” according to an affidavit…. (more)


March 14, 2018
One-third acknowledge their schools are ‘intolerant’ of conservative views
WASHINGTON TIMES — Public confidence in American universities has eroded in recent years, and campus administrators have taken notice, blaming not only the high cost of a 4-year degree but the impact of liberal bias in the academy, a new survey of college presidents finds. “Asked to assess which of several factors were most responsible for declining public support, 98 percent of college and university presidents cited ‘concerns about college affordability and student debt’, 95 percent said ‘concerns over whether higher education prepares students for careers,’ and 86 percent cited the perception of liberal political bias,” reports an extensive new poll from Inside Higher Ed, an independent media company and industry source which tracks higher education…. (more)

March 14, 2018
WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump’s firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was crude, rude and way overdue. The president, not the president’s chief of staff, should have been the first to inform Mr. Tillerson personally and in private, that he is getting the heave-ho. Mr. Trump should have let him have time to prepare his own face-saving announcement…. (more)

March 14, 2018
Sources say secretary of state undermined White House on Iran nuke deal

WORLDNETDAILY — Even though tensions had been mounting between President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson for months, a new report indicates the president abruptly fired Tillerson because he went “rogue” and tried to save the Iran nuclear deal…. (more)


March 14, 2018

NEWSMAX — President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign hired Fusion GPS to find negative information on Republican candidate Mitt Romney and hid the payments through its law firm, according to a new book published Tuesday…. (more)


March 14, 2018
BOB UNRUH — When President Obama and his Democratic colleagues in Congress adopted Obamacare, they required abortion coverage, with no exemptions, to the delight of the abortion industry. They later were forced to exempt a few types of organizations, such as churches. The U.S. Supreme Court ordered the government to expand those exemptions when it ruled in the Hobby Lobby case, and President Trump widen the exemptions even further…. (more)

March 14, 2018
BYRON YORK — It has long been the key question of the Trump-Russia affair: Did Donald Trump’s presidential campaign collude with Russia to influence the 2016 election? Now, we have the first official, albeit partisan, answer. “We have found no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” said Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee Monday as they released findings from a 14-month Trump-Russia investigation…. (more)

March 14, 2018
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — The House Intelligence Committee has concluded that there is “no evidence of collusion, coordination, or conspiracy” between the Trump campaign and the Russian regime. That was what Congressman K. Michael Conaway (R., Texas) announced yesterday evening, in the course of explaining that the committee has ended the investigative phase of its probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election…. (more)

March 12, 2018
ALAN KEYES — The Florida Legislature moved forward with a bill last week “that includes new restrictions on rifle sales and a program to arm some teachers.” The measure also includes a provision to “raise the minimum age to buy rifles from 18 to 21.” At least one Florida lawmaker has rejected that age provision as unconstitutional…. (more)

March 12, 2018
Book review
JOAN SWIRSKY — The word Politicide was first coined by Abba Eban – Israel’s foreign minister in 1967 – to describe the attempted murder of the sovereign, independent State of Israel by enemies both within and outside of the fledgling state. When Victor Sharpe first read the word, he told me how it resonated in “the deepest parts of my heart and soul.”… (more)

March 12, 2018

THE HILL — The House Intelligence Committee is shutting down its contentious investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, the top Republican leading the probe announced on Monday…. (more)


March 12, 2018
NEWSBUSTERS — On Monday, the House Intelligence Committee closed its inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, much to the chagrin of the liberal media. The committee confirmed that the Russians were indeed trying to cause chaos in the election, claimed they weren’t out to help candidate Donald Trump specifically and that there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But during their evening broadcasts, ABC and CBS downplayed the findings while NBC ignored them…. (more)

March 12, 2018
NEWSMAX — Conservative economist Larry Kudlow is the front-runner to replace Gary Cohn as President Donald Trump’s chief economic adviser, CNBC’s Jim Cramer reports…. (more)

March 12, 2018

NEWSMAX — The White House on Sunday pledged to help states pay for firearms training for teachers and reiterated its call to improve the background check system as part of a new plan to prevent school shootings. But in a move sure to please the gun lobby, the plan does not include a push to increase the minimum age for purchasing assault weapons to 21, which President Donald Trump had repeatedly championed…. (more)


What Happens When Moral Monstrosity Is Socially Approved?

(Ben Shapiro – National Review) “Marcus takes solace in her immorality by citing that of others — “I am not alone. More than two-thirds of American women choose abortion in such circumstances.” But immoral behavior isn’t made moral by its commonness. Slavery was once common. That did not make it any more justifiable.”

In 1961, Stanley Milgram of Yale University came up with an idea for an experiment. The purpose: to determine how many law-abiding, civilized people would torture their fellows simply in order to follow basic orders. …

Here’s how the experiment worked. Milgram chose pairs of participants; one would randomly be chosen to become a “learner,” the other a “teacher.” Milgram set up the “random” drawing so that volunteers always became teachers, and learners were actors working for Milgram. Learners were taken into a room and hooked up to electrodes supposedly buzzing with electricity. Teachers were brought into a room containing a switch that could shift that electric level from 15 volts all the way up to 450 volts. Teachers were then informed by researchers that it was their job to shock learners for making errors in a word game. The researchers would remain in the room and push the teachers to shock the learners, telling them to continue.

According to Milgram’s experiment, two in three teachers shocked the learners all the way up to 450 volts, even as the actors begged for mercy; all of the teachers shocked the learners up to 300 volts. Milgram concluded, “Stark authority was pitted against the subjects’ strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects’ ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not.”

takes solace in her immorality by citing that of others — “I am not alone. More than two-thirds of American women choose abortion in such circumstances.” But immoral behavior isn’t made moral by its commonness. Slavery was once common. That did not make it any more justifiable.” View article →


News – 3/16/2018

In a first, U.S. blames Russia for cyber attacks on energy grid
The Trump administration on Thursday blamed the Russian government for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid, marking the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure. Beginning in March 2016, or possibly earlier, Russian government hackers sought to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and manufacturing, according to a U.S. security alert published Thursday.

‘Jerusalem is not holy to Muslims, enough with this lie!’
“Jerusalem has been the capital of Israel, under King David 3,000 years ago,” Klein said. “It was never, ever, the capital of any other nation except Israel. When the Arabs conquered Palestine in 716, they made Ramla their capital, not Jerusalem.” “The Jewish holy books mention Jerusalem 700 times. it is never, ever mentioned in the Quran. Even about Mohammed allegedly going from Jerusalem to heaven, in the Quran…this is a dream. He simply has a dream, and it says he went ‘from the farthest place to heaven.’ … And the nearest place, in the Quran, is Palestine. So clearly, it was not from Jerusalem.”

Don’t Mess With the US: Aid Cuts Proposed For Countries Voting Against US
US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley is making good on her threat to cut US aid to countries that vote against the US in the United Nations. On Thursday, Foreign Policy reported on a 53-page memo issued by Haley. Titled “America First Foreign Assistance Policy”, the new policy will make good on that threat. “It is the opinion of the U.S. mission to the U.N. that all U.S. foreign assistance should be reevaluated to ensure that taxpayers dollars are spent to advance U.S. interests, not to fund foreign legacy programs that provide little or no return on investment,” the memo read.

Christian Beliefs Help Drive American Support For Israel To Record Highs: Gallup
A Gallup Poll published on Tuesday showed that support for Israel among the American population is at an all-time high, equal to the previous record reached in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War. “Americans’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as strongly pro-Israel as at any time in Gallup’s three-decade trend,” the polling research company said in the report titled, “Americans Remain Staunchly in Israel’s Corner.” Sixty-four percent of respondents said that in the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, their sympathies lie more with the Israelis while just 19 percent said they sympathize more with the Palestinians instead.

Peter Thiel: Silicon Valley is a ‘totalitarian place’
Silicon Valley has created an oppressive environment. “When people are unanimously on one side, that tells me not that they’ve all figured out the truth but that they are in sort of a totalitarian place, that they are in a one-party state where they are not allowed to have dissenting views,” he said.

Facing far-right challenge, minister says Islam doesn’t belong to Germany
New Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Islam does not belong to Germany and set out hardline immigration policies in an interview published on Friday, as he sought to see off rising far-right challengers. Seehofer told Bild newspaper he would push through a “master plan for quicker deportations”, in his first major interview since he was sworn into office on Wednesday.

China launches new campaign against Christianity
Amid an ongoing surge in Christianity that developed as communism created a spiritual vacuum in people’s lives, China has launched a new crackdown, including rules introduced last month that further restrict the activities of unregistered house churches, according to a new report.

Horrible development: Abortions based on chromosomes
The debate over life has intensified in recent days as pro-abortion activists push back against a series of new state laws banning the procedure based on a pre-natal diagnosis of Down Syndrome, but a leading pro-life voice says such abortions are nothing more than “genetic discrimination” and a disturbing sign for our culture.

California pushes abortion by depicting pregnant women as stupid}
California has a reason for its requirement that pro-life crisis pregnancy centers promote local abortionists: It thinks women are stupid.

U.N. to U.S.: You need to write check for Palestinians
United Nations officials are publicly berating the United States for not paying much more than its fair share of costs for a refugee program whose support was cut by President Trump as a way to incentivize Palestinians to be serious about negotiating for peace with Israel.

South Africa: Genocide or Civil War? Is This America’s Fate?
As bad as apartheid is, what is going on inside of South Africa is worse. Presently there is a murderous purge transpiring in South Africa and white people are the victims and they are increasingly hiring private security when they can as the country moves closer to civil war, which seems to be the only option left for whites to avoid racially motivated genocide.

Venezuela Faces The Return Of Forgotten Diseases
…I am talking about serious stuff: Tuberculosis, Diptheria, Leishmaniasis. There have been adults and children who died because of these things. The diseases themselves, under normal conditions can be healed. But without the appropriate medications and proper nutrition, they become deadly.

Did School Book Fair Try to Indoctrinate First Graders?
…Avid Bookshop accused Athens Academy of “discrimination, censorship and homophobia” after they were told to remove a copy of “The Best Man” from the March 7th book fair.

Lawmaker’s tweet after physicist Stephen Hawking’s death draws criticism
A Texas state representative came under fire on social media Wednesday over a tweet about famed British physicist Stephen Hawking that some found insensitive.

MIAMI HORROR: University Bridge COLLAPSES, Multiple Casualties Reported
Multiple fatalities were reported Thursday after a recently constructed pedestrian footbridge collapsed at Florida International University; injuring scores as the wreckage rained-down on the roadway below.

Subpoenas Issued Against CAIR
Pressure is mounting against the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for its controversial partnership with the San Diego Unified School District in developing an anti-Islamophobia bullying initiative that was enacted last April.

First NK, Now the Middle East? Israeli, Arab Leaders Show up at White House for Huge Talks
…According to Axios, that historical occurrence was a White House meeting which involved national security officials from Israel along with their counterparts from Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to discuss the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.Representatives of the Palestinian Authority were invited to participate but declined to attend the important meeting.

Lamb’s Win Points to GOP Losing 60 House Seats, Senate Control
The apparent win of Democrat Conor Lamb for Pennsylvania’s 18th District has shaken the Republican establishment to its foundations and points to a “wave election” in the coming midterms that will end Republican control of both the House and the Senate.

Oxford University Will ‘Feminise’ Its Philosophy Reading Lists to Appeal More to Women 
Oxford University will ‘feminise’ its philosophy curriculum in order to appeal to more female students and boost writers profiles.


Headlines – 3/16/2018

Palestinians call for ‘day of rage’ Friday to mark US Jerusalem recognition

Netanyahu exaggerates PA payments to terrorists

UNRWA asks U.S. to reconsider cuts, as donations fall short

UN Watchdog: Aid Cuts Should Be ‘Part of a Focused US Strategy to Reform and Ultimately Dismantle UNRWA’

Gaza economy continues to deteriorate – report

Macedonia adopts definition of antisemitism that mentions Israel hatred

Hezbollah number two says terror group prepared for ‘foolish’ Israeli action

Hezbollah doesn’t expect Israeli war, but is ready for one

Lebanese PM says army to deploy along Israeli border

Lebanese cleric: World’s wars, corruption, moral disintegration are planned by the Jews

The IDF prepares for all out war

Israeli military drill simulates multi-front war – with Russia intervening over Syria

Developments show Syrian war could escalate into WWIII

Syrians stream out of a Damascus suburb as it is overrun by government forces

US military helicopter crashes in Iraq near Syrian border, fatalities feared

ISIS Is Still Using Children to Carry Out Executions in Afghanistan, Photos Reveal

Saudi crown prince is hiding his mother to prevent her from opposing his power grab

Iran calls Saudi crown prince ‘delusional,’ ‘naive,’ calls for dialogue

In warning on nukes, Saudi crown prince likens Iranian leader to Hitler

Iran slams ‘simple-minded’ Saudi crown prince over Hitler jab

Saudi Arabia vows to obtain nuclear weapons if Iran does

TV report: Netanyahu tells cabinet Trump is likely to exit Iran deal by May

Iran has mostly halted harassing US ships in Persian Gulf – Pentagon chief

US accuses Iran of trying to influence Iraq’s election

Iran, Turkey Call for Closer Defence Cooperation

Russia to expel UK diplomats as row over spy attack escalates

Israel denounces UK nerve agent attack, without mentioning Russia

Russian lawmaker: US had access to nerve agent

A self-assured Putin seems confident of electoral victory

US hits Russia with sanctions for election meddling

The West Rekindles Anger at Putin, Who’s Anything But Humbled

U.S. imposes sanctions, accuses Russia of ongoing operation to hack energy grid

In a first, U.S. blames Russia for cyber attacks on energy grid

Russia ready to work with U.S.’ Pompeo: RIA cites Lavrov

Special Counsel Robert Mueller Has Subpoenaed Trump Organization in Russia Investigation

Mueller witness is convicted pedophile with shadowy past

Haley plan would cut development aid to countries not backing US at UN – report

White House shake-up: Chief of staff John Kelly may also be on the way out, sources say

Trump denies he has decided to remove his national security adviser

California High School Teacher On Leave After Questioning School Shooting Walkout

Tucker: Left-Wing Politicians Protest Guns… While Being Protected by Armed Bodyguards

Several people killed in Miami pedestrian bridge collapse

Companies That Worked on Collapsed Bridge Delete Celebratory Tweets

‘Not welcome here’: Amazon faces growing resistance to its second home

Blackberry modified to ‘help drug cartels’

Verizon Wants To Build Cellphone Towers Inside Church Steeples

Vladimir Putin promises to launch Mars mission and hunt for water on the moon

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Kiunga, Papua New Guinea

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Kirishimayama volcano on Japan erupts to 14,000ft

Tropical Cyclone Eliakim forming near Madagascar

Budding tropical cyclone to threaten northern Australia with flooding downpours

Venezuela Faces The Return Of Forgotten Diseases

Trump’s opioid plan includes pushing death penalty for drug dealers

Ra’anana gets Israel’s first openly gay mayor

Congressman: Child Sex Dolls Are Coming – And We’re Not Ready

Millennials Replacing Engagement Rings With Diamonds Embedded In Their Fingers

New Age Oprah Mocks God and Jesus on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Posted: 16 Mar 2018 05:57 AM PDT

New Age Oprah Mocks God and Jesus on the Late Show with Stephen ColbertThe Late Show with Stephen Colbert hosted a blasphemous segment with New Age Oprah that they called, “‘Oprah Winfrey gets some career advice from a slightly less famous figure: the Lord.” During the show, they openly mocked God and Jesus.  As the show opens, Steven Colbert begins to introduce Oprah, but she interrupts before he can say her name. “We’re here with” Colbert begins, then Oprah blurts out, “God.” Colbert continues, “Miss Oprah Winfrey.” Being that there was a skit planned with a character “god” later in the segment, many would wipe this off, but with all the hype around Oprah and proof that she has denied Jesus and is aligning with new age guru Eckhart Tolle, we have to wonder if she was really joking or not.

Steven Colbert questions Oprah on if she is running for president in 2020, a rumor that circulated, and got liberals everywhere further enchanted with their icon. Oprah replies that she would have to “know it” and says that she’s very in touch with the voice of God. When Democrats began to see her as their potential candidate, Oprah told US Magazine that she “went into prayer.” Saying, “God, if you think I’m supposed to run, you gotta tell me, and it has to be so clear that not even I can miss it. And I haven’t gotten that yet”. READ MORE

British foreign secretary says Likely ‘Putin’s decision’ to order use of nerve agent in UK

Posted: 16 Mar 2018 05:49 AM PDT

British foreign secretary says Likely ‘Putin’s decision’ to order use of nerve agent in UKBritish Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said it is overwhelmingly likely it was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to direct the nerve agent attack against Sergei Skripal and his daughter. During a museum visit in west London alongside his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz, Johnson said: “We have nothing against the Russians themselves. There is to be no Russophobia as a result of

what is happening.” “Our quarrel is with Putin’s Kremlin, and with his decision – and we think it overwhelmingly likely that it was his decision – to direct the use of a nerve agent on the streets of the UK, on the streets of Europe for the first time since the Second World War.”  Yesterday, Boris Johnson said the UK will allow for an independent international examination of the nerve agent which was used in the attack on the former double agent Sergei Skripal.  READ MORE

Parents Barred From Questioning ‘Gender Identity’ Changes at Virginia School District Meeting

Posted: 16 Mar 2018 05:44 AM PDT

Parents Barred From Questioning ‘Gender Identity’ Changes at Virginia School District MeetingConcerned parents in a Virginia suburb of Washington, D.C. were barred during a recent committee hearing from questioning a motion to replace the terms “biological sex” and “biological gender” with the phrase “sex assigned at birth” in public school curriculum.  Tensions arose during Thursday’s meeting of the Fairfax County Family Life Education Curriculum Advisory Committee where the motion affecting family life curriculums in eighth, ninth and 10th grades was overwhelmingly passed

by the committee to be reviewed for final vote by the Fairfax County School Board at the end of the year. Committee member Daniel Press brought up his concern by arguing that “the term biological gender is not an acceptable term.” “The proper term should be sex assigned at birth, gender assigned at birth, not biological gender or biological sex,” Press asserted at the meeting. “We should always be using the term sex assigned at birth.”  READ MORE

Saying “God Bless You” to someone sneezing is now considered a “Micro-Aggression”

Posted: 16 Mar 2018 05:35 AM PDT

Saying “God Bless You” to someone sneezing is now considered a “Micro-Aggression”If you happen to be in the library at Simmons College in Boston and somebody sneezes, whatever you do, don’t say “God bless you.”  That’s because the librarians believe that the phrase “God Bless You” can spark something worse than a microaggression. They fear it could spark an Islamophobic microaggression. That’s right, folks—saying “God Bless you” is considered a form of “Islamomisia.”

That bit of information is tucked inside the college’s Anti-Oppression Library Guide—an exhaustive collection of words and phrases that could trigger perpetually offended collegiate snowflakes. Islamomisia is a fairly new malady that until recently was known as Islamophobia. “In North America (and throughout much of the western world), people who follow Christianity have institutional power, therefore Islamomisia is a systematized discrimination or antagonism directed against Muslim people due to their religion or perceived religious, national or ethnic identity associated with Islam,” the document states.  READ MORE

65% of Americans save little or nothing; Half struggle in retirement…

Posted: 16 Mar 2018 05:31 AM PDT

65% of Americans save little or nothing; Half struggle in retirement…Despite a low unemployment rate and increasing wage growth, Americans still aren’t saving much. That’s according to a new survey from Bankrate.com, which found that 20 percent of Americans don’t save any of their annual income at all and even those who do save aren’t putting away a lot. Only 16 percent of survey respondents say that they save more than 15 percent of what they make, which is what experts generally recommend.

A quarter of respondents report saving between 6 and 10 percent of their income and 21 percent say they sock away 5 percent or less. At this rate, many people could be setting themselves up to fall short in retirement, Bankrate warns. “With a steady, significant share of the working population saving nothing or relatively little, it’s virtually guaranteed that they’ll be unable to afford a modest emergency expense or finance retirement,” says Mark Hamrick, senior economic analyst at Bankrate. “That amounts to a financial fail.” READ MORE

US blames Russia for attacks on power grid

Posted: 16 Mar 2018 05:29 AM PDT

US blames Russia for attacks on power gridThe Trump administration on Thursday blamed the Russian government for a campaign of cyber attacks stretching back at least two years that targeted the U.S. power grid, marking the first time the United States has publicly accused Moscow of hacking into American energy infrastructure.  Beginning in March 2016, or possibly earlier, Russian government hackers sought to penetrate multiple U.S. critical infrastructure sectors, including energy, nuclear, commercial facilities, water, aviation and

manufacturing, according to a U.S. security alert published Thursday. The Department of Homeland Security and FBI said in the alert that a “multi-stage intrusion campaign by Russian government cyber actors” had targeted the networks of small commercial facilities “where they staged malware, conducted spear phishing, and gained remote access into energy sector networks.” The alert did not name facilities or companies targeted. READ MORE

FIU pedestrian bridge collapses, Multiple deaths reported and cars trapped

Posted: 15 Mar 2018 05:55 PM PDT

FIU pedestrian bridge collapses, Multiple deaths reported and cars trappedA pedestrian bridge under construction collapsed Thursday, just days after crews had dropped an elevated 950-ton span in place in a project that was intended to give Florida International University students a safe route across the busy roadway.  The bridge gave way suddenly while the traffic light for motorists on Tamiami Trail was red and the concrete span flattened a row of at least eight stopped

vehicles. Police on the scene said at least six people could be dead but the exact number of victims remained unconfirmed. Motorists scrambled out of their cars to help. At least one woman, Katrina Collazo, escaped from a half-crushed car, pulled out unscathed by rescuers. “Thank God … my daughter is alive,” said her mother, Ada Collazo, in Spanish, after rushing to the scene. “I thought my granddaughter was in the car, but she wasn’t. She’s in school.” READ MORE

NASA prepares plan to send spacecraft to blow up doomsday asteroid…

Posted: 15 Mar 2018 05:52 PM PDT

NASA prepares plan to send spacecraft to blow up doomsday asteroid…Nasa has drawn up plans for a huge nuclear spacecraft capable of shunting or blowing up an asteroid if it was on course to wipe out life on Earth.  The US space agency published details of its Hammer (Hypervelocity Asteroid Mitigation Mission for Emergency Response) deterrent, an eight-tonne spaceship which could deflect a giant space rock. Nasa has said previously that Earth is overdue a huge

asteroid strike and programmes are in places across the globe to map dangerous rocks as they move through the Solar System.  Last year an 100-foot asteroid named 2012TC4 passed within 27,000 miles of Antarctica, a distance that astronomers described as ‘damn close.’In detailed plans published in the journal Acta Astronautica, Nasa and the National Nuclear Security Administration, calculated the time  and payload it would take to move or destroy the 1,600-foot-wide asteroid Bennu. READ MORE

RUMORS OF WAR: Russia warns it Will Attack U.S. Military if Trump Strikes Syria Again

Posted: 15 Mar 2018 05:47 PM PDT

RUMORS OF WAR: Russia warns it Will Attack U.S. Military if Trump Strikes Syria AgainTop Russian officials have threatened to retaliate with force if President Donald Trump orders an attack that could endanger the lives of its soldiers stationed there in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s campaign against rebels and jihadis near Damascus. Army General Valery Gerasimov warned on Tuesday that the U.S. was preparing to launch raids against Moscow’s ally, the Syrian

government, as it attempted to clear bastion of jihadis and rebels—some of which were once backed by the West—in the suburbs of the capital city of Damascus. The leading military official claimed that the U.S. would strike under the false pretense of a chemical weapon attack—a tactic that Russia has denied the Syrian military utilizes—and vowed to fight back. READ MORE

Oklahoma School District Bans Chaplain From Praying With Football Team

Posted: 15 Mar 2018 10:14 AM PDT

Oklahoma School District Bans Chaplain From Praying With Football TeamA Baptist pastor will no longer be permitted to serve as a chaplain for an Oklahoma high school football team after a notorious group of atheists filed a formal complaint. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Wisconsin-based group of atheists, agnostics and free-thinkers, was triggered by reports that the Cherokee Baptist Church had been feeding and providing assistance to the Putnam City High School football team.

Mike Keahbone, the church’s senior pastor, had been invited on occasion to deliver pre-game prayers in the team’s locker room. “Public school football teams cannot appoint or employ a chaplain, seek out a spiritual leader for the team or agree to have a volunteer team chaplain, because public schools may not advance or promote religion,” Freedom From Religion Foundation attorney Christopher Line wrote in a letter to Putnam City Schools.Keahbone told the “Todd Starnes Radio  Show” that he was the team’s honorary chaplain. READ MORE

Did George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Prophetic Message Manifest Yesterday?

Posted: 15 Mar 2018 10:12 AM PDT

Did George Orwell’s ‘1984’ Prophetic Message Manifest Yesterday?(By Michael Anthony) “If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—forever.” So writes George Orwell in his eerily prophetic novel, 1984. If you’re not concerned about where America is nowadays, and where we’re heading, you’re not paying attention. But if you’re only concerned, you’re wasting your time and energy. Merely being concerned about a problem never does anything to solve it. Never mind a school walkout. We, God’s people, need to start really walking with the Lord. The future of our nation depends upon it.

Yesterday’s 17-minute National School Walkout was good—and bad. In fact, it was very bad. The demonstration designed to eulogize the 17 lives lost during the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, to appeal for stricter gun control, was a telling sign that, unlike any other time in America, an alarming number of young people are mistaking the government for God. Brace yourself, because this will not end well if we continue on this path. Many students are rightly concerned about their safety, security, and lives—but they, like a majority of us, are turning to the wrong entity to protect them. Most of us in God’s house are doing the same thing in various ways. We look to food, entertainment, sex, fashion, social media kudos and so much more, to fill the void that only Christ can fill. READ MORE


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Patrick the Saint: Behind the fanciful legends of the fifth-century British missionary stands a man worthy of embellishment

A fleet of 50 currachs (longboats) weaved its way toward the shore, where a young Roman Brit and his family walked. His name was Patricius, the 16-year-old son of a civil magistrate and tax collector. He had heard stories of Irish raiders who captured slaves and took them “to the ends of the world,” and as he studied the longboats, he no doubt began imagining the worst.

With no Roman army to protect them (Roman legions had long since deserted Britain to protect Rome from barbarian invasions), Patricius and his town were unprepared for attack. The Irish warriors, wearing helmets and armed with spears, descended on the pebbled beach. The braying war horns struck terror into Patricius’s heart, and he started to run toward town.

The warriors quickly demolished the village, and as Patricius darted among burning houses and screaming women, he was caught. The barbarians dragged him aboard a boat bound for the east coast of Ireland.

Patricius, better known as Patrick, is remembered today as the saint who drove the snakes out of Ireland, the teacher who used the shamrock to explain the Trinity, and the namesake of annual parades in New York and Boston. What is less well-known is that Patrick was a humble missionary (this saint regularly referred to himself as “a sinner”) of enormous courage. When he evangelized Ireland, he set in motion a series of events that impacted all of Europe. It all started when he was carried off into slavery around 430.

Escape from sin and slavery

Patrick was sold to a cruel warrior chief, whose opponents’ heads sat atop sharp poles around his palisade in Northern Ireland. While Patrick minded his master’s pigs in the nearby hills, he lived like an animal himself, enduring long bouts of hunger and thirst. Worst of all, he was isolated from other human beings for months at a time. Early missionaries to Britain had left a legacy of Christianity that young Patrick was exposed to and took with him into captivity. He had been a nominal Christian to this point; he now turned to the Christian God of his fathers for comfort.

“I would pray constantly during the daylight hours,” he later recalled. “The love of God and the fear of him surrounded me more and more. And faith grew. And the spirit roused so that in one day I would say as many as a hundred prayers, and at night only slightly less.”

After six years of slavery, Patrick received a supernatural message. “You do well to fast,” a mysterious voice said to him. “Soon you will return to your homeland.”

Before long, the voice spoke again: “Come and see, your ship is waiting for you.” So Patrick fled and ran 200 miles to a southeastern harbor. There he boarded a ship of traders, probably carrying Irish wolfhounds to the European continent.

After a three-day journey, the men landed in Gaul (modern France), where they found only devastation. Goths or Vandals had so decimated the land that no food was to be found in the once fertile area.

“What have you to say for yourself, Christian?” the ship’s captain taunted. “You boast that your God is all powerful. We’re starving to death, and we may not survive to see another soul.”

Patrick answered confidently. “Nothing is impossible to God. Turn to him and he will send us food for our journey.”

At that moment, a herd of pigs appeared, “seeming to block our path.” Though Patrick instantly became “well regarded in their eyes,” his companions offered their new-found food in sacrifice to their pagan gods.

Patrick did not partake.

The prodigious son returns

Many scholars believe Patrick then spent a period training for ministry in Lerins, an island off the south of France near Cannes. But his autobiographical Confession includes a huge gap after his escape from Ireland. When it picks up again “after a few years,” he is back in Britain with his family.

It was there that Patrick received his call to evangelize Ireland—a vision like the apostle Paul’s at Troas, when a Macedonian man pleaded, “Help us!”

“I had a vision in my dreams of a man who seemed to come from Ireland,” Patrick wrote. “His name was Victoricius, and he carried countless letters, one of which he handed over to me. I read aloud where it began: ‘The Voice of the Irish.’ And as I began to read these words, I seemed to hear the voice of the same men who lived beside the forest of Foclut … and they cried out as with one voice, ‘We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.’ I was deeply moved in heart and I could read no further, so I awoke.”

Despite his reputation, Patrick wasn’t really the first to bring Christianity to Ireland. Pope Celestine I sent a bishop named Palladius to the island in 431 (about the time Patrick was captured as a slave). Some scholars believe that Palladius and Patrick are one and the same individual, but most believe Palladius was unsuccessful (possibly martyred) and Patrick was sent in his place.

In any event, paganism was still dominant when Patrick arrived on the other side of the Irish Sea. “I dwell among gentiles,” he wrote, “in the midst of pagan barbarians, worshipers of idols, and of unclean things.”

Demons and druids

Patrick did not require the native Irish to surrender their belief in supernatural beings. They were only to regard these beings in a new light as demons. The fear of the old deities was transformed into hatred of demons. If Christianity had come to Ireland with only theological doctrines, the hope of immortal life, and ethical ideas—without miracles, mysteries, and rites—it could have never wooed the Celtic heart.

Predictably, Patrick faced the most opposition from the druids, who practiced magic, were skilled in secular learning (especially law and history) and advised Irish kings. Biographies of the saint are replete with stories of druids who “wished to kill holy Patrick.”

“Daily I expect murder, fraud or captivity,” Patrick wrote, “but I fear none of these things because of the promises of heaven. I have cast myself into the hands of God almighty who rules everywhere.”

Indeed, Patrick almost delighted in taking risks for the gospel. “I must take this decision disregarding risks involved and make known the gifts of God and his everlasting consolation. Neither must we fear any such risk in faithfully preaching God’s name boldly in every place, so that even after my death, a spiritual legacy may be left for my brethren and my children.”

Still, Patrick periodically avoided such confrontations by paying protection money: “Patrick paid the price of 15 souls in gold and silver so that no evil persons should impede them as they traveled straight across the whole of Ireland,” wrote one biographer.

Patrick was as fully convinced as the Celts that the power of the druids was real, but he brought news of a stronger power. The famous Lorica (or “Patrick’s Breastplate”—see I Rise Today), a prayer of protection, may not have been written by Patrick (at least in its current form), but it expresses perfectly Patrick’s confidence in God to protect him from “every fierce merciless force that may come upon my body and soul; against incantations of false prophets, against black laws of paganism, against false laws of heresy, against deceit of idolatry, against spells of women and smiths and druids.”

According to legend, it worked. The King, Loiguire, set up a trap to kill Patrick, but as the bishop came near, all the king could see was a deer. (Thus the Breastplate has also been known as the Deer’s Cry.)

There was probably a confrontation between Patrick and the druids, but scholars wonder if it was as dramatic and magical as later stories recounted. One biographer from the late 600s, Muirchœ, described Patrick challenging druids to contests at Tara, in which each party tried to outdo the other in working wonders before the audience:

“The custom was that whoever lit a fire before the king on that night of the year [Easter vigil] would be put to death. Patrick lit the paschal fire before the king on the hill of Slane. The people saw Patrick’s fire throughout the plain, and the king ordered 27 chariots to go and seize Patrick.…

“Seeing that the impious heathen were about to attack him, Patrick rose and said clearly and loudly, ‘May God come up to scatter his enemies, and may those who hate him flee from his face.’ By this disaster, caused by Patrick’s curse in the king’s presence because of the king’s order, seven times seven men fell.… And the king, driven by fear, came and bent his knees before the holy man.…

“[The next day], in a display of magic, a druid invoked demons and brought about a dark fog over the land. Patrick said to the druid, ‘Cause the fog to disperse.’ But he was unable to do it. Patrick prayed and gave his blessing, and suddenly the fog cleared and the sun shone.… And through the prayers of Patrick the flames of fire consumed the druid.

“And the king was greatly enraged at Patrick because of the death of his druid. Patrick said to the king, ‘If you do not believe now, you will die on the spot for the wrath of God descends on your head.’

“The king summoned his council and said, ‘It is better for me to believe than to die.’ And he believed as did many others that day.”

Yet to Patrick, the greatest enemy was one he had been intimately familiar with—slavery. He was, in fact, the first Christian to speak out strongly against the practice. Scholars agree he is the genuine author of a letter excommunicating a British tyrant, Coroticus, who had carried off some of Patrick’s converts into slavery.

“Ravenous wolves have gulped down the Lord’s own flock which was flourishing in Ireland,” he wrote, “and the whole church cries out and laments for its sons and daughters.” He called Coroticus’s deed “wicked, so horrible, so unutterable,” and told him to repent and to free the converts.

It remains unknown if he was successful in freeing Coroticus’s slaves, but within his lifetime (or shortly thereafter), Patrick ended the entire Irish slave trade.

Royal missionary

Patrick concentrated the bulk of his missionary efforts on the country’s one hundred or so tribal kings. If the king became a Christian, he reasoned, the people would too. This strategy was a success.

As kings converted, they gave their sons to Patrick in an old Irish custom for educating and “fostering” (Patrick, for his part, held up his end by distributing gifts to these kings). Eventually, the sons and daughters of the Irish were persuaded to become monks and nuns.

From kingdom to kingdom (Ireland did not yet have towns), Patrick worked much the same way. Once he converted a number of pagans, he built a church. One of his new disciples would be ordained as a deacon, priest, or bishop, and left in charge. If the chieftain had been gracious enough to grant a site for a monastery as well as a church, it was built too and functioned as a missionary station.

Before departing, Patrick gave the new converts (or their pastors) a compendium of Christian doctrine and the canons (rules).

Self doubt

Despite his success as a missionary, Patrick was self-conscious, especially about his educational background. “I still blush and fear more than anything to have my lack of learning brought out into the open,” he wrote in his Confession. “For I am unable to explain my mind to learned people.”

Nevertheless, he gives thanks to God, “who stirred up me, a fool, from the midst of those who are considered wise and learned in the practice of the law as well as persuasive in their speech and in every other way and ahead of these others, inspired me who is so despised by the world.”

Over and over again, Patrick wrote that he was not worthy to be a bishop. He wasn’t the only one with doubts. At one point, his ecclesiastical elders in Britain sent a deputation to investigate his mission. A number of concerns were brought up, including a rash moment of (unspecified) sin from his youth.

His Confession, in fact, was written in response to this investigation. Reeling from accusations, Patrick drew strength from God: “Indeed he bore me up, though I was trampled underfoot in such a way. For although I was put down and shamed, not too much harm came to me.”

If Patrick was not confident about his own shortcomings, he held a deep sense of God’s intimate involvement in his life. “I have known God as my authority, for he knows all things even before they are done,” he wrote. “He would frequently forewarn me of many things by his divine response.”

Indeed, Patrick recorded eight dreams he regarded as personal messages from God. And scattered throughout his Confession are tributes to God’s goodness to him: “Tirelessly, I thank my God, who kept me faithful on the day I was tried, so that today I might offer to him, the Lord Jesus Christ, the sacrifice of my soul. He saved me in all dangers and perils.… So, whatever may come my way, good or bad, I equally tackle it, always giving thanks to God.”

According to the Irish annals, Patrick died in 493, when he would have been in his seventies. But we do not know for sure when, where, or how he died. Monasteries at Armagh, Downpatrick, and Saul have all claimed his remains. His feast day is recorded as early as March 17, 797, with the annotation; “The flame of a splendid sun, the apostle of virginal Erin [Ireland], may Patrick with many thousands be the shelter of our wickedness.”

Ultimate model

It is difficult to separate fact from fiction in the stories of Patrick’s biographers. It is historically clear, however, that Patrick was one of the first great missionaries who brought the gospel beyond the boundaries of Roman civilization. According to tradition, he had established bishops throughout northern, central, and eastern Ireland. Only Munster, in the south, was to remain pagan until a century after Patrick’s death.

Patrick was the ultimate model for Celtic Christians. He engaged in continuous prayer. He was enraptured by God and loved sacred Scripture. He also had a rich poetic imagination with the openness to hear God in dreams and visions and a love of nature and the created.

He is, then, most worthy of the appellation saint, as one “set apart” for a divine mission. As such, he became an inspiring example. Hundreds of Celtic monks, in emulation of Patrick, left their homeland to spread the gospel to Scotland, England, and continental Europe.

It is a legacy Patrick was proud of: “For God gave me such grace, that many people through me were reborn to God and afterward confirmed and brought to perfection. And so then a clergy was ordained for them everywhere.”

Mary Cagney, a former editorial resident at Christianity Today, has written a screenplay titled A Celtic King.

More resources:

The best starting place to learn about Patrick is with his own words. Few doubt his authorship of the autobiographical Confession and his angry Letter to Coroticus, available in several books, including a new translation by John O’Donohue.

The works are also available in Saint Patrick’s World by Liam de Paor. Combining primary source documents with an informative 50-page “introduction,” it should be in the library of anyone interested in this topic.

If you’re interested in more detail, check out the biography In the Steps of St. Patrick by Brian De Breffny.

Links:

The author of this piece, Mary Cagney, is a former editorial resident for the news department of Christianity Today, where she wrote several articles on the North Ireland peace process.

St. Patrick’s Confession is also available online, as is his Letter to Coroticus.

Some time between the fifth and eighth centuries, a biographical hymn was written about Patrick. Traditionally attributed to Fiacc, a fifth-century Bard, the Hymn of Fiacc is one of the few accepted primary sources for the life of St. Patrick other than his own writings.

Biographies of Patrick abound on the Web. There’s a large one at the Treasury of Irish Folklore. There’s The St. Patrick You Never Knew at American Catholic, a tour company’s True Legend of Saint Patrick, and a biography that doubles as a rant against Catholicism.[1]


[1] Patrick the Saint. (1998). Christian History Magazine-Issue 60: How the Irish Were Saved.

MARCH 16 EXCEPT YE REPENT

The rest of the men…repented not.

Revelation 9:20

There are many compelling lessons to be drawn from the Scriptures, and one of the clearest is that sinful and rebellious people can never be forced into repentance.

The same act that may cause one person to repent and believe will cause others to hate and despise God!

The same Bible sermon that brings the person to tearful submission at an altar of prayer will send others out with pride and a resolve to have their own human way.

Students of the Scriptures are aware that the Old Testament prophets and the writing apostles of New Testament times foresaw and proclaimed God’s coming day of judgment—the consummate settling of accounts between the Sovereign God and His rebellious and sinful creation.

How desperately we would like to believe that in the face of coming judgment, all lost men and women will cry out to God, but such will not be the case: “The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands…” (Revelation 9:20).

Lord, I pray today that a massive number of people who do not yet know You will turn away from their sin and receive new life in Jesus Christ.[1]


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

Friday’s Featured Sermon: “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 1”

Revelation 21:9-21

Code: B180316

The city is like one massive perfect diamond gem, flashing the reflection of God’s glory in infinite light—the ultimate light show. All of eternity then becomes bathed in the radiating splendor of God. And that is the remarkable general appearance. It is like a massive—and when I say massive, I mean massive, because it is 1,500 miles cubed—one massive, crystal clear diamond gem with the glory of God shining out from the center of it and splattering its rainbow colors all over the new heavens and the new earth.

John MacArthur delivered that spectacular description of the New Jerusalem in 1995 during a sermon called “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 1.”

It’s still a timely message today, as illiteracy about eternity seems to be at an all-time high in the church. The disappearance of hell from most pulpits is no great mystery. It’s not a pleasant subject for anyone. Liberals deny it, and most evangelicals would prefer to avoid it. Christ’s numerous discourses on damnation have been deemed too frightening and confrontational for our modern sensibilities.

But sermons about heaven are becoming increasingly scarce, too. And even when preachers do mention the heavenly city, they rarely describe it.

The depictions of heaven scattered throughout popular culture often end up filling that void. We may not buy into harps, clouds, and pearly gates, but those caricatures are emblematic of the way many Christians perceive heaven—a spiritual dimension devoid of any tangible, physical reality. Such views do little to cultivate any deep longings for the eternal state.

Instead, a disturbing fixation with the here and now has emerged. Your Best Life Now and Every Day a Friday are bestsellers in Christian bookstores. Heaven’s barely a blip on their radar. Even the good news about eternity is remarkably absent from many modern gospel presentations.

There is an enormous need right now in the body of Christ to have our heavenly affections revived. Like Abraham, we should live as aliens in a foreign land, looking for “the city . . . whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:9-10). Perhaps you’ve heard of the streets of gold and a river of life. But how much do you know beyond that?

In “The Capital City of Heaven,” John MacArthur shows us around heaven. It is a real place where resurrected Christians will one day live in God’s presence in glorified physical bodies. We should want to know more about it, and be encouraged and motivated by the reward God has in store.

Paying great attention to specific biblical details, John explains many aspects of the coming heavenly city. Centered around Revelation 21, John vividly describes details about New Jerusalem’s appearance, architecture, and illumination. He provides specific measurements regarding its dimensions and layout. He helps us to understand its design, spaciousness, and what it will be like to live there. The world completely loses its allure against such a breathtaking and glorious backdrop.

John’s message reminds us that heaven may appear at the end of our Bibles but it’s not the end of God’s story. Rather, our entry into the heavenly city will represent the beginning of a glorious eternity. The New Jerusalem is a real city where we will one day live forever in God’s glorious presence. What greater hope could we possibly offer a dying world?

Here’s what one of our staff members said about “The Capital City of Heaven”:

I heard this message on a Sunday evening at Grace Community Church more than twenty years ago. It remains etched in my memory because, as a young man and new believer, it gave me my first real desires for heaven. Because of this message my eyes were opened to the fact that heaven is an actual place—a place I want to be, a place where we can worship God perfectly. Before hearing “The Capital City of Heaven,” I had no real understanding of what’s in store for true believers. My thinking boiled down to a very simple dichotomy: Heaven is good, hell is really bad. My view on heaven was pretty apathetic. But now heaven is my single greatest longing—the glorious place where I can worship God perfectly. —Jay M.

Click here to listen to “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 1.” John’s message is the first of a two part sermon series. “The Capital City of Heaven, Part 2” can be heard here.

[Ed., This article was originally published on September 23, 2016.]

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B180316
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Rome: Sola Ecclesia or Sola Scriptura? (Kruger)

The Reformed Reader

7C391526-D6D2-4506-A1CD-0FBC96E36A2F (This is a re-blog from March, 2013)

A short while ago I posted some helpful and critical comments about Rome’s view of Scripture by Michael Kruger (in Canon Revisited). Here is part two of that post. The quote is a bit longer than my usual ones, but it is well worth the time.

“…The most fundamental concern [is] whether the Roman Catholic model, in some sense, makes the Scripture subordinate to the church. The answer to that question is revealed when we ask another question: How does the Roman Catholic Church establish its own infallible authority? If the Roman Catholic church believes that infallible authorities (like the Scriptures) require external authentication, then to what authority does the church turn to establish the grounds for its own infallible authority? Here is where the Roman Catholic model runs into some difficulties. There are three options for how to answer this question.”

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Barna Infographic | Denominational Distribution: The Most Catholic and Protestant Cities in the U.S.

Where do main denominations congregate? This infographic lists the top locations of Catholic, mainline and non-mainline churches.

Source: https://www.barna.com/research/denominational-distribution/

See the full rankings of each city here.

Weekly Watchman for 03/16/2018

Meaningful Christian Living & Evangelism

Rick Warren’s “The Purpose Driven Life” was a best seller that got many Christians searching for God’s “purpose” for their lives. Our guest this morning says searching for our “purpose” is a wild goose chase because once you think you’ve found it the world will change its focus and you’ll end up like those dogs we see in videos chasing their tails while getting nowhere fast and becoming dizzy and frustrated. He says rather Christians should focus on the meaning of our lives–something by the way clearly defined in God’s Word.

Pastor Randy White joins us this morning to discuss the difference between purpose and meaning, along with the importance of using Biblical Exposition in evangelism.

We’ll also discuss an intriguing study about how “Generation Z” is the least Christian generation in our nation’s history–and why one Christian researcher thinks that is actually a good thing.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Willfully Being Led into Slavery

We all know the analogy of the frog in the kettle: The water is comfortable at first and as the temperature rises the frog adjusts to it and suddenly: Boiled frog!

Well an increasing number of experts, many of them the very people that spurred the technology boom we are in, are now warning that technology could indeed be that pot of boiling water that will one day enslave mankind. With recent staggering advances in Artificial Intelligence, one has to seriously consider the warnings about an elite few in a ruling class controlling what we do, say and even think one day.

Patrick Wood has been studying and warning people about the rise and dangers of “technocracy” for years, equipping Christians to understand what is happening around us, and encouraging us to remain faithful to God as the world around us gets in line for worship of the coming Anti-christ. He joins us this morning to look at some chilling reports of just how far AI has come and the dangers it poses.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Can America’s Slide Toward Godlessness Be Reversed?

In 2008 Barack Obama ran for President on the promise of “fundamentally transforming America.” I remember at that time criticizing the press and many Christians who were supporting him for failing to ask “Mr. Obama could you please define ‘fundamental transformation’”? But rather than take the time to explore what this transformation would look like people just wanted change, and Obama went on to serve 8 years as our President.

Well it is 10 years later and we have experienced what President Obama meant by fundamental transformation. Our nation took a severe left turn toward secular humanism, socialism and globalism. But the American political system has a way of correcting itself and making adjustments when the nation veers too far left or right. Donald Trump shocked the world by becoming President and it has been quite the ride since then.

But has the nation drifted so far toward humanism and socialism that it is beyond correction? Have Americans become so used to “Big Brother” taking care of us and telling us what to do and believe that we are on an irreversible course? And most importantly has America so offended God by our blatantly anti-biblical policies on abortion and marriage that His wrath is being stored up for our destruction as a nation?

I am joined this morning by John Loeffler of Steel on Steel Radio. For decades John has been warning people of the dangerous slippery slope America and the Christian Church have been sliding down. Can anything be done to reverse this slide toward total debauchery and globalism that will one day enslave everyone? And if inevitable how do we as Christian stand strong in the midst of a world that hates us because it hates the One we worship—Jesus Christ?

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Leaving Mormonism

Mormonism continues to grow because Mormons are very open and evangelistic about their religion. They tend to be very moral people and unless you really understand what Mormonism is and what they believe about God, you can easily mistake Mormonism for biblical Christianity. But underneath the facade that appears to be biblical Christianity is a religion that has the identity of God and Jesus Christ wrong, leading many to a false sense of eternal security.

Dr. Lynn Wilder knows all about the subtle deception of Mormonism as she was a practicing Mormon for years until the truth was revealed to her by God. Now she is dedicated to teaching people about Mormonism and pointing them to the true saving faith of biblical Christianity through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh.

Dr. Wilder joins us this morning to share her story and offer advice in how to engage Mormons with the truth of God’s Word… the Bible.

Daily podcast, relevant articles on issues pertaining to Christians and more can be found on Stand Up For The Truth.

Read more

This ‘n’ That for 03/16/2018

  • I disagree with this article’s definition of the gift of singleness. Personally, it seems to me that, if you desire to be married, you don’t have the gift of singleness! Nevertheless, those individuals can still see their time of singleness as a gift, and from that perspective, there are good thoughts in this piece.
  • laughed. I couldn’t help it.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Discernment is more than just calling out false teachers.
  • I. Do. Not. Understand. This. Stupid. Decision. And when you make stupid decisions, things like this happen.
  • How can we know the Bible is from God?
  • I haven’t looked closely at this resource, so I can’t specifically vouch for it, but free stuff is always worth a second glance!
Is there nothing to sing about to-day? Then borrow a song from tomorrow; sing of what is yet to be. Is this world dreary? Then think of the next. —C.H. Spurgeon

March 16, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

His Forgiveness

and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” (8:9b–11)

After the departure of the scribes and Pharisees, Jesus was left alone with the woman, who remained standing where she was, in the center of the court. The text does not say whether the crowd that had been listening to Jesus’ teaching (v. 2) had also left. Whether they were still there or not, the focus of the narrative is on the Lord and the woman.

For the first time, someone addressed the woman. Straightening up from His posture of stooping to write, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” The term woman was a polite, respectful form of address (cf. Matt. 15:28; Luke 13:12; 22:57), one with which Jesus addressed His mother (John 2:4; 19:26), the Samaritan woman at the well (4:21), and Mary Magdalene (20:13, 15). With her accusers gone, there was no one left to condemn her. Exercising His divine prerogative to forgive sin (Matt. 9:6; cf. John 3:17; 12:47), Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.”

Forgiveness does not imply license to sin. Jesus did not condemn her, but He did command her to abandon her sinful lifestyle. Gerald L. Borchert writes,

Jesus’ verdict, “neither do I condemn,” however, was not rendered as a simple acquittal or a noncondemnation. The verdict was in fact a strict charge for her to live from this point on (apo tou nun) very differently—to sin no more (mēketi hamartane). The liberating work of Jesus did not mean the excusing of sin. Encountering Jesus always has demanded the transformation of life, the turning away from sin.… Sin was not treated lightly by Jesus, but sinners were offered the opportunity to start life anew. (John 1–11, The New American Commentary [Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2002], 376)

As Paul wrote in Romans 6:1–2, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?”

This story is far more than a battleground for textual critics. It paints a marvelous picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, whose gracious humility, infinite wisdom, convicting speech, and tender forgiveness are its central themes. All Christians should be grateful to God for sovereignly preserving it.[1]


The Woman Taken in Adultery

John 7:53–8:11

Then each went to his own home.

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

When the rulers of the Jewish nation failed in their attempt to have Jesus arrested by the temple guards, they immediately devised a plot to trap him. This plot is the most despicable action by these men recorded in the Gospels. At the same time, it became an occasion by which Jesus not only revealed the depth of his justice, wisdom, and compassion but also provided a message of hope and great peace for those who come to him. The story is that of the woman taken in adultery. The problem of the story is how justice and mercy can be harmonized while, at the same time, neither encouraging sin nor condemning the sinner. In this respect it is a central, even a pivotal, point in John’s Gospel.

Textual Problems

Before beginning our study of this story, I must be frank to admit that it involves us in a serious textual problem. The difficulty, simply put, is that the majority of the earliest manuscripts of John do not contain these verses and, moreover, that some of the best manuscripts are of this number. The best evidence for the story is its presence in Codex Bezae, of the fifth or sixth century, now in the University Library at Cambridge, England. But it is not in the older Codices Sinaiticus or Vaticanus, nor in the Washington or Koridethi manuscripts. In fact, of the older manuscripts, eight omit it entirely, though two manuscripts leave a blank space where it would have come. And not until the medieval manuscripts does it seem to have been included with any regularity. Some early manuscripts attach it at other places, such as at the end of the Gospel or after Luke 21:38.

Does that mean that we should just throw out these verses? Should we place them in the same category as the apocryphal gospels? Interestingly enough, very few scholars (even many of the liberal ones) seem willing to do this, and the fact that a good case can be made out for the other side, should make one cautious in how he deals with it. I am willing to deal with the story as genuine—though perhaps not a part of the original Gospel as John wrote it—for the following reasons:

  1. While it is true that most early manuscripts omit this story, it also is true that the story itself is old, regardless of who wrote it or whether or not it was originally in John’s Gospel. We find it in The Apostolic Constitutions (third century a.d.). And Eusebius, the church historian, tells us that Papias (who died not long after a.d. 100) knew a story “of a woman who was accused of many sins before the Lord.” Later, Jerome unquestioningly included it in the Latin Vulgate.
  2. A good case can be made for its inclusion at this particular place in John’s Gospel. For one thing, without it the change of thought between the fifty-second verse of chapter seven and the twelfth verse of chapter eight is abrupt and unnatural. We do not know where Jesus is in John 8:12, nor to whom he is speaking. For another thing, the introduction of a story at this point seems to fit the pattern that John has been using in these opening chapters. In each case, from chapter 5 onward, a story is used to set the theme of the teaching that follows. Thus, the miracle of healing the disabled man, which begins chapter 5, becomes the text of the sermon that follows. The feeding of the multitude in chapter 6 leads into the discourse on Christ as the bread of life. The discussion between Jesus and his brothers about going up to the feast in chapter 7 is an introduction to Christ’s words at the feast. So, likewise, is the story of his dealing with the adulterous woman an introduction to that speech on the combination of righteousness and freedom in Christ that the rest of the chapter declares that Christ brings.
  3. Third, there is an excellent reason why the story may have been omitted in the early manuscripts. In a contest with paganism, it is easy to see how the story might have been used by enemies of the gospel to suggest that Christ condoned fornication. Indeed, this is the reason for its omission given by both Augustine and Ambrose in the late fourth and early fifth centuries.
  4. The fourth and last reason for dealing with the section is the feeling, which many have had, that this story is indeed true to Christ’s nature, in accord at every point with his perfect holiness, wisdom, and deep compassion.

As we turn to the story we must see three things primarily: first, the horror of sin; second, the mastery by God of all circumstances; and third, the word of the Savior to the sinner.

Sin’s Horror

First, the story reveals sin’s horror. And, of course, I do not mean the sin of the woman. I mean the sin of the rulers. Adultery is sin, certainly. The woman was guilty of adultery. But compared to the sin of the men who were using her in an attempt to trap Jesus, her sin was minimal—a mote in her eye compared to the beams that were in their eyes (Matt. 7:1–5).

To understand precisely what these men were doing we must understand that not only was their approach to Jesus a trap; they actually had already been active in trapping the woman. In fact, it could hardly be otherwise, on the basis of their testimony and in light of the very exacting requirements of Jewish law in this and other capital cases. Under Jewish law, as it was practiced by the rabbis in the time of Christ and later, it was necessary to have multiple witnesses to the act of intercourse before the charge of adultery could be substantiated, and even this was to be under the most exacting of circumstances. Thus, as one scholar points out, “There is absolutely no question of [the witnesses] having seen the couple in a ‘compromising situation,’ for example, coming from a room in which they were alone, or even lying together on the same bed. The actual physical movements of the couple must have been capable of no other explanation, and the witnesses must have seen exactly the same acts at exactly the same time, in the presence of each other, so that their dispositions would be identical in every respect.”

Under these conditions the obtaining of evidence in adultery would be almost impossible were the situation itself not a setup. We are justified in supposing that the liaison had been arranged, perhaps by the very man who committed adultery with the woman. Was he a member of the Sanhedrin? Whatever the case, the arrangement must have involved the posting of witnesses in the room or at the keyhole.

We see the horror of the sin of these men in another way too. For the fact that only the woman was brought to Jesus reveals their dishonestly. If adultery could be proved only by the testimony of witnesses who had seen the couple in the very act of adultery and if this is what the rulers were claiming, as they were, where then was the man in the story? Why was he not brought with the woman? At the least, the rulers allowed the man to escape. At the worst, the man had been in on the plotting and had been granted immunity beforehand. How horrible! Yes, but it is only the old case of the double standard that exists still today. Men should take their stand with the women in such cases, confessing their share of the guilt, which is usually greater anyway. But they do not. The poor woman had to bear the shame alone.

God of Circumstances

The horror of sin is not the only subject these verses introduce, however. They also reveal the mastery by God of all circumstances.

We will appreciate this aspect of the story better if we realize that this was a serious problem with which the Lord was confronted. This was not like the problems with which he had been challenged before. On an earlier occasion the Sadducees, who did not believe in the afterlife, had come to him with a trick question about the resurrection. They imagined the case of a woman who had married seven brothers in turn, each one having died and having left her with no children. “In the resurrection, therefore, when they rise, whose wife will she be?” they asked. It was a stupid, almost infantile question. So Jesus answered that they had erred, knowing neither the Scriptures nor the power of God. On another occasion some of the rulers tried to trap him with a question regarding taxes. But again this involved only the conflict between public sentiment and the law of Rome, and Jesus dealt with it easily.

It was not this way with this problem of the adulterous woman. In this case three important matters were at stake: (1) the life of the woman, (2) the teaching of Jesus about the compassionate nature of his kingdom, and (3) the divinely given law of Moses. The way the matter was posed—so it seemed to the rulers—there was little doubt that Jesus would have to relinquish one of these items.

Everyone knew that the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ had been marked by compassion. He had moved about among publicans and sinners. He had befriended the outcasts. He had said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened” (Matt. 11:28). But if he was consistent with this teaching and if, on the basis of his compassion for the woman, he actually waived the law of Moses, then the rulers could rightly denounce him as a dangerous and false prophet. What prophet could speak against the law? Jesus had already been suspected of this because of his attitude toward the sabbath regulations. If he rejected Moses’ judgment, they had him. On the other hand, if Jesus upheld the law—if he said, “Kill the woman”—then they were also sure that they had him. For they reasoned, “If he says that, then we will ridicule him to the end of his days. We’ll say, ‘Sure, he says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” but he neglects to tell you that when you do come he’s going to stone you.’ ”

With devilish insight these men had hit upon the problem of all problems in respect to the relationship of a sinner to God. How can God show love to the sinner without being unjust? Or, as Paul states the problem: How can God be both just and the justifier of the ungodly (Rom. 3:26)? From a human point of view the problem is unsolvable. In this the rulers were right. “Even if Jesus wants to show love, he cannot,” they argued. But they were not aware that they were not dealing with a mere man when they dealt with Jesus. They were dealing with God, and with God all things are possible.

At first Jesus appeared to ignore them. Instead of replying he simply bent down and began to write on the ground.

I do not know why he wrote on the ground, and, what is more, I do not believe that anyone else does either. I have read numerous commentaries on these verses, and I have been surprised to find that nearly every one of them gives a different answer. Some have suggested that Jesus wrote on the ground to gain time. Others argue that he did so to force the accusers to repeat their charges, thinking that perhaps the shame of the situation might become evident even to them as they said it. Lawyers sometimes follow this procedure in courts of law. One person has suggested that Jesus was himself overcome with shame and horror in much the same way as he shuddered at the tomb of Lazarus or wept over the city of Jerusalem. Some suggest that this was a symbolic action, intended to remind the accusers of Jeremiah 17:13—“O Lord, the hope of Israel, all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust.” Perhaps, since Jesus knew their hearts, he was writing out their sins. Perhaps he wrote the words he later spoke. Whatever the case, the fact of Christ’s writing had no effect on the rulers, who rudely continued to press for an answer. One of the sad effects of sin is that it hardens the sinner.

After a while Jesus stood up and replied, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” (v. 7). How simple and, at the same time, how disarming! So we read that “those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there” (v. 9). Obviously, there was something in the gaze of the Lord Jesus Christ, or in the tone of his voice, or simply in the power of his presence that got through to these men, unrepentant as they were, and left them powerless. Think of the efforts they had gone through! Think of the plotting! Yet they were destroyed in a moment when they were confronted by the God who masters circumstances.

Words to the Sinner

At last, Jesus turned to the woman and for the first time addressed her directly. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

She answered, “No one, sir.”

“Neither do I condemn you,” said Jesus. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (vv. 10–11).

On what basis did Jesus make the statement, “Neither do I condemn you”? Some have suggested that at this point Jesus took advantage of the requirements of the law itself according to which it was necessary to have two or three witnesses in any judicial hearing. Jesus was one accuser perhaps, because he knew all things. But the others were gone, and so the requirements of the law could not be met. This may be right in part. Certainly it freed Jesus from having to condemn the woman. Yet to handle the matter like this is to miss the real meat of the story. For when we ask, “Why did the Lord Jesus Christ not pronounce judgment?” the only substantial and ultimately satisfying answer we get is that he did not pronounce judgment against the woman for precisely the same reason that he does not pronounce judgment against those who come to him in faith. It was because of the cross upon which he was about to bear the full penalty of God’s wrath against every sin ever committed by those whom the Father had given to him. He did not give forgiveness easily. He did so only because he was about to make forgiveness possible by the act of suffering in place of the sinner. This is the gospel. This is the only solution to the problem of how God can remain just and also excuse the sinner. To us, salvation is free. But it is free only because the Son of God paid the price for us.

Finally, Jesus told the woman to stop sinning. This always follows upon divine forgiveness, for we cannot be saved by God and then continue to do as we please. We must stop sinning. At the same time, we can be glad that the order is as Jesus gave it. For if he had said, “Go, sin no more; and I will not condemn you,” what hope would there be? We all sin, so there would be no forgiveness. Instead he says, “I forgive you on the basis of my death. Now, because you are forgiven, stop sinning.”

I hope this has been your experience. I hope you have heard and understood these words of Jesus.

You must place yourself at some place in this story. Are you like the crowd, who stood watching? These witnessed forgiveness, but they did not enter into it. Are you like the rulers? These were sinners, like the woman, but they went away from Jesus without even hearing the words of forgiveness. Or, finally, are you like the woman, who not only heard but also received the gospel message? Of all who were there that day by far the best one to be is the woman. The crowd was indifferent, as crowds always are. The rulers went out from Christ into darkness and six months later were killing the sinless Son of God. But the woman—well, the woman was forgiven through Christ, who died for her sin and for yours, whoever you may be.

Never a “Thing”

John 7:53–8:11

Then each went to his own home.

But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

“No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

There are two worlds, the impersonal world and the world of persons; not so much a world of things and a world of men, as a personal and an impersonal view of both men and things. Between these two worlds there is an invisible frontier which is within ourselves, and it is very difficult to cross.”

These words by the noted Swiss physician and author, Paul Tournier, speak to a great problem of our time, the problem of treating persons as things and vice versa. And they suggest, quite rightly, that the source of the problem, as with nearly all problems confronting us, is in ourselves. People are not things, of course. They were not created as things by God. God himself does not regard them as things. Yet we often treat other people as things—whenever we try to use them for some end of our own, fail to listen to them, or refuse to see them as those for whom Christ died. Have you never heard said, “I’ll be all right if I can just get Mary to do so and so”? Or perhaps, “Why worry about Joe? He doesn’t matter”? Or, “Let’s just ignore him”?

If you have ever said these things or something like them, then you are guilty, as we all are, of that which Tournier is describing; and the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ toward people, which we find so brilliantly illuminated in the story of the woman taken in adultery, is for you and should prove helpful.

The Attitude of the Rulers

The first point we need to notice is the attitude of the religious leaders toward the woman, for it was the opposite of Jesus’ attitude. In brief, the rulers tried to use the woman. We see this in the fact that the situation itself was a setup. Under rabbinic law it was next to impossible to secure a death penalty in a case of adultery. There had to be witnesses—two or three of them—and these had to observe, not merely a compromising situation but the very act of adultery. Moreover, in their testimony they had also to agree in every particular. An illustration of the failure to do this is found in the apocryphal story of Susanna in which the innocent Susanna is acquitted when the witnesses, who had conspired to perjure themselves against her, fail to agree in naming the tree of a garden under which the act supposedly was committed.

Under such circumstances it is almost self-evident that the rulers must have arranged the liaison, having stationed the witnesses in the room or at the keyhole. It was a situation quite similar to the use of private investigators and photographers in order to prove adultery today.

Moreover, the horror of this insensitive use of the woman is heightened by the probability that the woman was young. This is impossible to prove, of course, but it is suggested rather forcibly by the significance of the particular penalty called for by the woman’s accusers. These men were calling for death by stoning, and the importance of this is that stoning was the penalty specified in the case of adultery by a betrothed bride, who usually would be young.

The general text prescribing death in the case of adultery is Leviticus 20:10, which says, “If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.” Here the penalty is death, but the means of inflicting death are not specified. In Jewish practice at the time of Jesus the penalty was death by strangulation. On the other hand, in Deuteronomy 22:23–24 the penalty is death by stoning; but in this case the punishment applies only to a case involving an engaged girl who has proved unfaithful to the engagement by having relations with another man. Since engagements almost invariably involved young people, perhaps as young as thirteen or fourteen years old, we are justified in thinking that this was probably the case of the woman brought before Jesus. So we have a young girl, caught in what may have been her first offense, perhaps seduced and betrayed, if indeed this is what was required to secure her conviction. All this makes the situation more horrible.

Furthermore, we need to notice that, as the rulers used this woman, they were even found quoting Scripture, for they referred to the law and its punishments. It is sad and ironic, but so it was; and so it is for many who use the Word of God as they use people—for their own ends and apart from the grace and mercy of God that the Word communicates.

It is too bad that the rulers did not give even more attention to the Old Testament, rather than less. For if they had understood the full teaching of the Scriptures, they would have understood that in the sight of God each person is an individual, created by him for a specific purpose, and that the Word of God is not supposed to be used as merely one more tool to manipulate people.

In A Doctor’s Casebook in the Light of the Bible, Paul Tournier, whom I quoted earlier, speaks of what he calls the extraordinary “personalism” of the Bible. “What distinguishes the God of the Bible from the divinities of every other religion is that He is a personal God, who speaks personally to man,” he argues. God called Abraham by name, taking him out of his own country into a new land. “He makes a person of him through his personal obedience to a personal command. The personal God makes man into a person.” Tournier shows how God called to Moses, saying, “I know thee by name” (Exod. 33:17). He said to Cyrus, “I [am] the Lord, who call thee by thy name” (Isa. 45:3). “One is struck, on reading the Bible, by the importance in it of proper names,” Tournier observes. “Whole chapters are devoted to long genealogies. When I was young I used to think that they could well have been dropped from the biblical canon. But I have since realized that these series of proper names bear witness to the fact that, in the biblical perspective, man is neither a thing nor an abstraction, neither a species nor an idea, that he is not a fraction of the mass, as the Marxists see him, but that he is a person.”

Tournier is clearly right. And he is right when he calls upon Christians to share the biblical attitude. “If I forget my patients’ names,” he adds, “if I say to myself, Ah! There’s that gall-bladder type or that consumptive that I saw the other day,’ I am interesting myself more in their gall-bladders or their lungs than in themselves as persons.”

The religious rulers were obviously guilty of precisely this and worse. And we are also guilty, though on different levels. To them the woman was just a case. She had no feelings, no future, no need for saving. It was only in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ that she found mercy and regained her identity.

The Attitude of Jesus

This brings us to the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ toward the woman, and we find ourselves asking: What characterized his attitude? There are a number of answers.

First, the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ was characterized by understanding. This is the point at which everything else begins, for Jesus clearly knew what was going on both in the attitude and actions of the men and in the life of the woman. He was not fooled by circumstances nor by appearances. He was not deceived by the religious talk of the leaders, nor by the unrighteous actions of the victim. The expectations of the crowd did not move him. In short, he saw both the good and the evil and moved accordingly.

We need to grow in such understanding if we are to become like Jesus. Apart from this understanding there are two errors into which we fall in dealing with men and women. The first is naïveté. This is the error of believing that people are better than they are; it comes about by overlooking sin and evil. A person who is guilty of this error may be excessively optimistic. He may be loving and think well of all people and, as a result, be taken for a ride in many of his personal relationships. He will be used by the less scrupulous or more realistic. If such a person becomes disillusioned, however, he then runs the risk of falling into the other error, which is cynicism. This results in suspecting low motives in the best of actions and, in extreme cases, in refusing to enter into meaningful relationships with others at all.

In avoiding these errors—both naïveté and cynicism—Jesus becomes our pattern. For he was able to look the worst of life in the face without being astonished or embittered and at the same time retain the purity out of which he was enabled to move in love toward the sinner. Earlier John tells us that Jesus “knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man” (2:24–25).

Naturally, we will never be able to understand other people completely, for our knowledge is limited by sin and by our human perspectives. Still, it is true that we can know people much better than we do and can be a help to them because of our understanding. Where does such understanding come from? It comes from the Word of God, for it is only in the Word that we can gain accurate insight into human nature and human problems. The Scriptures will show both the depravity of man, with all its complications in individual and corporate life, and the destiny of the redeemed as the result of God’s perfect remedy for sin in Jesus Christ.

Second, the attitude of the Lord Jesus was characterized by compassion. This was linked to his understanding. Jesus knew the woman intuitively. He knew her sin and shame. He knew her potential. Because he knew her, he loved her. It was always thus with Jesus. He saw people as sheep without a shepherd, as sinners without a Savior; from that understanding came compassion.

It is impossible to explain such compassion. We may point to its link with understanding, but that does not explain its real origins. It does not explain it in ideal situations, let alone in this one, or in any situation that involves the love of the righteous God for a sinner.

Imagine for a moment that you are a parent and that you have one of your children sitting upon your lap. The child says, “Daddy [or Mommy], do you love me?”

You say, “Yes, I do,” and you give the child a kiss.

Then the child says, “Why do you love me?” Well, what do you say to that question? There is just no answer. You cannot say, “I love you because you are good,” for that is not true, and it may even be harmful. You would love the child even if he were bad, which he certainly will be sooner or later. And you would not want the child to think that your love depends upon his being good, for he would then doubt your love when he disappoints you. Then again, you cannot say, “I love you because you are beautiful.” You would love the child even if he were not beautiful. You would love him even if he were retarded or deformed. Nor can you say, “I love you because you are mine,” for you would love the child even if he were adopted. Why do you love him? Well, you love him in part because you understand him, but that does not explain your love. Love is unexplainable. The best you can say is that love is divine and that you love him because God himself has loved us.

Apply this to Christ’s love for the woman. What can explain it? It is beyond reason, for every argument from reason would suggest that Christ should condemn her. She had broken the law. She had debased her own person. She even had violated that great illustration of Christ’s love for the church and of the church’s love for Christ: marriage. For marriage was given by God to illustrate that greatest of all relationships. And yet, Christ loved her. He wanted to spare her, to save her. There was no love in the attitude of her accusers.

Third, the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ was characterized by forgiveness. This was his desire from the beginning—from the moment at which he stooped and wrote on the ground to the final moment in which he said to the woman, “Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin.”

But it was not an easy forgiveness. It was not what Dietrich Bonhoeffer has aptly termed “cheap grace.” It was costly, for it meant that Jesus would himself have to bear the justified wrath of God against the sinner. The Bible tells us that “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23), and it was precisely this that the Lord Jesus Christ bore for those whom he desired to forgive. Death means separation. In the physical sense death means the separation of the soul and the spirit from the body. In the spiritual sense it means the separation of the soul and the spirit from God. This, Jesus bore in our place. We probably will never understand in its fullness what this meant to the Savior, but we gain a sense of what it meant in that awful cry of dereliction wrung from his lips on the cross—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” In that moment God the Father turned his back on God the Son so that Jesus knew the reality of spiritual death and separation. At the time of his talking to the woman this was before him, but it was on the basis of what was coming that forgiveness was given.

Today we look back on Christ’s sacrifice, and the horror of what He bore for us compels us to come to him. Someone has said, “No other god has wounds.” It is true. No other god ever was able to give himself in death for the sinner.

Fourth, the attitude of the Lord Jesus Christ was characterized by a challenge. He said, “Go now and leave your life of sin.” This was not the same thing as merely allowing the woman to go her way, forgiven but free to do as she might choose. She was forgiven, but she was told to do better. It was, in short, the challenge of the sinless life. In the same way, Jesus confronts us. He understands us, loves us, forgives us; but he does this in order that we might not sin. Moreover, the element of challenge is also to characterize the Christian’s relationships with other people.

Persons or Things?

The conclusion of this is that our attitude toward others should be that of the Lord Jesus Christ toward us and not that of the rulers who had accused the woman. They had used the woman. Jesus had saved her. What made the difference? We can say that the men were only sinful human beings while Christ was divine, of course. That is correct. But it is not very helpful. What is helpful is to notice that before this incident Jesus had spent the night upon the Mount of Olives, where we know from other sources he was accustomed to spend the time praying, while the leaders for their part had spent the night scheming with one another and (some of them) in peeping through keyholes.

Where does this compassionate attitude toward other persons come from in practical experience? It comes only from communing with our heavenly Father. We are personal with others only when we know ourselves to be persons. We know ourselves to be persons only when we see ourselves as persons before God.[2]


The Woman Caught in Adultery

John 7:53–8:11

Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” (John 8:10–11)

Sometimes we encounter a sin so staggering that it is disgusting to reflect on the human condition. The Bible recounts numerous such examples. I think of Pharaoh and later King Herod ordering the murder of infant boys to protect their insecure thrones. I think of Jezebel and her cold-blooded destruction of innocent Naboth in order to steal his vineyard. But even in that wretched company, I know of few sins so dripping with evil as the one recorded at the end of John chapter 7.

I am not referring to adultery. To be sure, adultery is a very great sin. If I were to name any one sin that is doing the most damage in our society today, it might be adultery. This is why there are few higher callings for Christians today than our calling to sexual purity.

With that said, adultery is more a sin of weakness than of malice. But the sin that dominates our passage was born of pure hatred. A woman would be destroyed for the sake of bringing down Jesus Christ, because his message, however wonderful and true, was inconvenient to the agenda of those who sought to take his life.

An Evil Conspiracy

John chapter 7 recounts the failure of the religious leaders to arrest Jesus during the Feast of Tabernacles. The guards they sent to take him returned empty-handed. Unable to apprehend Jesus, the rulers resorted to a clever and sinister trap to discredit him. It was an evil plan, but it was also a stroke of genius.

Let’s consider the evil first. What we know about ancient Jewish legal procedures makes it clear that this was not simply a case of callous opportunism toward a sinful woman, but rather a conspiracy and a setup. In the time of Christ, Jewish legal procedures were extremely careful and judicious. This was particularly true in the case of any crime punishable by execution.

Adultery was one of those crimes punishable by death. But according to the law of Moses, it was necessary for the couple to be caught actually engaging in sexual intercourse (Lev. 20; Deut. 22:22). It was not enough to find them in an inappropriate or compromising situation. One expert in Jewish legal procedures states, “The actual physical movements of the couple must have been capable of no other explanation, and the witnesses must have seen exactly the same acts at exactly the same time, in the presence of each other, so that their depositions would be identical in every respect.”

In the apocryphal book Suzanna, a woman falsely accused of adultery is acquitted because the witnesses cannot agree on what kind of tree the act supposedly took place beneath. You see the level of detail required to obtain a conviction, and how hard it would be to produce such a situation unless it was a setup. The witnesses would have to be in place in advance, with planning and coordination of the details.

Furthermore, notice that they dragged only the woman forward. They witnessed the act of adultery but did not produce the man. At the least, they let him get away and the man abandoned her to take the fall. At the worst, the man who committed adultery with this woman seduced her for this purpose. This shows a callous attitude about sin and contempt for human life. This is the kind of abuse that has often embittered women to male leadership in the church.

So this is a despicable plot. It gets worse when we consider their attitude to the Word of God. They treated the law as nothing more than a weapon for trapping Jesus: “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” (John 8:4–5). There was no need for this question. As they state, the law was clear on this point, so the question had only one purpose: “This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him” (8:6). This is an ignoble purpose for the Word of God, to say the least.

Even further, if they had been in a position to witness the act of adultery, they surely were in a position to keep the sin from happening in the first place. If they had really wanted to uphold the law, they would have prevented the sin rather than waiting to exploit it. No wonder Jesus later referred to such people as being “of [their] father the devil” (John 8:44).

Indeed, when we compare the behavior of these religious leaders with that of Satan, the resemblance is remarkable. We are reminded of the scene in Zechariah 3, where the devil played this very role against the high priest Joshua. Zechariah says, “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him” (Zech. 3:1). In a striking similarity, the Pharisees act out this same dread pageant, with the same devilish motive. It was not a concern for God or for righteousness that moved them, but it was an evil manipulation to advance their own hateful agenda.

Of course, Satan always wants to inspire this kind of self-righteous malice, which is why the attitude displayed by the evil religious leaders is so common among mankind. It is the attitude that Satan wants to instill in us, and too often he succeeds. If we are quick to condemn these religious leaders, let us remember how many times we have spoken or acted with similar motives. Here is the human condition in sin laid bare, in all its disgusting depravity.

A Serious Dilemma

We have to admit, however, that there was also considerable genius at work in this conspiracy. The intention of the religious leaders was to discredit Jesus, and this situation was suitably crafted to that end.

Consider the options presented to our Lord. On the one hand, he could urge forgiveness. This would seem consistent with his preaching of grace, but at the expense of setting aside the law. That would greatly discredit Jesus’ ministry and undermine his credibility. God is holy and burns against sin. Anyone who just brushed aside the demands of his justice would not be credible as a divine messenger.

On the other hand, Jesus could take his stand with Moses, calling for the woman’s condemnation. But that would compromise his teaching of grace. John Calvin explains the dilemma: “Their intention was, to constrain Christ to depart from his office of preaching grace, that he might appear to be fickle and unsteady.”

Imagine Jesus as saying, “This woman is guilty and must be punished. Let’s gather stones and put her to death.” If Jesus had said that, what sinner would ever come weeping to his feet? What poor wretch, overcome by temptation, in sorrow for sin, would ever dare come to Jesus for help? Such a person must conclude, “No, Jesus is a condemner of sinners. He will give me up to judgment and punishment.” A. W. Pink expresses the problem well:

The problem presented to Christ by His enemies was no mere local one. So far as human reason can perceive it was the profoundest moral problem which ever could or can confront God Himself. That problem was how justice and mercy could be harmonized.… How can mercy be exercised when the sword of justice bars her way? How can grace flow forth except by slighting holiness?

Jesus’ Daunting Presence

Against the backdrop of this terrible and cunning conspiracy, Jesus reveals his mastery over every circumstance. His response to this dilemma was as unexpected as it was remarkable:

Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. (John 8:6–8)

It is impossible to know for sure what Jesus wrote on the ground, or even what he meant by this action. Some commentators say that he was listing the sins of the accusers, others that he was writing out his response before speaking it, as Roman judges did when rendering a verdict, still others that he was writing out the law’s condemnation against false witnesses, or the words of Jeremiah 17:13: “O Lord, … those who turn away from you shall be written in the earth.” Those are all reasonable suggestions, but we have to admit that we simply don’t know more than what John tells us.

But there is something we do know, and that is that Jesus’ personal presence deterred these men from their terrible course. The key was his challenge, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). With those words he disarmed the trap and put the accusers to flight. That statement could not be construed as setting aside the law. At the same time, it protected the woman from harm, since none dared take up his challenge. Just as happened when the guards had tried to arrest him, so also here: Jesus’ presence was overwhelming in overthrowing evil.

One thing we can know is that Jesus was not opposing the law, but rather these men who sought to pervert it. The law required that the witnesses be the first to cast the stones (Deut. 17:7), and that those witnesses had to be free from any association with the crime itself. Most importantly, Jesus lifted the discussion from the procedural to the moral level, and there these wicked men could not stand. Jesus always raises the bar from form to substance, from outward show to inward reality, with the effect that every pretense of self-righteousness stands no chance before him. It is always one thing to talk about what you will say to Jesus, but it is quite another to find yourself in his presence. Has your heart really encountered Jesus Christ? If you have, then you know that, simply put, he is the Lord.

In the glaring presence of the Son of God, these wicked men lacked the gall to press on and cast the first stone. Just as the prison guards had drawn back, unable to arrest him, and just as the soldiers would later fall to their faces when they came to seize him in the garden (John 18:6), so, too, did these men fall back from the Lord. John’s account is understated: “When they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him” (8:9). James Montgomery Boice observes:

Obviously, there was something in the gaze of the Lord Jesus Christ, or in the tone of his voice, or simply in the power of his presence that got through to these men, unrepentant as they were, and left them powerless. Think of the efforts they had gone through! Think of the plotting! Yet they were destroyed in a moment when they were confronted by the God who masters circumstances.

Jesus’ response to this situation does not mean that there can never be justice on the human level. This does not mean that no jury can ever condemn a criminal because the jurors are not perfectly sinless. As Calvin states, Christ is not forbidding sinners “to do their duty in correcting the sins of others; but by this word he only reproves hypocrites, who mildly flatter themselves and their vices, but are excessively severe, and even act the part of felons, in censuring others.” We are, however, put in mind of the merciful attitude that we as forgiven sinners must show to others who have sinned, even if it is right for them to be punished. As Jesus taught, we must pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matt. 6:12).

Mercy and Justice Kiss

There is the greatest contrast between the way in which Jesus treated this sinful woman and the way in which the scribes and Pharisees treated her. It is always sad to find people using God’s Word not to proclaim grace for salvation, but to destroy people in pursuit of their own agendas. Even when Christians are bound to denounce evil—we might think of Christian opposition to homosexuality or abortion today—our agenda must always be redemption through grace. At a minimum, this requires us always to extend mercy to people, conducting ourselves with kindness and extending sincere personal care, even when we are opposing their positions.

Moreover, Jesus never treats people as tools or mere “things.” He cared not just about his reputation or about the situation. Jesus cared about this woman. All through John’s Gospel—in Jesus’ meeting with Nicodemus by night, with the woman by the well, with the paralytic by the pool—Jesus cares for people one by one. He understands not just the type of situation, but the individual. He knows what is going on in our individual lives. He sees behind the pretense and deals with us in grace and truth. He was not naive about this woman’s sin, but that did not make him callous or cold. As Psalm 103:14 says, “He knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.”

Notice how Jesus showed compassion for her desperate condition. Jesus always looks with compassion on the lost. As Matthew wrote, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). This compassion is born of his great love, a love that neither has nor needs an explanation but is of his own very nature. “God is love,” proclaims 1 John 4:8, and Jesus came to reveal God’s love to the world.

Therefore, Jesus extended forgiveness to the sinful woman. There he was in the sudden quiet of the temple courts, the accusers having fled one by one. Standing up before her, Jesus asked, “ ‘Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said, ‘Neither do I condemn you’ ” (John 8:10–11). What an encouragement for us to stop hiding our sin before God, but to come humbly to Jesus, confessing our sin and seeking the forgiveness that he so freely gives and we so greatly need.

It occurs to me that Jesus might have avoided the trap without going out of his way to save this woman. When they asked him to choose between justice and mercy, he might very well have referred them to the Sanhedrin, the body entrusted with such matters. Had Jesus replied, “This is an obvious trap. You are the teachers of the law; you don’t need my help for such a matter,” he would have been safe enough. But to do that would have been to forfeit this woman’s life; it would have been to stand still while an injustice was perpetrated. Even if she was guilty, this was not justice. Jesus’ concern here was not merely for mercy, but also for true justice in God’s sight. In driving away these evil conspirators, he served the cause of both.

I have stated that we cannot know what Jesus wrote on the ground. But I think we can know something of why Jesus stooped in this way. I believe that Jesus stooped to the ground to avoid looking not at the accusers, but at the accused. He did respect, even love, God’s justice in the law, but he had different plans for fulfilling it than by condemning this woman. Therefore, he did not turn to her until the law, with its witnesses, had been driven from the scene. It was only when the demands of the law—represented by these Pharisees—were gone that he turned and said, “Woman, where are your accusers?”

This is the heart of the Christian gospel. Jesus came not to condemn but to save; he says to this woman and to every sinner who comes for mercy, “Neither do I condemn you.” But in order to speak these words, he must first dismiss the law’s demand for judgment. This was the dilemma with which these men tried to trap him. So we ask: On what basis did Jesus, on behalf of a just and holy God, say the words, “Neither do I condemn you”? It is one thing to intimidate hypocritical legalists, but how does Jesus dismiss the law itself?

The answer is the cross, on which Jesus would die for the sins of people such as this woman. Jesus came into the world to take this woman’s adulterous shame upon his innocent back, to put away her sins and say, “Neither do I condemn you.”

Jesus speaks forgiveness to us not because we are not guilty, and certainly not because God winks at our sin. Jesus is not unconcerned with justice—far from it; it was the work of his life and his death. Jesus can say, “Neither do I condemn you,” because he has driven off the accusers, having exhausted the law’s penalty against the sins that he took up for us. It is the cross that solves the dilemma between justice and mercy, to the glory of God in the highest. It is there at Calvary that Psalm 85:10 can be spoken: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other” (kjv).

I said before that I know of no sin more evil than the one that this passage shows. But of course, there is one more evil: when the innocent Prince of Peace was put to death on the cruel cross. That was the darkest sin, the most evil crime, perpetrated by the same men who brought forth this woman. But just as Christ mastered the plot against this woman caught in adultery, so also did he master the crime that was his death. In his grace, he would use this shameful episode to redeem the sinful woman; likewise, the cross became the instrument of our forgiveness, the place where mercy and justice kiss.

Sin Taken Away

I have mentioned the similarity between this episode and that of Zechariah chapter 3. There, Joshua the high priest, representing all of Israel and all of the church, stood in filthy clothes before the Angel of the Lord, who represented the Lord Jesus Christ. At Joshua’s right hand was Satan, accusing him for his sin. What Satan wanted then was to drive a wedge between the holy God and his sinful people, just as he wants to drive you from God by his accusations against your sins. But the angel rebuked the devil, just as Jesus chased off these accusers. “Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments’ ” (Zech. 3:3–4). This is the great message of the gospel of Jesus Christ, that through faith in him our sins have been taken away and forgiven and the perfect righteousness of Christ is imputed to us through faith. “There is therefore now,” Paul writes in Romans 8:1, “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus does not stand opposed to the law. He saves us not by despising but fulfilling it—by achieving its demands and exhausting its penalty. In that way he redeems us to a life of fellowship with and obedience to God. The law was once over our heads as a threat, as these Pharisees stood accusing this woman. But now it is under our feet as a guide for godly living. In Zechariah’s vision, the forgiven priest was clothed in white and commissioned to holiness. Jesus also joins forgiveness with a call to new obedience, telling the woman: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11).

We are forgiven in order that we might become holy. But let us never confuse this order! Jesus does not say, “Leave your life of sin, and then I will think about forgiving you.” Were that the case, he might just as well condemn us all now. No, he forgives us on the basis of his saving work, which we receive by simple faith. Paul explains, “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy” (Titus 3:5). Therefore, if Jesus declares you not condemned, you will not be charged in God’s court. He will send your accuser away by lifting up his nail-pierced hands. Paul asks, “Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Rom. 8:34).

But not everyone in this encounter went away forgiven. Not everyone today stands uncondemned before God. The religious leaders, so sure of their moral stature because of their outward religion and petty works, departed condemned because they rejected the Son of God and Savior. Does this picture you in reliance on your works, or your contempt for those in sin and disgrace? If so, then realize that Christ will send you away until you repent and believe; he will leave you to stand before the searching gaze of God in the day of judgment. And there you will not hear from Jesus, “Neither do I condemn you,” but rather, “Whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him” (John 3:36).

Then there was this woman. Perhaps you feel like her. Disgraced by your sin. Wearied by guilt. Fearful of the holy God and his just law. Then look upon Jesus Christ and see your Savior. He died for you, and now he says to all who receive him in humble faith: “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” Martin Luther said: “If you have tasted the Law and sin, and if you know the ache of sin, then look here, and see how sweet, in comparison, the grace of God is, the grace which is offered to us in the Gospel.” And seeing that grace, you will not want to sin anymore, but out of gratitude for him who died for you, you will want to live for him.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). John 1–11 (pp. 329–330). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2005). The Gospel of John: an expositional commentary (pp. 601–612). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Phillips, R. D. (2014). John. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (1st ed., Vol. 1, pp. 499–508). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

MARCH 16 TRUTH ADDRESSES ITSELF TO THE TOTAL MAN

Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.

JOHN 17:17

The Bible is, among other things, a book of revealed truth. That is, certain facts are revealed that could not be discovered by the most brilliant mind. These facts are of such a nature as to be past finding out.

These are facts that were hidden behind a veil, and until certain men who spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost took away that veil no mortal man could know them.

The lifting of the veil of unknowing from undiscoverable things we call divine revelation.

What is generally overlooked among humankind is that truth as set forth in the Christian Scriptures is a moral thing; it is not addressed to the intellect only, but to the will also. It addresses itself to the total man, and its obligations cannot be discharged by grasping it mentally.

Truth engages the citadel of the human heart and is not satisfied until it has conquered everything there. The will must come forth and surrender its sword. It must stand at attention to receive orders, and those orders it must joyfully obey. Short of this any knowledge of Christian truth is inadequate and unavailing.

Bible exposition without moral application raises no opposition. It is only when the hearer is made to understand that truth is in conflict with his heart that resistance sets in. As long as people can hear orthodox truth divorced from life they will attend and support churches and institutions without objection![1]


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

March 16 The Nature of Persecution

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.—Matt. 5:10–12

Our Lord’s teaching on the beatitudes climaxes with this great and sobering truth: those who faithfully live according to the first seven beatitudes are guaranteed at some point to experience the eighth. Godliness generates hostility and antagonism from the world. Holy people are singularly blessed, but they pay a price for it.

However, persecution is one of the surest and most tangible evidences of salvation. If we never experience ridicule, criticism, or rejection because of our faith, we have reason to examine the genuineness of it. “For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me” (Phil. 1:29–30).

To live a redeemed life to its fullest is to invite and expect resentment and reaction from the world. When Christians are not persecuted in some way by society, it generally means they are reflecting rather than confronting that society. And when we please the world, we can be sure that we grieve the Lord (cf. James 4:4; 1 John 2:15–17). Make sure you are living apart from the world and its allurements.

ASK YOURSELF

How do you experience persecution in your life, perhaps at work, within your family (including parents and in-laws), or among the various people you routinely associate with? How do you typically respond to it—if not directly, at least in the thoughts you entertain?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 84). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

March 16 An Alternate Choice

I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first.

Romans 1:16

Before God sent His Son to earth, God’s design was to reach the world through Israel, but Israel was unbelieving. Their unbelief is described in a parable about a king who arranged a wedding feast for his son and called for his invited guests (Israel). When the guests refused to come—some were indifferent and others hostile—the king said to his servants, “Therefore go into the highways, and as many as you find, invite to the wedding” (Matt. 22:9). Jesus used this parable to describe apostate Israel, who refused their Messiah and forfeited the celebration planned for them.

God then gave the invitation to another group: the Gentiles. God chose a small group of people gathered on a hillside in Galilee and a few other disciples in Jerusalem to reach the lost world. Through them He would do the work that the nation of Israel had refused to do, and we are called to continue that work.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 89). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Four – Friday

Confession: Psalm 30:6–10

But as for me, I had said in my prosperity,

“I shall not be moved ever.”

O Yahweh, by your favor

you caused my strong mountain to stand.

You hid your face. I was bewildered.

To you, O Yahweh, I called,

and to the Lord I pleaded for grace saying,

“What gain is there in my death,

in my going down into the pit?

Will the dust praise you?

Will it tell of your faithfulness?

“O Yahweh, hear and be gracious to me.

O Yahweh, be my helper.”

Reading: Mark 14:3–11

And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining for a meal, a woman came holding an alabaster flask of very costly perfumed oil of genuine nard. After breaking the alabaster flask, she poured it out on his head. But some were expressing indignation to one another: “Why has there been this waste of perfumed oil? For this perfumed oil could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor!” And they began to scold her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you cause trouble for her? She has done a good deed to me. For the poor you always have with you, and you can do good for them whenever you want, but you do not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

And Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. And when they heard this, they were delighted, and promised to give him money. And he began seeking how he could betray him conveniently.

Reflection

When a poor sinner cleaves to Jesus and finds the forgiving love of God, he cannot but love God back. When the prodigal returned home and felt his father’s arms around his neck, then did he feel the gushings of affection toward his father. When the summer sun shines full down upon the sea, it draws the vapors upward to the sky. So when the sunbeams of the son of righteousness fall upon the soul, they draw forth the risings of love to Him in return.

Some of you are longing to love God. Come into His love, then. Consent to be loved by Him, though worthless in yourself. It is better to be loved by Him than to love, and it is the only way to learn to love Him. When the light of the sun falls upon the moon, it finds the moon dark and unlovely, but the moon reflects the light and casts it back again. So let the love of God shine into your breast, and you will cast it back again. “We love, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).

The only cure for a cold heart is to look at the heart of Jesus.

—Robert McCheyne

Perfect Love Casteth out Fear

Response

The woman in this story responds to Christ’s love with an extravagant action that shocks the people around her. What would that kind of extravagant response look like 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.

March 16, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

23  Nevertheless, I am continually with you;
you hold my right hand.
24  You guide me with your counsel,
and afterward you will receive me to glory.
25  Whom have I in heaven but you?
And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you.
26  My flesh and my heart may fail,
but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 73:23–26). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


The Desire of the Godly (73:23–26)

23–26 In this section the experience of pain and anguish is transformed to the joy of God’s presence. God is the psalmist’s chief desire (v. 25). Twice he repeats “with you” (vv. 23, 25 [Heb.]) to express the joy of fellowship with God. Because of God’s presence, the psalmist is also more assured of his protection and guidance. God protects him by holding his “right hand” (v. 23; cf. 63:8; Isa 41:10, 13; 42:6; Jer 31:32), by giving him internal fortitude (“rock”; NIV, “strength,” v. 26; cf. 18:2), and by providing for all of his needs (“portion,” v. 26; cf. 16:5). God guides his servant by giving him wisdom and insight (“counsel”) as he travels on the road to everlasting glory (v. 24).

The “glory” (kābôd, v. 24) of God is his blessed presence, which Moses experienced on Mount Sinai (Ex 33:18–23; 34:6–7, 29–35). The glory of God affects one’s whole way of life as one lives in the joy of God’s love, mercy, patience, grace, and forgiveness. But hope extends beyond this life to the future, when God will take care of all of his children’s needs.

The joy of fellowship with God as experienced in his protection and guidance is so intense that the psalmist bursts out a rhetorical question (v. 25). The clear answer is that there is no one but God, his Sustainer in heaven, with whom he longingly desires to fellowship even while in the flesh; therefore he is more prepared to face his present existence with all of its problems. He is prepared to grow older and experience failing health and even adversity because God is his “strength,” “portion” (v. 26), and “refuge” (v. 28). “The Rock” (ṣûr, v. 26; NIV, “strength”) of Israel is present with him in protection, guidance, and confidence (18:1–3).

The Lord is also the psalmist’s “portion” (ḥēleq, v. 26). He cares and provides for his own (cf. 16:5). In ancient Israel the priests enjoyed a privileged status of having the Lord as their “share” and “inheritance” (Nu 18:20). Though they were denied the privilege of land ownership, they, along with the Levites, were taken care of by the Lord’s tithes and offerings (cf. Nu 18:1–32). Similarly the psalmist casts himself on the Lord for all of his needs; as Crenshaw (Whirlpool of Torment, 108) has put it, “The Psalmist has stood near the flame and has at least been caught up in it.”[1]


73:25, 26 It is enough that I have You in heaven; that makes me fabulously wealthy. And now I have no desire for anything upon earth apart from Yourself. Let the ungodly have their wealth. I am satisfied with You and find my all-sufficiency in You. My body may waste away and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my life and all I’ll ever need or want throughout eternity.[2]


73:25–28 The contrast between the words shall perish and draw near to God explains the heart of the psalm. There are those who may enjoy great wealth and notoriety today, but nothing they have or do will last forever. Therefore, Asaph concludes he has put his trust in the Lord God. Only those who place their trust in God will find eternal life and eternal peace.[3]


73:26 — My flesh and my heart fail; but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Some people think that only the weak need God, but the fact is that all of us are weak. Our flesh fails; our heart fails. But when we find our strength in God, our weakness turns to strength (2 Cor. 12:10).[4]


[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. 566–567). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 661). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 696). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[4] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Ps 73:26). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

March 16 Threats to Humility: Doctrine and Hypocrisy

“Walk … with all humility.”

Ephesians 4:1–2

✧✧✧

Avoid pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.

Years ago, when my children were young, my son Mark told my youngest child, Melinda, to take something out of the room. She said, “You’re not my boss.” Mark replied, “Dad is the boss of Mom, Mom is the boss of Matt, Matt is the boss of Marcy, Marcy is the boss of me, and I am the boss of you.” So Melinda obeyed. After that, Melinda decided she was the boss of the dog, and the dog was boss of nobody. No one wants to be on the bottom rung of the ladder!

Everyone holds a certain position in life, and everyone is tempted to take advantage of it. Look at Herod in Acts 12:21–22: “Herod, having put on his royal apparel … began delivering an address to them. And the people kept crying out, ‘The voice of a god and not of a man!’ ” He loved the attention. What happened? “Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died” (v. 23).

Intellectual pride can also be a stumbling block. It’s easy for Christians to think their theology is perfect and they have all the answers. But the more I study the Bible, the more I realize how little I know. I feel like a child who fills a pail in the ocean. My learning is only a small bucket of water compared to the vast sea of knowledge. I know very little, and I’m still learning.

The worst type of pride is external spirituality without internal holiness. Jesus reserved His greatest condemnations for those who had such pride: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you too outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Matt. 23:27–28). You may look spiritual on the outside, going to church and acting “Christianly,” but your heart may be full of sin.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Examine your heart, and confess any pride in your position, intelligence, or spirituality.

For Further Study: Read in Daniel 5 about what happened to a king who took pride in his position. Notice how God humbled him. Such sin wasn’t trivial to God; it shouldn’t be to us either.[1]


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

MARCH 16 GOD IS INEFFABLE

For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

—1 Corinthians 2:11

We can best conceive of God by conceiving of what He is not. We can always know what God is not, but we can never know quite what God is…. The greatness of God’s mind leaves all our soaring thoughts behind. God is ineffable (incapable of being expressed in words), inconceivable and unimaginable….

As I said, we are driven to the use of negative statements when speaking about God. When we speak of the self-existence of God, we say God has no origin. When we speak of God’s eternity, we say God has no beginning. When we speak of the immutability of God, we say God has no change. When we speak of the infinity of God, we say that God has no limits. When we speak of the omniscience of God, we say that God has no teachers and cannot learn….

Well now, the Scripture takes this negative method too. Scripture says the Lord “fainteth not, neither is weary” (Isaiah 40:28) and that He “cannot lie” (Titus 1:2). It says, “I am the LORD, I change not” (Malachi 3:6). It says, “with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37)…. AOGII107, 109-110

Teach me, Lord, that I might know all of You that I can within the limits of my humanity. I await the day when I will more completely know who You are. Amen.[1]


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

March 15 Daily Help

“OH!” cries one, “I wish I could escape the wrath of the law! Oh that I knew that Christ did keep the law for me!” Stop, then, and I will tell you. Do you feel to-day that you are guilty, lost, and ruined? Do you, with tears in your eyes, confess that none but Jesus can do you good? Are you willing to give up all trusts, and cast yourself alone on him who died upon the cross? Can you look to Calvary, and see the bleeding sufferer, all crimson with streams of gore? Then he kept the law for you, and the law cannot condemn whom Christ has absolved.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 78). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

March 15, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

Worry Is Unreasonable Because of Our Faith

Do not be anxious then, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “With what shall we clothe ourselves?” For all these things the Gentiles eagerly seek; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. (6:31–33)

Worry is inconsistent with our faith in God and is therefore unreasonable as well as sinful. Worry is characteristic of unbelief. Ethnoi (Gentiles) literally means simply “peoples,” or “a multitude.” In the plural form, as here, it usually referred to non-Jews, that is, to Gentiles and, by extension, to unbelievers or pagans. Worrying about what to eat, drink, and clothe themselves with are things the Gentiles eagerly seek. Those who have no hope in God naturally put their hope and expectations in things they can enjoy now. They have nothing to live for but the present, and their materialism is perfectly consistent with their religion. They have no God to supply their physical or their spiritual needs, their present or their eternal needs, so anything they get they must get for themselves. They are ignorant of God’s supply and have no claim on it. No heavenly Father cares for them, so there is reason to worry.

The gods of the Gentiles were man-made gods inspired by Satan. They were gods of fear, dread, and appeasement who demanded much, promised little, and provided nothing. It was natural that those who served such gods would eagerly seek whatever satisfactions and pleasures they could while they could. Their philosophy is still popular in our own day among those who are determined to grab all the gusto they can get. “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die” is an understandable outlook for those who have no hope in the resurrection (1 Cor. 15:32).

But that is a completely foolish and unreasonable philosophy for those who do have hope in the resurrection, for those whose heavenly Father knows that [they] need all these things. To worry about our physical welfare and our clothing is the mark of a worldly mind, whether Christian or not. When we think like the world and crave like the world, we will worry like the world, because a mind that is not centered on God is a mind that has cause to worry. The faithful, trusting, and reasonable Christian is “anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving [lets his] requests be made known to God” (Phil. 4:6). He refuses in anyway to “be conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2).

Within this series of rebukes Jesus gives a positive command coupled with a beautiful promise: But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you. The cause of worry is seeking the things of this world, and the cause of contentment is seeking the things of God’s kingdom and His righteousness.

De is primarily a conjunction of contrast, for which but is a good rendering. In the present context it carries the idea of “rather,” or “instead of.” “Rather than seeking and worrying about food, drink, and clothing like unbelievers do,” Jesus says, “focus your attention and hopes on the things of the Lord and He will take care of all your needs.”

Out of all the options that we have, out of all the things we can seek for and be occupied with, we are to seek first the things of the One to whom we belong. That is the Christian’s priority of priorities, a divine priority composed of two parts: God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness.

As we have seen in the discussion of the Disciples’ Prayer (6:10), basileia (kingdom) does not refer to a geographical territory but to a dominion or rule. God’s kingdom is God’s sovereign rule, and therefore to seek first His kingdom is to seek first His rule, His will and His authority.

Seeking God’s kingdom is losing ourselves in obedience to the Lord to the extent that we can say with Paul, “I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, in order that I may finish my course, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24). To seek first God’s kingdom is to pour out our lives in the eternal work of our heavenly Father.

To seek God’s kingdom is seek to win people into that kingdom, that they might be saved and God might be glorified. It is to have our heavenly Father’s own truth, love, and righteousness manifest in our lives, and to have “peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Rom. 14:17). We also seek God’s kingdom when we yearn for the return of the King in His millennial glory to establish His kingdom on earth and usher in His eternal kingdom.

We are also to seek … His righteousness. Instead of longing after the things of this world, we are to hunger and thirst for the things of the world to come, which are characterized above all else by God’s perfect righteousness and holiness. It is more than longing for something ethereal and future; it is also longing for something present and practical. We not only are to have heavenly expectations but holy lives (see Col. 3:2–3). “Since all these things [the earth and its works, v. 10] are to be destroyed in this way,” Peter says, “what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God” (2 Pet. 3:11).[1]


33 In view of vv. 31–32, this verse makes it clear that Jesus’ disciples are not simply to refrain from the pursuit of temporal things as their primary goal in order to differentiate themselves from pagans; instead, they are to replace such pursuits with goals of far greater significance. To seek first the kingdom (“of God” in some MSS) is to desire above all to enter into, submit to, and participate in spreading the news of the saving reign of God, the messianic kingdom already inaugurated by Jesus, and to live so as to store up treasures in heaven in the prospect of the kingdom’s consummation. It is to pursue the things already prayed for in the first three petitions of the Lord’s Prayer (vv. 9–10).

To seek God’s righteousness is not, in this context, to seek justification (contra Filson, McNeile). “Righteousness” must be interpreted as in 5:6, 10, 20; 6:1. It is to pursue righteousness of life in full submission to the will of God, as prescribed by Jesus throughout this discourse (cf. Przybylski, Righteousness in Matthew, 89–91). Such righteousness will lead to persecution by some (5:10), but others will themselves become disciples and praise the Father in heaven (5:16). Such goals alone are worthy of one’s wholehearted allegiance. For any other concern to dominate one’s mind is to stoop to pagan fretting. “In the end, just as there are only two kinds of piety, the self-centered and the God-centered, so there are only two kinds of ambition: one can be ambitious either for oneself or for God. There is no third alternative” (Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 172). Within such a framework of commitment, Jesus’ disciples are assured that all the necessary things will be given to them by their heavenly Father (see comments at 5:45; 6:9), who demonstrates his faithfulness by his care even for the birds and his concern even for the grass.[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 425–427). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 217). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.