Daily Archives: August 25, 2018

August 25: Riddle Me This

Isaiah 50:1–51:23; Luke 20:1–40; Job 11:12–20

Jesus’ enemies regularly attempted to make Him look foolish or to disprove His authority. The absurd questions they concocted to discredit Him are rather amusing. The Sadducees posed one of the most preposterous questions about the resurrection of the dead and its relevance to divorce (Luke 20:27–33): If a woman has been married seven times, whose wife will she be when the dead are resurrected?

This scene is especially humorous in light of rabbis’ habit of playing mind games to outsmart (or “outwise”) one another and the Sadducees’ belief that resurrection does not exist. Jesus’ opponents thought they had rigged the game: Any answer to their riddle would be incorrect. It was an attempt to trap Jesus into agreeing that the resurrection of the dead is a myth. Jesus, however, offered an answer that put them in their place (Luke 20:34–40). His response made the Sadducees look even more foolish in light of larger biblical theology about marriage and divorce.

More than 500 years before this conversation, Isaiah remarked, “Thus says Yahweh: ‘Where is this divorce document of your mother’s divorce, with which I dismissed her? or to whom of my creditors did I sell you? Look! you were sold because of your sin, and your mother was dismissed because of your transgressions’ ” (Isa 50:1). The Sadducees—along with the entire nation of Israel—had already been condemned for not honoring marriage in life.

So often we are concerned with logistics or details when our energy should be spent on discerning God’s will for our lives and whether we are in that will. Like the Sadducees, we tell ourselves witty lies to get around doing the will of God. We somehow believe that if we can reason our way forward, we can justify our inactions. But as Jesus taught the Sadducees, in any game of riddles or reason, faith will always win.

What are you wrongly justifying or “witting” yourself out of doing?

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.

August 25 Expecting the Best

“[Love] believes all things” (1 Cor. 13:7).


Love always expects the best of others.

In Luke 15 Jesus tells a parable about a father who had two sons. The younger son asked for his share of the family inheritance, then left home and squandered it on sinful pursuits. When he realized his folly, he decided to return home and ask his father’s forgiveness. So “he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him, and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him, and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet; and bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat and be merry’” (vv. 20–23).

That’s a beautiful illustration of love’s eagerness to forgive, but it also implies another characteristic of love. While the son was still far away, the father saw him coming. How could that be? Because he was watching for his son—anticipating and longing for his return. Love forgives when wrongs are committed against it, but it also expects the best of others. That’s what it means to “believe all things” (1 Cor. 13:7). That son had hurt his father deeply, but his father never lost hope that his son would return.

I know a Christian woman who has been married to an unbelieving husband for thirty years. Yet she continues to say, “He will come to Christ someday.” She isn’t blind to the situation, but her love for her husband has transformed her earnest desire into an expectation. She believes he will turn to Christ because love always expects the best.

Perhaps you have a spouse or child who is an unbeliever or has drifted away from the Lord. Don’t lose heart! Expect the best, and let that expectation motivate you to pray more fervently and to set a godly example for your loved ones to follow.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask God to guard your heart from cynical and suspicious attitudes toward others.

For Further Study: Read Matthew 9:1–13, noting the attitudes of the Jewish scribes and Pharisees toward Jesus.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 250). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

South Africa’s Land Confiscation: Socialism By Another Name

Authored by Ryan McMaken via The Mises Institute,

The UK’s Express reports this week the South African government has begun seizing farms in the country following a failure to negotiate sales with the owners.

On July 31, President Cyril Ramaphosa, who had only been elected into office in February, confirmed his African National Congress (ANC) party would pass an amendment to the country’s constitution to allow the seizure of white-owned farmland without compensation.

Mr Ramaphosa claimed the new amendment was designed to “outline more clearly the conditions under which expropriation of land without compensation can be affected”.

Last week, ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe sparked panic among the farming community when he said that any farmers owning more than 25,000 acres of land would have it taken from them without compensation.

The South African government has now started seizing land from white farmers, initially targeting two game farmers in the northern province of Limpopo after talks with the owners Akkerland Boerdery broke down over a huge differences in its estimated value.

Technically, it appears the confiscation program targets farm owners based on the size of holdings, and not, strictly-speaking, based on their racial status.

In practice, however, the effect has been that the owners who face confiscations are overwhelmingly “white.”

Thus, the policy has long had a racial component to it. Donald Trump tweeted this week that he has directed the State Department to look into the matter of confiscations of “white farmers.” Trump was condemned by the South African ruling party for invoking the racial issue, but the racial component of the controversy is evident.

After all, the French state-owned media company France24 states matter-of-factly that the policy “seeks to correct the legacy of decades of white minority rule that stripped blacks of their land.”

Socialism Is Socialism

It’s easy to make far too much of the racial component, however. While racial animosity and the desire for reparation for past crimes that “stripped blacks of their land” appears to be the motivating factor for the ruling regime, the fact remains the farm confiscations are also just good politics from the ruling party’s perspective. That is, the confiscations could be motivated by nothing more than a cynical desire to reward the party’s political base with “free” stuff. Farm owners, after all, are a tiny percentage of the South African voting population.

And this is why it’s important to not fixate on the racial aspect of the farm policy and see the policy for what it is at its core. It’s just yet another ordinary, mundane policy designed to expropriate private property from one group and give it to another.

In this, the land confiscations are not fundamentally different from any other time a state has confiscated lands, industries, or businesses in any other part of the world.

In the past century, Marxist-inspired regimes have most commonly confiscated lands and farms based on the idea that the owners were too “bourgeois” or enemies of the “revolution” in some other respect. This has been the case in recent years in Venezuela where businesses are seized from alleged “class traitors.”

Even more importantly, neither the stated motivation or the actual motivation mean much of anything when it comes to the effects of land confiscations and property expropriation of any kind.

Regardless of the motivation, state confiscation of property leads to economic fallout that can have disastrous effects on the local economy.

Most importantly, expropriations of property lead to serious problems of “regime uncertainty” (a term developed by Robert Higgs) in which uncertainty about the legal and political status of property can lead to significant declines in investment and production. In other words, if property owners are unsure if their property will be confiscated, they won’t invest in the property or maintain it.

Thus, regime uncertainty leads to a withholding of investment and the destruction of capital thanks to lack of investment and maintenance.

We see this already at work in South Africa. As, according to Express“A record number of white South African farmers have put their land up for sale amid fears the ruling party is considering confiscating properties bigger than 25,000 acres.”

Owners are essentially plotting their escape from the South African economy, but it will be hard for them to find buyers. After all, what investor — one with actual means to buy and maintain the farms — will purchase these farms under the present circumstances? At least, no one will be buying at anything other than a drastically reduced price.

Given that it still remains quite uncertain as to how extensive or harsh the confiscations will be, most potential owners will wait and see how things go before investing anything more in the South African agricultural economy.

And this, as Higgs notes in his work on regime certainty, is one of the central aspects of regime uncertainty: it impels investors and owners to delay making investments until uncertainty abates. In the mean time, wages of workers will decline, owners will forgo needed repairs of machines and tools, and the economy overall will suffer. Higgs writes:

Private investment is the most important driver of economic progress. Entrepreneurs need new structures, equipment, and software to produce new products, to produce existing products at lower cost, and to make use of new technology that requires embodiment in machinery, plant layouts, and other aspects of the existing capital stock. When the rate of private investment declines, the rate of growth of real income per capita slackens, and if private investment drops quickly and substantially, a recession or depression occurs.

A larger effect in this case may also be that many of the most experienced, knowledgeable, and capital-rich residents of South Africa will flee the country, taking their know-how with them. The South African state will — as states often do — likely attempt to make it difficult for emigrants to take their capital with them. This will be relatively easy for owners whose capital is tied up in land. Foreign investors, however, will have no such trouble. It will be relatively easy for foreign investors to pull their capital out of South Africa as a result of the expropriations. That investment may never return.

So, while land confiscations make good political sense for the ruling party in South Africa, the fact remains the policy makes very bad economic sense. It’s just the same sort of thing we’ve already been seeing in Venezuela in recent years, and the effects – proportional in size to the amount of expropriation effected – will be the same.

And perhaps this “proportionality” issue is what the regime is banking on. Even if the South African regime understands the economic implications of expropriation, the regime also recognizes that agriculture remains a relatively small part of the South African economy. Less than three percent of South Africa’s GDP is currently driven by agriculture.

The regime may be hoping that it can get away with destroying investment in that sector if the resulting economic destruction remains fairly limited. After all, if the South African economy suffers — as it is already doing due to a variety of other factors — the regime can always blame some other group for the problem, such as foreign capitalists or domestic naysayers.

Economically speaking, though, we can be sure that – should expropriations continue – lands on the margins will fall out of use, farm workers on the margins will find themselves out of work, and regime uncertainty will lead to overall declines in both domestic and foreign investment.

The motivation for this latest move toward the destruction of property rights is immaterial to the economic outcome.

Source: South Africa’s Land Confiscation: Socialism By Another Name

South African EFF Leader Julius Malema Admits Trump Is Right – We’re Coming After White Farmers (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

On Wednesday President Donald Trump tweeted out his concern over the racist South Africa land and farm seizures and killings of farmers.

The liberal media immediately pounced on President Trump and accused him of being a white nationalist.

The mainstream media is the enemy of the people.

Of course President Trump is right and it’s worse than we think.

There is an actual “land or death” movement taking off in South Africa.

The supporters say they are ready to kill or die for the white-owned land.

And on Saturday EFF leader Julius Malema issued a statement directed at President Trump.

Mulema calls President Trump a “pathological liar” and then admits that Trump is right — that South African blacks are going after the the white-owned farms.

Julius Malema: We want to send a strong message to USA authorities just like we did with the Australian authorities. Stay out of South Africa’s domestic updates. South Africa is a post colonial country – with deep inequalities that were long designed by apartheid and colonialism. Our land appropriations program seeks to realize the idea of equality and human dignity. Through land expropriation we’re pushing the white people to share their land which was gained through a crime against humanity… Be that at it may, we must put it on record that Donald pathological liar Trump we’re not scared of you and your USA or Western imperialist forces… Donald Trump is not saying anything we haven’t heard from white people. In all the years I’ve been on record and said I’ve still to meet a white person who supports expropriation of land without compensation. So why are you shocked?… As for Donald Trump, I don’t have time for this nonsense. I expected this.

via South African EFF Leader Julius Malema Admits Trump Is Right – We’re Coming After White Farmers (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

ERLC Continues to Promote Horrible Bible Teachers, Leftists — Pulpit & Pen

The Ethics and Religous Liberty Commission needs two things. The first is a strong flashlight, and the other is a can of Raid.

Anyone who would still suggest that Russell Moore is theologically sound should take a long step back and look at what he’s done to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention. Aside from Moore’s well-documented progressive-left politics and his insanely misguided Cultural Marxism event designed to venerate Martin Luther King, Moore has repeatedly used his SBC platform to promote some of the worst Bible teachers on the face of the planet.

The ERLC is hosting the Cross Shaped Family Conference, and speaking at the event is a wild-eyed charismatic prophetess and egalitarian, a homosexual, and a Marxist social justice warrior.

Jen Wilkin insists we need more women in leadership positions in the church and has been growing increasingly and militaristically egalitarian.

Eric Mason has been promoting Social Justice left and right, including the ugliest side of the movement that characterizes anyone not engaging in Critical Race Theory as inherently racist. In this tweet, he said that Social Justice is a natural outworking of the Gospel (that’s a funny thing to say about what is essentially Marxism).

Ray Ortlund is a major leader in the Rauschenbuschism movement (also known as the Social Gospel, which is altogether indistinguishable from what is now commonly called “Social Justice”). Ortlund, for example, claimed on Twitter that Moses renounced his “privilege” and that this is the same as “salvation” (source link). Ortlund teaches the concept of white guilt, systemic white privilege, advocates for reparations, promotes Affirmative Action, and specializes in victimology.

Beth Moore, well…Beth Moore. At this point there’s really no serious Bible teacher anywhere on the planet that considers her much more qualified than to teach 2nd grade Sunday School. She repeatedly insists that she hears God’s actual voice and receives visions and special messages from God, each of them more insane than the last.

Matt Chandler, once a dutiful and respectable Bible teacher, has surrendered his rights to that respect by turning the Villiage Church into a Social Justice center, working to assist radical Islamicists, promoting rampant and rabid charismaticism, and claiming to have himself once been anointed with God’s spirit by someone sneezing on him.

Sam Allberry is a gay priest (he claims to not be a practicing homosexual) who promoted the pro-LGBT Revoice Conference. Even Albert Mohler, whose toleration (and in some cases, promotion) of the Social Justice movement has allowed it to grow so exponentially, came out reluctantly against Revoice. Nonetheless, for Moore, a gay priest fits into his conference lineup nicely.

If you took a rock and threw it randomly at the ERLC’s Cross Shaped Family Conference, you’d hit a bad bible teacher in the head, merely by overwhelming odds.

via ERLC Continues to Promote Horrible Bible Teachers, Leftists — Pulpit & Pen


For we have not followed cunningly devised fables.

2 Peter 1:16

It is amazing that Satan’s wiliest stratagem against Christian believers is to use our virtues against us! Perhaps it is more amazing that he often does this with great success.

By means of temptation to sin, he strikes at our personal lives; by working through our virtues, he gets at the whole community of believers and unfits it for its own defense.

To capture a city an enemy must first weaken or destroy its resistance. The Church will never fall as long as she resists. This the devil knows; consequently he uses any stratagem to neutralize her resistance.

Satan first creates a maudlin, inaccurate concept of Christ as soft, smiling and tolerant. He reminds us that Christ, as a lamb brought to slaughter, opened not His mouth—and suggests that we do likewise. Then if we notice his foot in the door and rise to oppose him, he appeals to our desire to be Christlike. “Love everybody and all will be well,” he urges.

The shepherd, taken in by this sweet talk, is afraid to use his club, and the wolf gets the sheep!

Lord, I pray that You will help my church resist any tactic used by Satan designed to weaken or dilute the testimony of the church in our community. We want to lift up Your name.[1]

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

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 08/25/2018

Concerns Raised After T.D. Jakes’ Wife Posts Photos of Yoga Session at The Potter’s House Church   Aug 22, 2018 09:34 am
DALLAS, Texas — Concerns were recently raised online after Serita Jakes, the wife of controversial megachurch minister T.D. Jakes, posted photographs of women engaging in a yoga session at The Potter’s House during a forum designed to teach women about leading healthy lives. “Today, we aspired to inspire #health mentally, emotionally, and physically. Our ladies…

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Troubled Teen Who Flashed Money, Gang Signs on Facebook Tragically Killed on Birthday After Posting ‘I Made it to See 17’   Aug 20, 2018 08:11 pm

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — A troubled teenager in Missouri who posted photos of himself on social media holding stacks of money and making gang signs, and who had just posted on Saturday that he was glad he had made it to 17, was tragically killed about an hour later in broad daylight. “Thru all the I den been thru I’m just glad I can say I made it to see 17 #MYDAY…

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Muslim Immigrant Sentenced Over ‘Honor Killing’ of Christian Who Married His Converted Daughter   Aug 20, 2018 01:16 pm

HOUSTON, Texas — A Muslim man who had immigrated to America from Jordan has been sentenced to death by a jury after engaging in two “honor killings” in allegedly being enraged that his daughter had shamed the family by converting to Christianity and marrying a Christian. Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, 60, had reportedly plotted to kill five people, including his…

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California Senate Advances Bill Prohibiting Therapists From Helping Those Seeking to Fight Homosexual Temptation   Aug 22, 2018 07:58 pm

Photo Credit: FreeImages.com SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Senate has advanced a bill that prohibits professional therapists and counselors from advertising or selling services that would offer help to those seeking to fight homosexual temptation, attaching the prohibition to existing consumer fraud law. The controversial A.B. 2943 passed the Senate…

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City Removes Ten Commandments Plaque From Public Park Following Complaint   Aug 21, 2018 09:10 am

Photo Credit: FFRF STEUBENVILLE, Ohio — Officials in a city in Ohio have removed a Ten Commandments plaque from a public park following receipt of a complaint from one of the nation’s most conspicuous Church-State separation groups. According to reports, the Ten Commandments display in Steubenville’s Murphy Park had been placed after the Baptist church across…

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Man Who Identifies as Woman Wins Democratic Gubernatorial Primary in Vermont   Aug 18, 2018 04:04 pm

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A man who identifies as a woman has won the Democratic gubernatorial primary in Vermont, becoming the first “transgender” person in the United States to be nominated for governor. David Hallquist, who goes by the name Christine, identifies as a progressive and is the former CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative. Born a man and married to a…

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Toddlers’ Survival Alone for Two Days After Car Wreck Kills Mother Called ‘Nothing Short of A Miracle, God’s Blessing’   Aug 23, 2018 08:11 am

CAMDEN, Ark. (Associated Press) — A 3-year-old boy and his 1-year-old brother survived alone for about two days after they were passengers in a single-car wreck that killed their mother in south Arkansas. The older boy was found first, wandering alone on Monday morning along a road in Camden, about 85 miles (135 kilometers) southwest of Little Rock, the…

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Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church Worker Who Volunteered With Youth Guilty of ‘Lewd Acts’ With Teen Boys   Aug 24, 2018 12:42 pm

LAKE FOREST, Calif. — A now former volunteer youth mentor at Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church who reportedly also worked in the “technology, communication and marketing ministries” department has been convicted of committing lewd acts with two teenage boys. Ruven Meulenberg, 33, was convicted by a jury on Wednesday of engaging in inappropriate conduct with twin…

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Chinese Pastor Summoned for Questioning During Church Intrusion   Aug 21, 2018 05:30 pm

Photo Credit: China Aid GUANGZHOU, Guangdong (China Aid) — A repeatedly persecuted house church in China’s southern Guangdong province was holding a service Sunday morning when more than 10 law enforcement officers broke into it without permission and ordered the pastor, Huang Xiaoning, to stop preaching. In reply, Huang asked that they show respect rather…

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‘Let’s Kill These Cops’: Convicted Rapper’s Video Not Protected Speech, Says Pennsylvania Supreme Court   Aug 23, 2018 05:15 pm

HARRISBURG, Pa. — The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has upheld the conviction of a rapper who had been found guilty of terrorist threats and intimidation after releasing a music video with lyrics that named particular Pittsburgh police officers and called for their death. Jamal Knox, 24, had been facing drug charges after being found with 15 bags of heroin, $1,500…

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August 25, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Faithful Proclamation

and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; (3:15a)

Without question, Peter wanted his audience to wait eagerly for Christ’s return. At the same time, he did not want them to grow idle or detach themselves from society, being so consumed with thoughts of the future that they forgot about their compelling spiritual responsibilities in the present. God’s judgment had not yet come; His wrath had not yet been poured out. There was still time to proclaim the good news to the lost. Thus, Peter reminded his readers to continue in the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18–20), seeking to reach others with the life-giving truth of the gospel.

As noted in 3:8–9 (see the discussion of those verses in the previous chapter of this volume), the Lord delays His return in order to save the remainder of His elect. Thus, Christians should regard God’s patience with joy, knowing that He is daily adding to His family until it is complete.

In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11–32), Jesus effectively illustrated the reality of God’s merciful patience toward sinners. The story tells of a rebellious son who abandoned his family for a life of immorality and dissipation. For a long time he wasted his opportunity, passing up the privilege to serve his father. But one day he came to his senses, repented of his sinful lifestyle, and returned home. Instead of being rejected or disowned by his father—or received reluctantly—the father embraced the son with love and compassion. That father pictures God who responds to penitent sinners with mercy and grace—lavishly, joyously, and generously poured out on those who repent and come to Him in faith. And all heaven rejoices, as described by the feast the father had in honor of his son.

When Christians anticipate the day of God, which for them will mean eternal blessing, they should also remember the day of the Lord, which for the lost will mean eternal punishment. With that in mind, the opportunity of God’s current patience should only heighten the church’s evangelistic zeal (cf. Phil. 2:15; Col. 4:6; 2 Tim. 4:5).

Doctrinal Perceptiveness

just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, (3:15b–17)

With the phrase just as also, Peter referenced similar warnings that the apostle Paul had given about false teaching.

Peter graciously spoke of his fellow apostle as our beloved brother Paul, underscoring their common life and mission. As the two foremost leaders of the early church, Peter and Paul were certainly well-aware of each other’s ministry. In fact, both had been present at the pivotal Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6–21), and both had ministered with Silas (cf. Acts 15:40 with 1 Peter 5:12). More than twenty years earlier, Peter had even been confronted by Paul when he wrongly refused to eat with Gentile Christians (Gal. 2:11–21; cf. vv. 8–9; 1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22). As a primary spokesman for the early church, Peter was undoubtedly embarrassed by Paul’s public admonition. Nevertheless, he graciously accepted the rebuke and responded with repentance. His respect for Paul was undiminished.

Here he appeals to Paul’s inspired letters for support—reminding his readers to reject the false teachers and remember what Paul wrote to them, according to the wisdom given him. Interestingly, Peter does not specify a particular Pauline letter or letters. Instead, he gives a general endorsement for Paul’s inspired writings, demonstrating the divine origin of the revelation given to Paul.

It is safe to assume that Peter sent this letter to the same regions of Asia Minor as his first epistle (cf. 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 3:1). If so, his readers were most likely familiar with several of Paul’s letters—since Paul wrote many of his letters to that same area (e.g., Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians). So Peter’s reference to all of Paul’s letters suggests Peter’s audience was familiar with much of Paul’s correspondence. Because Paul was speaking in his letters of these same things (namely, eschatological events), it makes sense that Peter would cite Paul’s works here.

However, in Paul’s writings about the day of the Lord, the return of Christ, and the glories of eternity, Peter acknowledged there are some things hard to understand, such as the rapture of the church (1 Thess. 4:15–17), the coming man of sin (2 Thess. 2:1–4), the return of Christ in judgment (1 Thess. 5:1–11; 2 Thess. 1:3–10), and the glories of heaven (2 Cor. 5:1; 12:2–4). The word rendered hard to understand (dusnoētos) carries the additional connotation of “difficult to interpret.” In using this term, Peter was not implying that Paul’s teachings are impossible to understand. He is simply recognizing that some are more complex than others, especially prophetic revelation (cf. 1 Peter 1:1–12).

Those complexities opened the door for the untaught and unstable—namely, the false teachers—to distort what Paul taught about the future. Untaught denotes a lack of information, and unstable a vacillating spiritual character. Distort speaks of wrenching someone’s body on a torture rack. The term vividly pictures how the false teachers manipulated certain prophetic issues, twisting them to confuse and deceive the undiscerning. Such distortion often continues today regarding prophetic revelation.

Not surprisingly, the false teachers did not stop with prophecy, but also distorted the rest of the Scriptures, including the biblical teaching on God’s law, repentance, justification by faith, and sanctification. The fact that Peter placed Paul’s writings on a par with the rest of the Scriptures clearly affirms that Paul wrote divinely inspired truth (cf. 1:20–21; 1 Thess. 2:13; 2 Tim. 3:16–17). The New Testament writers were aware that they were writing the Word of God, as surely as the Old Testament prophets were. The word translated Scriptures is graphas, from the verb graphō (“to write”) that occurs about one hundred eighty times in the New Testament, of which half refer to the Bible, “the written word.” The noun graphē is used about fifty times, exclusively of Scripture and inclusive of the Old Testament (e.g., Mark 12:10) and the New Testament, as this reference makes clear (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3).

By distorting the Scriptures, the false teachers were simultaneously securing their own destruction (cf. 2:1, 3–12; 3:7; Jude 10, 13; Rev. 22:18–19), as well as the spiritual demise of their followers. That’s why Peter warns his beloved readers beforehand, so that they might be on their guard against the error of such unprincipled men (Phil. 3:2; 1 Tim. 4:1–7; 6:20–21; 2 Tim. 2:15–19; Titus 1:10–16; 3:10). Unprincipled (athesmōn) is literally “without law or custom,” and came to mean “morally corrupt”—the essential character trait of spiritual deceivers.

In keeping with Peter’s warning, believers must not allow themselves to be carried away by the unscriptural lies of false teachers (cf. 1 Tim. 1:18–19). Rather, they must be alert and discerning lest they fall from their own steadfastness. Steadfastness (stērigmos) indicates firmness, or firm footing; it is the very opposite of being unstable. Peter’s concern was not that his readers would fall from salvation, but that they might slip from doctrinal stability and lose their confidence in the truth (cf. 1 Cor. 16:13; Eph. 4:14; 1 Thess. 5:21). For this reason, the apostle urged them to be spiritually perceptive, or discerning, so that their eternal reward would not be diminished (2 John 8).[1]

14–16 In the saints’ present struggle to discern God’s timing and patience, Peter’s audience is to “make every effort” (spoudazō, also in 1:10, 15; GK 5079) in striving toward three aims: (1) being spotless and blameless (cf. Jude 24); (2) being at peace with the Lord; and (3) viewing God’s long-suffering as leading to the salvation of others. While the reader may not automatically see a connection between these three imperatives, they hinge on one another.

The first priority is foundational and affects one’s ability to realize the other two. The saints are called to—and remain in—an impure, vulgar world. In spite of seemingly overwhelming cultural obstacles facing the Christian community, everything for life and godliness has already been provided, based on God’s grace (1:3–4). The resources are there; what remains to be determined is the saints’ willingness.

It is no coincidence that the same language employed earlier in the epistle to characterize those troubling the community occurs again. Those following their corrupt desires and despising authority (2:10a) are portrayed as “blots and blemishes” (2:13). Peter’s concluding exhortation is that the faithful, in contrast, be without blot or blemish (3:14; cf. 1 Pe 1:19). Christian truth-claims are only as authoritative as the vessels bearing them.

The second and third priorities relate to the first. The human tendency is to question God: “Where are you, God? How long, Lord?” Hence at the heart of the ethical imperative lies the challenge of finding the place of God’s peace, bearing in mind that others’ salvation is lodged within the heart of God. The Lord, after all, does not want anyone to perish (3:9). The day of the Lord is a day of both justice and vindication. Yet, since God’s timing and purpose are beyond human comprehension, believers are challenged to find the place of rest and peace as they await his activity and struggle with the mystery of divine purpose.

Meanwhile, this will entail enduring hardship as disciples of Christ, and this in a world at cross-purposes with its Creator. To endure is to manifest Christian virtue, to be godly in character (1:6). Human perseverance is born out of the deep conviction that God perseveres on our behalf: the Lord wants none to perish. God takes into account human freedom and does not restrict it.

Here it is not Peter the theologian who is speaking; it is rather Peter the pastor and apostle. Paul was the acknowledged theologian: “just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him … speaking in [all his letters] of these matters—i.e., about the nature of salvation (sōtēr [GK 5400], a key word in the letter: 1:1, 11; 2:20; 3:2, 18) and the long-suffering of God. It is true, Peter grants, that these mysteries are “hard to understand,” causing some to distort and pervert them for their own purposes.[2]

3:15 / The delay in the second advent is due to two factors. The first has already been implied in Peter’s reference to the need for believers to live godly lives (v. 11), for this will speed the coming of Christ. Now he mentions the second reason for the delay, one he earlier spelled out in verse 9. The delay is due to the merciful goodness of the Lord’s patience in holding back the day of judgment, which gives every possible opportunity for unbelievers to come to a knowledge of salvation before it is too late.

That explanation of the delay in the Parousia harmonizes with the one put forward by our dear brother Paul (as, for example, in Rom. 2:4). Paul, and by implication Peter himself, was enabled to express such sentiments because they were made known to him from on high, rather than being a matter of personal guesswork: the apostle wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. That, as Peter delicately hints, is his own authority too.[3]

How can we speed the day of God? (3:15–16)

  • We use the time

Peter has already defended God’s apparent slowness as really demonstrating his patience (3:9). Now he defines the period of waiting as a time when salvation may be offered. He clearly thinks that this will not catch our attention, so he tells us to do the opposite of what the false teachers do. Using the same Greek word, he says that they make a mistake in the way they ‘understand’ God’s patience (3:9), but we are to bear in mind that this patience is for our benefit. Since Peter has already told us that this is a time when God is ‘not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’ (3:9), he obviously wants us to use the time we have at our disposal for evangelism. The false teachers will naturally have no such concern, for their rampant self-interest will serve only to ‘bring the way of truth into disrepute’ (2:2).

Christians have enormous difficulty in grasping the two points that although Jesus has left us a number of things to do, there is a clear order of priority in their relative importance. We easily attach greatest importance to the visible and the urgent, such as world hunger and social injustice. Peter has certainly told us that he expects us to demonstrate the Christian characteristics of ‘goodness’, ‘brotherly kindness’ and ‘love’ (1:5, 7). He wants us to be effective and productive in the world (1:8). But it is clear from what Peter has taught that the greatest need our world faces is its need for a Saviour on the day of judgment. That helps us to order our priorities, for everything we do will be laid bare and exposed to God’s scrutiny in the cosmic judgment. It may look foolish to assert that evangelism has a higher priority than people’s physical needs, and it is true that if we attend only to their souls and never to their bodies, we have misunderstood Peter and Jesus. But Peter wants us to avoid the other danger, which is much more natural; namely, to feed the body while letting the soul starve. The pull will be in that second direction, for we can stand shoulder to shoulder with men and women from the full range of races and beliefs in arranging a food aid programme. To human eyes it looks immensely impressive. But only Christians are able to see not simply the visible and the highly urgent, but also the invisible and the hugely important, and to attach priority to those areas. Only Christians can do God’s work of evangelism. Do we share Peter’s sense of urgency in our use of time, money, friendships and the things we pray for?

  • We believe the promises

What saps the energy of the Christian who is keen to love in both words and actions is a diminished sense of urgency. Peter therefore underlines for one last time that the promise of Jesus’ return is of vital importance in the church today. He gives two reasons, which are variations on what he has written throughout his letter.

First, he wants us to be certain that the whole Bible bears witness to the promise of Jesus’ return. It is the message which he shares with our dear brother Paul.

For those who believe that this letter is a deliberate forgery, these words are decisive. ‘The writer rather ostentatiously stresses his assumed equality with the Apostle.’ The reason so many writers feel this problem is the supposed tension between Peter and Paul from the time of their disagreement in Antioch.33 Yet the idea that this one incident turned into a life-long jealousy is a mere guess. Even the Galatians material shows that each recognized the other as an apostle with a valid ministry. They shared a team member in Silas.35 It is difficult to conceive of a way in which Peter could have referred to Paul without incurring the critics’ displeasure here. There is certainly nothing unusual or anachronistic in any of his terms: brother was an accepted term for a fellow Christian worker; dear translates agapētos, which is once again a standard way of talking about fellow workers. What is ostentatious in this? It would have been much more ostentatious for Peter to talk about Paul as the next generation of Christians did, calling him ‘the blessed and glorious Paul’ (Polycarp), ‘the blessed Paul’ (Clement) or ‘the sanctified Paul … right blessed’ (Ignatius).38If this letter is from Peter’s hand, then, why should he want to refer to Paul here? Partly to assure his own readers that the most widely read Christian writer writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. Perhaps Paul had written especially to this group of Christians (Peter says that Paul wrote to you). But attempts to identify which of Paul’s letters is being referred to have failed, and in any case Peter’s point is that all Paul’s letters argue that Christians are to live in the light of the Lord’s return.

Peter and Paul are not just inspiring and clear-minded Christian leaders; they are inspired and authoritative apostles, and Peter puts Paul’s letters in the same category as the other Scriptures. Peter is not drawing a distinction between two sorts of writing here. In his mind, Paul’s letters are Scripture. This, from the pen of the man who said that ‘no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation’ (1:20), can mean only that he puts them in the same category as the Old Testament. Paul writes with God’s authority. This might seem a surprising point for a contemporary to make, but it is the authority that Paul himself claims for his message. Once again, Peter has said that the New Testament apostles and Old Testament prophets bear equally inspired witness to the same promise of Jesus Christ’s return (1:16–21).

Secondly, Peter wants us to be certain that the unified biblical promise of Jesus’ return is the focus of united attack. Peter is the first to admit that Paul’s letters are not easy, for they contain some things that are hard to understand. Although they were written with the wisdom that God gave him, they seem to have been open to misunderstanding simply because they require hard work.43 (Perhaps we might feel the same about Peter’s letter!)

To misunderstand is one thing; to distort is quite another, and that is the problem Peter tackles. He uses a word from twisting rope or torturing on a rack, for people were pulling Paul out of shape in a deliberate desire to make him say something other than his clear intention. They are ignorant—which means not that they know nothing, but that they refuse instruction—and unstable, people who would lead us away from the ‘way of truth’, ‘the straight way’, ‘the way of righteousness’ (2:2, 15, 21), ‘the way which is substantially one and the same in the Old and the New’. The hallmark is not simply an antipathy to Paul but an antipathy to this theme, consistently presented in Scripture, for their abuse of him is merely a symptom of their abuse of the whole Bible.

As we would expect from Peter by now, the end result of mishandling the promise of Jesus’ return is destruction on the last day (cf. 2:1); Bible-twisters will not live in the expectation of his return. Peter shows that they shoulder responsibility for their fate, for they mishandle God’s promise to their own destruction.

There is a note of sober reality for us in all this as we take up the responsibility to handle God’s Word with integrity, honesty and a desire to seek out what it says. Parts of it may well be difficult to understand, and that is a reason for hard work and thinking, getting to grips with a whole Bible book rather than reading only our favourite verses, and checking what we think with other Christians. Peter wants us to know that serious Bible study requires effort. There is all the difference in the world, though, between finding the Bible difficult, and wilfully twisting it to say only what we find helpful or relevant or reasonable to believe. Where is the voice of God if he says only what we want him to say?[4]

3:15–16. Peter borrowed the authority of the apostle Paul for his emphasis by reminding us that Paul, in his writings, has made the same point. Peter observed that Paul’s letters contain some things that are difficult to understand, but they still contain the same authority as the other Scriptures. Peter’s point of contact with Paul’s writings is simply this: all through Paul’s letters he, too, challenges Christians to live godly lives in light of the day of the Lord. That much is not difficult to understand. It could not be missed, unless deliberately. That is exactly what the false teachers have done. They have distorted or twisted the teaching of Paul, along with other parts of the Scriptures. Primarily, these teachers refused to submit their lifestyles to the scrutiny of Scripture, but instead twisted the Scriptures in order to condone their sinful lifestyles.[5]

3:15 And consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation. His delay in judgment is to give men full opportunity to be saved. As we consider the multiplying wickedness of men, we often wonder how the Lord can put up with it any longer. His forbearance is astonishing. But there is a reason for it. He does not desire the death of the wicked. He longs to see people turn from their wicked ways and be saved.

As also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you. Several interesting points emerge in this allusion to Paul:

  1. First, Peter speaks of Paul as our beloved brother, and this in spite of the fact that Paul had publicly rebuked Peter in Antioch for acting insincerely (Gal. 2:11–21). Obviously Peter had accepted the rebuke humbly. We should all be able to accept correction without harboring animosities.
  2. Peter acknowledged that Paul was given divine wisdom in writing his Epistles. This is surely an intimation that Peter considered Paul’s writings to be divinely inspired.
  3. Peter’s readers had apparently read one or more of Paul’s Epistles. This may mean that the Epistles were addressed directly to them or that they were circulated in that area.

Which of Paul’s Letters says that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation? Romans 2:4 reads: “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”[6]

3:15, 16 Note that Peter equates the letters of Paul with the rest of the Scriptures, indicating that Peter considered the apostle Paul’s writings to be the Word of God. Note that Peter considers Paul’s writings on the end times to be hard to understand. This should be a comfort to each of us who attempts to interpret the writings of Paul on the coming of Christ. Even Peter found them difficult. Because of this, however, Peter says some people who are untaught and unstable destroy themselves. Untaught refers to one whose mind is untrained and undisciplined in habits of thought. Unstable refers to one whose conduct is not properly established on the truths of God’s Word.[7]

3:15. The Lord’s patience is because of His desire that people come to salvation (cf. v. 9). The seeming procrastination of the Second Coming, far from being negative inaction on God the Father’s part is rather a demonstration of His makrothymian (“long-suffering”). Now the world has time to repent, but this will not be so when “the day of judgment” (2:9; 3:7) comes. The Lord’s patience leads toward repentance, which is precisely the point Paul made in Romans 2:4, though this may or may not be the passage Peter had in mind (cf. comments on 2 Peter 3:16). Interestingly Peter called Paul our dear (agapētos, “beloved”; cf. vv. 1, 8, 14, 17) brother. Years before Paul had severely rebuked Peter (Gal. 2:11–14), but this did not sever their love and respect for each other.[8]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2005). 2 Peter and Jude (pp. 133–136). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Charles, D. J. (2006). 2 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 410). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hillyer, N. (2011). 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (p. 222). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Lucas, R. C., & Green, C. (1995). The message of 2 Peter & Jude: the promise of His coming (pp. 149–153). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[5] Walls, D., & Anders, M. (1999). I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude (Vol. 11, pp. 143–144). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2303–2304). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1701). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[8] Gangel, K. O. (1985). 2 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 877–878). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

August 25 Christ’s Ultimate Power over Death

When Jesus came into the official’s house, and saw the flute-players and the crowd in noisy disorder, He said, “Leave; for the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him. But when the crowd had been sent out, He entered and took her by the hand, and the girl got up. This news spread throughout all that land.—Matt. 9:23–26

Unlike those in the contemporary Western world, funerals in most ancient cultures, including the Jewish one of Jesus’ time, were not events with reverent music and quiet whispers. Instead funerals featured much loud wailing by professional mourners and dissonant music played by hired musicians. Because Jairus was the top leader of the local synagogue and a wealthy man, he probably hired a large number of mourners and musicians for his daughter’s funeral.

Jesus surprised and annoyed the mourners by telling them to leave, claiming that the girl was not dead but asleep (cf. John 11:11). That the people’s weeping turned so quickly to harsh, derisive laughter—the kind by those feeling superior to another—showed that their mourning was indeed an insincere, paid action devoid of genuine sorrow or any real faith that the Lord could raise Jairus’s daughter.

Mark’s account of this episode adds these details: Jesus “entered the room where the child was. Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, ‘Talitha kum!’ (which translated means, ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk” (Mark 5:40c–42a). Christ easily could have resuscitated her by a mere word, but His intimate interaction displayed a healing compassion far more than what was minimally necessary. And it convincingly showed His power over every enemy of mankind, including “the final enemy” of death and hades (cf. Rev. 1:18).


We can always expect faith to be met by doubters and revilers, even among those in the church—sometimes especially by those in the church. What kind of an impact does this have on your willingness to believe? Are you ever the cold water on anyone else’s spiritual passion?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 246). Chicago: Moody Publishers.


How much better it is to get wisdom than gold! and to get understanding rather to be chosen than silver!


The man who will not brook interference is under no compulsion to follow Christ. “If any man will,” said our Lord, and thus freed every man and placed the Christian life in the realm of voluntary choice.

I have long believed that a man who spurns the Christian faith outright is more respected before God and the heavenly powers than the man who pretends to religion but refuses to come under its total domination. The first is an overt enemy, the second a false friend. It is the latter who will be spewed out of the mouth of Christ; and the reason is not hard to understand.

Truth is a glorious but hard mistress. She never consults, bargains or compromises. She cries from the top of the high places, “Receive my instruction, and not silver; and knowledge rather than choice gold.” After that, every man is on his own. He may accept or refuse, receive or set at naught as he pleases; and there will be no attempt at coercion, though the man’s whole destiny is at stake.

Were this an unfallen world the path of truth would be a smooth and easy one. Here the natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God; the flesh lusts against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh, and these are contrary one to another. In that contest there can be only one outcome. We must surrender and God must have His way. His glory and our eternal welfare require that it be so![1]

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