Daily Archives: January 4, 2020


For Everything There Is a Season

For those who find and give thanks to God in their earthly fortune, God will give them times in which to remember that all things on earth are only temporary, and that it is good to set one’s heart on eternity.… All things have their time, and the main thing is to stay in step with God and not always be hurrying a few steps ahead or falling behind. To want everything all at once is to be overanxious. “For everything there is a season … to weep, and … to laugh; … to embrace, and … to refrain from embracing; … to tear, and … to sew …” (Eccl. 3:1a, 4a, 5b, 7a), “and God seeks out what has gone by” (3:15b). Yet this last part must mean that nothing past is lost, that with us God again seeks out the past that belongs to us. So when the longing for something past overtakes us—and this happens at completely unpredictable times—then we can know that this is only one of the many “times” that God makes available to us. And then we should not proceed on our own but seek out the past once again with God.

Dear Mother, I want you to know that I am constantly thinking of you and Father every day, and that I thank God for all that you are to me and the whole family. I know you’ve always lived for us and haven’t lived a life of your own.… Thank you for all the love that has come to me in my cell from you during the past year, and has made every day easier for me. I think these hard years have brought us closer together than ever we were before. My wish for you and Father and Maria and for us all is that the New Year may bring us at least an occasional glimmer of light, and that we may once more have the opportunity of being together. May God keep you both well.

Birthday letter to Bonhoeffer’s mother

from prison, December 28, 1944

For everything there is a season, and a time for

every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to throw away;

a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1–8[1]


[1] Bonhoeffer, D. (2010). God is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas. (J. Riess, Ed., O. C. Dean Jr., Trans.) (First edition, pp. 86–87). Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press.

January 4 Filled with the Encourager

Acts 11:23

When [Barnabas] came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.

The Holy Spirit is the Encourager. Anyone who wants to be an encourager of others must be filled with the Encourager as Barnabas was. Because of the Spirit’s presence in him, he could readily yield to the leading of God. Our own ego and drive for self-promotion is so strong that only the Spirit can bring about the transformation needed to accomplish God’s purposes. When we build up and encourage others, we know that God is at work in and through us.

The fact that Barnabas was good, generous, gracious, and godly was not because of his upbringing or his education or his heritage. It was because he was filled with the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit who indwelt Barnabas is the Spirit who is given to every believer in Jesus Christ. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are born again, and we remain filled with the Holy Spirit as we confess our sins and yield to His leading in our lives. God wants every Christian to be filled with the Encourager so that we might become encouragers as Barnabas was. The same glory brought to God through Barnabas’ life can be brought to Him through our lives.[1]


[1] Jeremiah, D. (2002). Sanctuary: finding moments of refuge in the presence of God (p. 5). Nashville, TN: Integrity Publishers.

Weekend Snapshot · Jan. 4, 2020 – Top Stories This Week

Trump’s ‘Deal’ With Iran … Soleimani Dead

Contrasting Trump’s decisive action in Iran with Obama’s Middle East malfeasance.

The Trump Administration’s Record Bodes Well for 2020

Success with the economy, judiciary, military, and immigration mark his first three years.

Considering Trump on Trade

His strategy with tariffs has and will cause pain at home, but the end goal is worth the price.

Anti-Semites and Their Progressive Enablers

Jewish Americans can expect the Left to continue embracing its moral meltdown.

Even Leftist Historians Rebuke 1619 Project

The New York Times’s blatant revisionist history is being criticized from all sides.

Socialist Sanders Tops Dem Field in Donations

Despite trailing in the polls, Sanders rakes in nearly $100 million in donations for the year.

Top Foreign Threats Facing the U.S. in 2020

Iran, North Korea, and China lead the list of foreign challenges facing Trump this year.

Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

Saturday Selections – January 4, 2020 — Reformed Perspective

A Mighty Fortress is our God (8 minutes)

This is a pretty amazing performance of Martin Luther’s most famous hymn.

Gender identity and the infamous John/Joan case revisited

In 1967, a botched circumcision left a baby boy without his penis, and his parents were told to raise him as a girl. John, afterward called Joan, was hailed as proof that it’s how we’re raised, and not how we’re made, that determines our “gender identity.”

But in this column (from a 1997 issue of Rolling Stone magazine…so, not a Christian perspective) it makes clear that was not at all so.

The Netherlands to stop using Holland “nickname” in its tourism materials

“The Dutch government has announced it will stop using the moniker Holland in favour of its official name the Netherlands.”

Free commentary on John 1-12

While I’m not familiar with author Josh Moody, the publisher, The Good Book, is broadly Reformed, publishing John Piper, Albert Mohler, and Sinclair Ferguson. That has me thinking this could be a good one, though I’ve only just started reading it. They will ask for your email address, but you can easily unsubscribe from their updates.

How to approach new medical research (26-minute podcast)

How should Christians approach and evaluate new medical research? Dr. Dan Gannon offers insights based on his experiences with the pharmaceutical industry and his biblical understanding of human nature. This is a real eye-opener into how research overall, is done. Anyone interested in how bias impacts medical research, and even the scientific studies we read about in the media, should check this one out.

Ark of Noah virtual reality tour (5 minutes)

A few years ago Dutch carpenter, Johan Huiber, completed a life-size replica of Noah’s Ark. A virtual reality tour of the ark can be viewed below which allows you to move the screen around a full 360 degrees. So don’t just hit play – use your mouse or, on a tablet, your finger, to explore up above, down below and all around.

via Saturday Selections – January 4, 2020 — Reformed Perspective

How Did Protestants Think About the Church After the Reformation? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

Up until the Reformation there was only one institutional church in the West. What did Protestants believe after the Reformation, when various denominations began to arise? W. Robert Godfrey answers this question in this brief clip from his teaching series A Survey of Church History. Watch this entire message for free.


Up until the Reformation, by and large, certainly in the West, there had been one united institutional church. It didn’t mean everybody agreed about everything, but at least, theoretically, the institution of the church was united. Now, the institution of the church is divided. There’s still, of course, the Roman Catholic church, and there are the Lutheran churches, and there are the Reformed churches, including the Presbyterians in Scotland, but there are also growing other groups, particularly the Anabaptists in the sixteenth century, but over time other groups, as well. What does this mean for the way in which Christians think about the church? In the sixteenth century, when Christians thought about the church, and as the church began to divide, Christians basically thought in terms of the true church and the false church; and what that meant, of course, is, mine is the true church, and yours is the false church. And when the struggle seemed just to be between the Roman Catholic Church and the Protestant Church, that two fold division seemed to make sense.

But did the Reformed really want to say the Lutherans were a false church? See, there is pressure now to begin to think, how do we process this, how do we account for this, are there different ways of understanding the unity of the church, the dividedness of the church? This will eventually lead to what today we think of as “denominational thinking.” We take denominations so for granted, we hardly think about it. Particularly, for Protestants that’s the way we’re sort of conditioned to think in America. I’m Dutch Reformed, you’re a Presbyterian, you’re a Baptist; I know my church is a little bit better than all of yours, but I don’t want to say you’re part of a false church, so we begin to talk about pure and less pure churches. And we begin to say, “Well, the true church of Jesus Christ can exist in different institutional forms,” and that’s a revolution in thinking; it’s hard for us to appreciate that, because we’re so accustomed to it, it’s a revolution in thinking.

via How Did Protestants Think About the Church After the Reformation? — Ligonier Ministries Blog

January 4 Thoughts for the quiet hour

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivereth him out of them all.

Psa. 34:19

All the afflictions of the righteous open out into something glorious. The prisoner is not merely delivered, but he finds an angel waiting for him at the door. And with every deliverance comes a specific blessing. One angel is named faith; another, love; another, joy; another, longsuffering; another, gentleness; another, goodness; another, meekness; another, temperance; another, peace. Each of these graces says, “We have come out of great tribulation.”

  1. Bowen[1]


[1] Hardman, S. G., & Moody, D. L. (1997). Thoughts for the quiet hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing.

January 4, 2020 Morning Verse Of The Day

Jesus’ Personal Invitation


At that time Jesus answered and said, “I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” (11:25–30)

The heart of the gospel is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). Jesus said that He came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). He tells men that because He is the Bread of Life, those who come to Him will never hunger and those who believe in Him will never thirst (John 6:35; cf. 7:37). Because He is the Light of the World, those who follow Him will “not walk in the darkness, but shall have the light of life” (8:12). Because He is “the resurrection and the life,” those who believe in Him will live even if they die (11:25).

The message of salvation is the theme of all Scripture. God’s promise to Adam and Eve after the Fall was that their descendant one day would bruise the serpents head (Gen. 3:15)—a figure of Christ’s conquest of Satan. Through Isaiah, the Lord pleaded, “Turn to Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is no other” (Isa. 45:22); and again, “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost.… Incline your ear and come to Me. Listen, that you may live” (55:1, 3). Among the last words of Scripture is a final invitation to mankind to be saved: “The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who hears say, ‘Come.’ And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost” (Rev. 22:17).

As the hymn writer E. W. Faber reminds us,

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy

Like the wideness of the sea.

There’s a kindness in His justice

That is more than liberty.

For the love of God is broader

Than the measure of man’s mind;

And the heart of the Eternal

Is most wonderfully kind.

The Content

At that time Jesus answered and said, “I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth,” (11:25a)

At that time could mean that Jesus’ invitation was given immediately after His upbraiding of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, in order to take advantage of any interest in salvation those sobering words may have evoked.

It is also possible that Jesus was repeating an invitation He had given on other occasions and would continue to give throughout His ministry. In that case, Matthew here calls attention to what may have been Jesus’ last invitation during His first and major Galilean ministry—as He offered the people one final appeal to be saved.

After Jesus’ performing countless miracles to attest His divinity and His messianic credentials (4:23–24), after His preaching in detail the message of the gospel and the Christian life (5–7), and after His having sent out the twelve (10:5–15) and then the seventy (see Luke 10:1–16), the people of Galilee had the greatest opportunity to learn of God and of His way of salvation than any people in history, before or since. Yet in spite of that great opportunity, the majority willfully rejected Christ and His message, either by hostility or by indifference.

Though the nation had turned its back on the Messiah, He continued to call to Himself that remnant who were weary of carrying their heavy spiritual burdens and who sought rest in God’s grace.

Jesus’ early period of popularity was ending, and opposition was growing in amount and in intensity. As Jesus would soon make clear, the only possible alternatives are acceptance or rejection. A person is either for Christ or against Him (Matt. 12:30; cf. Mark 9:40). Consequently, Jesus’ teaching became more and more specifically directed either to those who accepted or those who rejected Him. Side by side are messages of judgment and of compassion, of warning and of encouragement, just as we see here. Jesus had just presented the God of judgment and wrath (Matt. 11:20–24), and now He presents the God of love and mercy.

Answered and said is a Hebrew idiom that means to speak out openly, as opposed to privately or confidentially. Jesus’ invitation to follow Him was universal and open to everyone who would come on God’s terms.

Jesus’ prayer to His Father was meant to be heard by prospective believers. As He prayed, I praise Thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, Jesus called attention both to His unique relationship to the Father and to the Father’s sovereign control over salvation. Salvation is a provision of the Lord of heaven and earth, and is not a result of man’s wisdom, plans, purposes, or power; and for that truth Jesus gives praise to the Father.

Every faithful pastor, evangelist, and witness is sometimes disappointed that more people do not respond. He asks himself, “What more can I do? What new approach can I take? How can I make the message clearer and more persuasive?” Yet he also knows that some people will reject Christ no matter how clear, loving, and powerful the presentation of the gospel may be. If men could reject salvation from the very lips of the Lord Himself—and in the midst of awesome, authenticating miracles—we can hardly expect every person who hears our imperfect witness to fall at Christ’s feet.

We weep over those who refuse to be saved, just as our Lord wept over Jerusalem when it would not receive Him. But also like Christ, we should praise our heavenly Father that all things are under His divine control and that His sovereign plan for the world and for His own people cannot be frustrated. Men’s rejection of Christ proves their failure, not God’s.

God’s sovereignty should be the foremost thought in the mind of every witnessing believer. We should remember with confidence that His plan is always on course and that even the most unrepentant, wicked, vindictive, and cynical rejection of our testimony does not alter God’s timetable or thwart His purpose. Our responsibility is simply to make our witness faithful (1 Cor. 4:2); it is God’s responsibility alone to make it effective.

Because Jesus had an unyielding trust in His Father’s perfect will, He could rest in that will and give Him praise no matter what responses people made to Him.

As Jesus compassionately invited His hearers to come to Him and be saved, He set forth the five essential elements that constitute a genuine invitation to salvation.

Humility and Dependence

that Thou didst hide these things from the wise and intelligent and didst reveal them to babes. Yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. (11:25b–26)

Jesus’ specific cause for praise is God’s sovereign wisdom in hiding these things from the wise and intelligent and instead revealing them to babes. He thanks His Father that the first step to salvation is humility, coming to God in utter despair of one’s own merit or resources. It is not by accident that the first beatitude is “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3). The kingdom belongs only to the humble.

These things refers to the kingdom, on which Jesus’ entire ministry focused. Even during the forty days between His resurrection and ascension Jesus was “speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3). His teachings about His messiahship, lordship, and saviorhood, and about salvation, submission, and discipleship all centered in the kingdom of God—the realm where He is sovereign, where His people dwell by grace through faith, and where His righteous will is done.

The wise and intelligent sarcastically refers to those who are intelligent in their own eyes and who rely on human wisdom and disregard God’s. The Lord does not exclude smart people from His kingdom but rather those who trust in their smartness. Paul was a brilliant, highly educated scholar, and he did not forsake his intelligence when he became a Christian. But he stopped relying on his intelligence to discern and understand spiritual and divine matters. It is not intelligence but intellectual pride that shuts people out of the kingdom. Intelligence is a gift of God, but when it is perverted by pride it becomes a barrier to God, because trust is in the gift rather than in the Giver. “For though the Lord is exalted, yet He regards the lowly; but the haughty He knows from afar” (Ps. 138:6).

The wise and intelligent include both religious and nonreligious people, who in their love of human wisdom are much more alike than different. Whether religious or irreligious, the proud person will not submit to God’s wisdom and truth and therefore excludes himself from the kingdom. The religious man who relies on tradition or good works to please God is just as far from God as the atheist.

The means God uses to hide these things from such people is the darkness of their proud, unregenerate hearts, which prevent them from seeing what God desires them to know and to accept. Paul said, “Just as it is written, ‘Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and which have not entered the heart of man, all that God has prepared for those who love Him.’ For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God” (1 Cor. 2:9–10). God’s spiritual truth is not empirically, objectively knowable. It cannot be externally discovered, but must be willingly received through man’s heart as God reveals it. As someone has said, “The heart and not the head is the home of the gospel.” No amount of human reasoning or speculation can discover or explain God’s saving truth, because, as Paul continues to say, “a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised” (v. 14).

No amount of evidence is sufficient to convince the confirmed unbeliever. John says of such people that, though Jesus “had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him; that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke, ‘Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ For this cause they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, ‘He has blinded their eyes, and He hardened their heart; lest they see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, and be converted, and I heal them’ ” (John 12:37–40). Those who hear God’s Word and refuse to receive it are subject to God’s judicial confirmation of that choice.

Just as wise and intelligent does not refer to mental ability but to a proud spiritual attitude, babes does not refer to physical age or capability but to a humble spiritual attitude.

A baby is totally dependent on others to provide everything it needs. It has no abilities, no knowledge, no skills, no resources at all to help itself. Nēpios (babes) is used in 1 Corinthians 3:1 and Hebrews 5:13 of infants who cannot eat solid food but only milk. In 1 Corinthians 13:11 it is used of those who have not yet learned to speak and in Ephesians 4:14 of those who are helpless.

During a question and answer period in a meeting one time, a young girl, perhaps 9 or 10 years old, came up to me and asked, “What happens to babies and retarded children when they die?” She was obviously very serious, and I did my best to answer her from Scripture. Beginning with David’s comment about his infant son who had died, “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me” (2 Sam. 12:23), I explained that God takes to Himself all of those, such as babies and retarded people, who are not able to choose Him. Afterward her mother explained that a younger brother was seriously retarded and understood almost nothing of what went on around him. His sister, young as she was, knew the way of salvation and was deeply concerned that her little brother might not go to heaven because he was not able to understand how to receive Christ as Savior. I reminded her that Jesus said, “Unless you are converted and become like children, you shall not enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). She was greatly relieved when I said that her little brother was a living illustration of the kind of person Jesus came to save and to receive into heaven—the utterly helpless.

It is to spiritual babes, those who acknowledge their utter helplessness in themselves, to whom God has sovereignly chosen to reveal the truths of His kingdom. It is to the “poor in spirit” who humbly confess their dependency that God makes the way of salvation clear and understandable. By the Holy Spirit they recognize they are spiritually empty and bankrupt and they abandon all dependence on their own resources. They are the cringing spiritual beggars to whom Jesus refers in the first beatitude—the absolutely destitute who are ashamed to lift up their head as they hold out their hands for help.

Babes are the exact opposite of the kind of person the scribes, Pharisees, and rabbis taught was pleasing to God. They are also the exact opposite of the imagined ideal Christian touted by many popular preachers and writers who glorify self-assertion and self-worth.

The contrast between wise and intelligent and babes is not between the knowledgeable and the ignorant, the educated and the uneducated, the brilliant and the simpleminded. It is a contrast between those who think they can save themselves by their own human wisdom, resources, and achievement and those who know they cannot. It is a comparison between those who rely on themselves and those who rely on God.

People who are famous, highly educated, wealthy, powerful, or talented are often difficult to reach for Christ, simply because human accomplishments easily lead to pride and pride leads to self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction.

Yes, Father, Jesus continues, for thus it was well-pleasing in Thy sight. God is well-pleased with the gospel of grace because it brings glory to Him, which is the supreme purpose in the universe. “For thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite’ ” (Isa. 57:15). God loves to help the humble and the repentant, because they know they are helpless. He is pleased when they come to Him for help, because that honors His grace and gives Him glory (cf. Luke 18:9–14).

Still to the lowly soul

He doth Himself depart,

And for His dwelling and His throne

He chooses the humble heart.

(Author unknown)

“For consider your calling, brethren” Paul reminded the Corinthian believers, “that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong” (1 Cor. 1:26–27).

Jesus referred to Nicodemus as the “teacher of Israel,” suggesting that he was perhaps the most highly respected rabbi in the land. He was a student of the Old Testament and of the many traditional writings of Judaism. Yet with all his religious training and knowledge he could not grasp Jesus’ teaching that “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Even after Jesus explained, Nicodemus did not understand, and Jesus said to him: “Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak that which we know, and bear witness of that which we have seen; and you do not receive our witness. If I told you earthly things and you do not believe, how shall you believe if I tell you heavenly things?” (John 3:3–12). Before he could comprehend or receive the gospel, Nicodemus had to go all the way back and start over as a spiritual babe, putting aside his human knowledge and achievements and coming to Christ with no merit of his own.


All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (11:27)

These words of Jesus are basically a commentary on verse 25, expanding on the truth that God has chosen to reveal His will to babes, the spiritually humble and helpless, rather than to those who are proud and self-reliant. A genuine invitation to salvation must consider God’s revelation, because no person, even the most determined or sincere, could know the way to Him unless the Lord had already made it known. The way of salvation is disclosed only through the sovereign revelation of God.

The first important truth of this verse is not so much taught as taken for granted. Jesus unequivocally equates Himself with God, calling Him My Father in a way that Jews would never do except when referring to His corporate fatherhood of Israel. Here is one of Jesus’ clearest statements of His deity, disclosing the intimate and absolutely unique relationship of the Father and the Son. In essence they are one and are inseparable.

There was no doubt in the minds of Jesus’ hearers that His referring to God as My Father was a claim to deity. The Jews had earlier accused Jesus of making Himself “equal with God” and sought to kill Him (John 5:18). When on another occasion He said, “I and the Father are one,” the crowd wanted to stone Him to death for blasphemy (John 10:30–31; cf. vv. 15, 17–18, 25, 29, 32–38).

That Jesus is Himself God is the heart of the gospel, because apart from His deity He could not save a single soul. No heresy so corrupts the gospel and robs it of its power as the teaching that Jesus is not God. Apart from His deity, there is no gospel and no salvation.

The second truth of this verse is explicit. In His deity Jesus not only was intimate with His Father but had received all things—all authority, sovereignty, truth, and power—from the Father. At some time in preexistent eternity the Father committed these things to the Son (cf. John 5:21–24).

It was because all authority had been given to Him “in heaven and on earth” that Jesus had the right to send out His followers to “make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:18–19). The underlying purpose of Jesus’ miracles was to demonstrate His authority over illness, disease, demons, nature, life, death, and sin. He had authority to forgive sins, to save from divine judgment, and to sovereignly control everything on earth and in heaven. All things in the universe and pertaining to the universe are under His divine sovereignty. His power displayed during His ministry was a preview of the full display in the coming earthly Millennium, when He will reign over the earth.

The third truth of this verse is that no one knows the Son except the Father. Man has no way in himself of discovering what God is like, because his finite mind cannot grasp God’s infinite nature. Because the Son is divine, Jesus says, only the divine Father truly knows Him. The obverse is equally true: nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Divine truth can only be divinely perceived and divinely imparted (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9–16).

Philosophy and religion are utterly incapable of reasoning out God or His truth because they are of a finite, lower order. Human ideas and concepts are earthbound and totally fruitless in producing spiritual truth or guidance. God must break into the darkness and emptiness of man’s human understanding and show Himself before man can know Him.

What Jesus teaches here about God’s revelation of Himself is at once simple and utterly profound. It is to the person who sets aside all human knowledge and wisdom and becomes as an unlearned, helpless infant, that God chooses to reveal Himself. “No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18). Only the person emptied of human wisdom can be filled with divine truth.

Martin Luther said, “Here the bottom falls out of all merit, all powers and abilities of reason or the free will men dream of, and it all counts nothing before God. Christ must do and must give everything.”


Come to Me, (11:28a)

Just as man’s part in salvation is to come humbly, it is also to come in faith. Although finite minds cannot fully comprehend the truth, divine grace and human faith are inseparable in salvation. God sovereignly provides salvation, which includes the fact that man must give himself to the Lord Jesus Christ in commitment before it becomes effective. Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me,” and then immediately added, “and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out” (John 6:37).

Salvation is not through a creed, a church, a ritual, a pastor, a priest, or any other such human means—but through Jesus Christ, who said, Come to Me. To come is to believe to the point of submitting to His lordship. “I am the bread of life,” Jesus declared; “he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:35). Comes and believes are parallel just as are hunger and thirst. Coming to Christ is believing in Him, which results in no longer hungering and thirsting. Other biblical synonyms for believing in Christ include confessing Him, receiving Him, eating and drinking Him, and hearing Him.

Peter declared, “Of Him [Jesus Christ] all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins” (Acts 10:43). And the Lord Himself said, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whoever believes may in Him have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:14–16).

Repentance and Rest

all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. (11:28b)

All who are indicates a condition that already exists. Those whom Jesus invites to Himself are those who already are weary and heavy-laden. Although this aspect of Jesus’ invitation is mentioned after faith (“Come to Me”), chronologically it precedes faith, referring to the repentance that drives the humble, seeking person to Christ for salvation.

Kopiaō (to grow weary, or “to labor”) carries the idea of working to the point of utter exhaustion. John uses the term to describe Jesus’ fatigue when He and the disciples reached Sychar after a long, hot journey from Jerusalem (John 4:6).

Weary translates a present active participle and refers figuratively to arduous toil in seeking to please God and know the way of salvation. Jesus calls to Himself everyone who is exhausted from trying to find and please God in his own resources. Jesus invites the person who is wearied from his vain search for truth through human wisdom, who is exhausted from trying to earn salvation, and who has despaired of achieving God’s standard of righteousness by his own efforts.

Heavy-laden translates a perfect passive participle, indicating that at some time in the past a great load was dumped on the wearied person. Whereas weary refers to the internal exhaustion caused by seeking divine truth through human wisdom, heavy-laden suggests the external burdens caused by the futile efforts of works righteousness.

In Jesus’ day, the rabbinical teachings had become so massive, demanding, and all-encompassing that they prescribed standards and formulas for virtually every human activity. It was all but impossible even to learn all the traditions, and was completely impossible to keep them all. Jesus spoke of the heavy loads of religious tradition that the scribes and Pharisees laid on the people’s shoulders (Matt. 23:4); and at the Jerusalem Council, Peter noted that the Judaizers were trying to saddle Christianity with the same man-made “yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear” (Acts 15:10).

Although the term itself is not used in the text, Jesus gives a call to repent, to turn away from the self-centered and works-centered life and come to Him. The person who is weary and heavy-laden despairs of his own ability to please God. He comes to the end of his own resources and turns to Christ. Desperation is a part of true salvation, because a person does not come to Christ as long as he has confidence in himself. To repent is to make a 180-degree turn from the burden of the old life to the restfulness of the new

Repentance was the theme of John the Baptist’s preaching (Matt. 3:2) and the starting point of the preaching of Jesus (4:17), Peter (Acts 2:38; 3:19; cf. 5:31), and Paul (17:30; 20:21; cf. 2 Tim. 2:25). The person who humbly receives God’s revelation of Himself and His way of salvation, who turns from the unbearable burden of his sin and self-effort, and who comes to Christ empty-handed is the only person God will save.

Anapauō (to give … rest) means to refresh or revive, as from labor or a long journey. Jesus promises spiritual rest to everyone who comes to Him in repentance and humble faith.

God’s rest is a common Old Testament theme. The Lord warned Israel, “Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness; when your fathers tested Me, they tried Me, though they had seen My work.… Therefore I swore in My anger, truly they shall not enter into My rest” (Ps. 95:7–9, 11). After quoting that passage, the writer of Hebrews warns those who make a pretense of faith in Christ but have not really trusted Him: “Take care, brethren, lest there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God” (Heb. 3:12). To intellectually acknowledge Christ’s deity and lordship is a dangerous thing if it does not lead to true faith, because it gives a person the false confidence of belonging to Christ.

In the time of the early church many Jews were attracted to the gospel and outwardly identified themselves with the church. But for fear of being unsynagogued, ostracized from the worship and ceremonies of Judaism, some of them did not truly receive Christ as saving Lord. They went part way to Him but stopped before full commitment. “As a result” of such superficial allegiance, John says, “many of His disciples withdrew, and were not walking with Him anymore” (John 6:66). Consequently they would not enter God’s rest, that is, His salvation, because they still possessed “an evil, unbelieving heart” (Heb. 3:11–12).

Just as those Israelites who rebelled against Moses in the wilderness were denied entrance into the Promised Land because of unbelief, so those who refuse to fully trust in Christ are denied entrance into God’s kingdom rest of salvation for the same reason (v. 19). “Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest, just as He has said, ‘As I swore in My wrath, they shall not enter My rest’ ” (4:1–3).

The dictionary gives several definitions of rest that remarkably parallel the spiritual rest God offers those who trust in His Son. First, the dictionary describes rest as cessation from action, motion, labor, or exertion. In a similar way, to enter God’s rest is to cease from all efforts at self-help in trying to earn salvation. Second, rest is described as freedom from that which wearies or disturbs. Again we see the spiritual parallel of God’s giving His children freedom from the cares and burdens that rob them of peace and joy.

Third, the dictionary defines rest as something that is fixed and settled. Similarly, to be in God’s rest is to have the wonderful assurance that our eternal destiny is secure in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. It is to be freed from the uncertainties of running from philosophy to philosophy, from religion to religion, from guru to guru, hoping somehow and somewhere to discover truth, peace, happiness, and eternal life.

Fourth, rest is defined as being confident and trustful. When we enter God’s rest we are given the assurance that “He who began a good work in [us] will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). Finally, the dictionary describes rest as leaning, reposing, or depending on. As children of God, we can depend with utter certainty that our heavenly Father will “supply all [our] needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).


Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light.” (11:29–30)

Salvation involves submission, because it is impossible for Christ to exercise lordship over those who refuse to obey Him. Jesus’ invitation therefore includes the call to submission, symbolized by a yoke.

A yoke was made of wood, hand-hewn to fit the neck and shoulders of the particular animal that was to wear it in order to prevent chafing. For obvious reasons, the term was widely used in the ancient world as a metaphor for submission. The yoke was part of the harness used to pull a cart, plow, or mill beam and was the means by which the animal’s master kept it under control and guided it in useful work. A student was often spoken of as being under the yoke of his teacher, and an ancient Jewish writing contains the advice: “Put your neck under the yoke and let your soul receive instruction.”

That is the particular meaning Jesus seems to have had in mind here, because He adds, and learn from Me. Manthanō (to learn) is closely related to mathētēs (disciple, or learner) and reinforces the truth that Christ’s disciples are His submissive learners. They submit to Christ’s lordship for many reasons, among the most important of which is to be taught by Him through His Word. A yoke symbolizes obedience, and Christian obedience includes learning from Christ.

The power of salvation is entirely of grace and nothing of works. An unbeliever has neither the understanding nor the ability to save himself, just as a babe has neither the understanding nor the ability to help itself. But although good works do not produce salvation, salvation does produce good works. Believers are, in fact, “created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10).

But because Jesus is gentle and humble in heart, He gives rest, not weariness, to the souls of those who submit to Him and do His work. His yoke is easy, and His load is light. His burden is not like that of Pharaoh, who bitterly oppressed the children of Israel, or like that of the scribes and Pharisees, who burdened the Jews of Jesus’ day with a grievous legalism.

Christ will never oppress us or give us a burden too heavy to carry. His yoke has nothing to do with the demands of works or law, much less those of human tradition. The Christian’s work of obedience to Christ is joyful and happy. “For,” as John explains, “this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3).

Submission to Jesus Christ brings the greatest liberation a person can experience—actually the only true liberation he can experience, because only through Christ is he freed to become what God created him to be.

Thy precious will, O conquering Saviour,

Doth now embrace and compass me;

All discords hushed, my peace a river,

My soul a prisoned bird set free.

Sweet will of God still fold me closer,

Till I am wholly lost in Thee.

(William E. Blackstone)[1]

Unbelief and a Wonderful Invitation

Matthew 11:20–30

Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of his miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. “Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.…

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Where did schools come from? Most people would answer by referring to the school established by Plato in Athens. Plato had studied with Socrates, but Plato was the first to offer a fixed course of study in one location extending over three or four years. Since Plato recruited his students from a public playing field on the outskirts of Athens, called Academus from the name of an athletic hero, Plato’s school became known as the Academy. The school passed from teacher to teacher and lasted for about nine hundred years.

Aristotle, who studied under Plato for twenty years, set up a school of his own, choosing as his site another public playing field called the Lyceum. The Greek word for these playing fields was gymnasium. It is interesting that from these two Greek institutions numerous countries have derived their names for a school. The Germanic nations call their primary schools gymnasiums, Frenchmen call their schools lycees, after the Lyceum, while English-speaking nations call many of their schools academies. The educational establishments of the Western world can be traced to these Greek schools, and millions of today’s students are the successors of those first Greek pupils.

Yet not nearly as many are in the school of Plato as are in the school of Jesus Christ. Jesus founded his school when he told those of his day, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30).

Refusing to Learn

Sadly, not all are willing to matriculate in Christ’s school. One of the problems with education today is that many students flatly refuse to learn. If we can carry the analogy this far, it might be said that this was true in the days of Jesus Christ, since the verses in which Jesus invites people to learn of him are in the middle of two chapters in which Matthew records three negative assessments of Jesus by such persons.

The first example of an at-least-partially negative assessment was that of John the Baptist. We looked at John in the last study. Jesus failed to fulfill John’s expectations of what he thought the Messiah should do, which was to bring judgment on the wicked of that day. So John sent disciples to Jesus to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Matt. 11:3). Jesus was the one, of course. He was not indifferent to evil. In the verses we are studying now he predicts a final judgment for those who refuse to receive his message (Matt. 11:20–24). Still, the time for that judgment had not yet arrived. Instead, it was the day for God’s grace, which Jesus proved by reporting how the sick were being healed and the poor were hearing the gospel.

The third example, which we will come to in the next study, was the hostile reaction of the Pharisees and other religious leaders, who thought Jesus was undermining their teaching, particularly about Sabbath observance. Theirs was a professional jealousy, and the bottom line of their jealous rejection was that they “went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus” (Matt. 12:14).

In the verses we are looking at now (Matt. 11:20–30), Jesus denounces the unbelief of the cities in which he had done most of his miracles. John’s doubt was not unbelief, but these people were not wrestling with doubt. They were completely indifferent, and their indifference was an expression of their utter disbelief. Jesus has done most of the miracles recorded by Matthew in Korazin, Bethsaida, and especially Capernaum. He healed the servant of a Roman centurion (Matt. 8:5–13), cured Peter’s mother-in-law of a fever (Matt. 8:14–15), cast out demons and healed other sick people (Matt. 8:16), healed a paralytic (Matt. 9:1–8), raised a dead girl to life (Matt. 9:18–26), restored sight to two blind men (Matt. 9:27–31), and cast a demon out of a mute person, enabling him to talk (Matt. 9:32–33). Those are only a selection of the many great works Jesus did.

Still the people of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum would not repent of their sin and come to him, and he pronounces a judgment on them.

Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you be lifted up to the skies? No, you will go down to the depths. If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Sodom, it would have remained to this day. But I tell you that it will be more bearable for Sodom on the day of judgment than for you.

Matthew 11:21–24

Five Truths about Judgment

No one likes to think about judgment, and we are relieved that Jesus moves on from this point to talk about the electing grace of God and to issue a gospel invitation. Nevertheless, it is important to think about judgment sometimes, and this passage is one of the most helpful passages in the New Testament for understanding it. These verses teach us five difficult lessons.

  1. There will be a judgment. The reason we do not like to think about judgment is that we do not want to admit there will be one. We imagine that if there is a judgment, we will come out all right since we are nice people. Or we hope that if we are condemned, it won’t be so bad. Jesus does not treat judgment so lightly. He says it should be feared.
  2. There are degrees of punishment. One of the most frightening ideas in this passage is its teaching about degrees of punishment. Jesus says that as terrible as the judgment of Tyre and Sidon will be, it will not be as bad as the judgment of Korazin and Bethsaida. And as terrible as the judgment of Sodom will be, it will not be as horrible as the judgment of Capernaum. The people of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom were wicked and will be rightly punished for their sins. But they had never heard of Jesus as the cities of Christ’s day had and thus would not suffer as severe a punishment as those cities.
  3. The worst sin of all is unbelief. We do not think this way, since unbelief is our chief sin. We prefer to point out the sins of others by observing how outrageous or inhumane they are. In your mind, who are history’s greatest sinners? Probably people such as Hitler, Idi Amin, Stalin, and, if we think back far enough, Genghis Khan or Nero. They are the sinners highest on our lists. Yet there is no record of the people of Korazin, Bethsaida, or Capernaum having done anything particularly offensive or inhumane. They were just people going about their business as we do. Yet they refused to repent and turn to Jesus, and Jesus said that their unbelief was a far worse evil than the sins of other notoriously wicked cities.

What was the root of their sin? Jesus suggests that it was pride and does so by linking the unbelief of Capernaum to the pride of the king of Babylon in verse 23. Verse 23 is an echo of Isaiah 14:13–15 in which the Babylonian king says, “I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God.… I will make myself like the Most High” (v. 13). God informs this proud ruler, “But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit” (v. 15).

  1. God’s judgments take account of his contingent knowledge. This means that God’s judgments are based not only on what people have done but also on what they would have done if the conditions under which they had lived had been different. In this case, Jesus says that Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom would have repented if the miracles that had been done in Galilee had been done there. That is why their judgment will be less harsh. Or to put it another way, as D. A. Carson does in a comment that should be particularly sobering for us, “At the final judgment God will take into account not only North America’s and every North American’s moral standing and response to Jesus Christ and use of opportunities, as compared with, say, every Cuban’s use of the same—but also what both parties would have done if their roles and advantages had been reversed.”

When I think of the opportunities to believe in Christ that have been given to the people of America in our day, I tremble for America. And for you, if you have not yet trusted in Jesus Christ. No nation has ever had the opportunities to repent and believe on Jesus Christ as we have had. “How shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation?” (Heb. 2:3).

  1. God does not owe salvation to anyone. This is the final hard lesson of these verses. Although the people of Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom would have repented and been saved if Jesus had done the miracles in those cities that he did in Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, he did not do them, and the people perished justly for their sins. We think God owes us mercy, but if mercy were owed, it would not be mercy. The only thing God actually owes us is justice, and we will get it if we do not commit our lives to Christ. God is merciful to many, but God owes mercy to none!

Amazing Grace

And yet God is merciful! This is a wonderful, uplifting, thrilling, and encouraging revelation. It is especially wonderful because it is our only hope of being saved. I think Charles H. Spurgeon was entirely right when he suggested that at this point in his teaching the heaviness that must have been on Jesus as he spoke of God’s judgment on the cities of Galilee lifted a bit and his brow must have cleared. For having spoken of judgment, Jesus turned to the subject of election—to God’s amazing, electing grace—and his words were a prayer, the tone of which is thanksgiving. As Spurgeon says, “with thanksgiving” is the only right way to think about election.

“I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure” (vv. 25–26).

When we talk about revelation, which is what Jesus says God’s electing grace gives, we need to acknowledge that there are two kinds of revelation. There is a natural or general revelation. This refers to the revelation of certain truths about God in nature. It is the kind of revelation Paul wrote about in Romans 1, saying that it is sufficient to condemn all persons because they do not follow it in order to seek out and worship God. Paul said, “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them” (vv. 18–19). The response of unregenerate persons to this revelation is that “although they knew God [in this way], they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him” (v. 21).

The second kind of revelation, the kind Jesus actually speaks of here, is a personal or specific revelation by God to an individual as a result of which that person turns from sin and trusts Jesus Christ. Jesus says several important things about it: (1) the gospel—he calls it “these things”—is known to God only, since he alone is its author; (2) no one knows what God knows except Jesus, because the gospel has been committed to him by God and because, being God’s Son, he alone knows the Father; (3) it is the Father’s pleasure that the Son should reveal him to those the Son chooses.

This is an astonishing series of statements. In the first of these brief paragraphs the revelation is said to be given by God and according to God’s “good pleasure” (v. 26), while in the second paragraph the same revelation is said to be given at the discretion of the Son (v. 27). In other words, God the Father and Jesus are placed on equal footing, and what is affirmed of each is that the salvation of the lost is due entirely to their good pleasure. What is more, the revelation has to do with Jesus and his teaching, and it is made not to those who consider themselves wise and learned, which the citizens of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum must have thought they were. Instead of being given to such “wise” persons, it is given to those Jesus calls “little children” (v. 25). Jesus does not mean actual children, of course, though children are not excluded, but those who are humble enough to look to him for salvation.

The man who said this was either insane, a deceiver, or precisely who he claimed to be, which is how the great English apologist C. S. Lewis listed the options in Mere Christianity. Millions have wisely believed that Jesus is God and have trusted him for their salvation.

A Gospel Invitation

The chapter ends with a gospel invitation, an invitation to do what those who have believed in Jesus Christ have done. They have enrolled in Christ’s school in order that they might learn and believe all that he will teach them. Here Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (vv. 28–30).

It is difficult to think of an invitation more important or more gracious than this—and it comes from the lips of the one who has just pronounced the most withering judgment on the citizens of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. There are several reasons why this invitation is so gracious.

  1. The invitation is for everyone. Jesus’ words are for people of all ages, all nationalities, and all temperaments, and he calls them exactly as they are. We should emphasize this because we tend to think that Jesus’ call is for people who are somehow “suited” for religion or perhaps have “earned” a gospel invitation. But it is precisely here that the universal offer must be stressed, as it was by Jesus. Following Christ is, in a certain sense, the hardest thing anyone can ever do. But at the same time, it is possible for everyone, because Christ himself gives us the will to persist in our calling. What do you need to hear and obey the call of Christ? A hymn answers rightly:

Let not conscience make you linger,

Nor of fitness fondly dream;

All the fitness he requires

Is to feel your need of him.

The citizens of Capernaum may have had their “felt needs,” as we do, but Jesus was not one of them. Therefore, they missed their opportunity and will perish in God’s judgment. Only the needy find salvation.

  1. The invitation is for those who are burdened by sin. The phrase “weary and burdened” does not refer to physical weaknesses or to what we might call the burdens of a difficult life, though it may include them. It chiefly refers to a sense of sin’s burden and the need of a Savior. The context makes this clear, for the earlier verses describe the rejection of John the Baptist and Jesus by the Jewish masses, followed by the Lord’s denunciation of Korazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum for their failure to repent at Jesus’ preaching. They were not burdened by sin. They were getting along just fine. Still, there were people who were burdened, and these people believed that Jesus could lift sin’s weight and turned to him to do it. These people listened to him, trusted him, and found salvation. This is why times of great movement by God’s Spirit are also times of great repentance.

If you are awed by large numbers of professing Christians, regardless of the moral tone or spiritual usefulness of their lives, you will think this is a wonderful age, since, as the Gallup poll tells us, there seem to be more than fifty million born-again Christians in the United States. If you are impressed by large churches, you will judge ours to be an age of exceptional blessing, since we have built the largest auditoriums in church history. If you are impressed with money, you must be nearly ecstatic today, since more money is being given to Christian causes than ever before. Even the liberal churches report annual revenue gains, though their membership rolls continue to decline.

But if you are looking for something else—for a mature knowledge of God and real godliness in Christian people—and are bemoaning the accelerating moral decadence of our time, even within fellowships of professing believers, then you must grieve for the state of today’s church and sorrow for the lost. Where discipleship is present, people are sensitive to sin and turn from it. They turn to Jesus, where relief from sin’s dreadful burden can be found.

  1. The invitation is to learn about Jesus. When Jesus called his disciples to “follow” him, he was comparing Christianity to a path in which his followers were to walk, he going ahead of them. When he challenged his disciples to “learn from me,” he was comparing Christianity to a school in which he was to be both the subject matter and the teacher. This is the school in which every true believer has matriculated and in which a lifelong course of study is prescribed.

The Authorized Version of Matthew 11:29 translates the words “learn from me” as “learn of me,” thus making Jesus the subject matter of the Christian’s study rather than the teacher. This variation exists because the Greek preposition apo, which occurs here, has a variety of meanings, including “of” and “from,” and English has no exactly comparable word. Translators must choose one idea or the other when actually both may be involved. Here the root idea is knowing Christ himself, in the sense of John 17:3, where Jesus prayed, “This is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.” But having come to know Christ himself, we also need to continue to learn about him in this school.

  1. The invitation offers rest for tired people. In fact, it offers rest twice. There is a rest that is given: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (v. 28). That rest comes instantly when we first trust in Christ. Then there is a rest that is found: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (v. 29). That rest comes as we increasingly learn to follow Jesus in our daily lives.

Jesus is the only rest you or any other poor, struggling, burdened soul will ever need. You may be laboring onward like Pilgrim, distressed at the burden on your back. No earthly master will lift that burden. Many will add to it. The majority will ignore it because they have burdens of their own. You need Jesus. He is the only one who can actually help you. Why not turn to him right now? Turn from all inferior teachers to the one who alone can teach true godliness and whose teaching will save your soul.[2]

25 The Greek en ekeinō tō kairō (“at that time”) is a loose connective in Matthew (cf. 12:1; 14:1), loosely historical (it was about that time) and tightly thematic (this pericope must be read in terms of the preceding denunciation). Luke 10:21 has Jesus saying these words “at that hour” (en autē tē hōra; NIV, “at that time”) when the seventy-two joyfully returned from their mission, an event Matthew does not record. Luke’s connective relates to the success of the mission; Matthew’s assumes that there has been some success (God has revealed these things to little children) but draws a sharper antithesis between the recipients of such revelation and the “wise and learned,” who, like the inhabitants of the cities just denounced, understand nothing.

While exomologoumai soi (“I praise you”) can be used in the sense of “I confess my sins” (cf. 3:6), the basic meaning is acknowledgment. Sins truly acknowledged are sins confessed. When this verb is used with respect to God, the person praying “acknowledges” who God is, the propriety of his ways, and the excellence of his character. At that point, acknowledgment is scarcely distinguishable from praise (as in Ro 14:11; 15:9; Php 2:11; cf. LXX of Ps 6:6; 7:18; 17:50 et al.).

Here Jesus addresses God as “Father” and “Lord of heaven and earth” (cf. Sir 51:10; Tob 7:16). These are particularly appropriate titles, because the former indicates Jesus’ sense of sonship (see comments at 6:9) and prepares for v. 27, while the latter recognizes God’s sovereignty over the universe and prepares for vv. 25–26. God is sovereign, free to conceal or reveal as he wills. God has revealed “these things”—the significance of Jesus’ miracles (cf. vv. 20–24), the messianic age unfolding largely unnoticed, the content of Jesus’ teaching—to nēpiois miracles (cf. vv. 20–24), the messianic age unfolding largely unnoticed, the content of Jesus’ teaching—to nēpiois (“little children,” (“little children,” “childlike disciples,” “simple ones,” GK 3758; see Jeremias, New Testament Theology, 111; comments at 18:1–5; cf. Jn 7:48–49; 1 Co 1:26–29; 3:18); and he has hidden them from the “wise and learned.”

Many restrict the “wise and learned” to the Pharisees and teachers of the law, but the context implies something broader. Jesus has just finished pronouncing woes on “this generation” (v. 16) and denouncing entire cities (vv. 20–24). These are “the wise and learned” (better, “the wise and understanding”) from whom the real significance of Jesus’ ministry is concealed. The point of interest is not their education, any more than the point of interest in the “little children” is their age or size. The contrast is between those who are self-sufficient and deem themselves wise and those who are dependent and love to be taught.

For revealing the riches of the good news of the kingdom to the one and hiding it from the other, Jesus uttered his praise to his Father. Zerwick (Biblical Greek, para. 452) argues that though the construction formally puts God’s concealing and his revealing on the same level, in reality it masks a Semitic construction. See Romans 6:17, which reads literally, “But thanks be to God that you were servants of sin, but you obeyed from the heart the form of teaching with which you were entrusted.” But this example does not greatly help here; for even when the construction is rendered concessively (“I praise you … because, though you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, you have revealed them to little children”), God remains the one who reveals and conceals.

Yet we must not think that God’s concealing and revealing are symmetrical activities arbitrarily exercised toward neutral human beings who are both innocent and helpless in the face of the divine decree. God is dealing with a race of sinners (cf. 1:21; 7:11) whom he owes nothing. Thus to conceal “these things” is not an act of injustice but of judgment—the very judgment John the Baptist was looking for and failed to find in Jesus (see comments at vv. 2–6). The astonishing thing about God’s activity is not that God acts in both mercy and judgment but who the recipients of that mercy and judgment are: those who pride themselves in understanding divine things are judged; those who understand nothing are taught. The predestination pattern is the counterpoint of grace.[3]

25 In Luke 10:21–22 this saying begins with “In that same hour,” which links it with the return of the missionaries and their rejoicing that their names are written in heaven. Matthew does not make that connection, and so instead here “At that time” links the following declaration with the unresponsiveness of the people of Galilee, who exemplify the “wise and intelligent” from whom the truth is hidden. The very unspecific term “these things” must be understood in context of the whole revelatory process of Jesus’ ministry, both the truths he has taught and the truth about who he himself is. The division in response to Jesus’ message is here unambiguously traced to the will of God himself (see also the following verse); it is a matter of revelation to some and not to others, as 13:11–17 will more fully spell out. The basis of this division is not an arbitrary selection, but the fundamental principle of divine revelation, that it comes to those who are open to it, but finds no response with those who think they know better; with the “wise and intelligent” it is wasted like seed sown beside the path (13:4, 19). To describe this effect as God’s actively “hiding” the truth reflects the Jewish tendency to ignore intermediate causes and to attribute the end result directly to the divine purpose; we shall have more to say on this in relation to 13:11–17. If God is indeed “Lord of heaven and earth,” a form of address unique in the NT (though cf. Acts 4:24; Rev 10:6; 14:7) but typical of Jewish prayer, it is understood that what happens on earth, even in the minds of the human beings he has created, comes under his sovereign will.

The strongly Hebraic tone of the prayer is seen also in the word for “praise,” exhomologeomai, which occurs in only one other place in Matthew, where it means “confess” (3:6). Its use here reflects LXX usage, where the verb not only means “confess,” “acknowledge,” but also regularly translates the hiphil of the Hebrew yādaʿ, meaning to “make known,” “declare” the works of God, and hence to “praise” him. But while the tone of the prayer is thus familiarly Jewish, the address to God simply as “Father” breaks new ground. The imagery of God as Father of his people is not new, but while Jewish prayers might occasionally refer to God as “our Father,” as Jesus taught his own disciples to do (6:9), for an individual to address God simply as “Father” (presumably in the Aramaic form Abba, Mark 14:36) is, as far as extant records go, unprecedented. The familial tone of the simple “Father” in combination with the reverential “Lord of heaven and earth” provides a telling insight into the nature of prayer for Jesus.

“Wise” and “intelligent” are not in themselves pejorative terms. Indeed Jesus will speak in 23:34 of sending “prophets, wise people and scribes” as his messengers to an unresponsive Israel. But the wisdom which he has just celebrated in 11:19 and whose tones he will adopt in this pericope is not that of human cleverness but of divine revelation. Even the best of human insight which relies only on its own resources cannot penetrate the divine wisdom; it is “hidden” from it. By contrast, “little children,” precisely because they do not rely on their own resources, are open to receive the revelation; cf. the OT theme of wisdom given to the “simple” (Ps 19:7; 119:130 [in both of which LXX uses nēpios]; Prov 1:4 etc.). Nēpios, an “infant,” even a “babe in arms,” is a familiar NT image for the immature who remain dependent on others (Rom 2:20; 1 Cor 13:11; Eph 4:14); it is the opposite end of the human value-scale from the mature, self-confident adult. The unresponsive world may despise the humble disciple, but in the matter of divine wisdom as in so many aspects of the kingdom of heaven the first will be last and the last first; for a similar contrast, again using nēpios, see 21:15–16. We have already met in 10:42 the Matthean motif of Jesus’ true disciples as the “little ones,” and the theme will be resumed more forcefully in 18:6–14 as well as in the “least of these brothers of mine” in 25:40, 45.[4]

Rest for the Weary

Matthew 11:25–30

At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matt. 11:25–30)

When Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened,” even the happiest man, woman, or child here is thankful for the offer. For we all bear burdens. Consider some of the burdens we bear:

  • We visit a couple we love and grieve when they speak most unkindly to each other. We worry about their marriage; we are burdened for our friends.
  • We learn that a friend or mentor in a distant place has cancer. He may not live to the end of the year.
  • We have a new job, helping a company improve its product. We thought we could help, and we certainly have the ability, but there are obstacles in the workplace that thwart every effort to turn things around.
  • For some reason you cannot seem to get a good night’s sleep. You wake up every morning burdened by near exhaustion.

Jesus bids us to come to him, that he may bear our burdens and give us rest. It is one of the sweetest promises of Scripture, but to understand it we first must see that Jesus bears a burden—a burden he explains in Matthew 11:25–30.

When Jesus promises to bear our burdens, he does so at the end of a chapter that first revealed a number of hard truths. First, in Matthew 11 Jesus said that even a true disciple can suffer doubts and struggles (11:1–15). Second, many ordinary people are blind to God’s truth and hostile to it. In Jesus’ day, many Israelites were impossible to please. God sent John the prophet and they judged him fanatical. Then God sent his Son and they rejected Jesus for having too much fun (11:16–19). Third, therefore, Jesus pronounced judgment on the towns that witnessed Jesus’ miracles yet did not believe (11:20–24).

But as he considers the unbelief of the towns of Galilee, Jesus assesses the situation from a theological perspective. Even though so many Israelites are rejecting the kingdom, the Father remains Lord of heaven and earth because, Jesus says, he has “hidden these things from the wise and learned” (11:25). So Jesus broaches the mysterious topic of divine election—and praises the Father for it.

Jesus Praises the Father

We might expect Jesus to lament the sin of Israel, and he does. But he also praises the Father for revealing the gospel to children and hiding it from the wise. This praise is also a confession, a declaration of God’s nature. He is the Father, but lest anyone presume upon his kindness, Jesus adds that he is “Lord of heaven and earth,” Lord of all things. As Lord, he is sovereign. He is free to reveal or to conceal “these things” as he chooses. He has not hidden everything from everyone; we would not have the Bible or the church if he had. Rather, he has hidden the meaning of his miracles and the truths of the kingdom from “the wise.” But he has revealed the truth to “little children” (NIV), literally, to “babies” (11:25).

When Jesus’ first audience heard him mention “the wise,” they probably thought first of the Pharisees, but the wise also included any Israelite, Greek, or Roman who saw Jesus but did not believe. Today “the wise” means anyone who thinks he is self-sufficient, anyone who thinks Jesus has nothing to teach him. But babies know they depend on others. They are willing to be taught.

God’s Purposes Amidst the Rebellion of Israel

The spiritual question of the hour was this: Why did Israel respond so poorly to Jesus? The answer is twofold. First, Jesus says, it was their fault. Some were hard to please—fickle and spiritually lazy. Others had an academic consensus about the proper interpretation of Scripture and its laws. They were quite convinced of their orthodoxy and rectitude. But second, God hid the truth from those who claimed to be wise and revealed it to infants. He chose to turn the world upside down.

By this Jesus commends a childlike attitude. Some people think the commendation of children means that Jesus does not want us to bother with doctrine or with deep things of the faith. They say we must simply trust God and live by his commands. Anything more is superfluous. But this confuses the metaphor. Children are not thoughtless or foolish. Children think very hard about things that affect them, and so should we. Christians should have a child’s heart and an adult’s head.

Our clan recently had a family reunion. As preparations for the central meal came to their climax, some of the women started issuing crisp orders about who belonged in the kitchen, who could touch this or could not touch that, who should sit where, and so forth. The men, naturally, began cracking jokes about bossy women. Ten-year-old Andrew processed all this, then declared: “When I get married, my wife is never going to tell me what to do. I’m going to do whatever I want and she won’t say a word.” To this my fifteen-year-old daughter replied, “Well then, Andrew, you had better marry a mute.” Everyone laughed, except Andrew, who was pensive. Two minutes later, his face lit up and he declared, “Oh, I get it.” Andrew may have been naïve about the ways of marriage, but he was thoughtful and teachable. Similarly, God reveals his truth to those who are teachable, to those who know and lament their ignorance.

God’s Work of Election

Jesus describes the situation when he says God has “hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” But Jesus also rejoices over God’s will: “At that time Jesus said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure. All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ ” (Matt. 11:25–27).

God does not, as Paul says, favor the noble, the rich, or the powerful (1 Cor. 1:26–30). Such people are prone to pride and the proud close their minds. They think they know everything, therefore they cannot receive the teaching of Jesus and Scripture.

Humans tend to seek splendor and honor. But God chooses to reveal his truth to ordinary people, to the poor, the uneducated, even the dregs of society. By human estimation, Western Europeans are the most sophisticated people in the world. But the faith is very weak in Western Europe. Each generation can also list the nations and regions of the earth that are poorest and least educated. In those places, the faith often grows and grows.

We should be humble, therefore, like little children. We must know our need of God’s grace and listen to him. God reveals himself as he chooses, but does not especially grant his blessings to those who are learned or accomplished. We do not come to faith through our skill, industry, or knowledge.

Of course, many who are noble and wise by the world’s standards do believe. In the end, God reveals and conceals according to his good pleasure. Some will say this is unfair, but we must be careful here. First, God is Creator and Lord of heaven and earth. We do not have the standing to criticize the almighty God. Second, we must not imagine that God looks at billions of innocent and hopeful humans and chooses to reveal his truth to and redeem some and to conceal his truth from perfectly fine people, so that they ultimately taste his curse.

God surveys a race of sinners. There is a veil over our eyes because we have placed it there. We are bent toward rebellion. Hateful thoughts, vainglory, selfishness, and foolish desires spring up unbidden. Sin runs through every cell. Every few months, the news outlets titillate the masses with tales of immorality among the most visible entertainers and political leaders of the land. It is always tempting to condemn the talented men and women who are guilty of immorality. But we have little right to condemn others. Whatever their follies, we are capable of many of the same sins. We are more like than unlike the sinful celebrities. Every human is a glorious ruin.

God relates to a world of sinners to whom he owes nothing except judgment. When he conceals his truth, it is not as though he erases a trail from honest hikers who hoped to climb God’s mountain. Quoting the Psalms, Paul says, “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away” (Rom. 3:10–12; Ps. 14:1–3). Therefore, it is no marvel that Jesus hides his truth from some. The marvel is that he reveals it so clearly to win so many.

Objections to Election

When people first hear of divine election, they commonly object that it seems unfair. It is unjust, some think, for God to reveal the truths that lead to life to some but not to others. But let us be careful to define fairness and justice. We can distinguish between what we may call retributive justice and distributive justice. Retributive justice grants everyone what they deserve, no more and no less. Distributive justice grants all parties the same treatment.

To illustrate, suppose a high school teacher gives a test that produces disastrous results. The highest grade, for her college-bound group, is 79 percent. The test itself was challenging but reasonable and timely. Unfortunately, it fell on the Monday after a big weekend, so that no one prepared properly. The teacher could simply give everyone the grade they earned, on a percentage basis, even if half the class failed and the highest grade was a C+. That would be retributive justice—everyone would get what they deserve. Or she could be merciful and add perhaps 15 points to all the tests to get fairly typical results.

But suppose the teacher took another approach and said, “The grades are entirely too low; therefore, to raise the grades, I am going to add 20 points to all the girls’ scores, but none to the boys’.” The boys would exclaim, “That’s not fair.” This cry is true in one way, but not in another. The teacher deprived no one of retributive justice. No boy received less than he deserved. Every boy got precisely what he deserved and nothing less. The boys complain about distributive justice: the teacher distributed mercy or favor to some students, but not to others.

The teacher’s method roughly resembles the ways of God. She treats everyone fairly in the sense that no one receives less than they deserve. But God does grant some far more than they deserve. The Lord does not bestow his favors equally to all. We need only survey society to see that some people are stronger, brighter, taller, prettier, and more confident than others. Some people get the breaks; they are always in the right place at the right time.

Perhaps this seems unfair. But God certainly has the right to build diversity into his creation. We ought to respect his work and give thanks for the variations that make life spicy. He also has the right to grant his favors as he pleases. God says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Rom. 9:15; Ex. 33:19).

God has the right to reveal his truth as he pleases. He has revealed his power and attributes to mankind in the pages of nature, but mankind has suppressed and perverted his truth (Rom. 1:18–25). He has the right to hide “these things from the wise and learned” and to reveal “them to little children” (Matt. 11:25–26). If we object to this, we object to the power and deity of the Lord. God is good and powerful and has knowledge we cannot fathom. He does as he pleases, and he always acts in a manner that expresses his eternal moral excellence.

So let us never chafe against the power and will of God. Rather let us join Jesus and praise the Father for all his works—his works of salvation and his works of justice. Let us join Jesus and praise the Father for revealing and concealing his truth. Further, we should praise him for committing all his power and knowledge to Jesus.

Jesus Declares His Power and Knowledge

God is Creator and Lord of all humanity. He is a Father to all who believe in him. Yet there are a unique intimacy and love between God the Father and Jesus the Son. Jesus is not just a son of God; he is the Son of God. No one knows each other like a family that has lived together, in openness, for a long time. Since the Father, Son, and Spirit have been together, equal in deity and in perfection, for more than a long time, the Father and the Son know each other perfectly.

Furthermore, as the Father reveals his kingdom and his gospel, according to his plan and pleasure, he makes the Son the unique instrument of revelation.

Since no one knows the Father as does the Son, Jesus is perfectly qualified to reveal everything committed to him by the Father. Further, the Father authorizes the Son to reveal things that no mortal can know. The Father bids the Son to reveal his truth to those “whom the Son chooses” (11:27). As the eternal Son of God, Jesus reveals the secret things of God as the triune God pleases.

Some things remain hidden (Deut. 29:29). For example, we do not know how God created the universe. Bound by space and time, we cannot fully know God’s relationship to space and time. We do not know why God chose to make a covenant and enter a relationship with Abraham, of all people, and Israel, of all nations. We do not know why he chose to redeem us or to bless any particular church.

God keeps his own council, but his will is never capricious or unreasonable. He created the universe with wisdom and power. He accomplishes redemption in love and faithfulness. If he chooses not to reveal himself to some members of this rebel world, he does so in justice and in a way that never destroys human choice or responsibility.

Some say the doctrine of God’s providence leads to fatalism. That is, if God determines the course of history, our choices and actions are meaningless. But no. God cares about us and governs history personally, so that he never violates our will. Rather he works in and with our will, so that his purposes are also our choices.

Suppose God plans that a young man should become a railroad engineer. He may place a children’s book about railroads, well illustrated and well written, to pique the boy’s interest at an early age. Later, a teacher with an interest in railroads will nurture that interest. Later, the young man will meet someone who will become his sponsor as he prepares to catch a break so he can enter the field. So God’s plan, the young man’s interests, and the interests of the moral agents whom he encounters all coincide.

Objections to God’s Providence

Some say the doctrines of election and predestination are the enemies of meaning: if God foreordains whatsoever comes to pass, our actions have no significance. But no, the divine decree is the enemy of nihilism. Nihilism asserts that the universe is the product of impersonal material forces plus time plus chance. Nihilists say our choices are blind in the present and meaningless in the end. Beyond that, they may all have been determined by impersonal forces in advance. But if God is sovereign, the Lord invests himself in every moment, every action, every choice. That is hardly an absence of meaning. Some might think it entails too much meaning. Everything matters! God witnesses even the smallest act. If we take a break from work to look at a flower or a bird outside the window, even our pause falls within his purview.

People also say the doctrine of election spells the end of evangelism. If God enlightens and saves whomever he wills, the need, the urgency, for our evangelistic efforts fades away. But no, the providence of God liberates evangelism. It means the burden for success does not lie upon the evangelist. We need not worry about results. We must simply tell the truth and leave the outcome to God. God may at any time be pleased to work through our word to bring someone to himself. Surely that motivates evangelism.

When I was a young pastor, I taught myself a new system for presenting the gospel. The system required training and a mentor, but I thought I could learn it independently. The presentation was somewhat complicated, with quite a few set steps. It is hardly a surprise that the first time I tried the presentation on a young couple who had recently visited our church, I botched it at several points. At the end, I presented the prescribed question, “Do you want to receive the gift of eternal life?”

Without hesitation, without consultation, both the husband and the wife immediately said yes. I was startled. I wanted to say, “How can you say yes so quickly? Don’t you know that I inverted the order of two major segments and butchered the final illustration?” But God was drawing them to himself and chose to use my poor words to bring this man and woman to himself. They had thought about God often, but knew they were missing something. The gospel made sense and they believed.

If anyone thinks divine election spoils our evangelistic efforts, he need only look to our passage. In 11:25 Jesus says God has hidden “these things” from the wise. In 11:26–27 he says he and the Father reveal the truth as they please. In 11:28, he says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.”

Notice the word “all.” Jesus invites all of the weary to come to him. The offer goes to all. Among them, God will draw many to himself. They will come to the truth and Jesus will give them rest. Again, this shows that God’s sovereignty does not thwart evangelism; it promotes it.

God has a plan of redemption that he will accomplish. He started with Abraham, he worked with the nation of Israel in good times and bad, and he finished his work through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Because he executed his plan, he can offer us rest in Christ.

Jesus Offers Rest To The Weary

Jesus invites the weary to find rest in him. Yet he also invites the weary to work, saying, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28–30). The metaphor of a yoke comes from agriculture, where farmers place a yoke on animals to harness their strength to plow fields or bear burdens. When Jesus says, “Take my yoke,” he means “Lift it onto your shoulders.”

In the Old Testament, the yoke became a metaphor for Israel’s bondage, when Babylon conquered the land and Israel had to serve their foreign conquerors (Jer. 27:2–7; 28:10–11; Isa. 14:25). But the yoke could also mean any service to a master, including a good one. Some rabbis spoke fondly of the yoke of service to God and his law. One saying declared, “He that takes upon himself the yoke of the law, from him shall be taken away … the yoke of worldly care.”

But the law, as the rabbis taught it, was a burden for most people, for the rabbis put heavy burdens on people’s backs, in two ways (Matt. 23:4). First, the rabbis concocted all kinds of laws that were meant to ensure that one never broke the law. Imagine it in these terms:

  1. Drunkenness is a sin. Therefore, one must never drink alcohol.
  2. It is best, to avoid temptation, not even to use wine or sherry in cooking.
  3. To avoid impurity, one must always check the ingredients of all prepared food. At restaurants, we must also inquire about cooking wine.
  4. Just in case a restaurateur would give an erroneous answer to the question above, the faithful should not even dine at a restaurant that has alcohol on the premises.

Now drunkenness is a sin and alcoholism is a plague, but we must wonder if such rules about fermented drink would improve the life of an earnest disciple. The rabbis did not promote these imaginary rules about alcohol, but they did have rules about tithing and the Sabbath that had this style. For example, they said a righteous man must never eat food given to him by a common man for it might not be tithed. And he must never buy food sold by a common man, unless he tithes it before eating, just in case it was not tithed before it was sold.

As for the Sabbath, a man could write a two-letter word, but not a three-letter word on the day, for three letters would constitute labor. As for food, he must lay out everything he might want to eat or drink on the Sabbath on the night before the Sabbath, lest he work. Clearly, such rules devised by men and not given by God, readily become burdens.

But the second burden imposed by the religious laws of Jesus’ day was even greater. The Pharisees demanded that the Jews, plus any Gentiles who wished to know God, must undergo circumcision and follow the food laws of Moses in order to be saved. Further, they said God had given enough grace that a good person could and should obey the law with a faithfulness that demonstrated covenant loyalty. This obedience was considered necessary for salvation.

At the Jerusalem Council, convened to discuss these matters, Peter asked the Judaizers, “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). So the law became a burden (11:28). Jesus lifted that load. He perfectly obeyed the law; now he offers his obedience to all who trust in him, not in their own acts of fidelity.

There are still more burdens that weigh us down, and Jesus would lift them as well. We suffer from guilt over past sins and remorse over past errors. We bear the weight of fear—fear of illness and of failure, and of adversaries. We bear a load when we think we must pretend to be someone who we are not. We bear a load when there is a chasm between who we are and the persona we think we must project, when there is dissonance between our way of life and our image.

Jesus invites us to come to him and rest from all the pretense. In Jeremiah 6:16, the Lord says, “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.” Because God has revealed the truth to us in his Son, we should both rest and labor in it.

Once we rest in Christ, our work changes. The cure for a heavy burden is not to have no burden, but a light burden, the right burden. Jesus knows the right burden. He offers rest not by inviting us to do nothing, but by leading us to the right activities. Two things wear an active person down: having too much work of the wrong kind (tedious meetings, for example) and having no work at all. Jesus is gentle. He gives the right kind of work. That is how his yoke is good and his load is light. Jesus’ way is easy in at least four ways. First, his commands correspond to reality. They work. Second, his commands are consistent. They cohere with each other. They hold together through all the layers of life—bodily life, spiritual life, and emotional life. Third, his commands are clear. We know what he expects of us. Finally, labor for him is a labor of love. It is sweet work, as the toil of loving newlyweds is sweet when they prepare favors for one another.

Jesus’ offer is sweet and light. He has drawn us to himself, has revealed the truth to us. If that is his good pleasure and you have responded to it, then you should both rest in it and labor in it.[5]

Jesus the Son of God (11:25–30)

By all indications, 11:2–24 reports events of a single period. These closing verses are closely joined chronologically to the rest of the chapter: ‘At that time Jesus answered and said …’ (11:25a). The present passage is also connected theologically to the preceding, especially to verses 16–24. The picture of verses 16–17 does not apply to every Israelite of ‘this generation’: some of them are not childish in that way, but rather childlike in their response to the Father. Nor have all the inhabitants of those cities (11:20–24) remained unrepentant: as already observed, some have heeded the message of the kingdom (4:17) and have submitted as little children to the Father’s benevolent rule. Moreover, among those to whom the Son now offers rest (11:28–30) are people who heretofore have spurned his grace and refused to repent.

The Father and His Children (11:25–26)

Jesus said: ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, because this was your good pleasure.’

  1. The Father’s disclosure

Jesus’ repeated address, ‘Father’ (pater, then patēr), anticipates his words in 11:27 about the relationship between Son and Father. This address also recalls the prayer in 6:9–13, which likewise begins with pater. It was noted there that the Son’s relationship to the Father is unique, but also that disciples are granted an inexpressibly deep communion with the Father because they belong to his Son. Matthew 11:27 will witness to both those realities.

‘These things’ (tauta) which the Father has hidden from some and revealed to others (11:25) are the ‘mighty works’ of which Jesus has just spoken (11:20–24). In one sense, of course, Jesus’ works were on display before all: those cities are judged because they witnessed these miracles but still refused to repent. Yet in another sense they saw these mighty works but did not perceive their meaning (note the use of these verbs in 13:14), despite Jesus’ accompanying verbal explanations (e.g., 9:6; 12:28). As this prayer makes plain, the external evidence from the Son must be augmented by internal light from the Father. A human being cannot understand truth about God the Son unless God the Father reveals it (11:25b: the verb apokalypto). One such ‘little child’ was Simon Peter: he confessed Jesus to be the Messiah, the Son of the living God (16:16), because Jesus’ Father had graciously disclosed this very truth to him (16:17, where apokalyptō recurs).

  1. The Father’s good pleasure

In 11:26a, Jesus acclaims the action just described: ‘Yes, Father [nai ho patēr].’ He then explains why the Father conceals that truth from some, and reveals it to others: ‘because [hoti] this [or thus: for the adverb houtōs] was your good pleasure [eudokia]’ (11:26b). This eudokia may be considered in two ways, both based on the fact that the One who shows such favor is ‘Lord of heaven and earth’ (11:25a).

  • God’s sovereign initiative. It is the Father’s ‘good pleasure’ to reveal saving truth about his Son to those he has chosen for salvation, namely to his elect ones, and to withhold it from others. It is these eklektoi whom the angels will gather from the four winds at Jesus’ second advent (Matt. 24:31). Correspondingly, at his Son’s first advent God commissioned a multitude of angels to proclaim ‘peace among those with whom he is pleased’ (Luke 2:14, esv)—or, ‘peace to men of [his] good pleasure [eudokias].’ In the language of Paul, God ‘has predestined us for adoption as his own sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his good pleasure [kata tēn eudokian] and will.… He has made known to us the mystery of his will, in accordance with his good pleasure [kata tēn eudokian autou] which he purposed in Christ’ (Eph. 1:5, 9 [as translated by Lincoln 1990: 9]). The ground of salvation lies nowhere but in the Father’s good pleasure and saving purpose. It is because the Father has granted them light and insight that the disciples respond favorably to Jesus’ mighty works. The Son’s praise for the Father’s sovereign work (Exomologoumai soi, ‘I thank you’ [Matt. 11:25a]) anticipates the doxological theology of Eph. 1:3–14.
  • God’s sovereign response. The Father also acts in accord with what he perceives in the human heart (cf. 1 Sam. 16:7; 1 Chron. 28:9; Ps. 138:6; Prov. 3:34). So on the one hand it is his eudokia to hide (the verb kryptō) truth about Jesus ‘from the wise [sophōn] and intelligent [synetōn]’ (Matt. 11:25b). It is not wisdom and intelligence as such that God opposes (how could we think so after reading Proverbs or 1 Corinthians?), but rather intellectual pride. Competitive as it is by nature, pride suppresses truth about God (he being the most serious threat to the proud) and instead makes human reason the final arbiter of truth. Is not a prime explanation for certain Jews’ opposition to Jesus, their reason’s inability to fathom—and therefore its unwillingness to accept—that Jesus is both God and man?10 Such thinking is not only a cause of God’s judgment but also a consequence. God resists these proud persons (cf. James 4:6) by hiding from them the truth about his Son. Does not their indifference to his mighty works (Matt. 11:20–24) show how foolish they are? Does not the charge of 12:24 betray the speakers’ stupidity? Yet on the other hand it is God’s eudokia to give grace to the humble (James 4:6 again): he reveals (the verb apokalyptō) truth about Jesus to ‘the childlike’ (nēpioi, Matt. 11:25c). Jesus here speaks figuratively (hence this translation for nēpioi rather than ‘little children’), as in 18:3, where he says listeners must ‘become like little children [paidia]’ to enter the kingdom of heaven. This is not a call to become innocent (even paidia become selfish without the least instruction), but to be trusting and teachable, helpless and dependent, in the presence of truth from God—or, in the language of Matthew 11:29, ‘meek and humble in heart’ (cf. 5:3, 5). The only hope for ‘the wise and intelligent’ is that they become ‘childlike’ in this sense. Let them acknowledge their sinful folly (1 Cor. 3:18) and humbly entreat God to grant them the true wisdom.

With both those paragraphs in view, we may observe (i) that both the judgment against ‘the wise and intelligent’ and the salvation of ‘the childlike’ are foreordained by God; (ii) that the cause for the election of the latter and not the former lies not in human behavior (whether pride or faith), but solely in the eudokia of God’s sovereign will; (iii) that the pride of ‘the wise and intelligent’ is to blame for God’s hiding truth from them; (iv) that the faith of ‘the childlike’ is God’s appointed means for the salvation of his elect; and (v) that ‘the Lord of heaven and earth’ is hereby praised, both for his justice (in the condemnation of the wicked) and for his mercy (in the salvation of his elect).

  1. Praying to the Father

How might the prayer of Jesus in Matthew 11:25–26, viewed together with that of 6:9–13, affect our own prayers? a. At the very moment Jesus uttered the words of verses 25–26, there were perhaps thousands of other prayers being offered to God. One of ‘the childlike’ might well ask: ‘How can God hear all those prayers at one time?’ But this Father is different from earthly fathers who may have difficulty listening to two children at once. He is ‘the Father in heaven’ (6:9), ‘Lord of heaven and earth’ (11:25). He is not imprisoned within time but reigns above time. He is not in fact listening to ‘all those prayers at one time’; on the contrary, he ‘has infinite attention to spare for each one of us.’ b. Since perceiving the truth about Jesus depends on revelation from the Father, let us boldly and persistently ask him thus to illuminate our unbelieving friends. Will not their salvation achieve the Father’s will on earth, cause his name to be hallowed, and advance his rule (Matt. 6:9b–10)? Who knows how many of those scornful skeptics and proud professors are among God’s elect? c. Having witnessed the salvation of ‘the childlike’ (including some from the ranks of ‘the wise and intelligent’), let us too give thanks to the Father (11:25) for his goodness and grace.

The Father and the Son (11:27)

The linguistic simplicity of this text is matched by its theological profundity. ‘All things [Panta] have been entrusted [paredothē] to me by [hypo] my Father, ‘begins Jesus. The neuter plural panta signals a manifold endowment: the Father so loves the Son that he gives all things into his hand. The Father bestows the Spirit of wisdom and might (Matt. 3:16; 12:18 [cf. Isa. 11:2; Luke 4:18]). The Son is thus empowered to work miracles (chs. 8–9; 11:20–24 [the panta of v. 27 recalls the tauta of v. 25]; 12:28). He is also equipped to teach (chs. 5–7, 10). The verb in 11:27a, paradidōmi, was used to denote the transmission of sacred tradition (so, e.g., in 1 Cor. 15:3); but whereas ‘the tradition [paradosis] of the elders’ (15:2) was traced from one authorized rabbi back through another, through the men of the great synagogue (in the post-exilic time) to Moses, Jesus receives instruction directly from his Father (note the preposition hypo)—the One who imparted the Torah to Moses in the first place. This is one reason Jesus’ teaching possesses an authority lacking in that of the scribes (Matt. 7:28–29), which is to say that among the panta which the Father grants the Son is the universal authority (pasa exousia) of 28:18. Yet foremost among those panta are people—as is clear from the prayer of 11:25 (with its reference to ‘the childlike’), the remainder of 11:27 and the appeal of 11:28–30 (with its masculine pantes [11:28a]).

Jesus continues: ‘and no one knows [epiginōskei] the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know [epiginōskei] the Father except the Son’ (Matt. 11:27b). Jesus affords a glimpse into the incomparable and incomprehensible communion between Father and Son. In the verb used here, ginōsko (‘know’) is prefaced by the preposition epi. In some such compounds the preposition intensifies the meaning, so that epiginōskō might be rendered ‘fully know.’ But a simple ‘know’ (as in the above translation) suffices: sometimes the adding of a preposition does not affect the meaning of the verb; the parallel in Luke 10:22 uses ginōskō; and the rest of Matthew 11:27 shows this to be the fullest and deepest knowledge imaginable. Moreover, it is plain from other texts (i) that the language of ‘knowing’ expresses not just intellectual recognition but the love that Father and Son have for one another; (ii) that the Holy Spirit participates in this holy communion; and (iii) that the knowledge of 11:27c–30 is based on and akin to, but not equivalent to, the knowledge of verse 27b; i.e., that believers will truly know God, but not in the very way the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit know each other.

The sentence concludes: ‘and anyone to whom the Son wills [boulētai] to reveal [apokalypsai] him’ (11:27c). Knowledge between the Father and the Son is incomparable, but it is not exclusive. Each reveals to human beings truth about the other: this aorist infinitive of apokalyptō recalls the aorist indicative of this verb in 11:25; in each case persons receive instruction from the One who best knows the other. The Son’s ‘willing’ (the verb boulomai) corresponds to the Father’s ‘good pleasure’ (eudokia, 11:26); and it is implied that the Son reveals the Father to the very kind of people the Father chooses, namely ‘the childlike’ (nēpioi, 11:25). Nor do 11:25 and 27 represent different curricula: as Matthew 11:27b itself reveals, it is vital not only to know the first and second persons in the Godhead, but to know them as Father and Son, i.e., to know the relationship between them.

The Son and His People (11:28–30)

Jesus’ words in 11:25–26 are a prayer to the Father; those of verse 27 are a declaration in the hearing of the crowds (cf. 11:7). Jesus now appeals directly to his listeners: ‘I will give you rest … you will find rest’ (11:28–29). Verses 28–30 are clearly to be interpreted in the light of (and, by all indications, were spoken at the time as) verses 25–27; and as noted on page 626, these closing six verses are joined both chronologically and theologically to the rest of the chapter, especially to verses 16–24.

‘Come to me, all who are weary and burdened [pantes hoi kopiōntes kai pephortismenoi], and I will give you rest [kagō anapausō hymas]’ (Matt. 11:28). Jesus addresses persons who toil under burdens others have imposed on them. Scribes and Pharisees ‘tie up heavy burdens [phortia], hard to carry, and place them on men’s shoulders’ (23:4); lawyers ‘burden [phortizete] men with burdens [phortia] hard to carry’ (Luke 11:46).

While human commands are doubtless included (cf. Matt. 15:1–9), the principal ‘burdens’ are God’s own laws. Do not the scribes and Pharisees ‘sit on Moses’ seat,’ and does not Jesus command his followers to practice what they teach (23:2–3a [words spoken just before the censure quoted above])? Are not God’s laws far weightier than man’s (Acts 15:10)? Does not the law Jesus condemns in Matthew 15:5 relieve people of the burden of honoring their parents (15:4, 6)? In light of all that, Jesus makes his present appeal; most significantly, he first calls burdened people to himself (‘Come to me,’ 11:28a), and only thereafter to his law (‘Take my yoke,’ 11:29a). ‘And I [kagō] will give you rest,’ he promises (11:28c). Otherwise, trying to keep the law—even God’s law—will bring you toil and misery. Without me, you can do nothing (John 15:5); in my power, you can do all I require (Phil. 4:13). The help other teachers refuse (Matt. 23:4b), I will provide (11:28–30). Those teachers’ hearts are far from God (15:4); I know and love the Father as does no other (11:25–27). As Jesus also exemplifies love of neighbor, he issues this invitation to faithful law-keepers who, loving God and desiring to obey him, feel the weight of his commands most acutely; to transgressors of the law who will not or cannot bear its burdens; to scholars and teachers of the law whose own disobedience (23:3) reveals law-keeping to be a greater burden for them than might appear; and to persons (including some of the above) who heretofore have spurned or opposed his witness (11:16–25).

‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, because I am meek and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves’ (11:29). 1. The yoke. A yoke (Greek zygos, Hebrew ’ōl) on one’s neck and shoulders was a means for bearing a load. Used figuratively, the term could denote both servitude to an oppressive master and service to Yahweh—who is also praised as the One who frees his people from the yoke of slavery.28 Jewish sources from Jesus’ time and afterwards speak of serving Yahweh as accepting ‘the yoke of the law’ or ‘the yoke of the kingdom.’ Accordingly, verse 11:29a—‘Take my yoke [arate ton zygon mou] upon you’—is a command to submit to God’s rule as Jesus proclaims it, and to God’s law as Jesus expounds it. The expression ‘my yoke’ (mou is a genitive of possession) reflects Jesus’ unique authority as Yahweh incarnate to establish that rule and to interpret that law. 2. The teacher. In commanding listeners to wear his yoke, Jesus appears to be increasing rather than lightening their load; for God’s laws as expounded by the New Moses (e.g., 5:17–48) are the weightiest of all. For this very reason, Jesus directs attention on the character of the teacher himself: ‘and learn from me [mathete ap’ emou], because I am meek and humble in heart [hoti praus eimi kai tapeinos tē kardia]’ (11:29b). This is the sort of language Jesus used in the beatitudes: the plural of praus occurs in 5:5, and tapeinos tē kardia is very close to ptōchoi tō pneumati, 5:3 (and the Son who knows the Father, 11:27, is utterly katharos tē kardia, 5:8). That is, Jesus identifies himself as a person who needs, trusts and obeys God (see pp. 313–20). Unlike the teachers of Matthew 23:3, he submits to God’s rule and keeps his commands. He chiefly instructs his students by embodying the truth he expounds (see p. 322–24); he himself is his most potent lesson. He, the lowly Servant, deals gently and mercifully with the weary and the erring (12:17–21; 9:13; cf. the Servant’s words in Isaiah 50:4). Himself ‘meek and humble in heart,’ he is not too proud to bear the burdens of the frail and the fallen (Matt. 8:17; 20:25–28; contrast 23:4b). Moreover, in his meekness (prautēs) he conquers the powers of darkness. And since the Son discloses his Father (11:27b), those who study Jesus learn that the Father too is ‘meek and humble in heart.’ 3. The rest. Once you obey those commands—‘take’ (arate) and ‘learn’ (mathete)—‘you will find rest for yourselves [tais psychais hymōn]’ (11:29c). Disciples find rest (the noun anapausis) because Jesus gives rest (the verb anapauō; 11:28); and paradoxically, they find rest by ‘taking up Jesus’ yoke’—by obeying his commands.

What better example than the fourth commandment, which dominates 12:1–14? One experiences the sabbath rest precisely by keeping the sabbath command; and it is rest not just for the ‘soul’ (so most translations of 11:29c), but for the body as well. Yet, this only happens for persons intimately related to ‘the Lord of the Sabbath’ (12:8). In Jesus’ hands, the law is an instrument of grace, a guide for loving God and neighbor. Wielded by alien powers (demonic or human), the law becomes enslaving and destructive.

‘For [gar] my yoke [ho … zygos mou] is easy to wear [chrēstos], and my burden [to phortion mou] is easy to bear [elaphron]’ (Matt. 11:30). Joined to the preceding by the opening gar, this verse further explains the rest promised in 11:29c. The yoke and the burden are distinguishable but inseparable: ‘the function of a yoke (the sort worn by humans) is to make a burden easier to carry.’ In verse 30, the ‘yoke’ stands for Jesus’ commands, and the ‘burden’ for the law keeping he requires. Both remain his: each instance of mou here, as in verse 29 (ton zygon mou), is a genitive of possession. This means both that Jesus himself keeps his commands, and that he helps his people to do so (see again John 15:5; Phil. 4:13). To the latter end, he imparts to them his empowering Spirit (see, e.g., Gal. 5:16–6:5; Rom. 8:1–17). Therefore, his commands are ‘not burdensome’ (1 John 5:3).

Jesus’ overture of grace (Matt. 11:28–30) is sounded in the presence of persons already threatened with condemnation (cf. 11:6, 16–24). If they refuse this invitation, what hope can remain for them?[6]

Inviting others to come and serve (11:25–30)

It is interesting that, precisely at the point where Jesus is reflecting on those who have rebelled against his ministry, he says, ‘Thank you, Father.’ We are (rightly) thankful when people do believe; Jesus is thankful even when they remain stubborn and rebellious. The source of his thankfulness is the fact that God is sovereignly in control of all these matters.

This passage is profoundly important for our understanding of the effectiveness of the gospel, as well as for our approach to gospel evangelism. On the one hand, Jesus emphasizes the absolute sovereignty of God in the matter of salvation. No one can be saved apart from God revealing himself to sinners. And God reveals himself only to those sinners whom he chooses. It may be a difficult doctrine but it is unmistakeably part of the gospel of Jesus: ‘no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him’ (v. 27). Jesus’ choice of us precedes our choice of him.

Yet no one is saved without choosing Christ. That is why, on the other hand, the doctrine of God’s sovereignty in salvation is to be taken hand in hand with the full and free offer of the gospel, written so majestically in these words: ‘Come to me’ (v. 28). Jesus offers himself and promises rest. He promises freedom from sin’s burden under his own yoke. His call is not to the strong and self-sufficient, but to the weak and the weary. These are the twin themes of all our gospel work: the sovereignty of God and the responsibility of man. These are not equally final: we must always give the priority in the work of the gospel to God’s absolute sovereignty. But we must do so in a way that also does justice to the responsibility of each one of us to respond to the voice of the King.[7]

11:25–26 / The final section of chapter 11 (vv. 25–30) comprises three rather separate utterances: a thanksgiving, a soliloquy, and an invitation. The major question raised by commentators regarding these verses has to do with authenticity. It is commonly held that the high Christology of the passage, combined with similarities to Gnostic thought, places its origin at a later period. Beare comments, “This meteorite from the Johan-nine heaven (von Hase) is undoubtedly a theological (christological) composition from the hand of an unknown mystic of the early church” (p. 266). The following discussion holds (with Green) that the material is integral to Matthew and to its context (p. 119).

Jesus gives thanks to his heavenly Father for revealing to the childlike what is hidden from the proud. The opening of his prayer of thanksgiving, Father, Lord of heaven and earth (v. 25) resembles Ben Sira’s prayer, “I will give thanks to thee, O Lord and King” (Sir. 51:1). The wise and learned are the scribes and Pharisees, the official guardians of Israel’s wisdom. Paul speaks disparagingly of the “scholars” and “skillful debaters of this world,” noting that according to the Scripture, God will “destroy the wisdom of the wise and set aside the understanding of the scholars” (1 Cor. 1:19–20, gnb). The little children (“babes,” av) are the followers of Jesus who, unimpeded by preconceived ideas of how God should act, respond with simple faith to Jesus and his mighty works. It is paradoxical but true that study can separate a person from truth as well as bring a person to truth. It is the attitude of the learner that determines the result. It has always been God’s gracious will (v. 26) to resist the proud but give grace to the humble (James 4:6).[8]

11:25 hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. In Jesus’ prayer to the Father (11:25–27) the twin motifs of revelation and hiddenness come to the fore. Matthew will highlight these themes across this section of his Gospel (11:1–16:20) and will particularly focus on them in the Parables Discourse (13:1–53). Given the hiddenness of the kingdom (its “not yet” quality), revelation and corresponding faith are needed in order to receive the word of the kingdom. Jesus’ prayer also signals the reversals of the kingdom: those who respond favorably to the kingdom message and messenger are unlikely recipients (as already at 5:3–10). Those of low status and who lack understanding—here exemplified by “little children”—will receive revelation about the kingdom (see comments on 18:2). Those expected to respond with understanding—“the wise and learned”—will experience the kingdom as hidden from them.[9]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 2, pp. 267–278). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 195–201). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 317–318). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 443–445). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.

[5] Doriani, D. M. (2008). Matthew & 2. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (Vol. 1, pp. 478–489). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[6] Chamblin, J. K. (2010). Matthew: A Mentor Commentary (pp. 626–638). Ross-shire, Great Britain: Mentor.

[7] Campbell, I. D. (2008). Opening up Matthew (pp. 70–71). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[8] Mounce, R. H. (2011). Matthew (pp. 106–107). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[9] Brown, J. K. (2015). Matthew. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 126). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Job Cuts Sparked By Bankruptcies Hit Highest Level Since 2005 | Zero Hedge

Article Image
https://www.zerohedge.com by Tyler Durden

Sixty-two thousand one hundred thirty-six job losses were a result of firms going bankrupt and laying off employees in 2019. The amount is higher than the annual totals for bankruptcy-related job losses dating back to 2005, when 74,200 were seen.

The report said one of the leading causes of job losses last year were “trade concerns, emerging technologies, and shifts in consumer behavior.”

Love (Part 1 of 2) | Truth For Life Programs

When asked which commandment was the greatest, Jesus said, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind.” Learn how to live out this commandment as we begin a new study about the fruit of the Spirit, on Truth For Life with Alistair Begg.


Source: Love (Part 1 of 2)

01/03/2020 — Wretched


•Your questions answered
•Is the Virgin Birth a salvation issue?
•What kind of jesting is forbidden in Ephesians 5?
•What leads to a good preacher falling into grievous sin?
•Brian Hedges on Watchfulness; how you can keep yourself from sin.
•How can teachers be judged more harshly if we are covered by grace?
•Should I leave a church that refuses to discipline?
•Why doesn’t Todd lead people in The Sinner’s Prayer?

Download Now (right click and save)

via 01/03/2020 — Wretched

President Trump Delivers a Statement on Iran – Video and Transcript… — The Last Refuge

This afternoon President Trump delivered a statement on Iran outlining the successful preemptive strike against Iranian terrorist leader Qasem Soleimani.

…“We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war.”…


[Rough Transcript] Thank you very much, and good afternoon.

As president my highest and most solemn duty is the defense of our nation and its citizens. Last night, at my direction, the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qassem Soleimani.

Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him.

Under my leadership America’s policy is unambiguous to terrorists who harm or intend to harm any American. We will find you. We will eliminate you. We will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans and our allies.

For years the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force under Soleimani’s leadership has targeted, injured and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen.

The recent attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, including rocket strikes that killed an American and injured four American servicemen very badly, as well as a violent assault on our embassy in Baghdad, were carried out at the direction of Soleimani.

Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London. Today we remember and honor the victims of Soleimani’s many atrocities and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over. Soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years.

What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago. A lot of lives would have been saved. Just recently Soleimani led the brutal repression of protesters in Iran, where more than 1,000 innocent civilians were tortured and killed by their own government.

We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war. I have deep respect for the Iranian people. They are a remarkable people with an incredible heritage and unlimited potential.

We do not seek regime change. However, the Iranian regime’s aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors, must end and it must end now. The future belongs to the people of Iran, those who seek peaceful co-existence and cooperation, not the terrorist warlords who plunder their nation to finance bloodshed abroad.

The United States has the best military by far anywhere in the world. We have the best intelligence in the world. If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary. And that in particular refers to Iran.

Under my leadership we have destroyed the ISIS territorial caliphate, and recently American special operations forces killed the terrorist leader known as al-Baghdadi. The world is a safer place without these monsters.

America will always pursue the interests of good people, great people, great souls, while seeking peace, harmony and friendship with all of the nations of the world.

Thank you, God bless you. God bless our great military, and God bless the United States of America.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

via President Trump Delivers a Statement on Iran – Video and Transcript… — The Last Refuge

TRUMP: We Took Action To Stop A War, Not ‘Start A War’ — The Gateway Pundit

In his first televised remarks since ordering the airstrike that killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, President Trump said he took the drastic action to stop a war, not start one.

“We took action last night to stop a war,” Trump said during brief remarks at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. “We did not take action to start a war.”

Trump said Soleimani was planning “imminent and sinister attacks.”

Here are Trump’s full comments, via a poll report from a White House reporter in Florida.

Thank you very much and good afternoon. As president my highest and most solemn duty is the defense of our nation and its citizens. Last night, at my direction, the United States military successfully executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qassem Soleimani. Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him.

Under my leadership America’s policy is unambiguous to terrorists who harm or intend to harm any American. We will find you. We will eliminate you. We will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans and our allies. For years the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force under Soleimani’s leadership has targeted, injured and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen.

The recent attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, including rocket strikes that killed an American and injured four American servicemen very badly, as well as a violent assault on our embassy in Baghdad, were carried out at the direction of Soleimani. Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London. Today we remember and honor the victims of Soleimani’s many atrocities and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over. Soleimani has been perpetrating acts of terror to destabilize the Middle East for the last 20 years. What the United States did yesterday should have been done long ago. A lot of lives would have been saved. Just recently Soleimani led the brutal repression of protesters in Iran, where more than 1,000 innocent civilians were tortured and killed by their own government.

We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war. I have deep respect for the Iranian people. They are a remarkable people with an incredible heritage and unlimited potential. We do not seek regime change. However, the Iranian regime’s aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbors, must end and it must end now. The future belongs to the people of Iran, those who seek peaceful co-existence and cooperation, not the terrorist warlords who plunder their nation to finance bloodshed abroad.

The United States has the best military by far anywhere in the world. We have the best intelligence in the world. If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified, and I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary. And that in particular refers to Iran. Under my leadership we have destroyed the ISIS territorial caliphate, and recently American special operations forces killed the terrorist leader known as al-Baghdadi. The world is a safer place without these monsters.

America will always pursue the interests of good people, great people, great souls, while seeking peace, harmony and friendship with all of the nations of the world. Thank you, God bless you. God bless our great military, and God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

via TRUMP: We Took Action To Stop A War, Not ‘Start A War’ — The Gateway Pundit

Woman Who Scoffs At Your Religion Still Checking Her Horoscope Every Day — The Babylon Bee

PORTLAND, OR—According to sources close to Patricia Lyles, a local woman who hates the concept of religion and thinks you are foolish to believe there is a God out there somewhere, she is still checking her horoscope to see how the stars will direct her path every day.

“I just think it’s silly to think there’s some divine plan from a God somewhere,” she said as she took a BuzzFeed quiz to see what kind of Scorpio she was, based on her choice of smoothie at Jamba Juice. “We are free creatures, and there is no sovereign God with any kind of plan for my life.”

Having been freed from the shackles of God and religion, Lyles is now able to spend more time consulting star charts, tarot decks, crystal balls, and palm readings to determine the course of action for her life, down to the last minute detail.

“I can’t believe people still believe in God in the current year,” she said, chuckling.

“Also, celestial bodies can help me determine what kind of toilet paper to buy. Looks like the constellations are telling me it’s single-ply for Scorpios this month.”

She also makes sure to check her daily Enneagram thought.

via Woman Who Scoffs At Your Religion Still Checking Her Horoscope Every Day — The Babylon Bee

The gospel is not a ‘sales pitch’.

In our recent article “Phil Pringle – former garbage collector, former postman, now ‘salesman’?”, the question was asked by Elizabeth Prata:

“If a Christian is listening to someone, the question to ask is, are they teaching or are they selling? If they are teaching, their points will be clear (because God’s word is). If they are selling, they will be vague, emotional, and evasive.” (Source)

In an earlier CWC article, “The Brand is Belief” we pointed out the ‘tale of two churches’, one presenting the case for a biblical model of church, a model rapidly disappearing from the church landscape today and the other, a new market-driven paradigm taking its place. So it’s not too hard to assess the “gospel” represented by both Phil Pringle (C3 Church Global) and Brian Houston (Hillsong) and identify it for what it truly is – an unbiblical sales pitch.

“But false prophets…

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FLASHBACK: Media and Democrats Silent After Obama Drone-Bombed Al-Qaeda Leader Anwar Al-Awlaki and His Teenage Son from Denver — The Gateway Pundit

Al-Qaeda leader and US citizen Anwar al-Awlaki was killed in Yemen in September 2011 in a targeted strike.
Al-Awlaki was born in New Mexico and attended college in Colorado.

Obama dropped a bomb on his head.

In May 2012 The New York Times revealed that Barack Obama was the official who actually made the final call on US drone strikes.

Seven months before the New York Times report, Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki, a 16-year-old American citizen from Denver, was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in October 2011. Abdulrahman Al-Aulaqi was the son of terrorist Anwar al-Aulaqi. He did not have a trial. He was never waterboarded.  He was sixteen.

Barack Obama dropped a bomb on his head.

On Thursday the United States killed General Qassim Soleimani, a top commander of Iran’s al-Quds Force, in an airstrike at Baghdad’s International Airport. The strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces. Seven people were reportedly killed in the airstrike.

Speaker Pelosi, Democrats and their fake news media were outraged over the death of the world’s number one terrorist.

The media and Democrats hammered President Trump all day.

What hypocrites

via FLASHBACK: Media and Democrats Silent After Obama Drone-Bombed Al-Qaeda Leader Anwar Al-Awlaki and His Teenage Son from Denver — The Gateway Pundit

Agglomeration — The Watchman’s Bagpipes

Here we are again with a collection of links to articles that should be read by those seeking to learn discernment as well as wanting to be aware of how the wolves are eating the sheep.  More sheepdogs are needed!
The Good – For Education and/or Edification
Interesting history about the dating of Christmas.
An interesting series examining the aberrant and often heretical New Apostolic Reformation.  Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Naming Names a New Year Resolution? Nope. Just like Don, I’ve always named names.
Denomination wise, the PCA needs to step in and fix what is happening to their churches.  Discipline them, excommunicate them, but DO SOMETHING!!
More Wolves and False Teachings
Bethel is worse than you could possibly think.  More on them and the dead child.
More proof that the Papist Church is not a church of Christ.
Catholic Charities is an un-Christian “social justice” network helping thousands of illegals get into the USA. I guess Rome has forgotten where the Bible tells us to obey the laws of they land.  But then again they may be just ignoring it so they can enrich themselves.
Then there is the Papist idea of “holy water” being used to sprinkle a whole town! Such superstition causes great harm to the people who believe it.
When it comes to wolves, it is really difficult to keep up with them to expose them. Here’s another one to avoid: Tim Henderson. Portals?!? This guy is a wacky as they come.
Steven Furtick and his “Elevation Church” continue to prove that he is a goat with a goatherd and not a church of Christ.
False teachers get more perverted by the minute. Thaddeus Mathews has his face on women’s underwear.
Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg demonstrates how politicians can often be dangerous false teachers.  The man claims to be a Christian, but he does not worship the Christ of God of the Bible. (You’ll also notice in the article that a Catholic Cardinal is just as bad with false teachings about Christ.)
Kari Jobe—sigh!
A good article explaining the dangerous false teacher Francis Chan.
Todd Bentley finally judged as not qualified! Discerning people have been saying this for years. And yet false teacher Michael Brown thinks Bentley was “supernaturally gifted by God”!!!!

via Agglomeration — The Watchman’s Bagpipes

United Methodist Church Will Split Into Multiple Denominations As Same-Sex Marriage Continues To Destroy The Professing End Times Christian Church — Now The End Begins

The United Methodist Church is expected to split into more than one denomination in an attempt to bring to a close a years-long and contentious fight over same-sex marriage.

Conservatives applauded back in February when the United Methodist Church body narrowly voted down the LGBTQ+P for Pedophile “One Church Plan’, but alas, the short-lived victory is coming to an end. Jesus tells us in Revelation 3 that the Laodicean Church Age, the last days of the professing church on earth before the Rapture, would look like this:

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” Revelation 3:15,16,19 (KJV)

You wouldn’t know it to look at them now in their current sorry, apostate condition, but there was a day when the Methodist Church in America was an on-fire, bible believing church that for a time was the largest denomination in the US. But then they gave up their King James Bible in the early part of the 20th century, and it was all downhill from there. John Wesley would be weeping if he could see what the Methodists have devolved in to.

Funny thing. As more and more Christian churches give in to the LGBTQ+P for Pedophile mafia, as you will see in the video below, the homosexuals in the clergy are saying that now “true healing can come” to the Church as it “embraces same-sex union”. We live in such a distorted age when Christians have little to no idea what the Bible teaches so this type of thinking is being enthusiastically adopted as “progress”. It is an awesome and terrible thing to watch Bible prophecy unfolding and coming true, and if it doesn’t send a chill down you’re spine you might want to check up on your own salvation.

United Methodist Church is expected to split over gay marriage, fracturing the nation’s third-largest denomination

FROM MSN NEWS: The historic schism would divide the third-largest religious denomination in the United States. Leaders of the church announced Friday they had agreed to spin off a “traditionalist Methodist” denomination, which would continue to oppose same-sex marriage and to refuse ordination to LGBT clergy, while allowing the remaining portion of the United Methodist Church to permit same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy for the first time in its history.

The plan would need to be approved in May at the denomination’s worldwide conference. The writers of the plan called the division “the best means to resolve our differences, allowing each part of the Church to remain true to its theological understanding, while recognizing the dignity, equality, integrity, and respect of every person.”

The United Methodist Church is the United States’ largest mainline Protestant denomination and among the only remaining such churches that still does not perform same-sex marriages. The church has fought bitterly about LGBT inclusion for years, and leaders often feared the fight would lead to a schism.

Friday’s announcement came as new sanctions were set to go into effect in the church, which would have made punishments for United Methodist Church pastors who perform same-sex weddings much more severe: one year’s suspension without pay for the first wedding and removal from the clergy for any wedding after that.

Instead, leaders from liberal and conservative wings signed an agreement saying they will postpone those sanctions and instead vote to split at the worldwide church’s May general conference. They said the agreement was brokered by Kenneth Feinberg, the mediation expert who handled the compensation fund for victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, among other major negotiations.

The agreement pledges $25 million to the new “traditionalist” denomination, which will break away from the United Methodist Church, a group that is likely to include most of the church’s congregations in Africa, as well as some in the United States. In exchange, Friday’s announcement said, the new denomination would drop any claim to United Methodist assets, such as church buildings.

Any local church that wants to join the new conservative denomination would have to conduct a vote within a specified time frame, the announcement said. A church would not need to vote to remain United Methodist.

Churches that vote to leave could take certain assets with them. An additional $2 million would go to any other new denomination that wishes to split from the church. The plan also calls for $39 million “to ensure there is no disruption in supporting ministries for communities historically marginalized by racism.”

After the separation, the agreement said, the remaining United Methodist Church would hold another conference with the purpose of removing the church’s bans on same-sex marriage and LGBT clergy.

The 16 members of the negotiating team that reached the plan included bishops from New York, Florida, Louisiana, Ohio, the Philippines and Sierra Leone. The team also included leaders from the most pro-LGBT Methodist factions, including the Reconciling Ministries Network, and the most conservative, including the Wesleyan Covenant Association and the Good News movement. READ MORE

United Methodist Church Agrees To Split Amid LGBTQ Differences

A cultural shift may spark the creation of a new religious denomination by dividing one of the country’s largest in two.

The Life of John Wesley

John Wesley was one of the most influential Christian preachers in early American history and the founder of the Methodist Church. This video explores the life of Wesley in Oxford and then in Georgia, it discusses his conversion, and finally his involvement in the First Great Awakening.

via United Methodist Church Will Split Into Multiple Denominations As Same-Sex Marriage Continues To Destroy The Professing End Times Christian Church — Now The End Begins

On Dealing With Terrorists (and Double Standards) — CultureWatch

Some clear thinking on the Soleimani drone strike:

An Iranian terror chief who was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans was taken out by orders of President Trump. Hot on the heals of Iranian militants surrounding the US embassy in Baghdad, the US President took prompt action to let the region know that he was not like Obama and other weak leaders who coddled terrorists instead of dealing with them forcefully.

But already the Democrats and the left (including folks like Corbyn in the UK) are siding with Iran as they side against Trump and America. For example, House speaker Nancy Pelosi complained, saying the action was “provocative and disproportionate.”

Watching the left carry on about this is something to behold. Indeed, there is so much moral and mental confusion going on here, as well as so much blatant hypocrisy and double standards, that one does not know where to begin in response. But let me try.

What actually happened was this: Qasem Soleimani and some other terror leaders were killed in a drone strike on Friday. It was a swift and decisive response by Trump, given that Soleimani was involved in the attack on the US embassy. Trump rightly knew that there is only one language that terrorists understand – and understand well.

As one news report stated:

Trump said Friday that he ordered the military strike against Soleimani, who he called “the number one terrorist anywhere in the world,” because Soleimani was “plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel.”

“We caught him in the act and terminated him,” Trump said in a speech in Palm Beach, Fla. “Under my leadership, America’s policy is unambiguous to terrorists who harm or intend to harm any American. We will find you. We will eliminate you. We will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans and our allies.

“For years the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds Force under Soleimani’s leadership has targeted, injured around murdered hundreds of Americans and servicemen. The recent attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq, including rockets strikes that killed an American and injured four American servicemen very badly as well as a violent assault on our embassy in Baghdad were carried out at the direction of Soleimani,” he said.

“Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London. Today we remember and honor the victims of Soleimani’s many atrocities, and we take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over,” the president said. Trump said that killing Soleimani was something that “should have been done long ago.” http://www.cnsnews.com/article/washington/melanie-arter/trump-airstrike-killing-irans-top-commander-meant-stop-war-not

And other terrorists were also taken out in the strike:

Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a veteran Iraqi terrorist who was closely allied with Iran and rose to be a senior terrorist commander during the war against the Islamic State group, was killed overnight Friday in a U.S. strike that also felled Iran’s top general. Al-Muhandis was the deputy commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group of mostly Shiite paramilitaries. He was also the founder of the Kataeb Hezbollah, or Hezbollah Brigades.

The U.S. blamed the group, which is separate from the Lebanese Hezbollah movement, for a rocket attack in northern Iraq last week that killed a U.S. contractor. The militias, many of which are backed by Iran and trace their roots back to the Shiite insurgency against U.S. forces following the 2003 invasion, mobilized in 2014 when the Islamic State group swept across northern and western Iraq. worldisraelnews.com/iraqi-militant-killed-alongside-soleimani-worked-with-iran-for-decades/

But of course the lefties are all in a spin about this. In the meantime however, many Iranians and Iraqis have been celebrating this event, overjoyed that this monster was taken out. As one said, “As an Iranian, I want to thank you with all my heart.” summit.news/2020/01/03/iranians-and-iraqis-celebrate-thank-trump-for-airstrike-that-killed-ruthless-military-general/

And to see just what a monster Soleimani was, simply have a read of this article: http://www.faithwire.com/2020/01/03/i-saw-qasem-soleimanis-brand-of-evil-firsthand-its-worse-than-you-could-possibly-imagine/

Also bear this in mind: while Obama had opportunities to deal with Soleimani but did not, that does not mean he had nothing to do with drone attacks and the like. He authorised plenty of them, with innocents being the main victims. But we did not hear the Democrats and the left complain about that: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/15/90-of-people-killed-by-us-drone-strikes-in-afghani/

Lefties are also whining about a lack of Congressional approval. Wrong again. The US Congress has already authorised funding for military and other activity in this part of the world. And what approval did Obama get when he declared war on Libya? http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/oct/15/90-of-people-killed-by-us-drone-strikes-in-afghani/

And another report that the Dems have conveniently forgotten about says this, “Obama launches 2,800 strikes on Iraq, Syria without congressional approval.” http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/apr/27/congress-still-not-specifically-authorizing-islami/

Nor is this going to lead to WWIII. Iran is no match for the US, and the truth is, Trump has been quite restrained for several years now. His actions were justified, and it was a proportionate response. As David Harsanyi writes:

It’s simply that Trump, who showed plenty of restraint with Iran, couldn’t ignore Iran’s behavior anymore. This is the consequence of eight years of Obama pandering to the mullahs. Let’s remember: Not only did Trump’s predecessor give Soleimani — a man who specialized in mass murder — a pass, but helped fund his terror apparatus with ransom money. It’s no wonder that Soleimani functioned with impunity. Only days after orchestrating an attack on the American embassy, the head of the Quds Force, a U.S.-designated terror organization, felt free to drive around Iraq. Not anymore. As Eli Lake points out, Trump has effectively erased the distinction between Iran and its terror proxies. It’s about time. http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/iran-is-not-iraq/

Peter Heck concurs, and he too is ignoring the Twitterati and the snowflakes on the left: “But amid all the chatter, the predictions and prophecies of what would come of the U.S. airstrike, I wonder how many have paused to consider what President Trump’s decision has made incontrovertibly clear to a watching world: America’s threats are no longer idle.” He continues:

The previous American president fostered an unfortunate foreign policy pattern of threatening “red lines” with hostile global actors. Whether it was the “red line” of Syria using chemical weapons on civilians in their civil war, the “red line” of Iran not upholding its treaty with Israel, or the “red line” of Iran not developing nuclear weapons, President Obama wasn’t timid about saber-rattling to try to advance American diplomatic objectives.

There was only one consistent, nagging problem. Like a parent who relentlessly threatens a defiant child with punishment that never materializes, Obama’s lack of disciplined follow-through disastrously weakened the country’s credibility. He caved on Syria, and ended up airlifting $1.7 billion in unmarked bills on pallets to Iran in the middle of the night, all in an effort to make nice with the terrorist state.

It is hardly conjecture to note that many of those dollars were subsequently put to use in financing Suleimani’s relentless strikes against U.S. servicemen and women in the region. With such recent history, it’s really no wonder that Iran would scoff at another U.S. threat. disrn.com/opinion/opinion-apparently-americas-red-line-means-something-again

Oh, and the reason I am writing this piece should be obvious. The mainstream media which is controlled by the left, and suffers greatly from Trump-derangement syndrome, will not tell you these sorts of things. That is why the alternative media exists. As Erielle Davidson puts it:

Given the geopolitical complexity of the region, reactions to Soleimani’s death demand nuance. But before any analysis can begin, we should as a society be able to agree that his death was justifiable. During the Obama years, our foreign policy was structured on placating terrorists in some fashion, so much so that Obama tipped off the Iranians to an Israeli plot to kill Soleimani years ago. Given, inter alia, Trump’s partial withdrawal from the Iran Deal,  the FTO designation of the IRGC, and the recent killing of Soleimani, that approach seems to no longer be the case.

As Michael Doran writes, “The decision to kill Mr. Suleimani represents the final demise of Mr. Obama’s Middle East strategy, which sought to realign American interests with those of Iran.” It seems the media is not only mourning the death of Soleimani, but the death of Obama’s legacy, a reaction which may explain their incoherent and emotionally fueled “analysis.” Determining what comes next is important. But acknowledging that a purely evil person was killed—and offering due credit to the Trump administration for his death—should not be so categorically challenging. thefederalist.com/2020/01/03/trump-derangement-prevents-media-from-praising-trump-for-iranian-terrorist-soleimanis-demise/

It would be incorrect to say that the left, the Democrats, and the lamestream media have no standards. They are awash with double standards – as well as hypocrisy, duplicity, and toxic anti-Americanism. If leftists like Pelosi, Corbyn and others are so desperate to defend Iran while dumping on America, I would be more than happy to chip in some cash to get them one-way tickets to Tehran. In my books, Iran is more than welcome to have them.

via On Dealing With Terrorists (and Double Standards) — CultureWatch

January 4 A Fresh Word For Today

Burnt Ground

But Christ gave himself to God for our sins … one sacrifice for all time.
(Hebrews 10:12)

I once gave a questionnaire to my former congregation in Bangor, Maine, asking, “If you were to suddenly die and stand before God and He should ask, ‘Why should I let you into Heaven?’ What would you tell Him?” You wouldn’t believe the answers I got. The best came form a teenager who wrote, “I’d say I’m standing on the finished work of Christ. No less will avail and no more is needed!” She got it right!

In the Old Testament the priests were commanded to take the ashes of the burnt sin offering, sprinkle them on the ground, and then stand on them. They were standing on the finished work! In the early days of the American West one of the greatest fears the wagon trains had was prairie fires. The hot sun could start them, and before you knew it you were engulfed in flames. But a wise wagon master would immediately give the order to back up the horses and the wagons onto the ground that had already been burnt. The fire could not come where the fire had already been!

At Calvary, Jesus “took the heat” for every one of us. Peter says, “He bore our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). Charles Wesley wrote, “Payment God will not twice demand, first at my bleeding Surety’s hand, and then again at mine.”


If the devil is beating you up because of your faults and failures today, just look at him and say, “I’m not perfect—just forgiven!”[1]


[1] Gass, B. (1998). A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (p. 4). Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

01/04/20 Praise Him! — ChuckLawless.com

READING: Psalm 150

I’m not a musician. I wish I were, though, for then I could praise God through additional means. As the psalmist closes his book with a dramatic doxology, he calls on “everything that breathes” to praise the Lord (Psa 150:6)—with particular emphasis on praising Him through musical instruments. The list of instruments includes percussion instruments, wind instruments, and stringed instruments, as if to emphasize the point, “Praise God with all of your being with every instrument possible.” Even then, however, the praise would be insufficient for a God known for His “powerful acts” and “abundant greatness” (Psa 150:2). Indeed, our praise is to reverberate from the sanctuary to God’s “mighty expanse” (Psa 150:1).

I read these words today, and I wonder why we struggle so much with praising God. On one hand, I think we can be so self-centered that we neglect praising Him; on the other hand, we tend to praise Him more for what He does for us than for who He is as the eternal Creator. Too often, our “praise” is more perfunctory than natural. We simply don’t know what it’s like to just erupt in praise like clanging cymbals whose sounds echo off of God’s creation.

I pray that would be different beginning today. I encourage you to read Psalm 150 aloud several times today, and let God’s praises ring out!

PRAYER: “I praise You God for Your powerful acts and abundant greatness.”

TOMORROW’S READING:  Review and catch-up day*

*The 2020 five-day-per-week reading plan begins on Monday, January 6th.

via 01/04/20 Praise Him! — ChuckLawless.com