Daily Archives: January 8, 2021

Weekly Watchman for 01/08/2021

Elijah Abraham: This Is Good And Bad For America, Perspective

We first discuss some positives from the Covid shut-downs, even though many people were affected financially, mentally, or by losing a loved one. Elijah responds to events at the U.S. Capital as well as the Democrat media narratives that have shaped public opinion; we also talk biblical perspective on our role as Christians in society.

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

Andy Woods: Cyber Warfare and The Divided States of Marxism?

We discuss the narrative war in America, cyberwarfare, what happened yesterday at the U.S. Capital, a social justice pastor’s call for Andy Woods and David Fiorazo to repent for previous podcast comments, and how in the world (and in Georgia) could a radical, liberation theologian such as Warnock get elected to the Senate?

“Based on the latest headlines, it looks like the coup is practically complete. Is there any hope in stopping it? Christians need to prepare for a Marxist controlled government in the house and senate and presidency. Harris will now be our president. If all of this is true, what does the future hold?” Andy Woods

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

Israel Wayne: Does God Have An Opinion About Education?

We discuss education, worldview, the revival debate, parent’s responsibility, true Christianity, a Romans 1 society that has abandoned truth, and gender rebellion.

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

JB Hixson: Understanding the Controlavirus Luciferian Deception

JB Hixson says, “We are living in the greatest time of deception ever. This is biblical,” referring to the Leftist, Luciferian agenda rapidly increasing worldwide. How can Christians know the truth and respond in these chaotic times?

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

God’s Word Declares the Importance of Being Watchful and Discerning — Lighthouse Trails Research Project

By Warren B. Smith

Christian seek not yet repose,
Cast thy dreams of ease away;
Thou art in the midst of foes: Watch and pray.
Watch as if that alone were the issue of the day;
Pray that help may be sent down: Watch and pray.
Charlotte Elliot & William H. Monk

Learn to discern, Watch and pray;
Night’s almost here, Far spent is the day.
Learn to discern, Watch and pray;
Armor on tight, Keeping the enemy at bay.
Learn to discern, Watch and pray;
Don’t be deceived, Narrow is the way.
If you learn to discern, To watch and pray;
Then close to Jesus You will always stay.

The following selected verses emphasize the importance of being watchful and discerning.


Be Watchful
Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. (Revelation 3:2-3)

But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses, In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings. (2 Corinthians 6:4-5)

Prepare the table, watch in the watchtower, eat, drink: arise, ye princes, and anoint the shield. For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth. (Isaiah 21:5-6)

Watch and Pray with Supplication and Perseverance
Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. (Ephesians 6:18)

Watch and Pray with Thanksgiving
Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)

Watch and be Sober
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. (1 Thessalonians 5:3-6)

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer. (1 Peter 4:7)

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Watch and Pray Regarding Temptation
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. (Matthew 26:41)

Watch and Stand Fast
Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. (1 Corinthians 16:13)

Watch For Grievous Wolves
For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:29-31)

Watch in All Things
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry. (2 Timothy 4:2-5)

Watch and Pray Always
For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Luke 21:35-36)

Watch for the Lord
Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch. (Mark 13:35-37)

Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. (Luke 12:37)

Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 24:42-44)

Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame. (Revelation 16:15)


Ninevites Couldn’t Discern Between Their Right and Left Hands
And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand. (Jonah 4:11)

Discernment is a Sign of Maturity
But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Hebrews 5:14)

Discernment is Pleasing to God
In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said . . . Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people? And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing. And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thine enemies; but hast asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment. Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and an understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee. (1 Kings 3:5-6, 9-12)

The Word of God Discerns Thoughts and Hearts
For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

Search the Scriptures Daily
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. (Acts 17:11)

Study to Show Yourself Approved
Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Approve Things that are Excellent
And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. (Philippians 1:9-10)

Fear of the Lord is the Beginning of Knowledge, Wisdom, Understanding
My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee; So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, and apply thine heart to understanding; Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God. (Proverbs 2:1-5)

Love Instruction, Wisdom, and Knowledge
Whoso loveth instruction loveth knowledge: but he that hateth reproof is brutish. (Proverbs 12:1)

Holy Spirit Will Teach You All Things
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:27)

Trust in the Lord and Acknowledge Him
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

Call Unto God
Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)

Pray for Understanding
I am thy servant; give me understanding, that I may know thy testimonies. (Psalm 119:125)

Ask for Wisdom
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

Seek God’s Will
I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me. (John 5:30)

Prove God’s Will
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (Roman 12:2)

Prove All Things
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)

Beware of Falling From Your Own Steadfastness
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. (2 Peter 3:17)

Examine Yourselves
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Bring All Thoughts Into Captivity
For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ. (2 Corinthians 10:3-5)

Love Not the World
Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever. (1 John 2:15-17)

Abhor that which is Evil
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. (Romans 12:9)

Walk Not in the Counsel of the Ungodly
Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. (Psalm 1:1-2)

Understand the Times
And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do. (1 Chronicles 12:32)

Discern the Evil of Today
Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. (Matthew 6:34)

Discern Between the Righteous and the Wicked
Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. (Malachi 3:16-18)

Discern Between the Sacred and the Profane
And they shall teach my people the difference between the holy and profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean. (Ezekiel 44:23)

Overcome Evil with Good
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21)

Be Aware of Satan’s Devices
Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices. (2 Corinthians 2:11)

Know the Whole World will be Deceived
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him. (Revelation 12:9)

And the light of a candle shall shine no more at all in thee; and the voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee: for thy merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived. (Revelation 18:23)

Take Heed that no Man Deceive You
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. (Matthew 24:4)

Beware of Men
But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues. (Matthew 10:17)

Beware of Men’s Traditions
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (Colossians 2:8)

Beware of Cunningly Devised Fables
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (2 Peter 1:16)

Beware of Science Falsely So-Called
Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life. O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called: Which some professing have erred concerning the faith. (1 Timothy 6:19-21)

Beware of Those Who Pervert the Gospel
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6-9)

Beware of Evil Men and Seducers
But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them. (2 Timothy 3:13-14)

Beware of Ungodly Men Who Creep into the Church Unawares
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)

Beware of False Prophets and False Teachers
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15)

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. (2 Peter 2:1-2)

Beware of False Apostles
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:13-14)

Beware of False Christs
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)

And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:11)

Beware of Here is Christ, or There; Believe it Not
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. (Matthew 24:23-25)

Beware of Every Windblown Doctrine
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. (Ephesians 4:14-15)

Not Carried About by Strange Doctrines
Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines. (Hebrews 13:9)

Beware of Those Who do not Endure Sound Doctrine
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Beware of False Doctrine
How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. (Matthew 16:11-12)

Beware of Seducing Spirits and Doctrines of Devils
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. (1 Timothy 4:1)

Beware of Another Jesus, Spirit, Gospel
For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him. (2 Corinthians 11:4)

Test the Spirits
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)

Don’t Meddle with Those Who Are Into Change
My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both? (Proverbs 24:21-22)

Mark Those Who Cause Divisions
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18)

Remember the Simplicity of Christ
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

Abide in the Doctrine of Christ
Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds. (2 John 1:9-11)

Walk in Truth
I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John 1:4)

Keep the Word
But he said, Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God and keep it. (Luke 11:28)

Count the Cost
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? (Luke 14:28)

Be Willing to Suffer
For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. (Philippians 1:29)

Know You Will be Persecuted
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)

Know You Will be Hated
And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22)

Know You will be Called Beelzebub/Satan
The disciple is not above his master, nor the servant above his lord. It is enough for the disciple that he be as his master, and the servant as his lord. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more shall they call them of his household? (Matthew 10:24-25)

Be Not Fearful
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

Be Not Terrified
And in nothing terrified by your adversaries: which is to them an evident token of perdition, but to you of salvation, and that of God. (Philippians 1:28)

Do Not Give Place to the Devil
Neither give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:27)

Shake the Dust off Your Feet
And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. (Matthew 10:14)

Gird up Your Mind
Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:13)

Resist the Devil
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8-9)

Put on the Whole Armour of God
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

Hold Fast
Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 1:13)

But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. (Revelation 2:25)

Stand Fast
If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. (Proverbs 24:10)

Enter the Strait Gate
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)

Keep Pressing on
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)

The Need for Discernment

Former Moody Bible Church pastor Dr. Harry Ironside wrote an article regarding the importance of discernment titled “Exposing Error: Is it Worthwhile?” It basically echoes and elaborates on what the apostle Paul stated in Galatians 5:9 and Ephesians 5:10-13—that it is incumbent upon believers to expose and repudiate any error (leaven) that arises in one’s life and in the church. Ironside writes:

Error is like leaven, of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.1

It is not divisive to point out error. We are told in Romans 16:17 to “mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned.” It is a mandate to be watchful and discerning and to expose error when it is in our midst.


Without a watchful and discerning heart, we are too easily deceived by a crafty adversary. While we rejoice, praise God, give thanks, and remain hopeful through it all, we must be alert to the deception that is all around us. Jesus said—“Take heed that no man deceive you.” Be watchful. Be discerning. Keep looking up. Keep pressing on.

1. Harry Ironside, “Exposing Error: Is It Worthwhile?” (public domain; you may view the entire article at http://www.lighthousetrails.com/ironside-error.pdf).

This article is also in booklet format, along with several other “Through It All” booklets by Warren Smith.

(photo from bigstockphoto.com; used with permission)

God’s Word Declares the Importance of Being Watchful and Discerning — Lighthouse Trails Research Project

January 8 Evening Quotes of the Day

All the Things That Should Be Done in a Sermon
1 Corinthians 9:20–23; 2 Timothy 4:2

To preach a sermon I think is not the hardest part. And yet what skill is necessary to make plain the truth, to convince the hearers, to let in the irresistible light into their consciences and to keep it there, and drive all home, to screw the truth into their minds and work Christ into their affections, to meet every objection that gainsays and clearly to resolve it, to drive sinners to a stand and make them see there is no hope, but they must unavoidably be converted or condemned, and to do all this so for language and manner as is worthy of our work, and yet as is most suitable to the capacities of our hearers. This, and a great deal more that should be done in every sermon, should surely be done with a great deal of holy skill. So great a God, whose message we deliver, should be honored by our delivery of it!


Ritzema, E., & Vince, E. (Eds.). (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Puritans. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Adversity Discovers Virtue
Deuteronomy 8:2; Isaiah 48:10; Revelation 2:10

Virtue is like precious odors, most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed: for prosperity best discovers vice, but adversity best discovers virtue.


Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Reformation. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

January 8 Friday: No Other Doctrine | Think And Act Biblically by Dr. James Boice – Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals

Theme: Entrusting the Gospel to Others

In this week’s lessons, we are reminded of the importance of sound doctrine if the church is to function properly and be protected from false teaching.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 1:1-11

Third, he speaks of grace to sinners. This was Paul’s own experience—the one who in all of his religious self-righteousness, when he thought he was serving God, was actually going about trying to destroy God’s work and persecute the church. But God in his grace turned Paul around and showed him that the one Paul was persecuting was actually the one whom he should have been serving. Paul cannot get over what God had done for him; he talks about God’s grace shown to him in Jesus Christ repeatedly.

Finally, we will mention the matter of faith. False doctrines promote controversies rather than God’s work, which he says is by faith. Furthermore, Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to rebuke those who are teaching false doctrine has love as its goal, which comes from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

Paul in effect says that we need to talk about all these things. We must talk about our need, and God’s grace toward us through the work of Christ as the only answer for our sin. But these things become ours when, again by the grace of God, we personally believe them and receive the Lord Jesus Christ unto salvation. This is the gospel. There’s not another gospel, whether that of the Gnostics or anyone else. The gospel of God is what Paul had, this is what he gave to Timothy, this is what Timothy in his turn passed on to the churches, and it’s what we have today because of faithful men and women who have gone before us.

In verse 11, Paul writes of sound doctrine, describing it as that which “conforms to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which he entrusted to me.” Having received it, Paul then entrusted it to Timothy, and from Timothy to others. The same continues today in our own time. Those who have gone before us in the faith have entrusted this same glorious gospel to us as well. Do we believe it? Do we really live by it? Or is it just something that exists in the mind, but does not affect how we live. Is it really ours? Is this our gospel? Has it been entrusted to us, and have we received it? Well, if so, then we have this great task of letting other people know about it both by word and by deed. And this is what the world needs to know.

Several weeks ago, I was reading a small pamphlet by a man who was a bookseller and a scholar in his own right. It listed a number of books that had been very influential for him and he was commending these books to others. In the course of this tract where the books were listed, he told a story. One day when he was in his store, selling books, a man came in and began to browse. He looked around in sort of an unhappy way with a sour expression on his face. For fifteen minutes, or maybe even half an hour, he picked up this book and that book. Finally, obviously feeling restless and dissatisfied, he came over to the owner of the store, and he said, “I don’t want any of these books. I want a book that tells us how to solve all these modern problems. But it can’t be a long book, and it can’t be religious.” The bookseller wisely said, “Well there is no such book, if you exclude the religious ones. But there is a book if you recognize that the Book of God, the Bible, gives the solutions and points the way to life.”

This book has been entrusted to us. This is a precious possession, and the gospel that it contains is precious as well, precious beyond all possible price. Let’s guard it. Let’s love it. Let’s live by it. Let’s read it. Let’s study it. Let’s share it. Let’s talk about it. Then, by the grace of God, others will come to love these truths too.

Study Questions:

  1. What other two areas of doctrine does Paul mention to Timothy?
  2. How did Paul faithfully carry out his responsibility to pass the gospel on to others? How will Timothy do the same?

Application: Recount the means by which the Lord entrusted the gospel to you. What were the circumstances, and whom did he use? How can you pass on to others the message of the gospel?

source: Friday: No Other Doctrine | Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals (thinkandactbiblically.org)

DAILY DEVOTIONAL FOR JAN 8, 2021: Address God with Reverence and Awe | Matthew Henry’s Method for Prayer

Pray The Bible: Promoting, Encouraging, and Assisting God's People in Biblical Prayer

Having thus engaged our hearts to approach God. Jeremiah 30:21(ESV)

We must solemnly address ourselves to that infinitely great and glorious Being with whom we have to do, as those who are possessed with a full belief of his presence and a holy awe and reverence of his Majesty, which we may do in such expressions as these:

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come! Revelation 4:8(ESV)

O you whose name is the LORD, who alone are the Most High over all the earth. Psalm 83:18(ESV)

O God, you are our God, earnestly we seek you; Psalm 63:1(ESV) our God, and we will praise you; our fathers’ God, and we will exalt you. Exodus 15:2(ESV)

O you who are the true God, the living God, the one only living and true God, 1 Thessalonians 1:9(ESV) and the everlasting King! Jeremiah 10:10(ESV) The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Deuteronomy 6:4(ESV)

And may we thus distinguish ourselves from the worshipers of false gods.

The idols of the nations are silver and gold, they are vanity and a lie, the work of human hands; Psalm 115:4(ESV) those who make them become like them, so do all who trust in them. Psalm 115:8(ESV) But the Portion of Jacob is not like these, for he is the one who formed all things, and Israel is the tribe of his inheritance; the LORD of hosts is his name, Jeremiah 10:16(ESV) God over all, blessed forever. Romans 9:5(ESV)

Their rock is not as our Rock; our enemies are by themselves, Deuteronomy 32:31(ESV) for he is the Rock of ages; the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock: Isaiah 26:4(ESV) His name endures forever, and his renown throughout all ages, Psalm 135:13(ESV) even when the gods who did not make the heavens and the earth shall perish from the earth and from under the heavens.

Source: Address God with Reverence and Awe (campaign-archive.com)

January 8 Evening Verse of the Day

18:7 If even an “unrighteous” judge (v. 6) will do what is right, how much more God?

delay long. God will not keep putting them off like the judge in this parable; any delay will have a reason.[1]

18:7 will not God surely see to it If the repeated petitions of a helpless widow are granted by a dishonest judge, Jesus’ followers can expect that their righteous God in heaven will respond to their cries for justice.[2]

18:7 If an unjust judge finally grants the widow’s “prayer,” how much more will God hear the prayers of his elect? Cf. 12:22–31; see also how God cared for his people Israel, the “apple of his eye,” Deut. 32:10; Ps. 17:8. day and night. I.e., “always” (Luke 18:1; cf. 2:37; Acts 9:24; 20:31; 26:7). Justice to his elect refers primarily to God rescuing his people from suffering and injustice in the world (cf. Luke 1:68–74). Will he delay long over them probably means, “Will God be patient much longer as he sees his elect suffer?” The implied answer is no.[3]

18:7. The parable ends with a question designed to show that God—loving, just, and merciful—will surely vindicate “His own elect who cry out day and night to Him.” God has chosen His people (Israel) and they belong to Him (in contrast to the widow of the parable who enjoyed no relationship with the unjust judge).[4]

18:7 “ ‘not’ ” This is a DOUBLE NEGATIVE, which was a strong way of expressing “no, never under any circumstances.” (1) Our heavenly Father is exactly the opposite of the unrighteous, inattentive, self-seeking judge, or (2) His delay has a beneficial purpose (i.e. full number of the elect, cf. Rom. 11:25; John 10:16).

“ ‘who cry to Him day and night’ ” This phrase characterizes the persistent prayers of the elect (cf. 11:9–13; Matt. 7:7–12). Persistence does not overcome God’s reluctance, but it demonstrates trust and conviction.

“ ‘His elect’ ” This is an OT way of referring to God’s people, especially as servants (cf. Isa. 42–43; 44:28–45:7).[5]

7. And shall not God avenge his elect? That judge, whom Christ has described to us as altogether desperate, as not only hardened against the contemplation of God, but so entirely devoid of shame, that he had no anxiety about his reputation, at length opened his eyes to the distresses of the widow. We have no reason to doubt that believers will derive, at least, equal advantage from their prayers, provided they do not cease to plead earnestly with God. Yet it must be observed that, while Christ applies the parable to his subject, he does not make God to resemble a wicked and cruel judge, but points out a very different reason why those who believe in him are kept long in suspense, and why he does not actually and at once stretch out his hand to them: it is because he forbears. If at any time God winks at the injuries done to us longer than we would wish, let us know that this is done with a fatherly intention—to train us to patience. A temporary overlooking of crimes is very different from allowing them to remain for ever unpunished. The promise which he makes, that God will speedily avenge them, must be referred to his providence; for our hasty tempers and carnal apprehension lead us to conclude that he does not come quickly enough to grant relief. But if we could penetrate into his design, we would learn that his assistance is always ready and seasonable, as the case demands, and is not delayed for a single moment, but comes at the exact time.

But it is asked, How does Christ instruct his disciples to seek vengeance, while he exhorts them on another occasion, pray for those who injure and persecute you? (Matth. 5:44.) I reply: what Christ says here about vengeance does not at all interfere with his former doctrine. God declares that he will avenge believers, not for the purpose of giving a loose rein to their carnal affections, but in order to convince them that their salvation is dear and precious in his sight, and in this manner to induce them to rely on his protection. If, laying aside hatred, pure and free from every wicked desire of revenge, and influenced by proper and well-regulated dispositions, they implore divine assistance, it will be a lawful and holy wish, and God himself will listen to it. But as nothing is more difficult than to divest ourselves of sinful affections, if we would offer pure and sincere prayers, we must ask the Lord to guide and direct our hearts by his Spirit. Then shall we lawfully call on God to be our avenger, and he will answer our prayers.[6]

Ver. 7.—And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him? The Master tells us that God permits suffering among his servants, long after they have begun to pray for deliverance. But we are counselled here to cry day and night unto him, and, though there be no sign of reply, our prayers shall be treasured up before him, and in his own good time they will be answered. Though he bear long with them. With whom does God bear long? With the wrong-doers, whose works and words oppress and make life heavy and grievous to the servants of God; with these who have no claim to consideration will God bear long. And this announcement gives us some clue to the meaning of the delay we often experience before we get an answer to many of our prayers. The prayer is heard, but God, in the exercise of mercy and forbearance, has dealings with the oppressors. It were easy for the Almighty to grant an immediate answer, but only at the cost often of visiting some of the oppressors with immediate punishment, and this is not his way of working. God bears long before his judgments swift and terrible are sent forth. This has ever been his way of working with individuals as with nations. Was it not thus, for instance, that he acted towards Egypt and her Pharaohs during the long period of the bitter Hebrew bondage? We who would be God’s servants must be content to wait God’s time, and, while waiting, patiently go on pleading, sure that in the end “God will avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him.”[7]

18:7 justice for his chosen ones. The Old Testament idea of Israel as a “chosen nation” gives rise in the New Testament to the description of God’s people as his “chosen ones” (only here in Luke, but see Mark 13:20, 22, 27; Rom. 8:33; Col. 3:12). The term suggests a strong contrast between them and the ungodly world out of which they are “chosen,” so that the “justice” spoken of here may be understood as the vindication of a persecuted minority. In the end God will make sure that his people do not lose out.

Will he keep putting them off? Various translations have been suggested for this obscure clause. The more usual sense of the verb would give “and he is patient with them,” hence, for example, the REB translation “his chosen, to whom he listens patiently while they cry out to him day and night.” But by different routes these contrasting translations reach the same essential sense: God takes notice of persistent prayers and can be trusted to answer them, even if not immediately.[8]

7 “Chosen ones” (eklektōn, GK 1723) is a term used throughout Scripture that is especially significant in describing those who, at the end of history, are marked out as on the victorious side (Mt 24:31; Mk 13:27; Rev 17:14). To call the disciples of Jesus the “chosen ones” is also significant when the election language of the OT is now applied to those who are included in God’s kingdom. “Will he keep putting them off?” (kai makrothymei [GK 3428] ep’ autois) is one of several possible translations of these words (see Notes). The point of the verse is that God patiently listens to his elect as they pray in their continuing distress and waits for the proper time to act on their behalf. This theme is clearly present in early Christian eschatological discussions (see, e.g., Ugo Vanni, “The Apocalypse and the Gospel of Luke,” in Luke and Acts [ed. O’Collins and Marconi], 14–15).[9]

[1] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1490). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Lk 18:7). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1994). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Valdés, A. S. (2010). The Gospel according to Luke. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (p. 317). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

[5] Utley, R. J. (2004). The Gospel according to Luke (Vol. Volume 3A, Lk 18:7). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[6] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 2, pp. 199–200). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[7] Spence-Jones, H. D. M. (Ed.). (1909). St Luke (Vol. 2, p. 108). London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company.

[8] France, R. T. (2013). Luke. (M. L. Strauss & J. H. Walton, Eds.) (p. 286). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[9] Liefeld, W. L., & Pao, D. W. (2007). Luke. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 275–276). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Is the Appearance of Fine Tuning in the Universe Simply a Matter of Physical Necessity? (Video) — Cold Case Christianity

Is the apparent fine-tuning we find in the universe dictated by the laws of physics? Is this fine-tuning inevitable based on these physical laws? Or are there other potential physical laws that could have produced a different kind of universe? In this clip from J. Warner Wallace’s longer talk on the existence of God from the fine-tuning of the universe (based on his book, God’s Crime Scene), J. Warner tackles these common questions.

To see more training videos with J. Warner Wallace, visit the YouTube playlist.

Is the Appearance of Fine Tuning in the Universe Simply a Matter of Physical Necessity? (Video) — Cold Case Christianity

January 8 Afternoon Quotes of the Day

When in Rome, Do as the Romans Do
Romans 14:19–23; 1 Corinthians 9:19–23; 10:23–33

When I visit Rome, I fast on Saturday; when I am here [in Milan], I do not fast. On the same principle, you should observe the custom prevailing in whatever church you come to if you desire neither to give offense by your conduct, nor to find cause of offense in another’s.


Ritzema, E. (2013). 300 Quotations for Preachers from the Early Church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

“In the Spirit of Doubt We Approach Inquiry”
Matthew 7:7–8; Luke 11:9–10

In the spirit of doubt we approach inquiry, and by inquiry we find out the truth, as He who was the Truth said, “Seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you.”


Ritzema, E., & Brant, R. (Eds.). (2013). 300 quotations for preachers from the Medieval church. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Congress Upset As They’re The Only Criminals Allowed In The Capitol — The Babylon Bee

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresspeople from both parties condemned the attack on the Capitol that occurred Wednesday, pointing out that they’re the only criminals allowed in the building.

Capitol police removed the unauthorized criminals from the Capitol Building, allowing the officially voted-in criminals to resume operations.

“We would like to remind Americans that we are the only looters allowed in here,” said Nancy Pelosi after order was restored to the House. “Remember, you must show your official congressperson identification to prove you’re an approved looter to get in here. Unauthorized looters will be removed from Capitol grounds.”

“Now, who wants to start some foreign wars?”

After the violent criminals and looters had left the building, Congress resumed voting on acts to inflate our currency, steal more money from Americans, and continue aggression against foreign countries for no reason.

Congress Upset As They’re The Only Criminals Allowed In The Capitol — The Babylon Bee

Christians and Civil Government

Civil government is a means ordained by God for ruling and maintaining order in communities. It is one of a number of such means, including ministers in the church and parents in the home. Each such means has its own sphere of authority under Christ, who now rules and sustains creation, and the limits of each sphere are set by reference to the others. In our fallen world these authorities are institutions of God’s “common grace” (kindly providence), standing as a bulwark against anarchy and the dissolution of ordered society.

With reference to Rom. 13:1–7 and 1 Pet. 2:13–17, the Westminster Confession explains the sphere of civil government as follows:

God, the supreme Lord and King of all the world, hath ordained civil magistrates, to be, under Him, over the people, for His own glory, and the public good; and, to this end, hath armed them with the power of the sword, for the defence and encouragement of them that are good, and for the punishment of evil doers … Civil magistrates may not assume to themselves the administration of the Word and sacraments; or the power of the keys of the kingdom of heaven (23.1, 3).

Because civil government exists for the welfare of the whole society, God gives it the “power of the sword,” the lawful use of force to administer just laws (Rom. 13:4). Christians must acknowledge this as part of God’s order (Rom. 13:1, 2). A government may collect taxes for the services it renders (Matt. 22:15–21; Rom. 13:6, 7). But if it forbids what God requires or requires what God forbids, Christians cannot submit, and some form of civil disobedience becomes inescapable (Acts 4:18–31; 5:17–29).

The church’s sphere of authority relates to the civil government at the level of morality. The church has the responsibility to comment on the morality of governments and their policies on the basis of God’s word, but should not appropriate to itself the power to set such policies. Whereas these assessments may foster political action among Christians, they should act in their capacity as citizens rather than as representatives of the church. In this way the gospel works through moral persuasion and the working of God’s grace among citizens.

Christians should urge governments to fulfill their proper role. They are to pray for, obey, and yet watch over civil governments (1 Tim. 2:1–4; 1 Pet. 2:13, 14), reminding them that God ordained them to rule, protect, and keep order.[1]

[1] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 1636). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.


A. Definition—Government is humanity organizing themselves to provide and secure sensed physical needs.
B. Purpose—God has willed that order is preferable to anarchy.
1. The Mosaic legislation, particularly the Decalog, is God’s will for mankind in society. It balances worship and life.
2. No form or structure of government is advocated in Scripture, although ancient Israel’s theocracy is the anticipated form of heaven. Christians are to act appropriately in whatever governmental system they find themselves. The purpose of the Christian is evangelism and ministry, not revolution.
C. Origin of human government
1. Roman Catholicism has asserted that human government is an innate need, even before the fall. Aristotle seems to have agreed with this premise. He says, “man is a political animal” and by this he meant that government “exists for the promotion of the good life.”
2. Protestantism, especially Martin Luther, has asserted that human government is inherent in the fall. He calls it “the Kingdom of God’s left hand.” He said that “God’s way to control bad men is to put bad men in control.”
3. Karl Marx has asserted that government is the means by which a few elite keep the masses under control. For him, government and religion play a similar role.

A. Old Testament
1. Israel is the pattern which will be utilized in heaven. In ancient Israel YHWH was King. Theocracy is the term used to describe God’s direct rule (cf. 1 Sam. 8:4–9).
2. God’s sovereignty in human government can be clearly seen in:
a. Jeremiah 27:6; Ezra 1:1
b. 2 Chronicles 36:22
c. Isaiah 44:28
d. Daniel 2:21
e. Daniel 2:44
f. Daniel 4:17, 25
g. Daniel 5:28
3. God’s people are to be submissive and respectful even to invading and occupying governments:
a. Daniel 1–4, Nebuchadnezzar
b. Daniel 5, Belshazzar
c. Daniel 6, Darius
d. Ezra and Nehemiah
4. God’s people are to pray for civil authority:
a. Jeremiah 28:7
b. Mishnah, Avot. 3:2
B. New Testament
1. Jesus showed respect to human governments
a. Matthew 17:24–27, paid the Temple tax
b. Matthew 22:15–22, advocated a place for the Roman tax and thereby Roman civil authority
c. John 19:11, God gives civil authority
2. Paul’s words related to human governments
a. Romans 13:1–7, believers must submit to and pray for civil authorities
b. 1 Timothy 2:1–3, believers must pray for civil authorities
c. Titus 3:1, believers must be subject to civil authorities
3. Peter’s words related to human governments
a. Acts 4:1–31; 5:29, Peter and John before the Sanhedrin (this shows civil disobedience)
b. 1 Peter 2:13–17, believers must submit to civil authorities
4. John’s words related to human governments
a. Revelation 17, the whore of Babylon stands for human government opposed to God

A. Human government is ordained by God. This is not “the divine right of Kings,” but the divine place of government. No one form is advocated above another.
B. It is a religious duty for believers to obey civil authority with a proper reverent attitude.
C. It is proper for believers to support human government by taxes and prayers.
D. Human government is for the purpose of order. They are God’s servants for this task.
E. Human government is not ultimate. It is limited in its authority. Believers must act for their conscience’s sake in rejecting civil authority when it oversteps its divinely appointed bounds. As Augustine has asserted in The City of God, we are citizens of two realms, one temporal and one eternal. We have responsibility in both, but God’s kingdom is ultimate! There is both an individual and corporate focus in our responsibility to God.
F. We should encourage believers in a democratic system to actively participate in the process of government and to implement, when possible, the teachings of Scripture.
G. Social change must be preceded by individual conversion. There is no real lasting eschatological hope in government. All human governments, though willed and used by God, are sinful expressions of human organization apart from God.
This concept is expressed in the Johannine usage of “the world.”

Utley, R. J. (1998). The Gospel according to Paul: Romans (Vol. Volume 5, Ro 13:1). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

How Do I Defend Religious Freedom?

James Tonkowich

Religious freedom is the opportunity to live our lives according to our most deeply held beliefs and convictions. When governments refuse to allow people that opportunity, they treat them as less than human.

When God placed the first humans in the garden, the first thing he gave them was food. The second was religious freedom. He said, “You are free to eat from any tree of the garden, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for on the day you eat from it, you will certainly die” (Gn 2:16–17). Adam and Eve could believe God or not, obey or disobey. The choice was theirs. And when they made a tragic choice, God honored their freedom (Gn 3:8–24).

In the same way, Jesus, in final preparation for his public ministry, exercised his God-given religious freedom. After his baptism, he was “led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Mt 4:1–11; see Lk 4:1–13). Facing Satan’s temptations, he could believe God or not, obey or disobey. It was his choice and he made the right choice.

The Bible teaches that this kind of religious freedom does not come from government. It is God’s gift and our human birthright, something early Christians understood. In the face of persecution, the great apologist Tertullian (AD 160–220), in a letter to Scapula, the Roman governor, wrote, “[I]t is a fundamental human right, a privilege of nature, that every man should worship according to his own convictions.”

The American Founders, including religious liberty champions Thomas Jefferson and James Madison, agreed. Madison wrote, “The Religion then of every man must be left to the conviction and conscience of every man; and it is the right of every man to exercise it as these may dictate. This right is in its nature an unalienable right.”

Religious freedom comes from God. Governments, in order to be just, must recognize that human birthright. So everyone has a right to live according to their beliefs without government interference. Churches, likewise, have this right.

When his enemies tried to trick Jesus into choosing between loyalty to Caesar (the state) and loyalty to God, he responded, “Give, then, to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mt 22:15–22; see Mk 12:13–17; Lk 20:20–26).

In this world, God has authorized governmental authority for good, but limited, purposes (Rm 13:1–7). Religion has no business arguing about building codes, insurance regulations, or other civil matters except insofar as these have moral and thus eternal consequences. The state has no business telling people what to believe about permanent things such as God, truth, and how to live out our deepest convictions.

Thus we defend religious liberty when we remind our friends that God made them free to decide and to live according to their deepest beliefs and that it is not the government’s place to tell them what those deepest beliefs should be.[1]

[1] Klassen, M., & Klein, W. W. (2017). Romans. In S. McDowell (Ed.), The Apologetics Study Bible for Students (p. 1415). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

January 8 Polluted by Holy Motives? | Truth For Life

. . . Guilt from the holy things.Exodus 28:38

What a veil is lifted up by these words, and what a disclosure is made! It will be humbling and profitable for us to pause awhile and see this sad sight. The iniquities of our public worship, its hypocrisy, formality, lukewarmness, irreverence, wandering of heart, and forgetfulness of God—what a full measure have we there! Our work for the Lord, its emulation, selfishness, carelessness, slackness, unbelief—what a mass of defilement is there! Our private devotions, their laxity, coldness, neglect, sleepiness, and vanity—what a mountain of dead earth is there! If we looked more carefully, we should find this iniquity to be far greater than appears at first sight.

Dr. Payson, writing to his brother, says, “My parish, as well as my heart, very much resembles the garden of the sluggard; and what is worse, I find that very many of my desires for the improvement of both, proceed either from pride or vanity or indolence. I look at the weeds, which overspread my garden, and breathe out an earnest wish that they were eradicated. But why? What prompts the wish? So that I may walk out and say to myself, ‘In what fine order is my garden kept!’ This is pride. Or, so that my neighbors may look over the wall and say, ‘How finely your garden flourishes!’ This is vanity. Or I may wish for the destruction of the weeds, because I am weary of pulling them up. This is indolence.”

So even our desires after holiness may be polluted by ill motives. Under the greenest sods worms hide themselves; we need not look long to discover them. How cheering is the thought that when the High Priest bore the iniquity of the holy things he wore upon his brow the words, “HOLINESS TO THE LORD,” and even so while Jesus bears our sin, He presents before His Father’s face not our unholiness, but His own holiness. O for grace to view our great High Priest by the eye of faith!

Source: Polluted by Holy Motives? (truthforlife.org)

January 8 Afternoon Verse of the Day

10:16 Just as wolves stalk and destroy sheep, persecutors will attempt to hunt and destroy Jesus’s disciples. Serpents are shrewd because they flee from danger (see note at 3:7–9). Similarly, Jesus’s disciples must be prepared to take strategic action when persecution threatens (10:23). However, like doves, they should be innocent and not use violent means to answer persecution.[1]

10:16 Hostility is the general attitude of the world (Titus 3:3), especially toward the gospel. Effectiveness depends upon life and presentation characterized by the sincerity or blamelessness of a dove, which must be taken in the sense of “not exercising deceit.” Furthermore, the wisdom or cunning of a serpent will be most beneficial.[2]

10:16 wise as serpents In the biblical world, serpents were associated with wisdom and cleverness (e.g., Gen 3:1; 2 Cor 11:3).[3]

10:16 sheep in the midst of wolves. Jesus warns the disciples about the persecution that missionary disciples will endure. wise as serpents and innocent as doves. The serpent was the symbol of shrewdness and intellectual cunning (Gen. 3:1; Ps. 58:4–5), while the dove was emblematic of simple innocence (Hos. 7:11).[4]

10:16 wolves. Used to describe false prophets who persecute the true ones and seek to destroy the Church (cf. 7:15; Lk 10:3; Ac 20:29). See note on Lk 10:3.[5]

10:16 — “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves.”

Jesus was under no illusions as He sent His disciples out to minister. He knew what was waiting for them—and He knows what is waiting for us. Still He sends us, to represent Him under the protection of His Father.[6]

10:16 Snakes are commonly thought of as wise, perhaps because they are silent and dangerous, or because of the way they move (Gen. 3:1). In the midst of wolves meant that the apostles would be exposed to hatred and violence from men. Harmless literally means “unmixed,” which may also indicate purity and innocence.[7]

10:16. Having been forewarned of the danger they will face from those hostile to the message (pictured as predatory wolves; cf. v 17; 7:15), the apostles (likened to defenseless sheep) are to “be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” to avoid needless provocation. These are probably not timeless truths for all missionary endeavors, but are good principles for those just beginning to develop their evangelistic skills.[8]

10:16 In this section Jesus counsels the twelve concerning their behavior in the face of persecution. They would be like sheep in the midst of wolves, surrounded by vicious men bent on destroying them. They should be wise as serpents, avoiding giving needless offense or being tricked into compromising situations. And they should be harmless as doves, protected by the armor of a righteous character and faith unfeigned.[9]

10:16. This sentence is a true transition sentence, fitting just as easily with the preceding context as with the following. Jesus opened it with one word: Therefore. This had the effect of saying, “Observe carefully. Do not miss this. See for yourself.” The truth of what he is saying is self-evident to the person who has eyes to see. Jesus knew that the king’s message would face great opposition.

When we go out in obedience to Christ, we go with a message of love and compassion (like sheep) to an audience that includes those who violently oppose us and our Lord (among wolves). Because there are those in the audience who will respond to God’s love and compassion, we must go. But we need not go blindly. We must go with a blend of grace—(as innocent as doves)—and truth—(as shrewd as snakes). Grace must govern our compassion toward others, as well as our own example of integrity through all circumstances.

But grace and truth are not mutually exclusive. They are the two sides of one eternal coin. Truth must govern our perceptions of danger and the faults of others. Jesus perfectly exemplified this blend of wisdom and love, and he coached his disciples to live by it.[10]

10:16 “I send you out as sheep” See Luke 10:3 and Jn. 10. This the first of four metaphors from the animal kingdom that characterize humanity.

“in the midst of wolves” See Matt. 7:15–27; Luke 10:3; Jn. 10:12; Acts 20:29.

“shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves” Believers must be wise but innocent (cf. Rom. 16:19). They were to avoid conflict when possible but remain bold proclaimers of the gospel.[11]

Ver. 16. Behold, I send you forth.—Christ foretells coming evils and persecutions to His apostles (1) that they may learn His foreknowledge; (2) that they may not suppose such things happen through lack of power in their Master; (3) that they may not he suddenly overcome; (4) that they may not be troubled at the time of the Cross. (Chrysostom.)

The forlorn hope:—Albanus, the Captain-General of the army of Charles V., had four hundred stout and resolute youths, who were prodigal of life and devoted to death, called the forlorn hope. In a battle he despatched these against the strongest part of the enemy’s ranks, that by their audacity and determination to die, they might throw those ranks into confusion, and so prepare the way for victory. Thus devoted and prodigal of his life let the messenger of Christ deem himself, that he may subdue unbelievers to Christ the Conqueror. Such a one did Xavier deem himself, when he was going to India, and said to his weeping friends, “Do merchants at such expense and such peril, prodigal of life, sail to India from zeal for earthly merchandize; and shall not I go thither for the sake of God and souls?” Wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

The union of simplicity and prudence:—These words were addressed by Christ to His disciples when He sent them for the first time to publish the kingdom of God. The dove has been regarded by all nations as the symbol of innocence. Harmless signifies properly in the original what is not armed with horns to attack, what has not teeth to bite, what has not a sting to wound; in a moral point of view, what has no intention to injure. Thus simplicity is unsuspecting, and is the companion of innocence. It extends to all the parts of our being. It knows the truth by intuition. It trusts itself calmly to God. It passes through the most impenetrable labyrinths without embarrassment. Prudence, on the contrary, supposes the existence of evil in man and in the world. We have to “beware of the leaven of the Pharisees” (Matt. 16:6). We must combine simplicity with prudence. Some Christians are simple without having prudence; some are prudent without simplicity. Without knowing how to unite the two, you may by a badly enlightened and rash confidence in Divine Providence reckon on help which you ought to have sought by the right use of means, and so compromise success in the family, or plan, or Church. Through not having tact to choose your means of action, and apply them to different persons, you may do more harm than good for Christ. Through over-confidence you may commit yourself to the first hypocrite. On other occasions the goodness of your heart leads you astray. At other times you hurry on what ought to have been done gradually. Prudence may go too far (1) when you have undue fear of the approbation of the world for all you do; or when you are destitute of all fear of its opposition; (2) when it gives undue attention to difficulties which the imagination likes to magnify. (Dr. Grandpierre.)

The serpent:—The serpent as a teacher. Jesus says that, in view of every kind of danger, we are to be as sagacious and prudent as the serpent. The serpent is very careful about its—

  1. Heart. Be anxious for the safety of your bodies and minds. Be doubly anxious about the safety of your hearts. Why the Bible says so much about the heart.
  2. Eyes. As your bodies have eyes, so have your souls. It is with the eyes of your souls that you are to see your duties to God and man, and the way in which you are to be saved—“Open thou,” &c. Read a part of the Bible every day.

III. An approaching storm. Knows when a storm is coming, &c. There are moral as well as physical storms. Jesus is the refuge from the storm.

  1. Temptation. In the East there are a great number of serpent charmers, &c. Guard against every form of music which is not healthy, pure, and godly, &c. (Dr. Alex. McAuslane.)

Sheep among wolves:

  1. Their Prominent vocation—“Behold, I send you forth.” 1. These disciples had been with Him, and had been taught by Him, that they might teach in His name. The mode of operation in the kingdom of God is, first make disciples, teach them, and then let them go forth and do the same with others. When one light is kindled other candles are lit therefrom. Drops of heavenly water are flashed aloft and scattered all around like dew upon the face of the earth, and behold each one begetteth a fountain where it falls, and thus the desert is made to rejoice and blossom. 2. To go after the lost sheep. 3. He sent them forth to work miracles. We have not this power; it is more to God’s glory that the world should be conquered by the force of truth than by the blaze of miracles.
  2. Their Imminent Peril—“As sheep in the midst of wolves.” 1. Amongst those who will not in any way sympathize with your efforts. The bleating sheep finds no harmony in the howl of the wolf. 2. Amongst those who would rend them. 3. Amongst those who would hinder their endeavours. 4. We are powerless against them. What can a sheep do if a wolf sets upon it? 5. It is trying work for the sheep. 6. It is testing work. 7. It is teaching work.

III. Their eminent authority—“I send you forth.” 1. The Lord of the harvest. 2. “I,” who prize you. 3. “I,” who have gone on the same errand Myself. 4. “I,” who overcame in the very character in which I send you.” “The Lamb shall overcome them.”

  1. Their permanent instructions. 1. Be prudent and wise as a serpent. (1) It gets out of the way of man as much as it can. (2) It glides along very quietly. (3) Famous for finding his way where no other creature could enter. 2. The innocence of the dove. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Grace blending the subtle with the gentle:—Grace knows how to pick the good out of the evil, the jewel out of the oyster shell, the diamond from the dunghill, the sagacity from the serpent; and by a Divine chemistry it leaves the good which it takes out of the foul place as good as though it had never been there. Grace knows how to blend the most gentle with the most subtle; to take away from prudence the base element which makes it into cunning, and, by mingling innocence with it, produce a sacred prudence most valuable for all walks of life. (Ibid.)

Wherein we should not be like the serpent:—1. The serpent eats dust (Isa. 65:24.) 2. The serpent is deceitful. 3. The serpent casts the coat, but another new coat comes in the room; we should not cast off one sin, and another as bad come in the room. 4. The serpent is a venomous creature, and is full of poison (Psa. 58:4.) 5. The serpent is given to hissing; we should not hiss out reproaches. 6. The serpent stops her ear. 7. The serpent casts her coat, but keeps her sting; we should not cast off outward acts of sin, and keep the love of sin. 8. Serpents are chased away with sweet perfumes.

Wherein we should be like the serpent:—1. The serpent hath a subtlety in his eye, a singular sharpness of sight. Get the serpent’s eye, have a quick insight into the mysteries of religion. 2. The serpent hath a prudence and subtlety in his ear: will not be deluded by the voice of the charmer. 3. The serpent hath a chief care to defend his head; so we our head from error,

We should be as doves:—1. In respect of meekness. 2. In respect of innocency. 3. In respect of purity.

Wherein does the Christian join these two together:—1. To be sensible of injury but not revenge it. 2. To be humble but not base. 3. To defend the truth by argument, and adorn it by life. (J. Watson.)

In doves there are many things commendable:—1. Beauty. 2. Chastity. 3. Fruitfulness. Most months in the year they bring forth young. 4. Amity. They love their mates. 5. Unity. They live in companies. 6. Their innocence. (T. Adams.)

Prudence of serpent and wisdom of dove:

  1. What our Lord recommends to our thoughts, esteem, and practice. Wisdom is a solid knowledge of things spiritual, especially such as relate to practice. Harmlessness or innocence intimates purity, and meekness, mildness, and wrathlessness.
  2. The way our Lord takes to Insinuate His advice. 1. The standard that is fixed, or the creatures of whom we are to learn the things recommended. 2. The conformity that is required to that standard.

III. The connection fixed between the two things recommended. 1. There is no real inconsistency between them. 2. They mutually help each other to appear with greater lustre. (E. Calamy.)

Prudence combined with innocence:—This beautifies a Christian, when he hath the serpent’s eye in the dove’s head. We must have the innocency of the dove, that we may not betray the truth; and the wisdom of the serpent, that we may not betray ourselves. In short, religion without policy, is too weak to be safe; policy without religion is too subtle to be good. When wisdom and innocency, like Castor and Pollux, appear together, they presage the soul’s happiness. (T. Watson.) Wise—not as foxes, whose cunning is to deceive others; but as serpents, whose policy is only to defend themselves, and to shift for their own safety. (Matthew Henry.)

The ‘dove’ qualification helpful in Christian work:—As Francis Xavier was preaching in one of the cities of Japan, a man went up to him, pretending he had something to communicate in private. Upon his approach Xavier leaned his head, to hear what he had to say. The scorner thus gained his object, which was to spit freely upon the face of the devoted missionary, and thus insult him in the most public manner. Xavier, without speaking a word or showing any sign of annoyance, took out his handkerchief, wiped his face, and went on with his sermon, as if nothing had happened to interrupt him. By such a heroic control of his passions, the scorn of the audience was turned into admiration. The most learned doctor of the city, who happened to be present, said to himself that a law which taught men such virtue, inspired them with such courage, and gave them such complete mastery over themselves, could not but be from God. Afterwards he desired baptism, and his example was followed by many others. So effectually did the meekness of the missionary promote the success of his work.[12]

16. This verse, while clearly appropriate for the initial sending out of the disciples, also serves to introduce the theme of persecution which will dominate the next section. Sheep in the midst of wolves are in constant danger, and have no capacity for self-defence; they depend on the shepherd (cf. John 10:12–15). Initially perhaps the wolves would be particularly the Pharisaic establishment, but the principle is relevant to Christians in all ages who must live and witness in a hostile world. Jesus did not envisage his people as a power-group. But they are not to be like sheep in their attitude. Their vulnerable position demands that they be wise (phronimos is better ‘sensible’, ‘prudent; it is the word used in lxx for the ‘cunning’ of the serpent in Gen. 3:1). Cf. Luke 16:1–8 with its commendation of the ‘prudence’ (phronimos again) of the steward. Christians are not to be gullible simpletons. But neither are they to be rogues. Innocent is literally ‘unmixed’, i.e. pure, transparent; it demands not naivety, but an irreproachable honesty. The balance of prudence and purity will enable Christians both to survive and to fulfil their mission to the world.[13]

Matthew 10:16. Behold, I send you out. The exhortation which immediately follows plainly shows the design of this admonition; and therefore the order of the passage must be explained in this manner: “You have need of wisdom and of harmlessness, because you will be like sheep in the midst of wolves.” The reason is drawn from the necessity of the case: for if they did not wisely exercise caution, they might be immediately devoured by the wolves; and, on the other hand, if they trembled at the rage of the wolves, or were incautious, they would presently waver, and would at length fail to perform their duty.

We shall first inquire what is meant by their being sent out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Though men are cruel and bloody, the Lord might soften their ferocious temper; for he tames and subdues, whenever he pleases, the beasts of prey. When God does not subdue a considerable portion of mankind to the obedience of the gospel, but leaves them in their own savage nature, he does it on purpose to try his ministers. Though all whom God does not regenerate with the spirit of gentleness are by nature wolves, yet this designation is applied by Christ chiefly to the enraged enemies of the gospel, who are so far from being softened by hearing the voice of the pastor that they are inflamed to greater cruelty. The Lord sends the ministers of his word on the condition of dwelling in the midst of wolves; that is, of having many determined enemies, and of being beset on every hand by many dangers, which render it no easy matter to discharge their duty in the midst of hinderances. To make the trial more severe, he does not supply them with defensive armour, but exposes them naked and defenceless to the teeth of the wolves.

By calling them sheep, he does not refer to the sweetness and mildness of their manners, or to the gentleness of their mind, but only means, that they will have no greater strength or fitness for repelling the violence of enemies, than sheep have against the rage of wolves. Christ requires, no doubt, from his disciples that they shall resemble sheep in their dispositions, by their patience in contending against the malice of wicked men, and by the meekness with which they endure injuries: but the simple meaning of this passage is, that many powerful and cruel enemies are arrayed against the apostles, while they, on their part, are furnished with no means of defence. If it be objected, that in this way there is no contrast between sheep and wolves, the reply is easy. Though the Lord, by calling the enemies of the gospel wolves, expressed their power rather than their desire to do injury, yet as no man is known to be a wolf but by his rage against the gospel, Christ has joined these two things together, the fierce cruelty which impels them to shed blood, and the power with which they are armed.

Be therefore wise. The general meaning is, that their wisdom in exercising caution must be so regulated, as to prevent them from being more timid than is necessary, or from becoming more sluggish in duty. We see that those who wish to pass for cautious and circumspect persons are, for the most part, timorous and lazy. It is no doubt proper for the disciples of Christ, surrounded as they are by dangers on every hand, to maintain the strictest caution; but as they are in extreme danger of being kept back by slothfulness, he bids them move forward honestly wherever their calling leads them.

This is pointed out by a twofold comparison, wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. Serpents, being aware that they are hated, carefully avoid and shrink from every thing that is hostile to them. In this manner he enjoins believers to take care of their life, so as not to rush heedlessly into danger, or lay themselves open to any kind of injury. Doves, on the other hand, though naturally timid, and liable to innumerable attacks, fly in their simplicity, imagine themselves safe till they are struck, and in most cases place themselves within the reach of the fowler’s snares. To such simplicity Christ exhorts his disciples, that no excess of terror may hinder them from pursuing their course. There are some who carry their ingenious reasonings still farther as to the nature of the serpent and of the dove, but this is the utmost extent of the resemblance. We see that Christ condemns that carnal wisdom, or rather that trickery, in which the greater part of men are too fond of indulging, while they look around them on every hand to discover how far it will be safe for them to proceed; and thus, from an unwillingness to encounter danger, they renounce the call of Christ.[14]

16 This verse is a bridge between the more immediate focus on Jesus sending out the Twelve in vv. 5–15 and the more general treatment of the persecution of disciples in the remainder of the discourse. Its immediate trigger is the expectation in vv. 14–15 that there will be some who reject the Twelve and their message, and some interpreters prefer to treat it as part of the same paragraph. But its application is apparently wider than that, as the rejection of the Twelve at this stage in Galilee is unlikely to have been sufficiently violent to justify the vivid simile of sheep among wolves. It acts rather as a pointer to the eventually more serious vulnerability of disciples confronting a hostile world. For sheep threatened by wolves see 7:15, but here there is no pretense: the threat is real and open. As in John 10:12; Acts 20:29, the sheep are helpless in the face of an attack by wolves. It is an image of the Christian presence in the world which sits uncomfortably alongside much of the subsequent history of the church, as a power structure and itself often the agent of persecution.

Two further animal similes fill out the picture. The vulnerability of sheep is enhanced by their proverbial stupidity, but disciples are not to be like that. The snake’s instinct for self-preservation (by getting out of the way when trouble threatens) is a more helpful model. As a result of the Eden story, the snake was proverbial for cunning, and the term used here (phronimos) is the same as that used for the “craftiness” of the snake in LXX Gen 3:1. Disciples under threat are not to be helpless and gullible, but must maintain the initiative. Cf. the shrewd self-preservation of the steward in Luke 16:1–8, also described as phronimos. But in popular thought snakes are feared rather than admired (cf. 3:7; 7:10), and it is as a threat to God’s people that they appear more often in biblical literature. So Jesus here offsets that more obvious connotation of snakes by a balancing animal image, the harmlessness of doves; the disciples’ cunning is to be directed not to harming their opponents, but to their own survival and the commendation of the gospel. They need the cunning of snakes without the venom. Cf. Paul’s instructions not to repay evil with evil and to overcome evil with good (Rom 12:17–21; and cf. Rom 16:19 for a close parallel to this saying).[15]

16 The first part of v. 16 has a close parallel in Luke 10:3, part of the commission to the seventy-two. Because it is short and aphoristic, it is impossible to be certain how many times Jesus said it. Here it links the preceding pericope with the following warnings about persecution. The verse goes as well with what succeeds as what precedes.

Jesus pictured his disciples, defenseless in themselves, located in a dangerous environment. This is where he himself was sending them. The shepherd in this metaphor sends his sheep into the wolf pack (cf. 7:15; Jn 10:12; Ac 20:29). Therefore they must be phronimoi (“shrewd,” GK 5861) as serpents, which in several ancient Near Eastern cultures were proverbial for prudence. But prudence can easily degenerate into cheap cunning unless it goes with simplicity. The disciples must prove not only “shrewd” but akeraioi (“innocent”; used elsewhere only in Ro 16:19; Php 2:15). Yet innocence becomes ignorance, even naïveté, unless combined with prudence.

The dove was not an established symbol. In Hosea 7:11, a dove is pictured as “easily deceived and senseless.” In a late midrash the serpent-dove contrast appears (“God saith to the Israelites: ‘Towards me they are sincere as doves, but toward the Gentiles they are cunning as serpents’ ” [Cant. Rab. 2:14]). Yet not only is this midrash late; the contrast is not at all what Jesus had in mind. His followers were to be not prudent toward outsiders and innocent toward God, but both prudent and innocent in their mission to outsiders. In this light the dove image becomes clear. Doves are retiring but not astute; they are easily ensnared by the fowler. So Jesus’ disciples, in their mission as sheep among wolves, must be “shrewd,” avoiding conflicts and attacks where possible, but they must also be “innocent,” i.e., not so cautious, suspicious, and cunning that circumspection degenerates into fear or elusiveness. The balance is difficult, but not a little of Jesus’ teaching combines such poles of meaning (see comments at 7:1–6).[16]

The Analogy

Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; (10:16a)

In saying, Behold, Jesus indicated His desire for the twelve to pay special attention to what He was about to say. He had spoken of the unbelieving multitudes as being like “sheep without a shepherd” (9:36), and He had delegated miraculous powers to the twelve (10:8). Based on such input it could have seemed to the apostles that they were destined to be powerful wolves who would go out with invincibility to conquer the defenseless, unbelieving sheep of the world. But the Lord here made it clear that the world’s “sheep” are not really defenseless and that the apostles’ powers—divinely endowed and marvelous as they were—would not prevent them from suffering from the hands of men. They, and the rest of His followers until He returns again, would be the real sheep. In that paradoxical truth Jesus graphically pointed up the tensions between our vulnerability and our invincibility—between our weakness in ourselves and our strength in Him, between the power of hateful persecution and the power of loving submission, and between the worldly power of the flesh and the supernatural power of the Spirit.

Sheep are perhaps the most dependent, helpless, and stupid of all domesticated animals. They are as often panicked by harmless things as by those that are dangerous. And when real danger does come, they have no natural defense except running, and they are not very good at that.

In A Shepherd Looks at the Twenty-third Psalm, Philip Keller gives many insights from his long experience as a shepherd in Canada. He points out that because sheep are so indiscriminate in their choice of vegetation to eat, it is necessary to carefully protect them from eating poisonous weeds. Because they are highly vulnerable to weather extremes and to infections and disease, they must be regularly and individually checked for dangerous symptoms, for cuts and abrasions, and for insects and parasites that can harm them. Flies buzzing around their eyes and ears have been known to so irritate and frighten sheep that they beat their heads against trees or rocks until they are dead. Sometimes flies will lay eggs in a sheep’s eyes and ultimately cause blindness. In trying to escape real or imagined danger, sheep will sometimes panic into a blind stampede, and pregnant ewes will lose their lambs from the running and sometimes even their own lives from utter exhaustion.

But the sheep’s greatest enemy is predators, the worst of which in Palestine and in many other parts of the world has always been wolves. People in Palestine understood the nature of sheep and the danger of wolves. They knew how difficult the task of the shepherd was simply to keep his sheep alive, much less healthy and contented.

Most shepherds did not themselves own the flocks but tended them on behalf of the owners. When a sheep was killed, the shepherd was required to bring back a piece of its torn flesh or some other part of its body to prove it had indeed been killed by a wild animal rather than stolen by a thief or perhaps sold by a dishonest shepherd.

Jesus clearly identifies the sheep as you, that is, His disciples—the twelve and, by extension, all of His disciples yet to come.

The normal danger for sheep is that wolves come in among them. But here Jesus told the twelve, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. He called them to go into the wolves’ own territory, to walk into the very maw of their enemies. Jesus is the perfect Good Shepherd, who loves His sheep with a divine love, who intimately knows them and is known by them, and who lays down His life for them (John 10:11–15). But in the figure of the sheep and wolves, Jesus gave a graphic illustration of the rejection and persecution by a God-hating world they would face because of Him. So before the twelve went out into their first brief and relatively undemanding service for the Lord, He set before them the cost of discipleship. Just as He did not escape opposition and persecution, neither would they (cf. John 15:18–27; 16:33).

The world will continue to make raids on the church just as wolves make raids on flocks of sheep. “I know that after my departure,” Paul said, “savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock” (Acts 20:29). In his Romans letter he spoke of believers being looked on by the world as “sheep to be slaughtered” (8:36). Jesus had already warned His followers of “the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15).

It is consistent with their predatory nature for wolves to come into a flock in the field and even into the sheepfold to attack, mutilate, and devour the sheep. But it is not natural or consistent with their nature for sheep to voluntarily walk into the wolves’ own den. And it is unnatural for a shepherd to send his sheep into such certain peril. Yet that is where Jesus, the Good Shepherd, sends His disciples—into the hostile world of ungodly souls, because that is where they can serve Him best and be most effective in winning others to Him. The apostles, and to various extents every believer after them, would be sent out defenseless in themselves among evil, rapacious, vicious, God-hating mankind.

We do not hear much preaching today of sinners needing to count the cost of salvation and repenting of sin in confessing the lordship of Christ, or of coming to Him humbly, devoid of pride and self-trust, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, and entering the narrow gate and walking the narrow road of righteousness. Rarely are Christians called to take up their crosses and follow Christ in moving out into the world as sheep led to slaughter. The popular appeal is to ease, comfort, riches, advancement, and ambition—and the church often uses that kind of enticement to motivate unbelievers to trust in Christ and to motivate believers to follow Him. But Jesus makes no such offer. To the disciple He promises hardship, suffering, and death.

To present the gospel dishonestly and misleadingly is to be unfaithful to the Lord and to those to whom we present it. Because of false promises, many unredeemed people remain on the broad road that leads to destruction while being under the delusion they are on the road to life. Many believers are confirmed in spiritual mediocrity and unfruitfulness, thinking their health, wealth, and material success is the certain mark of divine approval. Still other believers are disillusioned and embittered because their lives of obedience, faithfulness, and sacrifice for Christ have not been materially rewarded.

After the siege of Rome in 1849, Garibaldi said to his soldiers, “Men, all our efforts against superior forces have been unavailing. I have nothing to offer you but hunger and thirst, hardship and death. But I call on all who love their country to join with me.” After the Allies were forced to evacuate Dunkirk in 1940, Churchill said to his fellow Englishmen, “All I can offer you is blood, sweat, and tears.”

If those human leaders refused to send out their fellow countrymen to war under false pretenses, how much less would the divine Son of God! Jesus does not send out His followers without warning about the demands and dangers of discipleship. Nor did His apostles mislead the early church about what belonging to Christ would cost. As he wrote to encourage and strengthen Timothy, his son in the faith, Paul also assured him that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12). Godly lives are not marked by continual suffering and hardship inflicted on them by the unbelieving world. Neither the life of Jesus nor the lives of the apostles were characterized by uninterrupted hardship and persecution. But faithfulness to God guarantees that at some times and to some degree Satan and his world system will exact a price for it.

The Attitude

therefore be shrewd as serpents, and innocent as doves. (10:16b)

In Egyptian hieroglyphics, as well as in much ancient lore, serpents symbolize wisdom. They were considered to be shrewd, smart, cunning, cautious. In that characteristic, at least, Christians are to emulate serpents.

Paul advises believers, “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity” (Col. 4:5). Servants of the Lord are to be shrewd and cunning in dealing with the unbelieving world around them.

The basic idea is that of saying the right thing at the right time and place, of having a sense of propriety and appropriateness, and of trying to discover the best means to achieve the highest goal. It is neither wise nor loving to be needlessly accusatory or inflammatory. When the Pharisees attempted to trap Jesus into either defending or condemning the Roman government by asking Him about paying taxes to Caesar, He did not take the occasion to vilify Caesar or the Roman government—vile, debauched, unjust, and ungodly as they were. Nor did He condone their wickedness. He replied simply, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s” (Matt. 22:21). It is neither brave nor wise, and neither spiritual nor loving, to needlessly incite anger or court trouble.

As the most harmless and gentle of birds, doves represent being pure, or innocent, another characteristic of the faithful disciple of Christ. Being true to God’s Word and uncompromising in proclaiming the gospel does not require, and should never include, being abrasive, course, inconsiderate, belligerent, blatant, or blunt.

Wisdom and innocence, cunning and gentleness, are handmaids of discretion. No apostle was more uncompromising of the gospel than Paul; yet he declared,

I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. And to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law, though not being myself under the Law, that I might win those who are under the Law; to those who are without law, as without law, though not being without the law of God but under the law of Christ, that I might win those who are without law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak; I have become all things to all men, that I may by all means save some. (1 Cor. 9:19–22)

Innocence involves more than simply avoiding negative attitudes and approaches. It also involves the positive attribute of purity. Godly wisdom has no part in anything that is impure, deceitful, or defiling. It is always the ally of truth and righteousness. Nothing untruthful or unethical can enhance the gospel or make its witness more effective. Paul assured the Thessalonian believers that his preaching and teaching of the gospel did “not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit” (1 Thess. 2:3). Integrity and honesty are practical manifestations of truthfulness, without which an otherwise orthodox presentation of the gospel is distorted and weakened.

We are to be like our Lord Himself, our great “high priest, holy, innocent, undefiled” (Heb. 7:26). We are to love our enemies and do good to those who hate us (Luke 6:27). Jesus is again our model, because He “committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously” (1 Pet. 2:23). In following our Lord’s example, “when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate” (1 Cor. 4:12–13).

When Paul was brought before the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, the high priest Ananias ordered him to be struck in the mouth. In a moment of unguarded anger the apostle replied, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! And do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” (Acts 23:3). When he was rebuked by some bystanders for reviling the high priest, Paul immediately apologized, saying, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people’ ” (v. 5). What Paul had said to the high priest was perfectly true, and certainly understandable from a human point of view. But it was not appropriate, not only because it was said to the high priest but because it was said in self-defensive anger. It was not the wise and righteous thing to say.[17]

[1] Stein, R. H. (2017). Differences in the Gospels. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 1517). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

[2] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Mt 10:16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Mt 10:16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1840). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Mt 10:16). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Mt 10:16). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1159). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[8] Haller, H. M., Jr. (2010). The Gospel according to Matthew. In R. N. Wilkin (Ed.), The Grace New Testament Commentary (p. 46). Denton, TX: Grace Evangelical Society.

[9] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1239). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[10] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 144). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[11] Utley, R. J. (2000). The First Christian Primer: Matthew (Vol. Volume 9, pp. 89–90). Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International.

[12] Exell, J. S. (1952). The Biblical Illustrator: Matthew (pp. 178–180). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

[13] France, R. T. (1985). Matthew: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 1, pp. 185–186). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[14] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentary on a Harmony of the Evangelists Matthew, Mark, and Luke (Vol. 1, pp. 449–451). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[15] France, R. T. (2007). The Gospel of Matthew (pp. 390–391). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publication Co.

[16] 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. 286–287). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[17] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 2, pp. 198–202). Chicago: Moody Press.

Media Outrage Over Capitol Riot Isn’t About Defending Democracy, It’s About Wielding Power

For our political and media elites, the capitol riot on Wednesday is the perfect excuse to ‘cleanse’ the country of Trump supporters.

Source: Media Outrage Over Capitol Riot Isn’t About Defending Democracy, It’s About Wielding Power

After the Capitol riots: Three questions everyone is asking and a biblical path to empowering purpose — Denison Forum

US Capitol Police confirmed late last night the death of one of their officers from injuries suffered when a mob stormed the Capitol two days ago. As the attack on the US Capitol continues to dominate the news, I’d like to do something I’ve not done in the twenty years I’ve been writing the Daily Article: I’d like to preach a sermon.

Actually, I’d like to write the sermon for you that I would preach this Sunday. I am doing so after spending all day Thursday in radio interviews with stations around the country; the questions I was asked are questions everyone seems to be asking today. I hope my “sermon” will help answer them and offer you a path to empowering purpose. 

My text is the familiar statement of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount: “You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” (Matthew 5:13). Let’s see how this powerful metaphor applies to us and to our nation. 


Why should I get involved? 

One question was especially poignant: “In light of the Capitol riots, what would you say to those who are wondering why they should get involved in our broken culture?”

My response was twofold: because God says to, and because seeking to change the culture changes us for the best. 

Jesus said to us, “You are the salt of the earth.” However, salt is no help if it stays in the saltshaker. Christianity is an incarnational faith—just as Jesus incarnated himself in his earthly body, so he incarnates himself in us (1 Corinthians 12:27). Now we are commissioned to “go” and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19), beginning in our Jerusalem and continuing to the “end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). 

Retreating from the challenges of our day is therefore not a biblical option for Christians. 

Such engagement is also vital to the abundant life Jesus intends for us (John 10:10). The Holy Spirit empowers us to the degree that we are willing to fulfill God’s purpose as his witnesses (Acts 1:8). To experience our best, most blessed life, we must be most fully obedient to our Lord’s missional call to our culture. 

Why did this happen? 

A second question I was asked repeatedly was, “Why did this happen? Can you offer some context?”

My response was that many Americans do not trust the electoral process, their elected leaders, or those with whom they disagree. 

After the 2000 election, only 18 percent of Democrats said George W. Bush won fairly. After the 2016 election, 66 percent of Democrats believed that Russia hacked the election. Now 67 percent of Republicans believe the 2020 election was “rigged.” 

If we cannot trust the electoral system, it’s hard to trust the leaders it elects. In a day when many have made institutions into platforms for personal celebrity and advancement, servant leaders are in short supply. In a time when social media gives everyone a platform by which to broadcast their opinions while listening only to those with whom they agree, discernment goes missing. In a culture where we see those with whom we disagree as the enemy, forgiveness and grace are scarce. 

However, let me be blunt: explaining what apparently drove the rioters is no excuse for their behavior. What we saw Wednesday was abhorrent and sinful. God’s call is clear: “Put away violence and oppression, and execute justice and righteousness” (Ezekiel 45:9). We are told, “Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling” (1 Peter 3:9). 

The late Chuck Colson noted: “People who cannot restrain their own baser instincts, who cannot treat one another with civility, are not capable of self-government.” He added: “Without virtue, a society can be ruled only by fear, a truth that tyrants understand all too well.” 

How can I make a difference? 

One last question I was asked often: “Can Christians change our broken culture? If so, how?”

I’ll respond with four imperatives from our biblical text. 

One: Repent personally. 

Jesus asked, “If the salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored?” Our Lord’s question requires us to ask ourselves: In light of the Capitol riots, what sins should I confess?

Of course, I’m not suggesting that you condoned or participated in what happened in Washington. But are you sinning with regard to our nation and culture in other ways? Have you used social media and other platforms to slander (Psalm 101:5), gossip (Proverbs 16:28), or condemn (James 4:11)? Have you been as proactive in influencing your culture as you should be? 

Nehemiah confessed the sins of his people even though he had not committed them personally (Nehemiah 1:4–10). His solidarity with his nation should model our solidarity with ours. 

Two: Intercede passionately. 

We are called to pray for our leaders, even (and especially) when we disagree with them (1 Timothy 2:1–2). This was the immediate response of many Christian leaders to the violence in Washington and should be ours as well.

Do you know the names of your governor, mayor, city council, and local school board? Are you praying every day for God to lead, protect, empower, and use them? 

Three: Speak graciously. 

Part of getting our “salt” out of the saltshaker is speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). As we noted, slander and gossip are sins. But speaking biblical truth to the issues and souls we encounter is a gift of eternal grace. 

Four: Act redemptively. 

As I noted yesterday, I believe that God is calling more Christians into public service than are answering his call. Where can you begin? What difference can you make where you live? What larger mission is the Lord calling you to serve? 

The late evangelical theologian Carl F. H. Henry noted, “The gospel is only good news if it gets there in time.”

How will you get the gospel to your culture today?

After the Capitol riots: Three questions everyone is asking and a biblical path to empowering purpose — Denison Forum