Category Archives: Open Bible

April 14 – Devotion to Christ

Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.

1 Peter 3:15

 

Regardless of the opposition a believer may face in this world, he is always to affirm in his heart that Christ is Lord. He is to accept and acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty and majesty, fearing only Him.

The believer who sanctifies Christ exalts Him as the object of his love and loyalty. He recognizes His perfection, magnifies His glory, and extols His greatness. He submits himself to God’s will, realizing that His will sometimes involves suffering. To live that way is to “adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things” (Titus 2:10).

As a Christian, you need to be committed to honoring Christ as Lord—even in the midst of suffering. Submission to Him will yield courage, boldness, and fortitude in the midst of hostility.[1]


A Devotion to Christ

but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, (3:15a)

Here the apostle again alludes to Isaiah 8:13, “Sanctify the Lord of hosts” (kjv). When believers sanctify Christ as Lord in their hearts, they affirm their submission to His control, instruction, and guidance. In so doing they also declare and submit to God’s sovereign majesty (cf. Deut. 4:35; 32:4; 1 Kings 8:27; Pss. 90:2; 92:15; 99:9; 145:3, 5; Isa. 43:10; Rom. 8:28; 11:33) and demonstrate that they fear only Him (Josh. 24:22–24; Pss. 22:23; 27:1; 34:9; 111:10; 119:46, 63; Prov. 14:26; Matt. 4:10).

Sanctify (hagiasate) means “to set apart,” or “consecrate.” But in this context it also connotes giving the primary place of adoration, exaltation, and worship to Christ. Believers who sanctify Christ set Him apart from all others as the sole object of their love, reverence, loyalty, and obedience (cf. Rom. 13:14; Phil. 2:5–11; 3:14; Col. 3:4; 2 Peter 1:10–11). They recognize His perfection (Heb. 7:26–28), magnify His glory (Acts 7:55–56; cf. Rev. 1:12–18), extol His pre-eminence (Col. 1:18), and submit themselves to His will (Mark 3:35; Rom. 12:2; Eph. 6:6; Heb. 10:36; 1 John 2:17), with the understanding that sometimes that submission includes suffering.

This honoring of Christ as Lord is not external, but in the hearts of true worshipers—even when they must face unjust suffering. That submission to and trust in the perfect purposes of the sovereign Lord yields courage, boldness, and fortitude to triumph through the most adverse situations.

A Readiness to Defend the Faith

always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; (3:15b)

It is not just endurance through the blessing of suffering that believers are to submit to; there is also the opportunity to defend the truth when they are being persecuted. Christians must be ready to make a defense of the faith. The Greek term for defense (apologia) is the word from which the English terms apology and apologetics derive. It often means a formal defense in a judicial courtroom (cf. Acts 25:16; 2 Tim. 4:16), but Paul also used the word informally to denote his ability to answer those who questioned him (Phil. 1:16). Always indicates believers’ need for constant preparedness and readiness to respond, whether in a formal courtroom or informally, to everyone who asks them to give an account for why they live and believe the way they do. Account is simply logos, “word,” or “message,” and it calls saints to be able at the time someone asks (present tense) to give the right words in response to questions about the gospel.

The gospel is identified as the hope that is in believers. Hope is synonymous with the Christian faith because the motive for believers’ embracing Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior is their anticipation of escaping hell and entering eternal glory (cf. Acts 26:6; Eph. 1:18; 4:4; Col. 1:23; Heb. 10:23). Thus hope becomes the focal point of any rational explanation believers should be able to provide regarding their salvation. (For further insights into the meaning of hope, see the discussion of 1:3 in chapter 2 of this volume.)

The believer’s defense of this hope before the unbeliever who asks must be firm and uncompromising, but at the same time conveyed with gentleness and reverence. Gentleness refers to meekness or humility, not in the sense of weakness but in the sense of not being dominant or overbearing (cf. Eph. 4:15, “speaking the truth in love”). The Lord Himself was characterized by this virtue, as was Paul: “Now I, Paul, myself urge you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:1a).

Reverence expresses devotion to God, a deep regard for His truth, and even respect for the person listening (Col. 4:6; 2 Tim. 2:24–26).

Christians who cannot present a biblically clear explanation of their faith (cf. 1 Thess. 5:19–22; 1 John 2:14) will be insecure when strongly challenged by unbelievers (cf. Eph. 4:14–15). In some cases that insecurity can undermine their assurance of salvation. The world’s attacks can overwhelm those who have not “put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thess. 5:8; cf. Eph. 6:10–17).[2]


3:15 In the last part of verse 14 and in this verse, Peter quotes from Isaiah 8:12b, 13, which says: “Nor be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. The Lord of hosts, Him you shall hallow; Let Him be your fear, and let Him be your dread.” Someone has said, “We fear God so little because we fear man so much.”

The Isaiah passage speaks of The Lord of hosts as the One to be reverenced. Quoting it, Peter by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, says, sanctify the Lord God in your hearts.

To reverence the Lord means to make Him the Sovereign of our lives. All we do and say should be in His will, for His pleasure, and for His glory. The lordship of Christ should dominate every area of our lives—our possessions, our occupation, our library, our marriage, our spare time—nothing can be excluded.

Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear. This applies primarily to times when Christians are being persecuted because of their faith. The consciousness of the presence of the Lord Christ should impart a holy boldness and inspire the believer to witness a good confession.

The verse is also applicable to everyday life. People often ask us questions which quite naturally open the door to speak to them about the Lord. We should be ready to tell them what great things the Lord has done for us. This witnessing should be done in either case with gentleness and reverence. There should be no trace of harshness, bitterness or flippancy when we speak of our Savior and Lord.[3]


3:15 sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. The meaning is “set apart in your hearts Christ as Lord.” The heart is the sanctuary in which He prefers to be worshiped. Live in submissive communion with the Lord Jesus, loving and obeying Him—and you have nothing to fear. always being ready to make a defense. The Eng. word “apologetics” comes from the Gr. word here translated “defense.” Peter is using the word in an informal sense (cf. Php 1:16, 17) and is insisting that the believer must understand what he believes and why one is a Christian, and then be able to articulate one’s beliefs humbly, thoughtfully, reasonably, and biblically. the hope that is in you. Salvation with its anticipation of eternal glory.[4]


3:15 “Sanctify” means “set apart.” Having established a special dwelling for God in the heart, the Christian ought to be ready always to give an answer to those who seek a reason for his hope. The word “defense” is apologia (Gk.), from which the English word “apology” is derived. However, closer to the intent of Greek thought is the idea of Christian “apologetics,” an organized, thoughtful defense of the faith. The believer’s task is to know well the truths of the faith and to prepare to present them in a persuasive fashion.[5]


3:15 sanctify the Lord God: Believers should acknowledge the eternal holiness of Christ by revering Him as the Lord of the universe who is in control of all things. to give a defense: Peter assumes that the Christian faith will be falsely accused. He therefore encourages Christians to have rational answers to respond to those false accusations. Meekness is the same term translated gentle in v. 4. Meekness is not weakness. Scripture indicates that both Moses and Christ were meek men; however, they were certainly not weak men. Fear implies a high degree of reverence or respect.[6]


3:15. In their hearts Christians are to set apart Christ as Lord. Alexander Maclaren wrote, “Only he who can say, ‘The Lord is the strength of my life’ can go on to say, ‘Of whom shall I be afraid?’ ” (Expositions of Holy Scriptures, 16:42) Christians should overcome fear by sanctifying (hagiasate, “make separate from others”) Christ as their Lord (kyrion). As a result Christians should always be prepared (hetoimoi, “ready”; cf. 1:5) to give … the reason (apologian, the “defense” which a defendant makes before a judge; cf. Acts 22:1; 25:16) for their hope in Christ. Such an oral defense should be consistent with one’s “set-apart” conduct.[7]


3:15 sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: Be sure you are filled with His Spirit and have no attitude contrary to love. We should give our testimony with meekness (humility) toward others and with fear (reverence) toward God for what He has done. See article “Noah’s Ark.”[8]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 119). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 200–202). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2271). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (1 Pe 3:15). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] 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., 1 Pe 3:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1685). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] Raymer, R. M. (1985). 1 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 850). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[8] The Open Bible: New King James Version. (1998). (electronic ed., 1 Pe 3:15). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

APRIL 1 – INFINITE UNDERSTANDING

Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.

—Psalm 147:5

If there were a point where God stopped, then God wouldn’t be perfect. For instance, if God knew almost everything, but not quite everything, then God wouldn’t be perfect in knowledge. His understanding wouldn’t be infinite, as it says in Psalm 147:5.

Let us take all that can be known—past, present and future, spiritual, psychic and physical—everywhere throughout the universe. And let us say God knows all of it except one percent—He knows ninety-nine percent of all that can be known. I’d be embarrassed to go to heaven and look into the face of a God that didn’t know everything. He has to know it all or I can’t worship Him. I can’t worship that which is not perfect.

What about power? If God had all the power there is except a little bit, and if somebody else had a little bit of power hoarded that God couldn’t get to, then we couldn’t worship God. We couldn’t say that this God is of infinite power because He wouldn’t be of infinite power; He’d just be close to it. While He would be more powerful than any other being and perhaps even more powerful than all the beings in the universe lumped together, He still would have a defect, and therefore He couldn’t be God. Our God is perfect—perfect in knowledge and power. AOG006

Lord, how wonderful it is to know that I can worship a God who is perfect. I praise You for Your infinite understanding and power. Amen. [1]


147:5 his understanding is beyond measure. God is above and beyond human intelligence. There is no scale that can measure infinity.[2]


147:4, 5 God’s knowledge of the stars suggests that He is more than equal to the problems of humankind. His power and understanding far surpass any other resource from which we may draw.[3]


The two motifs of restoration and creation are sufficient to bring God’s people to worship. The psalmist exclaims how “great” (gādôl; cf. 48:1; 96:4; 145:3) is God’s royal sovereignty (“our Lord,” ʾadônênû) in “power” and wisdom (“understanding,” v. 5; see 136:5)! This conclusion relates primarily to his creative and sustaining powers over the universe (cf. Isa 40:26–28). By inference, God’s royal power and greatness extended to the world of creation are small in comparison to the depth of God’s love for his people (cf. Isa 40:26 with Isa 40:27–31). This brings the psalmist to a renewed consideration of God’s care for his own (v. 6).[4]


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

[2] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 866). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[3] The Open Bible: New King James Version. (1998). (electronic ed., Ps 147:4–5). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 998). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

April 1 – No Striking Back

He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.

Isaiah 53:7

 

Jesus reflects a humble attitude before His tormentors: “When He was reviled, did not revile in return” (1 Pet. 2:23). Though under sustained provocation, Jesus spoke no evil because there was no sin in His heart.

However, under similar provocation, our reaction would be more like that of the apostle Paul’s. When he was on trial before the Sanhedrin, the high priest Ananias ordered him to be struck on the mouth. His immediate response to Ananias was, “God will strike you, you whitewashed wall!” (Acts 23:3). Paul immediately had to apologize—such an exclamation against a high priest was against the law (vv. 4–5; cf. Ex. 22:28).

Paul wasn’t perfect. He is not our standard of righteousness. Only Christ is a perfect standard of how to handle the reviling of one’s enemies.

Like our Master, we are never to abuse those who abuse us.[1]


53:7 like a lamb. I.e., innocent, submissive, not complaining (cf. John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32–33; 1 Pet. 2:22–23).[2]


53:7 slaughter Possibly alludes to sacrifice since sheep were important sacrificial animals. Lambs were used in the offering made on the Day of Atonement (Num 29:8). Lambs were also sacrificed on Passover (Exod 12:3–6).

Jesus unjustly dies on Passover, while hardly speaking a word (e.g., Matt 27:12–14; John 19:9). John’s description of Jesus as the “Lamb of God” (John 1:29) is likely intended to evoke this ot passage. John’s Gospel emphasizes the connections between Jesus’ death as an atoning sacrifice and the symbolism of the Passover (see John 1:29 and note).

is silent Unlike Jeremiah, who also speaks about being like a lamb led to the slaughter (Jer 11:19), the Servant does not plead or complain. He is not requesting redemption from his situation, and he is certainly not asking for God to act (compare Jer 11:20).[3]


53:7, 8 This is the portion of Scripture read by the Ethiopian eunuch and subsequently explained to him by Philip as referring to Jesus (Ac 8:32, 33).

53:7 did not open His mouth. The Servant will utter no protest and will be utterly submissive to those who oppress Him. Jesus fulfilled this (Mt 26:63; 27:12–14; Mk 14:61; 15:5; Lk 23:9; Jn 19:9; 1Pe 2:23). lamb … led to slaughter. The Servant was to assume the role of a sacrificial lamb (Ex 12:3, 6). Jesus fulfilled this figurative role literally (Jn 1:29; 1Pe 1:18, 19; Rev 5:6).[4]


53:7 lamb … sheep. Christ is the Lamb of God (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7; Rev. 5:6) in obedience and submission to God (cf. Matt. 26:63; 27:12, 14; 1 Pet. 2:23). We went astray like sheep and He paid the penalty.[5]


53:7, 8 Like a sheep, that is, silent and uncomplaining before its shearers, He endured the cross. He was hurried away from prison and a fair trial (or “by oppression and judgment He was taken away”). It seemed impossible that He would have any posterity since He was cut off in His prime, slain for the sins of the people.[6]


53:7 Opened not His mouth speaks of the Servant’s willingness to die for sinners; it also marks His dignity and authority (Matt. 26:67, 68; 27:12–14; 1 Pet. 2:23). as a lamb to the slaughter: For similar imagery, see John 1:29, 36; 1 Cor. 5:7; Rev. 5:6, 12; 13:8.[7]


53:7 The Lamb of God—The imagery of Jesus as a lamb invokes the rich significance of the OT sacrificial system. Jesus suffered and died to fulfill the spiritual significance God had built into those sacrifices when He instituted the Levitical rituals.

  1. The Passover lamb. Jesus died as an unblemished lamb in the place of those who by faith apply His blood to the doorposts of their hearts. The death angel has no claim on them (1 Cor. 5:7; see Ex. 12).
  2. The Day of Atonement. The NT looks at Jesus fulfilling the Day of Atonement imagery primarily through His activity as High Priest (Heb. 9:11, 12) because the offerings that day were of a bull and two goats. However, it was His own blood that Jesus offered to God as High Priest (v. 14).

Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) because He died in the place of sinful humans. His death was a substitutionary sacrifice (Mark 10:45; John 10:11; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18).

Now go to—Eph. 4:3: The Person of the Holy Spirit.[8]


53:7 like a lamb. I.e., innocent, submissive, not complaining (cf. John 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32–33; 1 Pet. 2:22–23).[9]


7–9 Thexton (in loc.) has given an admirable précis of these verses: “Meekly and without protest the Servant accepts the sentence to death and suffers execution. Although innocent, he is given a felon’s grave.” Motyer’s comments (1993, 1999, in loc.), in which he sets these verses in their wider theological context, are well worth reading. The term “oppressed” (v. 7) is appropriate in relation to the trials and death of Jesus; for all those who tried him—Pilate, Herod, Annas, and Caiaphas—had a measure of human authority and misused it when they condemned him or, washing their hands of him, allowed others to take him to the place of death. In it all, he had a quiet and uncomplaining bearing (cf. esp. 1 Pe 2:23), which suggests not only comparison but also contrast with Jeremiah (cf. Jer 11:18–20; 12:1–3). Writing on v. 7b, Simon (in loc.) says:

This new David (cf. Eze 34:23) gives his life for the sheep who, strangely, are his murderers. He combines both the initiative and the submissiveness of the priest-shepherd and the victim-sheep. Thus he transmutes what might have been merely the murder of a good person into a holy and abiding Messianic sacrifice.

The phrase “by oppression and judgment” (v. 8) is, formally, somewhat like the earlier expression “iniquity and the solemn assembly” (1:13, NASB; NIV, “evil assemblies”) in that the two nouns present concomitant aspects of the same fact. The judgment is in fact employed as an instrument of oppression. It seemed as though he must die without issue, which was regarded as a great misfortune or worse in that society.

The phrase “cut off” strongly suggests not only a violent, premature death but also the just judgment of God (cf., e.g., Ge 9:11; Ex 12:15), not simply the oppressive judgment of human beings. Motyer (1993, in loc.), referring to Whybray’s theory that this chapter does not require the actual death of the Servant, points out that “from the land of the living” is unequivocal in the OT as meaning death (Pss 27:13; 116:9; 142:5–6; Isa 38:11; Jer 11:19). The Isaiah 38:11 reference is important for two reasons: the entire context refers to death not only unambiguously but emphatically, and, if the book is conceived as a unity, the reference is part of the wider context of Isaiah 53 (see the discussion in Oswalt, in loc.). H. R. Minn (The Servant Songs [Christchurch, N.Z.: Presbyterian Bookroom, 1966], 23) points out that the versions support the MT in reading “my people”; he goes on to say, “If this is allowed to stand—and why should it not?—there is a distinction between the people and the Servant. They are not identical” (see Introduction, pp. 453–62).

Verse 9 presents an enigma, a striking prediction fulfilled in due time, and a transition to the final stanza, which describes the Servant’s vindication. The enigma consists in the apparent juxtaposition of “the wicked” and “the rich,” the former more appropriate to his rejection and the latter to his ultimate vindication. We are forced to conclude that the parallelism is not synonymous but antithetical, the first line indicating the human intention and the second the divinely ordained intervention and transference. This in fact is strikingly fulfilled in the burial of Jesus (Mt 27:57–60). Simon (in loc.) writes:

By a very simple manipulation of the text we may read a less dramatic account according to which he was thrown into a common grave with the wicked and evil-doers. But though this emendation may claim to restore an obvious Hebrew parallelism the simplification seems altogether regrettable here. The ancient commentators wisely retained the word “rich,” which has become troublesome only to modern minds.… By retaining the unconventional “rich” and rejecting the easier “evil-doers” we follow a sound principle. “Rich” must have been there from the start; it may have become “evil-doers” whereas the reverse is impossible. The paradox should be taken quite seriously.

Motyer (1999), noting that “wicked” is plural while “rich” is singular, makes an important point: “If Isaiah had merely intended the contrast between a shameful and a sumptuous burial he would have used two singulars. The use of a plural and a singular suggests that he is talking not about categories but about actual individuals. He offers no explanation nor is there one until the fulfillment.”

The Servant’s gentle ingenuousness is asserted at the close of the stanza.[10]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 106). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1338). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Is 53:7). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Is 53:7). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1225). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 980). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (Is 53:7). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[8] The Open Bible: New King James Version. (1998). (electronic ed., Is 53:7). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[9] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1338). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[10] Grogan, G. W. (2008). Isaiah. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, pp. 801–802). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.