Bible app banned as Muslim extremism surges

National policy of religious tolerance facing headwinds

A decision to prevent citizens of Indonesia from being able to access a Bible application for cell phones and mobile devices is sparking arguments amid that nation’s openly tolerant campaign to allow people to choose their own faith and practice it.

The worldwide Christian ministry Barnabas Fund is reporting that the Bible application for the Minangkabau people was removed from the Google Play Store for residents of Indonesia following a demand from Irwan Prayitno, the governor of West Sumatra.

He claimed it was causing discomfort in the Minangkabau people who are living in his province, the majority of whom are Muslim.

Only about 1.43% of the people there, about 69,000, are Christian.

The Indonesian Ulema Council supported the censorship by the nation’s Communication and Information Ministry, with a statement of secretary general Anwar Abbas that said, “The guidance of the Minangkabau people is not the Bible. Hopefully there will not be a Bible [published] in the Minangkabau language.”

“The decision to ban the Minangkabau Bible App failed to take into account the rights of Minangkabau Christians,” the Barnabas Fund reported.

And the decision was criticized by the chief of the nation’s longtime Agency for Pancasila Ideology Education, which advocates for tolerance.

That agency’s opinion is that holy books could be translated into any language as long as they were not misinterpreted.

The chief of the agency said, “Every individual is given the freedom to observe their beliefs as long as they do not cause disruption in the public. And, of course, some of the residents of West Sumatra are also Christian, and the governor himself is governor to everyone, not a certain ethnicity or religious belief.”

Pancasila is a formal doctrine instituted in Indonesia to encourage tolerance for religions – and discourage extremism. It prevailed for many years, with Christians and Muslims living as equals. That started changing only a few years ago.

Then, Barnabas Fund reported, the nation saw “a rise in hard-line Islamic ideology in recent years. A generation ago, Muslims and Christians lived peaceably as equals in accordance with Pancasila.”

“In 2019, the government took several steps to counter the spread of fundamentalism by urging members of the public to report extremist content posted online by civil servants and taking action to replace school textbooks deemed to contain radical material.”

That battle against “hard-line Islamist ideology” includes requests to the public to “report extremist content posted online by civil servants and taking action to replace school textbooks deemed to contain radical material,” Barnabas Fund said.

Indonesian Communications Minister Johnny G. Plate said the intention was “to bring together and improve the performance of our civil servants, as well as to foster higher levels of nationalism.”

Indonesia has the world’s biggest population of Muslims, and reports suggest that 19% of civil servants and 3% of military personnel favor an Indonesia under Islamic rule. About 18% of private employees and 23% of students share the view.

Bible app banned as Muslim extremism surges

VIDEO Peter, Do You Love Me?

John MacArthur Nov 20, 2016

For this morning, we come we come to the 21st chapter of John, and this morning we’re going to finish our study of this incredibly important gospel.  Somebody asked me if I’m always kind of glad when you come to the end of a book and have the satisfaction that it’s completed, and the truth is I have the very opposite reaction. I hate to let it go, because it’s likely that I’ll never be back again to do this; and this is such an incredibly powerful life-transforming experience, especially for me, because of the intensity that I apply to it in order to bring a message to you on the Lord’s Day. So it’s with a measure of sadness that we come to the end of the gospel of John, but it’s going to be, I trust, a wonderfully helpful consummation as we look at the final section. That final section of chapter 21 looks like a lot of verses, and maybe it could be stretched out a little bit. But it is really faithful to the intent of John not to get bogged down here and wander off into all the world and preach the gospel everywhere, but to stick with the emphasis here. This section is really driven right at Peter. Peter, of course, has already been high-profile in the first half of chapter 21. Again, Peter had acted disobediently; and because he was a leader, he led the other apostles who were with him into disobedience.

You remember I told you, they were supposed to be in a mountain waiting for the Lord, but Peter decided that he was going to abandon his call to ministry, if you will, and go back to fishing. There were reasons for that. He had denied the Lord on three separate occasions. I think he felt inadequate. I think he felt guilty. I think he felt weak. He also was a man who didn’t have a lot of patience. He had not yet, along with the apostles, received the Holy Spirit. They were doubtful of their own power, their own ability, to sustain a ministry he knew that he had failed so many times.

The Lord had rebuked him so many times; the others were unsure about the future even though they had seen the risen Christ for the third time in chapter 21 when He met them for breakfast on the shore of the lake in Galilee. So we understand that Peter was really vacillating in his commitment to ministry. If the gospel ended there we wouldn’t really know whether Peter had an official recommissioning, so we’re grateful for verses 15 and following, because this is the restoration, the recalling of Peter, the reassignment of the ministry that God had given him through Christ at the very beginning of the ministry of our Lord.

Back in Matthew 4:19 Jesus met these fishermen, including Peter; told them to drop their nets, leave it all behind and He would make them fishers of men. You remember they all dropped everything, followed Him. This is three years-plus later, and Peter has led his fishermen friends back to fishing in the first part of the chapter. That’s not the Lord’s plan for them. Peter is the leader; he needs to be restored, and behind him will come the others. God has very significant plans for this denying, impatient, impulsive leader by the name of Peter. And as we look at this final section we’re going to see what is essentially a call to faithfulness for any believer, any disciple of Christ, anyone who is going to serve the Lord. This is what a committed Christian looks like. This is a characteristic of committed Christians. To see what our Lord elicits out of Peter is what He wants out of all of us. This is a wonderful model.

Let me begin in verse 15: “So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ And He said to him, ‘Tend My lambs’ – or – ‘feed My lambs.’ He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Shepherd My sheep.’ He said to him the third time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because he said him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Tend’ – or feed – ‘My sheep. Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.’ Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He said to him, ‘Follow Me!’

“Peter, turning around, saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom” – or chest – “at the supper and said, ‘Lord, who is the one who betrays You?’ So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, ‘Lord, and what about this man?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!’ Therefore this saying wen tout among the brethren that the disciple would not die; yet Jesus didn’t say to him that he would not die, but only, ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?’ This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.” Just a fascinating portion of Scripture directed at Peter.

Peter is beloved by all of us because he is like us. He has all the failures that we are so familiar with in our own lives. He overestimates himself and underestimates temptation. He think he’s more committed than he is. He thinks he loves the Lord more than he does. He thinks he can face any trial triumphantly; finds out he can’t. By the time we get to this point, even though he has seen the risen Christ, he is really a broken man.

The disciples have not yet received the Holy Spirit, so they have not yet been infused with power, and they are very familiar with their own impotence. It’s very easy for them, as we come to the epilogue in the gospel of John, to just kind of drift back to life the way it used to be, to go back to fishing, which this particular group had been engaged in, with the exception of Thomas. But the Lord is going to call him back, and with him the rest of them, back into significant ministry. They will subsequently be empowered by the Holy Spirit, and they will turn the world upside-down. But it requires a certain commitment for them to be that useful, so here you have a call to follow Christ. It has three components. It is a call to love Christ; it is a call to sacrifice for Christ; it is a call to follow Christ no matter what. That is universally the case.

For every believer, for every follower of Jesus Christ, there is the necessity of a call to love, a call to sacrifice, and a call to obey. That is the stuff of discipleship. So this is a very straightforward, somewhat simple – not simplistic, but simple in the sense that it’s very clear, “Look at what it means to be a disciple.” What comes out of those three things that are very easily articulated – love, sacrifice, and obedience – is still the fact that following Christ is not easy. To love that way is not easy, to sacrifice that way is not easy, and to obey that way is not easy. Salvation is not cheap, it is not easy, it costs everything, everything. We are told by our Lord Himself in His gospel calls that sinners are to submit completely to the Lord Jesus Christ, to find their lives by losing them, to fulfill their lives by emptying them, to live their lives by dying to self.

Salvation is not cheap, it is not easy. Our Lord repeatedly said, “It might require you to hate your father, your mother, your sister, your brother, and your own life. It might require you to turn from everything you possess, all your desires, all your ambitions.” “If you want to follow Me,” – Jesus said – “you must deny yourself, take up your cross,” – which means it may mean death – “and follow Me.” You need to count the cost, and the cost could be your life. The cost will be your life, and maybe your death. This is a very, very extreme call to follow a man.

Why would people do this? Jesus was actually calling for people to become His slave, to abandon their own ambition, desire, control; become slaves of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is extreme. What would motivate that? Why would someone do that? What is the compelling desire that is going to cause me or you or anybody else to sacrifice my life for Christ, to spend my life obeying Him? What’s the motive? Well, that’s where we begin.

The motive is love. That is the only power that can motivate this kind of devotion. I think we understand that even on a human level that people who love greatly, sacrifice greatly. People who love greatly give up things. Love is a powerful, powerful emotion, powerful motivation.

Even earthly love is so powerful it can draw the best out of people, and it can also draw the worst. It is love that makes people sacrifice everything to live with one person the rest of their life. It is love that is so powerful it can destroy a family. It can destroy a marriage; it does all the time. It can destroy a life. It can lead to alcoholism, drugs, suicide, murder.

Love is a powerful emotion on a human level. It is so powerful that people sacrifice their own lives for it on the positive side, giving up their life for the one they love, giving up their life, if need be, for the children. Some have such great love for causes that are even beyond personal causes, that they will give their lives for their nation, for their neighbors.

In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his philn, the ones He loves.” People die for love. It is a powerful, powerful motivation. And as far as Christians are concerned, according to 2 Corinthians 5:14, it is the love that we have for the Lord that controls us, that’s what Paul said. It is that love that controls us. Some of the translations of 2 Corinthians 5:14 say: constrains us, motivates us, drives us. Really you follow your love, you follow your love, the things you love; you follow those things in life, whatever they be, even objects that you love, experiences that you love, as well as people that you love.

Love is a powerful, powerful motivator, more powerful than any other. And when you move it into the spiritual dimension and the divine world, love is what causes us to serve the Lord in an extreme act of dedication. In fact, we go to the Old Testament, what do we hear our responsibility is? It is this, reiterated in Matthew 22:37 by our Lord Himself: “You are to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” That in itself sums up the law. You can have the law of God.

All His laws in the Old Testament directed toward how we respond to Him. You can condense them into the first half of the Decalogue, which relates to how we treat God, or you can condense them once more into one statement: “You love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.” That is how you are to live, you are to live a life of love. The Bible never calls for a life of legalism, a life of law, a life of dread, a life of fear; it always calls for us to love God.

And then the second part of that great command like it is, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” That fulfills the second half of the Decalogue and all the other laws that God gave that deal with human relationships. Love is the driving power in life. It is the driving power in the kingdom as well.

Back in Deuteronomy, when our Lord was reiterating His requirements for His people as they were on the brink of going into the Promised Land, chapter 6, verse 4,  He says, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your sons, talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and on the front of your forehead. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” What are you writing? “The Lord is one and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.” That’s what you teach your children. That is the summation of all that should be said about our relationship to God.

Listen to the 10th chapter of Deuteronomy, verse 12: “Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul.” Do you see the totality of that commitment? Every faculty, every aspect of your being is to be loving God. And then as a result, “If you love God with all your heart and all your soul, you will keep the Lord’s commandments and statutes which I am commanding you today for good.”

Again, in chapter 11, “You shall” – verse 1 – “therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments.” That’s Old Testament. It’s about loving God. That’s what God called the world to do, to love Him, to love Him.

Our Lord makes it clear in the 14th chapter of John. As you remember, on the night before His crucifixion in the upper room, verse 15, John 14, He says to the disciples and to all of us, “If you love Me, you’ll keep My commandments.” Verse 21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and disclose Myself to him.” Verse 23, “If anyone loves Me, he’ll keep My word. My Father will love him; We will come to him and Our abode with him.” Verse 28, “If you loved Me, you would have rejoice because I go to the Father.”

It’s all about love. From the beginning, from the Mosaic revelation to the very New Testament and all through the New Testament, and the summation of all that the apostles write, we are called to love God with all our faculties. It’s about loving Him.

John makes obviously a major point of this when he writes his epistles. His epistles are about loving God in the same way, and John extends them from not only loving God, but loving brothers. He does that in chapter 2, chapter 3, chapter 4, chapter 5 of 1 John. So when we talk about what characterizes believers, dedicated believers, it begins by saying they are driven by compelling love for Christ, compelling love for Christ.

Love is the power of obedience. Love is the power of duty. Love is the power of service. Love is the power of sacrifice. Love is the power of worship. Love is the power of fellowship. Love is everything. So you see that in the opening verses, verses 15 to 17, and our Lord’s dialogue with the apostle Peter. Here is a man who needs a total restoration.

Now somebody might say, “You know, he’s going to have to have six weeks of therapy to get him back to where he needs to be. There’s got to be a process here. There’s got to be some kind of path. There’s got to be some kind of course he needs to run. There have to be things he needs to learn. Sanctification is a very complicated thing to get him back on track. We’ve got to have him deal with a lot of his past, and plow through and figure things out, and assess things, and find a way forward.”

No. The Lord asks him one question three times: “Do you love Me? Do you love Me?” because you will follow what you love. You will serve what you love. You will sacrifice for what you love, who you love. That’s the question.

So for us to understand dedication commitment in the way that our Lord explains it here in the illustration with Peter, we start by understanding that a committed Christian lives a life compelled by love for Christ. This is very practical. It’s a wonderful way to end this glorious gospel of John. It almost seems, I suppose, like we’ve come down off this incredible high of the resurrection, post resurrection appearances, and now we’re down with the stumbling and bumbling people in the final chapter. But you have to understand that the glory of Christ is going to be placed in the hands of these stumbling, bumbling people; that this treasure, as Paul says, is in earthen vessels. And so we need to learn at the very end of this the kind of people that God is depending on to proclaim the glory of this gospel.

Now look, Peter overestimated himself a lot. But even in the upper room on Thursday night before the crucifixion, Jesus was talking about the fact that He was going to be leaving, verse 33: “Little children,” – John 13 – “I’m with you a little while longer. You’ll seek Me. As I said to the Jews, I also say to you, ‘Where I’m going, you can’t come.’ A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you love one another. By this all men will know that you’re My disciples, if you have love for one another.” That is not only the essence of our relationship with God, it’s the essence of our relationship with each other.

“Simon Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, where are You going?’ Jesus answered, ‘Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.’ Peter said to Him, ‘Lord, why can I not follow You right now? I will lay down my life for You.’ Jesus answered, ‘Will you lay down your life for Me? Truly, truly, I say to you, a rooster will not crow until you deny Me three times.’” And he did.

Three separate occasions, and in each of the three occasions, there were multiple denials. All of them happened that one night at the trial of Jesus in the house of the high priest. Peter had already seen Christ twice, and a third time on the shore of Galilee, so he knew He was alive. But he still had serious doubts about himself, and our Lord had to go to the core of the issue. He had been told to go to Galilee and wait for the Lord. Instead, he went up there for a little while and then went back to his old career, and took all his friends with him.

“Let’s go back to fishing.” That’s what they did before it all began. “We know how to do that; let’s go back and do that.” That wasn’t God’s plan for them. That wasn’t the Lord’s will. So Peter needed to be restored, and we need to know what happens to Peter at the end of the story.

This is a public restoration, by the way, because he’s not alone here. Back in verse 2 you have a list of all of the other disciples who were with him: Thomas, Nathanael, James and John, Philip and Andrew most likely – the crew, for the most part, that were the fishermen, with the addition of Thomas. And our Lord has prepared breakfast for them after the wonderful, miraculous catch of fish, and it’s now time to set the standard for discipleship and He’s going to start with Peter. They’ve all been disobedient; Peter’s going to be the example.

Verse 15: “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,” – by the way, John always refers to him as Simon Peter, which kind of gives us the whole picture before and after. I think there may be one exception to that in John’s gospel. But he chooses to call him Simon Peter. “But Jesus says to him, ‘Simon, son of John.’”

Now that must have gotten his attention. That was his name before he met the Lord, and the Lord had given him another name. “You used to be Simon, now you’re Peter.” Peter was the Lord’s name for him. But Peter had fallen so far that the Lord is using his old name, because he’s acting like his old self. This is like when you did something wrong and your mother called you by your entire name.

This must have been a shock. Peter didn’t necessarily want to be pointed out, he would like to have blended into the group. But he is pointed out, the Lord calls him out, and three times asked him if he loves Him, one for each occasion of denial. For each time that he denied Him, he gets an opportunity to be restored. And here is the restoration, it’s as simple as this: “Simon, son of John,” – or Jonas – “do you love Me?” That’s the question. That’s always the question to ask a disobedient believer, because what is being manifest in any act of disobedience is love. And when you act disobediently, you’re declaring love for something other than Christ, and Peter had done that.

So He says, “Do you love Me more than these?” These what, these men? No, because they had all done the same thing. They were all guilty of a loveless disobedience. He means nets, boats, fish. “Do you love Me more than these things that go with your former life? Are you prepared to give this up, to abandon all your successes, your chosen career? Are you willing to give it all up? Do you love Me enough to do that?”

And the word He uses is agapaó. That’s that high love – the noblest, purest, best; the love of the will. We talk about agape love; that’s a noun form of it. It is love in its fullest sense, love in its deepest sense, love in its greatest sense, love, I guess you could say, in its purest form – divine love.

“Do you really love Me, Peter, at the highest level?” That is the critical question. And that is the key to commitment. It was John Calvin who said, “No man will steadily persevere in the discharge of his ministry unless the love of Christ shall reign in his heart.”

“Do you love Me enough to live for Me? Do you love Me enough to walk away from this? Are you constrained by loving Me? Do you have a love for Me” – in the words of Paul in Ephesians 6:24 – “that is incorruptible love? Do you really love Me in the fullest sense?”

So Peter replies, “He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’” But he changed the word. Jesus used the word agapaó, Peter used the word phileó, he dropped down a notch. Phileó is a kind of brotherly love, kind of warm affection, a friendship love.

Look, Peter couldn’t say, “Yes, You know that I love You at the highest level of love.” That just wouldn’t fly. I mean he had denied Him, and now He had disobeyed Him, and He had enough sense not to be an absolute hypocrite and say, “Of course, I love You at the highest level.” So he says, “Lord, I have great affection for You.” He dared not claim agapaó, but he did claim phileó. But even with that, he has to lean on omniscience: “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.”

Now some people think omniscience is frightening; I think it’s a blessing. You say, “Well, that means the Lord knows everything you’re thinking, the Lord knows all about you.” Absolutely. What a blessing that is, because even when we don’t demonstrate it, He knows we love Him.

I’m happy to allow Him to know the things that I wish He wouldn’t know if He can also know the things that I desperately want Him to know, that I love Him. And he had to appeal to the omniscience of the Lord. In a broken and a contrite spirit he refuses to acknowledge the love at the level our Lord put it. But he says, “I have a great affection for You. It’s not what it should be, but it’s real.”

This is amazing. He said to him, “Tend” – or – “feed” – boskó is the verb – “pasture My lambs, pasture My lambs.” Amazing. With a less than perfect love, with a less than ideal love, with a less than noble love, with a less than elevated love, the Lord accepts him and says, “Pasture My lambs. Feed My lambs.”

And I just want to call to your attention that personal pronoun is very important, because whoever we shepherd doesn’t belong to us. This is a calling that Peter reminds all of us about in 1 Peter 5 when he writes and he says, “We are all under-shepherds and Christ is the Chief Shepherd.”

If you’re in ministry, if you’re caring for any other believers in any way, you are shepherding His sheep, not yours. No congregation belongs to a pastor or an elder. No Sunday School class belongs to a teacher. No believers in a family belong, in a spiritual sense, to parents. They’re His. It’s a stewardship that in some ways is really frightening. That’s why in Matthew the Lord tells us to be careful how we treat each other, because not only do they belong to Christ, but Christ is in them. So many people don’t understand pastoral ministry as caring for His sheep.

“Peter, pasture My lambs. The most vulnerable, the most weak, the most prone to wander, the most delicate – I turn them over to you. Care for them.” That’s what pastoral ministry is. It’s not about the world, it’s not about how you handle a culture, it’s how you handle His sheep. “If you love Me, then give your life to shepherding My lambs – the most vulnerable, the most dangerous, the weakest.”

You say, “Well that’s wonderful that the Lord would settle for that.” It is, but He’s not done. Verse 16: “He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’” Same word agapaó. “He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ ‘Okay,’ He said to Him, ‘Shepherd My sheep, not just the little ones, but all the rest.’ In other words, ‘No more fishing; shepherd My sheep. This is your calling.’”

And then in verse 17, “He said to him a third time, ‘Simon, son of John,’ – again, painfully repeated three times – ‘do you love Me?’ – and with that word, He dropped down to Peter’s word – ‘Do you really phileó Me?’ – in other words, He’s questioning even that – ‘Do you really have strong affection for Me? Do you really?’” Peter’s deeds didn’t even support that.

Jesus probes deep into Peter. This is corrective surgery. It cuts deep, it’s painful, but it can be healed. “He says,” – says John – “Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time.” He’s not grieved because He said it three times; there were three denials. He’s grieved, because the third time He says, “Do you phileó Me?” and even questions that love. “And, again, he says, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep, tend My sheep, pasture My sheep. No more fishing. No more fishing. Your job is My little lambs, My sheep.’”

Back in chapter 10 He talked about how He loved the sheep, how He gave His life for the sheep, how the sheep knew Him and He knew them. And now He’s handing them over to Peter. “I’m entrusting you with them, and I need to know that you love Me more than you love this, so that you’re going to be faithful to give your life for them.” So three times Peter had the opportunity to tell the Lord he loved Him. You might have thought that the Lord would have discarded Peter at this point since Peter really couldn’t even defend, by his behavior, that lower level of love. But the Lord accepted him and said, “Pasture My sheep.”

We are truly clay pots. The Lord has to use those of us who have an inferior love. First Thessalonians 4 talks about how we’re taught of God to love in verse 9. And then verse 10 it says, “But you need to excel even more.” We’re told that our love should abound.

But this is where all Christian commitment starts: “Do you love Christ more than” – fill in the blank, whatever it is. “Do you love Him more? Then serve Him.” I can tell what you love by what you serve, what you do, what the priorities of your life are. A committed Christian is compelled, driven by love for Christ, and that shows up in his or her life, a life given to His flock.

Secondly – and this is equally important and builds on the first – a committed lives a life compelled by love for Christ, and secondly, characterized by sacrifice for Christ. This is costly love. I already quoted Luke 9:23, “If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross” – it could mean you’re going to die.

And that’s exactly what Peter hears in verse 18: “Truly, truly, I say to you,” – that’s been repeated many times in the gospel of John: truly, truly, a formula for something that is absolutely true – “I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished. You put on your own belt, you lived your life the way you wanted to. You had freedom, you called the shots, you did whatever you wanted to do. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”

He’s saying to Peter, “In the future, Peter, you’re going to be taken prisoner. You’re going to be bound and hauled off to a place you don’t want to go. Then” – He says – “you’re going to stretch out your hands” – that is a euphemism for crucifixion. That’s how people were crucified. He’s telling Peter, “When you get old, Peter, you’re going to be crucified. You’re going to be taken prisoner and you’re going to be crucified.”

How do I know that? Verse 19 says it: “Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God.” Peter finds out here he’s going to be a martyr. He’s going to be a crucified martyr. And you remember the story that tradition gives us, that when it came time for him to be crucified, he didn’t feel he was worthy to be crucified as the Lord was, so he asked to be crucified upside-down. “So, Peter, welcome back to the ministry. Go feed My sheep, go feed My lambs, and know this, that sometime in the future when you’re old, you’re going to be arrested, you’re going to be crucified.”

You might stop and say, “Well that is really bad news. Why would You tell him that? Why would you tell Him that? Better not to know, right, let it be a surprise.” No, it’s important to tell him that. He needed to know what? He needed to know that the next time he got in a life and death situation he would not deny his Lord. He needed to know that. He needed to know that when they took him and captured him, and tied him up, and stretched out his hands, and nailed him to a cross, he would glorify God.

I think he lived the rest of his life with a newfound confidence that overcame his self-doubt, because he had been such a failure at the trial of Christ. I think this put power into his life. I think this put hope into his heart. I think this added confidence to him and boldness. I think he may have otherwise feared that, “If I ever get into that situation again, what am I going to do?” and that would have sucked all of his confidence out. This is a great gift to this man: “You’re going to be arrested, crucified. You’re going to die, but in it, you’re going to glorify God.” Good news.

This is the ultimate sacrifice, and that’s how believers live. This is the extreme requirement for a committed life. Peter had said, Luke 22, “I’m ready to go with you to prison and death.” Didn’t work out that way first time; it would work out that way the last time. In the end, he will die for his Lord. This is a beautiful life-changing promise. Peter has to be ecstatic, thrilled. His heart has to be soaring. His hopes are flying. His boldness is being elevated as he heads toward a triumphant encounter with those who will kill him for his faithfulness to Christ. That’s what dedication is.

The third thing: a life that is truly dedicated to the Lord is compelled by love for Christ, characterized by sacrifice for Christ, and content with following Christ. The end of verse 19: “When Jesus had spoken the words about Peter’s death, He said this to him, ‘Follow Me! Follow Me!’” So important: “Follow Me!” Simple enough.

In a wonderful gesture, I think the Lord turned and started walking away, and Peter’s going to follow Him, at least for two steps, because in verse 20 it says, “Peter turning around.” What? This guy is incorrigible. “What are you turning around for?”

Well, he saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, you know, the one who leaned on Jesus at the supper, that’s John. He sees John, you know, John, the one who asked the question, “Lord, who’s the one at the table who’s going to betray You?” And verse 21, “Peter seeing John said to Jesus, ‘Lord, Lord, what about him? So I’m going to be crucified. What about him?’” Peter is a project. “What about him?”

I love the answer. “Jesus says to him” – in verse 22, it’s really hyperbole and sarcasm – ‘If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me! Look, if I decide he’s going to live till the second coming, it’s none of your business. Follow Me!’”

I mean this is the kind of focus that our Lord wants: “Follow Me! Don’t compare yourself with somebody else. Don’t ask what God has for somebody else, you just follow Me wherever that leads” – and for him, it’s going to lead to death. “What about John; it’s irrelevant. If I want him to live till the second coming, what is that to you?”

That would be interesting, wouldn’t it, if he were still here. Well, that’s what some people thought, verse 23: “Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die.” That’s gossip for you; they never get it right. It’s ridiculous, “John’s going to live till the second coming.”

The Lord has to straighten that out. Jesus didn’t say to him that he wouldn’t die, He just said, “If I want him to remain to come, what is that to you?” He had to correct a rumor, because if people actually believed Jesus said he wasn’t going to die and he died, then Jesus didn’t know, and they got it wrong. We’ve got to protect His integrity. “Peter, please, just follow Me. Don’t worry about John. Don’t worry about anybody else.” Like Paul, we’re not comparing ourselves with others, “Just follow Me.” First Timothy 4:16, “Take heed to yourself.” You’ve got plenty to work on right there.

Peter would be faithful, he would be focused. And, oh, by the way, John didn’t live till the second coming, he died on the Isle of Patmos at the end of the first century in exile. But he also was Peter’s companion, right? From the Day of Pentecost on to the first part of the book of Acts, it was Peter and John together.

So the Lord wasn’t saying, “You’re not going to have anything to do with John.” The Lord was saying to him, “You follow My plan for you, not My plan for him.” Peter was crucified upside-down; John lived much longer than Peter. God had a different plan; Christ had a different plan for John.

Peter is restored. And, oh, by the way, John, who is being referred to here, adds his own little final note in verse 24: “This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.” There is John saying, “The one that he was talking about, that’s me, and I’m the one who wrote all of this and it’s the truth.” The apostle authenticates his own gospel. The apostle authenticates his own gospel: “It’s the truth.” What a touching personal end.

And, again, why does it end this way? You know, we’ve been to the heights. We’ve been through the cross, through the resurrection. The glory of Christ has been demonstrated, verse 31, that culminating statement: “These things have been written that you may believe Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing might have life in His name,” – this great gospel reality.

And in the final chapter, we just come back down to earth and we meet these two guys. That is such a fitting ending, because the glory of the gospel eventually ends up with us, right, ends up with us and whether or not we’re going to love Christ, sacrifice for Him, and be content to follow Him.

And then a final word. There’s just one other question to ask: “Why didn’t John say more about Jesus?” Well, he says, “There are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself wouldn’t contain the books that would be written.”

Now that may seem like hyperbole to you, but we live in a fascinating technological world. Just your life alone and all the words you’ve ever said, ever written, have ever been sent to you, written about you; all the interaction you’ve ever had in this world; I read by the time you’re done with your life could fill 320 libraries; and that just you, and who cares, right?

And you understand that there are so many bits of data in the world that they’re literally uncountable. It’s amazing how one person with one mouth and one pen can generate the volume of experiences that could be written about, conversations that could be recorded, letters that could be repeated, copied. Oh, by the way, it’s all copied, it’s in the cloud; not God’s cloud, it’s in Google’s cloud. But it’s also in God’s cloud. And you would be amazed to know that even though you probably have a maximum of, oh, maybe 20,000 words in your vocabulary, that stretches into an almost infinite number of bits just to represent your one life.

John didn’t know all about that, but he did know that if everything Jesus ever did was written out in full, and everything He ever said was recorded, the world wouldn’t be able to contain it; it would have to be up in the cloud. Someday we’ll have access to that. When we get into God’s cloud and go to heaven, I think we’ll know the full story.

Father, we thank You again this morning for a wonderful opportunity to have our lives examined by Your Word, because that’s what it does, it shines a light on us. It discloses us. It is the revealer of the thoughts and intents of the heart. We thank You for the searchlight of Your precious Word. We thank You for the joy that it brings, the comfort, the encouragement, the counsel, the wisdom, the knowledge, the conviction, the correction. And we would all want to be like You wished Peter to be, motivated by love for You over love for anything and everything else, not loving the world or the things that are in the world, because then the Love of the Father’s not in us. But loving You, we want to be willing to sacrifice for You in life, and even in death if need be. And just in that simple way, we want to follow You, not asking about somebody else or what you have for them, but what You have for us.

Lord, we want to be used by You with all of our frailty. We feel like Peter. We want to say we love You. We can’t climb a mountain of that highest love and say we’ve reached the peak. It’s a lesser love that we claim, and that might even be questionable. But You know our hearts, You know we love You, and we want to serve You. We want to shepherd Your sheep and tend Your lambs. So, Lord, would You count us faithful, know our hearts, and know that we do love You. We are willing to sacrifice for You. We do desire to follow; and in so doing, may You find us useful to Your glory. This is our prayer.

Thank You for all that this wonderful gospel has meant to us and will continue to mean. And as the messages go out around the world in years to come, may they always accomplish Your purpose. And may it be that the testimony that John has written, as he said, will be seen as true, as true. And may the truth enlighten many, many souls to salvation, for Your glory. Amen.

How To Forgive Others without Fail?

forgive others without fail

March 12, 2021Author: Nehemiah Zion

Forgive others without fail. It is the best way to live.

Forgiveness is not possible for those who haven’t realised they have been forgiven by God. Those who truly believe in the forgiveness they received from God alone can forgive others.

It’s a supernatural trait, heavens character. Jesus’ journey from birth to the cross is God forgiving us, on behalf of us. When He did no sin, He took on all our sins so we could once again enjoy Him through the power of His resurrection.

This first requires an understanding of the damage of sin in our lives. Which comes to us when we are born again, drawn into a marvellous light in Christ. The selfless God, in Jesus, forgave us so we could be with Him for eternity.

Who can forgive others without fail?

The standard of forgiveness is revealed in Stephen, when he forgave those who stoned him and attacked him violently.

Paul was stoned and left for dead, yet he forgave all those who went against him. (Acts 14:19)

All the apostles went through great persecution for the sake of Christ. They were fruitful in their ministry because of living out the lifestyle of Jesus. Loving and forgiving one and all. The Thessalonian church amidst much persecution lived out their faith, in humility and lowliness of heart.

To be faithful and to minister, we need to forgive others. The Heavenly Father forgave us and so should we forgive all. The Father’s dwelling place has no room for bitterness, anger or hatred. It is a home full of love everlasting.

When our hearts are full of love for God, we will be quick to forgive and serve people for the Glory of God. Obedience to God’s word and being led by the Holy Spirit is the answer to staying focused, doing the will of God. God gives us the ability to forgive and move on in love.

Jesus is coming to take us home. Maranatha, Praise God and Amen.

Jesus Shed His Blood Seven Times

For Your Total Deliverance

Your Depression. The first time Jesus shed His blood was in the Garden of Gethsemane where He was praying and saw the agony of the cross that He would suffer for your sins and mine. He asked God, the Father, to take this cup from Him. At that time He bagan to sweat blood from his forehead and said, “Not my will but thine be done.” Jesus was in a great state of depression. When He shed His blood from the forehead (Luke 22:42-44 NKJV), it was for your depression and mine. So, if we trust in Him and he results of his blood, we will not suffer depression. Most of the world, today, is suffering from one form or another of worry. Depression and worry are not the same but exemplify similar manifestations. Worry causes stress on the heart. The number one killer in the world today is heart failure or heart attacks! If we only had faith in the blood Jesus shed!

Ugliness. The second time Jesus shed His blood for you and I, was when the Roman soldiers beat His face and plucked out His beard. The Bible teaches us that the soldiers boxed Jesus’ face and with their hands pulled out His beard until you could no longer recognize Him. (Isaiah 51 and Isaiah 53 NKJV) His own people, the religious world at that time, took part in beating Him—by their accusations. For God so loved the world He sent His Son and called Hime Jehovah Macca, meaning the smitten God.(Isaiah 53 NKJV) His precious face had to be beaten because of our ugliness. Without salvation through Jesus Christ, you and I are ugly to God. But when we accept the results of the shed blood, God no longer sees our ugliness, but now sees the beauty of Christ in our faces.(Luke 22:63-64 KJV)

For Our Physical Healing. The third time Jesus shed His blood was when the soldier carried Jesus into a courtyard and tied Him to a whiping post. His hands were tied over His head and the rope ran through an iron rung about twelve feet above the ground. Then the rope was pulled until His whole body was stretched and He was upon His tiptoes like a ballet dancer, and stripped of all His clothing. The Roman soldier proceeded with a whip that had many leather strips. He would dip the whip into goat’s blood, which caused it to be very stickey. Then he would roll the whip in pieces of pottery and metal, so that when you were whipped it would cut you very badly! (Matthew 27:26)

“By His stripes we are healed.”

The Bible teaches that Jesus was struck with that awful whip. His back and sides were like raw meat. Isaiah 53:4-5, and 1 Peter 2:24 tell us with His stripes we are healed. If we only had faith in Jesus’ shed blood. He paid for our sicknesses upon His back.”By His stripes we are healed” uses the word rapha, widely used in the Bible to mean “healing,” most of the time physical healing. That passage was quoted in the gospel when Peter healed his mother of a fever, a physical illness. So as I am typing this; do believe it refers to all diseases (mental, physical and spiritual) The author, himself, has witnessed many people who were dying of cancer, aids, and other horrible diseases come to the knowledg of the results of Jesus’ shed blood and be healed. I have, in my body, experienced many healings through the stripes on the bakc of Jesus Christ.

Curse Over Our Lives. The fourth time Jesus shed His blood was when they crowned His head with thorns. In Genesis, because of Adam’s rebellion, God put a curse upon he earth in the form of thorns and thistles. We have all at one time, rebelled agains God’s laws and commandments. The Bible teaches in Galatians 3:13Colossians 1:13-14 that through the shed blood God has redeemed us from the curse of the law. The word ‘Redeemed’ means to be bought back tor to be purchased from. Because of the blood Jesus shed, you and I have been redeemed from the curse. If only you will believe it!

God gave His Son because He loves you.

For Our Sorrows. The fifth time Jesus shed His blood was when they place a heavy patibulum on His already whipped and bleeding back. Then made Him walk up the pathway to Calvary Hill. This pathway is called, even today, the Via Dela Rosa or “The Way of Sorrows.” This heavy pantibulum caused the blood to flow more from the back of Jesus. His blood was shed for mine and your sorrows or burdens.(Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV) If you are burdened downs with dadness and grief, Jesus will lighten your load and give you joy and peace. (John 16:3-24 and John 16:33 NKJV) You are probably thinking you are not worthy of this Man’s suffering, I did. But the truth is no one is worthy. God gave His Son because He loves you. Just have faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ.

To The Cross. The sixth time Jesus shed His blood, was on top of Calvary when they drove spikes, or nails into His hands and feet. The bible teaches us in Colossians 1:17-23Colossians 2:6-14 when they nailed Jesus to the cross. If we have faith in the blood He shed, then we would understand our sins were also nailed to that cross. Praise God forever!

Born Again. The seventh time Jesus shed His blood was, again on the cross, when the Roman soldier took a spear and pierced His side. Blood and water came forth. To me, this is the most beautiful part. The picture of this is in Genesis, when God took Adam, put him to sleep, took a rib from his side to make woman, or a bride for Adam. Yes, you can see it now! Jesus was put to sleep and pierced in His side so the church could be born out of His death, burial and resurrection. The Bible calls Jesus the last Adam (a quickening spirit) or the second man, being the Lord from Heaven. (I Corinthians 15:45-49) Because of our faith in the shed blood of Jesus we are born Again! The Bible says you must be born again to enter Heaven’s gates. (John 3:5-6 NKJV) Accept what Jesus’ blood has done for you and be born again.

It Is Finished. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. (John 19:30 NKJV) Jesus took His blood to heaven (Hebrews 10) and sprinkled it upon the mercy seat of God, so that you and I can enter heaven’s gates boldly and with confidence (Hebrews 10:19 NKJV), knowing that we are the sons and daughters of the Living God and His blood is forever working on mine and your behalf.

I found this in a book on my shelf entitled Words Are Seeds by Richard Owens. I hope you find a blessing in this. Happy Resurrection Sunday! Until next week…Blessings and Peace.

VIDEO I Am the Light of the World

John MacArthur Mar 2, 2014

Open your Bible now to the eighth chapter of the Gospel of John.  It has been a profound blessing in my own life to be preparing these messages in the Gospel of John and spend time in this truth, and at the same time, it is a challenge to articulate for you what has been embedded in my own heart.  So I always ask for the Lord’s help in delivering the truth.  We come in coming to chapter 8 to a familiar story.  The story of Jesus and the woman taken in adultery.  And the very familiar line, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”

And at this particular point, I face a decision, which I’ve already made, and I’ll explain.  This familiar story, which actually embraces the last verse in chapter 7, the one that says everyone went to his home, this familiar story does not appear in the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament.  It does not appear in any of them at all.  Manuscript study is very important to guaranteeing the truthfulness of the text.  There are about 25,000 New Testament manuscripts, ancient manuscripts.

The oldest of those uniformly do not contain this story.  And so you will find in your Bible probably a note in the margin that says, “Later manuscripts added this,” and that is correct.  Because we have so many manuscripts, there’s really little doubt that this was added later.  If something isn’t in the oldest and shows up later, obviously it was added. 

There’s nothing in this story that is un-Christ like or unlike the behavior of Jesus.  There’s really nothing in the story that’s unlike the behavior of the religious leaders.  It’s a wonderful story of forgiveness.  Very likely, something like this happened and was passed down orally from person to person to person, and eventually, someone decided that the story ought to find its way into the New Testament, even though it wasn’t in the original.

And so they put it there.  In most old manuscripts, it is placed here.  But sometimes in Old Manuscripts, we find it somewhere else in the Gospel of John, and we even find it sometimes in the Gospel of Luke.  So apparently, it was a story that floated around that somebody decided should find its way into the New Testament. 

The problem with that is the church from its earliest years has known it didn’t belong there.  In fact, if you’re looking for ancient commentaries on this story written by church fathers and leaders, you won’t find one until the 12th century.  And even when you start to find the commentary in the 12th century, the notation is made that this doesn’t appear in the earliest manuscripts.  Why is it here?  Because somebody put it in.  Why is it in your Bible now?

Because once it found its way in, it became traditionally a part of Scripture, and apparently, Bible translators are unwilling to remove it, so they just put a notation.  I’m happy to tell you that when this does happen, and it happens here, and it happened also at the end of Mark, there is a similar addition to the Gospel of Mark in the 16th chapter from verse 9 on.  I’m happy to tell you we know they are additions because we have those ancient manuscripts. 

Consequently, we know that the Holy Spirit has then enabled us to preserve the true text.  I have written some notes about this story in the study Bible footnotes.  I’ve written something about this in the commentary on John in deference to people who would be interested in some kind of an interpretation, but the problem is if it didn’t appear in the original text, then it is not inerrant.  There’s no guarantee that it’s accurate.  There’s no guarantee that it’s without error, like every other part of Scripture.

Furthermore, it interrupts the story that’s going on here.  I guess you could call this internal evidence.  It interrupts the story.  We are at this point starting in chapter 7 with Jesus at the feast of tabernacles.  It lasted a week in the fall of his final year, six months from the cross.  We have been going through the events when he arrived in the middle of the week, went to the temple and began to teach.  What follows this story in verse 12 is part of the ministry that Jesus had during the feast of tabernacles. 

So this interrupts those events and the obvious sequence.  It should go from verse 52 to chapter 7 immediately to verse 12 of chapter 8.  So that’s what we’re going to do this morning.  Let me begin reading in verse 12.  By the way, for a more extensive explanation of that, you can check the McArthur commentary on John or any other commentary for that matter.  Let’s begin at verse 12. 

“Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, ‘I am the light of the world.  He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.’  So the Pharisee said to Him, ‘You’re testifying about yourself.  Your testimony is not true.’  Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true for I know where I came from and where I am going, but you do not know where I come from or where I cam going.  You judge according to the flesh.  I’m not judging anyone.  But even if I do judge, my judgment is true, for I am not alone in it, but I am the Father who sent me.  Even in your law, it has been written that the testimony of two men is true.  I am he who testifies about myself and the father who sent me testifies about me.’”

“So they were saying to Him, ‘Where is your father?’  Jesus answered, ‘You know neither me nor my father.  If you knew me, you would know my father also.’  These words He spoke in the treasury as He taught in the temple, and no one seized Him because His hour had not yet come.  Then He said again to them, ‘I go away, and you will seek me and will die in your sins.  Where I am going, you cannot come.’”  We’ve already seen this conflict escalating, and it will escalate fiercely through this chapter in John and through the final six months of Jesus’ life until it reaches the full flame in passion week and takes him to the cross in God’s perfect time.  But the things that Jesus said were the things that kept escalating the animosity of the religious leaders.  And one of those statements is found here in verse 12.

When Jesus said, “I am the light of the world,” they knew exactly what He was claiming, exactly.  This is one of the I am statements in the Gospel of John, of which there are seven.  This is a notable one and a memorable one and one with which we’re all familiar.  But I don’t think we may fully understand the essence of this and the way those Jewish leaders received it.  I’m going to help you with that, I hope, but let’s break the little narrative down into some subsection so we can kind of track our way.

Let’s start with the area.  The area, that would be the first point to consider, and for that, I want to take you to verse 20.  When I say the area, I mean the exact location where these words were uttered.  These words He spoke in the treasury as He taught in the temple.  I want to start there because that sets up absolutely everything.  These are remarkable words, but Jesus doesn’t just speak these words out of nowhere.  There is a compelling scenario that He captures, and we saw that already back in chapter 7, verses 37 to 39 when He talked about being the living water, and He said that at a moment when they were going through a ritual remembering the provision of water in the wilderness, which was a daily part of the celebration of the feast of tabernacles, which was designed to commemorate the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness.  And Jesus, when He said that He was the living water and if anybody drank of that water they would never thirst was contrasting that spiritual water with the water being poured out in the ritual.

He had a way of capturing the moment, turning it to himself, and He does it again here.  So it’s really critical to know exactly where He is.  He’s in the temple, and a section of the temple where the treasury existed.  Now one of the things that people did when they came to the temple was give money, and there was a massive courtyard in the temple that had 13 receptacles around the entire area.  Thirteen of them.  It was in the courtyard called The Court of the Women.

There was a courtyard beyond that, and that would be the Court of the Gentiles where anybody could come and traffic.  But once you left the Court of the Gentiles and came in, it was for Jews or duly processed proselytes, men and women.  But women could go no further.  They couldn’t go into the next court.  They could go into the Court of the Women.  So naturally, they put all the places to give an offering where both the men and women could come.  It was in that very place that the widow gave her last two coins.  The first court, again, is the Court of the Gentiles.  The second is the Court of the Women where the women are allowed to go.  The next would be the Court of the Priests, and that’s restricted.

Restricted even to men who went in to offer sacrifices with the priest.  And around the porch of this massive Court of the Women where there would be tens of thousands of people at this particular time in the feast of tabernacles because they came from everywhere, there were 13 allocated places to give money, and according to historians, they were trumpet shaped, which means probably they had a larger opening and funneled down, and the money went into some kind of container.

They were very specific as to their connection.  Number one and number two trumpet receptacle was designed for the half shackle temple tax that everyone had to pay.  Number three and number four were where women put money to purchase the two pigeons that they needed to offer to purify themselves from childbearing. 

Number five was where the money went to purchase the wood for the fire on the alter.  Number six also for the incense in the alter.  Five and six then for things related to the sacrifices.  Number seven was designated as the receptacle to keep up the golden vessels of the temple.  To hire the people to clean them and have money to replace them.  Then you have eight through 13.  Those were for the general fund.  Anything and everything else.  There’s where Jesus is.  He’s in this Court of the Women.  It would be the most packed court in the temple.  Just keep that in mind.

At some opportune moment, go back to verse 12.  “He spoke to them again, as He had been speaking.  ‘I am the light of the world,’ he said.  ‘He who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.’”  He didn’t say, “I am a light in the world,” which some rabbi or some teacher might say that He was a light in the darkness.  He said, “I am the light.”  He didn’t say, “I am a light in Jerusalem.”  He didn’t say, “I am a light in Judah.”  Some teacher might say that.  He said, “I am the light of the world.”

This is exclusive.  This is all encompassing.  More importantly, this is a direct claim to be the Messiah, and they knew it.  They were very, very familiar with the Messianic promises that came through the Prophet Isaiah, and in Isaiah 42, 49, 50, and 53, you have Messianic chapters of Isaiah in which the Messiah is called the slave of Yahweh or the servant of Jehovah.   And in chapter 42, you have this prophecy about Messiah.  You will be familiar with it where the Father speaks of Messiah, His servant, His slave.  “Behold my slave, whom I uphold my chosen one, in whom my soul delights.  I have put my Spirit upon him.”  There is a prophecy of the Messiah’s coming and His empowering by the Holy Spirit.

It goes on to speak of things concerning Him.  All of this, verse 5, “Thus says God the Lord who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and its offspring who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it.  I am the Lord,” and He’s speaking now to His Messiah.  “I have called you in righteousness.  I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people as a –” what?  Light to the world.

“As a light to the nations.  To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon, and those who dwell in darkness from the prison.  I am the Lord.  That is my name.”  He says that the servant of Jehovah, the Messiah, will be the light of the world.  Again, in Isaiah 49, here again this servant of Jehovah is presented.  Verse 5, “And now says the Lord who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to bring Jacob or Israel back to Him so that Israel might be gathered to him, for I am honored in the site of the Lord and my God as my strength,” he says, “Is it too small a thing that you should be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel?  And not just Israel.  I will also make you a light of the nations so that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth,” thus says the Lord, “The redeemer of Israel and its holy one.”  This is from God.  Messiah will be the light of the world.  When Jesus says, “I am the light of the world,” he is making the claim to be the prophesied Messiah.  To be, in the words of Malachi, the son of righteousness who is now rising with healing in his beams.

John even begins his gospel with reference to this.  “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.  In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.  There was that true light, which coming into the world enlightens every man.”  So right at the very outset of his gospel, he identifies the coming Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the light.  The light and the life. 

The light, of course, is a magnificent metaphor.  Light is the active power that dispels darkness.  And Jesus Christ is the light of truth that dispels the darkness of falsehood.  Jesus Christ is the light of wisdom that dispels the darkness of ignorance.  Jesus Christ is the light of holiness that dispels the darkness of impurity.  Jesus Christ is the light of joy that dispels the darkness of sorrow.

Jesus Christ is the light of life that dispels the darkness of death.  When He says, “I am the light of the world,” He even uses the tetragrammaton, the I am.  The claim to be God, and the claim to be Messiah.  To say, “I am the light of the world,” is to identify yourself as God.  Psalm 27:1.  The psalm has said, “The Lord is might light and my salvation.”  First John 1:5 says, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.”  They understood what he was saying.  He was claiming to be God.  He was claiming to be the Messiah, the light. 

But the question comes up why here, why now?  Why does he say that?  Now we learned back in our last message, chapter 7, verse 37, when He said, “If anyone is thirsty, let Him come to me and drink,” and then spoke about the rivers of living water that would flow from the innermost being of those who came to Him. 

We know why He said that there because He was capturing that moment of the pouring out of the water, and He turned it to himself.  Well He does the same thing here, and so in order to grasp this amazing moment, it’s really important to understand another ritual at the feast of tabernacles, another very important ritual.  He could have said, “I am the light,” just out of nowhere, and of course, it would have made sense in the world of darkness.  We all understand that.  All of us are characterizing Ephesians 5:11 as doing the unfruitful works of darkness.  “We walk in darkness.  The way of the wicked is darkness,” the Scripture says.  “The foolish heart is darkened.  We are darkened in our understanding and excluded from the life of God.”  Scripture talks about that frequently.  It’s a common description.

We have been delivered out of the domain of darkness, so there was certainly theological understanding of the notion of darkness.  Even Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament said, “The fool walks in darkness.”  Isaiah said, “Men substitute darkness for light.”  So I suppose Jesus could have just popped up and said, “I am the light of the world,” and it would have had some impact because people use the metaphor of darkness for the disastrous reality of the human condition even then.

But there’s far more going on here than that.  Far more.  And let me help you with that.  When the feast of tabernacles began, candelabras were set up all through the Court of the Women.  Candelabras really all around the Court of the Women.  As far as historians say, they literally filled the Court of the Women with the capability of light.  Every night, they would go around, and they would light these large candles, and they would burn all night. 

This was actually called by the Jews the illumination of the temple.  And the reason they did was because remember now, the feast of tabernacle is they’re celebrating what?  They’re celebrating the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness.  And how did they know where to go in the wilderness?  They were led by light.  They were led by a pillar of fire at night and a lighted cloud in the daytime.  This was the light that led them in the wilderness.  To commemorate that, they had this illumination of the temple, and they lit all these candles and let them burn all night.

There’s some interesting descriptions of it by historians, ancient historians who describe it as a stunning vision, like a diamond in the midst of the city of Jerusalem was the temple ground with like floodlights coming up across its perimeter walls.  Every night they were lit, the temple became a flashing diamond, a symbol of the pillar of fiery light and cloud that led them in the wilderness.  Some have said they actually quoted Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6.  “I will be a light to the nations.” 

I can visualize Jesus standing there.  “Maybe they’re just lighting them.”  We don’t have the exact moment.  “Maybe they’re just lighting them.”  Or maybe He’s there earlier in the day, and they’ve been extinguished.  And maybe He looks at those extinguished Candelabras and says, “I’m the light of the world, and I never go out.  If you follow me, the light will never go out.  You will never walk in the darkness.  But you will have the light of life.”  It’s a profound moment.  “I’m the light that never is extinguished.  And as the pillar of light in the day and the night led Israel to the promised land, I am the light that will lead you to the kingdom.  I will lead you to God, to heaven, to everlasting life.  It’s not a light to be looked at.  Not a light to be admired.  It’s a light to be followed.  It moves.  It’s to be followed.”

Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let me deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.”  He said to His disciples, “Follow me.”  They followed the cloud, they followed the pillar, and they were led to the promised land.  That whole generation died, of course, and only the next were able to go in.  Jesus said, “If you follow me, you will go in.  You follow me, this will light you all the way to – you receive the full promise of eternal life.”  So rather dramatically and beautifully and powerfully and effectively does Jesus capture the crowd and the stunning temple ritual turns to Him.

“I know the way out of darkness,” He says.  “I know the way out of the darkness of ignorance.  I know the way out of the darkness of sin.  I know the way out of the darkness of sadness and sorrow.  I know the way out of the darkness of death.  Follow me, and I will lead you to life, eternal life.”  What does it mean to follow?  Just the word itself.  Follow me.  The way it’s used in ancient usage, it’s used of a soldier following his commander as the believer follows Christ as his sole commander.  It’s used of a slave following his master as the believer is to do the same.

It’s used of someone following a wise counselor.  It’s used of someone following the law obediently.  It’s used of a student following the teacher’s line of argument.  That’s what it means to follow all of those things, to follow Christ as a soldier follows his commander, as a slave follows his master, as a person in ignorance follows a wise counselor.  As a disobedient sinner turns to follow the law obediently.  As a student follows the teacher’s line of reasoning and argument.

To be a follower is to give yourself totally to Christ.  To say with the psalm, “The Lord is my light and my salvation.”  Where as it also says in the Old Testament, “The Lord shall be an everlasting light.”  “Follow me,” Jesus said, “and I’ll lead you to the heavenly promised land.  I’ll be the light, the true light.”  It might interest you to know that the rabbis even declared that Messiah’s name is light.  They knew what Isaiah was saying.  So Jesus is claiming not only to be the I am, not only to be God who is the true light, but to be the Messiah prophesied.  So we go from the area to the assertion.  That’s what he asserts.  It’s a powerful, dramatic moment.  Captivating the people, and they understand. 

Certainly the leaders understood because you see the antagonism that rises immediately.  The antagonism appears in verse 13.  So the Pharisee said to him, “You’re testifying about yourself.  Your testimony is not true,” which is to say you can’t do that.  That’s not how it works.  They accused Jesus of an invalid claim because He’s making it for Himself.  You’re just boasting.  Why should we believe you?  There are no witnesses to confirm this. 

This is another calculated attack, and of course, they’re saying essentially this is an illegal claim because you cannot claim anything, and we cannot confirm it to be true unless it is confirmed by at least what, two witnesses.  And that’s exactly what Jesus refers to later in the discussion.  Verse 17.  “Even in your law, it has been written that the testimony of two men is true.”  So they go onto that legal aspect, this calculated attack.  It’s biblical law.  You have to have at least two witnesses.  You can’t possibly think that just because you say it, it’s true.  In fact, it’s invalidated because there are no confirming witnesses. 

This is how unbelief operates, by the way.  Unbelief never has enough proof.  His words alone should have been convincing enough.  They had enough hearing of His words to know that He spoke like no other person ever spoke, and that’s exactly what was reported to them by the soldiers they sent to arrest Him in the last chapter.  His works, ubiquitous works of healing, power over disease, demons, death, and nature.  His effect.  But unbelief never has enough proof.

Go back to chapter 7 verse 17.  “If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak for myself.”  If you’re willing to know the truth, you’ll know the truth.  If you’re willing, you will know the teaching.  They weren’t willing.  Their unbelief begat ignorance.  Now you can be an unbeliever because you’re ignorant.  That’s a better situation.  Because if we can just remove the ignorance, perhaps you’ll believe.

But the worst possible scenario is to be ignorant because you’re an unbeliever so that when you’re given the proof, your unbelief locks you into your ignorance.  That was then.  They weren’t unbelievers because of ignorance.  They were ignorance because of unbelief.  They didn’t process anything He said.  They didn’t connect any of the evidences, which were replete.  They just wanted Him trapped and dead.  And I would just say, generally speaking, that you want to be very careful if you’re rejecting Jesus Christ in unbelief.  You’re in a safer condition if your unbelief is because you’re ignorant than you are if your ignorance is because of your unbelief.

That’s terminal.  Because if ignorance has been met with truth and you’re unwilling to see it, you are locked into the kind of ignorance that is hopeless.  John 7:17, “If you’re willing, the truth is there.”  The truth is there.  Are you willing?  When somebody says, “I don’t believe the gospel.  I don’t believe Jesus is the son of God.  I don’t believe in Him as the Savior,” there’s usually two things to say.  Number one, “That’s such an amazing and such an astute conclusion.  You must have studied the Bible intensely for years to come to that conclusion.”

Because the world is full of people and has been for centuries who have studied it deeply their whole lives and are convinced He is who He said He was.  So for you to overturn that, you must have made some kind of an extensive and erudite effort to understand everything in Scripture.  That’s not true.  That’s a very humiliating thing to say to someone who probably hasn’t even read the New Testament.  The second thing you’d want to say is, “Are you willing?  Are you willing?  Is your unbelief because of ignorance so that if ignorance is removed, you’re willing?”  These weren’t.  There Pharisees, these leaders, they weren’t.

So you go from the antagonism to the answer in verse 14.  Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true.”  You know, Deuteronomy 19:15, another passage in Deuteronomy, talk about two or three witnesses.  That’s for people who are liars.  That works for us because we’re all liars.  We all live in a world of lies and deception.  We’ve got to confirm things with several people hoping to get the truth.

But that doesn’t apply to God.  Jesus said, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true.  I’m not subject to those laws that are meant for a world of liars.  I know where I came from, and I know where I’m going,” and He’s saying there, “I’m eternal.  I’m transcendent.”  “The law was made for man, not for God.  The Sabbath was made for man, not for God.  I speak the truth because of who I am.”  So His answer is, “First of all, my claim is valid because of who I am and where I’m from and where I am going.”

We know where he’s from.  The Word became flesh and dwelled among us, but it was the eternal Word who was with God.  And I know where I’m going, John 17.  “Father, restore me to the glory I had with you before the world began.  I came from the Father.  I’m going back to the Father, but you don’t know where I come from or where I’m going.”  In fact, they didn’t even know what town He was from.  They thought He was from Nazareth.  They never bothered to check.  Why would they?

Their unbelief confined them to a willful ignorance.  They never looked at the records to see that He was born in Bethlehem where Messiah is to be born, and He was of the line of David, both father and mother.  And you remember that discussion from our last message.  So first of all, He says, “You don’t know anything about me, even temporally.  You don’t even know what town I’m from.”  Back in chapter 7, verse 28, He cried out on the temple teaching saying, “You both know me and know where I’m from.”  He’s saying that sarcastically.

We know where you’re from.  You’re from Galilee.  You’re from Nazareth.  The Messiah doesn’t come from there.  He says, “You think you know me and where I’m from?  I’ve not come of myself, but He who sent me is true whom you do not know.  I know Him because I am from Him and He sent me.”  And they were trying to seize Him, kill Him.  He’s saying it again.  When He says, “I know where I came from,” they know He means God.  And I know where I’m going.  Back to God. I’m transcendent.  I’m eternal.  I am God. 

Their denial of His testimony is willful ignorance.  Ignorance is cheap. Ignorance is common, and ignorance in the face of evidence is terminally deadly.  Jesus says, “You judge according to the flesh.”  Verse 15.  You judge according to the flesh.  Your judgment is superficial.  By the way, they judged everyone.  That’s what Jesus referred to in Matthew 7.  A sermon on the mount when He said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.”  Stop the judgment.  The final judgment is at your rendering.  That’s what the leaders were doing on everybody, but they judge according to the flesh.

You don’t know me.  You don’t know me at all, and yet you sit in judgment on me and judgment on my testimony.  All you know is external.  All you know is physical, and you don’t even know the town I came from.  You haven’t even checked the temple records.  You don’t even know what you could know.  And you’re the judge of my like you’re the judge of everybody else. 

Verse 15, He then says, “I’m not judging anyone,” in that way he means.  “I don’t judge in the flesh.”  Apostle Paul, you know, in 2 Corinthians 5:16 said, “I judge no man in the flesh.”  What did he mean by that?  He meant I don’t judge people superficially.  If you’re a Christian, you judge people spiritually.  You don’t judge people superficially.  You judge them spiritually.

Pharisees judge superficially, behavior.  Jesus said, “I don’t judge that way.”  But, verse 16, “Even if I do judge, my judgment is true.”  And by the way, He will judge.  Back to chapter 5, verse 22, “And following all judgment is given to Him, and one day, He will raise all the dead to a judgment of life and a judgment of condemnation, and the Father has given all judgment into His hand, and He will judge.

But according to verse 30 of that fifth chapter, “He will judge in perfect harmony with the Father.  Next time He comes, He will come as the judge.”  Back in chapter 3, He said He didn’t come to judge, but to save the first time.  “I’m not here to judge, but if I do judge, my judgment is true, for I am not alone in it, but I and the father who sent me.  I judge in accord with the Father.”  John 5:30.  He says exactly the same thing. 

And then He goes to the second point.  Not only because of who I am from heaven going back to heaven, sent by God going back to God in perfect coordination and harmony with God.  Then there’s a second reason, and at this point, He exceeds to their expectation.  Okay, even in your own law, it has been written that the testimony of two men is true.  I’ll give you that.  I am He who testifies about myself, and the Father who sent me testifies about me.  There’s two.  You want two?  You have two.  Myself and the Father.  Myself and the Father.  This again is an infuriating claim, very much like the claim he made back in chapter 5.   My Father is working until now and I am working, and they wanted to kill Him because He was making himself equal with God. 

Here He says, “I judge and my father Judges.  I testify and the Father testifies.  Two reasons that my claim is valid.  Number one, who I am, and number two, the testimony that my Father corroborates.”  And of course, their response is predictable.  Verse 19, they were saying to Him, “Where is your father?”  Scorn, ridicule, sarcasm, mockery.  I don’t know whether they were throwing some slur at Him as an illegitimate child, which of course appears in ancient times.  I don’t know whether they were mocking the fact that no one knew His father because His father was long dead by the time He was in ministry.  I don’t know really what they were saying, but it was intended as scornful mockery.  “Where is your father?”

Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my Father.  If you knew me, you would know my Father also.  You don’t know me.  You don’t know my Father.  You wouldn’t know God if he came up to you.  You don’t know Him.  You don’t know me.”  Back in chapter 5, he said similar words.  In verse 23, “If you don’t honor me, you don’t honor the Father.”  Later, he will say to the disciples, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.”  But this is the final insult.  They prided themselves on knowing God.  They knew God better than anyone.  He says, “You don’t know Him at all.” 

Matthew 11:27 says, “The son reveals the father.”  You don’t know God.  You don’t know Him at all.  This is a devastating statement.  This is a characterization of the leadership of Judaism in the time of Christ.  They didn’t know God at all.  Still true of those who reject the Savior.  So that was the answer, devastating answer.  Verse 20 then, we already looked at these words He spoke in the treasury as He taught in the temple.

They are now so infuriated that again, again, they want to seize Him to kill Him.  But they can’t.  They tried three times in chapter 7 unsuccessfully.  They can’t because His hour had not yet come.  He’s on a divine schedule.  They can’t do a thing.  Final statement is the avenging.  The avenging, verse 21.  Then He said to them again, “I go away.  You’ll seek me.  You’ll die in your sin.  Where I’m going, you cannot come.”  That’s final.  Earlier, He said, “I’m not going to be around long.  I’m just going to be here a little while,” as if there’s still some time.  Here we are only hours later, at the most, days.  “Your ignorance is confirmed.  It’s willful, and it’s the product of your unbelief in the face of the revelation.”  We know how extreme their rejection was because they attributed what He did to Satan.

So He said, “I’ll go away.”  Not six months from then, but as far as they were concerned, He was gone.  “You will seek me.”  You know, that’s the horror of lostness.  And I told you that last time.  Hell is where you now know finally who you need and you seek but never find.  That’s why there’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Where I go, you cannot come.  You will die in your sin. 

I want to close with just a look at chapter 12 because I think it ties this together, and I won’t take long because time is up.  Chapter 12, and we’ll obviously get to it, but for now, verse 35.  Verse 35 is a good concluding portion.  So Jesus said to them this just before His last supper with the disciples in John 13 at the end.  “For a little while longer, the light is among you.  Walk while you have the light so the darkness will not overtake you.  He who walks in the darkness doesn’t know where he goes.  While you have the light, believe in the light so that you may become sons of light.”

That’s the cry, isn’t it?  It’s the same thing He says in chapter 8.   But what’s so stunning is immediately in verse 36, it says, “These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid himself from them.  They didn’t have much time.  “Believe now, or I’m gone.’  And He hid himself.”  Verse 37 explains why.  “Though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him.”  Was that a shock to God?  No, it was a fulfillment of prophecy.  It fulfilled the word of Isaiah who said, “Lord who has believed our report, to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” 

For this reason, they couldn’t believe.  They wouldn’t believe, and now what?  They couldn’t believe.  For Isaiah said He is – this is from Isaiah 6, the first one from Isaiah 53.  “He has blinded their eyes, hardened their hearts so they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart and be converted, and I heal them.”  These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory and he spoke of Him.

Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 6 is a prophecy of Jesus being rejected, and then God rejecting the rejecters.  But thankfully, verse 42, many even of the rulers believed in Him, say, “That’s good.”  Not so good, but because of the Pharisees, they were not confessing him for fear they would be put out of the synagogue, for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.  What a sad reality.  He is the light of the world, the only light.  Walk in the light or experience darkness forever.  Lord, thank you again for the truth, the compelling and powerful word of Scripture comes through to us as always.

And we bow beneath its glory, its urgency.  Help us to understand how serious these truths are.  Believe while you can, come to the light while the light is available before it is hidden, and the one who would not believe cannot ever believe.  Willful blindness becomes judicial blindness.  Lord, may the light shine on hearts today.  May Christ be the light of life.  May many follow Him.  Not walk in darkness, but follow Him all the way to that glorious light of heaven.

Father, now we ask that you would use these things that we have learned today to enlighten us and to open the hearts of some who perhaps have been and still are in the darkness and to make us all aware of how important it is to be lights in the world, for this terrible darkness that binds men’s hearts.  Use us, Lord, to be the light.  We thank you for that great privilege.  Do it by your power, we pray.  In Christ’s name.

MIT chaplain forced to resign after citing George Floyd’s rap sheet to students


Although the priest argued for forgiveness, the message was lost on students

The Archdiocese of Boston forced Daniel Moloney to resign from his chaplain role at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology after students and alumni complained that Moloney brought up George Floyd’s past criminal history in an email to students.

Although Moloney, a Catholic priest, was making an argument that Floyd’s past should not justify his death, the fact that he brought up Floyd’s rap sheet at all prompted some to protest the chaplain’s message to campus officials and file bias complaints over it.

“George Floyd was killed by a police officer, and shouldn’t have been,” Moloney wrote in his June 7 email to the Tech Catholic Community, a group of Catholic students on campus.

“He had not lived a virtuous life. He was convicted of several crimes, including armed robbery, which he seems to have committed to feed his drug habit. And he was high on drugs at the time of his arrest. But we do not kill such people. He committed sins, but we root for sinners to change their lives and convert to the Gospel,” the priest wrote.

“ … In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism. I don’t think we know that. Many people have claimed that racism is major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.”

The e-mail was republished in its entirety by New Boston Post.

Although Moloney’s argument aimed to promote justice and forgiveness, that message seemed lost on many of its readers.

An article in The Tech campus newspaper reports that MIT’s dean for student life, Suzy Nelson, said administrators and the bias response team received reports about Moloney’s email.

In an email to student and faculty leaders June 12, Nelson wrote Moloney’s message “contradicted the Institute’s values” and “was deeply disturbing” and that “by devaluing and disparaging George Floyd’s character,” Moloney did not “acknowledge the dignity of each human being and the devastating impact of systemic racism” on “African Americans, people of African descent, and communities of color,” The Tech reports.

The Archdiocese of Boston told Moloney to resign from his role as chaplain at the school on June 9, according to the Boston Globe. The move came after more than 60 people attended a forum hosted by Tech Catholic Community on June 9, according to the school newspaper.

Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the archdiocese, told WBZ-TV “While Fr. Moloney’s comments should not reflect on the entirety of his priestly ministry, they nonetheless were wrong and by his resignation he accepts the hurt they have caused.”

Moloney told the Boston Globe on June 16, “I regret what happened, I regret it was misunderstood, I regret that [it] became difficult for me to be a voice for Christ on campus.”

Moloney is a published author at First Things, The Wall Street Journal and National Review. He used to work at the Heritage Foundation as a senior policy analyst for the DeVos Center for Religion and Society. His doctoral dissertation focused on justice and mercy, the subject of a recent book he published as well. He also maintains an active Tumblr page but has not explicitly addressed the controversy on it.

MORE: Conservative prof says seminary used COVID as excuse to get rid of him

MIT chaplain forced to resign after citing George Floyd’s rap sheet to students


AUDIO Gamblers At The Cross

by Rev Bill Woods

On Monday, April 12, 2021, both chambers of the Arizona Legislature passed bills that would legalize sports betting in Arizona.

–           On Thursday, April 15, Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill to allow sports betting to become legal in Arizona.

–           During the event, Ducey also signed a new gambling compact agreement with the Tribal Nations which the governor and the tribes called a historic agreement.

The Diamondbacks, Suns, Cardinals, and Coyotes will all have licenses to operate on-site sports betting at their arenas.

–   The Phoenix Open and NASCAR will also have sports betting available at tribal casinos.

We’re not talking about $10’s of millions.  We’re talking about $100’s of millions according to State Representative, Jeff Weninger, of Chandler District 17.

Arizona joins 25 other states, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico in legalizing sports wagering.

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed state lawmakers to decide whether or not it would be legal in their specific states.

The Federal Government and the Bureau of Indian Affairs still need to sign off on the bill, but it’s thought that’s just a formality.

–  The whole process could take as little as 90 days.

The Phoenix Suns announced Thursday, they have partnered with the sports betting app, FanDuel, which will have a luxury sportsbook retail location inside the Suns arena.

Legalizing sports betting will forever change the sports and entertainment landscape in Arizona and, I feel, opens a Pandora’s Box for crime and all kinds of corruption.

– We already have big problems with the Cartel.  This will just open other avenues for them to operate.

Today the State of Arizona and the Bureau of Indian Affairs are pleased with their decision to open sports gambling State-wide.-  It’s going to bring so much more revenue to their coffers! 

–  I think the day will come when they’ll question if that was such a great decision.

Speaking of gambling caused my mind to race back to the biggest gamble to have ever happened in history.

– The gambling that was done at Golgotha over 2000 years ago.

I realize Easter is over and most pastors have moved on to other topics, but I want to explore this topic of the Crucifixion at least one more time before I move on to other things.

The Crucifixion is the darkest moment in the history of the world.

 – This was the day that man nailed God to an old rugged cross.

God sent His Son to save Adam’s descendants from the penalty of sin — man rejected God’s Son and murdered Him on a Cross!

Crucifixion was grizzly enough with all the shame, pain, bloodshed, and terror involved, but man was turning his back on God’s Love!

It’s strange in the gravity of such a gruesome situation that anyone could be so calloused and unfeeling as to sit and gamble at the foot of the Cross.

  – But that’s exactly what happened! — Matthew 27:35–Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: “They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.”

What a horrible commentary on society!

 – So hardened that there’s little compassion left…………..

   – These men gambled as if nothing else mattered — however, they weren’t the only gamblers at the Cross!

Look through the crowd—many were engrossed in this morbid scene — people with much at stake in this bloody drama of terror.


Annas, Caiaphas — all the members of the Jewish Sanhedrin — they hated Jesus!

– He was destroying their comfortable religious system that served them so well!

The Pharisees and Sadducees had never gotten along.

    – They disputed religion, politics, theology — every issue.

The main difference between the Pharisees and Sadducees was their differing opinions on the supernatural aspects of religion.

    – The Pharisees believed in the supernatural–angels, demons, heaven, hell, the after-life and so on–while the Sadducees did not.  That’s why they were SO-SAD-U-SEE.

      – There was no love-loss between the two factions.

      – Now, they were suddenly united in their common hatred of Jesus! — He had to go!

It’s odd how common hatred can bring former enemies together.

– There were two old ladies in Grand Coulee who couldn’t stand each other and were always at each other’s throat.

– One day they discovered that neither of them could stand me and somehow this common hatred of the young preacher brought them together………..

–  Islam has a teaching: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend!.”

The brains of the “Let’s Murder Jesus Movement” were the priests — they found allies in the Pharisees who eagerly threw their influence with those who wanted to crucify Jesus.

The Pharisees lit the fire under the mob’s emotions causing them to boil forth with the cry, “Crucify Him!  Crucify Him!”

The Pharisees hurled arguments at Jesus while the mob howled for His destruction.

    – There was a herd-mentality.

      – People weren’t interested in right or wrong.

        – People ran on raw emotion with no thought or facts to back their actions.

THEY DIDN’T NEED REASON! — They were controlled by emotions which blazed into fury.

We see it today!

    – People following the herd — not caring what’s right or wrong, just caught up in what everybody else is doing.

    – The “protests,” actually riots, that are being staged over “police brutality.”

Coca Cola used to have the slogan, “Ten million people can’t be wrong!”

– They are if they’re on the wrong path!—the majority of the world’s population’s going to Hell!

Matthew 7:13-14–“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.

14  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

The Jewish leaders didn’t want Jesus upsetting their system and gambled they could get rid of Him so they could continue their worship of self and selfish ambition.

People gamble today.

    – They know they need Jesus, but their plans seem more important right now!

      – If they can silence Jesus He won’t bother them so much.

The Jews gambled they could reject and destroy Jesus, but the Jewish Leaders lost their gamble and the stakes were high!

Everyone who gambles on pushing Jesus away and remaining selfish and sinful will lose.

    – The stakes are just as high today. — Mark 8:36–For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? 


    – Funny!  Things were more crucial than he’d first thought.

      – Jesus didn’t seem like someone who’d work the crowd into this frenzy.

He seemed quiet, not at all a trouble maker.

He had no money — He was homeless.

    – His followers were fishermen, tax collectors — very simple men.

      – They didn’t seem a threat to anybody — especially Rome.

Why were the Jewish Leaders so bent on killing Jesus?

    – He felt Jesus’ calmness.

      – He heard the mob outside — they were about to riot!

He knew Jesus was innocent.

    – He’d tried to avoid the issue by sending Jesus to Herod — Herod sent Him back!

Pilate’s wife had dreamed about Jesus and sent word to him to have nothing to do with this man!

Pilate compromised and had Jesus flogged — hoping to satisfy the blood lust of the mob — that wasn’t enough! — The mob demanded crucifixion!

Finally, because he didn’t know what to do — and he feared the crowd — Pilate sent for a basin of water.

    – Matthew 27:24–When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, “I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it.”

The Jews answered — Matthew 27:25–And all the people answered and said, “His blood be on us and on our children.”

In one bold stroke they called the wrath of vengeance down on themselves and their children.

That was the cry which wrote the bloody history of the Jews through the centuries.

    – That cry stained the Jewish path through hundreds of years with blood.

      – Destruction of Jerusalem. A.D.  70

        – Spanish Inquisition.  1478-1834  (up to 130,000 people were tortured and executed.)

         – Nazi Germany.  1933-1945 (6 million perished)

The Jews have paid dearly as the result of that horrible cry for Christ’s Blood.

    – I’m not anti-Semitic, but I see these people got what they asked for.

      – Parents and grandparents need to be careful for their children’s sake………

Pilate thought he’d side-stepped Christ.

    – Pilate couldn’t side-step Jesus

      – NEITHER CAN YOU………………………….


   – Judas had been with Jesus from the beginning of His public ministry — 3 years!

      – He had plans and aspirations about who Jesus was and what Jesus could do for him.

        – Judas had gotten greedy and critical.

    – Judas wasn’t serving God — he was serving self.

      – Like people today who whine, “The Church isn’t meeting my needs.”

        – That’s not the Church’s goal — we’re to meet God’s needs………….

          – Judas could’ve met Christ’s needs by being faithful and obedient.

    – Judas never grasped the truth that “God’s ways are best ways.”

      – He betrayed innocent Blood.

        – Couldn’t stand the guilt and hung himself.

        – Judas gambled and lost—“Be sure your sins will find you out!”


2 other men were dying beside Christ on crosses that day — Luke 23:39-43–Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.”

40  But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, “Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation?

41  And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.”

42  Then he said to Jesus, “Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.”

43  And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.”

Jesus invited both to join His Kingdom.

      – One thief gambled that Jesus was who He said He was and accepted the invitation.

      – That was the best decision of his life…………

      – Like most dying men this thief prayed.

       – He reached the place where even in his unbelief he called for redemption from the curse of hanging on the cross.

The other thief railed and cursed at Jesus echoing the mocking mob.

    – Like men in tragedies of sea, storms, avalanches or other sudden accidents, he called for  help which could only come from God.

      – But look at his prayer—selfish, packed with doubt — Luke 23:39–Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, “If You are the Christ,  save Yourself and us.”

        – No repentance, no godly sorrow, no sign of change of attitude.

    – He filled his voice with the railing accusations of the mockeries being hurled at Jesus.

     – God doesn’t listen to prayers like that.

     – He wasn’t sincere about turning to God—just desperate to get relief………….

    – His voice dripped with doubt as he prayed, “If Thou be!”

     – He heard the crowd and gambled they were right — this dying man couldn’t help him.

        – So close! — But he gambled with the majority and missed the “sure thing.”

    – He should’ve listened to the man on the other cross—he’d be in Paradise with Jesus instead of eternally damned in Hell.


    – John and Mary

      – They chanced being arrested — it might have meant their lives.

        – They loved Jesus too much to dessert Him.

          – They were willing to stand and be counted for Christ — US TODAY?

    – Peter was afraid to take a chance.

      – He hid (broken hearted) — Peter lost out — Christ later forgave him.


    – He gave up everything with no guarantee anyone would respond.

      – He left Heaven!

    – He became a man — John 3:16–For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

The only convert He knew for certain would be in Paradise was the thief who accepted His invitation.

He suffered, bled and died — not knowing if anybody would pay attention.

    – We’re free-moral agents — He had no guarantee we’d respond.

Jesus died on that old rugged cross because He loved you and me — when we were unlovely!

    – We were lost and on our way to Hell!

He had to offer us a chance at Heaven — forgiveness—Sonship — Eternal Life.



Are you like those calloused soldiers—gambling at the foot of the Cross while the most important event in history was taking place?

Maybe you’re one of those people who know you need the Lord, but you want to wait for a more convenient time to accept Him.





Wretched Man That I Am!

by Jeremiah Johnson June 24, 2015

Every believer understands the frustration, confusion, and doubt caused by our sin after we’re saved. We know we’ve been transformed through the power of God’s redeeming work. He’s changed our nature and set us free from the dominion of sin and Satan. But we don’t always live in the reality of that freedom. In fact, we sometimes get the sense that we’re still wicked sinners, and that nothing has changed at all.

Apostolic Exasperation

That angst over remaining sin is probably best described by the apostle Paul in Romans 7:14-25.

For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. But if I do the very thing I do not want to do, I agree with the Law, confessing that the Law is good. So now, no longer am I the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the willing is present in me, but the doing of the good is not. For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. For I joyfully concur with the law of God in the inner man, but I see a different law in the members of my body, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin which is in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.

That passage has puzzled scholars and theologians throughout the history of the church. Is Paul describing himself before Christ, or is he talking about someone else—perhaps someone with very little spiritual maturity, or a believer still caught in sin’s grasp? Or is this passage an indication that Paul was mentally unstable, as he seems to drift between two contradictory mindsets? The mind that has not been illuminated by the Holy Spirit likely cannot make any sense of Paul’s confessional self-description.

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

In his book The Gospel According to the Apostles, John MacArthur helps us answer some of those questions and understand the inner conflict Paul describes.

This is no carnal Christian or someone with a low degree of sanctification. Paul’s repeated use of the personal pronoun in this context emphasizes that this was his own personal experience. The verb tenses show that he did not consider himself past this stage. The conflict that he describes here was one he knew well—even as an advanced Christian. God’s sanctifying work in his heart is clearly evident. He says he hates his sin (v. 15). He loves righteousness (vv. 19, 21). He delights in the law of God from his heart (v. 22). He thanks God for the deliverance that is his in Christ (v. 25). Those are all responses of a mature Christian, in this case as seasoned apostle; not someone floundering in the throes of a desperate state of established carnality. In fact, it is the description of a godly man whose occasional sin feels like a constant thing when set against the backdrop of his holy longings.

Romans 7:14-25 thus describes the human side of the sanctifying process. We must not set it against Romans 8, as some do, imagining that these chapters describe two separate stages of Christian growth. They simply give two different perspectives on sanctification. Romans 7 is the human perspective; Romans 8 is the divine perspective. Romans 7 is Paul’s own testimony of how it is to live as a Spirit-controlled, spiritually grounded believer. He loved the holy law of God with his whole heart, yet he found himself wrapped in human flesh and unable to fulfill it the way his heart wanted to. Are there Christians anywhere who are so spiritual that they can testify to a life lived above this level? [1]

For believers, the push and pull the apostle describes is a common, even frequent occurrence. We understand hating sin even while we’re sinning. We recognize the compulsion to return to the very sins the Lord has saved us from. And we can appreciate how the remaining stains of our sinful past cause us to question whether we’ve truly been transformed at all.

An Unlikely Source of Assurance

But in the midst of that frustration, John MacArthur says we ought to find encouragement and assurance.

All true believers should be living at precisely this level, struggling with the tension Paul describes between an ever-increasing hunger for righteousness on the one hand, and a growing sensitivity to sin on the other. Though the degree of sin will vary depending on one’s level of spiritual maturity, sin in the genuine believer should always make him or her feel the conflict Paul describes in these verses. [2]

In a slightly ironic twist, the believer’s frustration over his sin and lack of spiritual growth is a strong indication that he is growing spiritually. In fact, it’s the believer who doesn’t have this inner struggle who needs to be concerned.

Though some have tried to claim they live above Romans 7, they only reveal their own insensitivity to the pervasive effects of sin in the flesh. If they would honestly measure themselves against God’s standards of righteousness, they would realize how far they fall short. The closer we get to God, the more we see our own sin. Only immature, fleshly, and legalistic persons can live under the illusion that they measure up well by God’s standards. The level of spiritual insight, brokenness, contrition, and humility that characterizes the person depicted in Romans 7 are marks of a spiritual and mature believer who before God has no trust in his own goodness and achievements.

So Romans 7 is not the cry of a carnal Christian who cares not of righteousness, but the lament of a godly Christian who, at the height of spiritual maturity, nevertheless finds himself unable to live up to the holy standard. It is also the experience of every genuine believer at every stage of spiritual development. [3]

We need to take great comfort in the fact that the struggle against our flesh is an indication of victory over the flesh. Paul was no ordinary believer—he encountered Christ face-to-face; he was whisked away to see the glories of heaven; he witnessed and performed miracles through the power of the Holy Spirit. In spite of all that, he still struggled with sin, and longed to be free of the fleshly shackles of his former nature, crying out, “Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).

That was not a helpless exclamation—he already knew the answer, as he immediately identifies His Savior: “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ, our Lord” (Romans 7:25). Paul’s confidence was not in himself or his righteousness, but in God’s triumph over sin, producing a settled hope of heaven’s glory. He made that clear just few paragraphs later in Romans 8:18-19.

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God.

His assurance was rooted in the character and promises of God, and he knew that the Lord would not abandon His transforming work in His people before it was completed. “These whom He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:30).

He made the same reassuring point in his epistles to the church at Corinth. He wrote, “For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. . . . But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:5357). “While we are in this tent, we groan, being burdened, because we do not want to be unclothed but to be clothed, so that what is mortal will be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4).

The struggle against sin is a good thing, so long as you continue to struggle. It’s a lifelong battle, but as John MacArthur points out, one that bears significant fruit.

Yet for now the battle goes on. Full deliverance awaits glorification. Victory here and now is only possible bit by bit as we mortify the deeds of the body through the power of the Holy Spirit: “Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). “For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).

We are bound to be frustrated by our inability to experience holiness to the degree we desire. That is the inevitable experience of every true saint of God. Because of our flesh we can never in this life achieve the level of holiness to which we aspire. “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23). But that hope further inflames our aspirations to holiness. [4]

In The Gospel According to the Apostles, John closes his chapter on Romans 7 by quoting 1 John 3:2-3. It’s a good reminder that while the holiness we long for sometimes feels a long way off, it is never in doubt.

Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.

Next time we’ll bring our discussion of sin, grace, and righteousness full circle, as we consider the believer’s adoption into the family of God.

VIDEO ‘Resurrection’: Roma Downey’s New Film Out Just in Time for Easter, Focusing on the Resurrected Christ

Image source: CBN's The 700 Club


Just in time for Easter, Emmy-nominated actress and producer Roma Downey is rolling out a new movie she produced with her husband Mark Burnett called Resurrection, telling the story of what happened after Jesus’s crucifixion.

During a recent interview with CBN’s The 700 Club, Downey said she is overjoyed that the film will make its debut ahead of Easter, the holiest day of the year for Christians, also known as Resurrection Day. 

Downey explained that the time frame for the film takes the audience through the gospel and into the book of Acts, by focusing on the death and resurrection of Christ.

“The movie opens up at the crucifixion of Jesus and we wanted to tell the story from the point of view of the disciples,” Downey emphasized. “They scattered when He was murdered, they’re heartbroken, they’re afraid. In those few days, they wait to see if He will come back or not. In that time in Jerusalem, there’s so much going on.” 

“The drama plays out like a triangle because we have the oppression of the Romans and they were ruling with an iron fist,” she added. “We have the Temple authorities led by Caiaphas and they’re very anxious about Passover and keeping peace in the city which is why they tried to kill Jesus off so quickly. Then we have the disciples who have just lost their beloved teacher, their leader, their Lord, and they’re unsure what to do next.”

And the producer noted that viewers will be able to sympathize with Jesus’s disciples.

“The way the disciples are presented, there’s such a humanity in them that we the audience are able to relate to them,” Downey said. “We are able to identify with the variety of emotions that they’re going through and we will see that fear and that grief turn to joy and elation when on the third day as promised Jesus does rise again.”

The movie is a production from MGM and LightWorkers. But Downey explained that Discovery+ was the best outlet for the March 27th release of Resurrection due to theater closure during the pandemic and because the platform is interested in offering family-focused entertainment.

“It became clear to us around Christmas time that we weren’t going to be able to show this film in theaters as we had originally planned. We looked around to see what platform we might be able to stream the film on. We are so grateful that Discovery+ boldly stepped up and said that they would love to have the film over Easter.” 

“They are a very family-friendly platform so we thought if we were inviting our audiences in to watch Resurrection, we wanted them to come into a place where they knew there would be value for their money and that it would be a place they could trust.”

She added that if the film performs well with audiences, Discovery+ will create space to make more faith-based content available to viewers.

“It’s harder and harder to find places that will take faith content so we’re really hoping that the Christian audience will mobilize and come check out the movie. It’s a beautiful movie. It’s the cornerstone of our faith. It’s uplifting and empowering and we really hope that the audience will step up and come in so we can continue to produce Christian content of quality.” 

Additionally, Burnett and Downey have produced a variety of television series through MGM’s LightWorkers group, including the recently released series “Country Ever After” for Netflix, “Messiah” for Netflix, “The Women of the Bible” for Lifetime, “The Dovekeepers” for CBS, and “Answered Prayers” for TLC.

51 Easter Quotes Every Christian Should Read

By Christine Yount Jones -March 21, 2018

These 51 Easter quotes will help you stop and reflect on this holy season of Easter. Each quote comes from a meaningful sermon on #Easterquote #Easter #HeIsRisen #christian #Resurrection #EasterSundy

These 51 Easter quotes will help you stop and reflect on this holy season of Easter. Each Easter quote comes from a meaningful Easter sermon on

“Jesus could have been satisfied with giving the world bread and water. He could have given them a healing clinic in every town. A leprosarium. School of exorcism. No. He gave himself. Spiritual sacrifice to God. Broke the bond of sin and death and set us free forever. He left for us an empty tomb.” Eldon Reich in Easter: What God Gave to Us

“Muhammad died, and was buried. His faithful followers take pilgrimages to visit his remains, the same is true of Buddha and other religious leaders. But it is not true of Jesus. You cannot visit His remains; you can only visit His empty grave, because He isn’t there. He Arose!” James Wilson in Easter: Jesus Arose!

“The empty tomb tells us of God’s ultimate power. A power that points to an ultimate purpose. Throughout His suffering, many times Jesus was told to show His power to escape His suffering and His death…but He knew that beyond all demonstrations of power and miracles…it was the ultimate power over death which had to be revealed.” Brad Bailey in Easter: A Tomb Tells All

“For the separation of humanity from God is depicted way back in the garden…We have a broken relationship with God, both in the depths of our souls and the actions of our hearts. This is precisely the reason Christ came. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.He bore our cost.” Brad Bailey in Easter: Rooted in Time and History and Yet Timeless in Its Impact

“An event can be thrust upon you and it takes you by surprise; you never would have predicted it in a million years. Now here it is – staring you in the face. What will you do? You can’t stay the same, you can’t pretend it didn’t happen. You may not know what to do, but this much is certain, you have to do something. This is the Resurrection.” Ken Sowers in Easter: Grave Robbers Didn’t Rob the Tomb; God Did!

“When it comes to believing in the resurrection of Jesus, we cannot simply seek knowledge; instead, we must seek faith. Nobody comes to faith in Jesus because of knowledge of Him. Even Satan has knowledge of Jesus, only he doesn’t believe in Jesus.” Michael Deutsch in Easter Sermon

“If you were to return to the scene of Christ’s execution that Sunday morning, you’d find relics of his death: A braided crown with scarlet tips. Three iron nails covered in dirt and blood. And an empty cross tinged red with the blood of God.” Scott Bayles in Easter: Empty Promises of Easter

“Perhaps the message this angel spoke was the most important one in Scripture. The message of the angel is still true today ‘don’t be alarmed – He is risen! He is not here; you will see him again.’ Jesus is alive!” Andy Barnard in Easter Angel

“Easter is the focal point of all history–because Jesus Christ is the focal point of all human history. Every time you date a check, print a calendar…every time this unbelieving world puts a date on a newspaper or magazine they are bearing witness to Him. History just cannot get away from Him.” Steve Malone in The Easter Door

“These angels are involved in our lives for several reasons, but one of them is to learn about God’s grace by watching us. When you study the Bible or reflect upon the person and work of Christ, you are joining in the curriculum of the angels; you are on holy ground.” Ed Vasicek in Easter Angels

“Jesus knew His followers were confused and frightened. They had hit rock bottom. And so He says, ‘Peace be with you.’ This is not simply a salutation; it’s the first application of Easter—peace.” Robert Leroe in Easter Qualities

“Far too many have gotten to the cross and have known the despair and heartbreak. Far too few have moved beyond the cross to find the real message of Easter–the empty tomb.” Steven Simala Grant in Jesus the Resurrected King

“Jesus had power over death. Death was no match for him. People had feared for centuries that death was a stone cold grip from which no one could escape. And Jesus very calmly asserted His authority over it.” Matthew Rogers in He Defeated Death

“Do you want to live life to its fullest? Then aim higher. Don’t set your sights too low. Determine to become all that God created you to be. Give yourself to Christ, follow Him completely, and allow the Holy Spirit to work in you and through you. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Because of Him!” Ryan Johnson in Because of Him

“Think about the promises of Easter. There are three of them. Each promise is marked by something empty. An empty cross, an empty tomb, and empty burial clothes. It is the very fact that each of these is empty that assures us that God’s promises are real.” Steven Kellett in The Empty Promises of Easter

“But with the gospel also comes a call to live a holy life, a life of spiritual depth and growth. This is what we mean by nurture, being nurtured in the life God calls us to. Although we do not contribute anything to our salvation, once God saves us, he calls us to live differently. He calls us to a life of transformation, a life where we grow and mature. He calls us to put down deep spiritual roots that are nourished by the truth of God. He calls us to nurture a holy life.” Timothy Peck in Renewing Our Vision

“When Jesus came into our world, He revealed not only Himself but He revealed the very nature and personality of God. So there is a part of God that we can see because of Jesus. And in the same way, God wants others to be able to see Jesus in us.” Melvin Newland in He Is the Root and Morning Star

“To do something in the name of Jesus is to ‘act consistently with who He is and what He wants.’ It is to do all that we do for the glory of His name. The more that I wear Jesus’ clothes, the more that people will think they are seeing Jesus coming when I’m on the way.” Chris Talton in Hand-Me Downs

“Beyond our greatest fear is his hand reaching out to us, beckoning us to come with Him, to believe, to know that God is with us at all times and in all places. We do not have to fear.” Kyle Blanton in Easter Sunrise

“Jesus’ resurrected body was a real body…He didn’t return as a ghost or a mist…He told his followers, ‘Look at my hands and my feet, it is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.’ “ Rick Burdette in The Mystery of Easter

“The Scriptures tell us that on the first Good Friday, darkness came over the land from the sixth hour until the ninth hour. The earth itself was mourning and protesting the death of its Creator. And you have the great symbolism of the Light of the world being extinguished and the world being plunged into darkness.” Claude Alexander in Jesus and Easter

“What we find inside this Holy Book is the greatest gift given to the world. Through the power of a simple empty tomb, our wealthy heavenly father has given us a great fortune that leads us to an eternal home.” David Trexler in Easter Message

“Jesus becomes human. 100% Human. 100% God. Lives, dies, is able to rise up, overcoming death….Spiritual death. The Bible does not simply mean physical death; it means spiritual death as well which is separation from God.” Peter Loughman in Easter: Fear This

“Jesus is not resuscitated; He is resurrected. He is raised by the power of God into a new way of life, a new existence. The power of Easter comes as the resurrected Lord is raised to a new way of life, and then, in a miraculous fashion, shares with us that new way of life.” Gregory Neal in An Easter People

“However you see Jesus, He is my Savior! He died for me. He paid the price for my sin, and the historical, proven fact of His resurrection has influenced the lives of millions upon millions.” Oris Hubbard in Easter’s Influences

“The tomb of Jesus also told a story. But it was not what was inside his tomb that told the story, it was what was NOT in his tomb. There was nothing there. The tomb is empty — and that tells it all. The angel said to the women at the tomb, The bones of the Buddha are on display. The tombs of world leaders are full of the remains of death. But the tomb of Jesus is empty because he is not there. He has risen — just as he said.” Rodney Buchanan in Easter’s Surprises

“The things He said were so preposterous and dangerous. He claimed that the Scriptures were all about Him and that the prophets spoke about Him. He had the audacity to state that He was the only way to God. Not that He knew the way, but that He WAS the way. He claimed that no-one could come to God except through Him!” Bramwell Hayes in Easter Is Dangerous!

“Easter in us is the resurrection power of life that God desires to place in every Christian’s heart. God generally doesn’t do this unless we are open to it. Let us pray that God puts Easter in each of us, and through His presence in us, may God’s glory be revealed in the world. In the words of the poem, ‘let Him easter in us.’ “ Anthony Seel in Easter in Us

“If you can think in computer terms, He has downloaded our sins upon Himself. Now if you know anything about downloads, a lot of them are free, but in order for them to be free, someone had to do the work earlier to make the download possible. That is what God has done for us. He has made forgiveness possible; He has done the work for us. As a result, He downloaded our sins and took them upon himself and went to the cross.” Richard Pfeil in Experiencing Easter

“God threw open the doors of heaven. He invited all nations, tribes and languages to Himself. Jesus doesn’t separate the believers. He does the opposite. The blood that He shed sanctified us and made us one. And one day, one sweet day – we’ll all be privileged to see that around God’s throne.” Eloy Gonzalez in Easter–For Whom?

“Christianity alone possesses a founder who transcends death and who promises that His followers will do the same.” Dan Cormie in Hope at Easter

“Whatever you face, whether it’s today or tomorrow, the promise of Jesus to everyone who puts their trust in Him. In this there is hope, even when it feels like ‘Checkmate.’ Because…THE KING STILL HAS ANOTHER MOVE IN YOUR LIFE. You might feel like you’re in checkmate, but Jesus says that if you believe in Him…HE WILL SAVE YOU.” David Kinnan in Easter: Hope

“We are embraced by God. That means all that we are, including our wounds, our sins, our sorrows – is embraced, accepted completely by the everlasting God. This is the beginning, because forgiveness is just a beginning. Then God sends us out to live as free people, ever thankful for the freedom Christ won for us on the cross. We’re sent out as free people to be agents of His love, to be ministers of reconciliation, to be people through whom God’s best intentions for this planet and every soul on this planet are made to happen, made real, made manifest.” Matthew Parker in The Easter Continuum

“Whether one believes nothing yet or has come to a partial understanding, believing is a process of uncovering errors and weaknesses and coming to a deeper, more authentic relationship with Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God. This process is furthered only by one’s own experience of the Word; no one else’s experience can be a substitute.” Paul Andrew in Easter Impact

“Forgiveness is powerless unless it comes from one who has the power to forgive. Unless it came from one who had the power to say, defeat death. Without the resurrection, that forgiveness would have been worthless, simply more words from a prophet proved wrong by his death. But when He stepped out of the tomb everything he said, everything he taught was proved to be right. And His forgiveness became a certainty.” Denn Guptill in Rediscover Easter

“People are brought back to life everyday in emergencies rooms across the country. That is not resurrection – that is resuscitation. The people who are given a second chance at life by resuscitation – will eventually die. That is not what we are talking about with the resurrection. If you are in Christ, you will be given a heavenly body. You will be given an imperishable body. You will be raised in glory. You will be raised in power. You will have a spiritual body and you will never, never, never, die again. You will live forever with an imperishable body.” Tom Shepard in The Arrival of Easter

“Jesus does not give us a how-to manual of life ahead, but he does assure us that He will be with us, that He is the way, the truth and the life.” Roger Haugen in Easter: Purpose of the Church

“The Risen Lord actually lives, is alive, and is present today in our testimony of his Gospel. In a very real sense, our lives should be a ‘5th gospel.’ “ David Rigg in An Easter Message

“No other holiday is as critical to the Christian faith as Easter. The very foundation of Christianity stands or crumbles on the truthfulness of the assertion that Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Easter is not about religious ritual or tradition. It is about the resurrection of the Son of God, an historical event. It is significant because of what the resurrection of Jesus validates.” Jerry Flury in The Importance of Easter

“Paul speaks of salvation. Jesus speaks of loving God with all of our hearts and our neighbors unconditionally. Timothy speaks of the importance of order in our lives. Jesus speaks of the importance of a relationship with Him as the Way, the Truth and the Life. David speaks of repentance; Jesus speaks of forgiveness. Joshua speaks of obedience, Solomon speaks of trust, Isaiah speaks of hope, Jeremiah speaks promise and Jesus speaks of finding the Glory of God through a relationship with Him.” Rich Anderson in The Heart of Easter

“We have a God who knows, not just theoretically but experientially what it feels like to suffer, to have pain, to be betrayed, to be ignored, to be forgotten, to die. That means we can share our pain with God. We can draw near with a confidence that He knows and He understands and yet He tells us He still loves us.” Nathan Eyland in An Easter Message

“Death couldn’t hold Him. The resurrection proves that Jesus was who He said He was. It proves that Jesus did what He said He was going to do… and it proves that all who put their faith and trust in Him as Lord and Savior will be forgiven of their sins, granted eternal life, and be made right with God!” Ken McKinley in Easter 2017

“Bad news? Death is our enemy; good news? Death is defeated! Jesus died the death; Jesus took all of the pain; everything that you and I deserved He paid for on that cross.” Bud Rose in Easter Sunday

“Faith implies risk. Otherwise it’s not faith…Our risen Lord thrusts us into a future we’d never choose but we’d hate to lose.” Isaac Butterworth in Easter Reservations

“In a very real way, God’s kingdom could not have come unless Jesus was willing to do the will of the Father. But also we should not expect God’s kingdom to come, to transform our lives, our neighbors’ lives. We shouldn’t expect to see healings and answered prayer unless we are willing to seek the Lord’s will. I fear that far too often we expect God’s kingdom to come and great things to happen to us in our church and our lives without submitting to the will of God.” James Tetly in Preparing for Easter

“Faith is shaking hands with God and getting right with Him. Faith is putting our hands up and surrendering our lives to Christ. Faith is raising your hand and saying, Here I am Lord, take me in Your loving hands.” Ross Cochrane in Hands of Easter

“And then there are those who truly get it. They know the resurrected Jesus and He lives strong in them. They pour out their compassion and love, their mercy and grace, which is only through the power of Christ inside of them.” Mark Engler in The Wonder of Easter

“Faith begins with knowledge, which is where the intellect is involved. Then it moves to the emotions where convictions are developed. Saving faith must then move to the will, where a commitment is made. True saving faith involves appropriating what Christ has done for us.” Brian Bill in Easter Comeback

“Death is not the end for Christians, it is only the beginning. the beginning of a life spent in Heaven with our Creator and our Savior. As Jesus now lives forever, we also can live forever … with Him, because we have true hope.” Bruce Ball in The Proof of Easter

“The legacy of Easter is about a God who may not show up when you want Him to show up, but He always shows up right on time.” Antonio Torrence in The Legacy of Easter

“For the disciples it took only three days. On Friday they are in deep despair, but by Sunday night they’re on top of the mountain because of the resurrection. So sometimes things can be quickly reversed.” Melvin Newland in Easter: At the Tomb