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« Reply #15 on: January 11, 2006, 10:05:30 AM »

Things Worth Knowing

"Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is" (I John 3:2).

Although the book of I John is well known for its use of the word "love," various words, such as "know," "perceive," and "behold," occur almost as often.

Several of these words refer to the work of Christ in salvation. "And ye know that He was manifested to take away our sins" (I John 3:5). "We know that we have passed from death unto life" (I John 3:14), and "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us" (I John 3:16). This knowledge brings great comfort and assurance: "These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life" (I John 5:13).

This knowledge should bring us into a life of submission and service: "But whoso keepeth His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him" (I John 2:5). Similarly, "He that keepeth His commandments dwelleth in Him, and He in him. And hereby we know that He abideth in us, by the Spirit which He hath given us" (I John 3:24; see also I John 4:13).

This gives us confidence in prayer: "And this is the confidence that we have in Him, . . . if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, . . . we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him" (I John 5:14-15).

The culmination of a life marked by salvation, assurance, empowering, and victory will be that we will be with Him and be like Him. "Behold , what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God" (I John 3:1).

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« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2006, 10:34:11 AM »

The Indwelling Holy Spirit

"But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" (Romans 8:9).

Note that in this one verse the Holy Spirit is called both "the Spirit of God" and "the Spirit of Christ." Thus the two terms are synonymous, which means that Christ is God, and so is the Holy Spirit.

Note also that we "have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father" (Romans 8:15). In fact, our text assures each of us that we are actually living "in the Spirit," because He has come to "dwell in you." All of this has come about "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy, . . . by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). This glorious new birth, with sins forgiven and eternal life, is accomplished by the Holy Spirit in response to our faith in Christ as Savior and Lord.

But also note that "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His." It is absolutely vital that we have the Holy Spirit, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). The question is, just how do we know that we have the Holy Spirit?

The answer is, because His Word says so! "He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me," said Jesus, "hath everlasting life" (John 5:24). Furthermore, we have the testimony of internal peace and assurance. "The Spirit beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God" (Romans 8:16).

Finally, the indwelling Spirit will increasingly be growing His eternal fruit in our lives--the nine-fold fruit of "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance" (Galatians 5:22-23), and this will testify to others also that we do indeed have the Holy Spirit.

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« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2006, 09:46:44 AM »

Death by Sin

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).

This very important verse conveys several vital truths. First of all, death came into the world only when sin came into the world. Suffering and death of conscious life, whether animal or human, were not a part of God's "finished" and "very good" creation (Genesis 1:31-2:3). There was an abundance of food and all other provisions for both people and animals. There was certainly no "struggle for existence" or "survival of the fittest," for every creature was created "fit" for its own environment.

When Adam sinned, however, it became necessary for God to bring the curse of decay and death not only upon Adam but also upon all his dominion (Genesis 3:17-20; see also Romans 8:20-22; I Corinthians 15:21-22).

Furthermore, there remains no warrant fo r the notion that "Adam" is simply a generic term representing the human race. He was "one man." In fact, he was "the first man" (I Cor-inthians 15:45), and Eve was "the mother of all living" (Genesis 3:20). There was certainly no population of evolving hominids becoming "Adam." In fact, Christ Himself made it clear that Adam and Eve were there "from the beginning of the creation" (Mark 10:6, quoting Genesis 1:27).

The entire argument here in Romans 5:12-21 becomes irrelevant if the Genesis record of the Creation and Fall of Adam did not happen precisely as recorded in Genesis 1-3, and this would mean that there is no reality in the saving work of Christ, either.

Such a rejection of the Christian faith is hardly warranted by the fragmentary fossils that have been alleged to support the notion of human evolution. No one should stake his eternal soul on such a will-o'-the-wisp as that!

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« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2006, 10:24:07 AM »

Peace Initiative

"And if the Son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon it: if not, it shall turn to you again" (Luke 10:6).

Christ sent His seventy disciples out to witness "into every city and place" (v.1), but before they left, He gave them some instruction about what to do under various circumstances. One guideline was to test the reception of a home by saying, "Peace be to this house" (v.5). If the disciples were offered peace from their hosts, they were to stay and receive the hospitality given. If not, then they were to shake even the dust of the city from their being (v.11) and proceed along to a new destination.

The word "peace" is translated from eirene in Greek, or shalom in Hebrew. It refers to wholeness or completeness in the inner parts of man, with need of nothing else, and should characterize each of us, as believers. "Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you" (II Corinthians 13:11).

Still, there is more to this situation than simply a greeting and overnight stay, for within the verbal probe at the door is a spiritual sensing of the receptivity to the gospel. These men went out two by two to preach the gospel of Christ, telling of His character and mission. The message they had was one of spiritual peace with God through acceptance of the work of Jesus. "The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you" (Luke 10:11). Their message and mission were urgent and could scarcely be wasted on those who were not interested.

Many times it is difficult to detect the presence of God's Spirit in the heart of another. Here is one instrument--using man's spirit of peace--to find God's spirit of peace in the midst of those who are tender for the message of salvation. Reconciliation and fellowship follow. "He that heareth you heareth me".

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« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2006, 11:00:47 AM »

Our Weekly Day of Rest and Worship

"And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day" (Deuteronomy 5:15).

It is significant that God's Ten Commandments are found twice in the Bible (Exodus 20:3-17 and Deuteronomy 5:6-21). In fact, "Deuteronomy" means "The Second Law." The two are worded identically, with a few exceptions.

The most significant of these changes is in connection with the reason given for obeying the fourth commandment, to "keep the sabbath day." In Exodus, the reason given is: "For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day" (Exodus 20:11). Here in "the second law," the reason given is that God saved Israel out of bondage in Egypt, and now was about to enter the Promised Land. In other words, when the Israelites observed each Sabbath day in rest and worship, they were acknowledging God as both their Creator and their Redeemer.

Christians also, as they devote every seventh day as a day of rest and worship, should be remembering God for His finished creation ("the heavens and the earth were finished"--Genesis 2:1) and His finished redemption ("It is finished" was Christ's victory cry on the cross--John 19:30).

The word "Sabbath" means "rest," of course--not "Saturday" or "Sunday" or even "seventh" (the word for "seventh" in Hebrew is similar, but distinctly different from that for "sabbath"). Most Christians now believe it is appropriate to honor the Lord Jesus (who is both their Creator and Redeemer) to take their seventh day of rest and worship on the first day of each week, thereby recognizing both His finished work of redemption an d also His finished work of creation.

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« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2006, 11:30:44 AM »

Slaves, and Souls of Men

"And the merchants of the earth shall weep and mourn over her; for no man buyeth their merchandise any more: The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones . . . and chariots, and slaves, and souls of men" (Revelation 18:11-13).

This day of mourning will follow the destruction of Babylon the great, a mighty commercial and political center which "shall be utterly burned with fire" because "her sins have reached unto heaven" (Revelation 18:5,8).

And what are those sins? And is "Babylon the Great" a literal city, the capital city of the empire of the beast in the last days? Or is it a metaphor depicting the wickedness of all such cities throughout the ages? Perhaps it is both!

In any case, this Babylon harbors many forms of wickedness hated by God--fornications, sorceries, bloodshed, etc. But the chief characteristics of its wickedness is its devotion to commercialism above all else. ". . . the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies" (Revelation 18:3).

Note especially the burden of the mournful cry: " . . . no man buyeth their merchandise any more," for these weeping-and-wailing shipmasters and other captains of industry had been "made rich by her" (Revelation 18:15) but suddenly it will all be gone.

And note that merchandise! Not only "gold and silver" but also "slaves, and souls of men." In the last days when this awful judgment falls, these merchants will still be trading in "slaves, and souls of men."

Sad to say, involuntary slavery was really not abolished by Wilberforce, or Lincoln, or even Martin Luther King! It is still thriving today, especially in certain Muslim and other non-Christian strongholds. But it will end when Christ returns and then all His redeemed followers will gladly "serve Him" forever (Revelation 22:3).

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« Reply #21 on: January 17, 2006, 08:55:48 PM »

The Virtue of Having Enemies

"Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets" (Luke 6:26).

It is no compliment to say about a Christian that he has no enemies, for that is the same as saying he has accomplished nothing. The apostle Paul had many bitter enemies, and they finally got him executed. In fact, almost all of the great heroes of the faith, through all the centuries since Satan gained his victory over Adam and Eve, have had to overcome bitter opposition from that wicked one.

So instead of resenting our enemies, we should thank God for them, for they enable us to become more like our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! Only through such experiences can we learn what it means to say, with Paul: "I am crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2:20). Only if we have enemies can we learn to obey Christ's difficult command to "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you" (Matthew 5:44).

The Lord Jesus easily could have called on twelve legions of angels to rout His enemies (Matthew 26:53). Instead, He submitted to their vicious insults and cruel tortures, even praying in His agony on the cross, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). The enemies of Christ killed Him, but had they not done so, He would not have died for our sins, and we would be lost eternally. This is a mystery to ponder, and difficult to comprehend, yet, as the Bible promises, "Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee" (Psalm 76:10).

The enmity of men can thus be a channel of divine grace to the believer, for "tribulation worketh patience" (Romans 5:3), and "our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory" (II Corinthians 4:17).

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« Reply #22 on: January 18, 2006, 11:23:49 AM »

The Message of the Old Testament

"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else" (Isaiah 45:22).

Ever since sin entered into God's created world, His message to all people of all ages has been the same. At the time of the curse, God prophesied that there soon would be a coming Redeemer--the Seed of the woman who would crush the head of the serpent, although the Redeemer Himself would be made to suffer in order to do away with the effects of sin (Genesis 3:15). "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul" (Leviticus 17:11).

God repeatedly warned the people of His hatred of sin and wickedness (see for example Psalm 5:4-6; Proverbs 6:16-19), but He recognized that humankind was totally incapable of measuring up to His standard of perfection. That great statement of righteous requiremen ts, the Ten Commandments, demonstrated the utter impossibility of complete compliance (Exodus 20; Psalm 14; etc.) Conversely, God repeatedly extended His invitation to be rescued from sin and its effects and its necessary judgment by confidence in His plan for mankind. In our text, we see that "all the ends of the earth" have the opportunity to be "saved." "Surely, shall one say, in the Lord have I right-eousness and strength: even to Him shall men come" (Isaiah 45:24).

This plan of God focuses on the promised Redeemer who would come to buy back humanity from its enslavement to sin. "A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel" (Isaiah 7:14). "He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: . . . and the Lord hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:5-6).

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« Reply #23 on: January 19, 2006, 01:17:35 PM »

Sowing and Sleeping

"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption" (I Corinthians 15:42).

When a believer's soul and spirit leave the body and return to the Lord, it is significant that the New Testament Scriptures speak of the body, not as dead, but as sleeping. For example, Jesus said, "Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep" (John 11:11). This state is not "soul sleep" as some teach, for "to be absent from the body, to be present with the Lord" (II Corinthians 5:Cool. The body is sleeping--not the soul.

Similarly, when the believer's body is laid in a grave, Paul speaks of this act not as a burial, but as sowing! "But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come? Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die: And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare gra in, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain: But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased Him, and to every seed his own body" (I Corinthians 15:35-38).

Just as a buried grain of wheat brings forth a fruitful plant, so the old, sin-corrupted, aching body of human flesh, sown in the ground, will some day come forth "fashioned like unto His glorious body" (Philippians 3:21), in which "there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain" (Revelation 21:4).

"So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: It is sown in dishonor; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body" (I Corinthians 15:42-44). When a believer's body is sown in the ground, God will soon reap from it a body of glory which will last for eternity.

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« Reply #24 on: January 20, 2006, 11:41:35 AM »

Stories in Heaven

"It is He that buildeth His stories in the heaven, and hath founded His troop in the earth; He that calleth for the waters of the sea, and poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is His name" (Amos 9:6).

The text above is a rather remarkable description of God written by a simple "herdman, and a gatherer of sycomore fruit" (Amos 7:14), Amos, whom God called to prophesy against the sinning people of Israel. They needed, among other things, a better appreciation of the mighty works of the one true God who had called them as His special people.

Note, Amos says, "He that buildeth His stories in the heaven." The word for "stories" is usually translated "stairs," and the picture seems to be that of a great palace in heaven, with a giant stairway leading up to the very throne of God. Perhaps the "stories" are the heavens themselves (the Bible mentions at least three). Reme mber that, when the Lord Jesus went back up to be seated at the right hand of the Father, He "ascended up far above all heavens" (Ephesians 4:10). And, of course, it was God who built these stories!

He has also "founded His troop in the earth." The word for "troop" is rendered in various ways in various translations, but seems to mean a group of entities bound together to function as one. It is used to refer to a united band of soldiers, but also to a "bunch" of hyssop, for example. In the context here, it seems to refer to all God's marvelous creations on Earth (lands, plants, animals, etc.) which unitedly testify to the wisdom and power of God.

Then note the remarkable pre-scientific insight about the amazing hydrologic cycle whereby God has arranged for "the waters of the sea" to be elevated to the skies, translated by the winds inland, where He then "poureth them out upon the face of the earth: The Lord is His name."

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« Reply #25 on: January 21, 2006, 04:46:11 PM »

The Spiritual Rock

"And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (I Corinthians 10:4).

One of the most amazing miracles recorded in the Bible occurred when Moses smote the rock on Mount Horeb and water came forth, sufficient to satisfy all the multitude there in the wilderness (Exodus 17:6). In describing this great event, the psalmist later sang: "He clave the rocks in the wilderness, and gave them drink as out of the great depths. He brought streams also out of the rock, and caused waters to run down like rivers" (Psalm 78:15-16).

In our text above, Paul indicates that the miracle had great symbolic significance as well. "That Rock was Christ." The Greek word used here for "rock" is petra, the same word used by Christ when He said that "upon this Rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16:18). Christ is the one foundation upon which the church is built (I Corinthians 3:11). He is also symbolized by the "living water," the "well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:10,14).

The actual rock from which the waters burst forth in the wilderness did not literally "follow them," of course, but "that spiritual Rock" did follow them, for Christ was there with them through all their years of wandering.

The literal water followed them too, keeping them alive for forty years. When Moses struck the rock, God opened a mighty spring "out of the great depths" (Psalm 78:15), evidently tapping a deep pressurized aquifer from which waters emerged to form "streams also out of the rock" (v.16). These streams flowed continually in the desert for forty years, so the children of Israel could march and camp beside them as long as they were in the wilderness. Christ still today is our spiritual Rock, continually yielding the spiritual waters of everlasting life.

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« Reply #26 on: January 22, 2006, 11:23:49 AM »

Fear of Fire

"And others save with fear; pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh" (Jude 23).

This exhortation refers both to attempting to "save" unbelievers by warning them of hell and to warning believers against the influence of apostates.

The ultimate hell (Greek, gehenna) is not the same as the present hell (Greek, hades), although eventually all those lost souls now in the latter will eventually be "cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15). Both are fearsome places of real fire. The inhabitants of Sodom, for example, have been "suffering the vengeance of eternal fire" (Jude 7) for thousands of years, though not yet in that ultimate hell. Also the rich man mentioned by Jesus was in hades and yet was being "tormented in this flame" (Luke 16:23-24).

Both "hells" have literal fires, but it is hard to understand how material fires could torment non-material souls. There is a clue in James 3:6, which calls an unbridled human tongue "a fire, a world of iniquity: . . . set on fire of hell." Since the tongue is not literally on fire, but can be extremely destructive in human relationships, the implication is that hell itself is a "world of iniquity."

This aspect of hell makes it even more fearsome than literal fires could ever be. The existence there of billions of unredeemed souls, eternally separated from the holiness and love of God, where all who are "unjust" and "filthy" will continue forever to increase in their unrighteous and filthiness (Revelation 22:11), and in the constant presence also of the devil and his angels, is unspeakably appalling. Yet that was their choice when they rejected or ignored the infinite love of Christ.

No wonder that Jude urges us to warn them of such awful fire and seek to save them with fear if they won't respond to the com passionate love of Christ.

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« Reply #27 on: January 23, 2006, 06:49:07 PM »

How Can Things Invisible Be Seen?

"For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse" (Romans 1:20).

This powerful verse introduces Paul's burning description of the descent of ancient human societies that once "knew God" (Romans 1:21) into evolutionary paganism, idolatry, and wickedness. This deterioration was willful and inexcusable, for they had abundant evidence of God's nature and power in the very creation which they had chosen to worship instead of the Creator (Romans 1:25).

Even though God Himself was invisible (being omnipresent), they could easily see the evidence of His existence and His grace in creating and sustaining all things, "for God hath showed it unto them" (Romans 1:19). "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork" (Psalm 19:1).

Since these t hings were "clearly seen" and "understood" by men "from the creation of the world" (that is, from the time the world was created), it is obvious that there have been men and women there to see and understand these things ever since the world was created. This assures us that the creation did not take place billions of years before men appeared on earth, as our theistic evolutionists and progressive creationists would like to believe. Men and women have been on earth ever since its very beginning (see also Mark 10:6; Acts 3:21), and all should have recognized and worshiped the true Creator God.

That being true, how much more inexcusable are our modern evolutionists--whether atheistic, pantheistic, or polytheistic--who not only reject the testimony of God in creation, but also His far more complete testimony in Scripture and in the person and work of Jesus Christ.

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« Reply #28 on: January 24, 2006, 12:06:27 PM »

The God Who Saves

"The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower" (Psalm 18:2).

What a testimony given by David to his God! In this single verse, there is a sevenfold ascription of praise to the Lord for His great salvation. Each testimony can be appropriated also by all who trust Him.

   1. My Rock: The word used here does not mean a stone or even a boulder, but a mighty monolith, immovable and impregnable.
   2. My Fortress: This word refers to a great bulwark--a stronghold. The Hebrew word is essentially the same as Masada, the high butte where the Jews resisted the Roman armies after the destruction of Jerusalem.
   3. My Deliverer: "Our God is able to deliver," even from the fiery furnace, the den of lions, and from the armies of Saul.
   4. My Strength: This is another word often translated "r ock," this time a rugged, craggy one, most appropriate as a symbol of great strength.
   5. My Buckler: The small, movable shield used to "quench all the fiery darts of the wicked" (Ephesians 6:16).
   6. The Horn of Salvation: This striking Old Testament symbol is even repeated in the New Testament (Luke 1:69) and applied to the coming Savior, referring either to the "horns of the altar" where fleeing sinners could cling for refuge, or to the fighting horns of a strong beast.
   7. My High Tower: Here the word is not for a man-made tower, but for a natural, high, topographic eminence, suitable both for watching and for defense.

The great promises of salvation and security in Christ are timeless. The words that brought such hope to David are still a comfort to believers today. He is still "the God of all grace" (I Peter 5:10) to all who trust Him.

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« Reply #29 on: January 25, 2006, 01:10:39 PM »

Instruction Contrary to Knowledge

"Cease, my son, to hear the instruction that causeth to err from the words of knowledge" (Proverbs 19:27).

One of the saddest realities in the modern world is that many of the leaders of evolutionary and humanistic thought were raised in Christian homes, where from an early age they were exposed to the truths of Scripture. Testimonies without number have been chronicled of Christian students going to universities where they were taught to doubt and then to disbelieve the faith of their parents. Perhaps all these students ever knew of Christianity was a set of rules; maybe they never understood the reasons their parents held certain views nor the basis for these beliefs. Certainly the foundational teaching of creation has been missing in many Christian homes and churches.

Our primary goal as parents should be to establish a godly heritage--to teach the truths of God in such a way as will be believed and cherished by our children, so that they will "keep that which is committed to trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called" (I Timothy 6:20).

Certainly a more effective way of teaching is to continually point the child or student back to foundational principles, rather than to list a set of do's and don'ts. We must teach those under our influence to be grounded in the Word, so that they can make sound judgments when away from our watchful eyes. No greater aid to serious study, no better primer in careful reasoning exists than in Scripture. Using it and other supportive materials, a child can learn to think carefully and critically. Not only will they learn information, but here they can learn wisdom and knowledge and understanding. "For the Lord giveth wisdom: out of His mouth cometh knowledge and understanding" (Proverbs 2:6).

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Joh 9:4  I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.
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