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« Reply #5865 on: August 06, 2017, 09:24:09 AM »

The Finished Work

“They shall come, and shall declare his righteousness unto a people that shall be born, that he hath done this.” (Psalm 22:31)
 
This is the last verse of Psalm 22, the marvelous prophecy that describes so graphically the sufferings of Christ on the cross, a thousand years before the fulfillment. The preceding verse promises that this great event will, literally, “be told about the Lord in every generation.” Fathers would tell it to their children, teachers to their students, generation after generation declaring His righteousness. “One generation shall praise thy works to another, and shall declare thy mighty acts” (Psalm 145:4).
 
This prophecy has been wonderfully fulfilled for almost 2,000 years as each generation of Christians tells the next generation the old, old story of “the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow” (1 Peter 1:11), both of which are graphically foretold here in the 22nd Psalm.
 
But this final verse especially stresses the fact that the work has been completed. Its last word, “this,” is not in the original Hebrew, so the final statement actually should read “He hath finished!” The most glorious aspect of the gospel message is that He has accomplished all that was needed to assure eternal salvation to every one who would “remember and turn unto the LORD” (Psalm 22:27).
 
This last great prophecy was fulfilled when He cried out as He was dying on the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Just as He had, long ago, pronounced that “the heavens and the earth were finished” (Genesis 2:1), completing His great work of creation, so on the cross He had finished the still greater work of redemption. What is left for us to do? Nothing, for He has finished it all! There is nothing we can do, either to create the world or to save our souls. We can only receive, in thanksgiving, what He has done. HMM
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« Reply #5866 on: August 07, 2017, 09:36:28 AM »

The True Riches

“Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17)
 
Christians have so many true riches to enjoy that it is sad when many try hard to accumulate the uncertain riches of this world. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth,” said Jesus (Matthew 6:19).
 
For example, Paul speaks of “the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering” (Romans 2:4) that have led Him to provide our eternal salvation. For those who have been saved, he writes of “the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory” (9:23). Then, in contemplating the great plan of God for both Jews and Gentiles, he exclaimed, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” (11:33). In Him, in fact, are “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
 
When he wrote to the Ephesian Christians, Paul reminded them that Christ had redeemed them through His blood and forgiven their sins “according to the riches of his grace,” in hope that they would understand “the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.” He told them that “God, who is rich in mercy,” had saved them in order “that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 1:7, 18; 2:4, 7).
 
Finally, summarizing all these true riches—mercy, glory, grace, goodness, wisdom, knowledge—Paul spoke of “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8). “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). HMM
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« Reply #5867 on: August 08, 2017, 09:50:19 AM »

Witnesses of the Resurrection

“Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, . . . Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22)
 
The most important event since creation was the resurrection of Christ, and it was vital that the witness of His chosen apostles focus especially on this great event. They must believe with confidence in His bodily resurrection, having been with Him throughout His ministry, heard His predictions of the resurrection, then seen the infallible proofs thereof, especially the empty tomb and His post-resurrection appearances. Both the original 11 and Matthias, chosen to replace Judas, satisfied these requirements.
 
Then after the coming of God’s Holy Spirit at Pentecost, “with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection . . . and great grace was upon them all” (4:33). The resurrection proved that Christ was the Creator and Savior, for only the Creator of life could defeat death.
 
Paul also saw the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, and thus he also could be an apostle. “Am I not an apostle? . . . have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord?” he could say (1 Corinthians 9:1). Only those who had seen the risen Lord and been specifically chosen by Him could be true apostles, for they must be credible witnesses of His resurrection.
 
And that they were! Peter could say, “We are witnesses of all things which he did . . . whom they slew and hanged on a tree: Him God raised up” (Acts 10:39-40). And Paul could say, “God raised him from the dead: And he was seen many days of them . . . who are his witnesses” (13:30-31).
 
Yes, the apostles were true witnesses of Christ’s resurrection, and multitudes have received eternal salvation because they were! HMM
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« Reply #5868 on: August 09, 2017, 09:38:09 AM »

Abiding Fruit

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.” (John 15:16)
 
Every true Christian desires to be a fruit-bearing Christian, not one who is “barren” and “unfruitful” (2 Peter 1:8). He or she also earnestly desires that the fruit—whether that of a godly character (Galatians 5:22-23) or that of others won to Christ (Romans 1:13)—will not wither but remain strong and healthy before the Lord.
 
The promise of Christ in our text is that our fruit will remain, if He has chosen us and we go forth praying in His name and seeking sincerely to bear fruit for His name’s sake. It is significant that the Greek word translated “remain” (that is, meno) is also commonly translated “abide,” as well as “continue.” In fact, it occurs no less than 12 times in John 15:4-16, the last being in our text verse above.
 
To “abide in Christ” does not mean to be continually aware of His presence or perpetually thinking only of Him, but it does mean to continue believing His Word and serving Him. “Continue ye in my love,” He commands (v. 9). To do that, He says that “if ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love” (v. 10).
 
He also has said, “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31). “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:7).
 
Note the progression. He says, “Abide in me, and I in you” (v. 4). This means He says that “my words abide in you,” and also we are to “continue in my love,” which implies that “ye keep my commandments.” It follows, then, that as we “continue” in His Word, we shall “bring forth fruit” that will “remain”! HMM
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« Reply #5869 on: August 10, 2017, 08:40:59 AM »

What Shall We Do?

“Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?” (John 6:28)
 
This question is often asked by people who try to work their way into heaven. It was also asked in various ways by men in the New Testament, and it is vitally important to get the correct answer to such questions there and nowhere else.
 
For example, a rich young ruler once asked Jesus, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Jesus answered, “Go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor . . . and come, take up the cross, and follow me” (Mark 10:17, 21). That is, there is nothing of his own that one can bring to Christ to earn salvation; one must simply be willing to yield himself fully to Christ.
 
A lawyer had asked Jesus the same question, “tempting him.” This time, His answer was, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself” (Luke 10:27). But this standard is humanly unattainable by any child of Adam, so in effect, the lawyer was told it was impossible for him to do anything himself to inherit eternal life.
 
When the crowd asked Peter on the day of Pentecost, “pricked in their heart” because they had crucified Christ, “What shall we do?” Peter answered, “Repent, and be baptized . . . in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:37-38). What they had to “do” was an inward act of repentance and faith toward Christ and an outward public testimony demonstrating the reality of that inward change of heart and mind.
 
Years later at Philippi, a jailer asked Paul the apostle one night, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer was simply, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30-31). HMM
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« Reply #5870 on: August 11, 2017, 08:58:34 AM »

All the Fountains of the Deep

“In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, the same day were all the fountains of the great deep broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened.” (Genesis 7:11)
 
Our text describes the primary physical causes for the Flood of Noah’s day, as well as the primary sources for the vast waters which covered the earth. The first source is very interesting from a geological point of view, and to grasp some semblance of its meaning is necessary if we would understand the Flood.
 
As the “deep” in Scripture usually refers to the ocean (i.e., Genesis 1:2), so the “great deep” that was “broken up” evidently speaks of great subterranean reservoirs or chambers deep inside the earth, all of which spewed forth their contents at the same time. This breakup continued all over the earth for 150 days (see Genesis 7:11; 7:24; 8:2).
 
The reference to “broken up” merits attention, for it implies a wrenching of the earth’s crust, a great tectonic event. The same word is used in Numbers 16:30-33 to describe the supernatural opening up of a great pit into which the rebellious Korah and his followers and their families fell, thereby squelching their mutiny against Moses’ leadership.
 
Any such breaching of the earth’s crust results in earthquakes, and if occurring under water results in devastating tsunamis (sometimes called tidal waves) traveling through the water at speeds approaching the speed of sound. Continued pulsation of these fountains all over the earth for 150 days would totally restructure the surface of the earth, demonstrating God’s hatred for the sin of the antediluvian world. Coupled with the other factors involved in the Flood, it is no wonder that “the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished” (2 Peter 3:6). JDM
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« Reply #5871 on: August 12, 2017, 07:51:08 AM »

Christians and the World

“I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.” (John 17:6)
 
In the wonderful intercessory prayer of Christ for His disciples just before His death, there are several important references dealing with the relation of the Christian believer to the world around him. In the first place, according to our text, they have been called out of the world and thus are not really a part of its system any more once they belong to Christ.
 
Yet, they necessarily must still live in the world. “These are in the world. . . . I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (vv. 11, 15). They are not of the world, however, for they have been separated from the world and unto Christ, whom the world continues to crucify daily. “I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (v. 14). Like Christ, they are bound to be hated by the world.
 
Nevertheless, Christ has sent them into the world as His witnesses. “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world . . . that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. . . . I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me” (vv. 18, 21, 23).
 
And the most wonderful thing about all these relationships to the world we live in is that God planned them even before He created the world! “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (v. 24). HMM
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« Reply #5872 on: August 13, 2017, 08:50:53 AM »

Position and Condition

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” (Colossians 3:1)
 
Christians have a glorious position before God. As our text indicates, God has in effect already “raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). Yet, our actual spiritual condition here on Earth often seems to belie our exalted position in heaven, so we repeatedly need to be exhorted not only to believe the truth but also to live the truth. Theoretically, we are dead to the world, and our “life is hid with Christ in God,” yet we must continually be exhorted to “mortify [that is, put to death] therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Colossians 3:3, 5). We “have put on the new man” but nevertheless must repeatedly be “renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (v. 10).
 
While in doctrine we are “complete in him,” in practice we must “grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). “With the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation,” yet each believer is commanded to “follow after righteousness” and to “work out your own salvation” (Romans 10:10; 1 Timothy 6:11; Philippians 2:12). We are “all the children of light” (1 Thessalonians 5:5), and we are to “walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). Paul prays that “Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith” (3:17), yet already we have “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).
 
These truths are not contradictions, of course, but exhortations. “If” (and the Greek word actually means “since”) we are “risen with Christ,” then by all means we ought to live as those that are alive unto God! HMM
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« Reply #5873 on: August 14, 2017, 10:29:36 AM »

A Non-Citizen's Role in Society

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” (Ephesians 2:19)
 
Speaking primarily to new Gentile believers, Paul welcomes them into the body of Christ, made up of all true believers, either Jew or Gentile. Each new member enjoys full privileges and benefits given to all “saints,” those “of the household of God.” “For our conversation [literally ‘citizenship,’ same root word as in our text] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
 
Regarding our former state, Christ declared: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do” (John 8:44). However, we have broken with this former alliance and transferred our allegiance to “God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18). “Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (v. 17).
 
Our function as non-citizens still living to a degree in our prior realm is revealed, for “God . . . hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation” (v. 18). God is in the business of reconciling others who are now estranged back to Himself, and even though He could do it all Himself, without any help from His feeble creation, He has in His grace given us a part in this blessed work. The work will involve a struggle, for our warfare is against the ruler of this world and his henchmen, but we will, through God’s enablement, be victorious (Ephesians 6:10-18).
 
“Now then [since] we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). Let us be about this blessed business. JDM
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« Reply #5874 on: August 15, 2017, 09:10:08 AM »

Church Leadership

“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed.” (1 Peter 5:1)
 
The leaders of the early churches were critical not only to the ministry of each church but also to its survival. Correspondingly, numerous New Testament passages deal with their qualifications and function. In our text, Peter exhorts these men to proper leadership through service and informs them of a reward waiting for them.
 
First, we notice that Peter addresses a group of elders, not a single individual in sole authority. No example is given in the New Testament of any church that has grown past infancy that has not incorporated the wisdom of a group of spiritually mature men into its leadership, although there may need to be one who presides among this group.
 
The primary function of such godly leaders is to “feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof” (v. 2). Note especially that the flock they shepherd is God’s flock among them, not their own flock. A true flock leader takes strong and careful “oversight” but does not usurp ownership.
 
These leaders are to serve “willingly,” not under “constraint.” Their motive should be “of a ready mind” and “not for filthy lucre,” or financial gain (v. 2). Moreover, these leaders must not be “lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (v. 3). They should lead by serving, thereby establishing a mindset of service in the rest.
 
Finally, Peter reminds the leaders that faithful, sacrificial service will be rewarded, for “when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (v. 4). May God continue to grant willing, faithful, sacrificial servants to lead each local flock. JDM
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« Reply #5875 on: August 16, 2017, 09:25:18 AM »

Unsearchable and Unspeakable

“O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Romans 11:33)
 
Scientists and philosophers have been able to learn many wonderful things about the universe when they have attempted reverently to think God’s thoughts after Him, but His majesty and purposes are still far beyond human words and understanding—unspeakable and unsearchable. He “doeth great things and unsearchable; marvelous things without number” (Job 5:9).
 
Not only are His judgments unsearchable and His ways past finding out, but so are His resources. The apostle Paul spoke about “the unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ephesians 3:8), and he once had the unique experience of being caught up somehow into the very paradise of God, where he “heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Corinthians 12:4).
 
We shall learn more, in the ages to come, of “the exceeding riches of his grace” (Ephesians 2:7), as well as the depth of “the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge” (3:19).
 
We can have a good measure of peace and joy right now in Christ, but there is much more yet to learn. In the new earth some day we shall really experience “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding” (Philippians 4:7) and be able to “rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8).
 
His great gift of salvation and eternal life we comprehend only faintly now, but we know it is indeed a gift of love and grace and peace and joy! Although we cannot begin to describe it now, we can simply say in gratitude, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15). HMM
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« Reply #5876 on: August 17, 2017, 08:25:15 AM »

Now and Then

“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)
 
There is a great contrast between now and then. We see only dimly now, but at least we see! We only know partially, but we do know! What we shall see and know in the future is already ours, but only in hope and promise. “For what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?” (Romans 8:24).
 
The Christian life knows many such paradoxes. We now “are the sons of God,” and yet we are “waiting for the adoption” (vv. 14, 23). Us “he also glorified,” but still “we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (vv. 30, 17). Right now in Christ, “we have redemption through his blood,” but the Holy Spirit is “the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:7, 14). We only have “the firstfruits of the Spirit” while we are awaiting “the redemption of our body” (Romans 8:23), but by “the Holy Spirit of God” we “are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30), and therefore we already possess “redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:14). Similarly, the Father already “hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (v. 13), but “we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
 
Salvation has past, present, and future dimensions in all its aspects. “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36) as a present possession on the basis of a transaction already accomplished; yet still we must be encouraged to “lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called” (1 Timothy 6:12). We know our Savior by faith, but the day will come when we truly know Him as He knows us! HMM
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« Reply #5877 on: August 18, 2017, 09:03:09 AM »

I Charge You

“Now the end of the commandment is charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned.” (1 Timothy 1:5)
 
The Greek noun parangelia and its corresponding verb paranello appear six times in the book of 1 Timothy, translated as either “charge” or “commandment.” Paul was quite concerned for his young disciple Timothy and went to great effort to remind him of the truth and charge him to keep it and encourage its keeping in the lives of those in his care. Let us briefly look at these charges.
 
First, Paul wanted to charge Timothy to remain strong in his personal faith. “This charge I commit unto thee . . . that thou . . . mightest war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience” (1:18-19). “I give thee charge in the sight of God . . . . That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ” (6:13-14).
 
In a similar vein, Paul knew the dangers of false doctrine. “I besought thee . . . that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine” (1:3). Following a discussion of specific false teachings (4:1-10) and their refutations, Paul concludes, “These things command and teach” (4:11).
 
Even those who nominally adhere to proper teaching need direction. “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God” (6:17).
 
Living up to these charges (commandments) brings real benefit in this life as well as in eternity, as we see in our text a pure heart full of agape love, a conscience unfettered by sin and false doctrine, and a strong faith not weakened by hypocrisy. If we would be disciples, we should mind the charges given to Timothy. JDM
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« Reply #5878 on: August 19, 2017, 08:32:36 AM »

Unanswered Prayer

“For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter 3:12)
 
There are many wonderful promises of answered prayer in the Bible, some of which seem both unlimited and unconditional. On the other hand, there are also many warnings of unanswered prayer. This seeming anomaly merely cautions us again that every Scripture must be interpreted in context—both the immediate context and the broader context of all the Scriptures.
 
For example, Jesus said, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” But in the same upper-room discourse, He also said, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 14:14; 15:7). This is a very significant condition, attached to what—out of context—might have seemed an unconditional promise.
 
Our text indicates that overt sin in one’s life will certainly hinder God in answering our prayers. So will selfish praying: “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” (James 4:3). And so will unbelief: “When ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them” (Mark 11:24). Poor home relations also could be a factor. “Husbands . . . [give] honour unto the wife . . . that your prayers be not hindered” (1 Peter 3:7).
 
Even when we are confident that we are fully right with God, the desired answer must still be in His will. “If we ask any thing according to his will . . . we have the petitions that we desired of him” (1 John 5:14-15).
 
Finally, there is the question of timing. “Men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). Therefore, the believing prayer of a man righteous before God surely will be answered in God’s time and way. HMM
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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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« Reply #5879 on: August 20, 2017, 09:13:15 AM »

The Cleansing Blood

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7)
 
There is a common cultic heresy to the effect that the blood of Christ has no cleansing efficacy of itself, even though this contradicts the plain statement of our text. John wrote the above words long after Christ’s blood had all been spilled on the cross, but it was still miraculously cleansing sinners in His day, and is in ours as well.
 
It is true that Christ’s blood supported His physical life, for “the life of the flesh is in the blood” (Leviticus 17:11). But His blood was not like the blood of other men, for it was “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:19), uncontaminated either by genetic defects due to accumulated generations of mutations (as in all other men and women) or inherent sin.
 
When His blood was shed, it did not simply disappear into the ground and decay into dust, any more than did His body in the tomb, for it had been an integral part of His perfect human body that was to be raised and glorified. As our great High Priest, He somehow took the atoning blood into the holy place in the heavenly tabernacle. Into the earthly tabernacle “went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people. . . . by his own blood he [Christ] entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us” (Hebrews 9:7, 12).
 
There in heaven, at the mercy seat, just as the ancient high priest “sprinkled with blood” both the book and the people, the tabernacle and its vessels, so have we been cleansed in God’s sight by His own “blood of sprinkling” (Hebrews 9:19-21; 12:24; see also 1 Peter 1:2). Thus, His blood can (literally) “keep on cleansing us from all sin.” HMM
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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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