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« Reply #7350 on: August 25, 2021, 09:08:04 AM »

Preaching the Resurrection

“And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33)

There are multitudes today who believe that Christ’s resurrection was a “spiritual” resurrection, insisting that the idea of a dead body returning to life after three days in the grave is completely unscientific and impossible.

This was not what the apostles preached with great grace and great power, however. They would hardly have been excited about any kind of spiritual resurrection, since everyone— both Jews and the pagan Gentiles—believed in life after death. If that was their message, no one would have doubted, and no one would have cared. Even when the disciples saw the resurrected Christ, they first “supposed that they had seen a spirit” (Luke 24:37). Christ even had to urge them to “handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have” (Luke 24:39).

When the disciples finally became convinced of His bodily resurrection, they were quickly transformed into courageous evangelists, willing even to die in support of their glorious message of salvation. The resurrection was, indeed, contrary to scientific law and all human experience, and this very fact proved to them that their Lord was Himself the divine lawgiver and author of all human experience. All other founders and leaders of human religions, ancient or modern, are themselves subject to death, but He alone has triumphed over death. Only the Creator of life can conquer death, and the resurrection proves that Jesus Christ is Creator as well as Savior.

Therefore, when we today, like the apostles of old, proclaim the resurrection of Christ, we know that His name is above every name, and this enables us also to witness with great power, in great grace. HMM
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« Reply #7351 on: August 26, 2021, 07:58:45 AM »

Our Rock: The Creator

“Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” (Deuteronomy 32:18)

Just before his death, Moses predicted the coming apostasy of Israel in a prophetic “history” of Israel. Not only did his prophecy come true for the nation of Israel, but the same could be said for much of Western Christianity today.

Moses recounted the fact that Israel had been blessed greatly of the Lord, but instead of drawing closer to Him, they grew “fat, and...Forsook God which made [them], and lightly esteemed the Rock of [their] salvation” (Deuteronomy 32:15). The use of the term “rock” refers to the rock that Moses struck, yielding water to sustain them in the parched desert region. The rock followed the people on their journeys and provided an ever-present reminder of God’s marvelous provision. (If one should further doubt as to the identity of the Rock, “that Rock was Christ,” 1 Corinthians 10:4.) They totally forgot, however, the God of their creation and salvation, and sacrificed to demons, old gods, and to any new gods around (Deuteronomy 32:17).

God has given us life, and without His daily sustenance all life would cease. How foolish it is to attempt to live life without the One “that begat” us—who gave us life and even now maintains it. All too often the Creator God is excluded from our churches, our government, and our schools. Even many Christians live their lives as practical atheists, making decisions and living their lives just as if no God exists. Let us recommit ourselves to giving the rightful place in our lives and in our sphere of influence to “the Rock that begat” us.

“I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God. He is the Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deuteronomy 32:3-4). JDM
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« Reply #7352 on: August 27, 2021, 08:42:58 AM »

Always

“And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:20)

A favorite old song of many senior citizens (of this writer, at least) is the sentimental “I’ll be loving you—always” ballad written long ago by Irving Berlin. The sincerity of some who sing it may be questioned, but the many “always” promises of the Bible really mean it. Consider a few of these precious promises, for example.

The apostle Paul urges believers to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). And to the same Corinthian church he later wrote: “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:14).

Then there is that other tremendous promise in the same epistle: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8). The greatest such promise is that in our text, when the Lord Jesus Christ Himself promised that “I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20).

These are also a number of very important exhortations in the Scriptures involving an “always” type of commitment. For example, Jesus said “that men ought always to pray, and not to faint” (Luke 18:1). That is, never give up praying just because the answer seems a long time coming. Furthermore, Paul says that we should be “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20).

Then, we are to “rejoice in the Lord always” (Philippians 4:4). Finally, there is the command to “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). HMM
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« Reply #7353 on: August 28, 2021, 09:00:25 AM »

The Apple of the Eye

“For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” (Zechariah 2:8)

This common phrase is often used to identify an object of one’s special favor or affection. The apple of the eye, of course, is not a fruit but the pupil of the eye, so essential for sight that it becomes a peculiarly apt symbol for a prized possession. It is used five times in the Bible as a translation of three different Hebrew nouns, none of which refer to the actual apple fruit. In each case, however, it speaks of something highly valuable to the owner.

Three of these (Deuteronomy 32:10; Lamentations 2:18; and our text above) are in reference to the chosen people, Israel, as the “apple of the eye” of God Himself. God has often punished Israel for her sins and has allowed other nations to be His rod of judgment, but woe to that nation that touches the apple of His eye in this way!

That individual believers can also be so regarded by the Lord is evident from one of David’s prayers: “Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness....Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Psalm 17:7-8).

To be kept by God as He would keep the very apple of His own eye requires an implicit trust in Him and His Word. In fact, His Word must become the apple of our eye! “My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee. Keep my commandments, and live; and my law as the apple of thine eye” (Proverbs 7:1-2).

There are many beautiful and appropriate figures used for God’s Word (“light,” “hammer,” “sword,” “milk,” etc.) but none more personally meaningful than this. May the holy Scriptures, the indispensable Word of God, truly be the apple of the eye for each of us. HMM
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« Reply #7354 on: August 29, 2021, 08:28:41 AM »

The Weight of the Wind

“For he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven; To make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.” (Job 28:24-25)

It was only discovered by scientists in modern times that the air actually has weight. This passage in Job, however, written 35 or more centuries ago, indicated that the two great terrestrial fluids of air and water forming Earth’s atmosphere and hydrosphere are both “weighed” by God’s careful “measure” to provide the right worldwide balance of forces for life on Earth.

Another remarkable “weighing” act of God is noted in Job 37:16: “Dost thou know the balancings of the clouds, the wondrous works of him which is perfect in knowledge?” Clouds are composed of liquid drops of water, not water vapor, and water is heavier than air, so how are they “balanced” in the sky? “For he maketh small the drops of water: they pour down rain according to the vapour thereof: Which the clouds do drop and distill upon man abundantly” (Job 36:27-28).

Meteorologists know that the weight of the small water droplets in the clouds is “balanced” by the “weight of the winds”—air rushing upward in response to temperature changes. Eventually, however, the droplets coalesce to form larger drops that overcome these updrafts and fall as rain. “By watering he wearieth the thick cloud” (Job 37:11). The coalescence is probably triggered electrically in the clouds themselves, “when he made a decree for the rain, and a way for the lightning of the thunder” (Job 28:26).

Although these verses are not couched in the jargon of modern science, they are thoroughly scientific and up to date. “Lo, these are parts of his ways: but how little a portion is heard of him? but the thunder of his power who can understand?” (Job 26:14). HMM
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« Reply #7355 on: August 30, 2021, 08:58:01 AM »

Showing the Way of Salvation

“The same [a demon-possessed servant girl] followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” (Acts 16:17)

Paul and Luke first witnessed to European unbelievers in Philippi and saw them wonderfully converted (v. 14), but a young “soothsayer” continually interrupted them, mocking and interfering. Paul cast out the controlling spirit of divination (v. 18), denying her owners their source of income. In retribution, they convinced the city leaders to have them brutally flogged and thrown into the innermost prison (v. 24).

But God had other plans. A mighty earthquake seemingly freed them, causing the jailer to prefer suicide rather than face capital charges for his “offense.” Paul intervened, and the jailer desperately pled, “What must I do to be saved?” (v. 30).

What would cause a Roman official in a decidedly pagan culture, who had heard little (if anything) of the truth, to abruptly turn to God for salvation? Certainly the earthquake had captured his attention, as had Paul’s behavior through his trail and abuse, but what made him think the truth was with Paul? Why did he ask for salvation from an incarcerated prisoner?

Perhaps during the trial he had heard of the slave girl’s testimony. In our text she had exclaimed, “These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation.” Was this ringing testimony, given in derision but heard nonetheless, involved in his decision?

We can’t know for sure, but we do know that this was the introduction of the gospel to Europe. Surely God’s ultimate plan can be seen in the events at Philippi that day. Even the unknowing truth from a demonic soothsayer contained lasting truth. Christians should never hesitate to declare gospel truth, for God will not allow it to go unheeded (Isaiah 55:11). JDM
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« Reply #7356 on: August 31, 2021, 05:27:58 AM »

Early Risers

“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35)

One of the best ways to meet the Lord is to rise up early in the morning, before activities of the day can interfere. This apparently was the practice of Jesus Himself.

There are also many other occurrences in the Bible: “Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD” (Genesis 19:27). In order to set up an altar, “Jacob rose up early in the morning” (Genesis 28:18). When Moses gave the people the laws of God, he “wrote all the words of the LORD, and rose up early in the morning, and builded an altar under the hill” (Exodus 24:4). Later, when he was to receive the commandments a second time, “Moses rose up early in the morning, and went up unto Mount Sinai” (Exodus 34:4). “Joshua rose early in the morning” to lead Israel over the Jordan, and then to capture Jericho; and to take Ai, “Joshua rose up early in the morning” (Joshua 3:1; 6:12; 8:10).

During the time of the Judges, Gideon “rose up early on the morrow” to prove God’s will through putting out the fleece (Judges 6:38). Hannah and Elkanah, in praying for the son who would later become Samuel, “rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:19).

No doubt there are justifiable exceptions, but late sleeping is in general not a good thing. “How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep?...he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame” (Proverbs 6:9; 10:5). It is good to seek the Lord early each day. “I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me” (Proverbs 8:17). “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up” (Psalm 5:3). HMM
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« Reply #7357 on: September 01, 2021, 05:11:27 AM »

Stand Ye Still

“Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem...to morrow go out against them: for the LORD will be with you.” (2 Chronicles 20:17)

The Ammonites and Moabites and Edomites had organized “a great multitude” seeking to destroy Judah under King Jehoshaphat. But the king and his people came together to “seek the LORD” in prayer for deliverance, and God answered. “The Spirit of the LORD” spoke through Jahaziel, assuring them that “the battle is not yours, but God’s” (see 2 Chronicles 20:2, 4, 14-15).

Then the Lord sent what may have seemed a strange instruction. “Stand ye still,” He said. Just watch God do it! And He did. All their enemies were constrained by the Lord to fight and destroy each other, without the Israelites having to fight at all. Similarly, at the Red Sea when everything looked hopeless, “Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD” (Exodus 14:13). So, they did, and all Pharaoh’s armies were overthrown in the midst of the sea.

In Isaiah’s day, when Israel was tempted to call on pagan Egypt for help against pagan Assyria, God said concerning Israel’s armies, “Their strength is to sit still” (Isaiah 30:7). As the ship was being buffeted in the storm, and the sailors in panic were about to flee in the lifeboat, Paul said, “Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved” (Acts 27:31). So, they stayed, and God spared every man.

There are times for action, of course, but the principle is this. When we have done all we can, and the situation seems hopeless, this is the time to sit still and trust God to work it out in His own good way. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Got any rivers you think are uncrossable? God specializes in things thought impossible! HMM
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« Reply #7358 on: September 02, 2021, 10:04:52 AM »

My Every Prayer

“I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy.” (Philippians 1:3-4)

The letter to the Philippian church stands as perhaps the most personal of the epistles, with Paul’s love for the believers being obvious. He expressed his love with heartfelt prayer for them every time he thought of them.

These prayers are constant in the sense that the Philippian believers were never far from his thoughts. Often Paul resorted to prayer for their personal needs and their relationship to God. His prayers are described by at least two Greek words of interest to us. First, he tells that he “thanked [his] God” (Greek eucharisteo) each time they came to mind. To another church he similarly wrote, “I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:4). The word implies a sincere statement of genuine gratitude for their fellowship in being with him in serving God and partnership in the ministry.

Likewise, he used the word “supplication” (Greek deesei), an expression of gratefulness for his needs having been supplied. Paul’s needs were often provided for by those to whom he ministered, and he was profoundly grateful. The Christian minister is enjoined to remember his followers with “joy.” Paul remembered them in thankfulness to God for them and to them for their response.

We should strive to arrive at a balance between our ministry goals in evangelism and ongoing care for believers’ Christian growth and steadfast doctrinal purity. What is the state of our harmony among church members, as well as our prayers for them? JDM
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« Reply #7359 on: September 03, 2021, 09:08:21 AM »

Faith, Substance, and Evidence

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

The 11th chapter of Hebrews, known as the great Hall of Fame of Faith reciting the faith and resulting action of many Old Testament heroes, begins with a description of what faith is.

First, we see that it is the “substance of things hoped for.” Biblically, we know that the Christian “hope” is a hope so real it has substance in the present. None of the people of faith recited in this chapter actually saw the promises made to them come to fruition, but they so believed in them that they lived in the present as if the future were reality.

The word “substance” occurs only two other times in Hebrews. It is used to speak of Christ as the exact representation of God’s essence and nature, “who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person [i.e., substance]” (Hebrews 1:3). It is also translated “confidence,” “for we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Hebrews 3:14), and speaks of a deep assurance. Putting this all together, our text could then be rendered “faith is the essence of our assurance of things yet in the future.”

The word “evidence” could be translated “conviction,” or even “proof.” The word implies a logical, airtight argument. “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof [same word as ‘evidence’], for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16). This sort of evidence is something we know to be true, something about which we have such conviction we act accordingly.

The first half of the verse brings a future truth down into the present; the second half commits our lives to that truth. JDM
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« Reply #7360 on: September 04, 2021, 08:38:47 AM »

The Doctrine of the Few

“The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people.” (Deuteronomy 7:7)

Modern people—even Christians—tend to measure success in terms of bigness. God’s measure, on the other hand, is based on quality, not quantity. There were undoubtedly millions of people on the earth, for example, when the Flood came in the days of Noah, but only “few, that is, eight souls were saved” as the waters lifted up the Ark (1 Peter 3:20).

A few centuries after the Flood, populations had again increased, and great nations developed in Egypt, Sumeria, and elsewhere. But God called one man, Abraham, to establish a new nation, and he obeyed. Many great nations (Arabs, etc.) came from Abraham, but again God chose only one, Israel, to inherit the promise. Israel did grow, but as our text shows, even this chosen nation was nearly always insignificant compared to other nations.

In Israel’s history, many instances are recorded when God used just a few to battle many. God used Gideon’s 300 men to defeat 135,000 Midianites (Judges 7:7; 8:10). Similar deliverances occurred in the days of David, Asa, Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, and others.

In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus told His disciples that “where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). He also said to them: “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32).

God’s criterion is that of motivation rather than multiplication. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). But those few will be faithful servants and will someday hear Him say: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21). HMM
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« Reply #7361 on: September 05, 2021, 09:58:26 AM »

Sacrifice and Service

“Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” (Philippians 2:17)

Paul saw himself as “poured out” as an offering (Greek spendo) on the “sacrifice and service” of these precious friends. This special word is used only one other time, when Paul was “ready to be offered” at his death (2 Timothy 4:6).

Paul’s ministry among the Philippians resulted in the godly lifestyle of the church. They became sacrifices (Greek thusia) much like the Lord Jesus “hath given himself for us” (Ephesians 5:2) and as we are all told to “present [our] bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is [our] reasonable service” (Romans 12:1).

The service that is commended of the Philippians is a public service undertaken at one’s own expense (Greek leitourgia). Several men in the church at Antioch were noted for their ministry (Acts 13:2 uses the same word), and some in Macedonia and Achaia were also acknowledged for giving contributions to the saints at Jerusalem (Romans 15:26-27).

Paul’s joy and rejoicing at the godly activity of the faithful saints at Philippi are the key to understanding the tone of the entire book. He had “poured out” himself, even being “shamefully entreated” during his ministry there (1 Thessalonians 2:2). Yet while writing this poignant letter back to the church, he gives joyful greetings to them at the certain knowledge that his ministry among them has resulted in their sacrifice and service.

Would God that all of us could see our offerings for the sake of others with the same passionate expectation. Often our Lord calls on us to give of ourselves in selfless ways so that others may learn from our example. Sometimes, we must even pour out our own souls (1 Thessalonians 2:8) for the sake of the gospel. HMM III
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« Reply #7362 on: September 06, 2021, 08:40:17 AM »

Yokefellows

“And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Philippians 4:3)

Although the word “yokefellow” is out of use today, the meaning is easily understood. Most of us know a yoke is a device that connects two animals together to increase the power for the work that needs to be done.

Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30). From a spiritual perspective, we labor together with the Lord Jesus. Among ourselves, we labor in the gospel. It is worth noting that God sees the marriage bond as “joined together” (same term) with a yoke (Matthew 19:6).

Interestingly, as Paul speaks highly of the women who labored with him, he uses two very different concepts to recognize their contribution. First, he describes them as sunathleo, or those who are “engaged in the contest” with him, like “a man also [strives] for masteries” (2 Timothy 2:5). Then, Paul uses sunergos to describe those who have accomplished meaningful work alongside him. Titus is described as Paul’s “partner and fellowhelper” (2 Corinthians 8:23). These women had evidently earned Paul’s respect for their commitment to the Kingdom work.

Although the picture drawn by these synonyms rests on the work aspect, surely there is the assumption that those who are yoked together are anticipating a common goal. Jesus, with “the joy that was set before him endured the [work of the] cross” (Hebrews 12:2). And we labor in the Kingdom since our “names are in the book of life.” HMM III
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« Reply #7363 on: September 07, 2021, 04:14:12 AM »

Sojourners

“For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers: our days on the earth are as a shadow, and there is none abiding.” (1 Chronicles 29:15)

All of God’s people, whether ancient Israelites or latter-day Christians, need to recognize that we are mere “strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). This world is not our home, as the old gospel song puts it, and we must not let our roots get down too deep in this materialistic world.

The words of our text are in David’s last recorded prayer before his death. He was a great king and very wealthy in material things, but he still recognized that his real home was not in the earthly Jerusalem but in heaven.

So should we. The apostle Paul wrote, “For our conversation [the Greek word here literally means ‘citizenship’] is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). We are merely serving in this world as “ambassadors for Christ,” and our business here, representing the court of heaven, is to urge men, “in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20).

Why should we spend time and money beautifying a home on Earth when Christ has gone to prepare a mansion for us in heaven (John 14:2)? Remember Abraham, who by faith “sojourned...in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles” (Hebrews 11:9). “But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16).

Also remember Paul, who had “no certain dwellingplace” (1 Corinthians 4:11), not to mention the Lord Jesus Himself, who had “not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). We do well, therefore, to “pass the time of [our] sojourning here in fear” (1 Peter 1:17)—that is, reverential fear of God (never fear of man), as good citizens of our heavenly country. HMM
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« Reply #7364 on: September 08, 2021, 05:36:05 AM »

The Righteous Judge

“That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Genesis 18:25)

People often make erroneous judgments. Even those who are officially appointed or elected to judge others are sometimes mistaken, and so we have a whole system of appeals courts. Yet even the Supreme Court, composed as it is of fallible human beings, often seems to be wrong. But as Abraham recognized long ago while interceding for the people in Sodom, we can be confident that the Judge of all the earth will do right!

He not only can judge our actions in relation to His revealed will but can also discern thoughts and motives and, therefore, “judge the secrets of men” (Romans 2:16), and He will do so in absolute rightness. Furthermore, “he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:...and my judgment is just,” asserted the Lord Jesus (John 5:22, 30). To those who reject or ignore His redeeming love, relying instead on their own worth, “there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27).

To those who have been redeemed through saving faith in Christ, there will, indeed, be a Judgment Day, but it will be for dispensing of rewards for faithful service rather than for salvation, and this also will be done righteously. “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, shall give me at that day” (2 Timothy 4:8). 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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