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« Reply #7860 on: January 10, 2023, 08:02:41 AM »

Justification

“And the LORD said unto Noah, Come thou and all thy house into the ark; for thee have I seen righteous before me in this generation.” (Genesis 7:1)

This is the first mention of the great doctrine of justification in the Bible—that is, being seen as “righteous” by God. The same Hebrew word is translated “just” in Genesis 6:9: “Noah was a just man.” The reason why Noah was seen as righteous and therefore as just, or justified before God, was that “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8). This is the first mention of “grace” in the Bible. The first mention of “faith” or “belief” is also associated with justification. “[Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6).

Thus, justification is by grace through faith in the Old Testament and certainly in the New. “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” and also “being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 3:24; 5:1).

Justification—that is, being seen and proclaimed as perfectly righteous, even in spite of past sins—must of course be authorized by God the Creator. “It is God that justifieth” (Romans 8:33). That God can indeed be both “just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Romans 3:26) is based entirely on the substitutionary death and bodily resurrection of Christ, who conquered death. “Being now justified by his blood,” the Lord Jesus Christ “was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Romans 5:9; 4:25).

Now, although we are freely justified by grace through faith, such justification inevitably generates good works also, for “by works a man is justified, and not by faith only” (James 2:24). HMM
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« Reply #7861 on: January 11, 2023, 08:46:44 AM »

The Battle Is the Lord's

“And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hands.” (1 Samuel 17:47)

These were the ringing words of faith uttered by young David as he faced the Philistine giant Goliath. Without armor, or spear, or shield, and with only a sling and five smooth stones, David confronted the nine-foot champion of the pagan army in the name of the true God, and soon the giant lay dead with his face to the ground.

The battle must always be the Lord’s. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against...the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Ephesians 6:12). Spiritual battles are not won by bullets, nor by ballots, nor by any human means. “Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7). “There is no king saved by the multitude of an host: a mighty man is not delivered by much strength....Behold, the eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him, upon them that hope in his mercy” (Psalm 33:16, 18).

We even have a mandate to attack the enemy in His stronghold. Christ taught, “Upon this rock [of faith in Christ as divine Savior] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18)

It is easy, in trying to do a work for God, to rely on human abilities and devices, but these will fail, for the battle is the Lord’s. When the battle is going well, we must not boast, for the battle is the Lord’s. When the battle is going hard, we must not despair, for the battle is the Lord’s.

He is our strength. “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds)” (2 Corinthians 10:3-4). HMM
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« Reply #7862 on: January 12, 2023, 08:05:23 AM »

Fulfilling the Law

“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.” (Matthew 5:17)

Christ makes this profound statement shortly after the famous beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus came to fulfill the predictions made about Him in the Old Testament Scriptures. He fulfilled the Mosaic law by becoming the ultimate sacrifice for sin as the Lamb of God. He fulfilled the moral requirement of the law by His perfect obedience, which we could never do, and His atoning blood paid the price for our sins. Thus, Isaiah’s words were fulfilled: “He will magnify the law, and make it honourable” (42:21).

Another point to consider is that we should beware of diminishing the importance of the Old Testament. Let us never listen to those who bid us to throw it aside as obsolete, antiquated, or useless. Its teachings are foundational to Christianity. The apostles quoted from it frequently, especially Paul in his epistles. The Old Testament saints saw many things through a glass darkly, but they all looked by faith to the same Savior.

We should also beware of despising the law of the Ten Commandments or think that it has been set aside by the gospel and that Christians should move past it. If anything, Christ exalted the law and raised its authority by going deeper and addressing the attitudes of the heart that led to its violations. By it comes the knowledge of sin through which the Spirit shows our need of Christ. While the law cannot save, it does reveal the life that is pleasing to God. In our journey of Spirit-empowered sanctification, Paul states, “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid: yea, we establish the law” (Romans 3:31). JPT
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« Reply #7863 on: January 13, 2023, 07:32:16 AM »

If So Be

“If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” (1 Peter 2:3)

The phrase “if so be” (Greek ei per) is used four times in the New Testament, each time setting forth a vital spiritual result established on the basis of a vital spiritual premise. The premise in today’s verse is that a new Christian has truly experienced the saving grace of Christ. The result will be these “newborn babes” will truly “desire the sincere milk of the word” (1 Peter 2:2). The “word” (Greek logikos) is always both pure and reasonable.

Then, “ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you” (Romans 8:9). When a person truly receives Christ, the Holy Spirit indwells his body, and the result is that he will henceforth live in the guidance of the Spirit instead of the flesh.

But this life in the Spirit will necessarily entail suffering for the sake of Christ, and this is the premise that assures our future inheritance and glorification. The indwelling Spirit bears witness that we are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:17).

Finally, our future resurrection is assured by the certainty of the bodily resurrection of Christ. “We have testified of God,” Paul says, “that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not” (1 Corinthians 15:15). Christ’s resurrection is proved as well as any historical fact has ever been proved, so the dead surely rise also.

These “if so be’s” of Scripture, although seemingly expressed in the form of conditions, actually speak great assurances. The true Christian life is one of thirst for the logical words of God, guidance by the indwelling Spirit of God, certainty of future resurrection, and anticipation of a glorious inheritance in Christ. HMM
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« Reply #7864 on: January 14, 2023, 07:49:54 AM »

Heavenly Calling

“As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.” (1 Corinthians 15:48)

In a wonderful sense, Christians are just passing through this world on their way to the permanent home awaiting them in heaven. “For our conversation [or ‘our citizenship’] is in heaven” (Philippians 3:20). Christ has prepared a “place” for us there (John 14:2), and it is there that we have “an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you” (1 Peter 1:4).

In view of such a glorious future, we ought to live not as those who are “earthy” but, as our verse says, as “they also that are heavenly.” We have, indeed, been made “partakers of the heavenly calling,” and so should always, in all we do, “consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1), for He represents us even now in the heavenly places. He has gone “into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us” (Hebrews 9:24), and we have, in effect, already been made to “sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6).

We may not appear to be very heavenly now, in these poor bodies made of Earth’s dust, but “as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly” (1 Corinthians 15:49). As Paul vividly expresses it, the Lord Jesus Christ “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). “The dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:52).

Christians, indeed, constitute a heavenly people with a heavenly calling, even while still on Earth. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). HMM
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« Reply #7865 on: January 15, 2023, 10:01:29 AM »

Visible Love

“My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” (1 John 3:18)

It has become popular for Christian organizations to cite this verse as their mission to help the poor and struggling peoples of the world. There is no doubt that God’s people are to give alms to the poor and represent Christ even with a “cup of cold water” given in His name. But this passage emphasizes how the believer is to treat another Christian brother or sister, and not about the needy unbeliever.

The continuing message in this small epistle begins with our fellowship “in the light” (1:3-7), producing love that is perfected by keeping God’s Word (2:5), which in turn is necessary to abide in the light (2:10-11). This commandment is as old as the beginning (2:7) but also “new” in the sense that it now includes both Jew and Gentile (2:8).

The vivid example of love is clearly displayed by the substitutionary atonement of our Lord Jesus (3:16), whose selfless and sacrificial love demands both sympathy and empathy toward our brothers and sisters in Christ (3:17). It also demands specific action in “deed and truth” (3:18). Our precious Lord did feel for us, but He also did for us.

The external action in addition to the internal attitude is certainly parallel to showing our faith by our works (James 3:18). We must be doers of the Word and not just hearers only (James 1:22). The emphasis on works by the apostle James is certainly in keeping with the apostle John’s insistence that the love for our brother be “in deed” as well as “in truth.” HMM III
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« Reply #7866 on: January 16, 2023, 07:27:56 AM »

The Honest Use of Scripture

“Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.” (Mark 7:13)

Jesus uttered these sharp words of rebuke to the scribes and Pharisees, who had encumbered the plain teachings of Scripture with numerous “interpretations” that enabled them to ignore whatever teachings they found inconvenient. The Lord Jesus Himself always took the Scriptures literally and as of divine authority, and so should we.

Furthermore, He taught that every word was true and authoritative: “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18). He also said that “the scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

Skeptics may pose certain difficulties in the Bible, evolutionists may ridicule its account of creation, and sinners in general may try to wriggle away from its moral constraints, but the Scripture cannot be broken! Jesus said, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:48). He Himself is the living Word of God, and we dare not tamper with the written Word inspired by the Holy Spirit. Christ, of course, could and did in some cases extend and apply the Old Testament Scriptures, because He Himself was their Author, but He never questioned their factuality or literal accuracy, and neither should we.

Nevertheless, many modern “Christian” intellectuals and cultists are following in the example of the Pharisees rather than that of Christ, “wresting” the Scriptures for their gain but “unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:16). God has spoken plainly in His Word. It is our responsibility to believe and do what He says. HMM
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« Reply #7867 on: January 17, 2023, 07:29:26 AM »

The Mighty Hand of God

“That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.” (Joshua 4:24)

The testimony of Joshua to the children of Israel as they entered the promised land reminded them of the tremendous strength in the mighty hand of God whom they were to fear and trust forever. This is only one of about 20 references in the Scriptures to God’s mighty hand. Moses had often recalled how “the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:8).

The first reference to God’s mighty hand is in Jacob’s dying prophecy concerning Joseph. “His bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob” (Genesis 49:24)

Like those of Joseph, our hands also can be strong when they are placed in the mighty hands of God. Some may note that this is only a figure of speech, for God is Spirit and has no physical hands. Yes, but “he that planted the ear, shall he not hear? he that formed the eye, shall he not see?” (Psalm 94:9). God indeed is God of the mighty hand!

The final reference to God’s mighty hand and the only specific reference in the New Testament is in the apostle Peter’s exhortation to humility. “God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:5-6). Our human might is only a vapor, but “in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26:4).

Jesus said concerning His followers, “They shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). HMM
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« Reply #7868 on: January 18, 2023, 07:30:23 AM »

Passing the Scripture Test

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

Scripture begins with the historical account of the origin of the universe. The first verse of our God-breathed message opens with an unmistakable statement. In fact, Genesis 1 and 2 are so clear that even my four-year-old granddaughter comprehends without question that in six 24-hour days, God created everything.

The Hebrew verb bara means to bring something into existence out of nothing. The beginning chapters of Genesis have been the universal confidence of God’s chosen people down through history until the introduction of the erroneous theory of evolution and natural selection. In light of this, ask yourself a few simple questions.

Do you believe Scripture is the authoritative Word of God?
Do you believe in the literal interpretation of Genesis 1–2?
Do you submit to Scripture?

Some cloud the origins discussion with “modern science,” but this is not relevant to the question. True science necessitates verification by repetition, and creation cannot be repeated. Creation had only one observer, and He recorded exactly how He accomplished His creative task. Additionally, creation was supernatural—a series of instantaneous and inexplicable non-repeated miracles. Finally, the creation account is not to be messed with (Revelation 22:19).

How did you fare in the Scripture Test? Correctly answering means you believe in the perspicuity (clarity) of Scripture and that it’s inerrant, authoritative, and complete. Incorrectly answering means you have a compromised view of Scripture.

Here’s a follow-up question for all of us: If Genesis can’t be trusted, exactly where do we start believing the Bible? CM
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« Reply #7869 on: January 19, 2023, 07:30:15 AM »

Walk by Faith

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Although today’s verse appears in parentheses in the King James Bible, it is a most important concept in Scripture and is the summary of an extensive passage that precedes it. Beginning with 2 Corinthians 4:8, Paul continually contrasts the seen and the unseen, finishing up with the admonition to “walk by faith.”

“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed” (vv. 8-9). Though we have trials on the outside, through faith we have inward triumph.

“Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus...that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our mortal flesh” (vv. 10-11). Even though “death worketh in us,” that same persecution results in “life in you” (v. 12). Through faith we know “that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus” (v. 14).

“Though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (vv. 16-17).

“If our earthly house [i.e., body] of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens” (5:1) “that mortality might be swallowed up of life” (v. 4). The death and decay of this life will ultimately be eradicated. We know this to be fact, for He “hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit” (v. 5) as a guarantee of our resurrection, if indeed we have been born again by faith, the same faith by which we walk.

“While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18). JDM
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« Reply #7870 on: January 20, 2023, 07:30:18 AM »

How Are You Living?

“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness.” (2 Peter 3:10-11)

Peter tightly grips his quill, carefully writing his final words upon the parchment, as the sands in his hourglass of time are quickly running out. Soon neither his voice nor quill will serve the Savior again in his earthly role.

Take a moment to ponder these last words. What kind of person should you be? If our Lord Jesus is coming soon, how should these words impact your life and way of living right now? He says, “What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness” (v. 11). Notice the missing question mark even though it appears to be written as a question.

In fact, “what manner of persons” comes from the Greek word potapos. Rather than a question, the phrase assumes “an exclamation of astonishment,” without expecting an answer. One person translates the phrase this way: “What devout and dedicated lives you should live!”

Therefore, these verses become a challenge to conform to the life-changing reality of eternity. If the glorified Lord Jesus is coming to take you to be with Himself, to deliver you from judgment, to present you with a glorified body, and to take you into the kingdom of eternal righteousness, then now is the time to begin living in the reality of this eternal truth. CM
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« Reply #7871 on: January 21, 2023, 07:39:49 AM »

Hear, O My People

“Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee: O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto me....open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:8, 10)

This psalm was evidently used as an introduction to one of Israel’s feasts and begins on a note of joy (vv. 1-4) and a reflection on God’s sovereign provision for the people (vv. 5-7). But then it merges into a warning not to leave the God of their fathers, sternly reminding them of the commandment “there shall no strange god be in thee; neither shalt thou worship any strange god” (v. 9).

Such rebellion grieves God. “So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ lust: and they walked in their own counsels” (v. 12). When we will not go His way, He does not abandon us but does allow us to go our way. He permits us to learn hard lessons by our own folly, lessons that He would rather have taught us gently while in fellowship with Him.

“Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! I should soon have subdued their enemies, and turned my hand against their adversaries” (vv. 13-14).

He reminds us that He is capable of meeting all our needs, of every sort. “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it” (v. 10). The imagery used here is that of a mother bird feeding her otherwise helpless young. They are dependent on her for all their needs, even life itself.

Jehovah invites us to wholeheartedly trust Him for all our needs. His reservoir is boundless; how much He gives to any one individual depends only on how much we allow Him to give. He adjures us to open our mouths wide so that He can abundantly fill them.

May God develop in us not only “wide mouths” but also the faith to trust Him for abundant provision. JDM
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« Reply #7872 on: January 22, 2023, 08:19:11 AM »

God's Sovereignty Over All

“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations.” (Matthew 1:17)

This verse follows a detailed genealogy leading to the family in which Christ was born in Joseph’s lineage. When we look at these verses, we should be thankful for God’s sovereignty over the affairs of humans.

First, as Matthew points out, through God’s plan He ordained that exactly 14 generations should separate four key pivotal points in biblical history: 1) the giving of the promise of God’s seed (Christ) to Abraham, 2) the messianically prophetic rule of King David, 3) the prophetic period of time until Judah’s destruction and exile to Babylon, and 4) the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

The second thing we notice is that this lineage, while having a number of godly parents, also contains wicked and evil sons. But at the end of this list of names comes the God-man, the Lord Jesus Christ. Even though Christ is the eternal God, He humbled Himself to become a man, lived a sinless life, and became our prophesied redemption. His genealogy is another good example of how God uses the failings of evil men to bring about His purposes.

In the same way, God demonstrated His goodness in the life of the patriarch Joseph, who had been sold into slavery, falsely accused and imprisoned, and then made the second-highest ruler in Egypt. With hindsight, Joseph said, “Ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive” (Genesis 50:20). JPT
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« Reply #7873 on: January 23, 2023, 08:06:15 AM »

Loquacity

“He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.” (Proverbs 17:27)

The sin of loquacity (that is, talkativeness or chattering) is one of those “little foxes” that can “spoil the vines” of an otherwise godly lifestyle (Song of Solomon 2:15), and the Scriptures frequently caution us against it. For example, Solomon in his God-given wisdom warned as follows: “In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise” (Proverbs 10:19). In fact, Solomon frequently returns to this theme. “Be not rash with thy mouth, and let not thine heart be hasty to utter any thing before God: for God is in heaven, and thou upon earth: therefore let thy words be few” (Ecclesiastes 5:2).

The apostles in the New Testament also stress how important it is for Christians to control their tongues. Too much talk can easily lead to gossiping or criticizing or even coarseness in speech. James reminds us to be “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath,” for he says, “The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity...set on fire of hell” (James 1:19; 3:6).

“Study [that is, diligently strive] to be quiet,” Paul says (1 Thessalonians 4:11), and avoid “foolish talking” (Ephesians 5:4). When we do speak, our words should center on “that which is good to the use of edifying,” “always with grace, seasoned with salt” (Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 4:6). The Lord Jesus Christ Himself warned against this sin of talkativeness. “But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Such standards may seem impossible to meet, but we should always strive to meet them, for Christ is our example, and “hereunto were ye called...that ye should follow his steps” (1 Peter 2:21). HMM
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« Reply #7874 on: January 24, 2023, 07:38:52 AM »

The Face of Jesus Christ

“And they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads.” (Revelation 22:4)

This is the last reference in the Bible to the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a glorious promise it is, with its assurance that all His servants will finally see Him face to face! Although they give us no specific description of His physical appearance (the only description of His appearance is in Revelation 1:13-16), the gospel writers do frequently mention His face.

On the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John saw how “his face did shine as the sun” (Matthew 17:2) as He spoke of His forthcoming death. Shortly after this, “he stedfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51) to meet His death.

A few days after His entrance into Jerusalem, He was delivered into the hands of wicked men who took delight in desecrating that face which, in loving grief, had just wept over the city and its indifference to God. But first, in the garden just before His arrest, He “fell on his face” in agonizing prayer (Matthew 26:39).

Then the Roman soldiers began “to cover his face” (Mark 14:65) and to “spit in his face” (Matthew 26:67), and finally “they struck him on the face” (Luke 22:64). In fact, they abused Him so severely that “his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men” (Isaiah 52:14).

But when He comes again, the Christ-rejecting world will cry out to the mountains to “fall on us, and hide us from the face...of the Lamb...from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away” (Revelation 6:16; 20:11). All the redeemed, on the other hand, will rejoice forever in “the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). 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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