Grace and Holiness
To the Jews who had believed Him, Jesus said, 'If you hold to My teaching, you are really My disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.' They answered Him, 'We are Abraham's descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?' Jesus replied, ' I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed..." (John 8:31-36, NIV)
1. The Horns of the Dilemma
Brethren and sisters, I greet you in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ and pray that we will all draw close to Him through His Spirit as today, and in the coming months, I address one of the great doctrinal dilemmas that has divided Christians up into so many different theological systems and resulted in the schism of the original Church established by Christ into so many denominations. Today you have already heard about one of the missing dimensions of Christianity, namely true apostolic ministry, even though there are, in the world, a few churches who claim to have this ministry. Yet by and large they remain as confused over this doctrinal question as those who do not. So today, brethren and sisters, in the Name of our Lord and Master, you will receive the original apostolic teaching so that at least as far as you are concerned, your minds may be perfectly clear and your hearts at rest.
So what is this doctrinal dilemma or contradiction? I think we can sum it up in two facts represented by one statement made by the apostle Paul and another made by the apostle James. First, let us consider James, whom as you know occupied a position of some importance in the original Apostolate. He was President at the Council of Jerusalem and settled the doctrinal controversy over whether Gentiles should be obliged to follow all the rules and regulations of the Law or Torah, and in particular in regard to the dietary laws (Acts 21:17-26). The Christian Church struggled for a long time to understand what the relationship between the Old Covenant Law of Moses and the New Covenant of Christ was. They faced the dilemma that Christians apparently still face today.
So, let us look at the first fact, the statement by the apostle James given in his letter to the Hebrew Christians. Here it is, in the second chapter, verse 10:
Now before we look at this statement in more detail we need to consider two other important things.
"For whoever keeps the whole Law (Torah) and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking it all" (James 2:10, NIV)
Firstly, that the Law, or Torah (sometimes known as the Law of Moses) was given by God for the Hebrew people to obey. It is summarised in the Ten Commandments or Decalogue and then elaborated upon in great detail in the first five books of the Bible.
Secondly, when Jesus came to the earth He scrupulously upheld this Law. He told His disciples that not only must they live this Law even more scrupulously than the Pharisees (Matt.5:20) but that the Law was eternal -- it would stand for ever -- not one dot or stroke of it would pass away until heaven and earth passed away too (Matt.5:18).
On the other hand, Jesus did reform the Law. To begin with, He emphasised those parts which the Jews of His day had neglecled, like justice and mercy (Matt.23:23) and taught the people that the heart of the law lay not in outward rituals and actions but in inward, spiritual processes (Matt.5:28; Luke 6:5). Secondly, He abolished the rituals of animal sacrifice and ritual purification that had pointed to His coming since they were already filled. Thirdly, He reformed, through His apostles, Israel's dietary code, the law of circumcision, and various other facets of the Law.
Now I say these things -- and I have said them many times -- because there is an erroneous belief that the whole Law of Moses was abolished by Christ on the Cross. And this because of a misunderstanding of the teachings of Paul which has bedeviled Christianity.
So back to the statement by James. He was reminding us that the Torah, or Law of Moses, was still binding on them -- or rather, the Reformed Torah -- perhaps we should call it the Christian Torah. His epistle is not liked by many Christians because it contradicts many of their pet doctrines of salvation. Indeed, it was such a thorn in the side of Martin Luther's doctrine of grace that he mockingly called it the "straw gospel" and desperately wanted it removed from the Bible. But here it stands today, a certral witness of the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ, namely, that the Law is here to stay, and it is binding on Christians until the end of time. To say anything else is to declare Jesus a liar.
Let us read around this statement by James and be clear that he is saying what we think he is saying. Let's start at verse 8:
The Law, we are told, gives us freedom. What kind of freedom is that? To be obedient to the Law -- to be obedient to true principles -- gives you first and foremost a clear conscience. It makes you feel clean. It makes you feel good. How wonderful it is to live in such a way! Christians, Paul tells us, are to be known amongst other things by their obedience to Law (Rom.3:31).
"If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, 'Love your neighbour as yourself,' you are doing right." In other words, you are declared "righteous", or living in right relationship with God. "But if you show favouritism, you sin and are convicted by the Law as law-breakers." Note well that it is the Law that exposes sin -- it is the Law of Commandments which tells us whether we are doing right or wrong. "For whoever keeps the whole Law and stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking it all. For He who said, 'Do not commit adultery,' (Ex.20:14; Deut.5:18) also said, 'Do not murder.' (Ex.20:13; Deut.5:17) If you do not commit adultery but commit murder, you have become a law-breaker." Now listen carefully to verse 12: "Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the Law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!" (James 2:8-12, NIV)
To do right -- to be righteous -- is to certainly enjoy the blessings of Heaven, to feel free inside. But James warns us not to selectively obey the commandments which suit us, because if we sin in one point of the Law, we are guilty in breaking it all (Jas.2:10).
James then concludes with a dissertation that makes millions of Christians worldwide cringe because of the false teachings they have received and believe in. He says:
So we can't hide behind the heretical doctrine, which the apostle James so clearly refuted, that all we have to do is believe in order to be made right with God. That's not good enough. Indeed, if anyone believes that, then they must believe the demons are saved, for they believe the Gospel too! But their belief is not unto salvation. And why not? Because they do not bring forth the works -- the actions -- the deeds of the Law. Their actions are exactly the opposite, for they seek only to destroy the works of righteousness by acts of evil.
"What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Cam such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and be well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. But someone will say, 'You have faith; I have deeds.' Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do." Pretty clear, isn't it? And then, as though to make his point, he continues: "You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that -- and shudder", because they're not saved! (James 2:14-18, NIV).
Alright. Let us summarise before we move on. The Law, as reformed by Christ, stands today as it has always stood. We must obey the commandments. Jesus said that to do so was the only real way we could really love for Him (John 14:15), for remember, all He ever did was teach the Law. Obedience to the Law, and especially the greatest commandment to love, makes us right before God. We cannot pick and choose what we want to obey. If we deliberately disobey one law, then we have disobeyed them all.
Does that seem harsh to you? Well, let's try to think about it not from the human perspective but from God's. Why is it that God cannot tolerate disobedience to His commandments? Why does willfull disobedience to one commandment constituite disobedience to all of them? If you think back to the Old Testament it is very clear that God cannot tolerate sin. He never compomises with it. God cannot ignore sin, or turn His back on it, no more than we can ignore a heavy cold or some serious injury. For sin is spiritual sickness -- it is spiritual injury. Don't you want to be free from all sickness? Would you not, if you had the choice to be perfectly healthy or ill, choose to be healthy? You would be mighty strange if you didn't.
The Lord God Almighty is a perfectionist because He is perfect. Jesus Christ is a perfectionist too because He was, and is, perfect. He has the unique distinction of never having ever sinned even though He was tempted as we were (Matt.4:3-11). Moreover, He gave a very clear commandment to us to be perfect as God is perfect. Yes, brethren and sisters, He has called you and I to perfection-- to be like Him and His -- and our -- Heavenly Father.
Now if we are to be perfect, then we must become like God in our moral attributes. That means we must be without sin. Now you can't say that little sins are OK -- you can't say you'll avoid the big sins and sweep the little ones under the carpet. That's not perfection. Let's say you commissioned someone to paint your house white on the outside and he then took you out onto the road and you saw this beautiful, gleaming white building. What would you say if he then took you right up close to the paintwork and you saw that it was badly painted -- that bits had been missed out? It looked find in the grand picture but when you got close you found it imperfect? Would you be satisfied? I doubt it. For if the job has been badly done, then the paintwork won't last so long. It's the same with sin. Little sins can't be "hidden away" -- they multiply and grow like bacteria. No, brethren and sisters, it's either ALL sin or NO sin. You either obey ALL of the Law or NONE of the Law. You are either PERFECT or IMPERFECT.
God is absolute. His standards are absolute. There are no exceptions. You know, there are many Christians who believe that when we are judged by God at the end of our lives that this Judgment will involve some sort of weighing or balancing act, with their good deeds on one side of the scales and their bad deeds on the other side. If their good deeds outweigh their bad, or if their hearts are basically good and outweigh their sins, then they can be admitted into the presence of God. Friends, this doctrine is absolutely false. It is not Biblical. It it a big deception.
God cannot, and will not, allow moral or ethical imperfection in any degree whatsoever to dwell in His presence. As a modern prophetic word puts it: "...the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance". It is not a question of whether good deeds ourweigh our sins. If there is even one sin on our record, we are finished. Plain and simple. The heavenly standard is complete innocence, and nothing less than complete innocence will be tolerated in the Kingdom of God.
Now maybe this has depressed you somewhat. Please, don't turn away if it has because there is good news to come. But you must realise that God's standards are strict first of all. Many of you, who have received spiritual education in these things, will know this is very true. So you must understand that God is strict. If you don't, then you'll never appreciate, let alone receive, that good news.
Now to Paul's statement, to the other horn of the dilemma. I think everyone of us will freely admit that we sin, and that we sin every day. None of us is innocent in the heavenly sense. We fail to be perfect on a more or less regular basis. Our actions are inconsistent with the behaviour which God requires of us to enter into His Kingdom. One of the many scriptures which illustrate this truth may be found in Paul's epistle to the Romans:
All human beings, even the best amongst us, have committed sins or displayed imperfections that are incompatible with the heavenly or celestial standard. And God cannot tolerate that. Here, as elsewhere, Paul implies that there are only two categories: For Him you are either perfect or you are a sinner in some degree. There is no middle ground. Remember, that one apparently "little" sin was enough to get our first parents expelled from the Garden of Eden and out of His presence. It brought about spiritual and physical death both for them and for the whole planet. ONE "LITTLE" SIN! While Adam and Eve were totally innocent, they could walk and talk with God -- one transgression, and they were gone. Yes, friends, that's how serious sin is, even "little" ones.
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23, AV)
Now from these two facts -- God's absolute demand for perfection and our absolute inability to come up with it -- one conclusion is inescapable: we -- that is, you and I -- cannot be allowed to dwell in the presence of God, sinful and imperfect beings as we are. This contradiction between God's demands and our inability to carry them out represents the most serious problem for mankind, having the direst consequences for the whole universe.
Do you ever assume that everyone else is doing better than you are? Do you ever think that other people aren't sinners and that they keep all of the commandments all of the time? And when you think that, do you ever start to loathe yourself because you can't do the same thing? Well, if you do, you aren't alone. You see, even the so-called "best" amongst us despair at what we see as an unbridgeable gap between what God demands and what we actually do. Thus even the great fisherman, whom we know as "Peter the Rock", said when first confronted by the Master's power, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8).
Once Peter saw the power of Christ and knew that He was genuinely sent from God, Peter could only come to one conclusion -- "I'm not worthy. You shouldn't be here with me. If you know how rotten I am, you'd realise it's hopeless. I'm not like you -- I'm sinful. So don't waste your time here on me; go and find someone righteous and religious, someone who can be saved. One as holy as You deserves a much better disciple than a poor wretch like me." No one knew better than Peter the vast chasm between the demands of God and the ability of unaided humans to meet those demands. And before he learned the good news, even the great fisherman apparently could see no hope, no way out of the Great Dilemma.
Now those fathers amongst you -- and all of you...and that's everyone...who has, or has had, a father -- perhaps an experience from my own life will help you and the others to understand what I've been talking about today. Now I have some lively children who are possessed of great will-power, are very independently-minded and, if uncontrolled, sometimes go off and do very wrong things. Many of you will know that I am very hard on my children and many have reacted strongly to this, but I'm hard because I love them. One day my eldest son did something that was particularly bad and I came down on him really hard. For weeks he had been saving up money to go on an excursion by doing lots of jobs around the house. He had really worked hard and thrown his whole soul into it. So in one swoop, I took it all away from him -- hours and hours and hours of hard work, enthusiasm, eager expectation, and hope -- and sent him to his room. Afterwards I had to go into my room and weep because what I did broke my heart. I knew it broke his heart and I knew he was crying. I felt an absolute monster and I would have done anything to give it all back to him. But at the same time I knew that what I had done was right. My heart was in utter rebellion against what I had done, but my spirit knew I had to do it.
He took it hard. I let him wrestle over what he had done, and what I had done to him, for a while, and every minute nearly killed me. I wanted to rush into his bedroom, take him up into my arms, and forgive him. Time went by -- I was absolutely helpless -- I couldn't do anything else because all my heart wanted to do was forgive him and restore him to fellowship. But I held back until the full impact of what he had done had worked on his conscience. Then, finally, I went to his room. His eyes were swollen, his face was red, and tears were on his cheeks. He had wrapped himself in his bed clothes and buried his head in his pillow. Well, in the end I couldn't contain myself anymore. I hugged him and assured him that I loved him with all my heart. I had to punish him but I restored most of what I had taken away soon afterwards so that he could understand a vital principle -- the good news of love.
We're all in the same boat as my eldest son was. We know what it feels like to be "sent to our rooms" and to be spiritually alienated from our Heavenly Father. We know what it's like to be cut off and to be alone. We experience the pain of the Great Dilemma here in mortality. And knowing better than anyone else our own dreadful inadequacy, sometimes all we can do is to wave the Lord on to someone else more worthy than our sinful selves. This is not necessarily a gesture of denial or a rejection of the Saviour -- unless it's self-pity -- rather, it is an expression of our hopelessness.
We have all done things that shame us, and we have felt the horrible weight of guilt and remorse and self-reproach. There are sins that maim us spiritually; sins that may not kill us outright, but which fester and will not heal; sins that make us feel as though we've drunk sewage or contracted some loathesome disease, as if we can wash but never get clean. In the grip of such sins and in the midst of guilt and despair, in our terrible aloneness, cut off from God, we raise our eyes to heaven and cry out: "O, Father, when will I be restored to Your presence?"
2. The Good News
This has been a sad introduction to my talk today but it's important. The bad news that we are sinful and cut off from God because of sin is necessary if we are to appreciate, and receive, the good news that there is a way out. Similarly, it is necessary for us to know, and to try our best to, live the Law in order for us to come to a full consciousness -- and awareness -- of our sinful and cut-off state, so that judgment can be overpowered by mercy.
The feelings I had for my eldest son -- the love I felt for him -- were only brought out by the strictness of the law which I applied in my home. And he needed to see both sides of the coin -- the judgment and the mercy. Similarly, as leaders in the fellowship, we must sometimes be very harsh against those who willfully transgress the covenant because this is the law of God. It is only as such persons repent that they come to know not only the love we in reality feel for them, but more importantly the love our Heavenly Father feels for them. Though our hearts wish to forgive them abundantly without application of the law of judgment, a higher law constrains us, and we must be obedient to it.
Now just as New Covenant Christian parents love their own children and loathe to punish them, so our Heavenly Father loves us even more and loathes to punish us. Indeed, the Scriptures assure us that no son or daughter has been loved by a mortal father as we are loved by Him. And how is that love revealed to us? It is revealed by the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.
This word -- atonement -- is a big one. It lies at the heart of the Good News that I have been speaking of. Atonement is both the revelation of love and is action in real life. It means taking two things that have become separated, estranged, or incompatible, like a perfect God and an imperfect me or you, and bringing them together again, thus making the two be "at one". The word itself derives historically from two smaller words and a suffix at:one:ment (to make at one), and the Greek word for atone is often translated "to reconcile". Thus to the two harsh realities that I have mentioned -- namely that if we break one commandment we break them all, and, everyone is a sinner and fallen short of the glory of God -- the Lord Jesus Christ adds a third reality -- the Atonement, the reconciliation, the "good news" or the Gospel. And this good news is that though we are separated from God, there is a way we can become one with Him again.
The Lord puts this idea in His own words in the first chapter of the book of Isaiah when He says to cut-off mankind:
What does the Lord mean here? Well, let me expand this a little bit so that the significance of these words do not pass us by. He is saying: "It doesn't matter what you did. Whatever it was, no matter how horrible or vile, is not the issue. The issue here is that whatever your sin was or is, I can erase it, I can clean you up and make you innocent, pure, and worthy, and I can do it today; I can do it NOW."
"Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool" (Isa. 1:18, AV).
Unfortunately, there are far too many Christians who simply do not believe this. Though they claim to have been born again, to have testimonies of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and His atoning work, they reject the witness of the scriptures and of the prophets about the Good News of Christ's atonement. Often these people na´vely hold on to mutually contradictory propositions without even realising the nature of the contradiction. For example, they may believe that Jesus Christ is Saviour whilst at the same time refusing to accept the possibility of their own completely forgiveness and eventual exaltation in the Kingdom of God. They believe in Christ, but they do not believe Christ. He says, "Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. I can make you pure, and worthy, and celestial," and they answer back, "No, You can't. The Gospel only works for other people; it won't work for me."
Sound familiar? Yet the "good news" of the Gospel is good news to me, not because it promises that other people who are better than I am can be saved, but because it promises that I can be saved -- wretched, inadequate, and imperfect me. And until I accept that possibility, until I believe Christ when He says He can bring me into His Kingdom and set me on a throne, I have not really accepted the good news of the Gospel -- I have only accept the Messenger while rejecting His wonderful message.
The first principle of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is faith. Those of you who have not read the New Covenant series, "Lectures on Faith", should do so as soon as possible. Now faith is not just accepting the historical claims of the Gospel. It isn't just believing that the New Covenant is God's restored Covenant upon the earth. It isn't just believing that apostles and prophets are walking on the earth again. It isn't just believing that God is sending revelations to the world. These may be important for us who know these things (though other Christians may not accept them), but they are not the Gospel per se. They are merely fruits of it. The first principle of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is FAITH. Faith in what, or whom? Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul said:
Do you believe in the Lord Jesus Christ? What is believing in the Lord Jesus Christ? There are many people who think that having faith in Christ means believing in His identity as the Son of God and the Saviour of the world. But believing in Jesus' identity as the Christ is only the first half of faith. The other half is believing in His ability, in his power to cleanse and to save -- to make us unworthy sons and daughters worthy.
"Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved" (Acts 16:31, NIV)
Not only must we believe that He is who He says He is, we must also believe that He can do what He says He can do. We must not only believe in Christ, we must also believe Christ when he says that He can clean us up and make us heavenly and celestial. When Jesus gave His Word in the scriptures to His apostles and prophets, He wasn't just addressing the Hebrew people, but all people -- and that includes you and me. So until we accept the real possibility of our own exaltation in the Kingdom of God, we do not yet have faith in Christ; we do not yet believe.
Well, let's see what kind of a person you are. As a minister I listen to many people and I have heard many variations of the same theme of doubt. "Oh, brother Chris, I can't expect the same blessings as the faithful members. I can't expect to go into the highest heaven because I sinned horribly. You see, I did this, or I did that. I'll support the fellowship and hope for the best, but I can't possibly be exalted after what I did."
What about this one: "You don't understand. When I was young, I made choices that took me down a different path, and now, after all those years, I just can't get there from here."
And this one: "Oh, no, I don't expect to make it back into God's presence. I'm nobody. I'm just an average Christian, just an attender. I've always had little jobs in the Fellowship. I've never been a leader, and I don't have any talents. I'll certainly never be a pastor or a teacher. I just don't have very much to contribute, so I don't expect to receive very much in the resurrection. I just hope I make the bottom level of heaven, but I know I won't be exalted."
My favourite example is of a man who said this: "Look, I'm just not heavenly material." His pastor lost patience and retorted: "So what's your point? Of course you're not heavenly material, neither is any of us. That's why we need the atonement of Christ, which can make us heavenly. Why don't admit your real problem -- that you don't have any faith in Christ?" Well, the man exploded when he was told that: "How dare you say that to me? I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I know He's my Saviour". The Pastor replied: "Yes, you believe in Christ; you just don't believe Christ. He says that He can make you heavenly material, and you have the audacity to sit there and say, 'No, He can't.' You believe all right -- you believe Christ makes promises He can't keep!"
All four people are sending the same message -- they're all saying: "I do not believe Christ can do what He claims. I have no faith in His ability to exalt me." If you ask these people what their problems are, they will blame everything except their lack of faith. They will say they have unique problems which noone else has. But the truth is their problem is exactly the same as everyone else's, Their problem is with the first step -- the first principle of the Gospel -- FAITH. All four of these objections and many others that people offer are simply ways of camoflaging the same basic problem -- lack of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
These people simply won't believe that the Gospel can work for them. And without obeying the first principle of the Gospel, without having genuine faith in Christ, these individuals cannot enjoy the power and the blessings either of faith in Christ or of the principles that follow faith -- repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Even though they consider themselves experienced and mature Christians, they have not yet been spiritually born.
Throughout my ministry I have often asked the question why people find it so hard to repent, and each time I come to the same conclusion -- it is because they don't really believe Christ! They believe in Him and may believe some of the things He promises. But unless faith is complete -- unless a person believes everything Christ says, he really doesn't believe Him at all. Do you see the parallel with what James said about the Law? If you do not believe all Christ's promises and teachings, you can't repent, you can't be inwardly baptised, you can't receive the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Is it any wonder that people feel cut off?
Brethren and sisters, if we believe only in Christ without believing Christ, we are like people sitting in cold, dark houses surrounded by unused lamps and heaters, people who believe in electricity but who never throw the switch to turn on the power. People like this often pretend to themselves and to others that merely believing in electricity makes them warm and gives them light, but they still shiver in the darkness unless they turn on the power. Though the appliances may all work and the wiring may be in good order, until we accept the power itself, beyond merely believing in the theory of power, we cannot enjoy the warmth and the light. This is why genuine faith in Christ -- active acceptance of His power and not just passive belief in His identity -- is, and must be, the very first principle of the Gospel. It is the first principle of salvation. No matter how much of the Gospel one learns or even believes in as a theory, until we accept the reality of our own salvation, we have not yet turned on its power.
Next time I shall talk a little more about the Good News and the central importance of Covenant in the Gospel. Thereafter we shall take a close look at the principle of Grace and what its true relationship to works or deeds is.
Brethren and sisters, I invite you today to believe not only that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of mankind who died for your sins, but that you believe everything He has said -- His promises, His doctrine and His desire to meet you personally. And I leave you this measuring-rod so that you can begin to see whether or not you really believe Christ or not. I want you to ask yourself this question: Do you feel love for all people -- an overflowing heart-love for everyone, no matter who? Do you have any bitterness in your heart towards anyone? Are you using doctrines and practices -- other things -- as excuses not to face the central question of the life of Christian discipleship, namely whether or not you love your neighbour? For it doesn't matter how gifted you are, or in what you believe, if in the final analysis you cannot love. It doesn't matter whether you can prophesy, receive revelations and visions, speak in tongues, heal the sick, or anything else, if at the end of the day you cannot say: "I am reconciled to all men and women. I love them in my heart." If you cannot say that, then you have not believed. If you do not love, you have not been born again. If you do not love, then your discipleship is meaningless.
My testimony, and the testimony of all those who are in the New Covenant, is the same as the apostle Paul, who wrote to the Corinthians, saying:
May the Light of the Lord's love bless you all and bring you into an atoneing relationship with Him and with those whom He has called you to live and serve with, is my prayer, in Jesus' Name. Amen.
"We do not use deception, nor do we distort the Word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as tour servants for Jesus' sake. For God, who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness,' has made His light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ....It is written: 'I believed; therefore I have spoken.' With that same spirit of faith we also believe believe and therefore speak, because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus from the dead will also raise us with Jesus and present us with you in His presence. All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God" (2 Cor.4:2b-6, 13-15, NIV).
This page was created on 1 January 1998
Updated on 21 February 1998
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