The Testator as Intercessor

January 20, 2016 at 12:57 pm | Posted in Eternity, Hebrews | 4 Comments
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Christ is God. He is greater than: the prophets, the angels, Moses, Joshua, Aaron, Levi, Abraham, and Melchizedek.

Why was it that the priesthood of Levi was not forever, but the priesthood of Christ after the order of Melchizedek is? Because the Law made nothing perfect (Hebrews 7:19), but the bringing in of a better hope did. The Levitical priests received authority from the Law.

For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

Hebrews 7:28

There was no provision for a priesthood from the tribe of Judah.

For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

Hebrews 7:14

That’s why the Law was not permanent; it was given to accomplish a purpose: to bring sinners to Christ. Its priests weren’t perfect, but the Priest of the New Testament IS perfect. He was commissioned by God’s personal oath.

And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest: (For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:) By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

Hebrews 7:20-22

A testament is a document, or a system, or a set of principles, which takes effect upon the death of the testator (the will-maker). But Christ as Testator, empowered by the oath of God (Who cannot lie), died to make His Testament go into effect, and then proceeded to arise and live forever to probate the will as Intercessor before God – making intercession for Christians – His legatees (heirs) – those who inherit His promises and His salvation FOREVER.

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the UTTERMOST that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 7:25 (emphasis added)

As the old preachers like to say, Jesus saves from the “guttermost” to the uttermost.

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A Unique and Superior Priesthood

December 17, 2015 at 3:40 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 5 Comments
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We have seen before that Jesus Christ is a “priest forever” after the order of Melchizedek. In Hebrews Chapter 7 we can look more closely at Melchizedek.

Jesus is The Great High Priest, superior to Aaron in His ministry, in His position, and in the way He was ordained. He’s “after the order of” Melchizedek, and the priesthood of Melchizedek is superior to the priesthood of Aaron, or, in other words, the Levitical priesthood. Melchizedek was both a priest AND a king

To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

Hebrews 7:2

Aaron was a priest only. Kings were forbidden from tampering with the Levitical priesthood. Melchizedek was the king of righteousness and the king of peace – together in one person. The ministry of the Law did not bring peace and righteousness together, but both of these qualities met together in the person of Christ.

And the work of righteousness shall be peace; and the effect of righteousness quietness and assurance for ever.

Isaiah 32:17

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

Romans 5:1

Without righteousness (justification; right-standing with God) there can be no peace. The superiority of Melchizedek’s priesthood over Aaron’s priesthood is shown by the meeting of righteousness and peace in one person, and by the fact that Abraham gave a tithe to Melchizedek.

Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

Hebrews 7:4

This was done by Abraham before the Law of Moses. Melchizedek was not an angel. He was not a pre-incarnate appearance of Christ (although he was a type and foreshadowing of Christ). He was a real man, who was really a priest and a king in a real city, but there are no Scriptural records of his ancestors or descendants, the way there are for the tribe of Levi (and for Aaron).

Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

Hebrews 7:3

His priesthood is a picture of Christ’s priesthood.

And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

Hebrews 7:15-16

Jesus, the Son of God, is eternal. He has always existed, and He always will exist. He is immutable – the same, yesterday, today, and forever. As one songwriter said,
“He’s not the God who one time did,
He’s the God who does.
That’s why they call Him the Great I Am
And not the Great I Was.”

So, Melchizedek is greater than Aaron in that he combined righteousness and peace, and in that he is a picture of an unchanging eternal priest. He is also greater in that he received a tithe even of Abraham. The logic goes like this: (1) the Jewish people gave tithes to the priests (the sons of Levi); (2) Abraham was the father of the Jews (including the sons of Levi); (3) they were, in a sense, “in him” before they were born; (4) so, when Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, it was like all his descendants, including Levi and Aaron, were doing it too; (5) Christ created Abraham, so we see that Christ is superior to Abraham. (Obviously, He is greater than Melchizedek, too.) Both Abraham and Melchizedek, in giving and receiving tithes, in giving and receiving blessings, were participating in something ordained by God, and Christ is God.

Winning the Argument that Christ is Better

March 16, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Hebrews | 6 Comments
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The Book of Hebrews was authored by the Holy Spirit, but there are vastly differing opinions over which human instrument He used to do so. Personally, I believe it was the Apostle Paul. It was written to convince the Hebrews (Jewish Christians) of the superiority of Jesus. A key phrase is “a better…” The Lord Jesus is “better” than all the attempts at righteousness in the Jewish religion.

Another one of the book’s main themes is the encouragement to draw near – draw nigh – to God.

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

We don’t have to chase God all over the country. As Christians, we can draw near to Him any time we want. When Jesus spoke to His disciples about the little children, He said, “Suffer them to come unto Me.”

In Hebrews Chapter 1 we see that Christ is better than the prophets of God who came before Christ’s birth.

God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Hebrews 1:1-2

The prophets told people about how God created everything, but Christ was there when it was created.

Second, Christ is better than the angels.

Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?

Hebrews 1:4-5

The angels are sometimes called the sons of God, but they are created beings, and the created is not to be worshiped. Only the Creator is to be worshiped.

The angels serve Jesus, and they serve Christians, too.

Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

Hebrews 1:14

How does knowing that Christ is better than the prophets and better than the angels convince us to draw near to Him? It’s step one of an argument. How did the Hebrews know that they were supposed to have priests and a high priest and altars and sacrifices and a tabernacle and sin offerings and blood sacrifices? God told them (His Word). But through what medium? His prophets. They delivered the Law – including the ceremonies of their religion. But if Christ was greater than the prophets, then the people needed to learn from Him.

Christ did not really come with a revelation of following a by-the-numbers set of rules and regulations. He came with principles like Grace and Love. The angels and the prophets helped deliver the Law, which was God’s revelation of His nature to the people, but Christ is enthroned in glory. He is seated at God’s right hand.

Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Hebrews 1:3-4

Christ is better than the prophets because He is God. He is better than the angels because they were created and He is the Creator.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

Hebrews 1:8

The cults don’t like this, but it is still true. “The Son” is a more excellent name. Jesus is God, and He has been forever. He was not “born” as touching His Deity. However, God the Father has especially honored Him as Son.

But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Hebrews 1:8-9

The Name Game

July 15, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Posted in Genesis | 8 Comments
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Laban had two daughters: Rachel was the youngest; Leah was the other one. It appears that Rachel was more physically attractive. Jacob agreed to work seven years for Laban in exchange for the right to marry Rachel. But Laban was trickier than Jacob.

However, the seven years seemed to pass very quickly for Jacob.

And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.

Genesis 29:20

On the wedding night Jacob got tricked in way reminiscent of the way Isaac got tricked – but worse. Jacob couldn’t even rely on his senses.

And Laban gathered together all the men of the place, and made a feast.

Genesis 29:22

The word for “feast” here probably means an eating and drinking party.

And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me?

Genesis 29:25

The Bible records Jacob walking with a limp from his wrestling encounter with the Lord or the Angel of the Lord, but if he reacted that way with Leah, he might have wound up with a limp anyway! In the 18th and 19th Centuries there was a ribald expression about going to bed with a Rachel and waking up with a Leah.

In any event, Jacob ended up serving another seven years for Laban in exchange for Rachel. That makes fourteen years working for Laban (minus two weeks off) and two wives – who were not too happy with each other! You can see from the names which the wives gave their children that Jacob the supplanter turned into Jacob the struggler. He just becomes kind of a pawn – kind of a man-toy in this power struggle where Rachel wants sons, and Leah wants Jacob to really love her and thinks having sons is the way to get that.

And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren.

Genesis 29:31

Hatred sounds harsh – but if you don’t love your wife, the fact is, you hate her. Hating your wife is bad, but there is a worse degree than hatred – indifference. Say what you will about Jacob, but he was not indifferent. Leah had six sons and one daughter. Jacob had twelve sons altogether: They were the progenitors of the twelve tribes of Israel.

The name “Reuben” meant “see, a son.” At Christ’s birth and at His baptism, God announced: “Behold, My Son.”

The name “Simeon” meant “one who hears.” God heard Leah’s prayer, and God would one day tell people to hear His Son. “Faith cometh by hearing.”

The name “Levi” meant “attached.” Levi was the priestly tribe. Jesus called disciples to attach themselves to Him.

The name “Judah” meant “praise.” Judah was the tribe of David and of Jesus. As Jesus ministered on earth, many rejected Him, but some began to praise Him.

Leah got to be the mother of the priestly tribe (Levi) and the kingly tribe (Judah). Christ is both Priest and King.

The name “Issachar” meant “reward” or “wages.” Christians have earned the wages of sin which are death, but we have received the undeserved reward of eternal life by grace through faith in Christ.

The name “Zebulun” meant “honor.” Christ was honored and exalted by God at His Ascension.

And Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest, and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them unto his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, Give me, I pray thee, of thy son’s mandrakes.

Genesis 30:14

The nickname for mandrakes was “love apples.” Later, Reuben, the collector of mandrakes, would sleep with Bilhah (Genesis 35:22) and lose his birthright.

Bickering and bargaining characterized Jacob’s household. His attitude seemed to be one of patient submission.

Rachel had a son through Bilhah named Dan. The name “Dan” meant “judgment.”

The name “Naphtali” meant “struggle.”

Leah, through Zilpah, had Gad. The name “Gad” meant “good fortune has come” or “a troop.”

The name “Asher” meant “blessed.”

You can see the constant “one-upswomamanship” in this naming contest. Finally, Rachel has Joseph, whose name meant both “to add” and “to take away.” She would have one more son, first named “Benoni” (son of sorrow) then later “Benjamin,” which meant “son of my right hand.” Rachel died giving birth to him.

The Solemn Ascension

May 18, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 10 Comments
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Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully. He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 24:3-5

This is a good text to use if you ever have a “solemn assembly” service at your church. It is okay to be solemn in church, and solemnity is very much lacking in the demeanor of many modern Christians. Titus Chapter 2 says for the elder men to exhort the young men to be sober, and for the older women to exhort the younger women to be sober. Sober means solemn, serious, alert, vigilant – serious about getting sin out of your life. We all need to be serious about getting the sin cleaned out of our life. Even the Apostle Paul said he did not speak as one who had already attained or who was perfect (Philippians 3:12).

If you read the Bible long enough, you will meet yourself – your true self – and you will not like what you will see. You will hunger and thirst for righteousness – and a knowledge of God – and you will be blessed. But we must do more than just agree that the Bible is the Word of God. We must resolve that, if the Word says we are in sin, we will get out of sin – that’s repentance.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24:3

Who can ascend? Who can climb the hill of the Lord? The strong? The swift? The worldly wise? We must throw out our worldly ideas of what it means to “ascend” – to go up. Can the prestigious ascend? The famous? The wealthy? The influential? Since this hill is the Lord’s hill, and since He recognizes no strength in men because He created all men from dirt, who will ascend?

Will the ones who ascend be the weary ones? “No,” says the world, “you have to have your own energy to ascend.”

Will the ones who ascend be the contrite ones? “No,” says the world, “it takes boldness to climb a mountain.”

Will the ones who ascend be the broken ones? “No,” says the world, “there are no handicapped mountain-climbers.”

But what does God say?

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

James 4:10

God says no one will ascend His hill under his or her own power. The only ones who will ascend are the ones who get weary, but do not depend on their own strength.

The only ones who will ascend are the ones who have a Guide who will lead them over or around the streams and boulders of temptation.

The only ones who will ascend are those who have the right foot-gear – their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace.

The only ones who will ascend are the ones who the Lord Himself will lift up.

Who shall ascend into the hill of the LORD? or who shall stand in his holy place?

Psalm 24:3

And who will stand? Who will remain in the holy place? Who will draw near and stay near? Billy Sunday said, “Revivals may not last. Neither do baths, but it’s good to have one occasionally.” However, we want to ascend and stand – to stay there – to get right and stay right.

He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

Psalm 24:4

We will stand and remain by having clean hands and pure hearts. This means more than following a set of rules and regulations. Jesus was hardest on the Pharisees because they claimed to love the Law – but wanted nothing to do with the Lawgiver.

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19

We are going to have to, by faith, follow after the Lord. We must realize that our hands are dirty, and we must trust Christ to clean them. The hands of sinners are stained and bloody. They are filthy and vile. But:

… while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8

What makes our hands so unclean?

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

I Timothy 2:8

Wrath makes our hands unclean – so does doubting. When we have an unpleasant ministry job to do, we say we’re “getting our hands dirty” – but spiritually we are not defiled by unpleasant tasks of love. Jesus was not afraid to touch the unclean. In our flesh, we are quick to touch the attractive. Who doesn’t like to hold a cute baby? Or hug an attractive person? We are not so quick, however, to lift our hands when it’s time to take out the trash. Water can wash away physical uncleanness, but what can wash away sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

“Clean hands and pure hearts,” Psalm 24:4 says. But what washes the heart to make it pure? The Word of God. Christ gave Himself for the Church,

That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,

Ephesians 5:26

The heart that truly wants to know God will not lift itself up to vanity. Ultimately, vanity is idolatry. If vanity is anything that is spiritually empty, then 99.9% of what the average person does is lifting up his soul to vanity. What should we be doing with vanity? With emptiness? With anything that is what the Bible calls “imaginations” – anything without eternal worth?

Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

II Corinthians 10:5

We should be casting it down, not lifting ourselves up to it. Casting down means destroying. In the Old Testament, God wanted the Canaanites destroyed – even the women, children, livestock, altars, statues of false gods – everything. Why? Because they were like thorns or weeds or cancer. If they were only trimmed down, they would spread and grow back stronger. If we are going to have repentance – and revival – we are going to have to cast down imaginations, not just what the imaginations produce. We must seek the cause of our sinful behavior, and get the root out. We must cast out imaginations and worldly thinking. There is no revival without repentance. If you’ve ever been closer to God than you are right now, then you are backslidden. Here is the result of getting right with God:

He shall receive the blessing from the LORD, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

Psalm 24:5

The Earthly King and the Heavenly King

April 29, 2010 at 11:46 am | Posted in Esther, Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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The book of Esther describes the devil’s attempt to prevent the birth of the Messiah years before it happened. The way he attempted this was horrific. He designed a plan to annihilate the entire Jewish race. To accomplish this evil plan, Satan used (as he would again centuries later in the case of Adolph Hitler) a man who hated the Jews: Haman.

Haman’s scheme was thwarted through the Lord’s providential use of a man named Mordecai, and the Jewish Queen Esther. In order to stop Haman, however, Esther needed to gain an audience with the king. Esther employed a good deal of wisdom in gaining the king’s favor, but in her approach to this earthly king, we may see some contrasts between the inferiority of an earthly king and the superiority of the King of Kings.

Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, that she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre.

Esther 5:1-2

a. The earthly king may refuse to grant an audience to his subject on a whim; the King of Kings openly invites all to come unto Him. (Romans 10:13)

b. The earthly king demands that those who come before his throne come meekly; the King of Kings allows those who truly desire His help to come boldly. (Hebrews 4:16)

c. The earthly king may swing from being in a good mood to being in a bad mood purely without reason; the King of Kings deals justly with all on the basis of His unchanging character. (Malachi 3:6)

d. The earthly king may or may not keep his promises; the King of Kings is never slack concerning His promises. (II Peter 3:9)

e. The earthly king demands that his subjects keep their distance; the King of Kings beckons His followers to draw nigh. (Hebrews 7:19)

f. The earthly king may grant a request, but secretly be motivated by his own selfish desires; the King of Kings has plans for His servants that are always for their own good. (Jeremiah 29:11)

g. The earthly king motivates his servants to obedience through the threat of harm; the King of Kings motivates His servants by His unwavering love for them. (John 15:9-11)

Where Are They Now?

March 3, 2010 at 10:21 am | Posted in Biblical Remembering, Zechariah | 4 Comments
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The name Zechariah meant “the Lord remembers.” This is not just referring to the omniscience of God. It also refers to His faithfulness. He never forgets His promises or His people in their times of trouble. Zechariah was a prophet and a priest. Other notable Bible heroes who held both offices include Ezekiel, John the Baptist, and Habakkuk. Zechariah’s prophecies are alluded to at least 41 times in the New Testament. His Book emphasizes the need for repentance in drawing near to God – so that God will draw near to us.

Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.

Zechariah 1:3

This idea of drawing near to God, and Him drawing near to us in return is found several times in the Bible.

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

James 4:8, emphasis added

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19, emphasis added

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22, emphasis added

Our drawing near to God must contain the element of repentance. Zechariah asks the people two very pointed questions:

Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?

Zechariah 1:5

The answer to the first question – “Where are your fathers?” – was that their fathers were dead or in exile as a result of chastening for their disobedience. The answer to the second question – “What about the prophets?” – was that they had slain the prophets. The words of the prophets were the Words of God. His prophets can be slain, but His Word cannot be slain.

But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.

Zechariah 1:6, emphasis added

“Take hold of” in this Verse means to overtake after a chase.God’s Word (especially the Old Covenant commandments) was accepted by the people because they wanted God’s blessings. However, they also agreed to be bound by God’s curses if they disobeyed.

Lord, help us to turn away from our idols, and to turn toward You. Help us to turn our face and our feet and our minds, and most of all our hearts, to You. Lord, turn Your face toward us. Draw near to us, Lord. We dare to make such a request only because of the precious blood of Jesus, for Your presence will destroy the unholy and the vain – the empty – the foolish things which stand in places where only Your glory should stand. Lord, You are holy, so we ask You to draw near to us with great trust in Your mercy.

In the precious Name of Christ the Lord we pray.

Amen.

The Author of the Story that Never Ends

January 13, 2010 at 9:58 am | Posted in Eternity, Hebrews | 11 Comments
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An eternal relationship with Jesus Christ is not only the result of salvation; it is also the means. He is not only the “Life.” He is also the “Way.” (John 14:6) In fact, Jesus Christ is the Originator of the plan of, and the Author of the very idea of, salvation.

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:2

People who claim that eternal salvation, once it is granted by Christ to someone, can somehow be “lost,” have not fully grasped just how powerful the Savior is. The only way for a recipient of eternal life to experience spiritual death, or separation from God, is for the Savior Himself to lose His Own eternal life. This can never happen. When Jesus Christ saves a lost person, that person is saved completely. He is saved to an extent that the Bible calls the “uttermost.”

Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 7:25

We all have trouble from time to time depending upon the promises of God. However, we must be extremely careful never to build a theological argument which posits that God Himself is unable to do what He says, or that He is undependable. In at least three very specific instances the Bible tells us that God can not lie.

God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?

Numbers 23:19

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Titus 1:2

That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

Hebrews 6:18


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