The Name of Jesus

What’s in a name? There can be an awful lot of significance in a name, and none more than the name of Jesus, to whom the writers of the New Testament ascribed more names*.

Mary the mother of Jesus was told by the angel Gabriel that she would conceive and bring forth a Son, and she was to call Him ‘Jesus’. (Luke 1:26-31) He also told her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God (Luke 1:35).”’

So what is the significance of the name Jesus? It was a fairly common name at the time of His birth in Bethlehem. Its root meaning was ‘salvation’, which came from the Hebraic name of Hoshea [also Hosea or Osea]. He was the son of Nun, one of the spies who checked out the land of Canaan, and who Moses renamed Joshua [Jehoshua] (Numbers 13:8, 16; 1 Chronicles 7:27).

The name Jeshua was derived from Jehoshua, and in New Testament Greek it is ‘JESUS’, which means Saviour (Matthew 1:21). The Angel Gabriel told Mary that her Son would save His people from their sins (v 21). Nothing could be more significant than that! The Jews were expecting the coming of their Messiah who would be their Saviour. He would liberate them from the occupying Roman forces, and He would establish His kingdom at Jerusalem. He would be their King (John 19:21).

Other Names/Titles of Jesus

The New Testament writers gave Jesus many other names or titles, such as: The Word (John 1:1), the Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16), the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), and the Apostle and High Priest (Hebrews 3:1). Their purpose was to highlight specific attributes and roles of Jesus, all of which were important for the fulfilment of His mission of salvation (John 3:17) and governance (Isaiah 9:6, 7).

To understand the significance of these names/titles one should consider them within the contexts in which they were written. Take for example the title ‘Prophet’ in Acts 3:22, 23: ‘For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’

The context was Peter’s preaching of the gospel to the people (Acts 3:11-26) who had witnessed the healing of the lame man at the temple  (vv 6-8). He was raised up ‘in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth (v 6)’, who had Himself been raised from the dead by His Father (Acts 5:30). If those present ‘heard’ the Prophet speaking through the preaching of Peter, and if they were given faith by Him (Ephesians 2:8,9), they too would be raised to life (John 6:44) at the ‘restoration of all things (Acts 3:21)’, i.e., at the time of the second coming of Jesus.

* More Names/Titles of Jesus

Some of the other names/titles ascribed to Jesus by the New Testament writers are: Adam, last Adam (1 15:45), Alpha and Omega (Revelation 21:6), Bread of Life (John 6:35), Chief Cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20), Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4), Firstborn from the Dead (Colossians 1:18), Good Shepherd (John 10:11), Great Shepherd of the Sheep (Hebrews 13:20), High Priest (Hebrews 3:1), Immanuel (Matthew 1:23), King of Kings, Lord of Lords (Revelation 19:16), Lamb of God (John 1:29), Light of the World (John 9:5), Lord of Glory (1 Corinthians 2:8), Mediator between God and Man (1 Timothy 2:5), Only Begotten of the Father (John 1:14), Seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16) and Son of Man (Matthew 18:11).

The name/title I love most of all is ‘SAVIOUR’ (Luke 1:47); for Jesus has saved me to Himself, and from hell and damnation. He has given me the light of life (Job 33:30). He is the Light of the World (John 9:5).

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The Paradox of Righteousness

A Paradox

My online dictionary defines ‘paradox’ as: a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd, but in reality expresses a possible truth.

In the previous post ‘Raised with Christ’*, I drew attention to the ‘paradox’ of Christians being ‘righteous’, and yet they are tainted with ‘sin’. How can this be?

Here are the words I wrote: Paradoxically, although righteous, a Christian is a prisoner of his own body which is tainted with sin inherited from Adam (Romans 6:6), and as such his body is subject to decay and death (Genesis 3:19). Spiritually, he is alive in the risen Christ (Colossians 2:12, 13). Positionally he has risen with Him in newness of life (Romans 6:4), and not only that, he has power to overcome sin, just as Jesus overcame sin. Having been enlivened by His Spirit he [she] lives in Him (v 13).

Witness of the Saints

Well, the truth is that a Christian, i.e., a genuine believer who trusts in Jesus, and who has repented of his sins (Mark 1:15; Luke 13:3) is a saint. Paul the Apostle and other contributors to the New Testament clearly referred to ‘saints’ (Romans 1:7; 8:27; 16:15) as those who were members of Christ’s Body [His Church] (Colossians 1:18, 24), whether at Colosse, Ephesus, Rome or Corinth etc., but when you read Paul’s epistles, you will notice they are full of exhortations for the ‘saints’ to live more righteously, e.g., Romans 12-15:13; Ephesians 4-6:18 and Colossians 3-4:6. They fell far short of the holy living their new life in the Spirit should have demonstrated. Their old habits lingered on. They were not wholly living by faith; instead some of them were enticed by satan to sin (Mark 4:15; Luke 22:3; 22:31; Acts 26:18; Revelation 2:12-17). He still had a foothold. He had not been completely vanquished. They were missing the mark, and they were not truly free in the Spirit of the Son (John 8:36).

This is also true of many Christians today. Their witness does not match up to holy living, and it is evident for the world to see. So-called Christian churches of various denominations do not practice what the Bible teaches; for example, they do not teach salvation through faith alone by grace, and not by works (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Some even contradict themselves by teaching salvation through faith plus works! There are those who endorse and practise same sex marriage, and in their midst are ‘ministers’ who are openly gay. Satan is present in these so-called churches and he reaps a harvest to damnation (Matthew 13:24-30).

Nowhere in God’s Word, i.e., the Bible, [and the only authority to which a Christian is subject], can I find Scriptures that teach same sex marriage is God’s will. Yes, in His Sovereign will he allows it, but His design was and is for a man to be joined to a woman for the procreation of children in His image (Genesis 9:1, 7). His design was for families and nations (Revelation 14:6, 7), the peoples of whom would worship and adore Him. Both men and women were made in His image and are in His image (Genesis 1:27), despite the sin that blights them.

A Bleak Picture?

This would appear to be a bleak picture, but that’s not the case. God’s Sovereign will will be done (Isaiah 14:26, 27; Ephesians 1:7-12)! He loves His people so much that He gave them His only begotten Son Jesus (John 3:16), who died in their place to bring them to Himself, i.e., God the Father through the Son and by the Holy Spirit [the Trinity – God in One].

There is no Paradox

There is no paradox for God. He knows exactly the truth, for He is the Truth (John 14:6). His grand design** was and is for Him to have an inheritance for Himself (Exodus 34:9; Psalm 33:12), and for His people to have an inheritance in Him (Ephesians 1:11; Acts 20:32; 26:18). His ‘holy’ people are made holy, for He is holy (Leviticus 11:44, 45; 1 Peter 1:15), and despite their failings while here on earth, they are perfected (John 17:23; Hebrews 11:40; 12:24) in His eyes. All of them, past, present and future are – I say – ‘are’ righteous in Him who is Righteous (Romans 3:21-26).

Praise the LORD!

*Raised with Christ

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/11/07/raised-with-christ/

**God’s Tapestry of Change [God’s Grand Design]

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/10/26/gods-tapestry-of-change/

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Raised with Christ

For the past three Sunday mornings I’ve heard sermons on the subject of ‘Life After Death’. Surprisingly the Bible is pretty sparse on revealing what sort of life the raised people of God will have in the new earth (Revelation 21:1), but it does tell of life now, death and the resurrection to come (1 Corinthians 15:51, 52).

There is nothing more sure than death. We all know that! Most people know that Christians believe they will live again after death, and that their bodies will be resurrected, as was the body of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:20). In the providence of God’s timing, a believer’s soul will be united with his new spiritual body to become an immortal being (1 Corinthians 15:53, 54), unique and distinctly individual, yet perfectly created for eternal life with God and His redeemed people.

However, before that, Christians physically live on planet earth, but they are separate from and different to those who have not been enlivened by the Holy Spirit (1 John 4:1-6). Unlike the latter, they are given new life in the Spirit by the Spirit (John 3:3-8). Their life is in Jesus Christ, and by the power of His Spirit they have died to sin (Romans 6:7, 10, 11), just as He did, except He had no sin (Hebrews 4:15). God forgave them their sin (Hebrews 8:12), and He accounted righteousness to them through their faith in His Son (Galatians 3:5-9). In God’s sight He sees them with delight and with pleasure, as He sees His Son (Matthew 3:17; 17:5).

Paradoxically, although righteous (Romans 3:22), a Christian is a prisoner of his own body which is tainted with sin inherited from Adam (Romans 6:6), and as such his body is subject to decay and death (Genesis 3:19). Spiritually, he is alive in the risen Christ (Colossians 2:12, 13). Positionally he has risen with Him in newness of life (Romans 6:4), and not only that, he has power to overcome sin, just as Jesus overcame sin. Having been enlivened by His Spirit he [she] lives in Him (v 13).

The Christian goes through stages: There’s the stage of new birth in the Spirit (John 3:3-8); followed by the stages of progressive sanctification (Philippians 3:12-15), death, resurrection and eternal life with God in His new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:22-22:5). It is the stage of progressive sanctification that is particularly challenging, because Christians are to live exemplary lives (Matthew 5:48; John 17:23) for others to see, that they might praise God. Christ’s followers [disciples] are to be light and salt to the world (Matthew 5:13-16). Their light is to shine forth and not be hidden under a basket (Mark 4:21). During this time of testing and obedience they will come under attack from the adversary, satan. He will do all he can to discredit their witness and to discourage them. He will prowl around like a roaring lion ready to devour them (1 Peter 5:8). He will try to sow doubt just as he did with Eve (Genesis 3:3, 4), or bring temptations as he did with Jesus (Matthew 4:1), but if the Christian stands firm (1 Peter 5:9), dressed in the full armour of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), he will overcome the wicked one (1 John 2:14b).

Now all this is possible, because the Christian has been raised to life in Jesus (Ephesians 2:4-6). He has died to sin (1 Peter 2:24), and he has been raised in the power of the Spirit (Romans 8:11). He lives by faith in the Son of God (Galatians 2:20). His hope is sure in the resurrection of Christ and the Word of His promise (Hebrews 6:17-20).

Hallelujah! and Maranatha!

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The Word in Your Mouth

‘The word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even the divisions of soul and spirt, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart (Hebrews 4:12).’

Words can be very powerful. There is the saying, ‘The word is more powerful than the sword.’ Both Hitler and Churchill were able, by the use of their oratory, motivate millions of people into working together for achieving their respective goals: world domination by the former, and freedom for the countries of the world by the latter. They both knew the power of words, and that they could be used as weapons of offence or defence. Misinformation, propaganda and fear framed by words were all part of the game, except World War Two wasn’t a game, it was a bloody slaughter and a dreadful evil.

Words are loaded with meaning. Words such as grace, love and peace are sweet to the palate; whereas words such as war, hatred and harm are bitter to the taste. They can be used to destroy or they can be used to build up.

James wrote, ‘Even so the tongue is a little member and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles! And the tongue is a fire, a world of of iniquity. The tongue is set so among our members that it defiles the whole body, and sets on fire the course of nature, and it is set on fire by hell. ……. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison (James 3:5, 6, 8).’

He went on to say that words from the tongue reveal the nature of a person. Sadly, they often indicate their flawed natures, e.g., there are those who may bless God with their tongue and with the same tongue curse men who are made in the image of God. James explained that this ought not to be (Vs 9, 10). He wanted his hearers to act with the wisdom that comes from above, i.e., God’s wisdom, so that they might cultivate the fruit of righteousness which is sown in peace (Vs 13-18).

The Psalmist wrote, ‘Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O LORD, my strength and my Redeemer (Psalm 19:14).’ The writer wanted to please God with his words. No doubt he was trying to be faithful to Him by ensuring his own words were in line with His Book of the Law. Joshua referred to the Book when he was preparing the Israelites for their invasion of Canaan. He gave the command: ’This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success (Joshua 1:8).’

The words of the Book of the Law were to be their weapons of warfare, and if they obeyed them they would succeed in conquering Canaan. God would be with them, and He would enable them to overcome the rebellious and evil inhabitants of the land they were about to enter over the Jordan (V 2).

Jeremiah had the same message of obedience for Israel, but this time the LORD would put the law ‘in their minds’ and ‘on their hearts’. They would be ‘His people (Jeremiah 31:33, 34).’  With the word of the law in their minds and in their hearts they were to live holy lives in obedience to Him. Their lives would be an expression of His word.

The same goes for the people of the church of Jesus Christ, because He puts His law (Galatians 6:2) into their hearts and minds, and they endeavour to please Him by living holy lives. They do not obtain their salvation from obedience to the Law, but from redemption through Jesus, by His sacrifice on the cross and by their God-given faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9). When they speak, they do so as His ambassadors (2 Corinthians 5:20). They speak the words He gives them – the words He puts into their minds and hearts. The Word of God is in their mouth (Cf Romans 10:5-10), but their righteousness comes through believing with the heart (Romans 10:10).

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The Favour of God

Esther 5:2 ‘So it was, when the king saw Queen Esther standing in the court, that she found favour in his sight, and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that was in his hand. Then Esther went near and touched the top of the sceptre.’

Queen Esther ‘found favour’ in the sight of the king. He held out his sceptre toward her which signified she could approach him with impunity. He loved her above all others (2:17).

By a stretch of the imagination I can see this episode as a picture of our Lord and King extending His hand towards those he loves and inviting them into His throne room. For Ether entering the king’s court, this was a very bold thing to do, since she had not been summoned by the king, and there was a law prohibiting anyone from doing so without being invited. The penalty was death (Esther 4:11).

The historical account of the life of Esther goes on to explain how her act of faith and boldness saved the Jewish nation from being annihilated (Esther 4:14). Had that happened, Jesus would not have been born of Mary, and there would have been no salvation for the people of God. All of this happened within God’s plan of salvation. Jesus died on the cross to pay for the sins of His people (Romans 5:8, 9). He died and rose from death that they might die in Him spiritually and rise with Him spiritually (Romans 6:11).

Having risen with Him in this life (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12) we [believers] dwell with Him in His heavenly kingdom, because we ‘found favour’ in His sight. Metaphorically He held out His golden sceptre towards us and summoned us into His presence. He gave us faith (Ephesians 2:8,9) and boldness to enter His courts. He chose us and placed us in Him (Ephesians 1:4). We know Him as our King (Psalm 145:1) who sits in splendour at the righthand of the Father (Colossians 3:1, 3) who dwells in the Holy of Holies. All of this, as we know it now, is a foretaste of what is to come. We cannot imagine the true magnificence of our new life after our physical death, when our souls have risen to be with Jesus, and more-so when our souls are united with our new bodies. Words of this world cannot describe what it will be like in the presence of the eternal God. When Paul the Apostle was ‘caught up to the third heaven’, i.e., the Paradise of God, he ‘heard inexpressible words which it is not lawful for a man to utter’ (2 Corinthians 12:2-4).’

The Bible describes the splendour of the earthly *temples of God built by human craftsmen, and we are awed by their beauty and riches.  How much more shall we be amazed at the glorious Temple in the new heaven spoken of in the Book of Revelation; that is ‘the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb (Revelation 21:22).’

*The Temples of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/02/05/the-temples-of-god/

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God’s Tapestry of Change

‘Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed (1 Corinthians 15: 51, 52).’

Change

My experience is the older I get, the less I like change, but inevitably because of the nature of life, things are always changing. I am no longer the young man I was when I got married fifty-eight years ago! My hair used to be chestnut, and it now is silvery white. I am thankful to the Lord; for He has brought me thus far through all sorts of changing situations. As I look to the future I am excited about the ultimate change, i.e., being transformed by God so as to have a new spiritual body (1 Corinthians 15:44) – a body like the risen Christ’s! Then I shall see Him as He is (1 John 3:2) in all His *glory.

Christ’s Sojourn of Change on Earth

Jesus came to the earth in the form of a Man (Matthew 1:23). Although conceived by the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18) He was formed in Mary’s womb. He was nursed and fed by her. He grew and ‘became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him (Luke 2:40).’  At His resurrection He rose to life with a spiritual body, and He ascended to His Father (Mark 16:19; Luke 24:50, 51; Acts 1:9).

Although fully God and yet Man when living on earth, His body underwent the normal course of physiological change and He died, not because He was a sinner, for He had no sin (Hebrews 4:15), but because ‘He gave up His spirit’ (John 19:30).’ His body had been subject to biological change, but after His resurrection He was not restricted by the normal constraints of the physical world; for example, He passed through doors that were locked (John 20:26) and He appeared and disappeared when meeting two disciples at Emmaus. At first they did not recognise Him (Luke 24:13-27) because ‘their eyes were restrained’ (V 16).

It is true to say that He was never restricted by the constraints of nature, for He walked on water, calmed a storm and did many other miracles. However, when He returns to earth He will come as He left, with His spiritual body (Acts 1:11). He will come with His angels for the ingathering of His resurrected saints (Matthew 16:27) who themselves will have transformed spiritual bodies (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).

God’s Eternal Plan of Change – His Tapestry of Life, Death and Resurrection

From before the very beginning of His Creation (Genesis 1) God devised His masterplan (Ephesians 1:4, 5; 1 Peter 1:2) which would involve constant change. Because He didn’t want men and women to be ignorant of His plan He sketched out the nature of it in the Bible, and He revealed His grace and purpose (Luke 9:56; 1 Timothy 1:15) through His Son. His plan of redemption can be likened to a detailed tapestry that exists in time and space. It is composed of intricate stitches, most of them too fine for the human eye to see or the mind to fully comprehend (Isaiah 55:9).

This wonderful tapestry tells a story of continual change. Past history has been recorded by the making of countless stitches telling of all manner of happenings: births, deaths, wars, murders, covenants, triumphs, joys, feasts, laws, kings (Daniel 2:20, 21), queens, conquests, defeats, love making, peace treaties etc.. The central and pivotal act recorded in God’s Word is the crucifixion of Jesus (Matthew 27:35, 50). Through His selfless death and the shedding of His blood He bought the pardon (Micah 7:18) of all who believe and trust in Him (John 3:16).

The biblical tapestry informs us that God is eternal (Psalm 90:1, 2), and yet by His grace He has granted immortality (1 Corinthians 15:54) to those who will enter His new world (Revelation 21:1). He has always existed, and in this respect He cannot change (Hebrews 13:8). His eternal nature is immutable (Malachi 3:6). Man, by comparison, undergoes much change. He dies and yet his **spirit (soul) never dies. At death man’s soul departs to one of two places: the believer’s to be with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14), and the unbeliever’s to reside in ***Hades until the Day of the Lord (Joel 2:31; 1 Thessalonians 5:2;  2 Peter 3:10).

The Christian’s soul at the death of his body is immediately transported to be with Jesus (1 Thessalonians 4:14). His body then returns to the earth, whether in a grave or under the sea – even as ashes, if cremated. Likewise the unbeliever’s body returns to the earth from where it will be resurrected to be reunited with his soul to face God at the White Throne Judgment (Revelation 20:11-15).

There is no escape. All will face judgment – both the redeemed and those who reject Jesus (Luke 10:16); they who are destined for hell. The redeemed will come face to face with Jesus at the Bema Seat for judgment (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10) where they will receive their rewards (Matthew 16:27; 2 Timothy 4:8; James 1:12; 1 Peter 5:4) for doing good works and for being faithful and for obeying the commands of Jesus (Matthew 28:19, 20). [Please note: they are not saved by their works (Ephesians 2:8, 9).]

So all will be changed; both the elect (1 Peter 1:2) and those who are ashamed (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26) of Jesus.

*The Glory of God

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/01/07/the-glory-of-god/

**Mind, Body and Soul [Spirit]

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/07/23/mind-body-and-soul/

***Hell [See section on ‘Hades’]

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/03/30/hell/

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God’s Energy

Energy

What is energy? And, why am I considering it as a biblical topic worthy of study, when apparently the word ‘energy’ is not found in the Bible? Well, there are synonyms such as ‘power’, ’spirit’ and ‘light’ that are in the Bible, and they have significance in terms of our understanding of God’s word.

‘Energy’ is a word I tend to use quite a lot when praying. I ask God to intervene in situations that are happening here on earth. I ask Him to use His power and His energy to bring about changes in accordance with His will. My prayers may be for people who are ill, or they may be for those suffering from natural or manmade disasters, including aid-workers, for them to have abundant energy, perseverance, patience, compassion and love.

God the Source of Energy

God is the source of all energy. He is Light (John 8:12; 9:5) – and what is light, if it is not energy? Think of the energy God expended when He created the world and the universe (John 1:3-5). He spoke His creation into being (Genesis 1). We are amazed at His power, and we cannot comprehend it. Think about the energy He expends while sustaining His universe –  the stars, the planets and all living matter. We take for granted the movement of the oceans’ tides due to the *gravitational forces of the moon and the sun. We seldom give thought to the movement of the winds that are generated by solar energy. We drive our cars, heat our homes and communicate by using mobile phones, and we forget that the source of the energy for doing these things is primarily in the form of fossil fuels. Increasingly, solar and wind power are being harnessed to provide us with pollution-free energy, and that can only be for the good of God’s planet, earth.

Empowered with God’s Energy

When God by His Spirit gives us life (John 3:3-8) – that is life in Him – does He give us His energy for changing things – for making a difference? For if there is no difference in us and the things we do, then we do not have His Spirit. We are not energised by Him. We are not His ‘new creations’ (2 Corinthians 5:17) made in the likeness of His Son (1 John 3:2); but if we are empowered by His Spirit we have the ability to live as He would have us live. We have the power to walk in His Spirit and to overcome temptations. When energised by Him we can live holy lives (1 Peter 1:13-16). However there are times when we may lack energy, be tired and weak because of lack of sleep, illness or infirmity.

Then we may be sure satan will take advantage of the situation. He will try to bring us down, but ultimately he is no match for our all-powerful God (Revelation 19:6) who will not let us be overwhelmed by the adversary (Psalm 61:1-4). God is forever faithful, merciful and gracious (Exodus 34:6, 7) and He will uphold us (Psalm 71:6) when being tested; although perhaps we may be perplexed in our weakness, illness or infirmity.

We ask God for energy to sustain us (Psalm 41:3). When there is no apparent response we may feel the enemy attacking us. He wants to pull us down and sap from us any energy we may have left. He would take us to death if he were able, but only God has that power; for He gives life and He takes it away (Deuteronomy 32:39). Even on the day of judgment (Acts 2:20; 2 Peter 3:10) satan’s life will be changed; for God will cast him into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:10) where he will be tormented forevermore (Mark 9:43-48). By contrast, those in Christ will shine like the stars (Daniel 12:3) with eternal energy in the presence of **The Morning Star.

*God’s Gravity

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/07/02/gods-gravity/

**The Morning Star

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/08/11/the-morning-star/

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