A Christian’s Great Adventure

For much of my life I’ve been fascinated with sailboat adventurers – more specifically people who sail small boats across oceans. I suppose my interest in them can be traced back to my history teacher who made the voyages of Sir Walter Raleigh and Sir Francis Drake come alive for me. They were real adventurers who thrived on the rush of adrenaline. Their motives and desires were not always noble; indeed, some historians would brand them as privateers, robbers and murderers who sought glory, fame and riches for themselves. Incidentally, both of them ended their days by being executed!

Planning and Equipping for Adventures

The point I wish to make is that they were ‘adventurers’. Before setting off on their voyages they would have planned and prepared for possible eventualities, but they would have had no idea or assurance as to the outcomes of their adventures. In those days of sail the prospects of survival and success for trans-ocean sailors were very poor.

I too have sailed small boats on voyages of adventure – I grant you nothing so daring as the voyages of those Elizabethan sailors, but nevertheless, for some of my *adventures I had no idea how they would end. Like Raleigh and Drake I planned and prepared before embarking on them. I hoped they would end happily, but I could not tell. Thanks to God, all of them ended without loss of eye or limb.

God Equips His Adventurers

By contrast to my uncertainties, God knows the beginnings and the endings of all of our adventures, and what goes on between (Ephesians 1:4, 5). Indeed, He plans them and orchestrates them (2 Timothy 1:9). When He commissions us [Christians] to go forth in His Name, He doesn’t leave us alone (Hebrews 13:5, 6). He equips us with the sword of His Spirit which is the word of God, and He prepares us with the gospel of peace. Above all He gives us His shield of faith and the helmet of His salvation. We are protected by His breastplate of righteousness and we are girded with His truth (Ephesians 6:13-17). He fully equips and prepares us for all eventualities (1 Timothy 6:17).

Missionary Adventurers

Jesus leaves us in no doubt about where we are to go on our life’s voyage of adventure and what we are to do while upon it. He commissions us to ‘make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things’ commanded by Him (Matthew 28:19-20).

By the grace of God our life’s adventure is dedicated to His **glory. We can give Him absolutely nothing (Romans 11:35); for He has all things, and He has made all things (John 1:3). We depend upon Him for everything (Mathew 6:11) .

The Adventurer’s Reward

In His steadfast love and mercy (Exodus 34:6) God has set aside an inheritance (Ephesians 1:11; 1 Peter 1:4) for His adventurers. He welcomes us into His family as His adopted sons [daughters] (Romans 8:15-17; Galatians 4:4-7) to whom He will bestow rewards (Psalm 62:12;  Matthew 5:12; 6:4; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

In the Book of Revelation He gives us a glimpse of a new and greater adventure to come. His Word describes the new Jerusalem (Revelation 21:9-22) where we shall have a new beginning and the prospect of a never-ending adventure (John 3:16). The eternal city will be magnificent and glorious – beautiful beyond our wildest imagination. Within it we shall enjoy the most delectable and abundant life (John 10:10) in the presence of the Lord Almighty and the Lamb (Revelation 21:22).

For those who love God there is a very happy ending to this life’s adventure (Romans 8:28).

*Bill’s Log [My cruising logs]

http://bills-log.blogspot.com/p/cruising-logs.html

**The Glory of God

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

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The Apostles’ Creed

When I was sixteen I was confirmed in the Church of England. Preparation for the event included learning and reciting ‘The Apostles’ Creed, which goes as follows:

I believe in God the Father Almighty,

Maker of heaven and earth:

And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord,

Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost,

Born of the Virgin Mary,

Suffered under Pontius Pilate,

Was crucified, dead, and buried:

He descended into hell;

The third day he rose again from the dead;

He ascended into heaven,

And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;

From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Ghost;

The holy Catholic Church;

The Communion of Saints;

The Forgiveness of sins;

The Resurrection of the body,

And the Life everlasting.

Amen.

This has stuck with me ever since, but at the time of my confirmation I did not understand or realise the deep significance of these words based on the doctrines of the Bible. Now I have a better insight to them through the revelation of the Holy Spirit; for unless one has been born of the Spirit (John 3:3-8), a person is unable to discern things of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9-16). By God’s grace through faith in His Son (Ephesians 2:8, 9), and by the revelation of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10), I have a better understanding of all parts of the Creed.

As stated at the *inception of this blog, I put no faith in creeds and confessions of faith, because they are devised by men and not by God. Men are open to error and their hearts cannot be trusted (Proverbs 28:26). Only the Bible itself can be trusted, but even with the Bible, one has to be wary because some translations fall short of the original, and most ancient sources of the texts. However, I feel I can make an exception with the Apostles’ Creed, because as far as I can ascertain it agrees entirely with the Bible, and it is a great summary of the Bible’s main doctrines.

Clarification of the Creed

A few points may need clarification; for example, the Holy Ghost, in modern translations of the Bible, is the Holy Spirit. Hell is the place the Bible calls **Sheol. The Holy Catholic Church is the true church of God, which is comprised of all believers; the term does not refer to the Roman Catholic Church, per se. The communion of saints is the fellowship or active relationship that believers have with God (Genesis 18:17-33; Exodus 33:9-11; Numbers 12:7, 8) and with Jesus (John 14:23). Believers commune or have fellowship with one another (Ephesians 4:1-6). They also meet with Jesus when remembering Him (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) at communion. This meeting is a special ‘communion’ that is commonly known as, ‘The Lord’s Supper’ (v 20).

The Apostles’s Creed an Exception

In view of the accord of the Apostles’ Creed with the Scriptures, I have made it an exception to other creeds and confessions of faith, and I recommend it to all Christians. I suggest they should memorise it as an aide-memoire for use when they find themselves in difficult situations.

Let me explain: There are times when we can be hard-pressed because of the occurrences of traumatic, unexpected happenings. We may find ourselves stressed, even threatened for our very lives. Under those circumstances we may find verbalising meaningful prayers difficult. Even the simplest task such as recalling *** the Lord’s Prayer to help us focus on Him might not be easy. Likewise, shooting out simple ‘arrow’ prayers to God could be difficult because of the distractions of the moment, but we may be able to recall to mind The Apostles’ Creed. This could help remind and reassure us of our faith in the Almighty God (Genesis 35:11) – the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in Jesus Himself in whom we have peace (Philippians 4:6, 7).

*An Extract from:

‘The Fallibility of the 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith?’

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2017/11/08/the-fallibility-of-the-1689-london-baptist-confession-of-faith/

‘Each one of us who worships the Lord has a responsibility to seek the truth contained within the Bible. We must use our reasoning in like manner to that of the Bereans who diligently searched the Scriptures to ascertain the truth. (Acts 17:11) The answer for us is to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth as we study the Bible. (John 16:13) By relying on fallible Confessions of Faith we can be led astray. We must rely on God’s Word alone; appropriate it and live it in the Truth, i.e. for Jesus to His glory. We must abide in Him. (John 15:4, 5). We should not put our faith in men, but trust Jesus and His infallible Word. (1 Timothy 4:10).’

**Hell

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

***The Lord’s Prayer

https://thebiblicalway.blog/2018/05/18/the-lords-prayer-chapter-1/

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“Come Unto Me.” – The Words of Jesus

I was searching through folders and files I keep on my computer, and I came across some old notes entitled ‘Life Words’. They were all about the invitation Jesus gives to everyone to COME to Him. This is a universal invitation, but not all are able to accept it. [Read below]

Life Words

‘Life Words’ is an organisation that was originally called the Scripture Gift Mission. It was founded by William Walters in 1888. His great desire was for all people to read the Bible, and to that end he started publishing them. Since then the Mission has published Bibles and Testaments in over 1,000 languages. You can read more about their work at: https://www.lifewords.global .

The Invitation

Jesus has extended His invitation for people to come to Him from the moment He set about His Father’s business (Luke 2:49). He made this possible by living a perfect, sin free life (Hebrews 4:15), dying on a cross and by being raised to life (Romans 6:4). From the time of the sending of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) who gives life to those who are dead in their trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1), millions have been drawn to the Father through the Son. The story will continue until Jesus returns at the ‘great and awesome day of the LORD (Acts 2:20).’

The words Jesus speaks are the words of eternal life (John 6:68), and they are found in the Bible. Unless people ‘hear’ these words they cannot be brought to faith in Jesus (John 6:65). Hearing is the key. If they do not hear Jesus, who is the Prophet spoken of by God to Moses (Acts 3:22, 23), they have no hope. If they are enabled to respond by the power of the Spirit (Romans 15:13) they willingly ‘come’ to Jesus.

Therefore, unless there are people like those at the Scripture Gift Mission, preachers of God’s Word, missionaries world-wide, and born-again Christians who ‘speak’ the words of the Prophet, the unsaved are unable to hear Him (Romans 10:17).

His words, and only His words (John 14:6), are the key to eternal life (John 6:68). These life-giving words are found in the Bible.

Life Word Verses – “Come Unto Me.”

Matthew 11:28, 29

28 Come to Me, all you who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Matthew 19:14

14 But Jesus said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”

Luke 9:23

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.

John 5:40

40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.

John 5:24

24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

John 6:37

37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.

John 6:45

45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me.

John 14:6

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

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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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