Good News For Bad People

By Pastor Charlie Parish

Do you consider yourself to be a good person? A person’s understanding of the Gospel of Jesus Christ hinges upon how they answer that question. Many people think themselves to be good because their standard of measure is other sinful human beings.

We consider ourselves to be good because we are not as bad as the criminals on the five o’clock news. Or maybe because we don’t cheat on our spouse like the neighbor down the street.

But what if the standard of measure to determine our goodness was not other people, but a Holy and sinless God? What if the measure of which to answer this question was not man’s laws, but God’s?

Do you personally consider yourself to be a good person? Well take this short 5 question test and find out!

Question 1: Have You Ever Told a Lie, Even a Little White Lie?
If your answer was yes, what do you call someone who lies?
ANSWER: A Liar.

Question 2: Have You Ever Stolen Anything, Even a Pen?
If your answer was yes, what do you call someone who steals?
ANSWER: A Thief

Question 3: Have You Ever Used God’s Name in Vain?

If your answer was yes, that is the sin of blasphemy. A very serious offense in the sight of God.

What do you call someone who blasphemies?
ANSWER: A Blasphemer

Question 4: Have You Ever Committed Adultery?
Jesus said in Matthew 5:27-32 that if you even so much as look upon a person with lust, then you have already committed adultery in your heart. What do you call someone who commits this act?

ANSWER: An Adulterer

Question 5: Have You Ever Committed Murder?

Jesus said in Matthew 5 that if you have hatred for someone, then you have committed the act of murder in your heart. What do you call someone who commits murder?

ANSWER: A Murderer

So how did you do?

If you answered yes to each question, then by your own admission you are a lying, thieving, blaspheming, Murderer and an adulterer at heart…..just like the rest of us.

Just so you know, these were only 5 of the Ten Commandments, proving that we have broken every one of God’s laws.

Now, if you were to stand before God on judgement day with this failed test in hand, proving that you are a cosmic law-breaker, would God declare you innocent or guilty? Would you go to Heaven or Hell?

Many will immediately answer this question by saying that they are guilty, but God will simply forgive them because that is what He does. But there is a problem with that. God cannot merely forgive all of the times we have broken His laws, because that would make Him an evil and unjust judge.

Consider an earthly judge for a moment. Imagine that someone had come into your home and murdered your whole family. The police catch this man and you sit in the courtroom as he is to be sentenced.

All of the sudden, the judge says, “I am a merciful judge, and I see that this man has done more good things in his life than bad, so I’m going to forgive his trespasses and let him go.”

Would you consider this judge to be a good man? Of course not. A horrible crime was committed, and justice must be served.

God is not a bad judge. Therefore He cannot let our sins and transgressions of His Holy Law go unpunished. Justice must be served. This answers the ultimate question.

God is a good God. And we are not good people. According to His Law, we are guilty of multiply crimes and we deserve to be cast into Hell. Our good works do not have the ability to outweigh even one of our sins.

James said regarding the law of God, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.” James 2:10.

The Apostle Paul said in Galatians that if a person ceases to keep every law of God, then he deserves damnation. “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.” Galatians 3:10.

Paul tells us that even if a person breaks only one of God’s laws one time, that in and of itself is enough to condemn us to Hell. That is how serious God’s laws are, and how wretched our sins.

This seems harsh to many, but only because we cannot fathom the extreme Holiness of God and the heinous nature of our sins.

Do you feel the tension yet?

So what is a Holy God to do with cosmic, serial lawbreakers like us? Our fine committed against the Almighty must be paid. Our offenses cannot be dismissed. This should cause us to plead the question, “What must I do to be saved?”

The answer is the Gospel, which means good news. You see, it is impossible to fully grasp the good news of the Gospel unless we first understand the bad news of our plight and hopeless.

We are not good people. We are the worst of sinners. But God made a way of salvation for His people.

Before the foundation of the world, God set forth a plan to satisfy His justice against us. Jesus Christ, who is God incarnate, stepped out of the Heavens and took on flesh. He lived the perfect life that was demanded by the law of God, and He died the death that was due us. And all of those who will believe upon Jesus and repent of their sins are covered by the blood of Christ and stand justified before God.

And in His death, Christ imputed His perfect record onto all of those who would believe upon Him and repent of their sins, and in exchange He took their guilty record and placed it upon Himself. Jesus endured the full wrath of God that was aimed at us.

Therefore when God looks upon a sinner who has bowed the knee to Christ, He no longer sees them as a criminal, but because of the blood of Christ, they are seen as justified before the Lord.

Jesus satisfied the demands of the law of God that you and I could not.

“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Romans 8:3-4.

You are not a good person. Neither am I.

This is why you and I need a Savior. The rich young ruler in Luke 18 did not believe Jesus to be God, but he considered Jesus to be a good person. Jesus, who is God incarnate, answered the ruler by saying, ““Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good-except God alone.” Luke 18:19.

In essence, Christ was saying to the ruler, “If you don’t think I am God, then why do you call me good?” Because no man is good. Our good deeds don’t erase our transgressions against God nor do they cancel out our sins.

““There is no one righteous, not even one;” Romans 3:10.
No amount of good deeds or acts or morality can save us from the wrath of God. As Paul Washer once said, “God saved us for Himself, by Himself, and from Himself.”

This is why it is so important for all believers to witness this way to others, using the test of the law of God to expose them to their desperate need for Christ.

People who do not believe in Christ are not under the love of God, but they remain under His wrath.

“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” John 3:36.

If you have friends or family members who do not know the Lord, give them the good person test. Tell them of God’s Holy and righteous standards, and how desperate our situation is outside of knowing Christ.

And tell them that the Lord commands them to repent of their sins, and believe the Gospel. Seeing ourselves rightly through God’s law leads us to fully realize the beauty of Christ and our dependence upon Him.

“Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24.

The video below is a great example of how to witness and share the Gospel with others by using the mirror of God’s law.

Do not be ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the ONLY power of God unto salvation! And this is extremely good news for bad people like us.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8.


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The Beauty of God’s Church

By Pastor Charlie Parish
 

When you think of church, what is it that immediately comes to mind? Do you begin to think of a Sunday morning duty that must be checked off, watching the clock and counting down the seconds until the preacher finishes? Is it just something you do so that you can in some way justify calling yourself a Christian?

Maybe thats not your idea of church at all. Maybe to you, church is the place of a majority of your weekly activity. Maybe you are involved in a multitude of ministries and functions within the body life of the church. Although intentions are good, church is more or less a place to submerge yourself in activities in hopes that your works in some way justify your claim to being a follower of Christ.

To some, church is a place of refuge. A place to have their personal needs met and to find escape from the painful circumstances of their lives. To others, the church is the reason they do not follow Christ, having been hurt at some point in their past by an harshly judgemental congregationalist or led astray with a false gospel by a preacher who was more of a wolf in sheep’s clothing than a true Shepard.

It goes without saying that the church is not viewed by everyone in the same way. Through the years, the church has taken on many different identities. But Biblically, the true church of Jesus Christ only has one identity. Jesus gives us some character traits of what the church should look like in the book of Matthew.

 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot. You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:13-16.

So much wisdom and direction is given here by Jesus as a blueprint to how his people…his church, are to be viewed. Jesus begins by stating that we as followers of Christ are to be the salt of the earth, and then asks the questions if salt loses its flavor how can that flavor be restored. True salt cannot lose its flavor. Salt is always salt, hence the salty flavor it carries.

I remember when I was a kid my parents sprinkling salt on their food. I was extremely picky and didnt branch out and try new things when it came to eating. I recall seeing my mom sprinkle salt on some vegetables while preparing my plate before dinner and I thought that by doing this, she had ruined a completely good meal! The green beans that I loved were now contaminated, or so I thought. Hesitantly I took a bite of the salt sprinkled green beans expecting to gag, and to my surprise I noticed that the salt had added so much more flavor to my meal!

To many ‘churches’ live bland spiritual lives, forgetting that they have been called to be salt, adding flavor to the world! We are to be different from the world. The church should be intriguing to the lost world. As they look at the church, maybe thinking that following Christ would ruin their meal of being fulfilled and happy, but once they try Jesus, realizing how very bland their life had been without him, and how great a joy knowing him brings to the soul!

Jesus further expounds on his exposition of what His church is to look like, saying that we are to be the light of the world, like a town built on a hill. That is to be a city that is set apart, that all the other pagan cities would look to as a light. Far to many churches today fall into the trap of feeling like they must relocate from being the town on the hill and move in with the pagan villages in the valley.

They think that in order to contextualize the gospel and make it relevant, they must become less like Christ and more like the world. But if we begin to set the example that you can continue to look and act like the world while following Christ, we in turn water down the life blood of the gospel message making it no gospel at all. We are to be an uncompromising city on a hill. A beacon of light that cannot be put out by persecution or pressure to be more palatable and relevant to culture.

In these few verses in Matthew, Jesus just gave a description of what a healthy church should look like. But what does an unhealthy church look like? An unhealthy church is one marked by sermons the are very cliche. The preaching of the word in an unhealthy church is very moralistic and me-centered and are often described as ‘spiritual self help seminars.’

They preach on “what can Jesus do for me” instead of preaching “what Jesus has already done for me and because of that, what I now can do for Him.” The gospel is to be Christocentric in nature, not a man centered pep talk. It is to realize that Christ was and is the light of the world, and to be pierced to the heart by the price Jesus paid at Calvery so that we could have fellowship with Him! A healthy church is one where the gospel of Jesus Christ is radically proclaimed.

There is no need to water down the word, because it is through the preaching of God’s word that God supernaturally invades hearts and begins to change them.

“Salvation comes from the Lord.” Jonah 2:9.

To often preachers think that they have to get people saved. But that is a task that a mere man is no more qualified to do than Ezekiel was to put together the dry bones in the desert all by himself. It was Ezekiels speaking the words of God to the bones that God ressurected those bones and brought life to them. Preachers are to preach boldly the word of God with a fire and passion faithfully, and God will bring what was once dead to life. Churches forget that the power of Christ doesnt lie in having a thousand different activities, but the power lies in preaching the word.

Another mark of a healthy church is a by product of expositioal preaching. It is personal evangelism. Unlike spiritual gifts, the chore of evanglisim was not given to certian individuals in the church, but to every person who is a true follower of Christ. Evangelism is simply speaking words. It is to proclaim the gospel in our communities, and to the people that God has providentally placed in our everyday lives. It is to share the news of Jesus Christ and his death, burial and ressurection to the masses.

In the Exodus account, Moses argued with God when the Lord ordered him to go into Egypt and confront Pharoah, saying basically that he wasnt good at talking! But God didnt let Moses off the hook! He didnt excuse him from speaking the words of the Lord to the pagan Pharoah. In fact, God made Moses into arguably one of the greatest leaders in history, in spite of Moses fears and shortcomings.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul writes that we are to persuade others, even pleading with them in our everyday lives in all things pertaining to the Gospel of Christ, because we know the importance of knowing Him.

“Since, then, we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. What we are is plain to God, and I hope it is also plain to your conscience.” 2 Corinthians 5:11.

The great preacher of the mid 1800’s Charles Spurgeon said this of the church;

“Give yourself to the Church. You that are members of the Church have not found it perfect and I hope that you feel almost glad that you have not. If I had never joined a Church till I had found one that was perfect, I would never have joined one at all! And the moment I did join it, if I had found one, I should have spoiled it, for it would not have been a perfect Church after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us… All who have first given themselves to the Lord, should, as speedily as possible, also give themselves to the Lord’s people. How else is there to be a Church on the earth? If it is right for anyone to refrain from membership in the Church, it is right for everyone, and then the testimony for God would be lost to the world!

As I have already said, the Church is faulty, but that is no excuse for your not joining it, if you are the Lord’s. Nor need your own faults keep you back, for the Church is not an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, though they are saved, are still sinners and need all the help they can derive from the sympathy and guidance of their fellow Believers. The Church is the nursery for God’s weak children where they are nourished and grow strong. It is the fold for Christ’s sheep—the home for Christ’s family.”  -C.H. Spurgeon

Did you catch how Spurgeon began this quote? He started out by acknowledging that the church had flaws! He acknowledged that the church wasnt perfect! How often do we complain about others in the church and get chips on our shoulders because things are not going ‘our way?’

To many seekers will come to church expecting it to accomidate and cater to their every need. Their musical preference, their worship style, their accomidations.

But all along, the gospel call is for the children of God to die to themselves and put others before themselves, even at the risk of suffering, a trait that was exemplified in the life of Paul. But despite the church being imperfect, Spurgeon calls the church, “…the dearest place on earth.”

So again I ask, what is the church to you? Is the church the dearest place on earth to you? Not because of what it gives you, but because of what Christ has already given. Is it a place you come to serve or a place you expect to be served. Is the church a place where you come with a list of mental demands that need to be met? If so, then I would venture to say that you have a history of church hopping.

As Spurgeon said, “…the Church is not an institution for perfect people, but a sanctuary for sinners saved by Grace, who, though they are saved, are still sinners and need all the help they can derive from the sympathy and guidance of their fellow Believers.”  

The church was never intended to be a country club. The church of Jesus Christ a launching pad to the mission of Christ. Dont ask what can God do for me through church. Ask within the church, how can you be that city of a hill? How can I make his name glorified? Church is not about us. Its about Him! As John the Baptist said, “He must become more as I become less.”

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” Matthew 28:19.


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The Lie of the Prosperity Gospel

By Pastor Charlie Parish

Last week I was driving along the interstate when all the sudden, I saw police and ambulance lights flashing up ahead on the side of the road. It was apparent that there had been a horrible car accident. Immediately a sense of sorrow for those involved washed over me. As I drew closer to the accident, my knee jerk reaction was to slow down and at least try to assess what had happened, and what was going on.

I knew I probably should have just kept driving. I knew I shouldn’t have slowed down to look at the tragedy. But I just couldn’t help myself. Have you ever felt like this? You see something horrible as you drive along the highway and know that you should keep your gaze in front of you. But something in you just cannot resist to slow down and check it out.

Something similar to this happened to me this morning . I woke up to a beautiful Saturday morning. I got out of bed, grabbed my coffee, and clicked on the television. As I flipped through the channels, I came across a televangelist preaching to a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands of people.

I knew better. I knew that there was nothing profitable to be seen here. I knew that this program was nothing short of a tragedy. But that car wreck syndrome took over. I couldn’t help myself. So I slowed down, in order to get a look at what I knew would be a complete train wreck.

The program was a show called The Camp Meeting. And the preacher was a man named David Martin. It was immediately apparent that David Martin was an excellent speaker with a natural gift for captivating an audience and holding their attention. His voice was strong and commanding, and he was very comfortable in front of this large crowd.

He then began to tell a story. He said that he and his wife were sitting in a church service and the tithe was about to be collected. He went on to say that he felt God telling him to give one hundred and eleven dollars to the tithe.

Reluctantly he stated that he began to make the check out when God supposedly spoke again, telling him to write another check for the same amount for a blessing to cover his family. And then a to write a third check for the same amount so that God’s favor would be on his business.

Three separate checks, each for one hundred and eleven dollars. He then “felt” God tell him to look down to the first scripture he saw in his Bible. As the story goes, David Martin looked down and saw the verse Deuteronomy 1:11.

“May the Lord, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you!” Deuteronomy 1:11.

Wouldn’t you like to have God bless your life a thousand times over in your family life and your business?” this pastor said.  And so he went on to mangle this verse and rip it completely from its original context, stating that God was waiting to bless everyone in the congregation a thousand times over.

All they had to do was write a check in faith. Only the check couldn’t be for just any amount. David Martin asked his congregation to write three separate checks of one hundred and eleven dollars. One for themselves, one for their family, and one for their business. A sum total of three hundred and thirty three dollars from each family of which there were hundreds in attendance.

But the car wreck wasn’t over yet. This pastor then went on to look directly into the camera and present the same offer to everyone watching at home. He said that even I could receive God’s favor upon myself, my family, and my business for three separate checks of one hundred and eleven dollars written in faith to receive the favor of God upon my life.

As I watched this man preach I felt angry at how he was using God’s Word in order to fatten his bank account. I was greatly saddened at the sight of the hundreds of people in the congregation that were raising their hands and shaking their heads in agreement to his heretical request. And I was horrified that he had used Deuteronomy 1:11 in order to mislead so many people.

As he gave the closing prayer, this charlatan David Martin stood before hundreds and said, “The greatest thing that God could ever give you is his favor in blessing your life.” Seriously? What about salvation? What about the Gospel of Jesus Christ? What about the Lord opening our minds and hearts to know Him more deeply?

David Martin is a false teacher. He preaches a perverted, false Gospel know as the Prosperity Gospel. And countless people are deceived as a result of this movement. This travesty could have been avoided had this quasi preached utilized expositional preaching in order to expound Deuteronomy 1:11. Instead of going to this text in search of its original meaning, David Martin went to the verse with his own agenda and made the verse say what he wanted it to say.

I’ve used this example many times. Imagine that you had never seen the movie Rocky before. Rocky is a classic movie about an amateur boxer who lives in the city of Philadelphia and is training to fight the heavyweight champ of the world. But again, for the sake of our example, you don’t know this going into the movie.

We are late to the movie, and actually make our way into the theater midway through the film. As we sit down, we see the main character Rocky walking through the streets of Philly, tossing a little ball into the air, dressed like thug. Immediately after seeing this scene where Rocky just walks around the streets of Philadelphia, we exit the theater not waiting to see the rest of the movie.

As we exit the theater, I then use that short scene to craft my own interpretation of the movie by telling you that the movie was about a street thug who lived in Philadelphia and he had a passion to play hand ball. If you have never seen the beginning or the end of the movie, then its very easy to believe the lie that I have told you.

In the same way, when we approach the Bible with our own preconceived notions in mind without knowing the proper context of which they were written, we end up missing the true meaning of the scriptures we read.

This false teacher did not expound on the background of the book of Deuteronomy. He didn’t tell his hearers of its historical context. And he didn’t shed light on the beginning verses of the book. He merely went straight to a verse where Moses spoke of God blessing His people, and made the verse mean what he wanted it to in order to attain his desired reaction from the crowd.

The book of Deuteronomy was written approximately forty years after the exodus of Israel took place. The Lord had used Moses to free His people from their enslavement to Pharaoh of Egypt, and now they were making the long journey to the land that God had promised them.

They had received the Ten Commandments in Exodus and are almost ready to enter into the promised land after forty years of wandering in the desert. The book of Deuteronomy is the final words of Moses to the nation of Israel before the enter into the promise land.

In chapters 1-11 of Deuteronomy, Moses speaks to Israel in a harsh tone as he chastises them for their former rebellion against God. But there is also a charge given to the nation of Israel in these chapters. Moses tells the new generation of Israelites who are about to enter the land to be different from their ancestors who had ignored the commands of God, and to respond to the Lord’s grace with love and obedience. Moses reminds the nation of the Ten Commandments, because he knows that when Israel enters into the promised land there will be many in the new land who worshipped false Gods.

However, Moses was prohibited by God to enter into the promised land with Israel due to disobeying the Lord (Numbers 20:12). In the opening chapter of Deuteronomy, Moses reminds the nation of God’s original promise made to Abraham concerning Israel. He does this in the verse right before  Deuteronomy 1:11.

“The Lord your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven.” Deuteronomy 1:10.

Moses is referring back to the original promise that God had made to Abraham in Genesis.

“I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore. And your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies,” Genesis 22:17.

Abraham and his wife Sarah were older in age and past child bearing years. Not to mention Sarah was barren and unable to have children. But the Lord gave this promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:17, that from the seed of Abraham would come a nation that outnumbered the sands of the sea and stars in the sky. The Lord opened the womb of Sarah she gave birth to Isaac, from who the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, came from.

Back to Deuteronomy. After Moses had reminded the nation of God’s original promise to Abraham, he then says this is Deuteronomy 1:11.

” May the Lord, the God of your fathers, make you a thousand times as many as you are and bless you, as he has promised you!” Deuteronomy 1:11.

Is this thousand time over blessing referring to wealth and material possessions as the charlatan David Martin preached on television? Absolutely not. This favor of God refers to the continuation of the line of Israel, that they would continue to multiply. The blessing is that God had shown any favor at all to Israel and had called this rebellious people His chosen people. Not for anything they had done or given to earn this favor, but simply because God had chosen to set His love upon them.

“It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the LORD set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples,” Deuteronomy 7:7.

As I watched the closing of David Martin’s sermon where he wrongly used the promise of Deuteronomy 1:11 in order to get people to write him checks for one hundred and eleven dollars, they closed out the program with the worship team leading the congregation in a song with lyrics that emphasized the Holiness of God. As the credits began to roll, hundreds stood to their feet singing, “God, you are HOLY!” This made my stomach turn.

The whole program was an infomercial prompting people to believe that God was just like us. That the Lord is materialistic and His greatest desire is that we would have more wealth. And then they close out the service by singing of the Holiness, which is the separateness of God. So which is it? Is God materialistic like us or is He Holy?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.” Isaiah 55:8.

“When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. But I now arraign you and set my accusations before you.” Psalm 50:21.

I pray that David Martin is brought under great conviction. I pray that the Lord would open his eyes to the truth of the Gospel. If not, then he along with many that have bought into his perversion of Deuteronomy will hear the words of Psalm 50:21 ringing in their ears as they stand before the Lord. “You thought that I was like you, concerned with worldly treasures. But now I set my accusations before you.”  

This morning I witnessed hundreds of people who worshipped God in hopes of receiving worldly possessions from Him. They did not love Him for the Gospel truth that. They did not worship Him because they saw themselves as guilty, desperate sinners who deserved eternal separation from God. And they did not worship Him because of the grace, mercy, and forgiveness that the Lord extended through the life, death and resurrection of Christ. They did not worship Jesus as Lord, for dying in our place and for our sins.

They worshipped an imaginary genie in a bottle. As Paul Washer once said, “Isn’t salvation enough?”If God had taken away all of our earthly treasures such as family, health, and wealth, would we as Job be able to say that the  Lord gives and the Lord takes away, BLESSED BE THE NAME OF THE LORD? God owes us nothing. His desire is not to make us wealthy, it is to make us Holy. And when we hear messages that promote worshipping the stuff He gives over the salvation He offers, it is a completely different Gospel.

 

For the life of me I cannot understand why television stations that profess to be Christians continue to allow false ministries like David Martin International to be broadcast. He is a false teacher, a charlatan, and a thief. The greatest blessing is not the stuff God gives, but the salvation He has given.

The lie of the prosperity Gospel is that is promotes worshipping the gifts and common graces God gives over worshipping the Lord Himself simply for who He is and what He has already done in and through the cross of Christ.
 
Deuteronomy 1:11 reminds us today of the promise of God given to Abraham to multiply His people in spite of their unworthy state before Him. And it is a reminder of the glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ and His amazing grace towards sinners like us.

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