----- "Let your light shine before men" (Matthew 5:16) -----

 
   
 
Internet Edition No. 62 --- March 2008 ---
TABLE OF CONTENTS

Title Author
   Editorial
      Maattam
Pastor P. Joy
   The mystery of the open tomb Rev. Dr. Paulson Pulikottil
   Whatever happened to the Father? R. Stanley
   Meditation:
       Exalted by God
Saju Mathew
   News & Views Johnson K. Samuel
   Personalities encountered by Jesus - 7:
       Bartholomew
   "Children's corner" "Shiny Aunty"
   Malayalam section:
       Mariyayudey theerumaanathil ninnu
       chila paadhangal
Pastor Babu Cherian
   Malayalam section:
       Adbhuda manthri
Thomas Nainan, Mumbai
   Malayalam section:
       Thaalanthum raathalum upamakaliloodey
Binoy Punnoose, Mumbai
   Malayalam section:
      Kavitha: Ruth
Sabu Kaarammelil
   Malayalam section:
       Pastor V.J. Thomas:
      IPC Kottayam Seminary President
   Sponsor's page:
      Bro. Oommen Abraham
   Last page:
      Sheep that tame wolves
Rev. Samuel John



Editorial
Maattam

Pastor P. Joy

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The mystery of the open tomb
Rev. Dr. Paulson Pulikottil, Academic Dean, Union Biblical Seminary, Pune

The writer declares that the stone that stands rolled away is a challenge to our unbelief and our wrong belief. Easter Sunday is a day of challenge for us to change our false ideas and our misdirected hopes.

Jesus is available to be explored. A Christian's life of faith with Jesus involves this constant exploration of Jesus, getting to know him closer, and enriching ourselves with that knowledge of him. The Hymn writer is right is saying THE LONGER I SERVE HIM, THE SWEETER HE GROWS!

We celebrate Easter because two thousand years ago, on the third morning of Jesus' crucifixion the tomb in which he was buried was found open.

It was Mary who first found that the tomb was open (John 20:1). She was not sure if she will find someone to help her to roll the stone away so that she can visit the tomb of her dear Lord. To her relief she finds that the tomb was already open.*

The stone was not rolled away so that the body can escape from the tomb. The resurrected body did not need an open door to pass through. John 20:19 tells us that the resurrected body could enter through closed doors. Jesus appeared to his scared disciples behind the closed doors. John 20:6ff also tells us that the resurrected body can just pass through the mortuary clothes. The grave clothes were found in the same manner as they were wrapped around his body. The head linen is found separately, but the clothes were undisturbed and it appeared as if a living organism has come out through them; the mortuary clothes were like the cocoon of a butterfly. If they were left scattered we can assume that someone got up from a deep sleep (or a comma) and walked out throwing the wrapping away. According to Jewish custom there were many layers of wrapping around a dead body and these wrapping packed incenses and preservatives, some in gum form. If the resurrected body could get out through the thick funeral clothes, then it did not need the stone to be rolled away.

Then why was then stone rolled away? I submit that it was open so that the disciples could enter and be convinced. It was an invitation to explore. The stone that stands rolled away is thus a challenge to our unbelief and our wrong belief. Easter Sunday is a day of challenge for us to change our false ideas and our misdirected hopes.

Mary's fear was if she would find someone to help her to roll the stone back. Jesus dispels her fear by keeping the stone rolled away. He invites us to explore: Come and See, He is not there. He is risen.

Jesus is available to be explored. A Christian's life of faith with Jesus involves this constant exploration of Jesus, getting to know him closer, and enriching ourselves with that knowledge of him. The Hymn writer is right is saying: THE LONGER I SERVE HIM, THE SWEETER HE GROWS!


* The Nature of Jesus Tomb: Jesus' body was placed in a tomb with rooms for people to walk in and even be seated and watch the body lying on a shelf on the wall. It was room cut into the walls of a rock face so that people could enter.

** Dr. Paulson's website: http://paulson.coreonline.info

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A study on Triune God - Part 1
Whatever happened to the Father?

R. Stanley

R. Stanley explains the doctrine of Trinity which is progressively revealed in the Scriptures, a partial revelation in the Old Testament and a fuller one in the New. (Article reprinted with permission)

A crack in the foundation will show up in the superstructure. Similarly any false doctrine can be traced to some deviation from the foundational truths of the Bible. One of the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith that is ignored in practice, though not in theory, is the doctrine of Trinity. This has given rise to many unscriptural teachings and practices in the Christendom of today.

There are some who argue that the word "trinity" does not appear in the Bible. For that matter the word "Christianity" also does not appear! A simple and straightforward understanding of the Holy Bible teaches us that God eternally exists as three Persons - the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Like any other doctrine, the doctrine of Trinity is progressively revealed in the Scriptures, a partial revelation in the Old Testament and a fuller one in the New. However, Trinity is a mystery. It cannot be fully and satisfactorily explained in human language or by any analogy. When we accept it in faith we will understand it in stages by experience.

If the Jewish interpreters had admitted the plurality of Persons in one God, they would have had no great difficulty in accepting the divine claims of Christ as the Son of God. It was by quoting Psa. 110:1 that Jesus cornered them. "No one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore!" (Mt. 22:41-46). It is impossible for a fair-minded Christian to deny the fact of Trinity after carefully studying, for example, the following passages: Gen. 1:26; 3:22; 11:7; Psa. 45:6,7; Isa. 6:8; 48:16; 63:10; Hos. 1:7; Mal. 3:1,2; Mt. 3:16,17; 28:19; Lk. 1:35; 1 Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:2; Jude 20,21. These passages are summarised into three statements by Wayne Grudem in Systematic Theology: (l) God is three Persons (Trinity); (2) Each Person is fully God (Deity); (3) There is one God (Tri-unity). Each of these statements is equally important to keep us from going astray.

Even though the Son and the Holy Spirit are equal in deity to God the Father, they subject themselves to Him in their roles. This solemn truth is ignored these days in the Christian world. In some circles, they only talk about Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, and end up with another Jesus. In others, they always talk about Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, Holy Spirit, and end up with a different spirit. The Father is forgotten! Whatever happened to the Father?

\Let's look into five vital areas where we need to restore the Fatherhood of God in our Biblical understanding and Christian experience.

1. Redemption

It is God the Father who planned redemption for mankind. Eventhough we read that Christ Jesus "came" into the world to save sinners, we must not forget that He was actually "sent" by His Father into the world (Jn 3:16,17). It was the Father who conceived the plan of redemption, but the Son accomplished it (Jn 6:38-40).

All sins are primarily against God the Father. "For all that is in the world the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the FATHER but of the world" (1 Jn 2:15,16). Therefore repentance is primarily towards the Father God and we receive forgiveness when we believe on the finished work of His Son (Acts 20:21). Reconciliation is to be made with the Father having Christ as the Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5).

Faith on the Lord Jesus Christ makes us the children of the "Father" (Jn 1:12). This privilege is ours because of the unfathomable love of the "Father" (1 Jn 3:1). Jesus washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to "His God and Father" (Rev. 1:6).

In Gospel preaching we declare that Christ is the only Way, but we fail to explain "to where?" Jesus said that He is the Way "to the FATHER" (Jn 14:6). Jesus ever lives to make intercession to save those who come through Him "to God" the Father (Heb. 7:25). "Invite Jesus into your heart!" "Jesus, come into my heart!" These are all incomplete statements and partial truths. More Biblically a sinner's prayer should be, "God, I've sinned against You. I turn to You forsaking my sinful ways. I believe that Christ Your Son died for me and rose again from the dead. I thank You for accepting me in His Name. Amen!" At this point God sends forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts so we may cry out, "Abba, Father!" (Gal. 4:4-6; Rom. 8:15,16).

We are saved by the resurrection of Jesus. It is right to say that Christ Jesus "rose" from the dead. But we must not forget that it was the Father who "raised" Him from the dead. There are simply too many Scripture passages which establish this truth (Acts 2:20-24; 3:14,15; 10:39,40; Rom. 6:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1 Cor. 6:14; 2 Cor. 4:14; etc). Jesus Himself acknowledged that it was from the FATHER that He had received the authority to lay down His life and take it again (Jn 10:18).

Apostle Paul explains our redemption graphically in Eph. 2:4-7. The Father loved us. The Father raised us up together with His Son, when we were dead in trespasses. Then the Father made us sit together in heavenly places with His Son. The Father has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places with Christ. The Father is preparing to show towards us in the ages to come the exceeding riches of His grace. Oh, how much we miss in the understanding of the glorious redemptive plan of God if we forget the Father!

2. Prayer

When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, He pointedly told them whom they must address: "Our FATHER in heaven!" (Lk. 11:1,2). This was not a casual statement but a deliberate teaching. In the parallel passage in Matthew chapter six, see how many times Jesus uses the phrase "Your Father" (vs 1,4,6,8,14,15,18,26,32). He linked every spiritual discipline like praying, forgiving, fasting and almsgiving, to the Father. After resurrection He sent word to the disciples, "I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God" (Jn 20:27). I cannot understand where, when and why Christians slipped into the habit of addressing Jesus in prayer and closing it in Jesus' Name! We can't ask Jesus in Jesus' Name! Quite illogical!

We have access TO the Father, BY the Holy Spirit, THROUGH Christ (Eph. 2:18). In prayer we are to address "the Father" in the Name of Christ by the power and enablement of the Holy Spirit. This is repeatedly taught throughout the New Testament as seen below.

Referring to the dispensation of the New Covenant that would begin with the death of Christ, He pretaught His disciples, "In that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the FATHER in My Name He will give you. Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask and you will receive, that your joy may be full" (Jn 16:23,24). Until Christ died the disciples had been straightaway asking Him whatever they wanted. They never had asked the Father in Jesus' Name. Jesus emphatically pointed out the change in prayer pattern beginning with the new dispensation by the words, "most assuredly I say to you!"

The early disciples very quickly grasped this truth and we see them addressing the Father in prayer and referring to Christ as the Father's holy Servant (Acts 4:24-30). This was also Paul's consistent practice. He invariably addressed the Father in prayer. "I bow my knees to the FATHER of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Eph. 3:14; 1:16,17).

In order to maintain an unclouded relationship with God we must walk in openness and transparency before Him. Sins must not be hidden but confessed. Apostle John teaches that sins must be confessed to the "FATHER," and the blood of "His Son" will cleanse us from all sin (1 Jn 1:6-9). When we confess our sins to the Father, the Son as a merciful and faithful High Priest at the right hand of the Father advocates for us (1 Jn 2:1; Heb. 2:17,18) and intercedes for us (Rom. 8:34). The Holy Spirit also intercedes to the Father for us and that He does from within us (Rom. 8:26). Let's never forget this divine organisation in prayer.

Even though all spiritual blessings come through the finished work of Christ on the Cross, we are taught to ask the "Father" in order that we may experience them. Take for example the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the One who baptizes us with the Holy Spirit (Lk. 3:16). But He has commanded us to ask the FATHER for this gift (Lk. 11:13). Jesus Himself prayed to the FATHER for the gift of the Spirit to be bestowed on us (Jn 14:16). Peter rightly recognized that Jesus "received" from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit and poured it out on the disciples on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:33; See also Tit. 3:5,6). Every good gift comes down from the "Father" (James 1:17).

- To be continued

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Meditation:
Exalted by God

Saju Mathew
Reading passage: Joshua 3: 1-17

"And the LORD said to Joshua, Today I will begin to exalt you in the eyes of all Israel, so they may know that I am with you as I was with Moses" (Josh. 3:7 NIV)


Moses, who led the people of Israel for forty years in the wilderness, is now dead (Deut. 34:5-7). Joshua was commissioned by God and appointed by Moses, to lead the people to the Promised Land (Deut. 34:9-12). He was a little fearful as he knew he was nobody compared to Moses. But God encouraged him and said, Joshua, today onwards, I will begin to exalt you, and all Israel will know that I am with you as I was with Moses.

Remember, God exalts Joshua, so that the people may know that he is in partnership with Him. The act of exaltation is not to show how strong you are, but to demonstrate God's presence in your life!

God fulfilled His promise on the same day. As soon as the feet of the priests touched the water's edge, the upstream stopped flowing. The people crossed over through the dry land! (Joshua 3:9-7). That day the LORD exalted Joshua in the sight of all Israel; and they revered him all the days of his life, just as they had revered Moses (Josh. 4:14).

However, it is possible that when God exalts us, we become proud. We may think that the reverence we get is for our endowment. An imaginary story says that the colt that Jesus rode to Jerusalem was elated and thought it is for its admiration the robes were spread. While it was on its way back, it saw the launderer spread clothes to be dried. The colt thought it was spread in its honor, and proudly walked over the clothes. There is no need to say how severely it was beaten up! We are exalted because Jesus is riding upon us.

It is God, who is with us, that exalts us. People should see God and not selves, His act of exaltation. You are exalted not because you are great, but because you bear a great God!

Prayer: Lord, Thanks for choosing me to be your partner. Every honor and glory belongs to you, O God, AMEN

Further reading: I Tim. 1:15-17; Rev. 5:9-14

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News & Views
Johnson K. Samuel

What Americans want to see in their President

Based upon research done through a poll, the American Bible Society has discovered that the majority of those questioned want someone who mirrors biblical ideals of leadership. Truthfulness and integrity topped the list of the characteristics that they want in their President. They also say they want a leader who is, in essence, a servant and mindful of accountability to God. Three quarters of the likely voters agree that it is appropriate that every President since George Washington has been sworn into office with a hand on a Bible. About six in ten say that they would more likely vote for a presidential candidate who consistently uses the Bible for guidance in both public and personal matters.

Let us hope they get a President of their choice.

Rick Warren's solution

It is widely observed that evangelical churches are thriving and full of vitality, while most mainline denominations are declining in membership. Rick Warren, the famous author, has a solution to counter their mounting problem of membership decline. He is of the opinion that 'social gospel' is what led to mainline churches going "one way" and evangelical churches another way. In general, mainline churches focused on social morality such as fighting poverty, racism and economic justice. Meanwhile, evangelical churches concentrated on personal morality such as personal salvation, fighting pornography, and upholding family values. He emphasizes that both are right and calls for "reconciliation" between mainline and evangelical churches. He adds: "You can't just love your neighbour alone; you got to love God and love your neighbour, too".

Warren is right. Churches have to return to Biblical doctrines and an emphasis on personal salvation and right relationship with God. It is but natural that man seeking to find answers to his problems will eventually end up in a place where he can meet with Jesus who alone has solutions to all problems.

Chaplains in bars!

Chuck Kish, a senior Assembly of God pastor, is launching a program to put chaplains in bars. Chaplains will work in teams, one male and one female. They will offer help to people who want it. The chaplains will not preach against "the evils of drinking" nor will they try to evangelize. Kish says: "We're simply going to be there to help anybody who wants it. Sometimes people really just want somebody they can talk to who is not going to be judgmental, but be sympathetic. Sometimes people come to a bar because they are really hurt about something. Bartenders are pretty good about reading their customers, some of whom they've known for years. So somebody can say, 'You know, there's a chaplain over there. Maybe you'd like to talk to him or her'".

When Kish approached a pub owner, Jeff Goss, with the idea, he was taken aback, at first. And then he thought, 'that makes sense, I have a lot of regulars, and they've all probably had some tough times now and then". Kish emphasized: "I'll be there if people want to talk to me. I'm there to help. We'll be looking for people who are over the edge. Sometimes, just having a chaplain present can de-escalate things".

The universal call of Jesus is still open: "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest (Matt. 11:28). Drinking is no solution. Jesus is the answer.

Jews do not want your prayers!

According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Jewish groups are disappointed at the new text of the Catholic Church's Prayer for the Jews. The previous prayer had reference to their "blindness" and a call that God "may lift the veil from their hearts". The new text prays for the salvation of the Jews exclusively through conversion to Christianity. Jews want to remind everyone about the eternal validity of God's Divine Covenant with the Jewish People".

Apostle Paul, after acknowledging that Israel had the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the law and the promises, prayed for Israel with a heavy heart that they might be saved. He says: "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God" (Rom. chs 9-11).

'Creation Museum', a big success

When the museum opened June 2007, officials set a 12-month goal for the number of visitors to 250,000. But after only seven months at the end of 2007, the number crossed 290,000. The number passed the 300,000 mark on January 9, 2008. Kurt Wise, a consultant for the museum and professor of science and theology at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said, "A lot of Christians who accept the creation story as given in the Bible, like taking their kids to a place where the creation model is presented". The museum has filled up a void because there are other fabulous museums where other views about the origin of universe are presented. Mark Looy, vice president for 'Answers in Genesis', said 200 media men have either visited the museum or conducted telephone interviews. (The opening of the 'Creation Museum' was reported earlier in News & Views columns).

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Personalities encountered by Jesus - 7:
Bartholomew



"And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon (whom he also named Peter), and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, ...." (Luke 6:13,14)

Bartholomew was one of the Apostles whose life story has been lost to us during the centuries that have passed since he was first called by Jesus to be one of the Twelve. A number of authorities believe he is the same person as Nathanael, mentioned in the Gospel of John (John 1:45-51). This opinion is based on the fact that Bartholomew is not a proper name, but merely served to identify him as the son Tolmai. Moreover the name Bartholomew is never mentioned in John's gospel. Scholars reason, therefore, that John may have referred to him by his given name, whereas the other three Gospel writers followed the Hebrew custom of calling him the son of Tolmai.

It was Philip who first told Nathanael of Jesus. Nathanael replied somewhat contemptuously, "Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth?" But upon first seeing Jesus, Nathanael followed Him as readily as the other disciples, declaring, "Rabbi, thou art the Son of God".

According to traditions of the early Church, Bartholomew became a missionary to the East, preaching in Mesopotamia, Persia, Egypt and Armenia.

Legends say he was martyred in Albanopolis, Armenia. The manner of his death is variously reported as having been crucifixion, beheading and being skinned alive.

The immortal painter, Michaelengelo, apparently was inclined to the latter story. In his famous painting, "The Last Judgement", skinned Bartholomew is shown holding his own skin in his hand.

- selected

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Children's corner:
Salvation through Jesus

"Shiny Aunty"

Rita was a teenager who lived in an orphanage in India. One day a rich German couple came to the orphanage and expressed their desire to adopt her. At first she was not interested with the idea. But then she was happy to be adopted by them when she came to know about the prosperous life she would enjoy with them. When she accepted them as her parents she became heir to their vast riches. Now she is a prosperous woman living in Germany along with her foster parents and she is enjoying a beautiful life.

Dear children, God the Father has given us the gift of salvation through Lord Jesus. We are born as sinners, and eternal death awaits us. If we accept the gift of salvation through Jesus, we will be saved from our sins and will become partakers of eternal life. God's word tells us that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Rom.3:23) and "for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Rom. 6:23). Just as the German couple loved Rita and wanted to adopt her as their daughter, God the Father loves us and wants to make us His children. But we need to accept the offer just as Rita accepted the offer. When Rita accepted the German couple as her parents, she became heir to their wealth, similarly we also will become God's children and thereby heirs to the riches of His kingdom when we accept the gift of salvation through Jesus. John 1:12 says "to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become the children of God". Dear Children if you are not sure that you are saved, accept the gift of salvation that God is offering you through Jesus.

Read Rom. 10:9-10. God bless you.

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Malayalam section:
Mariyayudey theerumanathil ninnu
chila paadhangal

Pastor Babu Cherian

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Malayalam section:
Adbhuda mantri

Thomas Nainan, Mumbai

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Malayalam section:
Thaalanthum raathalum upamakaliloodey

Binoy Punnoose, Mumbai

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Malayalam section
Kavitha: Ruth

Sabu Karammelil

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Malayalam section
Pastor V.J. Thomas:
IPC Seminary President


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Sponsor's page
Bro. Oommen Abraham




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Last page
Sheep that tame wolves

Rev. Samuel John

Jesus wants His church to have two focuses. One is internal, the other is external. Internal focus is to make the believers spiritually strong. This happens when a believer becomes mature in Christ. Every ministry inside the church is meant for this purpose such as worship, fellowship and preaching and teaching of the word. But it is also meant for preparing every believer for the other focus Jesus has for His church, the external focus. This is to penetrate, affect and positively change the society. Both focuses must be fulfilled by the church. One without the other makes the church merely a self-serving social club on one hand, or a feel-good charity club on the other.

Recently I came across a preacher from the nation of Ukraine, a former part of Soviet Union. He is not original Ukrainian, he is Nigerian. Impressed with what God did through him in the nation of Ukraine in the last ten years, I bought a book that he wrote, called "Church shift". Following are some quotes from that book.

He says, "I spoke with a pastor of an American mega church recently. His church has fifteen thousand people. He told me, "I can walk into the mayor's office any time I want, but I don't know what to tell him". What an indictment. They interact with society without changing it. But it's not enough to socialize with the world or to grow impressively large congregations so that community leaders speak well of us. We must permeate, influence and change the society."

He continues to recount his experience, "I learned this lesson after my church grew to fifteen thousand people. Everybody was applauding me for having a big church in such an unlikely place, but the praise was all about me and us. It felt terribly wrong, and we were in danger of losing the focus."

He continued, "If we grew our church to a million people but didn't change society, we would have failed in our mission." Commenting on the change that happened in his thinking, he says, "That truth transformed my mind. Before then my goal was to get as many as possible saved and into heaven by bringing them into the church. But our goal is supposed to be different. We can send people into the world like mustard seeds so that the kingdom, which Jesus compares to a highly invasive plant, will spread and take over. Churches that lose Kingdom focus lack purpose. They may have large crowds, large buildings, renown and wealth, but they don't know how to use them."

This pastor's church grew from zero to twenty five thousand people in eight years in a former communist country. This church had been instrumental in bringing democracy to Ukraine. And I thought there are some lessons in this for all of us pastors and churches. Jesus intends the church to gather with the purpose of scattering. Sunday should be a preparation for Monday. If Sunday is great, then we should not feel satisfied in it. It only means that God had done His work in preparing us spiritually. Now we must do our work outside in the world, changing it for Christ. Jesus said, "I am sending you as sheep among the wolf". It is impossible for a sheep to change the character of a wolf. For one thing, it has to be in the lookout not to be swallowed. But since Jesus commanded it, we know that, though we are fragile, powerless and vulnerable as sheep, we still can change a society of wolves, in the power and authority of Christ, as true ambassadors to His Kingdom.

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