Poetry

~Whose Church is The Church~

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Galatians 3:26-27The Message (MSG)

25-27 But now you have arrived at your destination: By faith in Christ, you are in direct relationship with God. Your baptism in Christ was not just washing you up for a fresh start. It also involved dressing you in an adult faith wardrobe—Christ’s life, the fulfillment of God’s original promise.

A common misconception about the church of Christ is that “The Church of Christ” is its name. It is not. The “church of Christ” is its description. The church of Christ is the church that belongs to Christ, that was established by Christ, that was built by Christ, and that was bought by Christ. It is not our church; it is His church, the Lord’s church. We are not voted into the church by men, and we do not join a church the way some might join a country club. Instead, God adds us to His church when we obey His gospel.
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Ever addressed the topic: Gospel vs. doctrine?

Could not find this specific topic addressed. It is a current issue being debated locally. The progressive spirit insists that unity is only our faith in Christ, or that we all believe in Christ,(might as well say faith only), because in the next breath they say doctrine is another area, apart from our faith in Christ, some then add, after all, we cannot agree on doctrine”. Two folks added, “We have fellowship with those who believe in Jesus”. It was opened up to even those in denominations. I am afraid we have union, but not unity, as the importance of doctrine is diminished. Thanks.

The Answer:

Creating a distinction between “gospel” and “doctrine” is not new – it has been around for years. It is a theory espoused by those who, as you suggest, seek union in diversity. They do this by arguing for a false dichotomy, establishing their own rules and rejecting God’s teaching.

Does the scripture distinguish between “gospel” and “doctrine”? If it does, then we should adopt it. If it does not, then we should oppose it and withdraw from those who teach it. 2 Thess. 3:6. The theory that doctrine is one thing and gospel is another are found in early twentieth century Europe. J.A. Jungmann, a German Catholic theologian published his views in a text titled, The Good News and Our Proclamation of the Faith, (1936). Jungmann proposed what he called the “kerygmatic approach to preaching.” He made a hard distinction between gospel (Kerygma) and doctrine (Didache). Later that year British theologian, C.H. Dodd, published a book called, The Apostolic Preaching and Its Development, in which he urged that a firm distinction is made between gospel and doctrine.

The Bible does not support such a theory. In the Koine (Hellenistic Greek) language, in which the New Testament was written, the word gospel (Kerygma) means “good news” and is used to refer to the salvational aspects of Jesus. The word doctrine (Didache) means “teaching” or “discourse,” and has reference to the same salvational message as the gospel. Therefore, it is not unusual for the New Testament to speak of the gospel as that which must be obeyed (2 Thess. 1:8). If the gospel is only a set of facts — death, burial, and resurrection — it cannot be obeyed. One cannot obey facts!

Now some in the Lord’s church borrowed the “gospel versus doctrine” theory from Jungmann and Dodd to build a base on which to launch their speculation about open fellowship between the church and denominations. They call their opinion unity-in-diversity – a contradiction in terms. In this view, the gospel is separated from teaching, or doctrine, and supersedes it in importance. The adherents of unity-in-diversity stress that only the gospel is important since doctrine is a relative and elusive standard. Therefore, all believers (regardless of their denominational-church) are to achieve unity of faith by ignoring doctrine, but gospel must not be discarded.

The very definition of the word gospel, in the unity-in-diversity theory, was modified to exclude everything but the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. In more recent literature this notion has been styled the Core Gospel. As a result of this historic shift in faith, some brethren (?) stress that the gospel can be preached only to the lost (i.e., the world), but doctrine may be preached only to the saved (i.e., the church).

In the Bible, the two words (gospel and doctrine) are intertwined. For instance, when Paul preached the resurrection (a part of the so-called core-gospel-triad) the Athenians called it doctrine (Acts 17:18-19). How ludicrous it would have been for Paul to respond to the sincere question of the Greek philosophers by saying he could not teach them doctrine because they were not yet Christians.

Servants of sin obeyed doctrine to be free from sin and become servants of righteousness (Rom. 6:17). If there is a difference in doctrine and gospel, and if only the gospel frees from sin, how could these unbelievers obey doctrine? There is nothing in the context of 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 antagonistic to doctrine. It is ridiculous to say Paul preached the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus without giving conditions of salvation. How could one understand how to respond to the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ separate from specific teaching or doctrine? (See Romans 6:3-4 with v. 7.) On Pentecost Peter preached the resurrection of Christ, but also told people what commands to obey to be saved (Acts 2:31-38).

Why does Paul write to the Roman Christians telling them that he is ready to preach the gospel to them if the gospel is not for the saved? Rom. 1:15. The Christian’s life is to be a life that is “becoming to the gospel.” Phil 1:27. If doctrine is for the church why did Paul not seek a life that becomes doctrine? Gospel and doctrine are not separate. Some have accepted a false distinction between gospel and doctrine to erect an unauthorized bridge of fellowship with the denominational world.

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What is the church of Christ?

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus promised to build a church. In Acts 2:47, Luke tells us that people were being added to that church. Thus, we can conclude that Jesus built His church sometime between His promise in Matthew 16 and Luke’s statement in Acts 2. Indeed, a closer study of the events in Acts 2 reveals that the Lord’s church was established on that first day of Pentecost following the Lord’s resurrection when Peter preached the first gospel sermon. That church is the church of Christ.

Are those in the church of Christ the only people who are going to be saved? Of course they are! God adds people to His church when they are saved. If you are not in the Lord’s church, then you are not saved. If you are saved, then you are in the Lord’s church. To be saved outside of the church of Christ is to be saved outside of the body of Christ – and that can never happen. Jesus is not just a way to the Father; he is the way to the Father. As Jesus said in John 14:6, “ I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Thus, the real question is not what is the church of Christ, but is rather how do you become a part of the church of Christ? That question was asked in the first century as it is asked today, and the answer remains the same. We are saved and added to the Lord’s church when we obey the gospel of Jesus Christ. Like the Apostle Paul, we are saved when our sins are washed away at our baptism.

There is one church of Christ. If you are a member of something else or something more or something less, then you are not serving God according to His plan or according to His will. He wants you to be a Christian and only a Christian, wearing only the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the head and the savior of the church, His body.

 

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What Must I Do?

What must I do? That same question was asked in Acts 2:37 at the end of the very first gospel sermon ever preached. Before we look at Peter’s answer in verse 38, let’s look at some answers Peter did NOT give.

What must I do? John Calvin answers, “Nothing!” According to Calvin, there is nothing we must do and nothing we can do. Each of us has already been personally predestined to Heaven or Hell without regard to anything we do on Earth, and so, logically, according to Calvin, the only answer to the question in Acts 2:37 is “Nothing.” But that is NOT how Peter answered that question.

1 Peter 3:21

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

What must I do? Many preachers today answer, “You must make Jesus the Lord of your life.” But that answer makes absolutely no sense then or now! Peter had just said in Acts 2:36 that “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” Jesus was already Lord of their lives! Jesus is Lord of lords and King of kings, which means he is your Lord and your King whether or not you obey him or believe him. We obey Jesus because he is Lord and King – not to make him Lord and King.

What must I do? Many preachers today answer, “You must pray the sinner’s prayer and invite the Lord Jesus into your heart.” But no one in the Bible was ever told to do that. In fact, Paul prayed after he saw Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), and yet Paul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always (Acts 10:2), and yet there remained something he still had to do after calling for Peter (Acts 10:6). If praying the sinner’s prayer was all that Paul and Cornelius needed to do, then why were Ananias and Peter needed?

What must I do? Listen as Peter answers that question: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2:38) That answer has not changed one bit in the intervening 2000 years. If your preacher is telling you something different, then you need a new preacher! “And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” (Acts 22:16

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PASSIONATE LIVING VS. FEAR

STORY…

Sarah Ban Breathnach tells of a business trip her husband took to the beach, where she and her daughter enjoyed the mornings while he attended workshops. One afternoon it was announced that there would be elephant rides for the children in the hotel parking lot. Her daughter, Katie, was delirious with excitement. Sarah told her, “Life is always full of wonderful surprises if we’re open to them. Some mornings you get up not knowing what will happen, and you get to ride an elephant that day!” When they got home, there was an invitation for Sarah to join a group of journalists on a trip to Ireland. She was tired of traveling, and not really a spontaneous person, so she told them she would probably not go. Her husband, overhearing her, said, “So, you’re not going to ride the elephant?” She decided to go.

VERSE…

“I sought the Lord, and He heard me, and delivered me from all my fear (Psalm 34:4).

POINT…

Living passionately involves a lot of pressure and risk. I mean, what if you fall off the elephant? A writer named Ambrose Redmoon wrote: Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgment that something else is more important than fear. You might be afraid of all kinds of things, but if one of your kids were in danger, you’d be fearless. Also, don’t you want to live believing that God is bigger than whatever you’re afraid of? You have to make a decision to stop letting fear win: stop holding on to your blanket of insecurity and anxiety. Show up with everything God has given you, and join the battle against whatever opposes the redeeming work of God in this world. Take yourself less seriously and God more seriously!

“I wish you’d take the brakes off and let me preach,”

Christ is king. But what kind of king is he? Is Christ the kind of king who will send children to die in wars? Is Christ the kind of king who will take advantage of us?
I certainly hope not! If we take the example of human rulers are just scale up, we find ourselves with a Christ who is abusive, selfish, cruel, and all-powerful. That’s not the kind of Savior I want.

So what kind of king is Jesus? What kind of king are we celebrating today?
Our king, Christ the King, is—in a word—unexpected. Christ the King is unexpected in his birth, unexpected in his life, unexpected in his death, and unexpected in his return.
Let me explain what I mean. Think of a human king. You’d expect him to be born in a palace, surrounded by nobles and guards and wealth, raised in the lap of luxury.
Our king was born into poverty, wrapped in rags, put to rest in a manger meant for hay.
Think again of a human king. You’d expect him to travel around with courtiers and attendants, or live in his castle, with advisors to help him manage his kingdom.
Our king traveled around with fishermen, foreigners, and women. Our king visited with the sick, the outcast, the desperate.
A human king would die in his bed; he’d be mourned publicly, buried in a place of honor. Or at least he would die heroically in a battle, struck down by an enemy.
Our king was brutally executed by the state, nailed to a cross. His body was laid in a spare tomb nearby, without ceremony.

What kind of king is Christ? The unexpected kind. The kind who defies every expectation, every assumption about what a king should be.
Which brings me back to this famous parable from Matthew 25. Did you notice what the sheep and the goats, the people on the king’s right and left, have in common? Both groups are surprised to learn that they encountered the king. The sheep say, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? When was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? When was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?”
The goats’ response is the same, except that they failed to act: “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?”

Both groups are surprised. They had no idea they had encountered their king in the guise of someone hungry, or poor, or sick. They had no idea that they had seen their king in the face of a foreigner, an immigrant, a prisoner.
This king, our king, is unexpected. He was born, he lived, he died, in the most unexpected ways. His resurrection and ascension were certainly unexpected. And this parable teaches us that his return will also be unexpected. We might be waiting for the Son of Man to come in glory, surrounded by angels, sitting on a throne. But what we will discover—what the sheep and the goats in the parable discover—is that our king has already returned. We have already seen him. He’s the panhandler on the street corner. He’s the farmworker picking our crops. He’s alone in a hospital room with no one to visit him. He’s locked up in San Quentin. He’s a teenaged girl going into Planned Parenthood, an undocumented mother bringing her children across the border, a widow alone in her home.
What kind of king is Christ? Just look around. You’ll see him. Amen.

Baptism in the Bible

Matthew 28:19

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.

Mark 16:16

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Acts 2:38

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 8:36

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Acts 22:16

And now why tarriest thou? arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

Romans 6:3

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

Romans 6:4

Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

1 Corinthians 12:13

For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

Galatians 3:27

For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

Ephesians 4:5

One Lord, one faith, one baptism.

Colossians 2:12

Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.

1 Peter 3:21

The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

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Pt 2 Of Are You Living In The Matrix Of Opinion Or Truth

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Even if you are a minority of one, the truth is the truth.

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Mahatma Gandhi

Theologically, Real freedom is the ability to function the way God designed us to function. This is the reason why freedom and truth are so intertwined; we need to know what our purpose and design are before we can exercise the freedom to fulfill our mission on earth. That is also true of things we ourselves make. A meticulously manufactured car is a marvel on the road, is completely useless in the water. Similarly, we function at our best when our lives measure up to our creator’s prerequisite.
Anyone with a bit of knowledge, and any experience at all with today’s world, is aware of the fact that the people of today is facing a time of great crisis. Fundamental reason is that Basic truth has been thrown to the wind. God said in Hosea chapter 4:6 “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being my priest. Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.”  Why are things in such a state of chaos? One of the reasons is ignorance of God’s truth. There probably has not been a time in this century when Bible truths even among the Believers have ruined to such a base level. Let us be more precise. We suffer a leadership crisis. Where are the godly leaders who know the Bible from “cover to cover”? You probably heard the old story about the judge who couldn’t find a Bible in his courtroom with which to swear in a witness; so he simply called for a Christian man and had the witness place his hand upon the brother’s head. The days are gone when God’s people were known as a “Bible-toting, Bible-quoting “or people living in submission to God’s word. Many members of the church never carry a Bible to worship, and they could not cite scriptural references on the most fundamental of doctrinal issues.

The majority of churches are not the solid Bible teaching centers, a few they used to be. The time was when the leaders and pastors of our churches were great Bible teachers who knew how to powerfully proclaim the truth. They were rich in Bible knowledge. The Bible teaching seminar and convention that we have seen in recent decades is sadly feeble. It is hard to find serious and deep Bible teaching that is spirit filled, strong in doctrine and life changing. The current professional and lively seminars are filled with case-study/story telling- scenarios and role-playing exercises that rely more on human wisdom than a respect for the authority of God’s Word. The supreme concern within God’s heart in giving us the Bible has been, through the centuries that we might understand what goes on in the human spirit, affecting everything we do. He has deliberately made the physical to correspond to the spiritual in such a way as to illustrate to us what is going on within.
One of the keys to triumphant Christian life is a persistent and continual pursuit of scriptural truth for freedom in the Spirit. Passion for precepts will drives everyone to extend and expose to new initiatives and create a new spiritual environment. The desire to keep growing in knowledge of god will inspire us to stretch beyond our fears and self-imposed boundaries. God’s Truth are essential in real, lasting, life-changing experience and genuine freedom.

There are two kinds of knowledge. These are the head knowledge and the revelation knowledge of Jesus Christ. Head knowledge of Jesus Christ is more of intellectual assent rather than experiential encounter with the Lord. A person may know all the great doctrines of the Bible, can give beautiful insights of biblical verses, but may not actually know God or have not personally experienced God in his life. Knowledge of God and knowledge about God are two different things.

For example Paul’s experience with the Lord is revelation knowledge. One of the distinguishing marks that a person’s experience with the Lord is revelation knowledge is the revolutionary transformation of such person and that is exactly what happened to Paul. Prior to his conversion Paul was a very different person and pursuing an entirely different direction in life. Formerly he was the persecutor of the Church of Jesus Christ. He was a violent man, a persecutor. .He did everything to oppose the followers of Jesus Christ. He was extremely fanatical for his religion. He had been a member of the Pharisees, the strictest sect of their religion. He is also filled with head knowledge about God, but he was alienated from the life of God. A person could be filled with so much theology, doctrine but still very much alienated from God. He thought he was living inside the will of God but actually outside of it.

But when the Lord Jesus was revealed to him the truth, one day while he was on a mission to Damascus, a dramatic transformation happened to his life. There is a radical revolution that happened to him, and the course of his life was totally altered. The Faith that he once tried hard to destroy became now the one he bravely proclaimed and he even risked his life for this faith. He became a radical preacher of the gospel.  To achieve a Freedom in one’s life, the “Truth” (CHRIST) must first be revealed to that person. We should never settle for anything less, we must crave for the revelation of the Son of God in our life.  Paul said “But I make known to you brethren that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Without exception, Deceptive knowledge elevates the self and lowers God. It always, no matter how seemingly sincere and objective and scholarly, caters to human self–will, pride, fleshly inclinations, and independence. Those are the basic characteristics of the unredeemed, and they always direct and determine the unredeemed thinking, desires, and conclusions. The reason people love complex, elaborate philosophies and religions is because these appeal to human ego. They offer the challenge of understanding and doing something complex and difficult. For the same reason some people scoff at the gospel. It calls on them to do nothing—it allows them to do nothing—but accept in simple faith what God has done. The cross crushes human sin and crushes human pride. It also offers deliverance from sin and deliverance from pride.

Becoming a Christian does not give us all the answers to everything—certainly not in the areas of science, electronics, math, or any other field of strictly human learning. Many nonbelievers are more educated, brilliant, talented, and experienced than many believers. If we want our car fixed we go to the best mechanic we can find, even if he is not a Christian. If we need an operation we go to the best surgeon. If we want to get an education we try to go the school that has the best faculty in the field in which we want to study. As long as they are used properly and wisely, medicine and technology and science and all such fields of human learning and achievement can be of great value. Christians should thank God for them.

But if we want answers to what life is about—answers about origin, purpose, meaning, relevance, morals  and destiny where we came from, where we are going, and why we are here, about what is right and what is wrong—then human learning cannot help us. If we want to know the ultimate meaning and purpose of human life, and the source of freedom, happiness, joy, fulfillment, and peace, we have to look beyond what even the best human minds can discover. Human attempts to find such answers apart from God’s revelation are doomed to fail. Jesus said in Luke 16:15 “And he said to them, You are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”

The above Scripture is followed by the literal account of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).  The Bible contrasts the extravagant and pleasurable life of a rich man verses the sorrowful existence of a poor beggar named Lazarus.  In the end, the Bible tells us that the rich man went straight to Hell to be tormented in flames; but Lazarus was escorted by angels into Abraham’s Bosom (i.e., Paradise).  There is not a clearer passage of Scripture in the Word of God, testifying to the vanity of earthly fame and fortune.  The rich man had it all―wealth, health, power, security, friends, and the respect of his peers; BUT, he didn’t have Jesus.  In sharp contrast, Lazarus had nothing except Jesus.  He was sick and the Bible says that dogs came and licked his wounds.  Lazarus ate from the rich man’s garbage, whatever he could scrape together.  The Bible tells us that the rich man was consumed in his mind concerning building bigger storage barns for his grain, and laying up massive wealth for his old age; BUT, his retirement never came because God ended his life.  The selfish rich man never gave thought to helping Lazarus in any way, nor did he think about God or the eternal destiny of his soul.

The world measures greatness by many standards. At the top are intelligence, wealth, prestige, and position—things which God has determined to put at the bottom? – “You are the ones who justify yourselves in the eyes of men, but God knows your hearts. What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight.” God reveals the greatness of His power by demonstrating that it is the world’s nobodies that are His somebody. According to Jesus, the greatest man who ever lived, was John the Baptist. He had no university education, no money, no military rank, no political influence, no social position, no prestige, no impressive appearance or oratory. Yet Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). This man fit none of the world’s standards but all of God’s. And what he became was all to the credit of God’s power. Why Because John was A BURNING WITNESS TO THE LIGHT-John 1:6-8-There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. Jesus Said He Was Born to Bear Witness to the Truth “You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. (John 5:33)  Jesus also said “For this I was born, and for this I came into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice.”

John 18:37
Knowledge of Divine truth is the fundamental factor of all meaningful relationships. Truth means is love and justice in action — the action of selflessness, of esteeming others above ourselves. All interpersonal problems could be solved with a faithful, mutual expression of divine love. Imagine what the world would be like if everyone acted in truth and love. No war. No divorce. No evil, No AIDS. No murder. No rape. No tears. No sin. We want to be appreciated, loved, treated with dignity, and esteemed. This, then, is the way we ought to treat others. The double benefit is that when we treat others that way, they begin to treat us the same and our relationships are characterized by God’s truth, divine love, transparency, trustworthiness, respect and faith.

The more you know the truth of God the more powerful you are to change your world. There is no excuse for not being the best you possible. Now is the time to change your life, regain the power you have given away because you are waiting for someone else to fix things for you, and get what you know you deserve. So what are you waiting for? Truth is liberty in many ways. It has the power to eradicate ignorance, sin; poverty, bondage and make individuals become free indeed. Bible is God’s liberating power of Divine Truth. THIS BOOK contains the mind of God, the state of man, the way of salvation, the doom of sinners and the happiness of believers. Its doctrines are holy, its precepts are binding, its histories are true, and its decisions are immutable. Read it to be wise, believe it to be safe and practice it to be holy. It contains light to direct you, food to support you and comfort to cheer you. It is the traveler’s map, the pilgrim’s staff, the pilot’s compass, the soldier’s sword and the Christian’s charter. Here paradise is restored, heaven opened and the gates of hell disclosed. Christ is its grand object; our good is its design and the glory of God its end. It should fill the memory, rule the heart, and guide the feet. Read it slowly, frequently, and prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened in the judgment, and will be remembered forever. This why ““Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
God Bless you!!!!!