Friday, July 7, 2017

"Meet" Vessels

In Acts 13 & Romans 9, we find a common subject in both texts; “the purpose of God”. Consider how it applies to us today.

Of David it is stated in Acts 13:36 that, “...after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers …”

An observation:
While no one knows when time on earth will end, each of us will die (as David did) once our lives have served the purpose of God in our generation. Every human being is a vessel in the hands of God. Depending upon whether your master is Jesus or Satan, you are either a vessel of mercy or a vessel of wrath.

We see both ‘vessels’ mentioned in Romans 9:21-24:
21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use? 
22 What if God, desiring to show his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
23 in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory— 
24 even us whom he has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles?

Some examples of each:
David was a vessel of mercy (Acts 9:22 – God…raised up David…of whom he testified…‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will’.” Others:
Noah (Gen. 6:9) – N
Abraham (Gen. 18:19) – 
(Gen. 26:4-5) – I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”

King Saul, on the other hand, was a vessel of wrath (for the opposite reason – see 1 Sam. 15:23, 26 – “ ).

Here in Romans 9, the Pharaoh in Moses’ day was a vessel of wrath; verse 17 reads, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you…”) ~ Exod. 9:16

So also, King Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel’s day (Dan. 4:17)
So also, King Cyrus in Ezra’s day (Ezra 1:2)
As the Psalmist stated in Psa. 75:7, “…it is God who executes judgment,putting down one and lifting up another.”

Consider, “Which type of ‘vessel’ am I?”

The ONLY true way to answer that is to look at your life in view of Christ’s. His life was & is the ONLY life worthy of compelling another to live.

Discipleship is not an option, but a requirement. True Christianity is NOT based upon personal faith or personal preferences! (As shown from the examples of Romans 9)

It is a common practice to give testimony via successful personal pursuits such as sports etc.; thus we see the “TEBOW BOW” popularized and the giving of “praise/glory/honor to Jesus who allowed them to do what they loved…”]. 
(We need to remember, success is NOT a true gauge of Divine approval; for again, Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, and Cyrus ALL prospered for long periods of time.)

In addition, people who are taught Protestant Theology, view faith as personal; NOT common (Jude 1:3). That is because Protestant Theology declares truth to be relative; NOT absolute! That’s why we hear them speak negatively of ‘judging’, when pressed on their convictions. (John 7:24- judge w/righteous judgment)

What about you…do YOU view your life in this manner?

True Christianity…i.e., true discipleship follows Christ and calls upon others to say as the apostle Paul said, “Follow me, as I follow Christ…” (1 Cor. 11:1).

Ask yourself:
- Are you living a life that you actively compel others to follow?
- Are you passive, keeping your faith to yourself, allowing others to ‘find’ what “works for them”?
- Do you eagerly desire Christ to return? If not, why not?

Therein, you have the answers as to whether or not you need to make any changes in your own life.

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Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Doctrine Matters

“…those who desire an opportunity to be regarded just as we are…”
~ 2 Cor. 11:12 ~

The statement above was made by the apostle Paul. The context shows that he was speaking of evil men who sought to be “regarded” as Paul and other apostles of the Lord. Paul, however, has severe scorn and rebuke for these ambitious men. In vss 13-15, he states, “For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. No wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will be according to their deeds.”

Why would Paul dare to be so harsh and pass such judgment? It was because of their teachings. They taught DIFFERENTLY from what the Lord’s apostles taught by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. As such, they were giving people a false hope in regard to their salvation. Earlier in this chapter (vss. 3-4), Paul said of these false teachers, “But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.” (Paul wrote similar words in his other epistles:
(cf. Rom. 16:17-18; 1 Cor. 3:11; Gal. 1:6-9; Eph. 5:6; Phil. 3:2; Col. 2:4, 8, 18; 1 Thess. 2:14-16; 2 Thess. 1:7-9; 2:2-4, 9-11; 1 Tim. 1;19-20; 4:1-2, 16; 6:3-5; 2 Tim. 4:3-4; Titus 1:9-11)

Those who preach “other gospels”, i.e., messages that the apostles did not preach, are FALSE TEACHERS! Their doctrine is FALSE DOCTRINE!

False doctrine results in the damnation of both the teacher and his hearer. (Note especially the “hearer” in 1 Tim. 4:16 – “…both save thyself, AND THEM THAT HEAR THEE.” [Preaching ACCURATELY, saves, both the preacher and the hearers.] and,
2 Tim. 4:3-4 – “…THEY (i.e., the hearers) WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE, but after their own lusts…heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears…turn away…from the truth…unto fables.)

A most relevant question for everyone…DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE REALITY OF FALSE DOCTRINE?

A related question will perhaps drive the point home. DO YOU BELIEVE IN THE REALITY OF HELL?

If there was no such thing as false teaching, why would there be a need for HELL?

Beware of those who come in sheep’s clothing…false apostles disguised as apostles of Christ…those WHO DESIRE TO BE REGARDED AS AN APOSTLE IN WHAT THEY TEACH!

TEST THEM! As the apostle John warned in 1 John 4:1, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

They are false if their preaching does not match the preaching of the Lord’s apostles!
Now, what did the Lord’s apostles tell people to do to be saved???
What did the preacher who preached to you, tell you to do to be saved???
Did their messages match???

This is why doctrine is so important in religion.
Jesus taught:
"Take heed WHAT ye hear" ~ Mark 4:24
"Take heed HOW ye hear" ~ Luke 6:38

Why? Because DOCTRINE MATTERS!

Friday, May 19, 2017

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS IN THE BIBLE



UNANSWERED QUESTIONS IN THE BIBLE

There are several people in the Bible who heard the gospel, yet refused to acknowledge what was preached to them about Jesus. We never read in scripture as to whether these people EVER DID acknowledge what Peter stated of Jesus in Acts 2:36.  So we are left to wonder: did they ever accept Jesus as the Christ?  We want to examine some of these, and learn some valuable lessons for ourselves in the process.

#1—Felix – In Acts 24:24-27, we read, “But some days later Felix arrived with Drusilla, his wife who was a Jewess, and sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. But as he was discussing righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for the present, and when I find time I will summon you.  At the same time too, he was hoping that money would be given him by Paul; therefore he also used to send for him quite often and converse with him.  But after two years had passed, Felix was succeeded by Porcius Festus, and wishing to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul imprisoned.”



While Felix heard Paul repeatedly, the subsequent meetings were NOT as the initial meeting, for Felix’s reason for continuing to meet with Paul was in hope of receiving money from Paul.  A question left unanswered: Did Felix ever obey the gospel? I don’t know that scripture answers, do you?

But I know of some preachers who ‘COULD’ (and I stress COULD) make a good case from this ‘unknown’ on why NOT to obey the gospel. They have made their ‘case’ from an “unknown revelation”, in their preaching, and, in so doing, have convinced their audiences to reject the example of many in the Bible who DID acknowledge Jesus as Lord and Christ (I’ll come back to this point later in sermon and show this).

In making a case from an “unknown revelation”, these preachers have done something that is ALWAYS a sin in scripture.  They have acted on PRESUMPTION!

David stated in Psalm 19:13—“Also keep back Your servant from presumptuous sins; Let them not rule over me; then I will be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression.” (other passages: Exodus 21:14; Deut. 1:43; 17:12-13; 18:20, 22)



While it may be likely that Felix never did accept Christ, THE SCRIPTURES ARE SILENT ABOUT IT!

=

#2—Those of Athens In Acts 17:32-34, we read, “Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, “We shall hear you again concerning this.” So Paul went out of their midst. But some men joined him and believed, among whom also were Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris and others with them.”

Three responses: some began to sneer…others said, “we shall hear you again...some…believed”.

A question left unanswered: What of those who sneered and those who did as Felix, “sought to find a more convenient time”...DID THEY ever obey the gospel? Scripture is silent!  At best, we can say perhaps ‘yes’, but we can with equal certainty say perhaps ‘no’.  We cannot say with CERTAINTY, that they did. It is presumption to affirm either way with certainty.

Again, I know of some preachers who ‘COULD’ (and I stress COULD) make a good case by PRESUMPTION on how NOT to accept Jesus (but again, I’ll address this later).

=

#3—King Agrippa – In Acts 26:28, we read, “Agrippa replied to Paul, In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.”



NOTE: I want to make a point from the language here, because it applies to the two previous examples: In all 3 of these examples the issue is the same: BECOMING A CHRISTIAN! (Acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Christ is to become a follower of Christ ~ Christ-like)

#1 ~ Paul spoke to Felix “about faith in Christ Jesus”; about “righteousness, self-control and the judgment to come”. These matters pertained to Felix becoming a “CHRISTIAN”.

#2 ~ Those in Athens heard about the resurrection of the dead”. In Acts 17:18 they heard of “Jesus and the resurrection”.  Specifically in Acts 17:30-31 they heard of their need to repent and of the Judgment Day.  God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”  All of these subjects are crucial to one’s decision in becoming a CHRISTIAN”.

So, Agrippa replies to Paul, In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.” A question is left unanswered: Did Agrippa ever become a Christian? I don’t know that scripture answers, do you?  I can presume, reasoning it is likely; perhaps...but does scripture reveal?

I know of some preachers who ‘COULD’ (and I stress COULD) make a good case from PRESUMPTION on how NOT to become a Christian.

Now, let me address what I mentioned a little earlier. I’ve mentioned “these “UNKNOWN REVELATIONS” and “PRESUMPTIONS”. Let me do so, by citing one more example. This example is of one who did NOT defer his opportunity.

The thief on the cross: In Luke 23:39-43, we read, “One of the criminals who were hanged there was hurling abuse at Him, saying, “Are You not the Christ? Save Yourself and us!” But the other answered, and rebuking him said, “Do you not even fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed are suffering justly, for we are receiving what we deserve for our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he was saying, “Jesus, remember me when You come in Your kingdom!” And He said to him, “Truly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”



The bible is clear as to where this thief will be in eternity; no dispute (to my knowledge) about the matter.  However, a similarity exists between THIS case, and the others.  There is an “UNKNOWN REVELATION”; a “PRESUMPTION” made in preaching from this example!  You are probably familiar with this “unknown revelation”.  It is that this thief was NOT BAPTIZED!  Preachers have been telling their audiences an answer that God did not reveal in the Bible about this thief. In their presumptions, they have caused people to do as Felix, the Athenians, and Agrippa did - - - delay their decision to become a Christian until a “convenient season”.

The ‘presumption’ associated with this thief is his baptism.  Was he baptized, at some time prior to being crucified? To my knowledge, the Bible does not reveal this. (For that matter, we don’t know as to whether or not the other thief was ever baptized.)

Yet, in talking with folks who reject baptism for the remission of sins, this thief is cited as to why THEY refuse baptism FOR remission!  Interestingly, it is not that they reject baptism entirely, for many of them were baptized, BUT FOR ANOTHER PURPOSE!

The ‘PRESUMPTOUS’ statement they heard from their preacher, “The thief on the cross wasn’t baptized”!  How do they know? Revelation or presumption?

I might just as well make the case with Felix, those in Athens, and Agrippa, that, at some later date, all became a Christian.  I could preach that none of them ever did.  BASED ON WHAT ~ DIVINE REVELATION or PRESUMPTION?

“The thief on the cross wasn’t baptized”!  How do they know? Revelation or presumption? 

Consider:

Baptism is not essential because the thief wasn’t baptized.

Baptism is not essential because Agrippa wasn’t baptized.

Baptism is not essential because some in Athens weren’t baptized.



Remember this, Agrippa said he was almost persuaded to become a Christian. Did Agrippa believe? (see v. 27) Is one saved at the point of faith? If so, was Agrippa a ‘saved’ person? Remember his question…

Now, for those who preach by making assumptions, here is their dilemma: Agrippa is a saved believer, who was almost persuaded to become a Christian, yet wasn’t never baptized to show it.



I have just as strong a case from presumption, in saying that the thief WAS baptized.  My proof is the same as their proof ~ ASSUMPTION!  Incidentally, could you imagine me preaching against repentance on this reasoning?

While more examples could be cited, these examples are sufficient for us to draw accurate conclusions as it relates to becoming a Christian.

Do you see what ASSUMPTION & PRESUMPTION in preaching accomplishes?

Remember, also, in regard to some others in Athens; they believed; DIVINE REVELATION says so! Were those who believed, saved? If so, they were saved believers, yet never baptized to show it. That is the dilemma of preaching assumptions!

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Monday, April 17, 2017

POST-EASTER INTENTIONS

“…intending after Easter…”
The KJV contains the only mention of the word EASTER.  
Acts 12:1-4 — Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.) And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people.
The KJV translates the word pascha’ as “Passover”, 28 times, and as “Easter”, one time. Obviously, the Jewish feast of the Passover, was meant. The feast of the Passover, extended from the 14th to the 20th day of the month Nisan. The phrase "after the Passover" meant after the whole festival was over.

The behavior of so many on “Easter” Sunday reflects as much as anything what the bible describes as “zeal without knowledge” (Rom. 10:1-3).
Not only is the increase in attendance on this one Sunday noticeable, we find such increase of attendance nothing more than ‘out-of-character’ behavior by those who, in general, will seldom (if ever) darken the doors of a church for another fifty-one weeks. From these ‘once-a-year’ attendees, we also find an attitude of “money-is-no-object” when it comes to the purchasing of new clothes for this lone visit/attendance, while ‘casual’ dress will suffice for the any of the other 51 weeks. While they will spare no expense on this one Sunday, any appeal to their ‘giving’ on the other 51 weeks, is like squeezing “blood out of a turnip”.
Another out-of-character behavior in regard to attendance on this “magical” day of Easter Sunday, is seen by the ‘on-time’ presence at the crack of dawn, when, if they attend any of the other 51 Sundays, [also at a later scheduled time], are habitually late.
Such behavior is similar to the “all-out” efforts to remember the “reason for the season” on December 25th, and the many other pious outward signs that only cover-up inward whited sepulchres, when a mere 7 days later, the same people engage drunken revellings to ‘ring in’ a new year.

In our text, Herod had “post-Easter” intentions.  He had already had James the brother of John killed, and, seeing that it pleased the Jews, intended to do the same with Peter. Herod met with death later in this chapter, a fate with which he had intended for Peter (vss. 23-24).

What will your “post-Easter” intentions be next Sunday? Does the resurrection of Jesus from the dead have any real significance for your life? The significance of the resurrection of Christ is seen from 1 Cor. 15:17, “And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.”

It was meant to be more than a guilt trip to a local church once a year.


Col. 3:1-4 — “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

HOW READEST THOU? THY SPEECH BETRAYETH THEE…

The word BODY has a variety of meanings in scripture. In Eph. 4:4, we find that there is ONE ‘body’. Obviously, this is not referring to a human body, for there are several of these. What is THIS ‘body’ in Eph. 4:4?

Oracles of God (1 Peter 4:11) reveal:

~ For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Rom. 12:4-5
~ For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. – 1 Cor. 10:17
~ For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. – 1 Cor. 12:12
~ And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all. – Eph. 1:22-23
~ And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: - Eph. 2:16
~ That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: - Eph. 3:6
~ For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. – Eph. 5:23
~ And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. – Col. 1:18

WHAT WOULD YOU CONCLUDE FROM THESE PASSAGES ABOUT THE ‘BODY’?

WHAT DO THE ORACLES (WORDS) OF GOD DECLARE? (1 Peter 4:11)

HOW READEST THOU? DOES THY SPEECH BETRAYETH THEE?

People read God’s oracles, (the passages above), and then say:
“We went to body today…”
“We had body today…”
“We provide a body bus ministry…”
“After body, we had a meal…”
“Our body is really growing…”
“We had Sunday school, and then had body…”
“Are you going to body today?”
“Haven’t seen you in body for some time…”

What is the ‘body’ of Eph. 4:4? 
Why, just ask anyone who so uses the term ‘body’ as listed above, and they will reply: “the body is the people”!

How readest they? Their speech betrayeth them...!

What about you?

“If any man speak; let him speak as the oracles of God...” ~ 1 Peter 4:11

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WHO IS “GOING BEYOND”?

WHO IS “GOING BEYOND”?

1 Kings 18:17“And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, ART THOU HE THAT TROUBLETH ISRAEL? AND HE ANSWERED I HAVE NOT TROUBLED ISRAEL; BUT THOU AND THY HOUSE IN THAT YE HAVE FORSAKEN THE COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.”

The situation from the Old Testament story, has occurred again and again. Every aspect of life in the nation of Israel was affected and finger pointing was prevalent in placing the blame.  Since the physical nation of Israel foreshadowed the spiritual nation of Israel, (the church); we find our lesson as it relates to religious division among brethren. What is it that can occur again and again, affecting and potentially destroying the unity and peace among brethren (Eph. 4:3)? GOD’S COMMANDMENTS CAN BE FORSAKEN, BEING REPLACED BY IDOLATROUS PRACTICES. GOD'S COMMANDS ARE FORSAKEN WHEN GOD'S AUTHORITY IS NO LONGER RESPECTED.

This article will focus upon the effects in a local church, when God’s commands/authority are forsaken concerning the work of the church. A congregation can be outwardly at peace, “speaking the same things” (1 Cor. 1:10) with regard to the spiritual nature of work of the church. Then, for whatever reason, a brother seeks to introduce a practice or to seek justification without an appeal to bible authority to “stimulate” his brethren to growth/work in the local church. Certainly, brethren need to be together, and passages such as Heb. 10:24 bear this out, “…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…”.  But God has laid down principles (i.e., given commands;exercised His authority) as to HOW this stimulation is to be carried out.  Sadly, when these principles are disregarded, and a brother decides that such “stimulation” can be better served by building a “fellowship facility” (eating and recreation complex), he then urges his brethren to implement his idea (i.e., try it out). However, another brother, is moved to “prove all things” (1 Thess. 5:21). He understands that we can do nothing that is not in “the name of the Lord” (Col. 3:17). In other words, he recognizes the importance of having AUTHORITY for all that is done in religious practices. Discovering that the proposed “complex” is not authorize(2 Tim. 3:16-17), and compelled by Paul’s instruction to “not go beyond what has been written” (1 Cor. 4:7), he raises an objection to the proposal, based upon a lack of authority. As a consequence, the peace and unity of the church is shattered, and brethren who were formerly in “one accord” become adversaries. WHO GETS BLAMED? WHO WAS THE “TROUBLER” IN ISRAEL? Not the one who INTRODUCED the unauthorized practice; but the one who demanded a “thus saith the Lord” for proposed practice. We find that Elijah was accused and blamed falsely, as the “troubler of Israel” by Ahab.  Yet it was Ahab that had forsaken God’s commands and practiced idolatry. So likewise, the manner in which the brother sought to “stimulate” his brethren, with disregard for bible authority, caused the division, and he was the actual “troubler in Israel”.
THE REMEDY
Whenever the peace and unity has been disrupted by unauthorized practices, it must be dealt with in the manner in which the apostles dealt with the “Antioch question” in Acts 15. That is the only way that peace and harmony can be restored and kept within the church and the sin be “put away” (Deut. 13:5; 19:19). When certain brethren sought to bind (add) circumcision as a requirement for salvation, the apostles opposed the teaching as UNAUTHORIZED, saying “TO WHOM WE GAVE NO SUCH COMMANDMENT” (v. 24).  They acted without apostolic authority.

Therein we find the problem AND the solution.  The problem occurs when we act without regard for God’s approval (i.e., authority), and the solution to the problem is to apply the principles of authority, to correct the error. We 
must have authority; that is the thing to ALWAYS remember.  Prove your authority from the Bible before anything else is done.   While you may be labeled as the “troubler in Israel”, you will have God’s approval, and that will be rewarded with eternal life in the world to come.  As the apostle Peter stated, “We must please God, rather than men” (Acts 5:29).

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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

"WHY SHOULD I PARDON YOU?"

"WHY SHOULD I PARDON YOU?"

Jeremiah records a most sobering question which God ask of the Israelites: “Why should I pardon you?
What answer would we give?

CONTEXT: We need to remember that the Israelites were not as Canaanites, or Babylonians. They were in a covenant relationship with God based upon the events at Mt. Sinai (Exodus 20: Deut. 5). They had sworn to 'keep' (obey) this Law. However, as Jeremiah 5 details, they had BROKEN their promise to 'keep' (obey) this Law. So, God puts forth the question, "WHY SHOULD I PARDON YOU?"

[On a side issue, another sobering matter for consideration is this: if, as is commonly preached today, that "once saved; always saved", or, "a child of God cannot so sin, as to be eternally lost" is a true situation, then God's question is a moot issue, for the Israelites COULD NOT POSSIBLY BE IN NEED OF PARDONING!]

Care needs to be taken so as NOT to apply these words to an alien sinner (i.e., one who has NEVER been in a covenant relationship with God thru Christ. These words apply to one who has chosen to become a disciple, by virtue of being "born anew" (John 3:3-5).
Can a child of God, so sin as to be in need of pardon? The answer is clear from Jeremiah. What about Judas (Acts 1:25), Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8:22), the apostle Peter (Gal. 2:11), Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5)?
For one who, after being "born again", breaks his word, he is in need of pardon. God's question applies to him, "WHY SHOULD I PARDON YOU"?

What shall your answer be?

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