Update 142


Worship God

On Saturday, May 8, 2004, Dave Harris will be giving the sermon, titled, “Worship God!”

The services can be heard at www.cognetservices.org at 12:30 pm Pacific Time (which is 2:30 pm Central Time). Just click on Connect to Live Stream.

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God Wants Us to Succeed


Whom is God trying to save? Is it just the Christians and not the Muslims, Hindus, or Buddhists? Is it the people of the United States and not those of Iraq? Is it the intelligent?

Many will be happy to know that God wants everyone to be saved, ultimately. God wants everyone to be in the Kingdom of God. That’s what His whole plan of salvation is about. On the other hand, we understand that today, God has only called very few to salvation, while the rest of the world will be called by God at a later time — after Christ’s return (compare John 6:44; 1 John 5:19; Romans 11:7, 25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:22-24). For those whom God has called in this day and age, God has set this wonderful plan in motion and it is God working in us and with us:

“For it is God which works in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13); and “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32). There is nothing that would make Him more joyous than to see everyone there.

God has already started making a place for you (John 14:2)! He is not waiting until we get there; He has put the plans in motion already because He is expecting you. God wants to give you the keys to the Kingdom! So much emphasis has been put on us WANTING to be there, but we need to realize that God WANTS us to be there even more.

GOD HAS GIVEN us quite a bit to accomplish this: His Son, His Holy Spirit and His Word, our talents, His ministry, the fellowship with brethren of like mind, etc. He even lets us know when we are off the narrow path. God wants us to succeed and He has given us the means by which we can do this if we avail ourselves of these tools and build righteous character as the result.

God is planning on us being successful …are we?

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“Why is President Bush So Popular in the U.S.?”

This is a question which is puzzling to most Europeans. Der Spiegel Online wrote on April 29, 2004, that President Bush seems to gain popularity in the U.S. “in spite of the debacle in Iraq.” The magazine speculated that part of the reason might be Mr. Bush’s uncompromising stance on things, “regardless of whether he is right or wrong.” In addition, it was pointed out that another reason, which might be somewhat related, is his “missionary zeal of a crusader.” He was quoted as saying that it is “the holy duty of the President” to defend the nation; and that he is only a “messenger who prays for strength to do the Work of the Lord.” The magazine concluded: “These words are no coincidence. How can one criticize the messenger of the Lord?”

The New York Times added the following comments in its article, published April 15:

“Compare Kennedy with Mr. Bush, who conceded no errors and warned that any Vietnam analogy with Iraq — in this acid flashback moment when 89 U.S. troops have been killed in two weeks and when McNarummy is forcing up to 20,000 troops to stay in Iraq — ‘sends the wrong message to our troops and sends the wrong message to the enemy.’

“He reiterated that his mission is dictated from above: ‘Freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in this world.’

“Given the Saudi religious authority’s fatwa against our troops, and given that our marines are surrounding a cleric in the holy city of Najaf, we really don’t want to make Muslims think we’re fighting a holy war. That would only further inflame the Arab world and endanger our overstretched military…”

We have pointed out for quite a while that most recent events involving the United States of America, Great Britain, the Middle East, and continental Europe, are no coincidence, but in furtherance of God’s plan to bring about the end of our present civilization. To learn more about the historic importance of current events, please read our free booklets: “Europe in Prophecy” and “The Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord.”

Europe Ahead of the U.S.

As Der Spiegel Online reported on April 27, 2004, Europe has now acquired the sad reputation of being a bigger exporter of weapons than the U.S. While the U.S. has exported and sold weapons in 2003 in the amount of $4.4 billion (which constitutes 23.5 percent of the world’s weapons exports), the EU exported weapons in the amount of $4.7 billion (or 25 percent of the world’s weapons exports). More than 80 percent of the European exports originated in France, Germany and Great Britain.

With 37 percent of the world’s weapons exports, Russia has become the world’s biggest exporter of weapons, having become as powerful and influential as during Communist times, before the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Has Noah’s Ark Been Found?

On April 27, World Net Daily reported that “a team of scientists, archaeologists and forensic experts plan to climb Turkey’s Mt. Ararat this summer in quest of evidence that will prove they have discovered Noah’s Ark. Satellite photos taken last year at the height of a record-warm summer, give Daniel P. McGivern confidence he has discovered the biblical icon. ‘These new photos unequivocally show a man made object,’ McGivern told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington… The U.S. Air Force took the first photographs of the Mt. Ararat site in 1949, Space.com said. The images allegedly revealed what seemed to be a structure covered by ice, but were held for years in a confidential file labeled ‘Ararat Anomaly.’ The government released several of the images in 1997, but experts say they are inconclusive. McGivern’s expedition follows an attempt in 2002 by Porcher Taylor, a senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. Taylor used satellite imagery of the area, but photos taken in 2003 by DigitalGlobe’s Quick Bird satellite provide a unique view because last summer was Europe’s hottest since 1500.”

The paper pointed out, too, that “there are many who believe Noah’s Ark has already been found on a site several kilometers from Mt. Ararat, and say it’s faithful to the Bible account which states in Genesis 8:4 the ark rested ‘upon the MOUNTAINS of Ararat,’ not mountain. The Turkish government has proclaimed it to be Noah’s Ark, and a visitor’s center is open there.”

The New Europe

As the Drudge Report pointed out on April 30, 2004, mass celebrations all over Europe took place to welcome 10 new European nations to the “European House.” It stated: “Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians celebrated their former communist country’s entry into the European Union with midnight parties in the streets of Budapest as the EU welcomed 10 new states on Saturday.

“Fireworks lit up the sky above Heroes’ Square in the Hungarian capital as the national anthem was played, followed by Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, which is the EU’s anthem.

“‘Hungary has returned to Europe and the values which Hungary has held dear for more than 1,000 years,’ Prime Minister Peter Medgyessy said as a gigantic eight-meter (25-foot) hourglass was turned over to begin marking the nation’s time in the EU.

“Hungarians had kicked off celebrations with the tolling of a flower-shaped bell at noon Friday and then took to the streets for evening parties.

“‘We are finally triumphing over our misfortunes,’ Medgyessy said at the bell ceremony. ‘Our integration (into the EU) can be a historic turning point.’

“‘We were the gates of Europe already but now we will be that from the inside,’ he said.”

AFP added the following comments: “Europe stood proudly reunited almost six decades after it was split in two by the Cold War, as 10 nations in eastern Europe and the Mediterranean took their places in the European Union. The once-communist states of the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia officially joined the EU family at the stroke of midnight Central European summer time… Mediterranean islands Cyprus and Malta joined them as well, rounding out what is indisputably the world’s BIGGEST single economic bloc, and a fledgling political force, with a total population of 455 million. ‘For Europe, today [May 1, 2004] marks the closure of one chapter and the opening of another new and exciting chapter in its long history,’ said Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, whose nation holds the rotating EU presidency.”

The paper continued: “Poland, by far the biggest of the 10 newcomers, marked its EU entry with the hoisting of the blue, yellow-starred EU flag at the tomb of the unknown soldier in Warsaw. ‘Welcome to a united Europe,’ President Aleksander Kwasniewski said. ‘Dreams are becoming a reality.’ [Der Spiegel Online added that Kwasniewiski also said: “We can be proud that we are changing Europe.”] In Prague, on a stage bedecked with EU flags, Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla called EU accession ‘the end of a long and difficult journey’ that began with the Prague Spring rebellion against Soviet domination in 1968… Germany hailed the moment by turning Brandenburg Gate — scene of jubilant scenes in 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down — into one large beer garden.”

Associated Press stated on April 30: “Hundreds of thousands of people across the ‘new Europe’ celebrated with street festivals in a jubilant countdown Friday to the European Union’s historic enlargement… when the EU becomes a potential economic and political POWERHOUSE of 25 nations and 450 million citizens.” The article quoted Hans Gert Poettering, a German politician who leads the conservative faction in the European Parliament, as saying that the enlargement is the “EU’s greatest political success,” and that “it means that for the first time in European history peace can be ensured for the long term.'”

Sadly, in spite of such enthusiastic and euphoric comments, the Bible predicts quite a different development of the European power bloc. We also read that when they say, “Peace, peace,” there will be no peace (compare Jeremiah 8:11).

On May 1, 2004, Associated Press reported: “Former Czech President Vaclav Havel, the playwright who led the Velvet Revolution that ended communist rule in 1989, urged his countrymen to become ‘self-confident citizens of Europe.’ Czechs awoke Saturday [May 1, 2004] as members of a bloc ‘that is not a result of wars, that is not based on the violent domination of some over others, but which was born, evolves, strengthens and expands out of the free will of European nations,’ Havel said in Prague.” The article continued: “‘It creates an expanded market of 450 million consumers which will increase prosperity, trade, investment and jobs throughout the enlarged Europe,’ British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote in an article published Friday in The Times newspaper of London. Blair pointed out that Britain’s trade with the eight new members from eastern Europe has doubled in the past decade as they shook off the remnants of communism and opened up their economies.”

According to AP, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder stated that “greater trade across the enlarged Europe” will make Germans “not poorer, but richer.” BILD Online added, on April 30, that Schroeder said that Germany’s export to new Europe is already bigger than its export to the United States.

Zenit reported on April 29 about a pilgrimage of Catholic bishops of the European continent to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the “spiritual capital of Europe.” They pointed out that “the profound roots of a united Europe stem from the Franco-German reconciliation.” In addressing the European unification, they stated: “We Christians are convinced that God is the Lord of history and has manifested his lordship by sending His son, who died on the cross to gather those who are scattered. Precisely at Easter, when we pray for the community, we are following the plan of God, who desires reconciliation.”

According to Die Welt, of April 17, 2004, the “Catholic bishops of Poland told the Polish people to contribute with a Christian spirit to the building of Europe.”

Europe will ultimately be united under the spiritual and religious leadership of the Catholic Church, as many Biblical passages clearly reveal.

Europe’s Babel Tower

euobserver.com reported on April 28, 2004, about the European problems to communicate with each other. The article pointed out that “a union of 25 member states [operates] in 20 official languages… In comparison, the UN has just six official languages.”

The article continued that there are “simply not enough people who are proficient in [for example] both Lithuanian and Spanish… The cost of the EU’s translation service is set to rise to around 800 million euro a year… In principle, the three working — as opposed to the 20 official — languages of the EU are French, German and English… English is the most spoken foreign language in the new member states, followed by Russian and German… Europe is set to keep its BABEL TOWER for the foreseeable future. From 1 May, the Germanic (German, English, Danish, Dutch, Swedish), Romance (French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese)and Greek languages will be joined by the Slavic (Polish, Slovak, Czech, Slovenian) and Baltic (Latvian, Lithuanian) tongues. The Finns will at last get some Uralic company and no longer be the only one speaking a non Indio-European language — they will be joined by the Estonians and the Hungarians while the Maltese will sit in linguistic isolation… But that is not the end of it. In a few years, Bulgarian, Croatian and Romanian could be added to the list of official languages.”

The Fruits of War

As if the US and Britain weren’t causing themselves enough grief already, pictures of soldiers treating captured Iraqi prisoners in such a detestable manner have been broadcast all over the world. Memories are long in that part of the world, and it may well contribute to what will happen in the near future in the coming captivity of modern Israel: ” ‘And the LORD will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you, ‘You shall never see it again.’ And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you’ ” (Deuteronomy 28:68).

On the BBC a military official said of the British soldiers who did these things that they “were not worthy of the Queen’s dress.” A similar protestation has arisen from President George Bush by his indication that this isn’t the way Americans conduct themselves. However, this is certainly a true and accurate reflection of the fruits of war. Sadly, it is also a commentary on human nature run amuck and a further reason why this world is rushing headlong into the vortex of worldwide turmoil.

AIDS — an Ongoing Curse!

Bild Online published on April 16 some disturbing statistics on Aids. It titled its article: “People die of AIDS as never before!” It pointed out: “In 2003, three million people died of AIDS… 40 million are infected with the HIV virus, including 25 million children and teens. In 2003 alone, more than 14,000 people were infected with the HIV virus on a daily basis.”

The paper stressed, too, that not only homosexuals or drug users are infected, but that every fifth infected person is heterosexual. It added: “Nearly every second newly infected person is between 15 and 24 years of age. 3 million die yearly of AIDS — that means, 8,400 human beings die each day.”

Evolution and the Truth!

Following protests from Italian students and the Catholic conference of bishops, the Italian government announced that Evolution would no longer be taught in Italian schools to pupils, aged of 13 or younger, according to Der Spiegel Online of April 19. This decision caused a flood of protests from “renowned scientists and Nobel prize recipients,” stating that this prohibition “damaged the scientific culture.” As Der Spiegel Online reported on May 2, 2004, this protest prompted the Italian government to reinstate the teaching of Evolution to school children younger than 13.

The original protests by the students of the governmental party AGAINST Evolution were voiced in February, when a week-long anti-Evolution seminar was conducted, titled, “Evolution — a fairy tale for schools.” Pietro Cerullo, representative of the governmental party, had declared: “Darwin’s theory is important for the left. It developed when positivism existed in Europe, the forerunner of Marxism.”

The concept of Evolution is indeed false and unbiblical. The pressure and influence from scientists and other Nobel prize recipients cannot change the fact that the theory of Evolution is unproved and improvable — that it is, in fact, highly unscientific and IN OPPOSITION to established scientific facts. Please read our free booklet, “Evolution — a Fairy Tale for Adults.”

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You teach that God does not forgive us our sins if we refuse to repent. Does this mean that God does not require us to forgive those that sin against us if they refuse to repent?

A careful review of the Scriptures reveals that God forgives us our sins, when we repent. In the same way, God requires of us to forgive a sinner his or her sins or trespasses AGAINST US, when he or she repents. Many times, however, we may not know whether or not a person has repented of his or her sins against us. The Bible instructs us as how to deal with such a situation:

We should always have a forgiving attitude and a willingness to immediately forgive upon repentance, as this can be the start of any reconciliation process. We must never develop and harbor grudges against another person (Leviticus 19:18). We must hate the sin, but we must never hate the sinner. If we begin to hate the sinner, and develop resentment against the sinner, then we may find ourselves in a position where we might not be able to forgive the sinner, when he or she does repent and/or when his or her repentance comes to our attention. Further, harboring grudges against someone is not spiritually or physically healthy for ourselves. It can deprive us of the inner peace and joy of God which we are supposed to have (compare John 14:27; 15:11; 16:24; Colossians 3:15). God is always willing and ready to forgive, and so must we. It has been correctly said that we must do everything we can to establish peace (Matthew 5:9; Romans 12:18; 14:19; Hebrews 12:14; 1 Peter 3:11); and to help a person to repent, realizing at the same time that repentance is a gift from God (Romans 2:4). When we forgive, we must also forget, as God does (Jeremiah 31:34). Many may have a problem with eradicating from their memories the bad things, which somebody might have done to them. Without God’s help, it is clearly impossible to totally forget. However, with God’s help, all things are possible; and when we truly forgive someone his or her sins against us, we must make every effort to totally forget, and we must pray to God that He gives us that ability.

Some have felt that we must actually forgive a sinner his or her sins committed against us, even though he or she clearly and unambiguously REFUSES to repent. They have turned to a few Scriptures that may speak of forgiveness, without specifically mentioning repentance. To follow one of the most important principles of Bible study, we need to look at the clear and unambiguous Scriptures first, before addressing the more “difficult” ones. Further, we must take all the Scriptures together, understanding that they COMPLEMENT each other. For instance, when several Scriptures require repentance before forgiveness, and a few may not specifically mention repentance when addressing forgiveness, then it is incorrect to assume that there exists a duty to forgive sin, although the sinner clearly refuses to repent. Rather, by reading all the Scriptures, it is clear that there cannot be forgiveness without a willingness and a desire to repent of sin. We are not talking here about “offensive” or “rude” conduct that does not constitute sin – – we are addressing here a rebellious and proud refusal to repent of SIN.

God tells us that we must forgive others, AS God has forgiven us (Ephesians 4:32).This is actually requiring of us to develop and have the same kind of mindset that God has. We are to become as God is — that is, perfect (Matthew 5:48; Genesis 17:1). For example, we are being told that we are to love one another AS Christ loved us (John 15:12) — and Christ loved us with the same love with which the Father loved Him (John 15:9). Actually, it is Christ’s love in us that enables us to love others in the same way (John 15:10). We are to develop and have the mind of Christ (Philippians 2:5) and God the Father. When Christ said that we have to love each other AS He loved us, this is to be understood quite literally, of course. Although God does not forgive a sinner without his repentance, He still loves him. In fact, we read that God loved the WORLD (when they were all unrepentant sinners) so much that He gave His only-begotten Son so that everyone who BELIEVES in Him (having come to repentance and having accepted the Sacrifice of Christ for payment of his or her sins) does not have to perish, but can have everlasting life (John 3:16). Although God does not forgive SIN without repentance, He still LOVES the sinner. God may “overlook” sinful conduct (not forgiving it), as we read in Acts 17:30, and so can we (compare Proverbs 19:11: “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, And his glory is to overlook a transgression.”)

We are to love the sinner — even our enemy. We must forgive others their sins against us, AS God has forgiven us our sins which are (ultimately) against Him — as He is the Lawgiver who tells us what sin is (James 4:12). We understand, that God does not forgive us if we are not willing to repent of our sins and show instead through our conduct that we want to continue sinning against God. John would not baptize people who had not shown in their lives “fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:7-9). Christ came to call sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13). He also said that we will perish, if we don’t repent (Luke 13:3, 5). He said that Nineveh was spared, because they repented (Matthew 12:41). Paul said that he might have to mourn for many “in the church” who did not repent of their sins (2 Corinthians 12:21). Of course, Christ’s message to the seven churches in the book of Revelation is filled with the admonition to repent, and He shows the consequences if they don’t. We know that those who refuse to repent and overcome their sins will be thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 21:7-8; compare, too, Jeremiah 18:23).

When Christ addressed our duty to forgive our fellow man, He included the concept of prior repentance. Luke 17:3-4 tells us: “Take heed to yourselves. If your brother sins AGAINST YOU, rebuke him; and IF HE REPENTS, forgive him. And if he sins AGAINST YOU seven times in a day, and seven times in a day returns to you, saying, I REPENT, you shall forgive him.”

On the other hand, God is ALWAYS READY and WILLING to forgive (Psalm 86:5), and so must we. When someone sins against us, or we know that someone thinks that we have sinned against him or her, we are to talk to the person in an attempt to reconcile. We are NOT instructed in God’s Word that we must WAIT until the person, who has sinned against us, comes to us and asks us to forgive him or her. God gives us the freedom — and many times the responsibility and obligation — to go to our brother in an attempt to reconcile with our brother. We read in Matthew 5:23-24: “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother HAS SOMETHING AGAINST YOU, leave your gift there before the altar, AND GO YOUR WAY. First be RECONCILED with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”

IF our brother, who has sinned against us, is motivated by love and if he follows the lead of the Holy Spirit, he WILL respond to our attempt to reconcile with him. We read, in Matthew 18:15, that if he “hears” us, we have gained a brother. That is, he needs to hear – to repent of the sin that he committed against us. And if we find out that we have sinned against our brother, we need to confess and repent of that as well (compare James 5:16 and our Q&A on “Confession” in Update #92). But, if he REFUSES to hear us, then what? Are we commanded to forgive him, regardless? That’s not what Christ says. He tells us, “But if he will NOT hear you, take with you one or two more… and if he REFUSES to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector” (Matthew 18:16-17).

In other words, let him be to you as an “unclean person,” disfellowshipped from the community of the body of Christ. Then what?

Upon his repentance, we are to “restore” such a person (Galatians 6:1). We might have to make a “distinction,” as to how to go about doing it (Jude 20-23). Upon repentance, Paul asked of the Corinthians to restore the sinning brother back into the fold (2 Corinthians 2:5-8). It has to include the concept of repentance, however, as otherwise there would be no point in disfellowshipping the person in the first place.

In Luke 15:11-32, we read the moving parable of the “lost son.” When the lost son returned to his father’s house, the father saw him coming (verse 20). He was WAITING for his return. He ran to him and kissed him tenderly (as the original has it), showing him that he was willing to take him back (same verse). The fact that he saw the son RETURNING was already sufficient for him to grant him forgiveness. He SAW that the son was showing fruits worthy of repentance – he was returning. This is of course a parable, showing that God the Father is WAITING for our repentance (compare 2 Peter 3:9), and that He is READY to forgive, when we repent and want His forgiveness. God can look at our hearts. The son had said, before he had ever reached the father, that he had sinned (Luke 15:18-19). And, when he reached his father, he said the same again (verse 21).

Having a forgiving attitude requires sometimes GIVING THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. Only God can look into the heart of a person (although God has given His ministers a certain degree of discernment to ascertain whether someone is repentant or not, compare John 20:22-23. In addition, Christ tells all of His disciples to carefully analyze the conduct of false ministers, compare Matthew 7:15-20). When a person seems to express or show repentance, that must be sufficient for us to willingly grant forgiveness. A person, who sins against us and comes to us seven times “in a day” and says, ” I’m sorry,” needs to be forgiven every time (compare Luke 17:4). Christ even said that we must forgive him “up to seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22), that is, there is no limit whatsoever. On the other hand, a person who continues in wrongdoing and who shows no sign of regret whatsoever, and does not ask for forgiveness, and proudly claims that he has nothing to repent of, does fall into a different category.

However, if in doubt, we are to show mercy. We might have a hard time believing that a person who asks us seven times within a day to forgive him has truly repented. Still, Christ said, if he comes to you seven times within a day and says, “I repent,” you must forgive him (Luke 17:3-4).

Also, we sometimes may not know whether a person has repented, if he or she lives far away from us. We are admonished to be tender hearted (Ephesians 4:32) and merciful (Luke 6:36). If a person initiates contact with us, even if it is by sending a card, or calling on the phone, or if he or she responds to us, when we try to initiate contact, we should act mercifully and compassionately, with the goal of restoring the relationship. We need to always give the benefit of the doubt! After all, if we are unwilling to forgive others their trespasses, God will not forgive us our trespasses either (Matthew 6:14-15). The father of the “lost son” was willing to give his son the benefit of the doubt – he saw him coming back, and while still afar off, he ran to him. As we read in Leviticus 19:18, we are not to hold grudges or anger against a person, and we are not to refuse to communicate with him or her, because we don’t know yet FOR SURE whether the person has repented. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:5: “Don’t be too severe.” After the punishment had been inflicted (compare verse 6), he admonished the brethren: “… you ought rather to forgive and comfort him” (verse 7).

We need to become perfect, as God in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Even though God does not forgive “the bad” without their repentance, He still “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). If we have that same kind of a godly attitude, we will be “sons of our Father in heaven” (same verse), striving towards perfection (verse 48). That is why we are to love our enemies, and to do good to those who hurt and hate us (verse 44). We are to pray to God FOR them (same verse) — so that God would perhaps grant them repentance and a change of heart (compare 2 Timothy 2:24-26; Acts 8:20-24).

A “character description” of the converted Christian can be found in Colossians 3:12-15. It discusses forgiveness in the context of a much bigger picture: “Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even AS Christ forgave you, so you also must do. But above all these things put on love [which covers all sins, compare Proverbs 10:12], which is the bond of perfection. And let the PEACE OF GOD rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful.”

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