My Help Comes From The Lord

We can all be encouraged and strengthened knowing that our help comes from the LORD.

Psalm 121

The LORD the Keeper of Israel.

A Song of Ascents.

1I will lift up my eyes to the mountains;
From where shall my help come?

      2My help comes from the LORD,
Who made heaven and earth.

3He will not allow your foot to slip;
He who keeps you will not slumber.

4Behold, He who keeps Israel
Will neither slumber nor sleep.

5The LORD is your keeper;
The LORD is your shade on your right hand.

6The sun will not smite you by day,
Nor the moon by night.

7The LORD will protect you from all evil;
He will keep your soul.

8The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in
From this time forth and forever.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Passover Holds A Place Of Significance In The LORD Eyes

When the LORD led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, He marked the time with miracles, a celebration of Passover, and after they left Egypt, circumcision as a sign of the covenant. Now in Joshua chapter 5, we see some similar emphasis from the LORD. He parts the Jordan river, He Joshua to lead the people in circumcision as a sign of their covenant with YHWH, and again we see Passover as prominent in the timing. It is very appropriate. What a good time to remember being set free from slavery in Egypt… when you are being set free from wandering in the wilderness and finally ready to enter the promised land. Passover was also a foreshadowing of YHWH’s people being set free from slavery to sin by the death and resurrection of Messiah. It is rich with purpose.

All this and an angel comes to bring an important message to Joshua around this same time.

Joshua 5:8-15

     8Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.

    10While the sons of Israel camped at Gilgal they observed the Passover on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month on the desert plains of Jericho. 11On the day after the Passover, on that very day, they ate some of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain. 12The manna ceased on the day after they had eaten some of the produce of the land, so that the sons of Israel no longer had manna, but they ate some of the yield of the land of Canaan during that year.

      13Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?” 14He said, “No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the LORD.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and bowed down, and said to him, “What has my lord to say to his servant?” 15The captain of the LORD’S host said to Joshua, “Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

The Moedim, or appointed times, play an important role in YHWH’s relationship with His people. They were designed by YHWH with the intent to help teach future generations of His people about their relationship with Him. When we learn about them and celebrate them, we are in essence learning about and celebrating our relationship with our Creator according to holy days He designed, rather than those created by men.

To learn more:

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Will You Do Things God’s Way? or Your Own?

For the Israelites, circumcision was a sign of their covenant with YHWH. They had circumcised the men who came out of Egypt, but those had died in the wilderness due to their refusal to obey YHWH in entering the promised land. Now YHWH called upon Joshua to circumcise the men of Israel as they came out of the wilderness and into the promised land.

Joshua 5:2-9

      2At that time the LORD said to Joshua, “Make for yourself flint knives and circumcise again the sons of Israel the second time.” 3So Joshua made himself flint knives and circumcised the sons of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. 4This is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the people who came out of Egypt who were males, all the men of war, died in the wilderness along the way after they came out of Egypt. 5For all the people who came out were circumcised, but all the people who were born in the wilderness along the way as they came out of Egypt had not been circumcised. 6For the sons of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, until all the nation, that is, the men of war who came out of Egypt, perished because they did not listen to the voice of the LORD, to whom the LORD had sworn that He would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. 7Their children whom He raised up in their place, Joshua circumcised; for they were uncircumcised, because they had not circumcised them along the way.

      8Now when they had finished circumcising all the nation, they remained in their places in the camp until they were healed. 9Then the LORD said to Joshua, “Today I have rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you.” So the name of that place is called Gilgal to this day.

There is nothing mystical or magical about circumcision. It is a sign of a covenant with YHWH. It could be interesting to study and speculate about why the Israelites did not circumcise the children as they were born in the wilderness. It appears they were circumcised coming out of Egypt as they followed the LORD. Then in the wilderness we see they were not circumcised. Is it coincidence that this time was the result of their disobedience and lack of faith in obeying the LORD? I don’t think so. Then as they exit their time in the wilderness and once again take up obedience to the LORD’s plan they are called to be circumcised again. It seems to fit along with their obedience and faith in the LORD. This is not to say that circumcision creates obedience, but rather that the LORD used this symbolically as a reminder of their covenant.

As the Israelites faced a choice of obeying the LORD when it was time to enter the promised land and when it was time to be circumcised, so we too will have choices to face in our lives. They could easily has reasoned that circumcision was only symbolic and thus they did not need to obey YHWH, that it was optional and they could proceed without it. That sounds a lot like how people reason today. At times they focus more on “what is required” by YHWH than “what is desired” by YHWH. We each must decide, over and over again will we do things our own way or the LORD’s way? It is important for us to remember our covenant with the LORD. It should be present in our every day lives, as we choose to live according to His instruction and submit ourselves to His guidance.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

 

Focus On The Glory and Power Of Our Father

The power of YHWH is incredible. It is enough to really grab people’s attention. While not everything the Lord does will be as dramatic as drying up the waters of the river so His people could cross, there are many miracles that we experience all around us in His creation and in our lives. The more effective we are as His people to give glory to YHWH and point to His work rather than our own participation, the more it will impress upon others to acknowledge Him.

Joshua 5:1

     1Now it came about when all the kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan to the west, and all the kings of the Canaanites who were by the sea, heard how the LORD had dried up the waters of the Jordan before the sons of Israel until they had crossed, that their hearts melted, and there was no spirit in them any longer because of the sons of Israel.

Let us always seek to tell of the wonders of YHWH’s power and glory and seek to live in such a way as to put the focus on Him rather than ourselves.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Asking The Father In Yeshua’s Name

Yeshua tells His disciples that they can ask the Father for anything in His name. He specifically mentions that they can ask the Father directly and personally because they have loved Yeshua and have believed that He came forth from the Father.

Yeshua understood the disciples would be facing hard times as He prepared to depart. He wanted them to know they were not alone. We also see that the Father wants their joy to be made full.

John 16:23-33

Prayer Promises

     23“In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. 24“Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.

      25“These things I have spoken to you in figurative language; an hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. 26“In that day you will ask in My name, and I do not say to you that I will request of the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved Me and have believed that I came forth from the Father. 28“I came forth from the Father and have come into the world; I am leaving the world again and going to the Father.”

      29His disciples said, “Lo, now You are speaking plainly and are not using a figure of speech. 30“Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God.” 31Jesus answered them, “Do you now believe? 32“Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. 33“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”

Some teach that this scripture promises that anyone who follows Yeshua can ask for anything in His name and be guaranteed it will happen. There is room for some good debate here on the exact context and language and how literally to apply it in our lives today. This would seem to be something we should test hard.

First, Yeshua is specifically addressing His disciples. It is another leap all together to say that this specific promise translates to everyone. Further, we can see Yeshua follows up clearly stating that these same disciples will have tribulation in the world… that means hard times! How could they have hard times if the Father was automatically going to give them everything and anything they want or ask for? Either they will have great discernment in what they ask for to ensure it is aligned with the Father’s will or the Father will ultimately judge what is best.

We can also observe around us even today that those of us who follow Christ do not get an automatic “yes” answer to everything we ask. In fact, we should be careful to assume that would even be good. Since when do we know more than the Father about what we need or what will make our joy full?

It could simply be that Yeshua is giving emphasis to encourage the disciples to come to the Father to ask no matter what their issue. He may be making a point with the language but not literally meaning whatever they ask for they will get.

To make the point, even Yeshua did not get a “yes” answer every time He went to the Father.  When He prayed in the garden of Gethsamene, the Father gave Him a “no” answer. His faith was certainly greater than ours.

Luke 22:41-42

41And He withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and He knelt down and began to pray, 42saying, “Father, if You are willing, remove this cup from Me; yet not My will, but Yours be done.”

It was not long after Yeshua asked this of the Father that He was arrested.

I believe we can reasonably conclude that we can approach the Father and ask, but we should also trust, Him as a wise and loving Father, to decide what is best for us. Sometimes He will tell us yes, sometimes no, and sometimes not yet.

Matthew 7:7-11

    7“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8“For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. 9“Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? 10“Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? 11“If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!

He will give to us what is good, but that does not necessarily mean that He will literally give us everything and anything we ask for when we ask for it. I have personally experienced, however, wonderful answers to prayer in my life. Let us not overlook that what we ask for also matters. To the extent that we ask for things that are consistent with YHWH’s will, He will more likely give us that for which we are asking. But if we are asking for selfish things or sinful things or things which He knows are not best for us, then He will likely not give us exactly that which we are requesting. Do not be discouraged or turn from Him, but rather continue to turn to Him and trust Him.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

We May Not Always Understand His Will, But We Can Always Trust Him

Yeshua was well aware that He faced death and resurrection. He was compassionate enough to give His disciples a look ahead, so that perhaps they would be encouraged after He died. However, at the time He spoke with them about it, they were confused and He knew it.

John 16:16-22

Jesus’ Death and Resurrection Foretold

     16“A little while, and you will no longer see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me.” 17Some of His disciples then said to one another, “What is this thing He is telling us, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me’; and, ‘because I go to the Father’?” 18So they were saying, “What is this that He says, ‘A little while’? We do not know what He is talking about.” 19Jesus knew that they wished to question Him, and He said to them, “Are you deliberating together about this, that I said, ‘A little while, and you will not see Me, and again a little while, and you will see Me’? 20“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy. 21“Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. 22“Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you.

We can debate about why Yeshua allowed His disciples to be confused, but scripture does not say why in this passage. Sometimes in our own lives we may face similar situations. The Lord is guiding us and we don’t fully understand. Let us learn to trust Him as a child trusts a loving father. The child may want to know and may ask, but sometimes the child does not understand. They simply have to trust in their father, even when something seems bad.

We can be encouraged in knowing that our Father is with us always, no matter what situation we go through. We may not always understand His will, but we can always trust Him…  and infinitely more so than any earthly father.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

What Does The Holy Spirit Do? And How?

Yeshua spoke to His disciples about His impending departure and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Clearly His disciples were going to miss Him, “sorrow has filled [their] heart”. Yeshua, however, encouraged them that He had to go for the Spirit to come and that would be an advantage to them as His disciples.

But what does the Holy Spirit do and how?

John 16:5-15

The Holy Spirit Promised

     5“But now I am going to Him who sent Me; and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ 6“But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. 7“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8“And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment; 9concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father and you no longer see Me; 11and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged.

      12“I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14“He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. 15“All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.

The Holy Spirit convicts the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment. He guides into truth. He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears from Yeshua, that He will speak.

Some take this to mean we don’t need to study or obey the Bible or the  instructions of the Father anymore because once we accept Yeshua as Messiah the Spirit will guide us in all things. It should be fairly obvious that this is not happening by simply looking around us at the division within the church that all claim to follow Christ. Even if you separate out the false teachers who deliberately teach false or incomplete doctrine… there is still much division and lack of unity on many things amongst genuine believers. This would not be so if the Spirit was fully guiding all those who genuinely follow Christ. There is still a role for us to play!

Keep in mind He is a helper. He does not force you to do everything right. There is still a battle with our flesh or sin nature. Further, Yeshua taught from scripture and referred to it often, as one pointing to the instructions of the Father. So, too, then the Spirit is not here to help us make up new instructions or stop studying the old ones, but to help us follow Yeshua, who followed the Father. There is not a change in the instructions, but rather the Spirit helps us better understand and live according to the instructions.

Nowhere do we find example that Yeshua or His disciples taught that the Spirit means we no longer need to study and understand the scriptures. In fact, the disciples continued going to temple and synagogue on sabbath (where Moses is taught) even after the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost. They were still devout Jews after Yeshua’s death, perhaps most notably observed by their gathering together at Pentecost according to the Jewish custom based on God’s instruction.

There is even a specific example where Paul and James discussed the importance of the teachings of Moses to the gentiles that are coming to Yeshua and did so after the resurrection of Christ. In this example, they felt it was ok to begin the Gentiles with some simple starting points to help them begin to come to faith in Yeshua rather than drop on them all at once all of the instructions and the law of Moses. They did so observing that the teaching of Moses is available every week and thus the Gentiles will learn more over time. There was no assumption that the Spirit would come and they would never need to study and learn the ways of YHWH as revealed to Moses. There was no assumption that the teaching of Moses was no longer relevant.

Acts 15:19-21

19“Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 21“For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

The Spirit helps us to understand as we study scripture and He helps us to remember what we learned as we live our daily life. He does not replace prayer, worship, study of scripture, or any of the instructions of YHWH given to us.

John 14:26

26“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

Pray the Lord send His Spirit to help you and other followers of Yeshua everywhere to see and understand His word and how it should guide our steps daily. Study the scriptures to better understand what they say. Seek the help of the Holy Spirit. Do not rely simply on the written accounts of men, but test everything (yes, my teaching also) against what scripture actually says.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Did Yeshua Tell His Disciples To Separate From The Teachings Of Moses?

Many Christians are taught that we should be separated from the teaching of Moses and the Hebrew roots of Christianity. There are new traditions made by men which have substituted for the instructions of YHWH, such as Sabbath on Sunday instead of Saturday and many, many others. Many Christians teach that the instructions of Moses are no longer relevant.

Did Yeshua tell His disciples to stop attending synagogue and stop following the instructions of Moses taught there? Did Yeshua tell His disciples to separate from the Hebrew roots of our faith and start a “new religion”? Let us explore scripture together.

Yeshua had just warned His disciples that the world would hate them and reject them, as it was rejecting Him (John 15). I am sure this was hard to hear. He knew it was. In fact, He had not told them previously because He was still with them, but now He was preparing them for His departure.

Yeshua warns His disciples that they will be considered outcasts form synagogue, but why?

John 16:1-4

Jesus’ Warning

     1“These things I have spoken to you so that you may be kept from stumbling. 2“They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. 3“These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. 4“But these things I have spoken to you, so that when their hour comes, you may remember that I told you of them. These things I did not say to you at the beginning, because I was with you.

A few key points which we should try not to overlook, which often get overlooked in reading a larger portion of scripture in one sitting.

  • Yeshua warned they would be made outcasts from synagogue. That means they were not outcasts at this time, or why would He bother to warn them about it. Yeshua and His disciples attended synagogue, with the other Jewish people. They had not started a “new religion” or separated from Judaism. They remained fully connected to their Hebrew roots and simply recognized that Messiah had come.
  • Making the disciples outcasts of the synagogue was not YHWH’s plan to start a new religion or new traditions or to remove the new followers of Christ from their Hebrew roots. It was done by man because they did not know the Father. In fact, they thought they were acting in service to the Father. They were wrong.

Prayerfully reflect on these points. Once again in scripture, we can see that YHWH did not intend for followers of Yeshua to break away from the teachings of Moses or our Hebrew roots. Rather it is the failure of men drove that. While some of this separation started with the disciples being made outcasts and persecuted by the Jews, even a quick study of history will show that the Romans did even more to separate those who followed Yeshua from their Hebrew roots over a period of several hundred years.

I acknowledge that this is difficult for most Christians to objectively test and study. However, I would encourage you to challenge the concept that Christians are to be separate from their Hebrew roots, as if a brand new “religion” has been established. Rather, Yeshua fulfilled the prophecy embedded within Hebrew teaching from YHWH that Messiah would come. Just because many Jewish people reject Yeshua as Messiah, does not mean we who follow Him should reject our Hebrew roots that were consistent with all that He taught and demonstrated.

To learn more:

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Seeking Wisdom From The One Who Is Truly Wise

Truly if you want wisdom, do not look to universities and degrees in higher learning, though those may have some value, but instead look to the Lord and ask Him humbly for the wisdom you seek. Pursue it in study of the scriptures and prayer and God will give it to you in the measure and time He deems appropriate.

Do not seek it though to accomplish your own plans and desires for you own glory, but the Lord’s plans for His glory through you. Do not ask for it expecting Him not to give it either, but rather expect and trust that He will grant what you ask.

2 Chronicles 1

Solomon’s Prayer for Wisdom

     8Solomon said to God, “You have dealt with my father David with great lovingkindness, and have made me king in his place. 9“Now, O LORD God, Your promise to my father David is fulfilled, for You have made me king over a people as numerous as the dust of the earth. 10“Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people, for who can rule this great people of Yours?” 11God said to Solomon, “Because you had this in mind, and did not ask for riches, wealth or honor, or the life of those who hate you, nor have you even asked for long life, but you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge that you may rule My people over whom I have made you king, 12wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you. And I will give you riches and wealth and honor, such as none of the kings who were before you has possessed nor those who will come after you.” 13So Solomon went from the high place which was at Gibeon, from the tent of meeting, to Jerusalem, and he reigned over Israel.

James 1:5-8

    5But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. 6But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. 7For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, 8being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

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Have you submitted your life to Jesus Christ? Are you living today filled with the peace and joy of truly knowing and following Jesus Christ? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

Wisdom Without YHWH Is Futile

The context of Ecclesiastes is important. If you are unfamiliar with the book, and read some excerpts you may draw the wrong conclusion. For example, reading Ecclesiastes 1 may lead you to think that wisdom is futile and not worth pursuing. This is not at all the case! We must realize the broader context of the book. Solomon is reflecting back on many things he has pursued in his life in looking for personal fulfillment. If we keep his ultimate conclusion in mind, we can better understand the context in which he says pursuing wisdom is like chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 12:13-14

13The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. 14For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.

Wisdom is good, but wisdom by itself, as a goal, is empty without the presence and purposes of YHWH. Man was created to live in relationship with the Father. Many try to fill this “whole” with other things like wisdom, power, money, sex, achievement, etc. However, nothing else can fill this whole that was designed to be filled by our relationship with the Father.  It is all like chasing the wind without Him.

Ecclesiastes 1:12-18

The Futility of Wisdom

     12I, the Preacher, have been king over Israel in Jerusalem. 13And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. 14I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after wind. 15What is crooked cannot be straightened and what is lacking cannot be counted.

      16I said to myself, “Behold, I have magnified and increased wisdom more than all who were over Jerusalem before me; and my mind has observed a wealth of wisdom and knowledge.” 17And I set my mind to know wisdom and to know madness and folly; I realized that this also is striving after wind. 18Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain.

Seek relationship with the Father. Pursue Him through Yeshua, who is the way, the truth, and the life.

John 14:6

6Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.

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Do you know for sure if you will go to heaven or hell when you die? Are you experiencing in your life the peace and joy of a personal relationship with our Creator and Father? Learn more about salvation through The Message of the Cross.

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