|Rome Opposes True Christians 8-97||I Love Mary ... The Biblical Way 9-97|
|Remember The Reformation 10-97||The Impossibility of Purgatory 11-97|
|The Bible Is Truly A Catholic Book 12-97||next|
|Past Testimonies from Challenger||CHALLENGER Archives|
Being French Canadian myself, I should have expected it! In July 1996, my family and I moved to this area called the Outaouais (oo-ta-weigh), consisting of three major sister cities along the Ottawa River: Hull, Gatineau, and Aylmer. Like the rest of Quebec, the Outaouais is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic. With more than 200,000 people and no Independent Baptist church, the task is formidable, but my hopes were high. Maybe things would be different...
We targeted November 10th as the opening day for the Eglise Biblique Baptiste de L'Outaouais. After an extensive search, we leased a beautiful chapel affiliated with a non-denominational Funeral Cooperative. I designed and wrote a new French tract and the invitation for our opening day; we had 25,000 printed. Advertisements were placed in local newspapers and notices were sent to several newspapers, radio and TV bulletin boards. On Saturday, November 2nd six Independent Baptist churches sent more than 80 people to help distribute 16,000 invitations and tracts. Everything seemed to be in order when on Thursday afternoon I received a call from the president of the funeral cooperative in regard to the chapel that we had leased. Several local Roman Catholic priests had called her to voice their objection to the chapel being leased to a Baptist group. Other angry Catholics flooded their office with calls threatening to withdraw their memberships from the Funeral Cooperative and cancel their pre-paid funeral arrangements, at a great loss to them, unless the Baptists were ousted. Some callers threatened an area-wide boycott of the funeral home. The president informed us that these groups were planning to "picket" in front of the chapel on our opening day. In a gesture of feigned concern, the local Roman Catholic Bishop contacted the president to warn her that he was not able to keep control of his troops. When my family received a death threat, I realized that my phone system needed to be changed. In the end, with financial and religious pressure proving too great for the Funeral Cooperative, the president asked us if we would find another place to hold our meetings. It was now late Friday afternoon, two days before our opening service!
We started praying and we called supporting pastors to pray. The Lord did provide us with the grace and the "space." I was able to rent a conference room at a hotel for our first official service. Despite the obstacles the Lord did send us a visitor on our opening day.
The Cooperative did partially compensate us for some of our out-of-pocket expenses, but they could do nothing to undo the set-back of relocating just two days before our first service. And so, after our Grand Opening day, I found myself back t square one.
Nothing has changed! As you can see, where Roman Catholicism holds a majority, religious freedom is in a very precarious position. The situation that I have described for you is a typical scenario for other Independent Baptists in Quebec.
HAS THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH CHANGED? — NO! IT IS STILL A DECEPTIVE SYSTEM OF WORKS THAT LEADS MEN AND WOMEN TO HELL.
Their new 1992 Catechism teaches the same heresies that Christian churches have opposed for centuries: tradition is equal with Scripture (article 80,82); salvation (forgiveness of sins) is through baptism (art. 1263, 1257, 1265, 1267); purgatory (art. 1030-1031); penance is necessary for salvation (art. 980); Mary is sinless, a perpetual virgin, the mother of God, queen of heaven, co-redemptress with Christ (art. 491, 494, 495, 508, 964, 966, 068, 969), etc. Having been raised Roman Catholic, I understand that the only thing that changes from time to time is her mask. She changes it to fit the occasion. It remains, therefore, that Roman Catholics still need to be genuinely born again.
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The Roman Catholic Church the world over has always given a place of pre-eminence to Mary, both in doctrine and practice. Filipino Catholics have definitely been in the lead in honoring and exalting Mary in many special ways. Here we take a look at the wonderful role that Mary has in the Holy Scripture, and the meaning of the Roman Catholic dogmas and practices concerning Mary and how they compare with what the Word of God teaches. We also want to look at the meaning of the apparitions and miracles that have been attributed to Mary.
Anyone who reads the New Testament carefully will see Mary’s unique role in the coming of the Messiah into this world. Scripture is absolutely clear in stating that Mary was the true mother of Jesus Christ according to His human nature. The account in the Gospel of Luke leaves no room for any doubt about this fact.
There, we see how God respected Mary as a person, so that the Word did not descend into her womb, did not take on human nature, until Mary gave her free, joyful and intelligent consent. Also, in Luke 1:41 and 42, we read her cousin Elizabeth’s words of welcome to Mary: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Elizabeth was “filled with the Holy Spirit” when she called Mary “the mother of my Lord.” This means that Jesus, even in His human nature, was Lord and God from the very instant of His conception in the womb of Mary. We consider the writers of the Old and New Testaments as definitely privileged people because the Holy Spirit used them to give us God’s inspired and infallible Word, the Bibe. Mary was not chosen by God to write Holy Scripture, but she was an instrument to bring into the world the incarnate Word Himself.
Not only was she uniquely privileged to be the true mother of Jesus, she also had the privilege of being present in many important events in Christ’s life. She had a leading role at the time of the Annunciation, when the Angel Gabriel came to her with God’s message.
Simeon blest them (Jesus, Mary, and Joseph) and said: “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against.” And then, speaking to Mary, he said: “Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also...” It was a prophecy about Mary’s sufferings for the sake of Jesus. Her suffering, which had begun with her conception of Him, would continue throughout her life.
It is significant that Simeon addressed Mary and not her husband Joseph, as was customary among the Jews. This was because the old man, filled with the Holy Spirit, knew that Jesus was Mary’s Son, not Joseph’s.
Mary’s first privilege was that she became the mother of Jesus in His humanity. But we know that Jesus is more than just a man. He is the eternal Son of God. He is truly God. We know too — and this is also the Catholic teaching — that Mary is a creature, a human being just like any other. She is the mother of Jesus as Man, not the mother of Jesus as God; for the eternal God — Father, Son, an Holy Spirit — could not possible have a mother. Mary is not the mother of God the Father, or God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit.
Yet many millions of people in the world call Mary “the Mother of God” and pray to her as such. They justify this by saying that she is the true mother of Jesus, and since Jesus is God, therefore, she is the mother of God. But the reasoning is flawed because Mary’s motherhood of Jesus was limited to His human nature and does not extend to His deity. As God, He had no beginning, and He was Mary’s Creator.
The expression “mother of God” is not found in Scripture. What we do find in the Bible is that Mary is called (three or four times) the mother of Jesus. And once Elizabeth referred to her as “the mother of my Lord.” In the Gospel accounts, Jesus addressed Mary “woman,” never as “mother.”
The term “mother of God” was used for the first time in the 5th century (in the year 431 A.D.), during the Council of Ephesus. Ephesus in Asia Minor called Mary “theotokos” (God-bearer); the Romans preferred to call her “mother of God.” If we examine the discussions in the Council, we will see that the purpose of the Council fathers was not to exalt Mary, but to counteract the teaching of some people who were denying that Jesus was God from the moment of His conception.
These people were inverting the process of the coming of the Lord. The Council of Ephesus wanted to define, and rightly so, that according to Scripture, the process whereby the Messiah came to the world was by Incarnation (that is, God assuming flesh). If Jesus had started to become God at any other time during Mary’s pregnancy, or at Jesus’ birth, or when He was 12, or at His baptism it would not be Incarnate anymore. It would not be God becoming Man, but man becoming God! It would be inverting the Biblical process.
One of the ways the Council Fathers chose to prove that Jesus was truly God from the instant of His conception was by calling Mary “mother of God.” This was definitely a very sad and wrong choice of words, as the ensuing centuries would show.
Because of that title, people began to look at Mary as someone more than human. They began to say that Mary could not have possibly been a sinner at any moment in her life, and that Mary’s body could not have possible undergone corruption because that would not be fitting for the mother of God. And, of course, many began to pray to her.
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God is always choosing a man to accomplish His purposes — a man dedicated and submitted to His sovereign will, regardless of price and consequences. He wants a humble man with a spiritual insight and a vision of the greatness and ability of God. If God finds a man like that, He will back up that man with all the resources of Heaven to bless, to fight, to break, to build up, to pull down, or to set up and lead into a certain victory in salvation of precious souls. God needs a man. God is looking for a man today.
Martin Luther was that man in his day, but Martin Luther was a Catholic monk, far from a real kowledge of God and His saving grace.
Still Martin Luther was an honest man who was not satisfied with the form of worship while his own soul was miserable and dissatisfied.
Luther Sought For Peace
Luther was desperate. In his desperation while in the university in Erfurt, Germany, he was convinced of his sinfulness that condemned him to eternal hell. O, how he needed to know God. How he needed to know how to approach Him and to gain His favor. The wrath of God seemed to hover over his head as to throw him down to eternal hell immediately. The fear of a sudden judgment sized him and the agony of his soul was terrible. He needed the peace of God. He needed to appease Him, but how?!!
Enters The Monastery
Luther, in his unhappy condition, promised God that he would become a monk, and hoped in this way sincerely to please God and find salvation: however, man’s ways are not God’s ways. Only God’s way leads people to Heaven. God speaks in His word: “This is the way, walk ye in it.” A man may be sincere, yet sincerely wrong; still lost and undone. No way but God’s way will work in such an extremely important matter as salvation.
Martin Luther was ready to pay a supreme price for God’s eternal salvation, yet without the knowledge of God he failed to do it. “If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed,” the Bible tells us. He needed the Son of God to set him free, to save him.
He went through hardness and abuse, doing the humblest work in the monastery. He did all his duties most diligently, so that he himself said on one occasion: “I was doing my duties so strictly that if anyone should earn heaven being a monk, I was that man.”
But there was no assurance of salvation in his soul. On the contrary, he was farther from it than ever. He tried desperately to earn his salvation through many painful acts of penance. He would often punish himself by fasting and other hardships. He shut himself up in a room for days without food and was found many times almost lifeless by exhaustion. He was most miserable and unhappy, until he thought God had forsaken him entirely. O, what a sad condition to be in, without the Light from Heaven. Jesus said: “Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28).
Through much suffering and personal experience, God was to use this man to open the wells of living water of salvation to the human soul tricked by the deceitfulness of Satan; first he had to taste the misery of the broken wells that hold no water.
The Just Shall Live By Faith
Luther was sent to Rome. O how he rejoiced to have such a privilege to go to that “holy city.” It must be the very heaven on earth to see the vicar of Christ, but the disappointment he met was beyond description. He never expected to see the unholy and damnable condition of church leaders, with all lustful desires of flesh and abominations of all sorts. He was horrified over the condition of the “holy city.”
Still he had heard about the “stairway of Pilate,” which in some miraculous way was transferred from Jerusalem to Rome. One who would walk up that stairway on his knees would obtain complete absolution — forgiveness. Luther did not want to miss this singular privilege, so he started this strenuous job on his knees, kissing each step as he went. Just then he heard the voice of God speaking to him: “The just shall live by faith.” He got up. He never finished that stairway. That was all he needed. The light from Heaven started to shine in his soul and he was born again. “. . .Except a man be born-again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). Martin Luther was BORN AGAIN, forgiven, saved by the grace of God. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9). Luther was a new “creature in Jesus Christ.” O, what a joy came to his soul. Saved by grace — not by penance, novenas, or masses, as some think. “Repent ye. . .” Luther repented and was forgiven, saved. He became a new man. He now had a peace, joy and happiness that he had never known before, and never would have known had he been a monk for a thousand years. He knew right away it was a gift of God. He understood immediately it was a finished work on Calvary. He could not add to it, neither could he take away from it by his own works. His only part was to take it by faith.
Right away he saw the awful blindness of the church and the gross darkness that dwelt in there and the great Reformation started. He stepped up as a fearless man by the power of God and condemned the heresies of the church and started to preach SALVATION BY FAITH ALONE. As a result, the devil was stirred up and the battle was on with many persecutions, but God was adding to this movement daily, by the thousands, such as should be saved.
But, O friend, where is the zeal of this movement today? Where is that holy zeal Luther and his followers had? They are eating and drinking with the world today, being partakers in the same abominations of the sinners and Christ rejecters that Luther condemned. May God help all of those who sold their birthright for a mess of pottage.
“For if any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” (I John 2:15).
Luther lived a self-denying life. He walked a narrow way — following Jesus. “Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14).
If Luther would live today and see the condition of the church, he would be horrified, just as he was once over that church. The lustful desires, love of money, love of self, boasters, proud, unthankful, unholy, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God (2 Tim. 3:2-4). He would condemn that luxurious living, spiritual lukewarmness, that drinking and smoking, television, Hollywood sex, and murder and crime movies in the homes that damn souls to eternal perdition. Paul, the apostle, says they who do such things will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The Last Call
The time is running out. The judgment of God is at the door. The world is in turmoil and agony. Sin is raging, hell fire is burning. Friend, get right with God. Stop sinning, stop playing church. Repent! Fall on your knees and pray: “God be merciful to me a sinner.” There, on your knees you will experience blessed peace of mind and heart — something you always wanted to have. May God bless you as you do it.
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NOVEMBER is “Purgatory Month” in the Roman Catholic Church. It is well, therefore, to remind ourselves of the impossibility of trying to reconcile the doctrine of Purgatory with true Christian teaching.
Other religions, which comprise two-thirds of the population of the world, promise only a future life of further expiation and suffering after death. They teach this in different ways, but basically under the general name of “reincarnation.” To some this means an almost endless returning to existence upon this earth in the same human nature. To others, life after death is likewise an almost endless round of existences, but in other, less crude, bodily forms. All deny that salvation can be complete after one existence on this earth.
Among these religions that teach reincarnation may be counted Roman Catholicism, since its teaching of Purgatory means that an indefinite period of expiation and suffering in another world is necessary (with very few exceptions) before the disembodied spirits of men can be sufficiently purified to enter into eternal bliss. In order to explain how a spirit can suffer the pains of material fire in Purgatory, the Roman theologians have invented a theory that it takes on another kind of body, the nature of which they do not define, in which the suffering is felt.
In America the Roman Catholic Church tries to hide its real teaching that the souls in Purgatory suffer from actual fire. But St. Thomas Aquinas taught that the pains of Purgatory are as violent as hell. Cardinal (now Saint) Bellarmine declared: “It is the same sensible punishment which the sinner ought to have suffered in hell, with the exception of its eternity.” Pope Benedict XIV confirmed this in his book, “on the Sacrifice of the Mass.” Our Sunday Visitor, popular Catholic weekly, in its 11-26-45 issue, put it very luridly as follows: “Purgatory is Real: a Suburb of Hell. . .the sense of pains in Purgatory equal those of hell, which means the temperature is the same in both regions.”
The existence of Purgatory is a dogma of the Roman Catholic faith, binding under pain of damnation in hell. Everyone who denies it is “anathematized” (cursed) by the solemn decree of the Council of Trent (Sess. XXII, c. 2) as follows: “If any one saith that after the gift of justification has been received, to every penitent sinner the guilt is remitted and the debt of eternal punishment is blotted out in such a way that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be discharged either in this world or in the next in Purgatory, before the entrance to the Kingdom of heaven can be opened to him: let him be anathema.” In other words, if you don’t believe in Purgatory, you are sure to go to hell.
The doctrine of Purgatory is based upon the Roman Catholic division of punishment for sin into eternal (in hell) and temporal (in Purgatory), as well as its arbitrary division of sin into mortal and venial. It is scarcely necessary to prove how entirely contradictory the whole dogma of Purgatory is of Scripture, which assures us that: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). And that, “Being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him” (Rom. 5:9). And, “God hath not appointed us unto wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him” (I Thess. 5:9 & 10).
Biblical teaching repudiates the Council of Trent’s dogma of Purgatory and its accompanying anathemas by boldly declaring that the spirits of those who are justified by Christ’s saving work enter at once into joy and felicity, to be consummated at the second coming of Christ. Even before the death of Christ, the souls of the just did not suffer torture in the temporary state which the New Testament calls Hades (Acts 2:31). For these souls were in the happy portion of it, called paradise. “This day,” Christ promised the penitent thief on the cross, “thou shalt be with me in paradise” (Lk. 23:43).
It should not be surprising that the greater part of the human race is content with this doctrine of other lives of purgation through their own suffering for sins committed in this life. Belief in reincarnation and Purgatory has a certain human attractiveness. It gives the hope of another opportunity of earning salvation under different conditions. This is especially attractive to those who believe in the Roman Catholic doctrine of Purgatory, since the danger of hell for ever is removed by confession to a priest after sinning and especially before they die. As long as assurance is given that eternal punishment in hell can be avoided, a “devil-may-care” attitude can be taken toward the more temporal punishment to be suffered in Purgatory. For no matter how long or indefinite this may be, the Roman Catholic is promised heaven in the end if he conforms to the regulations and disciplines of the church and accepts the ministrations of the priest.
Furthermore, the doctrine of reincarnation and Purgatory is humanly attractive because it affords a way of compensating for an easy, self-indulgent life. This is evident to those who know the teachings and practices of Roman Catholicism. Men by nature will yield to excess of indulgence, even though they know of the penalty to be paid afterwards, as long as they are fairly sure that opportunity will be allowed to compensate for its evil after-effects. Sin loses much of its fear if the sinner is told he can make compensation himself for it by penance in this life or by purgation in another life.
There is therefore a practical policy behind the teaching of Roman Catholicism that man himself can atone for his sins even after he dies. It makes more work for the priests, and extends their importance as alleged saviours of the countless dead as well as of the living. To take salvation out of the hands both of the sinner himself and the priest, as Biblical Christianity does, would not only leave no need for the priest, but would also act as a deterrent to the sinner himself. Accountability as well as suffering for sin are placed upon another – Jesus Christ – who alone takes full responsibility and alone can fully satisfy for sin. The finer instincts of man will make him hesitate to do something for which another, not himself, will have to suffer.
The real evil of the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory is the dishonor it casts upon the redeeming work of the Incarnate Son of God. Excuse may be made for the doctrine of reincarnation in religions that do not profess to believe in Jesus Christ and his saving work. These do not set themselves up as followers of a Christ who made perfect and complete atonement for sin. Purgatory as a Christian doctrine takes away from the fullness of Christ’s love for his church, and is a denial of the completeness and sufficiency of his sacrifice and mediatorial work.
Dr. H. W. Dearden in his splendid work, Modern Romanism Examined, now unfortunately out of print and on which we have drawn for this article, concludes his chapter on Purgatory as follows: “If redemption had been entrusted to an archangel, the possible need of supplementing his mediatorial work might have been tolerated. But when it is ‘God in Christ’ who has taken our nature and laid down his life for the specific purpose of ‘reconciling the world unto himself,’ and who has made ‘propitiation for the sins of the whole world’ on the altar of the cross, this constant attempt, or rather injunction, to supplement our Lord’s work of expiation and redemption as if it were inherently deficient, is an act of disloyalty to our Lord himself, injurious to the church which exalts itself instead of Christ, and a sore hindrance to the soul’s present enjoyment of ‘joy and peace in believing’ (Rom. 15:13).”
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Gregory The Great (RC Pope 590-604): “What is Sacred Scripture but a kind of epistle of Almighty God to His creatures. . .The Emperor of heaven, the Lord of men and angels, has sent thee His epistles for thy life’s behoof; and yet, glorious son, thou neglectest to read these epistles ardently. Study them, I beseech thee, and daily meditate on the words of thy Creator. Learn the heart of God in the words of God that thou mayest sign more ardently for the things that are eternal.” (Epistle of Gregory the Great to Theodorus, book 4, epistle 31; “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,” Vol. XII, p. 156. New York: The Christian Literature Company, 1895.)
St. Basil (329-379): “Without doubt it is a most manifest fall from faith and a most certain sign of pride to introduce anything that is not written in the Scriptures, our blessed Saviour having said, ‘My sheep hear my voice, and the voice of strangers they will not hear;’ and to detract from Scripture or to add anything to the faith that is not there is most manifestly forbidden.” (“De Fide,” Garniers’s edition, Vol. II, p. 313; quoted in “The Infallibility of the Church,” George Salmon, D.D., pp. 143, 144. New York: E. P. Dutton & Co., 1914.)
St. Jerome (340-420): “As we accept those things that are written, so we reject those things that are not written.” (On Matt. 23:35; quoted in “The Infallibility of the Church,” George Salmon, D. D., p. 147. New York; E;. P. Dutton & Co., 1914.) St. Chrysostom (347-407): “And so ye also, if ye be willing to apply to the reading of Him with a ready mind, will need no other aid. For the word of Christ is true which saith, ‘Seek and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt. 7:7) . . .From this it is that our countless evils have arisen—from ignorance of the Scriptures; from this it is that the plague of heresies has broken out.” (“Homilies on Romans,” Preface; “Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers,” Vol. XI, p. 335 New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1889.)
John Quincy Adams: “So great is my veneration for the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens to their country and respectable members of society.” (Quoted in “Biblical Authenticity,” L. L. Shearer, p. 68. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co, 1899.)
Benjamin Franklin: “Young man, my advice to you is that you cultivate an acquaintance with a firm belief in the Holy Scriptures, for this is your certain interest. I think Christ’s system of morals and likely to see.” (Quoted in “The Fundamentals,” Vol. II, p. 120. Chicago: Testimony Publishing Co.)
Thomas Jefferson: “I have said and always will say that the studious perusal of the Sacred Volume will make better citizens, better fathers, and better husbands.” (Quoted in “The Fundamentals, “ Vol. II, p. 120. Chicago: Testimony Publishing Company.”)
Abraham Lincoln: “In regard to the Great Book, I have only this to say: It is the best gift which God has given to man. All the good from the Saviour of the World is communicated through this Book. But for this Book we could not know right from wrong. All those things desirable to man are contained in it.” (Quoted in “Biblica Authenticity,” L. L. Shearer, p.; 71. New York: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1899.)
Woodrow Wilson: “I have a very simple thing to ask of you. I ask of every man and woman in this audience that from this night on they will realize that part of the destiny of America lies in their daily perusal of this great book of revelations—that if they would see America free and pure, they will make their own spirits free and pure by this baptism of the Holy Scripture.” (Address of Hon. Woodrow Wilson, Governor of New Jersey, at the Tercentenary Celebration of the Translation of the Bible into English, Denver, CO, May 7, 1911; quoted in the Congressional Record, Aug. 13, 1912.)
“All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them.” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1647, chap.1,“Of Holy Scripture;” cited in “The Creeds of the Evangelical Churches.” Philip Schaff, p. l604, American Revision, 11801. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1877.)
Friend, as you have read in these statements by Fathers of the Church, Popes, and American Presidents, the Holy Bible is the most precious of books. It is inspired by God for us to study and meditate upon. The Holy Bible is the only book for everyone, everywhere, in the past, in the present, in the future—which is the real meaning of Catholic—Universal. Do not go into eternity without having read “The Epistles of the Emperor of Heaven.” Christ, our Lord and Saviour, told us: “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” John 5:39.
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