What the Bible says about HEAVEN
AMBASSADOR CHRISTIAN COLLEGE‐ Dr. Keith Slough
EARLY ALL RELIGIOUS PEOPLE BELIEVE in some kind of afterlife and have their own various versions of a "Heaven" they hope to attain after death. The Moslems believe if they die killing non‐Moslems (especially Christians) that their god will give them the ultimate reward. They get to go to Moslem Heaven where 72 virgins will serve their every whim forever. The Hindu Religion's version of Heaven is called Nirvana and is a condition of mind where a devout Hindu no longer must reincarnate but becomes one with the universe and his individuality finally disappears. The Buddhists aren't sure about an afterlife, or even if there is a God, or a Heaven, or anything. The Roman Catholics have limbo, purgatory and finally a Heaven where Mary and the saints intercede for good Catholics if the devout will pray to them. But what does God say about Heaven? And are you going there? Does the Bible say that Heaven is the reward of the Saved? Is Heaven referred to in the Bible as the Christian's Inheritance? Or is it something else? One of the most popular hymns among Protestant Christians is the old song, "When We All Get To Heaven." And singing those old songs growing up into adulthood, few ever stop to ask, are these songs Biblical? We have learned that so much of our "Christian" heritage has been based on fables, myths, and manmade traditions not based on the Word of God. It is now time to examine Organized Christianity's BIGGEST doctrine: the belief that all good people go to Heaven. Did Jesus teach it? Did the apostles talk about living in Heaven for all eternity? Yes, the Sunday school books teach it. The clergy standing in pulpits all across America (and in other nations as well) teach that the converted Christian's reward is to go to Heaven. Hollywood has demonstrated it in their movies and the jokesters make jokes about Saint Peter waiting at the "Pearly Gates" to let the lucky ones in the door and turn the hapless ones away. But what does the Word of God teach? God inspired His Word to be preserved in the Hebrew Old Testament and the Greek New Testament. In our English language the most accurate Bible translated is the nearly 400 year old Authorized "King James" Version of the Bible which is basically a word‐for‐word translation and not a paraphrase of the Word of God. Does the Bible teach that the saved go to Heaven in our Authorized Bibles? Religious tracts, “devotional” books found in Christian bookstores and conventional religion all teach that the saved will someday GO to Heaven. In fact even paraphrased "bibles" such as the so‐called Living Bible strongly intimates that people are going to Heaven. But does the Word of God anywhere teach this belief? Like all other Bible lessons, this lesson asks you to "prove all things" from the Holy Word of God! It is time to put away any and all traditions that do not agree with "the Law and the testimony" (Isaiah 8:20) ‐the sacred Word of God! Now pray for understanding, get your Bible ready, and with an open mind and heart, let's see what the Bible really does say.
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Will Christians Go to
Heaven? Who hasn't heard the old hymns, "When We All Get to Heaven," "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder," and other songs about the Pearly Gates, etc. etc.? Organized Christianity promotes the belief in going to Heaven in a plethora of hymns sung in churches and in popular Southern Gospel Music. In fact it is hard to hear any religious music in conventional churches that do not mention something about the belief in going to Heaven after death. But what does the Bible say? What really is THE FINAL REWARD OF THE SAINTS? Believe it or not, the Bible is MOST plain about the answer!
OES THE BIBLE teach that Christians will ultimately go to Heaven? Is Heaven promised as the reward of the saved? If so, where are these promises in the Bible? And when do Christians receive their inheritance? Southern Gospel music is replete with songs about Heaven. Most Protestant hymnals have many songs about the saints inheriting Heaven as their reward. We have grown up in a religious world that takes these teachings for granted, yet very few believers ever see the need to "prove all things" in obedience to the Word of Almighty God. It is time now to begin really proving all things we believe, to see if the Bible actually teaches the things we have assumed since childhood. And once we have proved our beliefs, we can then stand solidly on the solid rock of the sacred Word of God ‐ and not on the flimsy sand foundation of "gospel music" and hymns written by men. Three "Heavens" Believe it or not the Bible speaks of three Heavens. Notice Paul mentions how a man (scholars believe he was modestly referring to himself in this passage) was caught up in vision to what he called the "third heaven" (II Corinthians 12:2). If there are at least three heavens then we need to know what they are. Here again we must not lean on private interpretation (II Peter 1:20) but go to the Scriptures to learn what each of these "heavens" are. Every genuine Bible student should own his own copy of Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. It contains every word found in the Bible! If you have one available to you now, you may want to look up the word "heaven" and see for yourself how the word is used. For it does indeed speak of three different types of "heaven."
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The First Heaven In Genesis 1:8+20, we read that God called the "firmament" (the atmosphere) "Heaven." So the air above us ‐the sky, is referred to as "Heaven." In a large number of scriptures we read that the fowl (birds) fly in "heaven," including storks and eagles (Genesis 7:23, Jeremiah 8:7, Jeremiah 15:3, Jeremiah 16:4, Jeremiah 19:7, Lamentations 4:19, Ezekiel 31 :6, etc. etc.). Where do birds fly, but in the sky? We also read that the dew falls from heaven along with the rain and even the snow. This can be nothing other than the atmosphere above us, where the birds fly, and from which the dew and the rain and the snow fall (Genesis 8:2, Genesis 27:28,39, Deuteronomy 11:11, Deuteronomy 28:12, Isaiah 55:10). Obviously then this is one of the three heavens referred to in the Bible. The Second Heaven The next heaven is the expanse of outer space which includes the sun, moon, and stars (Genesis 26:4, Exodus 32:13, Deuteronomy 4:19, Deuteronomy 17:3, Deuteronomy 28:62, I Chronicles 27:23, Isaiah 13:10, Jeremiah 8:2, Revelation 6:13). The Third Heaven Now finally, what is the ''third heaven" Paul spoke of. It is rather obvious if you read his testimony. This is the Heaven that Jesus also spoke of when He talked about "our Father, which art in Heaven." The third heaven is the place where God lives, with Jesus and the angels. Heaven is God's Home, depicted as a literal, very real city (also called the New Jerusalem). It apparently has very real buildings and streets. But it is replete with noticeable opulence! Christ revealed to John that the streets there are paved with gold! (Revelation 21:21). So this third Heaven is the City of God. It is this third Heaven we are interested in. Does the Bible promise the third Heaven as the eternal reward of the righteous, of the born again saints who inherit God's Kingdom? Our Eternal Inheritance We are told in Romans 8:17 that we are heirs and joint heirs with Christ. An heir is waiting to inherit something and a joint heir inherits the same thing as another. We will inherit whatever Christ inherits. That is why we are JOINT HEIRS, or co‐heirs with Him. 4 | P a g e
God made a promise to Christ because He was the Seed of Abraham. The apostle Paul said that the promise made to Abraham would also be given to the Gentiles due to their faith in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:14). Abraham is called not only the father of the Israelites, but he is considered to be the spiritual father of all that believe on Christ including the Gentiles (Romans 4:11 and Galatians 3:7‐9). Now the promise of the inheritance to both Israelites and Gentiles comes through the covenant God made with Abraham since the promise was specifically made with his Seed who was Christ (Galatians 3:16). Both Israelites and Gentiles who accept Christ are then spiritually begotten into the family of Abraham and are heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:28‐ 29). Since Christ is the Seed of Abraham He therefore will confirm the promises "made unto the fathers" (Romans 15:8). And who are the fathers? The Bible says that the fathers are Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Acts 3:13). God made a fantastic promise of an awesome Inheritance to Abraham because of his willingness to obey God (Genesis 12:1‐4). Now what was the promise? Read about it in Genesis 12:5‐7. Notice God promised to give THE LAND OF CANAAN, referred to as Palestine today, to Abraham and to his Seed. His seed is Christ and we are joint heirs with Him ‐whether we be Jew or Gentile. Now how long was this inheritance to last? Was it only for one generation? Notice Genesis 13:15: "For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed FOREVER"! Such a promise would ultimately necessitate having ETERNAL LIFE, which Jesus promised to all those who would believe on Him as Lord. We are joint heirs with Christ and no matter our ethnicity, Jew or Gentile, we are now a part of the seed of Abraham through Christ "and heirs according to the promise" (Galatians 3:29). What was that promise? Was the inheritance Heaven? No, rather it was a promise of ETERNAL INHERITANCE of the PROMISED LAND! And the apostle Paul added that this promise was eventually extended to include the WHOLE EARTH (see Romans 4:13 especially noticing that this promise is to Abraham and his seed). This promise was made unconditional upon his obedience in offering up Isaac in sacrifice to God (Genesis 22:15‐18). God originally intended to extend this inheritance even to the Gentiles because of Abraham's obedience (See Genesis 26:3‐5 where this promise was immediately given to Abraham's son, Isaac). Salvation is of the Jews Jesus told a certain Gentile that "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22). For the Jews (as opposed to the Gentiles) are the physical descendents of Abraham and heirs according to the promise. Though God intended that the Gentiles could also come into this promise (Romans 2:10). But the promises were specifically made to Israel, the physical descendents of Abraham 5 | P a g e
‐not the Gentiles (Romans 9:4). God promised that Abraham and his seed would inherit these promises (Genesis 12:3, 22:18). Yet we see that the primary seed was Christ (Galatians 3:8, 16). Jesus was Jewish (Hebrews 7:14) and is therefore descended from Abraham through Mary (see Mary's genealogy in Luke 3:23,34). So, when we believe on Christ, God places us into the family of Abraham and Gentiles are also now "spiritual Jews" (Galatians 2:29). Paul told the Gentiles that before they came to Christ they were "strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world" (Ephesians 2:12) until they did come to Christ (verse 13). Now, both Jew and Gentile are considered one family (verses 14 + 19) through their acceptance of Christ (Galatians 3:7). Does this mean therefore that we will inherit this physical Earth (beginning with the Promised Land of Palestine at Christ's second coming) as opposed to going to Heaven? What Jesus Said About Heaven In John 3:13 is an astounding Scripture. Jesus made the statement that "no man hath ascended up to Heaven"! Of course when John recorded this around the year A.D. 90, this was not totally true any more, for Jesus Himself had gone to Heaven, so John added the words ("but [except] He that came down from Heaven, even the Son of man [Jesus] who IS [when John wrote this] in Heaven")! (verse 13). Our Red Letter edition Bibles mistakenly include the last part of verse 13 in red letters yet Jesus obviously did not say those words for when He said these words, He had not as yet ascended to Heaven (John 20:17). Of course 40 days after His resurrection He did then go to His Father in Heaven. Hence, the added words at the end of John 3:13. "Many Mansions" Christ promised also that in His "Father's House" were many offices to inherit. Our English Bible mistranslates this Greek word mone as "mansions" but the Greek lexicon defines this word as "abode or residence." In His Father's House (which was the Temple in that day, see John 2:14+16) were many abodes or ROOMS where the priests stayed which was based on the respective office they held. Jesus likened this Temple House to God's Kingdom which also had many "rooms" or offices. He then added, "I go to prepare a place for you (verse 2). Most people privately interpret the word "place" to be the third Heaven. The Greek word is topos which the lexicon defines as opportunity, station, or place." The word in Greek is not limited to a specific geographical location. There is a place in God's Kingdom for you! 6 | P a g e
Christ is preparing a place or OPPORTUNITY, a station or office for you in which to serve! But will this place or opportunity for service be in Heaven or on this Earth? Notice Matthew 25:31+34. When Christ "shall come in His glory... then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory [which is the throne of His father David, here on this Earth ‐ Luke 1:32]: And before Him shall be gathered all nations"! That has to be here on this literal Earth ‐not up in Heaven, for then He will separate those who are "sheep" from the "goats." ‐this pictures the judgment. And remember that the promise to Abraham and his descendents (Hebrews 11:8‐9) was this physical EARTH (Romans 4:13 first part). Yet Abraham has not yet inherited this promise but he and his descendents so far, have died without having received the fulfilled Promise! (Hebrews 11:13, 39 and John 8:52‐53). But they will receive it in the Resurrection at the second coming of Christ! The Bible teaches that we are to enter and inherit the Kingdom of God ‐ not Heaven! (Matthew 7:21 and Ephesians 5:5). The physical Kingdom of God has not yet come (Matthew 6:10). It is not of this age (John 18:36) but will be set up at Christ's second coming (Luke 19:11‐ 15 and Luke 21:31). Now the Bible does teach that our inheritance ‐ our Reward ‐ is with Christ (Revelation 22: 12). As He is in Heaven presently, our reward is therefore reserved IN Heaven until Jesus brings it to us (I Peter 1:3‐5). We do not have the inheritance now in this present age. In fact as long as we are in this flesh and blood body we can never inherit the Kingdom of God (I Corinthians 15:50). But when Christ returns He will raise the dead "in Christ" and "rapture" the living chang‐ ing our fleshly bodies into GLORIFIED SPIRIT BODIES, made immortal! (verses 51‐53). We will then be fully born of spirit! ‐and no longer in the flesh (John 3:6). Those who have already died are not now in Heaven either, for Paul insists that as Christ rose from the dead, from His grave (I Corinthians 15:14), so must the saints who have died be resurrected from their graves to receive their inheritance ‐else they will forever perish in the grave! (verses 16‐19). So no Christian has "gone on to be with the Lord" or "gone Home" as the Gospel songs erroneously teach. Rather they are dead, awaiting the first resurrection at which time they will be given their inheritance! What is OUR Reward? No, the Bible nowhere teaches that the saved go to Heaven, either at death, or at the second coming of Jesus Christ ‐ believe it or not! Many people who do believe in the resurrection from the dead assume Christ is taking us all to Heaven at His second coming ‐some believe for seven years, some believe for 1000 years, and some apparently believe for all eternity. But will you believe your Bible? Notice the Biblical teaching: Zechariah 14: "Behold the Day of the LORD cometh. And His feet shall stand in that day [the Day of the Lord] upon the Mount of Olives and the LORD my God shall come and all the saints with Thee"! (verses 1,4+5). Notice when Christ returns He is gathering us all together to bring us all to the Mount of Olives
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outside of Jerusalem, Israel‐ not Heaven!!! "And the LORD shall be king over ALL THE EARTH in that day"! (verse 9). Does the Bible say "Heaven" or "all the Earth”? Verses 16‐19 show that even the heathen nations who are still rebellious will be forced "to worship the King, the Lord of hosts"! (Are there heathen nations in Heaven?). This will continue for one thousand years on this literal Earth (Revelation 20:4). Notice also that John says in this verse that those resurrected will be kings and will reign with Christ for 1000 years. Where will they reign? In Heaven, or on the Earth? Will you believe your Bible? Here is the answer: "And we shall reign ON THE EARTH"! (Revelation 5:10). Jesus said the meek will INHERIT the Earth. He didn't say anything about inheriting Heaven (Matthew 5:5). So we will inherit this Earth along with Abraham and his descendents! Psalm 37:9, 22, 29+34 also teaches that the righteous are to inherit the Earth! Will you believe your own Bible? Will you now repent of holding erroneous and false teachings and begin believing your own BIBLE? No, there is not a single promise in all the Bible that Christians will "go to" Heaven. Rather Christ is coming down here to this Earth and is bringing the reward, the Inheritance with Him! After the 1000 year Reign of Christ then God the Father Himself will come to this literal Earth bringing the Heavenly City with Him (Revelation 21:2‐3). But we are not going there!
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Are ENOCH and ELIJAH in Heaven? Most church goers have assumed that the Bible teaches that Enoch and Elijah never died and that they were privileged to go directly to Heaven. But Jesus contradicts this very popular doctrine in John 3:13. What did happen to these two men? And are they alive today?
ESUS SAID THAT "NO MAN hath ascended up to Heaven"! (John 3:13). Yet most preachers in pulpits and on television and radio teach that Enoch and Elijah never died but went directly to Heaven –either they are right and Jesus was wrong, or else He was right and today's majority of clergymen are wrong! But both cannot be right! It is time YOU saw the truth! Did Elijah Go to Heaven? Only this morning at this writing, I heard a nationally famous television evangelist preach from his pulpit before thousands in his church and potentially millions in his TV viewing audience, that Elijah and Enoch never died! Is this true? Did Elijah go to Heaven at the end of his ministry? If so, why did Jesus never meet him there? How is it that Jesus was so mistaken as to assume that no man had ever gone there? Obviously Jesus Christ is correct in His teachings. It is organized religion that is teaching false doctrines ‐ not Jesus Christ! Who will you believe? Now notice IT Kings 1:17‐18. Elijah prophesied that the present king of Israel (King Ahaziah) would die. His brother Jehoram then reigned "in his stead" because King Ahaziah had no son. It was during King Jehoram's reign that Elijah was "translated" and his Ministry ended, being replaced by the prophet Elisha. II Kings 2:11 says that God sent a "chariot" to take Elijah away. This was a flying chariot for Elijah went UP by a whirlwind into heaven"! Does this scripture contradict the words of Christ? Not at all. Remember the Bible teaches there are three "heavens" (II Corinthians 12:2). The first heaven is the atmosphere; the second heaven is the expanse of outer space where the sun, moon, and stars are. The third Heaven is the abode of God, spoken of by Jesus Christ, the heavenly city called the New Jerusalem, where no man has ever gone but Christ Himself (John 3:13). Now which "heaven" was Elijah taken into? It could not have been the third Heaven where God lives, according to Jesus. Therefore it had to be one of the other two Biblical "heavens"! But neither could it have been the second heaven, the expanse of outer space as there is no 9 | P a g e
WIND out there nor even air to breathe! Yet Elijah was taken "up" into heaven by a whirlwind! Now which "heaven" contains the WIND? Why, the first heaven of course! Elijah was taken "up" into the sky on a flying chariot. But he did not go into outer space or into the third Heaven where God and the angels live. Rather he was deposited somewhere on this physical Earth and remained alive on this Earth until he died from old age. How can we be certain of that? First, Hebrews 9:27 says that is appointed to men once to DIE! Here Paul made no exceptions. Secondly, we see that Elijah was still very much alive and on this Earth at least FOUR YEARS later! How do we know this? Notice II Chronicles 21:12‐15. This letter was written after Elijah's translation in the sixth year of the reign of Jehoram king of Judah. A careful comparison of the accounts in II Kings 1:17 with Elijah's subsequent "translation" in the second year of Jehoram king of Judah and the time of the king's death show that the letter was written just two years before he died! (II Chronicles 21:19). This means Elijah's letter came to Jehoram in his sixth year FOUR WHOLE YEARS AFTER he was taken up into "heaven" by a whirlwind! In other words Elijah had not gone to the third Heaven, but was still on this Earth, and though living in retirement, on occasion did write letters to heads of state, during the Ministry of his successor, Elisha. We are not told how long the elderly Elijah continued living. But eventually, like all human beings he too died, some years into the ministry of his successor Elisha. So he did not go to Heaven after all. And Jesus Christ was correct in what He said about no man having gone to Heaven (John 3:13). But what about Enoch? Wasn't he spared death and translated to the third Heaven? Doesn't the Bible teach that Enoch never died? Isn't Enoch still alive? Remember that Jesus said no man has ever gone to Heaven except He Himself. So we already know that Enoch was not translated to Heaven. Then where is he? He's dead! But wait. What about those Scriptures that say he was translated that he should not see death? What Happened to Enoch? Remember the Scripture is of no private interpretation. Rather we must get all the scriptures on a particular topic and put them together like the pieces of a puzzle to understand Biblical truth. Does the Bible say that Enoch never died? No it doesn't! Let's see what it actually says. We first learn of Enoch and his mysterious "translation" in Genesis 5:21‐24. Read it in your own Bible. We are told that Enoch walked with God "and he was not; for God took him" (verse 24). Was not what? Does this mean he did not die, as most people interpret this? No, for the apostle Paul refers 10 | P a g e
to this Scripture and provides the Biblical interpretation in Hebrews 11:5. Paul says Enoch ''was not found"! It does not say he did not die. Enoch was a righteous man who walked with God. The Bible tells us that "all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution" (II Timothy 3:12). Enoch therefore necessarily did suffer persecution. If he ''was not fount!' that indicates that his persecutors were looking for him, but God protected him to keep him alive. But we are not told God took him to Heaven! No! Certainly not! What does "translation" actually mean? What IS "Translation"
This word "translation" would more accurately be "transported" or "transferred" in modern English. It does not mean changed from mortal to immortal or from human to divine! Notice II Samuel 3: 10 where they planned to transfer the kingdom from Saul's family to David yet the old English word is ''translate.'' But obviously they were not referring to some supernatural change from mortal to divine! No, read verse 10 carefully. They were merely "transporting" the kingdom from Saul to David, though this process was called "translation." Now what about the Greek word used in the New Testament? It means the same thing. Notice Colossians 1:13 where we are told that Christians in our present time have already been "translated" into the Kingdom of God's dear son. We obviously have not been changed from mortal to immortal, nor have we been taken to Heaven! But we have been "transferred" from Satan's dominion over to God's Kingdom! In the same way, Enoch was ''translated'' from one geographical place to another and in no way was he changed from mortal human flesh to immortal divine spirit and taken to Heaven. Rather he eventually died! But before he died of old age, he walked with God to such an extent that when his enemies tried to kill him, God supernaturally protected him by ''translating'' him, or transporting him to some place where he could hide from them because he lived a life of faith that pleased God (Hebrews 11:56). But eventually he did die and is not still living today. The Bible even tells us how old he was when he died! Notice Genesis 5:23. "And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years"! If he is still alive today, then the Bible could not be true for it tells us that "ALL the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years"! That was all the days he ever lived! He lived to a ripe old age. Yet this expression is the exact same expression used when referring to the deaths of these ancient pre‐flood people. Since the Bible is a supernaturally inspired revelation from God to man, there are no mistakes in it. So will you believe what the inspired author of Hebrews writes about Enoch and the other men of faith? In verse 4 we read that "by faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice. And in verse 5 we read that "by faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death: and was not found." In verse 7 we read that by faith Noah prepared an ark. Verse 8 says that by faith
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Abraham obeyed God and went to the Promised Land. Verse 11 says that by faith Sara received strength to deliver a child when she was past age. Then Paul summarizes these faithful people by saying in verse 13: "THESE [in this list] ALL DIED in faith"!! ! That would include ENOCH! For Enoch, is listed as one who had faith. Is the Bible wrong? Or have our preachers been mistaken? Who will you believe from now on? For the Bible plainly mentions Enoch in a list of people of faith and then says that ALL these faithful men and women DIED! So Enoch DIED! The Bible says he did! It is appointed once to all men to die (Hebrews 9:27). So since he died, he is not now in Heaven and alive, but like all others, in the grave awaiting the resurrection and the coming Kingdom of God. How plain Bible Truth is, once we put aside the assumptions of men and only believe the plain scriptures of the Word of God!
The Truth Gets More Astonishing With Each Bible Lesson!
OD IS CALLING OUT A PEOPLE to Himself He is calling people out of this world out of the BABYLON of confusing religious denominations and manmade traditions and into His True Religion! If God has been opening up your mind to understand real Bible truth from these Bible Study lessons, then God is calling you! But to do what? He is calling you to come out of this world, to separate yourself from the false doctrines of the world ‐ and from the false religions of the world. Revelation 12:9 says that Satan has deceived the whole world! And that includes the bulk of our churches unfortunately. All churches that wear the label “Protestant” do so because their origin is from the “mother” of professing “Christiandom,” the Roman Catholic Church. It was from this “mother church” that the Protestants borrowed their doctrine –not from the Holy Bible! Think of the Bible Truth you have learned so far. You have learned that the Roman Church borrowed the doctrine of the “immortality of the soul” from the pagan religions of the heathen. They did not get it from the Bible. You have learned the truth from the Word of God concerning what happens after death. You have learned the truth about the Biblical teaching on Hell. You have learned the truth about God’s great mercy to the Billions who never heard the Gospel – that God will give then a chance to be saved and will not send them to Hell! Ask yourself this question. What denominations understand the truths you now know? Jesus commands us to separate ourselves from the world and its false doctrines. Have you done that? Will you obey your Lord and accept the Truth of God? God is waiting to see what you will do. The decision is yours.
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