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By Whose Authority?

Mark Howard

Hosting its seventh annual conference, GYC's 2008 theme this was "For This Purpose." How do we find this purpose? By listening to and studying God's Word. Featuring inspirational speakers such as Justin Kim, Randy Skeete, Radim Passer, Chelsy Jourdan, Alistair Huong, Doug Batchelor, and more, this conference leads us in studying how we can reflect Christ's character.


Mark Howard

Director, Emmanuel Institute of Evangelism



  • December 18, 2008
    10:45 AM
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Okay, we’re going to get started here. You should have received a handout when you came in the door; it says “By Whose Authority?” on the top. Did you get that? Okay, fantastic. I just want to tell those coming in, in some unfortunate ways, if you’re just coming in here…this is a series of six parts, so you get a little bit of what we talked about. We laid some foundation in the last study that we’re going to continue working with throughout the series. Somebody had asked me during a break, and I understand in our first session we kind of looked at what the Bible had to say about the prophetic ministry and the role of it, and while that’s probably not in the foremost part of everybody’s mind, if you ever run into sharing your faith with anybody, it will be. When you have to talk about the Spirit of prophecy, there are a lot of questions. As I said in our last session, we can’t have a clear understanding about the gift of prophecy until we understand what the Bible teaches about it, and we can talk about Ellen White all day long. So last period, what we did was we tried to look at some of the things the Bible told us about prophets and prophecy, and I was asked during the break about, you know, a lot of people have more questions about some of the comments Ellen White made and what to say to people when they’re trying to evaluate Ellen White, or they’re arguing with you about Ellen White, and some of the statements I mentioned, like at the end of the last class we were talking about riding bicycles and some of these other things, what to eat and what not to eat. We’re going to be spending a lot of time in getting into those details.


This particular session is called “By Whose Authority?” and what we’re going to do in this session is once again lay a Bible foundation for how God in the Scripture expects us to relate to the prophetic ministry. Once again, if we’re going to look at Ellen White and evaluate her ministry, especially as those of us who claim that she’s one of the identifying characteristics of this remnant church, we need to understand what the Bible says about this ministry, this gift of prophecy. And so we’re talking about authority in this one, and this afternoon we’re going to be talking about inspiration and hermeneutics, specifically how to understand what was written, how to rightly interpret what Ellen White has written, how to consider time and place of what was written and make sense of it. I think you’ll find that very beneficial if you’ve ever wrestled with some of the passages or statements of Ellen White or you have friends that have struggled with that, and you’re trying to witness to them. And then tomorrow morning, we will be talking about Ellen White and the internet attacks on her ministry, and we will conclude then with some alleged defenses of Ellen White in the church today that I think are doing more harm than good. And so that’s kind of what we’re going to cover, all those different things.


And I want to go ahead and start with a word of prayer before I continue on. I’d like it if you could bow your heads with me at this time. Heavenly Father, Father, once again I pray that the Spirit that inspired the prophets would illuminate our hearts and minds today as we are seeking an understanding from Scripture as to how we are to relate to the prophetic ministry in our lives. So I pray, Father, You would guide us and give us this understanding now. In the name of Jesus and for His sake. Amen.


Okay, I feel like I’m going to explode up here. I’ve got all these different wires, you know. Anyway, we are going to talk about authority. You should have the handout with you, “By Whose Authority?” I want you to notice at the top of the page in the introduction, it says, “Many of us tend to get very defensive when God calls for a course correction.” You ever have God convict you of something in your life that needs to change? Do you like it? Let me just be honest with you, nobody likes it, and if you say you like it, you’re not being honest or, I don’t know, maybe you’re just a little different. But most people do not like to be told to change something that has become woven into their character of who knows how many years. We immediately want to retaliate and demand that God change His position instead of changing our own. Of course, we don’t directly challenge God, but indirectly by attempting to strip His messages of their authority.


What I mean by that is this: For a person who professes to be a Christian, a person who professes Christianity isn’t going to say, “Well, I’m not going to what God says.” What we say is, “I don’t think God cares if I don’t do it.” In other words, that way I can still appear like I’m a good Christian, and so when the Word of God comes to me and challenges me to change my direction, I can say, “Well, I don’t think He really cares that much about that.” “I don’t think that matters that much.” Now I can still be a good Christian in good standing and at the same time refuse to follow God’s counsel. Okay, that’s human nature. So, of course, we don’t directly challenge God but indirectly by attempting to strip His messages of their authority.


Now this is well illustrated in a radio conversation rumored to have taken place (and I know that it didn’t; it’s a story, but it’s a cute story) between a U.S. naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland in October 1995. This comes over the airwaves in this little story. The Canadians on the radio to this U.S. naval ship, “Please divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.” Americans, “We recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision.” Canadians, “Negative. You will have to divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision.” Americans, “This is the captain of a U.S. navy ship, and I say again, divert your course.” Canadians, “No. I say again, divert your course.” This doesn’t sound pretty, does it? “This the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied with three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I demand that you change your course 15 degrees north. I say again, that is 1-5 degrees north, or countermeasures will be undertaken to ensure the safety of this ship.” Canadians’ response, “This is a lighthouse. Your call.”


Now it sounds like they are getting really stubborn there for a while, like, you know, well, the Americans sure were, but the bottom line is this: The lighthouse wasn’t moving, was it? It couldn’t go anywhere, and neither can the lighthouse of God’s Word move. And sometimes we’re like that American ship, and God says, “Divert your course,” and we say, “No. Lord, You change Your rules.” God says, “I can’t change My rules.” The lighthouse isn’t moving, right?


The issue here is one of how we relate to authority. We looked in our last session together about how the gift of prophecy has been used to guide God’s church. One of those areas we looked at last time was the area of doctrinal understanding. That’s not just on a church basis but on an individual basis.


Letter C at the bottom of page one asks the question, “How has this been accomplished?” How does God’s prophetic gift, and I’m not just talking Ellen White here, how has the prophetic gift ever been beneficial to God’s church? One word: authority. If the prophet doesn’t have the authority, in other words, if we’re not considering the voice of the prophet as something that’s authoritative, in other words, the prophet speaks, and we should be following it, if that’s not the way you consider the voice of the prophet, why have a prophet? If the prophet is going to give direction, and we say, “Well, you know, take it or leave it,” and I have here, for example, I mentioned last time that when Nathan the prophet came to David and said, “King David, thou art the man,” you know, after that affair with Bathsheba? If David had said, “Well, Nathan, that’s interesting, I mean, that’s your opinion, but I have a different view on the matter,” then the whole ministry of Nathan would have been stripped of his authority, and it would have been useless to the church, right?


And in the same way we could talk about Elijah, when Elijah came to Ahab, and Ahab said, “Are you the troubler of Israel?” And Elijah said, “No, you have troubled Israel because you’ve led the people to worship Baal.” And if King Ahab had said, “Well, Elijah, I appreciate your opinion on that, but I have a different opinion about how things should go,” do you think that’s how God expected the prophetic gift to be received? Or do you think God expected Ahab to respond to what Elijah told him? No, God sends a prophet with an authoritative message, so that when His people hear the message, they understand that that’s something God is expecting them to do. You follow what I’m saying?


If a prophet is just good advice…and let me tell you why I’m bringing this up. In today’s church, when it comes to Ellen White, there are a lot of people today who have a view of Ellen White that allows for her to be a good spiritual adviser. She speaks to us in relational things, but on doctrinal things or some other things, incidentally, those things that we hold as cherished opinions, she has no authority. We receive the gift of prophecy for a little bit of direction, for some, “Hmm, that’s interesting,” kind of stuff. But for real authority, where the prophet says something, and I’m expected to respond by doing something about it, the church more and more today, the Adventist Church today, is getting into this understanding that, “Well, God doesn’t expect us to respond to the prophet that way. He doesn’t expect us to have to follow everything the prophet says.” Are you relating to this? Have you experienced this anywhere? Maybe you’ve experienced in your own life, and you don’t want to raise your hand. The fact of the matter is that we do encounter these types of things.


And so what I want to do in this session is look at the Bible, and you’ll be surprised to find that God in the Scripture, not in one place, not in two places, but all over the place, tells us how He expects us to respond to the voice of the prophet and what the consequences will be if we don’t. And I want to start by going to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 20, “By Whose Authority?” is the title of this presentation, and it’s taken from Luke, chapter 20, starting in the first verse, Matthew, Mark, Luke, Luke 20 and verse one. The question we are asking is, how does God expect us to relate to the gift of prophecy? What kind of authority has God invested His prophets with?


Luke, chapter 20 and verse 1, now just a little bit of background here. Just prior to what we’re reading is when Jesus had gone in and cleansed the temple for the second time. Okay? He did it at the beginning of His ministry. He does it at the end of His ministry. He goes and He cleanses the temple. He turns over the tables of the money changers. The priests and the scribes are running out of the temple, and they get out far enough, and then they stop and they say, “Wait a minute? Who’s this Guy to kick us out of our own temple?” And so they come back to Him, and this is where we’re picking up in chapter 20, verse 1.


“Now it happened on one of those days, as He,” speaking of Jesus, “taught the people in the temple and preached the gospel, that the chief priests and the scribes, together with the elders, confronted Him and spoke to Him, saying, ‘Tell us, by what authority are You doing these things? Or who is he who gave You this authority?’” So, what’s their question? I told the last group, and some of you are still here. You’re trying to warm up. I think maybe after lunch…No, no, no, after lunch is a terrible time; everybody gets sleepy. You can talk back to the preacher.


Authority, right? That was the question. That was the issue at hand right here in chapter 20, this passage. “By who’s authority?” “Hey, Jesus of Nazareth, who gave You the authority to come in here and kick us out of our temple? Whose authority are you operating under?”


Verse 3, “But He answered and said to them, ‘I also will ask you one thing, and answer Me: The baptism of John—was it from heaven or from men?’” Now, it’s fascinating to me, you notice that Jesus never lets Himself get pinned down. These guys all come up, and they gather around, and there’s all of them there and, “We’re going to ask Him, and we’re going to put the pressure on Him.” Jesus doesn’t allow Himself to get pinned down. He answers the question with a question. He turns the tables on them, and He basically says this. They say, “Hey, who gave Your authority?” and He says, “Well, let’s put it this way. I’m going to ask you a question, and if you can answer my question, I’ll answer your question.”


“What about John the Baptist? Who gave him his authority?” and notice what happens. Verse 5, “And they reasoned among themselves, saying, ‘If we say, “From heaven,” He will say, “Why then did you not believe him?” But if we say, “From men,” all the people will stone us, for they are persuaded that John was a prophet.’ So they answered that they did not know where it was from. And Jesus said to them, ‘Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.’”


Now let’s think about that for a minute. Jesus in essence tells them, you know, they ask Him – their question again is about what? Authority, “Where do You get Your authority,” and Jesus says, “Well, let me ask you a question: Where did John get his authority?” And when they said, “We don’t know,” Jesus said, “Then I’m not answering your question.” What was the essence of what Christ was getting at there? What was the underlying point? Why wouldn’t He answer their question?


Okay, now listen carefully and understand this. Jesus knew that if they couldn’t receive God’s voice through His prophet, they wouldn’t receive God’s voice coming from the Son of God Himself. If you reject the voice of God in the prophet, you can tell yourself whatever you want to tell yourself, but if you’re not willing to receive God’s voice through His prophet, you wouldn’t receive it anywhere. Now you may say, “Well, that’s crazy.” Well, let’s see what the Bible has to say.


This is what we’re looking at, and this is the foundation Jesus had laid. He didn’t go on to give them the answer to their question. I mean, what would have happened if He had said, “Oh, well, My authority is the same place that John’s authority was from”? And maybe I should back up and ask that question. Was Jesus’ authority, that’s what they asked Him, “Where did Your authority come from?” was Jesus’ authority from the same place that John the Baptist’s authority was from? Sure. And so they’re asking, “Where did You get Your authority?” and so He says, “What about John?” “Well, we don’t know.” What do you think they would have said if Jesus said, “Well, My authority is where John’s authority is from”?


Well, they didn’t receive John, so it wouldn’t have made a difference to them. They wouldn’t have received Jesus; His authority wouldn’t have been sufficient for them if He said it came from [the same place as] John’s, and Jesus knew that the person who does not receive the authority of God in His prophet, will not receive the authority of God anywhere.


I want you to go on with me. Jesus goes on to explain it. In verse 9, keep reading, Luke 20, verse 9, “Then He began to tell the people this parable: ‘A certain man planted a vineyard, leased it to vinedressers, and went into a far country for a long time. Now at vintage-time he sent a servant to the vinedressers, that they might give him some of the fruit of the vineyard. But the vinedressers beat him and sent him away empty-handed. Again he sent another servant; and they beat him also, treated him shamefully, and sent him away empty-handed. And again he sent a third; and they wounded him also and cast him out.’” Now, what’s He talking about here?


What’s the vineyard? Israel, His people, right? The vinedresser is God. He planted this church, and what does He do? He sends who to the church? Who are these servants? The prophets. And He sends one, and what do they do? They reject him. So He sends another, and then they reject him. And He sends another, and they reject him. Name some rejected prophets. Just take your pick. By and large, God’s prophets were never popular. Did you know that? In fact, it was Jesus Himself in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 6, I believe it’s verse 26, He says, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for so did their fathers of the false prophets,” who were before you.


They speak well of the false prophets. What’s the implication? They don’t speak well of true prophets. If you’re seeking to be popular, incidentally, in your Christian life, you’ve got the wrong motive. The Apostle Paul says, “All who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Paul says not many wise according to the world are chosen, not many mighty according to the world are chosen, why? The mighty and the wise have too much confidence in themselves. Christianity is not about being popular. And certainly being somebody who’s a messenger for God, not even just prophets, if you go out and you become a witness to Jesus to your neighbors, to your friends, don’t expect popularity. You’ve got to be willing to risk something as a Christian if you’re ever going to gain anything as a Christian. Amen?


And so Jesus gives this story, and He tells them, now keep in mind, He just asked them the authority, they asked Him the authority question. “Well, we don’t know where John’s authority is from.” He says, “Neither am I going to tell you,” but then He began to tell this parable. The vineyard owner planted a vineyard. He sent a servant, and then he sent another servant, and then he sent a third servant. Verse 13 still, “‘Then the owner of the vineyard said, “What shall I do? I will send my beloved son. Probably they will respect him when they see him.” But when the vinedressers saw him, they reasoned among themselves, saying, “This is the heir. Come, let us kill him, that the inheritance may be ours.” So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him.’” Incidentally, had this happened yet? Christ here is speaking prophetically. He was the one, He was the Son, and He was going to be cast out of the vineyard, i.e., outside the city gates, and crucified.


“‘So they cast him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore what will the owner of the vineyard do to them? He will come and destroy those vinedressers and give the vineyard to others.’” In other words, Jesus is trying to make clear that if you’re not willing…Let me ask you this question: Do you think those Jewish leaders thought that they would reject their Messiah? No, they thought they’d receive Him. And they’re like, “We’re looking for Jesus to come.” Do you think there are Christians today who are looking for Jesus to come, who, yet, in their heart are not yielding their wills to Jesus? Is that possible?


That’s what we see there with those Jewish leaders in Christ’s day. There’s no way they would have…If you would have said, “You guys are going to reject your Messiah,” they would have said, “That’s impossible.” But what Jesus is trying to tell them is, here comes John the Baptist, the forerunner for Christ, they reject his ministry. And Jesus could see through the argument. “Oh, we don’t know where his authority is from.” The only reason they said, “We don’t know,” is they were afraid of the crowd, the Bible tells us. They did not see the authority of God in John, and so Jesus gives them a parable, and He says, “You know what? A vineyard owner planted this vineyard, and he sent a servant. And he sent another servant, and he sent another servant, and every servant was rejected. And so, in his final attempt at mercy, the vineyard owner sends his son, but they rejected the son, too, because, if they wouldn’t accept God’s authority in the servants, how are they going to accept the authority of the vineyard owner in the son?”


The point Jesus is trying to bring home to them is, “You’re making a perilous mistake by rejecting the voice of the prophets.” Now, why do I bring this up? Because brothers and sisters, if God sends a messenger to His people, we’re in grave danger if we think we can disregard that messenger and just wait for God to send another one. See, because sometimes we convince ourselves that it’s the messenger that we don’t like. This goes right down to the preacher on Sabbath morning. We listen to the message, and we say, “Well, I kind of didn’t like his attitude.” You know, nine times out of ten, it wasn’t the attitude at all; it was the message, not the messenger. But we convince ourselves that it was the messenger, thinking that if God sends another messenger, we’ll receive him. We just don’t like this guy. But the reality is, it’s the truth we don’t like, and we’re hardening our hearts to it. And step by step, messenger by messenger, we continue to harden our hearts. And God is trying to say, Christ Himself is trying to say here, that the person who rejects the prophet will reject the son.


Let’s look at that in some other passages. I want you to go with me to Matthew, chapter 10, Matthew, chapter 10, verse 40, and we’re going to be a little repetitive here through some of these passages. I really want you to see the weight of this. You know, if God repeats a theme over and over and over and over in the Bible, do you think that means it has a greater importance or a lesser importance? It’s going to have a greater importance.


So we’re going to look at a number of things here, but I want you to see how important this is to the Lord. Matthew, chapter 10, starting in verse 40, notice what Jesus says here. Here’s a principle that we can apply. He says, “He who receives you receives,” (what?), “Me, and, He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.”


Now we looked in our last session at the fact that the prophet is primarily a spokesperson for God, primarily a spokesperson for Jesus. And Jesus right here in the connection with the idea of the prophetic ministry says, “He who receives you, receives Me.” Now He’s sending His disciples out here. And He says to His disciples, “You are going out as a messenger for Me. If somebody rejects you, it’s not you they’re rejecting. It’s Me they’re rejecting.”


Some of you who have a little background in Adventist history know that in the 1888 general conference session, God was speaking through a couple of men by the name of E.J. Waggoner and A.T. Jones, and Ellen White was accused of siding with them. And she let it get to her on a personal basis and decided she was just going to go home. She said, “All these people are mad at me for siding with Waggoner and Jones, and I’ll just go home and get out of their hair,” had a little pity party for herself. Then she said, “The Lord came to me, and He said, ‘It’s not you that they’re rejecting. They’re rejecting Me through the messengers I’ve sent to them.’”


Jesus says, “He who rejects you, rejects Me. He who receives you, receives Me.” So when God sends somebody with a message, we need to be clear as to whether it’s God’s message coming to us. When you reject the messenger, you reject the one that sends the messenger. You follow that? And this works with the prophetic ministry.


I want you to compare this with Ezekiel 3 and see something in Ezekiel 3 that goes right along these lines. Ezekiel, chapter 3, verse 3, speaking to Ezekiel the prophet, God says to him, “‘Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll that I give you.’ So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.” Verse 4, “Then He said to me: ‘Son of man, go to the house of Israel and,’” what? And do what? Speak. Now this is a parallel, incidentally, if you’ve studied it, with Revelation 10. In Revelation 10, you remember that Daniel, or rather, John, sees an angel with an open book in his hand? And a voice says to [John], “John, go and take the book,” and what? Eat it. The book was the book of Daniel, the unsealed book of Daniel. And the idea of eating the book is, when God says, “Eat the book,” what He is saying is, “I want you to ingest my words. I want it to become a part of your life. I want your message not to be a message from here, but a message from here. It’s got to be exuded in your life.” And He tells Ezekiel, “Ezekiel, I want you to eat these words, and then I want you to go and give a message for Me.”


Verse 4, “Then He said to me: ‘Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak,’” with what? “‘My words to them.’” Now notice 5, He says, “For you are not sent to a people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, but to,” who? “‘The house of Israel, not to many people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language,’” in other words, “I’m not sending you to foreigners; I’m sending you to My church.” Verse 6, “‘Not to people of unfamiliar speech and of hard language, whose words you cannot understand. Surely, had I sent you to them, they would have listened to you. But the house of Israel will not listen to you, because they will not listen to Me.’”


I want that to ring in your ears. God sends His prophet, and He says to Ezekiel, the prophet, “Ezekiel, I’m going to send you to My own people, and, incidentally, they’re not going to listen to what you have to say. If I sent you to a bunch of people out on the street corner who don’t know anything about Jesus, they’d eat up your message. But My own people, they’re not going to hear it, and you know why? They’re not going to listen to you because they’ve already established a habit of not listening to Me.”


God’s trying to make the point here that to reject the prophet is to reject the voice of God, and when you do that, you’re on dangerous ground/I’m on dangerous ground. If God speaks a message to a messenger, I can look at the messenger, and I can say, “Well, I just don’t agree with that person.” I need to be clear that it’s not the person; the person has nothing to do with it. God has chosen a humble instrument to give a Divine message, especially in the case of a prophet. And this is quite an indictment upon God’s people, isn’t it?


You know, brothers and sisters, we have really got to…How many Seventh-day Adventists do we have in here right now? I want to tell you something. We have to understand our danger as Seventh-day Adventists, as people who have had great light. If you’ve been in a dark room, and somebody turns on a flashlight, you’re going to see it, aren’t you? But if you’re standing in full daylight, and somebody adds more light to the situation, it’s not going to be that startling, is it? And the fact of the matter is, there are many Seventh-day Adventists who have had so much light, whether they walk in it or not, they’ve had so much light, we’ve had so much light, that there’s not a lot more God can do to wake us up and startle us. This is what He’s saying to Ezekiel, “They’ve been rejecting Me for so long, prophet, after prophet, after prophet, Ezekiel, they’re not going to receive you; I can tell you that now. If you would have gone to the people who don’t know Me, the people of a hard language, the foreigners, they would have listened to your message. It would have startled them.”


You know, we talk about prophets, and probably the most successful prophet that we find in the Scripture, from my estimation, is the prophet Jonah who went and preached to a heathen nation, and they all repented. But Jeremiah went to God’s people, and none of them repented, very few. But I don’t think we can blame the prophet for that altogether; I think a lot of it had to do with who they were speaking to. And we’ve got to pray that God give us hearts that are willing to receive His messages wherever they come from. Amen?


But here we see the warning again, those who reject. Jesus says, “He who receives you, receives Me.” We see in Ezekiel, “Those who don’t receive the Lord, will not receive His messenger,” and vice versa, because it’s still God’s voice speaking to His people.


Now I want you to look at something else. How many of you have heard this idea, people sometimes will put this idea forward, they’ll say, “Well, you know, Ellen White, that’s interesting, Ellen White’s writings can be helpful and everything, but I just want to stick with the Bible and the Bible only”? Have you ever heard that before? “We’ll go with the Bible and the Bible only; who needs Ellen White?” You know, they said that in Christ’s day. Did you know that, about prophets? And they used the same argument. And I want you to see it in the Gospel of John. And incidentally, that argument doesn’t hold water, and I’m going to show you why in a minute.


John 9, verse 28, John 9 and verse 28, they said the same thing about Jesus. Now John 9 is the story of the man born blind, and remember they kept asking him, “Who healed you?” “Who healed you?” and, “What was the name?” and “What happened? And he said, “Look, I told you guys before.” They just kept rejecting his testimony, and this is where we’re coming into, the man born blind. In fact, start in verse 26 with me. John 9 and verse 26, “Then they said to him again, ‘What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?’ And He answered them, ‘I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?’” A little bit of a sarcastic tone he takes there. “And they reviled him and said, ‘You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.’”


Now grasp what they said. You see, there’s nothing about Jesus in their Bible, was there. I mean, let me rephrase that. There is a lot about Jesus in their Bible in the prophecies, etc., but their understanding of Jesus of Nazareth was, “Who is this Guy? We don’t know who He is?” They said, “We believe in Moses. We’ve got the Bible, and we don’t need any modern prophet.” Are you seeing that in the passage? I mean, that’s the essence of what they were saying. Look at it again. He asks them, “Do you want to be His disciple?” and they said, “We are Moses’ disciples.” Moses was the writer of the Bible they had in their possession. “We know that God spoke through Moses, but as for this Man, this modern Prophet, this Jesus character, we don’t know where He’s from. The Bible and the Bible only is enough for us.”


Now here’s a question for you: Did they really believe in Moses? Yes or no?


(Audience: No.)


How do we know they didn’t believe in Moses? Oh, that’s right, and that’s where we’re going next because did Moses prophesy about the One to come? In Deuteronomy 18:18 and onward he says, “The Lord is going to raise up a Prophet like unto myself, and Him shall ye hear,” besides all the other…What about all the types and symbols of the sanctuary service that Moses wrote? Who was it pointing to? How could they miss it?! “We believe in Moses, but we don’t believe in this Guy.”


Notice what Jesus says in John 5. Go back from there to John, chapter 5. He addresses that very thing. John 5, starting in verse 44, John 5 and verse 44, Jesus says, “How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from God? Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. For if you believed Moses, you would,” (what?), “believe Me; for he wrote of Me.” Now they said that, “We believe in Moses. We don’t need any modern prophet. We have the Bible.” But Jesus said, “If you were to believe the Bible you had, you couldn’t help but believe in Me,” right?


Now let me put that to a modern crowd. The Bible has spoken to God’s church about the gift of prophecy. It said the gift of prophecy would be in the church. It said the gift of prophecy, in Ephesians 4 that we looked at in our last session, would be in the church until the end of time. It said that one of the characteristics of the last-day church would be the gift of prophecy. If a person believes in the Bible and the Bible only, can they not believe in the gift of prophecy in the last-day church? If a person says, “I don’t believe in any last-day prophet; I just believe in the Bible,” they’re contradicting themselves because the Bible they claim to believe in says that the last-day church is going to have the gift of prophecy. Isn’t that right?


And so this idea of, “I want the Bible and the Bible only, and I don’t want a prophet,” the prophets wrote the Scriptures, and the prophets spoke of prophets to come. It’s a fancy way of rejecting God’s testimony through the prophet, and that’s what Jesus called them out on, “Hey, if you believed in Moses, you’d believe in Me.” The issue isn’t that there’s no evidence. The issue isn’t that they believe in Moses. Jesus was telling them, “The issue isn’t that you believe in Moses. The issue is that you don’t believe in Moses, and you don’t believe in what I have to say, and you’re trying to find a convenient way to get around it.”


Did Jesus expect them to receive His ministry? Yes or no? Now let me put it this way. Did Jesus think that if they were true to Him, true to God, the God of Heaven, that they would accept His ministry? Yeah. Does God expect us today to receive the voice of His prophets? Yeah, in all ages. In other words, is God okay with the person who says, “I’m a follower of God, but I really don’t want to follow the voice of the prophets?” Is that okay with God? Is He like, “Okay, whatever. As long as you take the Bible, I don’t care if you listen to the voice of the prophets I sent.” Is that God’s position? No.


The point that the Lord has been making here in some of the things we’ve looked at is that, if we reject the voice of God through the prophets, we’re going to reject the voice of God anywhere. It’s a dangerous thing to reject or neglect the voice of the prophetic ministry.


Go to the bottom of page two on your handout. There’s a quote there, and I hear this quoted in parts. I hear parts of this statement by Ellen White quoted many times. How many of you have heard people say things like this, “But Ellen White said if we study the Bible, we wouldn’t need her.” Have you heard that before? How many of you heard that before? “Ellen White said if we study the Bible, we wouldn’t need her.” This is what she says; this is the quote that people refer to; she says, “You are not familiar with the Scriptures. If you had made God’s Word your study with a desire to reach the Bible’s standard and attain to Christian perfection, you would not have needed the testimonies.” That’s a little bit more to the point, isn’t it?


In other words, what she’s saying is, “There are a lot of people that claim to believe the Bible, but their lives clearly didn’t exhibit the fact that they were doing that.” In other words, they claimed to believe Bible, yet they were living like the world. And she said, “If you had studied the Bible with a purpose to really live like a Christian, you wouldn’t have needed the testimonies.” The purpose for the testimonies, that is the writings, and that how she refers to her writings, the purpose of the testimonies, it says right here, “It is because you have neglected to acquaint yourself with God’s inspired Book that He has sought to reach you by simple, direct testimonies, calling your attention to the words of inspiration, which you had,” (what?), “neglected to obey and urging you to fashion your lives in accordance with its pure and elevated teachings.” Here’s a person who says they’re following the Bible, but evidently their lifestyle is clearly not in accordance with the Scripture. Ellen White says, “God gave the prophetic ministry to point the people to the Word and say, ‘You claim to be following the Scripture; what about this part that you’ve overlooked? What about this part here?’”


And that isn’t something that just was an isolated case with Ellen White’s ministry. The prophetic ministry throughout the Scripture has always been for the purpose of pointing God’s people back to the Scripture that they were not following, even though they may have professed to follow it. The prophets were always pointing people back to the Scripture. Ellen White did the same thing.


And she said, “If God’s people had studied, they wouldn’t have needed the gift of prophecy.” Evidently that was not the case, and God gave it. Now some people say, “Well, okay, so if we really start studying now, we won’t need the gift of prophecy.” I’ve had people tell me that. My first question is, why are you fighting so hard to get around it? You see, if God has a prophet, and if it’s a true prophet of God, is there going to be a conflict between the Scripture and the prophet? No, so what does it hurt me to have the prophet? Why are people trying so hard to get rid of the prophetic voice if they’re in accordance with the Bible? Unless they feel that the prophetic voice is fighting against their understanding of the Bible. Do you understand what I’m saying?


[Audience member: They say her writing is very hard to understand.]


Oh, they say her writings are hard to understand. Some people have said that. How many of you have gotten…? Now this is not an Adventist book. I don’t usually promote non-Adventist books, but there’s a really good book I just read called, Do Hard Things. Has anybody read that book? Nobody’s read that book. Fantastic book. Two 19-year-old twins, anybody read the book, I Kissed Dating Good-Bye? Ever hear of that book? A couple of you. Josh Harris is the one that wrote that book. His two younger twin brothers, 19 years old, they started a web site called TheRebelution.com, R-E-B-E-L-ution.com, and they put a book out called, “Do Hard Things.” And it’s a Christian teen rebellion against low standards for Christian teens. In other words, they started out, just the two of them, putting a blog on the internet and putting out these ideas and saying, “We’re so sick and tired of all these Micky Mouse youth programs that we get in our church that are just these low standards. We want to be solid Christians, and none of the adults, and a lot of our peers are not expecting it. And we don’t want low standards anymore. We want high standards for our Christianity.” Two 19-year-old twins, they started getting people from all over the world, teenagers who are saying, “You know, we’re with you guys. We’re sick and tired of the low standard.” They started the website. They put out this book called Do Hard Things. And the whole idea in there is challenging, I mean, the whole book is about challenging us to higher standards. And it’s absolutely incredible.


What kind of Christianity are you looking for? I mean, too many people are looking for some kind of weak…And Ellen White is too difficult to understand? I mean, you can learn a foreign language in two or three years, but you can’t learn to read Old English? I mean, what’s this about? Now, you know, I have people I study with, and I read out of the New King James because sometimes the King James is harder for people to follow. I read both of them, and sometimes I use the King James. And I have studied with people with a variety of Bibles, that they use a variety of Bibles; I don’t condemn their use of other Bibles. But I’ll tell you something. We keep oversimplifying things to the point that I’m afraid of how the Bible is going to read in a few years. “Noah, good man. Noah built big boat.” I mean, what’s going to happen…, ”Oh, I can’t read…” Ellen White’s in plain English. I mean, we need to task ourselves a little bit.


Ellen White says there is nothing, nothing that will expand the mind like the study of God’s Word. And we just don’t apply ourselves. We’re in an easy generation; we’re in a comic book generation. The Bible doesn’t read like a comic book. It doesn’t read like the Enquirer. It’s a spiritual book that takes application. And if we apply ourselves, the Bible says that the testimony of the Lord make wise the simple. If you’re simple-minded, you apply yourself to God’s Word, and guess what? God will give you wisdom. There’s a fellow. I don’t see him in here right now, a friend of mine here at GYC. He’s from Australia. He was telling me his testimony. He said, “I never read anything growing up.” And just recently he started reading his Bible, applying himself to the Bible and reading the testimonies of Ellen White. His reading level has increased exponentially.


You know, if there was word today in the Adventist Church, and you got support from some respectable people, you know, the Doug Batchelors and the Shawn Boonstras, and everybody was saying, “God has restored the gift of prophecy of the church, and God had given a message to His church,” would you be eager to hear to what that message is? How many of you would be eager, if some of these leading people…You know, in GYC, if some or our leaders, Sean Pitman and these others got up and said, “God has raised up a prophet in the modern church, a new prophet, and they’ve given a testimony, and want everybody to hear it.” Would you want to hear that? “Wow! What’s it going to say?”


Brothers and sisters, we have thousands of pages of testimony from a prophet that too many Adventists are unfamiliar with. And, you know, Ellen White makes an interesting statement. She says that, “When we don’t read the testimonies God has given to this church through her pen, we’re guilty of rejecting light by neglecting it.” We need to apply ourselves. We need to understand that if God is seeking to speak to His people, His people need to be seeking to understand what He has to say. God will aid us in our understanding.


Jesus, in this passage, is pointing out the tendency of God’s people to think that they can reject the prophetic ministry and still be faithful to God. I want you to go to Acts 13:27. We’re going to see the same idea repeated in a couple of other passages. Acts, chapter 13, and we’re going to verse 27.


That’s Do Hard Things, by the way, I’d recommend it.


Acts 13 and verse 27, notice what the Apostle Paul says, “For those who dwell in Jerusalem, and their rulers,” notice what he says, “because they did not know Him, nor the voices of the Prophets which are read every Sabbath, have fulfilled them in condemning Him.” Now that’s speaking of their condemnation of Jesus on Calvary’s cross, and what Paul says in here is in essence, because they didn’t understand the writings of the prophets, they actually fulfilled the writings of the prophets in rejecting the Son of God.


Could we potentially parallel that today and say, if we don’t understand the counsel God’s given His church today, we may end up fulfilling the prophecies in rejecting Christ when He comes again? Is it possible? Of course it’s possible. And the minute we say it’s not possible is the minute we’re on dangerous ground. The devil is seeking to keep the very elect out of Heaven, is that right? And so, why is this in the Scripture? The Lord is trying to give us this through several of these passages we’ve looked at, trying to communicate to us the importance of understanding the writing of the prophets.


Let’s look at another text, 1 Thessalonians, chapter 2 and verse 15, 1 Thessalonians 2 and verse 15. All the T’s are grouped together down towards the end of the New Testament before the book of Hebrews, 1 Thessalonians 2 and verse 15. Notice what Paul says here. In fact, we’ll read in verse 14 first, “For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans, who killed both the Lord Jesus and their own prophets, and have persecuted us.” The connection here is, it wouldn’t have made any sense for them to have accepted the prophets and killed Jesus, would it? It wouldn’t have made any sense for them to accept Jesus and kill the prophets because the same message is coming through both of them. It’s Jesus who speaks through the prophet. And if you’re not going to hear Christ’s voice in one place, as much as you want to convince yourself that, “Well, God gave it to me in a different way,” the reality is, if we won’t hear God’s voice in one place, we’re not going to accept it somewhere else. Are you following that?


Let’s look at it again in Luke, chapter…And I know this is kind of repetitive. I want you to see this in the Gospel of Luke. Matthew, Mark, Luke, chapter 16. This is in the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus. Notice the words of Christ, Luke 16, Luke 16, verse 27, the rich man begs Abraham in the parable, “I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.” Verse 29, “Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’” Verse 30, “And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’” Verse 31, “But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”


What’s the Lord Jesus trying to say in this parable? That if we’re not willing to hear and receive the writings of the prophets, we are going to reject Christ ultimately. If you are finding yourself now struggling and wrestling against the words of God’s prophet, you’re preparing to reject the Son. Are you understanding that? And this is just on the testimony of a number of Scriptures we’ve looked at. The idea is repeated, repeated, repeated, repeated. We are coming to a place, we are pushing ourselves to a place, when we reject the voice of God through His prophets that God can’t reach us anymore.


I want you to see that in two more passages. We’re going to go to the Gospel of Luke, chapter 23. We’re in Luke; go to Luke 23. Christ is on trial, and He comes before Herod. Luke 23, verse 6, Luke 23 and verse 6, “When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked if the Man were a Galilean. And as soon as he knew that He belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who was also in Jerusalem at that time. Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him.” Verse 9, “Then he questioned Him with,” (what?), “many words, but He,” Jesus, “answered him,” what? Nothing. Now stop and think about this with me for a minute.


Jesus comes before King Herod. Did Jesus desire the salvation of Herod? Sure He did. And the Bible says that Herod was eager to see Jesus. He was looking forward to this. He wanted to ask Him questions. So, here Jesus comes before Herod, and Herod asks Jesus all these questions. And what does Jesus do? He says nothing. A surface reading would really make Jesus appear kind of rude here, wouldn’t it? I mean, here’s Herod. He was longing to see Jesus; he was looking forward to seeing Jesus. Jesus comes before him, and he asks Him the questions, and Jesus says nothing to him. Have you ever asked somebody a question and had him not say anything back to you? What’s your initial reaction to that? That’s kind of rude, isn’t it? You ask a question, and somebody’s just like…Jesus says nothing to Herod.


Now here’s the question. We know Jesus desired Herod’s salvation, like everybody’s salvation, and He’s not partial, right? God is no respecter of persons. So why didn’t He answer Herod’s questions? Listen carefully. Jesus had already said everything He could say to stir Herod’s heart through John the Baptist. When Herod had John executed, he silenced the voice of God to his soul. It’s not that Christ wanted Herod to be lost, but Christ knew that there was nothing else He could say that hadn’t already been said.


And sometimes we like to convince ourselves that if we reject counsel that God gives us, God will just send another messenger. What we don’t realize is that every time we turn our ear from listening to the voice of God, we harden our hearts. And we make it that much harder to hear the next time. And that much harder to hear the next time. Now we might be inclined to say, “Yeah, but what if…I mean, if God would have done a miracle for him,” right, that’s what the Bible said Herod wanted. “Maybe if Jesus had done a miracle, that would have woken him up.” Let me ask you this question: If doing that miracle or answering those questions would have woken Herod up to his condition and brought him to true repentance, do you think Jesus would have said those things or done that miracle?


Listen, I will guarantee you that God will do whatever it takes to save humanity. I have often said to myself, “Oh, that God would strike me like He did the Apostle Paul when he was Saul on the road to Damascus. Lord, give me some vision of heavenly things.” But I know in my own heart that if that’s what I needed, God would do it. If God needed to go that far, He would. But God knows that there are some that He can go that far and beyond, and it wouldn’t do anymore than the counsels He’s already given.


When God speaks through His prophet, brothers and sisters, and this is just a biblical principle here, if a person rejects the voice of God in His prophet, they are going to ultimately reject God ultimately. We can tell ourselves whatever we want, and in God’s last-day church, God has raised up the gift of prophecy. God expects us to regard the gift of prophecy with authority. God expects is, when we hear the voice of the prophet, to hear His voice. And God expects us to receive it as His voice.


I want you to look at the bottom of page three, and notice the quote here by Ellen White. Bottom of page three in the handout, “When a view of Scripture is presented, many do not ask, ‘Is it true, in harmony with God’s Word?’ but, “By whom is it advocated?” Oh, I wish I could say that I haven’t seen this in my own ministry. How often it is, “Well, I don’t know; does Doug Batchelor believe it?” “Does Mark Finley teach it?” You know what? Who cares? “Does Mark Howard believe it?” Who cares! Is it true?! God’s people were lost when Christ came the first time because instead of looking to see if He was the Messiah according to Scripture, they looked to the religious leaders to see if the religious leaders received Him. And I’m not saying this to disrespect any pastor in our ranks, or evangelist. I’m simply saying, in bringing to us the words of counsel God’s given us, our question, when it comes to truth, is not to be, “Who advocates it?”


And the reason we ask that, for example, “Well, does Mark Howard believe it?” or, “Does Nathan Renner believe it?” or, “Does whoever believe it?” the reason we often ask that is because we’re not wanting to apply ourselves to searching and knowing for ourselves. And of all times, brothers and sisters, this is a time when we have to know what we believe. It’s not, “By whom is it advocated?” she says that we are to ask. She says, “Unless it comes through the very channel that pleases them, they do not accept it.” And she goes on there in that paragraph to say, a couple sentences down, “The Lord often works where we least expect Him,” when God sends us a message, especially through the prophetic messenger, it is fatal to reject that message.


And God has spoken to this last-day church through the gift of prophecy. And the purpose that God has chosen to use this gift of prophecy for is to help us to have a confident authoritative source so that we can know what truth is. I mean, the gift of prophecy is not meant to be a burden to God’s church. Do you ever get frustrated with all the variety of opinions on certain doctrinal, theological things? It’s confusing. Don’t you ever say, “Oh, that I would know for sure, that I could just have an authoritative voice that would say, ‘This is the way, walk ye in it.’” God has given that in the Scripture, and He’s clarified it further in the gift of prophecy so that we can know what truth is, so we can be confident in what truth is.


I want you to go to top of page four and notice a couple of the statements here. Top of page four, it says, quote, from Testimonies 3, Ellen White says, “Whoever turns from the light in one instance, hardens his heart to regard the light upon,” (what?), “other matters. Whoever violates moral obligations in the matter of,” (what?), “eating and dressing, prepares the way to violate the claims of God in regard to eternal interests.” It’s not simply eating and dressing; it’s the voice of God. It doesn’t matter what God’s asking me to do. If God gives me direction, and I say no to Him, I’m endangering my soul.


I’ve had people ask me as a pastor, they say…I’ve studied with people. Some of them have been church members, some of them potential church members. We’re studying about jewelry, and they say, “Now, Pastor, are you telling me that God’s going to keep me out of Heaven for a little piece of jewelry?” And my response to them…It could be a little piece of jewelry, it could be this, that or the other. And my response to them is, “You’re asking the wrong question. The question you need to ask yourself is, ‘If God asks you to do something, and you tell Him no, is that going to keep you out of Heaven?’” Is God giving us direction through the voice of the prophet? If He is, and we’re disregarding it, we’re just preparing, we’re hardening our hearts and preparing the way for utter rejection of God.


And we will find ourselves in 2 Chronicles 36, the same condition that God’s people were in. I want you to go there as we finish this up. Second Chronicles 36 and verse 14, 2 Chronicles 36 and verse 14, God has sent His prophet Jeremiah to speak to His people repeatedly about the coming Babylonian captivity if they didn’t repent. There was an initial conquest by the Babylonians, but God preserved the city. There were captives taken. Daniel was among them, and his friends were among them, but God preserved the city and the temple, and He spoke through Jeremiah again to King Zedekiah, and He said, “Look, submit to King Nebuchadnezzar, and I won’t have to destroy the temple and the city.” But again and again and again they refused, and this is how God records it in the book of 2 Chronicles 36, verse 14. Second Chronicles 36, verse 14, it says, “Moreover all the leaders of the priests and the people transgressed more and more, according to all the abominations of the nations, and defiled the house of the Lord which He had consecrated in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them.”


You ever rise up early? I’m not talking about your normal wakeup time. Have you ever gotten up earlier than your normal wakeup time? Why? Why do you get up early? You have something important to do. Something is a priority. Why is God using this language? He is trying to tell us, “It was a priority of Mine. The first burden of My heart was that My people would be saved, and so I rose up early. I sent my prophets and rose them up early and sent them because,” He said, “The God of their fathers,” again verse 15, “The Lord God of their fathers sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because,” why? Because He wanted to make His people miserable? Because He wanted to take away all their fun? Because He had compassion on His people. Because, “He had compassion,” it says, “and on His dwelling place.” Verse 16, “But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words, and scoffed at His prophets.” That’s plural. That means years and years and years and years God was pleading, “until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was,” (what?), “no remedy.”


That’s ultimately what happens. God has spoken to His people in the past, and God is speaking to His people of the present. Brothers and sisters, this Gospel can go to this world in this generation if God’s people come into working order. Do you believe that? And God has spoken to His church today through His prophetic ministry. And if we heed the voice of the prophetic ministry and come in line with it, God will forward this work like we’ve never seen it go forward before. But if we turn from it, and continue to turn from it, whether it’s on a church level or whether it’s on a personal level, we’re preparing ourselves for that place in time when there’s no remedy in our lives. Just like Herod, there was nothing more to say.


God has given a precious gift in the gift of prophecy. If you look at the concluding statement at the bottom of the page. Thank God for the prophetic guidance He’s given us. It’s authoritative, brothers and sisters. That means that when God speaks, we can know it. It’s not like, “Oh, this is my opinion. This is the prophet’s opinion.” God has spoken to save us from so many things. Like, it goes on to say, we don’t have to spend our precious time chasing the devil’s rabbits. Church steeples, head coverings, feast days, the personality of the Holy Spirit, you ever get into these debates? Did you know Ellen White writes to every one of them? She speaks to every one of those issues, and if we simply take what she said, we wouldn’t be in these debates? We would know clearly the voice of God, and instead of spending all of our time on these little controversial issues, we can actually get out and get the work done?


Praise God for the prophetic authority He’s put in His church. We have a wonderful lighthouse to guide us safely home to shed light on the way when we can’t see and to redirect our course when we’re going the wrong way. We have wonderful counsel on how to live as Christians, how to care for our bodies, how to raise our children, how to educate them, how to share Christ with those around us. Why is it we spend so much time reading the works of uninspired authors, even to the exclusion of inspiration?! If an angel from Heaven were to appear with a heavenly message, how many would flock to hear all about it? How much would people be willing to pay just for the smallest piece of heavenly instruction? Why is it that we have, to a great degree, neglected this wonderful gift of light? Are we afraid we may have to change our course?


My dear friends, if this light fails to stir us, greater light can do no more. God has spoken to His people, and I want to tell you, brothers and sisters, I mean, we stand and fall on this issue. And as we continue this seminar, you’re going to see in areas, some more specific areas, where we’re standing and falling on this. If we as a church who have received this message, and the voice of authority through the prophetic gift today, not only would we be spared a lot of the challenges we’re facing, but we would see the work move forward.


And my appeal to you here this morning is that you would apply yourself to seeking to know and understand and respond to the voice of God through His present-day messenger, through all of His messengers. Amen? Is that your desire this morning to do that? Oh, listen to me. I’m going to ask that, and I want a response in standing, and I don’t want you to stand if you’re not on board here. You know, you’re at GYC. This isn’t just like, “Come tickle my ears.” This is, “I want to come, and I want to make spiritual decisions.” And my question to you, and it’s not from me; it’s from the Lord, this is an appeal for you to make a decision for the Lord: Are you willing to say, “Lord, You placed the prophetic gift in this church, and I need to be more acquainted with it, and I want to be living in accordance with it. I don’t want to be found rejecting Your voice.” If that’s your desire this morning, stand with me, please. And I want to ask that Lord Jesus seal the decisions we’ve made this morning.


Father in Heaven, Oh, Father, we want to be among those people that when Jesus comes, we say, “Lo, this is our God, and we have waited for Him, and He will save us.” Lord, we do not want to be calling for the rocks and the mountains to fall on us. Lord, you’ve spoken through the prophets, and through the prophets you’ve given us direction, an authoritative direction. Father, help us to realize the danger in neglecting Your voice, wherever it comes to us and in whatever form. And, Father, you’ve seen the decisions made here this morning. I pray that You will help us to live out these decisions we’ve made.


Father, may we leave this GYC on-fire Christians, more committed, more dedicated than we were when we came. And, Father, I ask it in Jesus’ name and for His sake. Amen.


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