Who Do You Love?

Romans 13:8-14

13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that lovethanother hath fulfilled the law.

13:9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

13:10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.

13:11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.

13:12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.

13:14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

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When we’re saved, we are no longer bound by the old rule of obedience, but are given liberty in the Lord. This was partly symbolized in Peter’s vision on the rooftop.

10:9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: 10:10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, 10:11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: 10:12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 10:14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. 10:15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.

This was done to show Peter that the Gentiles were allowed in the Church, but the symbol of meats no longer being forbidden is used elsewhere. To paraphrase Jesus’ correction of the Pharisees, it’s not what you put in your mouth that defiles you, but what comes out.

However, we’re not to use this liberty to satisfy our own selfish desires.

Galatians

5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

The Holy Spirit will allow us to walk in such a way that we’re not living to fulfill the desires of our flesh, but to serve the Lord in love.

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This is a simple summary of the “man facing” portion of the 10 Commandment, but it is not new. Leviticus is one of the books of the Bible that explains The Law in more detail.

Leviticus                              

19:17 Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thine heart: thou shalt in any wise rebuke thy neighbour, and not suffer sin upon him. 19:18 Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I am the Lord.

God has been showing man that salvation is simple from the beginning. We want to make it complicated. In our pride, we want it to be something we can do ourselves.

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Love is easiest to see when we act in love toward each other. However, we’re also to love God more than ourselves. That is, more than the life we live here in the flesh. In Mark, Jesus gives an advanced lesson in the Law to a young scribe.

Mark

12:28 And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?  12:29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: 12:30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. 12:31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

Here we have both the God facing and man facing sides of the Commandments boiled down to the most basic elements. Love God more than anything, and your neighbor as yourself. If you could live up to that, you would fulfill the Law. It’s a good “short version” to use as a guide.

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Whether we meet the Lord in the air as a group, or if we depart before then and meet Him individually, every day brings us closer to that time. By design, none know when that will be.

Mark

13:33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 13:34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 13:35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at  midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 13:36 Lest  coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 13:37 And what I say unto you  I say unto all, Watch.

Jesus has left this house for a season. He’s left us all to do our work until He returns.

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The darkness of this world has an end. The day will soon dawn when Jesus will return. Until then, we are to strengthen ourselves in the armor of God and keep the faith. We are all engaged in battle every day and must be prepared.

Ephesians

6:12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. 6:13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

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This world is in darkness and the rats and roaches are at play. We’ve probably all been in a place where they run away when the lights are turned on. God has given us this example to show how wicked men react to His light.

John

3:19 And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. 3:21 But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

Many try to pick apart the Bible and the Church, not because they have a real issue with the truth, but because they love their sin too much and don’t want to let go of it.

I ran into an interesting example of a hidden truth of the Bible the other day.

Proverbs

6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: 6:7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, 6:8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Now, like all the Proverbs, this is terrific advice, but there’s more here than first meets the eye. Almost all ants are female. All the workers are female, and even when the nest “queens” and the flying male and female ants emerge, most of those are female. So how did Solomon 2700 years ago know that? He didn’t of course, but when God gave him this little piece of wisdom, He placed an extra little nugget of truth in there for us to find.

To get back on message then, none of us are perfect. However, if we desire to be in the light, God will use His Word to show us what we need to work on and help us to become the true image of the Father we were created to be.

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Luke

12:29 And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. 12:30 For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 12:33 Sell that ye have, and give alms; provide yourselves bags which wax not old, a treasure in the heavens that faileth not, where no thief approacheth, neither moth corrupteth. 12:34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. 12:35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; 12:36 And ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. 12:37 Blessed are those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. 12:38 And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. 12:39 And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. 12:40 Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.

All together, or one by one, Jesus is coming for us some day, maybe even today. We are to try to use each day for the purpose God gave it to us. If we’re having a hard day, we should learn the lesson God is giving us. If we’re having a good day, we should thank God for the rest he’s provided before the next battle. There is a reason you have today. Use it to draw closer to God and seek His will.

Works Won’t Save You

Romans 3:19-26

3:19 Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.

3:20 Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.

3:21 But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

3:22 Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

3:25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

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Anyone that thinks they can be good enough to save themselves is wrong. The Law was given to show man that he can’t do it by himself.

Galatians

3:10 For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 3:11 But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 3:12 And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

If you’re going to claim salvation by The Law, you have to live in all of it. There is no “good enough”. God sent Jesus to make a better way. However, Jesus doesn’t do away with The Law, He is part of the plan. As He tells us in Matthew…

Matthew

5:17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. 5:18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.

That is, The Law and prophets will be fulfilled right down to the dot of every i, and the cross of every t.

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Even in the Old Testament, they knew they couldn’t keep The Law. In the Psalms David says…

Psalm

143:1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, give ear to my supplications: in thy faithfulness answer me, and in thy righteousness. 143:2 And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified.

In other words, please don’t judge me according to my works, but by your grace. I know I would fail a true judgment.

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Now, a fuller picture of God’s plan has been revealed in Christ, but it is still based in The Law and prophets to show the truth of it.

Galatians

3:23 But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. 3:24 Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. 3:25 But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.

The Jews were given the sacrificial system. The sacrifices pointed ahead to Christ as a symbol of what He had to do.

As Jesus told two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus after His resurrection..

Luke     

24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 24:26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 24:27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

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Some say the Old Testament was to the Jews and the New Testament is to everyone else. However, the Old Testament teaches that God will save all peoples, not just the Jews.

Luke

24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 24:45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.

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1 John

1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

This is what verse 22 meant by “there is no difference”. All are equal at the foot of the cross because we can’t do anything to raise ourselves up. Jesus has to do that work in us through the Holy Spirit.

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Justice: To get what you deserve. When standing before a perfect, sinless, Holy God, this should strike fear into our very bones.

Mercy: To not receive the punishment you are due. The sacrifices of the Old Testament pointed to Christ, but were just a way to plead for mercy.

Grace: To be given gifts that you do not deserve. Jesus came not just to save us, but to restore us to our place as sons of God and joint heirs in Jesus.

John

1:12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  1:13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. 1:15 John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. 1:16 And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. 1:17 For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

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Religion, any religion, won’t save you. Religion says “do”. God wants a relationship with you through Jesus. He says “I did it for you”. Our part is just to believe and accept the free gift.

Hebrews

10:8 Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law; 10:9 Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

That is, the Old Testament sacrifices have been done away with, because the perfect sacrifice of the New Testament has come in Jesus.

… continuing in Hebrews

10:10 By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 10:11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 10:12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; 10:13 From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. 10:15 Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, 10:16 This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 10:18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. 10:19 Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, 10:20 By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; 10:21 And having an high priest over the house of God; 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

All the Old Testament sacrifices were to show that we can’t live perfection in ourselves and that a sacrifice must be made. In the end, only His sacrifice is sufficient.

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Jesus is our savior. He died for us. He is our high priest.He made the sacrifice once and for all time. He is also now sitting on the Father’s right hand as the only just judge, so that none can deny they were given a fair chance. He was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Jesus tells us…

John

5:20 For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. 5:21 For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will. 5:22 For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son: 5:23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him. 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. 5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live. 5:26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself; 5:27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. 5:28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, 5:29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation. 5:30 I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

The world comes down to two choices. You can choose The Way, The Truth and The Life, or you can choose something else. Jesus has already paid the price and made The Way. We judge ourselves by our choices.

May we help those around us make the right choice.

Jesus Is God

Colossians 1:12 – 18

1:12  Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

1:13  Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

1:14  In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

1:15  Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

1:16  For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

1:17  And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

1:18  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

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God’s light comes from His righteousness. Darkness comes from sin. What has God done to make us “meet”, that is to make us worthy? This comes through the blood of His sacrifice in Jesus Christ.

1 John

1:5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

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After John the Baptist was cast into prison, Jesus went to Capernaum, which is on the border of two Gentile lands. This was in fulfillment of prophecy, which Matthew quotes…

Matthew

4:15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 4:16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

That is, Jesus came to bring light and life to both the Jews and the Gentiles.

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In Christ, we have our salvation through the sacrifice of His blood. In the opening of Revelations, John describes Jesus this way..

Revelations

1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

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God is a spirit and cannot be seen. Jesus is the visible face of God. As He tells His disciples…

John

14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. 14:7 If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 14:8 Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 14:10 Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?  the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.

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One of my favorite Bible passages is found in the first chapter of John…

John

1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God. 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

Jesus is the Word of God in person. When God speaks, things happen. His Word has power.

If He wanted to create everything in seven seconds, He could. He did it the way He did for His purposes. Genesis isn’t meant to be a full history of the creation of the Universe. It’s an outline to give us the important parts. He was there. He made it. We came along. We messed it up. He had to provide a Savior.

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We saw how Jesus, as the Word, was in the beginning with God, and how all things were done by Him and through Him, according to the plan of God the Father. The New Testament is a revealing of more of the plan. The main part being how The Word became flesh and died to save sinful man. Hebrews starts out this way…

Hebrews

1:1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: 1:4 Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

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Just as Jesus is the image of The Father, so are we to become the image of Christ. When we’re saved, the Holy Spirit begins to work in us, to purge the old man and shape us,

Romans

8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 8:30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

God makes an honest appeal to sinners. All who believe can be saved. He already knows who they will be and has plans for how He intends to use us to build the body of Christ. God’s glory is to shine through us in such a way as to make the lost world thirsty for what we have. If they thirst, He will fill them with living water.

Faith Will Give You Peace

Philippians 4:11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

As a believer, your faith is not of this world, but of the world to come. Therefore, it doesn’t pay to get too wrapped up in what happens here. Whether we abound in worldly blessings, or are abased in godly humility, we should be content. If the Lord has chosen to give us riches, then we are to remember that they come from him, and seek the purpose for which he’s given them. If we are experiencing hard times, we should know that we’re going through this to strengthen our faith, or to give God an opportunity to show his power. In all things, remember to give God the glory.

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Faith is the Key to Salvation

Romans 3:23   For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

No one is free from sin. We are all human. It doesn’t matter if it’s the addict in the street or the pope in the Vatican. We all live inside these bodies of flesh and bone, and we all sin. It doesn’t matter if the sin doesn’t show on the outside. We all know what we are on the inside. God knows too.

That’s why he sent his Son to die on the cross. By believing that God did this for us, we have access to what really moves God, faith. Even in the old testament, when the law was all man had to believe in, God said he would forgive those who had sinned, but had asked forgiveness and had returned to the law. Continue reading

Faith Moves Mountains

Mark 11:22   And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God.
Mark 11:23   For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.

Faith in God the father and Jesus his son gives the Christian power. If you have enough faith, these verses are literal. If you doubt not, you could speak to a real mountain and it would be cast into the sea. Continue reading