John Chapters 5 to 8, Part 5
by Karl Kemp
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We continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 5-8 here in Part 5, starting with John 6:57.
(57) As the living [cf., e.g., John 5:26] Father sent Me [God the Father sent His unique Son into the world on an infinitely important mission, a mission that started with His virgin birth (cf., e.g., John 1:14; 3:17; 6:29, 38).], and I live because of the Father [[God the Son had (eternal) life by virtue of who He was (cf. John 1:4), but He didn't make that point here (at least He didn't emphasize that point). Here He was reiterating what He said in verse 51, for example, about His being "the LIVING bread that came down out of heaven," having been sent by the Father to give LIFE to the world through His atoning death (through giving His flesh for the life of the world). In John 5:19-29, as in John 6:32, 33, 35, 40, 47, 48, 50, 53, 54, Jesus spoke of the fact that the Father had commissioned Him to have (eternal/spiritual) life, life that He could share with those who submit to Him in faith. God the Son could not share eternal life with men until after He had condescended to become a man (the God-man), lived a sinless life, died as the Lamb of God, and was resurrected and ascended to the right hand of the Father.]], so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me [In other words, those who partake of new-covenant salvation in and through Christ will participate in the very eternal/spiritual life of the triune God]. (58) This is the bread which came down out of heaven [cf. John 6:32, 33, 38, 50, 51]; not as the fathers ate and died [Compare John 6:31, 49. The fathers ate the physical manna and eventually they died.]; he who eats this bread [Christ and new-covenant salvation in union with Him] will live forever.' [[In this verse Jesus summarized the message that He had been conveying starting with verse 26.
Many Christians think that Jesus was teaching about partaking of His flesh and blood in the Lord's Supper here (especially in verses 51-58), and especially those who believe that Christians actually partake of the flesh and blood of Christ when they partake of the bread and the fruit of the vine. Some of them believe that was His primary subject here; others believe that He was only secondarily referring to the Lord's Supper. I agree with those commentators who don't believe that Jesus made any reference to the Lord's Supper in verses 26-58. For one thing, Jesus spoke these words a year before He was to institute the Lord's Supper on the night before His crucifixion.
It is true, of course, that Jesus' teaching here has a lot in common with the Lord's Supper in that the Lord's Supper was instituted (for one primary reason) to repeatedly focus Christians' attention on the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ (the true Passover Lamb has been slain) ((I had a footnote: See 1 Cor. 11:23-34. I'll quote 1 Cor. 11:24-28, "and when He had given thanks, He broke it [the bread] and said, 'This is My body, which is for you; DO THIS IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.' (25) In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood; DO THIS AS OFTEN AS YOU DRINK IT, IN REMEMBRANCE OF ME.' (26) FOR AS OFTEN AS YOU EAT THIS BREAD AND DRINK THE CUP, YOU PROCLAIM THE LORD'S DEATH UNTIL HE COMES. [my emphasis] (27) Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. [His body was broken and His blood was shed for us in His atoning death, and the new covenant was established on the basis of His atoning death. We (eat the bread and) drink the cup "in an unworthy manner" if we drink from the cup of the new covenant in His blood (see 1 Cor. 11:25) while being unfaithful to and violating the terms of that covenant (through not believing and/or living in agreement with the words of that covenant).] (28) But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup." 1 Corinthians chapter 11 is discussed verse-by-verse on this Christian article site.)) and on the new-covenant salvation that flowed out of that atoning death (He has become the true bread of life). ((I had a footnote: I'll quote several sentences from what Henry Alford says under verse 51 ("New Testament for English Readers," Vol. 2 [Baker, 1983 reprint], page 523). "The question whether there is here any reference to the ORDINANCE OF THE LORD'S SUPPER, has been inaccurately put. When cleared of inaccuracy in terms, it will mean, Is the subject here dwelt upon the same as that which is set forth in the ordinance of the Lord's Supper? And of this there can surely be no doubt. To the ordinance itself, there is here no reference; nor could there well have been any. But the spiritual verity which underlies the ordinance is one and the same with that here insisted on; and so considered, the discourse is, as generally treated, most important towards a right understanding of the ordinance.")) THE FOCUS OF CHRISTIANITY IS NOT TO BE ON THE LORD'S SUPPER, BUT ON THE ALL-IMPORTANT ATONING DEATH OF CHRIST AND THE NEW COVENANT THAT WAS RATIFIED BY HIS ATONING BLOOD TO WHICH THE LORD'S SUPPER POINTS. I discussed the Lord's Supper under 1 Cor. 10:16, 17; 11:17-33 in my articles on 1 Corinthians 10 and 11 on this Christian article site.
The Lord's Supper is an occasion where believers are to examine themselves as to whether they are being faithful to the new covenant and to determine to make any adjustments necessary. (Of course Christians are not supposed to wait until the Lord's Supper to examine themselves and to make thing right.) If "Christians" are not being faithful to God (according to the terms of the covenant) it is hypocritical for them to participate in the Lord's Supper, which commemorates that covenant which was established on the basis of the atoning death (and resurrection) of the Lord Jesus Christ. If Christians are living in sin, repentance is the only satisfactory answer. The Lord's Supper is also an occasion to meditate on and to enter into all the blessings provided by that glorious covenant. When we celebrate the Lord's Supper on God's terms, He can meet with us and bless us to the maximum. His presence at the Lord's Supper should be very real and very special, but each individual Christian should know God's presence (a very real communion with Him) all the time.
It seems clear to me that what Jesus said in verses 26-58 was intended to point to the salvation/eternal life that was being made available through believing in Him, the Lamb of God. To think that He was speaking, even secondarily, of partaking of the elements of the Lord's Supper confuses the issue. Partaking of the physical elements of the Lord's Supper cannot provide salvation and spiritual/eternal life - the physical elements (symbols) point to and remind us of the sacrifice of the Lamb of God that does provide salvation/eternal life for those who have been born again and are literally united with the Lord Jesus in His atoning death, resurrection, and ascension. "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words which I have spoken to you are spirit and life" (John 6:63).
I'll quote a brief excerpt from what D. A. Carson says under the heading, "The 'Bread of Life' discourse (6:22-58)" ("Gospel According to John," pages 276-280). "...these verses [verses 51c-58] provide a striking metaphor that makes the teaching of the previous verses more vivid, but can scarcely be taken to introduce fundamentally new (and 'sacramental') meaning. ... Eating the flesh of the Son of Man is a striking, metaphorical way of saying that the gift of God's real 'bread of life' (v. 35) is appropriated by faith (v. 47). ... 'John 6 is not about the Lord's Supper; rather, the Lord's Supper is about what is described in John 6.' " (Carson's quotation was taken from C. Brown, NIDNTT, 2. 535.)
I'll quote part of what R. C. H. Lenski (a conservative Lutheran) says under verse 59 ("St. John's Gospel" [Augsburg Publishing House, 1943], pages 502, 503), "We must now answer the question whether this discourse deals only with the spiritual eating of faith or with the oral sacramental eating in the Lord's Supper. We reply, only in the former. The eating of which Jesus speaks throughout (note for instance v. 53) is absolutely necessary for salvation. ... Secondly, the eating of which Jesus speaks is always and without exception salutary (see for instance v. 54). It is impossible to affirm this of the oral eating in the Sacrament. - Finally, it is inconceivable that Jesus should urge upon these unbelieving (v. 36) Galileans a sacrament not yet instituted and urge upon them the sacramental eating of which no one could know until the institution had taken place. ...
Recognizing the force of these facts, some seek a compromise, admitting that primarily this discourse does not deal with the Lord's Supper, yet maintaining that secondarily or indirectly it does." Lenski goes on for a page here discussing details and making it clear that he doesn't agree with this "compromise."]] (59) These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. [I'll quote a sentence from F. Godet here (page 42), "There was a regular meeting in the synagogue on the second, fifth and seventh days of the week (Monday, Thursday and Saturday)."] (60) Therefore many of His disciples, when they heard this said, 'This is a difficult statement; who can listen to it? [[These "disciples" were referring to what Jesus had said about His being the bread out of heaven, starting in verse 32, and especially what He said about the need to eat His flesh and drink His blood in verses 51-56. What Jesus said in response to the complaint of these "disciples" didn't satisfy them, and "many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore" (verse 66). The point of view here (at least the primary point of view), as verse 64 shows, is that the "disciples" who withdrew never had become true disciples/believers in the first place. Verse 64 also shows that Jesus knew this from the beginning (cf. John 2:23-25).
Jesus frequently said things that were difficult. He demanded total commitment of His disciples and told them to count the cost before becoming His disciples (cf., e.g., Matt. 7:13, 14; 16:24-27; Luke 9:57-62; and 14:25-33). One necessary characteristic of true disciples is that they continue in His word, which includes obeying His word; I'll quote John 8:31, "So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.' " He wasn't sent to gather half-committed disciples, and He knew that it was necessary for Him to shock and wake up "disciples" who were following Him in a half-hearted way and/or for the wrong reasons. (I had a footnote: In our day many prospective converts and many who have been "Christians" for a long time have not been confronted with Jesus' call for total commitment. This is a very serious problem. We can't change God's gospel.)]] (61) But Jesus, conscious that His disciples grumbled at this, said to them, 'Does this cause you to stumble? ["Does this offend you?" NIV. In Matt. 6:11 Jesus said, "And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me"; in the margin (at Matt. 6:11) the NASB has, "Or stumble over Me." The Greek verb "skandalizo" is used in both verses.] (62) What then if you see the Son of Man [cf. John 6:27, 53] ascending to where He was before? [[Jesus was going to ascend "to where He was before [cf., e.g., John 3:13, 31; 6:38]," that is, He was going back to God the Father after His crucifixion and resurrection (cf., e.g., John 3:13; 13:1; and 14:2, 3). His resurrection, ascension, and His pouring forth the promised gift of the Holy Spirit (starting on the day of Pentecost [cf. Acts 2:33]) would prove that He was the bread of life and that what He had said in verses 32-58 was true. Some disciples (true disciples) would see the resurrected Christ ascend from the Mount of Olives on His way back to the Father (Luke 24:50-53; Acts 1:9-11). (More than five hundred disciples were privileged to see Christ after He was raised from the dead [cf. 1 Cor. 15:4-8].) And all true Christians know that He was raised from the dead and did ascend to heaven (they have seen with the eyes of faith): For one thing, all true Christians have received the Spirit (the Spirit in His new-covenant dimension) that Christ Jesus poured out from heaven after He ascended), thereby proving that He did "[ascend] to where He was before." See Rom. 8:1-16, for example; translate "the Spirit is life" in 8:10, with the KJV; NKJV.]] (63) It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit [[Whether we translate "spirit," or "Spirit," which is found in the margin of the NIV (I prefer "Spirit"), Jesus was saying that His words are of God/of the Spirit of God and that those who accept and submit to His words (in faith) will receive the eternal life (spiritual/Spiritual life, life by the Spirit) that Jesus had been speaking about in verses 26-58. I'll quote verse 68, "Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the WORDS OF ETERNAL LIFE [my emphasis].' "]] and are life. [[Life (physical life and spiritual life) comes from God (and only from God) by the Spirit of life (the Holy Spirit); Jesus was speaking of spiritual/Spiritual life here, as He was in verses 26-58, and often. (See, for example, John 3:3-8; 7:37-39; Rom. 8:1-17; and 2 Cor. 3:6.) Man in the flesh is spiritually dead; that is, He does not have a life-flowing relationship with God by the Spirit. We are dependent on God for spiritual/Spiritual life - that life must come from God; it cannot come from man in the flesh, or from anywhere else.]] (64) But there are some of you who do not believe.' For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him. [See under verse 60. Regarding Judas, the one "that would betray Him," compare, for example, John 6:71, 13:2, 10, 11, 18, 21-30; 18:2, 3; and Matt. 26:6-25 (with John 12:1-8), 47-50.] (65) And He was saying, 'For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.' [See above under verses 36-40, 44, 45. Jesus means really come to Him in the sense that they really become His disciples.] (66) As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. [See verses 60, 64, 65.] (67) So Jesus said to the twelve [cf. Matt. 10:2-5; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-16; John 6:70, 71; 20:24; and Acts 1:15-26.], 'You do not want to go away also, do you?' [Eleven of the twelve were true disciples, and they stayed faithful to Him to the end (the end of their lives).] (68) Simon Peter answered Him, 'Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life. (69) We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.' [[This was a good answer! Peter and the other true disciples did not fully understand everything that Jesus said in verses 32-58 (and on other occasions; at least they did not fully understand His words at the time the words were spoken), but they were true believers (they believed, for one thing, that "[He was] the Holy One of God" [cf. Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34]), and they stayed faithful to Him (by His grace). On the "words of eternal life" (verse 68), compare John 6:63; 12:49, 50.]] (70) Jesus answered them, 'Did I Myself not choose you, the twelve [The Lord Jesus had chosen Judas to be one of the twelve apostles; see under verse 67.], and yet one of you is a devil?' (71) Now He meant Judas the son of Simon Iscariot [[I'll quote a sentence from what D. A. Carson says regarding the meaning of the word "Iscariot" ("Gospel According to John," page 304). "At least six interpretations of 'Iscariot' have been advanced (cf. Carson, Matt, pp. 239f.), but the most likely is that the term is a transliteration of Hebrew... 'man of Kerioth' (there are at least two eligible villages with that name)."]], for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray Him." [[See under verses 64, 67, and see John 13:2, 27; and 17:12. I'll quote what Edwin A. Blum says here regarding "the twelve" ("Bible Knowledge Commentary," New Testament [Victor Books, 1983], page 298). "John's Gospel does not record Jesus' choice of the Twelve. He assumed his readers knew the Synoptics or common church tradition (cf. Mark 3:13-19). This choice was not to election to salvation, but was Jesus' call to them to serve Him [as apostles]."]]
JOHN CHAPTER 7.
"After these things Jesus was walking in Galilee, for He was unwilling to walk in Judea because the Jews ["The Jews" here in verse 1, and often, refers to the Jewish leaders at Jerusalem (cf. John 5:10, 15, 16, 18; 7:13, 15; 19:38; and 20:19). Note that "the Jews" are often differentiated from other Jews (cf., e.g., John 7:12, 13, 25, 26); the words "the Jews" in verse 2 clearly is not limited to the Jewish leaders at Jerusalem.] were seeking to kill Him [cf. John 5:18; 7:19, 25; 8:37, 40, 44, 59; 10:31-33; and 11:53, 57]. (2) Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths [or, "of Tabernacles"], was near. [On this feast, see Lev. 23:33-43; Deut. 16:13-17. This important feast came almost exactly six months after Passover (cf. John 2:13, 23; 6:4; 11:55; 12:1; and 13:1), and it came right after the Day of Atonement (see Lev. 23:5-8, 27-44).] (3) Therefore His brothers [Compare Matt. 12:46, 47; 13:55, 56; Mark 6:3; John 2:12; 7:5, 10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5; and Gal. 1:19. Matt. 13:56; Mark 6:3 show that Jesus had sisters too.] said to Him, 'Leave here and go into Judea [Jesus' (half) brothers, who did not yet believe in Him (see verse 5; cf. Acts 1:14), urged Him to go to Jerusalem (in Judea) where the city would be packed with people for the Feast of Booths/Tabernacles.], so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. [[For one thing, most of His disciples in Judea would not have seen the works He had been doing in Galilee. Verse 4 shows that His brothers were challenging Him to manifest Himself openly in Jerusalem to all the Jews gathered for the feast. Verse 4 with verse 5 seems to indicate that His brothers were not at all convinced that Jesus had been doing miraculous works of God.]] (4) For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.' (5) For not even His brothers were believing in Him. (6) So Jesus said to them, 'My time [the time determined by God the Father] is not yet here [[Compare, for example, Matt. 26:18; John 7:8, 30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; and 17:1-5. Apparently Jesus was referring to the time of the events that would lead to His all-important crucifixion, which would lead to His all-important resurrection and glorification and the ultimate all-important salvation of all believers and the total overthrow of all the enemies of God. When it was the Father's time for Him to be glorified, He would not go to Jerusalem "in secret" (cf. John 7:10), but He would have His very public triumphal entry into Jerusalem and the temple and He would cleanse the temple (Matt. 21:1-16; Mark 11:1-18; and Luke 19:28-48). (Mark's account of these events includes the added detail that Jesus didn't actually cleanse the temple until the day after His triumphal entry.) As these references show, at that time He would be publicly manifested as the King, in accordance with the prophecy of Zech 9:9, 10. (The prophecy of Zech. 9:9, 10 will not be completely fulfilled until the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.) His triumphal entry and crucifixion were still about six months in the future, at the Feast of Passover. Jesus had already manifested Himself in significant ways in Jerusalem (cf. John 2:13-25; 5:1-47) and in Judea (cf. John 3:22-4:3).]], but your time is always opportune. (7) The world cannot hate you [At that time His brothers were functioning as part of the world system.], but IT HATES ME BECAUSE I TESTIFY OF IT, THAT ITS DEEDS ARE EVIL [my emphasis]. [[The part of the world that Jesus confronted (for the most part) as He lived on the earth was Israel (cf., e.g., John 8:23). He didn't tell them what they wanted to hear. He told them, very much including the religious leaders, that their deeds were evil and if they didn't repent, they would all perish (cf. Luke 13:1-5). The hatred of the world against Christ isn't surprising when we realize the devil is the god and ruler of this world (cf. John 12:31; 16:11; and 2 Cor. 4:4). Jesus told His Jewish opponents that they were children of the devil (John 8:44). See John 3:19-21; 8:31-59; and 15:18-25.]] (8) Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not [[Some Greek manuscripts read "not yet" instead of "not." The "UBS Greek New Testament" (Fourth Revised Edition, 1983) has the reading "not," but with a C rating, which "indicates that the Committee had difficulty deciding which variant to place in the text." The NIV; KJV; NKJV translate "not yet."]] go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.' [[For one thing, Jesus didn't want to go up to the feast publicly with His (unbelieving) brothers (cf. verse 10). The following verses show that Jesus did eventually go up to the feast. He was undoubtedly led by God the Father as to if and when He should go up to Jerusalem for that feast. Regarding the words "because My time has not yet fully come," see under verse 6.]] (9) Having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee. (10) But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as if, in secret. (11) So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, 'Where is He?' (12) There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, 'He is a good man'; others were saying, 'No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.' [Compare John 7:25-31, 40-44.] (13) Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. [Compare John 5:18; 7:1, 25, 26; 9:22; 12:42; 19:38; and 20:19.] (14) But when it was now the midst of the feast [This feast continued for seven days, or you could say eight days (see Lev. 23:34-36).] Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. [Jesus was undoubtedly led by God the Father to manifest Himself in the temple at that particular time and in that particular way. On His teaching, compare verses 15-18, 28, 29.] (15) The Jews then were astonished, saying, 'How has this man become learned, having never been educated?' [[If "the Jews" had sincerely pursued the answer to that question, they would have learned that He had come from heaven and that His teaching was from heaven, straight from God the Father, as the next verse (and many other verses) shows. The fact that they were astonished/amazed at Jesus' teaching didn't mean that they were open to Jesus or to what He was saying (cf. Acts 4:13). They (most of the Jewish leaders) had already decided that Jesus was a blasphemous sinner, not the Messiah. But they were astonished that Jesus had "become learned" without having been educated in their rabbinical schools.]] (16) So Jesus answered them and said, 'My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. (17) IF ANYONE IS WILLING TO DO HIS WILL [my emphasis], he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. [[Compare Psalm 25:9, 14; Prov. 3:32; and Dan. 12:10. This verse (and the next verse) is extremely important. It is one of the verses in the Gospel of John that shows the foundational reason why so many Jews (some of these verses, including this verse, fit Gentiles too) did not submit to Christ and the Gospel in faith (cf. John 3:18-20; 5:37-47; 6:44, 45; 8:37-47; and 10:26, 27). The foundational problem that Jesus pointed out in this verse was that they were not willing to do the will of God (which goes with their not really loving Him). Most of them would have argued that they loved God and put a high priority on knowing and doing His will, but God the Son knew better. It is hard to comprehend just how deep and extensive the sin/rebellion problem is in the heart of man, very much including among the "people" of God (including many called Christians).]] (18) He who speaks from himself [instead of speaking from God the Father and for His glory, as Jesus did] seeks his own glory [[Pride and unbelief are the two roots of sin and rebellion against God, and pride often leads to unbelief. The devil started the sin problem in the universe when He rebelled against God through pride (cf. Isa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:11-19; and 1 Tim. 3:6). He rebelled against divine order; he wasn't satisfied with the place God had given him. It's unbelievable how many angels (a third of the angels [cf. Rev. 12:4 with 12:7-9]) and people have followed the devil in his rebellion against God and divine order.]]; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. [Christ is referring to Himself here, but what He says here should be true of all God's people (cf., e.g., John 5:41, 44; 8:50, 54; 12:43; and 17:4, 5). Being where God wants us to be, in the center of His will, is the only place that is right, good, necessary, and safe for us to be.] (19) Did not Moses give you the Law [cf. John 1:17], and yet none of you carries out the Law? [[Although it was true that the Jews were not fully keeping God's Law in their daily lives (cf., e.g., Luke 13:1-5; Rom. 2:1-3:23; and Gal. 3:10, 11) and that they were seeking to kill Jesus (which was totally against God's Law, in that, for one thing, He was totally righteous), apparently that wasn't the point that Jesus was making here. Apparently His point here was that before the Jews wrongly accuse Him of sinning by healing a man (I had a footnote: We know that Jesus healed this man physically, but it is clear that He was offering this man the total healing for spirit, soul, and body that comes with new-covenant salvation in and through Himself [cf. John 5:14].) ON THE SABBATH (in accordance with the will of God [cf. John 5:19]), referring to the healing of the man at the pool of Bethesda and the response of the Jews reported in John 5:1-18, they should stop to consider (for one thing) that they circumcise ON THE SABBATH (in accordance with the will of God). See John 7:21-24.]] Why do you seek to kill Me?' [[In John 7:20 the apostle John interrupts his reporting of what Jesus said to inform us that the crowd interrupted Him with their response to His charge that the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Apparently a large number of the people in that crowd didn't realize that the rulers were seeking to kill Jesus, but they were (see John 5:18; 7:1, 25). Jesus didn't answer the question asked by the crowd in verse 20 (at least John didn't mention any response of Jesus to what the crowd said and asked in verse 20); Jesus continued making the point He was making.]]
We will continue this verse-by-verse study of John chapters 5-8 in Part 6, starting with John 7:20.
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