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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible might not tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

Colossians 1:6-8 (L 03)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                    Published: December 22, 2019

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Colossians (L 03)

To all the saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus which are throughout the world, Grace and peace be unto you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Welcome to HBS y’all and Merry Christmas.

Omitting the lesson review; same reason as before.

Please open your Bible at Colossians 1:6-8.

Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of

Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit” (1:6-7).

Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: ” (1:6:a).

This declaration from Paul follows his previous statement in 1:5b and we need to review it in order to fully understand the context, “whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;” 

Paul never visited Colosse, so how did the Colossians hear the gospel?  The answer is found in verse 1:7: “As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

Evidently, Paul had sent Epaphras to Colosse to proclaim the gospel of grace (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), so they learned it from him.  Paul mentions this zealous worker of the Lord three times in the N.T. (Colossians 1:7-8, 4:12-13, and Philemon 23).  Here he referred to him as “a dear servant,” and “a faithful minister of Christ.”  Through his ministry many of his fellow-countrymen had heard the truth of the gospel and were converted and the assembly at Colosse was established.  According to 4:12-13, Epaphras held a pastoral role in this church and the assemblies at Laodicea and Hierapolis.

At the time of this writing Paul was being held under house arrest in Rome and Epaphras was with him.  The purpose of his visit was twofold.  He sought his counsel concerning the heresies which were being introduced in the church at Colosse and he intended to give Paul as much aid and comfort as humanly possible while he was there. This is probably why Paul referred to him as “a dear servant.”  The thing I find both incredible and ironic is Paul was imprisoned for telling the truth, that is, the truth of the gospel - “to all nations.”

By whom we have received grace and apostleship, for obedience to the faith among all nations, for His name” (Romans 1:5).

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever.  Amen” (Romans 16:25-27).

And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” (Ephesians 3:9)

But do “all men” see or understand the truth of the gospel of the grace of God, which Paul obediently preached?  That would be no and the reason why my title for this section continues to be “The truth of the gospel.”  Once you understand the stark significance between the calling of the twelve to proclaim the gospel of the kingdomunto the Jews only” (Acts 11:19), and the calling and commissioning of our Apostle Paul to preach the truth of the gospel of the grace of God to the gentiles (Acts 9), then you’ll come to understand Paul’s gospel and his ministry superseded that of the twelve. 

The prophets had proclaimed the Messianic kingdom in hundreds of O.T. Bible passages.  Every Jew knew about this kingdom and longed for it.  One need only to read the passages surrounding the account of Jesus’ birth to recognize this fact:  the Magi (Matthew 2:1-2); Zachariah (Luke 1:8-17, 67-79); Mary (Luke 1:26-38, 46-55); Simeon and Anna (Luke 2:25-38).  These scripture passages provide an excellent summary of Jewish expectations re: their promised earthly kingdom, which by the way, remains on hold “until the fullness of the gentiles has come in.”

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25).

God has purposed the building up and edification of the Body of Christ, His Church, in the Dispensation of Grace.  One day future, only God knows when, the last member of the Body of Christ will come in, and God will close the door, so to speak, on the Grace period in which we live.  At that time, He will pick up where He left off with the nation of Israel.  This period of time is known as the Tribulation (see Revelation). 

The gospel of the kingdom proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the twelve required repentance (Mark 1:15), water baptism (Matthew 3:6; Acts 2:38 8:34-38, 19:4), strict adherence to the Mosaic Law, and believing Jesus was the promised Messiah (Matthew 6:13-16; John 11:25-27).  Believing in Jesus, according to the gospel of the kingdom meant believing who He was, i.e. believing in His name (John 3:8; Acts 2:21, 38, 3:6, 16, 4:7, 10, 12, 17-18, 30; 5:28, 40-41; 8:12, 16; 9:14-15, 21, 27; 10:43, 48).  Therefore, the gospel of the kingdom focused upon the identity or Person of Jesus Christ.

Paul preached the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4) and placed little emphasis on repentance and water baptism in his evangelistic ministry.  He only mentioned repentance once in his letters and that in reference to unbelievers (Romans 2:4).  As for water baptism, he declared, “Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel” (1 Corinthians 1:14-17).  Paul actually said there was only one baptism (Ephesians 4:5).  This one baptism he spoke of was the baptism of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13).  Thus we conclude the religious rite of water baptism ceased during Paul’s ministry and has no scriptural support for the Believer today. 

Shortly after Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:19-22), we find him
preaching the gospel of the kingdom in the synagogue.  However, soon thereafter, the ascended, glorified, and heavenly Lord (as opposed to His earthly ministry to the Jews only, with a few exceptions - Psalm 110:1) gave Paul a new gospel (Galatians 1:11-12).  His gospel (Romans 2:16, 16:25) was different than the gospel preached by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the twelve apostles.  Its focus was not upon the identity of Jesus Christ, but built upon Christ Jesus’ finished work of the cross (1 Corinthians 1:23, 2:2, 15:1-4).  This “good news” was not preached by the twelve during Jesus’ earthly ministry.  In fact, the twelve had no comprehension of Jesus dying on the cross for their sins (Luke 18:31-34).  When Paul referred to the gospel of the grace of God as “my gospel,” it clearly indicated his gospel is different from the gospel Jesus and the twelve preached (Galatians 2:2; 2 Timothy 2:8-9), and as they say, “Vive La Difference!” 

Luke’s account of the Council of Jerusalem made it clear the twelve did not agree with or understand Paul’s gospel (see Acts 15).  Sounds familiar.  Paul told them his gospel had been a “secret” until the risen Lord revealed it to him (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 6:19-20).

As I said earlier, the twelve had no comprehension of Jesus dying, being buried, and rising from the dead on the 3rd day.  They also had no concept of dying and going to heaven.  For them death was not good news.  The diligent Bible student is aware of the fact that even after His resurrection, Christ’s death was not proclaimed as “good news” by the Lord or the twelve.  The biblical record shows Peter proclaimed the Lord’s death as bad news for the nation of Israel.  His sermon on the day of Pentecost shows he regarded the death of Jesus Christ as a message of condemnation to the whole house of Israel, a treacherous act that demanded their repentance and water baptism for the remission of their sins (Acts 2:22-42, 3:12-26), in keeping with the Mosaic Law. 

Peter proclaimed the fact of Jesus’ resurrection as good news but its significance was that Jesus was alive and could still bring about His kingdom on earth if the Jewish nation believed and repented of their sins.  What he did not preach was belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for personal salvation.  I know for a fact Christians churches add it in, but they twist the scriptures in doing so. 

As for Paul, the preaching of Christ Crucified was salvation for all those who believed, which was a glorious message indeed (1 Timothy 1:11).  But here’s the thing, the preaching of Paul’s gospel caused so much animosity and consternation that the apostles in Jerusalem called a special council around 51 A.D. to consider it.  The Bible student should understand Paul was most likely saved around 34-37 AD.  So, about 14-17 years had passed before Paul, Barnabas, and Titus went up to Jerusalem to settle the dispute.  At the Jerusalem Council,  after considerable back and forth argument, Peter made an astonishing statement (from a Jewish perspective).  Prior to Peter’s statement, the message of the twelve was that gentiles could be saved only the way Jews were saved.  But after great disagreement, Peter, under the power of the Holy Spirit, officially recognized (in light of Paul’s revelations and ministry) both the Jews and the gentiles are being saved “through the grace of God” (Acts 15:6-11; Galatians 2:1-8).

In Galatians 2:9-10 Paul provides us the outcome of the Jerusalem Council:

 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen (the uncircumcision, i.e. the gentiles), and they unto the circumcision.  Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do

This was a major turning point in the Church.  We find proof of this in Galatians 1:8-9 where Paul wrote: 

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed (doomed to destruction or misery).  As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Galatians 1:8-9).  

Paul could not have written this declaration prior to the Council of Jerusalem.  Prior to Peter’s statement, the twelve obediently preached the gospel Christ had revealed to them in His earthly ministry (Matthew 10:5-7), and Paul dutifully preached the gospel the ascended and risen Lord had revealed to him.  Both were valid gospel messages.  Both had been commanded by the Lord.  However, after the Jerusalem Council the gospel of the kingdom preached by the twelve begins to fade from the scene, because  Paul’s gospel of grace formally superseded it.  

Thus, Paul’s writings emphasized the Church, the Body of Christ.  This terminology is not found in the teachings of Jesus Christ and the preaching of the twelve because it wasn’t known until the ascended Lord revealed it to Saul/Paul as a mystery.  Plainly said, this “good news” was brand new.  The twelve knew nothing of it until Paul made it known to them:

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest (twist), as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16).

Here we see even after Paul told Peter and the twelve about his calling and his gospel, Peter still didn’t understand it.  Paul alone taught the citizenship, position, and the promises of God to the Believer who has been baptized into in the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit is heavenly, not earthly (Ephesians 1:3, 2:6; Philippians 3:20; Colossians 1:5).

We find evidence of this truth in Paul’s final words, “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (2 Timothy 4:18).  

For Paul and every true Believer in Christ  Jesus, God’s kingdom, as it relates to the Body of Christ is heavenly and wholly different from the earthly kingdom proclaimed by John the Baptist, Jesus Christ, and the twelve to the nation of Israel.  Therefore, they must be kept separate (2 Timothy 2:15).

Verse 1:8.

Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

Epaphras evangelized the Colossians with the truth of the gospel and planted the assembly of Believers in Colosse.  The very moment these folks were convinced by it they were baptized into the Body of Christ by the Holy Spirit.  In addition, they were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise as the down payment of their spiritual inheritance, in Christ:

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest (down payment as in a mortgage) of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13). 

Paul declared the Holy Spirit dwells within every true Believer:

Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16).

So then, Epaphras had informed Paul of the Colossian’s “love in the Spirit,” meaning the Holy Spirit had instilled and fostered in the Colossians an affection for one another:

If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

(To be continued.  Publication date uncertain).

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved



Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Colossians 1:3-5 (L 02)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
WWW. 2Tim215.Net

Established November 2008                                    Published: December 17, 2019

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).
Welcome to HBS everyone.

First, a prayer of thanksgiving:  For our daily needs when so many walk in hopelessness, for faith when so many walk in fear, for the love of family and friends when so many walk alone we give God thanks.”

I need to skip the lengthy review of the previous lesson because typing hurts my left hand.  However, I urge y’all to revisit it to refresh your memories.
Please open your Bible at Colossians 1:3-5.

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;” 

If a title was required for this scripture passage I’d call it The Truth of the Gospel.  What I had been taught by my church during the first nineteen years of my life was anything but the truth, that’s why I left it behind.  This was after my conversion in 1996.  At that time I began a diligent search for the truth about my Lord and Savior.  To that end I attended Bible study classes whenever the lights were on at church, read my Bible daily, and visited Christian websites on the internet.  But I still felt “left out” because the Bible didn’t make much sense to me.  Then one day I happened upon an individual teaching the Bible rightly divided online.  He helped me understand what I had been taught before was someone’s version of the truth.  In other words, their preaching and teaching stemmed from denominational traditionalism rather than what God actually said, dispensationaly speaking.  Now I have a healthy respect for certain traditions, but as our Apostle Paul I have an unwavering passion for the truth of the gospel “…for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Gentile)” – Romans 1:16b.

In the introduction to Colossians I mentioned the people living in Colosse lent an ear to the heresies of their day, i.e. those people heralding an extreme form of legalistic Judaism and an early form of Gnosticism.  These Jews retained the Mosaic Law (2:14), imposed circumcision (2:11), adhered to strict dietary restrictions and calendar observations (2:16), and they encouraged asceticism (2:21-23).  Those advocating an early form of Gnosticism (2:8) described matter as evil, denied the divine creation of the universe, held to many angelic beings or spiritual intermediaries existing between God and man, and promoted the worship of these angelic beings (2:18).  The Christian component of these heresies did not deny Christ, they dethroned Him.  He was not regarded as divine or as the Creator God, and His death, therefore, did nothing for man’s salvation.  Paul was not going to permit these heretical teachings (untruths) to take root and thrive in Colosse, so he criticized them in this writing.     

Let’s begin this study at Colossians 1:2.

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The word Grace, as it pertains to God, is used in a number of different ways in the N.T.  It can mean the free unmerited love and favor of God, which brings about man’s salvation through faith (Ephesians 2:8), the spring and source of every spiritual blessing received from him (Ephesians 1:3), the divine influence of the Holy Spirit in renewing the heart and restraining Believers from sin (2 Corinthians 12:9), the state of Grace in which the Believer eternally stands, that is, being in God’s favor (Romans 5:2), and others.  Here Paul most likely used the term Grace to mean the latter.  

Peace means different things, depending on the context.  In a general sense, it might mean a state of quiet, tranquility, or harmony with one another (1 Corinthians 16:11); freedom from conflict, such as, freedom from war with a foreign country; and salvation in that the individual is no longer considered an enemy of God.  Here Paul is saying the Colossians are at peace with God (Romans 5:1). 

Verse 3:3.

We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

Once again we have Paul praying with a thankful heart as he does throughout this letter (Colossians 1:12, 2:7; 3:15-17; 4:2) demonstrating his Christ-like attitude.  What’s more, Paul begins each of his writings with thanksgiving and praise to God the Father (the only exception is his letter to the Galatians).  In verse 1:3, He’s indirectly thanking God for the Colossians’ salvation.  His prayer then blends into several petitions for these saints, in Christ.   

But how did Paul know these people were truly saved?  He’s not able to look upon their hearts and neither are we.  So, what did he consider the true evidence of their salvation?  Was it because they had been baptized with water?  Did they possess the ability to perform miracle healings, did they speak in tongues and prophecy?  Not so much.  The answer is found in verse 1:4-5a:

Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven…”

Paul never visited Colosse (2:1-2), so when he said “we” he means to say he heard about the current state of the churches in Colosse from Epaphras.  Then he cited the evidence of their salvation.  He had heard of their faith, their hope, and their love.

Breaking this down, faith is built upon the truth of God’s Word, rightly divided.  Those who are truly convinced by God’s truth are saved by it (2 Timothy 1:3-4).  So the word "faith" in verse four refers to the Colossians’ initial trust in the Person and finished saving work of Jesus Christ.  That is to say, they have a saving relationship with God because of Jesus Christ.  

Personally, I’ve heard several preachers say, “People are saved by faith,” but is this true?

The short answer is “No.”  Faith in and of itself doesn’t save you.  People believe all sorts of things and place their trust in them for their salvation, such as, I’m trying to be a good person, I’ve been water baptized, I joined the right church group, I can speak in tongues, etc.  Please note the multiple usage of “I” in these declarations.  What they’re saying is I can gain God’s favor and salvation by doing something.  Thus, faith built upon one’s emotions or life experiences is false faith (Isaiah 64:6).  What you believe and who you believe on matters a great deal to God.  If you could believe whatever you wanted for your salvation, why would God send His Son to die on the cross for your sin (Romans 4:25)?  It doesn’t make sense, what makes perfect sense is the truth we find in God’s Word.  Please turn in your Bible to Romans 2:11-16:       

For there is no respect of persons with God.  For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law; (For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.  For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;) In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ  according to my gospel” (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).

Your salvation and mine is linked with Jesus Christ’s sacrificial work of the cross, through faith not because of faith.  Thus, an individual’s faith in Paul’s gospel merely creates a bridge by which God can crossover to save us… for without faith it’s impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  But what does this book say?

For by grace are ye saved (not by your faith, but) through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). 

Another piece of evidence that demonstrated these folks were saved is their “love to all  the saints…  A Bible verse immediately comes to mind, so let’s visit it.  Please turn to 1 Corinthians 13:13:

But now faith, hope, love, abide (to be, or exist, to continue) these three; but the greatest of these is love.”

Here again we find the abiding trinity of faith, hope, and love.  In 1 Corinthians 13, Paul taught the supernatural communication gifts which God gave the early Church, i.e., the gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues, and the gift of knowledge, would vanishwhen that which is perfect is come” or once the Word of God was complete:

Charity (agape love, i.e. seeking another’s highest good) never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).

Once the Bible was complete, the Church, i.e. the Body of Christ would function on the basis of the written Word of God through faith, hope, and love; but the greatest of these is love.  With Paul’s conversion and commission as God’s apostle to the gentiles the Scriptures were complete:

Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;” (Colossians 1:25).

Thus, the supernatural gifts of Acts and 1 Corinthians 13 ceased by the time he wrote his final communication, 2 Timothy.  Evidence of this truth is found in 1 Timothy 5:23.  Paul couldn’t perform a healing miracle on his son in the faith; he suggested Timothy drink a little wine to soothe his stomach.  Today, no one in the Church legitimately exercises the gifts of prophecy, knowledge, or tongues.  They have been replaced by things both permanent and superior, which is the complete Word of God, and faith, hope, and love.

God did something entirely new by saving Saul of Tarsus and appointing him to be the Apostle of the Gentiles (Romans 11:13).  Included in his commission was that Paul would establish God’s Church, the Body of Christ (Ephesians 3:1-7) and its doctrines.  This new creation required new truths.  New wine cannot abide old wineskins (Matthew 9:17).  Paul wasn’t taught these new revelations by man.  They were revealed to him by the risen and glorified Lord (Galatians 1:11-12).  Paul referred to these revelations as “mysteries.”  The Lord also established Paul as the pattern for all Believers to follow in regard to living the Christ-like life. 

In addition to the blessing of the complete Word of God, Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13 of the blessings of faith, hope, and charity (love).   Believers are to put on these blessings and live by them.  Two other passages, both found in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, contain this abiding trinity.  You’ll find them below:

We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers; Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3).

The phrases “work of faith,” “labor of love,” and “steadfastness of hope” are the basis of Paul’s prayer for the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 1:2).  This prayer also reveals how Believers are to pray today.  Not only are we to imitate Paul’s behavior and his walk with the Lord we are to mimic his prayer life:

But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation” (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

In this scripture passage, Paul repeated the blessings of faith, hope, and love to the Thessalonians.  Paul viewed faith and love as their breastplate.  A Roman soldier put on the breastplate to defend his vital organs.  Paul had the Believer’s heart in mind here for it is the source of their faith and love. 

Paul then referred to hope as their helmet, which is another vital piece of the soldier’s armor because it protects their head in battle.  Here Paul isn’t referring to the Believer’s head he has their mind in view.  But what does hope mean?  I’m glad you asked.  Hope (as love) is a word that needs to be rescued from a world that has overused and misused it for so long its intended meaning has been nearly lost.  As it’s used today, the word hope implies an uncertain or vague outcome.  Therefore, in our society the word hope and maybe are interchangeable.  For example, if a person says, “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow,” they likely mean “I wish it wouldn’t rain” or “It’ll probably rain but it sure would be nice if it didn’t. Here is another example: If a person is asked, “Are you planning to attend the meeting tomorrow?” and responds, “I hope so,” they are actually saying, “Maybe I will.”  So, the biblical meaning of hope means “a positive expectation” or “a certainty:”

For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?  But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience await for it” (Romans 8:24-25).

When the world uses the word hope it’s expressing their desire or wish for something but they’re not expecting it to happen.  However, depending on the context, the biblical meaning of hope is an earnest expectation of something unseen, yet foreseen, such as “the hope of our salvation.  This is based upon the fact that God will keep all His promises for “it’s impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). 

Just as “the breastplate of righteousness” guards the heart of the Believer, “the helmet of our salvation” guards their mind.  A person without hope is vulnerable to Satan’s schemes, which includes the lie you are not truly saved.   As a Christian counselor at Camp Cherith, one of the most frequent questions asked of me by the children was, “How can I know I’m really saved?”  They needed reassurance not once but often.  I remember one such occasion very well because he was the camp pastor’s child.  He didn’t bring this doubt to his father for some reason he felt comfortable discussing it with me, his camp counselor.  The next summer I designed all my Bible lessons around this topic but that didn’t make the problem go away.  Additionally, this problem isn’t unique to children, even godly men and women will experience the devil’s attacks against their hope of salvation. 

In 1 Kings 18-19 the prophet Elijah succumbed to defeat and depression after a great victory over the false gods of Baal on Mt Carmel.  He ran for his life and then hid from queen Jezebel, believing he was the only Believer left alive.  So Elijah asked the LORD God to let him die, but the LORD comforted him instead at a place called Cherith (1 Kings 17:2) reassuring him he was not the only true Believer left.  The LORD God had preserved a remnant of Believer’s numbering 7,000 (1 Kings 19:18).  Because Satan is bombarding the Believer’s mind with negative thoughts there will be times in their life when he or she feels defeated and uncertain about their salvation, as Elijah did.  This is where the helmet of our salvation comes into play because our hope is in the salvation of the Lord, meaning it’s of God, and cannot be hindered by Satan or anything else:

Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost” (Romans 15:13).

In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;” (Titus 1:2).

Galatians 5:5 says, “ For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.  Thus, our hope and confidence is in God’s ability to complete the good work He has begun in us (Philippians 1:6).

So, no matter what we’re currently facing, Paul encourages us by saying, “And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:5; Ephesians 1:13; 1 Timothy 1:1).

These Bible verses and others are meant to give us hope and remind us the salvation of the Lord will surely come, not only when Christ Jesus returns for His Church, but also in our present moment of need:

O God the Lord, the strength of my salvation, Thou hast covered my head in the day of battle” (Psalm 140:7).

Therefore, faith produces hope.  In a world of hopelessness and fear, the Believer may “abound in hope.”  And this hope is no mere wish, for it is founded on the Word of God, “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast...” (Heb. 6:19).  In other words, it is the here and now, by faith, of the spiritual blessings which are ours in Christ that one day future will be fully realized. 

Summing up, the genuineness of our conversion to Christ is evidenced by “faith, hope, love,” the three abiding evidences of our salvation.  And hope, in turn, produces charity (love).  Verse 1:5 speaks of this: “the love which ye have to all the saints, for (because of) the hope which is laid up for you in heaven.”  The closer we are drawn to Christ Jesus, the closer we are drawn to one another.  Have you noticed whenever you meet a like-minded Believer on the street or in church there’s a sense  of comradery that exists between you and them?  This is because you have the Lord Jesus Christ, “the author and perfecter of our faith” in common, along with faith, hope, and love the three abiding evidences of salvation.  Any local church where these three characteristics abound is a full church indeed, even if it only contains a handful of members.  Remember, it’s not about quantity but quality (Matthew 7:13-14).

Each member of the Body of Christ in the Dispensation of Grace are “complete in Christ” (Colossians 2:10), “crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20), resurrected with Christ” (Colossians 2:13), and “hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places, in Christ” (Ephesians 2:6) and for this we give God thanksgiving and praise!

(To be continued.  Publication date uncertain.)

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Colossians 1:1-2 (L 01)

Home Bible Study©
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Timothy 2:15)
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Established November 2008                                    Published: December 8, 2019

For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3-4).

Welcome to HBS everyone.

We recently completed our study of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, so our next undertaking is Paul’s letter to the Believers at Colosse.

Introduction to Colossians
(Colossians 1:1-2)

Colossians 1:1, identifies our Apostle Paul as the author of this letter.  My English teacher taught me to the proper place for my name (signature) is at the end of the letter.  In Paul’s day it was customary for the writer to identify them self in the opening of their communication or work and then list their credentials.   This is what Paul is doing:

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

Colossians was written circa 60-61 AD during Paul’s first imprisonment in Rome, where he spent at least two years “under house arrest” awaiting trial before the Roman Emperor Nero (Acts 28:16-31).  Some people believe he wrote Colossians from Ephesus or Caesarea, but the biblical evidence favors Rome.  In fact, all his prison letters (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon) were penned while he was “the prisoner of Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:1) in Rome.

Long before Paul’s day, Colosse was a leading city in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey).  It was located on the Lycus River and on the great east-west trade route leading from Ephesus on the Aegean Sea to the Euphrates River.  By the first century AD Colosse was reduced to a second-rate market town, which had been surpassed long before by its neighboring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis (4:13).

The Colossian churches were made up of gentiles for the most part (2:13).  They had been introduced to the Lord Jesus Christ by Epaphras (1:7) and not Paul.  In fact, as we read on we learn Paul never visited the Colossian churches (1:4-5, 2:1).  But, be that as it may, in this letter we learn of his great love and concern for the people he never met.  He continually prayed for them and with much thanksgiving for their salvation (1:3).

But this assembly was being exposed to local heresy’s that threatened to undermine the gospel of grace and their faith (2:5-8, 18).  These issues led to Epaphras’ visit to Rome to consult with Paul (Philemon 23).  He told him about the heretical doctrine circulating in the churches at Colosse.  In response to Epaphras plea for guidance, Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians, which is also to be read in the church at Laodicea (4:16) in an attempt to check the heresy’s influence on these new Believers.

Paul describes the heretical teachings he opposed in the Colossian letter but doesn’t identify them directly.  Some of those errant teachings could be categorized as:  ceremonialism the practice that held to strict rules regarding the kinds of permissible food and drink, religious festivals (2:16-17), and the religious rite of circumcision (2:11, 3:11);  asceticism or self-discipline in the extreme, i.e. “do not handle, taste, or touch” (2:21-23); Angel worship (2:18); the insufficiency of Christ Jesus which is implied by Paul’s emphasis on the Supremacy of Christ (1:15-20, 2:2, 3:9); and reliance on human wisdom and traditions (2:4-8).  These elements fall into two categories, Jewish and Gnostic (relating to knowledge, especially esoteric mystical knowledge).  Thus, the heresy in Colosse was a mixture of an extreme form of Judaism and an early stage of Gnosticism (2:23).

Purpose and Theme

The letters purpose was to refute the Colossian heresy, to demonstrate the superiority of Christ Jesus, and to confirm and edify the relatively new Believers in the faith.

The theme of this letter is the supremacy of Christ.  Paul presents the risen Lord as fully God (2:9), as the Creator God (1:16), as preeminent over the universe and His Church (1:17), and as our Savior (1:20-21).  Because Christ Jesus is over all, the Colossians are “complete in Him” (2:10), that is, He is more than adequate in that He alone can meet all their spiritual needs.  Therefore, the Colossians should worship God the Father through Him alone and depend of Him only for their salvation, refusing to rely on vain philosophy, secret knowledge, or legalism in an attempt to secure God’s divine favor.

One final note before we dig into Colossians.  Please know Paul doesn’t communicate with the grace churches just to say hello there’s always church-related issues and conflicts to settle.  Wherever the Revelation of the Mystery was being preached people rose up in opposition to its message.  The only difference today is the date on the calendar, otherwise, this practice is ongoing; people of all creeds oppose Paul’s gospel of grace (Romans 2:16), and their not likely to take a shine to you for bringing it up.  But bring it up we must for every Believer is Christ’s ambassador on earth.  This is our ministry today and not “the great commission.” (2 Corinthians 5:11-21).
Please open your Bible at Colossians 1:1-2.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,” (1:1a) - here our Apostle Paul identified himself as the author of this letter, as he does to the churches at  Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1, and Ephesians 1:1).  However, we should not assume he penned this letter himself.  In most cases Paul dictated his thoughts to a scribe who in turn wrote Paul’s words down (Romans 16:22).  The exception to this rule might be Paul’s letter to the Galatians:

Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand” (Galatians 6:11).

The phrase “I have written” could mean Paul dictated this letter to a scribe.  But the reference to “large letters” might be telling us Paul wrote it himself.  The usage of large letters could be related to a physical malady (disease) or the direct result of the stoning he received from his antagonists in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20).  He also declared that the Galatians would have plucked out their own eyes and given them to him (Galatians 4:13-15).  Some folks believe this was Paul’s “thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan” (2 Corinthians 12:7).  But ultimately these beliefs are merely conjecture; no one knows for certain and this book does not reveal these truths to us.  Therefore, I remind my classes frequently not to major on the minors, and always, repeat, always “walk by faith not by sight.”  The thing we are certain of is Paul is the author of Colossians.   

Furthermore, he’s “…an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God,” – here Paul presents his divine credentials letting his readers know he is their apostleby the will of God.”  In other words, Paul didn’t wake up one morning calling himself God’s apostle.  In actuality, he was known as the chief persecutor of those who believed in Jesus’ name or the gospel of the kingdom.  While enroute to persecute the Christians at Damascus, the risen Lord saved him by grace alone and then called him “to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel:” (Acts 9:15).

Before this Church event the gentiles had no apostle to call their own (Ephesians 2).  Despite what you’re hearing at church I echo what this book teaches, specifically, the twelve apostles at Jerusalem had no ministry with the gentiles and this includes the revered Apostle Peter (Matthew 10:1-7; see also the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 and Acts 10).  So then, Paul is not the “thirteenth apostle,” and the twelve didn’t make a mistake in choosing Mathias as Judas’ replacement (Acts 2:15-26).  God doesn’t make mistakes!  So then, want to make this very clear men did not choose Paul or make him an apostle.  He was called to be the Apostle to the Gentiles by the will of God the Father through Christ Jesus:

“ But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” (Galatians 1:12-13).  

Therefore, we must understand our Apostle Paul had a very different ministry than the twelve and that his ministry superseded theirs.  This is why Paul wrote this message to the Believers in Rome:

For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:” (Romans 11:13) 

Paul isn’t boasting in the flesh here, as some will tell you, instead he’s trying to provoke his fellow countrymen, i.e. God’s chosen nation of Israel to jealousy:

If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh (his Jewish countrymen), and might save some of them” (Romans 11:14).

Even though Paul is the apostle to the gentiles he expressed empathy for the nation of Israel who for the most part are blind to the truth re: the revelation of the mystery of God’s Grace:

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11:25).

Now to him that is of power to stablish you (how) according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever.  Amen.”(Romans 16:25-27; see also Galatians 1:11-23)

Returning to our text, Paul ends 1:1 recognizing Timothy his co-laborer in the cause of Christ: “and Timotheus our brother… Paul mentioned Timothy frequently in his writings (see Acts 17:14, 18:5, 19:22, 20:4; Romans 16:21; 1 Corinthians 4:17, 16:10; 2 Corinthians 1:1, 19; Philippians 11:1, 2:19; Colossians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1, 3:2, 6; 2 Thessalonians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:2, 18, 6:20; 2 Timothy 1:2; Philemon 1:1; Hebrews 13:23).

Paul described him as “my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord,” (1 Corinthians 4:17).  In 1 Timothy 1:2 he wrote “Timothy my true child in the faith;” and in 2 Timothy 1:2 he addressed him as “Timothy my beloved child.”  Paul’s saying he and Timothy had a father-son relationship (1 Corinthians 4:15).

Without a doubt Timothy was one of Paul’s best-known companions and evidently one of his converts.  He was a resident either of Lystra or Derbe.  Paul evangelized these two cities on his 1st missionary journey (Acts 14:6).  There are some scripture references that lead us to believe of these two cities Lystra was Timothy's hometown.  For instance, in Acts 20:4 in a list of Paul's friends there are the names of "Gaius of Derbe, and Timothy"; this might be saying Timothy was not "of Derbe."  And in Acts 16:3, the brethren who gave Paul the favorable report about Timothy were "at Lystra and Iconium"; the brethren from Derbe are not mentioned, which again might mean Timothy called Lystra his hometown.    

In 2 Timothy 3:10-11 Paul mentioned Timothy had fully known the persecutions and afflictions which came to him at Antioch, at Iconium and at Lystra.  These persecutions occurred during his first visit to these towns; and it would seem Timothy was one of the people Paul converted.  I say this because we find that on Paul's subsequent visit to Lystra and Derbe, Timothy is identified as one of the “disciples” there:

"Then came he to Derbe and Lystra: and, behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timotheus, the son of a certain woman, which was a Jewess, and believed; but his father was a Greek: Which was well reported of by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium" (Acts 16:1-2). 

In 2 Timothy 1:5 we learn Timothy's “father was a Greek,” that is, a gentile and his mother was “a Jewess.”  Timothy had not been circumcised in infancy probably because his father objected.  His mother’s name was Eunice, and his grandmother, Lois: 

When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also.”

Clearly, Eunice had been converted during Paul’s first missionary journey to Derbe and Lystra just like Timothy because when he returned to these cities she is spoken of as “a Jewess who believed" (Acts 16:1)

During Paul’s second visit to Derbe and Lystra, he was drawn to Timothy’s unfeigned faith; from childhood he had been taught the O.T. Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15).  Moreover, having received favorable reports about his character and deportment “…by the brethren that were at Lystra and Iconium…” (Acts 16:2), and his suitability for the  work of the ministry, Paul wanted him "to go forth with him" preaching the gospel of grace (Acts 16:3). 

Prior to heading out as a fellow laborer in the cause of Christ Jesus Paul had Timothy circumcised.  The reason for this was twofold:  1) It was meant to appease the Jewish Christians who would otherwise raise an unnecessary ruckus and the fact that he was uncircumcised would weaken Timothy’s position and his work for the Lord.  2) Paul agreed to this procedure because Timothy’s mother was a Jewess.  But it’s worth noting Paul’s logic did not apply to Titus.  Before they went up to Jerusalem to confront the Jewish Believers and the twelve regarding Paul’s ministry to the gentiles, he refused to allow circumcision to be performed on him (Acts 15:2) for Titus, unlike Timothy, was a gentile from birth (see Genesis 17). 

Verse 2.

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here Paul identifies the recipients of this letter “To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse:

Having been water baptized into and raised as a Roman Catholic, I’m aware of the lengthy process one must undergo to be recognized as a saint in the Catholic church.  There are five steps:

1)      The person’s local bishop investigates their life by gathering information from witnesses of their life and any writings they may have penned.  If the bishop finds them worthy of being a saint, then he submits the information he gathered to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

2)      The Congregation for the Causes of Saints can choose to reject the application or accept it and begin their own investigation of the person’s life.  If the application is accepted, the person may be called Servant of God.

3)      If the Congregation for the Causes of Saints approves of the candidate, they can choose to declare the person lived a virtuous life.  This isn’t a declaration that the person is in heaven, but that they pursued holiness while here on earth.  If this is indeed found to be the case, the person may be called Venerable. 

4)      To be recognized as someone in heaven requires that a miracle has taken place through the intercession of that person.  The miracle is usually a healing.  The healing has to be instantaneous, permanent, and complete while also being scientifically unexplainable. Miracles have to be first verified as scientifically unexplainable by a group of independent doctors, then the person is approved by a panel of theologians, and then the final approval lies with the pope.  If this is the case, a person is declared a blessed

5)      A second miracle is needed in order to declare someone a saint.  The  confirmation of a second miracle goes through the same scrutiny as the first. 

This five-step process is a general outline for how someone becomes a saint by Catholic standards.  There are definitely exceptions to this process and situations that may change the process as well.  By-the-by, this process is lengthy it can take many years or even centuries.

Returning to our text, according to God’s Word, there isn’t even a hint of this five-step process before a person is recognized as a “saint, in Christ The only thing required of you to become a saint, that is, a member of the Body of Christ, is believe the Lord Jesus Christ shed His blood for your sin, was buried, and then rose from the dead on the third day, according to the scriptures (see 1 Corinthians 15:1-4).  

The word “saint” is derived from the Koine Greek word hagios, which literally means “set apart to God for His purpose."  It is almost always used in the plural, “saints” (Acts 9:13, 32, 26:10).  I say almost because the word “saints” appears 67 times in the N.T.  whereas the term saint appears only once in Philippians 4:21.  But even though Paul used the singular form in his letter to the Philippians writing, “every saint;” a plurality of saints is understood.   Eurodias and Syntyche may not have been behaving as saints, but in spite of their foolish behavior, they are still recognized as being saints, in Christ.   

The Scriptures have something to say about the godly character of saints, in Christ:

"That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, (Romans 16:2).  

"For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  (Ephesians 4:12).  

"But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;" (Ephesians 5:3).

So then, every Believer is a saint by virtue of their personal relationship with the Christ Jesus.  This is of God and not man.  Therefore, scripturally speaking, the “saints” are the Body of Christ, a.k.a. the Church.  First Corinthians 1:2 states this clearly:

 Unto the church (ekklesia) of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:” 

Verse 1:2b.

“…Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

The KJV Dictionary defines the grace of God as “the free unmerited love and favor of God, the spring and source of all the benefits men receive from him.”  So, in the Bible, the grace of God is His loving favor toward fallen mankind from which every spiritual blessing flows.  Our Apostle Paul has more to say about God’s grace than any other Bible writer.  He opens every one of his epistles or letters with the declaration, “Grace be unto you and peace.” 

This doesn’t surprise me because Paul was the first person saved by God’s grace, alone.   Paul remarks on this in 1 Timothy 1:12-16:

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief (Paul’s not saying he is the worst sinner that ever lived; he’s saying he was the first person saved by God’s grace - alone).  Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.

After many years of suffering for serving the risen Lord, he declared:

But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify (to what exactly) the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24).

Salvation is wholly by God’s grace, not in addition to man’s works, for in Romans 11:6 we read:  And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

And in Romans 4:5:  “…to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.  But to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

Thus salvation is “not of works” but “unto good works “which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:8-10).  

Romans 3:23 clearly says, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” but thanks be to God that all who believe the gospel of grace may be “justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:” (Romans 3:24).

God’s desires that all men be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 1:4).  That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7).

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:2b).

This “grace and peace” Paul speaks of is one of the themes of Paul’s message to all the saints, in Christ Jesus.  This is because God prophesied in the O.T. that (not if but) when mankind rejects the Lord Jesus Christ, He will judge them.  This prophesy is still in play folks.  Although God the Father has temporarily interrupted the Prophetic Program which concerns the nation of Israel primarily, the Lord Jesus Christ is coming back again one day future:

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war” (Revelation 19:11).

The Lord isn’t coming back to restore harmony and peace even though many people think so.  What is this Bible verse telling us?  When He returns it is to judge and make war with Satan and all those who oppose Him!  Judgement and war are the very opposite of grace and peace.  The nation of Israel and the world rejected God’s Son and publicly humiliated Him by hanging him on a Roman cross to die.  Because of their unbelief they will be judged, by the righteous Creator God:

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 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: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-17; Acts 2:22-23).    

Don’t just read through that passage of Scripture let it sink in…

(To be continued.  Publication date uncertain).

© Copyright 2011
GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
All Rights Reserved