Everything, everything in the Christian Gospel, everything in the Christian faith depends on Jesus resurrection from the dead. If Jesus did not rise from the dead all of Christianity is a false religion. The resurrection is just not one element of the Christian faith, it is the cornerstone, everything collapses without it. The integrity and faithfulness of God Himself is at stake, for it was God who said in Psalm 16, "That he would not allow His Holy One to see corruption, but out of death would show Him the path of life. God promised that He would raise His Son from the dead."
If Jesus did not rise then God is either a liar or impotent. The resurrection, on the other hand, guarantees that God is both powerful and faithful. The Apostle preached and God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death. God can be trusted to be faithful to His word and powerful enough to bring it to pass.
Not only is the integrity and faithfulness of God at stake in the resurrection, but so is the veracity and power of Jesus Christ. It was Christ you remember who said, "Destroy this body, this temple, and in three days I'll raise it up." It was Christ who said, "The Son of Man when He is killed after three days will rise." If Jesus did not rise then either He lied or He has not the power to break the bands of death, but Romans 1 says, "He was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead."
Even the ministry of the Holy Spirit cannot happen, cannot occur, apart from the resurrection. It was Jesus who said, "That the Holy Spirit cannot come until after the resurrection, I have ascended to the right hand of the Father, at which point I will send the Holy Spirit if there is no resurrection, there is no Holy Spirit. If there is no Holy Spirit there is no regeneration, there is no conviction of sin, there is no power to be saved or sanctified."
Yet, we are told again, by the preaching of the Apostles this Jesus God raised up again to which we are all witnesses, therefore we have received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit. The work of the Spirit, the work of the Son, the work of the Father, all critically connected to the resurrection and in fact our salvation consequently is tied to the resurrection, Romans 4:24-25 says, "He was raised from the dead for our justification. His resurrection delivers us from sin, from death, from hell. His resurrection resulted in His ascending to Heaven, taking his place at the right hand of the Father where He is interceding for His own and preparing a place for us. He intercedes for us, secures us, defends us, and will come one day to take us to be with Him forever." All of that is made possible by the resurrection. It is His resurrection that seals his sovereignty over angels both Holy and fallen. He, in His resurrection, became permanently and finally dominant over all principalities and all powers and He has a name more excellent then all the Angels.
It is His resurrection also that gives Him the power to raise the dead, both the just and the unjust, and to bring them before His throne in which He will judge the just and give them life everlasting and judge the unjust with a judgment of condemnation and eternal punishment.
Everything in the Christian faith, from the trinity through salvation, to the Holy Angels and the fallen angels, redemptive purpose, and final judgment, as well as the eternal state is dependent upon the resurrection. If Christ did not rise, the New Testament says, "Then your faith is useless." Our enemy, the devil and his minions the demons, and all who are a part of the kingdom of darkness know how important the resurrection is and so the resurrection has always been a main target for the enemy. Attacks on the resurrection have been relentless through all of history since that event occurred.
Because it is the cornerstone of the Christian faith it is always going to be the bulls eye when the enemy attacks. The attacks have come in a number of ways, explaining away the resurrection is a vital thing for the critics and the enemies of the faith to deal with, but what they've come up with is woefully inadequate.
Let me just give you a little bit of a reminder. There are those who say that Jesus didn't rise from the dead because He never really died. This is what has been called through the years, the swoon theory. That is, on the cross Jesus didn't actually die He just swooned. He went into - that's an old word for going into sort of a semi-comatose state, He wasn't dead at all but people assumed He was dead because He had fallen into this swoon, this semi-coma.
When He was taken to the tomb, He was placed in the tomb, and in the quiet of the tomb, influenced by the smell of the spices and the coolness of the tomb, He was revived from His semi-coma. Came out of the tomb and the Disciples assumed that He had been dead and risen. At first, this may sound plausible, but upon any kind of critical analysis this theory doesn't work at all. First of all, it took 1,600 years for somebody to think it up, a man named Venturini, and all the early records are emphatic about the fact that Jesus actually died. Even secular records are emphatic about the fact that Jesus was dead. The Romans, who knew death very well, who were engaged in crucifying some 30,000 people around that time period in that part of the world, knew what it was to see someone dead. They were experts on execution and when they came to Jesus, ready to break his legs, which would then destroy His ability to push His body up and therefore give His lungs space to breathe, saw Him already dead, they didn't break His legs, they knew death when they saw it.
To say that Jesus simply went into some kind of a swoon and was revived in the coolness of the tomb means that Jesus survived scourging and whipping, and lashing that killed many victims, survived then being nailed to the cross and losing blood through all those open wounds as well as losing blood through a crown of thorns that pierced His head. He survived also a spear thrust into His side which pierced His pericardium in His heart so that blood and water flowed out. He then survived being dragged off the cross, hauled over to a tomb, wrapped up with 75 pounds or so of spices, left three days without food or water, upon which without any medical help or assistance from anybody, He got up, pushed the huge stone away from the tomb, overpowered the Roman guards and announced to everybody that He was alive, convincingly so, and then walked seven miles to Emmaus on feet shredded by nails.
Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous; then there is the no burial theory, that Christ's body wasn't in the tomb because He never was put there, He was thrown into the dump in Gahanna, the city dump in Jerusalem where they threw the criminals after their crucifixion. He wasn't there on Sunday because He hadn't been there on Friday.
That theory doesn't work, because if He was taken down from the cross and thrown in the city dump, why did the Jewish leaders and the Romans together determine that they were going to make sure He stayed in the tomb by rolling a big stone across it, sealing it, and than putting a guard in front of it. Then why would they invent a story about the fact that the body was stolen, all they had to do was go to the dump and pull it out.
Then there is an equally bizarre view called the hallucination theory, this is pretty common. That all post death experiences of Jesus were hallucinations, that they thought they saw Jesus because they wanted to see Him so badly they just conjured Him up in their own fantasies.
Well a hallucination is a fantasy, and a fantasy is a subjective thing that happens in the mind of a person, it doesn't happen objectively and it doesn't happen to 500 people at once at the very same time, but Jesus appeared to 500 at the very same time.
By the way, how do you get people to give their lives for a hallucination? How do you get Apostles to preach for the rest of their days, the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and literally die as martyrs for that message if all they had was a hallucination? If it was a hallucination where was the body? If they were just having a hallucination why didn't somebody pull the body out of the tomb and say, this is a hallucination, here's the body.
Then there is another silly theory called the telepathy theory. That there was no physical resurrection but God sent back a hologram. God sent back a supernaturally concocted hologram so that it appeared to the disciples that Jesus was actually alive. Well this makes God into a deceiver, this founds Christianity on deceit, this makes liars out of the disciples who said they touched Him, and they ate with Him, and they walked with Him, and sat with Him, and it must have been a holographic movie because they walked with Him for seven miles.
Furthermore, if this was a telepathic form of Jesus sent by God to deceive the disciples into believing He was alive, isn't it interesting that none of them recognized Him? They were walking to Emmaus for seven miles and they didn't know who He was. Couldn't God come up with a good enough image to be convincing? It wasn't until He was revealed to them and told them, and Mary Magdalene didn't know who He was either, she thought He was the gardener. Where is the body? If this is just a hologram or some telepathy, produce the body and end the claim.
Then there is the séance theory, they get worse; that the disciples consulted mediums or a medium, a conjurer of spirits who brought up Jesus spirit from the dead by occultic power. By the way, nobody does that. You see these people on television who supposedly connect people with dead people; they're connecting people with demons impersonating those dead people. The dead do not communicate, they do not come back, they do not speak, but demons impersonate the dead. Why? In order to tie those people to occultic damning systems.
Furthermore, if this was a séance with a medium, produce the body. Where's the body? How could they touch a voice drummed up by a medium? They touched Him; they spent days with Him, 40 days.
There's another theory called the mistaken identity theory. Some guy who wanted himself to be considered the Messiah impersonated the risen Jesus. Jesus was dead, this guy wanted to be believed to be the risen Jesus so he crucified himself, he would have to do that to prove that you were Jesus, but we have to wonder how he kept coming into the room where the disciples were when the door was shut and how he created the miraculous fish at the shore of Galilee, when he provided breakfast for all of the disciples by simply saying "breakfast" and it appeared.
We have to wonder how it was He ascended back into heaven in full sight of everybody if He was an imposter. Again, where was the body? If He was an imposter just show the body then you know he's an imposter.
Rinan, the French ahteist, tried to destroy the resurrection. He said it was based on the testimony of one eccentric, delirious, frightened woman, Mary Magdalene who had seven demons and was hysterical to the point of insanity. I know a lot of people who bought that, because he said it, but it wasn't the testimony of one insane, hysterical woman there were many witnesses, over 500 at one time, ten post resurrection appearances by Jesus, so convincing was the resurrection of Jesus that His own half brothers who did not believe in Him, believed in Him after the resurrection and James, his half brother, didn't believe in Him became the first martyr for the Gospel of the resurrection.
Peter, who was basically a coward, and a denier of Christ, became the great preaching Apostle when he knew Christ was alive from the dead. One other person said, he wrote a book, this is a silly book called, "Risen Indeed," he suggested that the body of Jesus evaporated out of the tomb into gases in three days. But you know, those all are so unacceptable.
There's only one theory that I guess you could say is the best attempt to explain away the resurrection and it's the theft theory. The theft theory says the body of Jesus was stolen and it was stolen to falsify the resurrection. Then you ask the question, who stole the body? Well we would know that the Chief Priests and the Scribes and the Jews didn't steal the body because the last thing they wanted to have on their hands was anybody believing that Jesus arose from the dead, and they were the ones, you remember, who went to Pilot and said, "Look when He's in the grave we want a Roman guard, and we want that Roman guard placed in front of that tomb because we're afraid the disciples are going to come and take the body." That's at the end of chapter 27 in Matthew, that whole discussion.
It wouldn't have been the Jews, they sealed that so that no one could break it without it be known. They put a Roman guard there to make sure that nobody did steal that body because they didn't want any falsifying of a resurrection. Well maybe the Romans stole the body; no, the Romans had no reason to steal the body. Jesus was a big enough political issue for them already, they had gotten him all the way to the cross, that whole traumatic event, with the Jews screaming to have him crucified and Pilot not wanting to do it because he knew it was unjust but being intimidated by the Jews and being told that if he didn't do what they wanted they would report him again to Caesar for the umpteenth time and his career would be in jeopardy.
He didn't want anything more to do with Jesus. Believe me, he wanted to make sure there wasn't any resurrection or anything like a resurrection falsified that would make this Jesus an issue all over again, and the Romans had no reason to do it, that leaves only one possibility, and that's the disciples.
Well the question about the disciples is why would they do it? They didn't even believe in the resurrection, they're moaning and groaning, hiding, tucked away in an upper room because they're so afraid of the Jews, licking their sort of spiritual wounds and wondering why Jesus has left them. They had no, I read you from John chapter 20, "They had no real understanding of the Scripture that said He must rise from the dead." They heard it but it didn't stick.
Even if they could have stolen His body, overpowered the Romans, rolled the stone away, and taken the body, what kind of fools would then go out and preach a resurrection that would cost them their lives when they knew it was a hoax? Absolutely ridiculous.
So turn to Matthew chapter 28 and let me show you the lie that proves the resurrection. They thought by this lie they would discredit the resurrection but they did the opposite, they proved it by this lie. I love the way Matthew presents this. I'm convinced that this turns out to be the most believable proof of the resurrection, the lie that was concocted by the Jewish leaders.
Let's start with the plot, verse 11 Matthew 28, "Now while they were on their way," let me stop there for a moment. This is the women, all right they've come to the tomb, they've seen that Jesus is alive; they're going to run and tell the disciples, they're on their way, verse 8 to report to the disciples. They've seen Jesus, they're on their way. "Go tell them," he says, "That you've seen me," verse 10. So they're on their way, while they're on their way to the disciples, "Behold shocking, surprising, some of the guards came into the city and reported to the Chief Priests all that had happened." You know who the first group was to hear about the resurrection? It wasn't the disciples, it was the Chief Priests, it was the ones who basically had orchestrated the execution of Jesus. These evil men, religious leaders of Israel, apostate, they were the ones who had so desperately tried to eliminate Jesus. You go all the way back to the fact that when He was born you remember Herod was in power and Herod in an effort to kill Jesus even when He was a tiny little baby slaughtered all the two year old and under boys hoping to catch Jesus in the slaughter.
During His life they used all kinds of accusations of demon power against Him to, to discredit Him, said He did what He did by the power of Satan. They finally got one of his disciples, namely Judas, to get in on a betrayal plot. They used injustice and false accusation and false witnesses to trump us a sentence. They used blackmail on Pilot to get him executed. They used force to keep His body in the tomb and now they will use bribery to silence the truth of the resurrection and we'll see that unfold.
The guard came into the city, some of them not all of them. I'm sure that some of them were long gone because they had an experience the likes of which had no equal in their life. But some of them dutifully came into the city to report to the Chief Priest all that had happened. The reason they report to the Chief Priest and not to Pilot is because they had been assigned to the Chief Priest. If you go to the end of chapter 27 as I mentioned earlier, the Chief Priests, the Pharisees gathered together with Pilot, they said, "We remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said after three days I'm going to rise again, so give orders for the grave to be made secure to the third day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people He's risen from the dead and the last deception would be worse then the first."
Pilot said to them, "You have a guard, go make it as secure as you know how." They went and made the grave secure, and along with a guard, they set a seal on the stone. They made it absolutely secure; I mean secure would mean so that it would be very difficult to get Jesus out. Sealed which means you're going to break the Roman seal and therefore you're going to be in trouble with Rome. Secure means that there's a heavy stone there that's not easily moved and than the guard on top of that and so they have been delegated to the Chief Priest in order to do this, Pilot delegating to them. So the guard then don't report back to Pilot. He doesn't want anymore to do with Jesus; he has washed his hands of that as we remember. They go back to report to the Chief Priest.
What do they say? Verse 11, "And they told them all that had happened." What had happened? Go back to verse 2, "A severe earthquake had occurred, an Angel of the Lord descended from Heaven, came, rolled away the stone, sat on it, his appearance was like lightening, his garment as white as snow, and the guards shook for fear of Him and became like dead men." They went into a semi-coma. I mean this was a jolt of all jolts. This was the most terrifying experience of their lives. The earth starts to shake in a very localized earthquake. This blazing Angel shows up, and panics them because of the presence of Holiness and they fall over like dead men; that's what they reported. They said the stone was rolled away and the body was gone! That was their report.
Now, anybody with any honesty and integrity would have said, "whoa," give me more details. What was the earthquake like? What was the angel like? We ought to look into this, maybe it did really happen. They were so apostate, they were so far from God, they were so disinterested in the truth. They were so steeped in self righteous religion that they hated everything about Jesus. They didn't believe in Him because of His miracles. They didn't believe in Him because of His words and they certainly weren't going to believe in Him because of His resurrection.
This is the obstinate hard heart of the impenitent who doesn't want to be confused with the facts and so immediately they respond with a plot. Verse 12, "When they had assembled with the elders and counseled together," they called the Sanhedrin together, 70 senior men, 70 elders who ruled in Israel, they brought them together and they had a meeting. They assembled with the elders, that is an official gathering of the Sanhedrin, and it says in verse 12, "They counseled together." That's a formal indication there. The phrase has a formal tone that means they discussed and than they voted on how they would respond. They passed a formal resolution. The ruling body of Israel in the face of the facts of the resurrection, ignored the facts all together, sought no examination of the reality, simply immediately met together to plot a way to explain the resurrection.
All they really had to do was investigate, see if it was true. They wouldn't do that. They were so steeped in their sin and self righteousness, so here's what they did. They came up with three parts to their resolution. Part one, verse 12, "He gave a large sum of money to the soldiers." You know the word for that? It starts with "b," bribery. We want them to lie so we're going to have to pay them off. They gave a large sum of Argurion in the Greek, silver. They had already forked over 30 pieces of silver to the betrayer Judas to lay their hands on Jesus, and since probably there were a dozen men likely involved in the guarding of the tomb, in the small sort of Roman group, they would have had to come up with a lot more, maybe 12 times 30. But they were very glad to pay whatever the price was for this lie; bribe the soldiers.
They wouldn't have had to give them any money to tell the truth, would they? But they had to give them a lot to lie. So the first part of the resolution, bribe the soldiers. The second part of the resolution, spread the lie, verse 13, after they gave them all of this money which the crass materialistic Roman soldiers gladly accepted, they were equally guilty and not wanting to investigate the resurrection and not wanting to pay anymore attention to it, just take your money and lie. It does prove again doesn't it that the truth in a hard heart has no impact? So they said in verse 13, "You're to say the disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep. Now these are bright guys, these are intelligent men in the Sanhedrin and that's the best they could come up with.
My question would be if a soldier said to me, well while we were all asleep they stole His body. My question would be how do you know what was going on while you were all asleep? That's the best that the best minds in Israel could come up with? This is the lie that made the most sense to them. They knew He was dead. They knew it was no swoon. They knew that, there was no way to debate that. They knew they had not thrown the body in the city dump but the body was in the grave. The only thing that made sense or could possible make sense was that the disciples stole His body, but even that doesn't really make sense.
So the soldiers then become the first preachers of the anti-Gospel. They're the first critics, they're the first liberals, they're the first resurrection deniers in history and they did it for money. That's always why false witnesses give false testimony. This theory is ridiculous.
There is one other part of the resolution. Somebody in the Sanhedrin said, "You know these soldiers are going to take the money, they're going to spread the lie, but they're going to be in trouble with Pilot," because the Roman structure of military is very tight and if you're given a responsibility and you're given a job to do and you don't do it, you're in some big trouble. You could even lose your life for losing a prisoner or failing in some very important duty.
So they had to come up with a third element to their resolution, verse 14, "If this should come to the governor's ears, Pilot's, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble." We'll cover your backside guys, take your money, spread the lie, and we'll protect you in case Pilot raises the issue of how could you fail to do your duty? You all fall asleep and have the disciples come in and steal the body, now we've got more problems. Pilot did not want anymore problems with the people in Israel, he despised them, they had already gone to Caesar on a couple of occasions because of stupid things he had done, he knew he was hanging by a thread as later history proved when he was taken away from that responsibility because of his foolishness. He did not want that to happen so whatever it takes to mollify or pacify the Jews and they just said we've got Pilot right where we want him don't worry about him, if he brings up the issue we'll cover your backside. Everybody's going to be in on this lie, and that's what they came up with.
Verse 15, "They took the money, did as they had been instructed, so they were the first preachers of the anti-Gospel." The first theological liberals I guess, the first deniers of Gospel fact, the first deniers of the resurrection were soldiers who did it for money. All false teachers do what they do for money, the Bible says.
So the plot is in the first few verses, then the propagation in verse 15, "They knew the truth, they knew the disciples hadn't stolen the body," they knew that, but they lied for money and they lied for the protection that the Jewish leaders would provide from Pilot. They were not believers but they knew this was not the right explanation. They knew something supernatural had happened. The result of this, they were successful, verse 15, this story was widely spread among the Jews and is to this day.
Matthew's writing 25 years later, he's writing this Gospel; 25 years later this is the word in Israel. Oh yeah, the disciples stole his body, that's what everybody believed and the lie is still around today folks, still around today. If you want to pick up anti-Gospel literature today you'll find the most common theory is the disciples stole His body. Obviously it makes no sense, they would be idiotic on their part to steal the body and than go out and die for a hoax to spend the rest of your life preaching the risen Christ when you knew He didn't rise.
What is the point of putting this in here? Why is this here? This is where the Gospel of Matthew culminates. All that's left is the great commission. Why does the story end like this? It ends like this for two reasons, reason number one; it ends like this because it shows you that at the end of the life of Jesus Christ the apostasy of Israel was final. They hadn't believed His sermons, they hadn't believed His teaching, they hadn't believed His miracles, and they weren't about to believe His resurrection. This is the culmination when there was ample evidence that He had risen from the dead, they refused to believe it, and here you have the final apostasy of Israel followed not long after Matthew writes this about ten years later with the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the sacrificial system, and the end of the temple, and the end of historic Judaism as such, it's over.
The apostasy was final and the beginning of the church that becomes the new people of God made up of the Jew and Gentile to carry the Gospel to the end of the world. But it's not just to show the final apostasy and the culminating apostasy of Israel. The second reason that this is here is because this is the greatest proof of the resurrection. Rinan said, it was this Mary Magdalene with seven demons, this hysterical insane woman, and if you go from there, you say oh yeah but you know it was the Apostles and they all believed in Jesus and they wanted the resurrection so much they sort of made it happen in their own minds.
Well Peter, you know Peter, Peter was one of Jesus followers, you can't always believe what the followers say, you expect them to say that, but you know you just keep mounting, Mary Magdalene, the other women, Peter, John, two disciples on the road to Emmaus who commune with the risen Christ, there are 11 in the upper room, and on a Sunday night he resurrected, there are 11 more, eight days later 11 again, eight days later there are seven in Galilee. In John 21 there are 500 at one time in Galilee; there's his own brother James who goes from being an unbeliever to being a believer and is literally killed for his belief in the resurrection, and than there's the martyrdom of the other Apostles through history. The testimony is just powerful from the believers.
But Matthew knows that even more compelling is the testimony of unbelievers and the testimony of unbelievers to the resurrection is given here in the negative approach that says, "They had to cover it up." Now you can look at the Apostles, that to me is powerful proof, one day, the day of the crucifixion they're filled with sadness, the first day of the week they're filled with gladness. At the crucifixion they're hopeless, on the first day of the week they're hearts glowed with certainty and hope. When the message of the resurrection first came they were incredulous, hard to be convinced; once they were convinced and saw the risen Christ they never doubted again.
What accounts for this astonishing transformation in their lives? Only the reality of the resurrection and that is powerful, powerful testimony, but so is this amazing account of the testimony of the unbelievers. Its one thing to look at the cowardly simply, poor, illiterate Apostles transformed into world changing preachers by the resurrection.
Though they were not eloquent, though they were not educated, though they were not particularly brilliant, they weren't strong orators, they weren't masters of argument and logic, they weren't persuasive, they were powerful because their message was so powerful, it was the message of a risen Savior and they believed it with all their passion and they died for it. But how amazing is the testimony of these apostate, unbelieving people? Who proved the resurrection by an effort to cover it up, amazing.
If the disciples did steal the body, why would they? They didn't necessarily believe in a resurrection, and if they were going to steal the body, why in the world did they stay in there long enough to unwrap Him? Grab that thing and go. Unwrapping all the cloth and taking the napkin off, putting it into place, and how did they ever remove the stone without waking some of the guards? It's impossible to believe that all the Roman soldiers went to sleep. Their watch was short, there were four watches in the night, two to three hours max, and they rotated. When duties were so short, brief, are we to believe they were all asleep? Especially given the penalty of sleeping.
It's impossible to believe that if that had really been the case; the Sanhedrin would have to bribe them to tell that. The bribe exposes it all as a lie. As I said earlier, if you're asleep you don't know what happened anyway, how ridiculous is that?
Now this is the lie that proves the resurrection. The whole explanation of the Jewish leaders is self condemned. The anti-Gospel of the Roman soldiers is self condemned. It offends logic, it offends reason, it assaults truth, so Matthew proves the resurrection by a lie the most convincing proof of all.
Jesus did arise from the dead; it's proven by His friends, proven by His enemies. Our Father, as we think about the resurrection, we're reminded of that old hymn, Death Cannot Keep Its Prey, Jesus My Savior. He tore the bars away Jesus my Lord up from the grave He arose with a mighty triumph for His foes, He arose a victor over the dark domain and He lives forever with the saints to reign. He arose, He arose, halleluiah, Christ arose.
Father, how we thank you for that resurrection, the cornerstone of our faith, it proves Your word is true, Your Son is the Savior and the death conqueror, Your Holy Spirit has come to convict of sin, and to regenerate, to give new life. Justification is accomplished, Heaven is a reality, our hope is solid because He lives we will live also. This is the cornerstone of our faith. We believe in that risen Christ and we have sought to give Him glory as we have worshipped today.
Thank you again oh God for sending Your Son to conquer death for us. We live in Him; we share His eternal life through faith, in His sacrifice, His death and His resurrection. We thank You for the statement of Scripture that if You confess Jesus as Lord with your mouth and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead you will be saved, saved from sin and death, and hell.
Oh Father how we ask that You would grant the faith to believe in the risen Christ, who accomplished justification on the cross, who was raised from the dead by Your power in order to affirm that He had provided a perfect and sufficient sacrifice. God I pray that that truth would come compellingly to every heart and the response would be to confess Jesus as Lord openly and to then be saved by Your grace. We thank You again for the work that You have done in our hearts and ask that You would continue that work in the hearts of those who are hearing this message but who do not yet have life in Christ. We commit them to You and to Your power and Your grace, in Jesus name Amen.
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