BIBLE STUDY SERIES #473, 474 and 475

17 December, 2000

DEUTERONOMY DECALOGUE - #2

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In these Bible Studies, we are tracing the course of Almighty God's preparation of a people through whom He will eventually work to bring in The Kingdom of God upon the earth as a blessing to mankind. To this point, we have followed the history of the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the emergence of the Children of Israel out of Egypt in the Exodus to Mount Sinai where The Almighty God made a Covenant with the whole people of the thirteen tribes of Israel which would, in essence, upon acceptance by the people, make that nation God's wife.

As we saw on our last Bible Studies (repeats, with minor editing, of those in the series given about seven years ago, when studying the Decalogue in Exodus 20), Law is an essential ingredient of the whole of creation, both in its natural unfolding through time, and in the essence of God's work with His creatures, and while the laws contained in the ordinances for sacrificial presentation before God were nailed to that Cross, the Ten Commandments and related civil laws were to continue until beyond the passing of heaven and earth (Matthew 5:18, Luke 16:17). They are as valid today as when Christ commanded their keeping to His followers during the days of His First Advent. Today, we are continuing to quote from the series of Studies and comments made regarding Exodus 20, for that sequence is likewise applicable to the present Studies in Deuteronomy 5, regarding each of the Ten Commandments which were codified by God from Mount Sinai.

We examined the First Commandment last week; a Commandment conveyed thus in Deuteronomy 5:6-7

6. I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
7. Thou shalt have none other gods before me.

The Hebrew of "I am the Lord thy God" is clarified if we read "I, (Yahweh or) Jehovah, (am) thy God (Heb. Elohim). The Commandments are not distinguished by number in the original, and thus various points of separation have been used to distinguish "The Ten Words." We follow the practice of making the separations to accord with the pattern which we perceive in Matthew 22:37-40, wherein Christ summarized thus: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

Thus speaking, Christ is seen, according to a note in The Companion Bible, to have separated them into "Duty to God and neighbour" to which the note adds "The structure of the whole divides them into 5+5, the number of Grace", and the note further explains: "the first five are linked together by the words "the Lord thy God", the second five by the word "Thou." We have now come to The Second Commandment, in this set of ten, as recorded in Deuteronomy 5:8-10:

8. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
9. Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
10. And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

We ought to note, first, that this Commandment bears consequences through a number of generations. Its results are not confined simply to the first generation alone. In part, this is because such images, where they represented a competing, and therefore a false substitute god, frequently became the focus of child sacrifice.

Second, as shown by Keil and Delitzsch, this commandment has application to carved images, and it covers not only images of gods other than Jehovah, but, from the words as given in Deuteronomy 4:15-19, we can see that it also forbids any attempt to represent Jehovah Himself for purposes of worship. That passage includes the words:

15. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
16. Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17. The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,
18. The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
19. And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.

Even if created to represent the true God with the best of intention, a carved image inevitably substitutes, instead, elements such as gilded wood, metal and stone, the tawdry product of human artistry. The effect of such an image is to block interaction between the worshipper and the actual spiritual presence of God Himself. Even if motivated by utmost zeal to present God, such an image inevitably forms a glittering artistic substitute focus of superstitious worship in the minds of old and young alike, diverting the attention to humanly manipulated materials, and it thus demeans God's glory. Even a talisman worn on the person can have this same deplorable demeaning effect. That is the reason for this Second Commandment.

Let us not forget that money can substitute a carved image of some animal or human form in metal or other material like paper in place of worship of The Almighty God. We even use the term "The Almighty dollar"!

The reference to serving the sun, moon and stars, even all the host of heaven, may appear ludicrous until we realise that it refers to the horoscope worship of the masses today, which is cultivated as a substitute for the worship of God by the purveyors of daily newspapers.

At this point, because the thrust of this Second Commandment is designed to eliminate all competition, and to focus people's worship totally upon The Almighty God of Scripture, I feel that comment may also be needed regarding the matter of "The Trinity". Is Jesus "another god", or, indeed, the One God of holy writ?

While the word "Trinity" does not occur in the Bible, the concept is quite central to an understanding of those theological themes which cause a separation between the views of Moslems, Jews and scientific agnostics on the one hand, and that of the centuries-long position held by the Christian Church on the other. While our remaining time will not permit us to complete a review of this matter today, we should at least make a beginning.

I am moved to mention that I view Jesus Christ as the incarnate fullness of the Almighty God as much as His pre-incarnate manifestation (Yahweh, or Jehovah) on Mount Sinai and His post-Resurrection manifestations to His disciples, and especially in the Revelation experience of Saint John on the Island of Patmos (Rev. 1:12-18).

Part of the difficulty, I believe, lies in our view of "God the Father". Is He a "Man" in the sense of "flesh", separate from Jesus? Obviously not, for we read that Christ, in John 4:24, told the woman at the well that "God is a Spirit..."

I think that we tend to have "tunnel vision" from life lived in, and confined to, the "corridor of time and space." Let me try to convey a partial explanation using the following example. Some years ago, two of our radio tapes had not been properly erased before copies of a new programme were dubbed onto them, and my voice was heard speaking two programmes at the same time on those two stations which received these tapes. It sounded as if two different people, both being "myself", were reading two separate scripts at the same time!

Perhaps we tend to think of God as the "Three Persons" of The Trinity in something like the same perplexing situation. We know the personality contacting us is "God", but perhaps our contacts appear to come to us as three people, because we can't seem to grasp the true nature of the God from beyond time and space. I know that is inadequate, but it may give some food for thought.

Let us confirm that Christ's claim was indeed that of being God. It is stated that Christ accepted worship, which is not to be given to any but The Almighty God Himself (Philippians 2:10-11, Matthew 28:9). In Mark 2:1-12, Jesus forgave all the sins of the palsied man, which was a right reserved to God alone.

Of His life, Jesus Christ stated "...I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again" - John 10:18. Thus the subsequent raising of Jesus Christ from the dead must place the stamp of God's acceptance and authority upon the perfect life of Jesus Christ, which perfection includes Christ's claims regarding His own identity. Otherwise, those claims, as the Jews said, would be blasphemy.

In Jesus' prayer to God the Father, in John 17:4-5 we find Him stating:

4. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

That prayer, being validated by the Resurrection, shows us that John 1:1-3 is correct. Those verses speak of Jesus Christ, saying:

1. In the beginning was the Word, and Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2. The same was in the beginning with God.
3. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.

The significance of that last verse should not be allowed to escape us. It means that Jesus Christ was the Creator of "all things", being Himself God (verse 1)! Thus we must also accept that He knew whereof He spoke when, in John 8:58, He stated those crucially important words to the Jews "Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am". When we turn to Exodus 3:14, we find that this same personage, bearing the same name, which means, in effect, "The Everliving", - a name which can only apply to God, - is the person who addressed Moses from the burning bush, and calls Himself by that very name!

That personage speaking from the burning bush identified Himself to Moses, in verse 16, in the words "...the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob". Compare John 8:56 "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad." Thus every reference to God, in relation to those Patriarchs, is to this same personage. This is the God Who, in Exodus 20 gave Israel The Commandments.

I believe we ought to view all of the Scriptures as one continuous record, the New Testament being the extension of the Old Testament, because they are related, being merely New and Old, to the very same continuity of the children of Israel!

Thus the Second Commandment describes all aspects encompassed by the concept of "Trinity."

We shall continue this study on our next programme.

24 December, 2000

REVIEWING ADVENT THEMES

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

As we are, once again, at that spot chosen on the calendar to remember the First Advent of Our Lord, otherwise called Christmas; a time when the thoughts of most of Western Society are enjoying a holiday break, it seemed appropriate to step aside, so to speak, from our ongoing series of Bible Studies for a short interval in order to consider the occasion which is thus marked.

I thought on this matter as I prepared for this week's talk, and I decided to review some of those things which I have said on former similar occasions. If I say some things which long-time listeners to these broadcasts think sound familiar, please bear with me, for I believe they bear repeating. The text will follow the theme of one delivered in 1994.

The commercial interests all across the land would, I feel sure, panic at the mere suggestion, or even the thought, of giving up the lucrative Christmas market and so those aspects of the encrusted social rituals which appear innocuous to the establishment are cultivated with lavish intensity. It has, in fact, become a bit like Hallowe'en in this respect.

No doubt the whole commercial community desires to sustain the pagan aspects of the hour, in order to stimulate the sale of gifts which are nice, but not really essential to one's existence. This pagan distortion of the true intent of the holiday becomes obvious when the God-given Law, requiring the observance of a weekly Sabbath for rest and a time for the whole national community to worship, is totally dismissed and set aside in the interests of intensified avaricious commercial activities which nominally are supposed to be supportive of, and to reflect, a Christian occasion.

But just as the glorious and mighty hand of God intervened at the Exodus, God has promised the second time to bring His people out from the present forms of bondage. This Second Exodus would appear, however, to be of another order. This emergence will be out of the present un-Godly economic, spiritual, cultural and governmental bondage which presently acts to fetter the fullest expression of a truly Christian, God-serving Israelitish community. As regular listeners know, we in British-Israel hold that the present day descendants of the vast majority of ancient Israelites are to be found among the main racial groups of the British Commonwealth, the Americans, and kindred folk of North-West Europe.

Such a community, with the Throne of David at its centre, must come, for in Luke 1:32 the angel Gabriel speaks to Mary of her son, saying that "the Lord God shall give unto him the Throne of his father David." But if Jesus was to be given the throne of His father, David, and to rule over the house of Jacob, as stated by the Angel Gabriel to Mary, let me leave a question with you. Where is that throne which God shall give to Jesus Christ? He didn't receive it at His First Advent for in John 19:15, John tells us that the chief priests answered Pilate "We have no king but Caesar." The story concerns that fateful stone called Jacob's Pillow, which is also called Lia Fail, and The stone of Destiny, and today, the Coronation Stone.

As Jesus did not receive that throne at His First Advent, it awaits the Second. However, we should apply the name "Emmanuel" at both the First and the Second Advents. Matthew 1:23 simply says "They shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." Incomparably, the Christian world has historically fulfilled this prophecy by applying the name exclusively to Jesus Christ.

Young's Concordance, under the word "Immanuel", informs us that the word means "God is with us". The Concordance notes that this was "A symbolic name given to the child who was announced to Ahaz and the people of Judah as the sign that God would give them deliverance from their enemies... ."

Although the name used in Matthew's Gospel is spelled using an initial letter "E" where the Old Testament uses an "I", the passage in Matthew is almost a direct quotation of Isaiah 7:14, a passage which states "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel."

In the time remaining, I want to see if we can determine an answer to the question "What purpose was served by Jesus' coming into the world of human experience?" Why did Christ come and why must He come again?

Christ is described in the symbolic language of Revelation 13:8 as "...the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." This statement reveals that, from the very first concept in the mind of The Creator, it was His intention to create men and women possessing the ability to think rationally and so to make decisions involving expressions of love and of commitment to Himself. That over-riding requirement necessitated granting permission to test immature selfish decisions, some of which have resulted in savage calamities during the present age. We call these decisions "Sin".

Incidentally, the ability to make any such decisions is not possible without the ability to project the results one should expect from those decisions. Such rational thoughts must enjoy a totally rational environment in order to develop. Thus, Natural Law had to be built into the Creation and apply in all aspects of the physical universe. It is this natural law which forms the subject-matter of the Sciences.

Do not be fooled by concentration on this aspect alone. As the Psalmist said in Psalm 14:1, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God." Fulfilled prophecy demonstrates that God exists. As Peter wrote in II Peter 1:19, "We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts."

But that ability to sin required, in love, the availability of some means of healing the breach, and re-constituting the whole environment to one enjoying fellowship with God Himself. For guidance, man needed a statement of Law, The Commandments, and penalty for the defiance of sinful experiments. Survival of the created, however, requires the payment of that penalty through some means available to mankind. The Cross is that means of payment. Do not despise it.

We read in Genesis of the fall from Grace of Adam and Eve. Their experimental rebellion was foreseen by God, and this necessitated on God's part, right from the very beginning, the advent of a "Second Adam" who would serve, much as Noah's ark, to take the waves and storm and shield the occupants. (Incidentally, the "nave" where the congregation sits in a church takes its name, like the "navy", from the Latin "navis", a ship, as it is intended, symbolically, to serve that very function!)

Thus only those sinners who, so to speak, "come into the ark" of Christ's "body", are safe from the ultimate consequences of their inadequacy because He alone could fully satisfy the penalty of Law-breaking on The Cross. That act had to occur on a separate occasion from His Advent as King, when He would finally establish God's rules as a Law written in our hearts and thus in Israel, His Nation.

Christ told us to pray to Our Father that His Kingdom would come or be developing on earth as it is at all times effective in heaven.

From this we see that two Advents were required right from the first planning stage of the Creation. The First Advent must be as the perfect suffering penalty-bearer, the silent Lamb of God, to Whom the ordinance of Old Testament sacrifices pointed. Only thus would Christ earn the right to lay claim upon the hearts and loyalty of His people at the Second Advent.

The Second Advent, then, must follow the First. Christ, as the Lion of Judah, the all-powerful King of kings, must establish society under the congenial and gracious rule of The Almighty God, free of the attacks of those who refuse to abide by that Law.

Revelation 5:5 speaks in symbolism thus: "...behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth."

It is the selfless act of Jesus, condescending to be humbly yet royally born of the Virgin Mary to initiate this sequence of Advents, which the herald angels gloriously announced to the shepherds of Bethlehem.

There is a further aspect which we ought to explain. The Northern House of Old Testament Israel, the people whom God formed for Himself, as His "wife" (Isaiah 54:5, and Jeremiah 3:14), the "example nation", had sinned to the point of national divorce from Him (Hosea 2). They were deported by Assyria. Judah was not at that point divorced from God (Hosea 1:7).

By Deuteronomy 24:4 and Matthew 5:32, God could not, prior to His Own death, re-marry His divorced wife, Israel. There was only one way that a marriage could take place along the lines of Hosea 2:19-20 and Revelation 21:2. Paul explained it in Romans 7:1-3. God, the husband, incarnate in Christ, had to pass through death first.

Thus, in Matthew 10:3, we read Christ's words "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the House of Israel...". It is the so called "Ten Lost Tribes" to whom Jesus stated that He was specifically sent at His First Advent, and to those same "lost sheep" the Apostles were sent in Matthew 10:6, to preach the Gospel explaining this central aspect of His two Advents.

May these thoughts add meaning to your Christmas.

31 December, 2000

DIVINITY IN TIME - PART I

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

As this is the date in the calendar when we are approaching the New Year, our thoughts generally turn, once more, to view the calendar, and to review how time has treated us and our families over the past years. It seems appropriate, then, to ponder anew some of the considerations which come into view as we scan the Biblical record to see what God's Word can tell us about the passage of our years, and indeed, of time in general, and for this reason, I am departing from our customary sequence of studies in Deuteronomy 5, to consider the topic of "Divinity In Time" in this talk and the next, using themes from former broadcasts.

In Psalm 31:15 David craves the help of God, saying "My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me." To this plea, we might possibly relate some experience in our own life. Similarly, we may appreciate the words of Ecclesiastes 3:1-8:

1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
2. A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
3. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5. A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6. A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7. A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

To this point, the Ecclesiastes passage is perhaps familiar ground to many, for it relates to our own personal, relatively short-term experiences of life, but there are some further verses to consider. Verse 11 says "He hath made every thing beautiful in his time: also he hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end." So as seen from man's limited timespan, we cannot comprehend all history as God understands it. Verse 14 says: "I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him." Here there is a deep clue to one purpose of The Almighty in the establishment of time measures throughout the tapestry of time. While we can, ourselves, relate to the former passages of Scripture, because they are common to our own experience of life these last parts may be obscure. Perhaps in them The Almighty desires to convey to His creatures the understanding that, while each of them is transient, He is eternal, and the All Powerful Creator of every particle of Creation. All, therefore, must have been planned from the beginning.

A question often raised by people whose thoughts are formed from our limited perspective is "How can God see all of time together at one and the same time." As a High School Geography teacher, I had a favourite approach when leading into the astronomical setting of the earth. I used to explain that light takes a certain time to travel over vast distances, so that we do not see the Moon, the Sun, the planets or the stars or distant galaxies as they are at the instant of viewing, but rather, as they were so many seconds, minutes, hours, days or years ago. When we look up at the night sky, therefore, we are looking back through all of the history of Creation simultaneously. Can The Almighty Creator not do the same from all aspects of His work? Also, the future is implicit in the present which derives from the past, so He can view it too. With that point in mind, consider Ecclesiastes 3:15: "That which hath been is now; and that which is to be hath already been; and God requireth that which is past." This shows us the fact that all of the processes of time are as one in the view of The LORD.

If we are now beginning to see that there is method and planning within that portion of history which forms our own life experience, and further, that this comes about because it was all planned from the beginning of time, then we are on the way towards an appreciation of even deeper veins of truth.

Let us search out in the Scriptures some specific examples wherein reference is made or indicated to certain assigned spans of time; certain allotted time measures of which the number of units are meaningful and significant. In Genesis 6:3, God warned the evil generation of Noah's day saying of mankind, yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. The record states that the Flood arrived on schedule. Here we may note that the number of 120 is thus marked as a significant period of time for such assessment and judgment. We may think of this number as a multiple of forty years, incidentally, and forty is a number which appears elsewhere in Scripture in a number of contexts as a number signifying a time of trial or testing.

In Genesis 15:13-16, The LORD made a covenant with Abram, which included the statement that "thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;" ... "in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full." So a portion of history of four centuries was specified to the culmination of a promised event. Here again, the number four hundred is a multiple of forty, so we may begin to see connecting themes in such numbers.

In Genesis 18:14, Sarah, Abraham's wife was past bearing children, and God made a promise to Abraham saying "Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son." God appointed a time, which was probably that of the normal period for gestation of a child, but it was in this instance for a miraculous event, the birth of Isaac, to occur. We find the conclusion in Genesis 21:1-3 where Isaac is indeed born according to that promise.

Again, in Psalm 105:19, the Psalmist records of Joseph that "Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him." Joseph's years in the Egyptian prison were for a pre-set time of testing, about 12 in number, if we have done our calculations correctly.

Speaking of a yet future time when The LORD will have mercy upon Zion, the Psalmist says in Psalm 102:13 "Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come." So God appoints a set time for a certain activity on His part to commence.

Prophesying against Babylon, the Prophet Jeremiah records a prophecy in Jeremiah 51:6, 18 and 33 of a certain point in time, called "the time of the LORD's vengeance", "the time of their visitation" and "the time of her harvest". Here we find that a specific time is appointed for that destruction to take place. These examples show that the times which The Almighty sets are of various durations, some almost immediate, others ranging through centuries and thousands of years.

We find that Christ appeared at the set, appointed time, as Paul, in Galatians 4:4 says, "But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law" and the same Apostle in Ephesians 1:10 writes "that in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ..."

Christ Himself had shown the beginning of His ministry was to be at a set point in history, as we read in Mark 1:14-15: "...Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel."

In Matthew 8:28 we read that even the devils which possessed two men in the country of the Gergesenes cried out at the approach of Jesus saying "What have we to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God? art thou come hither to torment us before the time?" So even the devils knew that a certain time is appointed for them to receive judgment!

In John 7:6 and 8, Jesus replied to his brethren that He would not yet go to Judaea for the feast of tabernacles, "for", as He stated, "my time... (that is, the time for Him to be offered up) "...is not yet full come." He did go, but in secret on that occasion. Jesus was constantly aware of the importance of fulfilling every time element of a great pattern of time measures in His activities.

In Acts 17:26, the Apostle Paul explained to the Athenians how that God had "determined the times before appointed..."

In Acts 1:7 the risen Christ was asked "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel, and in answer He gave the significant reply "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." Later generations would understand more, and Paul, in I Thessalonians 5:1-2 was to write "But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" and the Prophet Daniel had centuries before been informed, as stated in Daniel 12:10, that at the time of the end "the wise shall understand."

The Apostle Peter, in Acts 3:21, explained to the men of Israel who had observed the healing of the lame man at the temple that this had been done through the power of Jesus Christ, "Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." So Peter knew of certain times before appointed for such to take place.

The examples which we have thus far examined may set the stage for a further examination of the significance of certain specific time periods on our next programme. In the interim, let me leave with you the thought that every part of our own existence is set within the vast time sequences which God has planned to take place in history from the foundation of the world. He will not move them until the set measures be fulfilled.

However, our prayers are also set to occur as a part of the same system of unfolding of events, and so the matter is not to be viewed as a fatalistic certainty which ignores our input. As an Olympian may be destined to excellence, the same must first also pass through the rigors of practice. We must, as indicated in Hebrews 12:1-2, run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.

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