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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
November 6, 2022
A Spiritual House
1 Peter 2:4-8
Turn in your Bibles to 1 Peter 2. I want to begin this morning by reading verses 1-12 to set the context for today’s study. We will then review verses 1-3 before our examination of verses 4-8 which is our text for this morning. Last week I read this passage from the NASB95. This morning I will be reading from the Legacy Standard Bible.
1 Therefore, laying aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the lord. 4 And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For this is contained in Scripture: “behold, i lay in zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes upon him will not be put to shame.” 7 This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “the stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone,” 8 and, “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this stumbling they were also appointed. 9 But you are a chosen family, A royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for god’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of god; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from fleshly lusts which wage war against the soul, 12 by keeping your conduct excellent among the Gentiles, so that in the thing which they slander you as evildoers, they may because of your good works, as they observe them, glorify God in the day of visitation.
Review – 1 Peter 1:1-3
Let me quickly review verses 1-3 so that you can see the flow of thought that will carry into our study of verses 4-8 this morning. Verse 1 begins with “Therefore” which immediately points back to what Peter wrote in chapter 1 with the near context in verses 22-25 pointing out that as a result of being born again by the imperishable word of God they were purifying their souls in obedience to the truth which was demonstrated by a sincere and fervent love for one another from the heart (vs. 22-25). Chapter 2 begins with a reminder of the negative characteristics that they had taken off and put away from themselves as a result of being born again. Malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander are all contrary to the purification of the soul for they are all listed in some form as characteristics of a depraved mind in Romans 1:28-32, and all of them are contradictory to the characteristics of Christian love which rejoices in truth and is patient, kind, self-sacrificial for the good of others, seeks to edify and give grace, and is not jealous or arrogant or self-seeking, nor easily provoked or hold grudges.
Peter also pointed out that like newborn babies long for milk, they were to have a craving hunger for the spiritual nourishment which comes from the word of God that would cause them to grow in the qualities that come with being born again that Peter had already mentioned. Just as physical babies grow as they feed on milk, so the Christian will grow as he partakes of the spiritual nourishment of God’s word. It is to be expected that a Christian will want to know the Scriptures and become diligent students of the Bible because of their love for God and desire to know Him. If that desire is not there, then something is wrong and needs to be corrected. The church body is here to help and encourage you in this, and that starts by being personally involved with other believers. Those who isolate themselves only get worse. Ephesians 4 points out clearly that each individual in the church helps to cause all to grow together.
Peter concludes his thought here with a first class conditional statement in verse 3, “if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” That is an allusion to Psalm 34:8 which declares, “O taste and see that Yahweh is good, How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him.” The use of the word “taste” is a reference to having a personal experience. In English, the full sense of Peter’s statement is that the things he has just stated should be true of you “since you have personally experienced the kindness of the Lord.” He then continues in verses 4-8 with another analogy to emphasize the same point. Because God has caused you to be born again, you will live a different kind of life that what you had before you were redeemed “from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers” (vs. 1:18). It will be a life in which your soul is purified by living in obedience to the truth and having a sincere and fervent love for one another that comes from the heart (vs. 1:22) instead of one marked by malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander (vs. 2:1). There will be a longing for the spiritual nourishment that comes from God’s word because you will have a different purpose in life which Peter brings out in verses 4-8. You are now part of a “spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” Those who are born again are part of Jesus’ church and have a purpose of existence in worship of and service to Him.
The Choice Living Stone – 1 Peter 2:4
Peter’s analogy of a spiritual house that is being built begins with his description of the building materials. First there is the living stone in verse 4 which is later described as the corner stone. Then there are the living stones in verse 5 which will make the rest of the structure. The builder is mentioned in verse 6, and that is God. The reaction of the people to the corner stone is described in verses 7-8.
Verse 4 begins with a present middle or passive participle that describes the actions of the elect, born again people to whom Peter is writing. They are coming to Him, the one described in the rest of the verse as the living stone which we shall see is Jesus Christ. If this is middle tense, it means they are cooperating with the builder in their being moved by Him to the living stone, or if passive, it is the builder alone that having them come to the corner stone. I take this to be in the middle tense for though God is the one that originates and initiates our relationship with Christ since He both elects and calls those that will be saved, there is also the element of our cooperation with Him since we must repent and believe. Exactly how God’s sovereignty and man’s volition meet remains uncertain, but it is certain that both are involved.
Peter’s analogy then begins with God bringing the building materials to a central figure described here as a “living stone” followed by the opposing reactions to that living stone by men and God. Since no actual stone is living, the paradox of the terms makes it obvious that this has a figurative meaning. But what?
The term for stone here is livqoV / lithos, a general word for stone as a mass of hard consolidated mineral matter. We get our science term, lithology – the study of rocks, from this word. This term is used for both stones that are massive and small and everything in between, and it could be used for both hewn and natural stones. An exposed foundation stone on the western wall of the temple mount in Jerusalem measures 45 feet long, 11 ½ feet high and probably 14-16 feet deep. The stones of the temple buildings that Jesus said would be torn down from each other (Matt. 24:32) were not as large as that, but still quite large weighing several tons or more. A typical rolling stone used to block the entrance of a first century tomb such as the one in which Jesus was laid (Matt. 27:60) could be four feet or more in diameter and weigh 1-2 tons. But livqoV / lithos could also be used for small stones that could be picked up to stone someone to death (John 10:31).
Note as well that this is in contrast to pevtra / petra which is usually translated as “rock” and refers to bedrock, rocky crags or mountain ledges. If Peter, Greek – pevtroV / petros, wanted to interpret what Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 that Jesus was going to build His church on Peter, this would be the place to make an allusion to that, but he does not. The rock, pevtra / petra, of salvation is Jesus (see 1 Cor. 10:4; Psalm 62), and as we shall see at the end of the sermon, Jesus is the rock, pevtra / petra, of offense here in 1 Peter 2:8.
Stones are not living, yet the term was used at times in which characteristics of life were attributed to them showing the power of God. In Luke 19:36 Jesus rebuked the Pharisees who were complaining about the people loudly praising God at Jesus’ triumphal entry saying, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out” (See Isaiah 55:12 – The mountains and the hills will break forth into shouts of joy before you”). In Matthew 3:9 John the Baptist rebuked the pride of the Pharisees and Sadducees saying, “for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children of Abraham.” The God that made Adam from dirt (Gen. 2:7) can make a stone a child of Abraham, or more directly stated, God, not genealogy determines who is included in His family and who is not.
Jesus is referred to many times in the New Testament as a stone when the Old Testament verses are quoted that include it. These include Psalm 117:22; Daniel 2:34f., 44f.; Isaiah 8:14 & 28:16 which we will look at in a few moments since all of those passages are quoted or referenced here in 1 Peter 2:6-8. But why call Jesus a living stone?
First, the adjective living ensures you will recognize this is a figurative usage to match the analogy Peter is making to a spiritual house. Second, it is a reference to Jesus’ deity just as Peter had confessed in Matthew 16:16, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Third, Peter has already referred to a living hope in 1:3 and the living and enduring word of God in 1:23 as ways to express the reality of something that is ongoing and dynamic that is effecting changes in the present. Those are characteristics of life and apply to Jesus in the past, present and future because He rose from the dead and lives forevermore (Rev. 1:18). In addition, Jesus, like God the Father, has life in Himself and also gives life to whom He wishes (John 5:21, 26).
Peter states that this living stone whom we have identified to be Jesus “has been rejected by men, but is choice (elect) and precious to God.” Jesus told His disciples in advance that when He arrived in Jerusalem He would “suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day” (Luke 9:22). All the gospel accounts record that is exactly what happened, but the rejection began long before Jesus was crucified. It was prophesied in Isaiah 53:2-3 that He would be despised. John 1:1 states that “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him.” The religious leaders of that time rejected Jesus because they considered Him unworthy. He did not come from the right place nor did He attend right religious schools, and worse, Jesus did not follow their traditions. They rejected Jesus because He did not meet their selfish and sinful man-made standards. That is part of it, but Jesus described in John 3:19-20 the true motive behind their rejection and the reason people still reject Jesus, 19 “This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.”
In contrast to the people that reject Jesus, He is God’s choice and precious in His sight. Choice here, ejklektovV / eklektos, is the same word used in 1 Peter 1:1. Jesus is chosen, elect by God to do all that He did. Jesus Himself stated that He came to do the Father’s will (John 6:38). That included not only giving His life as a ransom to redeem sinners (Matt. 20:28), but also to teach exactly what the Father commanded Him (John 12:49). The result was that Jesus proclaimed the truth of God which exposed the sinfulness of the standards and traditions of the religious leaders. That also made Jesus precious, of high value and worth, in God’s sight.
The Living Stones – 1 Peter 2:5
Peter continues his analogy of a building a spiritual house in verse 5 by pointing out the elect and born again people to whom he was writing were coming to the living stone and that they too were living stones. That is a good way to describe them for they derive their life from Jesus. Together, these living stones were the building blocks for the construction of a spiritual house which would be a place for a holy priesthood which would offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. I will talk about the construction of this house when we get to verse 6, but the emphasis in verse 5 is the purpose of this spiritual house that is being built.
First, though Peter’s reference to stones is the language of physical construction of a building, he is clear throughout that he is referring to a spiritual reality instead of a physical building. This is a spiritual house. The verb here for build is a present passive indicative indicating that the living stones are being acted upon to construct this house. Paul uses the same analogy in Ephesians 2:19-22. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.”
Paul’s usage of the term “temple” for this spiritual house is fitting since the purpose of it is to be a place where priests gather to worship the Lord. I will expand on this idea of a holy priesthood in the sermon that will cover the next section of this passage. However, I do want to point out briefly here a couple of points about priests. First, priests are dedicated to the worship of God. Under the Mosaic Law that included animal sacrifices as part of worship, in this passage that is spiritual sacrifices.
Second, under the Mosaic Law the Priests also served the Lord in carrying out the administrative and civil tasks of the nation. While that would not be included in this passage on a national level since we are not in a Biblical theocracy, it does include carrying out God’s commands toward the other “living stones” that make up the house. That can be summarized in the overall command to love one another as Jesus has loved us. It also it includes the charitable work done outside the house that would be part of loving your neighbor as yourself.
Third, priests are mediators between God and man. The priesthood was to instruct the people in the law of God as well as receive their sacrifices to be offered to God. We maintain these functions in current times by proclaiming the gospel and the word of God to the unsaved and praying for their salvation.
Finally, note priests are dedicated to God and therefore separated from the world. That is emphasized in this verse by the description that they are being built up into a spiritual house for a holy priesthood. To be holy is to be separated unto God and therefore also separated from anything in the world that is contrary to Him. As pointed out in Galatians 5:16-26, the desires of the flesh and those of the Spirit are set against each other so that you can only follow one or the other and not both at the same time.
This holy priesthood offers up spiritual sacrifices in worship of God. It must be remembered that in a sacrifice the animal is put to death, so there is an element in such worship in which you yield your life to God. Spiritual sacrifices include the “sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name” according to Hebrews 13:15. You cannot give praise to God and complain at the same time, so you are yielding your selfish view of the world to see things from God’s perspective and actively looking for His hand at work so that you can praise Him for it. It would include the instructions given in Ephesians 5:19-20 about 19 “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; 20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father.” You cannot do either of those and maintain a sour and selfish attitude about life. It would include the command in Colossians 3:16–17 to 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another . . .” and 17 Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” You have to sacrifice the pursuit of other things to be a diligent student of the Scriptures (2 Tim. 2:15) and invest in helping others know and walk according to them.
Worship of God will include the practical expression of love for one another in deed and truth instead of just word or tongue for those who love God will also love their brother (1 John 3:18-21). That will require working so that you have the means to share with those who have need (Eph. 4:28). It will also require time for the one another commands cannot be carried out instantly.
Worship of God entails every aspect of your life for you are to “let your light shine before men in such as way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16), and “whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” Paul begins his exhortations to live according to the gospel in Romans 12:1-2 saying, 1 “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Some of these are tangible ways of expressing worship of God, but all of them arise from a spiritual reality of being one of the living stones because you are born again by God. Paul expresses this in Galatians 2:20 saying, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” The realty of how he tangibly lived life every day arose out of the spiritual reality that Christ lived in him. That is why these spiritual sacrifices are acceptable to God through Christ because they are the expression of Christ living in you. If any of these things are done in the flesh as an effort to gain the favor of man instead of God or to try to earn God’s favor instead of rejoicing in His mercy and grace, then they are not true spiritual sacrifices of worship and they will be “burned up” when judged by God according to 1 Cor. 3:12-15.
The Corner Stone – 1 Peter 2:6-7
In this next section Peter begins his quotes from Hebrew prophecies that give further explanation and clarification to his analogy. 1 Peter 2:6, For this is contained in Scripture, “behold, i lay in zion a choice stone, a precious corner stone, and he who believes in him will not be disappointed” is taken from Isaiah 28:16. Peter affirms that what he is writing comes from God’s word and therefore carries its authority. The passage he is quoting from is Messianic speaking of both judgment on Israel and Judah as well as a future restoration. Zion is specifically the eastern mountain ridge that extended from the temple mount with the name also often including it as well. A choice stone refers to the careful selection put into finding a stone that was precious, that is, of high quality that could be used as the foundation stone for the building. The corner stone sets the alignment for the rest of the building both vertical and horizontal. It had to be without flaws and perfectly placed. The passage in Isaiah referred to the future promised Messiah of Israel, and it is quoted directly in Romans 9:33, 10:11 and 1 Peter 2:6 and alluded to in 1 Corinthians 3:11 and Ephesians 2:20 in reference to Jesus being the Messiah and this precious cornerstone for the church.
The word precious, e[ntimoV / entimos, here in verse 6 used to describe the cornerstone is the same Greek word in verse 3 for the living stone which is chosen and precious in God’s sight. Jesus is the only one that could fit this description for only He is flawless and can set the design for His church that each member in it and the whole can grow into maturity as described in Ephesians 4:11-16. A perfect foundation corner stone enables the whole spiritual house to be built properly. That perfection means there will be no disappointment for those that believe. There is nothing in Jesus that can properly be a cause for shame, dishonor, humiliation or disgrace.
1 Peter 2:7 includes a quote from Psalm 118:22, “This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve, “the stone which the builders rejected, this became the very corner stone.” It is a Psalm of thanksgiving for the Lord’s lovingkindness in the midst of distress with this particular verse giving future hope. This same verse is also quoted in Matthew 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17 and Acts 4:11 and alluded to in 1 Corinthians 3:11 and Ephesians 2:20 and in all of them it is applied to Jesus. It is the source of Peter’s statement in verse 4 concerning the “living stone which has been rejected by men.”
In construction, the builders would reject a stone if it had some flaw in it. If it had a crack or a line of impurities it may not be able to withstand the pressures it would be under as a foundation stone. If it was cut incorrectly to the wrong size or angles it would throw off the rest of the rest of the construction. The corner stone had to be perfect.
I have already spoken about the rejection of Jesus by the religious leaders and others so I am not going to go over that again except to say this in keeping with the analogy being made. Warren Wiesrbe relates the story of a contractor building a house in which everything went smoothly until he started on the second floor and then there was only trouble because the materials they ordered from the lumber yard would not fit properly. After a period of great frustration he discovered that he was working with two different sets of blueprints. Blueprints are the design and building plans drawn by the architect and engineer to be followed in construction of the building. If you are using the wrong blueprints, the perfect building materials will not fit. The Jewish religious leaders rejected Jesus because He did not meet their man-made blueprints. The same has been true for people up to this very day who want both a God and salvation different from the God who created them and the salvation He has provided. Jesus does not fit their blueprints, but Jesus fits perfectly God’s blueprints for Messiah and the salvation He offers to man. That is why Jesus is the very corner stone.
Whose blueprints for life are you following? If it is your own or those of some other human, then do not be surprised at the trouble you encounter along the way and the mess that is being built. Only God, our Creator, can give you the correct blueprints for life, but they include believing and following Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. That requires humility and repentance to turn away from your blueprints to follow His.
The Stone of Stumbling & Rock of Offense – 1 Peter 2:8
Peter closes this particular analogy of the passage with a warning in verse 8 which Young’s Literal translates as “and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence—who are stumbling at the word, being unbelieving,—to which also they were set.” The first phrase is a quote from Isaiah 8:14 which is a passage that presents Yahweh as a sanctuary for both houses of Israel, but also as “a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over” resulting in the falling, breaking and capture of those that will not follow Him.
A “stone of stumbling” was any stone, livqoV/ / lithos, that a person might trip over as they walked along a road. Israel is a very rocky land, so it is common to find stones on top of the unpaved roads – and even the paved one from stones that fall on it from the side of a hill. A rock of offense is a reference to the bedrock, pevtra / petra, upon which a person who stumbled would fall and get hurt. In the symbolism here, the rejected cornerstone becomes the very stone that causes those that rejected it to stumble over it and fall to get hurt.
Peter is direct about the reason they stumble. They are disobedient to the word. That is in direct contrast to what he said in verse 2 about those to whom he is writing who “long for the pure milk of the word” and back in 1:22-23 about those that are purifying their souls in obedience to the truth resulting in a sincere and fervent love for the brethren from the heart because they have been born again through the living and enduring word of God.
Some take the last phrase in this sentence to be supportive of the idea of double election, that is, God appointed them to disobedience. However, that is contrary to the rest of Scripture and the word used here, tivqmi / tithāmi, is a word that has a spacial component in describing putting, assigning, designating, establishing, bringing something to a place. Peter uses this same word in 2 Peter 2:6 in the condemnation of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to be destroyed “having made (tivqmi /tithāmi) them an example of those who would live ungodly lives thereafter.” MacArthur writes concerning 1 Peter 2:8, “God does not actively destine people to unbelief; but He does appoint judgment (doom) on every unbeliever (John 3:18, 36; 8:24; 2 Thess. 1:6-9; Heb 3:19; 4:11). God judges unbelievers as a consequence of their lack of love for Him, their disobedience to His Word, and their refusal to believe in Him. Paul told the Corinthians, ‘If anyone does not love the Lord, he is to be accursed’ (1 Cor. 16:22).”
God is building a spiritual house with those who are born again as the building blocks and Jesus Christ as its cornerstone. In other Scripture passages this house is called the church, the body of Christ. It is the abode of those redeemed by Jesus at Calvary by His sacrificial death of atonement. They form a holy priesthood who offer to God their spiritual sacrifices of worship and service to Him. Their faith in the person and work of Jesus makes them acceptable to God and they receive His blessings.
Unbelievers reject Jesus because they also reject God’s word by their disobedience to it. Jesus becomes both a stumbling stone and a rock of offense to them and they will bear the consequences of their unbelief.
Are you living stone that is part of this spiritual house? If so, then cooperate with the master builder to be shaped and used by Him as He sees fit for His glory and the strengthening of the whole structure. Serve Him with gladness and joy.
If you are you still outside this spiritual house, then you are a spiritually lifeless stone with no useful eternal purpose. The God who can make the rocks cry out can make you into a living stone with an eternal purpose. It is simply a matter of being humble to believe His word and promises which result in turning from sin and self-righteousness to have faith in the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. Talk with myself or any of our church leaders. We would be glad to help and answer any of your questions.
Sermon Notes – November 6, 2022
A Spiritual House – 1 Peter 2:4-8
Review – 1 Peter 1:1-3
Longing for the word
Results of being born again
The Choice Living Stone – 1 Peter 2:4
Coming to Him
Stone – livqoV/ / lithos
Rock – pevtra / petra
“Stones” & the power of God
Jesus – the living stone
1) A figurative usage
2) A reference to Jesus’ deity
3) Peter’s usage of living
Rejected by men
God’s choice & precious
The Living Stones – 1 Peter 2:5
A spiritual house
A Holy Priesthood
Worship of God
Administrative & Civil tasks
Mediators between God & Man
Dedicated to God / Separated from the world
1 John 3:18-21 & Eph. 4:28
Matthew 5:16 & Romans 12:1-2
The Corner Stone – 1 Peter 2:6-7 / Isaiah 28:16
The Stone of Stumbling & Rock of Offense – 1 Peter 2:8 / Isaiah 8:14
Stone of Stumbling
Rock of Offense
Disobedience & stumbling
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many times the word “stone” is mentioned. Talk with your parents about your parents how a house can be built out of stones and how Peter’s analogy fits the church.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Review 1 Peter 1 and 2:1-3. What are the results of being born again? Why should Christians long for God’s word? How does someone come to Christ? What is a stone – livqoV / lithos. What is a rock – pevtra / petra? Why is Jesus called a living stone? Why did men reject Jesus? Why are believers referred to as living stones? What is their part in God’s spiritual house? What responsibilities did priests have under the Mosaic Law? What is included as spiritual sacrifices? What is a cornerstone & why is it important? How does Jesus fit the analogy of 1 Peter 2:6 / Isaiah 28:16? How does Jesus fit the analogy of 1 Peter 2:7 / Psalm 118:22? What are blueprints and why are they important? Whose blueprints for life are you following?
What is a stone of stumbling? What is a rock of offense? Why do people stumble over Jesus? What is the result? Does a proper interpretation 1 Peter 2:8 fit the idea of double election? Why or why not – explain? Are you part of God’s spiritual house? What part / role / ministry do you have in it? If you are not a Christian, what is hindering you from believing? Talk to a Biblically knowledgeable and spiritually person to get help & your questions answered.
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