Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Reflection - Biblical balance

Source (book): "Faithful to the end", Question 2, Page 95.
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012


Biblical balance
PHOTO: Biblical balance
Defective forms of Christianity are produced when we lose scriptured balance. We may end up in an apathy of the flesh (careless, presumptuous and light-hearted attitude to sin) or an activism driven by the flesh (neurotic and restless self-effort for self-justification) - and both forms are prevalent in the church today.
Picture posted by Mishkin Berteig (Real Agility) on 12 August 2015
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http://www.agileadvice.com/2015/08/12/referenceinformation/pitfall-of-scrum-product-owner-doesnt-show/



How does losing the biblical balance lead to bad theology and defective Christian living? Can you give specific examples? What are some examples of majoring on the minor that leads to a distortion of the gospel of Christ? How can we avoid such unhelpful or dangerous detours and dead-ends?


How does losing the biblical balance lead to bad theology and defective Christian living?
A Bad Example [1]
Wandered away from the truth - teaching heresies
Paul contrasted the good workman of the Word who has a clear conscience before God in the way he handled God's Word with false teachers who were causing damage and confusion in the church (2 Timothy 2:16-18). The apostle mentioned two of them by name - Hymenaeus (who is also mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:20 as one of those who had shipwrecked their faith) and Philetus. Paul described them as having "wandered away from the truth" (2 Timothy 2:18). They were false teachers who were teaching heresies.



Hymenaeus and Philetus who 'wandered away from the truth' were false teachers teaching heresies, causing damage and confusion in the church (2 Timothy 2:16-18).
PHOTO: Hymenaeus and Philetus who "wandered away from the truth" were false teachers teaching heresies, causing damage and confusion in the church (2 Timothy 2:16-18).
Picture posted by Robert King (Watchman's post)
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-lJnQIggAZnE/VlQzfLwKzCI/AAAAAAAAiSI/6ZShjFs56qk/s1600/apostles-argue2.jpg
http://i0.wp.com/e-watchman.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/apostles-argue2.jpg?resize=672%2C372
http://e-watchman.com/can-jehovahs-witnesses-openly-dispute-wt-doctrine/



They were teaching that resurrection of the dead, which is supposed to happen when the Lord returns, had already happened (2 Timothy 2:18). How they managed to explain this to their gullible (naive) listeners is not clear, but it caused a great deal of confusion, false confidence, or much fear - one can only imagine that different reactions. As a result, the faith of some was destroyed (v.18). Perhaps like these false teachers, such people also wandered away from the truth. Or they began to live in licentiousness (disregard for strict rules of correctness) as the resurrection had supposedly already taken place. Perhaps they stopped praying or seeking holiness. In any case, their faith was gone and Paul grieved over them. He challenged the false teachers, for they were charlatans (impostor) who mishandled Scripture and damaged their listeners.



False teachers were teaching that resurrection of the dead, which is supposed to happen when the Lord returns, had already happened (2 Timothy 2:18).
PHOTO: False teachers were teaching that resurrection of the dead, which is supposed to happen when the Lord returns, had already happened (2 Timothy 2:18). People were pushed to the edge, without any hope of resurrection because it was either you had it then or you didn't. The grace of God was totally ignored or deemed irrelevant. This caused a great deal of confusion, false confidence, or much fear and as a result, some stopped having faith in the truth.
Other positive thing may have already occurred but not resurrection, yet. False teachers were charlatans (impostor) who mishandled Scripture and damaged their listeners.
Amazing creations of Photographer/editor Marina Gondra
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https://drscdn.500px.org/photo/48708888/m%3D2048/b9fa76ec6f0993ab0dc5e6fe0f70f22d - (photo-48708888.jpg)
https://500px.com/photo/48708888/nunca-jam%C3%A1s-by-marina-gondra?ctx_page=2&from=user&user_id=117665
https://500px.com/marinagondra



One possible reason for this particular heresy is a dangerous misunderstanding of the gift of the Holy Spirit. The reception of the Spirit in a Christian at conversion was, according to Paul, a down payment for the resurrection in the future (Ephesians 1:13-14). These false teachers may have claimed that the gift of the Spirit was a completion of salvation and a sign of a spiritual resurrection. [5] In so doing they took away the need for the real bodily resurrection promised in Christ, and also the connection between the gift of the Spirit and the presence of suffering in a Christian's life. If there was pain and suffering in a man's life, it meant, according to their teaching, that he did not have the Holy Spirit.



The Seal of the Living God (the promised Holy Spirit), a down payment for the resurrection in the future (Ephesians 1:13-14)
PHOTO: The Seal of the Living God (the promised Holy Spirit), a down payment for the resurrection in the future (Ephesians 1:13-14)
"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession - to the praise of his glory."
Picture posted by The WILD VOICE on June 2015
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https://i.vimeocdn.com/video/521098885_1280x720.jpg
https://vimeo.com/129548025



Paul challenged such wrong teaching in the way he reiterated how the Spirit helps believers through the inevitable suffering that comes to faithful disciples of Christ and how the hope of future resurrection keeps our hearts courageous and faithful.



The Seal of the Living God (the promised Holy Spirit), the hope of future resurrection that keeps our hearts courageous and faithful.
PHOTO: The Seal of the Living God (the promised Holy Spirit), the hope of future resurrection that keeps our hearts courageous and faithful.
Posted by imgarcade.com
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-wLbu-Jqn8uM/VlQzeVf8UsI/AAAAAAAAiRw/oyq3nwA0V2s/s1600/Holy-Spirit-banner-01.jpg
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Can you give specific examples (losing the biblical balance lead to bad theology and defective Christian living)?
The false trimphalistic gospel of the heretical teachers can still be seen today in various forms, for example the "health and wealth gospel"and the "prosperity gospel". A mistaken claim that "we have all the blessing now" does not recognise the place of suffering in Christian discipleship now and the fact that we should look forward with hope to the fullness of Christ's salvation in the future. It is for good reason that Paul wrote elsewhere: "For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently" (Romans 8:24-25). As an imprisoned apostle caught in the midst of suffering and impending martyrdom, while urging his protégé (trainee) to remain faithful to Christ by being prepared to suffer, Paul resolutely challenged the dangerous claims of the false teachers.


Prosperity Theology: Gospel or blasphemy?
PHOTO: Prosperity Theology: Gospel or blasphemy?
To many "Prosperity Theology" or "Prosperity Gospel" represents nothing more than praying to God for money.

The prosperity doctrine is gaining in popularity thanks to engaging televangelists like Joel Osteen and books and movies like "The Secret."

Believers in this doctrine often preach that those whose finances are bad just haven't had enough faith in God.

Those who can't seem to lose weight just aren't praying hard enough and thinking thin thoughts. You can have anything you want if you pray hard enough and believe that you can have it.

But that amounts to blasphemy for many devout followers of God and the Bible. People don't become sick because they lack faith in God. Hard times don't come upon us because we don't believe in God enough or want prosperity enough.

Add to this the fact that the high-profile evangelists are often seen raking in millions of dollars, and you've got a huge problem on your hands. Aren't those evangelists proof that God blesses the faithful with money? Those on the other side say the evangelists are exploiting the weak and vulnerable with this "you can have it all" gospel.

People want to believe that their lives can improve, and exploiting religion in this regard is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Beware: These sketchy teachings go by many different names, including health and wealth theology, prosperity gospel, word of faith, name it and claim it, and many others. Yes, God will bless those who live right and believe, but prosperity theology takes the Bible out of context and misleads believers.
Posted by Tracy Coenen on 31 December 2007 at 2:24PM - (Texts)
Tracy L. Coenen, CPA, MBA, CFE performs fraud examinations and financial investigations for her company Sequence Inc. Forensic Accounting, and is the author of Essentials of Corporate Fraud.

Picture from bcsg.familyds.org
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http://bcsg.familyds.org/media/sermoneng/20140511.pdf



What are some examples of majoring on the minor that leads to a distortion of the gospel of Christ?
These false teachers may have started well. But along the way, they abandoned the requirements of good craftsmanship of the Word. They were lazy, distracted, and ended up majoring on the minor, not realising the different between what was important and central and what was not. Soon, they must have abandoned altogether accountability to God and proper attitude towards Scripture. They must have slide down the path of Bible distortion and ended up with strange unbiblical ideas.



False teachers may have started well.
PHOTO: False teachers may have started well. But along the way, they abandoned the requirements of good craftsmanship of the Word. They were lazy, distracted, and ended up majoring on the minor, not realising the different between what was important and central and what was not. Then they must have slide down the path of Bible distortion and ended up with strange unbiblical ideas.
Posted by Laura Lee on 14 January 2015
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https://graceexplosion.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/JacobsDream_LutherTerry-e1419893301502-570x350.jpg
https://graceexplosion.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/JacobsDream_LutherTerry-e1419893301502.jpg
https://graceexplosion.com/1st-2nd-person-biblical-dimensional-revelation-trinity-time-eternity-electreprobate-human-race/



We have a hint of their apostasy in what Paul extorted: "Avoid godless chatter" (2 Timothy 2:16). In his earlier epistle to Timothy, Paul warned Timothy about the false teachers: "Stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies (line of descent)" (1 Timothy 1:3-4). In the same epistle, Paul further describes the false teacher: "He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of corrupt mind" (1 Timothy 6:4-5). To Titus, Paul repeats similar warnings: "But foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless" (Titus 3:9).



Myths and endless genealogies
PHOTO: Myths and endless genealogies
Paul warned Timothy about the false teachers: "Stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies (line of descent)" (
1 Timothy 1:3-4). To Titus, Paul repeats similar warnings: "But foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless" (Titus 3:9).
Picture posted by seofake on 24 July 2012 (Thai 2555 - 543) at 14:26:28, concept art of the celestial angels God
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False teachers are attracted to useless debates about words that lead to confusion and waste of time. While there is a place for arguing on the grounds of truth when it involves the correct interpretation of a word or phrase in the Bible based on context and original language, these false teachers were not doing anything like this. They were only engaging in useless man-made controversies based on their own ideas and language. Their descendants were the scholastic theologians in the medieval church who spent much time discussing the proverbial question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.



False teachers are attracted to useless debates about words that lead to confusion and waste of time.
PHOTO: False teachers are attracted to useless debates about words that lead to confusion and waste of time. They were only engaging in useless man-made controversies based on their own ideas and language.
Scholastic theologians in the medieval church spent much time discussing the proverbial question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7EoF02p5mx8/VlQzc-9fphI/AAAAAAAAiRU/OxGz8CIUGSY/s1600/201206291341008735020351_488656a0a166ae351f941be352f534cc.png
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http://www.ck12.org/user:amVyZW1pYWhuZXdob3VzZUBnbWFpbC5jb20./book/Environmental-Science-1/section/2.2/



False teachers often split hairs about inconsequential matters, love to quarrel and create controversies, and say nothing that helps people to draw closer to God and grow in their holiness. As Paul says, what they do is unprofitable and useless. But worse, they also dangerously distort the gospel and destroy the faith of Christians. Their false teaching acts like gangrene, spreading the poison and threatening the life and witness of the church (2 Timothy 2:17). Theologian Alister McGrath, who has written a historical study of heresy in the church, defines: "A heresy is a doctrine that ultimately destroys, destabilises, or distorts a mystery, rather than preserving it." [6]

How do we counteract false teaching? We do so by becoming good craftsmen of the Word. Paul is a good example of this.



False teachers often split hairs about inconsequential matters, love to quarrel and create controversies, and say nothing that helps people to draw closer to God and grow in their holiness.
PHOTO: False teachers often split hairs about inconsequential matters, love to quarrel and create controversies, and say nothing that helps people to draw closer to God and grow in their holiness.
Posted by Martin Downes on Friday, 16 May 2008 at 9:46 AM
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http://against-heresies.blogspot.sg/2008/05/clear-and-present-danger-2.html



How can we avoid such unhelpful or dangerous detours and dead-ends?
We do so by becoming good craftsmen of the Word. Paul is a good example of this.



Paul is a good example of a good craftsmen of the Word
PHOTO: Paul is a good example of a good craftsmen of the Word
http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-MP35KwJpu3w/VlQzes_5VAI/AAAAAAAAiSA/8y8tqcKyroI/s1600/Pauls_Last_Words_-_2_Timothy_4-1_-_18a.jpg
http://www.marysrosaries.com/collaboration/images/3/30/Pauls_Last_Words_-_2_Timothy_4-1_-_18a.jpg
http://www.marysrosaries.com/collaboration/images/3/30/



A Good Example [1]
Unlike Hymenaeus and Philetus, Paul provided a positive example of a good workman who is useful to the Lord (2 Timothy 2:19). In contrast to the false teaching of his opponents, Paul talks about God's solid foundation which has two inscriptions: "The Lord knows those who are his" and "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness" (v.19; cf. Numbers 16:5; Job 36:10). The first statement speaks of our security in Christ; the other speaks about our response and responsibility. In putting these two key statements together, Paul holds in biblical balance two truths, either of which taken alone will cause misunderstanding regarding how God works in our lives.



Paul provided a positive example of a good workman who is useful to the Lord (2 Timothy 2:19).
PHOTO: Paul provided a positive example of a good workman who is useful to the Lord (2 Timothy 2:19).
"The Lord knows those who are his" and "Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness" (
v.19; cf. Numbers 16:5; Job 36:10). The first statement speaks of our security in Christ; the other speaks about our response and responsibility.
Posted by hdimagelib.com Inc., the apostle paul clipart
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I remember a theological conversation I had with some Indonesian fellow students in seminary (a training college for priests or rabbis). They shared with me that in Indonesia they have a concept about a teologi kucing (cat theology) and teologi monyet (monkey theology). They explained that the mother cat picks up its kitten with its mouth when it moves around, the kitten is passive and does not need to do anything. This represents Calvinism. On the other hand, the baby monkey holds on to the neck of its mother as she swings from one branch of a tree to another. This characterises Arminianism.



Mother cat picks up its kitten with its mouth when it moves around, the kitten is passive and does not need to do anything.
PHOTO: Mother cat picks up its kitten with its mouth when it moves around, the kitten is passive and does not need to do anything. The teeth and fangs of carnivores that were designed to kill could also in effect cradle the delicate furry skin of the infant young to transport them to safety whenever necessary. Simple, Motherly protection. This represents Calvinism.
Posted by Kerri Bennett Williamson on 1 August 2010
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http://kerribennettwilliamson.com/2010/08/01/lioness-ink-sketch/



Later I found out that these two illustrations were first used by the 11th/12th century Indian Philosopher Ramanuja in his reflections on divine grace. His teachings led to the formation of two bhakti (devotion) schools: the "monkey school" and the "cat school". These philosophical ideas were inported through the Indian empires that existed in medieval Indonesia, and found their way eventually into Christian discussions.



Monkey Carrying a Baby Monkey
PHOTO: Monkey Carrying a Baby Monkey
The baby monkey holds on to its mother as she move from one place to another. This characterises Arminianism.
Picture posted by AllPosters.com
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The two illustrations are interesting but their weakness lie in exaggerating Calvinism and Arminianism such that the ideas they convey are not in line with what the Bible teaches. Both John Calvin (1509-1564) and Jacobus Arminius (1560-1609) tried to explain their understanding of how we are saved. Both used Scripture to emphasise different aspects - the sovereignty and grace of God, and the need for human beings to respond to divine grace.



The sovereignty and grace of God, and the need for human beings to respond to divine grace
PHOTO: The sovereignty and grace of God, and the need for human beings to respond to divine grace
Picture by Ludwing Seitz (1844–1908), The Divine Grace and the Human Works
Posted by Alex on 17 February 2011 at 8:11 pm

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https://71rueducommerce.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/rome-paris/



As is often the case, the positions of the original founders of schools of thought are stretched to the extreme by some enthusiastic followers. Therefore some followers of Calvin and Arminius went beyond what they had originally said. Some get into a position that one is saved solely by the irresistible grace of God and the believer is like the passive kitten. On the other hand, others hold an extreme position of human response and responsibility that marginalises divine sovereign grace. Such heresies are wrong teaching arising from unbalanced Bible interpretation.



Heresies are wrong teaching arising from unbalanced Bible interpretation
PHOTO: Heresies are wrong teaching arising from unbalanced Bible interpretation
Some get into a position that one is saved solely by the irresistible grace of God and the believer is like the passive kitten. On the other hand, others hold an extreme position of human response and responsibility that marginalises divine sovereign grace.
Picture by Ludwing Seitz (1844–1908), The Divine Grace and the Human Works

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https://www.pinterest.com/pin/169799848423086278/



In the two statements of Paul in this text, he held a biblical balance and poise that emphasises both the sovereignty of God's gracious choice of those who are saved as well as the need for believers to respond to that grace and to act responsibly. He reiterated this in other letters. For example in Philippians 2:12-13, he declared that God is at work in us to enable us to choose and act, but at the same time he urged his readers to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." To be sure, Scripture is clear about the priority of divine grace.  For example, "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8) and "We love because he first loved us" (1 John 4:19). Paul also wrote that God chose us in Christ "before the creation of the world" (Ephesians 1:4).



Paul held a biblical balance and poise that emphasises both the sovereignty of God's gracious choice of those who are saved as well as the need for believers to respond to that grace and to act responsibly.
PHOTO: Paul held a biblical balance and poise that emphasises both the sovereignty of God's gracious choice of those who are saved as well as the need for believers to respond to that grace and to act responsibly. God is at work in us to enable us to choose and act, but at the same time he urged his readers to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling."
Painting by Jerry Gadamus, Angel of Peace
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But to emphasise only the sovereign grace of God, or to emphasise only human response and responsibility, will only lead to defective forms of Christianity. Paul was a careful workman of Scripture. He would have started from the creation account where God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work and care for it (Genesis 2:15) where we see a convergence of divine grace and human co-operation. From here, he would have developed his biblical position regarding both divine sovereignty and human responsibility.



Paul was a careful workman of Scripture. He would have started from the creation account where God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work and care for it (Genesis 2:15) where we see a convergence of divine grace and human co-operation.
PHOTO: Paul was a careful workman of Scripture. He would have started from the creation account where God placed Adam in the Garden of Eden to work and care for it (Genesis 2:15) where we see a convergence of divine grace and human co-operation. From here, he would have developed his biblical position regarding both divine sovereignty and human responsibility.
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Defective forms of Christianity are produced when we lose scriptured balance. We may end up in an apathy of the flesh (careless, presumptuous and light-hearted attitude to sin) or an activism driven by the flesh (neurotic and restless self-effort for self-justification) - and both forms are prevalent in the church today. To my Indonesian friends, I suggested a teologi burong (bird theology). In Deuteronomy 32:11, there is a picture of a mother eagle that hovers over its young, and then stirs up the nest to push them out of the nest so that the eaglets can learn to fly. It then spreads its wings in readiness to catch them if they fall. This is an interesting picture of divine sovereignty and grace as well as human response to grace. There is no place for passive faith. Faith has to be active - a lively response to the sovereign and gracious moves of God.



In Deuteronomy 32:11, there is a picture of a mother eagle that hovers over its young, and then stirs up the nest to push them out of the nest so that the eaglets can learn to fly.
PHOTO: In Deuteronomy 32:11, there is a picture of a mother eagle that hovers over its young, and then stirs up the nest to push them out of the nest so that the eaglets can learn to fly. It then spreads its wings in readiness to catch them if they fall. This is an interesting picture of divine sovereignty and grace as well as human response to grace.
Amazing creations of Photographer/editor Marina Gondra
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Biblical balance
PHOTO: Biblical balance
Dear Lord, We pray that the Lord transform us into a prepared, mature, trusting servant for the next chapter of our life. So, in advance, we thank you for the good that will come out of the winding road, detours, and wait time in our life - experiences you ordained (set) for us, before we (formed body) came to be (Psalm 139:16).
We place our hands in yours, our caring, constant Companion.  Help us to focus on your strong grip, not the uncertainties ahead. Amen.
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Reflection - Biblical balance
By Robert M. Solomon, Bishop of the Methodist Church in Singapore from 2000 - 2012



Reference
[1] From "Faithful to the end" A Preacher's Exposition of 2 Timothy, Copyright © 2014 by Robert M. Solomon, ISBN 978-1-62707-241-0, PART TWO: USEFUL TO CHRIST, Chapter 6 "Meditation and Application of Scripture" (2 Timothy 2:14-19), Page 87-92.

[5] Towner, 1-2 Timothy and Titus, 158-159.

[6] Alister McGrath, Heresy: A History of defending the Truth (New York: HaperCollins, 2009), 31.


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1 Timothy 1:20 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+1%3A20&version=NIV

1 Timothy 6:4-5 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+6%3A4-5&version=NIV

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2 Timothy 2:16-18 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A16-18&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:16 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A16&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:17 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A17&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:18 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A18&version=NIV

2 Timothy 2:19 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2+Timothy+2%3A19&version=NIV

Deuteronomy 32:11 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deuteronomy+32%3A11&version=NIV

Ephesians 1:4 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Ephesians+1%3A4&version=NIV

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Job 36:10 - https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Job+36%3A10&version=NIV

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