Who Were The Wise Men

During this time of year we often hear the Christmas story that we have loved so long.  We remember the story of Joseph and Mary, the shepherds, the crowded Inn and the Wise Men.  In Matthew we are told that they came from the east but little else.  That provoked a number of questions to me and I searched the Scriptures to find out any information that I could.  It is not something that I had ever heard about and wondered, how did they know about Jesus’ birth?  Why was it so important to them to make such a journey and then to offer gifts?  Here is what I found:

Wise men are mentioned several times in the old testament.  They are first mentioned in Es 1:13 Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so was the king’s manner toward all that knew law and judgment:  and again in Jer 10:7 Who would not fear thee, O King of nations? for to thee doth it appertain: forasmuch as among all the wise men of the nations, and in all their kingdoms, there is none like unto thee.  But the Greatest number of references to the wise men are in the Book of Daniel.  You will find them mentioned in 2:12,13,14,18, 24, 27, 48, 4:6, 18, 5:7,8, and finally in Matthew 2:1, 7.

In Chapter 2 we learn of the story of King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream and called for the magicians, astrologers and the sorcerers to shew him his dream or they would all be destroyed.  This included Daniel and his three friends.  Daniel asked for time and said that he would bring the king his dream and its interpretation.  After much prayer and patients the Lord gave Daniel the dream and its interpretation.  The king was so impressed that he made Daniel head over all the “wise men”   From this information I speculate that Daniel gained many followers as he had saver their lives and had demonstrated such skill in interpreting the kings dream that they were not only indebted to Daniel but saw the opportunity to learn from him.  I am not naive to think that all of them felt that way but since they were now under his authority they had no choice but to follow him at least for the time being.    We know from history that there were some who took every opportunity to rid themselves of Daniel but the Lord delivered him from all his oppressors.

The group of “wise men” were made up of magicians, astrologers and sorcerers.  A group that we would consider dark spiritualist.  Daniel did not berate them for their error but rather took the opportunity to teach them God’s ways and I can see that some of them took it to heart and became true followers of the one true God.  It is not a stretch to believe that because Daniel’s powers were so great that his influence lasted for about 600 years.  Add to that the fact the the entire world was under Nebuchadnezzar’s rule so that he would have had the best “wise men” available and would have collected them together. Furthermore, the wise men came from the East, which is where the Assyrian empire was located.  Assuming that the star appeared at or near the birth of Christ, it would have taken some time to go through the records to find the prophecy of the coming Christ and then to understand that this was the announcement of that event.  Then there was the preparation and the trip that could have taken several months and they would have arrived about a year and a half later.  That is deducted from the fact that the wise men went to the house not the manger and why Herod killed the babies 2 years old and under.

I readily admit that there is some speculation in this series of events and that the “proof” does not exist for it but the only reason I share ti is because I wanted to know where they came from and I never got a satisfactory answer.  Thinking back over it, I have come to the conclusion that it does not matter if this is correct or not, for the event of the birth of Christ so overshadows everything else.  Some things must be left to the wisdom of God. What I needed to know was not how it happened but what happened.  Christ came into this world to free me from my sin and that is the reason for the season.

 

 

Love in 4 Directions

(The word that is blurred is LOVE)

The above graphic is a visual presentation of the dynamic of agape love.  In the English language we only have the one word, Love; but in the Greek language there are several words for love.  I will only list three of them as they cover the concept of love quite well.  The first word in the Greek is the word ‘eros’ which is the word that means sexual love.  It is not used in the New Testament.  The second word is the word, ‘phileo’, which is where we get the name Philadelphia which means brotherly love.  It is the highest kind of love that man can know apart from God.  It is the type of love a man has for his wife, or a parent for their child.  The third type of love is ‘agape‘ which is God’s kind of love and is seen in John 3:16 where God love so much that He gave His best – His only Son.  This type of love cannot be known apart from God imparting it to a man. and it finds its expression in four ways.

First, love God with all your heart, mind and soul.  This is referenced in Deut 4:5, Matt. 12:37, and Mark 22:30.  God is the only thing that gives real purpose to life for He is eternal in being whereas this world and all that is in it is passing away.  You will most certainly leave this world when you die and everything will be left behind.

Second, we should love one another, that is the brethren or fellow Christians.  John 13:35, 15:12  We begin to love like God when we love the Brethren.  That is to cherish the value of and the nature of one another.  We are also eternal because that is what God gives us when we place our faith in Him, eternal life.  We are not yet completed yet so it does not yet appear what we shall be but we know that we shall be like Him.  The world will know that we are born again because we love one another.  How can we say we love God whom we have not seen, when we love not our brother whom we have seen and he was made in the similitude of God?

Thirdly, we should love our neighbor as ourselves.  Lev 19:18, Mark 12:31  It has been said that the only thing that you can make a man out of is a boy.  The same thing is true also, that the only thing that you can make a Christian out of is a human person.  We all came into this world with a sin nature and we all commit sin.  We want to be loved and understood so we should also love and understand that we travel the same road.  Some of us have already begun our journey of walking with the Lord and are in the process of transformation and other will begin that journey for themselves in the future.  Each person should be valued with the view of what God can transform them into and not for their current failures.

Finally, we should love our enemies.  Matt 5:44, Lu 6:27  This one is harder to understand but it is just as true.  Ro 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.  God is able to work all things together for GOOD, which includes those things that we count as wrong, unfair, painful, mean, etc. Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.  The problems of life only refine us to make us better.  The events of life will either make you better or make you bitter but the choice is yours.  and again in Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.  If God can use the likes of Pharaoh and wicked Cyrus for His purposes then we should thank God for trusting us to overcome evil with good.  The harshest people in our live often shape us into the greatest tools in God’s toolbox.  Who knows but what you may be the influence that brings them into the light of Christ?

The Church in China

I am sharing some information today that is not common knowledge here in America but I feel it is important for us to see the actual situation with the Church in China.  I do not know what the actual number of believers there are in China and furthermore, I’m not sure that anyone knows.  I hear reports of 40-60 million; another source says over 100 million and still another source says that the number may exceed 300 million.  What ever the number it is great enough for the Chinese government to feel somewhat insecure because of the shear number.  To put it in perspective, China‘s 2018 population is 1.42 billion, based on United Nations projections.  If the number of Christians there is 100 million that means that one in 14 people in china is a Christian.

The church historically has flourished during persecution while it has grown apathetic during prosperous times.  The hunger there for Bible knowledge is far beyond what it is in America.  This example is common for the church there in China.  Most churches do not own property or their own worship building and meet in homes.  They do not have access to the outside church in  that printed documents are not allowed.  Christians are quizzed as to the content of their worship services.  Outside speakers are forbidden and training is almost non-existent.  Bibles have been available in most areas but even that is now being limited.  A somewhat typical picture would be that an individual may have to travel up to two hours to meet with other Christians that they felt safe with.  They would meet in a home, sit on a plastic stool for two or more hours, visit, share, eat and then travel up to two hours to get back home.  They would arrive quite early, maybe a half hour or more and spend much of the time praying until it starts.  They would stagger their times of arriving so that only one to three at a time would enter.  They would take extensive notes as fast as they can, which they would study as they could.  They may be interrogated about their activity at any time.  Should the authorities find anything that they had deemed illegal then they could be imprisoned and their properties confiscated.   Those not imprisoned would be “retrained” and forced to sign an affidavit saying they recant of their former profession and pledge allegiance to the government.  It is not illegal to be a Christian but you are forbidden to evangelize or propagate your belief.  Under this type of conditions the Church has grown to amazing proportions.  Yet in America the ratio of Christians is somewhere between 1 in 50 to 1 in 100.

Within the actual worship the spirit is one of a shared love.  There is an absence of greed but rather one of sharing and giving.  The hunger is real and deep and sincere.  They want the truth about God and are willing to pay the price for it.  The leadership is mostly untrained and inexperienced, yet they possess the ability to recognize the truth where they find it.  If you are real and have the truth of Christ, they will love you deeply, but if you are a fraud, they will not only recognize it but will also give you a wide birth.  Never have I seen a greater hunger or a deeper need than in China.   More later.

Customs

I knew that customs differ in other parts of the world but I did not know how much.  While I was in China, I had the opportunity to observe this first hand.

After our first session we were enjoying some food together and I noticed that there were different ones that would suddenly place additional food on my plate without me indicating in any way that I wanted more.  At first I thought that they were just excited to see an American and wanted to show special attention.  But then I noticed that there would be two or three bringing me more food at the same time and I began to wonder what was going on.  I would be eating my soup and someone would be pouring more soup into my bowl while I was eating it.  Another would peal an orange or open a fig, or add more meat.  I was getting full and I couldn’t keep up with their hospitality.  I said that I didn’t want any more but it kept coming.  I certainly didn’t want to offend anyone but I didn’t know how to stop the flow of food, either.

I was raised in a country setting in southern Missouri.  We were very poor and food was quite simple.  It was beans and taters for the most part.  Occasionally we would fry a chicken and if we got tired of the menu we could switch it around and have taters and beans.  In the summer we also added the garden veggies and rarely we would have beef or pork if one of the neighbors were butchering.  Because times were tough we didn’t waste anything and my parents taught us to always clean our plates.  It was the courtesy of the times to show your appreciation by eating everything.  The cleaner the plate the better.  I also taught my children to clean their plates.  The thought of wasting food was never entertained.

Then I went to China and learned that the custom there is quite different.  You show your host that you are full by simply to stop eating.  If you clean out your plate it means that you are still hungry so they put more on your plate.  I didn’t know that so I was trying to empty my plate and sending the wrong message.

I think that sometimes we study the Bible without knowing the customs and miss a lot of it’s meaning, in the same way I did by not knowing the customs and setting.  One of my tools in my library is a book titled, The Life and Times of Jesus, The Messiah” by Alfred Edersheim.  If you don’t have the book, I suggest that you try to get a copy.  It will help you to understand the customs of how it was in Jesus’ time and add meaning to such places as the Lord’s supper and many others.

 

Preparing for a Journey

Just one more day until I set off to an adventure that has been 74 years in the making.  As I sit here and contemplate everything I need to include for the trip, my thoughts seem endless.  What do I need to pack?  I even found a three page list of things to consider.  I printed it off and highlighted the items I needed to include from it.  From past experience, I know that there are always things that I wished I would have brought but didn’t, but I will be totally out of my familiar territory and won’t necessarily be able to just pick up what I might need.

It seems that everyday something else pops up that I hadn’t thought of.  Just two days ago I got an email from my church, needing for me to fill out an information form for my health insurance to cover me in a foreign country.  As it worked out I had a visit from my health provider and found out that my present insurance wouldn’t cover me in a foreign country.  Just another reason to be a part of a team that is experienced in making such trips.  Even as I am typing this blog I just got a note from my trip insurance Company for additional information they need for the insurance.

Since I am going to a part of the world that I am totally unfamiliar with, I decided to look up the area and learn something that would make my trip richer.  I discovered that this particular area is the center of produce (fruit and vegetables) for China.  Its importance goes back for thousands of years.  That piece of information may not seem important to you but it rang a bell to me.  You see I was raised in Palisade, Colorado which was the peach capitol of the world at one time.  It is an oasis of fruit and vegetable because of its 300 days per year of sunshine and its irrigation system and I worked in it all year.  My day operated the 4 largest produce outlets in the valley and I became spoiled with the best that was available.  I pruned the fruit trees, irrigated plowed, thinned picked and even bought and sold it.  Now I get to see how they do it in another culture and I am so looking forward to tasting it for myself.

When I arrive there in a couple days from now, I will be much like a new born baby.  Little hair, few teeth, can’t speak the language, and won’t know my way around. Yet babies make it and so can I.  I was thinking about the journey a baby makes in its arrival to this world from the world of the womb.  It is all so strange and takes a lot of adjustment.  I was also thinking about our arrival into the spiritual world.  It doesn’t begin after physical death but after the death of the old man that Paul referenced in Romans.

Romans 6:3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?  4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

This new life begins at our salvation when we become the new creation of God. (II Cor 5:17)  Just as a newborn has to learn how see, hear, speak, etc., we also have to learn how to operate in the spiritual life.  That spiritual existence actually begins here in this world where God is transforming us into His image, likeness and dominion.  That process is know as sanctification and isn’t completed until we receive our new body and we meet the Lord in the air.  It is much like the gestation period of a pregnancy in which the fetus receives its body for this life.  Our physical death can also be compared to the child’s birth when it physically moves from the world of the womb to the world of time and space which we live in now.

As I contemplate the final destination of my trip to China, it only enhances my expectation of my final destination of being with the Lord through eternity.

The Trial of Your Faith

James 1:2-3  My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

1Peter 4:12-13 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

The idea of our faith would be tried sometimes provokes the concept that there might me some flaw in it that doesn’t measure up to God’s standard.  This comes from our fallen nature that is forever trying to earn approval from God.  There are two reasons that our faith would be tested.  One is because we want to find the point of weakness.  Stress is added until the weakest point fails and reveals the weakness.  The second is to prove that the strength exists to bear the load.  In construction we would sometimes do a load test to prove that the structure would bear the weight of the load.  For example, the load for a beam would be 5,000 pounds, with a safety factor of 2,500 pounds, so we would load the beam with 7,500 pounds to prove that it was strong enough for its designed weight.  This is the way the above verses are being used.  God knows how much we can bear, but we do not know so he demonstrates that not only can we bear the weight but also that we discover that He is more than able to bring us through it.  He is not trying to break us down but to build our confidence in His working.

There are at least six reasons why God would put your faith to the test.

1.  We need to learn how to trust God. 

2.  We need to know who we really are.

3.  The world needs to see faith in the Lord really work.

4.  We need to be strengthened for battle.

5. We need the encouragement of victories.

6.  We must discover our eternal reality.

(Each of these are addressed in chapter 7 of my book, The Mystery of Faith.  See the Mystery of Faith section of this website, on how to order your copy)

Remember that we are His workmanship and He is recreating us in His image, His likeness and His dominion.  His plan is to deliver us from this sinful age and He will not fail to deliver us spotless and blameless to the Father.

 

What Are The Odds?

Anyone who is familiar with the story of Robin Hood probably remembers the part about the archery tournament where Robin’s opponent hit an exact bulls eye.  Then Robin steps up and shoots splitting his opponent’s arrow so that he also hits an exact bulls eye as well and wins the tournament.

Since there is some question of whether or not Robin Hood ever existed, the amazing shot is also in question.  But just so you don’t go to thinking that such a shot could never happen, I submit the above pictures of such a shot happening twice within the space of 20 days and less than 100 shots apart, by the same person.  I know that it is true as I personally witnessed the event and can take you to his home where he has all 4 arrows mounted on his wall.  What are the odds of that ever happening.

Yet that is not even close to the probability of the prophecies concerning Christ’s birth, hundreds of years in advance.  It was foretold by God in Genesis 3:15 that He would come from the seed of a woman. (Note that women do not have seed)  Later in Genesis 18:18 and 22:18 that He would be a descendant of Abraham’s seed.  In Genesis 26:4 and 28:4 it was prophesied to come from the nation of Israel.  Then in Genesis 49:10 it was specified that He would be from the tribe of Judah.  Jeremiah 23:5-6, Psalms 89:4, and Isaiah 11:1 all declare that He would be a descendant  of King David.  Isaiah 7:14 further clarified that He would be born of a virgin.  Micah 5:2 even specified that He  would be born in the city of Bethlehem.  And even that was clarified because there were two Bethlehem’s so it was specified as the one in Ephratah.  Finally, Luke 1:27 states that the child would be born of Mary.

An odds maker was asked what are the probability of that ever happening and he gave the odds of some 1 in multiplied billions and to illustrate the number gave this illustration.  Suppose that each chance was a silver dollar and they were all spread out over the state of Texas.  It would cover the entire state several feet thick.  Suppose one of the silver dollars was marked as that one chance and you were selected to find that marked silver dollar.  Your are allowed to travel the entire state but you are blindfolded and were only given one chance to find that dollar. For you to randomly select a spot and shove your hand down into the several feet of dollar coins and select that exact one would simulate the odds.

But that was an odds maker’s view.  In reality the odds are even greater because it would be impossible for several reasons.  One because of the time between the prophecies, another because of the number of circumstances to be considered, but most of all because of the necessity of a virgin giving birth to a child without the benefit of a man, let alone that that child would be the Son of God.  But what does the Scripture say?  Mt 19:26 But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.  Lu 1:37 For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Our inability to accept the truth of the Bible is tied to our lack of knowing its author.

Dealing With the Flesh (Carnal Nature)

Every once in a while I am asked the question, “How do I break the grip of a certain unnamed sin?”  It could be any one of a number of sins but the answer is the same.  All you need to do is die.  No, I am not saying that you have to die physically but I am saying that you have to die to the control of the flesh demands.  You see there are two natures within the Christian, the lower nature called the flesh and the spiritual nature we call the spirit.  Galatians 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.  There is a war going on all the time.  The flesh hates the things of God and the Spirit resists the things of the flesh.  If I decide to follow the cravings of the flesh, the Spirit will convict me, and if I decide to follow the Spirit, the flesh will cry out like a whining baby.  The more the flesh gets its way the more it will demand because the flesh is wholly and completely given to sin.  When the Spirit wins the battle, the flesh is subdued and the fallen nature will yield to the Spirit.

This fight is to the death.  You cannot hope to settle the conflict with a compromise or by trying to be fair because the flesh does not fight fair.  You cannot win by fighting with will power because that is governed by the flesh.  Trying harder is a recipe for failure.  Determination will not win either for that is the effort of the mind which is controlled by the flesh.  The truth is that no matter how hard you try and whatever method you use, you will not win this way because the your personal strength is not sufficient to break the bonds of sin.  There is only one way to win and that is to die to the strength of the flesh.  That includes any and all methods of self effort.  Since you cannot win by the flesh, you must be delivered from a power that is greater than the force that binds you.

Note what it says in the previous verse Galatians 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.  The only way to be successful is to walk in the Spirit and He will guide you.  If you are going to trust the Spirit you cannot your own formula to it, though that is just what the flesh will try to get you to do.  Romans 6:6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.  There it is, the answer that so often eludes the one caught in a repeating sin and cannot find their way out.  The old nature must die.

The death of the old man (nature) is imposed upon you by the work of God in bringing you to the point of distrust and despite of the old man.  Notice that this death is by crucifixion and not by suicide.  God will do the work of destroying the old nature while we trust Him and not ourselves.  The end result is the death of the old man which frees us from its grip and now we can serve God.  Ro 6:7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.  Ro 6:12 Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, that ye should obey it in the lusts thereof.  Ga 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.  Ga 5:24 And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.   1Peter 1:5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

The Glory of God

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “Why does God need Glory?”  I used to because I would hear phrases like “for the glory of God” or “praise God” and so forth.  It sounded like God needed some glory for some reason.  This was because my understanding about glory was wrong.  I thought that glory was a lot like a compliment or praise.  I did not know that glory was inherent and radiated out from within.  It was always there but was not seen.  It’s like an uncut diamond that looks like just another rock.  The beauty of the cut diamond was always present in the uncut diamond but was not appreciated because it’s many facets were not exposed.  It’s ‘glory’ remained unknown until the diamond cutter exposed it.  So it is with God, His glory (beauty, wonder, love, power, forgiveness, etc.) is not appreciated because we only see God from one or maybe even a few perspectives.  We need to see God from His infinitely faceted perspectives.  The more we know God, the greater we perceive His glory.  It was always there but it remained hidden until it was exposed to us.

Glory is not recognition for greatness, but greatness beyond our recognition.  The glory of God always has been the same.  It doesn’t become more just because we discover another facet of it.  You do not not increase His glory when you praise Him, either.  God is not trying to gain recognition, but rather He desires us to know Him for who He is, and not some shallower concept of Him.

If it were possible to know God as He really is; we would see the entirety of His glory.  Should that happen in our natural state it would kill us.  Remember what He told Moses, Ex 33:20 And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live.  It is not that God didn’t want us to know Him as He is, but He wanted to preserve man so that he could be transformed in such a way that he could see God, face to face.

This transformation takes a lifetime but there are times when we draw closer than we have ever been before.  At these times we are transformed to be more than we were before.  Remember what happened to Moses after he was hidden in the cleft of the rock as God passed by. Ex 34:29 And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses wist not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.   His face shone so bright that he had to wear a vail on his face while he talked with Aaron and the rulers of the congregation.  Ex 34:33 And till Moses had done speaking with them, he put a vail on his face.  

We have to grow in our grace and knowledge of the Lord.   2Pe 3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever.  Furthermore, we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds so that we can “experience” a right understanding of God’s will.  Ro 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.  

By the time God has finished His work on us, we will be like him in His image, likeness and dominion: (Gen 1:26)  we will be sanctified in body (a new body), soul (new mind and way of thinking) and spirit (indwelling of the Holy Spirit) (I Thess 5:23).  1Jo 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

Purpose Phrases

As I study the Scriptures, I have come to notice certain statements that I term “Purpose Phrases“.  These are phrases that define the ‘why’ of a passage.   One such passage is found in I Corinthians 1:8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.  These Purpose Phrases often begin with the word ‘that’ and invariably reveal the answer to an oft ask question.  I couple them together with other similar passages and have found some amazing revelations.

Let me illustrate this phrase, “that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” in the above verse.   Other passages include;

  • Galatians 1:4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father:
  • Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
  •  Ephesians 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 
  • Colossians  1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:  
  • 1Thessalonians 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.  
  • 1Thessalonians 5:23 And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  
  • Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.  
  • Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless  before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,  

These do not encompass the whole of the idea but they illustrate my point.  When I was first saved I was told that we should try to be like Jesus, but then they added, of course we will never make it.  That left me thinking, then why try.  I have since learned by a careful study of the Scripture that we will make it.  God will deliver us without blame before Him in love.  I am not talking about sinless perfection in this world but of the final results of God’s work on us and how we will arrive in glory.  God is going to make good His promise to deliver us a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  We are going to make it!