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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. David Jeremiah » David Jeremiah - The Fullness of Christ

David Jeremiah - The Fullness of Christ

David Jeremiah - The Fullness of Christ
TOPICS: Christ Above All: The Book of Colossians

Over 100 years ago, 1893 to be exact, the famous World Columbian Exposition was held in Chicago. And an astronomical number of people, especially in those pre-automobile days, actually came to this convention, some 21 million of them. They visited the exhibits. They hung out in Chicago. And particularly, Chicago had risen from the Great Fire of 1873, and they were showing off their resilience to the rest of the world. And the show was good. Among the features of the Columbian Exposition was the World Parliament of Religions, in which representatives of all the religions of all the world came together, and they were gonna share all the best points of their religions to see if they could come up with a new religion that would incorporate all the best points of all the religions.

DL Moody, who was the famed pastor in the city of Chicago at the time and an evangelist, saw this collection of people and religions as a chance for evangelism. He commissioned evangelists from his church and assigned them to preaching posts all over Chicago. He used churches and he rented theaters and he even rented a circus tent to preach the Word of God. His friends were upset with him because they wanted him to attack the Parliament of Religions and their goal to create a new world religion. But he refused, and this is what he said, "I am going to make Jesus Christ so attractive that men will turn to him".

DL Moody knew that preaching Christ, the preeminent, peerless, supreme, all-sufficient Christ, would do the job, and it did. In fact, if you study the life of the great evangelist and Pastor DL Moody, you will discover that the campaign of 1893, during this particular period of time, is considered the greatest evangelistic work in his celebrated life. Thousands of people came to Christ, not because he fought against those who were teaching false doctrine, but because he simply preached Jesus Christ crucified, buried, risen, and coming again. These verses we are about to study in Colossians are the most powerful, reasoned presentation of the preeminence of Jesus Christ you will find in all the Bible, and they reflect, in their presentation, the same strategy as that of DL Moody.

Here we will learn about the person of Jesus Christ and discover who he is. Here we will learn, not only who he was, his person, but we will learn what he did and what he is doing. The person of Jesus Christ is the center of our discussion, and it comes in three sections. And I'll just lay out the plan for you right upfront. First of all, we're gonna see Jesus Christ in relationship to the Father. And then we're gonna see Jesus Christ in relationship to creation. And then we're gonna see Jesus Christ in relationship to the church and to us. We begin, first of all, with who he is in relationship to the Father.

In Colossians 1:15 and 19, we read these words, "Jesus is the image of the invisible God. It pleased the Father that in Jesus all the fullness should dwell". The Bible consistently refers to God the Father as invisible. The Bible says, "No man has seen God". In Hebrews 11:27 we read that, "By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the King; for he endured seeing Him who is invisible". When Paul said that Jesus Christ was the image of the invisible God, he used a little word. The word is "icon". An icon was a representation or reproduction with precise likeness derived exactly from the prototype. In other words, the picture here is an image being stamped into a coin like the image of an emperor, the image of a president, or the image of some famous person.

And what Paul is saying is that Jesus Christ is so related to God, that he's like the image of God stamped in himself. Paul is telling us this because all throughout Colossae, as this letter is being received, there are people who are diminishing the person of Jesus Christ. Remember, we learned that some of the people in Colossae, these false teachers who would wiggle their way into the church, were saying that Jesus was a created being, that he wasn't God at all, that he was way down the line in the emanations that come from God, maybe 10 or 12th on the list, that he wasn't who that people in Colossae believed him to be, that he was not worthy of their trust and that they should get the higher learning.

Listen to the intellectuals and they will tell you who Jesus is. But Paul wants them to know, as he says in Colossians 2:9, that in Jesus dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. The word "fullness" is a word that means full, full. It's a double word. It means in Jesus Christ is the full fullness of all of God. Someone said, "In Jesus Christ is the exhaustion of Almighty God". There is no part of God, men and women, that is missing in Jesus. He is the very God of God. He is not almost God, he's not a little less than God. No, no, he is the fullness of the God bodily. Jesus Christ is God walking around in a body. What God does, Jesus does. What God says, Jesus says. There is not one iota of difference between the God who is in heaven and Jesus who is on earth. They are one in the same. Jesus Christ is God.

For 33 and one half years, the Lord Jesus Christ lived on this planet as man inhabited by God. He set before us a flawless moment-by-moment audio visual, full-color presentation, three dimensional, if you will, of what God is like. If you want to know who God is, you need to learn who Jesus is. On one occasion, Jesus was having a discussion with his disciples. His disciples often would ask him questions. Jesus often answered their questions with questions of his own. I found that's a pretty good thing to do. When they try to put you on the spot by asking you a question, you ask them one in return. That's what happened one day when he was talking with his disciples. Philip said to Jesus, "Will you show us who the Father is"? And Jesus said to Philip, "Philip, have you been so long with me that you don't know that? Listen, Philip, let me tell you something. He who has seen me has seen the Father".

If you want to know who God is, you have to learn who Jesus is because Jesus is God's message to us of himself. Who he is in relationship to the Father, he is the image of the invisible God. Number two, who is Jesus in relation to creation? You say, "Well, Pastor, why is that important in this discussion"? Because all of these false believers have said that Jesus was a created being, that he was not really God, that he was less than God. He was good, but he wasn't God. So rather than take them on step by step for what they believed, Paul gives them a little tutorial on creation. Watch this. First of all, Jesus Christ is the first born over all creation, verse 15.

The word "first" has two distinct meanings. Sometimes it means first in time, and sometimes it means first in rank, like the First Lady of the land, referring to the wife of the president. The word "firstborn" here in this text means Jesus Christ is first in rank. Psalm 89:27 illustrates this. "I will make My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth". Since Jesus Christ existed before creation, he is exalted in rank above creation. Paul wanted to convey to us and to the Colossian believers that Christ was not only uncreated, but he himself was the Creator. Jesus Christ, who is the visible image of the invisible God, is the firstborn over all creation because he is the Creator of all creation.

What a shock that must have been to those false teachers. He is the firstborn overall creation, but Paul isn't finished. He's just getting started. He's the Creator of all creation. Verse 17, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and all things in Him consist". Now, I don't know if you've noticed it or not, but "all things" is in there a few times. It says that Jesus Christ is the originator of all things.

You say, "Why is 'all things' in there so often"? Because what this is talking about is that he is the Creator of the universe, and universe isn't a word in the Bible. It's a recent word that's not in the Scripture. Hebrews 1:2 echoes of these words. Listen to this. "God has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, through whom He made the worlds". Who created the worlds? Jesus Christ. The Apostle John summed it up in his statement, and in his statement, he closed the door to any exceptions to this rule. Here's what he said, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him," and watch this, "and without Him nothing was made that was made".

So there's not anything that falls out of the circle of the creative power of Jesus Christ. Paul is saying, "You guys want to make Jesus Christ a created being? Are you kidding me? He's the Creator of everything that ever was. He's the Creator of all things". Not only is he the firstborn over all creation and the Creator of all creation, verse 16 also says he's the goal of all creation. Now, this one really stretches your mind. It says, "All things were created through Him and for Him". The same thought is found in Paul's letter to the Romans where he says, "For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever and ever".

Everything came from Jesus and everything will return to Jesus. Jesus Himself said, "I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the Beginning and the End, who is and who was and who is to come". What Jesus said is, "I am the bookends of everything that is. I'm the beginning of it, I'm the ending of it. I started it, I will finish it". Jesus is all in all. He is everything. That is Paul's statement. Not only that, but he's the predecessor of all creation. That means he was here before there was anything. Verse 17 says, "He is before all things".

One day, Jesus was having a discussion with a bunch of Jews about their favorite discussion point, Abraham. Oh, how the Jews loved Abraham. They loved Abraham and Moses. You could sit down and talk with the Jewish people for hours about either one. And it's some discussion about who was more important to the Jewish people, Abraham or Moses, but they loved them both. They were having this discussion about Abraham and his history and how he affected them. And all of a sudden out of nowhere, Jesus came up with this. He said, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM".

When Jesus said this, he stunned his listeners. I mean, how could Jesus, who was in his 30s, be older than ancient Abraham who'd been dead for centuries? Jesus was saying that before he was born in Bethlehem, he eternally existed. He was claiming to be the eternal I AM. One of the most poignant biblical statements you will find in the Bible concerning the pre existence of Jesus Christ is in that great high priestly prayer found in John 17 where Jesus is praying. Listen to his words as he prays to his Father just before he ends up going to the cross. He says, "Father, I have finished the work which You have given me to do. And now, O Father, glorify me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world".

In other words, Jesus Christ predates the world. He is before anything. John 8:58 says, "Before Abraham was, I AM". Jesus Christ isn't I was, he's not I will be, he is I Am, the perpetual forever eternal Son of God. What a picture Paul is painting in his letter to the Colossians to help them not worry about all the false teaching, but get focused on who Jesus is. Let me just tell you something I've learned. If you stay focused on Jesus, it will keep you out of a lot of trouble. You won't get caught up in a lot of stuff that people get caught up in. Just stay focused on Jesus. Not only is he the firstborn of all creation, not only is he the Creator of all creation, the goal of all creation, the predecessor of all creation, he's the sustainer of all creation.

Verse 17 says, "In Him all things consist". What does that mean? It means Jesus Christ is the glue that holds the universe together. If, for one moment, he would remove his hand from this universe, it would fly out into oblivion. He is the glue that holds us together. He is the consistency of creation. He is the one who is at the center of it all. Jesus Christ sustains the universe, maintaining the power and the balance necessary to life's existence and continuity. He is the Creator.

Now, I don't know if you know this, but what I'm talking about right now is a big disagreement in our world today. If you go to a public school, your children will be taught evolution. They won't be taught that Jesus created the world in a week in actual days. I'm a 24-hour creationist. I'm not a day age creationist. You say, "That's impossible"? Are you kidding me? Nothing is impossible with God. The Bible says in Genesis, "In the beginning, God," what did he do? "He created the heavens and the earth". Now, what do you think that means? That means God created the heavens and the earth. And today, scientists want to fight over that.

When I first came here, back in 1981, one of my first surprises was over in the ad building, there were a bunch of offices. And they showed me where my office was up in the corner, and they gave me a little tour. And we were walking down the hall and they said, "This is the office of Wendell Byrd. He's our attorney". I said, "We have a lawyer who has an office in the church building". "Yeah," he said, "You'll understand why when we tell you". He said, "He's here because ICR, the Institute of Creation Research, is also here, and they're constantly being sued by people all over the world, all over the country, for their belief in creation. So we have our own attorney right here".

For years and years Dr. Henry Morris, Dr. Duane Gish, came to this church. They were the greatest creationists on earth. They were members of this church. Somebody asked me, "When are you gonna preach on the first chapters of Genesis"? I said, "I'm never gonna preach on it as long as those guys are sitting out here. I'm not gonna do that". These creationists who believe what the Bible says about how we got here, what happened when the flood came, all of that, these creationists are under fire all of the time because of their belief. And we stand with them in this church because we're creationists too. And if you come to our school, you won't hear that we evolved from a monkey. You will hear that Jesus Christ was the Creator of the universe.

Robert Jastrow admits to being an agnostic in religious matters. He wrote a book called "God and the Astronomers". In this book, he tries to help us understand why modern scientists are so opposed to any kind of creationism. And here's what he wrote. "Why this strange reaction to the part of many scientists? I think part of the answer is that scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money. For the scientist who has lived his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance. He's about to conquer the highest peak. As he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who've been sitting there for centuries". Yes, because we believe in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

So he's the firstborn over all creation. He's the Creator of all creation. He's the goal of all creation. He's the predecessor of all creation. He's the sustainer of all creation. And finally, he's the reconciler of all creation. How many of you know that in our world today, something's out of sync? Can I get a witness? Something's out of sync. Something's out of sync in your world and in my world. What is it? Well, it's so complicated, I wouldn't even know how to describe it. We know what's going on in the world right now is not the way it's supposed to be. And we wonder, will it ever be right? And I want to tell you that it will.

The Bible says one day what Jesus did on the cross will be realized in the reconciliation of the world. The Bible says that we groan toward the redemption. In other words, we long for that moment when all things will be made right, and one day that's going to happen because Jesus Christ reconciles us. You know, our personal reconciliation with God took everything God had. He gave his best. He gave Jesus Christ, why? Because God and us, we were at war. The Bible says God is holy. And how many of you know we're not? And there had to be some way for reconciliation to take place from Almighty God to sinful man. And the only way that could happen is if God could bridge the gap between us. And so, he sent his own Son who was fully God and fully man, who died on the cross. And in the greatest picture of reconciliation you'll ever see, he has his hands stretched out, but the center pole goes from heaven to earth. Jesus Christ is reconciling us to God. Our sin separated us from him but because of what Jesus Christ did on the cross, we can be at peace with God.

Let me tell you something. God didn't change, we did. God didn't change so he could reconcile with us. We changed through the blood of Jesus Christ to reconcile with God. Because of sin, creation is out of sync. But because of Jesus, one day all creation will be reconciled. So who he is in relationship with the Father and who he is in relationship to all creation, that's the first two major things. Here's the last one, who is Jesus in relationship to the church? Remember now, Paul's writing this letter to a group of people in Colossae, and he wants them to know how what he's already written affects them. I'm sure you would like to know that too.

What does this mean to me, that Jesus Christ is the expression of the Father, that Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things? What he wants us to know is listed for us in verse 18. "And He Jesus Christ is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that all things He may have preeminence". Listen to me carefully. What Paul is saying to these believers is this, just as Jesus Christ was with the Father before the world began, just as Jesus Christ is the Creator of all the universe and preeminent in all things, Jesus Christ wants to be preeminent in your life and in mine. He wants to be first in the church. He wants to be first in the members of the church. He wants to be first in the life of every Christian. The question we have to ask, "Does Jesus Christ have preeminence in my life? Is he number one"?

"Oh," you say, "Pastor, he's number three or four, but he's not number one". Well, he will never leave you alone until he is number one. We get all of our life from the head, and Jesus Christ is the head and we are the body. That's the picture he creates. And everyone who's a Christian is in the body of Christ. Did you know that? The Bible says that when we become Christians at the moment of our salvation, we are all baptized into one body, 1 Corinthians 12:13. We are the body of Christ. Jesus Christ is the head of the body. In verses 16 and 17, we are made quite aware of Jesus's preeminence over his creation. And now in verse 18, we are told that he desires the same preeminence over his church. Verse 18, "That in all things He may have the preeminence".

Could I ask this question intuitively, probably pointing the finger more of myself than anyone else? Is it not possible that much that has gone wrong with the church today is the result of the body being separated from the head? Isn't it possible? I mean, you can go to a lot of churches today, Jesus Christ is one of the many subjects. I remember someone telling me one time, "Here's what I believe. In the way I live life, Jesus Christ has one of the seats at the table". No, no, that doesn't work. Jesus Christ must have the preeminence. That was the fear that Epaphras and Paul had about their church.

You see, what was happening in Colossae was all these other things were coming into the church and taking the place of Jesus. They were talking about Sabbaths, and they were talking about new moons, and they were talking about feast days, and all the stuff that these false teachers brought into the church, angel worship and visions and asceticism and all the rest. And Jesus Christ was put on the side. He was one of the seats at the table. And so the church became disconnected with the head. The church lost its way because they no longer were listening to the signals that came from Jesus Christ. And so the body, it was like disconnected. Across the whole length and breadth of our land, churches are in trouble and the reason, I believe, is because the body has lost connection with the head.

When you lose connection with the head, so you don't bring your Bibles to church anymore. You come to church and you get a positive mental lecture about how to do this better. But Jesus Christ is lost. In its vital hours, men and women, Christ has been the center of the churches in worship. He has received the adoration of believing hearts. If we would see the church blessed in our day, we must again return to the vibrant spirituality that constantly comes from the person of Jesus Christ himself. We've talked about who Jesus is, the person of Jesus Christ. In the last part of our text today, we learn about the work of Jesus Christ, what he does. In the next paragraph, Paul summarizes the work of Jesus Christ in our redemption, and he moves from the theological to the personal.

In verses 15 to 20, Paul didn't use the second person pronoun, not even once. But in verses 21 to 23, he uses the personal pronoun five times. There's a switch here in the text. If you're a student of the grammar and all of that in the Bible, just notice there's a big switch here. This is no longer about us. This is about you. This is about me. This becomes very personal. Here's what he says in verses 21 and 22, he has reconciled you. "And you, who were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now Jesus has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death". This verse is like a flashback in a movie. It is if Paul is saying, "And don't forget where you were, and don't forget what you were before you were reconciled to God by the death of his Son".

How many of you know that sin just alienates you from God? By the way, sin alienates you from other people, too, doesn't it? Sin separates. Sin isolates. Sin makes people lonely and sad. But most of all, sin separates us from God. It is impossible to overstate the effect that sin can have on mankind. Sin debases character in ruins lives. Sin makes us enemies and aliens from God. All that lay between the man with the face of Jesus and the man with the face of Judas was a few short years of sin. How many of you know sin actually leaves its mark on your body? But Christ's substitutionary death on the cross that paid the full penalty for our sin, made it possible for us to be reconciled to God. When we were at enmity with him because we were sinful and he was holy, Jesus Christ came and he grabbed hold of our hands and brought us together so that we can know God.

Years ago in a western city, a husband and wife became estranged, and they chose to separate. They moved away and lived in a different part of the country. The husband happened to return to the city on a matter of business, and he went out to the cemetery to the grave of their only son. He was standing by the grave in fond remembrance when he heard a step behind him. Turning, he saw his estranged wife. The initial impulse of both was to turn away, but they had a common-hearted interest in that grave. And instead of turning away, they clasp their hands over the grave of their son, and they were reconciled through his death. That's what happened to us. We were reconciled through the death of God's Son. Because of the cosmic war with God, because it is over, we need to begin living like it was over. Don't you know sometimes we don't live like that? Sometimes we act like our sin is still controlling us and that we don't have forgiveness. Sometimes we act like the war's still going on.

I read this week a story about a guy named Hiroo Onoda, who was a lieutenant in the Japanese army. In 1944, he was sent to the land of Lubang off the coast of the Philippines to hamper enemy attacks on the island. Under no circumstances was he to surrender. Unfortunately, nobody told him when the war ended. Eating rice, coconuts, and meat from stolen cattle, Hiroo Onoda hid in the jungle for 29 years, carrying out occasional guerrilla activities and waiting for further instructions. He avoided search parties sent to find him, believing they were enemy scouts.

Leaflets announcing the end of the war were assumed to be propaganda. Newspapers, letters, and family pictures dropped from the air were taken to be a trick. Friends and relatives even spoke out over loudspeakers, but Onoda remained suspicious. He did not believe that the war had really ended. Eventually, his former commanding officer was located. He was working as a bookseller in southern Japan, and he flew to Lubang to officially read the terms of the ceasefire to Onoda and relieve him of his duty. On March 9, 1974, nearly 30 years after the war ended, Onoda finally surrendered. Onoda was 22 years old when he left on the island. He returned a prematurely aged man of 52 and this is what he said, "Nothing pleasant happened in the 29 years in the jungle".

You say, "Pastor, why are you telling me that story"? Because I know a lot of Christian people, somebody needs to tell him the war is over. You have been forgiven. God loves you. His Son died for you. Quit living like it didn't happen. I know a lot of Christians who live in this kind of funk that they act like they're not forgiving. They act like they don't know that God loves them and Jesus died for them. If you're one of those people, I want to announce to you today on the authority of the Bible, the war is over, and we win and you don't have to live like that. How sad it is to be free and not know it, but how much sadder it is to be free and know it and live like you didn't know it. And it's time for us to quit doing that. Jesus has reconciled you. This is Jesus and your past. He will restore you. This is Jesus and your future, to present you holy and blameless and above reproach in his sight is his goal.

Listen to me. This is gonna sound strange to you because I don't think I've ever said this before, but Jesus's goal for you wasn't just that you become a Christian having your sins forgiven and get saved. I mean, that's part of the goal but his goal is that one day he wants to present you to the Father, and the Bible says, as a blameless son of God. He wants to be able to stand in front of the Father in the words of Hebrew, say, "Father, here I am and here are my children". He wants us to grow in such a way that we don't stop living for Jesus just after we get in the door of salvation, but that we go on and we grow.

One of the reasons we teach the Word of God here is that's the food we grow on. My passion is to build you up in the most holy faith and to teach the Word of God, even some of the hard passages, so that you know, "This is what the Bible says and this is what it means and this is how I appropriate it to my life," so that you're growing and Jesus Christ because Jesus Christ's goal is that one day you will stand before the Father complete in him, not as someone who has just gotten saved and then went back to living like you used to live. He has reconciled you, that's Jesus and your past. He's gonna restore you, that's Jesus and your future.

And he's remaking you, that's Jesus and your present. "If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister". Listen to me, men and women. This Christian business is not a one-and-done deal. When we enter into a relationship with Jesus Christ at the moment of our salvation, this is not the end. It's just the beginning. From that moment on, we are all Christians under construction. I am a Christian under construction, and so are you. Can I get a witness? Every day our Lord is working in our lives to make us more likely himself. His desire is our discipleship. His goal is our godliness. His vision is our virtue.

Paul's challenge to the Colossians in this letter that he is sending to them is that they continue serving the one who redeemed them by his death on the cross. The positive application of these words should be so motivating to us. Do you love Jesus today? Is he the focus of your life? Is he preeminent in your life?

Let me finish with a story about someone who discovered what it means to fall in love with Jesus in a new and fresh way. Having finished his formal education, the Count set out on a grand tour of Europe in the summer of 1719. During this tour, he visited a museum of fine art in Dusseldorf, Germany. He walked through the doors in the early afternoon, and he was still there five hours later. But he hadn't taken in all the paintings and all the exhibits. He had remained all that time in one spot without ever moving to the right or to the left.

The curator began to be concerned because it was time to close the building. And following the Count's gaze, the curator saw a fine canvas painting entitled, "Ecce Homo" meaning, behold the man. The subject was Jesus wearing a crown of thorns. By now, the Count must have had every tiny detail memorized. The curator walked over behind him, gently placed a hand on the young man's shoulder, and he started to speak. But now he saw something he hadn't previously noticed. Tears were rolling down the Count's cheeks. Underneath the painting was this inscription, "If he cared that much for you, what should your concern be for him"? It was clear that the young man had given five hours to the contemplation of that question. He was lost in the greatness and the love of Christ and who he is and what he has done.

You may never have heard of him, but his name was Count Zinzendorf. He eventually became the key man in the birth of the Moravian Church. He had one of the greatest missionary hearts of any Christian who ever lived, serving the Lord continually for over 40 years till he died in 1760. And it all started when he was captured by the beauty of Jesus Christ. Have you been captured by the beauty of Jesus Christ?

You say, "Pastor, I don't have a picture like that". No, what you have is a Book that is the full picture of who Jesus is. Today we took a little bit of a look at part of that picture who Jesus is. And my goal for you and for myself is that as that man looked at the picture of Jesus and contemplated what Jesus had done for him, we would also be aware of how blessed we are, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and the one who has lifted us up out of sin and given us a standing with Almighty God.

That is our goal. That is our growth pattern. That's what we should come to church for. That's what we should read our books for. That's why we should pray and talk with one another and invest our lives in falling in love all over again with the Lord Jesus Christ who loved us enough to wear the crown of thorns, die on the cross. And the question is, if he would do that for you and for me, what should our concern be for him? To love him and serve him. And one day, the Bible says, "Every knee shall bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is the Lord, to the glory of God the Father". Hallelujah.
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