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The Gospel For All Nations

Sermon by Palmer Robertson on Feb 29, 2004

Matthew 24:1-14

The Lord's Day evening
February 29th, 2004

Matthew 24:1-14
The Gospel For All Nations
Dr. O. Palmer Robertson

There's a prophecy found in Zephaniah chapter 3 that was spoken 2,700 years ago that is being fulfilled before our very eyes. Zephaniah 3:9: “Then will I purify the lips of the peoples [that is, the nations of the world] that all of them may call on the name of the LORD” and “whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” They’re being saved. The Gentiles are being saved. “…And serve Him shoulder to shoulder.” Now if you’re double-teamed in a football game that means you've got a big lineman of 290 or 300-pounds, and you've got to move him out of the way to make a foot or two, and so you double-team: you get shoulder-to-shoulder to move that person out of the way. That means you've got a big job here. So these people have a big job. Verse 10, “From beyond the rivers of Cush [that is Ethiopia] My worshipers, My scattered people, will bring Me offerings.” What's beyond the rivers of Cush? Well, Southern Africa. And I come to attest to you today that before our very eyes we are seeing the fulfillment of this prophecy that was given 2,700 years ago at a time when Israel was at the bottom. When the ten northern tribes were gone, when they were facing the total destruction of Jerusalem by the invasion of the Babylonians, this vision is given to Zephaniah the prophet of the one, true living God being worshipped even down in the southern regions of Africa.

It wasn't easy in the early days. There's a little statement up on the wall of a museum, a small museum, in Livingstonia, Malawi. You have to take twenty-two hairpin curves to get up to the top of this little museum, and there is the little statement that says, “Five years of hard labor, five dead missionaries, one convert.” But you know those missionaries that went to Malawi they were Scottish missionaries, and there's a strange thing about Scottish people. There's one right over there, and I see another one down here. I have a friend on The Banner of Truth board who now has gone to go be with the Lord, and he says, “You know, in the British military, if you want to hold a position you send in an English regiment. They’re like the bulldogs; they never let go. But if you want to take a position, you send in a Scottish regiment.” To quote him, “They are wild men! You put on those skirts and have those bagpipes going, and their eyes start spinning and off they go.” So, “Five years of hard labor, five dead missionaries, one convert”–what do you do? Well, you just send more missionaries until today we have in the small country of Malawi, in southern Africa, a Presbyterian Church very much like the PCA in the USA, numbering 800,000 communicant members. That's three times the size of the whole of the PCA in the whole of America! And it's growing so rapidly that one can hardly keep up with its growth.

But we're trying to do so, and in the African Bible College we're training the young prospects of the future. And so we sent Vintry Mahongo as a missionary to Mozambook. He started with about forty people, and in three years he has six churches with 400 people. Ventry Matongdica has established an orphanage with a million orphans in Malawi, and now he is caring for 1,000 orphans. Etzenegi was established as the head of all the campus ministries in his country in Tanzania. Andy Narinda translated the whole of the EE manual into his particular tribal language so they could do EE in the northern part of Malawi. Amos Magazi, some of you know, is now responsible for training some 600 pastors, already pastors but without adequate training. Vayana Chunga is developing AIDS radio programs. Esta Camunga is dealing with the problem of battered women in her ministry. Anderson Charumbo is a Pentecostal denominational leader who is telling them over and over again, “That's not right that we've been teaching. That's not right that we've been teaching. Now this is what is the true word of God.” And Rex Chtekwa is translating the Scriptures into Lumwa that his people might read the Scriptures in their own language. God is at work in amazing ways in Africa, and we praise the Lord for the privilege that you've given us to allow us to work in that great harvest field. Now is the harvest time in Africa. And the Scripture for this evening is taken from Matthew chapter 24, beginning to read at verse 1.

Matthew 24:1-14:

1Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. 2"Do you see all these things?" he asked. "I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down." 3As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. "Tell us," they said, "when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?" 4Jesus answered: "Watch out that no one deceives you. 5For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. 6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 7Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these are the beginning of birth pains. 9Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

The gospel for all nations…Let us pray. God and heavenly Father, what a privilege it is for us to have been the recipients of Your divine message, coming first from the prophets and now through the lips of Your own Son. Give us an understanding of the times in which we live and the approach of the end of the age. Help us, O heavenly Father, to give glory to Christ that we might fulfill that Great Commission of preaching the gospel among all nations, so that all peoples will hear that the end may come. And we ask in Christ's name. Amen.

I. The mystery of the gospel
You know the essence of the gospel: Jesus is the promised Christ who lived and died that all who believe in Him might be eternally saved. You know the gospel. It's a very simple gospel. But there is a mystery about the gospel, and the focus of the mystery is its growth, how it is that a Jewish, Old Testament gospel could become a worldwide gospel?

In His parables, Jesus repeatedly underscores the mysterious character of the gospel, this mystery of the growth of the kingdom of God. He says, ‘A man plants a seed in the ground and then he rises up day and night to see how it's growing. And he doesn't know how it grows, but it grows, of itself, all alone.’ There's a mystery about this growth.

My first preaching was done in Smyrna, Mississippi, outside of Kosciusko. You have to follow the dirt roads. You have to learn to not slow down at the curves or you’ll get lost. If you just keep on following, then you’ll get to your destination; but if you slow down and think, you’ll be in trouble and get lost. Well, you preach the gospel and then you’re invited to a feast at one of those unpainted houses that are still there, where the farmers are busily at work, and you eat a huge dinner of two or three meats, and six or seven vegetables, and two or three deserts. And then you go out on the porch, or the breezeway, between the two parts of the building (they designed it so there's always a breeze going through there), and you sit in your rocker and you just rock. They’re not very much interested in conversation. They want to hear the corn grow. So you just sit there. Now some of you are city slickers here; you don't really know whether you can hear corn grow or not.

There is a mystery about growth–automatically it grows. “A sower sows good seed in the field,” says Jesus, and then He says a very strange thing for this Jewish audience, ‘The field is the world, and the good seed are the sons of the kingdom.’ “I thought the kingdom was from Dan to Beersheba, and now suddenly the kingdom is the world according to Jesus’ parable?” There's a mystery. How did it get from being a Jewish gospel to being a worldwide gospel? Then he says, “The kingdom is like a mustard seed.”

Some of you ladies remember when they used to have the little pendants with a mustard seed in them that was all a magnifying glass so you could at least see that tiny, little seed in there. And you would wear it around your necks. This tiny seed buried in the ground dies–it's out of sight in sense of men–and yet it grows to be the largest of the plants so that the birds of the air come and make their nests in the branches, all kinds of birds. Now this is a parable, and the birds are referring to all kinds of people: Scottish people, African people, Latin American people–all kinds of birds. In a mysterious way, the tiny seed of the kingdom of God has grown to the point of becoming a universal phenomenon.

For some years we were in the vicinity of Washington D.C. in a pastorate, and I loved to spend my Mondays going down to one of the museums. They advertised a special series by a genealogist, and I'm interested in genealogies and generations, so I went down. And this high-powered scientist began to explain the wonders of genes and how descendants work and so forth. And he seemed to know it all, but then he ran into a problem that he couldn't explain. He said, “You know, I cannot explain,” this is high-powered science now, “I cannot explain how the two arms of a human being on the opposite sides of the body can grow and grow until they end up at the same length and then stop growing.” He said, “I can't figure out how that happens.” Well, we have an idea of how that happens even though we might not be able to explain it. But there is a mystery here.

All of these parables demonstrate the mystery of the universal growth of the gospel of God's kingdom. Sinful people from all of the nations of the world find their shelter in the ever-expanding boundaries of the universal rule of the Messiah. You know that it's true, do you not? Your missionaries are coming and telling you constantly of the amazing ways in which all the world is coming to worship our Lord Jesus Christ, even though He was a Jew speaking to Jewish people in that little area of Palestine. That's the mystery of the gospel. Just as the growth, or mystery about the growth, of a human being from infancy to childhood…You look in the mirror every day; you’re growing but you can't figure out how it quite happens. So there's a mystery about the growth of the gospel to be a kingdom of universal proportions. How is it that Mississippi, in the center of the Bible Belt could be on the other side of the world from the place where Jesus taught 2,000 years ago? How could it be that a little country down in southern Africa named Malawi have 800,000 communicant Presbyterians? It's a mystery. It's a surprise.

And yet, the prophets did anticipate it. If you study the prophets, you will find that the idea of the Gentiles becoming a part of the kingdom of God, all the nations coming to worship their God, is not something that was a mystery to them at all. They all, virtually every single prophet of the Old Testament, anticipated it. And one of the greatest prophecies is found in Isaiah 19. You can take it home and read it this evening. Isaiah, this old prophet, he looks squarely in the face of the two, great, contemporary enemies of Israel to the north and to the south: Assyria to the north that has devastated the northern kingdom of Israel and carried them away into captivity; to the south, Egypt that has been constantly pummeling Israel. And what does he say? ‘There will be an altar to the covenant Lord of Israel in the heart of Egypt. And there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, bypassing Jerusalem, so that the enemies of Israel conveniently can transfer back and forth to worship the God of Israel in Assyria, in Egypt. As a consequence,’ says Isaiah, ‘Israel shall be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria a blessing on the earth; so that Yahweh will bless them saying, “Blessed be Egypt [that is Africa] My people, and Assyria [that is Asia] My handiwork, and also Israel, My inheritance.”’ The prophets clearly anticipated this day of worldwide growth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Don't get a ghetto mentality. Even though in some ways Christianity may be shrinking in the West. That triumph of the movement of Christianity through the whole of the world is still continuing and will continue until Christ returns.

II. What's so mysterious about the mystery?
So what's so mysterious about the mystery? If the prophets prophesied it 700 years before it happened, why is anyone surprised? What's so mysterious about the mystery? Well, that was the role that God gave Paul the apostle to explain to us, and his clearest explanation (though it's throughout the whole of his ministry) is found in Ephesians chapter 3. Ephesians 3 is where Paul the apostle explains the mystery of the spread of the gospel through all the nations. Ephesians 3, beginning to read at verse 2: “Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery [see He's talking about the mystery of Christ]…which was not made known to men in other generations [the prophets didn't know this mystery] as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets.” So he's talking about something that the prophets didn't understand.

You know nearly every theological perspective will acknowledge, even dispensationalists will acknowledge, that the Gentiles were to be included. But what is the mystery? Well, Paul explains it in verse 6. Listen carefully, “This mystery is…” This is the very basis of Paul's missionary emphasis: “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”

Did you get it? You didn't get it, did you? He repeated himself three times, but you didn't get it. What is the mystery? Look at it again. The Gentiles will be heirs together, participants together, inheritors together with believing Jews in all the promises that are given by God to Israel. That's the mystery. It's so difficult to grasp and yet it is so obvious both in history and in Scripture. The mystery is not that Gentiles will be included, will be a part of God's promises; the mysterious aspect of the mystery is that the Gentile nations, they are equal, equal to the Jews who believe in all the promises that God has given.

Think of the trouble that even the Apostle Peter had with this mystery. Do you remember, three times the sheet was laid down with those unclean animals and God said, “Peter, kill, and eat!” And he said, ‘I've never done anything like that.’ And then, there's a representative of the Gentiles at the door. And Peter goes, and he preaches to the Gentiles, and what happens? The Holy Spirit comes down on the Gentiles! And he later attests in the context about what to do with all of these Gentile converts in Acts 15, ‘The Holy Spirit came down on those Gentiles just exactly as it came down on us on the Day of Pentecost. We Jews are no more blessed.’ And what could be a greater blessing than to have God dwelling in perfect communion and fellowship with you constantly? What could be a greater blessing? That is the ultimate blessing.

But the blessing is and the mystery is that it came on the Gentiles equally with its coming on the Jews. Peter understood it, right? And then just a few days, a few weeks later, if you can use your sanctified imagination, we really don't know what the big fisherman looked like; we don't know whether he was big or not, but let's just imagine that he was. And we can imagine that scrawny, little Paul–that little, shriveled scholar. And here Peter is eating with some Gentiles and then some Jews come into the room, and Peter crawfishes. He starts backing up, and goes over to the Jews because he doesn't want to be seen with the Gentiles. And what does Paul say? He says, “I rebuked him to his face in front of all those people” because he had denied that basic principle that the Gentiles are now equal with all believing Jews in the possession of all the promises of God. In this mystery is the clearest manifestation of the gospel which is by grace alone through faith alone, that no religious activities whatsoever participate or communicate or contribute at all to a person's receptivity by God.

Think about it. What would you say is the clearest evidence that the gospel of Jesus Christ is by grace alone through faith alone? Well, two factors: First of all, it's that fellow over there. What's your name? Stewart? Oh, those Stewarts, you know…And what's this name down here? Duncan. And what's this name? Robertson. You know, we are the Highlanders; we're the wild Highland Scots. The Holy Spirit has come down on us wild Scots? Well, it must be by grace alone; it must be through faith alone. The fact that the Gentile could become a full participant, that you, whatever your racial background is, whether you are African or Latin or Swedish or Scottish or whatever, whatever your background, you are an equal participant in the full salvation that comes by grace alone through faith alone. The Holy Spirit came on you by grace alone through faith alone.

The second clear evidence that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone is that, according to Paul, being a Jew means absolutely nothing in terms of the possession of the promises of God. Now these might seem like sort of theoretical ideas that don't effect things very much, but let me tell you that God's ordering of the whole of human history is involved here. And to understand what God is doing in history, you have to understand these principles: that there's nothing in terms of possession of the promises of God that is related to being a Jew. Opportunity for possession? Yes. For the word of God came first to them, and they have the first opportunity. But actual possession…race means nothing. What does Paul say? “I'm a Pharisee of the Pharisees. I am a Hebrew of the Hebrews. I was trained under Gamaliel. I am of the tribe of Benjamin. With respect to the righteousness of the law, I am absolutely blameless. I count all these things as dung so that I might gain the Christ.” Do you see what he's saying? Jewish-ness means absolutely nothing.

Now this is not anti-Semitic. This is only leveling the field in terms of the opportunity to be saved. If you encourage the Jew to think that because he is a Jew he has some special privilege of salvation that others do not have, you are driving him away from the gospel of salvation by grace through Christ alone. Paul says, ‘I count my Jewish-ness as dung.’ And so do you not see that salvation is by grace alone through faith alone? And so you can tell to anyone and everyone in the world, and this is the message: You can be a full participant and inheritor of all of God's promises, whatever your background, because it's by grace alone through faith alone.

Contrary wise, this is running against the stream of 80 to 90% of evangelical thinking today. Contrary wise, if Jews as Jews have any special promises that do not belong equally to Gentile believers, then the gospel of grace alone through faith alone has been compromised. Suddenly it is race not grace that is the way of salvation. Not by grace alone, but by grace and race. Not by faith alone, but by faith and race. Now that's the mysterious aspect regarding the universal growth of the gospel that has not been grasped by Judaism or the vast majority of evangelical Christians today. So long as the church holds out for some special benefit and redemption for Jewish people, then the church has not fully comprehended the mystery of the gospel and will not realize it's fullest potential in mission work. God, you see, is the great economist.

So you must ask the question, “Why did God choose the Apostle Paul of all people to be a missionary to the Gentiles? Why should Paul be the apostle to the Gentiles, the most-educated Jew of his day? Why didn't God send the fisherman Peter to be the apostle to the Gentiles? He certainly understood the gospel adequately to communicate it to dumb Gentiles, Scotsmen up in the Highlands, right? Why did He choose Paul? Because God wanted the man who understood all of the promises of the Old Testament best, that He might send him to the Gentiles, because he could best explain to the Gentile world all that they would inherit in Jesus Christ. And that, as a matter of fact, is what drove the Apostle Paul, that gave him all his missionary impetus: “To the ends of the earth you must go, to every tribe” because there was a great multitude that were equal heirs with Jewish believers of all the promises of God. And that is what should drive the missionary enterprise today. To understand that way out in Papua New Guinea, where they still wear bones in their noses, and up in the Highlands of Scotland, where they still play those strange instruments that make those strange, squeaking noises, and tell them of the powerful gospel of Jesus Christ, that they can be equal heirs with Jewish believers, with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Isaiah, and David–that's what should drive us today. That's what drove the Apostle Paul, the greatest of missionaries, and that's what should drive us in missions today.

III. Practical implications of this mystery - The three promises of Abraham Promise #1: The promise of blessing
Now what are the practical implications of this mystery of equality in Christ? Practically speaking, the mystery of the gospel means that every promise given to Abraham the believer belongs equally to every Gentile believer. Think of the promises of Abraham. You learned them in Sunday school. There are basically three: land, seed, and blessing, right? He was promised the land; he was given a promised seed; he was promised that he would be a blessing to all the nations of the world. I’ll begin with the last. ‘Abraham, you’re to be a blessing to all the nations of the world. Abraham's seed, you’re to be a blessing to all the nations of the world.’ I tell my students in Southern Africa, in Malawi, “You are to be a blessing to all of the nations of the world.” I spoke to the president of a Bible College in Zimbabwe and said, “God says that you are going to be a blessing to all of the nations of the world.” And he said, “Ya.” What's the problem? The problem is not that the African Christian does not have blessings to give to the West; the problem is that the West is so self-sufficient and self-satisfied and self-centered that it cannot receive blessings from the African Christian. And you, who are going on short-term mission trips or long-term mission trips, don't think that it's going to be a one-way street, as anyone who has been on a mission trip will tell you. It's not that you go just to be a blessing to nations; you can expect that you are going to receive far more blessings from them than you could give to them. So, they’re going to be a blessing to all of the nations of the world. And it's already happening today.

We had a skit at Covenant College some years ago. The students love to make fun of the professors in their skits. And on this particular occasion, there was a student from Peru, a Peruvian, and he said, “This is the way a Westerner greets someone that he hasn't seen in four or five years, ‘Well, John, glad to see you. Hope to see you again. I wish I weren't so busy, we could take time to visit a little bit’ and off he goes. But two Peruvian brothers meet one another, ‘Ah, Pedro, I haven't seen you for four days. Where have you been? I had a busy schedule, but I canceled it all. Let's go and catch up and see what's happening.’” We can learn nothing from the Third World Christian? Why, right now, did you know, in the Episcopalian Church in America, they are seeking refuge with the bishop of Rwanda in Africa? Did you know that? Because homosexuals are now being ordained in that denomination. They do not want to be under the authority of such situations, and so they have aligned themselves with the African bishops who think homosexuality is the craziest thing in the world. Why, doesn't nature tell you? And they’re already a blessing, you see? It's a fulfillment of the promise, that there is an equality, a complete reception of all the blessings of Abraham.

Promise #2: The promise of the seed
And then there is the promise regarding the seed. Now God promised a seed. And this is where Paul develops it again: in Romans 4:11 &12 he talks about the two seeds of Abraham. He says, ‘Abraham was the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised’ (that's the Gentiles). Verse 12, ‘And he is also the father of the circumcised, who not only are circumcised but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith of our father, Abraham.’ He's not, strictly speaking, “the father of all the Jews”; He's the father of all believing Jews. Abraham is the father of believers. This promise to Abraham is your promise. There are no sterile Christians in the kingdom of God. Of your natural seed, those of your natural offspring, not all necessarily, but many will be believers in Christ. That's why we baptize infants, because we believe the promise given to Abraham is for you as well. And furthermore, those who are not of your natural offspring, they will be your children as well. And you will have a great seed that no man can count, as numerous as the stars of the heavens and as the sand of the seashore. And every one of you are little Abraham's and little Sarah's and that's God's promise to you.

Promise #3: The promise of the land
The blessing, the seed, and then the tough one is, of course, the promise of the land. Now here I am with the tough one, “I give you this land.” People generally are willing to grant spiritual promises of Israel to the Gentiles, but the land, that's Israel's in perpetuity, so evangelical Christians cannot let this one go. Well, look at the very next verse in Romans 4 as it talks about the land inheritance of Abraham. What does it say in Romans 4:13? “It was not through law that Abraham and his seed…” That's you who are believers in Christ. That's all: African, Scottish, Swedish, whatsoever…you who are believers in Christ “received the promise that he would be heir of the cosmos [heir of the world].” The promise of the land, where did it originate? It didn't originate with Abraham. The promise to Abraham was just a microcosm of the macrocosm.

Where did the promise of the land originate? Well, it originated immediately upon the man's fall when God promised that He would restore creation by sending a Redeemer, and it is the whole world that is the land that is promised to God's people. And the promise of that land in the old covenant Scriptures was just a picture of what God was going to do through all the world. You know, the Scriptures say there's a land flowing with milk and honey. Well, if you go and visit Palestine you’ll find it's not a land of milk and honey primarily; it's a land of rocks and boulders. The old Jewish fable is that when God was creating the world, He committed all the stones of the world to two storks, and they were to distribute the stones of the world all over the earth. And a bag of one of the storks broke over Palestine, so half the stones of the world are in Israel, in Palestine. I tell the students in Malawi that Malawi is far more fertile than Palestine. Mississippi is far more fertile than Palestine. And you, every one of you, have the promise that you are to be an heir of the cosmos, if you are the seed of Abraham by faith.

But, oh, the tragedy, the calamity that comes, that continues to come as a consequence of failing to grasp this principle. I tell my students in Malawi that they by faith are inheritors of the promise of the land, and shall I say less to our Palestinian-Christian brothers? Again, this is not anti-Semitism. Palestine-Christian brothers? Arab-Christian brothers? Is there any such thing?

Many people think that's something that cannot exist: an Arab-Palestinian Christian. In 1989 it was estimated that there were 2,000 Jewish believers, 2,000 Jews who confessed Jesus to be the Christ in Israel. In that same year, it was estimated that there were 150,000 Arabs, 150,000 Palestinians who confessed Jesus to be the Christ. And shall we say to them that the promise of the land belongs to unbelieving Jewish people who are erecting that massive wall? Has history not taught anything? The walls of the ghettos must come down. The Berlin Wall must come down. The Iron Curtain must come down. The Bamboo Curtain must come down. And these massive concrete pieces…is that the land of promise, enclosed in those concrete pieces? And are they the inheritors of the Promised Land? But what a blessing that we can go to all the nations of the world and say to those in Papua New Guinea, and say to those in the heart of Africa, and say to those in Latin America and Scotland–you are inheritors of the Land.

And that's what drove the Apostle Paul as a missionary. This world is being renewed. The whole of the world is being renewed by the gospel of Jesus Christ. What does Jesus say? Jesus says, ‘This gospel that has that mysterious dimension to it of the equal inclusion of Gentile believers–this gospel must be preached.’ And He repeats himself, ‘in all the inhabited earth, to all the nations of the world,’ and then the end shall come. And then all the trials and tribulations and pains and agonies and discriminations will end. And then we shall see our Lord Jesus coming in glory. It is the expansion of His kingdom to the ends of the earth, by what? By what? By the preaching of the gospel. And then the end, the glorious end, shall come. May God renew in each one of us the original vision, first of the prophets and then of the apostles, of the wondrous good news of Jesus Christ, indiscriminately to all the nations of the world. And may that same Spirit that drove the Apostle Paul to the ends of the earth work in us until that great and glorious day. Let us pray.

Lord our God, we come and thank You for this glorious gospel of Jesus. Help us, we pray, to grasp it in all its power, and give to this church especially a sense of Your commissioning them as those who understand this gospel in ways that others do not. Commission this church, we ask You, to be the light to the Gentile nations–to all the nations, Jews and Gentiles as well–until Christ must come in glory. We ask in His name. Amen.

If you will stand for the benediction and then the closing hymn, #452…the benediction and then the closing hymn. Now to Him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal gospel, so that all nations might believe and obey Him–to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ. Amen.

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