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  #61  
Old 10th August 2004, 06:49 PM
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HOW TO READ THE BIBLE.





NO. 1503






DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,




AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON.
“Have ye not read? Have ye not read? If ye had known what this meaneth.” Matthew 12:3-7.




I. That is the subject of our present discourse, or, at least, the first point of it, that IN ORDER TO THE TRUE READING OF THE SCRIPTURES, THERE MUST BE AN UNDERSTANDING OF THEM.




I scarcely need to preface these remarks by saying that we must read the Scriptures. You know how necessary it is that we should be fed upon the truth of holy Scripture. Need I suggest the question as to whether you do read your Bibles or not? I am afraid that this is a magazine reading age a newspaper reading age a periodical reading age, but not so much a Bible reading age as it ought to be. In the old Puritanic times men used to have a scant supply of other literature, but; they found a library enough in the one book, the Bible. And how they did read the Bible! How little of Scripture there is in modern sermons compared with the sermons of those masters of theology, the Puritanic divines! Almost every sentence of theirs seems to cast side lights upon a text of Scripture; not only the one they are preaching about, but many others as well are set in a new light as the discourse proceeds. They introduce blended lights from other passages, which are parallel or semi-parallel thereunto, and thus they educate their readers to compare spiritual things with spiritual. I would to God that we ministers kept more closely to the grand old book. We should be instructive preachers if we did so, even if we were ignorant of “modern thought,” and were not “abreast of the times.” I warrant you we should be leagues ahead of our times if we kept closely to the word of God. As for you, my brothers and sisters, who have not to preach, the best food for you is the word of God itself. Sermons and books are well enough, but streams that run for a long distance above ground gradually gather for themselves somewhat of the soil through which they flow, and they lose the cool freshness with which they started from the spring head. Truth is sweetest where it breaks from the smitten Rock, for at its first gush it has lost none of its heavenliness and vitality. It is always best to drink at the well and not from the tank. You shall find that reading the word of God for yourselves, reading it rather than notes upon it, is the surest way of growing in grace. Drink of the unadulterated milk of the word of God, and not of the skim milk, or the milk and water of man’s word.


But, now, beloved, our point is that much apparent Bible reading is not Bible reading at all. The verses pass under the eye, and the sentences glide over the mind, but there is no true reading. An old preacher used to say, the Word has mighty free course among many nowadays, for it goes in at one of their ears and out at the other; so it seems to be with some readers they can read a very great deal, because they do not read anything. The eye glances but the mind never rests. The soul does not light upon the truth and stay there. It flits over the landscape as a bird might do, but it builds no nest therein, and finds no rest for the sole of its foot. Such reading is not reading. Understanding the meaning is the essence of true reading. Reading has a kernel to it, and the mere shell is little worth. In prayer there is such a thing as praying in prayer a praying that is the bowels of the prayer. So in praise there is a praising in song’, an inward fire of intense devotion which is the life of the hallelujah. It is so in fasting: there is a fasting which is not fasting, and there is an inward fasting, a fasting of the soul, which is the soul of fasting. It is even so with the reading’ of the Scriptures. There is an interior reading, a kernel reading a true and living reading of the Word. This is the soul of reading; and, if it be not there, the reading is a mechanical exercise, and profits nothing. Now, beloved, unless we understand what we read we have not read it; the heart of the reading is absent. We commonly condemn the Romanists for keeping the daily service in the Latin tongue; yet it might as well be in the Latin language as in any other tongue if it be not understood by the people. Some comfort themselves with the idea that they have done a good action when they have read a chapter, into the meaning of which they have not entered at all; but does not nature herself reject this as a mere superstition. If you had turned the book upside down, and spent the same time in looking at the characters in that direction, you would have gained as much good from it as you will in reading it in the regular way without understanding it. If you had a New Testament in Greek it would be very Greek to some of you, but it would do you as much good to look at that as it does to look at the English New Testament unless you read with understanding heart. It is not the letter, which saves the soul; the letter killeth in many senses, and never can it give life. If you harp on the letter alone you may be tempted to use it as a weapon against the truth, as the Pharisees did of old, and your knowledge of the letter may breed pride in you to your destruction. It is the spirit, the real inner meaning that is sucked into the soul, by which we are blessed and sanctified. We become saturated with the word of God, like Gideon’s fleece, which was wet with the dew of heaven; and this can only come to pass by our receiving it into our minds and hearts, accepting it as God’s truth, and so far understanding it as to delight in it. We must understand it, then, or else we have not read it aright.


Certainly, the benefit of reading must come to the soul by the way of the understanding. When the high priest went into the holy place he always lit the golden candlestick before he kindled the incense upon the brazen altar, as if to show that the mind must have illumination before the affections can properly rise towards their divine object. There must be knowledge of God before there can be love to God: there must be a knowledge of divine things, as they are revealed, before there can be an enjoyment of them. We must try to make out, as far as our finite mind can grasp it, what God means by this and what he means by that; otherwise we may kiss the book and have no love to its contents, we may reverence the letter and yet really have no devotion towards the Lord who speaks to us in these words. Beloved, you will never get comfort to your soul out of what you do not understand, nor find guidance for your life out of what you do not comprehend; nor can any practical bearing upon your character come out of that which is not understood by you.


How, if we are thus to understand what we read or otherwise we read in vain, this shows us that when we come to the study of Holy Scripture we should try to have our mind well awake to it. We are not always fit, it seems to me, to read the Bible. At times it were well for us to stop before we open the volume. “Put off thy shoe from thy foot, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” You have just come in from careful thought and anxiety about your worldly business, and you cannot immediately take that book and enter into its heavenly mysteries. As you ask a blessing over your meat before you fall to, so it would be a good rule for you to ask a blessing on the word before you partake of its heavenly food. Pray the Lord to strengthen your eyes before you dare to look into the eternal light of Scripture. As the priests washed their feet at the laver before they went to their holy work, so it were well to wash the soul’s eyes with which you look upon God’s word, to wash even the fingers, if I may so speak the mental fingers with which you will turn from page to page, that with a holy book you may deal after a holy fashion. Say to your soul “Come, soul, wake up: thou art not now about to read the newspaper; thou art not now perusing the pages of a human poet to be dazzled by his flashing poetry; thou art coming very near to God, who sits in the Word like a crowned monarch in his halls. Wake up, my glory; wake up, all that is within me. Though just now I may not be praising and glorifying God, I am about to consider that which should lead me so to do, and therefore it is an act of devotion. So be on the stir, my soul: be on the stir, and bow not sleepily before the awful throne of the Eternal.” Scripture reading is our spiritual mealtime. Sound the gong and call in every faculty to the Lord’s own table to feast upon the precious meat which is now to be partaken of; or, rather, ring the church-bell as for worship, for the studying of the Holy Scripture ought to be as solemn a deed as when we lift the psalm upon the Sabbath day in the courts of the Lord’s house.


If these things be so, you will see at once, dear friends, that, if you are to understand what you read, you will need to meditate upon it. Some passages of Scripture lie clear before us blessed shallows in which the lambs may wade; but there are deeps in which our mind might rather drown herself than swim with pleasure, if she came there without caution. There are texts of Scripture which are made and con-strutted on purpose to make us think. By this means, among others, our heavenly Father would educate us for heaven by making us think our way into divine mysteries. Hence he puts the word in a somewhat involved form to compel us to meditate upon it before we reach the sweetness of it. He might, you know, have explained it to us so that we might catch the thought in a minute, but he does not please to do so in every case. Many of the veils which are east over Scripture are not meant to hide the meaning from the diligent, but to compel the mind to be active, for oftentimes the diligence of the heart in seeking to know the divine mind does the heart more good than the knowledge itself. Meditation and careful thought exercise us and strengthen the soul for the reception of the yet more lofty truths. I have heard that the mothers in the Balearic isles, in the old times, who wanted to bring their boys up to be good slingers, would put their dinners up above them where they could not get at them until they threw a stone and fetched them down: our Lord wishes us to be good slingers, and he puts up some precious truth in a lofty place where we cannot get it down except by slinging at it; and, at last, we hit the mark and find food for our souls. Then have we the double benefit of learning the art of meditation and partaking of the sweet truth which it has brought within our reach. We must meditate brothers. These grapes will yield no wine till we tread upon them. These olives must be put under the wheel, and pressed again and again, that the oil may flow therefrom. In a dish of nuts, you may know which nut has been eaten, because there is a little hole which the insect has punctured through the shell just a little hole, and then inside there is the living thing eating up the kernel. Well, it is a grand thing to bore through the shell of the letter, and then to live inside feeding upon the kernel. I would wish to be such a little worm as that, living within and upon the word of God, having bored my way through the shell, and having reached the innermost mystery of the blessed gospel. The word of God is always most precious to the man who most lives upon it. As I sat last year under a wide-spreading beech, I was pleased to mark with prying curiosity the singular habits of that most wonderful of trees, which seems to have intelligence about it, which other trees have not. I wondered and admired the beech, but I thought to myself, I do not think half as much of this beech tree as yonder squirrel does. I see him leap from bough to bough, and I feel sure that he dearly values the old beech tree, because he has his home somewhere inside it in a hollow place, these branches are his shelter, and those beechnuts are his food. He lives upon the tree. It is his world, his playground, his granary, his home; indeed, it is everything to him, and it is not so to me, for I find my rest and food elsewhere. With God’s word it is well for us to be like squirrels, living in it and living on it. Let us exercise our minds by leaping from bough to bough of it, find our rest and food in it, and make it our all in all. We shall be the people that get the profit out of it if we make it to be our food, our medicine, our treasury, our armoury, our rest, our delight. May the Holy Ghost lead us to do this and make the Word thus precious to our souls.
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  #62  
Old 1st September 2004, 09:04 PM
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THE SOWER
NO. 2842


“Behold, a sower went forth to sow.” — Matthew 13:3.


I. First, WHO WAS HE?

We do not know anything at all about him except that he was a sower. His individuality seems to be swallowed up in his office. We do not know who his father was, or his mother, or his sister, or his brother; all we know is that he was a sower, and I do like to see a man who is so much a minister that he is nothing else but a minister. It does not matter who he is, or what he has, or what else he can do, if he does this one thing. He has lost his identity in his service, though he has also gained it over again in another way. He has lost his selfhood, and has become, once for all, a sower, and nothing but a sower.


Observe, dear friends, that there are many personal matters which are quite unimportant. It is not mentioned here whether he was a refined sower, or a rustic sower; and it does not matter which he was. So is it with the workers for Christ, God blesses all sorts of men. William Huntington, the coal-heaven, brought many souls to Christ. Some have doubted this; but, in my early Christian days, I knew some of the excellent of the earth who were the spiritual children of the coal-heaven. Chalmers stood at the very opposite pole, a master of cultured gracious speech, a learned, welltrained man; and what multitude Chalmers brought to Christ! So, whether it was Huntington or Chalmers, does not matter: “A sower went forth to sow.” One preacher talks like Rowland Hill, in very plain Saxon with a touch of humor; another, like Robert Hall, uses a grand style of speech, full of brilliant rhetoric, and scarcely ever condescending to men of low degree, yet God blessed both of them. What mattered it whether the speech was of the colloquial or of the oratorical order so long as God blessed it? The man preached the gospel; exactly how he preached it, need not be declared. He was a sower, he went forth to sow, and there came a glorious harvest from his sowing.


Now, my dear brother, you have begun earnestly to speak for Christ, but you are troubled because you cannot speak like Mr. So-and-so. Do not try to speak like Mr. So-and-so. You say, “I heard a man preach, the other night; and when he had done, I thought I could never preach again.” Well, it was very naughty, on your part, to think that. You ought rather to have said, “I will try to preach all the better now that I have heard one who preaches so much better than I can.” Just feel that you have to sow the good seed of the kingdom; and if you have not so big a hand as some sowers have, and cannot sow quite so much at a time, go and sow with your smaller hand, only mind that you sow the same seed, for so God will accept what you do. You are grieved that you do not know so much as some do, and that you have not the same amount of learning that they have. You regret that you have not the poetical faculty of some, or the holy ingenuity of others. Why do you speak about all these things? Our Lord Jesus Christ does not do so; he simply says, “A sower went forth to sow.” He does not tell us how he was dressed; he mentions nothing about whether he was a black man, or a white man, or what kind of man he was; he tells us nothing about him except that he was a sower. Will you, my dear friend, try to be nothing but a soulwinner, Never mind about “idiosyncrasies”, or whatever people call them. Go ahead, and sow the good seed, and God bless you in doing so!


Next notice that, as the various personal matters relating to the man are too unimportant to be recorded, his name and his fame are not written in this Book. Do you want to have your name put to everything that you do? Mind that God does not let you have your desire, and then say to you, “There, you have done that unto yourself, so you can reward yourself for it.” As far as ever you can, keep your own name out of all the work you do for the Lord I used to notice, in Paris, that there was not a bridge, or a public building, without the letter “N” somewhere on it. Now, go through all the city, and find an “N” if you can. Napoleon hoped his fame would live in imperishable marble, but he had written his name in sand after all; and if any one of us shall, in our ministry, think it the all-important matter to make our own name prominent, we are on the wrong tack altogether. When George Whitefield was asked to start a new sect, he said, “I do not condemn my brother Wesley for what he has done, but I cannot do the same; let my name perish, but let Christ’s name endure for ever and ever.” Do not be anxious for your name to go down to posterity, but be more concerned to be only remembered by what you have done, as this man is only remembered by Christ’s testimony that he was a sower.


What he did, in his sowing, is some of it recorded, but only that which refers to his special work. Where his seed fell, how it grew or did not grow, and what came of it or did not come of it, that is all there; but nothing else about his life, or history, is there at all. I pray you, do not be anxious for anything that shall embalm your reputation. Embalming is for the dead; so the living may be content to let their name and fame be blown away by the same wind that blows it to them. What does our reputation matter, after all. It is nothing but the opinion or the breath of men, and that is of little or no value to the child of God. Serve God faithfully, and then leave your name and fame in his keeping. There is a day coming when the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. We have no record of the name and the fame of this man, yet we do know something about him. We know that he must have been, first of all, an eater, or he never would have been a sower. The gospel is seed for the sower, and bread for the eater; and every man, who really goes out to sow for God, must first have been an eater. There is not a man, on the face of the earth, who treads the furrows of the field, and sows the seed, but must first have been an eater of bread; and there is not a true servant of God, beneath the cope of heaven, but has first fed on the gospel before he has preached it. If there be any who pretend to sow, but who have never themselves eaten, God have mercy upon them! What a desecration of the pulpit it is for a man to attempt to preach what he does not himself know! What a desecration it is of even a Sunday-school class-for an unconverted young man, or young woman to be a teacher of others! I do not think such a thing ought to be allowed. Wherever it has been permitted, I charge any, who have been trying to teach what they do not themselves know, to cry to God to teach them, that they may not go and pretend to speak in the name of the Lord, to the children, till, first of all, Christ has spoken peace and pardon to their own hearts, and he has been formed in them the hope of glory. May every worker here put to himself the question, “Have I fed upon and enjoyed that good Word which I am professing to teach to others.”
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  #63  
Old 3rd September 2004, 05:08 PM
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"William Huntington, the coal-heaven,"


It's Coal Heaver.............as in coal miner
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  #64  
Old 5th September 2004, 06:06 PM
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Originally Posted by cygnusx1
"William Huntington, the coal-heaven,"


It's Coal Heaver.............as in coal miner
My copy of the library has some errors in it. It is nice when someone helps me point one out. I'll go see to the online source and get it corrected.
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Old 5th September 2004, 06:09 PM
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THE SEED BY THE WAYSIDE

NO. 2843

“As he sowed, some fell by the way side; and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it.” — Luke 8:5.



II. But, secondly, it is certainly true that we shall find SOME SOULS WHICH, for the present, at any rate, SEEN UNSUITED TO THE GOSPEL.


This trodden track, through the field, was not a fit place for the corn to fall with any hope of a harvest following. Roadways, which have been long used, become very bad for sowing. I remember paying a visit to the old city of Silchester, which still remains in England; few ever seem to see it, but it is well worth seeing, though nothing remains but the walls. I went down to examine it; and, standing on the wall, I could distinctly trace the streets of that old city, yet the whole of it was covered with corn; but the corn would not come to perfection, or grow to any great length of straw, where the old Roman roads had been. Near Croydon, I have frequently traced the old Roman road, through a field of grass or of corn, by the fact that it was so well made that, after the English ploughing of centuries, it still seems difficult to raise good crops upon the ground; and those Oriental paths, though not made with all the skill of the Roman road-makers, became very hard through being traversed by multitudes of feet.







In a similar manner, there are many persons into whom we cannot get the gospel because they are too much occupied. There is too much traffic over them. They are not occupied with deep thought but with multitudes of frivolous thoughts, which are well imaged by travelers who just pass along a road continually. Have we not many in our congregations who are always occupied with worldly thoughts? From the moment they are up till they go to bed, it is just one continuous tramp of the world. They are trodden with the multitudinous feet of worldly business.







Then, along a public road, you not only have business men, but you have persons bent on pleasure. How many young people there are, whose hearts are just a road along which thoughts of levity and desires for amusement are continually going! How many precious hours are wasted over the novels of the day! I do think that one of the worst enemies of the gospel of Christ, at the present time, is to be found in the fiction of the day. People get these worthless books and sit, and sit, forgetful of the duties of this world, and of all that relates to the world to come, just losing themselves in the story of the hero or heroine. I have seen them shedding tears over things that never happened, as if there were not enough real sorrows in the world for us to grieve over. So these feet of fictitious personages, these feet of foolish frivolities, these feet of mere nonsense, or worse, keep traversing the hearts of men, and making them hard, so that the gospel cannot enter.



I believe, too, that some are made hard even by hearing the gospel. You can hear too much if you do not hear aright. One nail can drive another out. If one sermon were put into practice, it would be better than fifty that went in at one ear, and out at the other. Some are always greedy to hear the last new orator who has been discovered. They will go all over London to listen to him. That is only another kind of traffic constantly going over the road, and making it as hard as if it were traversed for unholy purposes.




Again, this was bad and unsuitable soil because it was hardened by the constant traffic. Sin hardens the heart. Every sin makes room for another sin, and it is always easier to sin again after you have sinned once. Nay, more, I might even say that it becomes almost inevitable that you will sin again after you have sinned once. Sin hardens the mind so that it does not receive the gospel.



And the world has a hardening effect, too. Association with its society, yielding to its customs, being engrossed in its business, all this makes a man’s heart exceedingly hard. I have already reminded you that, alas! even the gospel itself may harden sinners in their sin. After long hearing it, neglecting it, rejecting it, it seems to operate upon them in a very terrible way, so that it becomes a savor of death unto death to them. Sad to relate, they are not alarmed by the fatal lethargy which has crept over them even while hearing the Word; and if they hear error, it has the same effect in a more dreadful way. Much of the preaching of the present day tends to harden the hearts of men against the gospel. They are excused in their sins, taught to question the inspiration of the Scriptures, led to doubt whether, after all, sin will bring the eternal punishment which our Lord Jesus plainly revealed. Oh, it is a sad, sad thing when all this traffic of things good, bad, and indifferent has gone over a man’s soul till it becomes harder than the nether millstone!


One other reason why this soil was so uncongenial was that it was totally unprepared for the seed. There had been no ploughing before the seed was sown, and no harrowing afterwards. He that sows without a plough may reap without a sickle. He who preaches the gospel without preaching the law may hold all the results of it in his hand, and there will be little for him to hold. Robbie Flockhart, when he preached in the streets of Edinburgh, used to say, — ”You must preach the law, for the gospel is a silken thread, and you cannot get it into the hearts of men unless you have made a way for it with a sharp needle; the sharp needle of the law will pull the silken thread of the gospel after it.” There must be ploughing before there is sowing if there is to be reaping after the sowing.



And in this case there was no harrowing after sowing; and that is a very important part of the work, to go over the ground again to get the seed well into the soil. I like those prayer-meetings that harrow in the seed, and that private prayer, that secret study of the Word, that private crying unto God, after the seed has been sown, that he would be pleased to cover it up, and keep it in the soil, and make it grow ready for the harvest; but, with no ploughing before the sowing, and no harrowing afterwards, what result can you expect? We do meet with hearers who are just like that trodden path. I wonder how many of that sort are here now. As a rule, we have a choice congregation on a Thursday evening, because it is not every hypocrite who comes out to a week-night service. I do not say that every hypocrite comes out on Sunday; but we have a hope that persons have some love for the things of God when they come out on a week-night to hear the gospel. Yet I should not wonder if some of you are no better than you ought to be; as hearers of the Word, I mean. Some people come to see what kind of a place the Tabernacle is, or what kind of a person the preacher is. I hope that all of you are perfectly satisfied nor on both those points, and that you will forget all about the place and the preacher, and will just think about yourselves, and about that divine truth which will not be blessed to your salvation unless it is honestly and genuinely received into your heart. If you receive Christ, he will bring forth fruit in you; but if you remain like the trodden pathway, and do not receive him, what can be the result but your greater condemnation?
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Old 15th September 2004, 08:39 AM
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OK, so Woody is a few days behind. But, I am catching back up.

Here is a question. Is this true: "We must all appear personally, and enquiry will be made of us, that ALL may see how we have lived?"



2 Corinthians 5:10 GB
(10) (4) For we must all(h) appeare before the iudgement seate of Christ, that euery man may receiue the things which are done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or euill.
(Geneva notes)(4) That no man might think that what he spoke of that heavenly glory pertains to all, he adds that every one will first render an account of his pilgrimage, after he has departed from here.


(h) We must all appear personally, and enquiry will be made of us, that all may see how we have lived.
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Old 15th September 2004, 08:45 AM
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Hmm, from what I understand at our justification our sins were placed on Christ, in fact Christ became our sins, and Christ's works were imputed to us.

So what are we going to be giving an account about since everything we have done has been placed on Christ?
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Old 7th October 2004, 10:40 AM
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Originally Posted by ksen
Hmm, from what I understand at our justification our sins were placed on Christ, in fact Christ became our sins, and Christ's works were imputed to us.

So what are we going to be giving an account about since everything we have done has been placed on Christ?
ksen, I don't think the fact that there is a Penal Substitutionary nature to the Atonement has anything to do with whether or not we will personally be made aware and answer for each and every sin we have committed. Paul is taking about believers and to believers in that verse.

Mercy is a judicial act. However, that doesn't mean that the actor will not fully confess the crimes for which he is given mercy before the judgement seat.

I am more curious as to whether or not we will all corporately be made aware of each others crimes, which is what the Geneva note suggests will happen.
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Old 7th October 2004, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by CCWoody
ksen, I don't think the fact that there is a Penal Substitutionary nature to the Atonement has anything to do with whether or not we will personally be made aware and answer for each and every sin we have committed. Paul is taking about believers and to believers in that verse.

Mercy is a judicial act. However, that doesn't mean that the actor will not fully confess the crimes for which he is given mercy before the judgement seat.

I am more curious as to whether or not we will all corporately be made aware of each others crimes, which is what the Geneva note suggests will happen.
That's true. I didn't think of it as giving an account to give an account. I don't know why there would be other's present or able to comprehend what we are giving an account to God for.

Gosh I hope not. I don't want to hear about everybody else's failures, and I really don't like the idea of everybody hearing my dirty laundry.
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Old 30th October 2004, 12:41 PM
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Originally Posted by CCWoody
I am more curious as to whether or not we will all corporately be made aware of each others crimes, which is what the Geneva note suggests will happen.
That's always been my impression...all those things done in secret being shouted from the rooftops?
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