Memphis Belle

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John1:1-5 John 1: 6-18 John 1:19-51 John 2 John 3:1-21
John 3:22-36 John 4: 1-42 John 4:43-54 John 5:1-15 John 5:16-47
John 6:1-40 John 6:41-71 John 7: 1-53 John 8:1-30 John 8; 31-53
John 9:1-41
John 10:1-42
John 11: 1-57 John 12: 1-26 John: 27-50
John 13: 1-38 John 14:1-14 John 14: 15-31 John 15: 1-17 John 15: 18-27
John 16: 5-33 John 17:1-26 John 18: 1-16 John 18: 15-27 John 19: 1-16
John 19: 17-30 John 19: 31-42 John 20: 1-23 John 20: 24-31 John 21: 1-25
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John 8:31-59

 

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.  They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?  Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.  And the servant abideth not in the house forever: but the Son abideth ever.  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.  I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.  I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.  They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father.  Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.  But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.  Ye do the deeds of your father.  Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.  Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.  Why do ye not understand my speech?  even because ye cannot hear my word.  Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.  And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.  Which of you convinceth me of sin?  And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?  He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.  Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?  Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.  And I seek not mine own glory; there is one that seeketh and judgeth.  Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.  Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil.  Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.  Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead?  and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?  Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:  yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.  Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.  [To see who “I am” is, look up Exodus 3:13-14.]   Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”

 

“Well, good morning.  Good to see everybody.  Bill mentioned in the announcements we’re starting home fellowships the 24th and 25th.  I’d ask you to continue to keep that in prayer.  Whenever we’ve started out on a new ministry it seemed beneficial to really cover it in prayer.  There’s certainly a spiritual battle.  And I think home fellowships are going to be one of the most significant things that we venture into in the months and years ahead, very significant for this church what the Lord will do in and through it.  So I’d ask you to continue in prayer….and as noted too in the bulletin, that same week we’re going to have a week of fasting and prayer.  We’re going to probably start doing that quarterly as a church.  Now when I say fasting and prayer, some of you maybe, there’s a cringe suddenly in your stomach.  Last thing you want to do is fast.  But it’s something we’re going to do as a church, and certainly it’s voluntary, you’re welcome to be part of it if you’d like.  And if you’re going to be part of it, we’d rather not know that you are doing it.  Fasting means all sorts of things, you can fast from food, you can fast from the Mall, you can fast from TV, you can fast from golf, you can do whatever you want to do, that’s between you and the Lord, and it’s only valuable if it’s between you and the Lord, in the heart.  But as a church we need to grow as a church in prayer.  And I’m convinced all the more, there is a spiritual battle, there is a spiritual battle right here in our downtown.  And we wage the war, we fight the battle as we pray.  I think there’s power in fasting too, in the sense that it really seems to set our heart apart for prayer.  So we’re going to do that for that week of October 21st to 27th.  Please also maybe mark that on your calendar, and let the Lord lead you in what the means to you.  If it’s just going without TV so you can set aside more time for prayer, praise God.  As a community we’ll be blessed, and as a church we’ll be blessed.  Also tonight, we did it a couple weeks ago, we’re going to have for our prayer-time just a time of afterglow, seeking the Holy Spirit in our lives, seeking the Holy Spirit in this church.  You’re welcome to be part of that if you have the time.  Also, if you can somehow pencil into your calendar, one Sunday night a month, to be part of prayer at this church, we’d be blessed as a church, because it’s about prayer….Let’s say a word of prayer again.  And we are in John chapter 8.  Last week we got to verse 30.  We’re going to pick up on verse 31, and God willing we’ll go to the end of chapter 8.  So let’s say a word of prayer together.  ‘Lord we thank you that we can come together as a congregation, we can worship you as we have done, we can be ministered to through music, even through the choirs that come, and so beautifully, Lord, sing that song to you.  And we can be ministered to by that.  Also through prayer, through just shaking hands and fellowshipping, but we also have this great opportunity to just consider your Word.  So as we do, we ask that you’d give us ears that hear.  Holy Spirit, be upon all of us and upon me now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, Amen.’ 

          Jesus is the Son of God.  That is something we continue to be reminded of as we go through the book of John.  Jesus is the Son of God, that means he is God the Son, that’s what I mean.  God the Son who came to the earth, putting aside his glory for a time, and he walked on this planet as a man.  So he’s God the Son, the Son of God, both God and man.  So this is why the prophet Isaiah then prophecied in chapter 7 of Isaiah, he prophecied that the virgin would miraculously conceive, give birth to a son.  His name would be called Immanuel, that is, God with us.  Amazingly, God, God the Son, came to this earth and walked this earth and was with us.  This is the simple teaching of the Bible.  We continue to get the privilege of being reminded of that as we go through the Gospel of John.  And I hope that if you came with any questions about Jesus being the Son of God, Jesus being God, I hope the Lord answers all those questions by the time we’re done.  This is certainly the purpose of the writer, John as he writes.  In fact, you may remember chapter 20, verse 31, he says this is his purpose.  “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ [Hebrew: Messiah], the Son of God, and therefore by believing you will have life in his name.”  So today as we go through the end of this chapter, we’ll see continued proof that indeed Jesus is the Son of God.  But also the exhortation is there, between the lines, it is certainly important that we believe that he is the Son of God.  As we will see, it makes all the difference, as John says at the end of this Gospel.  Well, as we consider, here’s a simple outline for this text, as we go through it.  Jesus the Son of God, we’ll see his power, we’ll see his character, we’ll see his testimony. 
And that’s basically how I divide out this chapter. 

 

If you abide in the Word of God, you really are a disciple

 

Verses 31-36, “Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed in him, ‘If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed.  And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’  They answered him, ‘We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone.  How can you say ‘You will be made free?’.  Jesus answered them, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but the Son abides forever.  If therefore the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.’”  We’re told here, and this is  a response to what we saw last week in verse 30, the end of our text from last week.  Jesus after forgiving the adulterous woman, after forgiving her, and then sharing the truth in verse 12 that he is the light of the world, then in defense of his comment, when the Pharisees came against him, he went on to defend that, and as he did, in verse 30 we’re told as he shared certain truths, “That many believed in him.”  So now, as many have believed in him, with that understanding, he now initially addresses those softer hearts, the hearts in his audience, the people that have believed in him, put their faith in him, have embraced what he has said.  But as we go on, this is important to state, it’ll get a little confusing if you don’t, he moves from one audience to another.  Not necessarily saying that, but you can imagine maybe as he’s speaking, his head is moving.  But he’s addressing different audiences, different parts of the audience, different groups within the audience as he goes.  He starts out talking to those that have softer hearts, those that have embraced what he said.  But then he moves on and begins to say some really hard things towards those who haven’t been receiving what he said, those who really have a hard heart against him.  So, keep that in mind.  When it says “They”, it’s not necessarily the same individuals, he’s moving around.  And I’ll note that as we go.  But now it’s clear, he’s addressing the softer hearts.  And he starts with this “If then” statement.  ‘If certain things are true’ he says, ‘then the following will also be true.’  What certain things?  He says “If you abide in my word, if that is true, if you abide in my word,’ he says that to his audience, he says it to us, ‘if you do that, then certain things will also be true in your life.’  And what is the first thing he says?  ‘Well, if you abide in my word, then it will also be true that you are my disciples.  If you abide in my word, then it will also be true that you are my disciples.’  So a person’s future loyalty to the teaching of Jesus Christ will prove the reality of their profession.  If somebody professes to believe in him, to have him in their heart, then their loyalty in the future to the Word of God, their hunger for the Word of God, will prove indeed that their profession was indeed true.  Continuance in the Word of God proves either the sincerity or the insincerity of a person’s profession.  That’s what Jesus is saying here.  It’s the acid test.  And it’s certainly true of all of us that gather here this morning.  If I abide in his Word, then I can know that indeed I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, because there is a hunger in my heart.  [i.e. you never lose your spiritual appetite for the Word of God, spiritual manna, the Bread of Life in written form.]  There’s a love of God’s Word in my heart.  And therefore I abide in his Word.  I don’t necessarily do it perfectly, there’s struggles, but yet there’s this continuance in the Word of God.  Those who abide in his Word are disciples indeed.  It means more than to just receive the Word, man, it means that you’re somebody that loves the Word of God.  Now it’s possible as he’s saying these things, that the people in the crowd there, some of them embrace the truths that he’s said.  But in the future, he understands that they’re going to just turn away, they’re going to put those truths aside.  Later in their life, those truths won’t be so important to them, and then they’re going to go back to their old ways, and there isn’t going to be any hunger for the Word of God.  So he’s saying these things.  If you really are a disciple, you’ll abide in the Word of God.  If you abide in the Word of God, you really are a disciple.  That’s what he says.  But if you don’t, well then there’s a concern.  Well how about you this morning?  Are you a disciple, and do you abide in the Word of God?  Do you abide in the Word of God?  Either way.  Do you love God’s Word?  Is there a hunger in your heart for the Word of God?  Do you want more and more of it?  If there isn’t a hunger, certainly there should be a concern, based on what Jesus says here.  There should be a concern indeed.  Now no doubt, in churches all around this nation and around this world this morning, on Sunday morning, there are people who come to church, and for whatever reason they come, they hardly ever hear what the pastor has to say.  Man, you can tell their eyes are glazed over, and they come, but for some reason it’s like putting in time.  They come for a certain reason, but they come, and they put in their time.  ‘I mean, it starts now, and I know George should end about then, he always goes over a little bit, so it will be a little bit longer [laughter], and I hope it isn’t too much, and I wish he didn’t.’  But they’re putting in their time, they’re putting in their time.  There isn’t this hunger for the Word of God.  And then the rest of the week when they leave church, they never open their Bible, never put a cassette in their radio of their car of a Bible teacher, they don’t have the CD’s of their favorite Bible teacher, there isn’t any hunger for the Word of God in their life.  And if this is true of you, consider the implications of what Jesus is saying.  He says “If you abide in my word, then you are a true disciple.”  That is what he says.  It’s his Word.  Now I don’t say this, he doesn’t say this to make you feel guilty.  I don’t say this to try to manipulate you into listening to me, that isn’t to manipulate you.  It isn’t to make you feel bad, it isn’t to force you ‘I’m going to be a good Christian boy or girl, so I’m going to go do this, I’m going to go read the Bible.’  That isn’t the intent at all.  In a way, Jesus speaks in a way to prod his audience.  There’s really a love, there’s an arm outreached to them in a sense, from his heart, saying “If you abide in my Word, you are a disciple.”  He’s getting them to consider truths, he’s getting them to ponder things.  This isn’t something to take flippantly, this isn’t just the excitement for the day.  This is a life[style] that he’s talking about.  Well, so is he prodding my heart this morning?  Is there a hunger for the Word of God?  Do I enjoy listening to Bible teaching.  Maybe it isn’t in my style, but at least there’s a hunger, I want to get some truths for my life.  If there isn’t, then why isn’t there?  These are things that we need to consider, that is for sure.  Well, there are people that come to church, they haven’t made Christ the Lord of their life yet, maybe they’ve come forward for an altar call, but Jesus hasn’t become the Lord of their life, and because of that there isn’t this excitement in their walk.  And that is what Jesus is addressing.  Well the question then, is this you today?  And if it’s you today, my encouragement to you, if you’re here, you come to church, you put in your time, maybe a long time ago you came forward for an altar call, but there’s no hunger for God in your life, you just come because your spouse comes, you just come because you think you have to, man, I encourage you, before you leave today get right with the Lord, just in your heart.  Say “Jesus be the Lord of my life.  I give you my life.  I want you to be the Lord of my life.”  If you truly do that in your life you will find that a hunger is a natural thing, it will just start to happen.  It happens in his disciples.  He puts it there.  It’s part of loving the Lord.  It’s part of knowing the Lord. 

 

‘If you abide in my word, you are my disciples, and, you will know the truth’

 

Well, his second truth to this “If then” statement, “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples”, his second part that goes with that, he says “then you shall know the truth.”  “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples, then also you shall know the truth.”  You’re no longer going to be deceived, by the deception of the world.  You’re no longer going to be aimlessly hunting for answers and searching to fulfill certain questions that you have in your life, aimlessly.  You will certainly know the truth.  It won’t be concealed from you any longer, your eyes won’t be blinded any longer.  Your eyes will be opened, and you will know the truth.  He says, ‘If you abide in my word, you will be my disciples, and you will know the truth.’   Later Jesus will even say to Thomas, he will say to Thomas that he is the personification of truth.  As you remember maybe in John chapter 14, verse 6, he says “I am the way and the truth.”  So to know the truth is to know Jesus Christ.  And then to abide in his Word is to actually meet with the Word, the Word, the Logos, Jesus Christ.  So that explains then too, why when people come to Christ there is a hunger for the Word, because Jesus is the Truth.  So I meet him in the Word [the Bible, the Word of God], I engage with him in the Word.  So if I love Jesus, if my heart beats for him, there is naturally this slowly growing hunger for the Word of God, and the more you taste, the more you see, the more you have that hunger.  So what is the Lord saying to our hearts this morning?  What is he saying to you and I?  Well to abide in his Word is to be his disciple, it’s also to know the truth.  [Comment:  To know the truth is also to be able to understand the Bible.  Those that don’t know Jesus, are not born-again, can read the Bible, but don’t really have a clue as to what it’s really saying.  It’s like reading a book that’s written in a foreign language you don’t understand.]

 

“And the truth shall set you free”

 

And then he goes with the next part of that, he says “the truth shall set you free.”  Man, that’s such a great statement, “the truth shall set you free.”  I think of Martin Luther King.  In fact I got on my computer, I was trying to pull up on my computer encyclopedias, that speech was so powerful, “I have a dream”, that speech he gave in 1963, at 34 years of age.  But he went on to say “Free at last, free at last.  Thank God I am free at last.”  So powerfully he said that.  And when I think of this, I think of that power of that speech, “Free at last”.  He [Jesus] says, “If you abide in my word you are my disciples, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” (verse 32b)  And man, to be free is to be free.  That’s a wonderful experience indeed.

 

Set free from what?

 

Now, free from what, specifically?  His listeners don’t necessarily understand at this point.  And that’s seen in their response.  They say “We are Abraham’s descendents, and have never been in bondage to anyone.  How then say you ‘You shall be made free?’ (verse 33)  So basically they’re saying ‘What do you mean?  We’re not slaves.’  Obviously they’re thinking in the physical sense.  But considering the history of these people, their answer is still strange.  They say ‘We’ve never been in bondage to anyone.’  Jesus could have said ‘Really?’  [laughter]  I mean, it’s a strange response.  And it’s true, and maybe at this point he’s changed, he’s talked to some soft hearts, maybe there’s some interaction with some harder hearts now.  These people when it says “They” there, it seems that maybe there’s some harder hearts, some pride in there, ‘We’re not slaves, what do you mean “set us free”, what do you mean?  We’re not in bondage to anyone.’  He could have said ‘Really?---the people of Israel have never been in bondage?  What about the 400 years in Egypt, what about the book of Judges, 305 years, seven different kingdoms the people were in bondage, then to the Assyrians, the ten northern tribes went captive [10 of the 12 tribes of Israel were deported, and never returned to the land of Israel, only Judah, Levi and part of Benjamin], and then the southern tribes [Judah, Levi and part of Benjamin], they went to Babylon to be captive.’  And even now, they’re under the Romans.  That is a weird answer, a weird reply.  It’s just pride, “We’re not slaves”, take a look!  The people of Israel have often been in physical bondage.  But you know, when there’s pride, and people don’t want to hear from God, they’ll even change history.  I see that in our country.  Suddenly I got a different belief system and a different philosophy, and in order to be comfortable with it, I’ve got to rewrite history.  I’ve got to change history.  Suddenly Columbus isn’t what he used to be, and suddenly this guy is a different guy, Abraham Lincoln wasn’t who he really was, suddenly they start changing history [or burying it, like the ancient Egyptians would do whenever they got a new king, the history of the previous king was destroyed].  Maybe that’s seen here with these people, these harder hearts.  But he could have said “Really?  You’ve never been in bondage?”  They’re thinking physical, anyway.  But he, obviously is referring to this in another context, and that is, he is speaking spiritually.  So he says, he goes further to explain it.  Verse 34, he says, “Most assuredly, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.”  Whoever commits sin is a slave of sin.  So he’s not referring in a physical sense necessarily, he’s referring to the spiritual sense.  He’s referring to bondage of the heart, in the way that we live our lives, that type of bondage.  When he says the word “commit”, “whoever commits sin”, the Greek for that word is in the present active participle, so he means the continuous habit, or the practice of sin.  [i.e. lifestyle of sin]  So he who continues in sin, he who practices a sinful lifestyle, a habit of sin, that person is indeed a slave, is in bondage to sin.  Somebody put it this way, “Sin is like the worst narcotic”, sin in general.  We think of certain ones, but man, sin in general, if it’s a habit in my life, if it’s a continual deal with me, man, I’m in bondage to it.  I’m a slave to it.  So, what is Jesus saying?  Jesus is saying “to abide in the Word of God is to be a disciple, it is to know the truth, and the truth will set you free”, spiritually speaking.  You will be free from the bondage of sin.  Man, that is heralded throughout the New Testament.  Isn’t it?  That is a beautiful Scripture indeed, a beautiful blessing and promise to us.  Now we saw a picture of that last week.  This woman came to Jesus, this woman caught in adultery, and he said to her “I forgive you, I don’t condemn you”, and then the next thing he said, “Go and sin no more.”  So we saw a picture of that.  ‘This is the way your life has been’.  Man, it was so disastrous for her, it brought her to the point, just about, the edge of death.  But he says ‘You’re forgiven’, now in Christ.  I mean, she said “Lord”.  He said “Go and sin no more”, ‘you’ve been set free.’  So a picture there in even what we saw last week.  I think also, maybe you get the same magazine, I know a lot of us do, the “Gospel for Asia” magazine, we get it sent to our homes, it gets sent to the church.  Maybe you were reading the recent one.  Great magazine, if you haven’t seen it, you’ll want to get your hands on it.  Tremendous magazine with great articles in it this month [October 2002].  There was this article towards the end “Chased By A Snake”.  And I will try to pronounce this guy’s name.  “Jagalel’s past was not much to be proud of.  He quarreled easily, had clashed with many people in the village and led a very bad life.  One night while walking on a footpath he suddenly came across a snake, and it tried to strike him.  Terrified, he ran as fast as he could, but the snake pursued him closely.”  Wow.  “Still running, Jagalel reached a place where he saw a picture on a wall of Jesus lifting up his hands.  When the snake came near the picture, it stopped chasing him and left.  This incident made a deep impression on Jagalel, who was an idol worshipper.  And it paved the way for him to have faith in Jesus Christ.  Shortly afterward when brother Bale shared the gospel with the man, he confessed his faith in Christ, and received Jesus as his Savior.”  What a picture.  What a picture, man.  There’s a lot of imagery there.  That is a great illustration.  Here was a man fleeing from a vicious snake, and certainly the serpent in the Scriptures, a snake often typifies sin.  So there is this man, running, and this serpent is chasing him.  The serpent stops when it sees the hands of Christ lifted, maybe like even on the cross.  There’s a picture for you, because that’s the truth, spiritually.  And as he saw that, it changed his life.  He put his faith in Jesus Christ.  And then it became his experience.  This man was once an idol worshipper, this man was once a guy who caused division in the community.  It said he was a bad man.  But he saw a picture, a physical picture God showed him, to show him in reality of what can happen spiritually in his life.  So he turned to Christ.  And no more of this serpent, man, chasing you around, and holding you captive, but set free.  That’s what the Bible teaches, indeed.  The Scriptures make it real clear.  This is why it’s so crucial that we know the truth, because the truth sets us free.  Now in our country, our world, because this is the truth, when you know the truth, there’s a war with the truth, that’s for sure.  The enemy’s out there, he understands that as you grow in the knowledge of the truth, as you know the truth, man it will transform your life.  He’s out there working overtime trying to get other messages your way, get you to reason differently.  I tell you, I believe this.  There are maybe even people here this morning, and you’ve been struggling with things for a long time, for years, maybe even as a believer.  And all God has to do is say the right thing, in a way that you will understand it, and the light will go on, and you’re ready to receive it.  And man, those shackles just fall off.  It’s amazing how that works.  And that’s why Biblical counseling can be so powerful.  “The truth shall set you free.”  But there’s a battle today.  There’s a story for you.  Rev. Patricia Bud Kepler, director of Ministerial Studies at Harvard Divinity School, speaking to the Western New York Presbytery stated, “Eve’s eating of the apple in the Garden of Eden was the first free act of the human race.  We ought to recognize that act, we ought to celebrate Eve.  She began the process of freedom.”  Rev. Kepler continued to say that the expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise into reality was God’s way of giving birth to people.  She went on to explain that this made sin possible, because sin comes with freedom in choice.”  Now that is the exact opposite of the Word of God, although that is the way Satan works.  Satan actually came to Eve, and tried to say “Hey, you want to be free?  You want to have it really cool?   Try this.”  And if you read in the Bible, the last thing that Adam and Eve got was freedom in the free experience, man.  They got bondage and shame and slavery.  But there’s people out there telling you, Satan’s out there telling you “Be free, free to do this, free to do that, free to experience this, don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.”  Man, all the laws in our nation are absolutely amazing, they get more creative all the time.   But more and more, we don’t want to be under anybody’s authority, or under God’s authority.  In our eyes, we want to be free as Americans to do whatever we want to do.  And in the end, man, it’s destructive living and it’s destructive for our families.  You know, they got laws so teenagers can go out and have abortions, and mom and dad don’t have to be consulted.  And my wife and I were considering some other laws, where we can just go and do what we want to do, and nobody else has any say.  And we want to be free, this message, free, free to do all these things.  You know, the 60’s.  Right?  Free sex, free this, free that.  And what does it mean?  It means disease, it means slavery, it means divorce, it means broken families, it means addiction to this and to that.  But Jesus says, “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free, the truth, the Word of God, and being under God’s law and obedient to God’s law.  This is just a great passage.  Well, people try to say otherwise.  But thankfully, when Jesus Christ came, and died on the cross for us, he set us free from sin.  Adam and Eve sinned, they were put into slavery, and as his descendents, man, we’re born into sin, we’re born in bondage.  But Jesus Christ came and he died on the cross, and when he did that, he disposed of sin and he broke the power of sin.  He also removed the guilt of sin.  And when he rose from the grave, he also then sent the Spirit after he ascended back to heaven.  He gave us then through the Holy Spirit the power to go and live a new life.  And when I come to Christ, man, I have the power to live a new life.  The Bible says there is this new life out there, in Christ, for you to live.  So then as I get into the Word of God, as I study the Word of God, my faith increases as I see these promises, and God ministers to my heart.  And more and more I realize, ‘Yes! There’s a new life for me to live.’  And I have the power, and I have the means to go and do the right thing, and to live completely free indeed.  Free from these other bondages of the flesh, because what Jesus Christ did on the cross.  He did it all, and when he said, when it was done there, just before he died, he said that “It is finished.”     So the whole thing is finished, man.  Now his work has been completed, and now I inherit that work as I come to Christ, and I inherit the power to live a new life.  So one commentator states it this way, “We should start our day saying this in prayer, ‘Thank you Lord, I choose this day to receive your grace and obey your command, for I am free indeed.  I choose this day, tell me what to do and I’ll go do it, whatever your Word says I’ll go do it, because I’m free to go and do the right thing now.  I’m free indeed.’”  Well, Martin Luther King, man, “Free at last, free at last.”

 

Are we slaves to sin or set free?

 

Verses 35-36, “And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.  If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  Well Jesus explains in verses 35 and 36, he explains now ‘This is true,’ back to where we started, ‘because he is the Son of God.’  He says now to them, he’s essentially saying they’re like slaves, slaves to sin.  So they’re like slaves in the house.  They say they’re Abraham’s descendents, but they’re like in the status of a slave, and a slave doesn’t always stay in the house.  But a son does abide in the house forever, and he is the Son of God.  He is “the” Son, and as “the” Son of God, he has the power to make you free.  So therefore the truth shall set me free.  And Jesus is the truth, and as the Son he has the means and the power to indeed set me free.  So it is so important that I believe that Jesus is the Son of God.  If I don’t, then we have a problem.  But when you do, man, you see ‘Yeah, we see, he is who he is.  Because of the Word, man, I study the truth, he as the Son of God has the means to set me free, he has the power.  It’s the power to set men free, it’s the power to set women free, it’s the power to set families free, it is the power to even set communities free.  Reading again in the same magazine this month, this other article “Breaking the Vicious Cycle”, I’ll read it to you.  “On the island of Sri-Lanka [Ceylon] witchcraft and astrology are very much a part of the people’s lives as a means of finding solutions to their problems.  Often people will hire an expert in this dark business to place a curse on a enemy or….[tape switchover, some text lost]….troubles they had consulted an astrologer, who revealed to them that someone had indeed placed a curse on them.  Immediately they set out to combat and overthrow the attack of the evil spirits by performing a series of prescribed rituals.  But nothing worked and their suffering continued.  That’s when Brother Dinesh met them and confidently shared with them the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his power to deliver any from bondage.  Before he left he prayed for them, and God answered in a wonderful way by setting them free from all the power of the enemy.  The result, everyone in the family received Jesus as their Savior, and with that a new door opened in the village for Brother Dinesh to begin a church planting.”  This family was in bondage in such great ways, they were in such fear, that they actually didn’t know what to do.  They went to just the dark side to get help.  ‘Our life is a mess, there’s weird stuff going on in our home.  And they were searching for answers.  And it didn’t work.  Nothing happened, and probably got worse.  But then this Christian comes with the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  In him, the truth, the truth shall set you free.  They put their faith in Jesus Christ, and it set them free.  It set them free, from bondage, changed their home, changed the community.  And the same is true for our city area, the truth shall set you free.  So all the more, man, may we be faithful in heralding the message.  You know, that magazine, and maybe the gals in this church will really be blessed by it, but it’s all about women, it’s devoted to women, especially women in India.  And women in India, man, it’s not a life that a person would like, to be a woman in India.  And they shared long stories, you know, if you’re a female, and if you make it out of the womb (you may be aborted, most often they’re aborted), but if you make it out of the womb, you may actually be killed by your mom, she may put poison in your mouth, she may smother you and suffocate you, because she doesn’t want you to live this horrible life of being a woman in India.  If you survive that, then as you grow in your child years, you’ll find that you’ll hardly be fed because the food will be used by the boys so they can be strong, you’ll have very few privileges, you may not even be able to leave your house, you’ll be abused.  So often a high percentage of the young girls will even die in India, and in Bangladesh and places like that.  And then if you make it to your teenage adult years you’ll be married to somebody you didn’t even know, and he’s only going to abuse you and treat you harshly, and it’ll just be a life that’s hard.  And in some cases you may even be sold into prostitution.  You’re parents worship certain deities, so they may send you off into prostitution.  And then if you actually get to the point where you’re married, and you’re being abused, and your husband dies, and you become a widow, that’s even worse, because you’ll be blamed for his death.  So there’s a tradition in India, and it happens at times, that on the coffin, the wife, the widow will come and actually lay in the coffin, and I guess she’s then burned to death.  [You see that in the old movie “Around The World In Eighty Days”, where they rescue this widow who is about to be burned alive on the funeral pyre of her dead husband.]  She’ll die with him, and there’s little shrines to women that have done that.  People come and place flowers there and respect the women that actually died with their husband.  So that’s bondage.  Right?  That’s slavery.  Right?  But then the Gospel comes into India, and one by one these women are being set free.  Communities are being changed.  [This website features a tiny Christian orphanage in southeast India.  To see these wonderful children and a few widows, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/evangelism/sisterchurches/BlessiOrphanHome.htm.  Notice some of the older girls have very skinny limbs, indicative of being underfed before they came into the orphanage.  The younger girls seem more wholesome because they received proper feeding from an earlier age.  This is just what the pastor was talking about.  This tiny Christian orphanage struggles, as the higher fuel prices have driven up food prices and inflation, and relies solely on the offerings from outside.]  We saw it in Afghanistan.  Right?  Women were really put down.  Then the Gospel comes in, the United States came in, but then really, missionaries big time, and the life for women began to change.  So that’s what he means, “the truth shall set you free.”  It can change an entire nation, in the way it lives and the things that it does.  The truth shall indeed set you free. 

 

‘Your father isn’t who you think he is’

 

Verse 37-47, “I know that you are Abraham’s descendents, but you seek to kill me because my word has no place in you.”  Clearly, he’s not talking to soft hearts at this point.  “‘I speak what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.’  They answered and said to him, ‘Abraham is our father.’  Jesus said to them, ‘If you were Abraham’s children you would do the works of Abraham.  But now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth which I heard from God.  Abraham did not do this.  You do the deeds of your father.’  Then they said to him, ‘We were not born of fornication, we have one Father, God.’  Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God.  Nor have I come of myself, but he sent me.  Why do you not understand my speech?’”  That’s a sad statement when Jesus says that.  I think he says that of a lot of churches, lot of people sitting there in the pews, ‘Why don’t you understand my speech?’  “‘Because you’re not able to listen to my word.  You are of your father the devil.’  He does not for a moment try to make friends.  I mean, that book ‘How to make friends and influence people’, Jesus doesn’t abide by that book, that’s for sure.  “‘You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him.  When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.  But because I tell the truth you do not believe.  Which of you convicts me of sin?  And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me?  He who is of God hears God’s words, therefore you do not hear because you are not of God.’”  So, Jesus the Son of God, we saw the importance, his power, man.  We need to believe he is the Son of God, because he has the power to set us free, as we just saw.  Now we see this thing about his character.  His character clearly testifies he’s the Son of God.  In fact, it’s possible when he says what he says in verse 46, he says “Which of you convicts me of sin?”, it’s very possible that he pauses for a moment and waits.  And nobody says anything.  Nobody can think of anything, which is interesting.  It testifies to his life, indeed, because they don’t come back and say, ‘Well you did this and you did that’.  They’re just messing with what he’s trying to say.  But they can’t say anything about the way he’s lived.  So his character testifies very clearly indeed that he is the Son of God.  What he shares, since the Word has no place in their hearts, verse 37, though they are Abraham’s descendents, they are, yet they seek to kill him, the Son of God.  So these men are in bondage, he says they are slaves, and they are slaves, just so clearly, they’re in bondage to their deception, other men’s teaching, ritual, tradition.  It blinds them.  So he says, ‘You can’t even hear what I speak. I mean, I’m sharing these things, but yet you want to kill me.  You’re so blinded, you’re such a slave of your religious system and traditions, these things invented by men.’  And with that he sadly says, ‘Because my word has no place in you.’  Man, I tell you, I think that can be said, as I noted a moment ago, it can be said to many people today.  And that’s the deal with Bible teaching and counseling, the difference is made, some hearts the Word can be said, you know, the Word can be said to certain people, it has a place in them, but other people, the Word has no place.  It just bounces off of them and moves on.  I can tell when I do counseling, right off, somebody’s there, they have a hungry heart, I can see the Word has a place in them, this will be fun, I don’t care what their issue is, we’re going to get into the Scripture and God is going to work in their life.  But you can tell other people that come in with excuses, they just want to unload on you, they’ve done it to many other people, and you share the Word and they don’t even hear it.  That say, ‘That’s nice’ and they move on.  The Word has no place in them.  And maybe that’s the issue in your life today.  There’s things that God wants to work, there’s things he wants to release, he wants to set you free, but you’re not listening.  The Word has no place in you.  You’re not willing to just sit and go ‘OK, you’re God, you’re the Son of God, you speak, I want to hear, I want to believe this, I want to accept this, I want to live by this.’  And if that’s your heart, man, then you’ll receive the power, the Word of God will set you free.  But it’s sad, and it’s true in every church, God says “my Word has no place in you”, it’s sad, “has no place in you, I speak but you’re not listening.  You’re going to other places, paying in some cases some pretty hefty bills, but you won’t listen to me, the Son of God?  You won’t consider what I have to say?  The depth, the power, I state it and you’ll actually not believe it?  Or you won’t accept it?  You’ll make exceptions in your life, and I’m God, I’m the Son of God?”  He says ‘I have the power, the truth shall set you free, and you’ll be free indeed.’  I mean, he says the word “indeed”, “you’ll be free indeed.”  Do you want to hear his Word?  Does his Word have a place in you today?  Is there room in your heart for his Word?  Will you let it move in there and reside there and change your life?  He wants it to.  But sadly there is often a deadness, maybe at times in all of our lives.  We’re at different places, as we’re maturing, some of us leaving, I know I’ve seen it in my life, some of the things, I mean they were there, I couldn’t get rid of them, and so easily he just spoke to me.  Like ‘Wow!  No duh, that’s true!  Wow!  All right!’  He says “I speak what I’ve seen from the Father”, ‘but these Jews, these hard hearts in front of me, they speak what they’ve seen from their father, and you’re father isn’t who you think he is’, that’s basically what he says.  They’re thinking one thing.  But he says “When I speak with my father” [King James “I speak that which I have seen with my Father”], the Greek word there “with”, the Greek there is in the locative case, and the article is used in the possessive tense, you don’t necessarily have this feeling in the English, but this is what he says when he says “with the Father”, it means “by the side of my Father”, there’s a sense of intimacy there, a picture of intimacy there like being face to face with God.  That’s what he means by “with”.  ‘I speak when I’m “with” God, when I’m “with” the Father.’  ‘Man, we’re like this, and I can just share from that.’  And it’s the truth in my life too, when I’m with God, man, more and more, I can speak from that.  But then he continues to say ‘You speak from what comes from your father’, and they’re thinking their father is one thing, he starts to address it, he continues in verse 39, he says ‘Your true father is not Abraham, you believe it’s Abraham, but it’s not Abraham,’ and he says, ‘because you don’t behave like children of Abraham.’  ‘How can you say he’s your dad if you don’t act like him?  Like father, like son?  You don’t perform the works that he does, in fact, you do works that are contrary to Abraham.  You want to kill me.  And I just speak the truth, things that I’ve heard from God.  Abraham wouldn’t do that.’  ‘Isaiah 41, verse 8 says Abraham was a friend of God.  He obeyed God, when he heard God he did what God said, he had an open heart, ‘God, when you speak I want to go do.’  ‘But you want to kill me?  You guys aren’t really children of Abraham, he’s not your dad, he’s not your father, really.’  And he says “If you were Abraham’s children”, when he says “If you were Abraham’s children” there, notice a moment ago in verse 37 he says “I know that you are Abraham’s descendents” and then he says “If you were Abraham’s children”.  Is he being confusing?  No, there is a difference when he says “descendents” and “seed” and when he says “children”.  They are the “seed” of Abraham, there is a lineage, they are the physical lineage, but they aren’t really at heart the children of Abraham.  And that’s what the New Testament goes on to teach, that Abraham has true children, and it’s those in the Spirit, those who believe.  Paul teaches that in Romans chapter 9, he says “Nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham”, the seed, but they’re not really the children, meaning they don’t have the heart.  Now the Church, we are grafted in, man, and we’re children [see Romans 11] of Abraham.  So that’s what he’s saying.  ‘You might be physically, but you’re not really.’  You’re not what is important, circumcised in heart as far as what really deals with eternity, and what really deals with your entire life.  And he says their true father is not God either.  You know, they come back, and they say ‘Hey listen, you’re saying that we’re not the children of Abraham, and God isn’t our Father.  Listen, we are not born of fornication, we’re not illegitimate children here, we’re the real deal, and God is our Father.’  It’s possible when they say that, they’re actually taking a stab at Jesus, some people actually believe they’re doing that.  Maybe the knowledge of Mary has gotten out, gotten back to them.  Of course you know, the political scene, people are always looking for trash, looking into the person’s past.  And maybe there was some story, ‘You know, Mary, she had a baby, and her and Joseph weren’t married, it didn’t work out, the nine months.’  And of course Jesus was born of a virgin.  But they were saying, ‘At least we’re not born illegitimate.  At least our parents were married, and it happened that we were conceived in that wedlock, you know.’  So maybe that’s true, that they’re taking a stab at him.  So Jesus goes on, ‘If God the Father were truly their father, then they would love the Son.’  If you love the Father, you love the Son.  Nobody can say “I love Jehovah”, nobody can say, “I love the God of the Bible”, “I love the God of Israel” if they don’t love Jesus Christ the Son of God, God the Son.  If you love God, you love the Son.  That’s what he says.  He says that to the Jew, he says that to the world, if you really love God, you will also love me, his Son.  But furthermore, because of their hearts, they don’t even understand what he’s saying, as he’s already mentioned to them [verse 43].  And it’s true, these people are hard-hearted, and the people that are hard-hearted, they don’t think they have a need, they’ll just babble with you and debate with you, they won’t humble themselves and receive.

 

Who is your father?

 

But then he boldly goes on and ultimately says who’s their father, and he says to them, ‘Your father is Satan.’  ‘You think your father is God?  You think your father is Abraham?  Your father is the devil.’  You can only imagine, this conversation isn’t going very well at this point.  And this isn’t how you make a conversation go better.  He says ‘You’re father is Satan.’  But literally he does this out of love.  He’s trying to get through some real thick hearts, man.  ‘You’re father is Satan, you prove it by what you do.  He’s a liar and he’s a murderer.  You want to murder me.  Hey man, Abraham isn’t your dad, Satan’s your dad, you want to murder me.  And you lie and you’re a deceiver, deceit is in you, and he’s the father of lies.’  John later in his epistle, 1st John chapter 3, verse 8, he says “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning”, meaning the habit of sin.  If you live the habit of sin in your life, if you live in a habit, a lifestyle of sin, John says you’re of the devil.  Now you may not want Satan as you father, but you’re living as he does.  You’re following his ways.  God isn’t your father.  There isn’t the fruit in your life.  So John also writes very pointedly in his epistle, “He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning.  For this purpose the Son of God was manifested that he might destroy the works of the devil”  and therefore the truth shall set you free.  And then Jesus will rebuke these people, he does in Matthew chapter 12, these religious leaders, he says “how can you being evil speak good things”, ‘man, you guys are evil, you just don’t even speak the truth.’  So they’re murderers at heart, and they are deceivers.  [Just recently a pipe bomb was placed so it would kill a 15 year-old Messianic Jewish boy who had been strongly evangelizing his community in Israel.  Miraculously the boy survived, and will make a full recovery.  But the police said the bomb was too well constructed to have been an Arab bomb.  They said it must have been an ultra-orthodox group in Israel.  They think they’re being religious, defending “the faith” of their fathers, but what do they resort to but attempted murder.  The story showed up in the Messianic Jewish magazine Israel Today (see http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/israeltoday1.html and http://www.israeltoday.co.il )]  So it’s no wonder later, I mean Satan is their father, later they will lie, later they will deceive, later they’ll even hire false witnesses, and they’ll even be murderers for they’ll put Jesus Christ on the cross.  Well, I guess the question is as we’re going through this, ‘Who is my father?  who is my father?’   You have a physical father, but who is your spiritual father?  Who is your life more and more emulating, you have two choices, really, you have God, Jesus Christ, his commands to you, his Word to you.  And then you have Satan and his deceptive ways, which are especially pride and things like that.  Warren Wiersby says, “If God is your Father, then heaven is your home.  If he’s not your Father, then hell is your destiny.”  So it truly is a matter of life or death, it’s an important question to ask yourself, ‘Who is really my father?  Do I abide in the words of Christ?  Am I a disciple then of Jesus Christ, do I know the truth and have been set free by the truth?  Is Jesus the Lord of my life?  Well because Satan is their father, they do not then believe, as he goes on in verse 45, the truth as they hear it from Jesus’ lips.  And so he then says in the middle of that “Which of you convicts me of sin” (verse 46a).  So I mean, there’s this battle, there’s this lying, there’s this deceiving, but he says ‘Here’s the deal, I say this and I say the truth, who of you convicts me of sin?  I live a certain way, the fruit proves it, I am what I say that I am, I am the Son of God.  Who of you convicts me of otherwise?  Who of you can prove it?’  That’s essentially what he says.  I think it’s true probably, he stands and waits for a moment, and pauses.  It gives them opportunity, they could speak up, they could respond.  But they don’t.  But that question, it’s a rhetorical question, and it involves a sinlessness.  ‘I’m sinless’, but nobody responds.  So, the fact there is, that this just again says Jesus is the Son of God, and their silence attests to his character.  And then he says “He who is of God hears God’s words, you therefore hear them not because you are not of God.”  Let’s just go to the end now.

 

The debate really heats up

 

Verses 48-59, “Then the Jews answered and said to him, ‘Did we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan, and have a demon?’”  Man that’s a terrible thing, I mean that’s just really accusing somebody in their culture of just being horrific in their eyes.  I mean, they turn it around.  “Jesus answered, ‘I do not have a demon, but I honor my father, and you dishonor me.’”  Which goes back to John chapter 5, where Jesus then said ‘that all should honor the Son, just as they honor the Father.  He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father.’  “‘And I do not seek my own glory, there is one who seeks and judges.  Most assuredly I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he shall never see death.’”  I mean, he’s prodding their hearts, he’s convicting, but he’s also giving promises, ‘This is so important, if you will receive my words, keep my words, you will never die.’  That’s not necessarily physical death, but that’s referring to later, but death to us [as believers] is transformation, man, we go from here to metamorphosis, we go and become the butterfly, we go from the caterpillar to the butterfly when we die.  So that’s what he says, ‘If you know the truth it will set you free.  If you keep my words, you will not die [the second death, cf. Rev. 20:6].  Well, he really then rattles their cages with that, that’s for sure.  And then he goes a little further.  In verse 52 they respond “Then said the Jews to him, ‘Now we know that you have a demon.  Abraham is dead, and the prophets, and you say, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.  Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead?  and the prophets are dead, who do you make yourself?’  Jesus answered, ‘If I honor myself, my honor is nothing.  It is my Father who honors me, of whom you say is your God.  Yet you have not known him, but I know him.  And if I say I do not know him, I shall be a liar like you.  But I do know him and keep his word.  Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.’  And the Jews said to him, ‘You are not yet fifty years old---Are they saying he looks old, maybe fifty.  They’re probably referring to, in their society according to the Law, when you were fifty you would then retire, you would serve in the tabernacle until you were fifty, so it’s a significant age, and he’s not even to retirement age yet, is basically what they’re saying.

 

Jesus identifies himself at the great I AM

 

‘You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?’  And Jesus said to them, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.’---Oh yeah, it was a boiling-pot, and now the volcano has come forth---“Then they took up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple going through the midst of them, and so passed by.”  Did he do a miraculous thing, did he become invisible?  We don’t know.  It’s possibly, just with the crowd he just slipped out and hid himself.  In the Greek there isn’t really any indication either way.  But he says, we have his character, we have his power, Jesus the Son of God, it’s so important to understand and believe that.  But here even now his own testimony.  He says, man, ‘Abraham saw my day.’  And we’re told in Hebrews chapter 11, that Abraham and the other saints, they looked forward in faith, these all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, were assured of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims.”  They looked ahead to the cross.  So Abraham did look ahead to the cross.  And it’s even possible, as we studied in Hebrews, Melchizedek, this King of Salem, this priest that comes out to Abraham, it’s a beautiful picture, this priest that then Abraham offers tithes to and worships, it’s very possible was a theophany, and also you have the time where Abraham, the angels come to him during the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and one of the angels, we know is God, because he starts calling him God, and has a conversation with the Lord, I would assume, that was a theophany, meaning a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.  So in that way, yes, Abraham saw his day.  But also in faith, Abraham saw the cross.  And so he says “Before Abraham was, I AM,”  ‘I am the Son of God, I have always been, I am eternal, I’m everlasting, that’s what he means when he says I AM, I am God and no other.  [Comment:  Jesus has just identified himself as I AM.  I AM is the very God, Yahweh, that led the children of Israel out of Egypt.  I AM is the identity that Yahweh, the Eternal, God Almighty, gave Moses in Exodus 3:13-14, which states, “And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name?  what shall I say unto them?  And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”  I AM was the God who dwelt in the tabernacle for forty years in the desert with Moses.  I AM dwelt in the tabernacle with Israel with Joshua, the 305 years during the time of the Judges, and in the time of king David and the temple of Solomon, and the 2nd temple under Ezra and Nehemiah.  So you might say, I AM, Yahweh, was, is the God of the Old Testament, who then became incarnate, became man, God-man, in the form of Jesus Christ.  That’s who Jesus is saying he is, and that is why they immediately took up stones to stone him.  The Jews of that day understood what he had just said, when he said “Before Abraham was, I AM”.]  And there’s a lot of rocks in Israel, and they don’t have to go very far, and they go for it.  Jesus is the Son of God.  It’s proved too, and it’s important that we believe that.  Because he is the Son, there is power, and there is power this morning to set us free.  And no matter where you are and what you’re going through, if you’re a slave to anything, slave in bondage to sin, Jesus Christ can set you free.  Abide in his Word.  Those who abide in his Word are his disciples, they shall know, their eyes shall be opened to the truth, and the truth shall set them free.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we see too his power, his character, sinless life, and his own testimony.  Let’s close in prayer….[transcript of a sermon on John 8:31-59, given somewhere in New England.]

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