3. Serving God in Our Spirit in the Gospel of His Son
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MR  Hymns: 593, 908

Scripture Reading: Rom. 1:1, 9; 15:16

Rom 1:1         Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Rom 1:9         For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers,

Rom 15:16     That I might be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, a laboring priest of the gospel of God, in order that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, having been sanctified in the Holy Spirit.

 

I.     For all the requirements related to the believers revealed in the New Testament, especially that of announcing the gospel of God, we need to receive the divine supply of the Body through the dispensing of the processed Triune God—Eph. 3:2; Heb. 4:16; Rom. 5:17, 21; John 7:37-38; Acts 6:4; Phil. 1:5-6, 19-25.

Eph 3:2          If indeed you have heard of the stewardship of the grace of God which was given to me for you,

Heb 4:16        Let us therefore come forward with boldness to the throne of grace that we may receive mercy and find grace for timely help.

Rom 5:17       For if, by the offense of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Rom 5:21       In order that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness unto eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

John 7:37       Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

John 7:38       He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.

Acts 6:4         But we will continue steadfastly in prayer and in the ministry of the word.

Phil 1:5          For your fellowship unto the furtherance of the gospel from the first day until now,

Phil 1:6          Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun in you a good work will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus;

Phil 1:19        For I know that for me this will turn out to salvation through your petition and the bountiful supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

Phil 1:20        According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I will be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death.

Phil 1:21        For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Phil 1:22        But if I am to live in the flesh, if this to me is fruit for my work, then I do not know what I will choose.

Phil 1:23        But I am constrained between the two, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for this is far better;

Phil 1:24        But to remain in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.

Phil 1:25        And being confident of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of the faith,

 

II.   We need to see that our service to God in the gospel is our worship to God; in the New Testament, serving God is actually the same as worshipping God—Matt. 4:9-10; S. S. 1:2; cf. Psa. 2:11-12:

Matt 4:9         And he said to Him, All these will I give You if You will fall down and worship me.

Matt 4:10       Then Jesus said to him, Go away, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve."

S.S. 1:2         Let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth! / For your love is better than wine.

Psa 2:11        Serve Jehovah with fear, / And rejoice with trembling.

Psa 2:12        Kiss the Son / Lest He be angry and you perish from the way; / For His anger may suddenly be kindled. / Blessed are all those who take refuge in Him.

A.     Paul says that the believers in Thessalonica “turned to God from the idols to serve a living and true God”—1 Thes. 1:9:

1 Thes 1:9      For they themselves report concerning us what kind of entrance we had toward you and how you turned to God from the idols to serve a living and true God

1.      God must be living to us and in us in every aspect of our daily life; the fact that God controls, directs, corrects, and adjusts us, even in such small things as our thoughts and motives, is a proof that He is living—Phil. 1:8; 2:5, 13; 1:20.

Phil 1:8          For God is my witness how I long after you all in the inward parts of Christ Jesus.

Phil 2:5          Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus,

Phil 2:13        For it is God who operates in you both the willing and the working for His good pleasure.

Phil 1:20        According to my earnest expectation and hope that in nothing I will be put to shame, but with all boldness, as always, even now Christ will be magnified in my body, whether through life or through death.

2.      We live under the control, direction, and correction of a living God to be a pattern of the glad tidings that we spread—1 Thes. 1:5-8; 2:10; 2 Thes. 3:5.

1 Thes 1:5      For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, even as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake.

1 Thes 1:6      And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction with joy of the Holy Spirit,

1 Thes 1:7      So that you became a pattern to all those who believe in Macedonia and in Achaia.

1 Thes 1:8      For from you the word of the Lord has sounded out; not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place, your faith toward God has gone out, so that we have no need of saying anything.

1 Thes 2:10    You are witnesses, as well as God, how in a holy and righteous and blameless manner we conducted ourselves toward you who believe,

2 Thes 3:5      And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God and into the endurance of Christ.

B.     As believers in Christ, we must live a life in our spirit, which bears the testimony that the God whom we worship and serve is living in the details of our life; the reason we do not do or say certain things should be that God is living in us—Rom. 8:6, 16.

Rom 8:6         For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.

Rom 8:16       The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.

 

III.  Paul says that he was “separated unto the gospel of God” (1:1), and he declares, “God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son” (v. 9):

Rom 1:1         Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Rom 1:9         For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers,

A.     The Greek word for serve in Romans 1:9 means “serve in worship,” as used in Matthew 4:10, 2 Timothy 1:3, Philippians 3:3, and Luke 2:37; Paul considered his preaching of the gospel as a worship and service to God, not merely a work.

Rom 1:9         For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers,

Matt 4:10       Then Jesus said to him, Go away, Satan! For it is written, "You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve."

2 Tim 1:3        I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers in a pure conscience, while unceasingly I have remembrance concerning you in my petitions night and day,

Phil 3:3          For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh,

Luke 2:37       And she was a widow up to the age of eighty-four, who did not depart from the temple, serving God with fastings and petitions night and day.

B.     When we come to serve God, or worship God, we need a blood-purified conscience; our defiled conscience needs to be purified so that we may serve God in a living way—Heb. 9:14; 10:22; 1 John 1:7, 9; Acts 24:16; cf. 1 Tim. 4:7.

Heb 9:14        How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Heb 10:22      Let us come forward to the Holy of Holies with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.

1 John 1:7      But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from every sin.

1 John 1:9      If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 24:16     Because of this I also exercise myself to always have a conscience without offense toward God and men.

1 Tim 4:7        But the profane and old-womanish myths refuse, and exercise yourself unto godliness.

C.     To serve God in the gospel is to serve Him in the all-inclusive Christ, because the gospel is simply Christ Himself—Acts 5:42; Rom. 1:3-4; 8:29.

Acts 5:42       And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and announcing the gospel of Jesus as the Christ.

Rom 1:3         Concerning His Son, who came out of the seed of David according to the flesh,

Rom 1:4         Who was designated the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness out of the resurrection of the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord;

Rom 8:29       Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers;

D.     In order to preach the gospel of God’s Son, we must be in our regenerated spirit (1:9); in the book of Romans Paul stresses that whatever we are (2:29; 8:5-6, 9), whatever we have (vv. 10, 16), and whatever we do toward God (1:9; 7:6; 8:4, 13; 12:11) must be in our spirit.

Rom 1:9         For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son, how unceasingly I make mention of you always in my prayers,

Rom 2:29       But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, in spirit, not in letter, whose praise is not from men, but from God.

Rom 8:5         For those who are according to the flesh mind the things of the flesh; but those who are according to the spirit, the things of the Spirit.

Rom 8:6         For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.

Rom 8:9         But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Yet if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him.

Rom 8:10       But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness.

Rom 8:16       The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.

Rom 7:6         But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that in which we were held, so that we serve in newness of spirit and not in oldness of letter.

Rom 8:4         That the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the spirit.

Rom 8:13       For if you live according to the flesh, you must die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the practices of the body, you will live.

Rom 12:11     Do not be slothful in zeal, but be burning in spirit, serving the Lord.

E.      Paul served God in his regenerated spirit by the indwelling Christ, the life-giving Spirit, not in his soul by the power and ability of the soul; this is the first important item in his preaching of the gospel.

F.      The gospel of God, unto which Paul was separated, is the subject of the book of Romans; the book of Romans may be regarded as the fifth gospel—1:1; 2:16; 16:25:

Rom 1:1         Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, a called apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,

Rom 2:16       In the day when God judges the secrets of men according to my gospel through Jesus Christ.

Rom 16:25     Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel, that is, the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which has been kept in silence in the times of the ages

1.      The first four Gospels are concerning the incarnated Christ, Christ in the flesh, living among His disciples; the gospel in Romans is concerning the resurrected Christ as the Spirit living within His disciples—8:2, 6, 9-11, 16.

Rom 8:2         For the law of the Spirit of life has freed me in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and of death.

Rom 8:6         For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the spirit is life and peace.

Rom 8:9         But you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Yet if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not of Him.

Rom 8:10       But if Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, the spirit is life because of righteousness.

Rom 8:11       And if the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who indwells you.

Rom 8:16       The Spirit Himself witnesses with our spirit that we are children of God.

2.      We need the fifth gospel, the book of Romans, to reveal the subjective Savior within us as the subjective gospel of Christ.

3.      The central message of the book of Romans is that God desires to transform sinners in the flesh into sons of God in the spirit in order to constitute the Body of Christ expressed as the local churches—v. 29; 12:1-5; ch. 16.

Rom 8:29       Because those whom He foreknew, He also predestinated to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the Firstborn among many brothers;

Rom 12:1       I exhort you therefore, brothers, through the compassions of God to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable service.

Rom 12:2       And do not be fashioned according to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of the mind that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and well pleasing and perfect.

Rom 12:3       For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think, but to think so as to be sober-minded, as God has apportioned to each a measure of faith.

Rom 12:4       For just as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function,

Rom 12:5       So we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Rom 16          omitted.

4.      All of us need to function as priests of the gospel of God according to the revelation of the book of Romans; we need to learn the elements and details of the gospel, we need to experience the full content of the gospel, and we need to exercise our spirit to learn how to minister the gospel—15:16.

Rom 15:16     That I might be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, a laboring priest of the gospel of God, in order that the offering of the Gentiles might be acceptable, having been sanctified in the Holy Spirit.

 

IV.  “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness”—John 4:24:

A.     To contact God the Spirit with the spirit is to drink of the living water, and to drink of the living water is to render real worship to God—vv. 10-14.

John 4:10       Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.

John 4:11       The woman said to Him, Sir, You have no bucket, and the well is deep; where then do You get this living water?

John 4:12       Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank of it himself, as well as his sons and his cattle?

John 4:13       Jesus answered and said to her, Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again,

John 4:14       But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall by no means thirst forever; but the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water springing up into eternal life.

B.     God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son for sinners to believe into Him and drink of Him as the flowing Triune God in order for them to become the totality of eternal life, the New Jerusalem—3:16; 4:14b; cf. Jer. 2:13.

John 3:16       For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that everyone who believes into Him would not perish, but would have eternal life.

John 4:14b     … but the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water springing up into eternal life.

Jer 2:13         For My people have committed two evils: / They have forsaken Me, / The fountain of living waters, / To hew out for themselves cisterns, / Broken cisterns, / Which hold no water.

C.     According to typology, God should be worshipped in the place chosen by Him for His habitation (Deut. 12:5, 11, 13-14, 18) and with the offerings (Lev. 1—6); the place chosen by God for His habitation typifies the human spirit (Eph. 2:22), and the offerings typify Christ (Heb. 10:5-10).

Deut 12:5       But to the place which Jehovah your God will choose out of all your tribes to put His name, to His habitation, shall you seek, and there shall you go.

Deut 12:11     Then to the place where Jehovah your God will choose to cause His name to dwell, there you shall bring all that I am commanding you, your burnt offerings and your sacrifices, your tithes and the heave offering of your hand and all your choice vows which you vow to Jehovah.

Deut 12:13     Be careful that you do not offer up your burnt offerings in every place that you see;

Deut 12:14     But in the place which Jehovah will choose in one of your tribes, there you shall offer up your burnt offerings, and there you shall do all that I am commanding you.

Deut 12:18     But you shall eat them before Jehovah your God in the place which Jehovah your God will choose, you and your son and daughter, and your male servant and female servant, and the Levite who is within your gates; and you shall rejoice before Jehovah your God in all your undertakings.

Lev 1—6        omitted.

Eph 2:22        In whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in spirit.

Heb 10:5        Therefore, coming into the world, He says, "Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me.

Heb 10:6        In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You did not delight.

Heb 10:7        Then I said, Behold, I have come (in the roll of the book it is written concerning Me) to do Your will, O God."

Heb 10:8        Saying above, "Sacrifices and offerings and burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You did not desire nor delight in" (which are offered according to the law),

Heb 10:9        He then has said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will." He takes away the first that He may establish the second,

Heb 10:10      By which will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

D.     The divine reality is Christ as the reality of all the offerings of the Old Testament for the worship of God (John 14:6; 1:29; 3:14) and as the fountain of living water, the life-giving Spirit (4:7-15), partaken of and drunk by His believers to become the reality within them (1 Cor. 12:13; John 7:37-39).

John 14:6       Jesus said to him, I am the way and the reality and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 1:29       The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

John 3:14       And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

John 4:7        There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, Give Me something to drink.

John 4:8        For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

John 4:9        The Samaritan woman then said to Him, How is it that You, being a Jew, ask for a drink from me, who am a Samaritan woman? (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

John 4:10       Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you, Give Me a drink, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.

John 4:11       The woman said to Him, Sir, You have no bucket, and the well is deep; where then do You get this living water?

John 4:12       Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank of it himself, as well as his sons and his cattle?

John 4:13       Jesus answered and said to her, Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again,

John 4:14       But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall by no means thirst forever; but the water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water springing up into eternal life.

John 4:15       The woman said to Him, Sir, give me this water so that I will not thirst nor come here to draw.

1 Cor 12:13    For also in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and were all given to drink one Spirit.

John 7:37       Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

John 7:38       He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.

John 7:39       But this He said concerning the Spirit, whom those who believed into Him were about to receive; for the Spirit was not yet, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

E.      By enjoying Christ as the divine reality of the offerings in our spirit, He becomes our genuineness and sincerity (truthfulness) for the true worship of God—4:24.

John 4:24       God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truthfulness.

 

V.   “We are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh”—Phil. 3:3; cf. Rom. 2:28-29:

Rom 2:28       For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.

Rom 2:29       But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, in spirit, not in letter, whose praise is not from men, but from God.

A.     The flesh refers to all that we are and have in our natural being; anything natural, whether it is good or evil, is the flesh—Phil. 3:4-6.

Phil 3:4          Though I myself have something to be confident of in the flesh as well. If any other man thinks that he has confidence in the flesh, I more:

Phil 3:5          Circumcised the eighth day; of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;

Phil 3:6          As to zeal, persecuting the church; as to the righteousness which is in the law, become blameless.

B.     As believers in Christ, we should not trust in anything that we have by our natural birth, for everything of our natural birth is part of the flesh.

C.     Even though we have been regenerated, we may continue to live in our fallen nature, boast in what we do in the flesh, and have confidence in our natural qualifications; therefore, it is important that we be deeply and personally touched by these verses in Philippians 3.

Phil 3:1          Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, for me it is not irksome, but for you it is safe.

Phil 3:2          Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the concision.

Phil 3:3          For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh,

Phil 3:4          Though I myself have something to be confident of in the flesh as well. If any other man thinks that he has confidence in the flesh, I more:

Phil 3:5          Circumcised the eighth day; of the race of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee;

Phil 3:6          As to zeal, persecuting the church; as to the righteousness which is in the law, become blameless.

Phil 3:7          But what things were gains to me, these I have counted as loss on account of Christ.

Phil 3:8          But moreover I also count all things to be loss on account of the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as refuse that I may gain Christ

Phil 3:9          And be found in Him, not having my own righteousness which is out of the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is out of God and based on faith,

Phil 3:10        To know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

Phil 3:11        If perhaps I may attain to the out-resurrection from the dead.

Phil 3:12        Not that I have already obtained or am already perfected, but I pursue, if even I may lay hold of that for which I also have been laid hold of by Christ Jesus.

Phil 3:13        Brothers, I do not account of myself to have laid hold; but one thing I do: Forgetting the things which are behind and stretching forward to the things which are before,

Phil 3:14        I pursue toward the goal for the prize to which God in Christ Jesus has called me upward.

Phil 3:15        Let us therefore, as many as are full-grown, have this mind; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, this also God will reveal to you.

Phil 3:16        Nevertheless whereunto we have attained, by the same rule let us walk.

Phil 3:17        Be imitators together of me, brothers, and observe those who thus walk even as you have us as a pattern.

Phil 3:18        For many walk, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ,

Phil 3:19        Whose end is destruction, whose god is their stomach, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.

Phil 3:20        For our commonwealth exists in the heavens, from which also we eagerly await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,

Phil 3:21        Who will transfigure the body of our humiliation to be conformed to the body of His glory, according to His operation by which He is able even to subject all things to Himself.

D.     We need the Lord’s light to shine on us concerning our nature, our deeds, and our confidence in the flesh; we need to be enlightened by the Lord to see that we still live too much by the flesh and that we boast in our deeds and qualifications.

E.      One day, when the light shines on us concerning this, we will want to prostrate ourselves before the Lord and confess how unclean our nature is; then we will condemn everything we do by our fallen nature; we will see that in the eyes of God whatever is done in the fallen nature is evil and worthy of condemnation.

F.      Formerly, we boasted in our deeds and qualifications, but the time will come when we will condemn the flesh with its qualifications; then we shall boast in Christ alone, realizing that in ourselves we have absolutely no ground for boasting.

G.     Only when we have been enlightened by God shall we be able to say truly that we have no trust in our natural qualifications, ability, or intelligence; only then shall we be able to testify that our confidence is wholly in the Lord; after we are enlightened in this way, we shall truly serve and worship God in our spirit and by the Spirit.

 

VI.  In order to serve God in the gospel of His Son, we need to see that we are men in the flesh, worthy of nothing but death and burial; this is to follow the Lord’s pattern to fulfill all righteousness and enter into the ministry of the age—Matt. 3:13-17; 21:32:

Matt 3:13       Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John to be baptized by him.

Matt 3:14       But John tried to prevent Him, saying, It is I who have need of being baptized by You, and You come to me?

Matt 3:15       But Jesus answered and said to him, Permit it for now, for it is fitting for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness. Then he permitted Him.

Matt 3:16       And having been baptized, Jesus went up immediately from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming upon Him.

Matt 3:17       And behold, a voice out of the heavens, saying, This is My Son, the Beloved, in whom I have found My delight.

Matt 21:32      For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the harlots believed him. And you, when you saw it, did not later regret it to believe him.

A.     The base for Jesus to be baptized is that He considered Himself, according to His humanity, a man, especially an Israelite, who was a man “in the flesh” (cf. Phil. 3:3; John 1:14); even though He was only “in the likeness of the flesh of sin” (Rom. 8:3), “without sin” (Heb. 4:15), yet He was “in the flesh,” which has nothing good but is worthy only of death and burial.

Phil 3:3          For we are the circumcision, the ones who serve by the Spirit of God and boast in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh,

John 1:14       And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only Begotten from the Father), full of grace and reality.

Rom 8:3         For that which the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of the flesh of sin and concerning sin, condemned sin in the flesh,

Heb 4:15        For we do not have a High Priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all respects like us, yet without sin.

B.     Based on this fact, at the beginning of His ministry for God, He was willing to be baptized by John the Baptist, recognizing that, according to His humanity, He was one who did not have any qualification to be a servant of God.

C.     As a man in the flesh, He needed to be a dead man buried in the death water to fulfill God’s New Testament requirement according to His righteousness, and He did it willingly, considering it the fulfilling of God’s righteousness.

D.     This shows that we should not bring anything of our natural life, anything of our flesh, into God’s ministry in the service of His gospel.

E.      We all should declare in our life and work, “I am a person in the flesh, worthy of nothing but death and burial, so I want to have myself terminated, crucified, and buried”—cf. Gal. 2:20.

Gal 2:20         I am crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

 

VII. Our work and labor for the Lord in the gospel are not by our natural life and natural ability but by the Lord’s resurrection life and power; resurrection is the eternal principle in our service to God—Num. 17:8; 1 Cor. 15:10, 58; 16:10:

Num 17:8       And on the next day Moses went into the Tent of the Testimony, and there was the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi: it had budded; it even put forth buds and produced blossoms and bore ripe almonds.

1 Cor 15:10    But by the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace unto me did not turn out to be in vain, but, on the contrary, I labored more abundantly than all of them, yet not I but the grace of God which is with me.

1 Cor 15:58    Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

1 Cor 16:10    Now if Timothy comes, see that he is with you without fear; for he is working the work of the Lord, even as I am.

A.     The life-giving Spirit is the reality of the Triune God, the reality of resurrection, and the reality of the Body of Christ—John 16:13-15; 20:22; 1 Cor. 15:45b; Eph. 4:4.

John 16:13     But when He, the Spirit of reality, comes, He will guide you into all the reality; for He will not speak from Himself, but what He hears He will speak; and He will declare to you the things that are coming.

John 16:14     He will glorify Me, for He will receive of Mine and will declare it to you.

John 16:15     All that the Father has is Mine; for this reason I have said that He receives of Mine and will declare it to you.

John 20:22     And when He had said this, He breathed into them and said to them, Receive the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor 15:45b  … the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit.

Eph 4:4          One Body and one Spirit, even as also you were called in one hope of your calling;

B.     Resurrection means that everything is of God and not of us, that God alone is able and that we are not able, and that everything is done by God and not by ourselves—Num. 17:8.

Num 17:8       And on the next day Moses went into the Tent of the Testimony, and there was the rod of Aaron for the house of Levi: it had budded; it even put forth buds and produced blossoms and bore ripe almonds.

C.     All those who know resurrection have given up hope in themselves; they know that they cannot make it; everything that is of death belongs to us, and everything that is of life belongs to the Lord—2 Cor. 1:8-9; cf. Eccl. 9:4.

2 Cor 1:8        For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were excessively burdened, beyond our power, so that we despaired even of living.

2 Cor 1:9        Indeed we ourselves had the response of death in ourselves, that we should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead;

Eccl 9:4         For there is hope for whoever is joined to all the living-surely a living dog is better than a dead lion -

D.     We must acknowledge that we are nothing, have nothing, and can do nothing; we must come to the end of ourselves to be convinced of our utter uselessness—Exo. 2:14-15; 3:14-15; Luke 22:32-34; 1 Pet. 5:5-6.

Exo 2:14        And he said, Who appointed you a ruler and a judge over us? Are you thinking to kill me as you killed the Egyptian? And Moses became frightened and said, Surely the matter is known.

Exo 2:15        Now when Pharaoh heard of this matter, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh to dwell in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well.

Exo 3:14        And God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. And He said, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you

Exo 3:15        And God also said to Moses, Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, Jehovah, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial from generation to generation.

Luke 22:32     But I have made petition concerning you that your faith would not fail; and you, once you have turned again, establish your brothers.

Luke 22:33     And he said to Him, Lord, I am ready to go with You both to prison and to death.

Luke 22:34     But He said, I tell you, Peter, a rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know Me.

1 Pet 5:5        In like manner, younger men, be subject to elders; and all of you gird yourselves with humility toward one another, because God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.

1 Pet 5:6        Therefore be humbled under the mighty hand of God that He may exalt you in due time,

E.      The resurrected Christ as the life-giving Spirit lives in us, enabling us to do what we could never do in ourselves—1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 1:8-9, 12; 4:7-18.

1 Cor 15:10    But by the grace of God I am what I am; and His grace unto me did not turn out to be in vain, but, on the contrary, I labored more abundantly than all of them, yet not I but the grace of God which is with me.

2 Cor 1:8        For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of our affliction which befell us in Asia, that we were excessively burdened, beyond our power, so that we despaired even of living.

2 Cor 1:9        Indeed we ourselves had the response of death in ourselves, that we should not base our confidence on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead;

2 Cor 1:12      For our boasting is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in singleness and sincerity of God, not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God, we have conducted ourselves in the world, and more abundantly toward you.

2 Cor 4:7        But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God and not out of us.

2 Cor 4:8        We are pressed on every side but not constricted; unable to find a way out but not utterly without a way out;

2 Cor 4:9        Persecuted but not abandoned; cast down but not destroyed;

2 Cor 4:10      Always bearing about in the body the putting to death of Jesus that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.

2 Cor 4:11      For we who are alive are always being delivered unto death for Jesus' sake that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.

2 Cor 4:12      So then death operates in us, but life in you.

2 Cor 4:13      And having the same spirit of faith according to that which is written, "I believed, therefore I spoke," we also believe, therefore we also speak,

2 Cor 4:14      Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and will make us stand before Him with you.

2 Cor 4:15      For all things are for your sakes that the grace which has abounded through the greater number may cause the thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God.

2 Cor 4:16      Therefore we do not lose heart; but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

2 Cor 4:17      For our momentary lightness of affliction works out for us, more and more surpassingly, an eternal weight of glory,

2 Cor 4:18      Because we do not regard the things which are seen but the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

F.      When we do not live by our natural life but live by the divine life within us, we are in resurrection; the issue of this is the reality of the Body of Christ as the goal of the gospel of God—Phil. 3:10-11; Eph. 1:22-23.

Phil 3:10        To know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

Phil 3:11        If perhaps I may attain to the out-resurrection from the dead.

Eph 1:22        And He subjected all things under His feet and gave Him to be Head over all things to the church,

Eph 1:23        Which is His Body, the fullness of the One who fills all in all.

 

Excerpts from the Ministry:

 

EXPERIENCING THE DISPENSING OF THE DIVINE TRINITY

IN SERVING AND WORSHIPPING GOD

 

In the New Testament serving God is actually the same thing as worshipping God. You cannot serve God without worshipping Him. Neither can you worship Him without serving Him. For instance, in Matthew 4 the Lord Jesus was tempted by the devil concerning worship. Referring to the kingdoms of the world and their glory, the devil said to Him, “All these will I give You if You will fall down and worship me” (v. 9). The Lord Jesus answered, “It is written, You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve” (v. 10). Here we see that to worship actually means to serve. Hence, to worship God is to serve God. Without serving God we cannot render real worship to Him.

In 1 Thessalonians 1:9b Paul says that the believers at Thessalonica “turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God.” Literally, the Greek word rendered “serve” here means to serve as a slave. As used in verse 9, the word serve is all-inclusive. It includes everything we do in our daily living.

God is living because He is true, not false. Thus, in 1:9 Paul speaks of serving a living and true God. The church of the Thessalonians was made up of believers serving a living God who is true. This is also what we are doing today. The fact that we are serving a living God proves that we are in God the Father (1 Thes. 1:1). If we were not in the Father, we would not be serving a living God.

In 1:9 the word living is mentioned before the word true. It is rather easy to serve a true God; it is not so easy to serve a living God. Nevertheless, we need to serve a living God. God must be living to us and in us in our daily life. He should be living in our speech, in our behavior, and every aspect of our daily life.

By our daily life we prove that God is living. If God were not living, our daily life would be very different from what it is. Our present living is a testimony that the God whom we serve is living. He is living in us, and He controls us, directs us, and deals with us. He will not let us go. Rather, in many matters He corrects us and adjusts us. The fact that God controls us and directs us, even in such small things as our thoughts and motives, is a proof that He is living. We live under the control, direction, and correction of a living God. As believers in Christ we must live a life which bears the testimony that the God we worship and serve is living in the details of our life. The proper Christian life should bear a testimony that God is living. The reason we do not do or say certain things should be that God is living in us. The God whom we worship and serve is living not only in the heavens but also in us. We have turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God. No doubt, when God is living to us in our experience, He is also true.

 

With Their Conscience Purified from Dead Works

 

When we come to serve God, or worship God, we need to have a pure conscience, a conscience purified from dead works or from any kind of offense. Hebrews 9:14 says, “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” On the cross, Christ offered Himself to God in a human body, which is a matter of time. But He offered Himself through the eternal Spirit, who is of eternity, without any limit of time. Because Christ offered Himself by the eternal Spirit, His blood has an eternal efficacy to purify our conscience so that we may serve and worship the living God.

The blood of Christ purifies our conscience to serve the living God. To serve the living God requires a blood-purified conscience. To worship in dead religion or to serve any dead thing rather than God does not require our conscience to be purified. The conscience is the leading part of our spirit. The living God, whom we desire to serve, always comes to our spirit (John 4:24) by touching our conscience. He is righteous, holy, and living. Our defiled conscience needs to be purified so that we may serve Him in a living way. To worship God in our mind religiously does not require this.

Hebrews 9:14 speaks of “dead works” and “the living God.” Because we were dead (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13), whatever we did, bad or good, was dead works in the sight of the living God. The book of Hebrews does not teach religion; it reveals the living God (3:12; 9:14; 10:31; 12:22). To touch this living God we need to exercise our spirit and to have a blood-purified conscience. The blood of Christ was shed for the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28), and the new covenant was consummated with it (Heb. 10:29; Luke 22:20). It has accomplished eternal redemption for us (Heb. 9:12; Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19), and now it washes us from our sins (Rev. 1:5; 1 John 1:7) and purifies our conscience so that we may serve and worship the living God.

 

In Their Spirit in the Gospel of God’s Son

 

The believers serve and worship God in their spirit in the gospel of God’s Son. Paul says, “God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of His Son” (Rom. 1:9a). The Greek word translated “serve” here means to “serve in worship” of God, as used in Matthew 4:10; 2 Timothy 1:3; Philippians 3:3; and Luke 2:37.

If we would serve God and worship Him, we must do this in our spirit for the preaching of the gospel. The New Testament service and worship are carried out in the preaching of the gospel. This gospel is not concerned with anything other than God’s Son. The gospel of God’s Son refers to the all-inclusive Christ. Therefore, to serve God in the gospel is to serve Him in the all-inclusive Christ. In the New Testament the gospel is simply Christ Himself. This is the reason Acts 5:42 says that the apostles were “bringing the good news of Jesus as the Christ.”

In Romans 1:9a Paul said that he served God in his spirit. This indicates that in order to preach the gospel of God’s Son, we must be in our spirit. Preaching the gospel depends on our spirit. Whenever we preach the gospel, we should exercise our spirit.

Only in the book of Romans does Paul say that he serves God in his spirit. The reason is that in Romans Paul is arguing with religious people who invariably are in something other than the spirit—in letters, forms, or doctrines. In Romans Paul indicates that whatever we do toward God must be done in our spirit, that whatever we are must be in spirit, and that whatever we have must be in spirit. In 2:29 he says that the genuine people of God must be in spirit, that true circumcision is not outward in the flesh but in the spirit. Then in 7:6 he says that we should serve God in newness of spirit. Finally, in 12:11 Paul says that we must be burning in spirit. Preaching the gospel of God is absolutely a matter of our spirit.

The gospel of God in which we serve God in our spirit is actually the subject of the book of Romans. In the very first verse of this book Paul says that as a slave of Christ and a called apostle he was “separated to the gospel of God.” This indicates that Paul’s intention in Romans is to write concerning the gospel. The entire book unfolds the gospel, the glad tidings of God, in its fullest way.

Paul refers to his Epistle to the Romans as a gospel. In 2:16 he says, “God shall judge the secrets of men according to my gospel by Jesus Christ.” Paul also believed that God would establish the saints according to his gospel: “Now to Him who is of power to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ” (16:25). Therefore, the book of Romans may be regarded as the fifth gospel.

The gospel in the first four books of the New Testament—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John—concerns Christ in the flesh as He lived among His disciples before His death and resurrection. The gospel in Romans concerns Christ as the Spirit, not Christ in the flesh. In Romans 8 we see that the Spirit of life who indwells us is simply Christ Himself. Christ is in us. The Christ in the four Gospels was among the disciples; the Christ in Romans is within us. The Christ in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John is the Christ after incarnation and before death and resurrection. As such, He is a Christ outside of us. The Christ in Romans is the Christ after His resurrection. As such, He is the Christ within us. Hence, the gospel in Romans concerns Christ as the Spirit in us after His resurrection. This Christ is deeper and more subjective than the Christ in the four Gospels.

If we have only the gospel concerning Christ as revealed in the first four books of the New Testament, our gospel is too objective. We need the fifth gospel, the book of Romans, to reveal the subjective gospel of Christ. Our Christ is not merely the Christ in the flesh after incarnation and before resurrection, the Christ who was among His disciples. Our Christ is deeper and more subjective. He is the Spirit of life within us. Although John 14 and 15 reveal that Christ will be in His disciples, that was not fulfilled before His resurrection. The book of Romans is the gospel of Christ after His resurrection, revealing that He is now the subjective Savior in His believers. Therefore, this gospel is deeper and more subjective.

The gospel of God concerns God’s Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Of course, the gospel includes forgiveness and salvation, but they are not the central point. The central point of the gospel is the very person of Christ, the Son of God. The gospel is not a doctrine nor a teaching nor a religion—it is a wonderful person, Jesus Christ, the Son of God with His divinity and His humanity.

The central message of the book of Romans is that sinful, fleshly people can be made sons of God and conformed to the image of the Son of God. In this way Christ becomes the Firstborn among many brothers (8:29). Thus, the central point of the gospel is not forgiveness of sins. It is the producing of the sons of God, many brothers of the Son of God. God desires to transform sinners in the flesh into sons of God in the spirit. If we would serve God in the gospel, we all should make this same matter our goal. We preach the gospel not simply that people may be saved or be forgiven of their sins or become spiritual, but that they may become sons of God. This is our aim. In Romans 15:16 Paul says, “That I should be a minister of Christ Jesus to the nations, ministering as a priest the gospel of God.” For Paul, the preaching of the gospel, the serving of God in the gospel of His Son, was a priestly ministry, a priestly service. As believers, we all should serve God in such a priestly way in the gospel of His Son.

If we would serve God in the proper way, we need to serve Him in the gospel. To do this, we first need to know what the gospel is, and then we need to experience all that the gospel includes. We also need to learn how to minister the gospel to others, that is, how to function as priests in ministering the gospel of God. Whenever we contact anyone, whether a believer or an unbeliever, we need to know his need as far as the gospel is concerned. If a person is not clear about salvation, we should help him to be clear and even joyful in God’s salvation. We need to serve him with the gospel. Others may be clear about salvation but not about other aspects of the gospel. Thus, we must minister something to meet their needs.

The crucial point in serving God in our spirit in the gospel of His Son is that we minister Christ to others in the gospel. For this, we need to learn the elements and details of the gospel, we need to experience the full content of the gospel, and we need to exercise our spirit. This is to serve God in our spirit in the gospel of God’s Son.

 

By the Spirit of God

 

The believers not only serve God in their spirit but also serve Him by the Spirit of God. In Philippians 3:3a Paul says, “We are the circumcision, who serve by the Spirit of God.” Literally, the Greek word translated “serve” means to “serve as priests.” All New Testament believers are priests to God (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6). Hence, our ministry to the Lord, in whatever aspect, is a priestly ministry, a priestly service. As priests, we must serve God and worship Him in our spirit and by His Spirit. Whenever we get into our spirit, we also get into the Spirit of God. Likewise, when we worship God by the Spirit of God, we also worship Him in our spirit.

Philippians 3:3a indicates that the only acceptable service and worship we can render to God is not by the flesh but by the Spirit of God. The Spirit is the means for the believers to serve and worship God. The Judaic worship and service, on the contrary, involve the flesh and the various regulations related to it. Such regulations include the dietary laws, the keeping of the Sabbath, and circumcision. The service and worship rendered to God by the Judaizers in the flesh cannot be acceptable to God. As New Testament believers, we serve and worship God in our spirit by the Spirit of God. We are the circumcision, for we have been genuinely circumcised by Christ’s crucifixion. Whereas the Judaizers serve by ordinances of law related to the flesh, we serve by the Spirit of God.

 

In Spirit and Truth

 

The believers serve and worship God in spirit and truth. “An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and reality; for the Father seeks such to worship Him. God is Spirit; and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and reality” (John 4:23-24). In typology the worship of God should be in the place chosen by God to set His habitation there (Deut. 12:5, 11, 13-14, 18) and with the offerings (Lev. 1—6). The place chosen by God for His habitation typifies the human spirit, where God’s habitation is today (Eph. 2:22). The offerings typify Christ. Christ is the fulfillment and reality of all the offerings with which God’s people in the Old Testament worship Him. Hence, the Lord’s word in John 4:23 and 24 about worshipping God the Spirit in spirit and reality means that we should contact God the Spirit in our spirit, instead of in a specific place, and through Christ, instead of with the offerings, for now, because Christ the reality has come, all the shadows and types are over. God is Spirit, and worshipping God is to contact Him. Contacting Him is not a matter of place but a matter of the human spirit.

In John 4:23 the Lord Jesus said, “An hour is coming, and now is.” This means that the age has changed. In the past, according to the law of Moses, God ordained that His people worship Him at a specific place where He would establish His habitation with His name (Deut. 12:5). God’s worshippers had to go to that unique place. That was a type. Now the age has been changed, and the type has been fulfilled. Typologically speaking, the place of worship should no longer be a place; rather, it must be the human spirit, where God will set up His habitation with His name.

A crucial matter we need to see is that genuine worship, the worship God the Father is seeking, is not in a certain place but in the human spirit. In the Old Testament Mount Zion, the place of God’s habitation and the place of His name, was a type of the human spirit. According to the New Testament, God’s habitation is not on any mountain, nor even in the heavens. God’s habitation is in our spirit. Actually, our spirit is both God’s habitation and the place of God’s name. If we go elsewhere to worship God, this indicates that we have given up God’s name. There is only one place where we can be preserved in God’s name, and that place is our spirit. When we come to our spirit, we keep God’s name and we are preserved in His name. The genuine worship of the Father, the worship He desires, is the worship of Him in our spirit.

The genuine worship of God the Father is also in reality. In the Old Testament the children of Israel were required to worship God on Mount Zion with the offerings. The offerings typify Christ as reality. Christ is the fulfillment and the reality of all the offerings with which God’s people worshipped God. Christ is the genuine sin offering, trespass offering, burnt offering, meal offering, and peace offering. Today we worship God in our spirit with Christ as the reality of all the offerings.

 

Having No Confidence in Their Flesh

 

Finally, in serving and worshipping God the believers should have no confidence in their flesh. Paul says that those who serve by the Spirit of God “have no confidence in the flesh” (Phil. 3:3b). The flesh here comprises all that we are and have in our natural being. The fact that the Judaizers had confidence in their circumcision was a sign that their confidence was in their flesh. They trusted in their natural qualities and qualifications, not in the Spirit. By contrast, Paul says strongly that we who believe in Christ serve by the Spirit of God, boast in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

We may think that to trust in the flesh simply means to trust in the fallen human nature. But this is actually not the meaning of flesh in Philippians 3:3b. After saying that we should not have any confidence in the flesh, Paul goes on to say that he was circumcised on the eighth day, that he was of the race of Israel, that he was of the tribe of Benjamin, that he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews, that according to the law he was a Pharisee, that according to zeal he persecuted the church, and that according to the righteousness of the law he was blameless. All these things were aspects of Paul’s flesh. However, we may think that the flesh includes only evil things but not good things. Nevertheless, the honorable, lovable, and superior aspects of our natural being are still the flesh. Everything Paul did according to the law and according to zeal was flesh and of the flesh. Even his righteousness according to the law was flesh. All the characteristics listed by Paul in Philippians 3:4-6 are aspects of the flesh because they are all natural and are neither of Christ nor of the Spirit of God. Anything natural, whether it is good or evil, is the flesh. The Judaizers trusted in their flesh, trusting in what they were by their natural birth. But as believers in Christ we should not trust in anything we have by our natural birth, for everything of our natural birth is part of the flesh. In order to render genuine service and worship to God, everything we do must be by the Spirit of God, in Christ, and with no trust in the flesh.

Although we are not Judaizers, in principle we may actually be the same as the Judaizers were. Even though we have been regenerated, we may continue to live in our fallen nature, boast in what we do in the flesh, and have confidence in our natural qualifications. Therefore, it is important that we be deeply and personally touched by these verses in Philippians 3. We need the Lord’s light to shine on us concerning our nature, our deeds, and our confidence in the flesh. If we are enlightened by the Lord, we shall confess that although we have been regenerated to become children of God with the divine life and nature, we still live too much in the flesh. One day, when the light shines on you concerning this, you will want to prostrate yourself before the Lord and confess how unclean your nature is. Then you will condemn everything you do by your fallen nature. You will see that in the eyes of God whatever is done in the fallen nature is evil and worthy of condemnation. Formerly, we boasted in our deeds and qualifications. But the time will come when instead of boasting in the flesh with its qualifications, we shall condemn it. Then we shall boast in Christ alone, realizing that in ourselves we have absolutely no ground for boasting.

Only when we have been enlightened by God shall we be able to say truly that we have no trust in our natural qualifications, ability, or intelligence. Only then shall we be able to testify that our confidence is wholly in the Lord. After we are enlightened in this way, we shall truly serve and worship God in our spirit and by the Spirit. (The Conclusion of the New Testament, pp. 1828-1838)


 

 

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