THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch19 – part 2

ENTER THE KING – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

The entourage entered the Eastern gate of the Temple Mount base after crossing a narrow bridge that spanned the Kidron Creek. They followed three winding ramps up until went through another gate. Jesus dismounted and James tied off the animals. Then they climbed a set of stairs unto the Eastern wing of Solomon’s Colonnade. Already Cornelius could hear the sounds of selling and bartering. As they emerged from among the columns, the temple court was an unattractive scene of a busy marketplace.

Cornelius looked over at Jesus and saw him actually composed. Peter was whispering in his ears, probably trying to talk him from doing what he did the last time. Jesus turned his head toward the Temple complex where a group of priests were already watching him. Jesus then looked at him and smiled ever so slightly. Cornelius knew he was going to do something drastic.

Jesus pulled up his sleeves and stepped over to the nearest money changer’s table and started to tip it over. Coins scattered everywhere and the money-changer scrambled after them. He went next to a peddler of birds and tore into the soft baskets releasing the birds that took flight. He turns over more tables then turned his attention on breaking the pens that held the animals and drive the corrupt merchants away. All the while he was causing chaos, he was directing these very same words he used before at the growing gatherings of priests.

“My House shall be a House of Prayer,’ but you have made it a Den of Thieves.”

A squad of Temple guards were dispatched to arrest him but were thwarted by an excited and ever so growing crowds that surrounded Jesus hailing him the son of David. As the dust settled, Jesus went back up the steps of the collonade and sat down to teach the people. He taught until early evening and retired back to Bethany.
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The story continues on in my next post.

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THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch19 – part 1

ENTER THE KING – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Two days later, a big crowd gathered expectantly on the road outside the village of Bethany. The road which was already thick with foot traffic ran from Jericho down unto the Jordan River Valley going wounding up the Judean Highlands to Jerusalem. Cornelius, dressed as a local, waited with his group. Many on the pilgrimage were singing.

“Jacob? What are those songs they’re singing?” asked Cestus.

“Oh, those are the Psalms that Moses commanded us to sing on the way to Festival.”

“Look. Here they come,” Cornelius said. He was looking towards the Bethany gate as Jesus and his disciples emerged.

The people cheered and clapped. Jesus greeted many as they walked among the crowd. But they have not moved on the road to the city. Cornelius worked his way through the crowd by Jesus’ side. But before he could ask, Jesus smiled and whispered.

“We wait to fulfill righteousness.” He looked toward a side track that led to a small village. After a while, Cornelius recognized two of Jesus’ followers coming from that village leading a donkey trailed by a colt.

“Of course, it is a prophecy from Zecharia,” Jacob whispered to Cornelius. “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” [Zecharia 9:9]

Peter and James placed their robes on the donkey and helped Jesus climbed on. Just as Peter and James were about to lead the donkey on the road, the men in the crowd took their own robes off and laid them on the road while the women and children tore palm branches off and waved them at him as he rode by. For the two miles to get to the city, it was like this; singing, dancing, clapping and the waving of palms.

Upon entering the Kidron Valley where there was a massive encampment, the people there too joined in. They slowly made their way, through the throng. Young people and children went ahead of the procession shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David; Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest!” [Matthew 21:9]

Among the crowd, there were some of the Pharisees who tried unsuccessfully to quiet those shouting out their praise. They finally pleaded with Jesus saying, “Teacher, rebuke them for they say.”

But Jesus joyously laughed and answered them, “I tell you, if these become silent, the very stones on the ground will cry out!”   [Luke 19:37-40]
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The story continues on in my next post.

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Thank you

Johann Q

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #10

How can Christians be able to worship during the pandemic crisis?

One time, I met a Christian woman who had missed several worship services because her job did not allow the time for her to attend. She was in tears when she described her situation. But then, in the middle of her story, she told me that she and another Christian co-worker would often get together and encourage each other. I told that young woman that her meeting with this other Christian is worship. Why? Because Jesus was with them.

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” [Matthew 18:20]

In the news media today, I hear them say how bad it is for Christians not to be able to gather together. How little do they know. For us Christians, when Jesus is in your midst even if we’re only two, what else can we ask for?

GOSPEL part 7

THE COVENANT OF BLOOD

Once a month, usually on the first Sunday, most churches celebrate by partaking in the Lord’s Supper (Communion). This is when little pieces of bread and tiny cups of grape juice or as some churches prefer, red wine are distributed among the congregation to commemorate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. Technically speaking, this practice of eating the bread and drinking the wine is a ritual. Now, I am not usually fond on doing rituals and many traditions, however this ritual is one that I just love to practice. Do you know why? Because it was Jesus who institutionalized it for us until He finally comes and claims us .

While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”

Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. [Matthew 26:26-28]

I have been privileged to go to four churches; 2 churches here in Manila and a couple in Washington State and in California. And in all of them, I had heard many wonderful sermons on the first part of the Lord’s Supper about how the bread represents the body of Christ and what He endured on the cross. But because the preachers were allotted with a limited amount of time during the services, I have yet to hear about the second part. What does Jesus want us to learn about the blood of the covenant? First things first…

What does the Bible say about blood?

For the life of a creature is in the blood… [Leviticus 17:11a]

I need not have to explain why the life of all creature is in the blood.

I learned this quite young when my grandfather who was a farmer had me watched for the first time the slaughtering of a pig. I am afraid I may have to be a little bit graphic here. In those old days, the animal was still very much alive when the farmer plunged his knife into the creature’s neck severing the jugular vein. Its lifeblood gushed out in a constant crimson stream slowly and surely denying the brain of oxygen. It was not long until what was once a living creature, had then become a lifeless carcass. I was 7 years old then.

So, since blood is synonymous to life, God commanded this…

But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. [Deuteronomy 12:23]

One reason God prohibited the consumption of animal blood in the Old Testament was to teach respect for the sacredness of life. Blood is viewed as a symbol of life throughout the Bible, so much so that after mankind sinned, God had set a precedence for their redemption.

For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul… [Leviticus 17:11,14]

In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. [Hebrews 9:22]

By definition, redemption means the action of regaining or gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt… and innocent blood was the price.

God illustrated this to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

In Genesis 3, Adam and Eve had just sinned by eating the fruit that was forbidden. They then covered themselves with fig leaves in an attempt to hide their shame. Deep down they probably thought they were successful in hiding their guilt. Of course, God is never fooled.

gen-3-skins-wHe saw through their futile attempt to make themselves look presentable that He disapproved. Verse 21 simply stated that the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

Did God just simply cause the garments of skin to appear from out of nowhere? He could, quite easily, in fact, but what was evident in Scriptures suggested that God had a large animal slaughtered before their eyes. They witnessed the blood of an innocent creature being spilled so that their sins will be covered. Instead of being totally cut off from His grace, God had provided the people of the Old Testament a way to approach Him without being destroyed by Him.

Adam passed this practice down to Abel, Seth, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and yes even to Job. But it was in the time of Moses, in the book of Exodus, that God provided us with a clear picture of how innocent blood redeems.

It was at the time when Moses confronted the king of Egypt with the commandment of God to ‘let His people go’. Nine plagues God had already released upon Egypt and yet Pharaoh refused to obey. So, God intended to send the tenth and final plague… the worst of plagues… the deaths of the first born in Egypt. This would have included the first born of Israel if God had not provided a way for them to escape. How? Every family would have to kill a lamb and place its blood on the door frames so that God’s angel of death will pass over that house and spare their first born. Which he did.   [Exodus 11]

After the fateful event, God had commanded that an intricate system of animal sacrifices  be established as way for the people of Israel to gain forgiveness and then worship. A system that was repeated year after year. Why year after year? The system was meant to be temporary and besides which…

It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. [Hebrews 10:4]

Here still lies the problem for mankind – SIN. If the shed blood of innocent animals could not truly redeem us from eternal damnation of hell, then what could?

By every right, it was one man that brought SIN in, so, it should be a man to pay the price.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. [Romans 5:19]

The problem is that no man born in this world (i.e. born of man and woman) can qualify to God’s precedence for redemption. So, who can save us?

Enter JESUS CHRIST! Hallelujah!

The Old Testament Temple practices were never meant to solve mankind’s ultimate dilemma. It was a dress rehearsal, so to speak, for the biggest show!

The show when God enters our reality as man… Jesus Christ…

Who, being in very nature a God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross! [Philippians 2:6-8]

To what end?

…and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies (cleanses) us from all sin. [1 John 1:7]

So, when you partake in drinking the cup, keep mind of what Jesus preciously shed and remember the covenant which is when God who is Holy looks at you, He will choose not see your old sinful self but the blood of Christ than covers you.

If you are not sure if the blood of Christ is covering you, then set your mind to learn and get to know Jesus Christ. Then believe.

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Well, where ever you are right now, know that God is listening for you. Talk to Him with no delay and express your faith in Jesus Christ and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. You only have to pray the prayer below once, but with sincerity, because when He enters your life, He will never leave you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you so much for loving me. I confess that I am a sinner worthy of eternal punishment. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for all of my sins. With your help, I am turning away from all my sins. Today, I put my trust in you as my Lord and Savior and I receive you into my heart. Thank you for forgiving my sins and for coming into my heart. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you that one day, I will go home to be with you in heaven. From this day on, I will follow and obey you. Amen.*

* Note: It is not the prayer that saves us but faith in Christ. The prayer is a way express belief.

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #9

How do you know when God is answering prayers?

How can we as Christians see, touch, or even feel that God answered our prayers?

First and foremost, the answer is FAITH.

Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. [Hebrews 11:1]

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us–whatever we ask–we know that we have what we asked of him. [1 John 5:14-15]

So, when you pray in accordance to God’s will, well… your attitude, that is your settled way of thinking or feeling should be like this next verse.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. [Mark 11:24]

If for some reason, you still don’t know whether God had answered your prayers then I offer the following theories.

  • If you ask, seek or knock and yet don’t get an answer, it may be that the SILENCE is God’s answer. However, God’s SILENCE does not mean an outright NO! We have a tendency to be impatient in our expectation of answered prayers. It would be best to remember that God’s timing is not our own.

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. [Psalm 27:14]

  • If there is still no answer, it may be that your prayer request was not up to par. It may be wise to review your requests.

And when you do ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may squander it on your pleasures. [James 4:3]

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #8

Questions about Guardian Angels

People have many notions about guardian angels. It is safe to say that much of it were based on personal experiences of supposed angels that had kept them in one way or another from getting into trouble, getting hurt or other disasters. But are these notions biblical.

Here is what Crosswork.com say – “While angelic activity fills the pages of the Bible, the Bible is not very forth coming when talking about the particulars of the ministries of ‘guardian’ angels.” *

Ok! There is nothing specific, however, let us explore anyway what the Bible says in regards to specific questions below.

Do Christians have angels that protect them?

“See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:10

Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? Hebrews 1:14

What Do Angels Do?

Spiritual beings or angels carry out God’s purpose in the natural world.

In the Old Testament, angels brought great news to Abraham and Sarah that they will bring forth a son in their old age. Those same angels also saved Abraham’s nephew Lot from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was an angel that came to Jacob three times in his lifetime. There was the Angel of Death that struck down the first borns of Egypt at the same time, sparing the Israelites. It was an Angel of the Lord that led the slave nation of Israel out of Egypt and in the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness as a column of cloud by day and a pilar of fire by night. Angels came to help prophets like Daniel and Elijah. The angel of the LORD killed a large number of the Assyrian army. There was even an angel who communicated to Balaam by the mouth of an ass.

In the New Testament, the Angel Michael appeared to Zechariah to proclaim the miraculous birth of John the Baptist. Months later, he again appeared to a 14 year old Mary of Nazareth and declared that she will be the mother of Jesus. Then again he gloriously appeared with a host of heavenly angels declaring to startled shepherds of the birth of the messiah. An angel came to Joseph in a dream three times. From time to time an angel would stir the water in the pool of Bethesda. God had sent spiritual messengers to minister to Jesus several times. An angel appears twice near Jesus’ tomb declaring, to Mary, Mary Magdalene and others, that the Lord has already risen from the dead. God had sent the angel of the Lord to free Peter and John from prison. An angelic being appears to Philip the Evangelist and commands him to travel to Gaza. During his travel he runs into an Ethiopian eunuch, explains the gospel to him, and ultimately baptizes him. One of the greatest New Testament interactions with an angel occurs when one is sent to the Apostle John. He journeys to the apostle, who has been exiled to the island of Patmos, to reveal prophecies to him that will ultimately become the book of Revelation.

Do they have names?

Yes, angels do have names, however, we only know with certainty the names of four angels.

    • Michael (Dan 10:13,21) (Dan 12:1) (Jude 1:9)(Rev 12:7) – Michael is called an “archangel” in (Jude 1:9), and based upon the times he is mentioned in the Bible, it appears he might be God’s chief warrior angel.
    • Gabriel (Dan 8:16) (Dan 9:21) (Lk 1:19.26) – Each time the angel Gabriel is mentioned, he is delivering messages from God.
    • Lucifer (Isa 14:12) – Based upon the description of Lucifer in (Isa 14:12-15), Lucifer appears to be Satan, who is a fallen angel (Lk 10:18).
    • Abaddon/Apollyon (Rev 9:11). – “Abaddon/Apollyon is also a fallen angel who is mentioned as ruling over the “bottomless pit” in the end times.

[Do angels have names? by Steve Shirley]

Can departed loved ones actually return to “watch over” us here on earth?

Once we die, we die. Either we go to Heaven or to Hell depending on whether we received God’s free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (John 1:12 and John 3:16). It is impossible for those who have died to return to earth in any form whatsoever (Luke 16:19-31). *

Do people become angels when they go to Heaven?

Despite conventional wisdom, humans are not transformed into angels when they die.

For example, in a discussion of whether or not marriage exists in Heaven, Jesus said, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (Matthew 24:38).

Note that we are like angels—but we are not angels.

Paul teaches on many occasions that we keep our own identities, personalities and enough of our earthly features to be recognized by others in eternity (1 Corinthians 13:11-12). While we will be transformed into the likeness of Christ (1 John 3:2), we will remain distinctly who we were on earth—and we will not be angels. *

[* from Crosswalk.com article “Do we have guardian angels” by Dr. Roger Barrier]

 

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #7

Is the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic an end times event?

Today’s question about whether the current mishap is a sign of the end times is not exactly new. Two thousand years ago, an ancient church thought they were living in end times scenario too because their everyday lives were disrupted by… in their case… all out persecution against them. They too shut down their livelihoods and went into social separation.

Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching… asserting that the day of the Lord has already come. Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way, for that day will not come until the rebellion occurs and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction. He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God’s temple, proclaiming himself to be God. [2 Thessalonians 2:1-4]

Now, this is a reflection of what Jesus told his disciples in Matthew 24. He too told them, “Watch out that no one deceives you” (vs 4). Then he explained what they and every Christian should expect as we walk this world during this age of grace.

You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. Matthew 24:6-7

By the way, though there was no direct mention of diseases in the passage above, there are rumors today of a nation causing this pandemic. What’s important to note is that our world had endured numerous wars (great and small), droughts, earthquakes, natural disasters, including plagues and pandemics. All these things had caused unsettlement, alarm and dismay, but that is nothing compared to what God had intended for the world to experience on the Day of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 2:2) also known as the Great Tribulation.

“For then there will be great tribulation, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now–and never to be equaled again.” Matthew 24:21

So, what is happening today? Interestingly enough, all the things that had been happening, Jesus called it as the beginning of birth pains (Matthew 24:8). What comes after birth pains? New life! What do I mean?

Just before the time of the Great Tribulation, Jesus will take all Christians (both that had passed and are alive) home.

For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. [1 Thessalonians 4:16-18]

…in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. [1 Corinthians 15:52]

Is this not reason to be joyful? I know I look forward to that day. But for now, Christians, don’t be deceived and dismayed. We still have work to do. And that is bring as many people to the Lord.

To Him all the glory.

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #6

Why do Christians say I want to see Jesus but are afraid to die?

I can understand why. For many human beings, death is the great unknown and people fear the unknown. Once upon a time, I too was afraid to die except that I knew where I was going. You see, I knew that if I suddenly died in SIN at that time, I would end up standing before God and He would have cast me into eternal damnation.

Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment… Hebrews 9:27

Of course, I have been a believer since the 90s and I lost my fear of death because of the Lord’s guarantee of eternal life (Matthew 3:16). In 2015, I went face to face with death when I had to undergo an extremely risky spinal operation. This was in my mind. I wanted to live but not because I was afraid. I was ready to die because it meant I would be with the Lord. But this Bible verse was forefront in my mind.

I am torn between the two. I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better indeed. But it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body… Philippians 1:23-24

The Apostle Paul would have loved to be with Christ in Heaven, but for the sake of serving others (the body) as well as those who were lost, he worked hard to stay alive.

When I woke up from that operating table, I was elated not because I was still breathing but because deep down, God still has use of me. And by the way, I am paralyzed and mostly bedridden, but He still cause me to work.

To Him goes all the glory!

If you agree, say “AMEN”

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #5

How should Christians react to the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Based on the media, panic of the unknown seem to be the general reaction of the world. This is both understandable and expected. By God’s grace, the world is rallying together.

As for Christians, this is one of those times to shine brighter than the world for the glory of the Lord.

How?

1. By reflecting such a PEACE in our demeanor because we believe what the Lord promised.

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety.     Psalm 4:8

2. By being brave in the face of danger.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”     Joshua 1:9

3. By showing trust in God in regards to following government edicts.

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.    Romans 13:1

Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.    Titus 3:1-2

4. By being pro-active in prayer.

And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. James 5:15

Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.    James 5:13-16

Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord…    James 5:14-15

BIBLE Q & A with Johann – #4

What did Jesus mean ‘Do not judge’ in Matthew 7:1-5?

In the first verse of Matthew 7, Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

Frankly, how can we not judge especially when we need to ascertain things about other people? By definition, a judgment is an opinion or decision based on thoughts, feelings and evidence. We human beings, regardless of race or creed, can not help making hundreds of judgement calls every day. I mean consider…

“Within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, our brain makes 11 different decisions about them including their intelligence, socioeconomic status, education, competence and trustworthiness,” said corporate image consultant and personal brand strategist Anna Hinson.

Making judgments is built in our subconscious. So, is Jesus asking us to curtail what God Himself had created in us? Of course not. So, what was Jesus really talking about? Well, let us again look at the context of the passage.

Matthew 7:1-5 happened to be part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which started in chapter 5. His famed sermon had a recurring theme.

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:20]

The Pharisees and the teachers of the law were the ‘super religious’ of the Jewish nation. They were so highly educated that Jesus told the people to learn from them and take advantage of their abilities to impart scriptures. However, these Pharisees had an incredible flaw, so much so, that when Jesus was talking about them to the people, he shared this parable.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14)

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

When Jesus said, ‘Do not judge…’, he really meant that we should not form such a haughty opinion of others just like the Pharisee in the parable above. There is a cost if you do.

There is a biblical principle that says what you sow, you will also reap. In other words, what goes around comes around. So, if you judge other people badly you will eventually be judge badly by not just someone of your peer but by One who is greater, God Himself.

So, take heed.