Monthly Archives: October 2015

Monday Meditations: Without Money – Samuel Rutherford

Monday Meditations - Daily Readings: The Puritans

“Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1

Notions of justification without faith (as with the Antinomians) cast loose the covenant, “I will be your God.” But here there is a condition—God is not bound and we free; therefore, this is the other part, “and ye shall be my people.” Now, it is taught by libertines, that there can be no closing with Christ, in a promise that has a qualification or condition expressed; and that conditional promises are legal. It is true, if the word “condition” be taken in a wrong sense, the promises are not conditional. For, Arminians take a condition for a free act, which we absolutely may perform or not perform by free will, not acted by the pre-determinating grace of Christ; so jurists take the word: but this makes men lords of heaven and hell, and puts the keys of life and death over to absolute contingency. Conditions have a Popish sense, for doing that which, by some merit, moves God to give to men wages for work, and so, promises are not conditional: but libertines deny all conditions. But taking condition, for any qualification wrought in us by the power of the saving grace of God; Christ promises soul-ease, but upon a condition, which His grace works, that the soul be sin-sick for Christ; and He offers “wine and milk” (Isa. 55:1); “And the water of life freely,” (Rev. 22:17) upon condition that you buy without money: no purse is Christ’s grace-market, no hire and sense of wretchedness is a hire for Christ.

Samuel Rutherford

Samuel Rutherford

About Samuel Rutherford:
Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661) was a Church of Scotland minister, theologian, controversialist, devotional writer, and political theorist. He was one of the Scottish commissioners to the Westminster Assembly, and was a prominent defender of mainstream orthodoxy. He was active in the Presbyterian and Covenanter cause. Rutherford’s posthumous reputation rests chiefly on his Letters, which were first published in Holland in 1664, and quickly became a classic of evangelical Protestant piety. Both Richard Baxter and Charles Spurgeon praised the Letters, and they were republished no fewer than eighty times in English. This month’s readings are from Rutherford’s Trial and Triumph of Faith (1645), a collection of sermons on the healing of the Canaan woman’s daughter (Matt. 15:21-28).

*Excerpted from Daily Readings – The Puritans (Christian Heritage, 2012).

Where to Buy:
Daily Readings – The Puritans by Randall Pederson (editor) is available at any good  Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past – Robert L. Plummer


A few years ago, in doing genealogical research, I acquired a copy of a single handwritten page by my great-great grandfather’s brother, Rev. James Ransom Plummer, Jr. (a Methodist minister), on the eve of his wedding to Sarah Ann Elizabeth Ford.   The page reads:

The evening before marriage, May 8th 1851

The last night of my single life has come.  Oh, with what intense interest have I looked forward to this hour! And, while many . . . very many . . . would spend this night in wild revelry and frantic glee, be it mine in sweet tranquility to hold communion with the Great and Good Being above, who has crowned my life with the highest of earthly bliss. And here would I record, in truthful words, the wondrous  kindness of our Heavenly Father, He, in whose hands are the issues of life, has granted me the affections of an earthly angel, and already virtually committed to my charge, under him, this gentle being, to protect and cherish through life’s rough way. She is all I would have her to be, pure as the snow that lies unthawed upon Everest’s towering summit, beautiful as the opening bloom radiant with the first kiss of summer sun and glittering with the dew drops of morning, gentle as a fondling lamb, with a mind free and untrammeled, capable of deep thoughts and investigation, pious like one who loves God and aspires to a home where angels sing and the redeemed live. Oh, how shall I be grateful enough for this loved one? And while I feel deeply the responsibility of this precious commitment, I humbly implore of him, who all my life long has been unremitting in his kindness, that he would vouchsafe unto me wisdom and grace, that she who has plighted her faith in truthful confidence to me, may be loved and cherished through life and that together we may live, in the home of the saved, in companionship in the skies.

Written by Jas. R. Plummer the evening before he married S.A.E. Ford

Mother and Father of Martha Louetta Plummer (Mrs. B. F. Haynes)

When I consider Rev. Plummer’s tenderness towards his wife and his joyful commitment to purity, that legacy propels me to treat my wife with gentle and unwavering love.

Being drawn to the example of my ancestor reminded me of a newspaper article I read a few years ago.  According to the article, sociological research indicates that it is beneficial for children to know their parents’ and grandparents’ stories of hardship.  Somehow these familial stories strengthen young travelers for the trials they face in their own life journeys.

In doing research for Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past, my co-author Matt Haste and I read through scores of marital reflections from Ignatius of Antioch (1st century) to Elisabeth Elliot (20th century). I found myself embracing anew the truths about the challenges, joys, and God-ordained purposes of marriage from these spiritual fathers and mothers in the faith. They loved unto death, and I can do the same. They persevered through trial, and I can do the same.  They rejoiced in tenderness over their beloved, and I can do the same.  For the glory of God, empowered by his Spirit, they held marriage in honor, recognizing it as a holy institution that points to the greater reality of Christ’s love for the church. I can do the same.  And, you can too.

About The Author:

Robert L. Plummer is professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky and serves as an elder at Sojourn Community Church. Find out a bit more about the man ‘Behind the Bowtie’!


Where to Buy:
Held in Honor is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Off the Shelf: 150 Pocket Thoughts by Richard Bewes

Off the Shelf Feature


The following extract is taken from 150 Pocket Thoughts by Richard Bewes.  The former Rector of All Souls church, in London, has been called on to minister to people at the heights of their joy and the depths of their despair. From this accumulated wisdom come thoughts that will encourage you in your daily life. Whether used as a daily devotion, or for answers to specific events using the subject index, you will find a insight that increases your understanding of the God of Creation, and your relationship to him.


Joseph….whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)…. (Acts 4: 36, 37).

 Here is one of the key figures in the growth of the early Christian Church. And they nick-named him ‘Mr Encourager’. How so?

  1. His encouragement of a new Christian convert – none other than Paul. Everyone was scared of this former persecutor – but Barnabas mentored him (Acts 9:26-31). And the church grew.…
  1. His encouragement of a new expansion. Gentiles were pouring into the church – how alarming! But Barnabas was sent. Result: the new converts were affirmed (Acts 11: 22, 23). And the church grew more….
  1. His encouragement in the face of new problems. Should new Gentile believers undergo the traditional Jewish initiation procedures? Barnabas was sent, with Peter, to sort it out. ‘No’, came the answer (Acts 15). It was a vital crossroads. Result: the church went on growing….
  1. His encouragement of a new leader for the church (Acts 15:36-40). There was disagreement over whether to drop John Mark for a mission; he was a past failure. But Barnabas took him on. Result: Mark ends up ‘useful’ to Paul (2 Timothy 4:11; Philemon 24). And Mark eventually writes one of our four Gospels!

Do you inspire your fellow-believers? Or do you exhaust them? Be an encourager – and watch the church grow!

About Richard Bewes

Richard BewesRichard Bewes is the author of several beloved books of faith including Talking About Prayer, 150 Pocket Thoughts, and The Goodnight Book. Bewes was the rector of All Souls Church in the centre of London from 1983 until his retirement in 2004. In 2005 he was awarded an OBE for his services to the Church of England

Where to Buy:

150 Pocket Thoughts is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

 9781857929911 Buy Now:


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Seeing God as Good in Suffering? – Jamie Freeman

I wasn’t raised under theology that would be labeled “reformed”.  I came to it the way most reformed believers do, kicking and screaming at the “unfairness” of it all until divine providence showed me the beauty contained therein. But, it wasn’t long after entering that garden of rest found in God’s sovereignty that the forbidden tree was cast before me; pride! How easy it is, in our humanity, to begin to take ownership of the fact that now we believe the “hard truths.” We’re not some cereal bowl Christian, full of nuts and flakes. We ascribe to deep theology!

Yet, as we revel in our self-exalting pride, we forget that the true implications of what we profess to believe demands that we have no ability to take ownership even to the ascribing of the truth. If our hearts have laid hold of biblical truth, surely grace and grace alone has caused it.

Therefore, it has been in times of self-examination that the Spirit of God has required that I put my “Calvinist Card” away and question the extent to which I truly embrace God’s electing prerogative. It’s one thing to believe God elects who gets saved; but what about who gets cancer? Are we as content with God if He not only elects some for life, but also elects some for down-syndrome?

It’s for this reason that I’ve had to spend much time meditating on Matthew 15:21-28. Here we meet a Canaanite woman in great need of a touch from the Savior. Her daughter is severely oppressed by a demon and in need of deliverance. Surely, Jesus would be quick to save, right? After all, isn’t Jesus always “nice”? Yet, we find Jesus’ response very shocking. He says, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Just so it is known, that response wouldn’t fly in our racially and politically correct society. Still, when further pressed on the issue, Jesus only seemingly adds insult to injury when He says, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Wow! A mother comes to Jesus needing deliverance for her demonic daughter and in response Jesus highlights His electing prerogative towards Israel. It could almost seem as if Jesus is saying to her, “Sorry, I’ve never seen you at the synagogue before. Maybe if you had a name like Lewin or Katz– you know, a little Abraham in your blood-line.” Instead, she’s a Gentile dog! She’s faced with the electing prerogative of God and it doesn’t seem to benefit her at all. Yet, notice her response. “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” We should pause here for a moment. Firstly, when was the last time you presented the truth of election to someone and their first response was affirmative agreement, “Yes!”? Not only does she respond affirmatively, she takes on the label of “dog”.  How easy it can be to believe election when it seems to favor you, but look at this gentile woman who accepts God’s election even when it doesn’t seem personally beneficial. Here is the true test.

Just as God has prerogative to elect as He wills in matter of salvation, the extent to which we meet suffering and the measure to which that suffering manifests in our lives is also all subjected to the electing prerogative of God. It is here that those who proudly wear the name tag “reformed” must stop and truly question the extent to which their lives rest on the sovereign election of God. The true test is this: when met by suffering and adversity, is our heart able to quietly, patiently rest in faith that nothing has come upon us except that which a sovereign God has chosen to thus ordain for us? If our heart meets suffering and hardship with anxiety and anxiousness, do we really have the right to call ourselves “sovereign grace” people? Thus, it’s not what a person does with salvation alone that shows the extent to which they’ve placed their hope in God’s sovereignty, but what they do with the most personal and severe of their sufferings.

Therefore, we need to note the result that comes to the Gentile woman after she is shown to have fully embraced the full extent of God’s electing prerogative. “Then Jesus answered her, ‘O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.” It’s after she sees God’s election and embraces it- all of it- that Jesus opens to her the windows of blessing and meets the need for which she came. She proves to be yet another Gentile grafted into the promise and can truly wear the name “reformed”. Can you?

This is a guest post by Jamie Freeman, born with cerebral palsy and not expected to walk or talk. However, God had a wonderful plan for Jamie’s life and used his trials with cerebral palsy to make him into a trophy of grace. He is the author of Though He Slay Me: Seeing God as Good in Suffering recently published by Christian Focus Publications.

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Monday Meditations: Sorrow and Grief – George Whitefield

Monday Meditations - George Whitefield

“How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?” Psalm 13:2

Our sorrow and grief for sin must not spring merely from a fear of wrath. For if we have no other ground but that it proceeds from self-love, and not from any love for God. And if love for God is not the chief motive in your repentance, your repentance is in vain and not to be esteemed true. Many, in our days, think their crying to God is repentance, and that God will forgive them as such; but indeed, they are mistaken; it is not the drawing near to God with our lips, while our hearts are far from him, which he regards. Repentance does not come by fits and starts; no, it is one continued act of our lives; for as we daily commit sin, so we need a daily repentance before God to obtain forgiveness for those sins we commit. It is not your confessing yourselves to be sinners, it is not knowing your condition to be sad and deplorable, so long as you continue in your sins; your care and endeavors should be, to get the heart thoroughly affected therewith, that you may feel yourselves to be lost and undone creatures. Christ came to save such as are lost; and if you are enabled to groan under the weight and burden of your sins, then Christ will ease you and give you rest. And until you are thus sensible of your misery and lost condition, you are a servant to sin and to your lusts, under the bondage and command of Satan, doing his drudgery: you are under the curse of God and liable to judgment. Consider how dreadful your state will be at death, and after the Day of Judgment, when you will be exposed to such miseries which the ear has not heard, neither can the heart conceive, and that to all eternity, if you die impenitent.

*Excerpted from George Whitefield Daily Readings (Christian Heritage, 2010).

Where to Buy:
George Whitefield Daily Readings by Randall J. Pederson (editor) is available at any good  Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Josh Moody Visits The Harvest Show to Share About How Church Can Change Your Life

Josh Moody stopped by The Harvest Show this week to talk about his new book How Church Can Change Your Life. Josh’s interview begins at 19:37.

You can also watch the video on YouTube: LINK

How Church Can Change Your LifeAbout The Book:
Google books on church, there will be no shortage of choice! Some will be helpful, others less so. So why another book on church? Josh Moody, is, in fact, asking a very different question: why should I go to church at all? Filled with practical advice, this book will help you answer questions you maybe should have known the answer to and other questions you never knew to ask!

Table of Content: PDF
Press Release:  PDF

Praise For How Church Can Change Your Life:

“… a powerful and needed reminder of the central role the local church should play in the life of every Christian.”
-R. Albert Mohler

“This book answers questions about the church that your friends are asking!… Read this book and be encouraged by his answers, and then pass it along to a friend who has considered church attendance to be optional.”
-Erwin Lutzer

Josh MoodyAbout The Author:
Josh Moody is Senior Pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois. His books includeBurning Hearts, Journey to Joy, No Other Gospel, and The God-Centered Life. For more, visit

Where to Buy:
How Church Can Change Your Life is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Off the Shelf: Stress by Gaius Davies

Off the Shelf Feature

Over the coming months we’re going to be featuring a number of excellent books from Christian Focus Publications you may never of heard about! We begin today with a much needed book on stress by Dr Gaius Davies, one of Britain’s leading psychiatrists.


Using examples from his experience in clinical practice, Dr Davies investigates the causes of breakdown and the many sources of stress that exist today: bereavement, guilt, personality problems, sexual tensions and the perennial problem of anxiety. He examines the ways and means by which we can cope with different kinds of stress, and even learn to utilize stress well, demonstrating the value of modern medical knowledge, while recognising that some afflictions can only be healed spiritually. What Dr Davies seeks to do above all else, is to help restore the Christian mind to its proper place in our lives, to achieve a healthy balance by which we can overcome life’s many stresses. This is a book to encourage those suffering from breakdown or stress, prevent others from succumbing to it, and provide invaluable help to counsellors, and friends.

Reviews on Stress by Gaius Davies

“Davies treatment of stress and what the care of those under stress involves has about it a down-to-earth circumspection that may seem low-key but will be found very salutary. Overheated super-spirituality, fouling up the conscience by treating all psycho-physical strain as a symptom of sin, unbelief or demon possession, still, alas, runs loose among us; this book, please God, will put salt on its tail – and none too soon. May these Christianly and professionally shrewd chapters find the ministry they merit.”

-J.I. Packer, Well known Author & Board of Governors’ Professor of Theology, Regent College, Vancouver, Canada

“The church has been waiting for a book like this for years.”

-R.T. Kendall, Previous minister of Westminster Chapel, London

About Gaius Davies

Dr. Gaius Davies, FRCPsych, M Phil, DPM, was a Consultant Psychiatrist at King’s College Hospital, London. He is a well-respected author.

Where to Buy:
Stress is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

9781845500283 Buy Now:


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Monday Meditations: He arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights – Spurgeon

Monday Meditations Spurgeon
‘He arose, and did eat and drink, and went in the strength of that meat forty days and forty nights’ 1 Kings 19:8

All the strength supplied to us by our gracious God is meant for service, not for wantonness or boasting. When the prophet Elijah found the cake baked on the coals, and the cruse of water placed at his head, as he lay under the juniper tree, he was no gentleman to be gratified with dainty fare that he might stretch himself at his ease; far otherwise, he was commissioned to go forty days and forty nights in the strength of it, journeying towards Horeb, the mount of God. When the Master invited the disciples to ‘Come and dine’ with Him, after the feast was concluded He said to Peter, ‘Feed my sheep’; further adding, ‘Follow me’. Even thus it is with us; we eat the bread of heaven, that we may expend our strength in the Master’s service. We come to the Passover, and eat of the paschal lamb with loins girt and staff in hand, so as to start off at once when we have satisfied our hunger. Some Christians are for living on Christ, but are not so anxious to live for Christ. Earth should be a preparation for heaven; and heaven is the place where saints feast most and work most. They sit down at the table of our Lord, and they serve Him day and night in His temple. They eat of heavenly food and render perfect service. Believer, in the strength you daily gain from Christ labour for Him. Some of us have yet to learn much concerning the design of our Lord in giving us His grace. We are not to retain the precious grains of truth as the Egyptian mummy held the wheat for ages, without giving it an opportunity to grow: we must sow it and water it. Why does the Lord send down the rain upon the thirsty earth, and give the genial sunshine? Is it not that these may all help the fruits of the earth to yield food for man? Even so the Lord feeds and refreshes our souls that we may afterwards use our renewed strength in the promotion of His glory.

*Excerpted from Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by C. H. Spurgeon (Christian Heritage, 2009).

Where to Buy:
Morning and Evening: Daily Readings by C. H. Spurgeon is available at any good  Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

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Is the Pope the Anti-Christ? – Leonardo De Chirico

Pope Francis
These days no one asks a question like this. It seems too arrogant, too outdated, grossly missing the mark of a honest religious conversation. Moreover, any reference to the Anti-Christ seems to be further marred by the fancy treatments that it has received in popular pseudo-apocalyptic novels, futurist accounts of world trends, and millenarist explanations of Christian eschatology.

It seems that on the Anti-Christ is better to maintain a silent attitude if not an agnostic approach. It is there in the Bible, but we don’t know what it looks like and we are bound to stay away from any polemical discourse or unhelpful conjecture. Ecumenical correctness imposes a dialoguing code that demands that only “nice” things can be said in inter-faith conversations. In this overly hesitant position there is also a clear-cut theological judgment on the way in which the Protestant tradition has been understating the nature of the Anti-Christ for centuries. From Martin Luther to C.H. Spurgeon, from John Wesley to the Puritans, there has been a consistent, coherent and univocal interpretation of the identity of the Anti-Christ. The Protestant Reformation did not invent this reading of the Papacy as the Anti-Christ but carried it on from strands of Medieval teachings and gave it a deeper theological basis.

Here is how the 1646 Westminster Confession of Faith aptly summarizes this widespread and long-standing Protestant consensus:

“There is no other head of the Church but the Lord Jesus Christ. Nor can the pope of Rome, in any sense, be head thereof, but is that Antichrist, the man of sin, and son of perdition, that exalteth himself, in the church, against Christ and all that is called God” (art. XXV.6).[1]

Francis Turretin (1623-1687) is perhaps the greatest Reformed theologian of the XVII century. His major work, the Institutes of Elenctic Theology, has been one of the most influential theological textbooks of the continental Reformed tradition. In his section on the Church, Turretin extensively deals with the Papacy, as he always engages in “apologetic” theology. His more comprehensive treatment of the Pope as the Antichrist, however, is his 7th Disputation on the Antichrist that, in turn, is part of a larger work entitled Concerning our Necessary Secession from the Church of Rome and the Impossibility of Cooperation with Her (1661).[2] Here we find perhaps the most detailed and systematic Protestant argument for the identification of the Pope as the Antichrist. Turretin endeavors to exegete Scripture and evaluate the facts of church history for the purpose of saving the Church of Christ from committing spiritual fornication.

After noting that it is the common opinion of Protestants that the Pope is the Antichrist, Turretin explains that Scripture reveals the place of the Antichrist (the temple), his time (from apostolic times onward), and his person (an apostate from the faith, a performer of spurious miracles, one who opposes Christ, a self- exalting figure, a man of sin, an idolater). Turretin goes as far as analyzing the name and number of the Beast of Revelation 13:17-18. Gathering all these elements together, he does not find these marks among the Jews or Turks (Muslims), nor among the Greek Orthodox. In his view, they only fit the chief authority of the Roman Church.

Turretin is convinced that the Antichrist is not a single person but must refer to an office or succession of persons in office that began operating in apostolic times. To the Catholic objection that Popes have never denied Christ, Turretin replies that the Antichrist will not openly deny Christ as a professed enemy but as a professed friend of Christ who praises Him with their words, yet fights Him with his actions. He sees this attitude in Popes who arrogate to themselves the three offices of Christ (Priest, Prophet and King), but bury the Gospel under their own traditions and undermine His work of redemption by their masses, purgatory, indulgences, and false worship.

Referring to the doctrine of Papal supremacy, the 1997 Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered” (882). Turretin’s analysis of the Papacy may seem harsh and trenchant, but fits the presentation of the official teaching of the Roman Church on the Papacy. The Pope as Vicar of Christ with full, supreme and universal power, coupled with the political status of the papacy, is indeed an institution that claims titles and prerogatives which must be Christ’s and Christ’s only and is also an institution that blurs religious and political fundamental distinctions!

These views are certainly far from being “ecumenically correct”. Yet, whatever one makes of them, it is important to appreciate the fact that they do not stem from slandering invectives or bandying insults. Theologians like Turretin built a highly sophisticated Biblical and theological argument and were not driven by resentment alone. The Roman Church, while not being static, nor a monolithic reality, does not really change in its fundamental commitments. It expands itself but does not purify itself. It embraces new trends and practices but does not expel unbiblical ones. It grows but it does not reform itself according to gospel standards. The discussion on the Anti-Christ must be revived and worked out with biblical soberness and historical awareness.

[1] It is followed by The Savoy Declaration (1658), art. XXVI and The London Baptist Confession of Faith (1689), art. XXVI.

[2] The 7th Disputation was published as F. Turretin, Whether It Can be Proven the Pope of Rome is the Antichrist, ed. by R. Winburn (Forestville, CA: Protestant Reformation Publications, 1999).

Leonardo De ChiricoAbout The Author:
Leonardo De Chirico has been involved in a church planting project in Rome and is now pastor of the church Breccia di Roma ( He is lecturer of Historical Theology at Istituto di Formazione Evangelica e Documentazione ( and vice-chairman of the Italian Evangelical Alliance (

Where to Buy:
A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Papacy is available at any good Christian bookstore. If you don’t have a Christian bookstore near you, you may want to consider purchasing a copy from one of the online book retailers listed below:

A Christian's Pocket Guide to Papacy: Its origin and role in the 21st century by Leonardo De Chirico  Buy Now:

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