by Al Maxey

Issue #448 ------- July 21, 2010
Married for 37 Years to Shelly Today!!
Deep, unspeakable suffering may well be called a
baptism, a regeneration, the initiation into a new state.

George Eliot {1819-1880}

Blood, Sweat and Tears
The Agony of Jesus in the Garden
as Portrayed in Luke 22:43-44

The passion of our Lord Jesus Christ is certainly one of the most personally moving events in human history for those who accept who He was/is and what He accomplished for us through His loving sacrifice. It's also an event, for many persons, surrounded by mystery and intrigue, as well as a certain amount of theological confusion. For many hundreds of years (indeed, from the time of the passion itself) men, women and young people, even those disciples in possession of a fervent faith, have at times wondered and speculated about some of the particulars of our Lord's final hours. One of the aspects of the night of His arrest that has been the catalyst for much debate was Dr. Luke's account of Jesus' great agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, at which time "His sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground" (Luke 22:44, KJV). The NIV reads, "His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." The Living Bible says that Jesus "broke into a sweat of blood." The Message has: "Sweat, wrung from Him like drops of blood, poured off His face." "His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood" [New Living Translation].

There are a number of significant debates centered around this passage (Luke 22:42-44); controversies so significant that one early Church Father even proposed a ban on all those disciples who dared to differ with his perception of the passage. What did Jesus actually have in mind when He prayed that "this cup" might be taken away? Why does Luke mention that an angel appeared unto Jesus, but no other biblical author makes mention of this? The same is true with the "bloody sweat" --- only Luke says anything about it. Further, was it really blood, or was this just figurative language? Can people really sweat blood, and, if so, what might cause such a strange phenomenon? These are all questions that have challenged and confused the saints for centuries. Thus, it behooves us to invest some time and effort to examine them in greater depth.

Perhaps the primary area of concern that needs to be addressed is whether this passage in Luke's gospel account (Luke 22:43-44) is even a part of the original text. Verse 43 informs us that an angel from heaven appears unto Jesus in the garden, and that this angel strengthens Him. No other place in the NT writings mentions the appearance of this angel. Verse 44 tells us that Jesus was in "agony" (a term used exclusively by Luke; no other writer in the NT uses this term). Luke also mentions the "bloody sweat" -- again, no other NT writer documents this, which has left some scholars wondering where Luke got his information. It is also interesting to note that these two verses are entirely missing from a great many biblical manuscripts, thus leading many textual scholars to conclude that these verses were added to the text much later, perhaps by some scribe, and that they were never actually written by Luke himself. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia characterizes these two verses as "problematic," because they are "omitted from many ancient and diverse textual witnesses" [vol. 4, p. 671]. "There is considerable doubt as to the genuineness of vs. 43-44" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 1031]. "These verses are textually uncertain," and, further, "the manuscript support is weak" [ibid, p. 1033]. "It is worthy of remark that, among many of the ancients, the authenticity of these two verses has been doubted" [Adam Clarke, Clarke's Commentary, vol. 5, p. 493].

I suppose the real questions here are: (1) If these two verses were indeed originally penned by Luke, then why did so many early witnesses omit them? (2) If these two verses were not originally penned by Luke, then why did a few seek to add them to the inspired NT record?! Clearly, these accounts of the angelic visitation in the garden and the "bloody sweat" are ancient traditions (whether they were oral or written), but there are several such accounts that have not been included in the NT documents. So, why these two? Just because a tradition is old and widespread does not thereby make it valid. Most scholars feel the answer to both questions above centers around the debate that was waged in the early church (and beyond) over the true nature of Jesus Christ --- was He fully divine, or fully man, or fully both, or partially both? Some believe that the "agony," and the bloody sweat, and the comforting and strengthening by an angel portray Jesus in the weakness of His humanity, thus emphasizing that He possessed a nature like our own. Others, though, feel that this portrays Jesus as vacillating in His resolve, which constitutes an affront to His deity. The latter group would prefer not to have these verses in the text, whereas the former clearly find value in their inclusion. Some scholars feel the text was shaped by the oral and written tradition of the stronger of the two positions. My own personal conviction, for what it may be worth, is that the passage was not written by Luke, and thus is not a part of the original text. However, this is not to suggest that the ancient tradition regarding these events is thereby false. They may, in fact, be true. We certainly know from other texts that are not in doubt that Jesus was indeed frequently ministered to by angels, and we certainly know from other texts that He experienced the sufferings and temptations of His human nature. There were clearly times when He was in agony, though that term may not have been employed. Thus, although I tend to doubt these verses were part of the original text penned by Luke, I'm not willing to go so far as to deny the possibility that the events depicted in these two verses may be factual, even though some saints continue to feel that "the account of Jesus overwhelmed with human weakness was incompatible with His sharing the divine omnipotence of the Father" [Metzger, p. 177].

As already noted, Luke 22:44 is the only place in the New Covenant writings where the Greek word agonia appears -- a term we typically transliterate as "agony." The word signifies not only a very deep anguish, but also an intense, even violent, personal struggle or contest. It suggested the emotions experienced by one literally fighting for his/her life, and it was often used of those who fought to the death in the Roman coliseums! In the garden, our Lord was in a great personal struggle with the fact of His impending trial, abuse and death. Although as deity He knew only too well the purpose of what was about to come upon Him, yet in His humanity the thought of what He faced was truly "agonizing" on many different levels. And this was an agony that didn't just suddenly descend upon Him, but one that, according to the participle employed by Luke, had grown and intensified to the point that it became almost unbearable. Although Luke portrays Jesus as kneeling to pray (not the customary posture during the time of the Lord; standing to pray was the norm), Matthew and Mark depict Him falling forward with His face to the ground, being "deeply distressed and troubled" (Matt. 26:37-39; Mark 14:33-35). "This scene is one of intense emotional strain" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 1032]. Certainly this agony was consistent with the prophecy of the Suffering Servant, in which Isaiah spoke of "the suffering of His soul" (Isaiah 53:11). Hebrews 5:7 reveals unto us that "during the days of Jesus' life on earth, He offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the One who could save Him from death." Again, this is consistent with what we find described in the garden.

So, what exactly was it that brought on such anguish and agony? What was this "cup" that Jesus prayed for God to take away from Him (Luke 22:42; Matt. 26:39; Mark 14:36)? Why was Jesus so distressed and troubled by the thought of drinking from this "cup"? He said, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death" (Matt. 26:38; Mark 14:34). The phrase "to the point of death" is a very common OT expression, "suggesting a sorrow so deep it almost kills, not that Jesus is so sorrowful He would rather be dead" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 543]. Our Savior was giving His close disciples a look into the depths of His emotional, physical and spiritual trauma. His suffering was excruciating. There has been much speculation over the centuries as to the cause of this agony. Adam Clarke said, "The cause of this agony seems not to have been well understood, and there have been many wild conjectures concerning it" [Clarke's Commentary, vol. 5, p. 492]. Some believe it was because He feared the physical pain He was about to endure at the hands of His captors. Both scourging and death on a cross were known to be extremely painful. Certainly this was not something any sane person would embrace casually. I feel rather certain this knowledge of what He was about to endure physically must surely have been at least a factor contributing to Christ's emotional state. The pain and suffering, therefore, were part of that "cup" from which He was destined to drink. "The fear of death had fallen upon the Lord, and His terror became greater with every moment. ... That bitter cup which was now held out to Him, the prospect of the cruel tortures on the cross ... seemed too much for Jesus at this time" [Dr. Paul E. Kretzmann, Popular Commentary of the Bible, the NT, vol. 1, p. 387]. "His human nature naturally shrank from the terrible pain and death" [H. Leo Boles, A Commentary on the Gospel According to Luke, p. 425].

Other scholars believe that His crying out in anguish was not prompted by any fear of physical discomfort, but rather "the apprehension of isolation from His Father. Not the trial, nor the mockery, nor the physical pain, but the isolation from God, the sense of forsakenness, the constraint to cry, 'My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?' which prompted the cry to escape" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 16, Luke, part 2, p. 232]. Others have "suggested that the cup Jesus feared was that He might die from the strain He was under before He could willingly offer Himself on the cross. But this view fails to recognize that Jesus would not have been as concerned with the physical pain of His death as with the spiritual desolation of bearing our sin and its judgment on the cross. Moreover, in the OT the wrath of God expressed against sin was sometimes referred to by the metaphor of a cup" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 1032]. Thus, "Jesus uses the cup as the metaphor of His imminent passion. Some, however, have imagined that this metaphor implies that Jesus faced death with less bravery than others have faced it. But to shrink from a painful death is not necessarily cowardice; the highest bravery may consist in being fully cognizant of impending and agonizing death and yet to embrace it voluntarily" [ibid].

Very popular among many of the ancient believers was the position that the source of our Lord's agony in the garden was the devil himself. Since the term translated "agony" also suggests a violent struggle or contest, some feel that intense contest in the garden was between Jesus and Satan, "who now appeared visibly to Him, in a horrible form. After His temptations in the wilderness Satan left Him for a season, till another opportunity should offer; and now it did; now the prince of this world came to Him and attacked Him in a garden, where the first assault on human nature was made: and now began the battle between the two combatants, the serpent and the Seed of the woman" [Dr. John Gill (1690-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible, e-Sword]. John Wesley, in his Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, depicted Jesus "grappling with the powers of darkness ... surrounded with a mighty host of devils, who exercised all their force and malice to persecute and distract His wounded spirit." "For, as Satan assaulted the first Adam in a garden in a bodily shape, it is not unreasonable to conclude that in the same way he assaulted the second Adam in a garden" [Clarke's Commentary, vol. 5, p. 492]. This would be a final effort to destroy Jesus before the cross, which is why, it is suggested, an angel showed up to "strengthen" Him. Personally, I find this view rather fanciful, although I feel rather certain that Satan was taking every advantage of our Lord's distressed state to tempt Him with fears and doubts.

Whatever the cause of our Lord's anguish, we are told that one of the manifestations was what has come to be characterized by some as a "bloody sweat," which has truly puzzled and perplexed a great many disciples for a great many years. Some feel very strongly that literal blood oozed from the pores of the skin of Jesus in the garden. In fact, Athanasius (c. 293-373 A.D.), who was the Bishop of Alexandria, "even goes so far as to pronounce a ban upon those who deny this sweat of blood" [The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 16, Luke, part 2, p. 203]. It is certainly possible for an individual to literally sweat blood; this is an actual medical condition, although very rare. Nevertheless, it was known to men even before the time of Jesus. Dr. A. T. Robertson points out, in his Word Pictures in the New Testament, that "Aristotle speaks of a bloody sweat, as does Theophrastus." Both Aristotle and his successor, Theophrastus, were noted Greek philosophers of the Peripatetic school, both living hundreds of years before the time of our Lord. Aristotle noted that "bloody sweat" was "a symptom of extreme exhaustion." Dr. Charles Ellicott speculated that this bloody sweat "must have left its traces upon the tunic that our Lord wore, and when the soldiers cast lots for it, Mary Magdalene, who stood by the cross, might well have seen and noticed the fact, nor could it well have escaped the notice of Nicodemus and Joseph when they embalmed the body" [Ellicott's Commentary on the Whole Bible, vol. 6, p. 351]. The condition is known today as hematidrosis (or hemohidrosis), in which the human body, under conditions of extreme stress, has been known to excrete blood through the sweat glands by reason of the rupture of tiny capillaries in these glands. Thus, blood mixing with the perspiration would appear as a "bloody sweat." "While the extent of blood loss generally is minimal, hematidrosis also results in the skin becoming extremely tender and fragile, which would have made Christ Jesus' pending physical insults even more painful" [Dr. Dave Miller, Did Jesus Sweat Blood?, an article that appeared in 2004 on the Apologetics Press web site].

Therefore, it is clearly not impossible, given the emotional state our Lord was in that night, that He literally sweated drops of blood during His "agony." Most biblical scholars, however, do not believe that this occurred, but that the language employed by Luke (if, in fact, Luke actually wrote these words) was largely figurative in nature. Based upon the use of a specific word in this passage, what the text seems to be saying is that our Lord's sweat took on certain characteristics of the pouring out of blood from the body. "The sweating was apparently so profuse that it looked like blood dripping from a wound" [The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 8, p. 1032]. "While some have taken the phrase as meaning that Jesus was actually sweating drops of blood, the words do not necessarily mean more than that the drops of sweat in some way simply resembled drops of blood either in size, frequency, coloration, etc. In fact, the appearance of the Greek word hosei ('as') surely argues against the identity of the sweat with drops of blood, and only intends certain similarity or comparison" [International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, vol. 4, p. 671]. In other words, Jesus' sweat fell to the ground LIKE a great outpouring of blood from an open wound. Such profuse sweating would display the depth and intensity of His spiritual and emotional, not to mention physical, distress.

The Greek term around which this whole debate revolves is the adverb hosei, which may be translated: "as; like; as if it were." Scholars are divided as to what this term ultimately signifies. Some state it "indicates similarity, but not actuality," while others insist that it "refers to condition, not comparison." Most seem to side with the former, which would suggest that what fell to the ground was sweat, rather than blood, but that there was some comparison that could legitimately be made by an observer with the literal spilling of blood (just as our Lord often made comparisons through His parables -- the kingdom of heaven is LIKE a mustard seed; that does not mean it IS a mustard seed, but merely that there are similarities from which greater truths can be ascertained). The word hosei is also used in Matt. 9:36 where Jesus looked compassionately upon the crowds who were "harassed and helpless LIKE sheep without a shepherd." Were the people in the crowd literally sheep, or were there similarities to sheep from which lessons could be drawn? When the Sanhedrin "looked intently at Stephen, they saw that his face was LIKE the face of an angel" (Acts 6:15). Did the face of Stephen literally become the face of an angel? Many more examples could be given, but I think this illustrates the point. In my view, the use of this term precludes our Lord actually sweating literal blood, but just signifies that His agony was intense beyond what most of us can even imagine, and that emotional, spiritual and physical intensity resulted in an outpouring both of sweat and tears as our Lord cast Himself on the ground and cried out to His Father that this cup might be removed. "From these factors, it is evident that even before Jesus endured the torture of the cross, He suffered far beyond what most of us will ever suffer!! His penetrating awareness of the heinous nature of sin, its destructive and deadly effects, the sorrow and heartache that it inflicts, and the extreme measure necessary to deal with it, make the passion of Christ beyond all comprehension" [Dr. Dave Miller].

Down, But Not Out
A Study of Divorce and Remarriage
in Light of God's Healing Grace

A 193 page book by Al Maxey

One Bread, One Body
An Examination of Eucharistic
Expectation, Evolution and Extremism

A 230 page book by Al Maxey

Order both books from Publish America at: or (301) 695-1707

Readers' Reflections

From a Reader in Tennessee:

Dear Brother Al, There are so many ideas that I would love to trade with you, but they'll keep. My purpose in writing you now is to say "Thanks!!" I'm thankful that I found you (I still don't know how -- the Spirit, maybe?!), and I'm thankful for what you do. I am a longtime reader of Leroy Garrett (since 1950), and I was a big fan of Carl Ketcherside. It was often my concern that there might not be another out there who would be their equal. On that my mind is now at ease!!! You have demonstrated the knowledge, courage, discernment and feistiness to do the job ... and more!! I praise God for your efforts, and also for the fact that our paths have crossed.

From a Reader in Texas:

Bro. Al, My clock says it is 1:21 a.m., and I have just finished reading the first four chapters of your new book One Bread, One Body. I must say, it is awesome! I have already read much more than is needed to give it a high recommendation to all my friends. I confess that I am biased when it comes to your writing, but then again I'm just biased toward that which makes sense!! I have already sent my preacher a message and told him that he needs a copy of this book. The more I read from you, the more I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is still using on some today the technique of inspiration that He used on the writers of our Bible. What I read tonight in your new book was, I believe, written and inspired by God. Thanks for allowing yourself to be used in this way by the Spirit. You are a supreme leader in the release of those held in bondage by LAW, sharing the freedom in Christ that many find difficult at times to accept.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, I have ordered, and am eagerly anticipating the arrival of, your new book One Bread, One Body. My preacher heard me talking about your book this past week and was encouraged because he's planning to do four weeks of lessons devoted to the Lord's Supper. Our congregation has been discussing many of the traditional aspects of how we "properly" observe the Communion each week, and have been considering some changes to these traditions. I can't wait to share your book with him, and also with others here, and I can see this new book of yours staying a bestseller for quite some time!

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Bro. Al, I have just finished reading your new book, and all I can say is Excellent and Awesome!! I can't wait to share it with others. After reading your new book, I thought of the following and wanted to tell you. It is rare that we don't sing a song or two during Communion at our congregation, although we have an elder and his wife who do not agree with this practice. They do not cause any upheaval about this, though -- they just do not sing. Maybe 2 or 3 times a year he will lead singing, and when he does he will lead no songs during the Communion. He doesn't make mention of it or anything, we simply don't sing songs during Communion. I think they have the right attitude here. Also, when my nephew got married recently, he and his bride wanted Communion served at the wedding ceremony. This was done. She served to our side of the family, and my nephew served to her side of the family. I thought it was very appropriate and quite touching, although I will have to admit that I was a little nervous about it because I knew that there was a couple in the audience who might object. If they did, though, they did the right thing and just kept their opinion to themselves. Sometimes, people just act right, don't they?!

From a New Reader in Georgia:

Bro. Al, sign me up for Reflections!! I am encouraged by your attitude and thoughtful study of Scripture, rather than you waving the flag of tradition (like so many others). Excellent. I had work to do today, but ended up reading your work on musical instruments. I thought it was very scholarly in preparation and very logically presented. I find your teaching refreshing, as opposed to some who have dug in their heels to the kneecaps in order to control and divide!!

From a New Reader in Swaziland, Africa:

Brother Al, Please place us on your mailing list to receive your weekly Reflections. We work in Swaziland, Africa at the African Christian College. In looking at your material on your web site, you sound a lot like a dear departed brother of ours, Cecil Hook, who was the author of the "Free in Christ" series of books.

From a Baptist Missionary in Peru:

Dear Brother Al, Keep to who/what you are in the Lord; nobody can put a tag on you, and that is what's so refreshing about you and your ministry! If I was to be examined and scrutinized by my own earthly denomination, I would quite likely be a wanderer in the earth with no place to dwell!! But, may I ever be like you -- a seeker of Truth, wherever that may take me. I'm really looking forward to reading your latest book One Bread, One Body. I'm sure that it will ruffle a good many more feathers!! But, you are a "stirrer" for Truth and biblical common sense! Reading again through your most recent issue of Reflections, it is quite evident that the antagonism that your writings engender reflects the reality that true doctrine wrests control totally from legalists. You are completely correct to emphasize that none of us can know the moment of new birth, a fact which immediately takes away the ground from the entrenched legalist. In fact, he is sent off the field and has no part to play! This will either create humility or compound his pride. Also, your illustration about love and marriage was spot on, and shows the nonsense of such legalistic views of baptism. If salvation is in the hands of a Sovereign God, then the religious control merchants can only desperately hold on to what they think they have. The truth, however, sets us free, and it brings a glorious liberty that is found in resting on the promises of God.

From a Minister in Virginia:

Bro. Al, It has been some time since I last wrote to you, but after reading your last couple of articles I just had to take up my pen! You and I are pretty much alike, both of us being Ministers in the Churches of Christ, and both being independent thinkers. I have read your writings for several years now, and I have come to feel that you are simply teaching what is pretty much a natural progression for anyone who has evolved from blind acceptance of tradition to what our Savior and eternal Father have actually said in the Scriptures. In other words, I believe that you do indeed preach and teach what the Bible is actually saying, and not just what some folks have been saying it says. Sadly, controversy seems to follow those of us who try with all of our being to teach what the Spirit is leading us to teach.

From a Reader in Oklahoma:

Dear Bro. Al, It has been a long time since I wrote to you, mostly because of laziness, but also due to life's inconveniences. I've just read your last two Reflections, and I want to thank you once again for making so plain what I have felt for so many years! If God doesn't judge us by our hearts, but rather judges us by law, then we are indeed all lost, and Jesus died in vain! Like you, I long for the day when all of God's children stand united in His love. Your work is doing so much to break down the barriers we have erected between brethren. Keep up the good work, my brother! I also loved the points you made regarding our responses of faith being "covenant-markers," not "covenant-makers." I pray that brethren everywhere will read and understand those words!

From a Reader in Mississippi:

Brother Al, Thank you so much for your Reflections. I look forward to each edition. I am still trying to overcome all the legalistic teaching to which I was exposed, and simply embrace God's grace! Your writings are helping me to see the Gospel more clearly!

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Please don't ever be downcast when a legalist is rude to you! Like the Pharisees, if someone takes away their feeling of "we are the only ones who are right," then they feel threatened by the loss of their self-righteousness and "power." Keep on doing what you are doing!! You are an encouragement to so many of us who have seen the horrible effects that legalism has had on our fellow brothers and sisters for FAR too long!!

From a Reader in Connecticut:

Brother Al, Upon the arrival of each new issue of your Reflections I find myself trembling a little bit, just like a kid getting ready to jump into a cold stream on a hot summer day. I know that it's gonna be super cold and a shock to my system, but knowing that it's going to feel so good and refreshing once I hit the water makes it worth the effort. You have captured the very essence of what it really means to be a Christian. Perhaps it really is so simple that some people just can't/won't see it. Your love/marriage analogy in your last article says it all.

From a Reader in Illinois:

Dear Brother Al, It has been quite a while since I last wrote to you, but I wanted you to know that I have not been derelict in reading your Reflections and growing in spirit and in wisdom from your words that bring God's Word into full light. I have known many dear brethren who have been misdirected within the faith-heritage we share in the Churches of Christ. Many of us grew up under the teachings of brethren who had good intentions, but who only taught what they themselves had been taught by others from years past who did not have a firm grasp on the true Gospel message. I dare not trust my soul to these hand-me-down teachings! I now perceive from my own study, and through the study you've done and shared with us, that a number of erroneous teachings of men from earlier generations have long been propagated within our faith-heritage. I believe that I have now been "taken aside" by you (much like Priscilla and Aquila did with Apollos) and shown "the way of God more accurately." Bro. Al, I am so sorry that I was unable to make it to The Tulsa Workshop to meet you and Shelly, but please know that I will make an effort in the future to meet you and to get to know you better! Don't give up the good fight, brother. There are many who want to be contentious, proudly defending their territories (and I understand how one's faith-heritage can play a part in this), who are so inflexible in their thinking that they will shut out any thought that did not originate within their own minds or within the minds of their religious mentors. I will continue to pray for the church universal, that some day Satan will be sore afraid of us because all Christians are finally "pulling in the same harness" to defeat him. God bless you for your work for the Lord.

From a Reader in Texas:

Brother Al, Thank you for what you do in pointing out to us that we all need to reflect on all of what Scripture says on various doctrinal points, and not just take a single passage to heart to try and justify one's stance on a position. God is truly using you to make a difference!! Thank you for allowing Him to do so in your life!

From a Reader in Nevada:

Dear Brother Al, You applied quite nicely the split-second of salvation teaching that you wrote about in an earlier issue of Reflections [Issue #348] to the lives of Abraham, Cornelius and Apollos. Your teaching on this topic surely brings the legalists fits, for it shows the fallacy of trying to determine at precisely what moment salvation enters one's life. Legalists fail to differentiate between punctiliar and conceptual thinking. Thinking conceptually is the only way to sort out "remission of sins." Remission of one's sins before baptism? Of course!! Hearing the gospel preached and responding to it is indeed a process. "Through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins" (Acts 10:43). Jesus Christ told His disciples in the Great Commission that "repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations" (Luke 24:47). Belief plus confession also results in salvation (Rom. 10:9-10). Immersion also is involved in this process (Acts 2:38). However, justification by faith is the principal statement in all of this process concerning remission of sins and salvation (Rom. 3:21 - 4:15; Eph. 2:8-9). Brother Al, the influence of insidious legalism must be minimized, and you are one of the "Generals" in this vital fight. We would love to see you "go on the road," doing gospel meetings, to spread this teaching through your influence.

From a Reader in Texas:

Dear Brother Maxey, I love what you say about the "church universal," but I wonder what you mean when you talk about us all being one, accepting one another in spite of our differences of opinion, etc. Do you include sincere, dedicated people in the "denominations" who see things differently from "us," and yet who have given their lives to God and trust in Jesus as their Savior? I personally feel that if a man loves God with all of his heart, and trusts in Jesus as his Savior, then I must call him my brother! The differences of opinion, even about baptism forms, will all be worked out by God, and it is not my place to judge. Does this make me "over-the-top liberal"? Most of my friends would think so.

Special Announcement --- I just wanted to let you all know that my new book One Bread, One Body has now been released as a "paperback" in addition to its more popular "softcover" version. Size, cover, page count, etc. are all exactly the same as the softcover, but the difference lies in the quality of the paper used, which permits the publisher to sell the "paperback" version for only $9.95 per book. The much higher quality of paper "softcover" version, of course, is still available, but I've authorized the publisher to make the "paperback" version available to the public for those who might not be able to afford the more expensive, higher quality version. I hope this will encourage some of you to go ahead and order the book for yourself (and perhaps as a gift for others). I believe you will find this new work challenging and uplifting. Both versions of this new book, as well as my first book, may be ordered from the online bookstore of Publish America at their web site: or by calling them at: (301) 695-1707.

New Book by Edward Fudge --- I would like to recommend Edward's brand new book --- The Divine Rescue, which has just recently been released by Leafwood Publishers in Abilene, Texas. It is 236 pages, softcover, and sells for $14.99 (ISBN: 978-0-89112-645-4). "The story in this book is the tale of a perfect world gone astray, and of the God who stops at nothing to rescue that world and the people who inhabit it." Edward, a dear friend for many years, in this powerful new work, "recounts highlights of the multi-layered saga of salvation from Genesis to Revelation." Max Lucado declares, "Edward Fudge guides us through the sweetest of stories --- God's relentless pursuit of His fallen people. The drama is real. The drama is ours and, thanks to Edward, the drama is captured on paper." Edward and I exchanged signed copies of our new books, and I am really enjoying delving into this new work by him. I know you will too.

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