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Recognizing False Prophets

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
January 17, 2021 1:00 am

Recognizing False Prophets

Moody Church Hour / Erwin Lutzer

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January 17, 2021 1:00 am

In ancient Israel, false prophets put lies about God into the minds of the people. The same is true in our day. These false teachers minimize God’s holiness, and exaggerate their own goodness to hide their real motives. We must learn to recognize the lies.

 Click here to listen (Duration 54:30)

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In ancient Israel. False prophets put lies about God into the minds of God's people. The same is true in our day. They diminish his holiness exaggerate their goodness and hide their real motives today. How to recognize them when you hear them from Chicago.

This is The Moody Church.

Our weekly service of worship and teaching under the ministry of Dr. Erwin Lutzer on this broadcast. We continue a 10 part series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of the spirit filled witness later Erwin Blitzer will turn to Jeremiah chapter 5 and talk about recognizing false prophets. Dr. Luther comes now to open our service as you look at the bulletin today. Please notice that her emphasis is on the word of God, because my message actually is going to be about false prophets and false teachers based on the book of Jeremiah, but we want to affirm ourselves and our commitment to his holy word so immediately after I have found prayed we will be hearing the word of the Lord and then will be singing and that is our emphasis today. I know that it's been a busy week for you for me for assault. Can we just take out a moment of silence invite God's blessing and invite his presence.

We know that he is here want to acknowledge his presence would you join me place. Father, we do ask in Jesus name you will come to us, reveal yourself to us make this a very transforming experience as we come together to worship.

May you be honored in Jesus name, amen. Please remain standing to follow along with me in your thoughts and be read together selections from two God's holy word 11 other very eager to IT about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed, who long ago my designated for this condemnation, ungodly people who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ is our groundless malcontents filing their own sinful desires and loudmouth posters showing favoritism to gain advantage. You must remember 11 predictions in the process of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you the last time there will be scoffers filing their own ungodly passions. It is these who cause divisions worldly people devoid of the spirit they use allotted building yourselves up in the most holy faith and paying the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life, and have mercy on those who doubt save others by snatching the magnifier to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stain by the flash now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy to the only God our Savior Jesus Christ our Lord glory and majesty, dominion and authority before all time now and forever. Amen when a nation is in trouble or when you are in trouble. What you and I really need is a word message from God and we need that message from God for a number of different reasons. First of all to find out what God is like to find out what he has planned and then most assuredly to plan for the future to find out what lies ahead in the ancient city of Judah. This ancient city of Jerusalem and the land of Judah, I should say in about 2600 years ago 600 BC there was a prophet by the name of Jeremiah. Jeremiah was speaking the word very clearly to a nation that had forgot God they were worshiping idols. They were into immorality and they were feeling very comfortable in their sin, and so God anointed Jeremiah and said Jeremiah I want you to be a prophet to the nation and so he told the people that the Babylonians were going to come and destroy their city destroy their country and they had better prepare and they had better repent of their sin, but the people didn't want to hear it. And so what happened is there were plenty of false prophets, false teachers who said to themselves and to others. We have a better message than Jeremiah Jeremiah all that negativism regarding judgment. We know better than he is. So Jeremiah had to put up with false prophets.

In fact, the false prophets actually ultimately had him thrown into a well and he was there persecuted by them tell you what I'd like to do in the next few moments and thanks so much for joining me is to talk about false prophets from the book of Jeremiah.

Also using contemporary illustrations and occasionally going into the New Testament to help us to understand what is going on today and I'm doing this for a very specific reason. When you're watching television and you see some of these false prophets on television and not everyone who is on television is a false prophet or a false teacher, but there are many of them that you will be able to recognize those characteristics and say I see that he or she is a false teacher. We need discernment in this day of confusion.

Listen to what God said about the false prophets of the time and you can take your Bibles and turn to the book of Jeremiah is a Bible there in the pew in front of you and probably if you're in about page 633.

Somewhere along there you would find the text that I'm going to be using, but the Lord says this regarding the false prophets. They appealed the wound of my people likely saying peace peace when there is no peace. Were they ashamed when they committed abomination know they were not at all ashamed they did not know how to blush.

Therefore they shall fall among those who fall at the time, I will punish them and they'll be overthrown. What strong words to false prophets who heal the wound of their people to lightly they talk the people that you consult your own problem. You know, after all you can do anything that you want to do. You can authenticate yourself. Your sin really is no problem. And so what they were doing is basically putting a bandage over a cancer thinking that the bandage would be able to heal the deep rooted sore of the human heart of what I'd like to do is to give you four characteristics of false prophets, then we'll talk about some good news.

Now some of you may say to yourself, well, you know this doesn't seem very loving for Jeremiah to make these very strong statements does not seem like the loving thing to do. May I tell you that love always tells the truth. Love always, is willing to confront and that is the most loving thing that you can do.

Jeremiah was a prophet who wept. He cried over the sins of the nation and over the things that he foresaw that was coming. The suffering that is absolutely incredible that we will talk about in the next couple of messages but for now, false prophets turned to a Jeremiah chapter 5 and you'll notice that it says this in Jeremiah chapter 5 and I'm beginning here at verse 12.

They have spoken falsely of the Lord speaking of the false prophets. They have spoken falsely of the Lord and said he will do nothing, no disaster will come upon us, nor shall we see sword, or famine.

Jeremiah's message is wrong.

It's to judge mental leads to negative. That's not going to happen. This is God's evaluation in verse 13. The profits will become winded. The word is not in them. Thus, it shall be done to them. While that's God's view of the falls prophets very quickly notice that they diminish the holiness of God. They diminish the holiness of God by saying Bible says they speak falsely of the Lord, no disaster will come. God isn't going to judge us. The whole idea of judgment is out of vogue. It's not the kind of thing that you do as a matter of fact, everybody's going to heaven in the end everybody wins.

Somebody said that we don't want to father in heaven. What we want is a grandfather in heaven a grandfather who watches the kids play and even if there mischievous and even if they do wrong things. He enjoys it all and at the end of the day. He says that a good time had. That's the kind of God we want so people today go God shopping because they want to God that is made in their image so they have the God of self authentication they had the God of health and wealth.

They had the God of my sexual preference. Whatever it is that I want God becomes that to me that's not the biblical God, and God said some harsh things about prophets say such thing. So the first thing is they, of course, diminish the holiness of God, and they exaggerate the goodness of human nature exaggerate the goodness of human nature. They tell humans exactly what they want to hear. By the way, your Bibles are open to chapter 5, notice what it says here in verse 30 and appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land.

The prophets prophesy falsely and the priests rule at their direction.

My people love to habits so but what will you do when the end comes the goodness of human nature. You don't have to change you don't have to confront your sin. It is more important that you be healed and that you be holy and so people begin to believe that I'm okay you're okay you're okay the way in which you are somebody said we have cows for milk goats for cheese. We have sheep are will and we have God to come along and to confirm all of our desires. That's the kind of God would want Bible says that God created man in his own image and now man God in his own image. Whatever I want God to be. That's who God is and so what you have is the exaltation of human nature. There's a false prophet on television who garners a huge audience who tells his people. Things like this. We have been born for earthly greatness. In fact, what you should do is to imagine in your mind, prosperity and wealth. And if you have these clearly in your mind thinking about them and speaking the right words will bring them about. You have power within yourself to do all of things just think it so you have the power of positive thinking no emphasis on sin, no emphasis on the need for forgiveness. Nothing like that. All that you need to do is to think the power of positive thinking.

Now there is some power and positive thinking. Remember that little engine that went up the hill and said I think I can. I think I can.

I think I can. All of its optimism probably helped it but if it got to the top of the tracks and the tracks were washed out the top of the hill. It wouldn't matter how often it said I think I can. I think I can and folks today.

Human nature is basically sinful. Now there's a good part to us to we can both do good and evil.

You know what Jeremiah says about human nature. In chapter 17. He says the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked who can know it, and the very next verses I the Lord try the heart you realize that as you are listening to this message today that God knows exactly what your thoughts are.

He knows exactly what your thoughts were last week what you thought of this morning. God knows the human heart, he knows us better than we know ourselves, because there are things about us that we don't want to admit God knows them. Poss called the great French philosopher and mathematician had some wonderful things to say about human nature by wonderful I mean very accurate. He says that man retains an image of God, but he is plunged into the mystery of his blindness and lust, which is his nature. So there's a part of man that can do good. One day I was watching television and seeing the news and here was a story about a woman who went about with an SUV full of groceries helping the poor and the very next story was a terrible story of a woman who had been brutally assaulted and I thought what a contrast. Yes, we retain the image of God and therefore we can do good, but there's also that part of us that is sinful and that God knows about, and false prophets come along and tell us that we are really wonderful people in all that we need to do is to try harder. And surely God is going to accept that's poles, prophets, so that's the second thing they exaggerate human ability. Let me give you 1/3 characteristic and that is that they have various sources for their knowledge now actually I'm in the 14th chapter of the book of Jeremiah were God says this about false prophets and the reason that I'm asking you to turn to different passages is really because the fact that all throw Jeremiah you have references to false prophets.

In fact, chapter 23 almost exclusively is devoted to false prophet. Maybe we'll have time to read a little bit of that as well.

But this is what it says in chapter 14 verse 13 that I said all Lord. Behold the prophet say to them, you shall not see the sword, nor shall you have famine, but I will give you a short piece in this place and the Lord said to me, prophets are prophesying the lies in my name.

I did not send them nor did I command them to speak, they are prophesying to you now. Here are three different sources of their prophecies. First of all a lie in vision. You often see this on television, don't you the most bizarre thing can be attributed to God and if you question it, somehow you are questioning either the Lord's anointed, or you are questioning this profit of the Lord in a way that is going to be detrimental to years ago I watched some of these false prophets because I wrote about them. One false prophets it speak to your wallet and tell it to be full of money. I mean really is incredible. Another false prophet.

On one occasion sit.

I'm just having a revelation there actually nine members in the Trinity was how everybody really during Luther's time there were false prophets also in northern Germany and there were those who are having these special revelations.

You know all about God and all about these things and you know in the New Testament, and so forth.

The Holy Spirit is represented as a dove. So Luther sarcastically said, I will not accept their prophecies even if they have swallowed the Holy Ghost feathers and all said so God says that one source is lying, visions, notice the second is worthless. Divination that actually is a cultic yes it is true that one of Satan's most dazzling deceptions is to have people speak and they think that they are in contact with the living God, and they are actually in contact with demonic powers. The apostle Paul in the New Testament says this very very clearly. Listen to what he says there in the book of second Corinthians, where he talks about false teachers. Second Corinthians chapter 11 verse 12 and what I do I will continue to do in order to undermine the claim of those who would like to claim that in their boasted mission. Notice that boasted mission. This will become important in a moment they work on the same terms as we do for such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of darkness.

No, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness there and will correspond to their deeds. While you see people on television today who say that they have the power to be able to touch people and they collapse you know to be slain in the spirit that this man is so holy he has so much power that if you come under his spell. He'll give you some of his energy. Some of his God ordained energy and he touches people and they collapse on the platform.

Somebody was a part of the movement did a study of all those who collapsed on the platform to see whether or not it gave the many spiritual power and concluded that there was no measurable difference between them before and afterwards they were still the same people dealing with the same sins.

And yet the thought is that this man has so much spiritual power like to tell you there's no doubt, and I don't want to name anybody.

There's no doubt that I had watched television and I can see that there are some people you can almost notice it in their eyes that they are demonized people, but they use the name of Jesus all the time, as it will.

How can that be there using the name of Jesus, the apostle Paul in this very same passage in second intense says that they were preaching another Jesus there all kinds of Jesus is theirs.

The Santa Claus Jesus. There is the Mormon Jesus. There is the god of your fantasies Jesus and so they they proclaim Christ, but not the Christ, who was crucified for our sins. Not bad. Jesus is a different Jesus and we don't know exactly what Jesus they were presenting there in second Corinthians.

But notice this. The apostle Paul believed that it was so much like the real Jesus that he feared that the church in Corinth could not tell the difference and were living at a time when there is so many Jesus is out there and unfortunately many Christians cannot tell the difference. It's heartbreaking. Jeremiah says that that's another means is worthless, divination, and then he says the deceit of their own minds. I'm still there in chapter 14 verses 13 and 14 the deceit of their own minds.

Basically what false prophets do is they look at their desires and after they look at their desires.

What did they do they fashion God. After those desires. I wish we had time to look at this in more detail. But you know that in the New Testament.

In second Peter as well is Jude there is a reference there false prophets who follow their own desires and so they look within, and they say I want to do this that or the other thing and so God comes along and becomes to them every day want and as a result of that, they are led into great sin. You know the Bible is very clear that God says I am that I am says and not who you want me to be so that said another way in which false prophets get their particular wisdom supposedly made up in their own minds. There's 1/4 characteristic and that is they hide their true motives. They hide their true motives of the Scripture is very clear about this. In the New Testament. This is the expression that is used for false prophets.

It says they are trained in greed trained in greed. My heart just absolutely breaks when I get to this because what you see false prophets do is they are making money. They encourage you to send money to them and this money is supposed to become seed money that will garner you a big harvest. Now this past week I was thing about one false prophet who is on television regularly. Who encourages people to send $1000 to him now.

He never tells you how is going to use $1000 so I saw on the Internet that there was a man there who is looking at some papers to verify the fact that this man was worth about four teen million dollars, money that had been sent in.

And if you ever see them on TV. He is powerful he is, even scriptural sometimes and he will tell you that if you send me money. God is going to use this as a seed and you are going to get a great harvest and you are going to be wealthy and be able to pay your bills. Many years ago there was a false prophet on television who told people this and I saw it with my own eyes and heard it with my own ears. He said if you send money to me.

Your mortgage will be miraculously paid your get a get a letter from the mortgage company saying that your house has been paid for. You believe that couple of months later I was in the city where this false prophet lives in where his ministry is and so I said to the pastor from the airport whether not he knew about this claim and he said yes and I said what really happened. He said the man received a lot of money but no mortgage was Barak paid Sir anybody out there who is surprised at that.

Many years ago I attended a Crusade held by a false prophet. I'll never forget as he was taking one offering after another.

People were putting wristwatches into the offering basket. These poor people were giving everything that they had to him. He even had the nerve to say from the pulpit. We are really fleecing God's sheep today are you believe that he spoke to thousands of people, many more than I'm probably speaking to today and so there they are.

The Bible says trained in greed, manipulation, and false promises that are not based on the word of God, please don't be deceived by these people. Sometimes I say and I do say it with love that sometimes God's sheep can tell the difference between grass and Astroturf. I do need to say that but I throw that one out for free today. No offering. After the we could use one here and I don't mind raising money for specific things, but when I do. I never promise people that if you give somehow gifts are going to come to you and suddenly you're going to become wealthy, I love to raise money for people who can't raise money for their own whether it's for orphanages, whether it's for the ministry of Moody Church in our many opportunities to share the gospel that really excites me and it is biblical but we never hear make promises as to how you will be blessed as a result, you will be blessed but not monetarily necessarily. Well they hide their true motives there real motive is wealth and then the other motive that is so important folks is pride. Did you notice what the apostle Paul says these people in their post. They boast about what they are able to do. They want people to look upon them as if to say, or they are so holy and as a result of that, they are so plugged into God.

They had a special relationship with the most high, and therefore they want us to be able to almost worship them reading this past week about it. Prophet who makes all of these predictions. They love to be able to say God is showing me he's going to do in your life. I'm anointing you for special ministry so one false prophet said to this couple God is powerfully going to use you in South America as missionaries. Couple of them. Months later, the wife was actually killed in a car accident.

The prophecy did not come to pass.

He said to somebody else you will write a book appealing to their pride that they write this book that was going to influence people.

The book was never written.

You will have an AIDS ministry.

Another false prophet told this couple God is going to give you this great ministry never happened. Remember false prophet. I saw this on television, a couple came forward and said you know we'd really like to have children and that we can have children, he said them. Let me ask you do want a boy or a girl when a boy spring baby fall baby. Whatever it was, okay, that's what you will have you come back next year and you tell us about the birth of this child now want you to think about this for a moment, let's suppose that the couple doesn't have a child if they have a child. The next year they'd return and this faith healer would take all the credit for it and say hallelujah what a miracle. But if they don't who's folded snapper is it's your fault, because if you had had the faith. It did happen but you see, because you don't have that faith. That's your problem why my preaching this message.

My heart breaks for people I sometimes see crowds you can see this on TV with false prophets and many of these people are poor and why are they there there saying to themselves, if I just had enough faith if I had the same faith as this Guru and of this profit then I would be able to drive the same car that he drives and where the close that he wears and so forth. I'd be wealthy, just as he is because he tells us that if we meet the requirements we will be. If only I could be like him. These dear people leave their money. There they go home and never experience the miracle because that's not a miracle that God ever promise tragic now. I could go on about this because I've seen this so often. Let me give you three quick conclusions here to help us to draw this together and to give us some hope. First of all number one remember this false prophets, false prophets are God's judgment upon a nation.

False prophets are God's judgment upon a nation.

What Jeremiah actually says is God says I'm putting a stumbling block before the people and that stumbling block happens to be false prophets penned Paul in effect, says the very same thing in the book of the first Timothy I want you to just that. Notice what Paul has to say here for the time is coming.

He says when people will not endure sound teaching but having itching ears will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from listening to the truth and will wander off into myths but as for you, always be sober minded endure suffering do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry notices, people are going to wander off to find Dr. and find a preacher that affirms their own passions say see what the people did in Jeremiah's days. They said we don't like Jeremiah's message what were going to do is were going to find a false prophet who tells us exactly what we want to hear that becomes part of their judgment because you see they're not interested in the truth because the truth bothers them so deeply in the truth means that they are sinners and they need to repent and come to God and they say that's not what we want to. And so they turn away and they do their own thing seeking the kind of teacher or profit that they want. Secondly, true prophets always preach God's word want to read this from my Jeremiah chapter 23 true prophets always preach God's word.

You know what Jeremiah says in chapter 23 that the false prophets actually strengthen the hands of evildoers. That's in verse 14 and 15. Can you imagine that they strengthen the hands of evildoers, they give people confidence to do evil and say that nothing will bother them, God will put up with it. But then the Lord says this in verse 23. Amaya got at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God of far off. Can a man hide himself in his secret place so that I cannot see him, declares the Lord answer of course is no do not.

I fill heaven and earth, declares the Lord. I have heard what the prophets have said in prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed I have dreamed how long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies in prophesy, the deceit of their own heart.

You see how deep this goes who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name bail not notice this let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream but let him who has my word to speak my word faithfully what has straw in common with wheat, declares the Lord is not my word like is a fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces. Therefore, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord who steal my words and they get them to one another and they got all the dreams and self to God there makes a contrast between his word between Jeremiah's word and the word of the New Testament, in the words of the Bible God contrasts that with all the false prophets were going with their dreams and their visions.

He says what connection is there between straw and wheat one is straw. The other is complete and what is it that what is the message that we need to get to people today.

What is our greatest need if we're not going to simply heal their wound superficially, what is it that they need to know first of all, the holiness of God. We cannot remake God in our image, we must bow before who God is.

God does not come along and say I want you to choose whether or not you like me or whether or not you want to change me. I am who I am and I change not.

That's the first thing that we must communicate to this generation and the second thing that we must communicate is that he is a God of mercy and invites people to come to him all throughout the book of Jeremiah. God's keeps saying return to may return to me. Return to me, and in chapter 31 God says that even though this generation has hardened their heart and will not turn to me and will look at that more in future messages. The Lord also says very clearly that there's another generation.

Chapter 31 that will turn to me and I will give them an new covenant, God says, and they will obey me and I will for you.

There sin and their iniquities.

I will remember no more. And when Jesus came. Remember how he said to the disciples taking this is my body which was broken for you. This blood is the blood of the new covenant in my blood. What Jesus was saying as I fulfill the promises of the book of Jeremiah. I am here today to forgive your sins to receive you. The issue is never the greatness of our sin there.

Some of you were listening today who don't think you need a Savior because you don't think that your sin is very big. When the Bible says that all of send and come short of the glory of God. There are others of you who say to yourself I send so bad I messed up so bad. God can't forgive me the answer to both of you is God can forgive he is gracious he is merciful.

If you come to Jesus, forgiveness and reconciliation with God is not only possible, it is a reality for those who believe on. Remember that Simon these in fall. I think I pronounced his name correctly was a junior member who survived the Holocaust and in his book sunflower. He tells an interesting story. He says that there was a young Nazi soldier who was dying, and these in fall was there in the room with this soldier and the young Nazi asked these in fall to forgive him for his sins against the Jews.

No doubt it was quite a dilemma for Simon. These in fall, but he left the room and refused to grant this young man's request for forgiveness.

So when these involved.

It is he wrote then about it and he sent his dilemma to various ethicists and professors throughout the world and asked that I do the right thing will actually these involved in the right thing in my opinion, because he wasn't in a position where he could forgiveness Nazi sin, it would've been one thing for the Nazi UC to go to those who whom he had brutally wronged and in some instances killed, which of course would've been then impossible for him to make reconciliation, but the whole point is simply this, that when we send we can only be forgiven by the person against whom have sinned in that sense. These involved was right, but there's something that we need to emphasize from the book of Jeremiah and from the whole Bible. And that is this that all sin, all sin is sin against God.

Whether or not you live to someone that lie is an offense against God. A greater offense against God than it is against the person to whom you have lied. Immorality is an offense to God and therefore only God is able to forgive sins and Jesus Christ came to this world so that God could forgive what could be holy at the one time over here.

We know the holiness of God and at the same time he could be merciful and loving to receive all those who come to him recognizing that all of us have sinned against God, and therefore only God can forgive us. That's a message that needs to be heard today because there are some of you were listening in whose heart God is working right now and pointing out your need for a Savior, your need for Jesus Christ who came to forgive us of our sins. You know, during the time of the Reformation unofficial Christendom said to the reformers. How do you know that you have the right message where your miracles in the reformers said we don't need miracles because the Bible says that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe if you want to see a miracle you come to Jesus Christ and receive his forgiveness, his acceptance and he'll do a miracle in your heart and you will be converted and reconciled to God. Let's bow together in prayer showing before I close this prayer I'm talking now to you and not yet talking to God.

If God is talk to you. Would you reach out to him right now and say Jesus, I thank you that you died for sinners.

I thank you that you invite me to come to you to become your son or your daughter forever. Would you reach out to him now in this moment of silence father. Here the prayer of all we ask and we thank you that you are a holy God. But you're also forgiving God and we thank you today that Jesus died for us. May we come to receive the forgiveness and the cleansing that he offers to all who believe on him. We pray in his blessed name on today's church.

Our Dr. Erwin Lutzer spoke on recognizing false prophets. The third of 10 messages in a series on the church in Babylon unleashing the power of the spirit filled witness next time on The Moody Church.

Our look to Jeremiah chapter 18 and learn about Israel. Clay and the potter's the church in Babylon series shows us how to live during times of spiritual darkness. The series is imprint as Erwin Blitzer's book the church in Babylon, a company is waiting for you as our thank you for your gift of any amount to The Moody Church. Our just call us at 1-800-215-5001. Ask about the church in Babylon when you call 1-800-215-5001 or you can write to us at The Moody Church 1635 N. LaSalle Boulevard Chicago, IL 60614 online go to that's join us next week for another Moody Church.

Our with Dr. Erwin Lutzer and the congregation of historic Moody Church in Chicago. This broadcast is a ministry of The Moody Church

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